The Unborn Child is a Child. Literally.

When pro-lifers refer to the unborn child as a child, we get accused of playing games with language. The opposite is true, as Ramesh Ponnuru pointed out (fairly) recently. Originally the word “child” referred only to unborn children.

From the Online Etymology Dictionary:

child (n.) Look up child at Dictionary.com
Old English cild “fetus, infant, unborn or newly born person,” from Proto-Germanic *kiltham (cf. Gothic kilþei “womb,” inkilþo “pregnant;” Danish kuld “children of the same marriage;” Old Swedish kulder “litter;” Old English cildhama “womb,” lit. “child-home”); no certain cognates outside Germanic. “App[arently] originally always used in relation to the mother as the ‘fruit of the womb'” [Buck]. Also in late Old English, “a youth of gentle birth” (archaic, usually written childe). In 16c.-17c. especially “girl child.”

The wider sense “young person before the onset of puberty” developed in late Old English. Phrase with child “pregnant” (late 12c.) retains the original sense. The sense extension from “infant” to “child” also is found in French enfant, Latin infans. Meaning “one’s own child; offspring of parents” is from late 12c. (the Old English word was bearn; see bairn). Figurative use from late 14c. Most Indo-European languages use the same word for “a child” and “one’s child,” though there are exceptions (e.g. Latin liberi/pueri). 

The side playing games with language is the side trying to dehumanize unborn children, by replacing ordinary English with intentionally-obtuse technocratic jargon. As George Orwell wrote in his 1946 essay Politics and the English Language, “The inflated style itself is a kind of euphemism. A mass of Latin words falls upon the facts like soft snow, blurring the outline and covering up all the details. The great enemy of clear language is insincerity.” Words like “fetus” have been coopted to avoid calling unborn children “children.” [Of course, even “fetus” refers to the living-but-unborn offspring of an animal (e.g., a chick, while still in her egg). But that’s a topic for another day.]

45 Comments

  1. I have a two question test.

    1) Does the organism have human DNA? If Yes, continue to question 2. If No, stop: You do not have a living human being.

    2) Is the organism dead? If Yes, stop: You have a dead human being. If No, stop: You have a living human being.

    Ultimately the prochoicers are anti-science. On a 40 week gestation period, fertilization doesn’t happen until WEEK 3! Implantation is WEEK 4! Heart is formed in WEEK 5! Pumps blood in WEEK 6!

    There’s ALWAYS a heartbeat, detectable or not, before the woman knows she’s pregnant.

    If he or she has a heart, they have a soul. If they have a soul, they have rights.

    http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/prenatal-care/PR00112

  2. Joe,

    Couple things.

    1. “Originally the word “child” referred only to unborn children.”

    This seems an odd assertion (you even emphasized ‘only’) to make in light of the first definition you cite (emphasis mine):

    “fetus, infant, unborn or newly born person”

    To me, this is evidence which contradicts your assertion of the original definition. Maybe you can explain.

    2. “The side playing games with language is the side trying to dehumanize unborn children, by replacing ordinary English with intentionally-obtuse technocratic jargon.”

    You might want to deplore, as Orwell does, the erosion of the meaning of certain words, or the use of meaningless words. However, I don’t think you can say that the pro-choice movement is replacing the “ordinary English” use of ‘child’ in this case. The ordinary use of ‘child’ (which the definition terms as “the wider sense”) being given as: “young person before the onset of puberty”. Your beef, at best, would be that ordinary English has strayed from the original Old English definition of ‘child’ (though even that included infants and new-borns). I doubt you could make the argument that Old English = ordinary English, or that this definitional drift has its roots in the pro-choice movement.

    None of this is to say that the pro-choice movement doesn’t play word-games, or that the point about ‘child’ v ‘fetus’ isn’t valid. I just think that you haven’t made a good argument re: the origins and use of ‘child’. It’s also not to say that the pro-life side isn’t just as fond of playing word games – like refusing to call the ending of an ectopic pregnancy an ‘abortion’.

    1. Andre,

      I’m trying to make two points in this post:

      1) It’s not as if pro-lifers invented the idea of referring to the unborn as children. This is what they’re properly referred to in English.

      2) The move to stop calling them children is tied to a move to dehumanize them.

      The original word “child” (or “cild”) referred to the unborn, and gradually took on the meaning of infant, then young person before puberty. Hence the Old English cildhama “womb,” lit. “child-home.” A “cild” was someone who lived in the womb. This also why the etymology dictionary says that the “Phrase with child ‘pregnant’ (late 12c.) retains the original sense.” Admittedly, I did a bad job of explaining this in the post, and you’re not the first person to be confused.

      Inasmuch as we’re just talking about the natural progression of child from meaning “the unborn” to meaning “the unborn and infants” to meaning “anyone younger than puberty,” we agree. This is a natural progression with no agenda. “Fetus” went through a similar evolution in Latin (from meaning “the young while in the womb or egg” to also including newborns).

      But the move to stop referring to the unborn as children isn’t a natural evolution of the word at all: it’s an abrupt departure. And it’s done precisely to dehumanize them.

      In other words, the word “child” evolved to embrace an increasing number of non-adult humans. That’s a natural linguistic evolution, similar to what started to happen to “fetus” in Latin. The move to strip the unborn of the title “child” is a reversal of this natural evolution, and done for intentional and political reasons.

      Finally, I think that you are missing the point with ectopic pregnancies. The removal of a uterus isn’t an abortion,* even if the unintended result is that a child dies. Nobody is trying to kill the child. If a parent authorizes a high-risk surgery to separate conjoined twins, and one twin dies, do you refer to that as infanticide? In ordinary English, terms like “abortion” and “infanticide” suggest intent. So I don’t think it’s a word game to refuse to call a uterine removal an “abortion,” even if a child dies as a consequence of it.

      *I realize that doctors will also speak of miscarriage as “natural abortion.” We are talking about the common, colloquial use of “abortion,” which means an “induced abortion.” As an aside, I suspect that this is why the term “abortion” was initially appealing to its advocates: it doesn’t say your child died naturally, or was killed.

    2. Joe,

      I’m not particularly versed in the evolution of the world ‘child’ or ‘cild’, I’m just going off the definition you’ve presented. A definition which lists both born and unborn in it’s first definition. Maybe there was a historical progression from only unborn, to new-born, etc., though I’m not seeing it, aside from your assertions.

      No argument from me re: pro-choice word games.

      I don’t think I’m missing the point at all re: ectopic pregnancies, and in some ways it seems you’re engaging in the same thing you set out to criticize at the outset. You’re relying on a colloquial understanding of the the word ‘abortion’, and not the original definition (simply: “the termination of a pregnancy after, accompanied by, resulting in, or closely followed by the death of the embryo or fetus). A word that I would argue has steadily become more and more politically and emotionally charged/loaded. You can pretend like removing the uterus (or other, less drastic solutions) don’t end the pregnancy, but to me that’s a word game and/or “intentionally-obtuse technocratic jargon”. In this case, you’re not calling it an ‘abortion’ because you’ve saddled the term with “intent”.

      In any case, it wasn’t my intention to get bogged down in a debate on ectopic pregnancies, just still don’t think you’ve shown what you claim re: the original definition of ‘child’, and to say both sides are guilty of word-play.

    3. It depends on which definition of ‘abortion’ we’re using. If we’re using the modern, politically charged one, no – as this obviously refers to induced abortion. If we’re using the original, plain definition, then yes, I consider miscarriages to be natural abortions.

      BTW, I wouldn’t care so much about how we’re defining abortion if it weren’t for how things like “there’s never any medical reason for abortion” sound like to the public. There are valid medical reasons where a pregnancy might need to be terminated, and pro-life people aren’t against those, but they sound like they are because of how they’re using the term.

    1. So does that mean I can murder you? Because it sounds like you’re saying that your right to life doesn’t exist based on you being a human. If thats true than pray tell what does guarentee that right? What criteria do you think should prevent your untimely demise?

    2. Delta,

      “Because it sounds like you’re saying that your right to life doesn’t exist based on you being a human.”

      It sounds like you’ve made little attempt to understanding what I’m saying. Bringing up that others think that mere humanity entitles them to life in all cases doesn’t mean I subscribe to the opposite view – that there’s no such right in any case. I’m pointing out that, as with many other rights, life is not an unlimited one. I suspect you would agree in certain circumstances. Do you disapprove of the death penalty? The right to self defense? Just wars? Triage? Etc.

    3. Andre,

      We’ve at least gotten to the heart of the issue. You think it’s only “magical” thinking that makes us believe that “merely being human entitles one to life in any and all cases.”

      History is replete with people who shared your view that merely being human wasn’t enough: that some classes or categories of humans were okay to kill. But in every single time, we’ve looked back on those moments of history as monstrous. Why do you think that history will judge what you are advocating any differently?

      I.X.,

      Joe

    4. Joe,

      Please, with the melodrama and violating Godwin’s Law.

      “History is replete with people who shared your view that merely being human wasn’t enough: that some classes or categories of humans were okay to kill. But in every single time, we’ve looked back on those moments of history as monstrous. Why do you think that history will judge what you are advocating any differently?”

      I’m not sure the red-blooded, legal gun owning portion of this country would appreciate being lumped in with the Nazis. I’m assuming we don’t consider people that have defended their family and homes with lethal force to be monsters.

      Also, what precisely am I advocating?

    5. Andre,

      I’m not being melodramatic. We’re discussing the dehumanization of an entire segment of humanity (the unborn), which has justified the legal slaughter of nearly 50,000,000 children in the United States alone since 1973.

      As for the substance of my argument, you don’t even pretend to answer it. You just invoke Godwin’s Law, as if that’s somehow a response. I have three responses.

      First: You claim that I’m “lumping in” the “red-blooded, legal gun owning portion of this country” with the Nazis. This mischaracterization of my argument is vapid. I didn’t even mention the Nazis, much less lump everyone in with them. As an aside, I was unaware that the “red-blooded, legal gun owning portion of this country” believed “that some classes or categories of humans were okay to kill.” Do you want to defend this characterization?

      Second: The fact that my argument against your views is equally applicable against the Nazis (which is why you feel “lumped in” with them, I assume) is an additional merit to my argument. Essentially, all your response manages to show is that my argument would also work against Nazis. Great!

      Third: I didn’t say that you were just like the Nazis (or any other genocidaire, racist, eugenist, etc.). I said:

      “History is replete with people who shared your view that merely being human wasn’t enough: that some classes or categories of humans were okay to kill. But in every single time, we’ve looked back on those moments of history as monstrous. Why do you think that history will judge what you are advocating any differently?”

      And that’s a substantive argument, for which you apparently have no answer, other than lame ad hominems.

      Fourth: Godwin’s Law is intended to prevent inappropriate Hitler analogies: e.g., “you’re hosting the Olympics. You know who else did? The Nazis!” But what the Nazis are reviled for is precisely their willingness to dehumanize and slaughter an entire segment of the human race.

      Godwin’s Law (which is observational, not some sort of rule of logic or Code of Internet Behavior), doesn’t mean you can’t point out that, say, the slaughter in Rwanda was reminiscent of what the Nazis did. Because here’s the thing: it’s true.

      Even Mike Godwin has admitted that there are times when comparisons with the Nazis are appropriate:

      “American history has its own flirtations with fascism and racism and militarism, and people have believed in any and all of these things, so with certain individuals it has to come up from time to time. So it’s not the case that the comparison is never valid. It’s just that, when you make the comparison, think through what you’re saying, because there’s a lot of baggage there, and if you’re going to invoke a historical period with that much baggage you better be ready to carry it.”

      So even had I gone with the “just like the Nazis” route (which, again, I didn’t, and am not), it would have been because of the thing for which the Nazis are reviled. So you’re not even remotely answering the content of my argument.

      I.X.,

      Joe

    6. Joe,

      “History is replete with people who shared your view that merely being human wasn’t enough: that some classes or categories of humans were okay to kill.”

      Was this not in reference to the Nazis? At least in part? If not, good for you. I’ll ask your forgiveness for lumping you into the same pool as all the others who use phrasing like that in reference to the Nazis, Stalin, Mao, etc.

      “I was unaware that the “red-blooded, legal gun owning portion of this country” believed “that some classes or categories of humans were okay to kill.” Do you want to defend this characterization?”

      When you ask most gun-owners why they own, it’s for self-defense. I believe many of them feel that burglars represent a category of human it’s okay to kill, especially if they feel their or their family’s lives are in danger. I thought this would be the least objectionable, most obvious point I’d made the entire time.

      “Second: The fact that my argument against your views is equally applicable against the Nazis (which is why you feel “lumped in” with them, I assume) is an additional merit to my argument.”

      I disagree, I see it more as an indication of how trivially the Nazi comparisons are applied to the abortion debate in general.

      “Third: I didn’t say that you were just like the Nazis (or any other genocidaire, racist, eugenist, etc.). I said:”

      I get it, you’re shocked, SHOCKED I SAY! that I made the inference between your statement – so often made as a reference to the Nazis and the genocidal – as linking my views to Nazis.

      “And that’s a substantive argument, for which you apparently have no answer, other than lame ad hominems.”

      Assuming you had no intent to link my views in the way I took it, I would argue that I’ve made no arguments for when it is okay to kill, or who. I’ve merely pointed out that we, as a society, make those distinctions all the time, and not just with abortion. I don’t have an answer to your argument, because you’ve failed to articulate my views.

      “Fourth: Godwin’s Law is intended to prevent inappropriate Hitler analogies”

      Which is precisely why I objected to your (seemingly) taking the shortcut of leaping from my pointing out that we make judgement calls on who lives or dies constantly, to somehow advocating for genocide.

    7. Andre,

      1) How about, instead of debating whether or not you think I’m subtly calling you a Nazi or suggesting that you’re advocating genocide, you answer what I actually said?

      “History is replete with people who shared your view that merely being human wasn’t enough: that some classes or categories of humans were okay to kill. But in every single time, we’ve looked back on those moments of history as monstrous. Why do you think that history will judge what you are advocating any differently?”

      If you think that this is a mischaracterization of your views, explain how.

      2) Even the counter-example you cite (burglars) misses the mark. If gun-owners began killing burglars with impunity, you’d better believe that they’d go up on trial for that.

      Self-defense is a recognized defense precisely because it’s not about intentionally killing another human, but about resisting an attack. You seem to reject the principle of double-effect (see the ectopic pregnancy discussion above), but I don’t see how you can avoid it here:

      a- When someone attacks you with potentially-lethal force, you may legally defend yourself, even through the use of lethal force.

      b- When someone attacks you with potentially-lethal force, you may not use lethal force as retribution.

      In other words, the legal doctrine of self-defense isn’t “this person was a burglar, so they lost their right to life.” It’s “your intention wasn’t about killing them, but preserving your own life.”

      So whatever the merits of the doctrine of self-defense, it isn’t a case of us saying “that some classes or categories of humans were okay to kill.” That’s what I object to, and what you’ve studiously avoided responding to.

      I.X.,

      Joe

    8. Joe,

      “1) How about, instead of debating whether or not you think I’m subtly calling you a Nazi or suggesting that you’re advocating genocide, you answer what I actually said?

      “History is replete with people who shared your view that merely being human wasn’t enough: that some classes or categories of humans were okay to kill. But in every single time, we’ve looked back on those moments of history as monstrous. Why do you think that history will judge what you are advocating any differently?””

      I didn’t think it was that subtle. The most you know of my view is that I’m pointing out that being human doesn’t give you the absolute right to life, in any and all cases, in any and all times. That’s what I’ve said so far. You’ve then made the leap that I think there are categories of classes of humans that it’s okay to kill, and asking me to separate (what you think is) my views from historical monsters. I guess I made a huge leap in thinking there was inference.

      “2) Even the counter-example you cite (burglars) misses the mark. If gun-owners began killing burglars with impunity, you’d better believe that they’d go up on trial for that. “

      Please do me the favor of including the full context: burglars who they feel represent a danger to their or their families lives.

      “Self-defense is a recognized defense precisely because it’s not about intentionally killing another human”

      Yet the result is a dead human. Somebody that many in society acknowledge has forfeited his right to life by invading the home of another, and in which case we do not condemn the person responsible for killing him. This would seem to be an example of a case where one’s being human did not entitle him to the absolute right to life.

      “That’s what I object to, and what you’ve studiously avoided responding to.”

      I think I’ve done my best to respond to accurate representations of my views.

      Anyhow, thanks for the chat.

    9. Joe is a big boy and can speak for himself, so he needs no apologeisthai from me.

      But anyone, ANYONE, who makes the case that–pardon the paraphrase–‘it’s not about when life begins, but about when life begins to matter‘ is damn well deserving of being compared to Nazis. Or to quote your verbiage Mr. Boillot, “One notices that others magically think that merely being human entitles one to life in any and all cases.”

      That you are confusing “An unborn child is a living human person therefore they have a right to life,” and “Any human person has a right to life in any and all cases,” is your own failure in trying to follow our arguments.

      Everyone has a right to life until they forfeit that right. We can debate about what it is that forfeits the right, (and I respectfully dissent from the Catechism on this point) but the one thing that we should ALL agree on, is that the fact of being an unborn baby should NOT be a forfeiture of that right in and of itself.

      If you disagree with that, then you are a Nazi, and worse.

      And, contrary to the text that Joe pasted into his article, “baby” in my opinion is the best word to use. It’s non-technical, accurate, is commonly used across time, across languages, and across cultures. Every ‘fetus’ is a person and the word doesn’t convey that fact. The word ‘baby’ does convey that fact, and conforms to the dignity instrinsic to all human persons, from conception until they are toddlers.

      Child does everything baby does, but is less precise as far as how old the child is.

      Fetus only deals with the physical location: as soon as he or she starts the journey down the birth canal, nobody calls it a ‘fetus.’

    10. Daniel,

      Thanks for the comments.

      “That you are confusing “An unborn child is a living human person therefore they have a right to life,” and “Any human person has a right to life in any and all cases,” is your own failure in trying to follow our arguments.”

      It helps if you compare what I wrote to what it was in response to. I was merely responding to claim that “One notices that they magically think that speaking in Latin makes the baby not human.” I would argue that as many pro-choice people believe that fetuses are non-human as there are pro-lifers that think the right to life is unlimited.

      “But anyone, ANYONE, who makes the case that–pardon the paraphrase–‘it’s not about when life begins, but about when life begins to matter’ is damn well deserving of being compared to Nazis.”

      I would respectfully question your ability to paraphrase my views, especially as they relate directly to abortion…considering I’ve yet to declare them on this topic.

    11. I did leave it an open question when I also said ‘*If* you disagree…’

      Perhaps you should remove all doubts about the matter and just share your views on this topic?

    12. Daniel,

      “I did leave it an open question when I also said ‘*If* you disagree…'”

      You’ll forgive me, but this qualification was made in association to a different point, and not to your paraphrasing of the view you manufactured and ascribed to me.

      Despite feeling as if we’re not discussing in good-faith, I’ll lay out my views on abortion, many of which are highly subject to the circumstances of both the mother, and available medical care:

      Generally pro-choice in the first-trimester; increasingly pro-life thereafter, and certainly when past the point of viability. In cases where the mother or child’s long-term health or lives are at stake (especially early in the pregnancy) and medical care is poor or lacking, I believe it’s a choice between her and her doctor. However, in cases where medical care is quite good (especially later in the pregnancy), I believe efforts should be made to deliver and/or sustain the child.

      Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go get a swastika tattooed on my forehead.

    13. Andre,

      Why do you feel like we’re not discussing in good faith? Up until your last comment, you were the one playing coy about what your views were, even though the nature of your arguments made it abundantly clear what those views were.

      Do you acknowledge that life begins at conception? And that the first trimester baby being killed is a human being?

      I.X.,

      Joe

    14. Why bother? If ‘viability’ is your criteria, you already have one tattoo’d on your heart.

      Or do you make some sort of distinction between viable as in the mother providing nutrients and warmth and other criteria necessary for life in utero and the mother providing nutrients and warmth and other criteria necessary for life outside of the womb?

      I think if we are having a good-faith discussion, whatever consensus we reach on what ‘viable’ even means, it will at minimum involve the criteria that the child can make his own damn grilled cheese sandwich.

    15. Joe,

      Are you also ‘Daniel’? If not, then the good faith comment wasn’t directed at you.

      Also, I find it odd that I’m being accused of playing coy with my views. Initially, my views were limited to: 1. disagreeing with your points re: the history of ‘child’/’cild’; 2. stating that I believed both pro-choice and pro-life sides play word games; and 3. stating the mere humanity does not endow people with an absolute right to life, in all places, at all times. Since then, I’ve been defending myself against perceived equivalence with historical monsters.

      “even though the nature of your arguments made it abundantly clear what those views were”

      So, you knew prior to my last post that I was generally pro-choice 1st semester, increasingly pro-life 2nd onward? As well as all the circumstances I think can influence this? My, I am impressed.

      “Do you acknowledge that life begins at conception? And that the first trimester baby being killed is a human being?”

      Yes and yes. I also acknowledge that nature abortions scores more babies than we’re ever likely to intentionally abort. I just choose not to rationalize the former, or demonize all cases of the latter.

    16. Daniel,

      “I think if we are having a good-faith discussion, whatever consensus we reach on what ‘viable’ even means, it will at minimum involve the criteria that the child can make his own damn grilled cheese sandwich.”

      How did you guess that was my criteria for viability?

    17. Andre,

      Regarding your views, it was clear that you were trying to rationalize some intentional child-killing. I’m less interested in the how much and until what age questions. Those presuppose that we have the right to sometimes slaughter children, which is a premise that I heartily reject. In any case, I imagine that you knew what I meant about your views.

      Your rationale in your final paragraph is twisted. Why in the world would the number of children who naturally die in the womb influence the morality of killing them? After all, 100% of people will die eventually. Does that make murder okay?

      I.X.,

      Joe

    18. Joe,

      “Regarding your views, it was clear that you were trying to rationalize some intentional child-killing.”

      This is what I love about the internet, and the abortion debate specifically. There’s no room for grey areas. I make a comment about your interpretation of the history of ‘cild’ being iffy, and you know immediately that I want to kill all the babies.

      “Your rationale in your final paragraph is twisted. Why in the world would the number of children who naturally die in the womb influence the morality of killing them? After all, 100% of people will die eventually. Does that make murder okay?”

      As I understand it, many “natural” abortions occur when the body recognizes that there is something wrong with the fetus, and spontaneously aborts. However, we know that the body does not always recognize or abort such fetuses, as evidenced by all the deformed children born each year, many of which are condemned either to painful, early deaths, or monstrously expensive, low success-rate treatments for extensive parts of their development, if not entire lives. These issues are examples of why I think there are some cases where I believe that induced abortions are ok if the mother/family/doctor believe it’s the right thing to do. Again, I’m impressed you got all that from my initial comments.

      You’re a treasure, Joe, don’t hide that light under a basket.

    19. The qualitative dialectical shift between “Generally pro-choice in the first-trimester” when babies have beating hearts, a brain, fingers, toes, and fingernails and “I want to kill all the babies” is about the same distance as between your morality on this subject and Nazi morality on, well, any subject.

    20. Andre,

      Do you not see the irony in bemoaning the lack of “grey area” in the abortion debate, and then immediately characterizing my argument that you are “trying to rationalize some intentional child-killing” as “I want to kill all the babies”? You are doing the very thing you (falsely) accuse me of doing.

      You don’t even deny that you’re trying to rationalize some child-killing. You’re just taking ridiculous caricatures of my arguments to avoid confronting that fact.

      I.X.,

      Joe

    21. Joe,

      “You are doing the very thing you (falsely) accuse me of doing.”

      Apologies, I thought we had gone past any pretense of serious discussion. I think I’ve done a good job outlining the progression we’ve gone through, and the number of times you and others made assumptions as to what my views were, as well as misrepresent them when given. Again, sorry you took hyperbole seriously.

      “You don’t even deny that you’re trying to rationalize some child-killing. You’re just taking ridiculous caricatures of my arguments to avoid confronting that fact.”

      I don’t see how I can both be rationalizing something AND avoiding it at the same time. I think abortion kills a child. I think there are cases where it seems like the right thing to do. I think there are cases where it’s the wrong thing to do. Sorry to confront you with the fact that there are people out there who don’t fall squarely into one or the other camp.

    22. Andre,

      “Sorry to confront you with the fact that there are people out there who don’t fall squarely into one or the other camp.”

      Nobody falls into the “kill EVERYONE” camp, except in your hyperbole. So you do fall squarely into one camp: the camp that permits and defends the slaughter of children. I recognize that this appears to make you uncomfortable, and I’m thankful for it.

      Obviously, you’re not beyond redemption. You should be queasy about the fact that you’re advocating murder. And of course it’s murder “under certain conditions”: it always is.

      I.X.,

      Joe

    23. Joe,

      “Nobody falls into the “kill EVERYONE” camp, except in your hyperbole.”

      Just to avoid any confusion, I’m talking about being 100% pro-choice or pro-life. There are people who very much are one or the other. I’m not one of those.

      “I recognize that this appears to make you uncomfortable, and I’m thankful for it.”

      I’m not at all uncomfortable with defending abortion in some of the cases I’ve outlined. I’m uncomfortable with being misrepresented, I think that’s what you’re picking up on.

      “Obviously, you’re not beyond redemption.”

      Does patronizing people usually work for you?

      “And of course it’s murder “under certain conditions””

      I’m not really sure what you mean here? Did you mean: “even under certain conditions”?

      “it always is.”

      You’re positing certainty where I, and many others (including some Abrahamic traditions) do not.

    24. Andre,

      That sentence wasn’t missing an “even.” What I said was “of course it’s murder “under certain conditions”: it always is.” By which I meant, those advocating murder never advocate killing everyone. You’re acting like you’ve staked out some kind of moderate position.

      But even the most extreme mass-murderers in history (I’ll let you supply examples, so I won’t get accused of violating Godwin’s Law) advocated murdering only certain groups of people, and argued that some exigent circumstances justified it.

      Again, if you think you’re being misrepresented, show me where and how. I’m more than willing to have an honest and forthright conversation. You’re the one contributing comments like “Does patronizing people usually work for you?”

      I.X.,

      Joe

    25. I just simply assumed that your ‘argument’ that said it was ok to terminate the life of Person A who has a beating heart, a brain, fingers, toes, and fingernails who never did anything wrong in their life (AKA 12 week old ‘fetus’), but it might not be alright to terminate the life of Person B who has a beating heart, a brain, fingers, toes, and fingernails who never did anythign wrong in their life (AKA 30 week old ‘fetus’) wasn’t a serious argument at all.

      Serious discussion is for serious people. If you want to discuss it, discuss.

    26. Joe,

      “You’re the one contributing comments like “Does patronizing people usually work for you?””

      Never mind what’s prompting these comments, right?

      “That sentence wasn’t missing an “even.” What I said was “of course it’s murder “under certain conditions”: it always is.” By which I meant, those advocating murder never advocate killing everyone.”

      That’s what I thought you were saying, in which case I’m not moved at all. If you don’t think “certain conditions” have drastic impacts on all manner of moral judgments, then we’re going nowhere with this.

      “You’re acting like you’ve staked out some kind of moderate position.”

      Well shit, I don’t know what else to call the position that abortion is ok sometimes, and not in others.

      “But even the most extreme mass-murderers in history (I’ll let you supply examples, so I won’t get accused of violating Godwin’s Law) advocated murdering only certain groups of people, and argued that some exigent circumstances justified it.”

      Yes, and apparently we’re not nuanced enough here to separate terminating the pregnancy of a grossly misformed child condemned to a short, painful life with the Killing Fields. It’s 1:1, really. That one is undertaken to spare all involved pain and heartache and the other politically motivated suppression and extermination is irrelevant.

    27. Daniel,

      “I just simply assumed”

      Serious people try not to do just that.

      “your ‘argument’ that said it was ok to terminate the life of Person A who has a beating heart, a brain, fingers, toes, and fingernails who never did anything wrong in their life (AKA 12 week old ‘fetus’)”

      Serious people question: did I happen to qualify when I thought it might be ok to do that in anyway at all (I forget sometimes)?

    28. That’s perfectly alright Mr. Boillot. Even very serious people forget what they are talking about from time to time.

      You said, “Generally pro-choice in the first-trimester; increasingly pro-life thereafter, and certainly when past the point of viability…”

      The first trimester includes week 12 using the standard 40 week counting system (which puts fertilization in week 3 and implantation in week 4.)

      My first daughter’s heartbeat was detected at week 5 via standard sonagram equipment. Brain development rapidly happens in week 7. Toes are week 9. Fingernails are present by week 12.

      http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/prenatal-care/PR00112

    29. Andre,

      It’s not clear to me if you want to have a serious debate or just troll. You’ve done about an equal part of both so far. You’ve mischaracterized my argument (and Daniel’s, for whatever that’s worth) numerous times.

      If you want to have a debate, I’m serious when I ask why you think history will judge you any differently than it judges anyone else who violates the idea that being human entitles you (at least presumptively) to a right to life.

      And of course, if you think this somehow mischaracterizes your position, put an actual position forward that doesn’t rely upon a cloud of sarcasm and snark.

      I.X.,

      Joe

    30. Joe,

      “It’s not clear to me if you want to have a serious debate or just troll.”

      As relates to our exchanges, I don’t think you can find an instance of me trolling you prior to what I viewed was a lumping in with the Nazis, after which I think I was just giving back what I was getting from you.

      “You’ve mischaracterized my argument (and Daniel’s, for whatever that’s worth) numerous times.”

      Again, as relates to you, I began engaging in hyperbole after I thought I was being misrepresented. As for Daniel, please please please show me where I’ve characterized his argument.

      “If you want to have a debate, I’m serious when I ask why you think history will judge you any differently than it judges anyone else who violates the idea that being human entitles you (at least presumptively) to a right to life.”

      I notice that you’ve not engaged with many of my “rationalizations” so far, except to just dismiss them by saying that all mass-murderers have excuses. I’m really not sure what else to tell you.

    31. Andre-
      It seems that you are trying to make inferences upon me. I was merely asking for a more thorough explanation. They were afterall questions. Joe and Daniel were equally trying to get to the crux of your argument. Instead of explaining yourself, you have decided to evade the question and make assumptions from everyone. So I’ll ask it again plainly.

      What is your criteria for the basic human right to life if it is not that you are human? What should be the reason that a person should not outright murder another person?

      I will be happy to answer those questions if it helps. The criteria for a human’s right to life is that they are human. I’m a pacifist. And live in Canada so the death penalty is not what I would say is a right. Defending yourself is different than the death penalty, euthanasia, and abortion. As a pacifist and complete pro-lifer, I value all human life from conception to natural death. If one intends to murder a person or intentionally ends that person’s life, then I wholeheartedly object. If during the course of defending oneself another individual’s life ends, then that is a unforeseeable tragedy. Since you did not intend to murder someone, it is akin to an accidental death. It’s not under the same category as murder, abortion, euthanasia, etc.

      This is the difference between abortion and say ectopic pregnancy or early c-section. The intent in abortion is always to end the life of another. In ectopic pregnancy and early c-section, the intent is the save the life of the mother and NOT to end the pregnancy. It’s a bit like body mutilation. One cannot simply remove one’s arm unless there’s a just reason such as cancer. One doesn’t want to loose one’s arm but only to save one’s life. Ectopic removal is an accidental death not an intentional one. If there was no ectopic pregnancy the pregnancy would continue as normal.

  3. Oh man, I have to object to the shortness of that Orwell quote! The paragraph before is right on point:

    “In our time, political speech and writing are largely the defense of the indefensible. Things like the continuance of British rule in India, the Russian purges and deportations, the dropping of the atom bombs on Japan, can indeed be defended, but only by arguments which are too brutal for most people to face, and which do not square with the professed aims of the political parties. Thus political language has to consist largely of euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness. Defenseless villages are bombarded from the air, the inhabitants driven out into the countryside, the cattle machine-gunned, the huts set on fire with incendiary bullets: this is called pacification. Millions of peasants are robbed of their farms and sent trudging along the roads with no more than they can carry: this is called transfer of population or rectification of frontiers. People are imprisoned for years without trial, or shot in the back of the neck or sent to die of scurvy in Arctic lumber camps: this is called elimination of unreliable elements. Such phraseology is needed if one wants to name things without calling up mental pictures of them. Consider for instance some comfortable English professor defending Russian totalitarianism. He cannot say outright, ‘I believe in killing off your opponents when you can get good results by doing so.’ Probably, therefore, he will say something like this:

    ‘While freely conceding that the Soviet regime exhibits certain features which the humanitarian may be inclined to deplore, we must, I think, agree that a certain curtailment of the right to political opposition is an unavoidable concomitant of transitional periods, and that the rigors which the Russian people have been called upon to undergo have been amply justified in the sphere of concrete achievement.'”

  4. I for one wouldn’t even mind the cloud of sarcasm and snark if I were to be illuminated by the brief thunderbolt of reason.

    So if you please, enlighten me.

    Here’s a lightening rod for you to aim at:

    1) Define viability.

    2) Explain the moral difference in taking the life of a 12 week old ‘fetus’ and a 30 week old ‘fetus.’

  5. Joe:

    “the camp that permits and defends the slaughter of children”

    It appears that you believe that camp to include not only those who support unlimited abortion up through the 36th week of pregnancy, but those who support restrictions (rape, incest, the mother’s life) which would reduce the abortion rate to less than 1% its current level. Would you decline to support a candidate for office who held the latter view??

    “And of course it’s murder “under certain conditions”: it always is.”

    Murder is a word with meaning in our legal system.

    In most states, murder is punishable by death or life in prison. Should this be the fate of all abortionists? Including mothers who self abort?

    Accessory to murder is also punishable with a prison term. Should this be the fate of every mother who successfully seeks out an abortionist? And of the family members who counseled her to do so?

    If your answer to either of the above is “no”, then aren’t you classifying abortion as a lesser crime than murder??

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