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matthewshearin
With Dawkins being a rational scientist, I'm surprised people think he would not have said what he did. Down Syndrome is a debilitating condition that places an inherent (severe) disability on the individual, and I can speak from personal experience the media does not show the public a balanced version of the disorder. They are not all healthy, charming, and loving, but can suffer from severe depression as adults because they can't keep up with their peers, so yes, in some ways Dawkins is right that they can suffer.
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chandlerklebs
"His view is offensive and I strongly disagree with it, but it’s not as bad as some people thought."
Actually, I think that I am more upset with Dawkins than most people would think. I know what his reasoning can lead to and I am not sure if I able able to find common ground with him.
I also feel a great responsibility to say that my views on morality do not match that of Richard Dawkins. I hope that I get a chance to explain why.
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anon
So, the bottom line is this, a foetus is not a person. You can claim otherwise till the cows come home. It still is not a person. It has no sentience, no rights, it is not a human being. It is human only as skin cells are human. As recognised by law.
And persons with DS have a host of pretty awful health problems, not just intellectual impairment. Which is why most people quietly abort the foetuses. In 50 years time we won't even be having this debate.
Sometimes Dawkins expresses himself bluntly. But he was talking about the very real problems and ongoing health and intellectual impairment issues that a person with DS will suffer if you allow a foetus to come to term. I don't think it is immoral to keep a disabled foetus, it is every woman's choice. His mistake was wording himself too bluntly. And expecting other people to be intelligent enough to understand him.
What's amusing is that some pro choicers are actually pillorying him because he stated categorically that if foetuses had sentience and were human beings - rather than blobs, and later on blobs with limbs which is what they are (science, bitch! - it's a quote, deal with it) he would be anti abortion. He said - and I quote:
https://twitter.com/RichardDawkins/status/503104718756122625
"Blogger said woman's rights over own body extend to abortion even if fetus conscious & writing poetry in womb. I profoundly disagree. That really would be murder most foul. I'm pro-choice precisely because (to the extent that) the foetus has no brain to be conscious with."
So it's absolutely clear, Dawkins cares about sentient human beings and that's why abortion is fine by him, because as we all know foetuses aren't human beings.
PS, forced birthing - which is when an anti-choicer would force a woman to give birth even though she wants to abort the foetus - is the equivalent of being a rapist. Women do have rights, sentience and are human beings.
Dawkins was talking about foetuses. Not people. It's just a woman's choice. Would you choose to give your child DS? Of course not. Would Dawkins kill a human being or force a woman to have an abortion? Of course not.
End of discussion.
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DianaFeb
"So, the bottom line is this, a foetus is not a person."
One problem here:
The dictionary says otherwise.
This is from The Free Dictionary:
 In  humans,  the  unborn  young  from  the  end  of  the  eighth  week  after  conception  to  the  moment  of  birth,  as  distinguished  from  the  earlier  embryo.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
1.  (Biology)  the  embryo  of  a  mammal  in  the  later  stages  of  development,  when  it  shows  all  the  main  recognizable  features  of  the  mature  animal,  esp  a  human  embryo  from  the  end  of  the  second  month  of  pregnancy  until  birth.
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ohdear
You do know that nothing you quote supports any of your claims, right? Are anti choicers actually unaware of the science or do they choose to pretend disbelief in it, I wonder.
A blob with legs is still a blob with legs. A clay ornament of a pig looks like a pig too. And it's not one. Sorry to rain on your parade.
Here's actual science (though I suppose you will avert your eyes from the evils of the truth).
http://thebrainbank.scienceblog.com/2012/12/04/what-can-science-add-to-the-abortion-debate/
"however, during these early days the neural pathways responsible for converting senses to conscious experiences have yet to develop. This means what we are seeing are just reflexes, controlled entirely by the developing brainstem and spinal cord.
In fact, we know that the brain structures necessary for conscious experience of pain DO NOT DEVELOP until 29-30 weeks, while the conscious processing of sounds is only made possible after the 26th week. Even when the fetal brain possesses all its adult structures, scientists are cautious to assume it possesses what we refer to as ‘consciousness’. This is mainly because the low oxygen levels and a constant barrage of sleep-inducing chemicals from the placenta ensure that, until birth, the foetus remains heavily sedated.
It seems that, in the womb, a fetus is unlikely to ever experience traditional consciousness. However, we do know that from the time neural pathways are in place (the last weeks before birth) the fetus can form rudimentary memories."
And this (and any other scientific article):
http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/when-does-consciousness-arise/?page=1
"But when does...consciousness begin? Consciousness requires a sophisticated network of highly interconnected components, nerve cells. Its physical substrate, the thalamo-cortical complex that provides consciousness with its highly elaborate content, BEGINS to be put in place between the 24th and 28th week of gestation. Roughly two months later synchrony of the electroencephalographic (EEG) rhythm across both cortical hemispheres signals the onset of global neuronal integration...
As Hugo Lagercrantz, a pediatrician at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, discovered two decades ago, a massive surge of norepinephrine—more powerful than during any skydive or exposed climb the fetus may undertake in its adult life—as well as the release from anesthesia and sedation that occurs when the fetus disconnects from the maternal placenta, arouses the baby so that it can deal with its new circumstances. It draws its first breath, wakes up and begins to experience life".
Summation - foetuses are probably never conscious before the moment of birth although very late term foetuses have the ability to form rudimentary memories. All foetuses definitely DO NOT HAVE the brain structure in place for consciousness before approximately 29 weeks and do not integrate their neural structures until many weeks later.
Or, to put it more simply, it's a blob. Then a blob with limbs. And finally in the LAST FEW WEEKS is possibly more than just a blob as it may have the ability to be conscious, although it is almost certainly not conscious until birth.
Do you know how many abortions in the USA were late term abortions during the year 2009? Approximately 1,032. According to the Guttmacher institute.
If you would like to focus on the approximately one thousand and thirty two late term abortions carried out yearly in the USA, you might even be able to use science to back up your opposition.
But all the other blobs aborted were just that. Blobs.
And of course you will dismiss this. Because this is and always has been about controlling women.
Don't you just hate those pesky scientific facts?
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Griffonn
A fetus is not a person the same way we once declared women weren't people and blacks weren't people.
And yet it is a crime to treat a hamster the way we treat unborn babies.
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ohdear
Genuinely funny :) Cheers. A foetus isn't a person in the way a blob of cells or some hair isn't a person. Since you're busy pretending not to know the scientific facts I've posted them above.
Don't you just hate it when pesky science screws with your ranting?
Keep on trolling :)
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Griffonn
By the time you know you're pregnant, you're way beyond a blob of cells.
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ohdear
You can know within days of conception that you are pregnant. Yes, you can.
As already stated above, quoting directly from scientific articles (links provided above, but a ten second search will find you hundreds more) A blob with legs is still a blob with legs. A clay ornament of a pig looks like a pig too. But it's not one.
Here's actual science on the subject:
"however, during these early days the neural pathways responsible for converting senses to conscious experiences have yet to develop. This means what we are seeing are just reflexes, controlled entirely by the developing brainstem and spinal cord.
In fact, we know that the brain structures necessary for conscious experience of pain DO NOT DEVELOP until 29-30 weeks, while the conscious processing of sounds is only made possible after the 26th week. Even when the fetal brain possesses all its adult structures, scientists are cautious to assume it possesses what we refer to as ‘consciousness’. This is mainly because the low oxygen levels and a constant barrage of sleep-inducing chemicals from the placenta ensure that, until birth, the foetus remains heavily sedated.
It seems that, in the womb, a fetus is unlikely to ever experience traditional consciousness. However, we do know that from the time neural pathways are in place (the last weeks before birth) the fetus can form rudimentary memories."
And this
"But when does...consciousness begin? Consciousness requires a sophisticated network of highly interconnected components, nerve cells. Its physical substrate, the thalamo-cortical complex that provides consciousness with its highly elaborate content, BEGINS to be put in place between the 24th and 28th week of gestation. Roughly two months later synchrony of the electroencephalographic (EEG) rhythm across both cortical hemispheres signals the onset of global neuronal integration...
As Hugo Lagercrantz, a pediatrician at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, discovered two decades ago, a massive surge of norepinephrine—more powerful than during any skydive or exposed climb the fetus may undertake in its adult life—as well as the release from anesthesia and sedation that occurs when the fetus disconnects from the maternal placenta, arouses the baby so that it can deal with its new circumstances. It draws its first breath, wakes up and begins to experience life".
Summation - foetuses are probably never conscious before the moment of birth although very late term foetuses have the ability to form rudimentary memories. All foetuses definitely DO NOT HAVE the brain structure in place for consciousness before approximately 29 weeks and do not integrate their neural structures until many weeks later.
Or, to put it more simply, it's some cells. Then a blob. Then a blob with limbs. And finally in the LAST FEW WEEKS is possibly more than just a blob as it may have the ability to be conscious, although it is almost certainly not conscious until birth.
Do you know how many abortions in the USA were late term abortions during the year 2009? Approximately 1,032. According to the Guttmacher institute.
As I said to your fellow anti choicer, if you would like to focus on the approximately one thousand and thirty two late term abortions carried out yearly in the USA, you might even be able to use science to back up your opposition.
But all the other blobs aborted were just that. Blobs.
If you dismiss this actual science in favour of falling back on anti choice rhetoric it will become clear that this is and has always been about controlling women for you. Just as it is for the great majority of anti choicers.
Anyway, I've proven my point using scientific facts. And I really cannot be bothered responding to the same nonsense over and over. So I won't check the thread again. There are none so blind as those who will not see.
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Griffonn
If by "choice" you mean - as most "pro choice" means - that a woman ought to be allowed to "choose" whether her child is recognized as a human being with rights, then I am proud to be called "anti choice".
Whether one person has rights is never another person's "choice".
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Graeme
In our courts of law and our higher institutions, these issues have long been ended and codified into law. The discussion, there, has indeed ended.
These vacuous attempts to equate foetuses with persons are doomed to failure but it seems that there are many people, I suspect largely of a religious background, must try as they might to flog this dead horse.
I cannot find anywhere on this website, the suggestion that there is a dialogue in place. A dialogue which could possibly lead to people being convinced to change their minds and accept that a foetus is not a person. Rather, the site talks about "tactics" to get their argument across. Imagine a philosophy professor wondering what "tactics" he is going to use to explain a part of philosophy to his students! Excuse me, but the "tactics" we use in bilateral discourse are arguments.
Their position is utterly entrenched, their means of persuasion utterly and wilfully intransigent.
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anon
Agreed. And of course they are not pro life. They are anti choice for women. It is no surprise then that it is religious persons who wish to control women, their religions attempt to do the same thing.
Unless a person has themselves personally adopted, or at the very least fostered and raised and cared for an unwanted baby they do not get to call themselves pro life.
The only difference between this site and others like it is that some of the anti choicers here start off by being polite.
On the plus side, simply stating the scientific fact that a foetus is not a person was met with much more hysteria twenty years ago. Simply stating that a woman has absolute autonomy over her own body was almost always met with utter hysteria. Although that is still the case in many forums, slowly but surely the repetition of the truth is having an effect. We must keep speaking up. We cannot leave the debate to those who would ignore the facts in favour of religious dogma.
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Graeme
I accept that there are many non-religious people who are against early termination and I am open and willing to be persuaded one way or the other. I just haven't read any good argument that gives us concern for 100 cells of human DNA despite its "potential". Never mind whether we should weigh up the rights of the carrier.
Yes, the "tactics" that are being used to change hearts and minds are being forcefully and systematically made - but they have the disadvantage of being poor, vacuous and transparent.
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Griffonn
Actually I was converted to pro life when someone argued (more eloquently than I can) that there are only two options: either human life is sacred, or might makes right.
There is no way to have it in between. If they can vote on what makes a living human creature a "real person", they can do it to you as easily as they can do it to a black person or a Jew or a baby.
The argument for abortion is identical to the arguments that used to justify domestic violence: "it's a parasite, never mind how it got here - it's in my space; I have rights - it's not my equal"
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ohdear
Nope. You were always anti choice and pro control of women and are now simply fabricating nonsense. (Cue hysteria). Nice try though :)
Oh, and I posted the science above for the anti choicers who can't use the internet. Try not to let the facts scare you or stop you ranting.
Right this minute, a woman had an abortion. And nothing happened because of it. And it's going to keep happening. Get used to it.
Here come the trolls :)
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Griffonn
So basically if you don't like reality, you just make up fantasies.
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ohdear
Says the person who just made up a fantasy.
Brilliant. You can't make this stuff up :D
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Griffonn
I don't think distraction is working all that well for you guys.
Most people are perfectly aware that what is being killed is a child. Laughing doesn't make your movement look any better.
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anon
Well, I certainly accept the premise that a person might be anti choice for women and not be religious. I have never yet met or spoken to one who is not religious though.
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sharkatodd
The idea that a Down Syndrome child increases suffering in the world may be misplaced. I can't speak on behalf of parents or the children, themselves, but I can say that people who have been around Down Syndrome people (including myself) have gained greatly from the experience. They have a perspective on life that is refreshing and I believe their emotionally expressive behaviour is greatly needed in a world of emotionally repressed "normal" people.
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Griffonn
When I was a kid, I looked forward to visits from a person with Down's who used to visit. We all thought it was a treat. We loved him to death - he had such great big smiles and such great big hugs and so much enthusiasm and was so much fun, and so full of joy.
One of the formative experiences of my life was the day he was teased and bullied by a bunch of kids, and I realized - well, I'm not sure what I realized, but it changed my worldview, whatever it was that happened that day.
How could anyone not love this guy?
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benjaminodonnell
I can see that that may be true, though DS children do make greater demands on family and the economy that fully abled children. I see DS as a borderline case. If it's caught early, I see no problem with terminating the pregnancy, and I do think that's probably the more moral action, though I can see arguments the other way. Later in the pregnancy, though, I begin to have issues with abortion...
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ohdear
Luckily, you'll never have to have one. And even more luckily for women, they don't need your permission.
Men need to learn to stop talking about this subject. No, you have no rights on it. At all. Your rights stop when you choose not to wear a condom. Don't donate your sperm to any woman. If the condom breaks, too bad, that's life.
Her body. Her autonomy. And that's that.
Of course, you can keep giving your unwanted and unneeded opinion. But get used to it being ignored.
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Griffonn
If you've never been aborted, you have no right to talk about it.
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tactical_fail
Dawkins himself has many confusions when it comes to this kind of thing. He says that we are the 'lucky ones' because there are so many people who will never be born. Utter nonsense. There is no 'we' until we are born (in fact, there's never a central 'person', that's not how the mind works). There are no 'people' who were never born so there's nobody to compare us to, and say we are the 'lucky ones'.
However, about DS, he is absolutely right and most of the people claiming to disagree, are willing over-emotional idiots. The others are just incidentally ignorant and need to think things through more and not let their 'heart' rule over their head so much.
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benjaminodonnell
Um, poetry?
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Stan
Dawkins' backpedaling is disingenuous. He says Twitter's 140-character limit prevented him from being clear that he was saying what HE would do, not telling the questioner what to do. But his tweet was 110 characters long, leaving plenty of space to add "I would" in front of the first sentence and "I believe" in front of the second one. He didn't do that, and now he wants us to believe that his second sentence was his personal belief? Bunk.
I've been a fan of Dawkins, and while I doubt I would ever want to abort a child I would be the father of, I am generally pro-choice. But even in his longer explanation, he bases his conclusion on the premise that aborting a fetus with Ds reduces suffering, but he neither offers evidence to support this premise nor attempts to rebut the contradictory evidence.
Let's be clear: ALL parents who love their children experience suffering because of those children. Kids get hurt, they get sick, they get in trouble, they make bad choices that cause emotional and sometimes physical and financial pain for their parents, and they rarely live out the dreams their parents had for them at birth. Happily for the human race, most parents believe the happiness and rewards children bring outweigh the suffering. And that is just as true for parents of children with Ds as it is for parents of typical children. Dawkins' assertion that aborting a fetus with Ds reduces suffering is simply wrong.
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Matthew
As a pro-choice person, I've always believed the the pro-life crowd make their arguments with the best if intentions. I very much appreciate your attempt here to see the best in the person with whom you disagree. Would that we could all approach contentious issues in this manner. Bravo.
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ohdear
Unfortunately, this is simply untrue. We see over and over again enraged and hate filled anti choicers who wish only to control and harm women.
There are a few who do it with the best of misguided intentions, but they are vastly in the minority.
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DianaFeb
Tell me about these "enraged and hate-filled anti-choicers."
Where have you seen or heard them?
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