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There are a number of erroneous fundamental precepts held by abortion opponents. This is just a quick overview; for the full details on why the precepts are erroneous, see the main “Refutations” document. Any comments about this list will be deleted if it appears that the authors of those comments have not studied the main document.
• “‘Human’ and ‘person’ are the same thing.” –NOPE, not if any non-human intelligent beings/entities exist, somewhere in the Universe. Prejudice is Stupid.
• “Humans have intrinsic value”. –That is actually a combination of two separate statements, NEITHER of which is valid. The first statement is, “There is such a thing as ‘intrinsic value’.”, and the second statement is, “Humans have it.” –NOPE, TWICE, as explained in detail just below (this precept is so widespread and erroneous that it deserves the full treatment here).
First, the phrase “intrinsic value” is actually an oxymoron. That’s because an “intrinsic” property of something is a property that is so-closely associated with the “something” that if the intrinsic property didn’t exist (like, say, the hardness of a diamond), then the “something” (the diamond) would not exist, either. Also, the intrinsic property exists independently of anything that might encounter that property. The hardness of a diamond is the same whether or not the diamond is naturally squeezed between some other rocks, or if some animal tries to bite it, or if some intelligent entity tries to measure it. MEANWHILE, the concept of “value” cannot exist without an evaluator. And simply because evaluators have different biases, **all** valuations are Subjective, Relative, and Arbitrary. Put that diamond next to some dung, and a dung beetle will rate the dung as being the more-valuable object, every time. Therefore the phrase “intrinsic value” is an oxymoron because part of it implies independence from all evaluators, and part of it contradictorily requires an evaluator. And simply as a consequence of being an oxymoron, the concept of “intrinsic value” actually cannot exist. PERIOD.
Second, it is easy to prove that even if intrinsic value existed, humans don’t have it. Consider any historical/classic emergency in which it is announced “Save the women and children first!” –Where did the supposedly equal “intrinsic value” of human men go, when that happens? If someone dares to claim that men intrinsically have less value than women and children, then what of high-value boy-children that grow up to be low-value men? An intrinsic property, by definition, cannot change that easily! And therefore humans are not-in-the-slightest associated with the oxymoronic concept of “intrinsic value”.
• “There is such a thing as ‘intrinsic right to life’.” –NOPE, as any unarmed abortion opponent will soon discover, upon encountering a hungry man-eating tiger. An “intrinsic” property is something that is UNIVERSALLY recognize-able! The only property of a human that the hungry man-eating tiger recognizes is “fresh meat”!
• “Human life matters.” –NOPE; the universe can get along just fine without us, and it cares nothing about our conceited and egotistical opinions of ourselves.
• “There are plenty of resources.” –NOPE, at least not for an endlessly growing population.
• “A human and a human being are always the same thing.” –NOPE, partly because of the well-documented existence of “hydatidiform moles“, which begin their existence as zygotes, just like normal embryos, and develop through the morula and blastocyst stages, just like normal embryos, and implant into wombs just like normal embryos –but not even abortion opponents are so stupid as to call hydatidiform moles, which are 100% alive and 100% human entities, “human beings”. Also, there exist brain-dead adult humans on full life-support –and for them, the doctors and the scientists and the lawyers all agree that the person is DEAD. A human being is certainly a person, but in each of these cases a Death Certificate is filled out. So even though the human body is still very much alive (except for the 3-pound brain), it is Officially a corpse, not a “human being”/person.
• “The word ‘person’ refers to a legal fiction, only.” –NOPE, because scientists are actively studying the topic in terms of Objectively Verifiable Data. Scientists started with the simple preliminary Fact that for thousands of years, humans have been imagining non-human person-class entities (from angels to aliens). Then they ask a very simple question, “Regardless of how possible types of persons might differ from each other, what can they all have in common, allowing them to be distinguished from ordinary animals?” As a result of their research, certain types of entities might in the not-distant future be widely recognized as qualifying as persons.
• “Any human body qualifies as a person.” –NOPE, as any reasonably well-educated human can prove by Answering this Question: If you were visiting a modern well-equipped medical lab, and some madman with a machete cut your head off in an attempt to murder you, but rescuers arrived in time, would you want them to save your headless human body, or save your severed head, to save YOU-the-person? Because of research associated with the first human head transplant, which might occur as early as 2017, we have the technology to keep either a headless body or a severed head alive. Most abortion opponents don’t like that Question because it proves they actually do know what a person truly is, but don’t want to admit the fact that they know what a person truly is: A person is a mind, not a body. And since the body is irrelevant, True Artificial Intelligences, extraterrestrial alien beings, and possibly even dolphins, can all qualify as persons.
• “Unborn humans are people.” –NOPE, because the Constitution requires all persons be counted every ten years in the Census (except for Indians not taxed), and unborn humans have never been counted in any Census. The Founding Fathers set the Legal Precedent with respect to that in the very first Census, in 1790, and in more than 220 years since, unborn humans have continued to be ignored, just like other nonpersons (such as rats) are ignored by the Census. But you can bet that if extraterrestrial alien beings immigrated to the USA, they would get counted in the Census!
Meanwhile, scientific studies about persons show that plenty of ordinary animals, like pigs, are much smarter than unborn humans. We know this because we can test more-developed infant humans, and they always perform very poorly in various tests of mental abilities. Thus, for all who insist that unborn humans qualify as persons, those insisters should be even-more-strongly insisting that pigs and other ordinary animals be granted person status, too! But instead all they do is spout Stupidly Prejudiced blather about the word “human”, entirely ignoring the fact that according to all the scientific data ever gathered, persons are minds, not bodies. Tsk, tsk!
• “Unborn humans are babies/children.” –NOPE, except in the imagination of the masses, and the dictionaries derived from those imaginations. Entirely because unborn humans have attached placentas functioning as vital organs, while ordinary babies and children don’t. The Fact Is, due to not needing placentas functioning as vital organs, abortion opponents are more like ordinary babies than unborn humans! –so should abortion opponents be called “babies”? (Pro-choicers are generally more mentally mature, so that is why they should not be called “babies” –and unborn humans are far too IMmature to be called “babies”! That’s why they have placentas functioning as vital organs!)
• “‘Human rights’ is a concept that should be applied to the unborn.” –NOPE, except to the Stupidly Prejudiced. Remember that more than 50% of human egg-fertilizations Naturally fail to survive, despite any imagined “rights”. Meanwhile, the concept of “person rights” is already fully embraced by the U.S. Constitution, and can equitably apply all across the Universe, for uncounted numbers of intelligent beings, regardless of their appearance or manner of existence. Why should anyone be so narrow-minded as to focus on rights for humans only?
• “There is no significant difference between an about-to-be-born human and a recently-born human.” –NOPE, because unborn human organism includes a placenta functioning as a vital organ, which works to steal nutrients from another human’s body, dump toxic biowastes into that other human’s body, plus infuse addictive and mind-altering substances into that other humans’s body. The recently-born human is very different because it doesn’t have an associated placenta and does none of those things!
• “Unborn humans are innocent.” –NOPE, not in the slightest, with respect to their Objectively Measurable Actions, as just detailed immediately above.
• “Human mental development is as inevitable as human physical development, and therefore the concept of “continuity” makes the unborn human the same thing as a person.” –NOPE, because The Fact Is, “typical/modern” human mental development requires external stimulation of a type and degree that is never inevitably present. There exists a Natural Default mental state for humans, and that state is revealed WHENEVER some young human is not sufficiently mentally stimulated. It can be called “the feral child state”. Humans have been “anatomically modern” for roughly 200,000 years, but humans have been “mentally modern” for maybe 70,000 years –prior to that time all humans were mentally in the feral child state, basically just a bunch of extra-clever animals.
The difference between the mentally modern state and the feral child state relates to the biological ability to physically adapt to experienced stresses while young. For example, someone growing up on a mountain-top will have a greater lung capacity and a higher red-blood-cell count than someone growing up at sea level. Well, when a youthful brain experiences a great deal of mental stimulation, the brain responds by growing some extra processing power –and THAT extra brainpower makes all the difference between the feral child state and the mentally modern state. It Just So Happens that human societies have been so-routinely applying lots of mental stimulation to youngsters, for thousands of years, that when child neglect leads to a feral child, the situation is not considered “natural” –when actually THAT situation is the Natural Default for humans!
The net result of the above is that typical/modern human brain development is **absolutely**not** a consequence of ordinary biological growth (“Nature”), the way ordinary physical size is a consequence of biological growth. The crucial piece of brain development **only** happens as a result of “Nurture” –the application of significant mental stimulation– entirely after birth. And since Nurture is not guaranteed, humans do not actually experience the type of mental-development “continuity” referenced by this Erroneous Precept Of Abortion Opponents.
• “The primary purpose of sex is reproduction.” –NOT FOR HUMANS. While it is quite true that for most sexually-reproducing species on the planet, the primary purpose of sex is indeed reproduction, for humans the situation is quite different. For starters, all those other species **only** have sex when reproduction is practically guaranteed –but for humans, not only can they have sex just about any time, the “right” time for sex to result in reproduction is **hidden**.
Now think about this Fact: Whenever something like human-sexuality-being-so-different **survives** Natural Evolution, it survives for a reason!
For humans, the primary purpose of sex is “pair bond formation”. Reproduction is just a side-effect (but any fertile pair-bonded couple that has enough sex is very likely to trigger that side-effect, and therefore human-sexuality-being-so-different is able to surive!). The reason the pair bond is important is because human babies are extremely helpless, compared to babies of just about any other species. The odds that a human baby can survive (along with all the genes associated with human-sexuality-being-so-different) will go up considerably if there are two parents caring for it, instead of just the mother.
• “Sex obligates in a particular way.” –NOPE, not so long as creative people are allowed to destroy their creations.
• “Deliberate abortion has no equivalent in Nature.” –NOPE, since “fetal resorption” exists, and a bird will sometimes eject a viable egg from its nest.
• “Potential persons should be treated like actual persons.” –NOPE, not unless potentially-dead abortion opponents want to be treated like actually-dead abortion opponents (get embalmed and buried).
• “Abortion only prevents positive outcomes.” –NOPE, since potential serial killers get aborted, right along with potential saints. Not to mention, why should the opinion of an abortion opponent, regarding the concept of “positive outcome”, be superior to the opinion of a woman seeking an abortion?
• “Unborn humans are members of a unique kind of entity, capable of becoming persons.” –IRRELEVANT, since that focuses on the “potential” and not on the “actual”. Plus, the notion can be reduced to an absurdity. For example, when the goal of modern “stem cell” research has been achieved, every cell in the body that possesses a full set of human DNA would qualify as the kind of entity capable of becoming a person. Also, the precept
ignores the future development of of True Artificial Intelligences –an appropriately upgrade-able desktop computer would qualify as an entity capable of becoming a person!). Next, when “regeneration technology” is perfected, any accident that cuts a human into two or more pieces would yield pieces such that each piece would qualify as an entity capable of becoming a person (just put them into individual regeneration vats, and see!). Finally, there is the fact that the precept is exactly as “true” for the offspring of intelligent “R-strategists” as it is “true” for “K-strategists” like humans, yet most R-strategist offspring MUST die (the precept would insist on providing K-strategy care for trillions of R-strategy offspring, a thing that is literally physically impossible).
As a result, it is more appropriate to think about minds than mere physical bodies, when it comes to talking about personhood. A True Artificial Intelligence is no such thing unless it has a person-class mind. An intelligent extraterrestrial alien being can only be identified as such through the mental abilities it can exhibit. The brain-dead on life-support can have their “plugs” pulled exactly because their minds are dead. So, since cells having human DNA are mindless, as is an upgrade-able desktop computer, or any chopped-off body-part except the head, or any young-enough offspring of either intelligent K-strategists or intelligent R-strategists, all those entities are not persons, and need not be treated right-now like persons, any more than abortion opponents need to be right-now treated like corpses.
• “The womb is an ideal environment for an unborn human; therefore it deserves to be there.” –NOPE, since the existence of ectopic pregnancies prove that unborn humans are quite capable of surviving and growing outside a womb; the real problem is that such pregnancies tend to kill the mothers. Therefore the womb actually exists to help the mother survive, not the unborn human!