The Ultimate Pro-Life Status Symbol: A ‘Snowflake Child’

When you take an extreme position to its logical conclusion, very strange things can happen. Nowhere is this more evident than on the extreme end of the pro-life movement. We start with a premise: A fertilized egg is fundamentally equal to an infant.

An 8-cell human embryo and a Chinese orphan: equally deserving of rights and protection, according to some pro-lifers. (via Wikipedia (left) and iLook China (right))

If you accept this premise fully, truly without reservations or cognitive dissonance, then where does it take you? Exceptions to abortion bans in the cases of rape and incest becomes nonsensical. (After all, you wouldn’t murder the three-year-old child of a rapist, would you?) People who kill abortion doctors morph from murderers to martyrs. (What else would you call someone who, in the face of government inaction, brought a mass murderer of children to justice, sacrificing his own freedom and sometimes his very life for the cause of protecting innocents?)

This faith-based assumption that embryos are full citizens can also lead to far-less-disturbing-but-just-as-weird places…

Enter: “snowflake children,” born as the result of embryo “adoption”.

Remember, in this alternate reality, an embryo is nothing but a tiny infant… which turn the massive liquid nitrogen tanks storing embryos left over from in-vitro fertilization (IVF) treatments into gigantic orphanages, housing thousands of children just waiting for a family.

For thousands of evangelical Christian couples — many of whom suffer from infertility — embryo “adoption” offers them the opportunity to be parents and practice the ultimate expression of the pro-life ethos, by treating an 8-cell embryo as the equivalent of a 2-year-old girl:

“If we’re going to stand against abortion, it’s not simply picketing a clinic,” said Gabriel Fluhrer, a public relations and publishing coordinator for the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals. “It’s doing the hard work of adopting the orphans around the world, whether embryos or orphans living in China.”

Anna Fluhrer was born in December 2010: from a frozen embryo to a healthy baby girl.

This strange statement may have you scratching your head.

Know that as you do this, you are likely killing a number of cells far superior to those that, in embryo form, are considered morally equivalent to a toddler by many evangelicals.

While undoubtedly bizarre, it can be argued that embryo “adoption” is mostly harmless. No one is being intimidated and no rights are being infringed. I suppose it could be argued that without these absurd beliefs, more actual orphans would be adopted. However, it’s likely that many of these couples would want a healthy baby. Actual healthy baby orphans, especially white and Asian ones, have no shortage of prospective parents anxious to provide them a family, so the “loss” of these peculiar pro-life couples will not affect them in the slightest. However it is an illustrative example of what happens when you try to apply religiously grounded dogma to a modern world.

About Claudia

I'm a lifelong atheist and a molecular biologist with a passion for science and a passionate opposition to its enemies.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=503954172 Jeremy Mullins

    Yea, they’re crazy, but I gotta respect them for following the pro-life position to it’s logical conclusion.  That doesn’t make them any less crazy, it just helps them not be hypocrites.

    • http://www.facebook.com/gwydionfrost Daniel Parker

      Yeah. Jeremy, read my reply to oxabad1dea. Hypocrisy is only avoided if one preserves life (and promotes its welfare) from beginning to natural end, not dropping the ball once the umbilical cord is cut.

  • 0xabad1dea

    I still say “at least they’re being consistent” even if their entire premise is horribly flawed. People who insist that embryos are full human beings and then act in direct contradiction to that are kinda scary, don’t you think?

    • http://www.facebook.com/gwydionfrost Daniel Parker

      Act in direct contradiction…? Like, supporting the death penalty, or thinking that social programs or schools should have no funding…? Yeah, all life is sacred and you can’t kill it before you cut the umbilical cord… but once it’s born, it’s on its own until it offends other people, then it gets put to death because the “rehabilitation” system, despite being abysmally a failure, cannot be changed to something different that might actually work because that would make…sense.

      Wow. The logic is just fantastic and so… heartwarming. I love this warm and fuzzy world they live in.

  • Nena

    I wonder if they’d be opposed to a same-sex couple adopting an embryo?

    • Tainda

      I guarantee it

    • http://wordsideasandthings.blogspot.com/ Garren

      Those kinds of questions are good for gauging whether someone is pro-life because they really see an equivalency between a three year old and an embryo…or because it’s on their list of sins.

      I like to point out that improving birth control would severely cut down on abortions. One Catholic responded to that with, “Sin is sin.”

      • jdm8

        When the RCC is an organization that basically says spilling semen is the same as murder, such a statement wouldn’t be a surprise.

        • DKeane123

          I knew some day I would end up a fugitive from justice….

        • Foster

          The Roman Catholic Church (my church) does not say that masturbation, pulling out, or any other form of “semen spilling,” is the same as murder.  That’s just ignorance.

          The Church says that both of them are wrong, but not that they’re the same thing.

          • jdm8

            Both are sins, and a sin is a sin, so, I don’t think my statement is unsupportable.

            • Foster

              By your metric then, you yourself believe that stealing is the same as murder, since both are wrong.  Your statement is absurd.

            • Foster

              Presumably by “a sin is a sin” you mean “no sin is any better or worse than any other sin,” which the Catholic Church obviously does not believe.  Our belief in venial and mortal sins is evidence enough for that.  Your statement is founded in ignorance of what we believe.

              • jdm8

                 So the RCC doesn’t believe that any sin, no matter how seemingly small, if left unattoned, would send you to hell?

                • Foster

                  Yes, and both stealing and murder will send you to prison, but that doesn’t make them the same thing.  In addition, if you remember your Dante, we’re not averse to the idea of different circles of hell, better or worse, depending upon the seriousness of one’s sins.  So again, your argument simply does not follow.

                • Hardin

                   Dante, one of the lost books of the bible?

                • Randomfactor

                   No, but the source of much American theology anyway.

                • Foster

                  Hardin, I’m Catholic. You’re confusing me with a Protestant.  I don’t need to look up a proof text in scripture for everything I believe. Catholic tradition is sufficient.

                • Stev84

                  Patheos Catholics are so nutty and extremist that they are virtually indistinguishable from Protestant fundemantalists. You can justify it any way you want, but the outcome of your beliefs is the exactly the same.

                • Foster

                  And that’s what we call an ~ad hominem~ fallacy, boys and girls, where the opponent who has no rational argument left resorts to insulting his opponent.

              • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_6OE7LEYELE4MZTVXGZUSVTBFUI julie

                Okay, so if you believe that some sins are worse than others, presumably you believe that abortion is worse than birth control? And since birth control prevents unwanted pregnancies, it prevents abortion, so you shouldn’t be against people using bc.
                But if you are still opposed to people using bc, then I guess you do believe that “a sin is a sin.”

                • Pseudonym

                  I’m not going to defend Foster’s position, but your objection doesn’t make a lot of sense.

                  Step 1 of any critical thinking exercise is applying the principle of charity. It’s easy to debunk an argument if you supplied the words that you put in the other person’s mouth.

                • Julie

                  I probably could have worded it better, but the point was that he really does believe that “a sin is a sin” even if he doesn’t necessarily think they are all on the same level. As in, it doesn’t really matter to him that birth control would drastically decrease the amount of abortions because obviously people just shouldn’t sin in the first place.

              • http://www.facebook.com/eukota Darrell Ross

                Whoa, hold the train.

                This argument will go nowhere. Foster will simply get to “move the goalposts” no matter what julie says. In fact, it wouldn’t matter if julie had read the same passages as they are open to interpretation.

                Arguing about the impact of sin and possibility of going to a bad place after death is silly at best. Nobody knows (nor can prove) such a place exists.

                No need to attempt to hold someone else accountable for misinterpreting your version of the truth Foster.

                It’s a waste of time. But it is yours to waste. :)

                • Foster

                  If I have moved the goalposts, you are welcome to specify where I have supposedly moved them.  And I do care when misinformation is being spread, nor is it a waste of time to correct it.  Feel free to disagree with Catholicism, but at least know what you’re disagreeing with.

          • Joseph

             http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fUspLVStPbk

            Thank you, Monty Python!

            • Foster

              “Monty Python, QED.”  Entertaining, but not too convincing, as I said below in response to Carter.

  • The Other Weirdo

    I read this through several times, but I gotta admit, I have no idea what your point is. Some people believe infants start at conception. There are some embryos stuck in liquid nitrogen cryo tanks. These people want to adopt them. Okay, what’s the point? Whom are they hurting?

    • Blaphemous_Kansan

      Did you miss the final paragraph on each of your thorough readings?
      See the 2nd and last sentences in that paragraph.  One states exactly who is being harmed (no one), and the other states the point, which has nothing to do with people being hurt.I interpreted the point to be that silly beliefs lead you to silly placesIt doesn’t always have to be about people being hurt, does it?

      • Foster

        I hardly regard a desire to give new human beings the opportunity to live more fully (whether or not they have a right to do so) as a “silly place” to be.  I took *that* to be The Other Wierdo’s point, Blaphemous_Kansan.  And I agree with him.

        • Stev84

          If they want to care for children, then they should adopt one that is already born. There are already tons of children in foster care waiting for parents. More than there is demand for.

          • Foster

            How many foster children have you adopted, Stev84?  Perhaps you should help the human beings you feel led to help by whatever impulse guides your atheistic self, and allow Christians to help the human beings they feel led to help, which includes both embryos and born children.Catholic pro-lifers (a significant chunk of the pro-lifers in America you mentioned) are neither pro-death penalty, nor pro-letting the medically uninsured and the poor die.  And as for war, I hope you’re not suggesting that there are no possible circumstances where war is unjustified.  We should just allow monsters like Hitler to murder their people?  The Church neither supported Bush’s war in Iraq nor Obama’s war in Libya.  So feel free to trash other inconsistent pro-lifers, but not pro-lifers like myself who believe in protecting life from conception all the way to natural death.

            • Baby_Raptor

              Unless that life happens to be a female, then Fuck it. It means shit.

              • Foster

                I think you might be confusing us with the atheistic regime of China, Baby_Raptor.  But perhaps if you were not confused, I could address your concern if you expressed it with more rationality and less swearing.

                • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_6OE7LEYELE4MZTVXGZUSVTBFUI julie

                  I’m pretty sure she’s referring to your last statement about protecting life from start to finish. Except that when it’s a woman, her life no longer matters. It’s all about the children she’s supposed to have and the sex she can’t enjoy without pregnancy, so they block birth control. And once she’s pregnant, that’s it. She has to go through all the aches, nausea, and stress on her body to give life to another person that she doesn’t want to give life to.
                  For fuck’s sake, if you’re so against abortion, at least don’t block the woman’s choice to not get pregnant in the first place.

                • Foster

                  Last time I checked, the Church isn’t calling for condoms to be illegal.  We’re just saying they’re morally wrong to use.  And if raptor girl needs to end someone else’s life in order to relieve her aches and pains, then yes, we (and you I assume, if the person happens to be located outside a uterus) are going to stand against that.

        • Blaphemous_Kansan

          I only have your previous comments on this thread to go by, but you seem to be projecting onto The Other Wierdo a little bit.  Care to find out what his/her actual opinion is before explaining it to them?

          • Foster

            I did not “explain his point,” but merely explained what I “took it to be,” as I said above.  The fact that he puts “silly places” in quotes above when responding to your criticism suggests that I was largely right, but I never said I knew for certain what he thinks, although I knew quite well that he and I differ on the God question.

      • The Other Weirdo

        No I didn’t miss it, but thanks for making me reread it just in case. My point was that if no one is being hurt by their silly beliefs or the “silly places” those beliefs lead to, then what does it matter? Do we not, as atheists, routinely make the point that we don’t care what religious people do so long as they don’t harm anyone?

        • Blaphemous_Kansan

          “…what does it matter?”  This point I agree with.  Obviously what these people do doesn’t matter to you or I personally, as non-believers leading our little lives.  But this question (“what does it matter?”) is somewhat different than the question I was addressing in the original comment which seemed to be directed directly at the author, asking what her point was in writing the article and analyzing this phenomenon.  Perhaps I misunderstand or misrepresent your opinion here, and if so I apologize. 

          You are correct when you say that atheists often make the case that we do not care what people do as long as they aren’t harming anyone, but we can still remain interested and learn about them, can we not?  For me, personally, saying “I do not care that you believe in a God” is not the same as saying “I am not interested in any of your spiritual beliefs” because that would be a lie.  I am interested in the decisions that faith brings people in the modern world, and that’s why I argue that the article had a point.  For me, anyway.

  • http://wordsideasandthings.blogspot.com/ Garren

    While we’re busy boggling at treating an early embryo as a rights-bearing person,  pro-lifers correctly boggle at the incoherent or unscientific or philosophically inconsistent treatment of late-term abortions from pro-choicers.

    There will always be a few people who want to treat embryos as full-fledged people, but the pro-choice movement is doing little to offer a moderate position that would steal moderates away from the pro-life movement. Take the middle to take the culture, but few on either side seem interested in doing that.

    • http://www.facebook.com/AnonymousBoy Larry Meredith

      the pro-choice movement is doing little to offer a moderate position that would steal moderates away from the pro-life movement.

      I beg to differ. Democrats are running on abortion issues now by standing for women’s rights to contraception and appealing to the moderate position that incest and rape victims should be allowed to have an abortion. Republicans are increasingly adopting legislation that either bans abortion outright for all, forces patients to take unnecessary and intrusive medical procedures, or forces abortion clinics to shut down due to stricter regulation. Moderate pro-lifers are now taking more and more stances with pro-choicers.

      • http://wordsideasandthings.blogspot.com/ Garren

        Fair points. We could go farther to get the moderate segment, but the other side is sure going father to ditch them lately!

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1742797601 Deanna Joy Lyons

      What exactly do you mean by this? Are you trying to invoke the non-existent problem of late term “vanity” abortions? Pro-choicers generally don’t advocate for those, but if they do, it’s generally because a woman and her doctor decide that it is the best course of action for non-viable or very dangerous pregnancies. 

      • http://wordsideasandthings.blogspot.com/ Garren

        It doesn’t matter how rare optional late-term abortions might be. By defending their legality, the pro-choice movement looks as extremist and crazy as the pro-life movement does when it protects early embryos.

        Something that isn’t much of an issue in itself becomes a very big issue when it fuels a movement threatening to ban all abortions.

    • Baby_Raptor

      Late term abortion is legally limited to fatal defect or life of the mother. if someone is boggling at this as inconsistent, then they have mental issues. If they’re thinking it unscientific, they have a disregard for facts. If it’s incoherent…I don’t know what to say. Maybe they should look in a mirror? ‘Cause life at conception makes about as much sense as someone taking a shit after eating alphabet soup and calling the result a novel. 

      The pro-choice wants to maintain the status quo RE Roe V Wade. If allowing abortions until the scientifically decided “life point,” then limiting them to extreme situations isn’t “moderate” to you, you’re not a moderate. You’re an extremist. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/jasontorpy Jason Torpy


    Know that as you do this, you are likely killing a number of cells far superior” -what cells? I don’t get this.

    Actual healthy baby orphans, especially white and Asian ones, have no shortage of prospective parents ” – and are you suggesting that there are more parents than orphans? I don’t buy that for a minute.

    • http://www.facebook.com/AnonymousBoy Larry Meredith

       there are living cells on the top of your head, more developed than a conceived egg, and you kill them when you scratch your head.

      and she’s suggesting that there’s more parents than healthy, white/Asian orphans.

    • http://www.facebook.com/brandie.winchester Brandie Lynn Winchester

      I think what the post is saying is that asian and white babies are more likly to be adopted as opposed to other races, satistically speaking

  • David McNerney

    I always thought that the killer argument against “potential” was that if women were walking around un-pregnant then that was the denial of the right to life of a “potential” human being.

    I never thought anyone would take it seriously.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=5300663 Ashley Slye Stephens

    Wouldn’t it be great if there were more organizations that would help gay and lesbian couples conceive using these embryos, especially if it could be done at a low cost?

    • http://www.facebook.com/AnonymousBoy Larry Meredith

      Clearly in their minds, saving lives isn’t as important as oppressing homosexuals.

    • RobMcCune

       If I remember right, there is a lower chance of success.

      • http://annainca.blogspot.com/ Anna

        Yes, IVF doesn’t have a great success rate. That’s why most lesbian couples decide to have babies through donor insemination. It’s just as effective as intercourse, with none of the complications or expense of IVF.

        • jdm8

          The lower chances of success would suggest to me they should be against using IVF in the first place.

          • http://annainca.blogspot.com/ Anna

            Well, two of my close lesbian friends used IVF because they wanted a child who was biologically connected to both of them. One of them provided the egg, and the other carried the baby. They did that with their first son, and (after swapping roles) now have a second son on the way. I think for some people having that biological relationship is more important than the expense/ease of conception.

          • http://www.facebook.com/eukota Darrell Ross

            The chances vary depending on MANY factors. Age can be a major one. An advantage to IVF there is they can freeze the embryos for use later. Also, since they get to extract the eggs and fertilize them in a petri dish, they would only need one batch of sperm to fertilize 10+ eggs and then could implant one at a time.

            In IUI, one batch of sperm = one try. My wife and I have been using IUI’s. Spent $15k so far. Did reach 30 weeks on the 2nd attempt but had a cephalic disorder. Waiting on pregnancy test for 3rd attempt. *sigh* 

        • Stev84

          Also because IVF is very expensive in the US compared to some other countries. The drugs cost tons of money.

          • http://annainca.blogspot.com/ Anna

            True, and it also takes quite the toll on the body. It’s a lot more intensive/invasive than regular conception.

    • http://annainca.blogspot.com/ Anna

      Well, there’s really no need. A lesbian couple has twice the chance of conceiving as a heterosexual couple, because they have twice the available uteruses (uteri?) and ovaries. All that’s missing is the sperm, and it’s much, much more easily procured through sperm donation and regular insemination.

      IVF is complicated and expensive. There’s no need for it to be done unless there are actual fertility issues, or unless both women want to be biologically connected to the child. Carrying a stranger’s baby via embryo “adoption” just doesn’t make sense for lesbian couples, unless both women can’t produce their own eggs.

  • Liam

    I understand those who admire the internal consistency of these evangelicals, however I still 

  • Tainda

    I still don’t understand how most of them can be pro-life and applaud killing a living breathing human being (doctor).

    Also, being pro-choice, I have been told I am pro-abortion.  I am no way near pro-abortion.  We should give women as many choices as possible to prevent pregnancy first.  We should also have the option of aborting an unwanted pregnancy if necessary and that should be a last option. 

    Pro-lifers see everything as black and white, there is no in-between.

    • http://www.allourlives.org/ TooManyJens

       “I still don’t understand how most of them can be pro-life and applaud killing a living breathing human being (doctor).”

      Are you claiming that most people who are pro-life applaud the killings of doctors? Care to back that up with something more than a few statements by loudmouths who get media attention?

      • Tainda

        The article is about the extreme end of the pro-life spectrum.  Don’t twist my words around.  So typical

        • http://www.allourlives.org/ TooManyJens

          I didn’t twist your words. They weren’t clear. The added sneer of “so typical” is a nice meaningless touch, though.

      • Patterrssonn

        What is the pro life stance on abortion then, is it or is it not murder?

      • http://www.facebook.com/eukota Darrell Ross


        Are you claiming that most people who are pro-life applaud the killings of doctors? Care to back that up with something more than a few statements by loudmouths who get media attention?”

        Are you trolling or seriously are not aware of the extremist theist view towards abortion doctors (aka baby killers) in the USA?

        Your further comments seem to indicate trolling.

        • http://www.allourlives.org/ TooManyJens

          Look up “most” and get back to me.

    • Pascale Laviolette

      Classic authoritarianism.  I think this is a huge reason people find religion attractive — they want decision-making to be clear-cut, and they want the onus on God.  That way, they are never accountable!

    • I_Claudia

       

      I still don’t understand how most of them can be pro-life and applaud killing a living breathing human being (doctor).

      This is not actually a difficult position to hold, as long as you aren’t coming from a more Catholic “all life is sacred” standpoint. For many people, killing a child is heinous, while killing a child murderer still at large is heroic. You don’t ask someone “I don’t get why you think the death penalty is OK but shooting toddlers is wrong?”, because innocence is understood to be key in evaluating whether someone deserves to die.
      Again, all you need is the (to my mind utterly absurd) premise that an embryo is a child, and from then on things follow easily.

      • http://www.facebook.com/eukota Darrell Ross

        Actually, that is exactly what you ask them. Why would anyone who is pro-life also be pro-death-penalty?

        The cognitive dissonance is there.

        @Tainda: they can hold that view because they are accustomed to holding contradicting viewpoints simultaneously. It is not a rational viewpoint but neither is their belief in the supernatural. If they can hold the belief that the Earth is 6000 years old, they sure as hell can be anti-choice for birth and anti-choice for death too.

        • Deven Kale

          Why would anyone who is pro-life also be pro-death-penalty?

          The cognitive dissonance is there.

          I really don’t like it when people make me defend a position not my own, especially one that I disagree with so completely as pro-life.

          There really is no cognitive dissonance there as long as you’re willing to look at the actual situations and see the differences between them first. On one hand we have abortions: an accidental pregnancy which the families involved decided to terminate, where there is no fault on the part of the one being killed other than their existence. On the other hand you have the death-row felon: a person who has made the decision to commit such a heinous crime that the courts, and sometimes the locals, have decided that it would be best for society to have that individual removed from it.

          If you were actually paying attention, the difference is pretty clear. The aborted fetus didn’t do anything, generally, to warrant it’s killing while the felon almost surely did.

  • Guest

    They’re not actually consistent, even if they claim they are.

    Just ask them to imagine someone holding a knife to the throat of a 12 month old and someone threatening to discard an 8-cell embryo. Now tell them they can decide to either save the 12 month old or the embryo. If they were intellectually honest with themselves while maintaining a pro-life stance, they wouldn’t be able to pick who to save. But in that actual situation, any 12 month old would be crying and scared (I have a 14 month old of my own), and the 8-cell embryo would be chilling in a petri dish. Who the hell wouldn’t instinctively scoop up the 12 month old, choosing his/her life? A hardcore pro-lifer may SAY, to maintain appearances, that they’re still equivalent, but I can’t imagine them not thinking otherwise.

    • Vukota

      You can even make it a thousand embroyos in a petri dish. That should be an easy decision for a pro-lifer, but I guarantee you if that was a real life situation, they would save the 12 month old every single time. 

    • BrandonUB

       This is, of course, one of the many ways that it’s easy to tell that embryo fetishists are being completely dishonest so as to fit their position to an ideology.

    • BC

      I once posed that question to a pro-lifer.  Her answer was that an embryo in a petri dish was different than an embryo inside a human being.  In other words, an embryo inside a petri dish wasn’t a human being.  It was a clever way to get around the question, though it leads them to a bizarre position: whether or not you (the embryo) are a human being depends on your location.  It would be totally bizarre to think about my status (as a full-grown human being) as “human” depends on my location.

      • jose

         That isn’t clever, rather the opposite.

      • sfg

        That really goes along well with how little they care about children after they’re born.  Life only exists inside a uterus.

      • Foster

        But isn’t that exactly what the pro-choice platform depends on, the location?  A premature born baby being treated with steroids has all the same human rights that I do, but another at the same level of development inside the womb has no rights, purely because of his physical location.  I agree that the pro-lifer’s logic was bad, but so is the pro-choice logic.

        I’d answer the question by looking at a similar situation. If I can either choose to save ten people from death, or my wife, I’m going to choose my wife, although I am going to try to save them all.  All of them are worth saving, even though I may not be able to save them all.

        • Deven Kale

          But what does that say about your wife? It says she herself was so selfish that she allowed those other ten people to die in order to save her own life. That’s not the type of woman I would want to be with. My wife would more than understand that, in that situation, the best solution is for one life to be lost rather than ten. She would expect me to save those ten people over herself, and even though she believes in no afterlife, she would allow me to do so with pride and no regrets.

          • Foster

            On the contrary, she had no say in the (hypothetical) matter.  I chose to save her first because I loved her, and you cannot justly condemn me for my choice.

            • Deven Kale

              Actually I can, and if your wife is a wife worth having she definitely would as well. Choosing to save the life of one while letting those of ten others die for your own selfish desires is definitely worthy of condemnation.

              • Foster

                Hypothetical situation to illustrate how wrong you are:  you happen to live on a desert island in a tribe consisting of ten people with resources adequate to feed only your ten people.  A neighboring tribe of twenty pigmies comes to you from a neighboring island.  They have no food and are dying.  They demand that you surrender your food and sacrifice yourselves for them on the basis that while your food supply can only feed the ten of you, it can nourish twenty of them, and the best solution is for ten lives to be lost rather than twenty.  Is it wrong to fight for your right to survival?  If not, are you not violating the principle of the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, that you were defending above?  It isn’t wrong to defend those closest to you more fiercely than those you do not know.  To do otherwise might be morally praiseworthy, but not obligatory.

                • Deven Kale

                  This is an absolutely ridiculous hypothetical.

                  a) You seem to imply that there is only food available for one day/one feeding, in which case after that day all 30 would be starving anyway.

                  b) You fail to mention whether or not those 20 came to the island with the express purpose of taking all the food and causing the death of those 10 who were already there, in which case fighting off those 20 would be simple self-defense.

                  c) Since it’s a desert island, then the invaders must have come in by boat. If there truly is enough food to sustain a colony of 10 people indefinitely, and the invaders aren’t homicidal, then those 20 others would definitely be able to use some of that food for a few days and move on in their journey, while only causing the original tribe to live on smaller rations for a short while. Perhaps there would even be room in those boats (with or without modification) to house the 10 of the original tribe and get them to a more secure location.

                  d) Nowhere in your hypothetical situation is there one person making a decision which causes the death of 10 others, but 2 full tribes making decisions which they believe to be in the best interests of the whole.

                • Foster

                  I think you’re just being purposefully obtuse, since none of these objections speaks to the moral question involved or is insurmountable by the principle of charity:  
                  a) say it’s a matter of the crop production of the island.  It only produces enough nutrients for so many people per year.b) if they have a right to it at all, then it seems to me they’d have a right to take it by force, but say they came peacefully, making these arguments to us, the other tribe, to surrender our food peacefully.
                  c) There really is only just enough food for us ten: we can’t spare any, and we all know that there is no food source anywhere the pigmies can get to in their famished state. To bid them look elsewhere is to condemn them to death.
                  d) I wouldn’t think who makes it would matter to the morality of the action, but say that I am the chief of my ten person tribe, appointed by my tribe to make the decision.  What should I choose to do?
                  I’d say your duty to your tribe outweighs your duty to some abstract principle of “the most good for the most people.”  What do you think?

                • Deven Kale

                  No, when I read your hypothetical it really did make me laugh. Those were just the most obvious objections. Anyway, to move on:

                  a) For how long, indefinitely? If so, then most will die anyway. I say feed them for a few days and have them move on. It’s not about whether they have a right to it, but whether or it is right to deny it to them at the expense of their lives.

                  c) Completely unrealistic, but I’ll play. If the plight is really that desperate then the original ten wouldn’t be acting rationally. The most likely result would be a desperate massacre of the invaders, stealing their boats and hoping that somehow they’d missed somewhere in their earlier expeditions which they must have taken (or how could they “know that there is no food source anywhere the pygmies can get to”). Most likely, all 30 would end up dead by the end of the year. In order for your situation to have true correlations, the amount of food must be plentiful, or at least comfortably adequate for ten (which would allow for a small amount of sharing without starving), in order to allow for rational consideration of the morality of the actions. Unless, that is, you’re willing to admit that saving your wife and killing the ten isn’t a rational decision but an emotionally based act of selfish desperation, ignoring the morality or charity of it and acting purely on reflex. In which case it’s still worthy of condemnation.

                  d) You’ve already made it clear what you would do, so I fail to understand why you’d ask the question. But again, I’ll play. Morally speaking, you should act to allow the largest number of people to live as possible. If twenty are going to die anyway, then I see no reason why those ten who survive should not be those who cultivated the food. Send the invading twenty on and hope they find someplace with food you didn’t know of. If ten will die but twenty will live, albeit with smaller rations but still easily survivable, send off only 10 invaders with the same hopes. To me, that seems like a pretty obvious answer, and it’s still not analogous to saving one person over ten when the ten can be just as easily saved.

                • Foster

                  No, no.  The whole point of making them pigmies was that the same amount of food would nourish twice as many of them as us, which I mentioned but your solution fails to account for.  By your logic, the only rational choice is for the ten of us to die and them to supplant us.  But I argue that no one would really ever do this, but would save themselves first, and the absurdity of the position renders the premise that spawned it invalid.  The greatest good for the greatest number does not work in real life, and no one ever actually follows it when it comes to saving others.  That’s also the problem with your interpretation of the bible verse above.

                • Deven Kale

                   QFT: “A neighboring tribe of twenty pigmies comes to you from a neighboring
                  island.  They have no food and are dying.  They demand that you
                  surrender your food and sacrifice yourselves for them on the basis that
                  while your food supply can only feed the ten of you, it can nourish
                  twenty of them”

                  If you’re attempting to convey the idea that the same food which would feed ten could also feed twenty pygmies, the proper way of doing so is to use the same terminology in both situations. You said that it would feed ten, or nourish twenty. A difference in terminology implies a difference in kind, and since you’re not stating there really is a difference in kind, then it seems to me that all your doing here is moving the goalposts now that you’ve realized your argument has failed.

                  Now I’m not willing to have a debate about hypotheticals with a person who’s going to do such a thing. Have a good day, and get a little more practice with debating online, please, before you post such idiocy here again.

              • Foster

                Oh, and loving someone–really loving them–is not selfish.  Quite the opposite.

                • Deven Kale

                  “Love your enemies,” Matthew 5:44
                  “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself,” Mark 12:31

                  From those 2 NT verses, it’s clear you’re supposed to love everybody, in the sense of desiring and acting in order to do what is best for them, equally. In which case you’ve just failed to live up to your own faith by not loving those ten as much as the one. Saving your wife isn’t a question of love, it’s a question of desires. You would personally get more out of saving your wife than you would the other ten, and so you chose her instead.

                • Foster

                  1.  I can love my enemies, and love my friends more within the biblical framework.
                  2. While the bible requires loving others before oneself, it does not specify that strangers should be loved equally with one’s spouse, probably because that’s daft stupid.  So you’re wrong, it is not “clear you’re supposed to love everybody…equally.”  In fact you’re supposed to love Christ more than any other human being, and Paul specifies that husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her.  Your cherry picking the scripture verses you think support your point and then ramming conclusions into them that do not logically follow is typical sloppy thinking.

                • Deven Kale

                   So in other words, what you’re saying is that the Bible is a terrible source of morality. That’s something I already knew, but thanks for clearing it up for me again.

    • SJH

       Of course our emotion would have us save the 12 month old but that does not mean that one does not believe that they are equal it simply means that we are imperfect an sometimes react with our emotions even when the situation perhaps calls for us to act with reason instead. Of course, you gave no reason that the embryo should be saved instead. Is one easier to save? Is one in less danger? Given that you gave no reason that one should be saved over the other then I guess emotion is as good a reason than any.

      • http://www.facebook.com/eukota Darrell Ross

        It is quite obvious to any non-extremist which one should be saved. The embryo is not a child – hence the moniker, embryo.

  • Lrspncr

    I understand those who admire the internal consistency of these evangelicals, however I still question their priorities.  These popsicle-children’s immediate needs will be theoretically until they shut off the freezer, and there will be no change in their potential to succeed until that time.  However, those children already born and in need of a home aren’t so lucky.  Why don’t these generous aspiring parents save the children that most need saving?

  • http://twitter.com/m_ethaniel Mistletoe Ethaniel

    I propose the use of a new term: PRO-LIVING.

    The living, breathing human being that’s been alive for years, for example, gets more say than the not-yet-living, not-yet-breathing cluster of cells in/near her uterus.

    • Coyotenose

       I tend to go with Pro-Woman (Choicers) and Anti-Woman (Lifers) myself, at least when I’m not referring  to “Pro-Lifers” by their full and proper name, “Pro-Scared-Ignorant-And-Poor-Girls-And-Women-Suffering-And-Dying-To-Satisfy-A-Totalitarian-Political-Agenda-Masquerading-As-Morals”.

  • Mandocommando23

    I see nothing wrong with what these people are doing, and I see no reason to criticize them for adopting embryos that they deem as equal to other humans. Please remember also, that religious people are not the only people who hold this view.

    • jdm8

      Can you name any non-religious people or groups that equate a zygote with an infant?

      • Pisk_A_Dausen

        Atheist and Agnostic Pro-Life League as well as the Atheists Against Abortion Facebook group. Probably not the only two.

        • http://annainca.blogspot.com/ Anna

          They think frozen embryos are equivalent  to infants? Do they also oppose IVF?

          • Pisk_A_Dausen

            If they consider fetuses equivalent to children, I don’t see why they should consider frozen embryos less than that. It doesn’t say explicitly on any of the sites though. This blog post is honestly the first instance I’ve seen of pro-lifers addressing the question of “spare” embryos.

            • http://annainca.blogspot.com/ Anna

              Seems like a strange position for atheist pro-lifers to take. It’s possible to make a secular case against abortion, but to take that and apply it to embryos outside the womb, embryos that will never become babies without extreme measures, I think that takes some heavy-duty supernatural influence. Since atheists don’t believe in souls, I can’t imagine any of them thinking that embryos in petri dishes are somehow magical. Or that discarding unused embryos is equivalent to depriving them of life.

    • BrandonUB

       So, as long as their logic is internally consistent, there’s no reason to criticize them? Is that your position?

  • Glasofruix

    An 8-cell human embryo and a Chinese orphan: equally deserving of rights and protection, according to some pro-lifers.

    No, for them the embryo has more rights actually, because once the kid pops out, what happens to him is none of their concern.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Kevin_Of_Bangor

      They need to start using the term pro-birth.

  • ESC_key

    Daniel Parker beat me to it, but I think the point is strong enough to be seconded: I think that the largest hypocrisy, and to me sort of the most insulting, is that here in the USA, many of the people who claim to be “pro-life” (with some exception) are also those who are pro-war, pro-death penalty, and pro- letting the medically uninsured die in cases of emergency (anyone remember that gem from the primary debates?). So to me it just seems that the pro-lifers in America are really just pro-being full of s**t

    • Foster

      Catholic pro-lifers (a significant chunk of “the pro-lifers in America” you mentioned) are neither pro-death penalty, nor pro-letting the medically uninsured die.  And as for war, I hope you’re not suggesting that there are no possible circumstances where war is unjustified.  We should just allow monsters like Hitler to murder their people?  The Church neither supported Bush’s war in Iraq nor Obama’s war in Libya.  So feel free to trash other inconsistent pro-lifers, but not pro-lifers like myself who believe in protecting life from conception to natural death.

      • E_carter

        Agh, you’re right: I should have said “many of the people who claim to be “pro-life” (with the exception of many American Catholics)… FIFM. That was the exception I was mentioning, but I didn’t do it justice; I apologize. You will agree though, that while that is the official platform of the Catholic church, many who consider themselves Catholic do not in fact agree with that platform?

        In addition, I should have been more clear in saying pro-military agression instead of just using pro-war. I think you meant “no possible circumstances where war is justified,” and you’re right, that wasn’t what I was trying to suggest, I had in my head the idea of the Iraq/War on terror chapter of our history. I was painting with too broad a brush, I apologize. I think it’s interesting, though, that you choose to bring up WWII as an example of justified war when the Vatican itself pursued a position of neutrality during the conflict. Granted, the underlying reasons for that position weren’t exactly black-and-white, considering Italy’s role as an axis power and the German occupation of Rome in 1943, but it’s still something to consider. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vatican_City_during_World_War_II

        That being said however, I don’t think the Catholic church is to be lauded as a perfect example of a consistent pro-life stance stance either, considering how abysmally flawed their stance on birth-control and condom-usage is. I understand you believe that by speaking out against contraception you are preserving some form of life. But can you honestly tell me you think it’s more important for humans to contract diseases and/or die from unprotected sex in order to save sperm cells? That, I do not understand. At all.

        • ESC_key

          ^^ That’s still me, BTW. major n00bage^^

          • Foster

            Carter, I appreciate your willingness to concede a point and
            modify your views as the evidence makes necessary.  You’re also right, I did mean to say, “justified” rather
            than “unjustified.”  Pardon my
            internet lingo ignorance, but what does “FIFM” mean? Urban dictionary was
            surprisingly uninformative. 
            Regarding WWII, if you were faced with either supporting a group of
            nations who murdered their own people in concentration camps, or supporting a
            group of nations who unleashed unprecedented and strategically pointless destruction
            upon Dresden, and utterly destroyed the two most Christian cities in Japan in
            an atomic holocaust never before witnessed by man, what position would you
            choose?  It’s easy to misjudge with
            the benefit of hind-sight. 
            Neutrality often doesn’t so much mean “I don’t know who should win” as
            it does “I can’t ethically support either of you.”  That’s not to say the Vatican’s silence was not also
            motivated in part by a desire for self-preservation.

             

            So, I can see how you believe what you do on the
            birth-control issue, given the relentless propaganda out there that rubbers
            will save the world, but let’s break down the argument.

            We both agree that condoms are about 90% effective at
            preventing pregnancy and AIDS.

            http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9141163

            http://www.americanpregnancy.org/preventingpregnancy/malecondom.html

             

            So the effect of a condom is that out of 100 people who use
            them, about 10 will get AIDS in the first year of use. People who are sexually
            active are going to have sex more than one year. Statistically, that’s simply
            not good enough to solve the  problem:  If you
            have promiscuous sex for long enough you’re likely to catch whatever it is you
            don’t want, be it preggers or most STDs. 
            The only real answer to solve this problem with current technology is
            doing exactly what the Church says: have monogamous sex only with your spouse.  Condoms are bad (from a purely
            pragmatic standpoint) in that they give people a false sense of security, even
            though what they are doing is still dangerous to their health.

             

            I’m afraid the Monty Python “Every Sperm is Sacred” skit or
            some similar propaganda has misled you. 
            It’s not about the sperm cells. 
            Embryos, yes.  Sperm cells,
            not so much.  Humans who engage in
            promiscuous sex are going to catch diseases, condoms or no.  The church advises that they marry so
            as to fulfill their desire for sex in a life-giving manner that doesn’t result
            in regret after you’ve whacked off yet again*, or woken up to yet another
            person you don’t want to commit to, when you could have (should have) been
            improving yourself to attract what you really want: a woman who loves you.
            (~Mutatis mutandis~ if you’re a woman.) 
            You may not agree, but at least now you won’t have any reason to
            mischaracterize the Catholic position.

             

            *We’re concerned about what it does to ~you~, not what it does
            to the sperm.

            • Foster

              I should have said “100 people who would have gotten AIDS, 10 will get it in the first year of use.” My error.

            • Baby_Raptor

              The fact that you’re concerned that I might have negative side effects does not mean that you can rob me of my rights to do it anyway. And assuming that you can, or even should, says loads about you. It says that you have no respect for me, my life, my rights or my beliefs. And it says that you’re an asshole. Anyone who, for any reason, thinks that they “know better” than the person whose actually living the life in question and feels that they have ANY right to try and tell them what to do, or force them to do something, deserves to rot. Intentions be damned. You wouldn’t be happy with it if someone was doing it to you, so why should we swallow it?

              Further, I really don’t care what your religion thinks I should do. What if I don’t *want* to get married and have sex with the same person for the rest of my life? Why should my desires for my life take the back seat to what you think I should be doing?

              • Foster

                If you wish to have promiscuous sex, you’re right, that is your business.  I never denied that, and the Catholic Church is not interested in compelling you to do anything or marry anyone. But we’re not going to lie if people ask us, “How should I live?” or say that having promiscuous sex is a rational thing to do if your goal is to avoid getting an STD.  It’s just not, condoms or no.

                • Patterrssonn

                  Promiscuous sex? What the hell are you talking about?

                • Foster

                  Condoms are bad (from a purely pragmatic standpoint) if they give people a false sense of security, eventhough what they are doing is still dangerous to their health.  Monogamy works best.

                • Patterrssonn

                  Not really, following your logic masturbation and IVF would work best.

                • amycas

                   As long as people are using them correctly, I don’t see how they could have a false sense of security. Their sense of security would be entirely justified, and thus not false.

                • Foster

                  “How can we be pregnant?  We used a condom!”  Enough said.

                • Deven Kale

                   Generally speaking, condom failure is the result of improper use. When properly used condoms are extremely reliable and people can have sex hundreds of times without contracting pregnancy or an STD.

            • Patterrssonn

              Let me get this straight, the catholic church supported hitler because they knew in advance of the bombing of Dresden an Hiroshima? Sorry but that’s not a very convincing argument.

              • Foster

                Dude, what part of “neutral” don’t you get?  The Catholic Church did not support Hitler.

                • Foster

                  And they were probably neutral because both sides were flawed, as the fact that they were each capable of such atrocities demonstrates.  We cannot know exactly what the Vatican knew, but judging from the horrible incidents in History you mentioned, their choice to be neutral was a good one.

            • That Guy

               I’m wondering, what exactly do you think masturbating “does” to people? Make them sex crazed? Not want to have sex?

              I know you talked about the churches stance on sex and monotony, but what about people who are polygamist and still have safe sex with a many people who they are in a relationship with? I’m pretty sure they are going to be open with each other about STDs so I doubt the churches stance is the “only” one.

              • That Guy

                 *Monogamy. Don’t know why it says monotony.

                • Stev84

                   Freudian slip

                • Foster

                  Lol, your marriage is what you make it.

                • Foster

                  As I said above, among other things, it’s a waste of time you could be spending improving yourself and giving to others.  Theologically, we’d say it’s similar to gluttony in that it is a misuse and a perversion of a natural appetite.  I do not support polygamy.  I support monogamy.  Yes, there are many stances, and I believe the Church’s is the right one.

                • http://annainca.blogspot.com/ Anna

                  If masturbation is a waste of time, I think you might be doing it wrong, LOL.

                • TheBlackCat

                  Yes, there are many stances, and I believe the Church’s is the right one.

                  Oh, wow, that’s a shocker.  Is there anything you don’t agree with the church on?

                • Foster

                  That depends upon what you mean.  I believe that everything the Church officially teaches regarding Faith and morality is correct and (by implication) does not contradict itself, but I do not always agree with the actions and policy decisions of its clergy, nor does any devout Catholic need to.  For example, I think that the church’s allowing Constantine to make Christianity the state religion of the Roman Empire was a mistake in policy, rather than one of doctrine.

            • amycas

               “Humans who engage in
              promiscuous sex are going to catch diseases, condoms or no.”

              Bullshit. I’ve engaged in promiscuous sex, and always with a condom. I’ve never caught any disease. I know, I know, anecdotal, but you seemed to be making a blanket statement about condoms not protecting against diseases.

              As to the rest of your comment after that: The only time I ever felt any shame or regret after masturbating was when I was still a teenager being fed anti-sex rhetoric at church and from my Christian mother. Once I got away from that I realized there was no reason to feel shame or regret for enjoying my own body every once in a while. Likewise, I feel no regret or shame about any of my sexual encounters with others. I don’t understand why I should feel ashamed by it.

              • Foster

                Thank you for acknowledging that your anecdotal evidence does not represent the sum experience of the human race.  And I’m glad you feel comfortable with your life choices.  But for those in your situation who do not, the Catholic Church offers an alternative.

                • Stev84

                  No. You are confusing cause and effect. The Catholic Church (and most other Christian sects) forces an alternative on people by brainwashing and indoctrination. It gets a hold of children when they are young and then fills them with shame and guilt for being human. No one would develop negative feelings about their sexuality and bodies on their own if they weren’t taught so by religious organizations and/or society.

                • Foster

                  Your final sentence is an untestable and unprovable assertion, since no one ever does develop independently of society.  Not very scientific, my if-I-can’t-see-it-it-doesn’t-exist atheist friend.  Atheists who were raised as atheists convert to the Church, and Catholic Christians who lack understanding or good education convert to atheism.  The Church forces no one to believe anything, but teaches what she believes is true.  Members of the Church or atheists who do so, I agree, are to be condemned.

                • Foster

                  That is, who do indoctrinate or brainwash students without presenting rational arguments for their position are to be condemned.  I needed to clarify that last clause.

                • TheBlackCat

                  if-I-can’t-see-it-it-doesn’t-exist atheist friend</blockquote

                   Blatant strawman.  I have heard the reasoning of hundreds of atheists, and not one has ever used this argument.  I have only ever seen it used in movies or by religious people to denigrate atheists.  I would like a quote where Stev84 has said anything remotely like this.

                  Atheists who were raised as atheists convert to the Church

                  People raised as atheists are much less likely to become religious later than the other way around.

                  and Catholic Christians who lack understanding or good education convert to atheism

                  This is a blatant and unfounded attempt to dismiss apostates.Lots of religious people of all stripes, including Catholics, turn to atheism after joining seminary.  It is specifically because they get a deep understanding and learn thoroughly about the Church, the Bible, and their history that they turn to atheism in the first place.  You can’t just dismiss them as not understanding or being uneducated.You have absolutely zero basis for claiming that only people who don’t understand or haven’t learned enough about it turn to atheism.

                • Foster

                  I am no more unfounded in my belief that people leave religion because of ignorance and/or brainwashingthan you are in believing that people turn to religion for the same reasons.  Or do you deny that you think that?  We both believe that we are correct and that our conclusions are the most logical based upon the available evidence.  I cannot  lay out the basis for Belief in a single reply, but that does not imply that one does not exist.

                • TheBlackCat

                   I completely and totally deny that those are the only reasons people joing religions.  They are reasons, but are by no means the only ones. 

                  You seem to be really confident in your ability to read the minds of others and.  I don’t think your abilities at that are as good as you think they are.

                • Foster

                  I never said they were the only reasons.

                • http://annainca.blogspot.com/ Anna

                  Yes, from my experience growing up atheist, children don’t automatically develop guilt and shame about their sexual feelings. I think it must take some pretty heavy-duty indoctrination to make people feel bad about it!

      • http://annainca.blogspot.com/ Anna

        Isn’t Nordog anti-abortion and pro-death penalty? Even right-wing Catholics pick and choose whether/when to follow what the Vatican says.

        • Foster

          When Nordog received his confirmation, he promised to uphold everything the Catholic Church teaches.  As I said, I have no problem with your trashing inconsistent pro-lifers who do not represent the Catholic Church’s official position which we make no secret of.

          • http://annainca.blogspot.com/ Anna

            Bear in mind, while I don’t care for hypocrisy, I don’t consider blind allegiance laudable, either. In an ideal world, people should feel free to form their own opinions. Letting other people tell you what to think isn’t something to be proud of, in my opinion.

            • Foster

              You misrepresent me if you think I’m suggesting people should not make their own decisions based on what they think is right.  But you and they should not represent them as Catholics if they do not believe what the Church teaches.  It’s simply dishonest to what it means to be a member of the Catholic Church and to the vows they took at confirmation.  If they no longer believe what they did at confirmation, and feel the need to publicly teach against the Church, then they should leave the Church.

              • http://annainca.blogspot.com/ Anna

                Oh, I know a ton of pro-choice, pro-gay, birth-control-using Catholics that I’d love to see leave the church. But neither of us can force people to give up their religious identity. That’s up to them. If they say they’re Catholic, then so be it. We can’t make them be otherwise.

                • Foster

                  Fine, fine.  Just so long as we can agree that they are inconsistent liars who do not represent the Church’s teaching on how people should live.

                • http://annainca.blogspot.com/ Anna

                  You say that like it’s a bad thing, LOL.

                • Patterrssonn

                  Foster’s right though, in order to represent the church’s teachings their lies would need to be consistent.

                • http://annainca.blogspot.com/ Anna

                  That’s true. I guess I just prefer inconsistency to people acting like sheep.

                • Stev84

                  That’s the priests’ job, not their sheep.

              • TheBlackCat

                  You do realize that only about 1 in 5 U.S. Catholics think abortion should be illegal in all cases, right?  You are saying that the vast majority of Catholics in the U.S. are not real Catholics. 

                • Foster

                  Please cite your statistic.

                  Technically ~I~ don’t think abortion should be illegal in all cases, since in an ectopic pregnancy, for example, the infant will assuredly die anyway, and removing it is the only way to save the life of the mother.  But I ~would~ save the life of the infant if I could.  I just can’t.  That’s triage.  You’re probably talking about cases of rape and incest, which I object to.  After all, it’s not the fetus’s fault.  Even if what you say is true, it makes no difference to my argument, as it is not the numerousness of its adherents that makes Catholicism great, but the love of its Messiah.

                • TheBlackCat

                   http://www.pewforum.org/Abortion/A-Slight-but-Steady-Majority-Favors-Keeping-Abortion-Legal.aspx

                  more than half of catholics think it should be legal in most situations.

                  Google “no true scotsman” while you are at it.

                • Foster

                  So now we’ve gone from “1 in 5″ to almost 50%.  Sounds like you atheists need to get your facts straight.

                • TheBlackCat

                   You didn’t read the link, or my post for that matter.  4 in 5 think it should be legal in some situations, 50% think it should be legal in most situations, and about 1 in 5 think it should be legal in all situations.

                  Seriously, if you weren’t even going to read the article, why did you demand I provide it? 

                  And if you are going to criticize someone for not getting their facts straight, it might be good to actually look at the facts first.

                • Foster

                  I ~did~read the link.  I didn’t read it carefully enough and was misled by the graph on the page which referred to a broader demographic, and for that I apologize, but as I explained, it is not central to my point.~Mea culpa~ on that score,BlackCat, ~mea culpa~.

                • Foster

                  What I have always defended on this site is what the Church teaches, not what Catholic people do.  If the church was a democracy, your implied “no true scotsman” critique would be legitimate.  But it’s not.  It’s a monarchy, with a historic consistently held belief system all the way from the Didache to the present day.  That’s what I’m defending, not the sad state of hypocrisy in much of the American Catholic laity.

                • TheBlackCat

                  Technically ~I~ don’t think abortion should be illegal in all cases,
                  since in an ectopic pregnancy, for example, the infant will assuredly
                  die anyway, and removing it is the only way to save the life of the
                  mother.

                  In this regard you are squarely against Catholic teachings, which says abortion is never acceptable, even to save the life of the mother.

                  So by your own logic, you are not a Catholic, since you “do not believe what the Church teaches”.  Thanks for clearing that up.

                  After all…

                  It’s simply dishonest to what
                  it means to be a member of the Catholic Church and to the vows they took
                  at confirmation.  If they no longer believe what they did at
                  confirmation, and feel the need to publicly teach against the Church,
                  then they should leave the Church.

                  …right?

                  Are you leaving the church now?  Somehow I doubt it.  I am sure you can find a way to excuse this behavior in yourself even though you condemn it in others.

                • Foster

                  What the Church officially teaches (American Catechism p. 391) is that “Direct abortion, that is, abortion willed as an end or as a means, is…gravely contrary to moral law.”  In an ectopic pregnancy, the embryo cannot survive in its location, lodged as it is in the fallopian tube, by separating the embryo from the wall and thereby saving the life of the mother, I would neither will the abortion as an end, nor as a means to any end, and if I could–and perhaps some day medicine will allow it–I would replace it in the uterus, where it has a chance at survival.  Nearly all abortions, on the other hand, end human life that would otherwise flourish into adults, simply because it represents an inconvenience to the mother.  Similarly, the Church permits women to use the same pills as are proscribed for birth control, if they are taken for other reasons.  What is evil is directly seeking the termination of human life, which is not the case in either situation.  You might call those “excuses,” but rather I’d call them provisions for very unusual circumstances, and Church approved at that. Thanks, though, for giving me the drive to look that up in my catechism.  I feel comfortable my beliefs are in line with the teaching of the Church based on the evidence I have.  But if you’d like to cite where the Church officially disagrees with terminating ectopic pregnancies or other cases where the mother’s life is in danger and the fetus cannot survive, I will definitely be interested and might have to reevaluate my beliefs.

                • TheBlackCat

                   A nine your old girl was raped by her stepfather.  She become pregnant twins.  Her body was not large enough to handle a single baby, not to mention two.  All of them would have died if an abortion was not carried out.  The catholic church excommunicated the mother and the doctors. The rapist was not excommunicated.  They also flat-out said the abortion was worse than murder:

                  http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/world-news/catholic-church-excommunicates-mother-and-doctors-of-a-nineyearold-rape-victim-that-had-abortion-ndash-but-not-accused-rapist-16163052.html

                  In other case, a woman was 11 weeks pregnant.  The pregnancy was causing problems with her hearty, which according to the doctors had a nearly 100 percent chance of killing her.  The only way to save her life was an abortion.  The nurse who carried out the procedure was excommunicated.  The reasoning was that a direct abortion, even to save the mother’s life, is against catholic teachings.

                  http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=126985072

                • Foster

                  Not ~consistent~ Catholics, actually.  Similarly, if you believe in transcendent human rights, I’d say you’re not a ~consistent~ atheist, since those rights are given to us by a Creator.  If you and they really thought it through based upon your worldview, I think you’d see things differently.  And really, what I said above ~was~ a bit harsh.  Rephrase:  If they no longer believe what they did at confirmation, and feel the need to publicly teach against the Church, then they should either leave the Church or change their views.

  • amycas

    I was going to ask why they wouldn’t just adopt some children who are already born and need a home. It’s not like the embryos are suffering or anything.

    • Foster

      If no one allows these embryos to develop, then eventually they will be disposed of like some common lab experiment, and that would be bad by the pro-lifers’ own beliefs.  If someone cryogenically froze a one year old baby for indefinite storage, and told me, “it’s alright, it’s not like  he’s suffering or anything,” I would be angry at her callousness, and I hope so would you.  You may not agree that they are humans with rights, but if so, Christians are acting perfectly rationally in wanting to give them fuller life.

      • amycas

         Actually, cryogenically freezing a one-year-old would cause harm to that one-year-old. I’m saying, the embryos are just sitting there not suffering at all. There are living children who are suffering and starving and frankly having a terrible life who could be adopted instead. The embryos feel nothing, and if they’re thrown out nobody (the embryos included) would know the difference. Actual orphans do have feelings, and hopes and dreams, and it’s callous to compare embryos being thrown out to the actual suffering of orphans.

        • Foster

          I was assuming that the only harm done to the hypothetical one year old would be the indefinite disruption of his life.  God would know the difference, if we’re right.  I’m not trying to convince you here that we’re right on believing that embryos are persons with rights, but only that our actions are reasonable on that basis.  On your reasoning, we should disconnect life support from coma patients (who have neither feelings, hopes nor dreams that we know of) and devote the monetary value of those resources to finding homes for orphans.

          • http://annainca.blogspot.com/ Anna

            Actually, we do disconnect life support from brain-dead people because there is no chance of recovery. Regular coma patients are kept alive in the hope that they may regain consciousness and resume their feelings, hopes, and dreams.

            • Foster

              Just as unborn children will be able to have feelings, hopes and dreams if they are permitted to live.  Unlike brain dead people, they have every chance at a normal life if they are permitted to develop.  They are just like coma patients we keep alive in every way that counts.

              • http://annainca.blogspot.com/ Anna

                Foster, an embryo in a petri dish will never, ever become a baby on its own. It’s not about “permitting” these embryos to live. It’s about taking drastic measures to turn them into actual babies. Now, I don’t agree with the Catholic perspective on abortion, but at least I understand where they’re coming from. But frozen embryos are not going to turn into babies without drastic medical intervention. They aren’t babies. Without a womb, they’re not even potential babies. Just because you think your god sprinkled them with magic fairy dust and gave them souls doesn’t mean that they are actually babies. For people to worry about and wish to “rescue” a bunch of frozen embryos strikes me as insane, quite frankly.

                • Foster

                  As Nordog said elsewhere, the embryos were brought into existence ~by~ sophisticated technology.  The Rubicon of taking drastic measures has already been crossed.  The technology is there.  The only question is whether we should treat them as human individuals, since they lack nothing except nutrients and time to become what we are.  I pose the same question to you I posed to BlackCat above.  Where is the essential difference between coma patients who have rights, and the embryos, who supposedly do not?

                • http://annainca.blogspot.com/ Anna

                  Just nutrients and time? They lack a womb. Without a woman’s body, an embryo will never become a baby. As to your question, embryos are not considered human beings with rights. Not by anyone, except fundamentalist religious people. Coma patients are living human beings with human rights. People have the right to decide the course of their medical treatment (DNR orders) and if they are incapacitated, that right goes to their next of kin. Frozen embryos have no right to live. They’re not babies, they’re not children. They’re not even alive yet. Again, like I said, it’s sheer insanity to “rescue” them when there are actual children in the world who need homes.

                • Foster

                  Why is it then that if  criminal murders a pregnant woman, he is charged with two murders?  They are alive, they are human.  But for reasons of convenience rather than philosophical consistency, people like you refuse to extend the same protections you extend to other people.

                • Deven Kale

                   Really Foster? You’re going to bring out this old mothballed argument too? *smh*

                  Because in the eyes of the law (and most people able to think something through beyond pure instinct, which you have already clearly shown yourself unable to do), the intent of the family/Mother is key when it comes to pregnancy. In fact, realistically speaking, the family/Mother is the one who grants the child it’s right to life. When the Mother is murdered and the fetus dies as well, it’s the removal/infringement of that right to life that the perpetrator is being put on trial for. If the family intended for that child to be born and granted it that right, then the murderer should be on trial for a double murder.

                  In the case of abortion, it’s right to life was never granted in the first place. Therefore there is no infringement of rights, and nothing to put anyone on trial for. Now you’re going to say, “but those rights aren’t granted by people/governments, they’re granted by God!” Well guess what, there are no gods in American law, and if there are they’re unilaterally shot down as unconstitutional. So yet again you’re going to have to find a better reason than that bit of ridiculousness.

                • http://annainca.blogspot.com/ Anna

                  An embryo in a petri dish is not considered alive by anyone. If you throw out a tray of frozen embryos, no one is going to charge you with murder.

              • TheBlackCat

                And herein lies the problem.  You are putting something with the potential for feelings, hopes and dreams over someone who already has feelings, hopes and dreams.   You don’t seem to understand there is a big difference between the potential to have something and actually have something.

                By that logic everyone on earth should be thrown in jail because they have the potential to commit a crime, and potential is the same thing as actually being.  But obviously it is not. 

                In any other case you are not going to equate potential with actually being,  Its impossible to.  However, in this one case you do, and you provide no reason whatsoever to do so.

                • Foster

                  What I’d like to know is where the coma patient differs significantly from the embryos.  You’re wrong.  You have no evidence to support that the coma patient “already has feelings, hopes and dreams.” He might have ~had~ them, just as embryos ~will have~ them if permitted to develop, but he doesn’t now, and even if we could medically show that he did, if he didn’t, we would still keep him on life support.  Why?  Because he has the potential to live a full human life in the future, just like the embryos.  The reason I provide is philosophical consistency. You cannot justly arbitrarily bestow rights upon one group versus another purely on the basis of convenience.  If you believe  that the coma patient deserves a level of dignity, as we both do, and ~you~ believe that the embryo does not, you must demonstrate where the essential difference lies.

                • TheBlackCat

                   

                  What I’d like to know is where the coma patient differs significantly
                  from the embryos.

                  I never said anything about coma patients, I was talking about infants.

                  He might have
                  ~had~ them, just as embryos ~will have~ them if permitted to develop,
                  but he doesn’t now, and even if we could medically show that he did, if
                  he didn’t, we would still keep him on life support.  Why?  Because he
                  has the potential to live a full human life in the future, just like the
                  embryos.

                  Actually we often don’t keep them on life support.  In pretty much every state in the U.S., people are allowed to say that they do not want to be kept alive in that sort of situation, and people are legally obligated to carry out those wishes.  In most states, if the person has not made a statement on the issue the family gets to decide.  So there is no philosophical or legal inconsistency here, and the one who is wrong on this is actually you. 

                  You cannot
                  justly arbitrarily bestow rights upon one group versus another purely
                  on the basis of convenience.  If you believe  that the coma patient
                  deserves a level of dignity, as we both do, and ~you~ believe that the
                  embryo does not, you must demonstrate where the essential difference
                  lies.

                  Well, the fact that one is a multi-cellular organism and one is not is a pretty essential difference. 

                  Another difference is that coma patients have a history, which gives them an opportunity to express their wishes on the subject, while embryos do not. 

                  Another difference is that coma patients are hooked up to machines, not to other humans, so we don’t have to worry about the direct effects on another  person or that other person’s wishes about what to do with his or her body.

                  Another difference is that coma patients have already established a place in society, and already have tasks that they have accomplished and may want to continue, while the embryo has had no such history.  There is an essential difference between interrupting something in progress and preventing something from starting to begin with.

                • Foster

                  This is getting very hard to read, so I’d like to address your points in a new thread that will be easier to read from.

          • TheBlackCat

            Asking whether something is reasonable based on an unreasonable basis isn’t really…um…reasonable.  It would be reasonable to give an embryo a hamster ball on the basis that it is a hamster, but that doesn’t mean it is a reasonable position or even a reasonable point to make.

            • Foster

              TheBlackCat, let me break it down for you.  Amycas appears to be arguing that regardless of whether we accept the pro life argument, it would be irrational to birth these embryos because they do not suffer while born orphans are actually suffering.  I disagree with that argument, nor do I concede the pro lifers’ premise is unreasonable, but argue that if we accept the premise, the conclusion of adopting embryos is sound as well, despite possibly channeling resources away from born orphans, for reasons I stated above.

              • TheBlackCat

                 First, yes, the claim that a ball of 8 identical cells, cells that wouldn’t even meet the criteria for being a multi-cellular organism if they lived on their own, are more important than living, breathing, thinking, feeling humans, is inherently unreasonable.  I think this is amycas’s point as well.

                Second, you are missing my point, which is that it is a pointless academic exercise to think about what would be the implications of a premise if it weren’t inherently flawed.  First you need to establish the premise as at least plausible before there can be any point in looking into its implications.

                Third, I don’ t actually see any reason in your posts.  You repeatedly assert that such a conclusion is valid, but provide no real argument to support this conclusion.

    • Randomfactor

       Wrong color, amycas.

      That’s why these should be called “Snow WHITE Babies.”

    • Pseudonym

      One reason could be because there aren’t that many children available for adoption these days.

      That’s certainly true outside the US, where there is a semi-decent social welfare system and no shame in children born out of wedlock. In the UK, Australia etc, children generally are only adopted if the they are at risk.

      • amycas

        From the last UNICEF report I saw, the number of orphans worldwide is somewhere between 100 and 200 million children. I’d hardly count that as a shortage of orphans. I’ll try to find the report again.

    • http://www.facebook.com/eukota Darrell Ross

      Adoption is not exactly cheap. In fact, a single IUI procedure is cheaper. Not to mention the royal pain to adoption. You get the dickens tested out of you by the adoption agency and your fitness as a parent gets questioned.

      Many adoption agencies near where we live are not an option for us because they require church attendance as one of the criteria.

      I think when we did the research, we learned it was approx 20k to adopt a child.Also, for someone like myself, adopting a child is like receiving damaged goods. I really really want to raise a child from the womb – eating right and healthy and all – all the way. After I have raised one or two, then I will be prepared for the psychologically damaged children I plan to adopt.

  • amycas

     Are they both equally wrong? Will they both have the same “spiritual” consequences (i.e. punishment after death or some-such theological belief).

  • Vaynberg, Yelena

    I do not think you get it. It is not a 8 cells we are opposed to killing — we, people who are against abortion — but a human being that is usually killed at 3,4,5 – 8 months old.

    • RobMcCune

       Plenty of people believe that when sperm meets egg, a soul is magically implanted in the embryo,  though it’s unclear if 2 souls are implanted if that embryo will later become identical twins. Even if you don’t believe it, these snowflake parents do.

    • Paul_Robertson

      Clearly you’re not familiar with the Republican platform.

    • amycas

       8 months old fetus? Where is this happening?

    • Deven Kale

      There’s a couple things wrong with your post here:

      1) Since when do we start measuring the age of people from the date of their conception? As far as I’m aware the general measurement of age is from the actual date of birth. Therefore, an abortion at a point of 8 months would not be killing* a human being* at 8 months old, but at 8 months gestation. Otherwise, you, me, and everybody else needs to add approximately 9 months to our ages to compensate for your new standard. Further, birthdays would no longer fit as valid markers of age, so we’d instead have to start celebrating conception days in order to stay consistent.

      2) The abortion of an 8-month old human being* is so rare as to be nearly non-existent to my knowledge. In fact, you’re completely wrong about the timeframe altogether. The majority of abortions are actually done between gestational weeks 6 and 12. That’s before it’s even 3 months old*, which would be the beginning of week 14.

      * I use your terminology in order to help make sure that you understand what it is that I’m saying. I don’t mean to imply that, by using your terms, I agree with any part of what you’re saying in the slightest.

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

    If a fertilized human ovum is exactly the same as, equal to, identical to, and indistinguishable from a grown, breathing human being, then…

    …if I promised you a chicken dinner and I give you a fertilized chicken egg, have I fulfilled my promise?

    …if I promised you a cord of wood and I give you a single pine seed, have I fulfilled my promise?

    The notion that potential is equal and identical to to actual has all sorts of implications. If I promised you a million dollars and I give you a single share in Apple Corporation stock, have I fulfilled my promise? 

    • Annie

       I like these analogies, and I would further argue that a seed needs fertile soil to grow, a chicken egg, some heat.  A human embryo, however, requires a human being to share their blood, food supply and essential organs in order for the embryo to grow and mature into a human being. 

    • David McNerney

      …and a single sperm cell is a potential human being.

      Next thing, these people will be against masturbation.

      • TheBlackCat

         Uh, your a late little there…

    • Nordog6561

      But the embryo is not a potential human being simply because it is a potential adult human being.  It is an actual human being that has the potential to become an adult. The difference between embryo and adult is one of maturation and growth.  It is not the difference in kind; it is not a difference in substance (in the Aristotelian sense of substance)

      • TheBlackCat

         It most certainly is a difference in kind.  There are fundamental differences between single-celled and multi-cellular organisms.  There are fundamental differences between a cluster of undifferentiated cells and an organism with tissues and organs.  The fact that one may sometimes develop into another does not mean there is no difference in kind between them. 

        Similarly, there is a difference in kind between a human skin cell and a human.  There is a difference in kind between a cancerous tumor and a human.  There is a difference in kind between a bag of blood and a human. 

        The fact that they developed from a human does not mean they are the same as a human, just as the fact that a human developed from an embryo does not mean a human is the same as an embryo.

        • Nordog6561

          So, the egg becoming fertilized is, I claim, a substantial change for two kinds of things to a completely different one thing.  You seem to be claiming that between this event and the “arrival” of a human being there is yet another substantial change in substance.  What exactly would that event/change be?

          • Deven Kale

             There are plenty of substantial changes: The growth of bones, heart, lungs, brain, etc.; The heart developing from a small lump into a full four chambered heart; The development of the nervous system to allow sensation; The development of the brain-stem to control reflexes; The brain developing to allow for actual experiences and memories; The development of the rest of the brain to allow choice (this probably happens AFTER birth, at birth likely all actions are reflexive). The list goes on.

            • Nordog6561

              Growth, maturation and development are by definition not substantial changes.

              • Deven Kale

                 In fact, they are no less substantial than fertilization. What happens at fertilization, really? You have an ovum, a fully developed cell with everything it needs to begin developing except for a small amount of information. Literally everything required for a zygote/blastocyst to form is contained within that one rather large cell and all it needs to start is that small amount of information and a chemical signal. The development of all the other structures that I mentioned are dependent upon roughly the same conditions, chemical signals and the proper information. There is little, if any, substantial difference. You only believe there is because it supports your own agenda.

                • Nordog6561

                  “You have an ovum, a fully developed cell with everything it needs to begin developing except for a small amount of information.”

                  Except the ovum does not have everything; that’s the point. After fertilization, everything is there and a substantial change occurs. For example, the unfertilized ovum does not experience chromosomal crossover.

                  There is complete substantial change.  You only deny it because it contradicts your own agenda.  (Hey, that’s a handy rhetorical device!)  ;-)

                • Deven Kale

                   I’m not denying that fertilization is substantial. I’m informing you that it’s no more substantial than all the other changes that happen all throughout fetal development.

                  Deny that all you want, it doesn’t make it any less true.

                • Foster

                  What a load of nonsense.  Really, I’m surprised that anyone can be so daft, Deven.  The zygote contains the same genetic information that the fully grown adult will carry for the rest of its life.  Until sperm and egg fuse, there is no possibility that either will grow to be a human being.  After this event, the organism only needs nutrients and time.  On the contrary, you only refuse to accept this obviously pivotal change as a substantial difference because it supports ~your~ agenda.

                • Deven Kale

                   I’ve already stated that I accept that it’s a pivotal change. What you and Nordog fail to accept is that it’s just one of many equally pivotal (what Nordog calls substantial) changes that may, possibly, at some point create a viable human being.

                  I’ll ask you this as well: Which part of this do you deny, that the growth of a heart where previously there was none is either pivotal (again, what Nordog calls substantial), or a change?

                • Foster

                  While a man’s marriage to his wife, or his losing his first tooth, may be pivotal in his life, neither suddenly bequeaths him with human rights.  I deny neither that a heart’s appearance is a change, nor that it is pivotal.  But I do deny that it, or birth, or first-tooth-losing, is a rational place to say “Now it’s a human being with human rights, where before it wasn’t.”  Conception is, and in this sense it is ~uniquely~ pivotal as the genesis of the new genetically distinct organism in a way such that regarding it as just another of many pivotal moments is ridiculous.

                • Deven Kale

                  I completely understand your position, I just don’t agree with it. I think that’s simply how it’s going to have to stay. I’m not willing to take over the inbox of everyone who’s subscribed to this thread any longer on this.

          • TheBlackCat

             I listed two already: the move from being a single-celled organism to being a multi-cellular organism, and the movement from being a cluster of undifferentiated cells to having specific tissues and organs. 

            The change involved in fertilization is far smaller than the change during cell differentiation.  It has a little less than double the amount of one chemical and some changes in its outer cell coating, but for the most part it is pretty similar.

            On the other hand the difference between, say, an egg and neuron is so substantial that, if just seen in isolation without any knowledge of their history (or a detailed DNA test), there would be no clue that they are related.  Their layout, shape internal structure, skeletal architecture, cell surface proteins, response properties, mechanical properties, and pretty much any other measurable property are completely different.  And don’t even get me started on red blood cells, they don’t even have DNA.

  • http://annainca.blogspot.com/ Anna

    Wow, these people are crazy. I get the objection to abortion, but this is just insane. An embryo in a petri dish is not a baby. It will never, ever, ever become a baby without sophisticated technology and expensive medical procedures. It’s hard to believe that there are actually people in the world who are worried about frozen embryos when there are so many actual living, breathing children who need homes.

    • Nordog6561

      “It will never, ever, ever become a baby without sophisticated technology and expensive medical procedures. ”

      FTR, the only reason there is an embryo in a petri dish is because of sophisticated technology and expensive medical procedures.  So you argument that the absence of these renders their point moot is, well, moot.

      • http://annainca.blogspot.com/ Anna

        No, it’s not moot. An embryo inside a pregnant woman will (barring human intervention or medical mishap) become a baby. An embryo in a petri dish will never become a baby. Expensive, sophisticated measures need to be taken to take a frozen embryo and turn it into a baby. These embryo adopters are undergoing drastic procedures to create these babies, all the while ignoring the plight of living, breathing children who do not have parents to care for them. I think it’s certainly indicative of misplaced priorities, for these people to be worried about frozen embryos while plenty of actual children cry themselves to sleep because they don’t have a mother or a father to call their own.

        • TheBlackCat

          “An embryo inside a pregnant woman will (barring human intervention or medical mishap) become a baby.”

          Not true.  Many, perhaps even most, embryos spontaneously abort sometime during pregnancy, often before the mother even knows she is pregnant.

          • http://annainca.blogspot.com/ Anna

            Yes, that’s what I meant by “medical mishap.” Although perhaps I shouldn’t have used the word mishap. Miscarriage may not be perceived as a bad thing depending on how the woman feels about her pregnancy, assuming she knows about it.

            • TheBlackCat

              My point is that it is often not a medical issue in the way we normally think about it, rather there is some sort of abnormality during embryonic development that renders the embryo incapable of getting past an early developmental stage and remain viable.  Embryonic development is  a highly random and error-prone process.

              • http://annainca.blogspot.com/ Anna

                That’s true. I guess I was just thinking of miscarriage as a medical issue, the same as other biological processes would be considered medical issues.

  • Paul_Robertson

    It’s all fun and games until they try to impose those beliefs on everyone else. Oh, wait….

  • http://annainca.blogspot.com/ Anna

    Ethically speaking, I don’t have any problem with embryo adoption as long as the couples who created the embryos have given their consent. I’m assuming that they are legally required to do so. I can just imagine the lawsuits if people discovered they had biological children in other families who were born without their knowledge or consent.

    • KMR

      Yes there’s a legal process involved.  It’s not regulated as adoption is but consent of the biological parents is required. 

      • http://annainca.blogspot.com/ Anna

        Thank goodness for that! As for your other comment, I certainly agree that people should always be honest with their children about their origins. I know that some heterosexual couples who use donor eggs and donor sperm never plan on telling their children, and I think that’s reprehensible.

        I’d be surprised if many embryo adopters went that route, though. They’re so proud of themselves for “saving” these babies. These people are taking a political stand, and it doesn’t do the cause much good if they keep it a secret. Seems like they’d probably be shouting it from the rooftops, which, while certainly better than secrecy, doesn’t seem at all sensitive to the child’s point of view.

        • KMR

          You’d be surprised.  Being infertile does weird things to your psyche. 

          And speaking of psyche can you imagine what all these snowflake babies are going to feel like upon grown?  Fo those who do know their origin, many will know the biological families.  However, these biological families aren’t going to be poor, mentally unstables, or any have any other undesirable social attributes.  N0pe, most are going to be wonderful families posessing full blooded siblings that the adopted child, for luck of it’s position in the frozen lottery of life, doesn’t get to partake of fully.  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see possible trauma out of this.

          Anyway, I thought about frozen embryo adoption until I read the critiques of it.  Personally, I love the idea of foster adoption, but that’s nothing to take lightly either.  People who speak of “why doesn’t the infertile person adopt” haven’t researched the issue at all.

          • http://annainca.blogspot.com/ Anna

            Well, I was conceived by donor insemination myself. It’s not exactly the same situation, but there are similarities. I don’t envision trauma as long as all the adults in the child’s life are open, honest, and forthcoming with information. I think as long as children know the truth about how they came into the world, then they’ll be fine. 

            But if I were a “snowflake baby” born to rabid pro-lifers, I’d probably be upset to think that my parents had me to make some kind of political point. Same if they adopted me from an orphanage to “bring the heathen child to Jesus.” I’d think their motives were a bit suspect. I wouldn’t like to think that my parents only wanted me to score Brownie points.

            • LT

              I do see your point, but to be perfectly honest, many religious folk – the most rabid ones especially but not exclusively – have children solely for the brownie point factor.  Whether conceived naturally or otherwise, these people feel that children are simply a stepping stone to heaven (and social status and superiority).  That’s what happen when an organization preaches that children are required for salvation.

              • Nordog6561

                What church preaches that having children is required for salvation?  (I don’t doubt there there must be one that fits that description, but still, I’ve never heard that before.)

                • LT

                  I don’t think “salvation” was quite the right word.  I’m very sloppy lately.  I mean more that children are essential to living out your religious beliefs (if you are married and fertile, I suppose).

                  I lived it, for one, growing up in the Catholic Church, and I actually went to therapy as an older teenager/young adult to realize I DIDN’T HAVE TO HAVE CHILDREN IF I DIDN’T WANT THEM and happened to fall in love, too.  Yes, startling revelation :), but I was quite messed up by it all.  I saw way too many couples who didn’t give a damn about their kids, but had them because they were supposed to.  It affected me deeply, because I didn’t have natural inclinations towards motherhood, and I still, to do this day, have a disordered fear of pregnancy and childbirth.  It is BECAUSE of my Catholic upbringing that I believe vehemently that no child should be born unless it is 100% wanted and the parents are ready to adore it with every fiber of their being.  I was lucky that my mother loved us fiercely, so I suppose I was devastated to see how many parents were two-faced assholes who used their kids as status symbols within the church.I don’t believe the Catholic Church teaches that children are necessary for salvation, simply that if you’re married (and fertile) it’s unacceptable to avoid them completely.  Other branches of Christianity push the children a little harder, such as the Quiverfull movement, where the more children you have… the better.  I’m so technical :).My descriptions are not adequate, so  if you read blogs here on Patheos like “Love, Joy, Feminism,” “Permission to Live,” and “The Phoenix and Olive Branch” you’ll get a really great idea about how what I said applies.  I’ve been following them all very closely.  A male perspective, but not part of Patheos is “Incongruous Circumspection.”   You’ll have to dig through their archives, but if you do, they are a tremendous number of blogs each dealing with this very issue.  

                • http://annainca.blogspot.com/ Anna

                  Mormons are like that, too. There’s really no place for single, childless people in the church. I don’t believe you can even get to the highest level of the Mormon afterlife without being married and having children.

                • Stev84

                  The Mormons treat single people like shit in general even if they want to get married some day. They segregate them into “singles wards” to get them to pair themselves up, but in the meantime exclude them from ordinary activities which are all geared towards “families”.

                • Deven Kale

                   Unfortunately, you’re only partially correct. Your implication that singles are put into the singles ward by force is where you went wrong. Anybody who is single, with or without children, can join the singles ward if they wish but it’s not required. Even then, they’re also technically  part of their local ward as well so they can join in on the community based activities of the regular ward.

                • Stev84

                  Yeah, they can join in, but from what I’ve read it’s not exactly a pleasent experience.e.

                • KMR

                  Add some evangelicals to the list.  They’re still caught up in the whole women are made for a man’s helpmate and for birthing their children movement.  That’s the identity many of them are taught from childhood.  I wouldn’t say they do it for brownie points though.  It’s more because they can’t imagine any other kind of life so they keep on having children to continue their  meaning for living as long as possible.

          • Stev84

            The parents need to be honest simply for medical reasons.  Certain cancers for example have genetic risk factors. So do many other diseases. It’s why doctors ask if there are similar issues with other family members.

  • KMR

    Adopting “snowflake babies” isn’t as harmless as one would think.  Many who adopt these embryos never plan on telling their child that he/she is adopted.  The psychological ramifications of keeping this secret can be quite extensive.   My children were both born through in-vitro and before we were successful with the procedure, we considered adoption, the pro’s, the con’s, etc.  Reading some life stories of adoptees were quite eye opening.  Adoption is a wonderful thing and should be applauded and encouraged.  But it’s not as simple as giving a needy child (or embryo in this case) a home. 

  • Flo

    Crazy. What next, are they going to come after menstruating women for wasting a perfectly good egg every month?

    • Deven Kale

       Considering the current state of affairs and the escalating crazy with these types of people, I wouldn’t at all be surprised if that were to happen.

  • SJH

    I agree that it is consistent to say that the 8-cell embryo is as valuable as the 2-year old child. They are in fact as valuable as each other and are as valuable as you and me. I guess I do not understand the point. Are you saying that by adopting the embryo, the couple has neglected the 2-year old? So by adopting a 2-year old would someone be neglecting the 8-year old that needs to be adopted? I do not understand your logic or your point. Would someone please clarify?

  • JaneRLeBlanc

    Are they able to use the embryos without the biological parents’ permission?

  • http://www.facebook.com/AnonymousBoy Larry Meredith

    it would also lead to the logical conclusion of being able to declare embryos on your taxes as dependants. And wouldn’t a miscarriage be some kind of manslaughter?

  • http://www.facebook.com/rob.goergen.3 Rob Goergen

    Its sad and too easy to attack the beliefs of any religion , especially since most have been around for centuries and have flaws in their doctrine when applied in the modern day world. I choose to practice my faith because it encourages love and understanding as a main point. To spend a lifetime looking for flaws in other faiths is just sad for an existence.  The scholarly ability of those who focus on prying open these flaws to their public satisfaction is a an unbelievable waste of a life , especially when they could use these same abilities to bring so much more positive into the world.

    • http://annainca.blogspot.com/ Anna

      Rob, I appreciate you taking the time to come here and converse with us, but I’m afraid I don’t agree. Why are religious beliefs immune from criticism? If something doesn’t make sense, should we just ignore it? Pat people on the head? If something isn’t true, then what’s wrong with pointing that out?

      I don’t know what religion you follow. If it “encourages love and understanding as a main point,” then that’s good, but it still doesn’t make the supernatural aspects of your religion true. And if your religion promotes nonsensical things (like the idea that frozen embryos are the same as babies), then I think we should criticize that. Many religions promote things that are not only nonsensical, but also downright harmful both to adherents and to those outside the group. That’s why we focus on their flaws. Because the influence of these religions is not benign. Believing that frozen embryos are babies can lead people to try to pass laws against IVF or birth control. It hurts women (and men and children) when reproductive rights are taken away.

    • Stev84

      You act like this is a purely academic discussion that only takes place in some ivory tower totally disconnected from the real world. This particular issue isn’t all that important, but lots of other things negatively affect many, many people.

      The simple fact is that religion hurts many people. Criticizing these “flaws” isn’t academics or theory, but a practical attempt to improve their lives and the world.

  • Nordog6561

    Oh yeah, for you, I think, everything change is substantial.  Or something like that.

    Again, growth, maturation, and development are by definition not substantial change.

    • Deven Kale

      So tell me what is it that you’re denying here- that a heart growing where there wasn’t one before is substantial, or that it’s a change?

    • TheBlackCat

       So, not “subsantial” difference between a tadpole and frog.  No “substantial” difference between a caterpillar and a butterfly.  No “subsantial” difference between an egg and a chicken.  No “subsantial” difference between a single cell doing its own thing and trillions of radically different cells all cooperating.  You have a really strange definition of “substantial”.

      • Nordog6561

        Tadpole to frog?  Possibly.

        Caterpillar to butterfly?  Yes.  Metamorphosis is certainly a substantial change.

        Egg to chicken?  Unfertilized egg to chicken?  Yes.  Unfertilized egg to fertilized egg?  Yes.

        It’s not my definition of substantial change; it’s Aristotle’s.

        • TheBlackCat

           So there is a substantial difference between a six legged, leaf-eating organism without wings and a slightly less long six legged nectar-eating organism with wings, but there is not a substantial difference between a single-celled organism and a multi-cellular organism?   I cannot even begin to comprehend a system under which that makes any sense at all. 

          They didn’t even have the concept of a cell back when Aristotle lived, his thoughts on development were pure speculation, and ended up being completely wrong.  He is hardly a reputable authority on this subject.  The fact that you rely on the opinions of someone who lived thousands of years before the invention of the microscope as an authority on early embryonic development is very telling.

          • Nordog6561

            The change that occurs in metamorphosis is indeed substantial, that is, the orignial thing ceases to be altogether, and the new thing is entirely new.  I might venture that metamorphosis incorporates 2 substantial changes; the middle gooey state is neither the old thing nor the new thing.

            This is to be seen as distinct from changes in which the subject evolves or develops.  There is difference between something that completely comes to be for the first time, and something that changes through incremental development.

            Metamorphosis is a substantial change.

            Zygote to adult is incremental development.

            Nice ad hominem about Aristotle by the way.  There is certainly many areas of Aristotle’s work that needs to be criticized and even rejected.  But I bet you’ve never even read his Categories, or On Generation and Corruption, or The Physics, to know what those are.  Now, I don’t know that you categorize yourself as one of the “brights” or “freethinkers” around here, but I would be surprised if you do.  Surprised given your wholescale rejection of the work of one of the preeminent thinkers of all time simply because he didn’t have a mircoscope because he lived thousands of years ago.  It’s sad too given that your ignorance here is so total that you don’t even realize that the arguments involved do not require a microscope.

            • TheBlackCat

               

              The change that occurs in metamorphosis is indeed substantial, that is,
              the orignial thing ceases to be altogether, and the new thing is
              entirely new.  I might venture that metamorphosis incorporates 2
              substantial changes; the middle gooey state is neither the old thing nor
              the new thing.

              Nothing ceases to exist during metamorphosis.  I don’t know how you got that idea.  Through the entire metamorphosis there is a single continuously-existing organism.  The two organisms are always very similar to each in other in pretty much every substantial way, they are always much more similar to each than a single-celled organism is to a multi-cellular organism.

              Metamorphosis is a substantial change.

              Zygote to adult is incremental development.

              You still have not provided any reason to conclude this.  Repeating the same thing over and over again does not make it true.  Both a caterpillar and a butterfly are clearly insects.  Yet any free-living organism otherwise identical to a zygote would be considered a protist, not an animal.

              Nice ad hominem about Aristotle by the way.

              You set him up as an authority on a subject that he could not possibly have been familiar with.  It is not an ad hominem to reject someone else’s argument from authority.  If his argument is so sound then you should be able to explain it.

              • Nordog6561

                ” If his argument is so sound then you should be able to explain it.”

                Now there’s a logic fallacy for you.

                • Deven Kale

                   Sorry Nordog, that’s not fallacious. If you understand his argument well enough to think you can use it yourself, it’s not unreasonable to expect you to be able to explain it. If you can’t explain it, then it’s obvious you don’t actually understand it well, and it really is nothing more than an appeal to authority.

                • Nordog6561

                  Yes, because if I can’t articulate something adequately, and you cannot comphrehend it fully, then it must be false.  No fallacy there.

                • Deven Kale

                   The fallacy is yours, not mine. You are using an argument that you yourself don’t understand, simply because you consider the man an authority. When in reality you have no clue as to whether or not the argument even makes any sense.

                • Nordog6561

                  So Deven, do you then hold that all change is incremental?

                  Does nothing actually come into being or pass into destruction?

                  Is everything no different than everything else except by degrees?

                  Does “create” and “develop” mean the same thing?

                  Deven, I can explain it to you, but I can’t comprehend it for you.

                • Deven Kale

                  I can’t help but think you’re questions are little more than trying to trap me into some sort of rhetorical gambit. It’s always a little questionable when somebody responds to a critique of their position with a list of questions.

                  Just explain your position in the way you understand it and we’ll see whether or not that position really does make any sense in the way you understand it.

  • Vir

    This is actually very good news!  Religiosity is again becoming a negative trait as far as natural selection goes.  All religious people should be encouraged to give birth to and raise children who are not genetically related to them.  With luck, they’ll be more rational individuals.

    • http://annainca.blogspot.com/ Anna

      Interesting idea! However, I think the couples who are so against their embryos being discarded that they’re willing to make them available for adoption to pro-lifers are probably uber-religious themselves. So genetics and environment are most likely going to end up a wash.

  • Foster

    In response to TheBlackCat (due to difficulty
    reading old thread),

     

    “I never said anything about coma patients,
    I was talking about infants.”  In context, the most logical
    conclusion was that you were talking about the coma patients I had mentioned
    immediately before, when you were talking about their “hopes and dreams.”

    “Actually we often don’t keep
    them on life support.”  There ~is~ legal and philosophical
    inconsistency, to contradict what you have said, because we only let him die if
    the coma patient has expressly wished not to be kept alive.  If he has
    made no statement at all, then we keep him alive, presuming that he would want
    to be alive.  Therefore, an embryo, who likewise has not even had the
    opportunity to make a statement, should be kept alive by default, assuming
    there is no other compelling difference between him and a coma patient.

    “Well, the fact that one is a multi-cellular
    organism and one is not is a pretty essential difference.“

    The single-celledness or multicellularity of an
    organism has nothing to do with its right to live.  It is purely accidental, as the following thought experiment
    demonstrates.  If, for example,
    giant amoebas existed that were sentient, able to feel and reason like you and
    I, it would be wrong to kill them and their precursors.  We happen to live in a world without
    such creatures, but they would not be disqualified from having rights just
    because they were single-celled or lacked cells at all.

    “Another difference is that coma patients have a
    history, which gives them an opportunity to express their wishes on the
    subject, while embryos do not.”  As
    I said before, if they do not express their wishes, we assume for them that
    they would like to live as the most natural assumption.

    “Another difference is that coma patients are
    hooked up to machines, not to other humans, so we don’t have to worry about the
    direct effects on another person or that other person’s wishes about what
    to do with his or her body.”

     That is the first significant difference
    you’ve mentioned, in my opinion, but I don’t think it should be
    controlling.  We ask soldiers to
    die for the interests of their country, even against their will during a
    draft.  If there really is a human
    life at stake, even the extreme inconvenience and pain associated should not permit
    someone to commit murder.  If you
    threatened me with nine months of extreme aches and pains if I didn’t grab a
    gun and shoot a newborn baby (who has no history) it would still be wrong to do
    so.

     

    “Another difference is that coma patients have
    already established a place in society, and already have tasks that they have
    accomplished and may want to continue, while the embryo has had no such
    history.  There is an essential difference between interrupting something
    in progress and preventing something from starting to begin with.”

    If it is wrong to shoot a newborn, who has no
    history, then history is no good basis upon which to confer rights.  If you are arguing that the coma
    patient has value to society, I can argue that the newborn infant has value to
    society and many tasks to complete. 
    You are interrupting the embryo’s history.  He began at conception, at some point after this, you killed
    him, and by killing him, you have terminated his life prematurely.  I know of no good arguments for
    abortion that could not just as easily be used to justify infanticide, which
    (thank God) we all abhor.  Neither
    do I see any essential differences between the infant and coma patient.   

    • Foster

      Twice in that last paragraph I meant to say “embryo” rather than “newborn infant” and  in the last sentence “infant.” My error.

    • Deven Kale

       To be completely honest Foster, I’m really getting tired of seeing your poorly thought out tripe here. You know there is a very substantial difference between an 8-cell, cleavage stage embryo, and someone who’s just recently gone into a coma: consciousness. All of your arguments here aren’t even worth considering because of their absolute ridiculousness. I’m not going to go into the details of why your arguments are without merit, because to be honest I’m absolutely tired of them. They’ve been paraded around here before and I’ve not only torn them down here on this blog but on others as well, with rare exception.

      Put quite simply, consciousness is the ability to be aware of self and surroundings, and it has various levels. Anywhere from full alertness to sleep, to coma, to even death. The reason it’s important is simply because of the fact that, without it, nothing is even aware of it’s existence. The awareness of something which has no consciousness is equal to something which is dead, so terminating it’s existence changes nothing from it’s perspective, including a fetus all the way up until it has a fully developed nervous system at approximately 24 weeks gestation. Before you bring up the “it feels pain at x weeks” argument, keep in mind there is absolutely no reason to believe that that is anything more than a pain withdrawal response controlled by the brain stem and requires no amount of consciousness at all. Even a plant can react to stimuli. Do most of us think that trees are worthy of being given rights? no. I sure don’t and I seriously doubt you do. Even extremist environmentalists generally admit the reason that they’re so protective of them is because of their contribution to the lives of conscious animals by processing CO2 into O2 and providing habitat, among other similar reasons.

      It’s a very similar situation with coma patients and other similar illnesses. It’s still very reasonable to consider that a person in a coma will come out of it fairly quickly and still have their consciousness intact. The longer they’re in a coma, the more their consciousness fades. In the vast majority of cases, if someone is in a coma for more than a year, they will never come out of it. Those extremely rare few that do nearly always have such severe brain damage that they can do little more than instinctive behaviors such as chewing their own food and passing their own waste- usually without warning. Yes, there are rare exceptions of long-term coma patients making a full recovery, but these are extremely rare. This is why the laws and historical precedent generally submit to the wishes of the family in cases of coma where there is no advance directive from the patient.

      Consciousness is a deciding factor in nearly every decision we make about ending the life of any type of living being, yourself included. And yet, for some reason, you’re trying to make an exception is this one, highly specific case without any truly good reason. So far, the best you’ve come up with is laughable, so please, listen to reason here and, at the very least, shut the hell up.

    • TheBlackCat

       

      There ~is~ legal and philosophical inconsistency, to contradict what you have said, because we only let him die if the coma patient has expressly wished not to be kept alive.  If he has made no statement at all, then we keep him alive, presuming that he would want to be alive.  Therefore, an embryo, who likewise has not even had the opportunity to make a statement, should be kept alive by default, assuming there is no other compelling difference between him and a coma patient.

      No, you are glossing over the key difference.  The human has had the opportunity to make a decision, and the opportunity to express that decision, but hasn’t.  This can be taken as an indication of that decision, although in most cases the family actually has the final say in this case.

      An embryo has never had the capacity to make such a decision.  There is no free will

      You are ignoring the difference between having the capacity to make a decision in the past and the possibility of being able to make a decision in the future.  These are radically different things.  Possibility is not the same as actually being.

      The single-celledness or multicellularity of an organism has nothing to do with its right to live.  It is purely accidental, as the following thought experiment demonstrates.  If, for example, giant amoebas existed that were sentient, able to feel and reason like you and I, it would be wrong to kill them and their precursors.  We happen to live in a world without such creatures, but they would not be disqualified from having rights just because they were single-celled or lacked cells at all.

      So you acknowledge that sentience is a necessary precondition for rights?  Glad we cleared that up.

      This hypothetical scenario is totally irrelevant and you know it.  Considering how life on Earth operates at the present day, you know the actual rules that are relevant to embryos, multicellularity is a necessary precondition for rights.  Animal testing rules do not apply to protists, for example, since they have none of the characteristics that make animal testing important in the first place. 

      Even if such an organism as you described existed, it would have absolutely zero impact on this discussion, since its characteristics would have no bearing on how all the other organisms we know of operate.

      As I said before, if they do not express their wishes, we assume for them that
      they would like to live as the most natural assumption.

      As I said, 1. no, we don’t, and 2. the lack of an answer gives us some indication of what the answer would.

      That is the first significant difference you’ve mentioned, in my opinion, but I don’t think it should be controlling.  We ask soldiers to die for the interests of their country, even against their will during a draft.  If there really is a human life at stake, even the extreme inconvenience and pain associated should not permit someone to commit murder.  If you threatened me with nine months of extreme aches and pains if I didn’t grab a gun and shoot a newborn baby (who has no history) it would still be wrong to do so.

      There is no other situation under which we force someone to hook their body up to another person to provide life support.  None.  It doesn’t matter even if the person is directly, knowingly, and maliciously responsible for the victims condition, we do not force people to use their body as life support for any other life-form, ever, except this one situation.

      If it is wrong to shoot a newborn, who has no history, then history is no good basis upon which to confer rights.  If you are arguing that the coma patient has value to society, I can argue that the newborn infant has value to society and many tasks to complete.

      A newborn does have a history.  It has already interacted with the world in a subsantial way, it already has a working mind and working emotions.

      You are interrupting the embryo’s history.  He began at conception, at some point after this, you killed him, and by killing him, you have terminated his life prematurely.

      It has the same sort of history that a paramecium has, which is substantially different than the sort of history that a newborn has in every imaginable way.   Sure, if you take it to the extreme every organism has a history, but we treat those histories radically differently.

      I know of no good arguments for abortion that could not just as easily be used to justify infanticide, which (thank God) we all abhor.

      And I know of no good arguments for abortion that don’t apply equally well to prostists, which nobody cares about, or to forcing someone to use their body to provide life support to someone else, which we all abhor.

  • TheBlackCat

    Split from above,

    But it’s not.  It’s a monarchy, with a historic consistently held belief
    system all the way from the Didache to the present day.

    The claim that the Catholic church is, frankly, laughable.  Even on
    abortion the Catholic Church has changed dramatically over its
    lifespan.  Originally abortion was simply treated as another form of
    contraception, a “sin against marriage”.  The idea that embryos became
    human at conception was explicitly and repeatedly rejected by the
    church, and by church leaders like Thomas Aquinas..

    The idea that
    abortion is homicide and that life  begins at conception didn’t become
    part of Canon Law until the 1960′s.  This is an extremely recent development, not a “a historic consistently held belief
    system all the way from the Didache to the present day”

    See here:
    http://www.catholicsforchoice.org/pubs/cfc_archive/articles/TheHistoryofAbortion.asp
    (you may not like the site, but I have checked the key time points elsewhere and they are correct)
     

  • TheBlackCat

    Foster, it has been a day since I pointed out your views are directly counter to Catholic law on the subject.  Are you going to change your views or quit the Church?

    • TheBlackCat

       Also, I should add that your stance on ectopic pregnancies in particular is also directly against catholic teachings.  You said

      in an ectopic pregnancy, the embryo cannot survive in its location,
      lodged as it is in the fallopian tube, by separating the embryo from the
      wall and thereby saving the life of the mother, I would neither will
      the abortion as an end

      But the Catholic church most assuredly does consider this to be an abortion, and it is banned.  The only acceptable option is to cut out the affected fallopian tube:

      http://www.catholiceducation.org/articles/medical_ethics/me0140.htm

    • Foster

      Thread got too long to scroll through, but I answered your concerns in another subsequent post.


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