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Author Topic: The Science and Sociology of Anti-Abortion  (Read 1028 times) Average Rating: 0
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Cudgel
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« on: May 19, 2009, 08:50:10 PM »

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...it is not easy for most people to reject the standard pro-life argument without rejecting other beliefs they have, such as the belief that infanticide is wrong, or murder isn't justified to serve society. Most people cannot disprove the pro-life position without also disproving some other strongly held belief.

The same problem exists in the pro-life camp. More than half of conceptions are naturally aborted within a month. If the loss of zygote life is equivalent to the loss of a person's life, then the spontaneous abortion of zygotes is an enormous natural disaster, the numbers dwarfing death from any other natural cause. Yet the activism on behalf of medical research to reduce such abortions is nil, and dead zygotes (when noticed) conventionally don't receive standard ceremony. In their practices, people don't seem to care about zygotes as they do people. Additionally, according to the pro-life argument presented, which I think is the most representative, a woman who has an abortion is a murderer. Criminal treatment is therefore required, in the harshest acceptable form, since abortion is premeditated and predicated on a philosophy denying the rights of a group of people: it fits the definition of hate-crime. Yet most pro-lifers are intuitively and emotionally unwilling to endorse treatment of such women as murderers in our justice system. The pro-life movement largely distances itself from "extremists" who resort to violence to stop abortion, and yet such violent methods are justified in order to prevent bona fide murder (not to mention genocide). Pro-lifers sometimes explain the forgiveness of women who have abortions by depicting them as hapless victims, brainwashed by profiteering doctors--a sweeping theory for which there seems to be zero research. Nor is the theory consistent even if true: We do not usually excuse hate-crimes because the perpetrator was swayed by the prejudice of others (unless the perpetrator is a child or insane, which presumably does not describe the average woman).

http://www.luvnpeas.org/understand/abortion.html

Please discuss.
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« Reply #1 on: May 19, 2009, 09:11:06 PM »

Quote
...it is not easy for most people to reject the standard pro-life argument without rejecting other beliefs they have, such as the belief that infanticide is wrong, or murder isn't justified to serve society. Most people cannot disprove the pro-life position without also disproving some other strongly held belief.

The same problem exists in the pro-life camp. More than half of conceptions are naturally aborted within a month. If the loss of zygote life is equivalent to the loss of a person's life, then the spontaneous abortion of zygotes is an enormous natural disaster, the numbers dwarfing death from any other natural cause. Yet the activism on behalf of medical research to reduce such abortions is nil, and dead zygotes (when noticed) conventionally don't receive standard ceremony. In their practices, people don't seem to care about zygotes as they do people. Additionally, according to the pro-life argument presented, which I think is the most representative, a woman who has an abortion is a murderer. Criminal treatment is therefore required, in the harshest acceptable form, since abortion is premeditated and predicated on a philosophy denying the rights of a group of people: it fits the definition of hate-crime. Yet most pro-lifers are intuitively and emotionally unwilling to endorse treatment of such women as murderers in our justice system. The pro-life movement largely distances itself from "extremists" who resort to violence to stop abortion, and yet such violent methods are justified in order to prevent bona fide murder (not to mention genocide). Pro-lifers sometimes explain the forgiveness of women who have abortions by depicting them as hapless victims, brainwashed by profiteering doctors--a sweeping theory for which there seems to be zero research. Nor is the theory consistent even if true: We do not usually excuse hate-crimes because the perpetrator was swayed by the prejudice of others (unless the perpetrator is a child or insane, which presumably does not describe the average woman).

http://www.luvnpeas.org/understand/abortion.html

Please discuss.

Again, just like in our previous encounters, I don't know what is there to discuss. My Church, Whom I utterly respect and revere, teaches me that the life of a human being begins with his or her conception. I do not question this; since it it is She, the Church, Who teaches me that, I accept it. So, if any woman, at any circumstances, aborts her conceived baby - I view it as termination of a life that has begun, termination done by the woman in whose womb this life has begun. Do I need to revise my understanding of what life of a human being is and what it is (yet) not? I don't know. There is no "scientific" proof that the beginning of the life of a human being actually is something else than what the Church teaches me it is. On the other hand, do I have any right to accuse a woman who terminated the embryo in her womb? Most definitely, no. If she is not a member of my Church, she is not bound by what my Church teaches and it is utterly Pagan to try to force my Church's teachings on her. If she is a member of my Church and still chooses to go against the Church's teachings and terminate the life of the new human being in her womb, - again, who am I to convict her of sin (John 8:1-11)?

So, all in all, I do not treat ANY woman who aborted her child as a murderer, and I just pray that more women understand, realize that an embryo they conceive in their womb is a human being. To help that happen, I, as a bilogy teacher, will show women pictures, videos, whatever to wake up in them this notion that human embryos feel, smile, frown, move, develop all of the "adult" human organ systems very early in their embryonic life. But I will not participate in any political movement concerning abortion rights. And I will always ridicule the idiotic "dichotomy" of people into "pro-lifers" and "pro-choicers," which comes exclusively from this blessed U.S. of A., from its so strange, so really-realy-really (to me, a European) strange, so influenced by utterly uneducated rhetorists, land - from sea to shining sea...
« Last Edit: May 19, 2009, 09:14:15 PM by Heorhij » Logged

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« Reply #2 on: May 19, 2009, 09:28:23 PM »

So, all in all, I do not treat ANY woman who aborted her child as a murderer.

Are individuals, the Church and the State justified in not doing so if abortion is murder? Is the pro-life position ultimately compatible with such a stance?
« Last Edit: May 19, 2009, 09:29:27 PM by Cudgel » Logged
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« Reply #3 on: May 20, 2009, 01:31:42 AM »

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...it is not easy for most people to reject the standard pro-life argument without rejecting other beliefs they have, such as the belief that infanticide is wrong, or murder isn't justified to serve society. Most people cannot disprove the pro-life position without also disproving some other strongly held belief.

The same problem exists in the pro-life camp. More than half of conceptions are naturally aborted within a month. If the loss of zygote life is equivalent to the loss of a person's life, then the spontaneous abortion of zygotes is an enormous natural disaster, the numbers dwarfing death from any other natural cause. Yet the activism on behalf of medical research to reduce such abortions is nil, and dead zygotes (when noticed) conventionally don't receive standard ceremony. In their practices, people don't seem to care about zygotes as they do people. Additionally, according to the pro-life argument presented, which I think is the most representative, a woman who has an abortion is a murderer. Criminal treatment is therefore required, in the harshest acceptable form, since abortion is premeditated and predicated on a philosophy denying the rights of a group of people: it fits the definition of hate-crime. Yet most pro-lifers are intuitively and emotionally unwilling to endorse treatment of such women as murderers in our justice system. The pro-life movement largely distances itself from "extremists" who resort to violence to stop abortion, and yet such violent methods are justified in order to prevent bona fide murder (not to mention genocide). Pro-lifers sometimes explain the forgiveness of women who have abortions by depicting them as hapless victims, brainwashed by profiteering doctors--a sweeping theory for which there seems to be zero research. Nor is the theory consistent even if true: We do not usually excuse hate-crimes because the perpetrator was swayed by the prejudice of others (unless the perpetrator is a child or insane, which presumably does not describe the average woman).

http://www.luvnpeas.org/understand/abortion.html

Please discuss.
Cudgel, thank you for bringing up this very good subject for our consideration and debate.  I do need to post this preemptive warning, though--and it's not directed at you specifically--that this thread, because of its very contentious and often politicized subject matter, will be watched very closely to make sure the discussion remains civil and apolitical.  With this in mind, I ask that we refrain from any and all mention of specific politicians and governmental policies on abortion and focus solely on the science and sociology of abortion and how our Orthodox faith influences our understanding of this.  Any reply discussing the politics of abortion will be moved immediately to the private Politics board and will draw a formal warning.  If you're not sure that something you wish to say will pass muster as nonpolitical, please feel free to pm it to me so I can review it and recommend any modifications that will make it acceptable.  Thank you in advance for your understanding, and carry on with the discussion.

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« Reply #4 on: May 20, 2009, 07:59:21 AM »

Quote
...it is not easy for most people to reject the standard pro-life argument without rejecting other beliefs they have, such as the belief that infanticide is wrong, or murder isn't justified to serve society. Most people cannot disprove the pro-life position without also disproving some other strongly held belief.

The same problem exists in the pro-life camp. More than half of conceptions are naturally aborted within a month. If the loss of zygote life is equivalent to the loss of a person's life, then the spontaneous abortion of zygotes is an enormous natural disaster, the numbers dwarfing death from any other natural cause. Yet the activism on behalf of medical research to reduce such abortions is nil, and dead zygotes (when noticed) conventionally don't receive standard ceremony. In their practices, people don't seem to care about zygotes as they do people. Additionally, according to the pro-life argument presented, which I think is the most representative, a woman who has an abortion is a murderer. Criminal treatment is therefore required, in the harshest acceptable form, since abortion is premeditated and predicated on a philosophy denying the rights of a group of people: it fits the definition of hate-crime. Yet most pro-lifers are intuitively and emotionally unwilling to endorse treatment of such women as murderers in our justice system. The pro-life movement largely distances itself from "extremists" who resort to violence to stop abortion, and yet such violent methods are justified in order to prevent bona fide murder (not to mention genocide). Pro-lifers sometimes explain the forgiveness of women who have abortions by depicting them as hapless victims, brainwashed by profiteering doctors--a sweeping theory for which there seems to be zero research. Nor is the theory consistent even if true: We do not usually excuse hate-crimes because the perpetrator was swayed by the prejudice of others (unless the perpetrator is a child or insane, which presumably does not describe the average woman).

http://www.luvnpeas.org/understand/abortion.html

Please discuss.

I have time only for one point:

Take the example of the latest swine flu pandemic.  They have traced its source to a boy working on a pig farm in Mexico.  Is he liable, either morally or legally, for the deaths from the virus?

Now take those with AIDS: those who have transmitted the virus knowing that they were infected have been held liable. 

The boy (I assume) knew nothing except that he was sick, and maybe didn't know that when he was contagious.  Those who test HIV postive and still have sex, share needles, etc. know that they are putting others at risk.  Should they be treated the same, legally or morally?

Now yes, many women have spontaneous abortions, often without them knowing it.  And many have induced abortions.  Are they to be the same before God and the Law?

Often the spontaneous abortion has a defect that causes it (a reason why they aren't acceptable for stem cells).  How can one sustain life that is unsustainable?  Sort of like life support where all the vital signs are being created by machines.  Again, not comparable to sucking the brains out of a healthy child.

And yes, most aren't as attached to a zygote, the same way, for instance, a man isn't attached to a child that he doesn't know he fathered.  Does that make said child, after he's born and grows up, less a human?
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« Reply #5 on: May 20, 2009, 10:23:13 AM »

I think that the natural loss of embryos would be seen as a symptom of the Fall and our now imperfect bodies and the living conditions of this earth.  It IS tremendously sad to the women who lose their babies early on...but can be seen as more of a "natural" disaster along the lines of disease and earthquakes, etc.  But abortion entails a specific INTENTION in the heart of the person or persons involved in terminating the pregnancy, therein lies the sin and catastrophe in aborting even a very early pregnancy.

Also, we are all murderers in some way, and using tortured semantics to figure out who we should prosecute is just beside the point in Orthodox Christianity.  We are to focus on our own sins; justice for the unborn will come when we can show pro-abortionists through our loving example that life is sacred and should be treated as such at all stages.
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« Reply #6 on: May 20, 2009, 10:30:11 AM »

...But abortion entails a specific INTENTION in the heart of the person or persons involved in terminating the pregnancy, therein lies the sin and catastrophe in aborting even a very early pregnancy...
Exactly.
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« Reply #7 on: May 20, 2009, 11:57:43 AM »

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...it is not easy for most people to reject the standard pro-life argument without rejecting other beliefs they have, such as the belief that infanticide is wrong, or murder isn't justified to serve society. Most people cannot disprove the pro-life position without also disproving some other strongly held belief.

This is absolutely correct.  I cannot deny that after conception the embryo is fully human without denying the teaching of an Ecumenical Council that from the moment of His conception, Christ was fully human. And if I deny that then I am denying that the Ecumencial Councils are authoritative witnesses to the Truth. And if I deny that, there's not much point to showing up at an Orthodox Church except to look at the pretty pictures.

Quote
The same problem exists in the pro-life camp. More than half of conceptions are naturally aborted within a month.

And 100% of human lives end in death. I'm not aware of any ethicist or legal scholar who considers that a justifying factor in deliberately causing such a death.

Quote
If the loss of zygote life is equivalent to the loss of a person's life, then the spontaneous abortion of zygotes is an enormous natural disaster, the numbers dwarfing death from any other natural cause. Yet the activism on behalf of medical research to reduce such abortions is nil, and dead zygotes (when noticed) conventionally don't receive standard ceremony.

In general the Church doesn't have 'activism on behalf of medical research' of any kind. Society as a whole has many efforts directed improving overall feminine health, pregnant women's health, fetal health, and genetic disease, all of which can have positive impacts on the spontaneous abortion rate. But
1) No individual or organization has unlimited resources. If I contribute my charity (or dedicate my life) to cancer research, it doesn't mean I don't care about AIDS victims or MS sufferers or poor children in Guatemala. It also doesn't mean I don't care about unborn children. It only means that I can only do so much.
2) Our society has legalized the murder of the unborn. If I look at a war-torn country (say Somalia), which is more important to the well-being of its residents--that I stop the war or that I make sure the children all get all their immunizations? It's certainly a debatable point as to what should be the priority, but the position that the priority is to stop the violence so that afterwards medical service can be consistently offered is very logically defensible. In America, our doctors are trained to kill infants. In this context, there is little incentive for medical research to put valuable resources into seeking to save a mass of disposable tissue the owner may want to get rid of anyway. Changing the societal context so that the medical establishment has the same incentive to save the lives of the unborn that they do to save any other human life would go further to generate useful research then anything done now when the results of such research could simply be aborted a few weeks later anyway.

Quote
In their practices, people don't seem to care about zygotes as they do people. Additionally, according to the pro-life argument presented, which I think is the most representative, a woman who has an abortion is a murderer. Criminal treatment is therefore required, in the harshest acceptable form,

This makes assumptions about the nature and goals of 'criminal treatment' which are not necessarily shared by Orthodoxy.
Yes, a woman who has an abortion is a murderer. More importantly, from the Church's perspective she is a sinner. As thieves are sinners. As liars are sinners. As *I* am a sinner. It is not the concern of the Church (or its members) to punish sinners or to mark some hiearchy by which this sinner is worse than that sinner who in turn is not nearly as bad as that other sinner. It is to bring them to repentance and help them not commit their sin again. As such treating a woman who has had an abortion in the same way you treat a serial killer, gang-banger, or a guy who in a bar brawl hit someone harder than expected and caused his death, is not pastorally productive--this is especially true in the current environment when the law and significant parts of society told the woman that her actions were okay, but its true in environments where abortion is not socially acceptable as well. The sin itself, like all sins, needs to be repented of, but the underlying root is different and as such needs to be treated differently.
(This is not intended as a cop-out from what the *legal* treatment (which is concerned with punishment) of such women would be, but I don't see a way to get into that without taking this thread far afield, and probably violating the moderators warnings about politics--I'll simply say that the American justice system's priorities, goals, and methods are not necessarily the Church's ideal.)
« Last Edit: May 20, 2009, 11:58:48 AM by witega » Logged

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« Reply #8 on: May 20, 2009, 12:36:18 PM »

This is absolutely correct.  I cannot deny that after conception the embryo is fully human without denying the teaching of an Ecumenical Council that from the moment of His conception, Christ was fully human. And if I deny that then I am denying that the Ecumencial Councils are authoritative witnesses to the Truth. And if I deny that, there's not much point to showing up at an Orthodox Church except to look at the pretty pictures.

That's sounds like the common argument that if the Holy Scriptures contain some factual errors, then one has to chuck out the whole book.  So it's either all right, or all wrong.  To become in any way selective is dangerous.

It's not that simple.  Obviously the council did not use 'conception' in the modern scientific sense.  I realize I am a but over my head here because I have no idea what they actually said.  Can conception refer to the way a thought is 'conceived'?  And if Christ is pre-eternal, has he always been pre-eternally human?  Anyway, I am certain that they did not mean conception in this same way, because the weren't talking about the event on a cellular level.  This is not to be offense, but thee was no moment that 'God sperm' entered the Virgin Mary's egg. 

If anyone wants to clarify exactly what this council had to say on the matter, I would appreciate it.
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« Reply #9 on: May 20, 2009, 01:10:49 PM »

This is absolutely correct.  I cannot deny that after conception the embryo is fully human without denying the teaching of an Ecumenical Council that from the moment of His conception, Christ was fully human. And if I deny that then I am denying that the Ecumencial Councils are authoritative witnesses to the Truth. And if I deny that, there's not much point to showing up at an Orthodox Church except to look at the pretty pictures.

That's sounds like the common argument that if the Holy Scriptures contain some factual errors, then one has to chuck out the whole book.  So it's either all right, or all wrong.  To become in any way selective is dangerous.

It's not that simple.  Obviously the council did not use 'conception' in the modern scientific sense.  I realize I am a but over my head here because I have no idea what they actually said.  Can conception refer to the way a thought is 'conceived'?  And if Christ is pre-eternal, has he always been pre-eternally human?  Anyway, I am certain that they did not mean conception in this same way, because the weren't talking about the event on a cellular level.  This is not to be offense, but thee was no moment that 'God sperm' entered the Virgin Mary's egg. 

If anyone wants to clarify exactly what this council had to say on the matter, I would appreciate it.
I'm not sure we even need to cite an Ecumenical Council, or that it's even the best plan to do so to establish that Christ is fully human from His conception in the womb of the Virgin.  Our liturgical tradition does that in probably an even better way.  After all, we celebrate liturgically Gabriel's Annunciation to the Theotokos (the moment of Christ's conception in her womb), the conception of the Theotokos in the womb of her mother Anna, and the conception of St. John the Forerunner in the womb of his mother Elizabeth.  From the Troparion/Apolytikion of the Annunciation:  Today is the beginning of our salvation, the revelation of the eternal mystery.  I think, therefore, that these liturgical events are themselves ample evidence of our faith that human life begins at conception.
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« Reply #10 on: May 20, 2009, 01:15:29 PM »

Obviously the council did not use 'conception' in the modern scientific sense.  I realize I am a but over my head here because I have no idea what they actually said.  Can conception refer to the way a thought is 'conceived'?

That'an interesting point. Of course the Fathers of the time of the Ecumenical Councils did not know about cells, sperm, ova, their fusion, etc. My guess is that they understood the moment of conception as the moment when a woman stopped menstruating (missed her period).

And if Christ is pre-eternal, has he always been pre-eternally human?

No. The Logos, the God Son, the second Person of the Trinity was or is pre-eternal, as God. The man who received the name Jesus (or something like Yohoshwa bar Yosses Smiley ) is not pre-eternal; He was created (conceived), so He, as a man, has His beginning (even though no end). In one Person of Christ, the two - God and man - are "hypostatically united" (i.e. they both are the same one Person-Hypostasis), but they retain their peculiar, unique properties "without confusion."

Anyway, I am certain that they did not mean conception in this same way, because the weren't talking about the event on a cellular level.  This is not to be offense, but thee was no moment that 'God sperm' entered the Virgin Mary's egg. 

Most definitely. St. John of Damascus wrote, for example, that the Logos created for Himself a human body from the Virgin's "most pure blood."  
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« Reply #11 on: January 10, 2013, 04:33:40 PM »

Quote
...it is not easy for most people to reject the standard pro-life argument without rejecting other beliefs they have, such...murder isn't justified to serve society.
Capital punishment and just war are both examples of murder this is justified as service to society.
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« Reply #12 on: January 10, 2013, 04:38:12 PM »

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...it is not easy for most people to reject the standard pro-life argument without rejecting other beliefs they have, such...murder isn't justified to serve society.
Capital punishment and just war are both examples of murder this is justified as service to society.

That wouldn't be murder then, but killing.
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« Reply #13 on: January 10, 2013, 04:41:57 PM »

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...it is not easy for most people to reject the standard pro-life argument without rejecting other beliefs they have, such...murder isn't justified to serve society.
Capital punishment and just war are both examples of murder this is justified as service to society.

That wouldn't be murder then, but killing.
How do you distinguish murder from killing?
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« Reply #14 on: January 10, 2013, 04:46:09 PM »

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...it is not easy for most people to reject the standard pro-life argument without rejecting other beliefs they have, such...murder isn't justified to serve society.
Capital punishment and just war are both examples of murder this is justified as service to society.

That wouldn't be murder then, but killing.
How do you distinguish murder from killing?

Generally through some cultural mechanism, religious texts for example.
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