Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Non-Killing Society: abortion & euthanasia (continued)

I think it is too fast to assume pro-life or pro-choice in any particular extreme side. In reality, there have no single ultimate truth in each of them. I am John Stuart Miller's fan believing in "utilitarianism". According Miller: "utilitarian ethic calls for examining each case to determine if the greatest good is achieved for the greatest number". I also prefer the "duty-based ethics" of Immanuel Kant. According Kant: "consider a given action would help or harm society". The ethical theory of these two scholars in the 18th century has clarified what I have been learning and practicing "padiccasamupa padda or the law of original interdependent". This "middle path" teaching profoundly insights us to consider any action "is it wholesome, is it unwholesome, the wise admire, no harm on us and others,..etc".



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On Sun, Mar 2, 2008 at 12:27 AM, Tim Conkling <@pobox.com> wrote:
Thanks Kim for updating us on the Netherlands situation and the debate that is happening there.
Re: euthanasia of deformed, or severely handicapped children... A decision to kill a child after it is born is an extension of the same reasoning that would kill the child before it was born in the womb. When our daughter Allison, was born 2 and 1/2 months prematurely, handicapped, with cerebral palsy, collapsed lungs, bloodclots in her brain, jaundice, apnea, and bradychardia, we were thankful that the techonology existed to save her life. She has overcome many obstacles to get where she is at now, able to walk without leg braces. She is the only c.p. kid known to her doctors at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia who is able to jump on one leg. But she is still handicapped and her c.p. affects her "quality of life" issues. We didn't know when she was born if she would live or if she would ever walk. To think that someone with Allison's handicap at some possible point in the future could legally be killed in the Netherlands disturbs me greatly. I would hope that the parents of handicapped children, like myself, would rise up in protest of such a thing. My issue against abortion and euthanising newborns is that I do not believe that a parent has the right to kill someone else- even if and especially if that person is their own flesh and blood. To frame the abortion debate exclusively in a discourse about the right of a woman to control her own body (when a fetus has a separate body from its gestational host during the time it is developing inside the gestational host's womb) mutes the discourse that points out that abortion is the taking of a human life, against the will of the unborn human. To frame the euthanising of handicapped children debate in terms of quality of life issues is extremely problematic. But what is happening in both these instances is that someone else other than the child is making a decision to end another person's life. The decision is then justified because the child is either connected to the mother's body (while inside the womb) or an extension of it (after the umbilical chord has been cut).

Kim, you mention that abortion was killing on Paige's list but not on yours. I could follow your reasoning better had you stated your pro-choice convictions at that point in terms of women's rights (as most all of the other respondents have to date). But to say as you did that abortion is not killing I think is an untenable position. The main point that I (following Paige's reasoning) am tenaciously trying to convince all of our colleagues to admit, is that abortion is the killing of a human being. Whether or not such a thing is ethical, or justifiable, and for what reasons and in what circumstances will be a matter of political debate and we will have to be free to disagree. But on the issue of whether or not abortion is killing a human being, I still hope that we can come to an agreement.

I appreciate the clarity that the responses to date have demonstrated when viewing the abortion discussion from the perspective of women's rights. At this point I would like to continue the dialog by asking the question : if a fetus is not a human being, then what is it? If abortion is not killing then what is it? No one has yet responded to the facts and pictures on fetal development that I sent out in my response to Josh's letter. I would welcome discussion and dialog at this point focused on those questions..

There are several issues connected to the abortion discussion that some of you might like to comment on:
In addition to : a woman's right over her own body (which most of you have focused on), and a right to life for the fetus (that I have focused on), there is also the matter of responsible sexual intercourse, the long line of couples who are waiting to adopt and who would want to adopt the aborted baby, the question of paying women not to abort, and the question of how society could survive if every woman exercised her right to abort. Any comments on these questions?
You might find this of interest, that in spite of my religious convictions I used to be pro-choice until I read the facts and saw the pictures of what was happening to the fetus in an abortion. At that point I had to admit that abortion was not the removal of non-descript, unformed cells from the lining of a host uterus. It was the dismembering by suction, or poisoning with saline, or the cracking open of the scalp and extracting of the brain tissue (as in partial birth abortion) of a human being, that in many cases would have otherwise been able to live outside of the womb at the time the abortion happened had the child been born rather than aborted. In the interests not of convincing you all to share my religious beliefs, but rather in the interests of furthering a non-killing society, I am urging each person to consider Paige's position more deeply on the matter of abortion.
Thanks for your consideration,
From: Kim De Vidts
Sent: Friday, February 29, 2008 1:09 PM
Subject: RE: Nonkilling...Euthanasia?

Aloha again ...

Josh, you mention that euthanasia is the taking of one's own life and hence involves only yourself. In the Netherlands, however, the debate is taking another turn: in the future, there may be the possibility for the parents of a newborn, severely disfigured and mentally handicapped, child to perform euthanasia (it is the parents' choice, meaning that abortion in the final month of pregnancy or euthanasia in the first week after birth will be seen as the same - the focus being on quality of life). The choice lies with the parents, even after giving birth.

Tim, being very "liberal" in this matter (part of my conditioned upbringing, I assume), I, as do most Western Europeans, approach this issue rarely (if ever) from a theological standpoint. Even though culturally speaking, our societies are "Christian", much of Europe seems to have dealt with such discussions several hundreds of years ago and the state's over-interference into the personal liberty of any person is believed to being regressive rather than progressive.
That being said, I agree with Dr. Dator and several others in believing that a nonkilling society is much desired by myself, if it excludes an invasion of personal liberty and choice (as was pointed out during the presentation, abortion is on Paige's list, but not on mine).

Again, I approach this from a European standpoint, where guns (usually) have no place in private life, where no country can join the EU prior to having abolished the death penalty, where all EU member-states must have ratified the Kyoto Treaty, where the general consensus is rather pacifist (as explained by Sophan, in a Buddhist sense), etc., and where the NNPT is remembered to stipulating that it is desirable in the future for all countries to dispose of their nuclear weapons so that they no longer can be utilized as a threat towards others. Therefore, it often strikes me as interesting that this discussion seems to be oriented too much towards the American viewpoint. Is Europe not ahead of the US in this nonkilling concept? If so, should we not take the EU as a starting point and work from there onwards? Just a thought …
Have a wonderful weekend,

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