Poll

Which of the following applies to you?

I am an atheist/agnostic and am pro-choice.
21 (80.8%)
I am an atheist/agnostic and am opposed to abortion.
1 (3.8%)
I am an atheist/agnostic and am opposed to abortion during and after the second trimester.
3 (11.5%)
I am an atheist/agnostic and am opposed to abortion during and after the third trimester.
1 (3.8%)

Total Members Voted: 26

Voting closed: May 30, 2012, 06:49:32 PM

Author Topic: Atheists and Agnostics - Pro-choice / Opposed to Abortion  (Read 6198 times)

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Offline jss

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Re: Atheists and Agnostics - Pro-choice / Opposed to Abortion
« Reply #87 on: March 04, 2012, 06:22:25 PM »
What if she doesn't believe abortion to be immoral?[1]  Should she still conform, voluntarily, to this edict?
 1. There are medical reasons to avoid using abortions as birth control.

Of course not.

So the essence of your argument is "If a women feels that it's wrong to have an abortion then she shouldn't have one"?

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for people abstaining from activities that they are morally opposed to, but I am not sure this qualifies as meaningful.  :P

Offline jss

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Re: Atheists and Agnostics - Pro-choice / Opposed to Abortion
« Reply #88 on: March 04, 2012, 06:42:12 PM »
What if she doesn't believe abortion to be immoral?[1]  Should she still conform, voluntarily, to this edict?
 1. There are medical reasons to avoid using abortions as birth control.

Of course not.

I suppose my point, if there can ever really be one, is this:  As atheists we determine our morality from a different source than theists (claim they do).  Certainly part of this is the social contract (i.e. murder is bad for the tribe) but a big part (the majority?) is based on our conscience, or rather, empathy.  Will anyone be hurt by my actions?  How would I feel if someone did X to me?

From that perspective, I have a hard time seeing anything "wrong" with abortion.  Nobody is getting hurt, there's no awareness, even at birth, for pain or loss-of-life to be meaningful.  If human beings were more scarce then perhaps concern over species survival would kick in, but that's clearly not something we need to worry about in terms of population size.  Abortion is clearly distasteful, like putting down a puppy, I can't imagine anyone (not mentally ill) wanting to engage in it, but immoral?  I have a hard time with that.

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Re: Atheists and Agnostics - Pro-choice / Opposed to Abortion
« Reply #89 on: March 04, 2012, 06:44:17 PM »
So the essence of your argument is "If a women feels that it's wrong to have an abortion then she shouldn't have one"?

My apologies; I made a mistake.

What if she doesn't believe abortion to be immoral?[1]  Should she still conform, voluntarily, to this edict?
 1. There are medical reasons to avoid using abortions as birth control.

Of course not.

This should be "Yes". It is my opinion that we should all conform to one single ethical code. Obviously I am biased towards my own, just like everyone else is (or should be) biased towards their own. However, I understand that that's not fair, and thus would leave the choice to conform or not up to the woman.
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Re: Atheists and Agnostics - Pro-choice / Opposed to Abortion
« Reply #90 on: March 04, 2012, 06:46:54 PM »
From that perspective, I have a hard time seeing anything "wrong" with abortion.  Nobody is getting hurt, there's no awareness, even at birth, for pain or loss-of-life to be meaningful.

Have you ever seen a baby? They are quite intelligent (for newborns anyway). They feel pain, and they are most certainly self-aware, as are all humans.
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Offline jss

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Re: Atheists and Agnostics - Pro-choice / Opposed to Abortion
« Reply #91 on: March 04, 2012, 06:55:59 PM »

This should be "Yes". It is my opinion that we should all conform to one single ethical code. Obviously I am biased towards my own, just like everyone else is (or should be) biased towards their own. However, I understand that that's not fair, and thus would leave the choice to conform or not up to the woman.

That's not unreasonable, but it is problematic.  You obviously recognize that there can be no absolute universal morality.  Given that, it becomes impossible to conform to  a single code unless we establish that said code is the least common denominator and mutually agreeable to the vast majority.

With the exception of this shared agreed upon morality, there doesn't exist anything to conform to because absolute universal morality is non-existent.  If we are thus restrained to consider only our limited "group morality", it seems it would make the most sense to codify this into law so that we can ensure that everyone, for the good of us all, conforms.

Offline jss

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Re: Atheists and Agnostics - Pro-choice / Opposed to Abortion
« Reply #92 on: March 04, 2012, 06:59:27 PM »
From that perspective, I have a hard time seeing anything "wrong" with abortion.  Nobody is getting hurt, there's no awareness, even at birth, for pain or loss-of-life to be meaningful.

Have you ever seen a baby? They are quite intelligent (for newborns anyway). They feel pain, and they are most certainly self-aware, as are all humans.

Quite intelligent compared to what?

I never said they didn't feel pain.  All higher order animals obviously feel pain.  Can you back up this assertion that they are self-aware, what evidence do you have supporting this conclusion?

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Re: Atheists and Agnostics - Pro-choice / Opposed to Abortion
« Reply #93 on: March 04, 2012, 07:06:29 PM »
That's not unreasonable, but it is problematic.  You obviously recognize that there can be no absolute universal morality.  Given that, it becomes impossible to conform to  a single code unless we establish that said code is the least common denominator and mutually agreeable to the vast majority.

There is no absolute morality, but there is one lowest common denominator of morality. All actions benefit the ones the person performing them cares about the most (or so the person believes, anyway).

Quite intelligent compared to what?

Not "compared to" anything; just relative to the size of their brains.

Can you back up this assertion that they are self-aware, what evidence do you have supporting this conclusion?

http://www.madeformums.com/baby-development/when-your-baby-knows-shes-a-baby/769.html
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Offline Quesi

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Re: Atheists and Agnostics - Pro-choice / Opposed to Abortion
« Reply #94 on: March 04, 2012, 07:26:29 PM »
This has turned into a bizarre conversation, and swore I would not jump in again until another woman joined the discussion.  It is also really odd to be one of the few minority voices arguing against third trimester abortions, while listening to men proclaim that denying late term abortions would be a violation of my human rights. 

I’ve been a human rights activist all of my life.  That is probably literally true, because my parents dragged me to civil rights protests long before I was old enough to even have my own opinions.  I adopted the values that I was raised with, and I am old enough to have seen women’s position in society improve exponentially.  I really cannot even remember arguing with anyone about third trimester on-demand abortions.

Roe vs Wade provides that states cannot restrict access to on-demand abortions during the first two trimesters, and that states cannot restrict access to third trimester abortions when a woman’s life is in danger. 

Are there people here who are really arguing that Roe vs Wade is too restrictive?  Does anyone know of any country in the world that does not have restrictions on third term abortions?  Not Sweden or Holland or any of the countries that I can think of that have strong social support systems and respect for individual freedom. 

So that is the law.  Then there is the reality. 

There are very few doctors who have the skills to perform a late term abortion. .Anyone choosing the specialty is condemning himself/herself to a life full of death threats from dangerous crazy fundamentalists, and public disdain.   And please note, a late term abortion is generally defined as taking place either after the 21st week of pregnancy, or the 24th week.  Fewer than 1% of abortions performed in the US are “late term.”  The third trimester starts at least a full month later, at week 28.   

I have no problem with saying that an abortion performed after week 28 should be subject to restrictions.  I really believe that by that late in the pregnancy, that fetus is a baby.  If labor were induced, the kid would survive.  There may in fact be rare circumstances in which an abortion is necessary that late in a pregnancy, and I would certainly support a woman’s decision to save her own life, or abort a fetus destined to a short life of debilitating agony.  But I have never heard a feminist friend or colleague or even acquaintance call for on-demand third trimester abortions.  An abortion that late needs to be a medical decision, not a financial decision or a lifestyle decision. 

Now in terms of unwanted pregnancies… let me see.  I’m a little out of practice here, so maybe some of you can remind me of how it works.  I’m pretty sure that heterosexual activities that have the potential of resulting in pregnancy generally have at least two participants who have practiced unprotected sex.  And yet it is the woman who bears the responsibility and suffers the consequences. 

Diaphragms get left in drawers and women change birth control pills because they start having a bad reaction to one prescription, and accidently get pregnant while the new formula is settling into their systems. Condoms break, or are put on wrong. My own mom was quite surprised to find herself pregnant in her 40’s, while using a doctor-inserted IUD.  She subsequently miscarried.   And anyone who has spent any significant amount of time around 15 year olds knows that they often show extraordinarily poor judgment, act impulsively, and frequently do not consider the consequences of their actions.   Unwanted pregnancies happen.  That is why we need abortions.  Safe, legal abortions. 

Of course, the best way to prevent abortions is to promote safe affordable birth control.  And to provide education about birth control.  And to stop pretending that teenagers who make a chastity pledge at 13 don’t need to know about anything other than abstinence, because there’s a really good chance they are going to have changed their minds on that chastity thing by the time they hit their late teens or twenties. 

/rant off

Offline rickymooston

Re: Atheists and Agnostics - Pro-choice / Opposed to Abortion
« Reply #95 on: March 04, 2012, 07:26:45 PM »
I'm atheist/agnostic and i'm pro-choice.

That said, i don't think abortion is a choice that should be casually made; i.e., I'd feel it pretty immoral to have a late abortion for non-life threatening reasons.

The thing is, i think its immoral but not illegal because a law would very likely end up preventing people for doing it for perfectly rational reasons a law couldn't forsee.

Most abortions happen in the first 5 weeks!!!

Lets be honest here; being pregnant isn't fun. If a woman doesn't want her baby and she is sane, she will have the abortion as soon as possible rather than waiting until its almost time for birth.

Most late abortions are likely for medical reasons concerning either the mother or the baby

Based on the science as I understand it, I have no moral issues about an abortion in the first 5 weeks. I don't believe a sentient brain is developed at that point.

I start to get uncomfortable after 5 months when pan is felt and worse after 7 months when the senaps form.
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Offline jss

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Re: Atheists and Agnostics - Pro-choice / Opposed to Abortion
« Reply #96 on: March 04, 2012, 07:39:16 PM »
That's not unreasonable, but it is problematic.  You obviously recognize that there can be no absolute universal morality.  Given that, it becomes impossible to conform to  a single code unless we establish that said code is the least common denominator and mutually agreeable to the vast majority.

There is no absolute morality, but there is one lowest common denominator of morality. All actions benefit the ones the person performing them cares about the most (or so the person believes, anyway).

That's not a very good common denominator; the door to consequentialism is left agape!  What about actions that affect those we don't know?

Quote
Quite intelligent compared to what?

Not "compared to" anything; just relative to the size of their brains.

"Quite" implies some sort of comparison, usually obvious and highly subjective.  Newborns are not "quite" intelligent compared to adult humans, nor are they "quite" intelligent compared to other newborn high-order mammals.  In fact, compared to other animals, human newborns are rather underdeveloped.

Quote
Can you back up this assertion that they are self-aware, what evidence do you have supporting this conclusion?

http://www.madeformums.com/baby-development/when-your-baby-knows-shes-a-baby/769.html

I would hardly call some article fashioned explicitly for new mothers at "madeformums.com" to be reliable evidence regarding the self-awareness of human newborns.  Even so, the article states "Right from birth, your baby has some understanding that she is separate from you" -- not a terribly convincing argument for self-awareness given that nearly all of a newborn's activity is reflex-based.


Offline jss

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Re: Atheists and Agnostics - Pro-choice / Opposed to Abortion
« Reply #97 on: March 04, 2012, 08:13:07 PM »
Are there people here who are really arguing that Roe vs Wade is too restrictive?  Does anyone know of any country in the world that does not have restrictions on third term abortions?  Not Sweden or Holland or any of the countries that I can think of that have strong social support systems and respect for individual freedom. 

So that is the law.  Then there is the reality. 

There are very few doctors who have the skills to perform a late term abortion. .Anyone choosing the specialty is condemning himself/herself to a life full of death threats from dangerous crazy fundamentalists, and public disdain.   And please note, a late term abortion is generally defined as taking place either after the 21st week of pregnancy, or the 24th week.  Fewer than 1% of abortions performed in the US are “late term.”  The third trimester starts at least a full month later, at week 28.   

I don't think we can really meaningfully discuss abortion in the third trimester, because as you have stated elsewhere, that's induced labor, not abortion.

Even so, late-term abortion is still a complex issue.  Consider the Oldenburg baby, born in germany in 1997.  When the fetus was diagnosed with Down's the parents sought a late-term abortion at 25 weeks.  The baby unexpectedly survived the procedure and despite having severe developmental problems went on to foster care and is now capable of walking and running on his own.

The parents claim they were not aware that the procedure was survivable at 25 weeks.  I suspect that they felt it was worse, for all parties, to bring a developmentally challenged child into the world than it was to abort.  Others may disagree and understandably so.  But in the final analysis, faced with that decision, who gets to make the ultimate call?

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Re: Atheists and Agnostics - Pro-choice / Opposed to Abortion
« Reply #98 on: March 04, 2012, 08:13:14 PM »
That's not a very good common denominator; the door to consequentialism is left agape!  What about actions that affect those we don't know?

Uh... What's the point of your question? I said people (I'm simplifying for the sake of shortening posts) the person performing the actions cared about. Are you saying that people can't care about other people whom they've never met personally but know of their existence?

I would hardly call some article fashioned explicitly for new mothers at "madeformums.com" to be reliable evidence regarding the self-awareness of human newborns.  Even so, the article states "Right from birth, your baby has some understanding that she is separate from you" -- not a terribly convincing argument for self-awareness given that nearly all of a newborn's activity is reflex-based.

What is self-awareness if not knowing that you are separate from the other living beings you encounter? :S
« Last Edit: March 04, 2012, 08:16:59 PM by Lucifer »
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Offline jss

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Re: Atheists and Agnostics - Pro-choice / Opposed to Abortion
« Reply #99 on: March 04, 2012, 08:26:54 PM »
I would hardly call some article fashioned explicitly for new mothers at "madeformums.com" to be reliable evidence regarding the self-awareness of human newborns.  Even so, the article states "Right from birth, your baby has some understanding that she is separate from you" -- not a terribly convincing argument for self-awareness given that nearly all of a newborn's activity is reflex-based.

What is self-awareness if not knowing that you are separate from the other living beings you encounter? :S

What is self-awareness?  That's not exactly the easiest question to answer and there is certainly no shortage of philosophy on the subject.  However, I would tentatively posit that self-awareness is the ability for introspection; to identify one's internal state as being separate from the external.  "I think therefore I am"

With animals, who are capable of only the most limited forms of human communication, self-awareness is often measured with a mirror.  Does the animal behave as though the mirror image is a different animal or do they recognize themselves or the mirroring of their actions?

Instinct alone will cause an animal to behave as a separate entity; that doesn't mean self-awareness is present.
« Last Edit: March 04, 2012, 08:29:00 PM by jss »

Offline nogodsforme

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Re: Atheists and Agnostics - Pro-choice / Opposed to Abortion
« Reply #100 on: March 04, 2012, 08:33:00 PM »
Any woman who does not want to be pregnant should be able to get a medically safe, legal abortion under clean, sanitary conditions. Why this is even a debate in the 21st century with 7 billion people fighting for survival is beyond me.

When I recently had my third breast biopsy, I did not have to undergo any hassle about how the lump got into my breast or exactly what kind of cells were in it, or how much it looked like a person at 10 weeks, or whether anyone else thought I should keep the tumor. An unwanted fertilized egg inside of another human being should be treated the same way.

It should not matter how the fetus got inside her, whether the fetus is going to kill or maim her, whether she liked the sex or liked the guy or knew the guy, or forgot her pills or used a condom. It should not matter what her boyfriend thinks, or her pastor or her parents. She does not want to be pregnant. Case closed.

She should not have to walk a gauntlet of screaming zealots, she should not have to endure a waiting period, she should not have to ask a judge, a priest or the neighborhood witch doctor for permission. She should not have to view the fetus on an ultrasound.

If she is homeless, got pregnant having promiscuous, drunken, unprotected sex and does not know who the father is, and is having her 4th abortion, she should be ushered to the front of the line and given the abortion for free. Otherwise, society is declaring that she is exactly the kind of mother a child deserves--unless we are going to imprison the woman, force her to continue the pregnancy and take the child away at birth.

A pregnant woman who does not want to be pregnant should be able to get an abortion, and get on with whatever plans she has for her life. Most women do have children at some point-- how about we let the women decide when and with whom?

Women who don't want children should not have to have them.  Our society, planet and children deserve nothing less.
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Offline jss

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Re: Atheists and Agnostics - Pro-choice / Opposed to Abortion
« Reply #101 on: March 04, 2012, 08:41:41 PM »
If she is homeless, got pregnant having promiscuous, drunken, unprotected sex and does not know who the father is, and is having her 4th abortion, she should be ushered to the front of the line and given the abortion for free. Otherwise, society is declaring that she is exactly the kind of mother a child deserves--unless we are going to imprison the woman, force her to continue the pregnancy and take the child away at birth.

Unfortunately, what happens in the face of criminalization is that doctors end up imprisoned and no medical provider will offer abortion services, except secretively to those of privilege.  And thus "back-alley" abortions become the norm and women's health is significantly adversely affected.

Offline nogodsforme

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Re: Atheists and Agnostics - Pro-choice / Opposed to Abortion
« Reply #102 on: March 04, 2012, 09:44:07 PM »
If she is homeless, got pregnant having promiscuous, drunken, unprotected sex and does not know who the father is, and is having her 4th abortion, she should be ushered to the front of the line and given the abortion for free. Otherwise, society is declaring that she is exactly the kind of mother a child deserves--unless we are going to imprison the woman, force her to continue the pregnancy and take the child away at birth.

Unfortunately, what happens in the face of criminalization is that doctors end up imprisoned and no medical provider will offer abortion services, except secretively to those of privilege.  And thus "back-alley" abortions become the norm and women's health is significantly adversely affected.

Of course that is true, and it appears to be what the anti-abortion folk want. They know abortion will continue to happen, but they want the operation to be as dangerous, painful and risky as possible. Only then will women who dare to not want to be pregnant suffer enough.[1]

Choice this, sluts: Have a baby you don't want or face death. Of course those sluts include their own mothers, sisters, daughters, aunts, cousins, girlfriends, co-workers and wives. :(
 1. Unfortunately, the rest of society suffers along with the women...women are part of society, right? See Romania for what happens to the female death rate when abortion (and birth control) are outlawed. The women who die from too many childbirths, or a septic abortion=families with no mom, husbands with no wife, parents without daughter. Plus overcrowded orphanages, overworked parents, abandoned babies, abused kids, neglected kids.
Extraordinary claims of the bible don't even have ordinary evidence.

Kids aren't paying attention most of the time in science classes so it seems silly to get worked up over ID being taught in schools.

Offline jss

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Re: Atheists and Agnostics - Pro-choice / Opposed to Abortion
« Reply #103 on: March 04, 2012, 10:19:16 PM »
If she is homeless, got pregnant having promiscuous, drunken, unprotected sex and does not know who the father is, and is having her 4th abortion, she should be ushered to the front of the line and given the abortion for free. Otherwise, society is declaring that she is exactly the kind of mother a child deserves--unless we are going to imprison the woman, force her to continue the pregnancy and take the child away at birth.

Unfortunately, what happens in the face of criminalization is that doctors end up imprisoned and no medical provider will offer abortion services, except secretively to those of privilege.  And thus "back-alley" abortions become the norm and women's health is significantly adversely affected.

Of course that is true, and it appears to be what the anti-abortion folk want.

You know what, I actually don't think that's what they want.  At least not the rank-and-file.  They've been so indoctrinated with "abortion = murder" that all they can see are dead babies everywhere while devil-horned abortionists eagerly wait in the shadows drooling with anticipation at the oh-so-enticing thought of killing another baby.  There is no thought there, no reason, just unrelenting, overpowering emotion.  They are in a holy war; filled with the power of god!

It's almost enough to make someone strap a bomb to their chest and walk into a … oh wait.

Offline Mr. Blackwell

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Re: Atheists and Agnostics - Pro-choice / Opposed to Abortion
« Reply #104 on: March 04, 2012, 11:23:02 PM »
It's almost enough to make someone strap a bomb to their chest and walk into a … oh wait.

Or walk into a church and shoot a doctor who provides certain aforementioned services. Or throwing acid into a woman's face to preserve your honor. Or killing two people for defriending you on facebook. Or rioting over the latest Nike shoe sale. Or....wait...I seem to have strayed away from religious motivations...my bad.

I guess humans are just bat shit crazy...maybe it's something in the water.
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Offline nogodsforme

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Re: Atheists and Agnostics - Pro-choice / Opposed to Abortion
« Reply #105 on: March 05, 2012, 01:42:40 AM »
If she is homeless, got pregnant having promiscuous, drunken, unprotected sex and does not know who the father is, and is having her 4th abortion, she should be ushered to the front of the line and given the abortion for free. Otherwise, society is declaring that she is exactly the kind of mother a child deserves--unless we are going to imprison the woman, force her to continue the pregnancy and take the child away at birth.

Unfortunately, what happens in the face of criminalization is that doctors end up imprisoned and no medical provider will offer abortion services, except secretively to those of privilege.  And thus "back-alley" abortions become the norm and women's health is significantly adversely affected.

Of course that is true, and it appears to be what the anti-abortion folk want.

You know what, I actually don't think that's what they want.  At least not the rank-and-file.  They've been so indoctrinated with "abortion = murder" that all they can see are dead babies everywhere while devil-horned abortionists eagerly wait in the shadows drooling with anticipation at the oh-so-enticing thought of killing another baby.  There is no thought there, no reason, just unrelenting, overpowering emotion.  They are in a holy war; filled with the power of god!

It's almost enough to make someone strap a bomb to their chest and walk into a … oh wait.
I think you make a good point-- not the strapping on a bomb bit, the bit before that.

When you sit these ordinary people down, you find that they have not thought their policies all the way through. The other problem is that they find exceptions to all their rules when it is their own family member who needs an abortion. Other girls who want abortions are sluts, but my daughter is a good girl who was tricked into sex by that boy....why should she throw away her college education and ruin her future?

Because good girls make better mothers of unwanted kids than sluts? &)

I recall my experience of talking to a conservative, anti-abortion student of mine and had her thinking so hard I could smell the smoke. She just wasn't used to anyone challenging her bumper-sticker ideas.
Extraordinary claims of the bible don't even have ordinary evidence.

Kids aren't paying attention most of the time in science classes so it seems silly to get worked up over ID being taught in schools.

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Re: Atheists and Agnostics - Pro-choice / Opposed to Abortion
« Reply #106 on: March 05, 2012, 02:39:30 AM »
However, I would tentatively posit that self-awareness is the ability for introspection; to identify one's internal state as being separate from the external.

And how would I go around to testing for that? As I explain below, the mirror test is flawed.

With animals, who are capable of only the most limited forms of human communication, self-awareness is often measured with a mirror.  Does the animal behave as though the mirror image is a different animal or do they recognize themselves or the mirroring of their actions?

Or did the animal simply come to the basic conclusion that when it moves the thing on the mirror moves in the exact same way, then the thing in the mirror is itself (or to be more precise, a real-time representation of itself)?

Regardless, even if I were to concede that babies are not self-aware, they are still sentient beings. I'm sure you don't disagree with that.
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Offline jss

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Re: Atheists and Agnostics - Pro-choice / Opposed to Abortion
« Reply #107 on: March 05, 2012, 07:54:35 AM »
However, I would tentatively posit that self-awareness is the ability for introspection; to identify one's internal state as being separate from the external.

And how would I go around to testing for that? As I explain below, the mirror test is flawed.

Science disagrees that the mirror test is flawed but if we suppose that all tests are unreliable then there is no evidence to suggest that newborns are self-aware.  Absence of evidence ...

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With animals, who are capable of only the most limited forms of human communication, self-awareness is often measured with a mirror.  Does the animal behave as though the mirror image is a different animal or do they recognize themselves or the mirroring of their actions?

Or did the animal simply come to the basic conclusion that when it moves the thing on the mirror moves in the exact same way, then the thing in the mirror is itself (or to be more precise, a real-time representation of itself)?

If the animal comes to such a conclusion it is apparent in the way they examine the mirror.  The mirror test takes this into account.  Humans fail the mirror test until they are about 18 months old.

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Regardless, even if I were to concede that babies are not self-aware, they are still sentient beings. I'm sure you don't disagree with that.

I'm not sure sentience is binary.  I will concede that newborns are more sentient than frogs.

I suspect that newborns are equal to or slightly less sentient than the other great apes at birth; only because our gestation is less complete than theirs.  My evidence is this: When a newborn chimpanzee is brought into a human home and treated like a human baby it will behave just as a human would (for a while).

Even if newborns are as sentient as, say, dogs, my original point still stands.  I don't exactly relish the idea of putting down a dog, but I don't think it's wrong as long as the purpose is not to inflict pain.  In this aspect I will slightly amend my previous stance on morality:  I think it is wrong to inflict pain on another being, for the sake of pain itself, regardless of their self-awareness.

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Re: Atheists and Agnostics - Pro-choice / Opposed to Abortion
« Reply #108 on: March 05, 2012, 08:11:14 AM »
Science disagrees that the mirror test is flawed

Actually no, it doesn't. Scientists recognize that no test is perfect. We (scientists and I) just disagree on how flawed this one is.

but if we suppose that all tests are unreliable then there is no evidence to suggest that newborns are self-aware.  Absence of evidence ...

The point is that it's flawed in a way that could severely change the interpretation of the results. Like I said above, all tests are flawed.

If the animal comes to such a conclusion it is apparent in the way they examine the mirror.

You mean like how chimps look at their reflection and comb their hair or something? That just shows that they understand that it's not them, but a representation of themselves.

The mirror test takes this into account.

How so?

Humans fail the mirror test until they are about 18 months old.

I am well aware of this.

I'm not sure sentience is binary.  I will concede that newborns are more sentient than frogs.
<snip>

How would you define "sentience" in order to allow several degrees of it?

I don't exactly relish the idea of putting down a dog, but I don't think it's wrong as long as the purpose is not to inflict pain.  In this aspect I will slightly amend my previous stance on morality:  I think it is wrong to inflict pain on another being, for the sake of pain itself, regardless of their self-awareness.

What of those that don't feel pain, like bacteria or CIP(A)[1] patients?
 1. Congenital Insensitivity to Pain (with Anhidrosis).
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Offline jss

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Re: Atheists and Agnostics - Pro-choice / Opposed to Abortion
« Reply #109 on: March 05, 2012, 08:12:29 AM »
You know what, I actually don't think that's what they want.  At least not the rank-and-file.  They've been so indoctrinated with "abortion = murder" that all they can see are dead babies everywhere while devil-horned abortionists eagerly wait in the shadows drooling with anticipation at the oh-so-enticing thought of killing another baby.  There is no thought there, no reason, just unrelenting, overpowering emotion.  They are in a holy war; filled with the power of god!

It's almost enough to make someone strap a bomb to their chest and walk into a … oh wait.
I think you make a good point-- not the strapping on a bomb bit, the bit before that.

Well, that was a bit of tongue-in-cheek.  ;)

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I recall my experience of talking to a conservative, anti-abortion student of mine and had her thinking so hard I could smell the smoke. She just wasn't used to anyone challenging her bumper-sticker ideas.

In my life (I've always been pro-choice), I have managed to convince a grand total of one person to switch camps on the abortion issue and that was only because she was uniquely (unique for a pro-lifer anyway) able to understand that everyone's circumstances are different.  She finally decided that, while she believed abortion was wrong, she couldn't force that judgement on others without knowing their exact circumstances.

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Re: Atheists and Agnostics - Pro-choice / Opposed to Abortion
« Reply #110 on: March 05, 2012, 08:55:47 AM »
Science disagrees that the mirror test is flawed

Actually no, it doesn't. Scientists recognize that no test is perfect. We (scientists and I) just disagree on how flawed this one is.

Okay, fine, no test is perfect.  And everything is a theory.  Pedantic but true.

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but if we suppose that all tests are unreliable then there is no evidence to suggest that newborns are self-aware.  Absence of evidence ...

The point is that it's flawed in a way that could severely change the interpretation of the results. Like I said above, all tests are flawed.

Even if we discard the mirror test, all that does is remove one piece of evidence for or against newborn self-awareness.  I don't see how self-awareness can be the assumption in the absence of evidence; if you are going to assert self-awareness then it's up to you to provide evidence.

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If the animal comes to such a conclusion it is apparent in the way they examine the mirror.

You mean like how chimps look at their reflection and comb their hair or something? That just shows that they understand that it's not them, but a representation of themselves.

The mirror test takes this into account.

How so?


I don't really feel like discussing the details of the mirror test.  I'm sure you are more than capable of performing any necessary research, should you want to (which I suspect you will not as you disagree with scientific consensus on the validity of the test).

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Humans fail the mirror test until they are about 18 months old.

I am well aware of this.

I'm not sure sentience is binary.  I will concede that newborns are more sentient than frogs.
<snip>

How would you define "sentience" in order to allow several degrees of it?



Sentience is the ability to perceive.  Lower order animals (or people in a persistent vegetative state) have no perceptive ability and are thus not sentient.  Higher order animals are increasingly more perceptive with the great apes being at the top (and possibly dolphins).

Quote
I don't exactly relish the idea of putting down a dog, but I don't think it's wrong as long as the purpose is not to inflict pain.  In this aspect I will slightly amend my previous stance on morality:  I think it is wrong to inflict pain on another being, for the sake of pain itself, regardless of their self-awareness.

What of those that don't feel pain, like bacteria or CIP(A)[1] patients?
 1. Congenital Insensitivity to Pain (with Anhidrosis).

I would base this ethical element on the self rather than the other.  Hurting another being merely for the sake of inflicting pain, regardless of the victim's ability to experience pain, is detrimental to the self, making one potentially less likely to be a positive member of society.

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Re: Atheists and Agnostics - Pro-choice / Opposed to Abortion
« Reply #111 on: March 05, 2012, 09:06:58 AM »
Okay, fine, no test is perfect.  And everything is a theory.  Pedantic but true.

Not pedantic. Just true. It was also relevant to the point of disagreement between myself and scientists who think the mirror test is an accurate measure of self-awareness.

Even if we discard the mirror test, all that does is remove one piece of evidence for or against newborn self-awareness.  I don't see how self-awareness can be the assumption in the absence of evidence; if you are going to assert self-awareness then it's up to you to provide evidence.

True on all points, but there are a few things you're forgetting - I can conceive of no method for proving self-awareness one way or the other; I can only look at something, and the way it interacts with the world, and judge whether it is self-aware or not.

I don't really feel like discussing the details of the mirror test.

Why not? This makes me a sad angel. :(

I'm sure you are more than capable of performing any necessary research, should you want to (which I suspect you will not as you disagree with scientific consensus on the validity of the test).

I will perform the research if you really don't feel like discussing the details, merely because my view may be flawed because I simply don't understand the implications of the mirror test.

Sentience is the ability to perceive.  Lower order animals (or people in a persistent vegetative state) have no perceptive ability and are thus not sentient.  Higher order animals are increasingly more perceptive with the great apes being at the top (and possibly dolphins).

Perceive what? Certain species of spiders, IIRC, can see the full electromagnetic spectrum. We only see a very small fraction of it. They are also much more sensitive to vibrations than almost every living being on this planet. Are they "more" sentient than us?
The truth is absolute. Life forms are specks of specks (...) of specks of dust in the universe.
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Offline atheola

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Re: Atheists and Agnostics - Pro-choice / Opposed to Abortion
« Reply #112 on: March 05, 2012, 09:22:09 AM »
One male fantasy conversation that really needs publicly exposed for the insanity of it, and I've heard it more than a few times and it goes something like this: Women talking among selves. "Hey girlfriend...you know what? I'm horny so let's go pick up some men so we can get pregnant then go have us some abortions!"
There are actually men walking around who think this is a regular occurrence and typical female tactic. Take that idiot shitthink off the table and the IQ of the entire planet goes up overnight.
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Get on your knees right now and thank GOD for not being real!

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Re: Atheists and Agnostics - Pro-choice / Opposed to Abortion
« Reply #113 on: March 05, 2012, 10:40:16 AM »
One male fantasy conversation that really needs publicly exposed for the insanity of it, and I've heard it more than a few times and it goes something like this: Women talking among selves. "Hey girlfriend...you know what? I'm horny so let's go pick up some men so we can get pregnant then go have us some abortions!"
There are actually men walking around who think this is a regular occurrence and typical female tactic. Take that idiot shitthink off the table and the IQ of the entire planet goes up overnight.

...The fuck?
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Offline jss

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Re: Atheists and Agnostics - Pro-choice / Opposed to Abortion
« Reply #114 on: March 05, 2012, 10:51:01 AM »
Okay, fine, no test is perfect.  And everything is a theory.  Pedantic but true.

Not pedantic. Just true. It was also relevant to the point of disagreement between myself and scientists who think the mirror test is an accurate measure of self-awareness.


It's pedantic because science agrees, by consensus, that the mirror test is valid and thus not flawed.  While it's technically true that all tests are imperfect that doesn't change the fact that this one is considered to be valid.  If you can produce a superior test I'm sure we can convince the relevant scientific community to discard the mirror test as "not accurate enough".

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Even if we discard the mirror test, all that does is remove one piece of evidence for or against newborn self-awareness.  I don't see how self-awareness can be the assumption in the absence of evidence; if you are going to assert self-awareness then it's up to you to provide evidence.

True on all points, but there are a few things you're forgetting - I can conceive of no method for proving self-awareness one way or the other; I can only look at something, and the way it interacts with the world, and judge whether it is self-aware or not.

That's not evidence and thus it does not help us decide, in general, if newborns are self-aware.  Given that there is no evidence of self-awareness and that we don't assume self-awareness by default that means that we must consider newborns to not have self-awareness.

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I don't really feel like discussing the details of the mirror test.

Why not? This makes me a sad angel. :(


The reason I don't want to get into the details of the test is because you have rejected its validity.  What is the point, with respect to the argument at hand, of continuing down this particular road which cannot possibly move the discussion forward?

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Sentience is the ability to perceive.  Lower order animals (or people in a persistent vegetative state) have no perceptive ability and are thus not sentient.  Higher order animals are increasingly more perceptive with the great apes being at the top (and possibly dolphins).

Perceive what? Certain species of spiders, IIRC, can see the full electromagnetic spectrum. We only see a very small fraction of it. They are also much more sensitive to vibrations than almost every living being on this planet. Are they "more" sentient than us?

Perceive reality.  No spiders can see the full EM spectrum, you don't appear to understand electromagnetism.  The spectrum is theoretically infinite, there are no known limits on frequency lengths.  Even if we only consider the spectrum of human-useful EM, say very low frequency radio to gamma, this is such a vast band that there exists no receptor, technological or biological, that could turn all of it into a representative electrical signal.  Think of X-Rays, they are relatively unaffected by soft tissue but blocked by hard tissue.  High-energy gamma is stopped by almost no tissue.  Very hard to construct a biological sensor that cannot actually intercept the energy it is supposed to detect.

Besides, perception isn't sensory input, it's the processing of said input in an intelligent fashion.

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Re: Atheists and Agnostics - Pro-choice / Opposed to Abortion
« Reply #115 on: March 05, 2012, 10:59:54 AM »
It's pedantic because science agrees, by consensus, that the mirror test is valid and thus not flawed.

False dichotomy. Something can be valid and flawed. One of the best examples I can think of are scientific theories.

That's not evidence and thus it does not help us decide, in general, if newborns are self-aware.  Given that there is no evidence of self-awareness and that we don't assume self-awareness by default that means that we must consider newborns to not have self-awareness.

I know it's not evidence. My point is that if I cannot even conceive of an experiment to determine that, how am I supposed to provide evidence for it?

The reason I don't want to get into the details of the test is because you have rejected its validity.  What is the point, with respect to the argument at hand, of continuing down this particular road which cannot possibly move the discussion forward?

I have rejected its validity due to my understanding of how it works. If my understanding is flawed, then I will change my mind. I said that here:
I will perform the research if you really don't feel like discussing the details, merely because my view may be flawed because I simply don't understand the implications of the mirror test.

Perceive reality.  No spiders can see the full EM spectrum, you don't appear to understand electromagnetism.

Sorry. I got a little carried away there with the hyperbole. IIRC they can see from infrared to ultraviolet and everything in between.

Besides, perception isn't sensory input, it's the processing of said input in an intelligent fashion.

That doesn't change much and now hinges on your definition of "intelligent fashion". I think you're just putting humans above everything else in evolutionary terms[1] when you shouldn't be.
 1. And treating evolution as if it were an absolute thing, since it is the only way that that can make sense.
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