Saturday, January 26, 2008

Rules of Engagement, Draft One

First of all, I want to thank Shannon, anonymous, and anonymous for their comments on the first post. Shannon, your comment was extremely thoughtful, and I would suggest that everyone give it a read. You all bring up great points that we should get to in time.

As I stated in the first post, the purpose of this blog is to attempt a disciplined exploration of the complex issue of abortion rights. In order to have a productive discussion on any issue, there have to be rules of procedure that all parties agree upon. So in this post, I'd like to start a list of rules for proceeding.

One thing that often happens in discussions on the abortion issue, is the usage of the terms baby, child, and person instead of the appropriate terms of fetus and embryo. Since one of the main issues of discussion is whether or not the fetus or embryo are fully human persons, labelling the fetus/embryo with these terms break one of the most primary rules of logical reasoning called "Begging the question"

'Begging the Question' has traditionally described a type of logical fallacy in which the proposition to be proved is assumed implicitly or explicitly in one of the premises

For instance, in Shannon's post she says:
I feel for people who do get an abortion - it seems like an easy way out of a difficult situation - but killing a child is never going to be the right answer to a situation, no matter how good it may look at the time.
Using the word child instead of fetus, presupposes the conclusion that the developing human has already achieved child status which is what the argument is about in the first place. Most Anti-Abortionists believe that a human being's life begins at conception. Most Pro-Choice people believe that a human being's life begins at fetal viability (the point at which a fetus can survive without the mother). Calling the unviable fetus a child is misleading and potentially inflammatory. Please don't misunderstand me. I don't think that Shannon had any intention to be misleading in her post, and in fact I found it to be a well thought out essay worth reading. But if we are trying to have a discussion that illuminates and potentially eliminates our differences, lets find out where we agree, and build from there.

From this exploration lets agree to the first rule:

Rule #1: We will avoid the logical fallacy of "Begging the Question".

As this rule pertains to our current discourse so far, lets agree to use the words that do not assume the conclusion of one side of the debate or the other.

Based on generally accepted definitions:
  • After conception until 8 weeks of gestation, we will use the word "embryo" to refer to the developing organism.
  • From 8 weeks until birth, we will use the word "Fetus" to describe the developing organism.
  • After Birth, we can use the generally accepted words of child and baby, etc.

I welcome your comments or suggestions regarding the first rule, and how I've applied it to our discussion.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

The price . . .

The quote:

Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty

has been attributed to several sources throughout history including amongst them Thomas Jefferson and Patrick Henry. No matter if either of these icons actually said it, they both definitely knew it first hand. And it is somewhat of their legacy that our vigilance is required not only eternally but constantly, and arduously.

The checks and balances of our governmental powers serves us by giving us many opportunities to prevent any tyrannical power from subjugating us. Certainly our founders could predict that tyranny could come forth not only from a monarch, but from the people as well . . . the tyranny of the masses. But did they predict the tyranny of the gerrymanderers, the loophole hounds, the push pollers, and the hatemongers? It's hard to say. What is clear is that the complexity of our system protects us, but also requires a level of vigilance that can only be described as . . . complex. Because those that would deny you of your rights have figured out every way of working this complex system to do so.

The most endangered right in this country, is probably a woman's right to choose. This right, which was specifically guaranteed by the famed case of Roe vs. Wade, is under constant assault on every front imaginable. But here's the rub; at odds with a woman's right to decide the fate of her own body, is the imagined right to life of the fetus. I say imagined not in a pejorative fashion, but only to highlight the point that there are no grounds yet established for any rights to the potentially human.

The purpose of this site is to reduce the price of liberty. Perhaps through a disciplined exploration of this issue, we can find a way to either accept our differences and live with the choices that our neighbors make (that don't affect us), or reduce the size of the battlefield upon which this war would be fought. Either way would be a welcome reduction in demand of our scarce and valuable vigilance.