Talk:Abortion/First paragraph/Archive 2

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Is Abortion the death "of a cell"

Abortion is not the death "of a "cell". In the biological sense, it is the death of a living organism in an early stage of development while inside the body of another living organism of its own species, i.e. the mother, with a genetic identity distinct from the mother.

There was no consensus to reduce death to the death of a cell.

In the brief moments when we (i.e. all humans, not just pro-life Wikipedians) are single cells, we are organisms, we are human, we contain the 46 chromosomes that determine what genetic type of human we are, nothing will be added to us other than food and oxygen, and that life will continue in the womb, and potentially outside of the womb until death ends that life. The only difference between you and me and thousands of humans who were aborted today is location, age, and our biological development. Biological "humanity" is not determined by the number of cells the comprise the organism. patsw 19:29, 25 March 2006 (UTC)

The issue isn't whether the cells of a fetus (or embryo or whatever) are alive. Of course they are. The issue is whether they constitute a human being in the moral, not biological, sense. Pro's edit made it clear that, when speaking medically of death in this context, the biological sense is the one intended. Alienus 19:32, 25 March 2006 (UTC)
I agree with Patsw. That edit is completely POV, draws attention to itself, and was inserted without consensus. I don't know why we keep having all these discussions here if Pro-Lick can keep inserting his own stuff into the article without any attempt at discussion and gaining agreement. AnnH 19:35, 25 March 2006 (UTC)
In the article about what Wiki is not, what does it say about gaining agreement? How about the 5 pillars? WP:NOR? WP:V? Maybe I'm quote mining, but the consensus of those articles on Wiki official policy is that you're requesting we conduct original research. Besides, wasn't it 1 of your (as in you and those who agree with the use of death) main arguments that death is used in the biological sense? Quotes provided upon request.--Pro-Lick 20:25, 25 March 2006 (UTC)
Pro-Lick, you ask where it says anything in WP:5P about gaining agreement. Ignoring the fact that WP:5P isn't a policy or guideline, but sort of an essay, I'd like to answer that part. It's under pillar 4, where it says "Be civil," and links to Wikipedia:Civility, which is policy. I don't know what kind of civility works by ignoring reasoned discussion and engaging in tug-of-wars rather than pursuing consensus. Civility is the oil that makes the machinery of a Wiki work smoothly. Lacking any structure other than a consensus model, a civil participant will try their best to work within that model. Without civility, Wikipedia would fall apart, and descend into a huge flame-war, useless to anyone. -GTBacchus(talk) 23:55, 25 March 2006 (UTC)
I appreciate your interest in our discussion remaining civil. This is about article content, and therefore, "Article standards". Civility is a "Working with others" standard. For a handy guide on what is relevant to article content what is relevant to interaction content, see the floating box on the right-hand side of the civility page. Also useful to note is that voting, polling, and democracy are not mentioned within that policy.--Pro-Lick 00:29, 26 March 2006 (UTC)
Voting, polling and democracy (or as I mentioned committee) is about working with others constructively. If you cannot make that connect, perhaps you should not be here. - RoyBoy 800 08:33, 27 March 2006 (UTC)
Voting? I thought Wikipedia:Voting is evil! Alienus 08:45, 27 March 2006 (UTC)
Hehe, nice try, but... "As stated above, polling isn't in itself evil. Polls can be useful for a quick gauge of opinion." Of course they're not evil; but they can be evil if used as the only mechanism in the editorial process. - RoyBoy 800 08:50, 27 March 2006 (UTC)
Again, article content. Working constructively is subject to POV, and, again, not an article content standard. Would you like to know my POV on how constructively I think you work with others?--Pro-Lick 08:42, 27 March 2006 (UTC)
LMAO. Not particularly. Since you obviously are very opinionated and don't work well with others; why would I want to hear from you on that subject? - RoyBoy 800 08:46, 27 March 2006 (UTC)
My interest in procedural matters is limited; I prefer to focus on content. It looks to me like Pro's addition is simply factual. It's not his fault that it bothers those who oppose reproductive rights. The truth is neutral; people are biased. Alienus 19:38, 25 March 2006 (UTC)

I'd like to thank GTB for adding punctuation.--Pro-Lick 19:43, 25 March 2006 (UTC)

You're welcome. I thank Pro-Lick for bringing this issue to light in a clearer manner than before. In particular, this edit raises the question: If we say, without qualification, that in an abortion a fetus "dies", does that imply that the fetus is a human and that its death is equivalent to murder? Is the word "death" inherently moral language, and impossible to use in this situation without evoking moral baggage that should be kept out of the definition? -GTBacchus(talk) 19:59, 25 March 2006 (UTC)
Points in response to the above:
  • 'Death' is a biological term an not a moral one.
  • Abortion is the death of an organism and not a cell. So describing abortion as the death of a cell was contrary to fact.
  • The introductory sentence to the article should provide a clear definition that abortion is the death of a organism (i.e. an unborn mammal called a embryo or fetus at different stages of development)
  • Discussion of the morality and legality of human abortion by human agency can be discussed elsewhere. This was a POV change made without consensus to the introduction sentence.
  • Good faith among the editors is only maintained when there is adherence to the policies and guidelines of the Wikipedia. Once we ignore them because of a focus on content or on advocacy of abortion rights, it becomes a platform for advocacy and no longer an encyclopedia. patsw 20:37, 25 March 2006 (UTC)
    Patsw, hi. I would respond to your second point that... despite our section header here, the edit in the article did not claim that an abortion was "the death of a cell". It was just clarifying the sense in which the word "death" was being used - "death of a cell" was an example of a similar usage. The question is whether that clarification is at all necessary. I don't really think it is, which is to say, I agree with your first and third points, but I'd like to get the arguments for why "death" isn't a morally neutral term on the table, where we can look at them. -GTBacchus(talk) 20:56, 25 March 2006 (UTC)
How about, "such as the death of a virus"? Viri are organisms.--Pro-Lick 21:14, 25 March 2006 (UTC)
Zygote "The one-cell stage of the fertilized ovum after pronuclear membrane breakdown but before first cleavage occurs." - Comprehensive Gynecology, 4th Ed., 2002.
(I see from an edit conflict that those arguments have already arrived...GTBacchus(talk) 20:56, 25 March 2006 (UTC))

I think GT has done a good job explicating the core of Pro's argument. "Death", used without further qualification, inherently has moral overtones. That's why so many medical definitions, in an attempt to be accurate but neutral, use other words and phrases.

One the one hand, these could be characterized as euphemisms. On the other, the problem with "death" is not that it is "offensive, harsh or blunt", but that it is inaccurate; it implies more than is intended, more than is uncontroversially true.

To speak of abortion in terms of unqualified "death" is therefore inherently POV, and should be avoided. I recommend either qualifying the term or, preferably, working around it. I even have some specific suggestions for phrasing.

Before I offer them, let me give a parallel example: "mother". A pregnant woman is the "biological mother" of the embryo or fetus. So, when qualified by "biological", he term is at least accurate, but when used on its own, it is both inaccurate and emotionally manipulative. In fact, even when qualified, it's still too emotional to be neutral, so the article avoids it. Once again, this fails to qualify as euphemism because the motivation is entirely different.

Let's agree that "death" is inappropriate, and consider the alternatives, shall we? Alienus 20:52, 25 March 2006 (UTC)

The sentence as it stands now sticks out like a sore thumb. I find it confusing, because I think I've just read a perfectly normal, clinical definition, and all of a sudden there's a sentence pointing out the obvious - that a biological word is being used in its biological sense, duh - making me wonder what other sense "death" might have been intended in. Now I've been tricked into thinking about murder, where I wasn't before. So, I would say the edit fails to prevent the issue from becoming morally charged immediatly, and in an awkward manner.
Alienus, you've claimed that the word "death" "implies more than is intended, more than is uncontroversially true." I disagree. There are those who would like to hinge their arguments on some kind of "death=murder" equivocation, but for us to avoid the word "death" because of the possibility of mis-representation is to entirely grant that equivocation, which is unacceptable. Death is not equivalent to murder, and you're essentially agreeing that it is, or at least that a reasonable reader would take it to be so unless they're specifically told not to. As I see it, that's heavy-handed at best, self-defeating at worst. -GTBacchus(talk) 22:06, 25 March 2006 (UTC)
That's your POV. Put yourself in the shoes of someone coming here from a search engine that hasn't been discussing abortion in the context of medicine or biology. We can rewrite it to make it less obtrusive. E.g., remove "The word" and "here".--Pro-Lick 22:13, 25 March 2006 (UTC)
  • Consider Pat and Ann's reactions examples of my point. What happens when an anti-abortionist comes here? Hey, look, Wikipedia agrees with us, it's murder.--Pro-Lick 22:19, 25 March 2006 (UTC)
    I don't feel responsible for other people reading irresponsibly. If someone takes neutral language to mean something biased, then they're going to have difficulty with communication. Our article on death isn't all wrapped in gauze and balanced on egg-shells for the benefit of the misguided. Wikipedia saying that abortion is death is not Wikipedia saying abortion is murder, and anyone who says it is the same is lying, or else confusing simple facts with moral judgements. Our job here is to accurate, not spin-proof. -GTBacchus(talk) 22:31, 25 March 2006 (UTC)
    Murder uses death in its definition too. If you actually want to be accurate, why not use language that the consensus of Medical, Reliable, & Reputable Sources WP:RS uses?--Pro-Lick 23:19, 25 March 2006 (UTC)
    Euthanasia uses the word "death" in its definition, does that imply that it's murder? As for those sources - I have three problems with your assertion of their consensus: 1. There's no single definition that a majority of them agree upon; thus, no consensus, except to disagree. 2. Many of them are plainly inaccurate, and define abortion in a way that means that we were all aborted, or in a way that means that abortions after week 20 aren't abortions, but something else. Both of those are blatant errors that we would do well not to mimic. 3. None of those sources makes an assertion to the effect that "death is not part of any proper definiton of abortion"; they simply choose other words. To leap from there to saying that they all agree that "death" is wrong is very tenuous. If the minority of them mention the "placenta", are we also forbidden to use that word? -GTBacchus(talk) 23:36, 25 March 2006 (UTC)
    Have you ever heard of fetus Euthanasia? As for the rest, there is consensus on the issue at hand - NOT to use death.--Pro-Lick 23:45, 25 March 2006 (UTC)
    Have I heard of Fetus Euthanasia? Yeah, I heard their album sucks. Sorry, couldn't resist. Seriously, I don't think I quite understand the force of your question, but I'm not sure you understood why I brought up Euthanasia in the first place, which, could have been due to my not properly understanding what you were getting at when you said that "death" is used to define murder. That many steps astern of mutual comprehension, I'm not sure what to do... Regarding your so-called consensus of sources, I'm not buying it, and you're not responding to my reasons, so... I dunno. The consensus among sources is to be inaccurate, in some way or another, often precisely by neglecting to mention that we're excluding live deliveries here. I won't agree to replicate blatant inaccuracies. -GTBacchus(talk) 00:23, 26 March 2006 (UTC)
    Ha, ha, their album. 1 question: How is accuracy determined on Wiki?--Pro-Lick 00:50, 26 March 2006 (UTC)
    1 answer: In many, many different ways. We try our best to write a good encyclopedia, using the tools we have, and a whole culture has arisen in search of the answer to your question. We try to cite ourselves as often as we can, we try to apply common sense, we try to be as neutral as we can. When there are disputes as to what's accurate, we try to bring them to a wider and wider audience, until some kind of consensus emerges for what to do, and then we live with that, until it comes up again later, and maybe changes. There are some weaknesses to that system, but it's what we do here. -GTBacchus(talk) 01:08, 26 March 2006 (UTC)
    I'll clarify. What is policy? What does policy state? Consensus, as noted elsewhere, is a "working with others" policy, not an article content policy. We are discussing the accuracy of article content. Does policy state accuracy is determined by taking a vote?--Pro-Lick 01:19, 26 March 2006 (UTC)
    Hmmm... You seem to really want to have firm rules here, to fall back on. We don't have those. Pillar number 5: No firm rules. That's uncomfortable, perhaps, until you're used to it. The answer you want is "policy states that we make sure that facts are verifiable, and we cite reliable sources as often as possible." Now listen though - the way in which those rules are to be applied is left intentionally vague. We figure that part out. Arguments like this one are where we try to feel out what the finer points of policy ought to be in our situation, because it's not the same from one situation to the next. Here, we're dealing with a sourcing issue, and it's not just simple, it's got some nuances. There's no acid-test we can fall back on, because this precise situation has never come up before. The closest thing we could find would be back in the archives where someone decided to use the word "death" months and months ago - have you gone back and read that?
    Oh, but "taking a vote" is absolutely not how it happens, nor is anyone suggesting that it should, that I'm aware of. I'll participate in poll after poll without suggesting that we determine article content by taking a vote - yikes! We certainly don't determine what an accurate definition is by taking a virtual "vote" among medical websites and other reputable online sources. -GTBacchus(talk) 01:38, 26 March 2006 (UTC)
    Policy. WP:NOR: "Articles may not contain any unpublished theories, data, statements, concepts, arguments, or ideas; or any new analysis or synthesis of published data, statements, concepts, arguments, or ideas." In other words, synthesize what is there. This agrees with WP:V and WP:NPOV.--Pro-Lick 02:55, 26 March 2006 (UTC)
    (outdenting a bit)Synthesis is not a head-count. It involves critical understanding, and an arrival at an overview that treats each source fairly. It's not blindly following some word-count tabulation that you decide "proves" that a certain phrase is forbidden by a consensus of sources. We get to think, why not direct your argument to our minds and explain just why "death" is an imprecise, ambiguous word? I still haven't seen that argument presented very well. I'm just seeing a bad habit among medical books, that we would do well to avoid. Your assertion that "death" is "imprecise and ambiguous" is original to you, as far as I can tell. Let's hear more about it. -GTBacchus(talk) 03:08, 26 March 2006 (UTC)

Uhm, have you considered that perhaps there's something odd about you disagreeing with the consensus among sources? You're saying that, even though they all bend over backwards to avoid the D-word, you personally judge that to be inaccurate and therefore you will not honor their (usually professional) viewpoints. Maybe you need to step back and see this less personally. Alienus 00:33, 26 March 2006 (UTC)

I'll consider myself reminded not to get my personal feelings involved. Thanks.
I don't think there's much problem saying that a definition is inaccurate when it directly implies that every live birth is an abortion. I guess that's a personal judgement, but then it's also a personal judgement that any definition that directly implies that 2+2=5 is also wrong.
A consensus among sources to bend over backwards to avoid a certain word is not really a content issue, in my opinion, but a style issue. They're writing in a euphemistic style that I think is inappropriate for an encyclopedia. Encarta agrees. -GTBacchus(talk) 01:08, 26 March 2006 (UTC)
The 1 source you cite, Encarta, defines without using death in their dictionary. The vast consensus of [[Talk:Abortion/Archive_18#Medical, Reliable, & Reputable Sources WP:RS|medical, reputable, reliable] sources disagree with your POV. They prefer precise terminology as opposed to the imprecise and ambiguous death. Rather than tip-toe around social moral issues with euphemisms like death, they refer to it as it is.--Pro-Lick 02:14, 26 March 2006 (UTC)
Now death is a euphemism? That's the opposite of what you've said earlier, that death is an overly negative word that carries too many bad connotations. Which is it? A euphemism, or a scare tactic? You can't have both. -GTBacchus(talk) 02:30, 26 March 2006 (UTC)
Ah, yes, when the sources fail your POV, change the subject. As to euphemism, please read the article in full. The link I provided goes directly to the doublespeak section. It should further our culture's understanding of the euphemism of death.--Pro-Lick 19:03, 26 March 2006 (UTC)

I just tried rewording the opening sentence with "biological death" instead of "death", hoping we could then be happy without the second sentence. Natalinasmpf removed the word "biological", with the edit summary "death is death. Unless you mean "spiritual death", which I think the wildest association would not apply here". Ummmm... the wildest association? You mean, like the main central argument on the pro-life side? That's a wild association? You're making me see what Alienus and Pro-Lick mean, Nat. If death were just death, and nobody thought it had any spiritual connotations built-in, then would abortion be a big controversy? I think not.

Meanwhile, I think the link to the article death is helpful - notice how clinically that article treats death. Why did you remove that link, too, Natalinasmpf? -GTBacchus(talk) 22:23, 25 March 2006 (UTC)

GT, in matters of communication, perception is 100% of the issue. It doesn't really matter what message you intended to send, only how it is understood. You and I may look at "death" and shrug, figuring it's obviously the biological sense of the word, but it's clear from Natalinasmpf's little hatchet job that some people squint until "death" looks like "murder". If using a more neutral phrase makes that squinting impossible, then we've succeeded at communicating more clearly. Alienus 23:42, 25 March 2006 (UTC)
I would not refer to Natalinasmpf's good-faith edit as a hatchet-job. Everybody tries to make the article better, according to thier idea of good, and everybody learns a lot. Why does it have to be about "bad guys"? I agree that every attempt so far to communicate that "death" means biological death, not spiritual death has just come across as creepy. I think Natalin proved my point that the effort of putting up a hedge just highlights what's behind it. You'd call less attention to it without the hedge. It's like a bad comb-over. It's better to just confront head-on that yeah, we're talking about death here, and then address the moral question quickly and directly. -GTBacchus(talk) 00:06, 26 March 2006 (UTC)

Death is a morally neutral word

It's been repeated without evidence or even elaboration here that death is inherently POV or morally loaded. It's the end of life. Where death is discussed in other encyclopedias and in the Wikipedia, it is not inherently POV or morally loaded. Why is it so characterized here? patsw 21:47, 25 March 2006 (UTC)

If that's the case, what's the problem?--Pro-Lick 22:00, 25 March 2006 (UTC)
The fact that Natalisnasmpf removed "biological" proves my point. Alienus 23:42, 25 March 2006 (UTC)
I 2nd that. When does the poll start?
The fact that Natalisnasmpf removed "biological" proves that a stilted wording gives everyone the wrong idea. I know it was my wording, and as soon as I think of something better, you'll hear it here first. -GTBacchus(talk) 00:06, 26 March 2006 (UTC)

The fact that there is no way to speak of "death" without either being awkward or misleading means that the word itself has to go. Alienus 00:13, 26 March 2006 (UTC)

Um, I'm not convinced that just calling it "death" is misleading. People are going to see their own prejudices wherever they look, we can't help that. I think it should be fine to just call it "death" in sentence 1, and directly address the moral question before the table of contents. If we use the word clinically, and don't act embarassed by hedging and stammering around it, then readers won't freak out, they'll continue to sentence number 4 or whatever, and find that Wikipedia is very carefully not taking a side on any moral question. Can we agree on something like that? -GTBacchus(talk) 00:29, 26 March 2006 (UTC)
Um, I'm not convinced that just calling it "death" is not an embarassed hedging and stammering. Nor am I convinced that it will lead readers to continue. Nor am I convinced that it cause readers to find Wikipedia is carefully worded. I agree that your POV is not medical, reputable, or reliable.--Pro-Lick 01:33, 26 March 2006 (UTC)
Your first sentence there, I definitely don't understand. How is calling it "death" hedging? "Hedging" means putting qualifications up, like "in the biological sense" - that's a "hedge". Where's the hedge, if we just call it "death"? -GTBacchus(talk) 01:40, 26 March 2006 (UTC)
It's a hedge because you're not referring to it in the staright-forward way that the medical, reputable, and reliable sources do. Instead, you're hiding behind imprecise, ambiguous moral language.--Pro-Lick 01:43, 26 March 2006 (UTC)
"Death" is neither imprecise, ambiguous, "moral language" nor even non-medical. Many of those sources don't refer to it in a straight-forward way at all, but, as Alienus noted above, "bend over backward" to talk around the point. And what exactly is one "hiding" when one refers to the death of a fetus with the word "death"? What's hidden there? -GTBacchus(talk) 01:57, 26 March 2006 (UTC)
Sources on your POV? They "bend over backward" because it is such an imprecise and ambiguous word. They choose language that is more precise, less ambiguous.--Pro-Lick 02:02, 26 March 2006 (UTC)
My POV? Ok Pro, you've found me out. That money I gave to NARAL, I was kidding. My friend, who works in the abortion clinic, I hate her. My other friend, who got an abortion, confided in me, and had me keep it for her in a jar for months while she didn't have a place to stay, she'd be disappointed to know I was somehow lying, about supporting her morally. I guess the ruse is up. Just because I'm willling to call abortion "death", I must be an anti-abortionist in disguise. Sheesh. I assure you, you've shown no inkling of a clue that my POV could even exist.
Now you're asserting why those sources refrain from using the word "death". You say it's because the word "death" is too ambiguous and imprecise. That sounds like original research to me. Do you have a cite, that medical sources consider "death" an imprecise term? Or just some thin circumstantial evidence based on their not using it in one particular definition, in many, but not all cases? -GTBacchus(talk) 02:28, 26 March 2006 (UTC)
All your personal claims are original research. They are not verifiable. As to why, I just showed you how using one's POV I can interepret the results differently from you. In the end, neither of us should be trying to judge the sources, as you have been doing. We should take the sources, synthesize their expertise, and define accordingly.--Pro-Lick 19:09, 26 March 2006 (UTC)
Ok, you're certainly right that my personal experience is original research. If you'll check, you'll note that I haven't suggested that any article content be based on my personal experience. Original research is ok, in the context of two people having a conversation, and one explaining to another that the other doesn't know squat about the one's POV, and might refrain from making assumptions that are false.
On topic, the idea that "synthesis" is a process that somehow doesn't involve "judgement" is very silly. Alienus is closer to the right track below, laying sources wide open and inviting one and all to judge the heck out of them, as we're supposed to do. That's good work. -GTBacchus(talk) 15:44, 27 March 2006 (UTC)

I saw the Pro-Lick's addition before dinner, and made a comment here, saying that I agreed with Patsw. Out of respect for GTBacchus's plea last night, I did not revert, but will state for the record that I felt very strongly that it should be reverted, and I was very pleased to see that someone else had reverted by the time I finished dinner.

GTBacchus, I appreciate your effort to change to "biological death", presumably to help avert an edit war, but if you search this talk page for the word "Puzzled", you'll find that that was suggested by accident, and rejected. (The "puzzled" votes can, I think, be taken as oppose votes; certainly mine can.)

I have argued all along that "death" in no way implies that that fetus is a human being with human rights. A dog can die; a cell can die; bacteria can die. In order to keep the article neutral, I would oppose any language that implies that it's only a piece of tissue, but I would also scrupulously refrain from inserting words like "baby" into the article.

"Death" itself is a neutral word. I had a kidney infection recently, and I took antibiotics, which killed the bacteria. I don't feel uncomfortable in saying that. If people are uncomfortable in saying that the fetus dies, we shouldn't blame the word "death"; we should rather examine what they think the fetus actually is. That is what changes the neutrality of "death" and "killed". If it's a baby, it's murder; if it's just a piece of tissue, it's not murder. So, for neutrality, we mustn't use words that imply either that it is a human being or that it isn't.

I think that the more recent attempt:

An abortion is the termination of a pregnancy associated with the death of an embryo or a fetus (in the same sense that a virus dies).

is probably the most severely POV non vandalistic edit that I have ever seen on Wikipedia. As I said, to achieve neutrality, we're trying to avoid implying that the fetus is or isn't a human being. Some people think that the fetus is just a clump of cells, but on the other hand, some people think that the fetus is human with the same rights as an adult. That edit was every bit as inappropriate as

An abortion is the termination of a pregnancy associated with the death of an embryo or a fetus (in the same sense that an adult human being dies).

would have been.

Regarding Natalinasmpf's edit summary, death is death. Unless you mean "spiritual death", which I think the wildest association would not apply here, I think some of the editors on this page may be misunderstanding "spiritual death". It doesn't mean that the death is "morally" murder. Spiritual death refers to the state of a soul that is in mortal sin. So, someone who commits a mortal sin, according to Catholic teaching (and the teaching of some other Christian churches, too, although I can't speak for them), is spiritually dead, even though he may be eating, sleeping, thinking, working, walking around, etc. People in mortal sin are biologically alive, but spiritually dead. That doesn't apply to unborn children, as they are incapable of committing sin. And they are certainly not responsible for the "death" which is associated with the abortion. So, as Natalinasmpf said, the "wildest association would not apply here".

I don't see that there can be any other kind of death than biological death and spiritual death. "Moral" does not apply to death. An act can be morally good, bad, or neutral. I can be morally culpable or blameless for some action. But I can't be morally dead or alive, fat or thin, pale or dark, etc.

AnnH 00:31, 26 March 2006 (UTC)

Hi Ann. I hadn't seen the "puzzled" and struck-out use of "biological death" above. I knew that edit was going to be reverted, and just thought I'd sneak a wording improvement into it before it disappeared beneath the waves. It's sort of a sport - one time out of a hundred, by some grace it works, and the revert never comes. This time, not so much.
Regarding Natalinasmpf's edit summary - I think I may have misunderstood. Natalinasmpf, I apologize if I mistook your meaning. I guess I was ignorant of the conept of spiritual death in the sense of mortal sin - I never got very far in catechism before I switched to a secular school. I figured that "spiritual death" referred to a difference between the death experienced by a human being and that experienced by a carrot. That's clearly the point of the word "biological", right?, to distinguish a death that doesn't carry moral weight from one that does? How would you make such a distinction? -GTBacchus(talk) 01:23, 26 March 2006 (UTC)
Ok, let's just hang my POV out on a limb here. If you go to my user page, you can check out my little userboxes, and my user name should give some indications as to my POV to. So.....I have a cat. I do not think my cat is a sentient, moral being. But when my cat kicks the bucket (which it surely shall if it keeps on insisting on running across a busy street) I will say my cat died. It has no moral weight; it is a "biological death," as GT called it. Because that's what the death of an organic organism is - biological. Likewise, when I kick the bucket, people in my faith community will say "Hey, that guy's dead" - but it refers only to a biological death, because we believe the soul lives on. The fact that they call it death has nothing to do with morality - the fact they hold a funeral, and pray for my sould, etc. is what does. If someone is talking about mortal sin, or separation from God, sometimes referred to as "spiritual death," it is called "spiritual death" to distinguish from the accepted meaning of the word. Death is simply the end of existence for something - a star (astronomers refer to the death of a star), a cell, a human, a cat, an amoeba, a car ("my car died today"), whatever - when it ceases to exist as a functioning being, unit, object, we can apply the term death to it. And to further my point - because I say my car died, does not imply I think someone murdered it. My objection to the term "biological death," and in fact the removal of the word death, has nothing to do with morality - if it did, I would be inserting in words like "human" and "soul" and "rights" and "a fetus is a human with a soul and rights" every five minutes, because THAT's what the morality issues are over. My objection to "biological death" is because - what the heck else is there for it? It's POVing on the pro-choice side, because it's trying to remove any conception of humanity of the fetus - something the article should not do, because we cannot claim a right or wrong POV when it comes to arguing subjects such as souls, rights etc. Although legal definitions enter into that realm out of the necessity of making laws, but it is not factually based. It is an arbitrary decision of policy makers, not medical, biological, or whatever. My objection to the removal of the word death is for the same reason - I feel it's POVing, simply because it is a non-admission of the facts. Remember, we don't have to stick to the medical definition, if we're still sticking to the facts. All we are saying is the fetus dies. The reader can read the article, and all the associated ones (abortion debate, etc.) and decide for themselves what that death means.DonaNobisPacem 07:16, 26 March 2006 (UTC)
Ok, I read over my post a few times (I shouldn't be writing at 1:00AM) and want to clarify my main point - the insertion of the word biological is unnecessary, because the death is obviously biological (what else is it?) - it's like saying the fetus is biologically alive. It's alive, or dead - the biological part is automatically in context. If you then insert the word biological, ie "biologically dead," I believe it is POV because you are trying to lay a stress on the biological nature of the fetus, not its death - it becomes a commentary on the morality of the issue, as opposed to a statement of simple fact.DonaNobisPacem 09:02, 26 March 2006 (UTC)
DonaNobis, that's probably the best argument I've seen for the inclusion of the word "death". It's difficult, because we've got people saying that using the word "death" implies a moral judgement, because of the rhetoric that's already out there. You're saying that refraining from using "death" implies a moral judgement, because it's so conspicuous by its absence that it's actually an active dehumanization. It would be POV to either de-humanize the fetus or to over-humanize it. That's the razor we're trying to balance on, or so it looks from here. -GTBacchus(talk) 07:39, 29 March 2006 (UTC)
Indeed, that is what I was arguing - thanks for summarizing it so nicely. And you are right - that is the razor we are trying to balance on. DonaNobisPacem 17:28, 29 March 2006 (UTC)

Arbitrary subheader

I read over the death page. There is a section that reads:

Prebirth deaths in the US
These entries are controversial, as they are based on the premise that personhood begins at conception rather than birth or a particular prenatal development (See abortion debate; there are various opinions as to whether or not a fetus is an independent organism or fully human, for this reason abortion and miscarriage are not normally considered when compiling death statistics).

As you can see, there is controversy over whether fetuses actually 'die' in the sense that is described in the 'death' article. Read over the "Physiological changes" section of the artcile, and do they apply to all aborted fetuses/embryos? I think it is controversial and not entirely accurate to use the wikipedian definition of 'death' in regards to abortion. Furthermore, I will once again state my issue with using 'death'. There are a number of every day actions that 'result in death'. Eating, masturbating, hiking through grass, and suprisingly, none of them mention that these actions result in death. While its clearly true that doing these things results in something, biologically speaking, dying, if we were to point this out in the first sentence definition, it would be drawing attention to a specific POV. Look at the meat article. There is no reference to 'death' there. What do you think the reaction would be if a group of vegetarians come by and wanted to make sure the "death" was included in the first sentence??--Andrew c 18:50, 26 March 2006 (UTC)

Ah, yes - but many carnivores, in the case of some cultures/wierd foods humans included, eat flesh while it is still living... ;)DonaNobisPacem 21:28, 26 March 2006 (UTC)
But the cells of the meat at least die in your stomach juices. Furthermore, it could be said that meat results in the death of an animal, and that statement be inclusive for almost every situation except when you amputate a leg (or something) and the animal lives. These are all biological facts that if mentioned seems to highlight a specific POV (vegetarian). I'm just saying, even if these are facts, acknowledging them so early in the article seems to be giving them undue weight.-Andrew c 23:35, 26 March 2006 (UTC)
Sorry Andrew c - I was just joking with that comment...hence the wink ;) I did get your point....DonaNobisPacem 07:36, 27 March 2006 (UTC)

Death of the fetus is always the intended result of an induced abortion.(I can even give you a quote from an abortionist on that point.) Death of the fetus either causes or is caused by every spontaneous abortion. Death is part of abortion, no matter how you slice it. Many meals are eaten, many hikes are taken, many masturbations reach climax - and no one associates a vast majority of them with human death. It is not a fringe notion that abortion involves death. In fact, the view is widely held (often by a majority, as in the USA), even where abortion is legal. Good 20:46, 26 March 2006 (UTC)

The expert sources do not agree with your POV.--Pro-Lick 21:00, 26 March 2006 (UTC)
I expected the discussion to continue along the lines of "death is a morally loaded word and not neutral because... " and making an appeal to some common ground meaning of (a) death (b) morality and (c) neutral. This is how an editing discussion leading to a consenus usually starts. And if it cannot be articulated, then it can be considered conceded and we proceed with a consensus that death is not a morally loaded word, and it is neutral and, it simply means the end of life. patsw 21:30, 26 March 2006 (UTC)
It is not for us to argue, vote, or agree/disagree upon. The sources are clear. Use the words they use, don't use the words they dont' use.--Pro-Lick 21:38, 26 March 2006 (UTC)
My sources uniformly state death is the end of life without reference to morality or a point of view. It is the plain and common meaning. Are there sources say otherwise? patsw 23:08, 26 March 2006 (UTC)
Where did you list sources? As to mine, mine are on the actual topic of the article: Abortion.--Pro-Lick 23:19, 26 March 2006 (UTC)
Pro-Lick says above, regarding sources: "Use the words they use, don't use the words they dont' use." That interpretation of Wikipedia policy is absolutely incorrect and unsupported. We get our facts from sources, not the precise wording of those facts. You're barking up the wrong tree, Pro. -GTBacchus(talk) 18:06, 27 March 2006 (UTC)
G&E:no one associates a vast majority of them with human death You are getting into the personhood debate, which is mentioned on the death page (and I quoted it above, did you miss that part?). If the crux of your argument is that we should mention 'death' because all abortions result in HUMAN death, then you are pushing a POV. I think everyone agrees that SOMETHING dies during abortion (just like sperm die when you masturbate, animals and plants die for food (or their cells die in your stomach), and you crush bugs and grass and other forms of life when you go hiking). However, mentioning this fact in the first sentence gives it undue weight. If the word 'death' is used, I would like to qualify the word, or explain the debate. However doing so does not seem appropriate for the first sentence. As a compromise, could we perhaps move it lower in the paragraph?--Andrew c 23:35, 26 March 2006 (UTC)
I'm not even sure Pro-Lick disagrees with me, so the question of my sources in conflict with Pro-Lick's is premature. The topic is death as it is descriptive of the consequence of abortion. Supporting my claim are definitions from the Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Merriam-Webster, and the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language. Death is the end of life without reference to morality or a point of view. It is the plain and common meaning. patsw 00:27, 27 March 2006 (UTC)
So, out of the 20 sources, and excluding Wikipedia because that's us, and subtracting Wiktionary and adding it to the sources that support no use of death, we have by your count 2 sources for death, 18 sources against it.--Pro-Lick 00:43, 27 March 2006 (UTC)
  • Just for the record, there are actually 4 WP:RS sources that use death, 16 that do not. Patsw seems to be off on some other tangent for which no sources have been provided. Also of interest here is that, according to Wiktionary, death ranks #303 based on usage in Project Gutenberg texts. So it seems fair to conclude it carries lots of baggage with it.--Pro-Lick 01:15, 27 March 2006 (UTC)
    • Update: 21 sources, 4 use, 17 do not. Same link.--Pro-Lick 07:29, 27 March 2006 (UTC)
I'm still waiting for a discussion to start that begins "death is a morally loaded word because...". This tangent of numerically counting up sources is ludicrous. We're editing a collaborative encyclopedia and I want to know if anyone editing here believes that death is a morally loaded word. Specifically, what is the baggage of death? Why doesn't this word death mean what it means? patsw 17:13, 27 March 2006 (UTC)
Patsw, that argument does exist. It goes something like this:
"Death" is not, in itself a loaded word. When we say our car or computer dies, nobody gets distraught or thinks of homicide. In the case of abortion though, it's very much part of the issue that a lot of people already are distraught and thinking about homicide. When talking about such a controversial issue, we can't pretend our language will be understood clinically by the average reader. The emotional content of words is magnified and redirected as propaganda by rhetoricians on whichever side, which means we have to be especially careful not to provide fuel for spin doctors, to avoid unintentionally participating in the controversy, when we should just be documenting it.
The fact that most medical sources avoid the word "death" is not a source for our not using it, because sources don't work in the negative that way - I can find a very large number of sources that don't say some particular thing I dislike. That fact - that medical sources tiptoe around the word - is evidence that many publications that are serious about intellectual standards have chosen to tiptoe around that word. We would do well to consider their reasons for doing that, and whether those same reasons apply here, in another publication that's serious about intellectual standards.
I think that's an accurate presentation of the argument I'm understanding against the word "death". I'm sure if I'm misrepresenting it or in any way failing to do it justice, someone will chime in. -GTBacchus(talk) 18:06, 27 March 2006 (UTC)
My focus is not speculation on what motives editors of medical sources have. Some sources refer to death in their definition or abortion and some don't. Nor will I speculate how the reader will be distraught or thinking about homicide seeing the word death in an article describing death. The Wikipedia is not censored. If the medical editors stated why they avoid death that would be helpful to know. patsw 04:32, 28 March 2006 (UTC)

Is Abortion Death?

From Comprehensive Gynecology, 4th Ed., 2002: "Tetraploidy, or a mean chromosome count of 92, occurs in 3% to 6% of all chromosomally abnormal abortuses. This condition is undoubtedly lethal, since it has never been seen in living individuals. It probably occurs when chromosome division is not followed by cytoplasmic division in the initial cell division of the zygote. Rearrangements, primarily translocations and inversions, are noted in about 3% of all chromosomally abnormal abortuses. According to Creasy and associates, most but definitely not all of these are unbalanced translocations. Although most unbalanced translocations in conceptuses result in abortion, some individuals are born alive."--Pro-Lick 19:49, 26 March 2006 (UTC)

But then they die.....hence, "due to or resulting in the death of..."DonaNobisPacem 21:24, 26 March 2006 (UTC)
What are you quoting?--Pro-Lick 23:20, 26 March 2006 (UTC)

I would like to see...

I would like to see a source making an actual claim about the use of the word "death" in defining abortion, or anything close to that. Simply omitting a word is different from making an argument for its omission - I'd like to see that argument, but I'm not sure where one would find it. Something about prejudicial use of language in politically sensitive writing... any ideas, anyone? -GTBacchus(talk) 21:30, 26 March 2006 (UTC)

Are you suggesting that some medical researchers and doctors insert death into some of their writing about abortion to avoid harassment by anti-abortionists?--Pro-Lick 22:25, 26 March 2006 (UTC)
Ummm... no. I'm not suggesting that. I'm not even sure I follow what you're saying. I'm suggesting that there might exist some sources that directly address the question of how to write good definitions that involve push-button words. I think there's an argument that you and Alienus are making that I'll bet someone's made before and published. It would be cool to find that. -GTBacchus(talk) 02:25, 27 March 2006 (UTC)

I had a small revelation just now, reading this:

[D&X procedures] are not abortions as defined within medical science. The term "abortion" means the termination of pregnancy before the fetus is viable. However, it does fall within the definition of "abortion" which is used by most of the public.

The problem we have been having is that we have been trying to make one, all inclusive definition of the word abortion. We have been trying to include miscarriage, induced abortions, D&X, but not cesarean live births, still births, or premature births. The problem is, in a broad medical sense, miscarriages and pre-viable induced abortions are all conisdered 'abortion', while the common use of the word does not include miscarriage, but also includes D&X and other procedures that result in a dead fetus. Perhaps we are being too broad and we need two definitions? Start off talking medically and inclusive of all mammials, and then focus in on humans and the 'popular' definition? Proposal:

An abortion is the termination of a pregnancy that results in an embryo or fetus being expelled from the womb before it is viable. This can occur spontaneously, in the form of a miscarriage, or be intentionally induced through biochemical, surgical, or other means. All mammalian pregnancies can be aborted; however, human abortion receives the most focus in biology and the mass media. The term abortion, in reference to humans, commonly refers to any induced procedure that results in the death of an embryo or fetus, even on viable fetuses, such as the controversial but rare Intact dilation and extraction proceedure.

--Andrew c 14:59, 27 March 2006 (UTC)

Good suggestion! I wouldn't use that precise wording, but I really like the idea of distinguishing a medical definition from a common-language definition. -GTBacchus(talk) 15:36, 27 March 2006 (UTC)

medical sources

I believe an attempt needs to be made to catalogue medical definitions on abortion - not just a list, but a catalog by each separate definition. The reason I make this suggestion - of the "reliable medical sources" that keep being quoted, listed in the archives, numbers 2,4,5,7,18,19, and 21 all use a definition virtually every editor on the page has disagreed with - some of the above define it before the 20th week, others before viability of the fetus. Both exclude late term and partial birth abortions. if we rely on these definitions, our article should then also define "late term abortion" separately, and perhaps link to a main article under that heading. As for those that mention death - and I do not necessarily in the opening text of their definition, but in their definitions as a whole mention the word death associated with an aborted fetus (which is what the arguments have been over - the word "death" in relation to the fetus) - 9, 10, and 14 are the same article, so we really have 19 articles. 9 (or 10 or 14), 11,12,13,15, and 18 (if you read further than what is quoted, one part of the definition reads retention in the uterus of an abortus that has died) mention the word death in relation to a fetus/embryo. So - out of 19 sources, seven do not agree with the majority of editors here due to late term abortions, but this could be remedied by mentioning late term abortion/stillbirth in a second sentence if we define abortion being before 20 weeks. Out of the 19, 6 mention the word death in relation to the fetus/embryo - one is on dogs, and one uses death of an abortus, both of which support the argument of moral ambiguity in relation to the word.

So - to sum up - if we are determined to hash out a definition, we should list a number of sources, categorized by definition (using key words such as: before 20 weeks, expulsion, removal, death, etc). I suggest the following format: DonaNobisPacem 08:28, 27 March 2006 (UTC)

I think we need to distinguish between the mention of death in some appropriate place in the article and the definition of abortion in terms of death. Alienus 08:24, 27 March 2006 (UTC)

Category 1

  • count: 3
  • mentions death in definition: yes.
  • mentions death elsewhere: no.
  • Definitions: 11, 12, 13

Category 2

  • count: 14
  • mentions death in definition: no.
  • mentions death elsewhere: no.
  • Definitions: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21

Category 3

  • count: 4
  • mentions death in definition: no (2).
  • mentions death elsewhere: yes (2).
  • Definitions: 1, 9, 10, 14

Category 4

  • count: 0
  • mentions death in definition: yes (0).
  • mentions death elsewhere: yes (0).
  • Definitions:


I'm not sure I follow the category thing. Maybe if you provided some examples.

As to the time limit, that's easily enough corrected by simply leaving out any timeframe other than "before birth" or "before viability" and noting the limits are not the dominate view of the sources, following WP:NPOV#Undue weight. That, and specifying length has never been a point of contention with me, and I don't recall it coming up in attempted redefinitions from those that fly in and out of the article.

As to your comments on the sources, I'll be content to leave that until I understand your above methodology.--Pro-Lick 08:32, 27 March 2006 (UTC)

Part of my reason in pointing out the seven sources that used 20 weeks was to show that even the medical sources are not consistent... DonaNobisPacem 08:49, 27 March 2006 (UTC)
Yes, and they are the experts, and that is their view. What does policy say about judging the expert views? As to the view, it is not the dominant view. Nor is defining abortion as death a dominant view. Are you arguing for selective use of policy based on your own POV?--Pro-Lick 09:09, 27 March 2006 (UTC)
So basically, I was thinking - if you found a definition that was nearly identical to the one in terminology, you could list it there, and then answer the applicable questions regarding death (as some of the definitions also have accompanying articles, I put "mentions death elsewhere," as Alienus has mentioned we might not want it in the definition, but elsewhere). Clear as mud? DonaNobisPacem 09:04, 27 March 2006 (UTC)
Thats because medical professionals realize that such confusion is inevitable when you introduce a political definition into a medical situation (as ACOG has). The only reason there is such inconsistency is precisely because there has not been a universal acceptance of the ACOG redefinition. It forces those supporting the ACOG agenda to obfuscate and try not to address the inconsistencies their new definition has created. Applying the ACOG redefinition consistently causes all sorts of problems. The same folks are still trying to foist the redefinition of conception into wide acceptance, but it simply flies in the face of reality (scientific and otherwise). The new definitions also make the term gestation uncertain. I agree with DonaNobis that the wide variety of medical opinion should be fully documented. Good 09:11, 27 March 2006 (UTC)
DonaNobisPacem, to avoid having the same thing in 2 places and having it spread out over a lot of space, how about we keep the definitions, etc. in full at their present place in the archive, and list the numbers. If someone has an WP:RS defnition they'd like to add the list, add it there. Update the caterogy here. I'm not insisting upon this. Just seems like it would be more efficient.--Pro-Lick 09:22, 27 March 2006 (UTC)
To get back into the debate here; I'd be happy to see "death" gone from the definition if the controversy and "murder" POV remains in the lead. But I would like to get more editors involved in the discussion to see if there is a rationale for "death" or "murder" or both or neither. But I doubt neither is an option. - RoyBoy 800 09:25, 27 March 2006 (UTC)
Who is seriously arguing, or has argued, for "murder" to be in the lead? I must have missed it. I don't even see anyone seriously arguing that murder merits much mention at all other than to succinctly describe the pro-life view in the appropriate section. If anything, the erasure of "death" seems to be POV insertion (by active omision) in light of the neutral professional resources and biological realities known to the page editors. Good 09:32, 27 March 2006 (UTC)
LOL, yeah that short form didn't sound good. GTBacchus excellent suggestion was to remove "death" from definition, but elaborate pro-lifer's see abortion as murder in the second paragraph which goes into the politics. But it is an omission... that's why I'm for death in the definition even though I don't want it there. Sound conflicted; welcome to RoyBoy's twisted mind. - RoyBoy 800 09:41, 27 March 2006 (UTC)
No one has argued for murder, but we have the recurring vandals who replace every instance of "abortion" with murder. or make similar edits.[1] Then we have the alternate "killing" [2] Neither is supported well by consensus, being universally considered by experienced editors to display extreme POV. KillerChihuahua?!? 23:23, 28 March 2006 (UTC)

I was thinking about this - the idea of categorization of definitions is probably not my best - I agree with G&E that it is important to be aware of the diversity of definitions/opinions, even within the medical community (and in my thinking as of late, it is not necessary for us to stick rigorously to the medical community's definition - although they are the experts, they are by no means the majority, so it is important to also define what common perception of abortion is, as Andrewc mentioned above), and that was my intent - however, we could list definitions up the ying-yang and still not get anywhere. Even the first three I found couldn't necessarily be lumped together. That said - in my searching and reading, I have found what Andrewc mentions above - that abortion is before 20 weeks - anything after being defined as "late term abortion" (such as a D&X procedure) if induced, and stillbirth if spontaneous. So I agree in principle with his definition above, in that it separates medical terminology and public perception - I'll quote it again here for conenience:

"An abortion is the termination of a pregnancy that results in an embryo or fetus being expelled from the womb before it is viable. This can occur spontaneously, in the form of a miscarriage, or be intentionally induced through biochemical, surgical, or other means. All mammalian pregnancies can be aborted; however, human abortion receives the most focus in biology and the mass media. The term abortion, in reference to humans, commonly refers to any induced procedure that results in the death of an embryo or fetus, even on viable fetuses, such as the controversial but rare Intact dilation and extraction proceedure."

As I mentioned earlier, we could then start a new article, "late term abortion," describing the particular procedures/controversies involved. DonaNobisPacem 05:05, 28 March 2006 (UTC)

FYI: Late-term abortion. Been around for 2 years or so, but could use some expanding...--Andrew c 05:29, 28 March 2006 (UTC)

That page is somewhat broken. The talk page is a redir for Partial birth abortion talk, but the article is there as a stub. Someone messed up. KillerChihuahua?!? 22:55, 28 March 2006 (UTC)
Should it be redirecting to Partial-birth abortion then? That's easy enough to fix. -GTBacchus(talk) 07:06, 29 March 2006 (UTC)
I'm not sure if it should be, or if the talk page shouldn't be, if you follow. One or the other, for sure. KillerChihuahua?!? 11:18, 29 March 2006 (UTC)
That makes so much more sense here! I'll try some Merge tags and see what happens. -GTBacchus(talk) 17:47, 29 March 2006 (UTC)
rofl, yeah I goofed and posted in a very wrong place. Sorry about any confusion. KillerChihuahua?!? 17:49, 29 March 2006 (UTC)

Odd categories

I don't see that this is the best way to categorize the definitions we're looking at. We're lumping rather different defintions together, and separating very similar ones, based solely on whether they use a particular word. Our job is to write the best possible opening paragraph, so why don't we look at various defitions categorized according to what they do say, not what they don't say? Then we can talk about the advantages and disadvantages of various approaches without having to be fixated on one word.

I would suggest the broadest categorization should be based on how abortion is actually defined by each source - because they don't all agree, and as some editors have noted, there's more than one "correct" definition flying around here. Some are based on time, some on viability, some on intention, some on effect. -GTBacchus(talk) 07:14, 29 March 2006 (UTC)

I noted above - this was not one of my better ideas.....simply because we could spend an eternity finding definitions to fit our POV's, and it doesn't accomplish much - my main point was to point out the diversity of the definitions, even among the medical community, to indicate that our job is to look at all of the definitions/info present and come up with our own NPOV introduction (which as I mentioned, does NOT need to parallel the medical definition, if we are sticking to facts and considering weight - in this regard, public opinion of what abortion is also contains considerable weight, hence I support Andrew c's suggestion of having medical/conventional understanding in the definition), and not just regurgitate definitions from another encyclopedia or dictionary.DonaNobisPacem 17:23, 29 March 2006 (UTC)

What are the rules?

This is new to me. Does a consensus on this page act as a consensus for the first paragraph or does it get re-argued on the Talk:Abortion anyway? patsw 01:15, 29 March 2006 (UTC)

I would say that if we ever agree on anything here, we should mention it on the general talk page, and ask anyone who has missed the consensus process to weigh in here. I think in no circumstances should we drag first paragraph discussion out on the general page (because it takes up too much space, and seems to bring other forms of progress on the article to a halt). But this is just my opinion, and if everyone would rather hash it out somewhere that isn't this subpage, who am I to stop them.--Andrew c 01:23, 29 March 2006 (UTC)
Rules? I think the purpose of this page is to just relieve the strain on the main page. If we achieve anything resembling consensus here, that'll be progress. I dunno about rules. -GTBacchus(talk) 06:50, 29 March 2006 (UTC)

Abortion isn't the death of an embryo or fetus

Explanations of this here, please. patsw 01:18, 29 March 2006 (UTC)

You are completely missing my point. I acknowledge that something that is biologically alive dies as a result of an abortion. However, is this significant enough to be part of the definition? My counter examples were (male) masturbation and meat. Everyone knows that sperm are biologically alive, and masturbation results in the death of millions of sperm. Is this undisputed FACT in the first sentence of the masturbation article? What about meat? Eating meat always results in the death of animal tissue (in your stomach, if not on the grill or before) or oftentimes the death of a whole living organism. Is this undisputed fact in the first sentence of the meat article? If we were to go and argue that the death of animals be mentioned in the first sentence of meat, would we not be pushing a vegetarian POV? I believe if we mention death, even though it is a fact, TOO early in the article, it is giving undue weight to the pro-life POV. I am not against mentioning it, just not in the first sentence. I made a proposal above to present two different definitions: the medical one (general and covering all mammials) and the popular one (refering to induced abortions in humans only). I included 'Death' in the second definition.--Andrew c 01:31, 29 March 2006 (UTC)

This is an excellent point. Alienus 05:24, 29 March 2006 (UTC)

Actually, this is an obfuscation. The death of the concpetus is why abortion is controversial. The death is doubted by no one. The moral value of that life is where the controversy lies. The word "death" (or die or dead) is morally neutral. It just makes the purveyors and supporters of such death feel guilty. And the article should not tiptoe in order to make such people feel good. Good 06:19, 29 March 2006 (UTC)

I think the problem is that, in the context of abortion, the word "death" isn't treated as morally neutral, it's associated strongly with all kinds of moral judgements in the rhetoric of the pro-life activists. The claim, as I understand it, is that the word "death" is inherently politicized in the present context, and cannot be used to sound clinical and neutral. -GTBacchus(talk) 06:55, 29 March 2006 (UTC)
The act of induced abortion is what deliberately causes the controversisal death. The word "death" is not what is controversial.
Because abortion includes miscarriage, using the word death is actually extrememly appropriate given that many (if not most) people consider a miscarriage to be a sad and premature death of a future child. Desrcibing the fetal demise as "death" is neutral and easily understood by all.
Determining that such a death is murder is NOT neutral. Determining that such a death is not murder is NOT neutral. Using euphemisms (such as "termination") is NOT neutral.
A person presented with the biological fact of death can reach a conclusion that abortion kills a person, or that abortion kills a non-person. It is wrong to hide the fetal death from the reader, as doing so removes factual information pertinent to every abortion. If a person presented with the wikipedia definition is misled to believe that there is no death involved, then that person does not have a true picture of what abortion is. Death is the critical fact - if the fetus is born alive, there is no abortion - if the fetus comes out dead (most often dismembered or decapitated) there was an abortion. The end of the pregnancy is a by-product of the fetal death.
Miscarriage abortion: fetus dies, body expels dead fetus, pregnancy ends.
Induced abortion: viable or non-viable fetus is killed, dead fetus is removed, pregnancy ends.
Birth: fetus remains alive, living fetus is expelled or removed, pregnancy ends.
Good 10:22, 29 March 2006 (UTC)
Agree 100%. AnnH 11:15, 29 March 2006 (UTC)
And the word "kills" is completely neutral? I fail to see how that is any more neutral than a euphemism. Also, how is stating that "abortion is murder" neutral at all? ColdSalad 11:25, 29 March 2006 (UTC)
...if the fetus comes out dead (most often dismembered or decapitated) there was an abortion...
Not necessarily. I find death to be relatively neutral as well, but don't argue for NPOV out of one side of your mouth while spewing propaganda out of the other.   ⇔   | | ⊕ ⊥ (t-c-e) 12:39, 29 March 2006 (UTC)

We are once again deviating from the point. The only issue we are here to decide is whether we should define abortion in terms of "death". We don't have to; lots of definitions don't. And if we don't, we can and probably should mention "death" elsewhere in the article. The issue is about usage and emphasis, not fact. Namely, should we pick a definition that emphasizes death or one that is neutral and clinical? This is not a rhetorical questions, unfortunately. I strongly support a neutral and clinical definition, but there has been a very obvious correlation between those who want to emphasize death and those who want abortion to be illegal. This very correlation indicates that the usage of "death" in the definition would be POV, hence in opposition to WP:NPOV, an absolute requirement that trumps consensus. Alienus 19:13, 29 March 2006 (UTC)

We're not trying to emphasize it. We're just trying to place it in the definition, because it's an essential part of the definition. If the fetus doesn't die, it isn't an abortion. Emphasizing it would be putting death at the beginning (an abortion causes the death of an embryo or fetus, terminating its gestation in a womb), or using bold or italics. So, no, it's not emphasized. It's in the definition, because it's an essential part of the definition. If the fetus doesn't die, then we have either a live birth, or a failed abortion (which is also a live birth). We're not emphasizing a fact; we're stating a fact. The POV lies in trying to suppress this fact. And as for the correlation between those who want to use "death" and those who want abortion to be illegal, well, for one thing, the very existence of GTBacchus disproves your theory, and for another, isn't there a correlation between those who want to remove "death" and those who want abortion to be legal? You're actually arguing against yourself. As far as I can see, there is nobody opposing the word "death" who is not in favour of legalized abortion, but there is at least one person supporting that word who is in favour of it. That said, we shouldn't really be speculating on other editors' POVs unless they choose to make them public. AnnH 21:06, 29 March 2006 (UTC)
Mentioning it in the first sentence definition is putting emphasis on it. For example, I have suggested a number of articles that result in the death of something, and for some strange reason this isn't mentioned in the first sentence definition. What would it be like if we made this edit to the masturbation page: "Masturbation is the manual excitation of the sexual organs, most often to the point of orgasm, resulting in the death of millions of sperm (for male masturbation)." or the meat page: "Meat, in its broadest modern definition, is all animal tissue intended to be used as food, which results in the death of animal tissue". It is your POV that "death" is an essential part of the abortion definition. There have been many cited medical sources that disagree with your POV. Let me make it clear I am not against including your definition at all. However, I feel that it puts emphasis on the controversy, POVs, and debate part of the issue. Please note my proposed changes above where I suggest introducing two different definitions, one which includes the 'd' word. --Andrew c 23:49, 29 March 2006 (UTC)

The alternative to emphasizing "death" isn't de-emphasizing it, it's being neutral. Saying "but this is not considered as death in any morally significant way" would be the equal but opposite bias, actively de-emphasizing "death". We have many examples that show that there is no need for "death" in an accurate, neutral definition. Moreover, the sources that lack that word are neutral medical definitions, not pro-choice or pro-life activism sites. In short, you're wrong on all counts. Alienus 22:05, 29 March 2006 (UTC)

I am absolutely in favor of safe and legal abortions. But the desire to avoid the use of the term "death" when describing the eventual outcome is, quite simply, newspeak, and is unacceptable. Nandesuka 22:30, 29 March 2006 (UTC)
As much as it was kind of you to share your conclusion, now is the time to support conclusions, and you have not done so. Alienus 01:44, 30 March 2006 (UTC)

Ok, I thought of something. The current definition says "resulting in or from the death of the embryo or fetus". Why shouldn't it say "resulting in or caused by the death of the embryo, fetus, or placenta". I think by adding placenta, [1] we can cover placental abruption and other afflictions to the placenta that cause miscarriages, [2] we can cover the fact that induced abortion procedures remove products (plural) of conception, not just the fetus/embryo, and [3] by including something in the list that clearly does not have personhood, I believe it lessens the connotations of 'death' that some of us have objected to. --Andrew c 00:10, 30 March 2006 (UTC)

Opps, my exact wording doesn't work because it lists fetus and embryo in a manner that makes them sound like different thing. But you get my idea. If we like my suggestion, we'll need to come up with a better phrasing.--Andrew c 00:14, 30 March 2006 (UTC)

Personhood is a philosophical, moral, and legal term and can't be expressed in a summary form in the first paragraph. Placental death is altogether insignificant and only obtains significance with respect to the fetus and mother: organic failure of the placental prior to viability will cause a miscarriage; after viability, and with appropriate medical care, it will be a premature birth. patsw 01:40, 30 March 2006 (UTC)
So are you denying that "abortion results in the death of the placenta"? Or are you saying that the death of the placenta that results from abortions is not as significant as the death of the fetus/embryo? Isn't the latter a value judgment or POV? By excluding one biological fact (placental death) and emphasizing another (fetal death), you are pushing a POV. That POV should be presented in the article, just not inherent in the definition.--Andrew c 02:29, 30 March 2006 (UTC)
Argument: "Placenta death" or "the placenta dies" has no place in the lead: this term has not been shown to be used in any notable/widely used description of abortion found in reputable sources (WP:NOR, WP:CITE, WP:V, WP:RS). Since the term cannot be used as per policy, one cannot argue that its exclusion is POV-pushing. It's NPOV-pushing.
Background: The fact that the term does not appear in abortion descriptions in literature (other than as a medical reason to abort) is hardly surprising: once a placenta is developing/has developed, it will always die at the end of a pregnancy. Its death or destruction does not define "abortion". It is a defining factor for the more general "end of pregnancy". Its exclusion is required, its inclusion could be POV-pushing. AvB ÷ talk 08:43, 30 March 2006 (UTC)
I am going to have to disagree here. 3 of the 21 definitions specifically reference placenta. In addition, 11 mentions "[canine] Abortions occur most commonly because placental function is compromised due to one or more of these reasons." However, if we are to not include the 'p' word because it is not in the majority, then perhaps the 'd' word should not be included under the same logic.--Andrew c 16:28, 30 March 2006 (UTC)
I had seen those :-) One definition mentions the placenta in the context of a malfunction, a medical reason to abort. The other two definitions do not mention the placenta in the context of death, but in the context of removal. In addition, I would argue that 2 (or 3) out of 21 do not make mention of the placenta notable, let alone "death of the placenta" which, as argued, occurs in none of the definitions. Death of the placenta does not define abortion; if it somehow remains intact and lives on after the fetus has died, the abortion was successful. Mission accomplished. The placenta needs to be removed for medical reasons. Exactly like when a baby is born. Mission accomplished. The afterbirth follows later, and if it doesn't, it's a job for the doctor. At any rate, no one mourns the placenta and it would fall out of the equation for that reason alone. I do not support this argument against the inclusion of "death".
As you may have noticed, I no longer oppose definitions that leave out the word "death". AvB ÷ talk 17:36, 30 March 2006 (UTC)
"if it somehow remains intact and lives on after the fetus has died, the abortion was successful" Actually, if any of the products of conception are not removed, it is an incomplete abortion. My point was that abortions are supposed to remove more than just the fetus/embryo. Doctors suction or scrape the uterus wall as part of the procedure. The definitions I highlighted mentioned this aspect of abortion. Of course none of them mention death of the placenta. I just felt that some of the arguments that the pro-d-word editors were using placed a special emphasis on the fetus, going into the personhood debate (which should be mentioned, just not in the first sentence). By using the same sort of arguments, only in regards to the placenta, I felt I would reveal the POV in those arguments. Sorry for the confusion.--Andrew c 17:59, 30 March 2006 (UTC)

What "mother" are you talking about? Alienus 01:44, 30 March 2006 (UTC)

Masturbation is a ludricrous analogy; as the goal is sexual release of by-product cells. The death of those cells is not the goal; the release of them to relieve sexual tension is. (exception to the rule: masturbating for sperm donation) Meat is to be sure more interesting; but again the goal is to acquire food; not to kill the animal. (exception to the rule: artificially grown meat being tested these days; hypothetic exception: an animal with exceptional meat that is re-engineered to grow back limbs or to produce protusions of meat that can be harvested; without killing the animal) Abortion simply does not have these exceptions; and the result death makes an abortion an abortion. The death of sperm and animals does not define masturbation and meat. Please stop using these analogies; as they are functionally invalid. - RoyBoy 800 19:26, 30 March 2006 (UTC)
It sounds like you understand exactly where I am coming from. When I see people pushing the "results in the death of a fetus or embryo" wording, I feel the exact same way you feel about my analogies. I understand that it is one POV that the most important and defining aspect of an abortion is the death of a fetus, however, I believe that is only a POV and not appropriate for the first sentence (first paragraph, sure, but not first sentence).--Andrew c 21:54, 30 March 2006 (UTC)
I'm not sure I see how it's "one POV" that the death of a fetus is the defining aspect of an abortion, along with its expulsion or removal from the uterus. It's defining in the sense that nothing else distinguishes an abortion from a live delivery. Whether that word has to occur in the opening sentence is another question, but I didn't think anybody was arguing that abortion can be properly defined without somehow conveying the idea of fetal loss, i.e., not ending up with a live baby, i.e. the death of the fetus or embryo. -GTBacchus(talk) 18:49, 31 March 2006 (UTC)

Regarding masturbation and meat - those analogies make no sense to me. A better analogy would be defining an ejaculation as "activity leading to an expulsion of fluid through the penis", dodging words like "semen" and failing to distinguish it from urination. With the other example, one might define meat as "a substance consumed as food", dodging the word "animal" and failing to distinguish it from vegetables. In both of those cases, I imagine we can agree that something is missing from the given definition, because it fails to draw a line where one is needed. The word "death" is not needed to distinguish meat from... animals that stay alive when eaten(?), or to distinguish masturbation from some kind of live sperm escape. In the case of abortion, there is a neighboring concept, and we need to demarcate the boundary, somehow, because that's what definitions do. (Actually, that link doesn't directly support what I said (nor directly oppose it), but I left it in because it's interesting.) -GTBacchus(talk) 18:49, 31 March 2006 (UTC)

One editor changed his mind

It may surprise some editors here, but I have revised my opinion of the inclusion of the word "death" after checking how other encyclopedias handle the subject. I still feel that excluding "death" is skewed towards the pro-choice POV but I've reweighed the entire Gestalt as it exists in the general population and now feel that a slight preference for the majority POV is fully warranted under NPOV. <gasp!> It's the "most neutral" solution - we have already reached a definition that is so sharp that the only thing preventing consensus is an agreement on a slight bias towards pro-life (include "death") or a slight bias towards pro-choice (exclude "death"). All other things being equal, we can do only one thing, and bias it towards the majority POV.

I have also revisited my view on the inclusion of the word "death" in regard to its being a loaded word. I now think its inclusion may introduce more bias than its exclusion. The former says that there is death, the latter does not say there isn't. (As before, I think it is wrong to exclude or evade such words as a matter of principle; each case should be judged separately.)

I'm now willing to support something like a simple "An abortion is the expulsion or removal of an embryo or fetus from the womb before it has attained viability" AvB ÷ talk 08:43, 30 March 2006 (UTC)

The problem is that an abortion is not necessarily "the expulsion . . . . before it has attained viability." Abortions are sometimes caried out in cases where it would be fully possible to deliver a living child. In fact, in the case of Gianna Jessen, her mother did give birth to a living child, and the fact that Gianna now has disabilities is because she was scalded for hours by the saline abortion, not because came out (or was taken out) from the womb before she had "attained viability". Or take the case of Ana Rosa Rodriguez, whose mother went in for an abortion at 32 weeks. She was sent home, having been told that the abortion was incomplete, and that she would have to come back the next day. That night, Ana Rosa was born — missing one arm, but otherwise healthy. I don't suppose anyone would argue that she "had not attained viability" ten hours before that. I don't think the Wikipedia article should make judgments about the morality of abortion; that would definitely be a violation of NPOV but we certainly shouldn't be trying to gloss over a very important, but unpleasant, fact of what abortion involves. AnnH 09:14, 30 March 2006 (UTC)

Yes, I know. But this definition does not gloss over anything important. That is not in my character nor in the character of Wikipedia. In fact this definition does not fit the instances you describe. It all hinges on the robustness of the applied viability threshold. The viability criterion is an accepted part of the majority POV; trying to abort viable fetuses (i.e. babies) is not. The examples only tell us something about the viability threshold. There's no such thing as aborting a viable fetus. That's not abortion, it's infanticide. Not my opinion; the majority POV. We should congratulate our resident pro-choicers on their willingness to accept that definition. AvB ÷ talk 10:19, 30 March 2006 (UTC)

Aborting a foetus that could be viable is not infanticide, as it is still a foetus. A foetus that is aborted late for a disability such as cystic fibrosis or in rare cases a cleft lip [3], is viable but has still been aborted. An abortion necessarily involves the death of the foetus either as cause or consequence, as such exclusion of the word is incorrect. |→ Spaully°τ 14:46, 30 March 2006 (GMT)

This argument is not different from AnnH's reasoning. What Annh and you are saying is important. It highlights a glaring problem with the most accepted definition: it does not apply to the third trimester. However, what you say is not a reason to change or not use the most common definition that also has the preference of editors representing the pro-choice POV.

What you are saying touches on a terrible and often forgotten dilemma, which should be discussed in the article. According to Roe v. Wade, and related legal processes & legislation in other countries, viability is precisely what differentiates a fetus from... a child? How do we call the phase between the start of viability and birth?

As to the future of the Abortion article, I can only say that editors should do their utmost to be splitters and not lumpers. It is true, for some people there is no difference between a conceptus and 33-week fetus (one extreme arguing that killing the fetus is not morally wrong and the other that killing a single-cell conceptus is murder). Most people, however, will recognize more nuances. Example: the atheist doctor in the UK who wrote in his well-read "NHS blog?" that he draws the line for himself at the start of the second trimester and like many others does not feel comfortable seeing a dead or dying fetus that looks human, that moves, and by the end of the second trimester visually responds to pain - people who take that feeling as their cue that it's not OK. We can and should describe what it means to the various groups. Let's not focus too much on the extremes. There's so much more in between. Can we read in the article how many people actually support abortion beyond week 20? Is talking about "pro-lifers" and "pro-choicers" really the most important thing? Let's not be led by our indignation or anger. Treat this like the best-of-breed Wikipedians. This article can be a good NPOV example. And I think that's the best we can give to the world. <Stepping off soapbox now>

Here's a definition from Britannica's 2006 DVD: Abortion the expulsion of a fetus from the uterus before it has reached the stage of viability (in human beings, usually about the 20th week of gestation). An abortion may occur spontaneously, in which case it is also called a miscarriage, or it may be brought on purposefully, in which case it is often called an induced abortion. AvB ÷ talk 16:14, 30 March 2006 (UTC)

I'll add what I added above. According to "[D&X] are not abortions as defined within medical science. The term "abortion" means the termination of pregnancy before the fetus is viable. However, it does fall within the definition of "abortion" which is used by most of the public."[4] And from the D&X article: "Intact D&X procedures are rare, carried out in roughly 0.2% (two-tenths of one percent) of all abortions in the USA. This calculates to between 2500 and 3000 per year, using data from the Alan Guttmacher Institute for the year 2000 (out of 1.3 million abortions annually)." Focusing on this issue is a technicality. It is giving it undue weight. As I said above, I do not belive we can come up with one single definition to cover every single instance considered by the public and by medical science to be abortion. I suggested having two different definitions.--Andrew c 16:40, 30 March 2006 (UTC)

Weight in the context of NPOV is defined by the number of people who hold an opinion, not by the number of occurrences of the object of that opinion. AvB ÷ talk 17:00, 30 March 2006 (UTC)

The Britannica definition is wrong. We don't need to copy their errors. The objective is the most accurate defintion, not the most accurate definition that a priori avoids using the word death. patsw 17:55, 30 March 2006 (UTC)

Whether or not Britannica's def is wrong does not matter. The point is that we are required to treat such definitions according to their notability/popularity per WP:NPOV. Wikipedia is not there to change people's minds. It is there to describe the real word. Editors don't describe what they think is right or wrong. That would be original research. The net result should be that readers get all the info in a neutral way so that they can make up their own mind. AvB ÷ talk 18:22, 30 March 2006 (UTC)

PS I've got to start my weekly wikibreak; I think I've dominated this part of the discussion long enough anyway so I'll just take a back seat & probably check in again tomorrow night. I am, after all, just one editor who has changed his mind. AvB ÷ talk 18:26, 30 March 2006 (UTC)

Would it be accurate to summarize your change of heart and point thusly? Abortion should be written sympathetically to its subject. Just as other encyclopedic sources have chosen to do. Frankly I hate splitting talk pages; the only reason it was necessary in the first place was Pro-Lick's prolific and protracted prose. - RoyBoy 800 19:15, 30 March 2006 (UTC)
Hi RoyBoy, that would be quite alright with me. (By the way, it's a change of mind, the heart is still very much the way it was.) AvB ÷ talk 22:58, 30 March 2006 (UTC)

Using the word death in fashioning thebest definition for abortion is NOT original research. It is nothing new to note that every induced abortion intentionally kills a conceptus and every spontaneous abortion results in or from a dead conceptus. I think what is happening is that the editors here realize that having a politically correct definition is te same as having an orwellian definition. And no one wants an orwellian definition. Those who think a conceptus is just tissue should have no qualms about acknowledging the death of the organism. If the conceptus is like snot or fingernails (as some have argued), then why quibble about the death of the conceptus? Its mention should not concern anyone. Although slaves were considered subhuman, no one used to quibble about whether a slave who had assumed room temperature was just as dead as any deceased white guy. Such fear of the word "death" is not very rational. Good 21:18, 30 March 2006 (UTC)

Umm, I have no idea what that slavery quip is about, so I'll skip over that. Would you be opposed to using the word 'conceptus' in the definition? "resulting in or caused by the death of the conceptus". It is more accurate, because more than just the fetus/embryo die during abortion, and as I pointed out above, there are placental conditions that cause miscarriages. Is conceptus the best word for this situation? "Products of conception" is another term that means the same thing. The main issue I have with the current version is that it seems to give undue weight to the death of the fetus. I personally would want to avoid that issue in the first sentence and bring it up further along in the paragraph. However, as a compromise, I have been considering other ways to improve the current version, and perhaps this may be the one?--Andrew c 22:02, 30 March 2006 (UTC)
Conceptus and products of conception are euphemisms. They are words crafted to promote a POV. patsw 05:38, 31 March 2006 (UTC)
Ok, what is the proper term then? If we are going to refer to more than just the fetus/embryo, how is the best way to do it? I initially suggested listing placenta along with the things that "result in the death of", but changed my mind for a single catch-all term. Any suggestions?--Andrew c 06:33, 31 March 2006 (UTC)

Sympathetic vs. Accurate

I found AvB's point about making the Abortion article sympathetic to its subject matter very compelling and hits on the core issue here. Is Wikipedia to write sympathetically, is it a part of our philosophy and style? Do we pick up the lead of other sympathetic encyclopedia's or do something different. To put it succintly I don't like the word "death" in the lead; but at the same time I've stated it strikes the right tone for the article.

Is abortion a pleaseant thing? No. So why should we remove an unpleasant word from the lead. The only valid argument I've seen in all this back and forth; is that we as an encyclopedia have choosen to write sympathetically, particularly on controversial subjects. This isn't about being right or wrong; it is a choice of editorial philosophy. If policy is we are to be sympathetic death is gone; if accurate then it stays. One may object that "death" is hardly a neutral word; I agree as it is negative word, but since Abortion is a negative subject I cannot help but conclude that it is an accurate and necessary part of the definition (as death is exactly what makes it a negative/controversial subject).

Does that mean it has to go in the first sentence; I suppose not... but keep in mind the broader context. The article has adopted clinical terms (embryo/fetus) for things pro-lifers would want emotional/ambiguous terms attached to them. For the most part the article is pretty friggin neutral, congrats to us all for that accomplishment. As such I don't think it is too much to ask to have an emotional word(s) that are accurate, in the lead.

I've had a cursory glance through WP:Style; haven't found anything yet, but I do recall mention of articles being sympathetic somewhere. (it could have been on Jimbo's talk page for all I know) - RoyBoy 800 02:54, 31 March 2006 (UTC)

Since truth is detemined by the number of times keywords occur on certain pages, especially WP:NPOV, I call our attention to the fact that words beginning "sympath-" occur seven (7) times on that page, but that's counting the table of contents, and I pre-emptively plead guilty to quote-mining. -GTBacchus(talk) 19:06, 31 March 2006 (UTC)
I disagree completely, largely because you're wrong. The word "death" is not merely unsympathetic, it's misleading, hence inaccurate. Alienus 05:45, 31 March 2006 (UTC)
On the contrary, Alienus, the word death is completely accurate. What's misleading is the pretence that abortion doesn't involve a death. As for being "unsympathetic", that's only the case if the thing that dies is a baby. None of the pro-life editors has tried to use the the word "baby" in the article. For the umpteenth time, if a baby dies, death is bad; if a cell and nothing more than a cell dies, death is neutral. Abortion involves death. That may be unpleasant, but Wikipedia does not have a policy of suppressing or censoring unpleasant facts. AnnH 09:01, 31 March 2006 (UTC)
I'm sorry, but do you have an argument that might appeal to non-Catholics or is this the best you've got? Alienus 19:30, 31 March 2006 (UTC)
Alienus, I am sure that you are aware that many non-Catholics agree with me on this issue, even if you don't. There was nothing specifically Catholic or even Christian in my post above. I wrote nothing about the indivual soul created by God, nor about the sin or morality. C.S. Lewis wrote an essay called "Bulverism", which I highly recommend. Your argument is a form of bulverism. AnnH 16:55, 2 April 2006 (UTC)
Ann, I think the grounds for arguing that "death" is misleading are spelled out somewhere on this page. The argument is that, in the context of abortion, the word "death" has lost its clinical neutrality due to its use in partisan rhetoric. In other contexts, "death" may be a perfectly neutral word, but in this case it is politicized to the point that its use implies a side, namely the side that uses it in a political manner, the pro-life side. Language held ransom for politics - at least I think that's the argument. Alienus? -GTBacchus(talk) 19:06, 31 March 2006 (UTC)
Actually, speaking as someone from a strong pro-life background, who attends pro-life meetings and conferences, who gives money to pro-life charities, who has even — everyone prepare to gasp in horror — said the Rosary (peacefully) outside abortion referral centres (we don't have abortion clinics in Ireland) — I can state with no hesitation that what we emphasize is the personhood of the baby, not the fact that it dies. In other words, we say that a BABY dies, not that a baby DIES. That it dies is so obvious (or at least I thought so until I came across Alienus and Pro-Lick) that we never felt it was necessary to emphasize it. I do, however, object to efforts to sweep it under the carpet, to use euphemisms, and to pretend that no death takes place. Whether the fetus is a baby or not, its death is an essential part of what an abortion is, and it's the only thing that distinguishes abortion from live birth. AnnH 16:55, 2 April 2006 (UTC)
That's a fair summary. What amazes me is that it still needs summarizing for Ann to understand it. After all, it's been explained over and over again. I'm wondering at this point if Ann is capable of understanding it or if we've run into a cognitive limitation on her part. Alienus 19:30, 31 March 2006 (UTC)
It's not a matter of "explanation" or "understanding", it's a matter of disagreement: I disagree that the question of "clinical neutrality" is the question. I disgree that abortion creates a new "context". I disagree that the accurate word, death, is a political rhetorical device. The burden of proof is to show that abortion isn't the death of an embryo or fetus. patsw 22:25, 31 March 2006 (UTC)
I partly agree with Patsw. It's not necessarily about understanding. I clearly understand the argument, that the word death is politicized in the context of abortion, etc, etc... but I don't necessarily buy it. I think saying that simply using the word "death" implies the whole pro-life agenda is a huge stretch. I'm not comfortable with allowing language to be held ransom to politics, especially on such tenuous grounds, and especially in an encyclopedia, which should frankly be above that kind of nonsense.
Where Patsw says "the burden of proof is to show that abortion isn't the death of an embryo or fetus," I disagree. We don't need to be thinking in those terms. Our task is to write a good encyclopedia article, whatever that ends up meaning. For us to decide not to use a certain word in a certain sentence, no "proof" is required, merely an argument that we have a better encyclopedia article without that word in that sentence, for whatever reason. We're arguably complying with policies either way, so it's a judgement call. Abortion can be defined with or without the word "death", it turns out.
Is it more accurate to use "death", because then we succeed in clearly distinguishing "abortion" from the neighboring concept of "delivery", like a good encyclopedia should, or is is more accurate to refrain from using "death", and thus avoid giving the impression of political baggage, which tends to make for a worse encyclopedia? That's the heart of the matter, or so it seems to me. Neither side is obviously wrong.
Patsw, as to whether "clinical neutrality" is the question, that's unarguable. It is. The people objecting to the word "death" are objecting purely on grounds of it not being clinically neutral, so that's precisely the question. When you say you disagree that the word really has been hijacked as a political rhetorical bomb, there you're on the right track. Without that, there is no further reasonable argument against the word, that I can see. -GTBacchus(talk) 00:31, 1 April 2006 (UTC)
Taking GTB's summary of the situation into account, which seems fair, I would say the need for accuracy outweighs any negative connotations of the word 'death'. From WP:PERFECT (also WP:LEAD):
...begins with a definition and clear description of the subject; the lead section introduces and explains the subject and its significance clearly and accurately, without going into excess detail.
While there is also the need for NPOV throughout the article, the emphasis clearly lies on accuracy, not sensitivity. From the same page: precise and explicit; free of vague generalities and half-truths that may stem from an imperfect grasp of the subject.
While not using 'death' would not stem from an imperfect grasp of the subject, it is not precise and explicit. very clear; written to avoid ambiguity and misunderstanding. Begins with a definition, and follows a logical structure;..
Not using 'death' means abortion cannot be clearly defined differently from delivery or partruition. This introduces ambiguity into the article at it's first step.
I also feel that while both sides of the abortion debate (and everyone imbetween) uses language to incite emotion, clinically correct terms such as 'embryo', 'fetus' and 'death' should be used in preference to politically neutral terms. |→ Spaully°τ 15:14, 1 April 2006 (GMT)
Look through all the individual articles on the different methods of abortion. How many mention death? Take this sentence from Suction-aspiration abortion for instance "This vacuum then aspirates out the uterus and the pregnancy tissue is removed." What would it do, in terms of POV, if we added the clause "thereby causing the death of the fetus"? It is also clear that vacuuming out "the embryo or fetus as well as the decidua, chorionic villi, amniotic fluid, amniotic membrane and other tissue" does not result in a live birth. It would be like adding "thereby causing the death of a cow" in the beef article. While both ideas are completely factual, it is a POV that these aspects of the topic are significant. It isn't a matter of hiding factual information. It's a matter of deciding which facts are significant enough to go in the first sentence. While for some people, the death of the fetus is the most important part of abortion, that is clearly a POV and shouldn't be introduced in the first sentence (maybe abortion debate, but not here). Because a large number of cited sources can unambiguously define abortion without calling on the 'd-word', I do not see how using that clause adds clarity instead of POV.--Andrew c 18:13, 1 April 2006 (UTC)
Do the individual articles on breeds of dogs all mention the word mammal? No. Does dog? Absolutely. Your appeal to articles on individual methods is pretty unconvincing. Once it's establised that we're talking about a method of abortion, it's understood that a fetus is being removed in a fatal, as opposed to a non-fatal way, like say, birth. They don't need to mention death precisely because it's understood as part of the definition of "abortion".
The beef analogy is silly because there's no "as opposed to" concept from which we need to distinguish beef. If there was some kind of still-living cow tissue that we also ate, and didn't call it beef, but something else, like "livecow", then any definition of beef would have to include the word "dead" in order to distinguish the two types of comestible cow tissue. Abortion is one of two types of pregnancy ending, so the definition needs to make it clear which one it is. The distinction between the two is nothing more nor less than the death of a fetus, right? -GTBacchus(talk) 21:26, 1 April 2006 (UTC)
Would adding the word mammal to the breed pages be inserting a POV or just redundent? That said, I see your point, but I do not feel that abortion is defined by the death of the fetus. There are sources to back this up, but I guess it can be argued that they are just using euphamisms to hide a gruesome fact. I tried to compromise above, by taking the focus away from the death of the fetus, and more on the death of ALL products of conception (as clearly noted in the suction-aspiration article I quoted above), but the only response I got was from patsw accusing me of using euphamisms. Also, just because we don't eat "livecow" doesn't mean living cows don't have muscles. What is the difference between a Tri-tip and a cow's Vastus lateralis muscle. Does not one result in death?--Andrew c 00:55, 2 April 2006 (UTC)

The definition is perfectly clear without "death", and much more neutral. I don't think accuracy is a serious concern here, as plenty of reliable sources somehow manage to deliver accurate definitions without the word in question. Alienus 17:27, 1 April 2006 (UTC)

Plenty of reliable sources manage to deliver inaccurate definitions by omitting the concept in question. According to several reliable sources' definitions, we were all aborted. -GTBacchus(talk) 21:26, 1 April 2006 (UTC)
I think the reliable sources Alienus is refering to mention "before the twentieth week" or "before the fetus is viable", which doesn't cover the 1.4% of so-called abortions that occur after the 20th week (and which technically speaking, aren't abortions, but perhaps "induced stillbirths", which funny enough gets more google hits than "termination of the gestation"). I honestly do not think that we can get a single 100% accurate definition to cover every single case of abortion and so-called abortion and miscarriages, but not stillbirths. The reason is because we are combining medical, popular, technical, common, and archaic definitions into a single entity. I feel strongly now about defining abortion at the 20 week or viability mark, and then explaining the common usage of the word in terms of late-term abortion further down the paragraph.--Andrew c 01:15, 2 April 2006 (UTC)

That's fascinating but irrelevant. What's relevant is that accurate definitions from reliable sources exist that do not mention "death". You need to address this. Alienus 23:27, 1 April 2006 (UTC)

I'd nitpick and say why do we need to address this; when you assert them as accurate... I'd assert they are "politically correct". I agree with you, I was wrong... but because NPOV stipulates "with representing all views clearly and sympathetically," so a sympathetic writing may still include "death".
I believe death to be accurate precisely because I currently do not see it as "misleading"; rather as "potentially misleading". This is unfortunate, but I'm not one to be politically correct. If there is a compromise available that balances your reasonable and astute political observations of co-opted language; with accuracy; I'd really like to hear it. This is frustrating for me in a way; as I consider myself a competent wordsmith... and I'd like to get away from "death". But all alternatives seem weasely. - RoyBoy 800 03:08, 2 April 2006 (UTC)
Certainly I'd say that there are official sources that omit the word "death". That doesn't make them more accurate; that makes them more "politically correct". We don't have to imitate them. The founder of Wikipedia has said that NPOV is "absolute and non-negotiable"[5]. I'm not aware that the director of The Times, or the BBC, or Encyclopaedia Britannica has ever said that. And suppressing or glossing over the unpleasant fact that the fetus dies is definitely political correctness inspired by a particular POV. It's also sloppy, as it fails to distinguish abortion from live birth. Or else it's inaccurate, as it implies that the fetus is never viable when abortions take place. AnnH 16:55, 2 April 2006 (UTC)
I hate to keep repeating myself, but... No one has presented a single accurate definition yet. There are two different definitions of abortion. The medical/technical definition (that includes miscarriages and induced procedures before 20 weeks), and the common term (that includes late-term abortions and all). Neither definition incudes stillbirths. When we combine the two definitions, no one has been able to cover all cases. I have repeatedly suggested using both definitions, making it clear what covers what, and who uses each definition. Next, I have always said that pointing out "unpleasant facts" can clearly be POV by putting an emphasis on a specific issue. For example, the death of animals when meat it consumed (go to meat, look for the word death, it isn't there). I initially moved to remove the d-word on principle. I later compromised and suggested referring to the death of the placenta and other products of conception. --Andrew c 23:20, 2 April 2006 (UTC)
For clarity, could you write up what you would suggest for the lead paragraph? Alienus 23:36, 2 April 2006 (UTC)

Bias of Death - News Samples

  1. "Two local teens face murder charges after they allegedly chased a man who mooned them and bludgeoned him to death."--Pro-Lick 17:35, 1 April 2006 (UTC)
  2. He also said several Iraqis were shot dead, and that they were cases of soldiers "shooting out of fear and inventing reasons afterward."--Pro-Lick 18:29, 1 April 2006 (UTC)

More first sentence stuff

Here is how it stands now:

  • "An abortion is the termination of the gestation of an embryo or fetus resulting in or from its death."

First of all, part of abortion is the removal or expulsion of the products of conception. The current definition clearly does not cover this. It say if a fetus dies or is killed, then an abortion has occured, (even if the fetus is still in the mothers womb). It is defining abortion by the termination and death of the fetus, which clearly is not the case. I also feel the wording "resulting in or from" is ackward. My proposal would be "resulting in or caused by". One way to solve both problems would be "An abortion is the termination of the gestation of an embryo or fetus resulting in or caused by its removal or expulsion." But then someone is bound to say "well gestation ends in removing a fetus for live birth as well". Then we could add "before viability" somewhere to make it clear that a live birth is not going on. Then someone will say "what about IDX", and I will point out that technically speaking, 'abortions' performed on viable fetuses are actually not abortions. However, since there is a common usage of the word abortion that covers these nonmedical instances, what now? I proposed using two different definitions to make this distintion. Anyway, I do not know where to go from here. The definition has changes slightly from the previous longstanding version. In case we forgot what it was, here it is:

  • "An abortion is the termination of a pregnancy associated with the death of an embryo or a fetus."

"Pregnancy" has changed to "gestation of..." I guess the reason for this is to cover the rare case of removing one embryo in a set of twins? Can we try to work together and reach a better definition? or do some editors feel like what we have now is perfect?--Andrew c 00:36, 2 April 2006 (UTC)

It's not perfect. I'd prefer pregnancy over gestation for 1. Per WP:NPOV#Undue weight, there's no need to try to capture every possible variation in the definition. The other obvious flaw as compared to expert sources is the use of death. I think we could satisfy your concern about expulsion and my concern about death by simply swapping the 2, such as "An abortion is the termination of pregnancy via the expulsion of the embryo or fetus."--Pro-Lick 00:58, 2 April 2006 (UTC)
But doesn't that also cover live birth? I undestand that 'termination' and 'expulsion' and harsher words that do not connote a live birth, but technically speaking, someone is going to complain its not clear is differentiating it from a live birth.--Andrew c 01:17, 2 April 2006 (UTC)
I would suggest:
"An abortion is the termination of the gestation of an embryo or fetus, resulting in or caused by its removal or expulsion from the uterus without viability."
For late-term procedures, there may be more going on than what is defined here, but what's defined here is the core of it. To put it another way, if a procedure doesn't involve what this definition says, it's not an abortion. Alienus 01:15, 2 April 2006 (UTC)
The last clause "without viability" is ackward. Perhaps we could say "embryo or unviable fetus"? also there are three "or" phrases that tend to read poorly together "an embryo or fetus, resulting in or caused by its removal or expulsion". But that is a minor nitpick--Andrew c 01:20, 2 April 2006 (UTC)

The first or phrase makes sense, in regards to covering abortions that take place at different points of gestation, however the last two or phrases seem to be there in order to cover both induced and spontaneous abortions. Is there a way to clean that up a bit? I think we can cut out the middle or phrase and just say "caused by". What do you think?--Andrew c 01:24, 2 April 2006 (UTC)

The second "or" covers spontaneous and induced. The third one covers the various possibilities. For example, spontaneous abortions may occur when a still-living embryo or fetus is expulsed after the placenta disconnects.
Having said this, I'm not arguing that my phrasing is perfect. Perhaps: "An abortion is the termination of the gestation of an embryo or fetus, associated with its removal or expulsion from the uterus without a live birth." Alienus 02:59, 2 April 2006 (UTC)
Associated isn't a good word. And doesn't "without a live birth" sound weasely to you? I'd prefer non-viable/unviable over that. Although the word "viable" is a $10 word and would need to be linked to its disambig page. Which is again a little clumsy word wise; but I would consider it more accurate and far less weasely. - RoyBoy 800 03:21, 2 April 2006 (UTC)
  • "without live birth" = weasely
  • "viable" = inaccurate since induced abortions past viability are known to happen thousands of times a year
  • "death" is the word that Webster's chose to use to ensure medical and biological accuracy (as the talk pages have also revealed after lengthy discussion of various definitions seeking one that was always accurate)

Good 15:38, 2 April 2006 (UTC)

Still, your definition covers stillbirths, which are not abortions. Like I have been saying, there are two definitions of abortion, and we cannot combine them. There is the medical definition that covers miscarriages and induced abortions before 20 weeks. There is the common definition of any deliberate act taken to remove (and thereby kill) a fetus. Definition 1 excludes stillbirths and late-term abortions. Definition 2 excludes miscarriages and stillbirths. We want to exclude stillbirths, but some people feel it is important to cover miscarriages, and others think it is important to cover late-term abortions. I say present both. I believe GT and DonaNobisPacem somewhat supported this general idea (maybe not my exact wording though). However, as I pointed out above, if we are striving for accuracy, the current definition clearly is not (doesn't mention removal of the POC. A fetus dying in the womb is not the same as an abortion, spontaneous or not).--Andrew c 16:27, 2 April 2006 (UTC)

Abortion is embryonic or fetal death. Prior to 20 weeks, it is a miscarriage, after 20 weeks a stillbirth. patsw 17:01, 2 April 2006 (UTC)

No, it isn't (see I can talk concise and authoritiative as well). Can you source your claims?--Andrew c 23:06, 2 April 2006 (UTC)

  • How about "destruction" instead of "death" of an embryo/fetus? "Destruction" is morally neutral in a pretty ingenious way: depending on ones inclination, one can read that opening sentence as "destruction" like "the sensitive documents were destroyed" or "destruction" like "the horse broke its leg and had to be destroyed".

Struct 03:39, 19 April 2006 (UTC)

"Quoted definitions" proposal

There has been much discussion over which outside definition of abortion to model our introductory sentence after. Thus, I propose the creation of "Quoted definitions" as a subsection of "Definitions," where selected definitions from dictionaries, medical or otherwise, could be presented. While this would, in my opinion, be an example of an unecessary compromise section counter to the goal of brevity, it would at least partially resolve some of the issues which have arisen in the debate over inclusion or exclusion of certain terms. -Severa ?? | !!! 11:40, 2 April 2006 (UTC)

As you have said I think this would be an unnecessary compromise, and serves little purpose in the article. |→ Spaully°τ 15:23, 2 April 2006 (GMT)
I agree with Spaully. The fear of candor amazes me. Why does the biological reality have to be papered over? No one is arguing that the definition be "abortion is the killing of a cute cuddly unborn baby by a vile profiteer at the request of the baby's misguided or selfish mother". That would be POV. What is proposed is that the medical and biological facts be presented. Death of the embryo or fetus is what ends the pregnancy. A woman who is pregnant wants to rid herself of the new human entity. She hires someone to kill it. Many think this is morally acceptable and even laudable. Many others think it is murder. But pretending that the embryonic or fetal death is not the key fact in every miscarriage or induce abortion is a bit odd. It simply rings hollow. It smacks of Orwellian euphemism. It begs the question "what exactly made the pregnancy end?". Stepping down from the soapbox. Good 15:46, 2 April 2006 (UTC)
  • Oppose Listing definitions of abortion from several sources would be a contribution to the Abortion debate article and not the Abortion article. patsw 16:16, 2 April 2006 (UTC)
Some people think it's POV to include death; others believe that it is POV to leave it out. If it really wasn't an issue, even among the pro-choicers who don't have a problem with "death" (or the pro-lifers who don't take issue with its absence) discussion would've died two weeks ago. "Quoted definitions" would allow for the partial satisfaction of both these demands. We include a definition with "death," a definition without, etc., all with links to references. This is as far from a "fear of candor" or "paper[ing] over" as I could imagine. I don't know what the opening definition should be, and, frankly, I don't care, so long as it doesn't include the words "baby," "human being," or "clump of tissue." Regardless of what opening definition we decide upon, "Quoted definitions" would be like covering all our bases, preventing future editorial disputes over the inclusion/exclusion of "death" in the opening by showing that abortion is defined differently elsewhere. Opposition to a solution to this utterly unproductive editorial debate convinces me that the whole thing really is just a charade for unproductive POV debate. -Severa ?? | !!! 16:27, 2 April 2006 (UTC)