Brittany Maynard and the ethics of assisted suicide

Several readers have asked me to discuss the Brittany Maynard story. Your wish is my command.

For those who somehow aren’t aware, Brittany Maynard (right) is a young woman, only three years older than me, who has been diagnosed with a very aggressive form of brain cancer. Doctors informed her that she could not be cured, and even if the most advanced treatments available were pursued, death was inevitable in a matter of months. Brittany decided to move to Oregon to take advantage of its assisted suicide law, and plans to take the lethal medication on November 1. In partnership with an advocacy group, she created a video about her decision, which has been covered by media across the nation and the world over the past week. (As just one example, see this Washington Post article.)

Secular Pro-Life does not often write about end-of-life issues. Of course, we recognize that every human life is valuable, including the lives of the disabled, the terminally ill, and people considering suicide. But traditionally, abortion has been our primary focus. So forgive me if this post rambles a bit.

First of all, I would like to express my opinion that Brittany Maynard is brave. This places me in conflict with Christian pro-life commentator Matt Walsh, who writes:

If you are saying that it is dignified and brave for a cancer patient to kill themselves, what are you saying about cancer patients who don’t? What about a woman who fights to the end, survives for as long as she can, and withers away slowly, in agony, until her very last breath escapes her lungs? 

Is that person not brave? Is that person not dignified? I thought we applaud that kind of person. I thought we admire her courage and tenacity. Sorry, you can’t advance two contradictory narratives at once.

But this misses the point. I don’t admire Maynard because she plans to end her life. I admire her because she is somehow able to go public about what has to be the most devastating situation she’s ever encountered, knowing that she’s going to be the topic of internet controversy, knowing that random bloggers she’s never met are going to write about her (sorry), and somehow she recorded that video without breaking down into sobs. I definitely would not be able to do that. That takes an incredible amount of self-confidence. If she had instead chosen to fight to the end, and had broadcast that story, I’d be just as impressed.

Assisted suicide raises concerns that are distinct from those of abortion. Abortion always takes the life of someone who cannot consent; that’s not true of assisted suicide. I’m willing to entertain the idea that assisted suicide in the terminally ill is not prima facie wrong, which I realize is a highly unorthodox position for a pro-lifer to take. I’m reminded of my recent article about perinatal hospice, in which I wrote that

in situations where the child is bound to die within days, hours, or even minutes of birth, abortion may be viewed not as homicide, but as a mere matter of timing. You can still argue that it’s wrong, but at the very least, we must acknowledge that abortion in such cases is ethically murkier than the typical abortion chosen for socioeconomic reasons. 

Maynard makes an analogous point when she states:

I’ve had the medication for weeks. I am not suicidal. If I were, I would have consumed that medication long ago. I do not want to die. But I am dying. And I want to die on my own terms.

I cannot begin to imagine what she’s going through. The only positive I can see here is that she seems to have an incredibly supportive husband, family, and friends.

The problem is, not everyone does.

As I said, abortion and assisted suicide are unique issues, but we certainly can draw upon our experiences with legalized abortion to make some predictions about legalized euthanasia. We know from the abortion context that “choice” (and Maynard uses the language of “choice”) can very quickly mutate into coercion.

No man is an island. We are deeply influenced by others, especially family, and especially when we are in a vulnerable state—as when we’ve been shocked by an unplanned pregnancy or a cancer diagnosis. We’ve seen women forced into abortions by the fathers of their unborn children. We’ve seen underage girls coerced by their statutory rapists, and sometimes, sadly, even by their own parents. We’ve seen mothers of all ages manipulated by abortion “counselors” who refuse to divulge accurate information about what takes place during pregnancy. And above all, we’ve seen women forced into abortion by economic circumstances. Legal abortion clearly has worsened those problems, not solved them.

How do we prevent similar complications from arising in the context of assisted suicide? How do we make sure that vulnerable people are not unduly influenced by family members, by overly pessimistic doctors, or by the potential financial burden of a longer life? In short: how can we create a law that allows assisted suicide for people like Brittany Maynard, without catching others in its trap?

I’m very skeptical that it’s possible. And until someone shows me differently, I have to err on the side of protecting those who want to live every last day.

338 thoughts on “Brittany Maynard and the ethics of assisted suicide”

  1. I'm glad that you end up on the side of caution–and for very wise reasons–but I'm not sure about some of the philosophical reasoning that makes this a close call for you. For example:

    in situations where the child is bound to die within days, hours, or even minutes of birth, abortion may be viewed not as homicide, but as a mere matter of timing.

    Since we're all mortal we're all dying. So how can you draw a distinction between homicide (killing someone who is dying, as far as we know, in a year or more) and "a mere matter of timing" (killing someone who is dying, say, in less than a year from now). There doesn't seem to me to be any more justification for saying that a person's life is more or less valuable based on the time they have left to life rather than based on the time thy have already lived.

    There may be less trauma and pain involved in going on a mass killing spree inside a hospice than inside a kindergarten, but it's still murder either way.

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  2. Abortion always takes the life of someone who cannot consent.

    …………..
    Words have meaning. It you have to distort the meaning of words to make an argument, you have no argument.

    Some ONE can get me a cup of coffee. Some ONE can stand behind me in the checkout line. I do not become two people the moment the sperm meets the ovum.

    A fetus becomes SOME ONE, a human being and a legal person, when it survives to and through birth. And not until then.

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  3. Be careful about your "timing" comments above. Just yesterday, I was reading comments on a video about parents who had chosen to carry a nonviable fetus to term and had been able to spend a few hours with him. Many, many commenters remarked upon the couple's "selfishness" for not aborting the baby immediately and instead letting him live to suffer. So now aborting for defects goes from being a "choice" to being selfish, just as you (and I) fear will happen if assisted suicide becomes widely accepted.

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  4. Thank you for this. I've been bothered by the number of people who talk about her 'personal choice', failing to recognise the broader implications of legalised euthanasia.

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  5. I think Ms. Maynard should have a right to die, since it doesn't involve killing a different person but her own life herself. She has my support, but I realize my opinion is probably unpopular in prolife movement… Hmm.

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  6. Dr. Ben Carson made a fairly wise comment about this case yesterday. He posited that brain cancer patients are nearly always on high dose steroids whoch, if withdrawn all at once, will nearly inevitably cause death. He further said that sedation could be administered to keep the patient comfortable. That, he said, would be an example of allowing a natural death (via the choice to withhold treatment) in these circumstances instead of overdosing someone in order to cause death. But he also cautioned against judging this woman as it is a hard case and a has they say in law school, hard cases make bad law.

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  7. Suicide is not euthanasia. Words have meaning. When you have to distort meaning to make an argument, you have no argument.

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  8. There may be less trauma and pain involved in going on a mass killing spree inside a hospice than inside a kindergarten, but it's still murder either way.

    ……………
    What does any of the above have to do with me deciding to die or deciding to abort?

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  9. Your nebulous and unscientific assertion of when life begins is astounding.The fact that the fetus is human, living, growing and has it's own DNA tells me that it's someONE long before birth. Keep telling yourself that it's not so you can rationalize the barbaric dismemberment, burning and poisoning of our own helpless children. Many have done this before you *until* the act is done. Then the bitter reality sets in.

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  10. Did you not read this article? What about parents or boyfriends or statutory rapists who force teens to abort their children? Are they not controlling? What about the rights of the elderly to life till their last natural dying breath? Should they not be protected from "well meaning" family members who don't want to be burdened by them, who, with assisted suicide laws in place, might pressure them to take the death-inducing pill? Yes, I want to have some say (read "control" if you like) over the temptation of others to pressure elderly or sick to commit suicide. Why do you want to look the other way?

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  11. It should be up to EACH person to decide what happens in their life. No one should be allowed to force their views onto another. Just like no one should force me to gestate against my will no one should force someone to live or die against their will.

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  12. He was making the comparison between people at the hospice who are old and have less time to live than kindergarteners who have their whole life in front of them.

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  13. Dr. Ben Carson strikes me as a psychopath. He says outrageous things with no discernible affect. Creeps me out. I suppose he could register somewhere on the autism spectrum. That would also account for his creepy.

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  14. Life began eons ago. A life may begin with conception. A fetus is human, it is alive like my arm is alive, it may be unwanted. So sad, too bad.
    You have a rich full fantasy life. I give you Buddha's advice – 'Think about other things." You will feel a lot better. And folks will stop running when they see you coming.
    And last, but not least, I wish you what you wish me.

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  15. I think you are right. But I still do not get what it has to do with me deciding to die or have an abortion. The connection escapes me.
    I am old. I could resent that. And yet, I would die to save the life of a toddler. Any toddler. Life is mysterious and then you die. I am good with that.

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  16. You have no idea if the baby was in pain, much less an amount of pain that would cause him to prefer death, if he were capable of understanding that choice. He may have a condition which is not painful or only somewhat painful, but nonetheless fatal, he may have been on pain medications, he may have been in perinatal hospice where he was well cared for, etc. And he was no doubt held and comforted and loved.

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  17. "I do not become two people the moment the sperm meets the ovum."

    No one is arguing that. However, a new individual, whole, living human organism does come into existence at conception. A new human life begins at conception; that is the biological reality.

    Not being self-sufficient is not the same thing as not being an individual.

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  18. She already does have a "right to die." Since when do we need legal permission and a doctor present to kill ourselves? Teenagers manage to kill themselves without permission from authority. If you're found they save you and evaluate your mental health, but if you have your full faculties and don't prattle on about how you're going to stab yourself as soon as you leave the hospital, they won't keep you against your will. There's plenty of painkillers and prescriptions that one can easily OD on or mix to cause fatal reactions, and the terminally ill tend to have pretty good access to some of them. The problem with assisted suicide is that you're placing the killing into the hands of a third party, and for those who are incapable of making their own medical decisions (small children, the demented, the comatose etc.) you're potentially placing the decision to be killed into the hands of a third party as well.

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  19. Or perhaps that new "individual", Betty, splits into Betty and Barbara, then rejoins again to form Barbara. Did Betty die? Are chimeras two people?

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  20. Language again.
    Quote: "… a new individual, whole, living human organism does come into existence at conception.'
    A fetus is not individual. It is not an organism by definition.
    Pure delusion. I find delusional people scary. Delusional people set fires, bomb buildings, assassinate doctors, stalk and harass folks … oh wait … that describes forced birth cultists. If the shoe fits …

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  21. I'm really glad you posted this article because I have basically the exact same position. I don't think killing someone with their consent is prima facie wrong, nor remotely comparable to killing a human being without their consent. But its implementation so far seems to be hurting more than it helps.

    I'd add few more points:

    There is a difference between someone who has objectively chosen "I do not wish to live out the rest of my life" and someone who is mentally ill and suicidal. How do we tell the difference and enforce this? I've already seen stories of assisted suicide being "offered" as an option for the depressed.

    Ableism, and in particular the idea that those who are farthest from being able to live (so-called) "independently" are worth the least, is a pre-existing enormous problem. I hope everyone involved in the abortion debate is familiar with this fact. It's really important to consider assisted suicide in light of this fact. Does a person who accepts assisted suicide do so because they believe the remainder of their life is not worth living, or because of the overwhelming societal messages that a severely disabled life is not worth living? One of the many good points that Not Dead Yet makes is that the "death with dignity" rhetoric is particularly problematic: In a society that prizes physical ability and stigmatizes impairments, it’s no surprise that previously able-bodied people may tend to equate disability with loss of dignity. This reflects the prevalent but insulting societal judgment that people who deal with incontinence and other losses in bodily function are lacking dignity.

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  22. What if it was painful? Is it ethical to let your baby slowly die? What if it takes a few years, and the baby is in constsnt pain? Keep the kid doped up that entire time? How about when hospitals choose to let terminally ill babies starve to death? Is that ethical?

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  23. it is alive like my arm is alive

    This is just bad biology. There's a difference between an organism, even a very young and dependent one, and a body part.

    If your argument is that the developing fetus isn't developed enough to matter according to your philosophy, then say that. But biologically, a fetus and an arm are in two completely different categories.

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  24. Saying someone might be on the spectrum because you find them creepy and psychopathic is bigoted against people on the spectrum. Please don't.

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  25. Sarah Palin is a liar and I won't defend her nonsense. But you don't have to posit anything like "death panels" to see how social and financial pressures could lead someone to consider assisted suicide when they otherwise might not.

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  26. Yes, I won't discount that. However, where it is legal, there are significant safeguards in place.

    Also, social and financial pressures can lead people who are not in any way disabled to take their own lives.

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  27. He said that the ACA was the worst thing since slavery
    washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-politics/wp/2013/10/11/ben-carson-obamacare-worst-thing-since-slavery/

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  28. People who do not exhibit affect or exhibit inappropriate affect creep others not so afflicted out. That is a fact of life. Deal with it or not, it is no skin off my nose.

    There are a number of reasons that a person might be without affect or exhibit inappropriate affect. Among them are – psychopathy, autism, brain damage, facial paralysis or muscle damage and more conditions with which I may not be familiar.

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  29. This is just bad biology. There's a difference between an organism, even a very young and dependent one, and a body part.

    ………………………
    In every way that is important, not until birth. Not true by definition.
    Look it up. And then convince me are not delusional.
    That difference is the miracle of birth, and you want to cheapen it to get your political way. Not on my watch.

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  30. I've read that the safeguards really aren't as good as they should be, but I admittedly don't have any references at hand at the moment. They would need to be very strong.

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  31. I understand what you do mean. I was talked about /her/ decision, but it seems most people are so disappointed with her because she doesn't want to suffer the brain cancer within 6 months. I just don't understand why they believe she shouldn't be allowed to reduce her suffering or something…

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  32. Oh, in every way that's important! I do a lot of running, but I'm not sure I can keep up with these goalposts you keep moving.

    And what definition? Where are you getting this definition? Could you kindly link to the developmental biology text that explains that the embryo or fetus is a body part equivalent to an arm, rather than a developing organism? I think you're building this "definition" out of nothing but your own personal opinion about what's "important."

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  33. Is a fetus part of my body until it is born or not? Simple question. We will find out how delusional you are. That is always the fun part.

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  34. To use the above article, the child cannot consent one way or another. He or she may desire life at all costs. Abortion advocates often compare pre-born and sometimes born babies to non-human animals. The only directly suicidal animal I can think of are bees. Mammals instinct is life at all costs. It is arguable that taking away the option to fight for one's own life, even inevitably (lets face it, your death and mine are also inevitable. Our deaths will probably be painful in some way.Do you want to die? I don't) is unethical.

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  35. What if someone does not want to be pregnant, is forced to be, and sees suicide as the only way to end the suffering.

    Are they mentally Ill? Should they be imprisoned for the duration of the pregnancy? Force fed? Tied to a bed?

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  36. And abortion is painful! Can't believe I let that slide! A child old enough to be diagnosed with a terminal birth defect is cut to pieces before being sucked out of her mother's uterus. A younger baby is just desicated with saline solution. Yeah, cozy. Much better than dying in loving arms.

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  37. Incorrect.

    Saline abortions are no longer performed, and in the majority of late term abortions the fetus heart is stopped first, and then labour is induced. In situations where labour cannot be induced, and it is removed in pieces, the woman is anaesthetized, and the fetus will be too.

    Furthemore, fetuses prior to 25 weeks are incapable of sentience, and they are sedated and anaesthetized naturally whilst in utero.

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  38. This is just bad biology. There's a difference between an organism, even a very young and dependent one, and a body part.

    …………
    Explain the difference.

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  39. If the death of the embryo or fetus is virtually inevitable, and the continuation of the pregnancy poses a direct threat to the life of the mother, I believe it is ethical to end the pregnancy in the most humane way possible-preferably without causing direct harm to the baby, which if I recall correctly is where double effect comes in-the death of the baby is a foreseen but unintended and undesired consequence of the necessary care given to the mother. (Although I would consider outright abortion ethical if the baby were going to die anyway and there was no other way to preserve the mother's health and safely end a pregnancy which would likely result in the her death, and if it were done in such a way as to minimize or eliminate the child's suffering. I'm not sure how such a medical scenario would actually arise though.)

    I'm not positive but I believe it's possible to try to transfer tubal embryos to the uterus, which is obviously the better option for the baby, but I'm not sure how successful or common such attempts are.

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  40. That is because there is no such link for you. For us there are plenty to show that the Zygote is in fact an organism.

    psychology.about.com/od/zindex/g/def_zygote.htm

    bdfund.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/wi_whitepaper_life_print.pdf

    And apparently even Planned Parenthood admits it's a single celled organism:

    plannedparenthood.org/health-info/glossary#z

    There are a lot more links than this available.

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  41. Any biology and embryology textbook will say that the embryo is an organism. Even Planned Parenthood classifies zygotes and embryos as organisms. plannedparenthood.org/health-info/glossary#alpha_e

    No scientific source anywhere will say that an arm or a gamete is an organism. They are parts, not wholes.

    Organisms function as a whole, with all individual parts acting towards the good of the whole living thing. Your arms doesn't function as a whole, it's not designed to promote it's own continued existence and welfare, it's biologically merely a part of the larger body, you. You are an organism, but your arm is not. The composition and function of a zygote is entirely different than the composition and function of gametes, which cease to exist individually at conception. Furthermore the zygote is set on the continuous path of development through embryo, fetus, newborn, toddler, child, etc. Gametes aren't. You can trace your own existence as a single living entity back to the zygote stage, but no further.

    Here is a paper going further into the definition of an organism, and why an embryo (but not sperm or eggs) is one.

    bdfund.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/wi_whitepaper_life_print.pdf

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  42. On the flip side of statutory rapists, what about rapists who rape and disappear, and the people who want to force that child or woman to give birth to that baby?

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  43. Organism
    Definition
    noun, plural: organisms
    (Science: Biology)
    An individual living thing that can react to stimuli, reproduce, grow, and maintain homeostasis. It can be a virus, bacterium, protist, fungus, plant or an animal.

    …………..
    Can a fetus do these things? No.
    Is a fetus individual? No. A fetus is inside me and a part of my body until it survives to and through birth.
    Does the fetus have the potential to become an individual organism that can do these things? Yes.
    It is true that a fetus is alive, can react on a primitive level to stimuli, and it can grow.
    It cannot, until it survives to and through birth, reproduce and maintain homeostasis. That is a mighty big CANNOT.
    Until the genotype is fully expressed in the phenotype, there is no human being and no legal person.
    NOW WE CAN CONTINUE TO ARGUE THIS, BUT ULTIMATELY THERE IS NO POINT TO THE ARGUMENT.
    Why? Because no individual organism possesses the right to live at my expense without my consent. Born or unborn.

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  44. Scientists disagree on when the fetus becomes a human being, if it ever does. It is still an open question.

    J Med Ethics.
    The brain-life theory: towards a consistent biological definition of humanness.
    Goldenring JM.
    Abstract
    This paper suggests that medically the term a 'human being' should be defined by the presence of an active human brain. The brain is the only unique and irreplaceable organ in the human body, as the orchestrator of all organ systems and the seat of personality. Thus, the presence or absence of brain life truly defines the presence or absence of human life in the medical sense. When viewed in this way, human life may be seen as a continuous spectrum between the onset of brain life in utero (eight weeks gestation), until the occurrence of brain death. At any point human tissue or organ systems may be present, but without the presence of a functional human brain, these do not constitute a 'human being', at least in a medical sense. The implications of this theory for various ethical concerns such as in vitro fertilisation and abortion are discussed. This theory is the most consistent possible for the definition of a human being with no contradictions inherent. However, having a good theory of definition of a 'human being' does not necessarily solve the ethical problems discussed herein.

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  45. Cases like this are difficult because she has no chance for survival, and preemptively choosing death goes against some pretty major instincts. People get upset about that. No matter what she does or doesn't do, people will say horrible and mean things…this is the internet. The problem is that there's a difference between saying one doesn't want to prolong their life and suffering (through treatment) and saying one wants to cut out early (with suicide). The first instance is a personal choice about end of life care, and a decision for palliative care rather than extra interventions. The second one becomes a major problem when the involvement of a third party becomes legal and expected. Ultimately that's what the debate is about. Most people just can't move past the particulars of one case to the larger overarching ethical implications.
    If we go to kill someone and I provide the gun and load it and turn off the safety then hand it to you to pull the trigger, we're both equally responsible for that death. Assisted suicide is the same thing except that the victim and the one pulling the trigger are the same person…my culpability for providing the loaded weapon is not diminished.

    What concerns me about cases like this is that they are used to turn suicide into just another option rather than a tragedy. Instead of improving palliative care both in its access and application, it creates an expectation that people will just "skip" that final unpleasantness and adds killer to a doctor's job description rather than keeping them as only healers and comforters. Euthanasia has become a treatment for depression in Europe because death is now endorsed when improving one's life feels like too much work or impossible.

    Accepting that people do kill themselves (for various reasons) doesn't mean that you don't try to talk them out of it or offer other available options. But accepting the fact of suicide also doesn't mean endorsing it. That this is being endorsed and supported through law and involving others intentionally in a human being's death is I think what actually has most people riled up.

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  46. Do you ever post at The Atlantic? In case you are interested. "The Safer, More Affordable Abortion Only Available in Two States"

    theatlantic.com/business/archive/2014/10/the-safer-more-affordable-abortion-only-available-in-two-states

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  47. How long before the 'right to life' becomes the duty to feed an infant… or an elderly paraplegic man… so he doesn't die?

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  48. IIRC, in this particular condition (anencephaly), the baby cannot feel pain and is not capable of any type of awareness at all. In that case, the "the fetus cannot feel pain and therefore killing it is okay" argument works in reverse — the infant cannot feel pain and therefore letting him live until he naturally dies is okay.

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  49. I feed infants and the elderly for the same reason I feed myself. Folks need to eat.
    There is no 'right to life.' If there were, the State could execute no one.
    You did not answer my question.
    You did a poor job of shame/blame. Not one of you zealots is sane or even intelligent.

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  50. "…a 1998 study from Georgetown University's Center for Clinical Bioethics found a strong link between cost-cutting pressures on physicians and their willingness to prescribe lethal drugs to patients — were it legal to do so."

    abcnews.go.com/Health/story?id=5517492

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  51. If anyone is interested, David Vellman at NYU has a great paper on this subject: Against the Right to Die. I've copied a piece from his article below.

    "Options can be undesirable, then, because they subject one to various kinds of pressure; but they can be undesirable for other reasons, too. Offering someone an alternative to the status quo makes two outcomes possible for him, but neither of them is the outcome that was possible before. He can now choose the status quo or choose the alternative, but he can no longer have the status quo without choosing it."

    I took Ethics from Vellman and found his thoughts on this subject in particular to be very interesting, so I try to pass it along to others who might be interested in it. Cheers!

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  52. I am not… I personally don't think any HUMAN BEING should be forced to die or risk their health and life for another. A ZEF is not a human being so I fail to see how my thinking abortion is a woman's right means I want humans to die.

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  53. No one disagrees with the fact that killing is wrong. What we disagree with is the forced gestational slavery of the pregnant woman. Her life should come first since she is the one that actually has a life.

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  54. I'm not getting into a pissing contest with you. Insulting people doesn't make your argument any stronger, or change the facts of biology, which you are repeatedly refusing to accept. I'm sorry you seem to be upset. Have a nice day.

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  55. The reproduction of cells it can do and already has the DNA coding to make reproductive organs, therefore it is already completed and will become able to produce for it's species later in life. There is a reason why the infertile, babies, toddler, and other children are still considered an organism despite being unable to propagate the species.

    As for Homeostasis if it wasn't maintain it would die (It kind of what helps us be living, every living thing has this otherwise it be dead). There is different features in the cell that maintain it and it increase to tissues, organs, and organ systems as it develops the different types of homeostasis. If the zygote didn't have the right information to do this it would become a miscarriage the entire pregnancy requires signals from the zygote/fetus in order to continue the process.

    I brought this up because you did. Now you say 'live at my expense without my consent.'

    I say you 'You gave consent by your actions.' It is unable to ask to exist, or even be created. We would live in a very different world if such was possible. What it takes to reproduce is obvious. It's like going for a jog and not wanting to sweat. There are things you can do to limit it down and prevent it but nothing you can do to prevent it every time despite you not giving consent to sweating. Unless you're rape, sex is consenting to the possibility of having a child. If you want sex without children, get the treatment for becoming infertile. If you're paranoid get both you and your partner to do so before having sex.

    I agree that doctors who try to make you wait on the procedure are wrong, unless there is a medical reason to stop you, there should allow it.

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  56. What about reproductive coercion? Violent, abusive men who purposely impregnate women so that those women will be tied to them for life?

    acog.org/Resources-And-Publications/Committee-Opinions/Committee-on-Health-Care-for-Underserved-Women/Reproductive-and-Sexual-Coercion

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  57. Again….with all due respect, there are sources upon sources upon sources classify Z/E/Fs as organisms. Planned Parenthod, biologists, embryology textbooks, etc. etc. I'm sorry but you're arguing with established science. Organisms are individual living entities which function as a whole.

    Even if chimerism or twinning meant that a zygote was not an organism, the argument wouldn't have any relevance past a very brief period in early development.

    That said, if a zygote twins, all that means is that where there was one organism, now there's two. Whether that initial organism died is probably up for interpretation. Asexual reproduction is the closest thing to it; does the parent organism in such situations die? I think it would be more accurate to just say it turned into two organisms. I don't see this a problem. If you cut a worm in half, you get two worms. Does that mean the first worm wasn't an individual organism? Of course not.

    With a chimera…I guess it was two organisms, and then it was one. Again, I don't see this as problematic.

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  58. I am not arguing that it is or is not an organism. A partial hydatidiform mole is also a human organism.

    Whether that initial organism died is probably up for interpretation

    What it means is that there is no individual – just a genetic blueprint, hence the ability to merge, un-merge, and merge again.

    If you have two organisms, and then have one, and each is an *individual*, with it's own separate individual life, and it disappears into another 'individual' life, then you do have to ask what happened to it. Did it die? or what? Is a chimera that is made up of two sets of DNA really two people? Is one person the brain, and the other person the kidneys liver etc?

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  59. I used the link to indicate that scientists have not settled on when a fetus becomes a human being. It is not really a medical question – it is a bioethical philosophical question – hence the inability of science – and you – to answer it.

    What progenitors are expected/required to do is one thing and what they actually do is another. No one is required to nurture an embryo or an infant by law. One can abort and/or one can abandon an infant at specific places legally. And progenitors in all societies commit infanticide/child abandonment of born children.

    Illegal abortion and sepsis and hemorrhage in childbirth are the three leading causes of maternal death worldwide. Public health requires a lot more real thinking than just wallowing in your darling precious feelings and flinging around a lot of 'shoulds'. Abortion and contraception are human rights. The best is often the enemy of the good. You do not occupy the moral high ground.

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  60. I'm sorry, but what then are you arguing? Individual here is being used in the sense that it is an organism: an individual entity functioning together as a living whole. Are you using "individual" differently? Maybe we're having a communication issue. If you're talking about ensoulment, I don't know precisely when or how souls are granted in such situations. (Although many people on this blog don't believe in souls at all, I don't know if you do.)

    But still, how does chimerism/twinning prevent it from being an individual? DNA is a genetic blueprint; a Z/E/F is a unique organism. I mean…with twinning I guess you could say the first individual "died," kind of…It was one individual that became two, so maybe it didn't exist anymore. Or maybe it still exists, and another individual/organism just sort of budded off from it. I feel like it's partly a semantics issue.

    I chimera is, to my knowledge, a single organism, and thus a single person.

    And again, not to minimize your point, I just don't really see why this is an issue, personally. A zygote that twins was one organism, and now there's two. A chimera was two organisms, but now there's just one. Human organisms are living members of the human species, and should be treated with the same ethical regard as all other humans are treated with, without discriminating on the basis of age, abilities, or or level of development.

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  61. You can become a chimera even now. It can happen through transfusions, guarantee way is receiving bone marrow transfusion. It doesn't require a death for this to happen. It is still one person despite having multiple DNA.

    Now if they were two distinct than one dies (disappear)then yes she has the DNA of a dead twin. Despite being of the dead twin DNA, it still belongs to the organism it is in, after all these cells are working with other cells of that organism. Also the child can get part of the mother's DNA during pregnancy, which is guessed to be much more common than through a twin.

    babycenter.com/0_strange-but-true-one-person-born-with-two-sets-of-dna-a-chim_10364937.bc

    blogs.scientificamerican.com/lab-rat/2014/04/13/guest-post-i-am-my-mothers-chimera/

    SO do you considered everyone with 2 DNAs from transfusions 2 people? It is according to Dr. Ann Reed 50-70% of healthy humans are chimeras of one type or another.

    nytimes.com/2005/05/10/health/10bloo.html?pagewanted=all

    I think the honest truth is we haven't study much into chimeras and we tend to think of the myth of it rather than the actuality. I think in general for a fully develop person the brain is the idea of how many people. One for each brain. So if they have one brain, than it's one person. I think Abigail and Brittany Hensel is a fine example of being 2 people one body vs the average chimera who is one person with multiple DNA which is still controlled by the organisms brain unlike the example conjoined twin.

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  62. I would have to disagree and say that when life begins is a purely biological question. However whether it is justifiable or logical to deny human rights , moral status, or personhood to certain humans on the basis of age, abilities, disability, gender, race, or any other factor…those are moral/philosophical questions. Personhood is a philosophical (and legal) concept.

    "And progenitors in all societies commit infanticide/child abandonment of born children."

    That doesn't tell us that such things should be legal. Abortion is no more a human right than infanticide or child abandonment. I agree with you that using measures to prevent conception is indeed a person's right.

    And while unsafe abortion is certainly a big cause of maternal mortality, and we absolutely need to work to reduce maternal mortality from all causes and ensure that all people can get access to healthcare, evidence strongly indicates that abortion related maternal mortality is related far more to the general status of healthcare /medicinal technology in a region, than it is to abortion's legality. Mary Calderone, the medical director of Planned Parenthood from the mid 50's into the 60's, said that 90% of illegal abortions were being done by physicians and that it was in the main no longer dangerous. Dr. Bernard Nathanson, founder of NARAL and ex-abortionist turned pro-life, stated that they wildly exaggerated the number of abortions and the number of women dying from them in order to get abortion legalized. And if you look at the 2nd page of this publication, there's a chart showing maternal mortality from abortions in the US-it drops drastically far before Roe vs. Wade, at a time when medical care is improving, but legalization appears to have extremely little effect. mccl-go.org/pdf/mm_brochure_en_2012.pdf

    Besides, the goal is not merely to make abortion illegal, but unthinkable by showing that it is wrongful and unjust and that the unborn are individuals with human rights, and unwantable by establishing better support for parents and children, non-discrimination against mothers in the workplace, better ways for mothers to continue education, etc.

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  63. Quote; Besides, the goal is not merely to make abortion illegal, but unthinkable …
    …………..
    We have already done that experiment in America. It was an EPIC FAIL. And it has been an epic fail in vitro everywhere and every time it has been attempted. The WHO tells us this is the state of things worldwide. And they tell us that abortion and contraception are human rights.

    There are many in vitro examples of the failure of your ideas and standards but the one that troubles me the most at this moment is the mass grave of unshriven infants at Tuam. YOU ARE PRO DEATH and thus profoundly immoral IMO. You skeeve me.

    Why don't you sick narcissitic perverts pay attention to what women and their children really want and need instead of OBSESSING on only what you want to allow them. Expend some energy on the fact that the USA is 50th in maternal mortality among the nations and it is getting worse.

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  64. So let us see what the Talmud and Jewish law have to say about this 'purely biological' question.

    Jewish law not only permits, but in some circumstances requires abortion. Where the mother's life is in jeopardy because of the unborn child, abortion is mandatory.

    An unborn child has the status of "potential human life" until the majority of the body has emerged from the mother. Potential human life is valuable, and may not be terminated casually, but it does not have as much value as a life in existence. The Talmud makes no bones about this: it says quite bluntly that if the fetus threatens the life of the mother, you cut it up within her body and remove it limb by limb if necessary, because its life is not as valuable as hers. But once the greater part of the body has emerged, you cannot take its life to save the mother's, because you cannot choose between one human life and another. – Judaism 101

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  65. What do you mean by darling precious feelings? It seems to me I've seen a number of people talking about how miserable pregnancy would make a woman so of course she has to have the right to terminate the pregnancy. I've even read comments from pro choices saying theyd rather die than be pregnant. This seems more like wallowing in precious feelings than a lot of the comments I've read on here today. I realize that pregnancy can be profoundly difficult, but you cannot believe that only prolifers rely on feelings to establish a moral belief about something.

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  66. Well by that logic, a hydatidiform mole is a person, since you don't need a brain to be a person, just human DNA + organism.

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  67. So if they have one brain, than it's one person.

    Yes, so if one fraternal twin merges into the other, did it die? What if the chimera is really just two monozygotic twins that have fused – did one twin die? We start out with Bob, the zygote, then Bob splits into two zygotes, perhaps more…is Bob now Bob, Billy and Bart? What if they all merge again? Have Billy and Bart died? Or did Bob and and Billy die, But Bart is alive? But they all have identical DNA, so when did their *individual* lives begin..and end? At conception? At twinning, a few days after conception? Or at merging?

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  68. The zygote's homeostasis is maintained by its host until birth.

    Yeah, if the ZEF was capable of independent homeostasis, wouldn't it be able to grow itself in a petri dish, with no help from the woman's organs?

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  69. **Abortion always takes the life of someone who cannot consent**

    I notice that you are carefully not mentioning that the question of 'consent' here is irrelevent for a number of reasons.

    Firstly, since the REASON why the embryo – NOT the 'SOMEONE' – cannot consent is that it has no functioning brain, the entire question of consent or non-consent does not and cannot apply to it, any more than it can apply to a rock.

    Secondly, the embryo, not the 'someone' has no right to another person's body. If someone is attached to your body and feeding on it, you do not need to ask their 'consent', nor do they need to be able to give it, before you remove them from your body. No, not even if they have a cute head, or need it for their 'very life'.

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  70. the term 'innocence' is irrelevent. To claim that an embryo is 'innocent' has as much philosophical meaning as claiming a rock is 'innocent'. Also, even if it did have meaning, innocence does not grant the right to another person's body.

    And, btw, I think there is a duty not to rape and extort innocent human beings. Why don't you take that up with Myintx?

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  71. **Your nebulous and unscientific assertion of when life begins is astounding.**

    In other words, you're trying to claim that the egg doesn't exist in our universe, or else isn't alive, until a split moment before the sperm arrives, at which point it suddenly either pops into existence from the twilight zone, or else suddenly a dead cell becomes 'alive'.

    **The fact that the fetus is human, living, growing and has it's own DNA tells me that it's someONE long before birth.**

    By which definition, cancer and HELA cells would be 'someone'.

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  72. **This is just bad biology. There's a difference between an organism, even a very young and dependent one, and a body part.**

    If it can't live disconnected from the rest of the body, then it is a body part, no matter how many sad feelies you have about it.

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  73. **This is NOT true for the embryo, who does not need a brain any more developed than the one he has in order to function together as a whole organism.**

    Oh… really?

    So, if we remove the part of the mother's brain that controls her heart and lungs, causing those organs to stop in the mother, the embryo will be just fine?

    Or does the embryo NEED a brain, the MOTHER'S BRAIN to survive?

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  74. ** NO living thing can maintain homeostasis unless it is able to obtain and effectually use sufficient nutrients, oxygen, energy, etc. (If that weren't the case, everything would be immortal.)**

    So, basically what you are claiming here is that cannibalism should be legal… as it allows the cannibal to maintain homeostasis by obtaining nutrients, energy, etc, that he needs for his 'very life'. Or does the fetus have special rights to maintain homoestasis by using another person's body that nobody else has?

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  75. The so-called "duty to die" is a concept that is being elaborated upon in the medical ethical literature. It's not a figment of the conservative politicians' collective imagination. It's a real philosophical ideal that is actively being shaped in academic literature.

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  76. I don't mean to sound condescending, but I think only people who do not understand biology claim that the unborn are not living. All cells are alive; that's a true but uninteresting assertion. The question is whether the unborn child warrants moral regard. The burden of proof is on the one who claims that it doesn't, because the claim is so great – we should be allowed to kill this creature that will ultimately be a fully grown human adult if natural development takes it course? That's a significant claim.

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  77. Sorry, didn't complete my thought:

    However, to pursue PAS without even acknowledging the possibility of pursuing palliative care might actually be a mistake and she'll be short-changing herself.

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  78. Thanks for sharing! What a powerful excerpt:

    "Once a person is given the choice between life and death, he will rightly be perceived as the agent of his own survival. Whereas his existence is ordinarily viewed as a given for him – as a fixed condition with which he must cope – formally offering him the option of euthanasia will cause his existence thereafter to be viewed as his doing.

    The problem with this perception is that if others regard you as choosing a state of affairs, they will hold you responsible for it; and if they hold you responsible for a state of affairs, they can ask you to justify it. Hence if people ever come to regard you as existing by choice, they may expect you to justify your continued existence. If your daily arrival in the office is interpreted as meaning that you have once again declined to kill yourself, you may feel obliged to arrive with an answer to the question 'Why not?'"

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  79. I agree, suicide is not euthanasia. But in the case of Brittany Maynard, I believe she moved to a state where euthanasia is legal, in order to carry out her planned death, that she's characterising her death as euthanasia rather than suicide; and that she's campaigning for the legalisation of euthanasia. Please correct me if I have this wrong, but if not, it takes what she's doing far beyond the realms of 'personal choice'.

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  80. Wikipedia has a long and interesting article on the relationship between euthanasia and assisted suicide. It is too intricate to summarize it here.
    Assisted suicide is legal in the American states of Oregon (via the Oregon Death with Dignity Act),[59] Washington(Washington Death with Dignity Act), Vermont (Patient Choice and Control at End of Life Act), and New Mexico. In Montana(through the 2009 trial court ruling Baxter v. Montana), the court found no public policy against assisting suicide, so consent may be raised as a defense at trial. Oregon and Washington specify some restrictions.

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  81. The ZEF is alive but it is not a human being. It does not have the right to life at the cost of my happiness, health, and life.

    The burden of proof needs to be on the ones who claim that the pregnant woman is nothing but an incubator because they want to strip hr of her basic human rights.

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  82. How long before we're obligated to care about human beings different from ourselves in order to be minimally decent members of society?? Where will it end???

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  83. You seem to be under the impression that there are two, and only two, categories: organisms that can live entirely independent of other organisms, and body parts. That's factually incorrect. And you should know that mocking other people for not sharing your uninformed, incorrect views is a bad look.

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  84. What makes a human being?

    "The burden of proof needs to be on the ones who claim that the pregnant woman is nothing but an incubator because they want to strip hr of her basic human rights."

    I'm not making that claim.

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  85. Ad hominem isn't likely to get you anywhere. Why are you here? To convince others of your view, or to just stir the pot?

    We do have a right to life. However, rights can be forfeited, particularly in criminal circumstances. This is why those who commit crimes can be detained (e.g., loss of the right to liberty). Committing a crime causes you to forfeit certain rights; you maintain others (e.g., the right to an attorney and fair trial). Carrying on with that argument, it's also why some can be executed; they forfeit their right to life.

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  86. Well, on the first point, I'm pretty much willing to accept that "this is a good reason why PAS is not likely to be a benefit to society for the forseeable future", and on the second point, I'm not a moral relativist. I do believe that human equality is a positive moral principle that is superior to pure utilitarianism.

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  87. Every cancer patient is brave. Whether they choose to fight until the end, or have assisted suicide, or enter hospice, that is THEIR CHOICE to make. Their choice doesn't reflect upon bravery. There is nothing more brave than facing your own mortality. As a nurse, I have seen that scenario play out many times, in many situations, with many differences in the way people choose to handle a terminal diagnosis and I can say without equivocation that they were ALL brave. Therefore, your opening premise is a non-sequitur. People don't fear dying as much as they fear loss of control and dying in pain. How they handle that is their business, and they do not need, or want your "protection." Mind your own business. All adults have a human right to accept or refuse any medical treatment, whether you approve or not.

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  88. They can ask you to justify it. You owe them ZERO justifications. It's your right to handle your affairs according to your wishes.

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  89. Um… what is "adultism?" Honest question here, as my understanding of the legal landscape says that an adult is entitled to make his own decisions about medical treatment.

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  90. Slippery slope fallacy. A competent adult is free to accept or refuse any medical treatment, and has always been free to do so. This hasn't led to any "duty" to either accept or refuse any medical treatment. I have no reason to believe that will change because of the introduction of a new option in handling a terminal diagnosis.

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  91. Only if they accept those duties. The truth is, they don't even have to take the baby home from the hospital unless they want to. If they don't, their rights will be terminated, and the child placed for adoption.

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  92. The zef is alive like my hand is alive. It's alive because it's attached to a living organism from whom it receives resources. Remove either one from it's life-support, and see how long it lives.

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  93. You are if you claim that women, and ONLY women, are obliged to allow drilling into her bloodstream for the benefit of someone not herself.

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  94. It's always been an abstract thought experiment among academics. The reality is that the long-standing right to accept or refuse treatment has never evolved into a "duty" to refuse treatment (and that's another abstract for academics to sit around and think about, because that's what academics do). I have ZERO reason to believe that the introduction of a different medical choice in handling a terminal diagnosis will lead to any future "duty" either.

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  95. Irrelevant. It's not the decision of the doctor. It's the decision of the patient. And I don't CARE what motivates the patient. He has a right to have his reasons be his own, and to have them respected.

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  96. What motivates the patient is 1) irrelevant, and 2) none of your business, unless he wants to tell you and ask your opinion.

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  97. We're all going to die, JoAnna. If a terminally ill patient wants to stop treatment and enter hospice, fight until the end, or choose for himself the manner and time of his death, what earthly business is that of YOURS? As I had to explain to my sister, when our mom entered hospice care… THIS ISN'T ABOUT YOU.

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  98. I hope if I am in a terminal state, without reasonable hope of recovery, that my children won't hesitate to pull the plug. YOU get to MYOFB. In fact, I'm counting on them to do so. They know I wouldn't want to live that way.

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  99. Adultism as in the systematic overvaluing of adults, casting adult existence as 'default', denying children ordinary human rights, etc. etc., not the other way around.

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  100. **You seem to be under the impression that there are two, and only two, categories: organisms that can live entirely independent of other organisms, and body parts. That's factually incorrect.**

    Gee, you think? I thought that forced gestationers claimed the embryo wasn't a *parasite*.

    And, btw, you're engaging in special pleading for the embryo again, by admitting that it can't live independent of the body of OTHERS, yet claiming it is entitled to the OTHERS body without their consent.

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  101. **If your argument is that the developing fetus isn't developed enough to matter according to your philosophy, then say that.**

    It's 'development' is irrelevent. Nothing without a functioning brain has rights, and even something WITH a functioning brain does not have a special right to the body of other people.

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  102. Oh. Well, adults are appropriately privileged over children and naturally have greater rights and responsibilities. That includes the right to accept or reject any medical treatment, whether you like it or not. Minors have limited rights because of their legal infancy.

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  103. No, I don't think so. Being able to live BIOLOGICALLY independently of another is very important. Anyone can care for a born child. That doesn't require the bloodstream and organs of a *specific* person. Adults rightfully enjoy the right to make decisions for their children. It doesn't matter whether you approve of that or not. I'm not going to get into the circumcision argument with you, other than to say there are risks and benefits. It IS the religious right of Jewish and Muslims to have this done. I don't see it as an issue.

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  104. I reject the idea that I should be OK with people being pressured to end their own lives even if it's not what they really want to do.

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  105. Three questions:

    Do you believe that children are less valuable people than adults?

    What is your rationale for the idea that adults have the right to make decisions for their own children, but not others' children?

    Are you arguing that having the genitals of an intersex child mutilated is a parent's right?

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  106. **We do have a right to life.**

    The 'right to life', even in real people who have actual brains, does not and cannot be synonymous with the 'right to whatever is 'needed' to sustain that life without the consent of the owner.

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  107. Oh, by an "intersex child" do you mean a child born with ambiguous genitalia? I'm going to go ahead an assume that's what you mean, and that by "mutilation" you mean *gender assignment surgery.* And I'm going to say OF COURSE parents have the right to have that done, after genetic counseling, and consultation with a physician. No I do NOT think children have less "value" than adults. I think that children do not have the maturity and experience to make adult decisions. For example, if the doctor said my child had acute appendicitis, I wouldn't ask the child if he wanted an appendectomy. What is he supposed to say? He doesn't understand the situation, the risks and the expected benefit. I wouldn't allow a child to make ANY decisions for me, either. When it's time to leave for school, I don't ask if he's ready to go yet. That's immaterial. And what is my rationale for adults making decisions for their own children, but not the children of others, that isn't even factual. The person who is the child's legal guardian is the one who makes decisions. That's usually the parents, but not always. The reasons parents or other guardians make decisions for children or wards are many. First of all, that's their responsibility or duty. Second of all, someone must have ultimate authority for the well-being of the child. This will usually be the parents. Thirdly, parents have the right to raise their children as they see fit. Someone else's children, if you are not the legal guardian, are none of your business. You are not responsible for them. You are not paying the child's bills. You aren't taking care of another person's child, and you do not know them. You CANNOT make decisions for kids not under your legal authority. PERIOD.

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  108. It doesn't matter if you're "ok" with it or not. It's not your call to make. There is no such thing as a terminally ill person who ISN'T under some kind of pressure. But I WILL tell you that the most common form of "pressure" exerted by others is being pressured by doctors to undergo endless and often futile medical treatment. This is because of how doctors are conditioned. They go through all this training to prolong lives, and (particularly younger doctors) don't cope well with those who decide to let nature take it's course. I saw this with my own mother when she was in the terminal stage of COPD. I saw and heard her pulmonologist trying to guilt her into going to a LTC facility on a respirator even to the point of bringing his Christian faith into it. My mother, on the other hand, only wanted to leave the hospital, go home and never go back. She was tired of her entire life being limited to an area no longer than her oxygen tubing. My dad and I respected her wishes, and she came home and entered hospice. We discontinued most of her medicine. We kept her comfortable with morphine and anti-anxiety drugs to help her breathing. All the grandchildren came from other states to say goodbye. Soon she didn't have the energy to get up and use the potty, so the hospice nurse and I put in an indwelling catheter. She stopped eating and became comatose, and then with the blessing of the hospice nurse, he shut off her oxygen compressor because it was no longer helping her. She passed away peacefully within a minute. That's all she wanted. To die in peace, at home, with dad and me at her side. We made sure HER wishes were honored, and I've never regretted that.

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  109. "How they handle that is their business, and they do not need, or want your "protection." Mind your own business."

    I doubt disagree that adults with decision-making capacity can refuse whatever medical treatment they want. But they cannot demand whatever they want. In a very real way, their business is our business. We live in community. Our healthcare costs demonstrate that. I should not be allowed to walk into a hospital and demand whatever healthcare I deem necessary; a physician should work with me to determine what is medically necessary.

    But there are many things that medicine CAN do. We need some sort of moral compass to determine what we SHOULD do. What you've done is resorted to an emotional appeal (your response to my comment below: "her choice") without interacting in any serious way with the moral dilemma posed by physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia.

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  110. Your response doesn't interact in any significant way with the moral dilemma posed by PAS/euthanasia. What if one were to answer in this way to other moral dilemmas?

    "ISIS just cut off the head of another innocent person." "Their choice."

    "A mother of three just killed her children." "Her choice."

    "A soldier just deserted the Army." "His choice."

    "This physician is participating in state executions." "Her choice."

    I could go on with the list. Whether or not it's "her choice" doesn't have any real bearing on whether certain choices should be permissible, or whether they're good choices. Of course it's her choice; that tells us very little of moral relevance.

    It appears that it's settled in your own mind, for unclear reasons, that PAS/euthanasia are morally acceptable acts. This is not the case for the rest of us, nor for the rest of the US. If you want to try to convince people that you're right, you need to do more than given an assertion. You need to give an argument that stands on more than an emotional appeal. Indeed, you need to give some sort of argument at all ("her choice" is just a two word assertion).

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  111. Why do you owe them "zero" justifications? If something is your responsibility, you may owe other people a justification.

    For example, if I'm responsible for a task at work, I should give a justification to others that I'm competent to perform the task.

    Or do you not think we can be responsible for things?

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  112. Why must someone be living biologically independently, and not by any other arbitrary criterion (e.g., financially, medically (e.g., dialysis), or in regards to food production, clothing production, being able to build a home, etc?). What makes biologic independence special that doesn't apply to those other things?

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  113. Unfortunately, the frustrations of trying to convince a moral relativist (examples of which are scattered throughout the comment section here) of your points is a Herculean task.

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  114. You can say the same about patients on dialysis, too. A person with ESRD can be expected to live about a week (although there are exceptions, longer and shorter) if they stop undergoing dialysis.

    Your comment doesn't provide a clear explanation as to why the unborn child does not warrant moral regard.

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  115. Assertions won't get you far in convincing others that you're on the right side of the debate.

    What makes a human being?

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  116. "It's always been an abstract thought experiment among academics."

    As a physician, I can tell you that this is not an abstract concept. Patients who are chronically or terminally ill frequently tell me they don't want to be a "burden" to their families. That reveals some aspect of a "duty to die," that is, they have a duty to not carry on and be a burden to those that love them. They may not articulate it as a duty, but they're living out that duty.

    "The reality is that the long-standing right to accept or refuse treatment has never evolved into a "duty" to refuse treatment"

    Because it hasn't happened before, it won't ever happen?

    "I have ZERO reason to believe that the introduction of a different medical choice in handling a terminal diagnosis will lead to any future "duty" either."

    Well, you haven't interacted substantially with any real argument in favor of a duty to die to demonstrate that it's an insufficiently convincing argument.

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  117. "choose for himself the manner and time of his death, what earthly business is that of YOURS?"

    Do you support the suicidal choice of a depressed person?

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  118. Well I guess today we learned that you're anti-intersex and support the structures that lead to child abuse. I'm done here.

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  119. The truth is, people are denied human rights based on the inability to live "independently" in those other ways, too. That's also adultism and ableism. And I would be hard-pressed to say lady_black is against that kind of discrimination, either.

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  120. Dying 5 year olds in need of bone marrow are being denied their human rights because bone marrow donation is not mandatory.

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  121. So that rules out folks on dialysis and ventilators then?

    Why are you defining a human being negatively? What qualities make a human being, and why are they worthy of moral regard?

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  122. People on dialysis and ventilators are not "under construction". A prenate is intrinsically incomplete and unformed – every single organ is incapable of sustaining biologist life independently, and may NEVER be capable of doing so.

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  123. You said that a human being is, first of all (indicating also some sort of primacy in this characteristic) "not requiring the attachment to a host to sustain life." That's a negative definition; that is, you're defining something by what it is NOT rather than by what it IS.

    I don't know what "gestational slavery" has to do with what you believe to be constitutes a human being.

    What qualities make a human being, and why are they worthy of moral regard?

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  124. "A prenate is intrinsically incomplete and unformed"

    So are toddlers and adolescents. At what stage of development are we "complete and formed?" And in what ways? Physically, mentally/intellectually, emotionally…?

    "every single organ is incapable of sustaining biologist life independently"

    I've taken care of patients in the ICU setting like that…

    "and may NEVER be capable of doing so."

    Why is this possibility a matter of moral relevance? I care about what is or is not; what may occur should not be the deciding factor in whether we should be permitted to kill this being or not.

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  125. Toddlers, heck, even newborns, have every organ that they will ever have, and those organs are capable of sustaining life independently.

    I sincerely doubt that you have had patients in the ICU whose every single bodily organ is non functional.

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  126. So, essentially a social contract creates the circumstances that allow for the existence of human rights? We both agree human rights (which are X, Y, and Z) are good things, and since we both agree, they exist in a contractual format. Is that an accurate elaboration upon your point?

    If so, then what happens if no one agrees to your interpretation of the social contract? What if, for example, Hitler had won WW2 and we lived in a world where people who were different from some set standard were routinely executed? Not only that, but everyone else except for you was on board with this totalitarian regime? To what might you appeal in such a system?

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  127. It is not negative- it is the truth. Sorry you can't see that.
    A ZEF is not a human being and it is not worthy of anything.

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  128. Hitler would be clearly denying person class beings their rights. Denying that they can think, feel suffer.

    How do you dehumanize DNA?

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  129. So having the appropriate number of organs is important to being worthy of moral regard? Why is the independent functioning of those organs morally relevant?

    Regarding the care of patients in the ICU: multi-organ failure occurs. I've cared for patients who have had every single organ fail. Let me briefly list the ways:

    – Brain failure: delirium or comatose, requiring various medications to attempt to improve mental status
    – Heart failure: requiring intra-aortic balloon pumps, medications
    – Pulmonary failure: requiring a ventilator, medications
    – GI failure: requiring total parenteral nutrition (TPN; nutrition through the vein)
    – Liver failure: no good interventions here except for transplant
    – Renal failure: requiring RRT (renal replacement therapy; often continuously in the ICU, rather than intermittently like outpatients)
    – Hematologic failure: immune dysfunction, coagulopathies

    It's not rare for all of these to occur in patients in the ICU, particularly near the end of life; although, rarely, some recover.

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  130. "Yeah, near the end of life. Exactly."

    What point are you making there? That people at the end of their lives are not worth moral regard either?

    You might note that I ask the same questions again. It's because it's not clear to me that you answered or addressed them in your response.

    So having the appropriate number of organs is important to being worthy of moral regard? Why is the independent functioning of those organs morally relevant?

    Reply
  131. If every single one of your organs is incapable of independently sustaining biological life, if you cannot survive as a separate, autonomous individual, you are not really, truly, alive. And such potential 'life' should not take precedence over actual life.

    Reply
  132. Really? Do I "support" it?? It doesn't NEED my "support." It is what it is, no matter how strenuously you might object to it. What do you plan to do about it, other than grumbling online? Shall we jail those who attempt suicide, but don't get it right? It's NOT about YOU, Joshua. The topic, by the way, is assisted suicide by the terminally ill. People with a terminal diagnosis choose how they wish to handle that information. YOU get no say. It's not your body. It's not your diagnosis. It isn't YOUR LIFE. Therefore, YOU get to shut up and mind your own business.

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  133. To the contrary, I'm a nurse. Have been a nurse for 28 years. I've cared for many terminally ill patients, including my own grandmother and mother. NOBODY "wants to die." But the mature viewpoint is that we are all going to die. Not wanting to be a burden is a valid viewpoint, shared by many, and indicates nothing close to a "duty to die." I see it as a facing of one's own mortality. You, as a physician, are bound to respect that. And THAT, sir, is the bottom line. I already stared down the likes of you in the form of a mean-spirited pulmonologist who tried to bully Mom into a nursing home, tied to a ventilator and separated from her loving family. We don't have to accept your medical tortures when we desire to only be kept comfortable, and allow nature to take it's course. Nature always wins in the end. You aren't getting out of here alive, either. How you choose to face your own end is your OWN business.

    Reply
  134. If a person with ESRD had to depend upon a person with kidneys, rather than a sophisticated machine to filter their wastes, they would be sh*t out of luck. Wouldn't they? I am NOT a freaking MACHINE. I am a human being. I'm not obligated to open my bloodstream and organs to anyone. Not to you. Not to my born children. And not to a fetus either.

    Reply
  135. Because machines and people are different. People have rights. Machines DON'T have rights. Food doesn't have rights. Clothing doesn't have rights, and housing doesn't have rights.

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  136. So, again, you're defining what constitutes a human being negatively, by saying what a human being is not, rather than what it is. What is a human being, and why are those qualities morally relevant?

    "if you cannot survive as a separate, autonomous individual"

    Very few of us are truly autonomous. Do you grow your own food and make your own clothing? Did you build the home in which you live and the computer on which you're typing? Why are you defining "separate" and "autonomous" so rigidly so as to include yourself but exclude others?

    On the other hand, very many of us are very dependent. Those on dialysis, for example, are definitely not "separate" or "autonomous." The same goes for those on ventilators. They're not truly alive?

    Reply
  137. "Really? Do I "support" it?? It doesn't NEED my "support."'

    You're obviously posting here for a reason; to support some ideal you think is good. Do you agree that a person with depression should be permitted to kill themselves?

    "What do you plan to do about it, other than grumbling online?"

    I'm a psychiatry resident. I routinely involuntarily commit people who try to kill themselves. Do you think that's wrong?

    "YOU get no say. It's not your body. It's not your diagnosis. It isn't YOUR LIFE. Therefore, YOU get to shut up and mind your own business."

    I think the morality of anyone's actions is the business of the community. Whether or not it's right to torture dogs, smoke cigarettes, throw apples at the neighbor's house, kill the disabled, spy on someone online, or overindulge in chocolate cake are all matters of moral concern, and are up for philosophical debate. Why? First, how we form our beliefs about these actions impacts what we ourselves do. Will I kill myself at the end of my life? Will you? Second, how our children form their beliefs is impacted by society's beliefs as a whole; I care about what my child believes. Third, how society functions currently and how it grows on precedent setting is impacted by discussions like these.

    So while I'm not going to walk into this woman's room as she's about to take her lethal dose of medication and knock it out of her hand, I do think this topic (i.e., physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia) is fair game for discussion.

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  138. The thing is, doctor, you don't get to force anyone to not smoke cigarettes, or not eat chocolate cake. That means YOU don't do those things. The other things you mentioned are crimes. Someone else's morals are none of your business, so long as what they are doing isn't illegal. You commit people who are mentally ill. Not people who are dying. I believe a person has a right to choose how they die, given a terminal diagnosis. I'm also a huge fan of hospice care, rather than assisted suicide. You may see that as a passive form of suicide. I don't. You can choose not to be their doctor. That's your only choice. When YOU'RE the terminal patient, you get to choose.

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  139. "The thing is, doctor, you don't get to force anyone to not smoke cigarettes"

    Sure we do. We make laws keeping 17 year olds from smoking. We also have laws keeping 20 year olds from drinking. And laws from keeping anyone from abusing heroin. That doesn't mean they won't do it; but as a society, our law condemns those things.

    "You commit people who are mentally ill. Not people who are dying."

    Patients with depression who are suicidal can be terminally ill. Those with mental illness may suffer just as much as those with physical illness; why should we discriminate against the mentally ill and keep them from killing themselves should they so desire?

    "I'm also a huge fan of hospice care, rather than assisted suicide. You may see that as a passive form of suicide. I don't."

    I support aggressive palliative care, including hospice.

    "When YOU'RE the terminal patient, you get to choose."

    Why is terminal illness morally relevant? Why can't anyone kill themselves if they so desire?

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  140. >> I'm very skeptical that it's possible. And until someone shows me
    differently, I have to err on the side of protecting those who want to
    live every last day.

    Valid concern.

    At least for patients who are not in a coma, I don't see the day being too far away where biometrics and brain reading technology can be utilized to create a living will where the person, while in a clear state of mind, authorizes euthenasia. Brain readings already allow us to control prosthetics, and we can reconstruct rudimentary visual images a person is seeing by surface EEG readings. I don't see the day when nearly fool-proof lie detectors can be built.

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  141. What is a human being, and why are those qualities morally relevant?

    Is a human being merely human DNA, according to you?

    Very few of us are truly autonomous. Do you grow your own food and make your own clothing?

    None of us need to drill into another person's body and use every single organ of theirs to keep ourselves alive, do we?

    Those on dialysis, for example, are definitely not "separate" or
    "autonomous." The same goes for those on ventilators. They're not truly
    alive?

    They are not intrinsically unformed and incomplete. The zygote/embryo/fetus, by it's very *nature* is unformed and incomplete, and in fact, may *never* be fully formed and complete. The ZEF is a construction project that may never finish. It is not a homunculus that will simply grow larger if you sprinkle nutrients on it.

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  142. I actually agree with this, and people shouldn't be pressured into accepting unwanted treatment. I think a lot of the way we handle medical care at the end of life is inhumane.

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  143. Cancer is probably going to take my life. I'll be the decider as to when I've had enough. Now, I might 'short-change' myself by a few weeks, or even months; but nothing in life is perfect, is it? Either way I'm dying, so I'll err on the side of what I, personally, am able to tolerate.

    All I can tell you is this: Don't write with such certainty upon a subject that you haven't faced yourself. I can promise you it looks much, much different from my vantage point. I sincerely hope you never experience that view.

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  144. Thank you. No time is a good time to lose your mom. It would have been inhumane to put her in a nursing home. She didn't want to be separated from Dad and her family.

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  145. Well, anyone CAN kill themselves if they so desire. Just like people under 18 smoke, people under 21 drink, and people abuse heroin. Laws never stopped ME from drinking underage, smoking marijuana or tobacco. Prohibition doesn't work. It NEVER worked. Now DEAL with that, and let's move on and see what we can do to best deal with these situations. The right answer isn't always more legal intervention, and the right answer isn't always forced medical intervention either.

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  146. Why is it morally relevant that the person is "specific" and that the dependence is "biological?" Why are those things of moral importance?

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  147. Whether or not someone can do something and whether they should do something is the issue of the hour in this line of commentary. Just because someone can do something doesn't mean they should.

    I agree that the right intervention isn't always legal or medical. However, there are still instances in which we can say, "You should do this…" or "You shouldn't do that…" That is the essence of ethical inquiry.

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  148. I wasn't speaking of "short changing" only in terms of length of life, but also quality of life.

    I believe you that your situation looks much different from your vantage point than from mine. I don't know you at all; nor do I know the woman described in the article. But I do know that personal liberty doesn't trump all other virtues, and that this is a more complicated ethical dilemma than many people make it out to be. I struggle with this now, as a physician, and I suspect I would struggle with it a similar way if I were suffering a terminal illness.

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  149. "Is a human being merely human DNA, according to you?"

    I'm not sure why you're asking that. I just wanted to know what you thought constituted being human, and why those qualities that you list are morally relevant. You haven't named them yet. Why not?

    "None of us need to drill into another person's body and use every single organ of theirs to keep ourselves alive, do we?"

    So why is this of moral relevance while those other forms of dependence, which may potentially rob those upon whom we're dependent of significant resources, are not morally relevant?

    "They are not intrinsically unformed and incomplete."

    So only children on dialysis are not worthy of moral regard? Nothing magical happens at birth. Humans exist as continuously developing creatures from the moment of conception all the way through adulthood until death. When you say someone is unformed and incomplete, you have to say what reference you're using and why.

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  150. I was speaking of quality of life, as well. That's part and parcel of what I know I can or cannot tolerate in the name of 'life quality.' And to be fair here, at this point you can only suspect At this point, I do know.

    I'm not trying to proffer the idea that this isn't a complicated ethical dilemma. What I am saying is that for me it has ceased to be an abstract dilemma, and thus is actually no longer a dilemma at all – which is often the case when one is confronted with a scenario that has only ever been something one has imagined.

    I don't think this is something that will ever be 'settled.' So, again, for me and mine, I'll err on the side of what I consider to be dignified and less traumatic. That should be the least that we 'allow' for those who are facing their final journey. I simply will not die based on others' beliefs that I don't understand and most certainly do not share.

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  151. I'm not positive but I believe it's possible to try to transfer tubal embryos to the uterus, which is obviously the better option for the baby, but I'm not sure how successful or common such attempts are.

    No, at this point it's not possible.

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  152. Until we have further information about Chimera, I can only draw conclusions based on what is known. Based upon what I know of the science, when the zygote divides ONLY for identical twins and that isn't very likely to happen and is unknown of why it does. Fraternal twins are two different zygotes for it was two different eggs that were fertilize. So in the case of fraternal twins yes it is very obvious one died. In the case of identical it isn't as obvious. None the less if split it was another person and died. It doesn't just randomly merge and divide nor is it very common.

    pennmedicine.org/encyclopedia/em_DisplayAnimation.aspx?gcid=000058&ptid=17

    There life still began at conception we didn't notice it was two until it hit the stage to divide. There is probably evidence from conception that it would divide at that stage since only a very select few do. We just haven't study enough to know what is the trigger and if it is in the coding.

    Also my brain comment if looked in full context only applied to fully developed humans. As I'll quote myself

    "I think in general for a fully develop person the brain is the idea of how many people."

    Hence why chimeras are one person not two. They are having cells of another twin not the entire person. Like receiving a blood donation gives you cells of another but doesn't make you that person. Also like if you lose blood or other cells they don't' try to form a second you because they are trying to work for a single organism not form it. Understand?

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  153. Actually I was claiming that being unable to maintain homeostasis outside of the womb doesn't disqualify the fetus from being an organism.

    But if pregnancy is cannibalism, then so is breastfeeding. If a woman with a newborn baby, for whatever reason, couldn't immediately transfer care of her child to someone else and the only way she could feed the baby was by breastfeeding, then (assuming she was physically capable) she would have an obligation to feed her child with her body, and the child would indeed have certain rights to the mother's body, insofar as it was necessary to get nutrition, warmth, shelter from harm, etc. If a women were, say, snowed into her house with her newborn, and no formula, she obviously couldn't say "my body, my choice, that baby doesn't have a right to cannibalize me" and just let the baby starve to death. That would be negligent homicide. (The very fact that negligent homicide is even a crime shows that parents have bodily (as well as financial) obligations to their children.)

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  154. But the embryo doesn't "need" the mother's brain in at all the same sense that an adult "needs" their own brain.

    First of all the mother's brain directing her body to provide oxygen to the baby is an ENTIRELY different thing than the mother's brain actually directing the embryo's own development, movements, etc.

    Also, the embryo isn't inherently dependent on the mother's brain/body. If we had the technology to create artificial wombs, an embryo could survive just fine in one of those.

    If we had the technology to transfer embryos into other women's wombs, the embryo would be fine in there as well, even though it wouldn't be his/her own mother's brain and body.

    In vitro embryos are certainly living organisms, and they are not using the woman's body or brain. Are IFV embryos living organisms, but when they reach the point where they have to be implanted, they stop being individual living things and revert to being a non-organism?

    And consider the fact that women who are brain dead can sometimes be kept on life support until their fetuses can reach viability. At the moment I don't think we have the technology to keep women's bodies functioning healthily enough that the baby can survive all the way from the embryo stage to viability, but if we had better technology I don't see why that couldn't be the case. So the mother could actually be brain dead, but as long as the embryo were still getting oxygen, nutrition, etc. it could still function as an individual organism, even if it's own brain were not very developed.

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  155. …If what? If there are twins, and they combine and make a chimera? Chimera generally means an individual with two genetic codes, due to being formed by the combining of two genetically distinct zygotes. If it formed from twins, you probably couldn't distinguish it from any other human. Either way, you could probably argue that both twins died and a new organism was formed. Again, I really don't see what the issue is, and I don't really feel that it poses any challenge to the idea of prenatal rights/personhood. A chimera is a human organism, so I believe it should have human rights.

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  156. If I recall correctly, I think complete moles are pretty much considered non-organisms, so no, not people. Partial moles are likely organisms who have a fatal malformation. Respectfully, so what?

    I'm arguing that all human beings have equal human rights, regardless of age or level of development. I don't know of any way to deny prenatal personhood that doesn't undermine any basis for human equality, as well as completely disqualifying certain born individuals who we already recognize as people and/or simply breaking down with a little critical analysis.

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  157. None of that shows or implies that the fetus is not an individual living human organism, or that life (opposed to personhood, ensoulemnt, etc.) is not an entirely biological concept. Even if the Talmud said that it was fine to intentionally get pregnant over and over just for the fun of killing fetuses, that wouldn't mean that the fetus is merely a potential, rather than an actual life. It would just mean that according to the Talmud the fetus didn't have moral value/personhood (but I don't believe it states that).

    Anyway, ending a pregnancy that is going to kill the mother and subsequently also a non-viable fetus, isn't the same as ending the pregnancy because the fetus is unwanted or inconvenient. Taking a course of action that causes the loss of one life instead of two, doesn't mean that the life of the one killed is less important than the other's. And in what circumstance would taking the life of the almost born baby somehow save the mother, whether it was a person or not?

    What verses do you believe justify abortion or show that the unborn are inferior or just potential lives? In my experience, every verse used to try and justify abortion Biblically is taken massively out of context, misinterpreted, or used to support some kind of non sequitur.

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  158. The WHO isn't some kind of universal moral authority. Countless times governments and non-governmental authorities have stated that various groups of human beings were inferior and that it was therefore a right to kill or enslave or exploits those groups. Just because some authority group declares something to be a right, doesn't mean it is, and just because they declare a certain group to be sub-human, doesn't mean they are.

    And while the pre-born might not be considered people now, the overall progress of mankind is towards a more inclusive and accurate definition of equality and personhood. Groups that were once excluded and now included.

    I'm not sure where the maternal mortality ranking of 50th is from, but either way maternal mortality in the US is largely unrelated to abortion's legality. But yes, maternal mortality is still something that needs more attention.

    The Tuam incident may well have been misrepresented in the media, but regardless what does it have to do with the discussion at hand? Somehow it's my fault? That shows I'm pro-death? Sorry but what are you even talking about or trying to argue here? Are you saying that considering infants people hasn't stopped infanticide? I mean…no, not entirely, but I think the major deterrent is the fact that people realize newborns are babies and killing them is wrong.

    Name calling doesn't make you right. I believe abortion unjustly kills human beings, so yes, I oppose it. Just as you would hopefully oppose the killing of newborns, if society decided they were disposable.

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  159. "You can SAY whatever you want, Joshua. People are always going to do things they shouldn't. "

    We should stop making laws then?

    Ethical inquiry and discussion is important to arrive at what we believe to be is the right course of action.

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  160. Most sources I looked at didn't mention it or said there wasn't a way to save them, but some others suggested that it was a possible option, so I wasn't sure.

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  161. But I may be obligated to bleed my bank account dry? Or my supply of food in my pantry? If a child is dependent on my finances or my material goods, those must be given up for them? That's quite a restraint on personal liberty.

    Furthermore, "opening my artery" would inflict a state of trauma. It's literally a disease state; arteries aren't meant to be opened. Pregnancy, on the other hand, is not a disease state. Pregnancy is something that "should" happen, insofar as the woman's body is designed to gestate a young child and give birth to it. Medicine can make normative claims, and it does so using the language of disease. "Opening arteries" is not normal; pregnancy is normal. I think that has significant moral weight in this discussion, because that means I am not obligated to enter into a disease state for another person, but if I'm existing in a normal state of development (that is, pregnancy), I need a good justification to abandon it if it means the death of someone else.

    Let me illustrate the point with a hypothetical example:

    A woman travelled to a cabin in the mountains with an infant and a cat. A snowstorm locks them in the cabin, and while the woman has some food to feed herself, the infant can only survive on her breast milk. Exercising her bodily autonomy, she refuses to breastfeed the child and it dies. Was she wrong to do so?

    Let's take it a step further: in a true display of personal liberty, she wants to free herself from the burden of caring for the child, so she lets the child starve, but she really likes the cat, so she instead gives her breast milk to the cat in a bowl. Was she wrong to do so? Why?

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  162. Appeal to nature fallacy. Regarding pregnancy, yes it's "natural" and it is a medical condition, not a disease. Being in possession of a uterus doesn't make pregnancy obligatory, any more than possession of legs makes running a marathon obligatory. Regarding nature, we've been thwarting nature for a very long time. Being a physician, you ought to know that better than anyone. And YES, if you have a child, and do not relinquish the child for adoption, you have to provide for the child. You do not have to provide for a fetus. Regarding the woman and the infant in the cabin, let me point out your errors of logic. First, you would need to assume she had been nursing all along, and suddenly decided not to, for some strange reason, and at the cost of great pain and probable infection to herself. That's so ridiculous I'm going to discount it on it's face. That being said, if she hasn't been nursing all along, she isn't lactating anymore. That disappears pretty rapidly if not started quickly and continued regularly. Possession of breasts doesn't equal ability to breastfeed. I'm starting to think maybe you aren't a doctor.

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  163. Yes, we should stop making so many laws. The right course of action isn't "one-size-fits-all." Professional ethical positions are of some value. Personal morality positions are worse than useless.

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  164. "Regarding pregnancy, yes it's "natural" and it is a medical condition, not a disease."

    This is morally relevant.

    "Being in possession of a uterus doesn't make pregnancy obligatory"

    I agree.

    "And YES, if you have a child, and do not relinquish the child for adoption, you have to provide for the child."

    The woman locked in the cabin does not have the option of giving it up for adoption. Is she still obligated to forfeit her bodily autonomy even if adoption isn't an option?

    "First, you would need to assume she had been nursing all along, and suddenly decided not to, for some strange reason, and at the cost of great pain and probable infection to herself. That's so ridiculous I'm going to discount it on it's face."

    So you're going to sidestep the ethical dilemma posed by the hypothetic situation to avoid addressing the primary question it raises, namely, is it ever right for a woman to choose her bodily autonomy over caring for an infant (particularly when adoption is not an option)? There: I did away with the hypothetical scenario and just asked a general question without any narrative. Is that more helpful?

    Regardless of what pain she might face in weaning the child at that moment, does she or does she not have the right to refuse to breast feed it and thus kill it through starvation, particularly since adoption is not an option?

    "I'm starting to think maybe you aren't a doctor."

    Ad hominem doesn't make your argument any more convincing. You can push any hypothetical ethical dilemma beyond its limits and thus avoid addressing the primary ethical question raised by it. That doesn't mean you've settled the matter.

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  165. I don't know how to answer that question because bodily autonomy is not involved in caring for an infant. Feeding, even by breast, isn't a bodily autonomy argument. I DO know that breast-feeding an infant can't be demanded of anyone, EVER, nor is every woman successful at it. Wet nurse is a very old occupation, so this isn't a modern conundrum. I also am aware that in times of societal stress lots of kids die because their parents are unable to care for them. I don't think ANYONE has a specific right to starve someone to death "just because." However, in pregnancy the embryo drills into the woman's artery to leech oxygen and nutrients from her body. NOBODY is obliged to go along with that, no matter how "natural" you deem it. If nobody can demand that of you, nobody can demand it of me. Being female doesn't erase that.

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  166. Mostly rights. Our Constitution is based upon the Magna Carta and British common law. The Constitution is the supreme law of the land, and all other law springs from it. Do not confuse "law" with "morality." The two have little to do with one another. Generally, I think laws don't accomplish a whole lot. Addiction, for example is a medical issue, not a moral issue, and addiction ought to be treated as a health issue. But when all you have is a hammer, everything becomes a nail.

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  167. "I don't know how to answer that question because bodily autonomy is not involved in caring for an infant.

    Sure it is. This woman must give up her own time, her own energy, her own bodily resources (i.e., breast milk) to care for this infant. It's her body, right? She can do what she wants with it, including not breast feed an infant. Right? She has no wet nurse, she has no access to adoption. The ethical dilemma is this, in general terms: if she does not care for this child, no one else will and the child will die. However, caring for the child requires some imposition upon her own bodily autonomy and liberty. Which ethical ideal wins out? The life of the infant, or the bodily autonomy of the woman?

    "I DO know that breast-feeding an infant can't be demanded of anyone, EVER"

    Well, in qualifying your statement by saying "ever" you would then support the woman in letting the infant die of starvation to preserve her own bodily autonomy. You've indirectly answered the first question. But then you go on to say, "I don't think ANYONE has a specific right to starve someone to death "just because." So I'm not sure if the issue is settled in your own mind. Is it permitted or isn't it for the woman to forsake breast feeding the infant and let the infant die?

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  168. Not every woman can breastfeed. What if she has no breasts? Does that mean she can't have a child? How can you demand that a mastectomy patient breastfeed? You can't. Therefore breastfeeding can't be demanded. If there are no other options, the child is going to die. That's why we attempt to have options! In cases of war or famine, many kids die. That's unfortunate. It's also a fact of life. The entire premise of your argument is fallacious. Caretaking is NOT an infringement on bodily autonomy. Time and resources are not your body.

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  169. It can be argued that breastfeeding is not an extraordinary burden, whereas something residing in your body, drilling into your bloodstream, and wreaking havoc on your health, and threatening you with harm and possibly death, and great pain is in fact an extraordinary burden, and not something that we demand of anyone.

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  170. 'The WHO isn't some kind of universal moral authority.'

    ………….
    And neither are YOU. The difference between YOU and the WHO = science, research and facts. You lose. The WHO wins. Well among rational folks anyway. Nothing rational about forced birth cultists like you.

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  171. I need no justification for abortion beyond I AM and I WILL.
    When you get that, we can continue our conversation. Until then, you are wasting my time.

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  172. "Not every woman can breastfeed. What if she has no breasts?"

    That's not pertinent to the hypothetical ethical dilemma as posed, because the woman in that scenario has breasts and can breastfeed. But even without the hypothetical scenario, we can still ask the general form of the question. Which ethical ideal wins out? The life of the infant, or the bodily autonomy of the woman?

    "In cases of war or famine, many kids die. That's unfortunate."

    It is tragic and true, but not pertinent to the aforementioned hypothetical scenario. The woman can choose to save the child from starvation if she so desires.

    "Caretaking is NOT an infringement on bodily autonomy. Time and resources are not your body."

    Breasts are part of the body, though. In breastfeeding, a woman is using her body to feed an infant. Her body produces the breast milk and expends calories and nutrients to do so. Not only that, but it predisposes the woman to a certain degree of suffering (E.g., mastitis). Breastfeeding is certainly an imposition upon bodily autonomy.

    So, again, I ask: should it be permitted for the woman to neglect breastfeeding the infant and let it die or not? Which ethical ideal wins out: the woman's liberty regarding her own body (e.g., her bodily autonomy), or the infant's life?

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  173. "It can be argued that breastfeeding is not an extraordinary burden"

    What constitutes an extraordinary burden? Why should one be required to be an "ordinary" burden but not an extraordinary burden?

    Have you ever breastfed a child before? All through the night? Perhaps with mastitis? It can be quite burdensome for the breastfeeding mother.

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  174. "Mostly rights."

    So our rights come from the Constitution, and the Constitution (which is law) comes from rights?

    "Do not confuse "law" with "morality." The two have little to do with one another."

    Any language of rights is grounded in a philosophical understanding of morality. They're intimately related. Law is informed by nothing except for systems of ethics/morality.

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  175. Because, intimate occupation of your body, and use of your body parts, and then with the threat of harm, great pain, and death and all of that, is kind of extraordinary, wouldn't you say?

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  176. And it isn't extraordinary for your body to direct calories and nutrients toward the production of a substance that will be produced from your breasts and then fed to another human being? The investment of time, energy and physical resources, while not as great as pregnancy, is surely not "ordinary."

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  177. Not in the way that pregnancy is, no. However, curiously, this law was recently passed in the UAE:

    theguardian.com/world/2014/feb/07/uae-law-mothers-breastfeed-first-two-years

    Do you think that mandatory breastfeeding is a human rights violation?

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  178. Pregnancy, on the other hand, is not a disease state. Pregnancy is
    something that "should" happen, insofar as the woman's body is designed
    to gestate a young child and give birth to it.

    It's not a state of wellness either. Pregnancy is not the default state of women, and too many pregnancies will wear out women's bodies and kill them. Tis the very nature of pregnancy.

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  179. What if, instead of a baby, she finds herself having to care for an elderly quadriplegic man who can only eat liquids, and her breastmilk is the ONLY food around that can nourish him?

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  180. Don't mean to be nitpicky, but water is healthier for cats than milk–which tends to cause diarrhea, and cats can be fed scraps.

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  181. No, if this is a decision I'm making only for me, it's a win for personal liberty and bodily autonomy. Those considerations don't cease to exist just because one is dying.

    As I said in my prior comment, I'm not trying to remove the relevance of abstract considerations; I'm saying that faced with the grim reality of traumatic pain and suffering before death, those abstractions can tend to carry less weight for the one who is afflicted.

    My position has evolved over the length of my illness, and I've given it a great deal of thought. It may yet evolve further, depending on what treatments are available, how effective they are, how much pain is involved and how well it can be managed and, again, how much of any of that I'm able to tolerate.

    With all this in mind, there's more than a whiff of moral relativism in denying my choice to die comfortably rather than in a manner that makes others more comfortable. Is there any awareness or concern that there will be more suffering and pain than is absolutely necessary, if I should be forced to follow their lead? The cost of their morality would not be borne by them, but by me – in asking me to suffer just a little bit more, as if that's a rational or empathetic request.

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  182. I was bottle fed and so were my siblings. My mom attempted to breastfeed with me but it never really worked well for her.

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  183. Me either. One son I wasn't even able to feed any commercial formula. He was allergic to *something* that's in all of them. I had to make his milk the old-fashioned way, with evaporated milk, water and sugar, and added vitamins and iron. That was the only "formula" he could tolerate.

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  184. Okay, so now that we've established that you support infanticide in certain situations, let me broaden the scenario a little bit to clarify your stance.

    Letting the infant starve can, of course, take some time, and it might be uncomfortable for the infant. Once the woman has decided that she's not going to breastfeed the child, can she instead kill it by shooting it?

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  185. Okay, therefore the woman would be permitted to let the infant die rather than have any requirement that imposes on her bodily autonomy. Now that we've established that you support infanticide at least in some scenarios, let's broaden the scenario a bit to clarify your stance.

    Letting the infant starve may take some time and might be uncomfortable for the infant. So if the woman is permitted to let it starve, would she be permitted to end its life more quickly and shoot it with a gun? Or use whatever other means at hand to immediately end its life? If not, why?

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  186. I see you are playing the usual forced gestationer game of pretending to be deliberately obtuse. But we'll just pretend that you're actually that stupid, and explain my points the way we would to a three year old:

    The point here is not whether parents 'own' their children. The point is that the mother owns her OWN body, and the 'need; of the embryo for it's 'very life' does not give the embryo a 'right' to the mother's body. If that means killing it, tough. Too bad, so sad.

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  187. Any thoughts on this? I'm truly interested to see what you have to say about it, but if you're unsure or if its brought too many ethical concerns into conflict for you, I'd be interested to know that as well:

    Okay, so now that we've established that you support infanticide in certain situations, let me broaden the scenario a little bit to clarify your stance.

    Letting the infant starve can, of course, take some time, and it might be uncomfortable for the infant. Once the woman has decided that she's not going to breastfeed the child, can she instead kill it by shooting it?

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  188. Ad hominem doesn't make your argument any more convincing; why are you here? To convince people of your perspective, or to just insult folks? You're the one who used the terminology "owner." In saying that the "need of the embryo for its very life does not give the embryo a right to the mother's body," it's clear that, regardless of the moral status of the embryo, you value the bodily autonomy of the mother over the embryo.

    Let me pose to you a hypothetical scenario to draw out a point. A brief caveat about such hypothetical scenarios: they're meant to illustrate a point, and thus they can be pushed beyond their limits. At the end, I'll pose the general form of the question, if that's easier to address than the scenario itself. I hope you'll humor me by continuing to engage in the discussion, and maybe we can learn something about each others' perspectives if insults are kept out of it:

    A woman and an infant travel to a mountain cabin together. She's breastfeeding the infant. A huge snowfall locks them in the cabin. While there, the woman wishes to be free of the responsibility that the infant imposes on her bodily autonomy (e.g., requiring breastfeeding, time, energy, physical resources). There are no other options for feeding the infant, and no one else to care for it, so if she stops feeding the infant, it will die. Is the woman permitted to stop feeding the infant and let it die?

    The general form of the question: in a forced scenario where a woman must choose between providing breast milk (which is similar, although not as extreme, as pregnancy) or letting an infant die, with no other options to support the child's life, which ethical ideal wins out – the bodily autonomy and personal liberty of the mother, or the life of the infant? Why?

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  189. So a breastfeeding infant would not qualify then? Suppose an infant had no other option except to survive on the breast milk of its mother (no one else to care for it, no other feeding options). Should the mother be permitted to deny it breast milk and let it die?

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  190. I'm not positive but I believe it's possible to try to transfer tubal embryos to the uterus

    Nope. sart.org/Booklet_Ectopic_Pregnancy/

    Quote: A commonly asked question from women who have ectopic pregnancies,
    particularly if they have been attempting to conceive for a long period
    of time, is whether the pregnancy can be removed from the tube and then
    transplanted into the uterus where it might grow normally.
    Unfortunately, this is not possible with present medical science.

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  191. The question is whether the unborn child warrants moral regard.

    I have to ask where your moral regard is for the pregnant woman …

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  192. Under what circumstances is not breast-feeding "infanticide?" Breast feeding is painful and often not successful, because it's painful. Is a woman required to cut off her leg to feed it to a child? NO.

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  193. So what? And I'm a big believer in palliative care. You may consider suicide "an immoral act." I'm not so sure it's that black and white.

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  194. Exactly. And I fully support whatever decision you make for reasons of your own. Joshua can carry the weight of his OWN conscience. You need not carry it.

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  195. You owe them zero justifications for the way you choose to handle your own health issues, whether they ask for justification or not. Don't conflate this with a competency issue. You don't ask someone else to pay the price of your conscience. Pay it yourself.

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  196. Because she doesn't have to breast feed. She CHOOSES to do that. That "cabin in the woods" story has a number of flaws. It's usually stated as the woman being kidnapped and confined to the cabin. Because if she went there voluntarily, she would take supplies suitable for an infant. Now, being kidnapped and placed there with some random infant (maybe not even her own) and without suitable supplies for caring for an infant. Is she at fault for not breast feeding? NO. It's actually the fault of whoever put her there without adequate supplies for an infant. If you were to claim that she's obligated to use her body parts to sustain the life of random infant, what about three random infants? Suppose someone locks her in a cabin with five random infants? Is she obligated to breast feed all of them? Would she be obligated to provide breast milk for an adult with a PEG tube, given there is no liquid nutrition in the cabin? And would it be "her fault" if she failed in any of these alleged "duties?" Since the ability to lactate cannot be counted upon, I say NO. It's the fault of whoever put her in that situation in the first place.

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  197. I have just read your comments, and I understand better now.

    It had occurred to me that I was not properly understanding the physical toll involved.

    I also think that this shows how *easy* it is for many people, especially men, to handwave away the physical side effects of pregnancy – to them it's just a chick getting fat then popping out a cute widdle baby. I mean, big deal, right? Back when I was 8 years old, I used to think the same thing, mostly because its 'natural' and 'babies are good' so how can it possibly ever hurt anyone?

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  198. What if the woman can't breastfeed…or if it's a man.

    Men can, with appropriate manipulation, from what I have understood, lactate. Should a man force his body to lactate in order to feed the baby? What if he can't? Should he withdraw blood so it at least has something to feed off of? What if it is an older child who can eat solids – cut off toes, fingers so the child can have some nutrition?

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  199. It doesn't change anything. A woman is not obligated to use her breasts to feed anyone. Not a random infant, and not an elderly man with a PEG tube.,

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  200. When my friend's son was born, they lived in an extremely rural part of Africa. No access to formula ( but lots of access to tribal women's breasts…not necessarily a desirable replacement because of the prevalence of AIDS, but one frequently offered). Turned out NY friend loathed breastfeeding. Short of offering her son goat's milk in a syringe, there wasn't another option. Perhaps a legitimate situation where a woman has to breastfeed.

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  201. So no problem, let the baby die or give it to nurse from someone who might have AIDS. No offense intended, honestly, but though it may be legal, that kind of moral depravity is very sad.

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  202. I'm sure that any wet nurse can be tested for HIV and that's very reasonable. So is making your own formula where commercial formula may be difficult to get, or using goat milk or whatever. It is not "morally depraved" to loathe breast-feeding.

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  203. ** Is the woman pe rmitted to stop feeding the infant and let it die?**

    Is the woman able to give the infant to someone else before going to the cabin? Or do infants SOMETIMES fall from the trees on the way to the cabin, and you feel that the woman should be punished for going to a cabin by being forced to care for such infants.

    Also, you're playing the usual forced gestationer game of trying to pretend an embryo is an infant.

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  204. Obviously not. I loathed breastfeeding and pregnancy, for that matter. But I gave a specific (and real) situation which you refused to engage. More realistic by far than the violinist and forces organ donor situations.

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  205. In answering your question, I hope that you can attempt to see things from my perspective.

    I have moral regard for pregnant women. I empathize with the plight of unwanted pregnancy. I strongly support pregnancy support services that allow women get adequate obstetric care and other aspects of women's healthcare. I also support improved adoption services.

    However, I see both the pregnant woman and the unborn child as whole persons, warranting full dignity and human rights. When rights come into conflict, you need a way of sorting it out. Pregnant women are not being actively killed (i.e., in "pregnancy killing centers," or whatever); unborn children are being actively killed. Now, you may not believe that the unborn child warrants any moral regard, but I do. Therefore, when you ask "where is your moral regard for the pregnant woman," I hope you can at least understand that within the moral paradigm I'm explaining, the right of the unborn child to survive supersedes the desire of the mother to rid herself of the pregnancy and the burdens of being a parent.

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  206. "Under what circumstances is not breast-feeding "infanticide?""

    The child needs food. Only this woman (the child's mother) can provide it. It is the mother's choice to feed it or not, but she knows if she doesn't feed it, the child will die. By not feeding the child when she is able, she is effectively killing it.

    So since the child will die by starvation because the woman chooses not to breastfeed it, can the woman expedite the child's death by shooting it?

    "Is a woman required to cut off her leg to feed it to a child? NO."

    Thankfully, breastfeeding does not entail cutting off your leg.

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  207. Are you inferring that I would support her letting the elderly man die, but I would claim that she should feed the infant?

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  208. The hypothetical scenario stands as is, as I said to illustrate a point: namely, are you going to choose valuing this woman's autonomy over the life of the infant?

    "Also, you're playing the usual forced gestationer game of trying to pretend an embryo is an infant."

    I'm not pretending an embryo is an infant. I utilize an infant in this scenario because most people are not in favor of infanticide. It's to draw the ethical dilemma to an extreme: the bodily autonomy of a woman in a relatively common task (i.e., breastfeeding) versus the life of a born human being. I find that pro-choice advocates value bodily autonomy above all other values, but this puts bodily autonomy in conflict with another major value, namely the integrity of the life of a born person, something even most pro-choice advocates do not contest.

    So, is she within her rights to refuse to feed the infant and let it die?

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  209. I don't get it. You haven't yet answered the hypothetical scenario I posed to the pro-choice advocates here. Why should I provide you with the courtesy of addressing your questions if you cannot address the question I asked first?

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  210. I did answer. You just didn't like it. I said that it was not an extraordinary burden.

    But now I am reconsidering.

    Are people entitled to your body to sustain their lives?

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  211. I didn't know that answer was meant to imply permissibility or impermissibility of starving the infant in that scenario. So you would say that the woman should not be permitted to defer breastfeeding, and therefore it would be wrong of her let the child die? So bodily autonomy, in this situation, is overruled.

    What about breastfeeding isn't extraordinary?

    "Are people entitled to your body to sustain their lives?"

    It depends on if they require my body's resources because of a disease state, or because of a normal part of human development. It also depends on whether I have any duty to them (e.g., family member). It also depends on whether I'm revoking something that has been present their entire lives, or if I'm simply not offering something that wasn't there to begin with.

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  212. Whether its natural or not is irrelevant.

    Does the right to life, as a general principle, entitle you to use the bodies of others as life support?

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  213. "Whether its natural or not is irrelevant."

    I don't know to what you're referring.

    "Does the right to life, as a general principle, entitle you to use the bodies of others as life support?"

    What do you mean by life support? That a person, who was previously healthy, is now dying of a disease and requires the support of their kidneys, lungs, GI tract, etc? Because that is what we typically mean when we use the phrase "life support."

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  214. Sustain their life through the use of your body parts – blood, organs, tissue, and boobmilk.

    I am referring to "natural" in regards to your "special relationship, normal development" quip. Either, as myintx says, all humans are equally entitled to use other people's bodies "for their very lives" so that they may "have a productive future" or they are not.

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  215. "Sustain their life through
    the use of your body parts – blood, organs, tissue, and boobmilk."

    Breastfeeding supports a normative state of development. Human development is not a disease state; anything requiring blood transfusions, organ transplantation or tissue donation always is a disease state.

    Disease states are morally relevant because while certain people may have a duty to care for the sick (e.g., physicians, nurses), they do not have a duty to become diseased themselves in caring for the sick.

    "I am referring to "natural" in regards to your "special relationship, normal development" quip. Either, as myintx says, all humans are equally entitled to use other people's bodies "for their very lives" so that they may "have a productive future" or they are not."

    Circumstances and context matter. Duties matter. Disease and health matter, in a normative understanding of medicine. I do not believe all humans are entitled to the bodies of all other humans "for their very lives."

    If I have no duty to care for someone (I'm not their family member, caregiver, physician, etc.) who is suffering from a particular disease state (that is, a non-normative deviation from health), then they do not possess a claim on my body's resources.

    Having said that, if I have a particular duty to them, or if they depend on me to maintain a normative state of health that was pre-existing (that is, they began existing in their "normal" state of development), I would say I'm obligated to them in a special way.

    However, let's be honest with one another: pregnancy is an entirely unique scenario. There is nothing else like it in life. My breastfeeding-in-the-cabin dilemma attempts to pit bodily autonomy against the right to life of a born person in an attempt to expose a fervent over-dedication to the ideal of personal liberty, but it doesn't say anything specifically about pregnancy, per se.

    Therefore, when we're dealing with something as unique as pregnancy, we need to fall back on our understanding of particular ideals. Also, ideally, we should avoid ad hominem and insults, the likes of which are peppered all over this comment section.

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  216. You keep saying she could breastfeed. You don't KNOW THAT. Suppose she's ill? Suppose she has HIV? Suppose she needs medication where breast feeding is contraindicated? Suppose it's just extremely painful? If no options are available, yes, the child may die. Lactation can't be counted upon. It's not "infanticide."

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  217. I believe, under the circumstances, an alternative can be found. They have no freaking MILK, in Africa? Say it ain't so! Formula can be made from milk. I KNOW IT because I've DONE IT. One of my sons was allergic to *something* they put in the commercial formula. I had to make his milk the old fashioned way, with cow's milk, water and sugar. Or she could simply LEAVE AFRICA.

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  218. The point of the hypothetical scenario isn't to realize every possibility in reality, but to illustrate in concrete terms the conflict between two ethical ideals. You keep adding suppositions to avoid the thrust of the dilemma, which pits personal liberty and bodily autonomy against the life of a born person.

    "If no options are available, yes, the child may die. … It's not infanticide."

    How is it not infanticide? The child dies as a result of starvation, doesn't it?

    Since starvation can be unpleasant and slow, is this woman permitted to speed up the child's (inevitable) death and shoot it? If not, why?

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  219. She needs ALTERNATIVES to nursing the child from her breasts! You can't simply put someone in a bad position, and call it "infanticide" because it didn't work out. That's the part you keep skipping over. Suppose it's a 40 year old man with a PEG tube? Is she obligated to express breast milk for his benefit??? He's a born person. I'll be damned if I would.

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  220. Disease states are morally relevant because while certain people may
    have a duty to care for the sick (e.g., physicians, nurses), they do not
    have a duty to become diseased themselves in caring for the sick.

    How is giving bone marrow, or blood, going to put someone into a 'diseased' state? And does a 'diseased' person not have as much of a right to life as an embryo? Oh yeah, embryos can also be 'diseased' – does that mean that the pregnant person is free to disregard their lives, as, according to you, the sick and the ill, due to their condition, have less of a right to life than someone who is healthy?

    Anyway, a poster made an interesting argument regarding 'the right to life' and how it should trump bodily autonomy. He takes it a step further than either you or SPL, however, tell me what you think:

    ""I thought I'd said that when I first started this. Anyway, I am pro-choice because I do not believe that a fetus is a person. SPL believes fetuses are people. That is where I disagree with SPL. But I do believe that the pro-life position follows from the belief that fetuses are people. I find the idea that bodily autonomy can trump somebodies life far more appalling than anything SPL has ever said, far more appalling than anything any of my pro-life friends have ever said. I would much rather associate with people who recognize the importance of the right to life while incorrectly granting that right to fetuses, than with people who would knowingly kill a person to save themselves a degree of physical invasion much less bad than death. I'm disgusted to find myself on the same side of the issue with people who put bodily autonomy ahead of life. That is why I argue what I do here.

    Yes. I'm pro-choice because I don't believe that a fetus is a person. I'm pro forcing organ donation where it is necessary to save one life and does not take another, because I believe life is more important than any other right. Perfectly consistent, and much easier to live with than a position that would force one person to die for another's comfort.

    And I think that that is completely irrational too. If violating one person's bodily autonomy in a non-fatal way is the only medically feasible means of saving another persons life, I think it should absolutely be required. The idea that bodily autonomy should ever be able to trump a right to life is grotesque. We can give comparisons meant to draw out intuitions all day, but can you give me any reason why it would be ok to let one person die to spare another some form of temporary unpleasantness?

    Actually, all it takes to be a pro-lifer is to believe that a fetus is also a full person. It follows from that belief that the temporary autonomy of pregnant women is trumped by the fetuses right to continue living. There are so many other contexts (prisons, the draft, etc) where it is viewed as perfectly acceptable to restrict a persons control of their body for some greater good, this is no different. Even if you don't believe that a fetus is a full person (and I don't myself), you can't deny that the pro-life position follows logically from that premise. It is complete nonsense to equate being pro-life with being anti-woman or with thinking women are not full people (Monica is, after all, a woman)."" patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2014/10/13/friendly-atheist-podcast-episode-24-monica-snyder-secular-pro-life/#comment-1634357360

    —————-

    Why should a healthy embryo be granted rights that a dying 5 year old is denied? Do both not have equally valuable futures? And if, as this person says, all rights stem from the 'right to life', then is not at all unreasonable to demand mandatory blood/tissue/organ donation?

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  221. **So, is she within her rights to refuse to feed the infant and let it die? **

    Yes. It's not one persons's job to feed another person, no matter how many sad feelies you have about it. There is no special pleading for infants and fetuses.

    And, btw, your analogy is absolute crap, since the woman could have given the 'infant' to someone else prior to entering the woods.

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  222. She needs other options, because lactation cannot be depended on. I'll bet a lot of babies died in the past. because their mother could not nurse them. In the modern world we have options. EVEN if there were no commercial formula, there would still be other options.

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  223. **So since the child will die by starvation because the woman chooses not to breastfeed it, can the woman expedite the child's death by shooting it?**

    If that's the only way to get it off her, then go for it.

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  224. The point of the scenario isn't meant to tell a story or to make an emotional appeal. I appreciate how you've changed the scenario to include a 40 year old man with a PEG tube, but we're still not done discussing the scenario as originally posed, I think.

    As I said, it's meant to concretely put two (or more) ethical ideals in direct conflict with one another in a narrative fashion. The woman is in a "bad position" to draw out, in clear detail, the conflict between those ethics that many people in the pro-choice camp refuse to acknowledge. If the woman lets the child starve, it is very clearly infanticide. You cannot redefine that. I don't mean to sound condescending, but if you're having trouble reconciling the ethics involved, then just say so. We don't always have to have all the answers.

    But from what you've already said, you believe the woman is under no obligation to breastfeed the child. If so, then the child (her child) will die from starvation. Therefore, can the woman expedite the child's death by shooting it?

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  225. No; all the rights of the embryo do not supersede all the rights of the pregnant woman. I'm saying that the right to life of any person supersedes the right to privacy of any person, or the right to personal liberty.

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  226. "Yes. It's not one persons's job to feed another person,"

    So, in fact, even if the woman were not in the mountains, but at home, with as many options for caring for the infant as she wanted (or deferring care to others, e.g., adoption), if no one wanted to feed the child, we could, as a society, let the child die?

    And, btw, your analogy is absolute crap, since the woman could have given the 'infant' to someone else prior to entering the woods."

    I'm not drawing an analogy. I'm posing an hypothetical ethical dilemma to illustrate a conflict between two ethical ideals (that is, bodily autonomy and personal liberty vs. the life of a born person). It's not meant to accurately portray every detail of reality, or incorporate all possibilities, but instead to pose, in narrative fashion, a question about how one ethical ideal wins out over another. Folks that refuse to "play the game," so to speak, and address the dilemma as posed may realize that they overvalue one particular ideal but do not like where the consequences of the overvaluation lead.

    For example, if the woman can choose not to feed the infant, resulting in its death, is she permitted to shoot the infant to expedite its otherwise slow and uncomfortable death? If not, why? How is that different from letting a child, whom you can feed and in fact have a parental duty to, starve?

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  227. I don't know what's not normative about drinking goat's milk; people do it all the time.

    I'm not appealing to nature to make normative claims here. I'm drawing a line between disease and health. While sometimes blurry, in the situations we're discussing (e.g., requiring organs, life support, etc), it is not a blurry line.

    I think I should also point out that ethics, as a body of philosophy, is about what should and shouldn't be normative; what behaviors we should and shouldn't permit. So I'm not making any radical moves when I said "X should be normative," or "Y is normative," etc.

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  228. When rights come into conflict, you need a way of sorting it out.

    And your way of 'sorting it out' is to abrogate the rights of the born, sapient, sentient *person* in order to assign rights to an entity that is none of those things. Thank you for admitting. when you say he right of the unborn child to survive supersedes the desire of the mother to rid herself of the pregnancy that you advocate the enslavement of women the moment the stick turns blue.

    You do not know a given woman's circumstances and why she might choose not to gestate a pregnancy. Neither do I. Unlike me, though, you have adequate hubris to demand that she do so anyway, because you appear to think you know what is best for someone you've never even met.

    It is so easy to be an anti-choice male, isn't it, Joshua? After all, it will never be your life or health put at risk due to gestational complications. All you have to do is wave your hand and demand that others do as you say.

    No love, a woman who nearly died due to pregnancy complications

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  229. **So, in fact, even if the woman were not in the mountains, but at home, with as many options for caring for the infant as she wanted (or deferring care to others, e.g., adoption), if no one wanted to feed the child, we could, as a society, let the child die?**

    I'm curious here. You are proposing an entire society full of people, none of whom, according to your scenario, actually care about the life of the child, since none of them want to feed it. Yet they are demanding that the woman feed it. Obviously their motivation cannot be the life of the child. So that leaves merely CLAIMING it's the 'life of the child', but their real reason being to impose some sort of punishment on the woman. Yes, I think in such a society, it would be appropriate to let the child die.

    **What if, instead of breast milk, the woman had access to formula?**

    That's also an interesting question, Joshua. According to the pro-life people here, who want to weasel out of any 'responsibility' for other people's 'very lives' on their own part, the reason they give why someone's body is up for grabs by pregnancy and breastfeeding is that it is 'natural', and the reason why their own bodies aren't up for grabs by dialyis patients is that transplant surgery isn't 'natural'.

    The thing is, bottle feeding isn't 'natural'. No animal besides man refines glass and rubber, makes bottles, and uses the milk from other species to feed it's own young. So, by the pro-life 'natural is sacred' claim that they use to wiggle out of their own bodies being up for grabs, would it not be acceptable to them, in the event a woman isn't producing milk, for her to starve the infant to death deliberately, rather than bottle feed it, if that's what she wanted to do?

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  230. ccording to the pro-life people here, who want to weasel out of any
    'responsibility' for other people's 'very lives' on their own part, the
    reason they give why someone's body is up for grabs by pregnancy and
    breastfeeding is that it is 'natural', and the reason why their own
    bodies aren't up for grabs by dialyis patients is that transplant
    surgery isn't 'natural'.

    Which is exactly what he is doing, funnily enough. "Diseased" children don't deserve our bodies, because, you know, they are diseased, and forced donations might 'harm' the donor. But hey, pregnancy is 'normative' so, you know, the unborn human is automatically entitled to the pergnant persons' body, cuz nature.

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  231. You are appealing to nature, in fact, that is what your entire argument is based on.

    "Diseased" humans don't have a right to other people's bodies because they are 'diseased'. Hm, sure sounds awfully like eugenics to me!

    But hey, embryos have a right to women's bodies because pregnancy = natural.

    Let's play "Spot the Fallacy' for 100, Alex!

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  232. "I'm curious here. You are proposing an entire society full of people, none of whom, according to your scenario, actually care about the life of the child, since none of them want to feed it."

    As I said, I'm not creating a narrative or a story; I'm illustrating an ethical dilemma. I can pose it in more general terms, it just doesn't make it as accessible.

    For example, the general form of the dilemma is, should bodily autonomy and personal liberty be preserved at any and all costs? Including costs born by those under your sole care? Should a right to bodily autonomy trump the right to life of other people? There. Now we can skip the concerns about the details of the dilemma, which was only ever meant to be illustrative in the first place.

    "but their real reason being to impose some sort of punishment on the woman."

    Your inference is wrong. I support increased pregnancy support services, women's health care and adoption services. I do not support killing unborn people (including unborn girls). I don't view that as punishment; I view it as preservation of a child's life.

    Do you think requiring a parent to care for their toddler is punishment? Adoption aside, someone will be a de facto guardian for a given child, and that person is responsible for the child's well-being. Is that responsibility a punishment?

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  233. "You are appealing to nature, in fact, that is what your entire argument is based on."

    I don't think I'm appealing to nature, but to check in with your perspective, on what should we ground our medical ethics?

    ""Diseased" humans don't have a right to other people's bodies because they are 'diseased'. Hm, sure sounds awfully like eugenics to me!"

    Eugenics is a specific system that attempts to "improve" the human race through selective breeding and culling. That is not what my aforementioned ethic is supporting. It rightfully recognizes that other people do not have a duty to harm themselves to help others who themselves are in a state of harm/disease.

    "Let's play "Spot the Fallacy' for 100, Alex!"

    You may disagree with my argument, but it is not fallacious. Pregnancy is natural, but so is disease. Both things are natural and that is not the basis for my argument. Pregnancy constitutes a "normal" state of affairs, insofar as human development is normal. Disease states are not "normal." That is vastly different than claiming one is natural and one is not.

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  234. Pregnancy constitutes a "normal" state of affairs, insofar as human development is normal.

    Yes, it is a form of naturalistic fallacy, is/ought in fact. Because pregnancy IS natural/normative, it OUGHT to happen, regardless of how the pregnant person feels about it. But, because disease is not a 'normative' state of affairs, no one 'ought' to be required to either permanently or temporarily donate body parts to the diseased individual.

    All that you've done, through semantic sleight of hand, is replace 'natural law' with your new catchphrase 'normative development' – and if 'natural law' ie 'normative development' is our guide, well then, we MUST abide by it.

    It's not about life for you. Not at all. It's about biology equaling destiny, for women, at any rate.

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  235. For example, the general form of the dilemma is, should bodily autonomy and personal liberty be preserved at any and all costs? Including costs born by those under your sole care? Should a right to bodily autonomy trump the right to life of other people?

    Which is a fair question, except you *only* apply this to pregnancy, and only to women, right? Because..'normative' aka natural law rules?

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  236. "And I think that that is completely irrational too. If violating one person's bodily autonomy in a non-fatal way is the only medically feasible means of saving another persons life, I think it should
    absolutely be required."

    I think this perspective lacks nuance, and creates duties where there often are none.

    But that is exactly what you require,but only of women, naturally. It's funny how he says that he admires pro-lifers because they hold the belief that 'right to life' trumps bodily autonomy, yet when I actually speak to pro-lifers, the vast majority oppose any sort of tissue and/or organ donation, because it is 'unnatural', or as you like to say 'not normative'

    Diseases are not something that "should" occur.

    No, diseases should *not* occur, however, I don't see how that suddenly makes the diseased person's life automatically worth less than that of an embryo – if an embryo through it's 'natural' state is entitled to a woman's body, then I don't see why a sick kid with leukemia can't also be entitled to your bone marrow. We are talking about the sanctity of life here, you know. It just seems awfully cold to me to simply let a child die because his condition is not 'normative'. FFS.

    Perhaps all rights are predicated on the right to life – that is, if we cannot secure the safety of someone's life, then all other rights (e.g.,to free speech, to vote, etc) cannot also be protected.

    Yes, that is what is meant. Try not to get too wrapped up in semantics, ok?

    The argument is that since it is impossible to exercise your rights without the right to life, that all other rights are therefore subservient to the right to life. If this is true in pregnancy, why can't it be true in any other case?

    Do you believe we have duties?

    Yes, I do believe that we have duties. For example, if a parent chooses to have a child, and to raise a child, they have duties toward that child. A woman doesn't have duties to a zygote simply because a lucky sperm fertilized an egg. And those 'duties' do not, under any circumstance, include full bodily donation – not for born children, not for unborn.

    At it's most basic, though, it is a negative right. That means,
    regardless of what is positively warranted to people in disease states,
    AT MINIMUM, it means we should not kill other innocent people because
    the right to life grants that protection.

    The right to use another person's bodily organs is a positive right, and such a right can only be gifted, not taken without consent. No human being has this right, nor should they have this right. If you want to give it to fetuses, then you have to give it to everyone else. Equal individual rights, and all that.

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  237. Why should that matter? Millions of us bow to social and financial pressures everyday when we get in our cars and drive to shitty jobs.

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  238. You're basically saying we can continue our conversation on abortion when I change my mind and start agreeing with you about abortion….

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  239. If we were arguing about the rights of blacks, I could just as easily say "Among rational people the Supreme Court wins and you lose, because the Supreme Court = facts and law and reasoning, and they said black people can't be citizens and don't have the right to sue in court."

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  240. I read your comment and explained why I think the analogies are valid, and your objections don't prove that you need to consciously suffer, or be aware that you have a right, in order to be wronged. Since you didn't offer any counter argument and decided to insult me instead, I think maybe you're the one who didn't objectively read my reply.

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  241. Hmm, okay, I didn't do exhaustive research but some sources I looked at mentioned the possibility of embryo transfer and others didn't, so I wasn't sure.

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  242. Pregnancy is not a disease state; it is natural.

    So? Does that necessarily mean it's healthy?

    Oh, you mean *normative*

    Well, which definition of normative are you using?

    Normative means relating to an ideal standard or model, or being based on what is considered to be the normal or correct way of doing something.

    or

    In philosophy, normative statements make claims about how things should or ought to be, how to value them, which things are good or bad, and which actions are right or wrong. Normative claims are usually contrasted with positive (i.e. descriptive, explanatory, or constative) claims when describing types of theories, beliefs, or propositions. Positive statements are (purportedly-) factual statements that attempt to describe reality. In other words, they are 'truth-apt'; capable of being factually correct or incorrect.

    For example, "children should eat vegetables", and "those who would sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither" are normative claims. On the other hand, "vegetables contain a relatively high proportion of vitamins", "smoking causes cancer", and "a common consequence of sacrificing liberty for security is a loss of both" are positive claims. Whether or not a statement is normative is logically independent of whether it is verified, verifiable, or popularly held.

    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Normative

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  243. Numbers 5:11-31 is abortion used as a trial by ordeal for a woman accused of adultery. Proof being the aborted fetus. That is the Bible describing enforcing abortion as a means of civil control. Not justifiable. The pregnant woman must choose and she is the only one who has that choice.

    And here is the circumstance you asked for:
    upworthy.com/two-abortion-protesters-decided-to-yell-at-this-guys-wife-they-probably-shouldnt

    No justification is needed for an abortion beyond I AM and I WILL.

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