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Babyfrog's excellent "rational" post prompted me to present my own thoughts on the issues he discussed.

I view these controversial issues through a prism of competing individual rights. One person's right ends where another begins. Also, certain rights supercede others. Looking at each case individually:

Abortion

First of all, I want to express my disgust with the common use of phrases such as "pro-life" or "pro-choice." These are meaningless labels which apply to almost all civlized people. They are a distilled form of propaganda. They vilify the opposition which by implication are anti-life or anti-choice. This propaganda is furthered by a lazy or incompetent media which uses these euphemisms. Similarly, I don't think most people can be accurately described as pro-abortion. Most agree that abortion is not a desirable outcome. The only truly accurate terms for the two opposing camps would be pro-legal abortion or anti-legal abortion.

The crux of the debate is the competing rights of the mother and the fetus. Schooled in the horrors of back-alley abortions, my younger self accepted the premise that legal abortion on demand was clearly the lesser of two evils. With time, I have backed off on this position. First of all, I value the sanctity of all life and cannot deny the basic fact that a fetus IS a human life. It is a developing and dependent human life but so are infants. Secondly, I recognize the wide availability of contraception and the presence of other options such as adoption. On the other hand, this is NOT a black and white issue. There are cases where the mother's rights outweigh fetal rights. These include cases of rape or incest where the mother's psychological health is gravely endangered and of course, cases where the mother's physical health is seriously at risk. Unfortunately, this may depend on individual judgements. Adding to the confusion is the question of whether early alternatives such as "emergency contraception" or the "morning after pill" are abortion. Ultimately, in the long run, gray areas may be unavoidable.

Drugs

My initial youthful position was one espousing full legalization of drugs. With time, I have come to realize that one person's use of a mind-altering substance may impede the rights of others. Simply put, the use of certain "recreational" drugs results in actions which can endanger the lives of others. Moreover, as you point out, with addiction or intoxication, the drug user is no longer a "rational actor" making rational choices. The most problematic part of drug policy is inconsistency due to politicization. I find it rather bizarre that arguably the most dangerous and addictive drugs are also the only legal ones. Tobacco and alcohol contribute to the MAJORITY of serious illness in my place of work, the emergency department. Do I see illness or death related to marijuana use? Never. How many deaths are attributable to marijuana use every year? Zero. Yet marijuana remains illegal even when medically indicated while truly lethal drugs remain legal. Even narcotics (essentially different forms of heroin) are approved for medical use. I would propose that science and medicine drive drug policy - not politics. I no longer favor complete decriminalization of drug use but would suggest that a focus on prevention and treatment would be more constructive. How about broad drug testing in high schools? How about spending money on medical research for solutions such as vaccines (which produce an immune reaction to certain drugs) rather than on more jails? How about deploying our "drug warriors" in the area of homeland defense or security? Ultimately, such an approach may yield greater liberty than one that jails people for using a politically unpopular drug, seizes their property before trial, or even shoots down planes on the mere suspicion of drug trafficking.

Mental Illness

My position is essentially the same as yours. I recognize the potential abuse of forcing the mentally ill to comply with medical treatment. On the other hand, the mental illness of an individual directly impacts the well-being and sanity of anybody near him or her. Any relative of a mentally ill individual can attest to this. I would also add that current laws which guard the privacy of the mentally ill are often counterproductive. Family members who must deal with the terrible consequences of a mentally ill relative's noncompliance are often denied basic information regarding medical treatment or diagnosis.
Their rights need to be considered as well.

Suicide

The irreversible nature of this act compels me to favor a continued ban. On the other hand, I am not adamantly opposed to those who favor exceptions in the terminally ill with chronic severe pain.

The Patriot Act

This is a difficult issue since I have not read this voluminous piece of legislation. My biggest concern is the dereliction of duty of politicians who also have not read it. Increased surveillance by government seems unavoidable in a modern age of terrorists who might wield potent conventional, nuclear, biological or chemical weapons. A lack of this surveillance would almost certainly lead to a major catastrophe. Very simply, we need to weigh rights of privacy against the right not to be exterminated. My current understanding is that certain parts of the act are critical to preventing terrorist acts. We need a healthy debate among our politicians on which provisions are necessary and which guidelines protecting civil liberties should accompany these.

I doubt that these opinions would hew the Libertarian party line but believe that my positions are consistent with a philosophy of optimizing individual rights and freedoms. On government spending, I am decidedly libertarian in most respects. Unneccessary government programs have become gargantuan as people to continue to vote for more and more "free" benefits. The tax code has become a complex obstruction to economic freedom and social freedom. It is used as a tyrannical tool by politicians to reward some constituents and punish others. Both major parties are guilty in this respect although Republicans marginally less so. In areas of social liberty, I am also decidedly libertarian. I oppose the Democratic Party's platform of government-sponsored racism and unlimited civil litigation which threatens our basic liberties. Government should not judge me or classify me by race. Government should not empower other citizens to use the civil legal system as means of random legal extortion. Civil legal action should not proceed without VERY good cause and significant financial risk for those who drag others into court based on uncertain or weak premises. I also vehemently oppose the Republican Party's efforts to bring religion into government and legislate morality.

So, although I may not be a full-fledged Libertarian, I generally vote Libertarian and would prefer a more viable option to the two major parties. I would prefer an honest constructive debate on these issues rather than the usual negative partisan and personal bickering and shameless pandering to special interests by Democrats and Republicans.

Thanks for indulging me.

wolvy

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Abortion

As a libertarian, your stand on this issue will depend solely on the definition of a human life that the state is charge with protecting. I believe it's not a life until it escapes from the womb and takes a breath, but I sincerely respect those of you who have a different definition. It should be decided in the legislative branch, probably on a state level. I don't see a justification for Roe v. Wade in the U.S. Constitution.

Drugs

Well, I really don't care about drug abusers, they can be left to their own fate. And it's none of my business to care, either. If they harm another, they will be punished, whether or not it is due to drug abuse.

Mental Illness

There is no epidemic of mentally ill people making life miserable for others. There are far more drug abusers that harm others than the mentally ill. We should not force drug treatment, and we should not force treatment of mentally ill. If members of either group harm someone, then they can be forced to undergo such treatment. (Note that this last statement may be contrary to the Libertarian platform, and I understand this).

Patriot Act

The Patriot Act is an abomination. It has the potential to do a *lot* of harm to society as a whole, and it has already done a lot of harm to individuals that are not deserving of such treatment.

*And thanks for indulging me, too.*

-JAR

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As a libertarian, your stand on [abortion] will depend solely on the definition of a human life that the state is charge with protecting.

Challenge 1:

Assume for the sake of argument that a fetus is a human life from the moment of conception. With that assumption in place and unquestioned, justify making abortion legally available on demand.

Challenge 2:

Assume for the sake of argument that a fetus is NOT a human life until some relatively late point - perhaps at birth. With that assumption in place and unquestioned, justify prohibiting abortion at some much-earlier point.

I assure you, both these challenges CAN be met.
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"Challenge 1:

Assume for the sake of argument that a fetus is a human life from the moment of conception. With that assumption in place and unquestioned, justify making abortion legally available on demand.

Challenge 2:

Assume for the sake of argument that a fetus is NOT a human life until some relatively late point - perhaps at birth. With that assumption in place and unquestioned, justify prohibiting abortion at some much-earlier point.

I assure you, both these challenges CAN be met. "

=====================================================================

From a libertarian point of view, you mean?

Hmmm......I honestly don't think I'm capable of doing this.

In the first case, the libertarian state is obligated to protect the fetus from murder, and making abortion legally available on demand would be like letting a convicted serial killer out of jail.

In the second case, the libertarian state, absent of any obligation to protect the fetus, is then obligated to actually protect the rights of the mother to excercise her free will. The state would actually be obligated to use force to protect the mother from anyone who used force to stop her from aborting the fetus. Certainly the state would not be justified in using force to stop the abortion.

I just don't see how you can justify, from a libertarian point of view, the state can deviate from its obligation to protect its citizens.

I guess I can't meet your challenge.

-JAR
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The only truly accurate terms for the two opposing camps would be pro-legal abortion or anti-legal abortion.

I think one can characterize at least one component of libertarian theory that laws should only be passed when necessary, and otherwise are immoral.

Then the two points of view would be:

In favor of passing a law to criminalize abortion.
vs.
Not in favor of passing a law to criminalize abortion.

The argument whether on eis pro abortion or anti abortion is very separate. Consider sodomy and drug laws. I am against criminalizing a sex act between two men. But I assure you that I have no interest in being pro- such a thing, especially if one of those men is me.

Under libertarian theory, IMHO, the burden is on the people who want to pass the law to criminalize something. They don't have to be pro-the thing in order to fail to meet the high standard required to push the state into otherwise private behaviors.

R:
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RC -

You make some valid points.

I like your summation of the libertarian view on lawmaking.

The most natural order of things exists in the absence of a proposed law. The lawmaker is the one attempting to disturb this order. In so doing, the lawmaker must prove the value and justness of additional law. I might suggest using the standard of "proof beyond a reasonable doubt." Lawmakers pass many unenforceable or intrusive laws by failing to follow this principle. One could see how this applies to the tax code as well which is increasingly being used to deter or suppress unpopular but "legal" activity.

By describing one camp as pro-legal abortion, I am not implying that they are in favor of the activity. My attitude toward many activities is quite negative but at the same time is "pro-legal" in keeping with a libertarian philosophy. You could also use the term "anti-illegal" but this is potentially confusing do to the use of two negatives.

wolvy
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push the state into otherwise private behaviors

To many, abortion is not a private matter, it is killing a human being.

Pulling the child almost out of the womb and then crushing it's skull with it's leg still inside is considered abortion by some Americans and they want it legalized, if it's not already.

My problem with abortion is where do we draw the line. To me, killing the child with its leg in the womb is murder, not a private matter. The problem has always been, how to define life.

Conception?
When it looks like a fetus?
When it has brain activity (per JGII, ~15 weeks)?
When it starts to come out of the womb?
When the umbilical cord is cut?

The second and third are very subjective.

Personally, I wish we as Americans could make some reasonable comprimise on this, and move on to other more important issues.

--
whyohwhyoh


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My problem with abortion is where do we draw the line. To me, killing the child with its leg in the womb is murder, not a private matter. The problem has always been, how to define life.

Conception?
When it looks like a fetus?
When it has brain activity (per JGII, ~15 weeks)?
When it starts to come out of the womb?
When the umbilical cord is cut?


I have long been of the belief that when the fetus's nerves can feel pain, it is a child, and that is how we should show measure whether or not an abortion is legal.
By the standards some RTL's want, every woman that has a miscarriage could be guilty of murder. By the same token, if you follow the logic of the PC crowd, an angry boyfriend can beat his girlfriend in the stomach to kill the baby two days before her due date, he cannot be charged with murder EVEN THOUGH THAT WAS PLAINLY THE INTENT.
I understand the PC crowd's attitude more than the RTL. The PC crowd is afraid that if we allow the g'ment to take away any of the right, the g'ment will find a way to erode it completely.
Kathleen
(BTW, this subject was one of the few that I've ever changed JGII's opinion)
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As a libertarian, your stand on this issue will depend solely on the definition of a human life that the state is charge with protecting. I believe it's not a life until it escapes from the womb and takes a breath, but I sincerely respect those of you who have a different definition.

If one applies basic facts of biology, one (libertarian, democrat, republican, naderite) HAS to admit that a fetus is a human life. Its not another species. Its not dead tissue or cells. I think its important to separate "belief" and scientific fact. Scientific facts are more appropriately used as a basis for law than "beliefs." The state's role is in legislating the rights of this life and balancing those with the rights of the life on which it depends - the mother.

This matter becomes salient as well when considering an assault on a pregnant woman with the intent of causing the death of the fetus. The crime DOES involve an assault on two lives and should be judged accordingly. Given the uncertainty of intent and knowledge of fetal life in these cases, they do merit special treatment differentiated from other homicides. Ultimately, the law NEEDS to make distinctions between legal and illegal termination of a pregnancy (by the mother and/or another assailant).

As an advanced modern society, we ALL need to be able to accept certain uncomfortable FACTS and deal with the issue of competing maternal and fetal rights honestly and openly.

Personally, I struggle with the moral dilemmas of this issue and don't see it as black and white.

wolvy
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Kathleen-

You bring up some interesting points.

I would contend that it is possible and necessary to have laws which would prosecute the boyfriend for murder while at the same time determining the appropriate balance of fetal and maternal rights in the matter of abortion. As it stands now, current law already strikes some balance between maternal and fetal rights since most late-term abortions (after the point of viability) are not legal.

The debate now revolves around whether to move the legal line closer to conception. With recent medical advances involving "morning after pills," "the abortion pill," in-vitro fertilization and now embryonic stem cell research, I personally believe that it will be ultimately impossible to come to a black and white legal decision protecting all fetal life as some might desire. In addition to the above medical advances, as you point out, fetal death occurs routinely in the matter of miscarriage - many times before a pregnancy is even known.

With this in mind, I also find the extremism of anti-abortion zealots (RTL's) somewhat disturbing.

At the same time, I am also quite disturbed by pro-abortion zealots (PC's) who oppose prosecuting someone who assaults a pregnant woman and kills the fetus.

wolvy
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If one applies basic facts of biology, one (libertarian, democrat, republican, naderite) HAS to admit that a fetus is a human life. Its not another species. Its not dead tissue or cells.

Using that argument, an appendix or tonsils would be considered human life as well. Neither are "dead tissue" but are routinely taken out. Eggs and sperm are also not dead tissue but are wasted as a fact of life.

A fetus is also a "potential" human being. A person has to ask themselves if a "potential" human has equal rights to a realized human. In my opinion, the mother's rights are more important than a potential human and a potential human becomes a real human when they can live outside the body without medical assistance.

I can understand why others see it the other way, but why force others to see it their way by passing laws banning abortion? Especially if you conclude there is indeed a "gray area" with rape, etc. You draw that line one place, someone else may draw it somewhere else.

conick
(Ive been lurking for a few weeks.. great discussions (when I can keep up))
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when they can live outside the body without medical assistance

So now we have a few more options:

Conception?
When it looks like a fetus?
When it has brain activity (per JGII, ~15 weeks)?
When it can feel pain?
When it can survive outside the womb without medical assistance?
When it starts to come out of the womb?
When the umbilical cord is cut?

Where do you draw the line???

At the same time, I am also quite disturbed by pro-abortion zealots (PC's) who oppose prosecuting someone who assaults a pregnant woman and kills the fetus.

And funny as it is, those who hold this view typically also want to prosecute those who kill fish, because the fish feel pain.

--
whyohwhyoh
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And funny as it is, those who hold this view typically also want to prosecute those who kill fish, because the fish feel pain.

In the interest of consistency, it would seem that anybody who held this extreme animal rights position would also oppose all abortions after fetal development of a central nervous system.

wolvy
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By describing one camp as pro-legal abortion, I am not implying that they are in favor of the activity. My attitude toward many activities is quite negative but at the same time is "pro-legal" in keeping with a libertarian philosophy. You could also use the term "anti-illegal" but this is potentially confusing do to the use of two negatives.

I know you didn't mean to imply that, but I want libertarian's who WANT TO PASS A LAW to feel the burden is on them to justify it, and the libertarian who doesn't want the law passed need argue only "I don't think so." Unless the people who want to pass the law make a compelling case, the law should not be passed.

So the two "groups" of people in my opinion are really only one group.

The one group: pro-criminalization-of-abortion.
The other group: whatever.

You should not label people who don't want a bunch of useless and harmful laws passed as "pro" or "anti" any of the particulars in those laws.

I don't want milk subisies passed. I am not anti milk. I like milk.

I don't want anal sex banned. I am not pro anal sex.

I don't want imports tariffed. I am neither pro imports or anti domestic manufacturing. I have a chevy made in Texas.

I don't want drug use criminalized. I am not pro drugs. I would use only 3 or 4 drugs I don't currently used if they were legal :)

I don't want flag burning banned. I am not anti flag. I fly one most days.

R:

Every time you say "I'm a libertarian, but we really ought to have a law that ..." remember that what follows as a justification should be about 3 sigma better in quality than the current standards for getting a law passed.
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If one applies basic facts of biology, one (libertarian, democrat, republican, naderite) HAS to admit that a fetus is a human life. Its not another species. Its not dead tissue or cells. I think its important to separate "belief" and scientific fact. Scientific facts are more appropriately used as a basis for law than "beliefs." The state's role is in legislating the rights of this life and balancing those with the rights of the life on which it depends - the mother.

As far as your argument goes, a finger or a leg or an appendix or a tonsil is a human life. I don't think we want to criminalize appendectomies and tonsilectomies "except to save the life of the mother." An unnecessary tonsilectomy may be stupid, but it is not homicide.

You might extend the standard to add "...which can survive on its own." Unfortunately, it isn't that hard to keep at least some body parts alive after they are removed, but that still doesn't make them human lives, and it IS hard to keep a premie, or someone who has just been badly injured in some cases alive without assistance, and yet they ARE still human lives.

Trying to define human life purely on the basis of whether its got functioning human cells involved is, in my opinion, doomed to an unsatisfactory conclusion.

Which isn't to say I DO know the answer.

Ultimately, the law NEEDS to make distinctions between legal and illegal termination of a pregnancy (by the mother and/or another assailant).

Absolutely. A pregnancy which is looked forward to, which is terminated by a criminal assault, I am HAPPY to call that murder. Even if the woman could have legally gone in and had an abortion.

You can complain about my shallowness, but I am willing, in law, to define human life depending on the intent of the person in whom the fetus is no more independent than an appendix or a kidney. Until I see a compellingly better way to do it.

R:
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Using that argument, an appendix or tonsils would be considered human life as well. Neither are "dead tissue" but are routinely taken out. Eggs and sperm are also not dead tissue but are wasted as a fact of life.

I beg to differ.

Eggs and sperm do not represent human life. The combination of an egg and sperm at conception produces a fetus which IS human life. I don't need my degrees in biochemistry and medicine to state this as FACT. An appendix and tonsils are PARTS of an organism whereas the fetus IS a FULL organism.

A fetus is also a "potential" human being. A person has to ask themselves if a "potential" human has equal rights to a realized human. In my opinion, the mother's rights are more important than a potential human and a potential human becomes a real human when they can live outside the body without medical assistance.

Using your logic, its impossible to make a determination when human life begins. Moreover, your definition of a "potential human being" excludes infants as well as those adults who are ventilator dependent or otherwise dependent on medical assistance.

Currently, we use the point of viability (capable of life outside the womb) as a rough guideline for the legality of abortion. I don't see this as a clear distinction between being a "potential" or "real" human being. It is a useful distinction in balancing the rights of the fetus and mother.

I understand your rationale in attempting to exclude a fetus from the definition of human life. It makes it easier to accept compromise but neverthless, it is a denial of fact. I think it is FACTUAL to distinguish between DEVELOPING human life and FULLY DEVELOPED human life. It is certainly reasonable to assign different rights depending on stages of development. We already do - even in the case of children.

Well, I should take a break.

I hope I haven't offended anybody in my discussion of this very controversial subject.

wolvy
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a potential human becomes a real human when they can live outside the body without medical assistance.

By this standard, a premie is not a human. A full term baby with some kind of lung problem is not a human. This may not be as bad as it sounds.

I would also say someone in a car accident who needs to be on a ventilator temporarily before they recover is not a human. But you could have a "grandfather" clause that once you ahieve humanity, you don't lose it until you are dead. Or at least brain dead. Ay caramba, we're going to have ANOTHER can of worms on the way out, too!

R:
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Point taken.

I hate labels myself.

I guess you fall into the "whatever" group which might include those opposed to a law as well as those just don't care.

Like it or not, when a law is proposed, a voting citizen is either "pro" or "anti" in their position towards the law. If you're an ambivalent nonvoter, you don't care whether the law is passed or not. It doesn't appear that you can be described as ambivalent since you obviously care.

wolvy
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Eggs and sperm do not represent human life. The combination of an egg and sperm at conception produces a fetus which IS human life.

A fetus has human DNA (as does eggs and sperm and every other human body part), Ill agree that that's fact. Whether the fetus is human "life" is still up for debate and is by no means fact and that is the crux of most arguments on the issue.

Using your logic, its impossible to make a determination when human life begins. Moreover, your definition of a "potential human being" excludes infants as well as those adults who are ventilator dependent or otherwise dependent on medical assistance.

That's true. Since a fetus may mature at a faster rate than other fetus, it is difficult to say in terms of weeks/trimesters/etc when a fetus can live outside the womb. However, on a case by case basis it can be determined when it can live outside the womb based on the development of their lungs, brain, etc.

A person that is incapacitated can no longer decide for themselves, which is why many people have living wills that state what they want done if they were to be incapacitated like you describe. If not, the family decides.

I understand your rationale in attempting to exclude a fetus from the definition of human life. It makes it easier to accept compromise but neverthless, it is a denial of fact. I think it is FACTUAL to distinguish between DEVELOPING human life and FULLY DEVELOPED human life. It is certainly reasonable to assign different rights depending on stages of development. We already do - even in the case of children.

Your "developing human life" is my "potential human life". We are just drawing the "life" line and what rights each are entitled to in different places. Im not sure how that makes my argument "denying facts" while yours is based on solely on facts.
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By this standard, a premie is not a human. A full term baby with some kind of lung problem is not a human. This may not be as bad as it sounds.

I agree, at least in terms of rights. In those cases, the parents decide. But not everyone that is pro legal abortion may agree with me. Different lines again.

I would also say someone in a car accident who needs to be on a ventilator temporarily before they recover is not a human. But you could have a "grandfather" clause that once you ahieve humanity, you don't lose it until you are dead. Or at least brain dead. Ay caramba, we're going to have ANOTHER can of worms on the way out, too!

Im in favor of everyone having a living will for every conceivable stage of incapacitation. I have no problem with someone deciding for themselves, given a situation, when they'd prefer to die rather than live. This removes the burden from the family (which is always a good thing since THEY might not agree).

I think it HAS to open up that can of worms because abortion rights fall directly into the "right to die" for incapacitated persons. Any laws made should be consistent.
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The most natural order of things exists in the absence of a proposed law. The lawmaker is the one attempting to disturb this order. In so doing, the lawmaker must prove the value and justness of additional law. I might suggest using the standard of "proof beyond a reasonable doubt."

I have wondered about this before, and thought about what could perhaps be done to make things more like this. Proof beyond a reasonable doubt is a great idea, but as always, the devil and details go hand-in-hand.

My most recent pair of ideas on this are as follows (and yes, I am soliciting opinions as well):

A) Require a larger-than-simple-majority majority of votes in order to implement a new law. I'm thinking something like it takes at least 3/5 + 1 of the votes to implement a law, instead of 1/2 + 1.

On the mirror side, there is the ability to remove laws. I could see either requiring a larger majority to remove the law, or just a simple majority. The first would tend to make things change slower both ways, while the second would tend to ensure that as few laws stay on the books as possible. At least, that's how I see things.

B) Require a majority of all possible votes in order to implement a law. This could be in combination with A), or separately. What it would mean, of course, is altering the idea of quorems. To take the US Senate as an example, there are 100 (or 101) possible votes, so any new law would need a minimum of 51 yes votes to be implemented -- even if there were only 51 people present at the voting. I admit that I might be describing what is already the case here, but it was my impression that the senate could pass a bill into law if, say, 46 of the 90 present senators voted yes.
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"If one applies basic facts of biology, one (libertarian, democrat, republican, naderite) HAS to admit that a fetus is a human life."

I disagree. But that wasn't even my original point. You can still think a fetus is a human life in one sense and NOT think a libertarian state is charged with defending it.

-JAR
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Conception?
When it looks like a fetus?
When it has brain activity (per JGII, ~15 weeks)?
When it can feel pain?
When it can survive outside the womb without medical assistance?
When it starts to come out of the womb?
When the umbilical cord is cut?


Such limited thinking. Other possibilities:

- At age 3.

- At the age of majority.

- When the mother and/or father declare the child independant.

- When the child asks "what's in it for me?"

Of course it's very hard to argue against Ken's position that the definitions of start and end of life (currently brain activity) should be the same.

Phil
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If one applies basic facts of biology, one (libertarian, democrat, republican, naderite) HAS to admit that a fetus is a human life. Its not another species. Its not dead tissue or cells. I think its important to separate "belief" and scientific fact. Scientific facts are more appropriately used as a basis for law than "beliefs." The state's role is in legislating the rights of this life and balancing those with the rights of the life on which it depends - the mother.


If one applies basic biology, a fetus is a parasite. It uses the host completely for it's sustinance. Now, how each and every person feels about that parasite is a different story.
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Using that argument, an appendix or tonsils would be considered human life as well. Neither are "dead tissue" but are routinely taken out. Eggs and sperm are also not dead tissue but are wasted as a fact of life.

Great post, conick. Unfortunately, I'm out of recs for the day.
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Every time you say "I'm a libertarian, but we really ought to have a law that ..." remember that what follows as a justification should be about 3 sigma better in quality than the current standards for getting a law passed.

One of the best comments I've ever heard on that was, "The minute someone inserts the word 'but' into a statment, you can guarentee anything preceding that is now a lie."
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"If one applies basic facts of biology, one (libertarian, democrat, republican, naderite) HAS to admit that a fetus is a human life."

I disagree. But that wasn't even my original point. You can still think a fetus is a human life in one sense and NOT think a libertarian state is charged with defending it.

-JAR


I have yet to hear disagreement with a rational explanation.

Let's look at the reasoning again from a purely scientific factual basis:

What species does a human fetus belong to?

Homo sapiens aka human

Is it a whole organism?

Yes

Is it alive?

Yes

Ergo, it is human life.

If you disagree, at what exact point does a fetus become human life?

A fetus which does not have brain activity is not sentient human life but is still human life due to the above conditions being met.

I agree that it is debatable whether the state should be charged with defending this nascent human life.

wolvy

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If one applies basic biology, a fetus is a parasite. It uses the host completely for it's sustinance. Now, how each and every person feels about that parasite is a different story

Very true.

To bo exact, in biology, the term applies to "an animal or plant that lives on or in an organism of ANOTHER SPECIES..." (according to Webster's)

Of course, it is a parasite under other commonly accepted definitions. These definitions also apply to an infant (as well as arguably those dependent on the state).

It is a unique parasite since its fate is inexorably entwined with one single host. Thus, any rights conferred on the parasite are dependent on the rights of this one single host. When these rights conflict, it does seem logical to favor the rights of the independent fully developed host.

So, as I suspect you do, I still see abortion before viability (which would violate the definition of a parasite) as a personal decision outside the realm of the state.

wolvy

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wolvy,

Let's look at the reasoning again from a purely scientific factual basis:

What species does a human fetus belong to? Homo sapiens aka human

Is it a whole organism? Yes

Is it alive? Yes

Ergo, it is human life.


Hmmm... let's try that one on me.

What species do I belong to? Homo sapiens aka human

Am I a whole organism? No, my appendix has been removed

Am I alive? Yes

Ergo... not human. Bummer.

Phil
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Is it a whole organism?

Yes


In what sense and when is a fetus a whole organism?

It starts out single celled. Spends some time evolving into a spherical clump of undifferentiated cells. Only over time does it develop organs that do stuff, and up nearly to the point of birth it would die as surely if removed from its mothers body as would her kidney.

I'm not sure what job "is it a whole organism" was supposed to fill in that logic chain, but it doesn't appear to me that it can carry much.

If you disagree, at what exact point does a fetus become human life?

I can think of no no logical necessity that it is at some exact point that it becomes a human life. Seems more likely to me that it is a matter of degree, and it starts at 0, and is well night towards 1 when it is a toddler, and the rest is somewhere in between I know not where.

R:
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Funny.

You can still be a whole organism without certain parts - especially the appendix which is a useless vestigial organ. Somebody born without a leg is still a whole organism although "whole" is different from the norm for this individual.

If we ever perfect cloning from say, a skin cell, you'll really be able to throw a wrench in my impeccable logic.

wolvy
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In what sense and when is a fetus a whole organism?

It starts out single celled. Spends some time evolving into a spherical clump of undifferentiated cells. Only over time does it develop organs that do stuff, and up nearly to the point of birth it would die as surely if removed from its mothers body as would her kidney.

I'm not sure what job "is it a whole organism" was supposed to fill in that logic chain, but it doesn't appear to me that it can carry much.


I was trying to rebut the argument that a fetus is comparable to an appendix or a tonsil. Since a fetus is the whole of an organism at a point in development, it is in no way comparable to a body part such as an appendix or tonsil.

I can think of no no logical necessity that it is at some exact point that it becomes a human life. Seems more likely to me that it is a matter of degree, and it starts at 0, and is well night towards 1 when it is a toddler, and the rest is somewhere in between I know not where.

I think its important to define fundamental terms accurately in a discussion. Failure to do so invalidates the entire argument. The logical beginning of a human life per basic biology is the point of conception. To me, this is as basic a premise as the spherical nature of the earth. I think some people base their judgements in this arena on the false premise that a human fetus is not human life (i.e. zero in your analysis). Even when accepting this basic premise different conclusions regarding the relative rights of this developing human life can be reached.


wolvy
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I think some people base their judgements in this arena on the false premise that a human fetus is not human life (i.e. zero in your analysis).

This is the part you keep getting lost in. We have no agrument that it is human, it is the life part we question. If someone is brain dead and literally kept alive by machines, is that person still considered alive or is that person considered dead? If there is no brain activity, there is no life. to think otherwise means that you should start locking up every single woman that has a miscarriage for involuntary manslaughter.
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BTW, what do you disagree with the Republicans about? So far, I haven't seen anything.
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My problem with abortion is where do we draw the line.

That's the WHOLE problem.

Conception?

That's where the one extreme wants the line drawn.

When it starts to come out of the womb/When the umbilical cord is cut?

That's the other extremity.

Personally, I wish we as Americans could make some reasonable comprimise on this, and move on to other more important issues.

Personally, I think a majority of Americans would probably agree with you. In my view, BOTH extreme positions are wrong, but they get all the attention due to the nature of media and reporting. And neither extremity is willing to compromise, because they see any compromise as the first step toward the opposition gaining ultimate victory on the issue.

If you ask me, a fetus is a fetus (and abortable) up to that point at which it is sufficiently developed that its probability for survival outside the womb without medical intervention is >50%. (A Viable Life, if you will). After that, it should only be abortable due to special circumstances (late-term complications that threaten the mother's life, for example). Seems to me that's calling a fetus a fetus, and a baby a baby, with reason rather than individual ideology as the basis. I'm guessing that the line I've described would fall in the 5-6 month range, but I'm no expert. But the battle in a country founded on the concept of individual liberty should be about whether the line should be at 5 months or 7, and not about whether we are going to adhere to either extremist position. But the fringes will continue to drive the debate.

On a loosely related note, I also think that all sex before 18 years old should be outlawed on the basis that sex is among the most adult of all decisions with the potentially serious consequences.


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An appendix and tonsils are PARTS of an organism whereas the fetus IS a FULL organism.

This is ideology, not reason. If the fetus were truly a full organism from conception it could exist on its own from conception. This is obviously false. The fetus is a full organism only when it has sufficiently developed to be viable outside the womb without medical intervention... until that time it is a potential full organism that must rely on numerous biological processes of the mother organism.
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BTW, what do you disagree with the Republicans about? So far, I haven't seen anything

zs-

I was busy for a little while but wanted to give an answer.

First off, its clear that we define "human life" differently. You make a valid distinction between sentient and non-sentient life. This is an important distinction and I respect your opinion.

In the midst of my previous arguments, I did state my position on the abortion issue which is very different from the right wing of the Reupublican party.

In my personal life, I am opposed to abortion unless necessitated by grave danger to the physical and/or psychological health of the mother or severe fetal defects.

In the public arena, I believe that the state should NOT be involved prior to the point of viability. Before this period, it is a deeply personal decision best made between a woman and her physician. Past this period, the viability of the fetus can be interpreted as a marker of individuality which deserves the protection of the state. This is essentially the current scenario in the US. This is consistent with my libertarian philosophy which exalts individual rights.

If your question addressed my broader differences with the Republican party, these most prominently include the separation of church and state and issues of private morality (gambling, sexual freedoms, gay unions, recreational drug use, etc.) but also include profligate government spending programs under the so-called party of "small government."

wolvy
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In my personal life, I am opposed to abortion unless necessitated by grave danger to the physical and/or psychological health of the mother or severe fetal defects.

In the public arena, I believe that the state should NOT be involved prior to the point of viability. Before this period, it is a deeply personal decision best made between a woman and her physician. Past this period, the viability of the fetus can be interpreted as a marker of individuality which deserves the protection of the state. This is essentially the current scenario in the US. This is consistent with my libertarian philosophy which exalts individual rights.


Okay, I misunderstood that and some of the others.
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