Abortion and the Right to Life - Part II

Written by Sam Vaknin

Continued from page 1

When a woman engages in voluntary sex, does not use contraceptives and gets pregnant one can say that she signed a contract with her fetus. A contract entailsrepparttar demonstrated existence of a reasonably (and reasonable) free will. Ifrepparttar 132655 fulfillment ofrepparttar 132656 obligations in a contract between individuals could be life-threatening it is fair and safe to assume that no rational free will was involved. No reasonable person would sign or enter such a contract with another person (though most people would sign such contracts with society).

Judith Jarvis Thomson argued convincingly ("A Defence of Abortion") that pregnancies that arerepparttar 132657 result of forced sex (rape being a special case) or which are life threatening should or could, morally, be terminated. Usingrepparttar 132658 transactional language:repparttar 132659 contract was not entered to willingly or reasonably and, therefore, is null and void. Any actions which are intended to terminate it and to annul its consequences should be legally and morally permissible.

The same goes for a contract which was entered into againstrepparttar 132660 express will of one ofrepparttar 132661 parties and despite allrepparttar 132662 reasonable measures thatrepparttar 132663 unwilling party adopted to prevent it. If a mother uses contraceptives in a manner intended to prevent pregnancy, it is as good as saying: " I do not want to sign this contract, I am doing my reasonable best not to sign it, if it is signed it is contrary to my express will". There is little legal (or moral) doubt that such a contract should be voided.

Much more serious problems arise when we studyrepparttar 132664 other party to these implicit agreements:repparttar 132665 embryo. To start with, it lacks consciousness (inrepparttar 132666 sense that is needed for signing an enforceable and valid contract). Can a contract be valid even if one ofrepparttar 132667 "signatories" lacks this sine qua non trait? Inrepparttar 132668 absence of consciousness, there is little point in talking about free will (or rights which depend on sentience). So, isrepparttar 132669 contract not a contract at all? Does it not reflectrepparttar 132670 intentions ofrepparttar 132671 parties?

The answer is inrepparttar 132672 negative. The contract between a mother and her fetus is derived fromrepparttar 132673 larger Social Contract. Society through its apparatuses stands forrepparttar 132674 embryorepparttar 132675 same way that it represents minors,repparttar 132676 mentally retarded, andrepparttar 132677 insane. Society steps in and hasrepparttar 132678 recognized right and moral obligation to do so wheneverrepparttar 132679 powers ofrepparttar 132680 parties to a contract (implicit or explicit) are not balanced. It protects small citizens from big monopolies,repparttar 132681 physically weak fromrepparttar 132682 thug,repparttar 132683 tiny opposition fromrepparttar 132684 mighty administration,repparttar 132685 barely surviving radio station fromrepparttar 132686 claws ofrepparttar 132687 devouring state mechanism. It also hasrepparttar 132688 right and obligation to intervene, intercede and representrepparttar 132689 unconscious: this is why euthanasia is absolutely forbidden withoutrepparttar 132690 consent ofrepparttar 132691 dying person. There is not much difference betweenrepparttar 132692 embryo andrepparttar 132693 comatose.

A typical contract statesrepparttar 132694 rights ofrepparttar 132695 parties. It assumesrepparttar 132696 existence of parties which are "moral personhoods" or "morally significant persons" in other words, persons who are holders of rights and can demand from us to respect these rights. Contracts explicitly elaborate some of these rights and leaves others unmentioned because ofrepparttar 132697 presumed existence ofrepparttar 132698 Social Contract. The typical contract assumes that there is a social contract which applies torepparttar 132699 parties torepparttar 132700 contract and which is universally known and, therefore, implicitly incorporated in every contract. Thus, an explicit contract can deal withrepparttar 132701 property rights of a certain person, while neglecting to mention that person's rights to life, to free speech, torepparttar 132702 enjoymentrepparttar 132703 fruits of his lawful property and, in general to a happy life.

There is little debate thatrepparttar 132704 Mother is a morally significant person and that she is a rights-holder. All born humans are and, more so, all adults above a certain age. But what aboutrepparttar 132705 unborn fetus?

One approach is thatrepparttar 132706 embryo has no rights until certain conditions are met and only upon their fulfillment is he transformed into a morally significant person ("moral agent"). Opinions differ as to what arerepparttar 132707 conditions. Rationality, or a morally meaningful and valued life are some ofrepparttar 132708 oft cited criteria. The fallaciousness of this argument is easy to demonstrate: children are irrational is this a licence to commit infanticide?

A second approach says that a person hasrepparttar 132709 right to life because it desires it.

But then what about chronic depressives who wish to die do we haverepparttar 132710 right to terminate their miserable lives? The good part of life (and, therefore,repparttar 132711 differential and meaningful test) is inrepparttar 132712 experience itself not inrepparttar 132713 desire to experience.

Another variant says that a person hasrepparttar 132714 right to life because once his life is terminated his experiences cease. So, how should we judgerepparttar 132715 right to life of someone who constantly endures bad experiences (and, as a result, harbors a death wish)? Should he better be "terminated"?


Sam Vaknin is the author of Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisited and After the Rain - How the West Lost the East. He is a columnist for Central Europe Review, United Press International (UPI) and eBookWeb and the editor of mental health and Central East Europe categories in The Open Directory, Suite101 and searcheurope.com.

Visit Sam's Web site at http://samvak.tripod.com

Abortion and the Right to Life - Part III

Written by Sam Vaknin

Continued from page 1

Still, not every immoral act involvingrepparttar termination of life can be classified as murder. Phenomenology is deceiving:repparttar 132653 acts lookrepparttar 132654 same (cessation of life functions,repparttar 132655 prevention of a future). But murder isrepparttar 132656 intentional termination ofrepparttar 132657 life of a human who possesses, atrepparttar 132658 moment of death, a consciousness (and, in most cases, a free will, especiallyrepparttar 132659 will not to die). Abortion isrepparttar 132660 intentional termination of a life which hasrepparttar 132661 potential to develop into a person with consciousness and free will. Philosophically, no identity can be established between potential and actuality. The destruction of paints and cloth is not tantamount (not to say identical) torepparttar 132662 destruction of a painting by Van Gogh, made up of these very elements. Paints and cloth are converted to a painting throughrepparttar 132663 intermediacy and agency ofrepparttar 132664 Painter. A cluster of cells a human makes only throughrepparttar 132665 agency of Nature. Surely,repparttar 132666 destruction ofrepparttar 132667 painting materials constitutes an offence againstrepparttar 132668 Painter. Inrepparttar 132669 same way,repparttar 132670 destruction ofrepparttar 132671 fetus constitutes an offence against Nature. But there is no denying that in both cases, no finished product was eliminated. Naturally, this becomes less and less so (the severity ofrepparttar 132672 terminating act increases) asrepparttar 132673 process of creation advances.

Classifying an abortion as murder poses numerous and insurmountable philosophical problems.

No one disputesrepparttar 132674 now common view thatrepparttar 132675 main crime committed in aborting a pregnancy is a crime against potentialities. If so, what isrepparttar 132676 philosophical difference between aborting a fetus and destroying a sperm and an egg? These two contain allrepparttar 132677 information (=allrepparttar 132678 potential) and their destruction is philosophically no less grave thanrepparttar 132679 destruction of a fetus. The destruction of an egg and a sperm is even more serious philosophically:repparttar 132680 creation of a fetus limitsrepparttar 132681 set of all potentials embedded inrepparttar 132682 genetic material torepparttar 132683 one fetus created. The egg and sperm can be compared torepparttar 132684 famous wave function (state vector) in quantum mechanics repparttar 132685 represent millions of potential final states (=millions of potential embryos and lives). The fetus isrepparttar 132686 collapse ofrepparttar 132687 wave function: it represents a much more limited set of potentials. If killing an embryo is murder because ofrepparttar 132688 elimination of potentials how should we considerrepparttar 132689 intentional elimination of many more potentials through masturbation and contraception?

The argument that it is difficult to say which sperm cell will impregnaterepparttar 132690 egg is not serious. Biologically, it does not matter they all carryrepparttar 132691 same genetic content. Moreover, would this counter-argument still hold if, in future, we were be able to identifyrepparttar 132692 chosen one and eliminate only it? In many religions (Catholicism) contraception is murder. In Judaism, masturbation is "the corruption ofrepparttar 132693 seed" and such a serious offence that it is punishable byrepparttar 132694 strongest religious penalty: eternal ex-communication ("Karet").

If abortion is indeed murder how should we resolverepparttar 132695 following moral dilemmas and questions (some of them patently absurd):

Is a natural abortionrepparttar 132696 equivalent of manslaughter (through negligence)?

Do habits like smoking, drug addiction, vegetarianism infringe uponrepparttar 132697 right to life ofrepparttar 132698 embryo? Do they constitute a violation ofrepparttar 132699 contract?

Reductio ad absurdum: if, inrepparttar 132700 far future, research will unequivocally prove that listening to a certain kind of music or entertaining certain thoughts seriously hampersrepparttar 132701 embryonic development should we apply censorship torepparttar 132702 Mother?

Should force majeure clauses be introduced torepparttar 132703 Mother-Embryo pregnancy contract? Will they giverepparttar 132704 motherrepparttar 132705 right to cancelrepparttar 132706 contract? Willrepparttar 132707 embryo have a right to terminaterepparttar 132708 contract? Shouldrepparttar 132709 asymmetry persist:repparttar 132710 Mother will have no right to terminate butrepparttar 132711 embryo will, or vice versa?

Being a rights holder, canrepparttar 132712 embryo (=the State) litigate against his Mother or Third Parties (the doctor that aborted him, someone who hit his mother and brought about a natural abortion) even after he died?

Should anyone who knows about an abortion be considered an accomplice to murder?

If abortion is murder why punish it so mildly? Why is there a debate regarding this question? "Thou shalt not kill" is a natural law, it appears in virtually every legal system. It is easily and immediately identifiable. The fact that abortion does not "enjoy"repparttar 132713 same legal and moral treatment says a lot.

Sam Vaknin is the author of Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisited and After the Rain - How the West Lost the East. He is a columnist for Central Europe Review, United Press International (UPI) and eBookWeb and the editor of mental health and Central East Europe categories in The Open Directory, Suite101 and searcheurope.com.

Visit Sam's Web site at http://samvak.tripod.com

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