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Richard Dawkins: "Immoral" not to abort Down's syndrome foetuses - August 21st 2014, 11:51 PM

This thread has been labeled as triggering by the original poster or by a Moderator. Please take this into consideration before continuing to read.

Trigger warning for hopefully self-evident reasons:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/blogs-ouch-28879659

So, following a recent controversy regarding comments about different types of rape being worse than others, Richard Dawkins appears to have landed himself in hot water via Twitter again. In this case, as the title and link suggest, he responded to someone querying what they should do upon discovering their unborn child has Down's syndrome by telling them to "Abort it and try again. It would be immoral to bring it into the world if you have a choice."

Unsurprisingly, his comments prompted a bit of a backlash on Twitter. At first Dawkins defended his comments pretty strenuously, claiming it to be the "civilised" course of action, that it was the outcome in the majority of such pregnancies and that people opposing abortion should oppose eating meat as well (which sounds a bit obtuse, but hey). Following criticism from charity groups, however, he has apologised with a clarification claiming he "would never dream of trying to impose my views on you or anyone else".

Thoughts on this? My initial reaction was that his comments were very insensitive to say the least, and that while he may not have intended it to be construed as such he does seem to also be saying that those who carried such pregnancies to full term acted immorally in doing so (assuming they knew the diagnosis). I'm also not sure his clarification is particularly convincing - he claims he would never seek to impose his views, yet by giving a fairly clear-cut instruction ("Abort it and try again") and citing the immorality of doing otherwise in his eyes, that is in effect what he is doing. More to the point, however, I don't really understand why he felt the need to say these things in the first place - I would have said the best response would be to say it's down to the parents to decide what they think is best and leave it at that. Anything more than that, particularly on a quick-fire format like Twitter, is just bound to cause this kind of furore I'd have said. Then again, perhaps I'm just not cutting him enough slack. Thought it might make for an interesting debate anyway.


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Re: Richard Dawkins: "Immoral" not to abort Down's syndrome foetuses - August 22nd 2014, 12:03 AM

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In a subsequent blog post he acknowledges that his posts may have offended those who know and love someone with Down's syndrome stating that he has "sympathy" for those who thought he was saying that their loved one had no right to exist.
Really? Then what exactly IS he saying? It seems to me that he's saying that children with Down's Syndrome don't have the right to live. That they should never have been born to begin with and they're not doing anything for society. Sure, he may never dream of saying that to another person, but apparently that was what he was thinking!

I have known people with Down's Syndrome before, including my older cousin Brian. God, he has to be in his 30s now, if not his early 40s, I'm not positive on the age. He was a teenage pregnancy and my aunt hasn't been with the father in a long, long time, since way before I was born.

Our Brian was born into one of those time periods where people with conditions such as his were locked away in hospitals forever. But, my aunt didn't abort him. She didn't send him away. Our family fought that, because he IS our FAMILY, Down's Syndrome or not.

And guess what? Our family would be so different if he was gone. He is SO loving. He always asks me how school was and jokes around. My mom and him have a running joke any time it's baseball season because he likes the Red Sox and my mom likes the Yankees. He gives us all big hugs and dances with us at parties. He holds a job like any other person would. He competes in the Special Olympics, and even medals sometimes.

My mom works in an elementary school cafeteria and sees children with Down's Syndrome and similar conditions all the time. Sometimes they may need a little help, but overall they are not bad kids. My mom ADORES them. She sits with them, talks with them, helps them open their milk, etc. They're still human.

I agree with you that he could be implying those who did not abort these children could be considered immoral. But it is NOT immoral. What he doesn't see is how much light someone with Down's Syndrome can bring to a family. How people with Down's Syndrome can still have such a great life as long as they have a loving family around them to support them. How, as I mentioned, they can hold some jobs and therefore have some form of independence. How they have likes, dislikes, things that make them happy. How they want to love and be loved, just like anyone else.

People with Down's Syndrome and other conditions are still human. Sure, they may be a little "different," but that does NOT mean that they should have been aborted. It is NOT immoral. There is NOTHING wrong with him, and I swear to God Karma is going to get this guy good one day. I hope that he never had children.

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Re: Richard Dawkins: "Immoral" not to abort Down's syndrome foetuses - August 22nd 2014, 03:20 AM

It's funny how the world works. People say it's selfish to suicide and encourage people to not abort disabled offspring, yet isn't it more selfish to bring that offspring into the world knowing that they will have to live with it for the rest of their life all because of your decision not to abort and try for a healthier offspring? Many animals prefer to nurture their strong in order to provide the best possible chance of passing on their good genetics. What's to stop humans from doing essentially the same?

Antinatalist thought states that all birth is immoral. By this viewpoint, you'd be in the wrong not to abort. Does this mean that you should never have children? Not necessarily. It is one among many beliefs, and the thing people don't seem to realize is that morals are a personal thing. One person may think it's immoral to abort, another person may think it's immoral not to. There is no right or wrong answer, only personal opinions. One doesn't need to kneel down just because what they believe is considered politically incorrect by popular opinion.
   
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Re: Richard Dawkins: "Immoral" not to abort Down's syndrome foetuses - August 22nd 2014, 11:01 AM

He's entitled to his opinion I guess.

I don't think it is right. I am kind of appalled by it. He is saying that people with down syndrome don't deserve to be alive. I've worked with people who had down syndrome and they are some of the most amazing people in the world. They simply love life and they can teach us so much.

I don't agree with him. It is not immoral to bring a child with down syndrome in the world.


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Re: Richard Dawkins: "Immoral" not to abort Down's syndrome foetuses - August 22nd 2014, 11:20 AM

I think people are piss-weak if they can't look after their own. End of story.



   
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Re: Richard Dawkins: "Immoral" not to abort Down's syndrome foetuses - August 22nd 2014, 12:40 PM

I know people with Down Syndrome and they're happy. They may have a lot of problems but when you come down to it they're genuinely happy. I'm completely pro-choice but I don't think it's "immoral" to bring someone with down syndrome into the world at all.

People with Down Syndrome can live perfectly happy lives. Just look at Jamie Brewer who plays Adelaide on American Horror Story for example. She's successful (probably far more successful than I will ever be) and seems very well-spoken and seems like a nice person:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c1oPolrlJwQ

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Re: Richard Dawkins: "Immoral" not to abort Down's syndrome foetuses - August 23rd 2014, 03:37 PM

The male gender's answer to Katie Hopkins.

Ever since seeing a documentary of his where he would go up to school children and tell them "God isn't real" I figured he's an intolerant bully who has an ego complex, with often sexist, ableist remarks that he tries to justify because SCIENCE. No time for him.




   
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Re: Richard Dawkins: "Immoral" not to abort Down's syndrome foetuses - August 23rd 2014, 04:42 PM

I think Richard Dawkins talking about morality is laughable but I won't get into that.

I must confess, I do agree with aborting a child if they're not going to have a good quality of life. Now this may, or may not extend to children with Downs Syndrome - I think it should be considered case by case. A child with downs syndrome and no other complications should not be aborted, I know several downs syndrome adults who work and maintain really quite normal lives. However, should that child also have further complications that may impact their quality of life severally, I would have to consider if it was right to have the child. This doesn't apply exclusively to children with downs syndrome, it's for all.

I do appreciate how many people would disagree strongly with what I've said - it's an extremely personal thing.

I think classing all downs syndrome children the same is a completely uneducated view. I'd like to think that if he spent some time with a couple of children and adults with down syndrome it would make him reconsider. I fear however, after reading a little about this man, he is not capable of understanding and empathy. He is a very black and white, solid lines kind of guy.
   
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Re: Richard Dawkins: "Immoral" not to abort Down's syndrome foetuses - August 24th 2014, 04:03 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by dr2005 View Post
Following criticism from charity groups, however, he has apologised with a clarification claiming he "would never dream of trying to impose my views on you or anyone else".
I have read (and in certain cases even enjoyed reading) some of Dawkins' books, but open-minded the man is not. He is as egotistical as is possible for a "scientist" to be, and his bullheadedness is most apparent when he strays from his field of evolutionary biology to discuss religion, morality, and similar subjects.

Regarding the issue of aborting "unfit" fetuses, the obvious question raised is "where do we draw the line?" Catholics may say that no fetus should be aborted, but most rational humans would not find it immoral to abort a fetus with anencephaly (essentially lacking a brain). If Dawkins believes it immoral not to abort a fetus with Down Syndrome, where does he draw the line? What about fetuses with genes predisposing them to autism, or schizophrenia, or simply low IQ? It's a slippery slope down the road to eugenics.



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Re: Richard Dawkins: "Immoral" not to abort Down's syndrome foetuses - August 24th 2014, 10:50 PM

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Originally Posted by Ghost On The Highway View Post
I have read (and in certain cases even enjoyed reading) some of Dawkins' books, but open-minded the man is not. He is as egotistical as is possible for a "scientist" to be, and his bullheadedness is most apparent when he strays from his field of evolutionary biology to discuss religion, morality, and similar subjects.
I think this is the root of the problem, really - I imagine he does have some valid opinions to contribute to debates on such topics (whether this qualifies as one is something I'll refrain from commenting on further), but the way he delivers them is just off kilter. He just doesn't seem to understand the problem with how he puts things across, particularly on forums such as Twitter. As I said before, he claims not to seek to impose his views on others yet as the same time expresses his opinion as an imperative (for the first statement at least) rather than as an opinion. I would be very surprised if an Oxford-educated professor didn't understand the nature of an imperative, and as others have pointed out he had enough characters left to qualify his statements. It just smacks of suggesting the superiority of his statement without actually providing a justification for it. Throw somewhat contentious claims in the first place into the mix and you start to understand why he gets the kind of reaction he does.


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Re: Richard Dawkins: "Immoral" not to abort Down's syndrome foetuses - August 26th 2014, 03:26 AM

He is voicing his own views. Morality is a personal point of view. Would people be outraged if he said that it is immoral to abort a down syndrome child? Is it more immoral to allow healthy fetuses to be aborted? The way it is is he is telling someone his opinion.

In all honestly, at that point in a fetus' development when most abortions occur, a cow has higher level of function than a fetus can. So in many ways, those who want to believe that "life" is a heartbeat should not eat meat. Even though a heartbeat is not indicative of higher thought and instead is a function of the brain stem.

Was it tactful? No but then should he play it politically safe? Most people will say things that they think society wants to hear or believe is the higher ground. Ask someone what they would do if they were enslaved and most would say try to escape of course. However, very few slaves try to escape. An article on a news site recently compared the amount of people who said that they would not have an abortion versus those who chose to have an abortion after learning about down syndrome.

Quote:
I think Richard Dawkins talking about morality is laughable but I won't get into that.
Why? Do you think you have to believe in god to have morals? In some ways, religion destroys morals.

Personally? I would tell people to consider having an abortion if they asked my personal opinion. There are multiple health considerations.
   
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Re: Richard Dawkins: "Immoral" not to abort Down's syndrome foetuses - August 27th 2014, 11:57 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lelola View Post
He is voicing his own views. Morality is a personal point of view. Would people be outraged if he said that it is immoral to abort a down syndrome child? Is it more immoral to allow healthy fetuses to be aborted? The way it is is he is telling someone his opinion.
I think it's perhaps the way he expresses his opinion which is the problem. As I mentioned in my last post, the first part sounds more like an imperative (i.e. a command or instruction) rather than an expression of opinion, whereas the second part makes it sound like it is an established rule of morality rather than his own opinion. He is entitled to his opinion, but how he expressed it is open to critique.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lelola View Post
In all honestly, at that point in a fetus' development when most abortions occur, a cow has higher level of function than a fetus can. So in many ways, those who want to believe that "life" is a heartbeat should not eat meat. Even though a heartbeat is not indicative of higher thought and instead is a function of the brain stem.
I feel this is perhaps an unwise comparison - using the same logic, it would then be okay to kill someone whose level of brain activity has dropped below that of a cow or other livestock. That would potentially put a worrying number of people with disabilities in the firing line. I appreciate that isn't what you are suggesting, but if it's used as a justification for supporting abortion then it does open that door as well.


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If you're referring to dr2005's response, it's not complex, however, he has a way with words .
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Re: Richard Dawkins: "Immoral" not to abort Down's syndrome foetuses - August 28th 2014, 07:18 AM

Quote:
I think it's perhaps the way he expresses his opinion which is the problem. As I mentioned in my last post, the first part sounds more like an imperative (i.e. a command or instruction) rather than an expression of opinion, whereas the second part makes it sound like it is an established rule of morality rather than his own opinion. He is entitled to his opinion, but how he expressed it is open to critique.
Does he know her personally? One issue with tweets/FB status messages is that people seem to forget that everyone can read them.

Quote:
I feel this is perhaps an unwise comparison - using the same logic, it would then be okay to kill someone whose level of brain activity has dropped below that of a cow or other livestock. That would potentially put a worrying number of people with disabilities in the firing line. I appreciate that isn't what you are suggesting, but if it's used as a justification for supporting abortion then it does open that door as well.
It's food for thought for people who want to argue stupid statements like a fetus is alive because it has a heartbeat. We don't judge humanity based on a heartbeat otherwise animals could be considered human. In every abortion debate, there is one person who swears that the fetus should have rights due to the heartbeat.

Quality of life is something that I think people need to consider and one reason why I will never work in an ICU again. Nothing is worse than trying to keep someone alive who shows no indications of higher thought. The only reason why they are breathing is due to a vent and two or three drips keeping their blood pressure up.
   
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Re: Richard Dawkins: "Immoral" not to abort Down's syndrome foetuses - September 2nd 2014, 06:57 PM

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Originally Posted by Lelola View Post
Does he know her personally? One issue with tweets/FB status messages is that people seem to forget that everyone can read them.
I believe he suggested it was meant to be sent via DM rather than via public tweet (although that doesn't entirely stack up given the rest of the discussion was public and it's pretty hard to mix the two up in my experience). Whether he knew her personally is unclear, but it seems more like a theoretical discussion rather than someone seeking specific advice so I would imagine they're acquaintances at most.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lelola View Post
It's food for thought for people who want to argue stupid statements like a fetus is alive because it has a heartbeat. We don't judge humanity based on a heartbeat otherwise animals could be considered human. In every abortion debate, there is one person who swears that the fetus should have rights due to the heartbeat.
I don't think it's a particularly stupid statement, as a matter of fact - from a purely biological perspective, a fetus is undergoing growth and respiration and has its own unique DNA sequence, and therefore is very much alive and a separate entity from the mother. It is however totally dependent upon the mother for its continued survival, so while it is alive it is not viable. Therein lies the difference. Whether being alive makes it human, aside from the qualifier that it is part of the homo sapiens species unlike other animals, is a wider topic for debate.

Quote:
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Quality of life is something that I think people need to consider and one reason why I will never work in an ICU again. Nothing is worse than trying to keep someone alive who shows no indications of higher thought. The only reason why they are breathing is due to a vent and two or three drips keeping their blood pressure up.
Quality of life is, by its very nature, very subjective - and while I agree with your views about the futility of some efforts, the people I was referring to did not fall into the category of showing "no indications of higher thought". In any event, the subjectivity of this is perhaps what Professor Dawkins overlooked in making a sweeping statement on the quality of life of Down's syndrome sufferers - as others have pointed out, suggesting they suffer a poor quality of life without exception is misguided.


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If you're referring to dr2005's response, it's not complex, however, he has a way with words .
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Re: Richard Dawkins: "Immoral" not to abort Down's syndrome foetuses - September 3rd 2014, 04:10 AM

Quote:
I don't think it's a particularly stupid statement, as a matter of fact - from a purely biological perspective, a fetus is undergoing growth and respiration and has its own unique DNA sequence, and therefore is very much alive and a separate entity from the mother. It is however totally dependent upon the mother for its continued survival, so while it is alive it is not viable. Therein lies the difference. Whether being alive makes it human, aside from the qualifier that it is part of the homo sapiens species unlike other animals, is a wider topic for debate.
All "life" is not the same. If we consider protected life by those that you have listed, then animals should be protected too. However, science and medicine have set that having a heart beat is not the same as being human. We will remove people from machines and life saving drips that will keep their blood pressure up even if they have a heart beat because they will be considered clinically dead. It's a standard and saying that a fetus is alive due to a heartbeat is not fair.
   
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Re: Richard Dawkins: "Immoral" not to abort Down's syndrome foetuses - September 3rd 2014, 05:42 AM

Don't ask a Darwinist for advice on something if you don't want/can't handle a Darwinistic response. I don't see the problem.


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Re: Richard Dawkins: "Immoral" not to abort Down's syndrome foetuses - September 4th 2014, 06:02 PM

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All "life" is not the same. If we consider protected life by those that you have listed, then animals should be protected too.
Outside of an abbatoir or laboratory environment, animal lives are protected as well - to varying degrees, admittedly, but as a matter of fact animal welfare laws have existed for longer than many human welfare laws. The RSPCA in the UK predates the NSPCC by several decades, and was actually the creator of it. Likewise, rest periods for transporting animals have existed in law longer than working time regulations have. Indeed, even laboratory animals are subject to very high standards of welfare outside of experiments. The key difference is that using animals for food products and experiments has been deemed morally acceptable conduct for millennia and centuries respectively. Thus far, no one has contended it is morally acceptable to eat humans or experiment on them en masse - quite the opposite, in fact. Comparisons between the two are therefore fraught with difficulties, and in any event do not detract from the biological fact that a fetus is, irrespective of its wider status, alive.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lelola View Post
However, science and medicine have set that having a heart beat is not the same as being human. We will remove people from machines and life saving drips that will keep their blood pressure up even if they have a heart beat because they will be considered clinically dead. It's a standard and saying that a fetus is alive due to a heartbeat is not fair.
I agree - this is why I said it's a wider debate as to what makes it human rather than just alive. However, as with a fetus the fact that someone is clinically brain dead (which I believe is what you meant rather than clinical death - clinical death means they still have blood circulation so would not be possible on a life support machine) does not mean they have stopped being alive. For as long as respiratory processes are taking place, and biological death has not occurred, they are still alive. What their status is outside of this is a wider question of legal personhood and other factors such as quality of life, but the fact that it may be in a person's best interest to have treatment withdrawn does not mean they have stopped being human or stopped being alive. Indeed, the very opposite was expressed in Airedale NHS Trust v Bland here in the UK and in similar cases in other countries. As I acknowledged in my last post, being alive and being "human" are not necessarily one and the same.

In addition, I am unsure as to why saying a fetus is alive because it has a hearbeat is "not fair" - it is purely a statement of scientific fact. Any particular consequences of that fact are a matter for personal conscience.


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Re: Richard Dawkins: "Immoral" not to abort Down's syndrome foetuses - September 4th 2014, 07:35 PM

I think there are just some confusions here, as well as exaggerations and jumping to conclusions.
Richard Dawkins said that "it would be immoral to bring it to the world", but I'm sure (or rather I believe, based on my own point of view and thoughts) that by saying that he didn't mean "people with downs syndrome don't have the right to live and aren't contributing towards society", as some of you say, but is more likely saying that "it would be unfair to bring someone into the world when we know that they will have severe disabilities, as there would be a large amount of suffering for the child in question". People have wrongly jumped to conclusions, thinking he meant that "those children don't deserve to be alive", when in reality he probably means "those children would suffer if they were to be brought to life. It would be unfair for the parent to do so when they can stop it."
Think of it like this: if you had a pet, let's say a dog or a cat, with an immense tumor growing in him that the vet could not remove, would you keep him living and suffering or would you put him down? I'm not meaning to say that fetuses are like animals here, but I guess this is the best example I could come up with. The point is, any normal person would put that animal down... not because the animal no longer contributed to the household hapiness; not because he simply thought that that animal did not deserve to live... but because he loves the animal so dearly that he would put the animal's interest before his, which means putting him down and sparing him of his misery, even though the person cares very much about the animal and will miss him a ton.

By the way, I'm not saying here that this opinion is correct, because I believe that everyone is free and has the right to have and believe in their own opinion, I simply want to say that Richard Dawkins almost certainly didn't want to offend anyone, and that there must have been a misunderstanding.


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Re: Richard Dawkins: "Immoral" not to abort Down's syndrome foetuses - September 4th 2014, 10:29 PM

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Originally Posted by Skyline View Post
I think there are just some confusions here, as well as exaggerations and jumping to conclusions.
Richard Dawkins said that "it would be immoral to bring it to the world", but I'm sure (or rather I believe, based on my own point of view and thoughts) that by saying that he didn't mean "people with downs syndrome don't have the right to live and aren't contributing towards society", as some of you say, but is more likely saying that "it would be unfair to bring someone into the world when we know that they will have severe disabilities, as there would be a large amount of suffering for the child in question". People have wrongly jumped to conclusions, thinking he meant that "those children don't deserve to be alive", when in reality he probably means "those children would suffer if they were to be brought to life. It would be unfair for the parent to do so when they can stop it."
Interesting observation. However, in the case of Down's syndrome I'm not sure it's entirely valid, as the degree to which a child with Down's syndrome will suffer (or otherwise) varies significantly from case to case. Some children with the condition will have severely life-limiting symptoms as a result, while others may grow into adulthood with a pretty good quality of life. This article makes that point in refuting Professor Dawkins' arguments. Were it the case that it did result in universal suffering and low quality of life, that would perhaps be a different story. As it stands, the reasoning doesn't stack up.


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If you're referring to dr2005's response, it's not complex, however, he has a way with words .
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Re: Richard Dawkins: "Immoral" not to abort Down's syndrome foetuses - September 11th 2014, 07:38 AM

That disgusts me. Just because someone has down's syndrome or will have it doesnt mean they shouldn't be allowed to live. I'm liberal, and I support the individual's rights; a baby's right to live, even if they'll be born with a mental disability, or born into a crappy and/or poor family is FAR more important, ethical, and meaningful than the (usually) irresponsible parent's right to get rid of them. To me, it's just common sense.
I don't understand why Dawkins, who I respect as a very intelligent person, would think something like that. "Abort it and try again?" It's not like its gonna be the same kid, with all its problems fixed. The first kid would be gone forever, no matter what. And it's like he's saying the person with Down's is bad; as awful as Down's syndrome is, a person can have Down's and be a very nice person. I was in a mental hospital for a month(depression) and saw everything. Down's, Schizo, severe autism, split and borderline personality disorders, etc. And I had a fantastic time despite my depression, it was one of the most fulfilling months of my life. Now I'm not gonna lie, if a person has a natural tendency toward violence, they belong in the hospital, but I had a great time with everyone I met there, and I actually found myself exaggerating my symptoms so I could stay longer and help them. One girl, who had borderline and was a great friend to me even afterwards, actually told me that her mom told her she should've aborted her. My friend and I both disagree. She's a wonderful person.
Some day, we'll have the third-parent baby idea going, and we'll be able to fix mental disorders before the baby is out. Then this issue should no longer be prevalent.
If this meant anything to anyone, feel free to PM me to let me know. It'd make me feel good.
   
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Re: Richard Dawkins: "Immoral" not to abort Down's syndrome foetuses - September 11th 2014, 08:05 AM

I understand what he is saying, and this is a common ethical issue discussed in literature but I think he came off as insensitive. Many parents check the genetic makeup and choose to abort if they have genetic disorders, such as down syndrome. Many believe that the child will suffer their entire life, and that this is the most "ethical" choice. I think it depends on interpretation. Many down syndrome people end up very happy; many end up developing painful side effects to their genetic makeup, and most die early in life. I believe that parents have the right to do this practice, although I see the ethical argument on both sides. However, although he said he wasn't, he did come off as pushy and generally rude about it.


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Re: Richard Dawkins: "Immoral" not to abort Down's syndrome foetuses - September 11th 2014, 05:21 PM

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Outside of an abbatoir or laboratory environment, animal lives are protected as well - to varying degrees, admittedly, but as a matter of fact animal welfare laws have existed for longer than many human welfare laws. The RSPCA in the UK predates the NSPCC by several decades, and was actually the creator of it. Likewise, rest periods for transporting animals have existed in law longer than working time regulations have. Indeed, even laboratory animals are subject to very high standards of welfare outside of experiments. The key difference is that using animals for food products and experiments has been deemed morally acceptable conduct for millennia and centuries respectively. Thus far, no one has contended it is morally acceptable to eat humans or experiment on them en masse - quite the opposite, in fact. Comparisons between the two are therefore fraught with difficulties, and in any event do not detract from the biological fact that a fetus is, irrespective of its wider status, alive.
I'm referring to eating farm animals. I assume that the UK still allows the consumption of meat. Yes they may live in better conditions but people still kill the animals in order to provide for the beef, chicken, and other meat. It does detract. Just because it fits your moral beliefs does not mean that you should just blindly accept it or disregard information.

The idea of being alive has changed. There is new criteria for brain death.
Quote:
I agree - this is why I said it's a wider debate as to what makes it human rather than just alive. However, as with a fetus the fact that someone is clinically brain dead (which I believe is what you meant rather than clinical death - clinical death means they still have blood circulation so would not be possible on a life support machine) does not mean they have stopped being alive. For as long as respiratory processes are taking place, and biological death has not occurred, they are still alive. What their status is outside of this is a wider question of legal personhood and other factors such as quality of life, but the fact that it may be in a person's best interest to have treatment withdrawn does not mean they have stopped being human or stopped being alive. Indeed, the very opposite was expressed in Airedale NHS Trust v Bland here in the UK and in similar cases in other countries. As I acknowledged in my last post, being alive and being "human" are not necessarily one and the same.
You do realize that there is no magical machine known as a life support machine, right? Life support involves a delicate balance of machines and drips to keep a person alive. Some involve things such as a ventilator, suction, a peg tube to receive nutrition, sometimes a trach so they don't need the tube down the windpipe, sometimes TPN, tube shoved down someones nose or in their mouth to their stomach to take out contents or to put feedings in, sometimes vasoconstrictors to keep the blood pressure up, sodium bicarb, taking out the plasma in the blood and exchanging it with someone else's plasma (plasmaphoresis which is really cool), dialysis to take off extra fluid, etc.

However, the term "alive" has changed. Yes I meant brain death but I didn't say it that way because few people have actually seen what a dead person looks like that has the extreme measures taken to keep them alive. We are very good at keeping corpses "alive" so cellular respiration can occur. People are very good at seeing signs that don't mean anything to keep hope alive. It's cruel and unusual. I will not work in an ICU again.


Quote:
In addition, I am unsure as to why saying a fetus is alive because it has a hearbeat is "not fair" - it is purely a statement of scientific fact. Any particular consequences of that fact are a matter for personal conscience.
Because it requires a higher level of brain function in order to be considered human. People can live for hours off of life support with a heartbeat but basically be an empty shell. A heartbeat is a product of the brainstem.
   
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Re: Richard Dawkins: "Immoral" not to abort Down's syndrome foetuses - September 11th 2014, 08:49 PM

A fetus isn't about to die, and they usually dont need a machine to keep them alive. They haven't lived their life, theyre usually not in horrible pain, and they aren't in the ICU, which makes them different then a braindead person.
And the thing with cows and other animals... They aren't humans and they don't have the capacity to ever be as smart as a human. A baby does, because theyre going to grow up and be one of us anyway. Honestly, I don't know how thats a relevant comparison, babies to animals is like apples to oranges. Theyre completely different, no matter what way you look at it scientifically, whether its the heartbeat thing or the brainwave thing, the baby has the genetic makeup of a human. Theres essentially no big difference between a baby in the womb and a baby outside the womb; if you killed a premature baby that was outside the womb but had 7 or 8 months of development, people would flip out, but if it was still in the womb at 7 or 8 months, people would be cool with it. Doesnt make sense.
   
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Re: Richard Dawkins: "Immoral" not to abort Down's syndrome foetuses - September 11th 2014, 10:35 PM

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Originally Posted by Lelola View Post
I'm referring to eating farm animals. I assume that the UK still allows the consumption of meat. Yes they may live in better conditions but people still kill the animals in order to provide for the beef, chicken, and other meat. It does detract. Just because it fits your moral beliefs does not mean that you should just blindly accept it or disregard information.
With all due respect, this still doesn't substantiate a connection between a person's points of view on abortion and eating meat. The morality of eating meat, or killing animals to provide meat, is a completely separate issue from the morality of abortion. It does not follow that in order to entertain a point of view on one, a person must entertain the same point of view on the other. It is a non sequitur. If one were trying to argue about the morality of cannibalism with reference to the use of animals for meat production, that may have more strength in terms of its logic (even if the argument was still likely to fail). However, in the case of abortion and meat production comparisons there is no common ground aside from the fact that something dies - the reasons for the course of action and the end results sought for each have no connection to the other. Animals are killed for meat production because, as omnivores, we are geared up to eat meat as well as plants. It is a fairly settled course of behaviour, even if some choose not to do so for various reasons. The end result of abortion is to end the life of the fetus and nothing else. If you wish for the comparison to be taken seriously, you need to provide more grounds for doing so than you have thus far.

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The idea of being alive has changed. There is new criteria for brain death.
Be that as it may, you have yet to explain how that affects the biological status of a developing fetus.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lelola View Post
You do realize that there is no magical machine known as a life support machine, right? Life support involves a delicate balance of machines and drips to keep a person alive. Some involve things such as a ventilator, suction, a peg tube to receive nutrition, sometimes a trach so they don't need the tube down the windpipe, sometimes TPN, tube shoved down someones nose or in their mouth to their stomach to take out contents or to put feedings in, sometimes vasoconstrictors to keep the blood pressure up, sodium bicarb, taking out the plasma in the blood and exchanging it with someone else's plasma (plasmaphoresis which is really cool), dialysis to take off extra fluid, etc.
I do realise this - my fiancee is a registered nurse, and I have read cases to do with end of life care as part of my legal studies. I used the phrase "life support machine" as a catch-all term as it is more familiar to people outside of a medical or legal background. While your knowledge is indeed impressive, there is no need to be patronising in displaying it - which, whatever your intention may have been, is how that came across.

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However, the term "alive" has changed. Yes I meant brain death but I didn't say it that way because few people have actually seen what a dead person looks like that has the extreme measures taken to keep them alive. We are very good at keeping corpses "alive" so cellular respiration can occur. People are very good at seeing signs that don't mean anything to keep hope alive. It's cruel and unusual. I will not work in an ICU again.
I can appreciate why it would produce that response, and I'm sure it's one many of us would share if put in the same position. As I have said before, however, the fact that a person may be considered clinically brain dead does not mean that they have ceased being a living organism and so they are still alive. Whether that life is considered meaningful is a whole different ballpark to whether they have basic respiratory functions.

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Originally Posted by Lelola View Post
Because it requires a higher level of brain function in order to be considered human. People can live for hours off of life support with a heartbeat but basically be an empty shell. A heartbeat is a product of the brainstem.
According to which accepted standard? Thus far you have asserted this claim without providing any basis for it, whereas I have referred to precedent which remains valid and points to the contrary. The mere repetition of a claim does not make it stronger. I am happy to consider a source which substantiates this from the relevant literature, but without that this is merely a statement of your opinion.


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Originally Posted by OMFG!You'reActuallySmart! View Post
If you're referring to dr2005's response, it's not complex, however, he has a way with words .
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