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  1. Defining Insanity - Jonathan Pryor's web log
    1. Defining Insanity

Defining Insanity - Jonathan Pryor's web log

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Defining Insanity

I got a couple of responses to my Criminalizing Nature entry, which can be summarized as "but 'abortion' doesn't mean that." In common context, this is true. What is also true is that the meanings of words change over time, which is why dictionaries are useful, and the dictionary does define "miscarriage" as a form of abortion.

Which shows that definitions control arguments. So we disagree on our definitions, and you can safely believe that I'm a loon who doesn't know what the correct definition of anything is.

Another comment was that abortion isn't about control, it's about murder (I'm possibly taking that out of context, due to my addled memory, and I'm without access to my email). Miscarriage isn't murder, so it isn't an issue, but abortion is murder.

Through the joy of definitions and taking things to extremes, I'll show that it is about control.

  1. Life begins at conception (according to South Dakota).
  2. That life is human (what else could it be?).
  3. "All men are created equal...with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." (From The U.S. Declaration of Independence.)
  4. Therefore, the fetus has a right to life.

So, if the fetus has a right to life, why should we let nature take its course and let the fetus die? In other words, why should we allow miscarriages? Yes, this is a silly question today, but consider 10 years, 100 years, 1000 years from now. With the probable advances in medical technology, it should be fairly easy to take a single cell and grow it into a human.

So, assuming we have this technology, wouldn't we have to grow the fetus into a child? It has the right to life, doesn't it?

So we have the moral mandate that every fetus is sacred. Since there's a ~70% chance of miscarriage before the woman even knows she's pregnant, wouldn't this require that she continually check for the presence of fetuses? At what point isn't this control? Is there a point?

But this is taking things to an extreme! It would never happen, right? Because humans never take anything to extremes.

Coming back down to earth, there are two more issues.

First, it was considered that this wouldn't ever be abused. We can quibble about the meaning of the word "abuse," but consider a different scenario. An elderly person dies. It's either natural, or its murder (or doctor assisted suicide, or something still equivalent to murder). What do we do? Assume it's natural, or assume foul play. The assumption depends on the circumstances; death in a hospital may raise more "red flags" than elsewhere, which may lead to investigations of doctors, which may result in medical malpractice lawsuits against the doctors. We know these happen; we can't say for sure if such lawsuits have ever been used as a form of abuse, but I wouldn't rule it out either.

So we come down to trust. Do we trust that the government, or whoever has power within some branch of the government, won't ever try to use and abuse any law at their disposal to make someones life difficult? Are we able to say that abuse never occurs? Which is why I said that this abortion law could be potentially one more law open abuse.

Law isn't usually concerned with nice behavior. If everyone were nice, laws wouldn't be needed. Laws are there for the exceptional cases, and any potential for abuse should be considered.

The second issue is the woman's rights. Not the woman's "right to choose," but the woman's rights to Life, Liberty, and the persuit of Happiness. The South Dakota law wouldn't permit abortions for rape or incest. So if a woman is raped, she must have the child. Is that fair? Isn't that punishing the victim? Is it fair to the child either, having no father around? (And would you want a rapist father around anyway? Perhaps the rapist should have to pay 100% of all child support for the next 18 years; perhaps economics would help prevent rape, and provide an incentive for more rapes to be reported.)

What is fair anyway? Too bad logic doesn't seem to actually help in tough questions like this, because everyone is using their own definitions....

Posted on 24 Feb 2006 | Path: /wtf/ | Permalink
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