Is Abortion Women’s Right To Control Their Bodies?


Do women’s rights, which include their right to health and to make fully informed decisions regarding their bodies, extend to other beings with future of values like ours inside them? Is it true that the right of women to decide what they can and cannot do with their bodies extend to foetuses existing inside their bodies? Does women’s rights to control their own reproduction include induced abortion?

Granting the notion that our bodies are our own properties; does it follow that women can choose to kill their foetuses inside them because foetuses are also their own properties? Or if we grant that foetuses are separate individuals with future of values like ours, does it follow that women can choose to kill these trespassers?

These questions help us to critically examine the claim that abortion is permissible because women’s do have the right to control their own bodies, primarily the right to control their own reproduction.

Women do have the rights to control their own bodies. They do also have rights to control their own reproduction through contraception, abstinence of intercourse on dangerous days, et cetera. Do these rights extend to foetuses inside of them? I do not think so. Imagine the following:

Jane decided to chop off the legs of her foetus, at week 7. Grant that she has the right to choose what happens in and to her body, Dr. John, with help of modern technology, performed the operation and chopped Jane’s foetus legs off. In week 10, Jane decided to chop the hands of her foetus off and John performed what is reasoned to be Jane’s personal choice and right. Taking it to an extreme Jane decided to pluck her foetus’ eyes out, et cetera. Two alternative endings could be that of (i) Jane in her final trimester decided to perform prostaglandin or (ii) Jane decided to give birth to an eyeless-amputated child1.

If it is true that women’s right to control their own bodies’ extent to their foetuses, then Jane’s moral actions are permissible.

If our moral sentiments, assuming we are not morally blind, toward Jane’s action are of not only disapproval but also of condemning Jane’s actions as inhumane, then it is clear that Jane’s right to choose what happen in and to her body does not extend to her foetus. Jane’s moral actions are not permissible. Therefore it is not true that women’s right to control their own bodies’ extent to their foetuses inside them.

This is the reason I think it is not true that induced abortion is women’s rights to control their bodies. Women’s rights over their own bodies do not extend to foetuses inside them.

[1] An eyeless-amputated child shows that Jane action where not only done to her own body but also another separate individual.

110 thoughts on “Is Abortion Women’s Right To Control Their Bodies?

  1. It is not against abortion per se but one of the reason which is offered in support of it, namely women ultimate power over their body.

    When people are not the ultimate authority of their own body that begs the question then, who does then have power over the body of another.

    The idea that women are property is nothing new under the sun a horribly toxic idea amplified by christianity and other organized religions.

    So, in essence, you need to argue for women to (as they still are, and more so in religious settings) be treated as property because they are not to be entrusted with bodily autonomy and the full set of rights given to men in society.

    The notion in my first comment describing the idea’s contained in your argument as ‘inherently misogynistic’ would seem to be quite accurate.

  2. The problem with your analogy is motive. In your analogy Jane has no reason to mutilate the foetus, it is senseless (which is why we disagree with it). However, abortion is not done for no reason. It is usually done to save the woman’s life or because the woman is not capable to raise the child. This is why not even pro-choice advocates support your analogy because it does not address the reasons why someone would have an abortion in the first place.

    • Thank you Robert for your comment. Your comment would have been on the mark Robert if I was arguing for the wrongness of abortion from my Jane-analogy. I do not. I argued that it is false that women’s right over their bodies extend to the foetuses. This is my case in modus tollens(p→q, ¬q, ∴ ¬p)

      1. If it is true that women’s right to control their own bodies’ extent to their foetuses, then Jane’s moral actions are permissible.
      2. It is not the case that Jane’s moral actions are permissible
      3. Therefore it is not the case that it s true that women’s right to control their own bodies’ extent to their foetuses.

      That is all I defended in this article. I think abortion is permissible to save the woman’s life because saving woman’s life is a morally justified reason to kill the foetus. I will disagree with you that woman not being capable to raise the child is a good reason to kill the foetus, simply because it fails rational tests. Think Robert, can a woman kill a 1 second born child because she is not capable of raising it?

      Let me know your thoughts Robert.

      • I still feel you are only seeing half the picture. If I were to stick a knife in you and cut out your insides, you would be horrified at my immoral action. Yet you would have no objection to a surgeon doing the same thing (and in fact would pay him/her to do it). This is because it is not a senseless action. Therefore abortion must also be viewed in context and not solely on the basis of the procedure itself. Hence point 2 is only correct as Jane as no motive or reason for doing so and would lead to the birth of a deformed child condemned to a life of suffering.

        The killing of a 1 second baby is unacceptable because an (admitably arbitrary) line has been crossed. We consider the moment of birth the point at which a child is formed and obtains rights, until it takes its first breath it is (from a legal point of view) the property of the mother. All of which is beside the point as most abortions take place before 12 weeks of pregnancy when the foetus bares little resemblance to a child.

        The simple fact is that the embryo and foetus (especially at the earliest stages) is dependent on its mother for life and not capable of supporting itself. As the mother is in control of the situation she can decide if the pregnancy continues (after all she usually decides if it begins at all)

        • Robert, I think you think that I see half the picture because you think I am arguing against abortion in this article. I do not.

          I am arguing against the reason that abortion is permissible because women have rights over their bodies.

          To show that my case is not correct, you need to deny either (1) or (2) or both. You agreed that (2) is true. Do you think (1) is not true? Why?

          • Jane’s actions are not morally permissible because they are senseless mutilation. Abortion however is not, there is usually a justifiable reason. For example we usually accept that children are the property of their parents, but this is not unlimited. So if parents started mutilating their children we would revoke the rights we otherwise allow them to have.

          • Robert, I am only after the reason that induced abortion is permissible because women have unlimited right over their bodies.

            Jane’s analogy is to show what would be like if women truly had unlimited right over their bodies.

            If you agree with me that (2) Jane’s action are not permissible, which you do, then my question is do you agree with my premise (1)?

          • We’re going in circles here. Random acts of violence are not permissible separate of the abortion debate. Jane’s actions are not permissible because they are random acts of violence.

            You would not presume to tell a woman you she can and can not have sex with, whether or not she should use contraception because those are all personal issues and nobody’s business but her own. Note how I gave that example without resorting to extreme cases of mutilation or murder.

          • Robert, I think we are going in circles because you think my case here is about abortion. It is not against abortion per se but one of the reason which is offered in support of it, namely women ultimate power over their body.

            The extreme case, Robert, is a tactic in arguing that reduce a certain notion to absurdity, argumentum ad absurdum

  3. @Arkenaten

    The worst part of such a discussion is that it is by and large debated by men

    [sarcasm] But Arkenaten you forget that if you possess the holy ‘peen it allows your sage words to be applicable to *everything*. [/sarcasm]


  4. @Prayson

    but a society which prima facie protects the well being all beings with future of value like ours.

    What does that look like? Because if that is the goal of your campaign against women it would seem to be based on a happy-clappy utopian notion that, given the current state of affairs, is extremely unlikely to happen.

    21 children died, mostly from preventible causes, in the time it took to bang out this reply. Yet your corpus of work seems to focus on stripping women of their reproductive rights as the solution to problem of life being wasted. Children and society do better when women are educated and given fully autonomous human being status in society contrary to your claim that somehow taking away women’s rights will improve the situation.

    It makes me angry that you think that women’s rights are the cause of the problem and that their freedom needs to be censured to to somehow ‘preserve’ life. We are pissing away human lives by the second because of the economic and political choices we make every day and the systems we choose to inhabit.

    Oh hey, another 21 children just died because we can’t equitably distribute food in the world; outlawing abortion would only increase this number. How ethical is that?

    So tell me more about this society you envision in which women have their autonomy, yet somehow are beholden to another ‘person’ (aka the fetus) for 9 months with no say in the matter. I’m not seeing a lot of protection for women and their freedoms in the (dis)Utopia you describe/allude to.

    To use a unlikely utopian vision as a reason to subjugate women seems to be neither a logical or an ethical argument.

    • You make good cases for the poverty of children in the world. I do not think killing little ones(in Latin foetuses) is not a solution. Poverty and induced abortion are two different problems that cry for solutions.

      In my articles I am dealing only with induced abortion.

      Remember my case against induced abortion is that what make killing you and I wrong, applies also to foetsuses. If this is true, then poverty does not make it right what is wrong. You and I, or children dying in poverty cannot be killed to solve or avoid poverty. If this is true, then I do not think poverty makes killing us nor foetuses right.

    • If we talk about “their foetus” as if “their” is the important part, what changes in late-term foetuses or “their born child”. In fact, I am still my mothers child.
      I’m pro-choice, but I’m not sure “their” is the right argument.

      • The worst part of such a discussion is that it is by and large debated by men. It comes across as slightly shady, like talking behind women’s backs. And while I acknowledge your pro-choice stance you are now nitpicking about semantics? Odd.

        ”If we talk about…”

        There is no ‘WE’ in this, as we are men.
        It is wholly a woman’s choice, subject to current law. Their bodies. Period.

        • That’s a dodge. And my comment isn’t about semantics. I simply wanted to know what changes when a fetus that can be aborted becomes a child that cannot.
          I am still my mothers child, but it’s dumb to assume she can still kill me. Without considerable medical issues, the same is true of late-term pregnancies.
          You focused on the word “their”, and want to know how that, as an argument, works.

  5. The person who used the analogy of the home intruder is right. You don’t have the right to torture or mutilate someone, but you certainly have the right to eject them from their home. And you know what? You have that right even if you originally did something like carelessly leave a window open so that they gained access.

    • I do think we have the right to eject them out of our home but we do not have the right to actively kill them in the process of taking them out unless they are surely going to kill us and themselves.

      I hope that in the future there would be a way to safely remove unborns.

  6. If we change the analogy to a trespasser–as you put it–of the home and not the body, what are your rights then? Do you you have the right to amputate and pluck the eyes of that intruder? Do you have the right to torture that person? Do you have the right to kill them? I believe, by American law, the answers are no, no, yes. And when it comes to a hone invader I think I this this is clear. You may kill them to protect yourself, but you may not cause them undue harm and suffering.
    But consider also a medical analogy: imagine a person whose kidneys have failed and is not a suitable candidate for dialysis. In fact, until a suitable kidney donor can be found there is only one option; to keep the patient alive their circulatory system must be linked up to your circulatory system so your kidneys can clean his blood. You will both be bed-bound for the estimated 4 months it will take for a compatible kidney to become available. Are you obliged to put your life on hold and become bed-bound for 4 months and put yourself at an elevated risk of illness for this patient? If you don’t do it they will die, but are you really obliged to go through with it?

    • You are correct that we have a right to kill a trespassers who are going to kill us. You are correct that we have rights to kick-out these trespassers but I argued that our kicking-out does not extend to actively killing them in this process.

    • My wife and I have four kids, the youngest is 17 and the last living at home. Coping with and supporting my wife during her pregnancies was a chore, although one I took great pride in doing my best in. One moment she’s fine. The next she is yelling about me for something I didn’t know I hadn’t done or that I didn’t even know needed to be done. A few minutes later, she’s bawling like a baby and I am at a complete loss. There is something to be said for husbands! Somehow you have to wrap your mind around the fact that you will be a father again, but at the same time you have to live with, cope, and support your wife during pregnancy. It isn’t an easy job, but it isn’t impossible either.

      The first few moments with our new baby is the only real time that we can truly recognize the joys held in the gift of a giving birth. Eyes that see, ears that hear and tiny hands that flail and grasp are a sudden confirmation that the squirming swimmer that has been inside of her is an honest to goodness, living, breathing person. Nothing is more precious, nothing more comforting and more amazing than meeting your child for the very first time

      If you feel you are responsible enough to have sex, you should also be responsible enough to know that there is the possibility you will get pregnant. And as long as you are fertile, there is always a chance, actually. That’s why consenting to sex really amounts to consenting to the possibility of pregnancy. It’s not some punishment from pro-lifers, but rather an acceptance of how our reproductive systems work, as well as understanding cause and effect.

      Sometimes we do stupid things and we make mistakes – each and every one of us. But it is necessary to own up to them, especially if another life is at stake. There is a new person who, although not yet born or seen outside the womb, still depends on you!

      A baby conceived at an inconvenient time may affect goals or plans, but that does not mean that your life has to end because you have a baby. Actually, someone else’s life will end with an abortion, and that is your baby’s. You may think you’ll be able to quickly move on, but oftentimes women do have physical and psychological effects from a procedure which they can never change their mind about, even if such effects don’t come until years later. Shouldn’t responsibility involve considering these factors too, then? Abortion advocates portray abortion as a difficult (but necessary) decision. So why is it, then, that they oppose informed consent laws?

      If a woman is seeking an abortion because of an unplanned pregnancy which resulted from consensual sex, then by giving into the choice for an abortion, she is rejecting the responsibility that she has to her child, which she consented to and in part created. But the mother is not the only one who rejects responsibility through abortion. She did not make that baby all by herself, and it is the father’s duty to also take responsibility as well. If he is not willing to support the mother of his child, or worse, even pressures her to have the abortion, he is also acting on selfishness while rejecting his responsibilities. The same can also be said for friends and family members who do not take the opportunity to help, but rather harm with their pressure.

    • I know that a child in-utero is alive, suck her tumb, plays with the umbilical cord, goes to sleep and wakes up.

      I also know that she opens her mouth and screams a silent scream as the abortionist plucks away her legs during her abortion. She fights for her life and tries to avoid the suction cannula of the abortionist.

      Did you know these things Ishaiya?

          • Abortion providers will not tout fetal response in their papers, so there is not much written on ultrasound during abortion procedure, but it is used frequently.

            More than papers there are videos all over the net. If you are a layperson, start with the documentary movie Silent Scream.

          • So… you know this scientific fact which isn’t published anywhere… and the fact ultrasound shows something moves is relevant somehow.
            I will get to the documentary, but this is the context I’m going in with.

          • There are lots of references to this on multiple sites out there.

            It is well known that US is used during abortion, and high rez US shows fetus withdrawing, opening mouth, etc

            If you are looking for randomized blinded studies for the effect of abortion on fetal pain or suffering YOU WILL NOT FIND THEM.

      • Doesn’t answer my question. And what I know or feel about abortion or not is not is irrelevant here. The answer is of course that a man cannot know what it is like to carry a child for the best part of a year. A man will not ever know what a woman has to go through when faced with a pregnancy, nor have the responsibility for deciding what happens next. Not a man’s decision to make, it is a woman’s. And I say this because it is medically so. Men, unfortunate as it may be, are bystanders when it comes to making fundamental decisions about pregnancies and abortions. So do not confuse the issue here my friend, and try to turn the obvious facts against me and women-kind in general.

        • Ishaiya I do not know what it feels to carry a child. Since feeling are subjectively I do know you do not know how my wife felt when she carried our daughter. How it feels from one woman to another is different.

          My wife helps editing and correcting in topics I lack experience. So if you are asking that I lack a say because I am a man, then I will say it is not true because my wife not only agreed but also presented a case which I philosophized.

          It is irrelevant though to argue that because P does not experience A then P has no say about A. I have not experience racism but I think it is wrong. I have not experience homophobia but I think fear of homosexuals is wrong etc. Do you mean to say I have no say in issues like these because I am a bystander?

          • What I’m saying to you is exactly what I said, if you misunderstood it [as per usual] then that is not my problem. As I am addressing you, not your wife then this applies to you.

        • As a faithful husband, father of three, and a physician, I do have an idea of what happens to a pregnant body.

          The facts I stated are not meant to offend, but to present the idea that what “happens next” is not a woman’s choice, but a baby’s right to live vs murder in-utero!

          • Hmmm, well there as many views in the world as there are people. Your views are your own and you have my respect. However, women will continue to have abortions regardless of what you or I believe, so this discussion is moot, because abortion will never be outlawed, nor should it. The existence of the foetus is dependent upon the woman who carries it. What about all of those women who damage their unborn children through unavoidable illness, or those that purposely abuse their bodies, what do you say to them when their babies are still-born, or suffer the consequences of poor development. If you believe that it is murder then I think you misunderstand the validity of life. You obviously believe that we get one shot at this life, the very existentialist view, that we come from nothing and return to nothing. In my view and experience life is continuous regardless of physical form. Therefore a foetus does indeed have rights and exercises them in accordance with the mother. Some people are not destined to be here for very long as far as I understand things.
            You have to know that you seem as deluded to me as I must to you, yet who is right? We believe what we both subjectively believe with good reason.
            I myself have lived through seven pregnancies, the first four of which I lost all at twelve weeks through miscarriage. The DNC procedure is still performed as I’m sure you know in such cases in order to prevent infection from tissue that has not been expelled by the body naturally. My last three children came to full term though not without complications. I have spent years dealing with the loss and trying to find a place of understanding for why these things occur, and what I have presented to you is what I believe to be true. A foetus is indeed a life, and one that deserves the respect of an active consciousness with its own integrity. As far as I am concerned you cannot exterminate a life. If life and consciousness is continuous then there is no death, or destruction. It’s a different view isn’t it, and no doubt one that you will probably find offensive. I cannot help that.

          • Ishaiya, thank you so much for sharing your own personal experience. My heart sank reading about your seven pregnancies and I cannot and probably will never understand that gravity and the depth of the lost you had.

            I know that women will continue to have abortion no philosophical cases, no matter how sound they are, will change that.

            My primary aim is not to stop women from having abortion. I cannot. I believe it is the father and the mothers’ choice. My aim is to explain that it is wrong to kill their foetus unless the foetus is going to kill the mother. In the same way I think cheating one wife/husband is wrong but I cannot stop it. It is not my place to do it. My place it to show that it is wrong.

            I think life/consciousness continues too Ishaiya, death destroys only the body.

            Thank you so much for your comment that help me understand a little of where you come from.

          • Then you must do what you must do if you feel it is right. As expressed my views are slightly different in that I don’t believe any life is victim to anything including that of a foetus. Thank you for being so understanding however. I know that my views about abortion have changed since having children, it is a difficult concept to qualify when you haven’t had any children of your own, it is true that once you have them, and for a woman once you have carried a child then everything changes. Although not all children are born into healthy lives, and that raises another dilemma all of its own. I myself was subjected to a lot of abuse throughout my childhood, so raising my own children was always going to be a difficult challenge for me because of all the issues it raised. It’s not a cut and dried subject. In many cases if you knew with foresight what kind of life an unborn foetus might have, would you knowingly subject them to it? Maybe it’s better that some do not survive? We each only have our own views to base such premises on, so we have to believe in what brings us and those around us the most benefit I think.

          • Ishaiya, I was suppose to be aborted because I was going to kill my mother. We lived in a small two called Arusha, Tanzania. My parents where beyond poverty.

            In Tanzania, 1985, my dad’s signature was asked to allow doctors to poison me and cut me into pieces and remove me in order to save my mother’s life. I was born January 1986. My mothers hip joints were dislocated. She was brave. Now you know a little about me.

            Thank you so much for our exchange Ishaiya.

          • All I know is that some are meant to be here and some are not. That is an awful situation for your parents to have been in. Your mother was very brave. In fact all mothers that experience pregnancy then actually giving birth is extremely brave. It is so fraught with dangers and risk. Particularly if like me you have to undergo three cesareans. Considering the many many difficulties I experienced throughout all of my pregnancies I’m not sure I would ever want to go through another. For me personally the risk to my health would be too great.
            When I fell pregnant with my seventh child, my last it caused me many sleepless nights. The chances of my getting pregnant when I did were extremely slim, and ordinarily should not have happened. I could only assume that this person, who was to become my second son, had really wanted to be here. But I was really torn. Having a child is an enormous undertaking, and with age my health has declined. I have a rare genetic condition that causes me many problems. So I understand what it is like to have dislocated hips on more than one occasion.
            But as I said in my previous comment, once you know what having your own children is like it is difficult to contemplate ever giving another child up, if it chooses to live that is.
            So there I was faced with a dilemma that I know many women face daily. Then when I began to show symptoms of miscarriage again, I really hit a very low point. It is difficult with all the hormonal changes that go on inside a woman’s body throughout pregnancy to maintain emotional stability and focus, and yes it is different for all women, but it is still a roller-coaster of mood-swings and mental-warfare for all to one extent or another. That is something that is impossible to comprehend unless you have experienced it. My point is, it can sometimes be very difficult to make a carefully considered decision for a woman faced with pregnancy as to how she feels about it and how she wishes to deal with it when undergoing a cocktail of chemical and physiological changes that only occur at such times.
            I think any woman who survives a pregnancy, and undergoes childbirth, and the first year of that child’s life unscathed and emotionally unharmed is fortunate indeed, and is a rare breed. So choosing to have a child is as difficult as deciding to abort it in my view. It is an awful dilemma to be faced with if you are not one hundred percent within yourself and with the concept of being responsible for another life. Being accused with potential murder of an unborn foetus is the least of a woman’s worries when entering motherhood. It is an incredibly risky affair full stop. If it wasn’t for modern medicine then many unborn children and mothers simply would not make it, as had been the case for centuries millennia no doubt. Your mother was one of the lucky ones, I was one of the lucky ones.
            Thank you Prayson for allowing me to speak so freely about my experiences and my views.

          • Dear Ishaiya, on the contrary, I do not find you deluded and your view is not offensive.

            The only thing I find offensive is the act of abortion and the defense of it. But I do share with the idea that we do not have that moral authority to exterminate a life.

            You also brought up the issue of still-born babies. There are many causes for this including genetic abnormalities, as well as maternal-fetal developmental problems.

            I believe our discussion should remain focused on the issue at hand, that is the moral stance on therapeutic abortion which involves a volitional act by two parties (mother +abortionist) affects/exterminates a third party (baby) who does not have representation in this process.

            When I think of it in those terms it becomes a horrifying moral problem.

          • I agree that it is not anyone’s decision to exterminate another life. I appreciate your desire to stay focussed on the ‘apparent’ issue at hand, but I what I was trying to put across in my response to Prayson was that it is a very difficult issue to pin-point specifically to a given context. There are just too many factors involved in the decision making process, and in the general lack of understanding of what is truly the case for foetus and mother for anyone to say categorically that induced abortion is wrong. Your view is not the only one that exists as I previously stated, and that makes it applicable only to you and whomever else that happens to agree.
            As I said from my view, that I believe that the foetus has a conscious integrity of its own, and that it cannot be violated in any way. It exercises a choice as to whether it wishes to participate in physical life or not. As you and I will choose when it is our time to pass. In this context ‘morality’ is merely a belief, a subjective state of mind.
            What I personally think is dangerous is when human rights full stop are infringed upon due to another’s lack of understanding. That is a very real and common problem facing us all, and applies in all aspects and contexts of life, not just the topic of this post. That to me is a horrifying moral problem.

      • As a physician then you should recognize and understand that Life begins at the moment its twin, death, also springs into existence. One cannot have a defined ‘life’ without that life being able to ‘die.’ Without death there is no life. The former begets the latter. The latter assigns meaning to the former. One delineates the other, and fortunately the definition of death is not in dispute. Death is when electroencephalography (EEG) activity ceases. That’s it. That’s death. It follows quite naturally therefore that the onset of life is when foetal brain activity begins to exhibit regular and sustained wave patterns, and that occurs consistently around week 25 of pregnancy. Only after something can die can it be considered alive, and to argue anything to the contrary is patently absurd.

        • John I think it is a fourth time now that you echoed the same case in four different articles. The claim that without death there is no life, is not necessarily true because we can think of a state of affairs where there is no death yet there is life because death entails something was living but not anymore.

          Permanent cessation of EEG activity show that a human being that was living ceased to live. I gave your more reasons here: Abortion and A Flawed Brain-life Theory but instead of considering the case, you deny it and you chose a rabbit hunt of existence of souls 😉

          • And to the post you’re referring to, although spirited, it failed to be convincing. Your problem on this subject is that you are ignoring the fact that life began on earth 3.8 billion years ago and hasn’t been interrupted since. “Life” does not magically spring forth at conception. The egg and the sperm are already parts of the living system; a system that began 3.8 billion years ago. A foetus was never inorganic and suddenly became organic.

            As I’ve said in previous posts, if you want to argue anything apart from this physical reality then you’ll have to present evidence for the human soul… something you’ve already admitted to me doesn’t exist outside of your wishful thinking.

            Now, let us see what the physician has to say. Plus, I’d like to know what kind of doctor he is.

          • I do not know who is ignoring the fact that life began on earth billions years ago than a person who think that fetus before brain activity are not living(dead).

          • You don’t seem capable of understanding that life NEVER magically appears in the foetus. It was NEVER inorganic. The egg and the sperm were NEVER inorganic. It is ALL part of the living system… which began 8.3 billion years ago and has not been interrupted since. Either you are incapable of understanding this fact, or simply choosing to ignore it because it ruins your argument. Human life (a different definition) is measured by brain activity. Again, if you want to argue something to the contrary present your evidence for the human soul.

            Now, let’s hear what the physician has to say.

          • What is “human” life? Human life is sustained brain activity. Human death is no brain activity. It’s really rather simple.

            Of course, the subject could be complicated if you can produce evidence for the human soul… but you’ve already admitted that neither you nor anyone has any such evidence or even an indication that such evidence might exist. As such, the EEG definition stands whether you agree with it or not.

          • This flatly false because no brain activity from a human being who had brain activity shows brain death not the whole human death John. This shows the person is dying not the person is dead.

            This is a criteria used for beings that are dying John, going out of physical existence. Thus cannot be applied to foetuses

          • It’s a legal definition that works. I’m sure if there was some other (contradictory yet convincing) data available then the legal definitions would have already been changed. As they have not this system stands.

            Your example rests solely on the brain dead patient’s organic body being kept “active” by external means; ie. machines. It’s a meaningless example.

          • John, it is you who is making claims so the onus of proof is on you. You cannot simply claim and ask others to Google 😉 for you.

            Can you cite a medical book with that legal definition of human life?

          • John, the problem is that your definition is of your own making. There is no legal definition of human life that states what you claim.

            Unless and until you produce evidence to support your claim, I will have to dismiss it.

          • John, how am I choosing to be ignorant? You have not produce a single cited evidence to support your claim. Ignorance is holding a definition that is not defended in medical journal nor books nor proper authority.

            Ignorance will be me accepting your own made-up just-so unwarranted legal definition of human life.

          • John, I am confused. Was it not you who claimed that the legal definition of human life is sustained brain activity and failed to backup your made-up just-so legal definition?

            I did not claim anything, but for you to produce evidence for your made-up just-so legal definition.

          • Prayson, apologies, but you are boring me to tears here. Seems you haven’t been able to counter my point that life NEVER emerges in the foetus (which ruins your personhood argument) so you’re off trying to deflect attention on to definitions of death. Let’s re-cap: Life does not magically appear at conception; the seeds are already “alive” as they are parts of the 3.8 billion year old life system. That is a fact and you haven’t disproved it. Now please, if you want to research definitions of death then go right ahead, I won’t stop you and would be genuinely interested to hear what you find. I’m not afraid of learning new things. I would remind you, though, that we were discussing complex “human” life.

          • John, if asking you to produce evidence for your made-up just-so legal definition of human life is boring you to tears, so be it.

            It would stopped being boring if you could present just one evidence, a medical journal or book, that support your claims. Is your position not of Christopher Hitchens’: “That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence.” ?

          • Like i said, if you’re so interested in a definition then find it yourself. I’d be interested in hearing it.

            I do see, though, that you are purposefully avoiding my point on life and the foetus. That stumped you, didn’t it 😉

          • I am interested in you producing support for your legal definition, John. Do you have medical journal, or book or proper authority to support your legal definition of human life, John?

          • Nice attempt at a deflection there, Prayson. Sadly, it doesn’t bother me in the slightest if you choose to accept that definition of death or not. As I said, go and find another definition of “human death” which DOESN’T name EEG activity if you can. Of course, you won’t be able to, but you can try, at least…

            My point to you had nothing to do with definition, anyway. My point to you was rather the fact that “life” never magically appears in a foetus. Not at twenty-five weeks, not three weeks, two weeks, one week, or even at the moment of conception. At no stage does the foetus suddenly move from being inorganic to organic. It never happens because life does not suddenly manifest. It did that already, 3.8 billion years ago, and it hasn’t been interrupted since. This, of course, leaves only sustained EEG activity as the defining mechanism to identify the moment when a developing foetus distinguishes itself as something separate from the life-support system (the womb) it is attached to.

          • Just to conclude this silliness (and hope you get back on topic, which you’re trying desperately to avoid) here:

            In 1979, the Conference of the Medical Royal Colleges, “Diagnosis of death” declared: “brain death represents the stage at which a patient becomes truly dead.”

            This was updated in the 1980s and 1990s to state that brainstem death, as diagnosed by UK criteria, is the point at which “all functions of the brain have permanently and irreversibly ceased.”

            Further still updated in 1995 (to present), “It is suggested that ‘irreversible loss of the capacity for consciousness, combined with irreversible loss of the capacity to breathe’ should be regarded as the definition of death’

            I think that’s pretty clear, don’t you? Of course, we both knew my basic definition was correct anyway, didn’t we, and now its confirmed 😉

          • John, I see a definition of “brain death” not a legal definition of human life. I am glad though that you reach the same point I made in the article I argued against brain-function theorists that brain death is irreversible loss of the capacity for conscious i.e. all function of the brain have permanently and irreversibly ceased.

            As you pointed out every time tried to explain this , that it applies to dying patients, this is not cannot be applied to foetuses because they do not have irreversible loss of the capacity for conscious(both pre-conscious foetuses and post-conscious foetuses the former did not have conscious to be lost in first place, while the latter had consciousness)

            Ironically what you presented is what I have being trying to tell you all the time. This is not a definition of human life but brain death which cannot be applied to foetuses.

            To be more clear, where does it say that human life is sustained brain activity?

          • Evidently you didn’t read it Prayson, so here it is again:

            “Diagnosis of death: “brain death represents the stage at which a patient becomes truly dead.””

            Did you see it: Truly Dead

            The fact that a foetus doesn’t even meet this criteria PERFECTLY PROVES MY POINT and proves you wrong. A foetus CANNOT meet the requirements of human death until AFTER week 25.

            Isn’t this what i’ve been telling you?

            Now, enough of this. I think you should now write an article trying to claim “life” suddenly appears in a foetus… even though we know it doesn’t 😉

          • John, you still have not present support for your made-up just-so legal definition of “Human life”.

            What you presented is a definition of clinical death. Foetuses do not meet this criteria because they are not dying John. This criteria is used for human beings who vital organs are ceasing to function.

            It was you, John, who said that this applied to dying patients when I first presented you with what you yourself discovered after I pushed you to present support for your made-up just-so definition of human life.

            So again John, you have not present us with even a shred of evidence to support that human life is defined as sustained brain activity.

          • John, you presented medical definition of human death which I did not ask of you. I asked for the proof of your made-up just-so definition of human life which you claimed without proof to be defined as sustained brain activity.

            We are not talking about human death, John, but human life, to which it seams you blindly and without a shred of evidence hold to be defined as sustained brain activity.

          • What are you babbling on about? I never gave a definition of human life. I gave a definition of death as you are so insistent that abortion is “killing.”

            I proved you wrong. Seems you can’t accept that. Like i said, that’s your problem, not mine.

          • Well, maybe this will remind you:

            Where did I so insistent argue John the definition of death that abortion is killing? I do not know what you proved wrong John. The only thing you proved is that you do not have support for your made-up just-so definition of human life.

          • Oh Prayson, if it matters so much to you then please present your definition for human life, then. I’ll be happy to read it.

            As it appears you can’t actually argue the points i’ve made we’ll play your little definition game if it makes you happy.

            OK, hit me with it: what is your definition of human life.

          • As you would have said, “good try” to shift the burden of proof. It is you who made a claim. It is you who is to defend your claim. The onus of proof is on you John.

            You said that human life is sustained brain activity. The only cited works you presented is about “human death” not “human life”.

            So, I will ask again for you to present support from medical journal, or books or proper authorities that defines human life, not human death, as sustained brain activity?

          • Prayson, if you can’t debate my points then just admit it.

            Now, if you think you have some rather unique definition of human life which contradicts brain activity then let’s hear it. You seem to be really hung up on this (I don’t know why) and appear to be implying that you have one, so again, present it…. and then while you’re at it, perhaps you can detail (precisely) when the INORGANIC sperm/egg/foetus suddenly become ORGANIC. You do seem to be suggesting that the egg/sperm/foetus are at some point inorganic (that is to say devoid of life), so i’d like to know when the magic happens and it all becomes organic.

          • John I am debating your point by asking you to present evidence to support your claim that defined human life as sustained brain activity.

            The ball is on your side. Can you or can you not present proof of your legal definition of human life, not human death?

          • OK, so i’ll take that to mean you don’t in fact have another definition; a definition which doesn’t include brain activity, which i used to define death as a sounding-board for human life.

          • John, it is I who should take that to mean that you do not have a shred of support of your legal definition of human life.

            I know you used definition of death as a sounding-board for human life. I just need you to produce medical journal, or book, or proper authority that sound-board the definition of death for human life.

            You cannot simply claim something without providing reasons nor proof to support John.

            Can you cite an authority that sound-board the definition of human death for definition of human life?

          • As i said, i’ll take your silence to mean you don’t have a definition which actually contradicts mine. As such, my definition stands, and that is brain activity defines human death, and the opposite of human death is human life.

            Pretty straightforward, right?

            That is, of course, unless you have another definition of death/life which contradicts this. Do you?

        • Dear John,

          Why do you define life as the presence of synchronized EEG activity?

          There are many exceptions to this definition. During neurosurgery, I occasionally induce burst suppression EEG pattern using propofol or barbiturates to the point where the brain looks dead. After traumatic brain injury or hypoxic brain injury the brain can look dead, only to recover with support.

          Also, brain activity begins much before week 25 in gestation. The neurological system of the fetus is very active at week 25. There is actually evidence that the fetus might feel pain (stimulation) as early as week 20.

          At week 25 a fetus can be delivered and survive with neonatal ICU support.

          These are just some physical facts.

          On the philosophical side of life/death (where I do not claim expertise), how can you claim that life cannot exist without death? You and me are alive at the moment, yet we have not experienced death in the physical sense. Right?

          • I didn’t define it. That is the legal definition, which no doubt is based on a great deal of science.

            It’s true, small bursts of activity do begin earlier, but if you care to read my comment you’ll see I said “sustained” brain activity, which occurs consistently around week 25.

            I’ve never heard of a 25 week old foetus being delivered, but as I’m no expert I’ll certainly take your word for it. The important part of your comment was however, that its survival is entirely dependent on an external life support system. It cannot survive in our biosphere on its own systems.

            As I said to prayson in recent comments, life does not begin at conception. Life began on earth 3.8 billion years ago and has not been interrupted since. There has been no second Genesis that we’re aware of, and if there has been then it never lasted long enough to be observed. “Life,” therefore, does not magically spring forth at conception. The egg and the sperm are already parts of the living system; a continuous system that began 3.8 billion years ago. A foetus was never inorganic and suddenly became organic. The egg and the sperm were never inorganic, rather parts of the same enveloping living system which includes everything from bacteria to beluga whales. Life, as such, never spontaneously appears; it’s already in place, and has been for nearly four-thousand million years. If the Christian wants to argue anything apart from this physical reality then they’d have to present evidence for the human soul; something no theist has ever been able to produce. What we are left with, therefore, is what defines complex “human” life, and that is rather simple: brain activity.

          • Brain activity arguments with respect to clinical death and brain development should not be placed in the same pot. I have personally observed 24 week babies (born and alive) withdraw from painful stimuli. Therefore we anesthetize them for their heart surgery. It follows that their brain is working to the effect of their response to a stimulus.

            With respect to the human soul you would have to examine the anecdotal evidence of near death experiences, if anecdotal is acceptable to you.

          • Of course I won’t accept anecdotal stories. Do try and keep it real. Now, you might not have kept up to date on this subject, but just two or so weeks ago a study was released which explains so-called “near death experiences.” Here’s a link to the study’s abstract which was published by the National Academy of Sciences:


            and here’s a summary of the findings


  7. An interesting, logical argument. It amazes me how many people completely fail to see logic and give inflated emotional responses. This has much less to do with the rights of a woman than the most basic rights of a child.
    I believe that the legalization of, and broad acceptance of abortion in our society is one of the most shockingly backward examples of human rights abuse our world has ever seen. It is, dare I say, a greater atrocity (in numbers) than the extermination of millions during the holocaust.

    • I agree.

      No Responsibility, No Consequence, Big Problem

      Responsibility – the state or fact of having a duty to deal with something or of having control over someone

      Consequence – a result or effect of an action or condition

      Phrase – take the consequences = accept the responsibility

      That means we were raised as our parents, our grandparents and all our ancestors had been since the beginning of time. We were taught our actions had consequences and we were responsible for our own actions.

      My parents made sure I understood if I committed an action that was not acceptable, I would receive the consequences. I would not be allowed to leave my yard and play with my friends or, if it was especially unacceptable, I felt a belt on my backend. I can only remember about three sessions with the belt before I learned consequences followed if I did not act responsibly.

      In the 1960’s things began to change. I do not know where the idea of “free love” started but it caught fire quickly and spread across the country. It seemed like one day, sex outside of marriage was unacceptable but the next it was encouraged. Women began burning their bras and demanding equality. The Feminist Movement began in 1848 but had not progressed much further than gaining the vote and permitting birth control information until the 1960 approval of the birth control pill and 1963 Equal Pay Act (which still means nothing).

      Then came Roe v. Wade in 1973. That was the real freedom from responsibility and consequences for women. So men and women were now free to have sex, create babies and murder those babies thereby removing responsibility and consequences at the same time. No one is held responsible for murdering a baby who did not have a choice in being conceived and the only one paying the consequence is the baby.

      And then there’s this: You can legally kill your unborn child, just don’t get it hooked on drugs, really.

      The use of illegal drugs such as cocaine and heroin can have a devastating effect on the health of a fetus. By the early 1990s, it was estimated that 375,000 children were born annually in the United States suffering from the effects of illegal drugs taken by their mother.

      As a result, some states have held women criminally liable for any use of illegal drugs that harms their fetus. Prosecutors in many states have sought to deter such behavior by charging women with a number of crimes against their fetus, including delivery of drugs, critenminal Child Abuse, assault with a deadly weapon, and Manslaughter. Johnson v. State, 578 So. 2d 419 (Fla. 1991), demonstrates the controversial aspects of such prosecutions. In this case, a Florida district court of appeal upheld a lower court’s conviction of a woman for the delivery of a controlled substance by umbilical cord to two of her four children. The decision was the first appellate ruling to uphold such a conviction.

  8. Is Jane’s action none of my business? I do not think so. Your assertions here is flatly false because Jane’s action affects not only Jane but the whole well being of the society.

    Really? I’m thinking that Jane’s actions only effect Jane and that imposing the welfare of all of society as an excuse to excise her rights rings hollow; at least in a society such as the US that purports to respect individual liberties and freedoms.

    I believe you are correct that fetuses are not equal to women in rights. But this is true also with infants and many under 18 individuals. So I do not see how this is relevant.

    This is relevant because in many forced birth arguments the notion that the fetus has the same rights as adult is often conveyed. The potentiality of being a full human being with rights is not the same as being a fully human being with rights.

    Prayson, you do seem fond of the thought experiment. I would propose that you envision a society as described where women are at the mercy of their fetus. How would that look in its most banal form and while ostensibly protecting “life” where would the status of woman fall if the kind of society you envision (shudder) comes about? So, yes we are talking about forced birth, confinement and imprisonment of women to protect their fetuses and the general recapitulation of women into slavery.

    How, at any point, could this be considered ethical?

    • It does affect the whole. No man or woman is an island. We are all connected. Our exchange here is evidence that what I say or do affects you. Ideas that becomes action and actions that shapes our lives are like a web.

      I did argue, here or in my articles on this issue, for forced abortion nor that foetuses have equal rights with us(if you are above 18) but that what make it wrong to kill you and I is the same as with the foetuses. In this article I argued not that the foetuses have equal rights with us but that our rights over our bodies do not extend to other beings with future of value like ours.

      From you analogy, I am not contending for a society which one being is under the mercy of another but a society which prima facie protects the well being all beings with future of value like ours.

  9. Well said. I think the reason this is such an intense issue is because it makes us question the nature of life and people are generally uncomfortable with that. When does life begin? When is a fetus considered a living being? Creationists might say it’s at the moment of conception, because the human soul is breathed into a body at the time it becomes “alive” (i.e. when the heart starts beating). Evolutionists might claim that human thought and consciousness has to grow as the fetus grows, so just as a fetus doesn’t have arms and legs at first, neither does it have a consciousness.

    I know I’m generalizing, and this is really not a clear cut issue. But I like what you said here and I agree. I don’t think anyone would argue that killing another human is wrong. We have the right to do as we please, until it infringes on the rights of another person. Just because that other human is inside the womb shouldn’t make it any different.

  10. Right. Now we have a base to work from.
    Morally, your atrocious cutting off limbs example does’t hold water for a number of reasons.
    Not least of all if the idea was to bring the fetus to term any hint of the desire to cut bits off it would suggest the mother was insane. This is only a guess of course and could be construed as subjective. However, I would say she was nuts and I believe it would be a fair bet most of the world’s population would agree with my unprofessional diagnosis.
    And if the desire was to bring the fetus to term such actions would contravene the law, irrespective at what point she wanted to hack bits off the fetus.

    Right. That’s the legal aspect taken care of.
    Now the moral side.
    If the woman had the desire to hack bits off the fetus she would never be considered in full control of her faculties thus unable to make any ethical or moral decision thus rendering the whole scenario moot.

    Return to default position.

    You are flogging a dead horse.

  11. @Prayson

    Women do have the rights to control their own bodies. They do also have rights to control their own reproduction through contraception, abstinence of intercourse on dangerous days, et cetera. Do these rights extend to foetuses inside of them? I do not think so.

    Ah. I love the smell of untrammeled misogyny in the morning.

    Your loquaciously prolix ways of disenfranchising women of their basic human rights never fails to amaze and disgust me. I stare in wonderment of the vile ziggurat of animosity you bear toward women and despair that you continue to build it post after post day after day. It is a testament to the scorn, disdain and contempt for women that is woven into the fabric of society (and fuck-you-very-much for perpetuating the cycle).

    Your views, of course buttressed by religious delusion, find purchase only with those dedicated to depriving women of liberty and heralding them into the abject misery of birth slavery and their patriarchally approved role of “mother”. We are not going back, not for your bizzarely perverse notion of “morality”, not for jebus, not for anything.

    Your advocacy for the depredation of women is quintessentially insulting to any sort of ethical system that regards women as human beings with rights and freedoms. Your contumacious refusal to see women as autonomous human beings, first and foremost, demolishes any argument arrogantly purported to be of a moral or ethical nature.

    My rhetoric aside, let’s deal with the shit that you are calling an ‘argument’.

    Jane decided to chop off the legs of her foetus, at week 7. Grant that she has the right to choose what happens in and to her body,

    What Jane decides to do with her body is none of your fucking business. Not even a quantum fluctuation of your opinion should deign to flirt with what a woman does with her pregnancy.

    If our moral sentiments, assuming we are not morally blind, toward Jane’s action are of not only disapproval but also of condemning Jane’s actions as inhumane,

    I doubt you’ll be happy Prayson until women who are pregnant are chained to a bed for the duration of their pregnancy. Perhaps only then your rank and slavish fetus-fetish will be satisfied. Women’s status and worth for you, is a function of their capacity to breed, and that if that demotion of a human being to mere broodmare status, doesn’t fucking turn your ethical machinery into the red zone, then any moral or ethical noise emanating from you must be necessarily taken as plain and simple bullshit.

    Women’s rights over their own bodies do not extend to foetuses inside them.

    Fetuses are not equal to women in rights, nor should they be if we are to continue to regard women as human beings.

    • Thank you for your comment. It seems that my article pulled out your hair from your tune you poured out your critique.

      In the pool of heated but irrelevant issues(i.e. religious motive, women’s status, my happiness e.t.c), I think you made some two good points that cry for a response.

      Is Jane’s action none of my business? I do not think so. Your assertions here is flatly false because Jane’s action affects not only Jane but the whole well being of the society.

      I believe you are correct that fetuses are not equal to women in rights. But this is true also with infants and many under 18 individuals. So I do not see how this is relevant.

      I will kindly ask for civility. For clear thinking, lets try to minimize our emotion on this issue and dialogue with gentleness, sensitivity and respect.

  12. Interesting extension of the “It’s a woman’s body” argument. The fact that the fetus has the potential at any point to become another human being should give it a certain amount of protection. If a woman desired to chop off her arm, that is one thing as the arm has no natural potential to become another human.

    • It’s a lousy argument. And according to Prayson’s comment to me has nothing to do with morals.

      ” I explored if women’s rights over their bodies extend to the foetus, not about current laws nor about winning a moral argument.”

        • The term winning in this instance refers solely to the moral high-ground, which you are trying to claim with the ridiculous hypothetical situation of allowing a mother to mutilate the fetus and then give birth to it – a situation that would never be allowed let alone occur.

          I reiterate, it matters not what moral argument you are trying to push, the decision is not in your hands, and never was.
          If you get every commenter but me agreeing with you it will not make an iota of difference.
          As I stated on the previous blog it is not an argument that will ever likely be decided on such grounds so why push it?

          Rather seek a way of preventing any form of unwanted pregnancy then such moral considerations become moot.

          • Pointing my counterexample as ridiculous hypothetical situation is not addressing the issue.

            I never claim to have such decision in my hands. Thus again your stance here is irrelevant. 😉

            I am not after commenter agreeing with me, so I would say, your stance here is equally irrelevant 🙂

            You are very correct we should seek a way of preventing any form of unwanted pregnancy but I do not see how this has to do with the question of whether women’s rights over their bodies extend to their foetuses.

  13. ”I explored if women’s rights over their bodies extend to the foetus”
    So, are you posing a hypothetical question, moral/ethical or legal one?

  14. There is NEVER going to be a moral argument that can possibly be ‘won’.
    This has been going on for so long that it is almost pointless even raising the issue.
    As I mentioned in your previous post about abortion, the way forward is to push for the scientific community to develop a harmless and 100% effective way for humans to be able to switch their reproductive systems off until such time as a child is wanted. This may violate certain religious dogma, but this is meaningless.
    All other considerations at this point are generally settled by country specific current law, thus making philosophical posturing moot.

    • Thank you for your comment. What you stated is irrelevant to the case I presented since the case is not about winning a moral argument, but examining if women’s right to control their bodies extend to their foetuses.

      • If you do not consider it a moral argument then it must be a legal one, and as I stated, this issue is dependent on current law.End of story.
        I cannot see what your problem is?

        • You cannot see the problem because there is no problem. In this article I explored if women’s rights over their bodies extend to the foetus, not about current laws nor about winning a moral argument.

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