Go Know Roe

In the book Freakonomics the authors speculated that Roe was the main reason for the drop in crime in the early 90s.


OTOH, “Christine” Jorgensen had to go to Sweden too. Or rather, was headed there but found a surgeon in Denmark who was willing to maim him . So really, America wasn’t all bad before 1960.


Which I think speaks to Dev’s appeal to morality. The “undesirables” removed from society in order to bring order to society. Hmmmm, we have heard that somewhere else…now where could that have been?

I too have heard the same Freakonomics assertion and here’s the flaw in that: There is no way of knowing that the individuals killed through Roe would have been criminals! Their theory is in my estimation the height of human conceit and hubris because those poor souls never had the opportunity to become members of society.

As for the scientific aspect of the question, let me ask you this: When a human male and human female have intercourse and copulate, what else would you expect to be the product of that other than another human? Can chickens’ eggs, after having been fertilized by the rooster, hatch to become baluga whales? What about the Mako Shark, is there any chance of them producing a duck? I think the question answers itself, no? Not to mention the euphamistic terms we use: zygote, embryo, fetus. All words cooked up by dastardly people for the sole purpose of dehumanizing the baby inside the womb. No, the moment human male sperm penetrates the outer wall of a human female egg, there is another unique individual human, period. And that is science.


Let’s look at the other end of the cycle – Do you think a corpse in a coffin is a human being?

Obviously, the corpse was once a human being. The corpse is part of the human being cycle that proceeds from the zygote, to a new-born baby that will die unless it gets careful attention, to what we normally call a human being, to a corpse.

We seem to be getting into an issue which is more a matter of definition than of science. A pupa is not a butterfly – but there will be no butterflies unless there first are pupae.

A practical approach might be to say that the corpse is no longer a human being when its heart ceases pumping. Extending that to the other end, the zygote should be counted as a human being once the fetus has a heartbeat.

However, other definitions are possible. Romans did not consider a baby to be human until its father accepted it; hence Romulus & Remus being exposed on a hillside. Kazakh tribes did not give a baby a name (effectively accepting it as a member of the tribe) until it was one year old. How a society treats the fetus/new-born says more about the society than about the science.




In the book Freakonomics the authors speculated that Roe was the main reason for the drop in crime in the early 90s.

I, too, read that. But note - it is a theory unsupported by real data. It is only “supported” by the fact that crime fell. But that’s a bit like arguing a tree is alive; I’m alive; therefore I’m a tree.

Actual facts to support that contention do not exist, much like no facts exist to support “climate change”. It is ALL speculation based upon a flawed computer model, and I suspect Freakonomics has the same issues.


We seem to be getting into an issue which is more a matter of definition than of science. A pupa is not a butterfly – but there will be no butterflies unless there first are pupae.

I believe definitions are also a matter of science. For example, the physicist must provide definitions of quarks and electrons, or else his theories are meaningless. The most precise definitions are found in mathematics, which does not depend on any empirical evidence whatsoever.

Of course, defining a human being is a very difficult thing to do. Socrates defined man as a featherless biped. In response, Diogenes plucked all the feathers off a chicken and declared “Behold, it is a man!” There are many opinions about when an unborn baby becomes a human being, with all of the rights that entails. This is another argument in favor of leaving the issue to the states or local governments, because it is so contentious, and different communities will arrive at different conclusions.

Nevertheless, a comprehensive moral theory should be capable of addressing any ethical dilemma, including very difficult questions about whether it is justifiable to kill an unborn baby. Walter Block’s theory of evictionism attempts to solve the problem of abortion rights by applying the libertarian non-aggression principle. His answer is a sort of compromise, as it would permit abortion up to the point of the baby’s viability outside of the womb, but not after. Therefore, as technological advancements allow babies to become viable at an earlier point in the pregnancy, evictionism will become more restrictive on abortion.


Yeah well,thats what Roe tried to do.

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No, Roe tried to codify a particular POV of the majority of justices, based upon nothing but air.


It is true that evictionism, put into practice, would be similar to Roe. However, the supreme court’s job is not to determine whether something is ethical in a general sense and then make that opinion a federal mandate. The justices are not philosopher kings.

Walter Block’s evictionism is interesting from a libertarian perspective because it is consistent with the non-aggression principle. In addition, evictionism will tend toward the pro-life position as technological advancements make the unborn baby viable at earlier points in the pregnancy. I find Block’s theory compelling but not totally decisive. Either way, I appreciate Block’s effort to construct a moral theory of abortion that is compatible with libertarian ethics.


Walter Block is a brilliant man.


Block is encouraging angels to dance upon the heads of pins! What is the meaning of “the baby’s viability outside of the womb”? We know with total certainty that any baby outside the womb – including the baby delivered naturally at full term – will die very quickly without constant care. Is the full-term naturally-delivered baby really “viable” in any meaningful sense?

Thought experiment: there has been discussion of Artificial Wombs, where a fertilized ovum would be brought to full term. Scientific speculation for now … but some day it will probably be possible. That fertilized ovum would be “viable” from the moment of conception, in the sense that it would survive with continuing attention in the same way that the naturally-delivered full-term baby can survive if given continuing attention. Are we to conclude that the fertilized ovum in an Artificial Womb would be a human being from the moment of fertilization, whereas the developing fetus in the womb becomes “human” only at a much later stage?


This is also a continuum, not a step function as writers of law might wish. As of 2016, the chance of survival for a premature birth in the following weeks was cited as:

Week Survival
22 6%
23 26%
24 55%
25 72%

This assumes first-world neonatal care. A 2019 reference cited a survival rate of 30% for births at 22 weeks with intensive care, although 33% of those born at 22 weeks who survive have severe disabilities.

In 2014, a baby was born in San Antonio, Texas at 21 weeks 4 days weighing 410 grams. As of 2018, she was attending preschool and other than delay in speech, exhibited no known medical problems or disabilities.


I’m late to the discussion, sorry. To try to answer the question posed in the post: : … what in your educated scientific opinions, is wrong with Roe"?

I think what is wrong in the first place is legal/Constitutional. The opinion relies on “rights” which are not included in the Constitution. They are, thus judge-created out of whole cloth and ought to have no place in Constitutional construction. An honest opinion would have said this is not a matter of Constitutional interpretation, since the document is silent as to abortion and the science is not within this Court’s competence. There is no federal question. It is therefore a matter for majority rule within the legislative power of the several states.

Strictly scientifically, “viability” is dependent on the state of medical knowledge and expertise, constantly in a state of change. The notion that a right conferred by the Constitution can in any way depend on the state of medical art is cognitively dissonant, to say the least. Such a decision trivializes the very concept of what a “right” is.

When legislatures wrestle with these issues, they may be well advised to explicitly recognize the arbitrariness of limits they set as to the stage of pregnancy beyond which abortion is not permitted. Among the considerations is the extent to which such rules are enforceable, when early abortions may be accomplished by simply ingesting an oral abortifacient.

As well, legislatures ought not permit rare exceptions - like pregnancies resulting from rape/incest - to swallow the rule. There are virtually no valid medical indications regarding health of the mother which require abortion after 15 weeks. The demand for abortion at term is absurd. Most of the risks to the mother have already been incurred by merely carrying the pregnancy to term. Either a vaginal delivery or Cesarean section adds de minimus additional risk compared with delivering the head (the most risky part of vaginal delivery) and performing a “fetal craniotomy” i.e. killing a fully-formed human infant by sucking its brain out of the cranial cavity. I submit that one single video depicting this procedure - shown to the public - would be seen as so shockingly gruesome, inhumane and evil as to immediately eliminate all such demands - no matter how loudly it is depicted my the MSM as “disinformation”.

As to the question of when a fertilized ovum becomes a human individual to which legally -cognizable rights ought to attach, I think the spectrum in which this must be analyzed is in the dimension of information content. A zygote has the entire genetic information required to form a unique human person. It is thus a unique potential person. With in utero development over time, that genetic information is expressed as tissues and organs develop, including the brain which begins to accumulate and process information. This organ informs that particular individual’s life experience by recording information and eventually making much of it accessible to awareness. This is a continuous process and birth - leaving the womb - merely allows the new person a wider variety of sensory input.

In terms of accretion of the information which confers non-genetic individuality on this individual, the notion that birth is the major milestone it has heretofore been seen to be, loses much of its power. From a rational, informational standpoint a unique series of life experiences adds to the new individual’s already unique genetic structure and thereby it IN - FORMS that individual. Birth permits a quantitative - but not qualitative (all the sense organs are working to some extent in utero) - increase in the diversity of that input to the brain. In sum, the uniqueness of an individual begins with the genetic information of the zygote and grows continuously throughout succeeding development, indeed throughout the entire life of the individual. Scientifically, I believe it is essential to consider the informational content as of the essence as to what constitutes a unique individual. Further, this occurs on a continuum and the only landmark which withstands rational analysis, in that regard, is development of the brain which stores and processes the individual’s unique experiences of life. Once that brain becomes even minimally functional, the gathering of individual information increases exponentially. Now, heartbeat is more easily observable and measurable (and emotional). The heart is just a pump, however, whose function is hardly unique. Initial function of the brain, by comparison, is a far more rational definition of the beginning of a unique human individual life. This may or may not be presently amenable to remote sensing from outside the mother’s body. If not today, then likely it will be in the future. That may be a better answer as to “when does ‘life’ begin”? That question, thus, has layers of answers, as a zygote is already alive and it is obviously human. That’s all I have to say about that.


Uh your honor, we rest our case. Thank you.


So CW, ?when do you believe a “person” learns the difference between good and evil. Because if you are of the Judeo-Christian faith, it is inherent in each of us. One can wonder what serial killers and other inherent psychopaths think, but if you have faith, you know Exodus holds that Adam learned of it by eating the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Since this country was formed upon Christian ethics and understanding, ?would not some of that also apply to this discussion.


CW’s speculation about what it would mean if we could eventually perceive fetal brain activity is the first comment addressing the question i was trying to pose. What if we knew that, just like the heartbeat, the activity of the fetal brain in the womb is the same as at birth? Whatevwr that is. But anyone who has dealt intimately with a newborn knows it isnt nothing. The infant is forceful, goal-oriented. Yes i think that would change the entire debate.


Okay i just re-read the Constitution, Art I sec 8. “Codify Roe”? I dont see any enumerated power of Congress which gives ‘em authority to regulate human reproduction. They cant just criminalize or de- criminalize actions at random. Murder, f’rinstance, isnt a federal crime (unless you do it in DC.). The Defense of Matriage Act is unconstitutional though nobody’s gonna bother with it after Obergefel.


Well, we do know that, and have for many years. There is nothing magical or physiological that happens at birth other than the oxygen supply to the baby’s blood being transferred from the mother’s bloodstream via the placenta to the baby’s own lungs. Brain activity is unaffected, and continues to develop along the continuum which began months before as the brain began to develop in the womb. Since we know that children born prematurely prior to 22 weeks can survive and grow into completely normal adults, we know that the brain of an unborn child from that point on is fully functional and able to develop normally. Nothing changes at birth other, than as Civil Westman noted, the stimuli presented to the developing child.

Does a newborn child react to pain? Yes. Then so does a child in the womb before birth. When does the perception of pain begin? Again, that’s a continuum, and not a step function. Is inflicting pain upon a living organism tortuous or sinful? Ask the lawyers and theologians. Ask the people who eat lobsters (some of whom live longer than humans) dropped alive into boiling water.

As one who has ventured into the dangerous and fringy territory of consciousness studies, I believe that a large part of what defines higher life is consciousness, even though, as Nick Herbert said,

Science’s biggest mystery is the nature of consciousness. It is not that we possess bad or imperfect theories of human awareness; we simply have no such theories at all. About all that we know about consciousness is that has something to do with the head, rather than the foot.

But it appears that the cerebral cortex in mammals has a lot to do with consciousness (while neuroscientists argue over trying to localise it more precisely), so I’d say we’re probably safe in saying an embyro which has not yet developed that part of the brain is unlikely to be conscious.

But from the moment of conception, every cell of the embryo carries the unique genetic code which will develop into a unique organism. Killing the embryo loses that information. For now—but we already have the ability of extract the DNA from a cell of the embryo, sequence it, and back it up on a USB stick or the cloud. In a few years, we’ll probably be able to synthesise the DNA from that sequence, put it in an egg, and create a clone (or as may as you wish) of the embryo, so the information will not be lost.

The law, with its its step functions, binary tests, and word salad definitions, is utterly inadequate to handle this level of complexity.


Yeah….that raises the queation of how it coulda been a sin, or been wrong, to eat the fruit, when our first parents didnt KNOW good from evil until after they ate it. Is your dog a sinner if it poops on the rug or steals food from the table? It may have known it has been commanded not to do so. But that isnt the same thing as knowing good and evil.


Thats what i meant when i posted. This isnt a question of , or for, law. I meant, physiologically, does Roe make any sense?
If we know that before 12 weeks there is no consciousness, then is whatever is being eliminated in any way human (except in its potential to become one)?
We humans can also conceive beings whose lifespan is only about 8-10 weeks. Then the being will die and be expelled from the womb, having lived as long as its chromosomal makeup could sustain it. Or so i was told.