[FoRK] What Is Human? Ugh...

Kevin Elliott k-elliott at wiu.edu
Thu Mar 4 11:58:38 PST 2004

At 03:11 +0000  on  3/3/04, Russell Turpin wrote:
>There's nary a fatal disease where there isn't SOME
>effort to curtail it, no matter how rare, no matter
>that its victims would retain various permanent
>deficiencies if their lives were saved, no matter how
>unlikely the near-term result, no matter what.
>Except in this case. Now why is that?

Oh?  Is there a "People for the funding of decapitation research"? 
"People for the funding of research for those children born without a 
brain?"  "People for the funding of research for victims of 
incineration (not bad burns of course, but those people who have been 
reduced to ash)?"

As I described, BY DEFINITION, an unviable fetus has a set of birth 
defects significantly worse than the most defective children that are 
born today.  If we cannot help those children, then we CAN'T help 
unviable fetuses.  In the technical sense, some of those fetuses may 
not even be human- that is, they may not have all 48 chromosomes, 
their chromosomes may be so damaged that they are incapable of 
producing the set of proteins that eventually turn a cell into a 
baby, or the specific arrangement of chromosomes/gene sequences may 
be such that the zygotes genes may be close to chimp than human.  To 
be perfectly honest, I don't see anything dishonest about saying that 
the first proof that a zygote is "human" is the fact that it implants 
in the first place.

>To anyone sensible, it's obvious why: we're talking
>about a zygote with no nervous system, not a person.
>But a "pro-lifer" can't accept the obvious.

*sigh*.  Let's turn the question around.  Do you think abortion is a 
good or a bad thing?  Is having an abortion a moral act in anyway 
(that is, does the decision to have an abortion involve an "ethical" 
dilemma, or is the equivalent of deciding whether or not to clip your 
toenails)?  Does the age of the fetus have effect that moral 

Note- I did NOT ask if abortion should be illegal or not.  That is a 
matter of public policy that is an entirely separate question.  We 
(as a society/government) chose to allow all sorts of things that are 
quite clearly unhealthy/immoral as a matter of public policy, because 
we've decided that banning them would cause a worse outcome.  The 
question I ask you is abortion moral?

Any pro-choicer who thinks that aborting a third trimester child is 
not a moral decision is having a much harder time accepting the 
obvious than a pro-lifer who fails to fight for the unviable zygote. 
Will you agree with that?

>Yet none of them lift a finger. Against -- what in
>their view -- is the SINGLE LARGEST CAUSE OF

Bah.   Your assuming that an unviable zygote is human, which seems to 
me to be assuming facts not in evidence.
Arguing with an engineer is like wrestling with a pig in mud.
After a while, you realize the pig is enjoying it.
Kevin Elliott   <mailto:kelliott at mac.com>
ICQ#23758827               AIM ID: teargo
iChatAV: kelliott at mac.com  (video chat available)

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