NH Defunds Planned Parenthood!

NH Defunds Planned Parenthood! August 5, 2015

planned parenthood

Yes, the videos are working.  And yes, it helps when you write to your rep! Or at least it seems to have worked in my state of NH, where the executive council just voted to snatch $639,000 in state funding away from Planned Parenthood. That accounts for about a third of their public funding. (Their federal funding is, of course, untouched.) The $639,000 will go to four other health clinics.

According to the local TV news site:

Republican councilor Chris Sununu was at the center of attention Wednesday. He has previously voted to support Planned Parenthood contracts. In 2011, when the council rejected a contract with Planned Parenthood, he was one of two Republicans to buck his party and vote in favor of the contract. Sununu is now widely known to be considering a run for governor in 2016. He said he received more than 1,000 messages from constituents and they overwhelmingly urged him to reject the contract.

Sununu comes from a family of socially useless conservatives, but he obviously believes that the politically expedient thing, at least right now, is to back away from the increasingly toxic Planned Parenthood.

Sununu said multiple times that he is pro-choice and thinks the state should look for other providers to contract with for family planning services.

“Things are different now,”he said. “We have to take a step back and just take a pause and say ‘Is this a company and a business that we should be actively engaging (with)?'”

No, friend, it is not.

It doesn’t look like council has the muscle to force an investigation of Planned Parenthood right now. Our governor, who is lackluster on a good day, thinks there’s nothing to see here. But there are eight more videos to come. They appear to be increasingly damning, and I have high hopes that at least some states will investigate the deeply corrupt monolith that is Planned Parenthood, and will find malfeasance and fraud as well as violations of federal law. We may really see the foundation beginning to crack at last.

And yes, I’m taking some pleasure in thinking about how badly Cecile Richards must be sleeping, wondering what else is out there. May she have a change of heart as she squirms.

The main takeaway? Take the time to write those letters, even if it’s just an auto-generated email from a pro-life site. Even if your reps only listen to you because they want to keep their jobs, they may actually be listening!


photo credit: Planned Parenthood via photopin (license)

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  • Sophia Sadek

    From where I sit, it is not Planned Parenthood that is toxic. The toxicity is coming from religious fanatics and people with little or no sympathy for the poor women who depend on Planned Parenthood. I hope those four clinics can provide comparable service without being attacked as well.

    • Infundibulous

      Let’s pray that murder of the unborn isn’t included in the “comparable services” you mention, Sophia.

      • Sophia Sadek

        If you mean abortion, then the poor women of New Hampshire may need to travel to Vermont or Maine when that is what they seek.

    • Jenny Uebbing

      I’m sorry, but are you clinically insane? Have you watched the videos? Planned Parenthood literally preys on the poor to pay their bills (and salaries). Poor women deserve good medical care, too. Not butchery and malpractice.

      • jessej

        They won’t watch them. They will be told how to react and soldier forth with this nonargumentation.

        Omg! Someone edited a video. Gasp! Or my favorite, they lied to us when they went undercover.

        Someone should tell Donnie Brasco what a tool extremist he was for his undercover work.


      • Sophia Sadek

        People who want to make a chunk of change in medical practice tend to find more lucrative ventures than working for Planned Parenthood. As for malpractice, I assume you are not using the medical ethical standard that doctors observe.

      • Valorie

        I have watched the videos and I don’t see what you do. Are you clinically insane?

    • jessej

      “From where I sit, it is not Planned Parenthood that is toxic”

      Hm. I’m assuming your seat is outside the womb.

      Guess you can bully someone if they’re in the womb. They can’t do anything to you so why treat them with any respect.

      Typical bully.

      • Sophia Sadek

        You think of me as bullying a fetus when I would provide a woman with the ability to control her own body. I think of those who seek to deny women such control to be bullies. Never the twain shall meet.

        • jessej

          Bully: “one habitually cruel to others who are weaker”

          I don’t think of women as weaker, do you?

          We don’t let women jump off bridges, inject heroin, or opt out of Social Security with their bodies.

          Societies always tell people what to do with their bodies so please stop with the holier then thou I would never tell a woman what she can do with her body. It’s a canard.

          • Sophia Sadek

            Society always tells slaves what they can and cannot do with their own bodies.

          • jessej

            Are you saying that every law like, not injecting heroine is enslavement or just the ones that don’t allow for the killing of the unborn?

            Can you explain why only this law is enslaving but not others like the ones I mentioned?

            “Society always tells slaves what they can and cannot do with their own bodies” isn’t really an answer, it’s just a bromide.

          • Sophia Sadek

            We have no law in the US that injecting heroin is illegal. We have laws against selling heroine. They could be considered an infringement of civil liberties.

          • jessej

            Hmm. Not really getting to the point. There are all sorts of laws that preclude someone from hurting themselves and others. They are not enslaving. They are liberating for the others indeed ( like the unborn) but also for those that would harm the innocent.

          • Sophia Sadek

            Laws that punish people for self-harm are a vestige of the slave society associated with Caesar. So are laws that restrict the sale of contraceptive devices and services.

          • jessej

            It is very depressing that you would consider it a disservice to not let someone hurt themselves. But you would have to be that extreme to justify PP I suppose.

            Would you really watch your loved one OD and commit suicide over a breakup or would you call the AUTHORTIES to intervine?

            It would be interesting to know if you would prevent an animal from hurting themselves or not?

          • Sophia Sadek

            There are ways to intervene when someone hurts herself without punishing her.

          • jessej

            I would never want to punish a woman who sought this Sophia (yay we agree on something important) 🙂 I’m Catholic and we always pray for these mothers no matter their decision and pray for their children.

            Same as those who attempt suicide we recognize this is an act of desperation and we try to help with prayers, love, friendship, clinical care and financial support.

            God bless.

    • Jacob Suggs

      Just to make sure I understand, chopping up babies and selling their parts is not toxic from where you sit? I assume you’re already used to ignoring the facts that abortion is murder and that this “lack of sympathy” is a straight up lie (lots of people help pregnant women without stabbing their children in the head and selling their organs), but even so, I’m somewhat surprised that you don’t see the toxicity of these new practices.

      But if you don’t, some lawmakers are beginning to, and so vote appropriately so as not to be associated with Planned Parenthood. It’s a start, at least.

      • Sophia Sadek

        Referring to abortion as “murder” is a technique of poisoning the waters.

        • Jacob Suggs

          It’s also accurate. An innocent person is alive before hand and, through the actions of others, is dead afterwards. ‘Tis the definition.

          • Sophia Sadek

            There is more to the definition of murder than taking a “life.” Abortion may be considered murder within the Roman pale, but it is not considered as such in the US.

          • kingmcdee

            However, surely someone might call an abortion “murder”, even if the law disagrees? After all, the law can be wrong, can’t it? In fact, since the law used to forbid abortion and was changed to permit it, surely you _must_ think this?

            To be clear, I’m not trying to establish much here – merely that a pro-lifer could be convinced, and rationally so, that since abortion is the killing of (what, at the least, they consider to be) an innocent human being, and the killing of such is morally wrong, that the law is simply wrong in not considering abortion to be murder.

      • Valorie

        They don’t “sell” the tissue. I am sure you already know that. The tissue is used for stem cell research. Would you prefer the tissue be thrown away? You know, I wonder how many of you ‘holier than thou’ people would refuse medical treatments if you were paralyzed or had alzheimer’s or some other unfortunate disability if the treatments that could cure you were due to stem cell research. Would you deny your children these treatments? Or your parents? Would you deny your friends these treatments?

        Planned Parenthood is an excellent organization. They are staffed with very capable and caring people. You will not find better people anywhere. Not even at your church.

        • David M Paggi

          To date, not one cure has been developed from embryonic stem cells. Look it up – only “adult” stem cells (which is any stem cell other than embryonic, including placental) have been the basis for any effective treatment.

          As for your other assertion, the recent videos reveal that a) the goal of the harvesting was intact organs, not merely tissue, b) the abortuary was paid per organ, not per case, and c) contrary to a number of ethical principles, the abortion procedures used were altered with the objective of obtaining more intact organs. All this points to a greater financial motive than merely reimbursement for shipping and handling.

          As for Planned Parenthood, it was founded by the openly racist Margaret Sanger with the express purpose of decreasing reproduction among minority populations. To this day 80% of their abortuaries are located in close proximity to minority neighborhoods.

          While everyone in my Church is a sinner, to my knowledge none are engaged in the grisly practice of violently dismembering preborn children, which is an accurate description of what occurs at Planned Parenthood. In spite of this, I have no principled basis for making any judgment between the two groups, and if you are honest you will recognize that neither do you.

  • antigon

    Sophie the Ghoul below seems a bit uneasy about all those black kids who might live if replacements can’t be found for what she considers the want of toxicity from Mengele Inc., aka PlannedP.

  • toolbag

    If this doesn’t work one of your terrorists can always start blowing up clinics or killing doctors.

    • simchafisher

      They’re not my terrorists, toolbag. Every pro-lifer I’ve ever associated with has been quick to denounce violence against abortionists. Instead, we pray for their conversion, and urge them to contact abortionworker.com, where they can find legal, emotional and financial support in leaving the industry and finding ethical work.

      • toolbag

        Regular NH clinic protestor, Dr. Kenneth Arndt of Windham is a member of the terrorist group Army of God. Abortion clinics don’t blow up by themselves. Operation Rescue’s second in command, Cheryl Sullenger is a convicted terrorist. Scott Roeder who killed Dr. George Tiller had her phone number in his car. Roeder was jobless, yet still somehow had money to drive around the state of Kansas gluing clinic locks shut,and staying in hotels. Someone paid him.

        Your denouncing of violence is meaningless. I’ve yet to see any of you anti-abortionists lobby for a stronger safety net, for food stamps, for affordable housing, or education. I’ve NEVER seen any of you take a stand against guns – but every single day a kid kills someone with a gun their parents didn’t keep locked up. It’s not actual lives that you value.

        • simchafisher

          Maybe you’ve never seen it because you aren’t reading in the right places. Many of my fellow Patheos bloggers, all pro-life Catholics, are tireless crusaders for the very things you describe. My all-time most read post was an essay attempting to explain what it feels like to be on food stamps, and why they are necessary. It’s there if you want to see it.

          We’re not your enemy. Many of us are as dismayed as you are that politicians in Washington turn a blind eye to the poor. We simply believe that,as Flannery O’Connor said, you can’t be any poorer than dead.

          • Rob B.

            “We’re not your enemy.” Yes we are toolbag’s enemy, Simcha. His appeal against violence against clinics is just another weapon in the bag of the pro-abortion ideologue. Just ignore him like the “tool” he is…

          • Igotfreshmilk

            Rob, I am afraid you are using the first person plural incorrectly. Simcha has said “We’re not your enemy” and I place myself squarely with her. Or perhaps you are using the royal “we”?

          • Rob B.

            I place myself with Ms. Fischer as well. I’m simply pointing out that toolbag’s “argument” is merely a pose that pro-abortion supporters pull out against all pro-life people. In this matter, we are his enemy, for he does not discriminate.

        • Jacob Suggs

          It’s easy not to see things when you have blinders on bro. You are experiencing confirmation bias. If you stop blindly swallowing the “anti-abortion people hate women” rhetoric and focusing only on the tiny minority of events that appear to support your views, you will see it – if you let yourself.

          • toolbag

            Not a one of you has acknowledged my mention of Dr. Kenneth Arndt, a member of a terrorist organization. He regularly harasses women in Manchester, and I’ve seen him testify at the NH legislature.

          • Deimos

            Dear mr toolbag, I have no idea who Dr Arndt is but to satisfy your argument I acknowledge him as a possibly bad naughty man. Now would you like to acknowledge the countless unborn who never got a chance to be anything but unwilling tissue donors.
            There are some on the pro-life side who say and do bad things, against this we have the anti-life side. I stand with those who believe that all life, even yours, is sacred and that the right to exist is the most basic human right.

            Have a good life mr toolbag, may your right to life never be taken away or threatened and I do hope you change your mind one day.

          • toolbag

            You dismiss a terrorist as a “naughty man.” That’s exactly what I expect from you folks.

          • kingmcdee

            comment removed by the author, so as not to stir up the flame war again.

          • Igotfreshmilk

            I don’t speak for anyone else here about this, but I for one don’t know Dr. Arndt, or anything about him. If he actually is a member of a terrorist organization, or if he does harass women in Manchester, that is not good, and not any part of pro-life work. I don’t think there is anything necessarily evil about testifying at the NG legislature. Do you?

            (that should be NH legislature)

          • toolbag

            Look up the Army of God and educate yourself.

          • Igotfreshmilk

            Seriously why? If you want to convince me that there are people in the world doing wicked things I do not need to look any farther than my own heart, which often fails to return God’s love. If you are trying to convince me that one particular person, of whom I have not heard, does evil things, why? I have not tried to convince you that he is basically a good person, nor defended him in either a court of law or of public opinion. Does this one man matter a great deal to you? Did he in some way betray you or hurt you personally? If so, is it necessary or valuable for me to think ill of him? I have not tried to convince you that everyone who professes themselves to be against abortion is necessarily good in all respects. What I have tried to convince you of is that there are some people, such as Mark Shea and Simcha Fisher, who do demonstrate a consistent pro-life ethic including holding forth on some of the issues which you mentioned.

          • toolbag

            You are a part of a movement that is allied with terrorists. I would be concerned about that, if I were you. That you are not concerned is telling.

            The Army of God is a Christian terrorist organization responsible for numerous clinic bombings, and for the murders of clinic staff and killing doctors.

            You stand next to terrorists and bray at strangers entering clinics. If that’s what your God tells you to do, you might want to find a different one.

          • Igotfreshmilk

            Well, I could just tell you that you are simply wrong on several counts, such as that I stand next to terrorists and bray at strangers, but I have the impression that at this point you really don’t care if you are right about any facts, you are just concerned with making sure that we all know that this person is really awful. I am afraid that he must have hurt you badly and you are trying to spread around the hurt. Sadly, that just doesn’t end up helping as much as you feel like it is going to. I really understand how a deep hurt can seriously interfere with understanding and judgement. I am praying for your healing

          • Jacob Suggs

            Let me recap this discussion that you’re having with various people:

            Everyone else: An unborn child is still a human, and it is wrong to kill him and sell his body parts.

            You: Pro Life people are terrorists.

            Everyone else: Some are, and they are evil, and will face judgement for their deeds. But the vast majority are not, and decry such acts in no uncertain terms. But though there are evil people who oppose abortion, this does not mean that all pro life people are evil, and it certainly doesn’t change that it is evil to dismember children and sell their organs.

            You: Look up [isolated case of evil person]. Pro life people are terrorists.

            Everyone else: Maybe [isolated case] is a terrorist, we’ve never heard of him, but we HAVE heard of [vast list of pro life non-terrorists that dwarfs your examples]. But again, that there are evil people who oppose abortion does not make it right to kill children for their body parts.

            You: [Random kooky organization] opposes abortion and is evil.

            Everyone else: Yes we know, and they should stop, and have a reasonable chance of burning in hell forever if they don’t. But the killing children thing needs to stop, you get that right?

            You: You people are allied with terrorists.

            Do you see the issue here? (Hint: The correct answer is not “Dr. Soandso is a terrorist.”)

          • toolbag

            Yes, I do see the problem. You people don’t care that you’re allied with terrorists. That means you are terrorists too.

            A zygote is not a human being. Planned Parenthood doesn’t sell body parts. You base this on heavily doctored tapes made by antiabortion terrorists. You use hysterical language like “killing children” to gin up emotion on the part of the witless people you associate with. None of you give a ripe shit for actual children. All of your concern is for the imaginary. Once an actual baby hits the chute, your interest is over.

            Another problem here, Jacob Suggs – you will never be pregnant. What qualifies you to tell women what to do? Why aren’t you out telling boys and men to keep their sperm to themselves?

          • Leggy Mountbatten

            I, for one, think that Toolbag is providing a very valuable service here by demonstrating that those on the pro abortion side of the argument can be mindless, unquestioning, anti-science extremists. Keep up the good work, buddy!

          • toolbag

            People who take their marching orders from an invisible being are big on science? Since when?

          • Leggy Mountbatten

            Oh gee, toolbag, this is getting embarrassing for you. You fail to demonstrate a basic knowledge of human biology, and call us unreasonable and backward. Because atheism, or something. Like I said, please do continue to reinforce the notion that militant pro abortion soldiers are intellectually limited fanatics like you.

          • toolbag

            Hmmm… you people believe in a gawd that tells you to hang out with terrorists, bully women in front of clinics, blow up buildings, kill doctors and I’m the one who should be embarrassed? Because somehow believing in sky king makes you understand biology?

            Don’t you have some big photoshopped dead baby pictures to “amuse yourself” to?

          • Leggy Mountbatten

            My goodness, you are dull. Have a good night.

          • toolbag

            Oh, did hubby order you off the Internet Machine?

          • Jacob Suggs

            Yeah, you seem to be confused. See, there’s a difference between “not caring that we’re ‘allied’ with terrorists” and “strongly condemning and in no way assisting terrorists, which terrorists we would gladly see arrested or testify against should we have any information that would lead to their conviction.”

            I know it’s a subtle distinction, but if you really try, you might be able to spot the difference.

            That you believe that there is some magic process that suddenly turns a non-person into a person after they pass through the birth canal (except of course in the case where an abortionist pulls them through so as to stab them through the head) is a different issue to be addressed separately. Further, you can put me on the record as saying that any man who is not ready to be a father should “keep his sperm to himself.”

        • Igotfreshmilk

          I don’t know how serious you are, but Mark Shea is as thoroughly anti abortionist as can be, and he is also tireless in advocating gun control, higher minimum wage, affordable housing, compassion for illegal immigrants, and in general all the things you said he doesn’t say. If you read Mark Shea as often as you read Simcha Fisher you will have a fairly well rounded idea of a consistent prolife ethic. Of course, like some people, you might have trouble telling which is which because they are so much alike (I am not good at finding and inserting links but if someone could add in here the link to Mark explaining how to tell the difference toolbag might get a glimmering of an idea that we can be consistently prolife and also have a sense of humor).

          • toolbag

            Given that I didn’t mention Mark Shea at all, I certainly didn’t mention anything he does or doesn’t say.

          • Igotfreshmilk

            You said “I’ve yet to see any of you anti-abortionists …take a stand against guns…” and I was offering you the example of Mark Shea, a Patheos blogger who is an example of what you haven’t seen. Just look! And you will see! Google Mark Shea. And I know there are others, too.

  • Leaven for the Loaf

    I was at the NH meeting today and I read the contracts. PPNNE will have no trouble replacing the $600k (which was to have been paid out over 2 years) if it’s willing to shift part of its $1.5 million public policy budget over to health care.

    • simchafisher

      Right, that’s the other thing. They are AWASH in money. It’s like in Goodfellas, where the made mobsters would use stolen credit cards even though he had plenty of cash himself. It was just more fun.

  • Boyd

    PP kills a baby a minute, 24/7 and have been for going on over 4 decades. If their supporters would like to end that part of their business I doubt if anyone would have a problem with them carrying on in other areas. But they won’t will they? If it’s such a minor thing why not let it go? Because, of course, it’s not a minor thing. It’s what defines them. It’s what they are. It’s what they do. Any other services amount to little more than a Mussolini making the trains run on time dodge.

  • Jonathan Thomas

    Is there any rational argument against abortion? I understand folks in this forum believe that fetuses have souls. But with respect to public policy, there needs to be a secular argument for assigning personhood (and rights) to a fetus. Otherwise, its a women’s rights issue. Right now the legal assignment of personhood occurs at birth. When should it be assigned and what argument can be made for that point?

    • CS

      There are many atheists and agnostic folks who are pro-life, and their arguments come from the scientific fact that humans are human from the moment of conception, and any argument that they are not is irrational. From there you can proceed to make an argument for restricting abortion based on justice (eg. “there cannot be value distinctions among human lives based on developmental level or ability”) and/or pragmatism (at what point can you say the human being has “emerged” as a full-fledged being with rights? 9 weeks? 12? 22?).

      A co-argument is that the definition of “deserving of rights” is currently completely based on two somewhat arbitrary elements: the birth canal (which is significant, and maybe why we keep it there because there are no landmarks as easy) and the personal feelings of individuals, who we seem to give the power to define personhood in each individual case, based solely on “wanted-ness”

      • Jonathan Thomas

        Well thats a reasonable sounding argument, granted. But there are a few problems with it. First, it commits an equivocation fallacy wherein the term “human” is interchanged with “human being” or “person”. Science tells us that a fertilazed egg has human DNA, but science has nothing to say on whether that is a person. So it still seems that the definition of a person is based on somewhat arbitrary rationale. Secondly, science also tells us that there is no “moment” of conception and you end up with the same problem of trying to define a milestone on a continuum. To use your terminology, at what point can you say a human being emerges? 1 second? 10 seconds? a millisecond? The problem is still there, except now youve arbitrarily defined it in a way that violates the rights of another person. As far as justice goes, you first need to define personhood criteria in a non arbitrary way, then we can have discussions on justice. I agree that you cant value one person over another, but personhood is the very thing in question.

        As far as the co argument, I generally agree that a fetus 1 minute before birth is just as much a person as 1 minute after. However, the other extreme is just as silly, that a single cell with human DNA is a person.

        • I’d go with enlightened self-interest, then. If society can designate a category of living humans who are not persons and do not possess human rights, then that opens up the possibility of that category being redefined to include me someday. No thanks.

          • Jonathan Thomas

            Except that fetuses have never been defined as “humans” (where human means person not genetically human cells, youre equivocating again), and there is no good argument to do so. This is not the case with you or I. We are the standard for person in a legal sense, so no, it would not be possible to re define person in a way that excludes you.

          • jessej

            When does someone enjoy personhood? When they’re bigger or stronger or maybe smarter? That sounds like arguments southners used to defended chattle slavery

            Do you think someone being more vulnerable gives them less rights?

          • Jonathan Thomas

            No. People have equal rights, and by “someone”, you cleary mean a person. But a fetus is not necessarily a person. Vulnerability has nothing to do with it. Would a deer enjoy personhood? Maybe. What exactly are you suggesting?

            Take your slavery example: at the time slaves were not considered persons, but a rational argument can easily be constructed to demonstrate that, if anyone at all is a person, slaves definitely qualify. E.g. slaves are not inherently different than anybody else, the condition of slavery is a human imposed external framework. This argument doesnt work for fetuses, especially in the early stages.

            Provide an objective basis upon which to consider a fertilized egg a person.

          • jessej

            “But a fetus is not necessarily a person” I think you lost that argument when you started harvesting human organs…

            What is different about a very small human and a big one?

            Not enough fingers? Organs too small? Not enough conscience? Too dependent on care to survive on their own?

            What trait does a “fetus” have that would not be protected by any patient in a hospital?

          • Jonathan Thomas

            That argument depends entirely on weather or not you can demonstrate that a fetus is a person. You still havent clearly defined a person. Your problem is that you are clearly ignorant on the science of gestation. A fetus is not just a tiny version of us. It starts out as part of us, then combines into something that is essentially a single celled organism, and then it gradually develops the traits that we would recognize as a person.

            To answer some of your (clearly emotionally charged) questions: a fertilized egg is not a “small human”, it has no fingers and no organs. Futhermore, it has no nervous system at all. It isnt aware, it cant think or feel pain. The question is not “what does this have that we dont?”, the question is “how exactly is this like us?”

            Also, i gather from your comments that you are imagining a 20-24 week old fetus. I would agree that a solid argument can be made to assign personhood by that point (you havent made that argument, though). But none of your points make sense at conception.

            If you goal is to assign personhood at conception, then i ask again, what rational argument can be made to support that? If you want to support 24 weeks, ok fine, lay out your argument for that. Appealing to emotion doesnt really advance the issue.

          • CS

            There are lots of stops between what you call a “fertilized egg” and 20-24 week fetus. The combination of sperm and egg is a single-celled human creature ( single-cell from two separate cells!) that itself becomes multi-celled in hours. Do you want an argument solely for the personhood of the one-celled human creature? Or for all zygote days (up to and including implantation)? There are about 100 cells at implantation, at which point, all things going as they should, cell differentiation begins in earnest. What about after that?

            If you want to demand someone “provide a basis on which to consider a fertilized egg a person,” you yourself should be clear on the science, and about what you want.

            By the way,the basics of a nervous system are present by the time a pregnancy is confirmed, and laid out by the end of 5 weeks (which is actually about 3 weeks post creation of unique human creature.)

            Here is some basic embryology for anyone who doesn’t have it:

          • Jonathan Thomas

            I have been clear. Im not actually asking for any specific stage to be defended. The prolifer needs to define that. Im asking YOU to 1. Define what is a person (still havent done that) and 2. Make a logical connection between some stage in human development and personhood.

            Secondly, many animals have the basics (and then some) of a nervous system. Even single cells have what can be considered a type of nervous system. But the question is: does that nervous system support the type of mental activity that we associate with consciousness? At 3 weeks, no it doesnt.

            I am clear on the science. It seems to me like you want to infer more from the science than whats there.

          • CS

            You asked that other commenter to give an argument for the personhood of the fertilized egg(again, not a real thing, in science, but a concept we use for nonsciency shorthand in conversation). It is a very, very specific moment of human development. I just wanted to make sure you were asking for that.

            My original response to you was that many non-religious arguments for personhood were based on human creature-hood: This is a human and left unharmed it will slowly become more like what we think of as “baby” and it is unjust and arbitrary to define a moment where it has “passed over” into personhood. (A concept, NOT a science term.) So most of the people I linked you to believe you must default to the beginning of the existence of the unique human creature.

            I also said that personally I think there are some lines with stronger arguments for them then others. Implantation is the only one that I can recognize as sound scientifically. “Consciousness” is a distant far behind but as the brain science and our understanding of the mechanism(s) of consciousness are so young, I feel this is too dangerous. It is similar to my feelings about the death penalty: One problem I have is that you could be executing an innocent person.

            You are looking for a positivist definition of personhood, in which the developing human has to be shown to be “like us.” But please reflect on how privileged and elitist it can be to think that way. As in, “You are hereby condemned to be at my mercy, unless you can prove you are enough like me to be of value and worthy to be free.” Contrast this with “This is clearly a living creature, and a human one at that. What justification can I have for deliberately ending its natural life? Do other ethical rules about killing other living creatures apply in this case? Are there special rules for human lives? Can I make a distinction between myself and it that renders it less human (“not a person”) than I?”

            Remember too that the human/person distinction was only brought into being before this to justify when we could end the life of other people– pretty much all of whom we now recognize as people although they were not done so before, and that started long before the science of consciousness– although not before we started trying to evaluate people based on how much they functioned (looked, moved and thought just like “US.”)

          • Jonathan Thomas

            Wow this is getting interesting. To clarify: i asked that person about eggs becuase it seemed thats where she wanted to make the assignment, at conception. Futhurmore there definately is a “fertilzed egg” stage that lasts at least several hours. Did you read the link that you sent me?

            To your argument: we are already playing an elitist game when we distinguish human DNA from everything else, if you mean to argue that this is unjust, then I suppose you would be in favor of personhood for chimps as well.

            Furthermore, ive already explained that we cant grant rights to potential people. We already interfere with the creation of potential people anytime we decide not to have sex, or chose a different mate, or plan sex around cycles, or use contraception, or masturbate., etc. So i think the assignment of personhood will always be a matter of subjectivity UNLESS we define it in a positivist way.

          • CS

            Sorry for the delay I have been on vacation.

            Let me try it another way. The kinds of personhood argument you want to make, are nearly always about “What does this other thing have that will stop me from doing whatever the hell *I* want to do to it?” The way you are posing it forces the other being to justify itself as having rights.

            Does that make sense? Since we, who are having the personhood discussion *about* another being, are the ones laying out the parameters of the discussion (like language, categories, etc.), AND the criteria (“ok so prove you have consciousness!”) AND are the ones who have the vested interest in coming out on top, and NOT sharing “personhood”, the deck is completely stacked on the side of the aggressor/agent (human beings like “US”) versus the ones who cannot advocate in the way we demand (“human beings not like us”, or whatever name you give them, like “potential persons”.)

            None of the above is to say that it proves that pre-born human life cannot morally be aborted. But merely to note this: people who blithely throw around the philosophically-smug personhood discussion should be aware of both (1) the rank privilege inherent in the whole exercise and (2)the disgusting history of how this discussion has been used, namely, to keep people in the “THEM” category so as to continue doing whatever the hell the “US”ers want to do, without guilt or repercussions.

            And: once the egg is fertilized, it is not a woman’s “egg” anymore it is another thing entirely, which the article refers to. Maybe you are confusing the “fertilization process” which covers up to the first cell division after a few hours? But once the sperm and egg combine, as this particular article says,
            “Fertilization begins with the spermatozoon contacting the cells
            surrounding the oocyte and ends with the mixing of the 23 male and 23 female chromosomes.5 [More about fertilization] The result is a single-cell embryo called a zygote,6 meaning “yoked or joined together,”7 and it is the first cell of the human body.
            The zygote…contains 46 unique chromosomes with the entire genetic blueprint of a new individual. Chromosomes contain tightly packed, tightly coiled molecules called DNA.9 [More about DNA] Amazingly, DNA contains all the instructions needed for this single-cell embryo to develop into an adult.”

            Now, here of course you can make the argument that it is not a person, but you cannot make the argument that it is not a living thing, human, and completely separate genetically from its genetic parents. To use the unscientific term fertilized egg is a misdirection or, at best, inaccurate.

            Anyway, you aren’t that interested in science, you said. So, moving on: Second question: re chimps. There is a good argument to be very careful about how we treat all beings. I believe in human exceptionalism, but only tenuously. It’s a long other discussion.Your challenge is one I have long ago considered and I am always in conversation with it.

            Third, you annoyingly “I’ve-already-explained” something that you hadn’t proven; namely, that the developing human is a “potential person.” You are impatiently going back to illogically use your own definition of personhood to disprove my attempt at questioning the definition, or making my own. You are basically saying, “You can’t argue for the personhood of something that I have already told you by my own arguments is not a person.” Which is just silly. So, here is where I think we should let the conversation rest.

            Take care.

          • Jonathan Thomas

            This response is riddled with logical errors. First, you make assumptions about the motivation of pro choice folks which are simply false. The argument has nothing whatsoever to do with “just doing whatever the hell I wanna do”. As you already acknowledged the issue is one of autonomy. I believe that we must define personhood objectively in order to justify violating automomy. My entire point is that we havent done that yet.
            Second, “stacking the deck” implies that we actively desire a particular outcome. If we are speaking objectively, which I am, then there is no desired outcome and therefore no deck stacking. You make this statement on the erroneous assumption that pro choice folks are selfish and only want to define personhood so that abortions are OK. Even if this were true, which it isnt, you would still need to define it objectively to make your case. And youre right, this discussion has been used before, and in no case did the side that wanted to extend peronhood simply redefine it so that it encompassed the entity in question. Every time we extend personhood, there is a rational argument to support that, and im looking for the same in this case. And no, i dont expect zygotes to defend themselves, i expect rational people to make solid cases in thier favor. You deride rank privilege but then state that you believe in human exceptionalism. You cant have it both ways.

            Concerning the science, yes single celled zygote is what im referring to when i say “fertilized egg” (not egg, but fertilized egg, read carefully). And yes im aware that this is a continuous process without hard milestones, which is what i said in very first response. Sorry im not an embryologist so i dont know all the terms. Ive never said i dont care about science (please dont lie), i did say that science doesnt yet answer the question of personhood. To say i dont care about science is just ignorant on your part, and indicates that you havent been listening to what im saying. Ive never argued that its not a living thing, and i only used “egg” as short hand for “fertilized egg”, which ive used multiple times in this thread. Clearly you either arent reading my posts, or your being disingenuous in your arguments.

            Third, are you arguing that an embryo is not a potential person? I dont see how you can deny that. If you mean to say that its not potential but acutal, it is you who has to prove it, becuase you are making the cliam. Are you sugesting that we should consider every living thing a person by defualt and go about proving that they arent? No you have it backwards. Personhood is already defined legally with respect to birth. You want to change that, so you need to make an objective case for extending the defintion. In my opinion, you have failed to do that, and so now you try to change the default parameters and shift the burden of proof to the other side. That just wont fly when your proposing we violate someone else’s rights.

          • CS

            I don’t see how you have pointed out logical errors anywhere in your response. But I can address what you wrote; I will use your paragraph divisions.

            I did not mean to imply only “prochoice folk” when I talked about the danger of the personhood discussion. (Although I will admit that it often happens to be prochoice people who are talking about it, and part of my anger is that this is, imo, a modern-day renewal of the same old thing.) I was, instead, speaking generally about the problem of undertaking the discussion at all! For any reason, about any “person” under discussion in human history. Whoever has raised it is generally trying to justify their rejection of someone else as a person. “The Chinese are monsters” said the Japanese. “Blacks/Indians/Aboriginals are not civilized, full humans” said more developed nations assuming for themselves the role of both conqueror and protector. “People of inferior intelligence/the poor do not deserve to procreate/do not need informed consent” said many doctors in our illustrious American 19th and 20th century. I could give lots of examples but it turns into cries of Godwin, etc. Anyway, the point is, if I decide to establish the criteria by which I grant rights to others, *I* am the one with the power, correct? To ignore this fact is to be blind to the way that the privileged person tramples over the rights of others just by believing that he speaks reality into existence with his word choice.

            Second, sorry if I hurt your feelings. Internet discussion is weird. That’s pretty much all I can say about your second paragraph, and I am not trying to be mean there.

            Third, yes, the current legal definition of person is “born.” In most cases, unless you kill the unborn child of a woman who wanted to have said child then maybe–depending on the state– it is treated like a second victim in the crime. Is the embryo a “potential person”? According to current legal definition it is. Is the law adhering to what is True? I don’t think so. (And the distinction between a legal definition and true human status is something you have consistently failed to recognize.) I think birth is a scientifically and morally unjustifiable line, and in many cases an arbitrary sanctioning of violence by the state.

            You didn’t address my last part at all, just asserted the rights of the woman. I believe in women’s rights to bodily autonomy. I just believe that the rights of a living human being are in tension with another living human being when the exercise of one’s rights threaten to violate those of another. And to say that the living human organism is less of a person because of location, development and ability to survive on its own, you have to be able to draw a developmental line yourself. Where is it?

          • Jonathan Thomas

            We can stick with the paragraph format. First, the logical errors: you made several non sequitorial, unstubstantiated claims and you contradicted yourself with repect to human exceptionalism. Second, we always, always as humans stand in a priviledged position and make determinations on what things have rights. Yes, we as a society grant rights. Im not sure how else it could work. But you keep saying “I” as if individuals make these decisions in a vacuum. Its “we”, not “I”. If you think this is somehow unjust, then thats a completely different discussion, so again this point, while interesting, is a non sequitur. The reality is that rights are granted and supported by society, so yes society is in a position of power in that respect. But this is necessary for the enjoyment of rights at all. Nature doesnt care about rights or human values, we have to take action to protect them. All of your examples of past discussions on personhood only make sense if you assume that a fetus should be considered a person by default. My previous point still stands as you did not address it. Ill repeat it for convenience: in every one of those cases, convincing rational arguments led to the expansion of the legal definition of personhood. I ask for the same in this case. I reject the notion that any and everything should be considered a person by default. And yes there is a difference between what is true and what we think is true. Thats why we use logic and reason, to discern truth. Im not saying the legal definition is absolute, but how should we proceed other than to use rational discourse? You speak as if bringing up the topic at all is a bad thing. This is clearly a tatic designed to obfuscate the fact that you argument is wanting.

            To my second paragraph, you could acknowledge that you didnt read my post carefully enough, or you just forgot what I said. Instead you say nothing, which leads me to conclude that you either stand by your false statements, or that you just dont care about arguing honestly as long as it makes your position sound better. In any case, that speaks to your character, not mine. And no you didnt hurt my feelings, i was simply surprised at that behaviour since you seem to be so reasonable otherwise.

            Ive already addressed some of this in my first paragraph. But yes i do recognize a difference between legal definition and truth. But again, how do you discern what is true? Again, you assume your conclusion in your premise(begging the question). You assume that the legal definition cannot be correct becuase… You dont think it is? No not good enough. Dont misundsrstand, im not saying the legal definition is correct, im saying you cant just assume things. If it is incorrect, show why with reasoning. Explain objectively what the definition should be, and answer challenges to your reasoning. Dont try to sidestep the issue. Your arguments have no reasoning behind them. You dont think birth is a justifiable line? Ok, why not?? (p.s..i agree with you on this point). However, as i said in response #1, neither is conception a justifiable line, becuase a zygote has almost none of the qualities that constitute a person.

            Lastly, again you are begging the question and trying to reframe the argument to make me “disprove” that a fetus is a person. I will say this again, there is only tension if the fetus is a person with rights. You have to prove that from a legal perspective. Demonstrate and/or support that position first. There can be no real tension until you do that.

            EDIT: I dont say that a fetus is less of a person, i say until a certain point its not a person at all. I say this not based on location or age or ability to survive on its own. My position is based on the qualities of a person. Any fetus without the ability to exhibit these qualities in some capacity cant really be considered a person. At the very least youd need to have limited awareness and a sensory input capability. Im not sure science can really tell us when this exactly happens yet, but its definitely not before 12 weeks. I think we should assign personhood at the 12 to 16 week period.

          • Tweck

            CS did not use any non sequiturs. You’re committing a logical fallacy yourself. Accusing your debate opponent of contradictions (where there are none, btw) and fallacies, you are first characterizing your opponent as your intellectual inferior, and accusing them of wrong thinking without even providing an example from their argument. You continually attack the other person’s intelligence. It’s a thinly veiled ad-hominem attack.

            See? I just did what you keep doing. Opened my argument by first tearing yours down.

            You asked the first question, it has been answered many times, yet your responses are to tear down your opponent prior to offering up your opinion and then declare victory.

            You say things like, “Your arguments have no reasoning behind them,” when in fact the arguments put forth are very well reasoned.

            It has been repeatedly demonstrated in this discussion that from the moment of conception a baby is a human creature, i.e. a person. That is a scientific fact. Humanness isn’t something we assign, it is something innate to the human creature. Any developmental point at which we decided to “assign” a “status” of “personhood,” as a ~legal fiction~ is simply arbitrary, illusory and dehumanizing.

            You don’t have to prove facts of nature from a legal perspective. The law loves to redefine things all the time.

            The same legal fiction (personhood) is assigned equally as arbitrarily by law to corporations – essentially assets, paperwork and computers that have a bank account and cause money to be manipulated in the marketplace and generate profits. Is that a person? No, it’s a corporation. It’s only considered a person because a court decided so. But it is completely imaginary.

            The definition of “torture” has been legally manipulated to provide a framework that permits torture. So what was once called torture is determined to not be torture, not because it’s not torture, but because we want to torture people.

            The definition of a human baby was legally manipulated decades ago to provide a framework by which we can call a human baby not a human baby, not because it isn’t a human baby, but because we want to kill it and get away with it.

            All you have to do in the framework of law is change the definition of something and you’re good to go.

            So we do not need to prove things from a “legal perspective” in order for them to make sense.

            If the law declared that grass was clouds tomorrow, it would not make grass clouds.

          • Jonathan Thomas

            Oh but he did. Making assumptions about the motivations of your opponents is irrelevant. Either the arguments are rational or they are not. Doing this is a non sequitur. He does in fact contradict himself when he rejects defining personhood on the grounds that human exceptionalism is unjust, but relies on that concept to justify giving human DNA a special status above other organisms.

            Im never implied that anyone was intellectually inferior. Committing logical errors does not imply less intelligence. Sometimes they are very difficult to spot. I did identify which parts of his argument were fallacious, as i did in this post as well.

            Its ok to open by attacking my argument. That doesnt mean you think im stupid, it means you disagree. Obviously, it not a logical fallacy to give a rebuttal or a counter argument.

            Yes i asked the question. And yes i got answers. I dont find the answers sufficient due to embedded logical errors. My “tearing down” of those arguments was simply my explanation as to why i dont accept them. I never declared victory, i simply maintain unconvinced.

            It has been asserted that a “human creature” is a person. But not demonstrated, becuase I have yet to hear a definition of person that is objective and not arbitrary. Humanness does not equal personhood. Unless your implying that only humans can be people?

            You assert that personhood is a fact of nature. Why? What is a person? Why is a human a person and a corporation is not? When you answer these questions, you will start to form a defintion of personhood. Then make a case that a zygote fits this mold.

            In the framework of the law you need a rational basis for redefining a concept. Your belief that a zygote is a person is not objective. Why is it a person? And yes if you want to legislate something, you absolutely need to “prove” it from a legal perspective. You are free to follow your subjective beliefs in your private life.

            EDIT: I say things like “your argument has no reasoning behind it” becuase although you all started out with attempts at objectove reasoning, as soon as I gave rebuttals you default back to “a fetus is a person becuase I believe a fetus is a person” ( which is essentially what you just did). Im sorry but this is an assertion, not an argument.

          • kingmcdee

            What on Earth makes you think that “Science” (if you mean what is typically meant by Science, rather than in the old sense of “knowledge in general”) is capable even in principle of deciding what a “person” is. It isn’t. How would it do so? By reporting the first moment at which “personhood” was observed? But that’s a vacuous claim, since what “personhood” _means_ is precisely what’s at issue here. This is a question of philosophy, of metaphysics. Nobody will ever get anywhere if we keep talking past each other like this. The Natural Law definition of a human being would be something which possesses the Form of a Human, that which makes human things, well, human. I don’t have the time to lay out the entire Natural Law and defense thereof in a combox, but if you’d like to seriously engage with deep thought on this matter, then I can point you to some people who do, in fact, have time to spell it out in great detail.

          • Jonathan Thomas

            Are you replying to me? My position is that we first need to define person. Ive always maintained that science cant determine what a person is. But science can tell us what biological equipment is necessary to support the traits of personhood, and approximately when these systems are developed in the fetus. At least for humans, this would work.

            If you have links to share, I would certainly be interested.

          • kingmcdee

            I would qualify your position substantially, but I think you’re kind of – sort of – on the right track. One of the key problems with running with the properties-make-the-human argument is that it’s hard to understand why someone should still count as human when they are in a state such that they cannot exercise the powers normally considered characteristic of humanity (rationality, etc), such as when they’re asleep or in a coma. It seems like you could only do so by appealing to their inherent power to do so, even if they are not or cannot do so at the moment. But that’s basically the conservative (at least the Natural Law Advocate’s) argument, and he will argue that a fetus has such powers, even if said fetus hasn’t manifested these yet.

            I don’t have the time to unpack or justify all of this now, and these links are also not exhaustive, but here’s a start:



            You’re welcome.

          • Valorie

            These people don’t really care about science. Isn’t that obvious?

          • Jonathan Thomas

            Lol. I think its clear that they very much want to assign personhood at conception, and they use science as a means to do that by seeking to use our physical components as a definition. The problem is that we’ve been identifying personhood long before we knew about DNA, and we used qualitative properties to do it.

    • CS

      You might also be interested in the following people/groups:


      (feminist, prolife atheist Kathryn Reed)


      (In which famous atheist Christopher Hitchens lays out his prolife views)

      (Liberal Atheist Nat Hentoff’s prolife, anti-euthanasia articles)

      • Jonathan Thomas

        Yes i ve heard these arguments. In general, i dont really care about the religiousity of the person making the argument. There are religious folks who are pro choice as well.

        EDIT: most of these sites dont tackle the issue of personhood nor do they take bodily autonomy into account. I think any reasonable approach to this issue must do at least those things.

        • CS

          Actually, the issue of personhood is implied below when I talked about the thorny difficulties and justice issues inherent in trying to assign human status to the unborn. Did you read all the links? I think it is silly of you to claim they don’t address it.

          Bodily Integrity is the most sound argument for abortion, in my opinion. And actually, the concept itself is not enough. I don’t respect anyone’s argument if they are not willing to say they want to kill to keep themselves from being pregnant. That’s the only argument that is defensible even though I disagree with that reasoning. Everything else is just a lie (“clump of cells/not human”) or a vagary that allows the speaker to pretend they are noble (“women’s rights, patriatchy, etc. etc…”) when they are just being lazy.

          • CS

            And to be clear, I think that The Patriarchy and bodily integrity are real things, and if it weren’t for the problem of that other life I happily uphold any- and everything that ensures women the absolute, sacrosanct right over their bodies.

          • Jonathan Thomas

            Sure. Yea i didnt think otherwise, i hear where youre coming from. On a side note: i find it hard to believe that youve encountered very many people who think abortion is a good thing. As in “yay! I just got an abortion. Lets toast.”

          • Sara

            I think there an argument against abortion based on scepticism/agnosticism about personhood too. It goes along the lines of: I know the zygote/fetus is human but I’m not sure whether he/she/it is a person. If it’s not a person, killing it is inconsequential; if he or she is a person, killing him or her is a bad thing to do. In this case, it makes sense to give the fetus/zygote the benefit of the doubt and not kill it/him/her – that way you avoid the risk of doing something very wrong. Like if I were driving and saw what might be a human lying on the road, I would swerve. Even if it turns out to only be a scarecrow or pile of clothes or similar, I’m still going to be relieved I managed to swerve.

            I think abortion becomes a more difficult moral choice when ‘swerving’, ie continuing with a pregnancy, would lead you to put yourself in danger. That’s why I believe as a society we should all work towards supporting women and families to care for their children at every stage.

            I suppose a difference between a fetus or zygote and a blood clot or polyp is that a fetus or zygote has a unique genetic code, the full complement of human chromosomes (distinct from those of the mother and father) and a sex (hence my use of him/her above) – as far as I know this is never the case for blood clots or tumor growths. From conception, the fetus will grow and develop and absorb nutrients from its mother but at no point will it become a new organism. So there’s quite a bit of evidence to encourage us to give the fetus the benefit of the doubt, even though as you say it’s difficult to say with complete certainty where personhood begins.

          • Jonathan Thomas

            Well thats a decent argument, but i have some rebuttals, of course. I would agree with you if it werent for the fact that giving a fetus the benefit of the doubt necessarily tramples on the rights of the woman. Im not sure you can justify violating the rights of a person in order to grant rights to something that may or may not be a person, at least as a matter of public policy. In an individual’s personal life and decision making, yes i agree. In fact that is my personal stance as well. And i believe that was the reasoning behind roe v wade.

            To your point on genetics: this is close, but still has problems. Under this definition twins would not be separate people, and neither would a clone. I think if we cloned a person, then that would certainly be a new person, not a disposable thing becuase it has the same genetics. In addtion, i think you made a solid case that fertilized eggs are potential people. But i dont think we can grant rights to potential people. Every sperm-egg pair is a potential person.

            EDIT: I think polyps do have a “sex” in the genetic sense. Every cell has the xx or xy (or xxy, etc). Correct me if im wrong.

            EDIT 2: also these kinds to defintions are really boardering on arbitrary. Sure we could assert that any human post conception is a person, but why? When the defintion becomes simply the aggregation of characteristics of zygote and new born and not based on common traits, i think it fails.

          • CS

            Genetic code AND a physical body makes twins separate people. Come on.

          • Jonathan Thomas

            Well ok but if you add “has a body” to the defintion, then that again excludes zygotes and such.

          • CS

            Apologies for using the term “body” so loosely.

            If you mean identical twins, there are basically two places they come into being. One is in the first hours when the initial cell becomes two, the other is in the earliest days of cell division, no more than a week after union of egg and sperm. Note on terms: Any of this time can be called “zygote”, but also afterward, until implantation. So “zygotes and such” is imprecise and not really conducive to your desire for scientific, non-emotional speech.

            It is a fallacy to speak about this as if it is incidental. While pregnancies that produce no identical twins go through the same stages of cell division without splitting into two separate creatures, the fact that it sometimes happens does not mean that beforehand there was not a human creature there. And on the flip side, the fact that before the identical twins differentiated into two separate masses does not exclude two creatures beforehand. You can argue that it does, based on a criteria for distinct physical structure (which in conjoined, post-natal twins would be called “bodies”); however, the existence of conjoined twins, the seeming genetic predisposition to twins, and the fact that we cannot predict the moment at which the twins will arise, combined with what we still don’t know about what drives human conception and development, makes it a bit crazy to make the arguments too forcefully.

          • Fr. Denis Lemieux

            Zygotes have bodies, you idiot. ‘Body’ means extension in physical space, not ‘hands-feet-legs-etc’. To quote C.S. Lewis “What DO they teach them in schools these days?”

          • Jonathan Thomas

            Certainly not logic if you are any indication. If that is your definition of body, then it doesnt distinguish polyps, blood clots, organs, other animals, etc. Are you suggesting we should consider these things people?

          • Fr. Denis Lemieux

            When a polyp, a blood clot, or an organ contains not just human DNA but the ability to self-organize and grow from the immature human state of being to the mature state of human being–in other words, when they meet the standard of being a living organism (you may have heard of that concept in your vast education!), human in species (DNA and all that) then yes, I would consider them people. But since they don’t, I don’t. LOGIC FTW!

          • Jonathan Thomas

            Yes, but why do you consider that a person? My contention is that you have not defined person in an objective way such that an embryo is a person but a polyp is not. Your definition is neither objective nor meaningful as you have basically formed the definition by simply aggregating the triats of the entities that you want to be considered people. So in essence your argument boils down to a bald assertion that embryos are people. Thats not good enough considering the fact that defining personhood in that way will necessarily violate bodily autonomy. The problem is that until a certain point, embryos are more like polyps than they are like people. Why not include chimps in the defintion as well? What about dolphins? These animals are far more similar to a person qualitatively.

            Youve made a fine argument that an embryo is a potential person. But i dont think we can grant rights to something until it is a person.

          • CS

            I wanted to reply to this one, too, even though you haven’t responded to the other one below. I think that Fr. Denis is using a definition of a person that he has not laid out clearly enough for you, perhaps, but which is there: human dna, and the capability, as he wrote, “to self-organize and grow from the immature human state of being to the mature state of human being.” That is his definition.

            And to put it together the way I am reading you, I want to point out that you stated above, “I would agree with you if it werent for the fact that giving a fetus the
            benefit of the doubt necessarily tramples on the rights of the woman.”

            Do you think that “tramples” is too strong a word? When I read that I read another preconceived category that you might want to interrogate.To call it trampling presumes an argument has already been made and
            finished with. Whereas most people who are prolife are asking you to at
            least consider there are two people at stake, and that there is at least a tension.

            The rights of two people *can* be in tension; it happens in law all the time with born humans (humans who are persons under the law.) If the rights of woman and fetus are in tension, then we should acknowledge and address that. Giving the fetus “the benefit of the doubt” is something past that. Maybe just start earlier, with acknowledging the tension.

          • Jonathan Thomas

            Um yes, did you actually read my whole post. Or any of them, cause you seem to be forgetting things weve already gone over. First off, I acknowledged in the 2nd or 3rd post on this thread that assigning perosnhood to fetuses creates a tension. Ill say this again: this is precisely the reason we must be extremely diligent and objective in how we proceed, and precisely why just giving the benefit of the doubt is not good enough. Again, IF a fetus is a person, then there is tension. Therefore, we must be diligent and objective in determining whether or not a fetus is a person.

            Second, i clearly explained why i thought his definition was not sufficent. Yes i understand that is his (and many people’s) definiton. But i think its arbitrary. So actually address my rebuttals and maybe we can progree the discussion.

          • David M Paggi

            Your comments betray a significant bias which detracts from your otherwise lucid argumentation, such as when you say that admitting the personhood of the fetus “tramples on the rights on the woman.” Actually under the present status quo, the woman has legal sanction (found, to the wonder of all who can read, in the Constitution) to trample, lethally, on the rights of the baby.

            The degree to which the unborn child’s observable characteristics resemble that of a newborn is entirely beside the point. At no time can the new organism be
            anything but a unique and unrepeatable human being, however undeveloped at any particular time. Is he or she a person? You hesitate to specify a criterion by which we can make a just and definitive judgment but recoil from giving the benefit of the doubt to the helpless child, who
            certainly has no capacity to trample on anyone’s rights.

            Instead,the salient question is really: “Who had the capacity, and responsibility, to make a moral judgment about this particular conjugal act?” Obviously it is not the newly conceived human being; rather it is the parents who made a moral choice when they engaged in sexual relations in a context in which they were unwilling to accept new life. “But they used protection and it failed,” you might say. Not really should be the reply, since short of sterilization, all methods of birth control have less than 100% certainty.

            Here I will interject an observation that it is a mathematical certainty that contraception increases the incidence of abortion. Most people find this contention counterintuitive from what they have been led to believe, because all of the emphasis has been on the rate of effectiveness of various available methods, generally expressed as a percentage.

            Put another way, think of contraception as a game of roulette played with a giant revolver having 100, or 1,000, or even 10,000 chambers, only one of which is loaded. It really doesn’t matter how many empty ones there are when the bullet is in the next one to be fired.

            Even if we accepted as valid the (questionably) claimed effectiveness of a given method, when that fraction, however minute, is multiplied by the tens (hundreds?) of millions of copulations which actually occur when the woman is fertile, the product is not just an abstract number but millions of completely innocent, helpless, human lives, who have a moral claim in any civilized society and most logically on the parents who conceived them, regardless of whether the child was “wanted”.

            By the way, the overwhelming number of these copulations is voluntary; the number resulting from rape or incest (however tragic) is less than 1 percent.

            From this perspective, we can see that splitting fine biological or metaphysical hairs is a distraction from the
            central issue: Who bears the responsibility for the outcome of the use, or rather misuse, of the sexual faculty? What I have attempted to demonstrate here is that when that organism was conceived, regardless of when we attribute personhood, the moral responsibility for that life had already been clearly established.

            We certainly should pity poor couples, who did nothing more than succumb to the lies that we as a society not only tolerate but promote about sex.

            Ironically, instead of being “against sex” as it is so often accused, it is the Catholic Church which actually presents
            the most beautiful and holistic teaching on the dignity of the conjugal act. Its proper setting is exclusively within the marriage of one man and one woman joined in a permanent, indissoluble union, who exercise this faculty rightly by being are open to the possibility, however unlikely it may be on a particular occasion, that it may produce new human life.

          • Jonathan Thomas

            The problem with your argument is that it presumes the Catholic view of moral obligations regarding sexual activity, and betrays the fact that your objections are not about protecting the rights of people, but rather enforcing your idea of proper sexual behavior. Whether or not a person is obligated to accept the responsibility of carrying a fetus to term simply by having sex is not for you or i to decide. So yes, in fact, the pertinent question is the personhood of the new lifeform, with respect to the legality of abortion.

            Youre first statement contains a major contradiction. How can someone violate the rights of something that has no rights? This is precisely the issue we are debating, you cant simply assume your contention and then make a argument around it.

            To your point on contraception: abstinence only works in theory. Yes, IF you dont have sex, then you cannot have children. The problem is that in reality, people DO have sex. And in reality, pushing abstinence only makes the abortion problem worse. So our solutions must be built around what is actually true, not what we think should be true.

          • CS

            Well abortion is a good placeholder for people who don’t think (x) category of person should be around to bother me. Like, too many poor people. Or disabled people or those with special needs or ugly people or sick ones. I live as, love and work with all those people and I believe my life is best spent in advocacy for the most marginalized. So I may be more attuned to this attitude than most: “Better dead than disabled/sick/disfigured/”not productive.” This is what I mean by pro-abortion: the mindset that people who fall outside of what *I* am used to or find desireable, should not be in existence because they disturb me, my comfort or my need to avoid thoughts of my own mortality.

          • Jonathan Thomas

            Its unfortunate that those attitudes exist.

          • Jonathan Thomas

            The personhood issue is implied in your justice argument only in the sense that the application of justice is dependant upon the resolution of the issue of personhood. That is to say that we cant really deal with whether or not it’s just to value one person over another until we actually decide whether a fetus is a person and when that status is conferred. Any debate on that issue before then is tangential with respect to the ethics of abortion.

            Secondly, I dont think anyone would argue that abortion isn’t killing something. But that fact in and of itself isn’t relevant. We kill things all the time (animals, plants, bacteria, viruses, etc). Whats relevant is this: is abortion murder or not? Theres no case for murder if personhood is not assigned. So when pro choice say “not human”, they almost certainly mean “not person”.

            Yes i did look that the links. Almost all of them made basically the same argument you made and equivocated on the term “human”. Any argument that makes no distinction bewtween human and person is missing the mark.

            By the way, Hitchens position is not pro life, its pro choice. He simply lements the very difficult moral dilemma it presents, which any thoughtful person should, regardless of what side you favor. It may come is a shock, but pro choice is not pro abortion. I dont know anyone who thinks abortions are a good thing. Thats why I and many other pro choice folks also support policies that have been demonstrably proven to reduce the frequency of abortions. Things like comprehensive sex education, access to contraceptives and health care, and affirming a sex positive culture. I would think that pro life folks would be on the same page at least in that regard, but it seems that far too often pro lifers are also somehow opposed to the things that reduce abortion rates.

          • CS

            You assign a lot of thoughtfulness to people who are prochoice. Which is not to say that all are not; but as someone who has discussed the subject with others over the last 30 years I have to say that this is not the case. Some people entertain little thought about the nature of what it is they believe in . This is the case for some of those who call themselves prolife, too.

            As for personhood, I agree that it truly is the central issue, as I thought I said. Your quibbling over when “human” is used and whether it is interchangeable with person might be on point, or not, it would depend on the speaker. Perhaps you don’t see what is implied when it is used that way, because you already believe that personhood is up for discussion or is subjective. I said it is linked to justice because the issue of personhood is central to justice: *Who* gets rights? And, perhaps more basically, are the criteria for determining persons just, in themselves?

            The use of the terms interchangeably may also come from those who believe scientific facts prove that human-ness and that, for *them* IS the only requirement for personhood. Some may not have stopped to make that direct logical link, but many of the people I interact with as prolife advocates (non-religious) have made that link. But it is a good criticism for those who are articulating the issue to be clear about in their minds and in their speech.

            For me, one critical factor in my beliefs about personhood is that there is not more than one or possibly two places that you can draw a definitive line in development so as to “assign” personhood in a way that is logical and just. Those who try to say that personhood is utterly and endlessly debateable may be correct because human beings are utterly and endlessle inventive in their desire not to follow logic or challenge pre-conceived notions. But it is certainly NOT correct that personhood is completely subjective. One might argue that legal personhood and absolute personhood are not necessarily the same thing. But it is certainly not true that you can separate them without ramifications for the notion of justice.

            And most people, even the ones who talk about personhood a lot, won’t bear with the discussion until the point of definition of those lines. It is far easier to veer off – somewhat like you did, although I stop short of saying you did it purposefully – back into the realm of abstractions and concepts, rather than forging on to nail something down that will follow logically.

          • Jonathan Thomas

            Well ok a few things. Personhood is very much up for discussion becuase it has no standard definition, other than to say that you and I are persons. However, I dont think its necessarily subjective. Im sorry if i gave you that idea, but my entire point is that we need to define it objectively in order to make real progress on the issue of abortion. And i do think that is possible, but i dont think that the pro life side has defined it in a way that is objectively substantiated. When i say human doesnt always mean person, im saying that defining a person as any living thing with human DNA is insufficient as that would lead logically to considering polyps and blood clots as people. Obviously thats ridiculous, so clearly the definition of person must be more than that. Dont get me wrong, im not saying a fetus is equivalent to a polyp, clearly not. But based solely on the current proposed definition of personhood by the pro life side, a polyp and a fetus both qualify.

            Im not sure why you think im off topic. My contention is and always has been centered around the definition of personhood. Ive listened to the proposed definition that would include “at conception”, but i find it illogical for the reasons i stated above. Do you have any other argument to put forth?

            Lastly, i disagree that there are ANY places to draw a definitive line in development. If science tells us anything its that the life cycle is a continuum. At what moment does a child become an adult, for example? No, any line we draw will be an approximation of some developmental milestone. So i think we should go about defining the characteristics that we have that make us “persons” and then try to find the point in human development when we have a significant number of those traits. I do believe that point is before birth, but definitely not at conception.