Tuesday, December 11, 2007


A topic of great controversy is the pro-life / pro-choice argument. So many factors play into this. At what point is a fetus considered alive? Is the act of abortion similar to the act of murder? Should the woman have the choice? How can it be fair for a raped woman to have to carry the child of her assailant? What if the mother's own life is in danger? I found support for either the pro-life or the pro-choice argument.

Pro-Life: (View each of the photos and take in mind the effect of the captions. Be warned, website contains very disturbing images.) http://www.jonsplace.org/rel/abortionpics.htm

Pro Choice:
Premise One: Individuals own their bodies, and everything that is growing within them.
Premise Two: Fetuses grow within the bodies of their mothers.
Conclusion One: Females own their fetuses.
Premise Three: Individuals may destroy that which they own.
Premise Four: Females own their fetuses.
Conclusion Two: Females may destroy their fetuses.
(For further discussion of these premises, follow this link:

After reviewing the two sections, what do you think? Present your own view on abortion and discuss how the images and premises fairly or unfairly influenced your opinion or could influence the opinion of others.


Mr. Pseudonym said...

Premise one: Wolf is heartless.
Premise two: That particular pro-life view requires empathy on a level requiring a heart.
Conclusion one: Wolf doesn't support that argument.

That being said I feel it is important to at least partially justify that stance. As much fun as life is (whee fun!) I personally do not think fetuses (feti?) are human. Just because something looks human doesn't make it so. In fact some of those fetuses (feti?) look so dissimilar to people as to be equivocal to a doll in my mind. Look at old GI-Joe action figures. They look like little people, when are we going to out-law the horrific mutilation and destruction of those little people? We aren't because: something that looks human isn't necessarily human.

Premise three: Wolf is illogical.
Premise four: this pro-choice argument uses logic.
Conclusion two: Squid have eight arms.

People who believe in something for moral reasons are not going to let "logic" change their mind. Along the same one, someone who believes something for purely logical reasons mightn't be swayed by emotion.

In the end I vote for neither camp. I think that in the end none of it matters, so there is no point in even arguing over it to begin with. There is always the chance, I suppose, that they fetus aborted could have become the next super-ultra-uber-genius, but there is just as much of a chance that they are the next Fascist who kills millions.
In the end though, neither of those matter either, because no matter how great their influences, there is no real long term effect of their existence in the grandness of the universe.

katrina337 said...

Premise 1.1: Wolf is amazing (I'm lacking a better first premise).
Premise 2.1: Knowledge requires belief.
Conclusion 1: I don't buy the pro-life arguments.

Honestly. That doesn't make me feel sympathy towards the small children. I don't think if you abort a child, they're really going to know. Because they will be dead. And the only people who will (directly, I suppose if you go off on random theoretical bits you could say in the long run they would have effected some person's life for the better, but we're excluding such theories right now) be effected are the parents, who are making the decision.

Premise 1.2: Female owns her fetus and is thus just in killing it.
Premise 2.2: Life can be defined in multiple ways
Conclusion 2: It's subjective.
Which is why I'm pro-choice. Whether or not I choose to have an abortion does not matter. I want that choice. I want other females to have the same choice. It's one societal choice I agree with people being able to have.

Premise 1.3: The value is in the possibility of life.
Premise 2.3: In such case, a good number of other laws and ethical decisions are thereby unjust.
Conclusion 3: Ethics shouldn't play a part in the decision. You could take it to the other extreme, where under certain circumstances people would have to abort the child, and the pro-life people would disagree with that. In such a situation, being pro-choice is actually the only named middle-ground, not an extreme.

Premise 1.4: I do not see the fetus as a life.
Premise 2.4: Life itself holds no value.
Conclusion 4: It doesn't matter.
We discussed abortion at the Ethics Conference, in philosophical ethics. We were presented with a couple scenarios one being that which follows: (for purposes of this being easier/making more sense, you're female for the example)
You wake up in a strange place, you have absolutely no idea where you are, how you got there, or why. As you're looking around, you see you're lying next to this guy, and there's an IV going from your arm to his, and it's circulating your blood into him. Just as you are about to pull it out, this other guy comes in and is like "Stop! You can't do that." And you're like "Well, why the hell not?" And so he continues to explain to you that this guy is a really famous violinist, who has a very rare blood disease, and he's living off of your blood, and if you pull the IV out he'll die. Basically this person will be dependent upon you for the next 9 months (though it is theoretically 18 years and 9 months, if you follow where this is going). So you're presented with the decision: is it ethical to pull out the IV or not?
So it's obviously denoting rape, and we're dealing with something actually considered life. Something that you can't control is going to keep you hostage, essentially, for the next almost 19 years. Pulling out the IV would be the equivalent of abortion, so what is actually ethical?
I believe our decision was that in some cases, especially one of this scenario, it would be ethical to abort.

There was another example that I can post if you guys want me to, but they're long so I won't do it now.
But we also discussed the relativist and absolutist views of abortion, and it basically relates back to whether or not you are absolutist, and if you are if the core value is that the fetus is a life, or if it's not.
I don't know if I actually proved anything, but yeah, that's...what I have to say.

Dani said...

Wow...this is one of those threads that really shows the relationship between IB studets.
Anyways, I think one of the primary problems with Pro-Life is once an unwanted baby is born, what happens to it? A mother who may have aborted it may now abuse it or abandon it and is that as bad, if not worse than aborting it? In an ideal world there would be a system to take care of it (Anyone read Beautiful Lies?) but pragmatically, it wont happen what with all the other issues out there.
I'm not sure where i stand on this issue personally, mostly because i think one needs to be in that situation before they can judge. (Anyone read Jamie-Lynn Spears interview when she made it known that shes pregnant? At 16?) This is an issue where one needs some experience, because then they have that emotional knowledge.

katrina337 said...

Going along with what Dani said, how many of the pro-life people have seen junkies and homeless people on the street and wished they were dead so they'd stop wasting space/life?
What's the difference?

SamE said...

Premise 1: Until they are 18, parents own their children.

Dani said...

excellent point....I hadn't thought of that (well, at 14 you can decide who you want to stay with if they're divorced, and 16 you can emancipate), but yes, legally, parents do own their kids until they're 18.
So then is the law wrong? Or is the pro-life argument flawed?

katrina337 said...

Maybe it's both.

I mean, there's a theory behind children being owned by their parents until they're 18, one reason probably being because it's harder for them to support themselves. Especially if they stay in school.
But if they lowered the age at which children can legally start to work, it would probably be less important for children to be owned until they're 18.
I know people who've declared emancipation though, and they are able to support themselves. Not luxuriously, but they can do it.

Sierra Tamkun said...

I thought the images were disturbing, and I'd like to know where they came from. Who took them, and where? I think that at the point where the child is able to think on it's own, it a murderous action to abort. As far as the "you own your child until they are 18" argument, if a parent kills their 3-year-old, it's considered murder. It is still murder to kill your child, even if they are technically owned by you. However, aborting a fetus is in many cases getting rid of something that does not have the medtal capacity to think in it's own. It is essencially a plant, something growing. I also think it is wrong to argue that you cannot have an abortion, but you can go out and shoot an animal. HTat animal had more free thought than the fetus, and yet we are allowed to kill it. And, as far as language goes, asking if hte fetus is human is flawed. Of course it is human. That's a given. You can't say "the fetus isn't human" because it is. It may be small, and it may not have signifigant brainwaves, but it is a human fetus. THe word "human" has a variety of connotations, and people using hte word are relying on those to carry their arguement. We should be cautious of the trap.

Rachel said...

This is a hard argument for me to get into, since I am unclear about my own stance. Thankfully, I have not found myself in a situation where I need to make the decision. The seems to be an interesting double standard that Sierra addressed a bit already: the value of life. Plants are growing, living things, but we burn them, eat them, pick them, build our houses out of them. When we fight in wars (unless you've declared war on terrorism), there is a tangible enemy that you are trying to smother, to kill. A living breathing human whose mother decided not to abort. Prisoners are abused, tortured, and sometimes put to death. But when it comes to a fetus, life is inherently valuable. What about animals? We don't exactly sit around waiting for our hamburgers to die, do we? If you've ever read fast food nation, you remember the grizzly slaughterhouse scene. I'm pretty sure abortion is not comparable to slinging a not yet dead cow on a meat hook on a journey towards flashing knives (note the persuasive language). If we were a nation of pacifists, that would be one thing. But we aren't. We have a weakness for human babies. It isn't logical considering our treatment of other living things. It is an emotional thing. It is also a greater of two evils sort of debate. Do you support the mother in her choice to live her life, in heath, in youth (the choice to escape the stigma of a teen birth), living for herself because she isn't ready to live for a child. I think it is understandable. At the same time, do you give the fetus, the innocent potential, the advantage. The mother made her choice, now she has to live with it, nurture it, give it its own fighting chance? We value life, but which one do we value more. I do not think it is a debate about property and rights therein, addressed in the initial question. It is isn't about heartlessness, although emotion is involved. It isn't a logical situation, given our other actions as humans, although both sides are supported by rather similar logic, differing only in subject. It is about quality of life. Which life do you fight for, mother or child?