So what is the difference between a potential and an actual human being?

I think your view is the primary one. Yes, it’s the woman’s body and she will make the decisions about it (hence pro-choice and not pro-abortion). I think you made a long argument in one thread recently along those lines. A lot of the argument against that view was that the decision involved two people. Her and her baby.

Hence this argument, which takes your point as a given, that it’s her decision, and then tries to describe why in most cases she has no problem with it.

It’s my house and I will make decisions about it. Yet I am subject to constraints. How confusing is that!

Your position above suggests the status of her offspring as human being is irrelevant. That’s Hume’s position.

From memory, his argument didn’t necessarily consider that aspect. He focussed purely on the woman as the prime consideration. My argument doesn’t suggest the offspring as being relevant at some point or even concede it but states quite unequivocably that we reach a stage (a week before birth to give us a point of discussion) when the baby is certainly relevant.

Again from memory, Hume didn’t consider that to concentrate on the primacy of the woman’s choice. I’m sure he’ll chip in to clarify.

His argument is that nothing could override the woman’s right to remove the “house sitter“ by any means including death. Join the dots.

If control over body is prime, the status of human being or not is thus irrelevant, since the same decision is reached by the woman not wanting a baby.

I now read your position to be a shandy. Control over body allows killing offspring up until 1 week shy of birth (or maybe earlier). So you are not completely aligned with Hume?

I didn’t involve myself in his thread and I didn’t read all the posts so I’m not sure of his exact position. I’m sure he’ll clarify.

But to state the obvious: there are a multitude of opinions on this matter. From absolutely no abortions whatsoever including cases where death of either the child or the mother is guaranteed, to allowing it for serious medical problems and then also allowing it for rape cases. And then allowing it up to a certain point (a more legalistic view) or allowing it at any stage.

And there are those who are not religious but take a very conservative view and those who are Catholic who are very liberal in this regard.

If access to a wet nurse or formula wasn’t possible would she have the duty to use her body to care for the baby after birth? I don’t care that it’s not realustic. Humor me

The sane position is to give humanity the benefit of the doubt when your personal certainty fails you.
Evil isn’t just vague offenses against rules; it’s the loss of good reason (in-sanus means literally unhealthy thinking).

You are lowering the value of humanity to your own inability or unwillingness to acknowledge it.

1 Like

I see. Thank you for the clarification.

I think that’s a matter of individual psychology, then. My sister had an abortion and while she doesn’t reflect on the event with any great emotion, the idea that she “had no problem with it” isn’t accurate.

Something that would have likely been its own person was killed, after all. Even if it was just at the “ball of cells” stages.

So to the question, “baby” stage is the most likely answer. At that point you can more fully see it, interact with it. Look at its eyes and watch it breathe with its own lungs. Listen to the baby coo. It’s more than just movements in a third trimester belly.

It is more interactive and thus more real as a it’s own entity. Real reciprocal bonding occurs.

That’s a solid point, and to that we can probably agree that its wonderful that abortions that late are very much a rarity.

But when we go about establishing laws, the line has to get drawn somewhere and it has to be drawn in a way we can commonly identify.

For example, in a 55mph speed zone is a guy doing 56mph going materially faster and being materially more dangerous than someone going 55mph?

No. Of course not. But the line has to be drawn somewhere.

Banning abortion after a certain period would be a practical impossibility. If done based on weeks, the regretfully pregnant woman can just lie about when her last period was. While she couldn’t stretch the truth much, individual development allows some range in the weekly developmental milestones.

This same problem extends to banning abortion after brainwaves or quickening are detectable. Not all these milestones are uniformly visible in all pregnancies at identical times, which creates a situation where the law gives one woman more opportunity to consider abortion than another.

I agree fully that a near-term abortion is a tragedy. But again, where is the most objectively and consistently identifiable place to draw the line if not birth? Serious question.

Duty? Probably not. We reproduce because it’s the Meaning of Life and we inherently want to for the most part (individual exceptions aside). It’s a well established “law” of the animal kingdom that in suddenly harsh circumstances, parents will abandon young and try again in a better season.

So in a world without formula, if there was no wet nurse you wouldn’t charge the mother with at least neglect?

I think the reasoning is - it’s her life, her house, her money…

In a pre-formula world kids were abandoned absolutely all the time.
Spartans even had a little ritual for it.

Parenthood is such an enormous task that it must be the dominion of the willing. Signing up to care for a human being you don’t want for at least 18 years?

Forget tricking the Cyclops. That feat needs to be in Homer’s Odyssey.

I think kids that are cared for out of a sense of duty tend to be social deviants.

I think kids that are cared for by someone who loves and desires them tend to live successful lives.

Re: @Elf01 and @Rau

To keep it on topic, when do you think a person is worthy of legal rights apart from its mother?

And maybe more interesting, are there any situations where those rights are reversed?

Human life begins at conception and I believe it should be legally protected from then.

I would consider exceptions if the pregnancy posed an immiment threat to the mothers life.

Then I don’t have to when my personal certainty doesn’t. Is that fair enough?

Then you end up in a very similar position to me. Is the woman definitely going to die? Is it almost certain? Is there a very strong chance? A good chance? A reasonable chance? A probability? A possibility? An outside chance? A slight chance?

Can we put a percentage on it? If we want a specific time for when a foetus reaches personhood or a point at which someone shouldn’t have an abortion then we should be able to come up with a specific figure.

If we say that it’s 100% if she will definitely die and 0% that she’ll have no problems, then what’s the figure you’d put on it? And who picks that figure? Her doctor? A team of doctors? Can she choose who decides? Does she have a say? What if she’s desperately afraid for her life and the doctor says she must continue with the pregnancy?

I’ll save some to-ing and fro-ing and suggest that you’d consider that it’s not possible to put a specific figure on something like that. It could be 100% and she’d still survive due to a medical miracle. So yes, both questions are inherently nonsensical.

1 Like

It is difficult. I would say a good chance, and trust doctors to define that in individual cases. I would consider experr advice when drafting legislation.

I should revise my ‘most’ to ‘some’ I think. My wife fell pregnant with what would have been our third shortly after our second. And gee, it would have been a struggle. I broached the subject of abortion but she flatly refused. Decision made and accepted. Then nature made it’s own decision and she lost it a week or so later. And it was difficult to come to terms with what was felt keenly as a loss and the guilt that came with the feeling of relief.

1 Like

No doubt about it, Elf.

Being completely insensitive here in order to make a point

What exactly did you lose? Why did you feel guilty?

Apologies to any pro lifer who has been impacted by miscarriage.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit