does a fetus have rights?

Discussion in 'Ethics, Morality, & Justice' started by camilus, Oct 7, 2008.

  1. camilus the villain with x-ray glasses Registered Senior Member

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    we're studying abortion in my ethics class, and the main questions with abortion are two simple ones:

    1) Does a fetus have rights like a newborn child?

    2) Is an unborn child an innocent human being?

    If pro-lifers can prove any of these two questions, than they succeed in proving that abortion is wrong. And vice versa, pro-choicers can prove its upto the mother if they can prove any of these questions otherwise.

    what do you guys think?
     
  2. James R Just this guy, you know? Administrator

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    Here's what I think, but not why I think it:

    1. There is a sliding scale of "rights" that increases from the time of conception until the time of birth. Thus, all other things being equal, an 8 month old fetus has more rights than a 3 week old fetus, but not yet the full rights of a newborn.

    2. The term "innocent" is a somewhat loaded one. But, most likely, yes - an unborn child is an innocent human being. But in my opinion, neither its innocence nor its humanity helps us to decide on how (if at all) its rights ought to differ from the rights of a newborn.
     
  3. Asguard Kiss my dark side Valued Senior Member

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    i agree with james except for a few things.

    Firstly i really dont care if these seem contradictory because consitancy is the refuge of a weak mind:p

    As a medical based person i belive that the parents come first unless they decide otherwise. This is based on the fact that a fetus has no sentenance. I dont belive there should be any cut off for an abortion but that it should be the decision of BOTH contributors where possable. Medical proffessionals shouldnt judge the decision of them and should advise and treat it like any other medical procidure.

    HOWEVER, any criminal action which causes the death of a fetus (for instance assult of the mother) should carry a sentance equivlant to murder. This is because of the damage it will do to the parents rather than for any other reason. There is no reason why alowing abortion should mean that people who have been trying to have a child for years and the child is killed 1 day preterm shouldnt have the same justice as parents who have had there child killed post term. That being said i dont think this should be fixed in stone, like murder is currently. For instance an acidental bump at the pub shouldnt cause a murder charge. This decision should be left to the parents to decide rather than a procuter looking to add to there list of acomplishments, the same way i belive rape is treated.
     
  4. Lordznebula5 Registered Member

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    Both! All situations are different. This should be up to each woman. Let her decide. If she wants the child then there's a crime to killing. If she doesn't want the child then there's no crime. Should be question of "ownership by the mother" for the early stage of the fetus.
     
  5. cosmictraveler Be kind to yourself always. Valued Senior Member

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    The mother has rights and she decides what she wants or is best for her life.
     
  6. Sciencelovah Registered Senior Member

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    Actually there has been many discussion about this topic, for example, here:
    http://www.sciforums.com/showthread.php?t=83207

    (pro-contra of abortion).

    As per your question:

    In my opinion:

    1) Does a fetus have rights like a newborn child?

    Who has the priviledge to give the rights to live? Those who believe in God
    will likely say it's God. I don't know how about any other religions, but in Islam
    and Christian, yes, fetus does have rights to live. Considering Christian and
    Muslim counts for 1.9 and 1.1 billion of the world population, they count altogether
    for about half of the world population, so this should have been accepted as
    universal law :D

    As far as the legal convention, in the American Convention on Human Rights
    (also known as the Pact of San José) which is signed by 24 countries in 1969,
    the 23 articles of Chapter II give a list of individual civil and political rights
    due to all persons, including the right to life "in general, from the moment
    of conception
    ", to humane treatment, to a fair trial, to privacy, to
    freedom of conscience, freedom of assembly, freedom of movement, etc.

    So yeah, fetus does have right to live like a newborn child. Killing it is murder.

    2). Is an unborn child an innocent human being?


    I would say an unborn child is the MOST innocent human being, as it is not
    able to commit any legal crime yet.
     
  7. Nasor Valued Senior Member

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    The problem is that rights are artificial human concepts that are arbitrarily given and taken away by society. As much as some people like to make noise about some rights being "god given" or "universal," there isn't any cosmic basis for what rights people do or don't have. Peoples opinions about whether or not a fetus or embryo has rights are just that - opinions that can't be backed up with any sort of objective evidence. It's like asking if Aerosmith is a good band, or if Picasso painted nice pictures, or if chocolate icecream is better than vanilla.
     
  8. visceral_instinct Monkey see, monkey denigrate Valued Senior Member

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    Can it think? Can it feel pain?
     
  9. spidergoat alien lie form Valued Senior Member

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    46,882
    I think the standard should be measured scientifically. We do not grant rights to animals, and at the early stages, the human foetus is no more complex than an animal, or animal foetus. What makes us human is the presence of a cerebral cortex, and EKG readings can detect it's activity. Therefore, whenever this happens, a foetus can no longer be ethically aborted, unless there are other circumstances involved. That usually happens about the end of the first trimester, perhaps the beginning of the second.

    The standard isn't pain, because a slaughtered animal probably feels some pain too, and that doesn't make it illegal.

    The only problematic thing about this standard is that it would extend rights to other animals with a highly developed cerebral cortex, such as dolphins, whales, and apes...
     
  10. visceral_instinct Monkey see, monkey denigrate Valued Senior Member

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    It's not ok to kill animals either.
     
  11. BenTheMan Dr. of Physics, Prof. of Love Valued Senior Member

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    Perhaps. Depending on which scientists you talk to, fetuses have the facility to feel pain either at about 20 weeks---possibly sooner (14 weeks) and possibly later (27-28 weeks) depending on who you talk to. Further, there are cases where aborted fetuses (late term) actually survived the procedure, and would have (presumably) gone on to live healthy lives.

    Just for comparisson's sake, a premature baby born at 27-29 weeks has a 90% chance of living with less than 10% of a chance of long term disability. This makes it hard to justify late term abortions for any other reason than mortal risk to the mother if the baby is born.

    Agreed. There is, of course, the "marginal humans" argument that the animal rights people are so fond of.

    Either way, depending on your philosophical beliefs, you have to stretch pretty far to find a way to justify late term abortions "on demand". I don't want to muddy this discussion with politics (yuck), but this is ostensibly an issue in this year's presidential election, with Obama voting against bans on late-term abortions, and then back-tracking later.
    --------------------
    Fetus pain links:
    http://www.gargaro.com/fetalpain.html
    http://discovermagazine.com/2005/dec/fetus-feel-pain

    Premature babies:
    https://www.caremark.com/wps/portal/HEALTH_RESOURCES?topic=preemiecare

    Fetal development:
    http://www.expectalipil.com/fetal_dev_4.html
     
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2008
  12. camilus the villain with x-ray glasses Registered Senior Member

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    Okay, so according to your #1, the sliding scale permits abortion in a 3 week old, but not in a 8 month old?

    Do you think it is morally right for the woman to be able to decide what she wants or is best for her life at all stages of pregnancy, including right after birth? In other words, if the woman is able to decide what she wants or is best for her life, meaning she can choose to kill the fetus before it is born, does she have the same rights after it's born? What's the difference between killing a fetus a day before it is born, and killing a newborn a day after it is born? aren't they almost essentially the same fetus, the only difference being one is inside the womb and the other got lucky by a day or two and is already out?

    Those are good questions. Probably enough to decide the matter if they could be answered. My personal belief is that human life is protected, not all life. This is why we raise cows for slaughter, it's not wrong to kill a cow because it is not human life, just life.

    Now the question of when life becomes human to me is best answered by your first question, when can it think. Because cows feel pain like humans, but they are not human life, they cant think in order to complain about it, if you want to be black-and-white about it. So when you're able to think, and I guess complain about pain, you are considered human life?
     
  13. BenTheMan Dr. of Physics, Prof. of Love Valued Senior Member

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    Just to be clear, I don't know the motivations behind Obama's voting record in the Illinois Senate---there were perhaps pieces of the bill that he didn't like, or something.
     
  14. camilus the villain with x-ray glasses Registered Senior Member

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    what about potentiality? does having the potential to be human essentially the same as being human?
     
  15. BenTheMan Dr. of Physics, Prof. of Love Valued Senior Member

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    Then, one can just as well ask---when does life end?

    Because the ability to "think" is not clearly defined, you've just killed all possibility of defining "life". Example: does a comatose human have rights? If you say yes, then you have to ask the next question---why? Is there some inherint right to exist, or is it a right that the government has graciously given us (a la Nasor's response)? (If you answer the latter, then you are at odds with Western Democracies in general :) )
     
  16. BenTheMan Dr. of Physics, Prof. of Love Valued Senior Member

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    In my opinion, yes.

    Another example. If I have a newborn child, in what sense does he "think"? Yet he still has the same human rights as I do, a fully (mostly, at least) functioning and (sometimes) thinking American male, age 29.

    Why does HE have the same rights as ME (other than owning guns, driving, voting, buying liquor, etc.)?
     
  17. camilus the villain with x-ray glasses Registered Senior Member

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    I love it that you answered yes, this is my favorite part. So being and potentially being are the same thing? Isn't a sperm cell a potential human being? Does that mean masturbation should be considered mass murder?

    another example. A 5 year old child. Isn't a 5 year old child potentially a 21 year old adult? does the 5 year old child then, get the same rights as a 21 year old adult? LMAO, does this mean that the 5 year old child can thow a keg party for his bithday? because, after all, he is potentially 21, and being 21 and potentially being 21 are the same thing according to you.
     
  18. camilus the villain with x-ray glasses Registered Senior Member

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    I believe the complete opposite. Human life is not the same as potential human life.
     
  19. spidergoat alien lie form Valued Senior Member

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    We need to evaluate this from the perspective of established precedent, of the ethics and values common in society as a whole. In the US, we approve of killing animals, both for food and for humanitarian reasons (stray cats).
     
  20. Avatar smoking revolver Valued Senior Member

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    19,084
    Since Roman times foetus has inheritance rights, but can get inheritance only after birth, till then he has to be taken into account if father dies.
     

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