Question of the Week- 4/20/2016

Apr 19, 2016

This week’s question comes from Helen E. Helen writes, “As a medical provider [against murder- including capital punishment and war] I’ve been fighting against insanity here in the USA that the intentional termination of pregnancy is NOT murdering babies! How do we frame agreement on legal abortion as a moral secularist?


 

Our favorite answer (non repeating winners only) will receive a copy of “A Brief Candle in the Dark” by Richard Dawkins!

And please don’t forget to send in your submissions for Question of the Week! You can suggest a question by emailing us at QotW@www.richarddawkins.net. Please remember this is for “Question of the Week” only, and all other comments should go to their respective threads under the Question of the Week itself. Thank you!

56 comments on “Question of the Week- 4/20/2016

  • It’s murdering a life. A growing fetus may have as much in common with a human baby as an adult pig, as Prof. Dawkins so charmingly noted. But it is a life. In most cases, pregnancies are not terminated because the fetus has a Down syndrome or any other kind of deviance. In most cases, they are terminated because “I’m just not ready yet”. We live in an age when more and more people, in the West at least, just cannot be bothered to have children, when everyone is told that they are unique and wonderful and special and why waste your life on having to take care of someone anyway, when you can simply enjoy yourself – all that pretty much explains why “I’m just not ready yet” is and always will be from now on the most popular reason for abortion, let us be realistic. As for some kind of moral justification – you might just say “I am concerned about the overpopulation. I don’t want my genes to continue. And even though it has taken them 3,5 billion years to come about, I want to terminate the motherf*ckers, consider me a martyr”.



    Report abuse

  • Victoria #1
    Apr 19, 2016 at 2:27 pm

    It’s murdering a life.

    So it is claimed by those following religious dogmas rather than science, but a zygote, a blastocyst and an embryo are not living babies, and foetuses are not babies either, until they are capable of surviving and living beyond birth.

    (The term “murder” ie. illegal killing of a human being, is inappropriate when describing legal abortion),
    a) Because it is not illegal in countries with proper medical services
    and
    b) because zygotes, blastocysts, embryos, and early stage foetuses are not human beings – they are human tissue which MIGHT develop into independent humans – The majority of them never reach birth and don’t!

    https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002398.htm

    A growing fetus may have as much in common with a human baby as an adult pig,

    That would have to be a late term foetus, well beyond the normal limits for abortions – and even then it would be far more underdeveloped and dependent than an adult mammal.

    In countries which have properly managed contraception and abortion services, diagnoses and terminations can be carried out at an early stage.
    In these circumstances it is only complications and deformities which require late abortions.



    Report abuse

  • Victoria

    I want to start off by saying that the tone of your comment and the statements in it absolutely reek of harsh personal judgement against our fellow women who choose to end their pregnancies. I do hope that you are quite a perfect person yourself before you so easily toss criticism like this at other women. I most certainly hope you are not a Christian woman passing judgement like this since if so, you will already know that the sin of pride is the worst sin of all. All of those years in Sunday school have taught me that no one has the right to judge like you have done. That is only for God to do. So if you are a Christian and you are in the habit of judging others then you know the punishment that you will face for this egregious sin.

    I do have a few corrections to pass on for your better understanding in the future.

    It’s murdering a life.

    I don’t know where you live, but here in the US it’s not murder at all until a certain length of development that is dictated by the law. Here it depends on what each state decides. It is usually around 24 or 25 weeks. You have used the word murder but this has no meaning to us because by the law, it is not.

    I also object to your classification of an embryo as “a life”. It’s true that the cells of that embryo fit the biological description of life but so do the cells of an earthworm or a slimy garden slug and no one seems to waste a moment’s pity on those well functioning cells. Do you mourn the cells of a snake as you might beat it to death? What about the ants that I kill on my kitchen counter? Should I feel guilty about gassing them to death? I’m sorry but an embryo is just not “a life” at all. Not even close. The next time you call an embryo “a life” just to make another woman feel like a dirty guilt murderer, I hope you will recognize that you are using words that are simply not true for no other purpose but to psychologically injure that woman who doesn’t deserve it. Remember that judgement is a sin.

    In most cases, pregnancies are not terminated because the fetus has a Down syndrome or any other kind of deviance. In most cases, they are terminated because “I’m just not ready yet”.

    So are you saying that you are ok with terminations of pregnancies that are determined to be of an embryo or fetus that is defective?

    You seem to be particularly disgusted with the pregnancies that are terminated because the woman was “just not ready yet.” But I will point out to you that this must be the very reason for the overwhelming majority of abortions in human history. Before medical science was capable of performing relatively risk free abortions, the only option that was available to women who were not ready yet was infanticide. We know infanticide was very common in times past (not as distant as you might think) and the fact of the matter is that abortion is an ethically superior form of infanticide. No matter what your sanctimonious high horse opinion is about it, abortion and infanticide are a major component of the reproductive strategy of human females. What I want you to think about is this; if this “not ready yet” situation is so common for us and extends back so far in time- the whole history of our species, then it must be a very powerful reason for us indeed. Don’t you even wonder what that reason is about? We know what it’s about! When babies are born too close in time to their older sibling(s) then the lives of those siblings is put in great danger. Mothers instinctively know if they are able to provision the new arrival or not. If they cannot feed that new baby, and herself, and any other children she already has, then in lean times, they all will face starvation! This is why infanticide exists and abortion is the new infanticide.

    more and more people, in the West at least, just cannot be bothered to have children,

    How in the world is this your business and how is this even a bad thing given our world overpopulation problem?!! If you want to have children then by all means do so but to insult others who don’t want them is callous cruelty. Mind your own reproduction and keep your nose out of everyone else’s!

    You don’t like it? I really don’t either. That’s why I favor universal free contraception to anyone at all who wants it. There should be kiosks set up on street corners and at every intersection of all high school hallways. I want science based, no nonsense sex and relationship education, age appropriate at every grade level. Keep girls in school for as long as possible with career goals on their minds.

    Of course there will be the inevitable slip ups. Even with support and high goals, people make mistakes. Let’s catch them when they fall. Harm reduction is the best strategy for everyone. Provide childcare and get her back in school or job training. Shame makes everything worse.

    Less abortions is the goal here. We know how to make this happen. It will happen with assertive compassion, not with cruelty and harassment.

    I don’t want my genes to continue. And even though it has taken them 3,5 billion years to come about,

    By the way, if those genes don’t continue down your line to descendants, they also exist in your close relatives, scattered amongst the genomes of your closest kin. They don’t need you anymore.



    Report abuse

  • Hi Helen,

    How do we frame agreement on legal abortion … ?

    In the US this is a done deal, it’s the law. If it’s the law then the law provides the social and legal framework. Those who act against the law are not law-abiding citizens.

    There is a movement to change the law. How do we defend the law?

    As Alan points out [Comment 2]; as so often happens with contested laws the argument tends to centre on definitions. In this case those who are anti-abortion are attempting to redefine when life begins, in order to then claim that life begins at conception.

    Is this a good definition? As someone who works in the medical field I expect you have your own view?

    It is perfectly natural, as you know, for the early stages of conception to naturally abort. As Alan points out, there is no clear cut line between baby and non-baby.

    Christopher Hitchens was a supporter of the view that blastocysts and zygotes were lives because, as he put it: “What else are they?”

    The only answer is, as Alan says, they are human tissue, but not lives. We do not weep for the human tissue we shed, expel, or otherwise dispose of on a daily basis – most of it an order of magnitude greater than a zygote. The anti-abortionists’ response is to say that a toenail does not have the potential to become a life. But here’s the problem: If it only has potential then it isn’t alive.

    How do we frame agreement on legal abortion as … moral … ?

    The word moral simply means: The principles of right and wrong behaviours.

    By what principle would we say that abortion is right or wrong?

    There is the democratic principle: Whatever the majority of Society says is immoral should be against the law.

    There are the legal principles: Freedom of the individual, and our right to decide our own lives; Defense of the vulnerable, the rights of minorities – in this case women – to greater consideration in order to equalize society’s burdens on us all … and so on.

    Legal principles are claimed by both sides, but they basically come down to the same point eventually: By what definition is a non-baby bundle of cells life?

    But, politically speaking, there is no principle unless a group is behind it as a principle.

    How do we frame agreement on legal abortion as a moral secularist?

    As far as I know there are no additional secular principles that apply. Among secularists as a group agreement breaks down partly because some religious secularists want to add some modern religious principle or atheists object because, like Hitchens, they have difficulty understanding the difference between the various forms of cells, a foetus and a baby.

    Personally, I take my lead from my former religion. As a former Christian I know, without further debate, that life begins at birth and not before. When I meet anti-abortion Christians I have a one word argument: Christmas.

    That probably didn’t help you much. Sorry.

    Peace.



    Report abuse

  • Alan4discussion, LaurieB

    Wow, I can almost hear the clanking of teeth. Sorry to burst your little bubble here, but I am an atheist and I’m well aware of the legal status of abortion and the fact that it is not actually a crime. I was speaking metaphorically, isn’t that transparently obvious? But perhaps I am the kind of atheist who doesn’t fall for most primitive explanations of the human nature. As far as my harsh tone is concerned, be wary of those who speak without emotion. Chances are they don’t care. Which is what tells me that you do. I wasn’t advocating the ban of abortion. I wasn’t talking about pregnancy as a result of rape, an alcoholic/a drug addict getting pregnant etc. I was just trying to point out that this moral justification is going to be used primarily by perfectly healthy females in a perfectly healthy environment. Making abortion a complete norm, shaving out entirely every last morsel of maternal instinct, of motherly compassion in a woman is one of the factors that will lead to a significant reduction of a country’s population. None of my business? You don’t mind? That you are already dying out? Fine by me. Can’t make someone happy against their own will.



    Report abuse

  • Let’s see, a Moral Perspective enlightened by what we know of evolution might be this:

    Abort all rapist’s fetuses, as a matter of course, in order to shut down that pathway for gene propagation.

    Abort all too-badly-damaged fetuses (zika?) – argue about what is “too badly”.

    Abort on demand, kindly, with little fuss and no stigma, in order to protect the future childbearing and child-rearing potential of the pregnant one. She may live to breed again, when times are better, and the child has a better start in life. Abortion is stressful enough in itself without piling on more difficulties, especially the pseudo-moralistic religious claptrap of the misogynist hate-cults. It’s not like having a manicure. Religious people, practice a little charity like your good book says.

    Sterilize those who are convicted of murdering someone else’s child, as well as the usual criminal penalties. That’s to shut down any genetic payoff from destroying rival genes, like lions do.

    And hold those who impede abortion personally financially liable for the full cost of raising the resulting child, without allowing them any control or say in how that child is reared.

    Does that answer the question, ethically?



    Report abuse

  • Hi Helen!

    IMO, the contentious debate over abortion too often loses focus of the woman in the equation. Yet in the Roe v Wade case argued before the Supreme Court, the woman was precisely the reason for the decision. A general recap here: “In a 7-2 decision written by Justice Harry Blackmun …the Court ruled that the Texas statute violated Jane Roe’s constitutional right to privacy. The Court argued that the Constitution’s First, Fourth, Ninth, and Fourteenth Amendments protect an individual’s “zone of privacy” against state laws and cited past cases ruling that marriage, contraception, and child rearing are activities covered in this “zone of privacy.” The Court then argued that the “zone of privacy” was “broad enough to encompass a woman’s decision whether or not to terminate her pregnancy.” This decision involved myriad physical, psychological, and economic stresses a pregnant woman must face. ”



    Report abuse

  • Well, I’m not going to cast moral judgement here; I think that is up to the pregnant woman, not her family, peers or me.
    Dutch law permits abortion up to 24 weeks; once the foetus is capable of life outside the womb, it becomes murder.
    Legally valid reasons for abortion are:
    1. The pregnancy is caused by rape or incest
    2. The pregnancy is life threatening to the woman
    3. Severe medical indications of the foetus (Down is not one of them)

    I think an abortion is psychologically an immense burden, which certainly should not be taken lightly.



    Report abuse

  • The answer to the question of the week is two-fold but simple. We frame it using the latest scientific information concerning the sentience and self awareness evident at each stage of fetal development to determine when a fetus becomes a human being. Even the most staunch Pro Life right-wing fanatic must concede that what makes us human is not our body, but rather our mind. Cogito ergo sum. The argument of potentiality is destroyed by its lack of basis in reality. Revealing Hypotheticals: If a lab worker accidentally drops a vial containing a human blastocyte, do we then charge him or her with manslaughter? If we use the definition of human potential as the criteria, then we are forced to adhere to all legal and philosophical implications that follow. Spontaneous abortions can be linked to nutrition, pharmaceuticals, stress and alcohol. If any or all of these are established as the cause of the spontaneous abortion, are we then obligated to charge this person with a crime of negligence, due to contributory negligence?

    Secondly, if the topic is narrowed to include only late-term abortions used in the fringe cases of rape/incest or saving the mothers life, then the moral and medical implications must all be weighed by the persons affected and their medical providers. The extreme position that you can never take a life is also destroyed by its disassociation with reality. Most legal systems recognize that there are exceptions to this rule. Self defense and defense of another human from lethal attack is widely recognized as an exception to this rule. And the personal nature and complexity of each scenario requires that there be some flexibility allowed the victims in this regard, without outside condemnation based on general religious principles that likely do not apply.

    There is a point at which a fetus becomes a human being by any definition. That determination is the wheelhouse of science, not religion. There is a point at which sacrificing a fetus at any stage may be warranted based on the specific situation. In those cases the moral and medical factors must be weighed by the victims, not the general public. Any laws regarding abortion should be designed to educate, support and regulate the medical practice, based solely on obstetrics and ontogeny. Penal codes should pursue definitions of willful disregard of medical advice and unregistered, unregulated abortions.

    There will never be an absolute agreement on this issue so long as religious dogma of any kind is made part of the discussions.



    Report abuse

  • Paul,

    I think an abortion is psychologically an immense burden, which certainly should not be taken lightly.

    I will point out that this idea has been used to frighten women into not having an abortion. The warning to us that we will be forever tormented with guilt over the choice of abortion is emotional manipulation. Some women may be tormented with a lifetime of guilt but this is not the rule. Plenty of women acknowledge right away that the pregnancy was a mistake and that if it goes to term it will result in an absolutely unwanted child. The trajectory of that mother’s life will be forever altered and not in a good way. We should not assume that this class of women are sobbing their lives away over having that abortion. Plenty feel relieved and lucky that they had access to this safe, legal procedure. They will wait for a more auspicious time and try again.



    Report abuse

  • Wonderful, Victoria.
    Perhaps now you can find out what a metaphor is. Just Google it.

    LaurieB had it right, I think; however, if your purpose, Victoria, was to incite useless debate as opposed to critical thinking, then you have succeeded only somewhat. Put a small feather in your cap and go write a book.

    The question was ” How do we frame agreement on legal abortion as a moral secularist? ”

    I think that it’s quite clear that we cannot rely on the moral teachings and laws written decades ago, let alone centuries (or longer) ago to help us solve some of the problems we are facing today.
    We don’t live in a static world, and we, as a society, cannot ever think that we are outside of the bounds of evolution that encompass our entire planet, and, as such, our society is not static, either.
    Anyone who doesn’t understand this, because they are so strongly fixed in believing the words of ancient texts to be true, are destined to remain behind, in an ever-evolving universe.

    Victoria, you stated:
    “In most cases, pregnancies are not terminated because the fetus has a Down syndrome or any other kind of deviance. In most cases, they are terminated because “I’m just not ready yet”. ”
    I don’t have the facts available to me that you must, Victoria, regarding the “most cases” you cite for terminating a pregnancy, but let’s suppose that’s true.

    To this, I say again that LaurieB got it right – basically, nobody has any right to tell us how we are to treat these bodies that we are born into.
    The decision to terminate an unwanted pregnancy may be the “right” decision, at the time, in order to prevent a childhood death later on, through starvation, abuse, or any of a number of other causes.
    My concern is about the causes that place us all into this position, and why we should be looking at so many unwanted pregnancies in the first place.
    Why should any woman have to even consider ending the life of her child for material reasons, given that she should want that child in the first place?
    Why should any woman become pregnant, if she does not wish to be, when we have all forms of contraception available to us (well, most of us) in the ‘developed’ world?

    Yet, that’s just the thing, isn’t it?
    We have to deal with poverty on a huge scale still, and for anyone trapped by it in an unforgiving corporate world, there is sometimes little recourse for them but to rely on faith, hope, and anything else that will free them from the enslavement of poverty.
    And they keep breeding, don’t they? The “poor” continue to exist throughout all sorts of hardships that both Man and Nature throw at them, and continue to bestow their teachings of faith and hope on their progeny, to no avail (in most cases – I don’t have the facts available for this, btw, so consider it wisdom from many years of observation, in this instance.)

    Clearly, we live in a society where the acquisition of wealth (i.e. money) is essential towards providing the proper kind of environment that will enabe our genes to advance.
    (does anyone else see the problem here?)

    The only way to see that the “best” of our genes succeed in order to evolve, as a species, is to ensure that the greatest number of us survive, BUT…
    but we cannot do this, ethically, without also ensuring that everyone has the same access to ALL of Earth’s resources as everyone else who is (as we know) only here for a short time.
    This will never be accomplished in a monetary-based economy/society, I’m sad to say.
    This will never be accomplished so long as we hold on to age-old philosophies or doctrines.

    Agreement on legal abortion will never be possible as long as deeply held religious beliefs hold sway over the political faction that write the laws.
    ……………..And money rules politics, just now.
    (I think I’ll go have some lunch, and be glad that I can do that.)



    Report abuse

  • 12
    Age of Reason says:

    Helen, you pose a great question: “How do we frame agreement on legal abortion as a moral secularist?”
    I, for one, am not certain that secularists (nor anyone else for that matter) can come to such an agreement but I do believe that we might be able to “frame” a discussion regarding the topic, but only if the lead-in to your question is completely discarded. Using inflammatory phrases like “murdering babies” preclude any agreement by secularists for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that your choice of incendiary and improper language presumes a conclusion. A conclusion moreover that supports one side. You might as well take it a step further and call it the murder of “people” since all babies are people. But not all people are babies. The English language is a wonderful communications device but it loses its magic when the author deliberately substitutes one word for another simply to exacerbate a circumstance to embellish a position. The word “murder” too is incorrect in this context because murder in almost all jurisdictions is the offing of a person whether it be a baby, an adolescent or a senior citizen. And of course, all fetuses are neither people nor babies.
    One thing that we call all agree upon however, is that those women (or female children for that matter since female children can and do get pregnant) who believe that abortion is the murder of a baby should never consider undergoing an abortion. Nor we hope, should they consider the murder of people whatever their age either.
    Finally, I think a better question that you might have asked would be: “What right does the author of this post have to tell me what I can or cannot do with my body?” Please know that I too am not in favor of murder …… unless of course it is that of a teenager, but then of course as we all know that is simply a case of post birth abortion.



    Report abuse

  • Victoria #5
    Apr 19, 2016 at 7:57 pm

    Alan4discussion, LaurieB

    Wow, I can almost hear the clanking of teeth.

    I take it you have an active emotionally driven imagination.

    Sorry to burst your little bubble here, but I am an atheist and I’m well aware of the legal status of abortion and the fact that it is not actually a crime. I was speaking metaphorically, isn’t that transparently obvious?

    Nope! In a scientific or medical debate, clarity of communication is a priority! Emotional rhetorical “interpretations” are more common in theology!

    But perhaps I am the kind of atheist who doesn’t fall for most primitive explanations of the human nature.

    Or perhaps you have not studied medicine, psychology, or biology, and simply don’t recognise more detailed issues which are involved?

    As far as my harsh tone is concerned, be wary of those who speak without emotion. Chances are they don’t care. Which is what tells me that you do.

    That would be a crass assumption. When considering abortions in a refugee camp, It seems preferable to a baby being born and dying of starvation a few days or weeks later, while weakening its mother at the same time!
    Likewise an overburdened mother with many children she already cannot look after properly, or a drug addict who is incapable of looking after young children!
    Emotions are no substitute for researched knowledge and rational evaluations of the prospects of both mother and baby.

    I wasn’t advocating the ban of abortion. I wasn’t talking about pregnancy as a result of rape, an alcoholic/a drug addict getting pregnant etc.

    The need for abortion is commonly caused by lack of contraception or by opposition to contraception by the same people who oppose abortion

    I was just trying to point out that this moral justification is going to be used primarily by perfectly healthy females in a perfectly healthy environment.

    No! Those with social reasons for abortions, rarely have potentially healthy environments with an expected high quality of life for the child or mother.

    Making abortion a complete norm, shaving out entirely every last morsel of maternal instinct, of motherly compassion in a woman is one of the factors that will lead to a significant reduction of a country’s population.

    I am not suggesting abortion is any substitute for contraception, but if there was less opposition to contraception and better sex education, there would be less need for it.
    The rates seem to be falling as education improves where there are good medical services. (See link and quote)

    None of my business? You don’t mind? That you are already dying out?

    I can’t speak for others, but I have three grown up children.

    https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/433437/2014_Commentary__5_.pdf

    Abortion rates

    The age-standardised abortion rate was 15.9 per 1,000 resident women aged 15-44. This is 0.2% lower than in 2013 and 6.4% lower than in 2004 (17.1); the lowest rate for 16 years.

    The abortion rate was highest for women aged 22 (at 28 per 1,000). The highest rate in 2013 was also for women aged 22 (at 30 per 1,000).

    The under-16 abortion rate was 2.5 per 1,000 women and the under-18 rate was 11.1 per 1,000 women. Both lower than in 2013 (2.6 and 11.7 per 1,000 women respectively) and in the year 2004 (3.7 and 17.8 per 1,000 women respectively).

    Location and funding of abortions

    98% of abortions were funded by the NHS. Of these, two thirds (67%) took place in the independent sector under NHS contract, up from 64% in 2013

    Gestation

    92% of abortions were carried out at under 13 weeks gestation, 80% were at under 10 weeks compared to 79% in 2013 and 60% in 2004.

    Method of abortion

    Medical abortions accounted for 51% of the total. This was slightly higher than in 2013(49%), and far higher than in 2004 (20%). This is the first year that there have been more medical procedures than surgical procedures.

    Ground E abortions

    3,099 abortions (2%) were carried out under ground E (risk that the child would be born handicapped).

    Repeat abortions

    37% of abortions in 2014 were to women who had already had one or more abortions.

    Non-residents:

    In 2014, there were 5,521 abortions for non-residents carried out in hospitals and clinics in
    England and Wales (5,469 in 2013). The 2013 total was the lowest in any year since 1969 and the 2014 total is slightly higher than in 2013.

    Perhaps many of these non-residents come from Ireland where bigotry trumps medical needs!



    Report abuse

  • Abort can not be issue of crime or murder. You can not “kill” anything if it does not exist in this world. This is also acceptable for babies. As you can not get any right, document, licence or any available thing for that baby who has not born yet, also you can not kill that baby.



    Report abuse

  • I believe the key word in your query was”legal” regarding abortions. Legal is of course whatever we can authorize by weight of common understanding, mostly. (I doubt anyone would suggest that wholesale corruption by public officials is ETHICAL, but here in the U.S., it is frequently LEGAL). So past law mat not be the best guide, but I can say that Roe v. Wade did not happen in a vacuum. Prior to that decision, women were compelled to seek this procedure in shady and dangerously administered situations, or were attempting DIY procedures with often grim results. Women have had various means of terminating unwanted pregnancies for many, many generations. We have to consider what the prohibition against this procedure does to our understanding of what is moral. Is it moral to leave women to sort out unwanted pregnancies on their own, sometimes in horrendous circumstances, and often with equally horrific outcomes? Or is the greater good of society served by medically supervised procedures done in proper clinics?

    No amount of sound or fury is going to inhibit women who want to abort from seeking it, any more than a war on drugs has stopped drug abuse or Prohibition in the U.S. stopped recreational drinking. The only thing left now to decide is whether or not abortions can be safe…… or not. The idea that they can be made UNAVAILABLE is simply not one of the options. Rational sex-ed, age appropriate, has to be at the top of the list if someone wants to claim “pro-life” status. (And isn’t it odd that the demographics of the “pro-life” movement square so nicely with the pro-death penalty opinion?, or the pro-death movement as I like to think of them). If it’s legal, it’s morally defensible on this subject. Such an answer may not satisfy the anti-abortion element, but what would?



    Report abuse

  • We don’t take care of the children living in dire conditions today, yet some wish to potentially add more to their numbers. Where is the morality in allowing mothers to die during childbirth, force a woman to raise a baby born out of rape, a child grow up unwanted or in a orphanage. Who is playing god now by taking these decisions away from women to do what is best for themselves and the these soulless mass of cells?



    Report abuse

  • 17
    fadeordraw says:

    “I’ve been fighting against insanity here in the USA that the intentional termination of pregnancy is NOT murdering babies!”

    There are many triggers in this statement: “fighting…insanity…in the USA…murdering”. Perhaps, firstly, I would suggest, is to remove the USA parochial vision, and welcome to life on the planet. On the planet, as with plants and animals, the instinct all have is for survival of the species and, for sapiens, our societal way to achieve this has been to cherish each and every one of our living members; we’re wired that way. Lots, by the way, is built upon this planet/natural instinct, such as population growth of towns and cities and countries. Sanity, amongst other sentiments, is found dealing with this reality. Insanity, with the expressed example of mothers of unwanted pregnancies, occurs with the adherence to this instinct when conditions dictate otherwise. Abortion, a singularly sapient operation, is about the anticipated experience of life on planet for the mother and the offspring. And now-a-days, it’s the mother’s choice.



    Report abuse

  • Efran Agazade (14) and others,

    Nothing profound to offer. One point I would very much like to make:

    Abortion is absolutely a form of killing, as life begins at conception: however, it is not murder and should be available. The fetus does exist in the world. If it didn’t, the abortion wouldn’t be necessary.

    I am pro-choice but there is much stupidity on both sides – although the ones that are up in arms about this procedure are far worse. Abortion is not so terrible, especially if it’s done within the first trimester.

    It’s not murder and it isn’t cruel.

    There is no way to convince someone of what I just said, that it is not morally wrong. There simply isn’t any way to do that that I am aware of. The future of this issue will be determined by the law, not by philosophy or even science. Hopefully, the laws will continue to remain on the side of Choice and hopefully, over time, the many sick hypocrites who are obsessed with this will become less rigid as they become more enlightened.

    But abortion is a form of killing. Let us not delude ourselves. So is euthanasia, which is morally correct at times. War, which is usually wrong (although Republicans love it), is in many cases, mass murder. Killing is very different than murder. Murder is killing. Killing is not murder, necessarily. Suicide (killing of oneself) is not morally wrong. But abortion involves another being, a being that is not a human being, but is a living being. And on and on it goes. That is why we need laws; but more importantly, we need to rid people of the notions that there is something about abortion that is deserving of damnation. (Victoria says she is an atheist, and maybe she is; but the vast, vast majority of those who argue like she does are religious. I do agree that abortions should not be too easy, should not be a form of birth control, as in: “I’ll just get an abortion. Don’t worry.” It is, finally, a serious, rather grave matter, with psychic ramifications.)

    I agree with the OP that most anti-abortionists are twisted. So sick of this issue.



    Report abuse

  • To force a women to have a child they do not want, conceived at times in circumstances not of the women’s choosing, to raise and support for the next twenty years, is the state factory farming a women’s womb without her consent. This crime by the state, imposed on the women, by people trying to force their particular and personal god’s views on the rest of the world, means they are doing the same thing ISIS is doing, only not with a gun. Uncivilized and unacceptable in 2016.

    None of their God’dam business.

    God is the greatest abortionist on planet earth. Every zygote that fails to implant is an abortion. Every miscarriage is an abortion. Every still born child is one of god’s abortions. As many as 75% of pregnancies do not go to full term. So if you are a religious person, claiming religious righteousness in your opposition to abortion, I expect to see your next Banner at a Protest read.

    Arrest God for Being the Greatest Abortionist in the History of Life on Earth

    Sic’em LaurieB @ #3.



    Report abuse

  • Dan #18
    Apr 22, 2016 at 12:19 am

    Abortion is absolutely a form of killing, as life begins at conception: however, it is not murder and should be available. The fetus does exist in the world. If it didn’t, the abortion wouldn’t be necessary.

    Sorry Dan, but this is dogmatic theological nonsense, not biology!

    Life began 3.7 billion years ago and has been passed down in various forms, and with massive losses of cells, species, and individuals ever since.

    It is “killing”, in the sense that you kill old skin cells – in your mouth when you brush your teeth, or scrub your back, but it has nothing to do with killing whole living organisms.
    A zygote is microscopic, and the vast majority of them naturally abort during some stage of development, and never become independently living individuals. (As do the lost majority of sperms and eggs)

    Look at my link @#2 for details.

    and . . . 92% of abortions were carried out at under 13 weeks gestation, 80% were at under 10 weeks. – linked @#13.



    Report abuse

  • Hi Victoria,

    Right off the bat so you don’t misunderstand my intentions I agree you have the right as an atheist to hold these views even though your and mine don’t line up, I’d be interested in the areas in which we disagree.

    It’s murdering a life. A growing fetus may have as much in common with a human baby as an adult pig, as Prof. Dawkins so charmingly noted.

    I thing you’ll find if you read further or listen to interviews in which he talks about this (I have recently listened to a debate in which this came up with Richard) you will find he is paraphrasing Peter Singer who is not so much de-valuing human life as asking us to consider the lives of pigs as valuable as human life, because they are as capable of suffering as a human baby. I personally find this a moral position (valuing pigs) that gives me some pause for thought and makes me wonder if I am going to feel significant shame and embarrassment in a few years for finding them so delicious. I say this as someone with bacon right now in my fridge so I’m hardly in a position to criticise but if you are going to be so passionate about human life, should you not also consider how much you should value a pigs life?

    In most cases, they are terminated because “I’m just not ready yet”. We live in an age when more and more people, in the West at least, just cannot be bothered to have children, when everyone is told that they are unique and wonderful and special and why waste your life on having to take care of someone anyway, when you can simply enjoy yourself – all that pretty much explains why “I’m just not ready yet” is and always will be from now on the most popular reason for abortion, let us be realistic.

    Okay as an atheist I’m assuming you do not believe in ensoulment. If so then on what basis would you see early term abortion as different from a condom, the pill. As early term abortion does not effect a organism with a central nervous system, a brain, feelings including pain etc. I genuinely don’t understand why you would be concerned. Could you perhaps clarify a bit better exactly when and where you consider abortion an immoral act? Or do you consider condoms and other methods of “I’m just not ready yet” equivalent? Is a sperm or ovum therefore a life? With millions of sperm produced every day in the testicles of half the population of the planet and about 300 000 eggs in every woman there is a massive number of potential lives, every egg and sperm that get together seal the fate on all those other potential lives that might have existed if that sperm had met any of the other eggs instead to say nothing of the mass slaughter that the acidic environment of the vagina which decimates many a sperm barely seconds after being ejaculated into a female? To say nothing of masturbation or homosexuality or nocturnal emissions. Surely you are not opposed to contraception? If not how do you justify opposing abortion on the basis of not being ready? Or are you suggesting that failing to do so or having your contraception fail (as does happen, I’ve had 3 condoms break over the years not resulting in pregnancy but that was just luck), if this happens would I or my wife be considered murderers to you if we decided to say take the morning after pill?

    I suspect that you are actually closer to my own position and that you are in fact opposed to late term abortion. There I would cautiously agree that at some point a foetus must be given some status as a human life, to take an extreme I would oppose killing a baby in the womb in the 36th week for example, I would consider this murder (in most cases) but it gets really fuzzy real quick depending on the complications, health of the mother and if the pregnancy is a risk to the mother. I remember reading a medical text as a teenager that my uncle had brought from a second hand book shop, it was a comprehensive text on different operations including the procedures for killing babies that would otherwise kill the mother in child birth. It was frankly horrifying, for example some babies develop with massive heads that cannot get through the birth canal (this was pre-ultrasound so this probably never happens now) and would get stuck they had tools which pierced the skull of the baby and then described how to mash the skull until it was broken down sufficiently to pass through the birth canal. There were many other procedures even more horrifying. I couldn’t put it down it raised too many conflicting emotions and I thought about it for days, I couldn’t get the images out of my head. My initial reaction of course was that how could a doctor do this, how could they deliberately end a life like this and of course the answer was they did it so that instead of two lives being lost they would loose one instead and the mothers was always the priority. The trolley problem is often given as a philosophical question that almost everyone gets wrong. Doctors were and clearly still are actually involved in the trolley problem every day. This changed my views on abortion forever. When people cite abortion as a slippery slope I always point out that it has been practice by medicine for many years even at the final hour. And I realised I was in a very poor position to judge the comparative value of a human life. So while I grant the child should have some right at some point I find that even if I create a position based on logical reasons the potential of the foetus to suffer, there will be exceptions to these also.

    I’d personally think most people would wish avoid any form of procedure if they were not genuinely terrified of the responsibility of parenthood. As a teacher I work every day with students who’s parents have made their lives a misery because they didn’t have sufficient fear of parenthood. They are too ignorant of the responsibility and end resenting their children, kids who’s parents are so horrifyingly abusive that again I will not relay them here, they increase the general level of misery in the world by refusing to use contraception and yes many of these kids live lives of misery that could and perhaps should have been avoided. Some people should never be parents and if that means removing an unthinking cluster of cells with no brain and no nervous system or letting them develop into humans who they will then go on to torture for their lives then I know which I would prefer to see happen.

    Regards



    Report abuse

  • Alan

    Fertilization then? Does life begin at fertilization?

    It is then not living, not a potential human life in its germ?

    Not murder. I said it was killing and not murder. That is not a person we are talking about, but I think (could be wrong) that most biologists agree that life (not personhood!) begins at fertilization (although there is no one moment that we can point to).

    I am no right to lifer, but this is a little different than stepping on a bug, isn’t it? You’ve seen the photos of the development from week to week, right?

    http://www.babycenter.com/fetal-development-week-by-week.



    Report abuse

  • Reckless M

    Excellent ethical point: how much does something suffer? Pigs do not have hopes and dreams. They do suffer, yes, and I am troubled by the idea of mass slaughterings of pigs and other animals, although we do need to eat. That is another factor to consider. (see Food Inc; you’ll never want to eat anything again, and anyone who delights in killing an animal is a monster, indifferent to existence). But they do suffer less, or not in the same way as humans. Everyone knows in a concrete sense that the less developed a being is the less it suffers. That is why few people feel any compunction about stepping on a bug (although I never do that).



    Report abuse

  • @ dan #18

    I see that Alan was quick to expound on this already and I’ve included excerpts from this essay before on related topics, but here is Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan’s take on when life begins (there’s plenty more than this, but I think you get the message. This is from their essay, “Is it Possible to be both “Pro-life” and “Pro-Choice”?”:

    “Despite many claims to the contrary, life does not begin at conception: It is an unbroken chain that stretches back nearly to the origin of the Earth, 4.6 billion years ago. Nor does human life begin at conception: It is an unbroken chain dating back to the origin of our species, hundreds of thousands of years ago. Every human sperm and egg is, beyond the shadow of a doubt, alive. They are not human beings, of course. However, it could be argued that neither is a fertilized egg.
    In some animals, an egg develops into a healthy adult without benefit of a sperm cell. But not, so far as we know, among humans. A sperm and an unfertilized egg jointly comprise the full genetic blueprint for a human being. Under certain circumstances, after fertilization, they can develop into a baby. But most fertilized eggs are spontaneously miscarried. Development into a baby is by no means guaranteed. Neither a sperm and egg separately, nor a fertilized egg, is more than a potential baby or a potential adult. So if a sperm and egg are as human as the fertilized egg produced by their union, and if it is murder to destroy a fertilized egg–despite the fact that it’s only potentially a baby–why isn’t it murder to destroy a sperm or an egg?”



    Report abuse

  • Dan #22
    Apr 22, 2016 at 3:26 pm

    Alan

    Fertilization then? Does life begin at fertilization?

    Life is a continuous process which is ongoing down the generations.

    It is then not living, not a potential human life in its germ?

    Cells are “living” but this is playing with semantics. A living cell (apart from single celled organisms such as bacteria), is not a living organism. – Hence I gave the example of the killing of our skin cells which contain the same full set of human species chromosomes and genes, as fertilised eggs.

    I think (could be wrong) that most biologists agree that life (not personhood!) begins at fertilization

    Why fertilisation? Why not eggs, sperm, implantation, birth?? The whole set of issues is confused by theists grasping at straws to prop up the dogmas, when their discontinuous minds want clear cut boundaries where there are none!

    (although there is no one moment that we can point to).

    That is completely correct and is the point!

    POTENTIAL is very far short of actual! Have a look at this link:-

    http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Spontaneous_abortion_in_humans

    Over several trials, this concludes that around 70% of all zygotes fail to be carried to term. There has been very little action by conservatives to defend against what must be an appalling source of infant death.

    Due to all those zygotes that get fertilized but fail to implant, women in Virginia will probably need to go to the sheriff’s office to get their tampons examined, as the zygote now has the rights of an adult there

    Weeding out those zygotes and embryos with poor prospects, is part of natural selection, just as the fertilisation competitive sperm race is!



    Report abuse

  • @Steven007

    “Despite many claims to the contrary, life does not begin at conception: It is an unbroken chain that stretches back nearly to the origin of the Earth, 4.6 billion years ago...."

    This is an excellent point. I often tell my science students when we are doing reproduction that death for us really started with sex. I explain about bacteria by simply dividing and creating copies of themselves never really die, even when evolution generates a slightly unique individual. If we call a bacteria ‘Bob’ then Bob generates Bob, who generates Bob each of whom generates Bob and so on. An individual Bobs may die but the entity Bob still exists in many versions. Only once we have sexual reproduction do we destroy a unique individual every time we die. Hence the reason we as individuals die is because we reproduce sexually. There is probably some flaws in this thinking for example identical twins are at least genetically identical. But the biological/scientific view sees an individual as a part in a chain of DNA replication, which we might reasonably consider ourselves to be part of the bigger picture of being connected to all life, are we not then just another version of Bob albeit one that is a collection of Bob’s with unique coding information shared by our particular connection to the other Bob’s. Again I might be wrong here, but that’s the impression I’ve developed over the years.

    Another point in this debate that rarely comes up is IVF. Those that suggest that ensoulment begins at conception should therefore be equally opposed to IVF. In fact it seems to me even more calculating than a regular abortion “because you are not ready to be parents” as Victoria put it. In this case you do want to desperately become parents and IVF is the only why in which any child born via this procedure is going to gain the opportunity to exist. However, in doing so (for pragmatic reasons) multiple eggs are fertilized and hence if you are taking the view that at this point the zygote is life then all of these eggs should be selected and implanted, often they are not all selected. Some are thrown away due to genetic defects, etc. Is this then killing babies? Is it devaluing the life of those suffering with cystic fibrosis to discard a blastocystis that contains the gene for cystic fibrosis? Should parents just take pot luck? Every right for lifer should be equally incensed by IVF. It would appear they are not. Is this because they are prepared to sacrifice some babies for the possibility of a baby/babies that would otherwise have not been born at all? Or is it that they realised that any attempt to demonise IFV parents would emotionally sway the debate completely against them? Are they cynically using shame of women who become unexpectedly pregnant to grind an axe but refusing to be equally vocal about IVF parents who by their own arguments must be guilty of killing not just one baby, but often several, every time they go through the proceedure. Logically the IVF parent who implants say 3 or 4 eggs and throws away 3 or 4 knowing that most or all of the eggs implanted may abort anyway is deliberately fertilizing then killing far more babies than the parent who aborts a single unwanted foetus. So back to the trolley problem. If your premise is that life begins at conception then the IVF parent is killing several babies to allow 1 to exist is this not worse than killing 1? Can anyone shoot down this logic for me? *Note IVF parents reading this, I do not think this, I think IVF is a wonder of modern medicine and nothing but positive.



    Report abuse

  • 28
    fadeordraw says:

    Geese, I thought I had outlined the existential instinct well and then we’ve got very long winded stuff on when sapient live begins and on and on. It’s about the expected experience on the planet, goddamnit, for the mother and child. As it’s the mother’s body/burden, it’s the mother’s choice. All the remaining articulation is religious, or religion-like wanking.



    Report abuse

  • Efran Agazade #14
    Apr 20, 2016 at 7:37 pm

    Abort can not be issue of crime or murder. You can not “kill” anything if it does not exist in this world. This is also acceptable for [potential] babies.

    That would appear to be a rational view.

    As you can not get any right, document, licence or any available thing for that baby who has not born yet, also you can not kill that baby.

    However, those besotted with religious dogma, and unfortunately put in positions of power in places like Virginia, perversely legislate otherwise!

    @#26 -https://www.richarddawkins.net/2016/04/question-of-the-week-4202016/#li-comment-202332



    Report abuse

  • In my family we are two girls and two boys. I hope to plan my own family (if i ever meet my husband) with one boy and one girl. My sister’s husband had his tubes tied, vas deferens I think, and my sister stopped at one boy and one girl in their family, but Todd made the decision to get the surgery on his own. I think family planning and even abortion are necessary considerations for a thoughtful mother-to-be. That’s my opinion.



    Report abuse

  • Alan4discussion #13
    Apr 20, 2016 at 3:30 pm

    I can’t speak for others, but I have three grown up children.

    To further clarify for those who do not already know from earlier discussions, or who like counting offspring: –

    I have three grown up children – One plus twins.

    Even planned pregnancies can hold surprises which can impact your life, or set challenges!



    Report abuse

  • Sometimes, when I am in a depression, I almost wish I had been aborted. Seriously, my life does not seem sacred to me – during those times, or at any other time. I value it, but I do not regard it as sacred. Most of the people I meet, however, do come to regard my life as sacred – and perhaps (I say perhaps) I am just being overly modest.



    Report abuse

  • To Dan #22:

    Not murder. I said it was killing and not murder. That is not a person
    we are talking about, but I think (could be wrong) that most
    biologists agree that life (not personhood!) begins at fertilization
    (although there is no one moment that we can point to).

    I agree. These would be ultra moralists would define anything as they so choose, all else is wrong because THEY said so.

    Embryonic development is a gradient, not a presumed absolute beginning as they think (conception). Most people prefer absolutes and certainties. To say that a fetus becomes a “human” somewhere between 20 weeks and 30 weeks (perhaps later) is not understandable to the absolute thinker, but that is what is correct. How about sperm and eggs. After all they are alive. Or is that the zygote has 23 PAIRS of chromosome??? So do the cells of intestinal tissue have 23 pairs of chromosomes.

    So yes, the early embryo is killed but that in no way is “murder.”



    Report abuse

  • The primary function of sex for rats and rabbits is reproduction. However, for the human species we should all agree that the primary function of sex is pleasure, NOT producing offspring. It is time that these religious groups that think contraception is bad and sex is the work of satan should grow up.



    Report abuse

  • @cbrown
    I suspect if you could ask them, the rats and rabbits would also tell you that the primary function of sex is pleasure. That’s why it’s so successful. Admittedly, they may not have twigged that a side effect of that pleasure is reproduction. But look what our Knowledge of that fact has done for us.



    Report abuse

  • Hi bonnie2 [#23],

    potential
    .
    Therein lies the crux (of the debate)

    I had an egg for breakfast this morning. It came from my Stepmother’s farm, so I know it had the full potential to be a living being.

    Now the egg will never produce a living being (it will, instead, sustain this living being). It was not, in itself, a living being – it was fertilized, yet still only had the potential, with time and some exacting conditions, to give life. Despite its potential, it was a dead thing. Had it run the full production cycle it would have been called a chick when it hatched.

    Life begins at birth – always has, always will.

    What debate?

    Peace.



    Report abuse

  • @cbrown #37

    sex is the work of satan

    Then Satan has been running the show in these parts for how many billion years now? And we’re all descended from a very long line of Satanists, evidently.

    It’s a pity the word “sexist” got assigned the meaning it has.



    Report abuse

  • Re: Satan

    Read Paradise Lost. He comes across as not such a bad fellow – a testament to Milton’s impeccable literary instincts, judgment and imagination.

    Also, in Goethe’s Faust, Mephistopheles is depicted as a pretty reasonable and sensible being.

    And who wouldn’t rather spend twenty minutes talking to Satan than that old bore God?



    Report abuse

  • Life begins at birth – always has, always will.

    Stephen,

    You are not advancing your (our cause) by making statements such as this. It is fodder for the sickos on the other side.

    You are a highly thoughtful and knowledgable person, and this statement is, I believe, unworthy of you. Please think about it.



    Report abuse

  • CBrown #36

    Thanks for your comment Yes. A form of killing, but not murder. It will be helpful in future debates to make this “concession.”

    But when does human life begin? You (we) do acknowledge that we are human beings, right? So when and how does the transition between non-human to human take place? I argued in one of my posts above that there may be no definitive answer to this, as the process constitutes a continuum, and that this must be decided legally, and an element of arbitrariness (in the service of pragmatism) cannot be avoided.

    P.S. In your professional opinion, do sakes and birds really dance and sing or is that an anthropomorphic judgment and deception on our parts? I asked you that on the Culture thread. You are not obligated to reply, but I was wondering what you as a real scientist would say.



    Report abuse

  • Dan

    42

    Apr 28, 2016 at 8:52 pm

    We all know that God is a misogynist because well, we’ve read his book and there it is. But from your readings listed above, would you say that Satan is one as well? I mean, I don’t know, maybe the guy really celebrated women.

    Maybe this should be the next question of the week. If so then I’ll have to read Paradise Lost and Faust. 😉



    Report abuse

  • Law where applicable on the matter of legality of abortion covers the rights of both the mother and potential baby. So the issue is not how do we feel about abortion, there is probably a 50-50 split decision, but how to reduce the number of abortions. Education is and will always be the most important thing.
    But also incredibly relevant is the role that the RELIGIOUS establishment takes in sexual education (none); Makes it a “SIN” to use contraceptives, makes it a SIN to have sex, use of contraceptives is a SIN, in short makes people feel GUILT about their bodies and their personal decisions. And as long as religion keeps their stupid and outdated morality, there will be unwanted pregnancies.
    Women have the right to decide, and we as a society have an obligation to educate women on all aspects of their SEXUALITY. But also “MEN” need to be educated, probably most teen pregnancies occur thanks to a young boys “hey don’t worry honey, got it covered”. Pregnancy occurs in pairs.

    R.D. , The “Hitch” and others have already taken a stand on this issue, empower women, mostly in societies where RELIGION and poverty go hand in hand.
    In western countries, we CAN MAKE A CHOICE, don’t be as blind as to think only of us, abortion SHOULD BE A CHOICE, but sexual education worldwide should be the RULE.



    Report abuse

  • Hi, Laurie,

    How are you?

    I said sakes instead of snakes to CBrown. Embarrassing. (You never have typos.)

    The Devil’s attitudes toward women as it appears in literature is an interesting one and well worth looking into. But that would be quite an undertaking.

    Is this (below) sexist? It’s so hard to say. I like the light-from-darkness part.

    “I am a part of the part that at first was all, part of the darkness that gave birth to the light, that supercilious light which now disputes with Mother Night her ancient rank and space, and yet cannot succeed; no matter how it struggles, it sticks to matter and can’t get free…” (Mephistophes, from Faust) —Goethe



    Report abuse

  • 48
    bonnie2 says:

    @ #39 – what debate?

    Ok, the cluck of the matter. Seriously…

    …my post # 23 was presented for argument’s sake. A host on catholic tv recently asserted life begins at conception.

    Anyone care for a balut?!



    Report abuse

  • Dan

    The Devil’s attitudes toward women as it appears in literature is an interesting one and well worth looking into. But that would be quite an undertaking.

    We NEED to write this book IMMEDIATELY!! We can do it!

    (You never have typos.)

    I doubt that. (I doubt everything so whatever.)

    Even if it were true, my grammar is atrocious, and punctuation is completely unknown to me. 😉



    Report abuse

  • 53
    fadeordraw says:

    This month’s Walrus magazine has an article, entitled “Atheist at the Pulpit – Can the United Church survive without God?” (http://thewalrus.ca/atheist-at-the-pulpit/). “The new church had no creed, they said; it was more interested in political activism and social reform than in the Christian faith and the spiritual lives of worshippers”. The parishioners seek to do good deeds together, with some seeking a spiritual feeling. It might be a collective, secular evolution. The need for regular/weekly face-to-face gathering of like-minded; rather than the atheist as an isolated citizen (or scientists regularly grouping over a particular scientific pursuit). Still, it reminds me of Groucho Marx’s “I couldn’t belong to a fraternity which would have some like me as a member” (or something like that).



    Report abuse

  • Stephen 49

    A joke?
    That was pretty good.
    Glad you cleared that up. I was worried about you.
    I think life begins at age thirty, period. Case closed. End of story.

    Peace.

    P.S. Posted comments are often tone-deaf.



    Report abuse

  • A further point illustrating this earlier comment, is on the link taken from “This Week in Science”:-

    Alan4discussion #26
    Apr 22, 2016 at 4:07 pm

    It is then not living, not a potential human life in its germ?

    Cells are “living” but this is playing with semantics. A living cell (apart from single celled organisms such as bacteria), is not a living organism. – Hence I gave the example of the killing of our skin cells which contain the same full set of human species chromosomes and genes, as fertilised eggs.

    http://www.sciencealert.com/scientists-create-human-sperm-from-skin-cells



    Report abuse

Leave a Reply

View our comment policy.