[FoRK] thinking about responsibility

rudy rouhana rudy
Mon Oct 24 14:08:26 PDT 2005

I agree with you that "potential" is too broad. But, I disagree that she is
interjecting the "natural course of development" to claim rightness. Nothing
about childbirth these days has anything to do with a strict interpretation
of the natural course of development. Only a modern view that incorporates
advances in medicine, science, technology and best practices as "natural"
would satisfy that claim.

That being said, I read into what she is saying as judging based on the
probability of outcome. Someone can fact check this, but my assumption is
that a pregnant woman in the U.S. is "more likely than not" (>50%) going to
give birth to a living child. So, while other methods might one day be able
to transform other types of cells into ones with reproductive capacity, they
are fall less likely to wind up one day being involved in a live birth. I
extend this to unfertilized eggs and sperm. While they have the potential
for human life, each is extremely unlikely to result in a live birth. It's
only when two successfully merge that their class changes, in my opinion,
when determining policy. Now, where you set the bar to satisfy extending
protection for that class of cells (or human for some) is open for debate.
Do they get full protection if the likely hood for live birth is 33%, 50%,
75%, etc.? Do they never get full protection? Rape, incest exceptions, you
can go on and on - and of course plenty of people have - so I won't repeat

All I will say is that it is not outside the scope of reasoned analysis for
someone to come to the conclusion that they support "pro-life" policies.
Personally, I feel people's opinion on this extremely narrow issue winds up
having far greater political significance than it ever should. So, I
generally tune out this debate because on my hierarchy of interests it is
very low. That being said, I do take issue with the portrayal of individuals
who are pro-life as being subjects to a religious doctrine or without the
capacity for logical reason to as the basis for their position.

I hope this has been ambiguous enough to not torpedo my supreme court
nomination one day ;)


On 10/24/05, Russell Turpin <deafbox at hotmail.com> wrote:
> Kevin Elliott <k-elliott at wiu.edu>:
> >When I talk about potential, I'm not talking about how something put in
> >exactly the right
> >conditions might evolve. I'm talking about the inevitable results of
> >leaving something alone. If you leave a pregnant woman alone ...
> She will starve. Very few pregnant women
> today are capable of growing or catching their
> own food.
> What you're now injecting into the argument,
> that allows you to draw a moral distinction
> between embryos in vitro and in vivo, is the
> notion that "the natural course of development"
> has some special claim to rightness. Speaking
> as a beneficiary of 21st century technology, I
> think that is nonsense. The whole course of
> human history is one of technological
> development, of people preferring artificial
> means that expand our choices over just
> allowing things to develop as they would if just
> left alone.
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