Talk:Abortion/Lead 2011

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Lead archives: 2006 -- 2007-10 -- 2011


Edit war: Unplanned, unwanted, etc.

An ongoing edit war over a single word without any discussion on the talk page is poor form. Please discuss things here. Start a RfC if needed. The page is protected for a week to give some time for this to occur. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 15:08, 25 May 2011 (UTC)

Thanks. I'm not sure what a 1RR is or exactly what restrictions apply. At any rate, I have changed the word "their" to "unplanned" pregnancies in the article since every reference, not only the one supporting the study quoted, terms elective abortion the termination of unplanned, unintentional, or unwanted pregnancies. To me this seems to be a very reasonable edit. I do not feel that the reasons for reverting my edit such as, "That's a big word change. How do YOU know it's unplanned", "strange agreement with orangemarlin", "Once again, unplanned?", and "still not going for it" constitute a reasonable objection to my word change. I won't do any further editing till this problem is solved. Gandydancer (talk) 15:35, 25 May 2011 (UTC)
A 1RR is what Wikipedia:1RR says it is, a rule to never exceed a single revert (simple vandalism excepted). That rule is in effect for this article. If your change is reverted, go directly to discussion, do not re-revert. Simple, non? LeadSongDog come howl! 19:18, 25 May 2011 (UTC)

There has been some back and forth about the following passage:

A 1998 study from 27 countries on the reasons women seek to terminate their pregnancies concluded that the most common reason women cited for having an abortion was to ...

The contentious bit has been whether to say "terminate their pregnancies" or "terminate unplanned pregnancies". The sources use unplanned or unwanted, so that has been the argument in favour of "terminate unplanned pregnancies"; on the other hand, this passage serves its purpose without the use of "unplanned", and using "umplanned" ignores the fact that some of the sources use "unwanted", which is not precisely the same thing.

My own preference is "terminate their pregnancies" because it is more neutral and is entirely accurate. I don't see the need for any adjective to qualify "pregnancies" in this context. But maybe we can reach consensus? --Dawn Bard (talk) 15:54, 25 May 2011 (UTC)

While "their" is entirely accurate, "unplanned" is just somewhat accurate. Consider that in some places, esp. parts of sub-Saharan Africa, rape has been used as a genocidal weapon of war with the precise intent of impregnating (and terrorizing) the affected women. These are "planned" pregnancies from the offender's POV. In other cases a woman might be presented with changed circumstances that cause a formerly-wanted-planned pregnancy to become a no-longer-wanted-planned pregnancy, e.g. when the male dies or abandons an established relationship. Equating the recognition that a woman can want to change her condition to misogyny is so far wrong it verges on incivility. The wording "their" should remain. LeadSongDog come howl! 19:51, 25 May 2011 (UTC)
Reading the study, they open with this sentence: "The immediate explanation that women often give for seeking induced abortion is that the pregnancy was unplanned or unwanted." So clearly Dawn Bard is correct when s/he states that the two words are different. From then forward the study uses the word "unintended" and I feel that this would be a good substitute word. I would like to point out that a lot of literature does use the word "unplanned" and this is the first time I have ever read of a problem with the term based on the fact that they are "planned" from the rapist's point of view.Gandydancer (talk) 20:35, 25 May 2011 (UTC)
Not "based on", just "illustrated by". It's "based on" the fact that your proposed word is less precise than the one that was already there. Of course much of the literature uses "unplanned" or "unwanted", but virtually all of it uses "their" or equivalent. In re war rape, if you haven't run into the concept before, I'd suggest that "forced pregnancy" genocide Africa will be an eye opener, though it should also turn your stomach. LeadSongDog come howl! 21:48, 25 May 2011 (UTC)
I am new to this article/controversy - I have not looked at the abortion article till just a few days ago. Of course as an informed person I am well aware of the debate and I am eager to learn of the various attitudes of the editors that edit this article. I feel that debate is important and that an open mind will help us all with our article. I see that I was not correct when I used the term unplanned. Looking at the available studies, etc., I find that the term most often used is "unintended". As for your suggestion that I may not be familiar with "war rape" and "forced pregnancy", though I do not understand why you may feel that an educated adult would not be aware of these "concepts", actually I am very familiar with such atrocities - perhaps more so than you may be. And never, ever, have I heard of the resulting pregnancies referred to as planned because the men that raped these women planned the pregnancy. Gandydancer (talk) 23:22, 25 May 2011 (UTC)

On 'Fetal Death'

In Patient Encounters: The Obstetrics and Gynecology Work-Up (Rajiv B Gala, Alfa Omar Diallo, 2009), the authors, on pg. 127, give the World Health Organization defn. for spontaneous abortion (miscarriage): "a loss of pregnancy before viability (~20 weeks), with the fetus weighing <500g." It then defines several subtypes. One of them is "Missed abortion, also referred to asblighted ovem, anembryonic pregnancy, or embryonic or fetal death, is defined as a nonviable pregnancy...". The rest of the defn. doesn't use 'death' nor do the defns. of any of the other 5 subtypes on that specific page (available here [1]; search for anembtyonic to find the page). Here then is, finally, a defn. of the oft-used and much-Googled term 'fetal death' and it is one of four secondary terms given for 'missed abortion'. There are many others. A common one is this [2]: By law, in Pennsylvania, 'fetal death' only applies after 16 weeks of gestation; other sources say 20 weeks or at least 500 g [3], [4]. Other sources say gestational age is irrelevant (e.g. [5]). How about a USMLE prep. guide? From [6]: "Intrauterine Fetal Death Intrauterine fetal death is defined as death of a fetus after 20 weeks of gestational age but before onset of labor." Here's another: "A fetal death is defined as a product of conception that shows no sign of life after complete birth." ('[7]; 'emphasis added.) Another book equates it to stillbirth ([8]). Here's another source that equates it to stillbirth but with 24 weeks minimum: [9].

The concept of "fetal death" has multiple defns., though it seems to apply (almost?) exclusively to spontaneous abortions and most widely to those occurring after 20 weeks and/or 500g. I don't see how it can be said to apply to all abortions, despite the large number of contextless Google searches found for it previously. JJL (talk) 03:33, 16 June 2011 (UTC)


I do now notice that the initial removal of "death" was by user SmackBot. NuclearWar went along with the edit and collaborated with it by making other edits that were concomittant and supportive of the removal of "death". I initially did not notice it was SmackBot. After I initially asked JJL if it was him and JJL denied it, I did state this as my understanding (that NW made the change). Regardless of that, my view is that NW was complicit in that edit whereas I would have expected NW to assist SmackkBot in understanding that without any participation whatsoever by SmackBot in any discussion about the lede, SmackBot should not have made this major edit to the lede (which is very odd in itself). The whole thing smells bad, but I will assume good faith. (talk) 23:01, 15 June 2011 (UTC)

Please link the dif; SmackBot is a bot, after all. It seems unusual that the first change was by the bot. Bots, by definition, never "participate in discussion(s)".
Please also do not use weighted words such as "complicit" and "smells bad" and then claim, rather questionably, that you are "assuming good faith". Try rather to refrain from such phrasing if you are AGFing. KillerChihuahua?!?Advice 23:11, 15 June 2011 (UTC)
NW made edits that facilitated and were based upon the deletion of the word "death". In this regard, NW's edits were COMPLICIT in the deletion of "death". Even if NW did not make the deletion (though the change history is muddled and there is evidence to suggest that NW did make the deletion) NW's edits after deletion were supportive of the deletion and based upon the deletion. Death was deleted improperly. NW was complicit in that. I drew it to everyone's attention. This presents a fact without any assumptions about good or bad faith any more or less than with any other improper edit and support and furtherance of that improper edit. The abortion article (see the bold warning in FAQ 1) practially screams "DON"T DELETE DEATH FROM THE LEDE EVEN THOUGH YOU ARE CONVINCED THAT IT'S THE RIGHT MOVE!". The editors in question violated this strong caution. I pointed it out. You seem to be upset that I did so, and you are picking on me as a result. (talk) 00:36, 16 June 2011 (UTC)
I'm very confused by what you're saying and am unsure of what to make of it, but none of these edits is 'improper' and the use of 'complicit' to suggest a conspiracy is outlandish. There's no legalistic reason why someone can't edit this article--esp. after all the discussion here and the experiemnt by NW that was well-received on this page. The FAQ says don't delete 'death'? It's apparent from this discussion that doing so is quite reasonable. That doesn't mean there's yet consensus, but it's also quite clear that there is no longer consensus in favor of retaining 'death'. That aspect of the consensus has changed. JJL (talk) 02:03, 16 June 2011 (UTC)
By the way, when I first concluded that NW made the "death" deletion and related edits, I sent him a very polite note (here ) explaining why the lede should be restored, implying that he had changed the lede, and expressly asking him to restore the lede to the long-recognized consensus version. NW did not make the requested change, despite my polite request and explanation. (talk) 01:42, 16 June 2011 (UTC)
Now it smells even funnier! A bot removed "death" from the abortion lede? Wow! Seems like someone who understands bots and how they work could game the bot system. But I know we all assume good faith. With all that assuming going on, it would be easy for a dishonest person to take advantage of the situation. But I am NOT saying that's what happend. The edit is impossible to nail down - if you try track the changes sequentially by ticking the circles and advancing through and comparing each change, it is mystifying as the content is not consistent for the version 01:16, 15 June 2011 NuclearWarfare [[10]]. Death was deleted during or after that version. (talk) 23:35, 15 June 2011 (UTC)

No one but you has said or thought that a bot removed the word from the lead; further, you have linked a version not a dif. I have found a dif in which the word was removed, neither by SmackBot nor by Nuclear Warfare, but by Friend of the Facts , who used an appropriate edit summary: [11]. I am uncertain whether this was the first instance in this cycle of discussion regarding the issue. Please confine your comments regarding who made what edit to editors for which you have found the actual dif in which the edit was made. Refrain from speculation and wild accusations. KillerChihuahua?!?Advice 23:48, 15 June 2011 (UTC)

KillerChihuahu: You are mistaken as to what one can see in the revision history: (talk) 23:58, 15 June 2011 (UTC)
Tilt at windmills much? You claim I am mistaken, then refute that which I never asserted. You are arguing to no purpose. KillerChihuahua?!?Advice 13:35, 17 June 2011 (UTC)
Based on the content at I find that it was NuclearWar's revision as of 01:16, 15 June 2011 that first included the deletion of death from the lede in the relevant period of time under discussion. (talk) 00:08, 16 June 2011 (UTC)

I'm the one who took the "death" bit out after NW made the change to the first part of the sentence about viability and added the new sources. I didn't notice that the old source used to back up the "death" bit was still there and the intent was probably to combine the new information on viability with the old definition. So I assumed "death" was a leftover and took it out so the definition matched what the new sources NW added say. If this move was hasty I apologize. Someone else changed the definition of therapeutic abortion twice yesterday and that didn't get much comment so one or two bold changes don't seem like a problem as long as things don't get out of hand. And I think the discussion is more focused than it was before. Friend of the Facts (talk) 02:22, 16 June 2011 (UTC)

Death: sine qua non of every abortion

According to the Merriam-Webster Medical Dictionary, abortion is "the termination of a pregnancy after, accompanied by, resulting in, or closely followed by the death of the embryo or fetus." The Merriam-Webster Medical Dictionary includes "death" in the core basic definition of abortion because fetal death or embryonic death is the sine qua non of abortion. The pregnancy cannot end unless the fetus goes away (expulsion or removal):

  • If the fetus goes away and lives (even for a short period), there is a live birth and no abortion.
  • If the fetus goes away and dies before or during the process, there is an abortion and no live birth.

I say again: Merriam-Webster Medical Dictionary includes "death" because "death" is the sine qua non of abortion. All the medical literature and scientific literature agrees, but Merriam-Webster is bold enough to state it plainly, which is actually a very wikipedia thing to do.

What arguments are there that "death" of the fetus is NOT the sine qua non of abortion? (talk) 22:18, 15 June 2011 (UTC)

Exactly; death of the fetus is the sine qua non of abortion. -- cheers, Michael C. Price talk 22:21, 15 June 2011 (UTC)
The arguments are the copious sources that never use 'death' in the defn. of the term. If it was the "sine qua non of abortion" it would need to appear in those. You seem to have one lesser-used medical dictionary on your side and lots of Google hits for various phrases. That does not compare in quality to the medical texts and the defns. found in medical/veterinary/scientific journals. If your case were as strong as you state you'd be giving us sources such as textbooks used by major medical schools rather than cherry-picking a medical dictionary that agrees with your preconceived notion. The sources are against you. I could as easily argue that "destruction of the tissue" is the sine qua non of abortion as it appears in some defns. and isn't explicitly contradicted by others. Your argument is weak and poorly sourced. JJL (talk) 02:20, 16 June 2011 (UTC)
What specific sources from All the medical literature and scientific literature... are you suggesting ? ArtifexMayhem (talk) 22:34, 15 June 2011 (UTC)
Such sources have been cited endlessly in these pages. Can you name a medical reference that discusses abortion in detail that does not (at the very least) imply that every abortion involves the death of a fetus or embryo? In the west, an aborting doctor is required to ensure the fetus is dead in order to ensure he complies with medical ethics and the law. (talk) 22:42, 15 June 2011 (UTC)
Artifex: Is it your view that the scientific and medical communities don't all agree that every abortion must include a dead embryo/fetus? Its important to drill this down. I am asserting that there is no disagreement whatsoever among sicentists and doctors: they all agree that it is a scientific and medical fact that every abortion involves a dead embryo/fetus. I am asserting that this is something that is not even debated by them because it is so clearly a medical and scientific fact. Do you not agree? (talk) 23:06, 15 June 2011 (UTC)
I understand your assertion. My assertion is that you have not supplied any sources that support your assertion. ArtifexMayhem (talk) 23:19, 15 June 2011 (UTC)
I a m not going to repeat what has already been posted above. (talk) 23:38, 15 June 2011 (UTC)

I don't really understand why the Merriam Webster is being given special emphasis when it's the minority of sources with "death." Is it somehow considered more authoritative than the other references? Because I don't think we should rely on it just too keep "death" in the article because that's seen as important by some. The definition should follow the standard of most other references. If "death" were the standard then we would be right to use it, but since it doesn't seem to be we should be in line with what the other references are saying. Friend of the Facts (talk) 23:41, 15 June 2011 (UTC)

I concur. It's clearly non-standard, as well as contentious. No one is saying that 'death' can't be discussed in the article, but a non-standard term with multiple shades of meaning shouldn't be used in the lede--it would need to be discussed at greater length in the body of the article. The major sources don't use 'death' and neither should we simply because there exists a dictionary that uses it. JJL (talk) 02:30, 16 June 2011 (UTC)
If you don't understand that the definition used by the most popular American dictionary will have significant influence on the cultural norms of English speakers and on the English-langauge wikipedia articles, then I don't think I can help you. (talk) 23:49, 15 June 2011 (UTC)
We continue to lack evidence that it is the most popular and indeed have evidence to the contrary. Apparently it's the most easily available (via web). It's also clearly not as influential as you claim--for it's use of 'death' has not been adopted by the major sources actually used and written by experts in the field. JJL (talk) 02:30, 16 June 2011 (UTC)
You continue to insult your fellow editors, and it is becoming tiresome. I remind you that WP:NPA is a policy; violating it can be a blockable offense; and includes prominently the sentence "comment on the content, not the contributors." FotF did not state, nor indicate, that s/he does not understand the DicDef. The question has been raised, why give a DicDef preeminence over professional literature? I for one would like a clear answer to this question. Why do you tout M-W as the most prominent authority? KillerChihuahua?!?Advice 00:00, 16 June 2011 (UTC
Expressing exasperation at tiresome obtuseness of fellow editors by writing "I can't help you if you don't understand X" is a personal attack? That is a very odd notion of a personal attack. Please stop picking on me because I am asking good questions that make it difficult for people to appear plausible in their obtuseness. (talk) 00:15, 16 June 2011 (UTC)
I find that your tone with me is tiresome and insulting. I will answer you (though I have provided the answer repeatedly and I find it tiresome that you ask again) if you answer the questions I have already posed to you in the sections above within the past few hours (scroll up and look for a light blue box with a perforated line around it). You have not answered. It is right on point to the question you asked me, but I already politely asked you first. So I would like the courtesy of your your answer before I reply to your question as your answer will bear upon my reply to your question. (talk) 00:11, 16 June 2011 (UTC)
An argument that 'death' is the sine qua non of abortion is still lacking. We have a dictionary using 'death' in its defn. followed by many cries of "It's plainly obvious to all right-thinking people!" That's grossly insufficent. JJL (talk) 02:30, 17 June 2011 (UTC)

An increase in civility would be most welcome. JJL (talk) 02:30, 16 June 2011 (UTC)

Hi. I was involved in the debate six years ago that led to our use of the word "death" in the first sentence of this article. I would just mention at this point that a major reason for our making that decision is this: Every definition that excludes the word "death" is simply incorrect. According to all of those definitions, my 37-year-old sister was an abortion.

I would love to see an accurate definition that somehow gets around the fact that, if nothing dies, it's not an abortion. I'm as pro-choice as a person can be, but I'm not a liar.

As a side note, saying "I find your tone tiresome and insulting" is shitty, shitty diplomacy, and has never, ever, ever led to a positive result. This is not a place to score points, it's a place to get things done. Shut up about "personal attacks", and find a way to ONLY refocus on the topic. NOTHING personal is the way to do it. -GTBacchus(talk) 01:10, 16 June 2011 (UTC)

That is good advice. Very hard to follow when my on-topic comments are met with the doodoo you mention. I understand: ignore the doodoo that is served to me. And don't serve any to anyone else no matter what. I will try. (talk) 01:22, 16 June 2011 (UTC)
GTB, I replied to your comment above (search @GTB if you're interested). NW (Talk) 02:04, 16 June 2011 (UTC)
I appreciate your perspective, but 6 years is a long time and consensus can surely change in that time. Who is to say that all sides were well represented in that discussion, for example? JJL (talk) 02:30, 16 June 2011 (UTC)
JJL, I don't think I said that, or anything like it. I said that I have yet to see an accurate definition that excludes the word "death" or an equivalent. Consensus can certainly change about lots of things, in much less than 6 years, but consensus cannot decide that live births count as abortions. Do you disagree? -GTBacchus(talk) 13:42, 16 June 2011 (UTC)
LMAO, who is to say? Anyone who is literate. That's what archives are for. Re-friggin-diculous. - RoyBoy 13:38, 16 June 2011 (UTC)
You mean, anyone who reads the archives would surely agree with you? They would feel that all points were fully and fairly aired, and that 5 years changes nothing? This is the "all right-thinking people would surely admit that..." argument. JJL (talk) 02:30, 17 June 2011 (UTC)
Re-friggin-diculous sums it up. The archives are there. Nothing has changed since then. -- cheers, Michael C. Price talk 20:34, 16 June 2011 (UTC)
Saying "nothing has changed since then" doesn't really send a message that you're approaching the possibility of a new consensus with an open mind. It makes it sound as though you're simply guarding a page you feel WP:OWNership of. JJL (talk) 02:30, 17 June 2011 (UTC)
No, it means that the previous consensus still applies until shown otherwise. Chester Markel (talk) 03:05, 17 June 2011 (UTC)‘‘Comments of banned sockpuupet account stricken - Wikidemon (talk) 14:30, 19 June 2011 (UTC)’’
...which may be insured by not participating in a meaningful discussion of it? JJL (talk) 03:30, 17 June 2011 (UTC)
The policy says "consensus can change", not "consensus has changed whenever so asserted." The burden of proof is upon the editors seeking to overturn the previous consensus to demonstrate the change. Furthermore, there's been reams of meaningful discussion on the substantive matter in dispute. Chester Markel (talk) 03:32, 17 June 2011 (UTC)‘‘Comments of banned sockpuupet account stricken - Wikidemon (talk) 14:30, 19 June 2011 (UTC)’’
JJL seeing the recent exchanges with I concede I've been unfair to you, I understand well there is a back and forth that one gets into that's hard to escape. Chester is accurate in my intent, but as I acknowledged to NW, we should do better at clarifying the specifics of the rationale than lead us to "death". This though, doesn't mean you should type furiously for days on end with someone who simply does not agree with you. As to OWN, well let me put it this way, ~95% of what I've read from you, has already been presented a dozen times... and it didn't win the day. Feeling more passionately about it doesn't change this, in the end I would suggest slowing down a little, and give us a bit of time to present how we did it last time. We certainly will continue to discuss. - RoyBoy 06:00, 18 June 2011 (UTC)

Another "death" problem

The current version of the article states that 42 millions induced abortions are done every year and that 70,000 women die as a result of "unsafe abortions". (For the purpose of this discussion I will assume that these figures are accurate.)

One can easily realize that on average the number of embryonic/fetal deaths caused by induced abortions is approximately one per abortion.

This means that for every "maternal death" caused by induced abortions, there are approximately 600 embryonic/fetal deaths.

However this article uses the word "death" seven times regarding "maternal deaths" caused by induced abortions and only once regarding embryonic/fetal death. (The words "dies" and "killed" are also both used once, but in contexts other than abortion itself.)

It seems to me that if induced abortions cause 600 embryonic/fetal deaths for one "maternal death", the word "death" in this article should be used more often, not less often, regarding embryonic/fetal deaths.

In this context I find it curious that the current article somehow manages to describe various methods of inducing abortions, without ever using the word "death".

No matter what were the intentions of those contributors who are responsible for this, the result is a non-NPOV approach, and it should be corrected. (talk) 19:44, 18 June 2011 (UTC)

I'm not sure there's a requirement that the number of uses of the word "death" in our article should be distributed between pregnant women and fetuses in the same ratio as the actual deaths are distributed in the world. That would be quite a thoroughgoing application of the Undue Weight Clause, for which I've never seen a precedent. Or am I not understanding you correctly? -GTBacchus(talk) 22:11, 18 June 2011 (UTC)


I daresay there may be different definitions of abortion, just as there are different definitions of Palestine and Palestinian.

  • The term Palestine and the related term Palestinian have several overlapping (and occasionally contradictory) definitions.

I am absolutely neutral about this, and as an amateur linguist I am sensitive to the different ways people can use the same word (see definitions of fascism, definitions of terrorism, and other "definitions" articles at Wikipedia).

Here is one viewpoint or POV:

  • Abortion is defined medically as the expulsion of a nonviable foetus—that is, one not yet sufficiently developed to live outside the uterus—from the uterus." (M Trout - Temp. LQ, 1963 - HeinOnline)

But in other usages of the word, we find that even a viable fetus can be aborted (see Abortion#Induced). Much of the liberal-conservative dispute in the US is over the need / desirability / morality / ethics of this. (Oddly enough, I actually have no personal position in this, for reasons that are far too long to go into.)

I hope none of the contributors to this article will try to score points by choosing a particular definition of abortion and then drawing conclusions from it. It will be more productive to describe the various definitions that published authors use.

We can describe the laws of various countries (or divisions within a country like a Canadian province or a US state, when this differs from national policy). Law is usually pretty clear (well, maybe).

We can also describe medical practices and policies in various places and at various times (see the History of abortion article).

As for the morality or ethics of abortion, this should be the easiest thing to describe. Since we know that Wikipedia takes no sides on ethical and moral issues, all we have to do is identify and describe the significant ones. As we all probably know, the main split is between the "pro-life" (or anti-abortion) movement and the "pro-choice" movement. A major sticking point here, of course, is the idea that human life has sanctity, and there is a closely related argument about the propriety of "ending a human life", which relates directly to the question of what a human life is and specifically when it begins.

I used to be an active member of the Mediation Committee, so I'm wondering whether I should try to 'mediate' or just jump in and contribute after the article is unlocked. --Uncle Ed (talk) 17:43, 10 June 2011 (UTC)

This is helpful, thanks. I've grown pessimistic about WP's dispute resolution methods so I don't know what to say in answer to your question. Ordinarily I'd say it seems a bit soon but the incivility on this page does make discussion difficult and perhaps a referee could help. My experience with this has been that the losing side will simply ignore the results of mediation, though, and that seems ever so likely here, so it's hard for me to be enthusiastic about the suggestion, I'm afraid. JJL (talk) 18:54, 10 June 2011 (UTC)

There are only two editors in disagreement with the use of the term "death" in the lede. Other editors have frankly said what they think about that. If medical literature uses the term "fetal death" then why should not we? We are not doing original research, we are not trying to establish when life begins. Thats not within scope of an encyclopedia. Some editors either don't know, don't care what an encyclopedia is. Let's not get drawn into a protracted debate by a couple of editors who won't listen and won't accept basic biological facts.

  • Use of "Fetal Life" in medical literature: Study of the records of 5,878 pregnancies made it possible to construct a life table (mortality table, attrition table) for the fetal period of human existence, analogous to the life tables in general use for the postnatal period. Birth is an event in life, not the beginning of it. For each week of gestation completed by the fetus, the table states the probability that the fetus will be born alive and will survive the neonatal period. [[12]]
  • Use of "Fetal Death" in medical literature: [[13]] DMSBel (talk) 20:40, 10 June 2011 (UTC)

JJL I am assuming that since you quoted some medical sources in an earlier post you are genuinely confused on the issue and wish to debate it and reach a conclusion. In the light of the above links (from Journal of the American Medical Association and PubMed) are you still in doubt about whether the term "death" is appropriate in the lede?DMSBel (talk) 21:30, 10 June 2011 (UTC)

It doesn't seem like there's much point in having a discussion with you when you begin by stating that I am "genuinely confused on the issue" rather than merely in disagreement with you. With you having declared your position objectively correct, there can't be any useful attempt to gain consensus. Fortunately, I agree with you about this: "There are only two editors in disagreement with the use of the term "death" in the lede. Other editors have frankly said what they think about that." I concur. At least in recent days--since this particular attempt at achieving consensus has been tried--I only see you and Chester Markel advocating the position that the word 'death' must occur in the lede. The rest don't feel that way--me, OrangeMarlin, and Ed Poor. If you are suggesting that majority rules then once again you lose by your own rules. Ordinarily when the numbers are against someone it's incumbent upon that person to better support his position, not merely cite his own belief in hisabsolute correctness. You continue to show that the phrase 'fetal death' has meaning but not that it's a mandatory part of a defn. of 'abortion'. You cite one source saying one method of abortion proceeds in that way--but you need to make the case that every abortion, whether caused by medical intervention or no, of fetus or embryo (or blastocyst?), always results in a death. You need to clearly reject the concept of a "survivor of an abortion" as well. You've set a tall order for yourself and aren't anywhere near meeting the goal of being able to make such a sweeping statement. The paucity of medical defns. of abortion--the subject of this article--that include the term 'death' and the near-universal prevalence of defns. that do not include this word (or its derivatives and synonyms) seems to indicate that it's not a part of the defn. of abortion, regardless how obvious it is to you. You're too settled in your position and unwilling to consider evidence or views that don't match it. That isn't how this works. Regardless of whether or not this was the old consensus, consensus can change. You're simply stonewalling by hiding behind intentional misinterpretations of policy pages. You've suggested majority rules as a way to settle this, which is not Wikipedia policy--and are you really prepared to live with the results of your position? JJL (talk) 01:40, 11 June 2011 (UTC)
  • Reply to JJL: I thought I would ask the question directly regarding medical sources in view of Ed Poor's offer of mediation, and to let you clarify were you stood. Firstly I don't think you initially have approached this in the attitude of "let's discuss this." Removing the term without initially discussing it on the talk page, so that other editors could reply, comes across as an attempted fait accompli. Most of us have made hasty edits when we felt strongly about the incorrectness of an aspect of an article so perhaps it was not intended to be that, but you would have been wiser to do some research first and cite your reasons, and evidence on the talk page beforehand, rather than after your edit was challenged. With regard to your brief reasoning in your edit summary you said that death was not a medical term here, as your reason for removing it from the lede. When I said to you "if you are in doubt go by the medical literature" earlier in the discussion, you replied "I am..." and cited several sources. I took from that that you were not just here to push your point of view but to look at the medical sources regarding the medical use of the term "death" in regard to the fetus. Recall this was your initial objection - that it was not a medical term here. Definitions of abortion aside (for the time being). Either you now accept that it is a medical (and biological) term or you don't. Would you care to state where you stand on that aspect? (talk) 11:48, 11 June 2011 (UTC) DMSBel (talk) 12:06, 11 June 2011 (UTC)
  • I appreciate your asking for clarification of my position. It is now apparent in retrospect that this is indeed even more contentious than I expected--I anticipated the article would be guarded by both sides but not that the issue of this word in the first sentence would be so charged. I took 'death' as organismal death, which based on further discussion here ("fetal death") seems to be the intention, rather than cellular death of the component cells. I grant that terms such as "fetal death" occur in the medical literature but not that that commonly occurs in the defn. of abortion, or that it's clear that a death occurs in every abortion; and I still feel that the current language ("resulting in...its death") comes across to me as advocacy for personhood. After all, it doesn't occur in most defns., and so it's something extra added in; and "it" in "its death" sounds to me like an attempt to describe the embryo as a living being rather than mere living tissue. It may well read differently to you. I simply don't see the case for adding something like this to the commonly employed terms used in describing the procedure. JJL (talk) 23:11, 11 June 2011 (UTC)
  • There may be some clarification, or qualification needed in the lede (and there are other aspects of it I believe need further discussion) but I don't think that the term death is advocacy.DMSBel (talk) 12:38, 11 June 2011 (UTC)
  • Also the first sentence of the lede is not specifically about induced abortion. Use of "death" in that sentence therefore could not be anti-abortion advocacy. DMSBel (talk) 12:55, 11 June 2011 (UTC)
That's a blatant misrepresentation of consensus. Ed Poor hasn't expressed an opinion regarding the appearance of "death" in the introduction. Michael C Price clearly believes that it should be included[14]. As Orangemarlin's claim[15] that "Abortion does not cause death. Seriously, how can something not living die?" has been so resoundingly refuted, and exposed as a basic misunderstanding of high school level biology (over 65,000 Google Scholar results[16] for the phrase "fetal death"), I doubt he will be showing his face here again. In the above discussion, I've provided many examples of sources which describe "death of the fetus" and similar expressions as abortion outcomes. There are 2,500 Google Scholar results[17] for the exact phrase "death of the fetus" in the context of abortion. I've analyzed characteristic examples of these, and similar search results, and explained how the cited articles specifically claim that abortion results in the "death of the fetus", or similar. Having sources which use the exact words "death" or "dies" certainly isn't required, as it's possible to describe fetal death in alternate language. Nonetheless, many WP:MEDRS do meet your ridiculous exact words standard. Naturally, you've shifted the goalposts so that no references could ever establish fetal death as a result of abortion to your satisfaction, since any source will necessarily be describing some specific abortion procedure, or someone's conception of abortion overall. But how many references have you provided to show that abortion doesn't cause the fetus to die? None, zero, zilch. Chester Markel (talk) 05:11, 11 June 2011 (UTC)‘‘Comments of banned sockpuupet account stricken - Wikidemon (talk) 14:30, 19 June 2011 (UTC)’’
I plainly said it wasn't consensus. I wasn't the one who suggested that numbers count. I certainly can't speak for Ed Poor but it seemed clear from what he wrote that he didn't see 'death' as a necessary term in the lede, which was the matter at issue. I certainly don't agree that Orangemarlin's point has been refuted, and I am largely in agreement with it. (I may be drawing a distinction between organismal vs. cellular death that isn't clearly reflected by a simple Google search on a term like "fetal death"--much more so in the case of 'death' of an embryo.) By the way, the WP:BURDEN is on you to support your claim that death occurs in every abortion--a sweeping generality that you chose to try to make. It seems to me as it does to you that your position will be hard to back up. That isn't moving goalposts; it's the nature of the universal qualifier vs. the existential qualifier. All integers are real numbers can be shown, but in the world of biology things are rarely so simple. JJL (talk) 23:11, 11 June 2011 (UTC)
As for your claim that
you need to make the case that every abortion, whether caused by medical intervention or no, of fetus or embryo (or blastocyst?), always results in a death. You need to clearly reject the concept of a "survivor of an abortion" as well.
you're presenting original research that the "survivor of an abortion" concept, normally articulated in relation to the mother, would negate descriptions of fetal death and a mischaracterization of the language currently in the article. The article presently claims that "Abortion is the termination of a pregnancy by the removal or expulsion of a fetus or embryo from the uterus, resulting in or caused by its death." Quantifiers such as "every" and "always" aren't present, nor should they be, since the medical literature likewise avoids such ridiculously broad and sweeping language, recognizing the obvious existence of exceptions to general principles. Chester Markel (talk) 05:19, 11 June 2011 (UTC)‘‘Comments of banned sockpuupet account stricken - Wikidemon (talk) 14:30, 19 June 2011 (UTC)’’
The scientific case that abortions kill the fetus is water-tight. As for the relevance in the lead, this is also clear, since abortions are conducted with the intention of killing the fetus; indeed it is this intent that distinguishes them from induced births. Since this is an article about abortions, and not induced births, then the lead should mention the fatal intent/objective. If the abortion doesn't kill the fetus then that is a failed abortion, just as a heart operation that kills is a failed operation. -- cheers, Michael C. Price talk 08:14, 11 June 2011 (UTC)
In fact the medical literature makes it clear that the intention is to terminate the pregnancy and to expel the contents of the womb. Your biases are showing. Pregnant women have abortions so that they'll no longer be pregnant. That's the objective of performing the operation, and that's what the WP:MEDRS indicate. JJL (talk) 23:11, 11 June 2011 (UTC)
In fact it is your biases showing, since the intent of the abortion to prevent the birth of a (living) child. The expulsion of the dead, or soon-to-be-dead, fetus and termination of the pregnancy is just the means to this end. -- cheers, Michael C. Price talk 23:26, 11 June 2011 (UTC)
Well, here we come to a clear point of disagreement. I accept the definition of abortion that it terminates a pregnancy, as sourced copiously above, and believe that medical intervention for abortion serves the purpose of, and is requested for, ending the pregnancy because the woman no longer wishes to be pregnant. You believe it serves the purpose of, and is requested for, ending the pregnancy because the woman wishes to "prevent the birth of a (living) child". For an early-term pregnancy, terminating the pregnancy is biologically inconsistent with the birth of a living child because of lack of viability. Couldn't someone want to end the pregnancy but not necessarily want to kill anything? E.g., a women who wishes to give birth but has a dangerous ectopic pregnancy? The procedure does prevent a live birth but surely that's not the intent in such a case? JJL (talk) 02:45, 12 June 2011 (UTC)
When an embryo/fetus which has not yet reached viability is removed from the uterus, death is an inevitable outcome, wanted or not. That's why we have so many MEDRS describing how abortion produces "death of the embryo", "death of the fetus", or similar language. When I have the time at a university library, I suppose I will have to go through hundreds of the Google Scholar results and produce individualized descriptions about how each study affirms this fact. Chester Markel (talk) 03:56, 12 June 2011 (UTC)‘‘Comments of banned sockpuupet account stricken - Wikidemon (talk) 14:30, 19 June 2011 (UTC)’’
This might seem very cold. That is not my intent.
  • Once you have a cell you have life.
  • The cell in question is a human cell.
  • Death is the permanent termination of all vital functions or life processes in an organism or cell.
  • The biological definition of life is science.
  • It cannot be argued that abortion does not result biological death.
  • Using "death" in the lead is required by definition.
  • Yes. Some will use the word as proof their position is correct.
  • No. Not using it will not change anyone's position on the subject.
  • What people do with the information they find on Wikipedia cannot be judged.
  • Wikipedia cannot "couch" or obfuscate reliable information.
  • Understanding, respect and patience are frustrating by definition.
We are all in this together. ArtifexMayhem (talk) 11:19, 11 June 2011 (UTC)
The biological definition of life is complicated and no single defn. is universally accepted. As this is a talk page I'll take the risk of citing Wikipedia and say that Definition_of_life#Biology might provide a start for reading on this matter. JJL (talk) 23:11, 11 June 2011 (UTC)
The definition of life/death is complicated and fuzzy, but that is a red herring since they all agree that the developing fetus is alive. -- cheers, Michael C. Price talk 15:39, 12 June 2011 (UTC)
Reply to ArtifexMayhem's comment: That's very helpful and thankyou for stating things the way you have, it hopefully will bring clarity to the debate.DMSBel (talk) 12:47, 11 June 2011 (UTC)
JJL, as you've made several replies, the last just above I'll attempt to reply to most of the things you have said here, rather than posting individual replies back inbetween which you might miss. I am not sure whether to go over every comment you have made, or to start with the last. Firstly I am reading you posts and endeavouring to understand your position, in fact I often re-read them more than once to make sure I am grasping what you are saying. May I ask if are you extending the same courtesy to other editors who have replied to you? For instance Ed Poor above said in his reply: "I hope none of the contributors to this article will try to score points by choosing a particular definition of abortion and then drawing conclusions from it." That obviously was not directed at you alone, but at all editors discussing this civilly and intelligently. Granted that the biological definitions of life are indeed complicated. Would you not agree that however it is defined death is the cessation of life? Readers will bring to the article some degree of pre-understanding. It may be true, false, muddled. It is not our job to correct that pre-understanding here otherwise we'd be a long time getting to the actual subject of the article. We normally link key terms in the article, such as Fetus, Embryo etc so that readers have the option to acquire a fuller understanding. As regard to the lede, and in particular the first sentence (btw I have already said this but you don't seem to have taken notice of it.) The article is not primarily or solely about a medical "procedure" (btw should in your view that term be dropped also because it is not universally accepted. Here we are back to the distinction between "generally" and "universally" and it's all good discussion, provided we are not using this just as a forum WP:NOT#FORUM, but with the goal of improving the article.) I believe that other editors have already answered you regarding "every" and "always". It is not the responsibility those editors to keep repeating themselves, but rather your responsibility to read what they have written. OrangeMarlin's unsubtantiated comment has been refuted. Are you saying that the Journal of the American Medical Association is in error when it states Birth is an event in life, not the beginning of it.?[[18]] If so I must ask for your own qualifications to challenge them. If you review the comments made in reply to your own you should see that editors have made considerable effort to listen to you and respond to your concerns.User:DMSBel (talk) 13:52, 12 June 2011 (UTC)
Yes, I'm reading all responses, though like you I am sometimes consolidating my replies. I'm not sure what value there would be to me listing my "qualifications" unless you're prepared to use my personal opinion as a source. I will say that your comment about what JAMA states (vs. the stated opinion of an author of an article it published) speaks to your qualifications. Not everything that JAMA publishes is the official opinion of its editorial board--in fact, very little of it is. On most topics of current research interest you'll find conflicting reports as science progresses from ignorance to knowledge. This is a common feature of the scientific literature that those educated in science will know very well. Also, it's true that other editors have already answered regarding "every" and "always"--it appears that they agree that death does not occur every time but nonetheless want to retain the term, which I find contradictory. It's true that other editors have responded--though hardly in a manner consistent with WP:AGF, WP:OWN, or WP:CONS--but there's been littleattempt at a discussion to reach consensus. Instead you and another editor have simply labeled me 'confused' or 'Orangemarlin 'refuted' or the like and declared victory for your side. This is not how the consensus process is intended to work. If you're unable to conceive of the possibility that you might be wrong, you may be too strident for editing the article. JJL (talk) 14:57, 12 June 2011 (UTC)
JJL, there's only you here claiming the developing fetus isn't alive. OM has not defended his asinine statement, so he isn't part of the consensus. Unless you can find a good source that says the developing fetus is not alive, there is nothing to debate. -- cheers, Michael C. Price talk 15:52, 12 June 2011 (UTC)
──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── JJL I am sure you are well aware that being unable to conceive of the possibility of being wrong, is also something that you need to be mindful of too. Let us try therefore to procede humbly and to understand one another. Let me try therefore to understand what your actual objection to the use of the the phrase "resulting in or caused by it's death" is. Firstly according to your initial removal of this phrase from the article you said it was "advocacy". By that I assume you meant "anti-abortion" advocacy. You defended this after being challenged by saying that definitions of abortion do not generally use the term death. I believe that you are basing that on definitions of abortion as a procedure. The article does cover abortion in its "procedural" aspects, but the lede itself seeks to introduce the whole subject of abortion in brief. It does not therefore refer to "induced abortion" until the second sentence. Even before that it mentions spontaneous abortion (or miscarriage). Any sense of advocacy would only be possible in direct connection with induced abortion (I am not saying that refering to "fetal demise" or "fetal death" in reference to induced abortion would always constitute advocacy, only that what you are claiming regarding the term death is not possible apart that sense of the term abortion (ie. induced) and the first sentence is not defining the procedure of abortion).DMSBel (talk) 16:02, 12 June 2011 (UTC)
You may be correct that we have shifted into a discussion focused too heavily on just the medically induced aspect of abortion. (Or did you mean by 'whole subject' something more than that?) I ask: Is a spontaneous abortion always caused by a death (as opposed to a deformity or abnormality of the developing embryo, or an issue in the womb)? Does the expulsion of such an early stage represent the death of something? JJL (talk) 05:29, 13 June 2011 (UTC)
JJL I did not enter the conversation without knowledge on the topic. Regardless, you suggested I start with the definition provided in Life. OK.
How does Life:Definitions support your claim? I can find nothing in the cited sources that would....
What am I missing? Do you have other sources that I could use to support your claim? ArtifexMayhem (talk) 20:24, 12 June 2011 (UTC)
My claim is that the definitions of 'Life' and 'Death' are not as sharp or simple as some would believe, making the use of 'death' in the lede a problematic matter. I think that the multitude of defns. of 'Life' go to that point. It's unlcear to me that a blastocyst possesses 'Life' despite being composed of living tissue. That's what I'm getting at. JJL (talk) 05:46, 13 June 2011 (UTC)
Consider ref 1 to Life, here. "So living systems, at least the ones we know, use a clever trick to perfect the regeneration process—that is, they start over. Starting over can be a cell dividing, in the case of Escherichia coli, or the birth of an infant for Homo sapiens. By beginning a new generation, the infant starts from scratch, and all the chemical ingredients, programs, and other constituents go back to the beginning to correct the inevitable decline of a continuously functioning metabolizing system." Face it, "viable" means just that. Until then the embryo or foetus is dependent on precisely one means of survival. After that, there is no such unique dependence. We all have ancestors whose mothers died at birth - it once was very common. None survived the mothers death prior to birth until the advent of the caesarean section. Birth means the infant is capable of regeneration, a key defining characteristic of life.LeadSongDog come howl! 03:21, 13 June 2011 (UTC)
  • LeadSongDog wrote: "We all have ancestors whose mothers died at birth - it was once very common. None survived the mothers death prior to birth, until the advent of caesarean section." How then would they be our ancestors if they did not survive the mother's death? DMSBel (talk) 11:36, 13 June 2011 (UTC)
Regeneration? Doesn't compute. A person isn't a "living system" until they in turn can reproduce? Would take a while. What is pertinent, is a fetus has the assumed ability to procreate. Further, if a fetus / person is shown to be infertile... does that invalidate it / them? Course not. Viability to reproduce does not a "life" make. - RoyBoy 03:50, 13 June 2011 (UTC) A living "system" yes, but we are being more specific here. - RoyBoy 03:58, 13 June 2011 (UTC)
This is probably a discussion better held at talk:life, but the term was regenerate, not reproduce, and in any case viability also pertains to the ability to metabolize and to complete at least one energy cycle. We're not here to define life, we adopt and reflect the definitions in use in the best quality sources available. Generations of lawyers have haggled over this, but laws still establish "life" begins at birth (even later in some countries). LeadSongDog come howl! 04:08, 13 June 2011 (UTC)
  • I must agree with RoyBoy. Considering the talk history of this article...yikes...removing "death" from the current definition requires something more specific. Are you suggesting that a legal definition of "life" might be more appropriate?...Viability perhaps? ArtifexMayhem (talk) 05:12, 13 June 2011 (UTC)
  • To my mind the distinction is between living tissue, as opposed to inorganic matter, say, and a discrete living entity. While the embryo has its own genetic code it's not in possession of life in either the biological/medical or legal sense, to my mind. This more-or-less coincides with viability to some extent and birth to another extent, I think. In any event, it's a pretty sticky wicket; opinions will vary; the use can be seen as advocacy; and I think it's better discussed further down the article rather than stated blithely in the lede. JJL (talk) 05:32, 13 June 2011 (UTC)
There is no firm, WP:RS citable definition of life in the legal sense - a rabbit is obviously alive, but it doesn't have the legal rights accorded to humans. What matters under the law is personhood, humanity, and where this begins. So we're left with the biological definition, about which there's some dispute here. It was just this sort of debate that WP:NOR was created to resolve. No longer do we have to waste time applying varying definitions of life, and arguing over whether a fetus meets it. We simply use the best available WP:MEDRS to tell us directly whether the fetus is biologically living, and, if so, what abortion does to it. As previously mentioned, there are 66,000 Google Scholar results[19] for the phrase "fetal death", 2,500 Google Scholar results[20] for the exact phrase "death of the fetus" in the context of abortion, and 759 Google Scholar results[21] for the exact phrase "death of the embryo" in relation to abortion. Reviewing these sources should quickly satisfy editors that, according to the MEDRS,
  1. The fetus/embryo is alive.
  2. Abortion kills it.
Definitions of abortion in MEDRS which don't use the word "death" are certainly available. But not claiming that the fetus dies (it's doubtful the absence of the word "death actually establishes this) is not the same thing as asserting that the fetus doesn't die. No MEDRS have been cited to support the claims that the fetus isn't alive, or isn't killed by abortion. I'm open to being persuaded otherwise, by an appropriate quantity of MEDRS to establish these claims. Chester Markel (talk) 06:18, 13 June 2011 (UTC)‘‘Comments of banned sockpuupet account stricken - Wikidemon (talk) 14:30, 19 June 2011 (UTC)’’
I'd like to remind editors that, according to Wikipedia:Verifiability, "The threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is verifiability, not truth—whether readers can check that material in Wikipedia has already been published by a reliable source, not whether editors think it is true." We basically have three RS citable views about the embryo/fetus:
  1. The embryo/fetus is alive and abortion kills it, but we don't concern ourselves with moral issues (scientific POV, described by MEDRS)
  2. The embryo/fetus isn't a person, and doesn't have human rights, so whether it's biologically living isn't important, because removal prior to viability has no more moral significance than an appendectomy (pro-choice POV)
  3. The embryo/fetus is a person, does have human rights, and killing it is murder (pro-life POV)
It's notable that neither 2 and 3 actually conflict with 1, as both are simply differing moral interpretations of the same underlying data. The science should be discussed front and center, with both sides of the moral debate covered later in the article. Chester Markel (talk) 06:39, 13 June 2011 (UTC)‘‘Comments of banned sockpuupet account stricken - Wikidemon (talk) 14:30, 19 June 2011 (UTC)’’
WP:GHITS has been previously raised as an objection to my arguments about what reliable sources say. That portion of an essay, however, deals with AFD, and Google hits for general searches, few of which may be RS. Google Scholar results normally consist of articles in journals that Wikipedia considers to be reliable. A representative sample of the articles can easily be examined, showing that the occurrence of language such as "death of the fetus" in the abortion context is descriptive of abortion outcomes, not mere happenstance. Chester Markel (talk) 07:06, 13 June 2011 (UTC)‘‘Comments of banned sockpuupet account stricken - Wikidemon (talk) 14:30, 19 June 2011 (UTC)’’
Regarding 'other editors have already answered regarding "every" and "always"--it appears that they agree that death does not occur every time but nonetheless want to retain the term': the article doesn't claim "always" or "every". We shouldn't be reading quantifiers that aren't actually there into the current text, then requiring sources that would support the content if so quantified. Chester Markel (talk) 07:24, 13 June 2011 (UTC)‘‘Comments of banned sockpuupet account stricken - Wikidemon (talk) 14:30, 19 June 2011 (UTC)’’
Interestingly, the article is currently claiming that "The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists has recommended that an injection be used to stop the fetal heart during the first phase of the surgical abortion procedure to ensure that the fetus is not born alive." Nuffield Council on Bioethics (June 22, 2007). "Dilemmas in Current Practice: The Fetus" (PDF). Critical Case Decisions in Fetal and Neonatal Medicine: Ethical Issues. Nuffield Council on Bioethics. ISBN 978-1-904384-14-4. OCLC 85782378. Retrieved 2010-12-31.  The suggested procedure would be pretty pointless when performed on a non-living fetus, or if abortion weren't intended to produce "death of the fetus". Chester Markel (talk) 07:33, 13 June 2011 (UTC)‘‘Comments of banned sockpuupet account stricken - Wikidemon (talk) 14:30, 19 June 2011 (UTC)’’
That isn't at all clear to me--we know that "life begins at birth" is one possible viewpoint. You're making an inference...synthesizing. Further, the term 'fetal death' is clearly used in the literature but is absent from virtually every definition of 'abortion' in the WP:MEDRS. The case has not been made to include such a term in the defn. here. Even if it were not contentious--which it is, esp. given the multiple defns. of life/death in use, and at play in this context--not every point about abortion can be made in the first sentence. Others have indicated that it was originally added by "right-wingers"--as advocacy--but that they came to think this compromise was acceptable despite that. However, it's far from clear to me--despite the large number of WP:GOOGLEHITS you've found for the phrase--that we improve on the defn. by adding something almost never seen in the definition, rather than expanding on the issue below in the nobody of the article. Here's what I don't get: What is so important to you about having this particular point in the lede? How does it suffer if it's discussed in its fullness later on instead? It's easy for me to understand why you think it's true (though I don't) but not its salience to you. JJL (talk) 15:35, 13 June 2011 (UTC)
Sources on medical ethics, like this one, would also indicate any wiggle room that could allow for anything less than "death". I can't find any that even try. ArtifexMayhem (talk) 10:58, 13 June 2011 (UTC)

I found these references:

  • "Human development begins at fertilization, the process during which a male gamete or sperm (spermatozoo developmentn) unites with a female gamete or oocyte (ovum) to form a single cell called a zygote. This highly specialized, totipotent cell marked the beginning of each of us as a unique individual." "A zygote is the beginning of a new human being (i.e., an embryo)." Keith L. Moore, The Developing Human: Clinically Oriented Embryology, 7th edition. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders, 2003. pp. 16, 2.
  • "[The zygote], formed by the union of an oocyte and a sperm, is the beginning of a new human being." Keith L. Moore, Before We Are Born: Essentials of Embryology, 7th edition. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders, 2008. p. 2.
  • "It is the penetration of the ovum by a spermatozoan and resultant mingling of the nuclear material each brings to the union that constitues the culmination of the process of fertilization and marks the initiation of the life of a new individual." Clark Edward Corliss, Patten's Human Embryology: Elements of Clinical Development. New York: McGraw Hill, 1976. p. 30.
  • "The term conception refers to the union of the male and female pronuclear elements of procreation from which a new living being develops." "The zygote thus formed represents the beginning of a new life." J.P. Greenhill and E.A. Friedman, Biological Principles and Modern Practice of Obstetrics. Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders, 1974. pp. 17, 23.
  • "Every time a sperm cell and ovum unite a new being is created which is alive and will continue to live unless its death is brought about by some specific condition." E.L. Potter and J.M. Craig, Pathology of the Fetus and the Infant, 3rd edition. Chicago: Year Book Medical Publishers, 1975. p. vii.
  • "When fertilization is complete, a unique genetic human entity exists." C. Christopher Hook, M.D.Oncologist, Mayo Clinic, Director of Ethics Education, Mayo Graduate School of Medicine
  • "Science has a very simple conception of man; as soon as he has been conceived, a man is a man." Jerome Lejeune, M.D., Ph.D.
  • "It is incorrect to say that biological data cannot be decisive...It is scientifically correct to say that an individual human life begins at conception." Professor Micheline Matthews-Roth Harvard University

Medical School

  • "After fertilization has taken place a new human being has come into being. [It] is no longer a matter of taste or is plain experimental evidence. Each individual has a very neat beginning, at conception." Dr. Jerome LeJeune Professor of Genetics, University of Descartes DMSBel (talk) 16:44, 13 June 2011 (UTC)
  • Third one down is no good. I don't think we can require penetration by a nuclear missile. Dr. McGraw Hill cannot be trusted. ArtifexMayhem (talk) 17:03, 13 June 2011 (UTC)
Sorry I don't understand? DMSBel (talk) 17:31, 13 June 2011 (UTC)
My mistake. I read penetration of the ovum by a spermatozoan and resultant mingling of the nuclear material totally wrong. Must be a smug on my monitor. ArtifexMayhem (talk) 18:02, 13 June 2011 (UTC)

According to this article's limited view of pregnancy (which I will adopt only for the sake of this argument):

  • medically speaking there is no abortion unless there is a pregnancy
  • a pregnancy begins when a living embryo implants
  • a pregnancy can only end by live birth or abortion (natural or induced)
  • there is no pregnancy if there is no living conceptus in the mother
  • abortion includes any ending of pregnancy (natural or induced) that is not due to live birth
  • the key difference between the two general categories of how pregnancies end (live birth or abortion) is the life or death of the conceptus
  • all forms of abortion are associated with the biological death of the organism known as the embryo or fetus

Any suppression of the word "death" is simply due to a desire to tiptoe around an issue that is painful to many. But this article is about facts, not making everyone comfortable. To discuss the biological medical fact of the embryo's biological death is different than referring to abortionists in an editorial fashion as "baby killers". I ask for a source that confirms that the embryo or fetus does not always die as part of the process of an induced or spontaneous abortion (in fact, you won't find any). (talk) 17:08, 13 June 2011 (UTC)

I think the kicker is to realize that abortion is any ending of pregnancy that is not due to live birth. (talk) 17:08, 13 June 2011 (UTC)
(edit conflict) But clearly these references were found by looking for sources supporting your viewpoint. Think about your list of sources. You have a bunch of 40-year-old textbooks - are these lying around on your shelf? do you really think they're the best available scholarly sources for this article? do more recent editions exist, and if so, do they contain similar language? Then you cite a group of pro-life scientists. I would bet money that this list of sources was culled from a pro-life website, although I suppose that's neither here nor there. It's not actually representative of existing scholarly sources - it's carefully selected to push one viewpoint. That's exactly the kind of thing that plagues this page: people game the verifiability and reliable-source requirements by presenting cherry-picked sources. MastCell Talk 17:12, 13 June 2011 (UTC)
Sorry did you not look at the references? First two are 2003, and 2008. Some of the sources used to cite definitions for abortion were 40 years old and more. First one JJL cited was from International Planned Parenthood Assoc! in 1970. Your right it's neither here not there who cites these sources, they are general embryological texts. Ignore them all but the first two most recent ones if you want.DMSBel (talk) 17:31, 13 June 2011 (UTC)
Also if previous generations of embryologists knew when life began, and stated so in their references works why all the ambiguity now? Science does move from ignorance to knowledge when it is unhampered by pressures to conform to political agendas. All I see here is an attempt to obfuscate what is known and champion ignorance. DMSBel (talk) 17:45, 13 June 2011 (UTC)
That really isn't how science progresses. Many things 'known' by earlier generations of scientists are now known to be false. JJL (talk) 20:33, 13 June 2011 (UTC)
  • Please show me in an embryology text from the last 50 years a copernican change in the understanding of when life begins? DMSBel (talk) 00:24, 14 June 2011 (UTC)
  • There is not a clear definition of life. As with viability, it isn't easily specified in a one-size-fits all manner. When it's reasonable to call a fetus 'alive' is a matter of disagreement and of a fuzzy line. There is no agreement as to when life begins--in fact, there isn't even agreement that the question makes sense. 'Life' in this context doesn't have a crisp, clear beginning. It's a version of the Sorites paradox, of the fuzziness of language. I simply don't agree that 'Life' has a clear and unambiguous beginning. I'm far from alone. This isn't a 'Copernican change'--it's standard science. JJL (talk) 02:36, 14 June 2011 (UTC)
*It's your original research, actually. You've taken some sources which, interpreted charitably, do not claim the fetus dies, and used them to argue that the fetus does not die, in an attempt to negate references which assert that the fetus dies from abortion. This is a textbook logical fallacy described as an argument from silence. Chester Markel (talk) 03:09, 14 June 2011 (UTC)‘‘Comments of banned sockpuupet account stricken - Wikidemon (talk) 14:30, 19 June 2011 (UTC)’’
Yes. Cherry-picking can/is/will always be a problem. But you will never get a consensus on the definition of life/live/dead in this context. Regardless of the sources. Does this mean the right-wing/pro-life/anti-choice/anti-abortion/other -ers have the advantage ? Maybe. Sure. Absolutely. Is it throwing them a bone ? No. The 'abortion is murder' claim is different matter. ArtifexMayhem (talk) 17:57, 13 June 2011 (UTC)
But if we can "never get a consensus on the definition of life/live/dead in this context" then surely there can't be a meaningful consensus to use it here (without considerable discussion of the nuances and differing meanings)? That strikes me as going to my point. JJL (talk) 20:33, 13 June 2011 (UTC)
Nah, we should simply use the best available MEDRS on the subject of whether the fetus is alive, and whether abortion kills it, rather than arguing over our favorite definitions of life, and how they apply. That's what WP:NOR is all about. Chester Markel (talk) 20:43, 13 June 2011 (UTC)‘‘Comments of banned sockpuupet account stricken - Wikidemon (talk) 14:30, 19 June 2011 (UTC)’’

Mastcell is right. These quotes are taken from prolife advocacy sites and even the way each quote is cited is the same. Friend of the Facts (talk) 19:21, 13 June 2011 (UTC)

Gosh, that's unfortunate. But it surely doesn't negate my Google Scholar results, which indicate an overall position of quite a few reliable sources, and certainly aren't copied from pro-life websites. I have yet to see thousands of reliable sources to support the contention that abortion doesn't kill the fetus, probably because MEDRS rarely publish misstatements of obvious biological facts. Chester Markel (talk) 19:40, 13 June 2011 (UTC)‘‘Comments of banned sockpuupet account stricken - Wikidemon (talk) 14:30, 19 June 2011 (UTC)’’
If an advocacy webpage properly cites scientific literature to bolster its arguments, then we should all applaud. The fact remains that the scientific literature evidences that abortion ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS involves fetal death (except when an abortion goes wrong and the fetus survives). The fact that a failed abortion is one that does not kill the fetus is also evidence of the definition of abortion, but it is so hard to convince those with an agenda to abandon it and hop on the Objective Medical Facts Express. (talk) 19:47, 13 June 2011 (UTC)

Let's do some cherry-picking of sources that support abortion rights:

  • "My intent in every abortion I have ever done is to kill the fetus and terminate the pregnancy." - Leroy Carhart, testifying under oath in 1997 about what he does to facilitate abortion, Asheville Tribune
  • "One of the facts of abortion is that women enter abortion clinics to kill their fetuses. It is a form of killing, you're ending a life." - Ron Fitzsimmons, Executive Director of the National Coalition of Abortion Providers, "An Abortion Rights Advocate Says He Lied About Procedure", New York Times, (February 26, 1997).
  • "The third party killing of a fetus with malice aforethought is murder . . . as long as the state can show that the fetus has progressed beyond the embryonic stage of seven to eight weeks." - Supreme Court of California in People v. Davis, 7 Cal. 4th 797, 814, 30 Cal. Rptr. 2d 50, 61, 872 P.2d 591, 602 (1994).
  • "Is birth control an abortion? Definitely not; an abortion kills the life of a baby after it has begun." - Planned Parenthood pamphlet, (August, 1963)
  • "[It is] the most barbaric method [of family planning], the killing of babies — infanticide — abortion." - Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood, in My Fight for Birth Control, 1931
  • "The pro-life groups were right about one thing, the location of the baby inside or outside the womb cannot make much of a moral difference. We cannot coherently hold it is alright to kill a fetus a week before birth, but as soon as the baby is born everything must be done to keep it alive. The solution, however, is not to accept the pro-life view that the fetus is a human being with the same moral status as yours or mine. The solution is the very opposite, to abandon the idea that all human life is of equal worth." - Peter Singer, Princeton ethicist, "Bioethics: The Case of the Fetus", in the New York Review of Books (August 5, 1976).
  • "Is abortion murder? All killing isn't murder. A cop shoots a teenager who appeared to be going for a gun, and we call it justifiable homicide - a tragedy for all concerned, but not murder. And then there's war..." - Don Sloan, abortion provider, Tamara L. Roleff. Abortion: Opposing Viewpoints (Greenhaven Press: San Diego) 1997 p 25
  • "I think we have deluded ourselves into believing that people don't know that abortion is killing. So any pretense that abortion is not killing is a signal of our ambivalence, a signal that we cannot say 'yes, it kills a fetus, but it is the women's body, and therefore ultimately her choice.'"- Faye Wattleton, former president of Planned Parenthood, as quoted in Salon Magazine, (June 27, 1997)
  • "We – in the states – have dealt heavily, up to now, in euphemism. I think one of the reasons why the 'good guys' – the people in favor of abortion rights – lost a lot of ground is that we have been unwilling to talk to women about what it means to abort a baby. We don't ever talk about babies, we don't ever talk about what is being decided in abortion. We never talk about responsibility. The word 'choice' is the biggest euphemism. Some use the phrases 'products of conception' and ‘contents of the uterus,’ or exchange the word ‘pregnancy’ for the word ‘fetus.’ I think this is a mistake tactically and strategically, and I think it’s wrong.. And indeed, it has not worked – we have lost the high ground we had when Roe was decided. My objection here is not only that we have lost ground, but also that our tactics are not good ones; they may even constitute bad faith. It is morally and ethically wrong to do abortions without acknowledging what it means to do them. I performed abortions, I have had an abortion and I am in favor of women having abortions when we choose to do so. But we should never disregard the fact that being pregnant means there is a baby growing inside of a woman, a baby whose life is ended. We ought not to pretend this is not happening." - Judith Arcana, abortion activist, at a London seminar, October 1999 (talk) 18:15, 13 June 2011 (UTC)

50 years ago most people knew when life began. DMSBel (talk) 18:10, 13 June 2011 (UTC)
See, this is why the article and environment here suck. If someone was looking to accurately and honestly summarize current scholarly thought on the topic, they would never come up with a list of sources like this. On the other hand, if someone were looking to cherry-pick sources on ideological grounds to provide a superficially authoritative gloss to their personal agenda, these are exactly the sort of lists they'd come up with. Let me know when you guys are done cut&pasting from pro-life websites, and maybe we can take a shot at writing something encyclopedic. MastCell Talk 18:56, 13 June 2011 (UTC)
No. It doesn't matter where the sources are cited or by whom. There is nothing that has been discovered in the field of embryology since any of those works have been published to refute the basic statements they make.DMSBel (talk) 21:52, 13 June 2011 (UTC)
I agree, MastCell, that small lists of sources present issues of potential cherry picking. That also applies to the few definitions of abortion provided by JJL, which happen not to include the word "death". That's why the 2,500 Google Scholar results[22] for the exact phrase "death of the fetus" in the context of abortion, and 760 Google Scholar results[23] for the exact phrase "death of the embryo" in relation to abortion are so important. These clearly indicate broad-based support in WP:MEDRS for the proposition that the fetus/embryo is alive, and abortion kills it. The only arguments I've heard against these RS is that the use of the phrases in discussing abortion is mere coincidence (already shown to be false), and WP:GHITS, an essay about AFD arguments concerning general Google searches of everything on the web it indexes. Therefore, it's time for editors who support the removal of the "death" language to provide evidence of thousands of MEDRS showing that the fetus isn't alive, or abortion doesn't kill it. Until such time as references of this nature are produced, I will continue to support the inclusion of the MEDRS sourced fact that abortion kills the fetus. Chester Markel (talk) 19:10, 13 June 2011 (UTC)‘‘Comments of banned sockpuupet account stricken - Wikidemon (talk) 14:30, 19 June 2011 (UTC)’’
My lists were from the first several pages of hits for "abortion is defined" on Google Scholar. None used 'death' or its variants and synonyms. That's as close to a random sample as I know how to get. They were not cherry-picked; tun the experiment yourself and see. This is strong evidence that it's not usual to include 'death' in the defn. Again, the WP:BURDEN does not lie on me to show that you're lies on you to support it. I see no support that that word generally appears in a defn. of 'abortion', which is what the lead sentence purports to give. That's regardless of whether or not it's true. I also haven't heard from you an argument that it must be in the lead beyond your claim that it's true. Not all true statements about this topic can fit in the first sentence. Why should this contentious matter be placed so prominently when most authoritative sources do not do so? JJL (talk) 20:39, 13 June 2011 (UTC)
Whatever. Like I said, I don't care if the lead says "death" or not. I'm just really tired of this bullshit, ideologically driven, cherry-picking approach to sourcing. People who regurgitate excerpts from a pro-life website and pretend they're the result of a serious search for the best available sources don't have any place here. Except, of course, that they're the dominant force on this talk page. MastCell Talk 19:51, 13 June 2011 (UTC)
Ultimately, it doesn't matter where short lists of sources come from - picking one's own cherries is little better than using some else's. We also can't easily show that the pro-life sites are cherry-picking, though they would have every reason to. In any abbreviated list, the possibility of cherry-picking cannot be ruled out. That's why my Google Scholar search results are so valuable. It would really be nice if there were high quality, neutral review studies on the topic of whether abortion causes the "death of the fetus". But until we find any, we need to make do with the next best thing. Chester Markel (talk) 20:19, 13 June 2011 (UTC)‘‘Comments of banned sockpuupet account stricken - Wikidemon (talk) 14:30, 19 June 2011 (UTC)’’

These quotes are from wiktiquote which is filled with a bunch of obscure and apparently cherry picked quotes. Someone should look it over and clean out the stuff that isn't notable. Friend of the Facts (talk) 19:55, 13 June 2011 (UTC)

Wikiquote has a cross section of quotes from various sources that are notable for various reasons. I culled a few quotes from among those listed there - you know, quotes that are relevant to our dicussion about death here - and you claim that they were cherry picked. I have to tell you, even people who favor abortion rights understand that abortion involves fetal death when it is properly done. Can you provide some quotes about abortion and death that would demonstrate that people hold a scientific or medical view that there is no fetal death in a completed abortion? I'd be curious to see even one such quote. And any such quotes would be a great addition to the abortion quotes page. (talk) 20:41, 13 June 2011 (UTC)

BTW, "fetal demise" is an absolutely medical term meaning "fetal death" - a euphemism of sorts that doctors have longed used to gently discuss a spontaneous abortion with parents who did not want the uborn child to die. (talk) 20:44, 13 June 2011 (UTC)

Why are we debating this? We know that the fetus is alive. Everybody with basic 101 biology knows this. That JJL doesn't accept this is the clearest evidence we need that they have a massive POV or cognitive bias problem. -- cheers, Michael C. Price talk 20:46, 13 June 2011 (UTC)
This parrot is dead. No. It's just resting ArtifexMayhem (talk) 20:56, 13 June 2011 (UTC)

Those Google Scholar results don't show if dictionaries and other encyclopedias like Wikipedia use "death" to define abortion. Rather they show "death of the fetus" is used in some journal articles. Based on just the first page of those results most hits for that phrase don't seem to refer to induced abortion, but missed abortion which is an incomplete miscarriage. Frankly this way of looking for sources doesn't seem very effective because it doesn't account for the context of what you need to find. It'd seem better to look at other references like Wikipedia and see how many use "death" in their abortion definitions. If most of them do then that's the standard and Wikipedia should follow suit, but if it's only one or two out of dozens then it's nonstandard and Wikipedia shouldn't marginalize itself by doing it. And since the definition on this Wikipedia page deals with both induced abortions and miscarriages we can't only work with sources that just deal with miscarriage. Friend of the Facts (talk) 21:59, 13 June 2011 (UTC)

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.
Spontaneous abortions, or miscarriages, occur for many reasons, including disease, trauma, genetic defect, or biochemical incompatibility of mother and fetus. Occasionally a fetus dies in the uterus but fails to be expelled, a condition termed a missed abortion.
Induced abortions may be performed for reasons that fall into four general categories: to preserve the life or physical or mental well-being of the mother; to prevent the completion of a pregnancy that has resulted from rape or incest; to prevent the birth of a child with serious deformity, mental deficiency, or genetic abnormality; or to prevent a birth for social or economic reasons (such as the extreme youth of the pregnant female or the sorely strained resources of the family unit). By some definitions, abortions that are performed to preserve the well-being of the female or in cases of rape or incest are therapeutic, or justifiable, abortions.
Numerous medical techniques exist for performing abortions. During the first trimester (up to about 12 weeks after conception), endometrial aspiration, suction, or curettage may be used to remove the contents of the uterus. In endometrial aspiration, a thin, flexible tube is inserted up the cervical canal (the neck of the womb) and then sucks out the lining of the uterus (the endometrium) by means of an electric pump.
ArtifexMayhem (talk) 22:25, 13 June 2011 (UTC)
Britannica's definition of abortion is blatantly flawed because it falsely asserts that abortion only occurs when a fetus is not viable. Yet it is quite certain from medical and legal sources that viability is certainly no bar to induced abortion. Perhaps Britannica's initial text was based on what used to be the universal legal and ethical framework (that an abortion performed on a viable fetus was illegal and unethical), and it has not been corrected to reflect the current state of medical ethics and abortion law. Nevertheless, Britannica is simply unreliable because it's text runs contrary to uncontrovertable verifiable facts. Late-term abortion practitioners in the UK and the USA are on record with facts that expose the false claim in Britannica's definition. Dr. Stuart Campbell, former professor of obstetrics and gynaecology at London's St. George’s hospital, commented on the UK government's Confidential Enquiry into Maternal and Child Health (CEMACH) report that 50 babies a year are born alive in the UK after botched National Health Service abortions (as reported by London's The Sunday Times, November 27, 2005) as follows: "They can be born breathing and crying at 19 weeks’ gestation. . . I am not anti-abortion, but as far as I am concerned this is sub-standard medicine. . . If viability is the basis on which they set the 24-week limit for abortion, then the simplest answer is to change the law and reduce the upper limit to 18 weeks." In a speech to the National Abortion Federation in April 1995 in New Orleans, abortionist George Tiller noted: "We have some experience with late terminations; about 10,000 patients between 24 and 36 weeks and something like 800 fetal anomalies between 26 and 36 weeks in the past 5 years." These are abortion practitioners, not pro-life advocates. (talk) 23:33, 13 June 2011 (UTC)
What does Britannica call the intentional death of a fetus after 20 weeks? - Haymaker (talk) 00:11, 15 June 2011 (UTC)

Trying to refute the Encyclopedia Brittanica by picking more quotes from the Wikiquote abortion page isn't going to help find the best way to define abortion here. Let's look for more encyclopedias and textbooks to see what their definitions are like and then use that as our guide on what to do. Friend of the Facts (talk) 00:15, 14 June 2011 (UTC)

It seems strange to me that we now have eight references for the definition and are using the only one that uses the term death. Since Wikipedia is always stressing how important good references are, doesn't this suggest we have made a decision that it is not only better than the others, but better than all of the others?Gandydancer (talk) 23:35, 19 June 2011 (UTC)
I agree. There will be multiple defns. of most words, but we should err on the side of being mainstream. The strongest sources so far offered do not use this term, and I believe it's OR that they are silent on it for reasons other than that they didn't find it the best term to use in this situation. This is one of many reasons that if death is to be covered it should be done further down the article. JJL (talk) 23:56, 19 June 2011 (UTC)

Verification of death/feticide

While I do not enjoy a belabored discussion of abortion as death, there are persistant requests for more verification. This particular journal article does verify that feticide (also called induced fetal death in the article) is part of abortion. Dr. Deb Nucatola of Planned Parenthood, Los Angeles, recently published research in the journal Contraception that discusses intentionally induced surgical abortion and refers to that process as feticide and refers to the induced abortion involving the death of the fetus.

  • LINK:
  • CITATION: Contraception. 2010 Jan;81(1):67-74.
  • PMID 20004276 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
  • AUTHOR: Nucatola D., Roth N., Gatter M.; Planned Parenthood, Los Angeles, CA 90033, USA.
  • TITLE: A randomized pilot study on the effectiveness and side-effect profiles of two doses of digoxin as feticide when administered intraamniotically or intrafetally prior to second-trimester surgical abortion.
  • BACKGROUND: Digoxin is commonly used to facilitate second-trimester surgical abortion despite limited data regarding its safety and effectiveness for this indication. We conducted a pilot study to determine the incidence of side effects after digoxin administration and whether effectiveness can be improved with variations in dose and technique.
  • STUDY DESIGN: Fifty-two women presenting for elective termination of pregnancy between 18 and 24 weeks' gestation were randomized to one of four digoxin treatment groups: 1.0 mg intraamniotic (1.0 IA), 1.0 mg intrafetal (1.0 IF), 1.5 mg intraamniotic (1.5 IA) or 1.5 mg intrafetal (1.5 IF). Ultrasound was used to assess for the presence of fetal cardiac activity prior to the abortion procedure. Data on the presence and severity of pain, nausea and other potential side effects were collected before digoxin injection, immediately following digoxin injection and on the day after digoxin injection.
  • RESULTS: Digoxin effectively induced fetal death in 87% of women. The failure rate did not vary by route of administration (IA or IF) and was not lowered by increasing the dose from 1.0 to 1.5 mg. IF injections induced fetal death more rapidly than IA injections. Digoxin administration did not result in increased pain or nausea. (talk) 18:28, 16 June 2011 (UTC)

Have we not already decided that 'fetal death' is a very specific term and that breaking it into 'fetal' and 'death' could be misleading? Isn't that what you meant when you called it a "medical term of art" above? I think you may be arguing against yourself now. JJL (talk) 02:55, 17 June 2011 (UTC)
I'm having trouble following the discussion, because there's just too much of it. This page is 300KB, which is about 47,000 words (according to TextPad).
But I gather some people are trying to associate "death" with "murder" (that would be the anti-abortion side or pro-life as they fancy themselves). Let's try to sort out facts from values, shall we?
The tissue comprising the fetus always dies when there is an abortion. It doesn't matter whether the "abortion" happens on its own (which is the primary meaning of "miscarriage") or is the result of a decision between doctor and patient (see "induced abortion"). Every cell in the fetus that was alive becomes dead. Is everyone with me so far, on the facts?
I think the dispute is over what to call this.
  1. fetal death: Redirects to Perinatal mortality
  2. feticide: an act that causes the death of a fetus
    • "fetal homicide"
    • "child destruction"
  3. "murder" of the "unborn child" (anti-abortion advocates)
I'm just hoping this summary will facilitate our discussion. --Uncle Ed (talk) 18:27, 16 June 2011 (UTC)
Ed: In fact no one was advocating that the article should state that killing of a fetus is murder. The genesis of the discussion is that some editors are advocating that a fetus/embryo does not die during every single abortion process (induced or spontaneous). Although it strikes me as very odd that it is necessary to do so, we were being asked to verify that in every abortion process a fetus or embryo dies. So I have posted this peer reviewed published Planned Parenthood medical research (that describes abortion as feticide/death) as verification. (talk) 21:32, 16 June 2011 (UTC)
I concur that the tissue experiences cellular cessation of activity--as some sources say, it is 'destroyed'. To say more than that is to take a stance that reaches beyond medicine and physiology into law and morality. JJL (talk) 02:55, 17 June 2011 (UTC)
concur the page is getting spammed mercilessly, Ed, and as you know when you and I agree, its a rare event and I tend to view it as an unassailable fact when that happens. The talk page has been spammed almost exclusively by, who is violating CIVIL, NPA, BATTLE, and to some extent SYNTH. No sooner do editors begin to try to discuss his points than he starts a new section, with another Wall Of Text. I for one am waiting for the discussion to become more civil and less verbose before I wade in again. Perhaps you will have better success encouraging to refrain from burying us in his thoughts, and give the editors time to consider, reply, and reach consensus. At least one editor has decided to effectively ignore until s/he stops violating WP:SOAP. KillerChihuahua?!?Advice 18:41, 16 June 2011 (UTC)
I am disappointed that you greeted my posting of verification with a complaint about spam. The verification was requested repeatedly. I found an excellent source that verifies abortion practitioners do expressly state in clinical terms that abortion involves feticide (literally: "fetus killing") and death (from Planned Parenthod medical resarch published in a peer reviewed journal in 2010). (talk) 21:18, 16 June 2011 (UTC)
You speak as though I were replying to, or referring to, one post. I as speaking of the 114 posts you have made to this talk page this month alone, as of this time stamp, of which almost all (108) were made the 14th, 15th, and 16th. The volume of your posts seems almost to be an attempt at a war of attrition. KillerChihuahua?!?Advice 21:50, 16 June 2011 (UTC)
Killer: Following up and discussing the points made by others is "talk page activity". All of my posts have been a good faith attempt to support the spirit and letter of FAQ #1 of this article. I was responding to several editors who were (in my view) violating the spirit and letter of FAQ #1. Of course FAQ #1 may not be a "law", but I can't believe that it is acceptable (formally or informally) to edit in a manner opposite to the manner suggested in FAQ #1. All those who support the sprit and letter of FAQ#1 say Amen! (talk) 22:21, 16 June 2011 (UTC)
I'm glad someone has made this point. The volume of the response is making true discussion difficult and I too believe that the goal is a win-at-all-costs "war of attrition". I'm quite willing to follow WP:CONS but this Hydra-headed response makes it impossible. Issues are not resolved but are merely abandoned and new fronts are opened. There are matters here which could be resolved if focused on. JJL (talk) 02:55, 17 June 2011 (UTC)
You've proposed that the previous consensus articulated at Talk:Abortion/First paragraph should be overridden. Consensus can change, certainly, but only when the new consensus is demonstrated with the same level of clarity as that being overturned. When attempting to undo the previous consensus on such a highly disputed issue, spirited opposition by many editors is to be expected as a matter of course. Chester Markel (talk) 03:24, 17 June 2011 (UTC)‘‘Comments of banned sockpuupet account stricken - Wikidemon (talk) 14:30, 19 June 2011 (UTC)’’
But per Argument Clinic, that isn't just the automatic gainsaying of the other's position, which is what we seem to have--the assertion that there are sources that say 'death' without a fair weighing of what are the best sources and what would be due weight, and whether 'death' would be better used later in the article. We're not making progress, The attempt by NW was a good way to move forward--now we're arguing about arguing. How can we have a fruitful new discussion about the matter? JJL (talk) 03:35, 17 June 2011 (UTC)
I think the WP:SYNTH violation lies with supporters of omitting "death", since you're construing avoidance of the death/no death issue by some references as making a claim on the issue avoided: that no death occurs, or that death isn't significant. Every single MEDRS examined here that actually treats the issue of whether induced abortion causes fetal death concludes that it does. Period. No more original research, please. Chester Markel (talk) 19:41, 16 June 2011 (UTC)‘‘Comments of banned sockpuupet account stricken - Wikidemon (talk) 14:30, 19 June 2011 (UTC)’’
I'm sorry, to whom are you referring when you say "you're construing..." - this is unclear to me. Thanks - KillerChihuahua?!?Advice 19:53, 16 June 2011 (UTC)
It seems to me that Chester was adressing you, Killer. Perhaps not. Nevertheless, I concur with Chester. (talk) 00:08, 17 June 2011 (UTC)
Really? Where have I construed that? Please link the dif. I assure you, you are very much mistaken. KillerChihuahua?!?Advice 13:16, 17 June 2011 (UTC)
To my mind this is exactly backwards: What's WPSYNTH is adding 'death' when it is not attested by the majority of cources, as though most major medical texts and dictionaries are in error, incomplete, or intentionally presenting incorrect and/or biased information. JJL (talk) 02:55, 17 June 2011 (UTC)
My goal is to provide verification for the word death in the lede. Nothing more or less. (talk) 18:36, 16 June 2011 (UTC)
Ed, no the discussion has had nothing to do with murder. It all started with the deletion of the opening sentence in the lede referring to fetal death. To make a (very) long story short, extensive research revealed that most sources do not speak of fetal death in their definition but rather say something such as, "Abortion is the termination of a pregnancy by the removal or expulsion of a fetus or embryo from the uterus before the fetus is viable". Some of us seem to feel that Wikipedia should reflect the definition used by most related sources, some of us have a different opinion. At least that is my understanding of the debate. Gandydancer (talk) 20:19, 16 June 2011 (UTC)
Concur; Gandydancer has summarized the debate well. Its whether to include the word "death" in the lead. KillerChihuahua?!?Advice 20:22, 16 June 2011 (UTC)
Yes, that is the issue in a nutshell. JJL (talk) 02:55, 17 June 2011 (UTC)
I would rather say that some of us feel that euphemisms such as "Abortion is the termination of a pregnancy by the removal or expulsion of a fetus or embryo from the uterus before the fetus is viable" need explaining in non-medical terms. Just as gravida required explanation.-- cheers, Michael C. Price talk 20:31, 16 June 2011 (UTC)
Concur; MichaelCPrice's comment is spot on. Editors from all points of view have consistently rejected the inlcusion of any euphemism in the lede. (talk) 21:04, 16 June 2011 (UTC)
But what those who favor including 'death' may see as a euphemism, others (such as myself) see as a proper reflection of the fact that an embryo is not alive in the sense of something that can die--it's merely living tissue, not 'life'. What is a 'life' is an ill-defined matter, as is what can experience 'death', and I see the term 'death' as plainly inapplicable here. JJL (talk) 03:03, 17 June 2011 (UTC)
Then your disagreement is with the MEDRS which claim abortion produces "death of the fetus" or similar already cited in great abundance in this discussion, and with the lack of MEDRS to refute them. Your own POV doesn't override the sources. Chester Markel (talk) 03:11, 17 June 2011 (UTC)‘‘Comments of banned sockpuupet account stricken - Wikidemon (talk) 14:30, 19 June 2011 (UTC)’’
Comparing pubmed queries, "(((review) AND abortion) AND death) AND cochrane" gets 13 hits. "(((review) AND abortion) NOT death) AND cochrane" gets 111. While the word death does get used in these reviews, it is quite infrequent. Substituting "termination" for "death" in these queries gets the exact reverse result. Clearly authors choose one or the other and do not mix the terms.LeadSongDog come howl! 21:02, 16 June 2011 (UTC)
And according to Merriam Webster, one of the meanings of "terminate" is a synonym for "kill". Given that some of the reviews do use the word "death" in describing the fetal outcome of abortion, its reasonable to construe "terminate" as having the same meaning, as used in context. Remember, per WP:NOR, "Articles should be written in your own words while substantially retaining the meaning of the source material." Therefore, we are by no means stuck with the exact words of the sources, only the information conveyed. If "termination" is being used as a euphemism for "killing", Wikipedia is not bound to do the same, particularly when Wikipedia:Manual_of_Style_(words_to_watch)#Euphemisms councils editors to avoid this practice in most cases. Chester Markel (talk) 21:19, 16 June 2011 (UTC)‘‘Comments of banned sockpuupet account stricken - Wikidemon (talk) 14:30, 19 June 2011 (UTC)’’
I would assume that the references are speaking of the termination of a pregnancy. Gandydancer (talk) 21:40, 16 June 2011 (UTC)
Agreed. It is the end of a pregnancy, not the end of a life. There's nothing euphemistic about that, but saying ":ends a pregnancy" rather than "terminates a pregnancy" would be acceptable to me. But using this to wedge in 'death' isn't reasonable. JJL (talk) 03:03, 17 June 2011 (UTC)
I agree that terminate can be a euphemism for kill. I'm having trouble agreeing that the definitions supplied by NW contain such euphemisms. It seems a question of context. ArtifexMayhem (talk) 21:44, 16 June 2011 (UTC)
Yes, context is important. Consider the centrality of ensuring a properly timed fetal death to an abortion procedure: "doctors typically cause the fetus's death surgically while it is still inside the womb and then remove it. But now, if the fetus is not dead as it begins to emerge, a provider may be accused of violating the law. So the lethal injections beforehand..."[24] It always struck me as a little odd that any definitions of abortion would completely omit such vital information. Now, it seems fairly obvious that termination is used both to describe the ending of a pregnancy and as euphemism for killing the fetus, in those descriptions of the procedure which make no mention of fetal death. While it's rare to see double entendres in the medical literature, abortion is anything but a typical procedure. Chester Markel (talk) 22:03, 16 June 2011 (UTC)‘‘Comments of banned sockpuupet account stricken - Wikidemon (talk) 14:30, 19 June 2011 (UTC)’’
Context is indeed important. Your quote is taken out of context and misleading on the point of centrality "We do not believe that our patients should take a risk for which the only clear benefit is a legal one to the physician," Dr. Philip D. Darney, chief of obstetrics at San Francisco General Hospital, wrote in e-mail. He has chosen not to use the injections."[25] and is out of date on the issue by five years. Considering 1.21 million abortions were performed in 2008 the procedure doesn't seem rare but I'm not sure what measure you are using for "typical". ArtifexMayhem (talk) 22:52, 16 June 2011 (UTC)
I cited the source to support the assertion that fetal death, properly timed, is an essential component of abortion, not that said death is induced by an injection of potassium chloride or digoxin in all cases. As the article notes, there's some disagreement as to what the precise timing must be: some physicians believe that they would be violating the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act if they weren't certain the fetus was already dead before removal of any portion from the mother's body. Thus, they use KCl or digoxin to kill a potentially viable fetus before attempting removal. Others contend that procedures which might require the fetus to be killed after partial delivery are still acceptable, and are willing to take whatever legal risk accompanies this. The methodology is a detail for the purpose of the introduction, unless perhaps you want to us to provide a short outline of methods used by abortion practitioners to kill fetuses: poisons, dismemberment, etc. While I believe that would be informative, useful content that could certainly be cited to a number of MEDRS, any attempt to add it would be extremely controversial. Chester Markel (talk) 02:49, 17 June 2011 (UTC)‘‘Comments of banned sockpuupet account stricken - Wikidemon (talk) 14:30, 19 June 2011 (UTC)’’
Kill fetuses? Surely you'd grant that your biases are showing here? JJL (talk) 03:03, 17 June 2011 (UTC)
In this discussion, copious quantities of MEDRS have been cited to show that abortion procedures do indeed kill fetuses, and none to say they don't. That's the conclusion dictated by the references. Chester Markel (talk) 03:11, 17 June 2011 (UTC)‘‘Comments of banned sockpuupet account stricken - Wikidemon (talk) 14:30, 19 June 2011 (UTC)’’

(unindent) Thanks, Gandydancer, KillerChihuahua, and Michael C. Price. I understand that the issue is how to introduce the article, specifically the wording of the lede. A standard definition of abortion is "the termination of a pregnancy".

The issue, then, is whether or not it is helpful (or good or fair or neutral) to emphasize the idea that the end of the pregnancy involves the "death" of whatever the zygote has turned into (embryo, fetus, "viable fetus", "premature baby").

There are moral and legal implications connected to this, one assumes. For example, most US states (sigh, I lack a worldwide perspective) have little controversy over abortion in the first trimester. But there's been a furor over "partial-birth abortion" (i.e., Intact dilation and extraction). (Head's not out, nothing is born, it's just fetal tissue vs. Hey, that's cheating, you just killed a premature baby.)

Perhaps the most intense controversy is over abortion of (what anti-abortion folks call) "a baby that could live outside its mother's womb". I hate to use such a cumbersome term but viable fetus is a red link. As Chester Markel points out, removing the fetus before it is legally dead (?) and then killing it when it's almost "out" or completely out is considered "murder" by the "pro-lifers" (and by laws in some places).

So I can understand why a euphemism would be preferable. Or at least some phrase which draws attention away from the idea that "something was alive before all this".

The question remains, though, for all of us contributors: how or whether the lede should mention that abortion involves a change in state from the fetal tissue being "alive" in some way to another state. --Uncle Ed (talk) 22:34, 16 June 2011 (UTC)

Ed, So I can understand why a euphemism would be preferable. Nope, don't see it. -- cheers, Michael C. Price talk 22:38, 16 June 2011 (UTC)
Ed, quick reply - been there done that. The discussion did center around that issue for some time. The problem is, if even the best minds can not agree, is this something for Wikipedia editors to tackle? Can you have death if there was no life to die? See for instance Wikipedia Life: "Since there is no unequivocal definition of life...". Gandydancer (talk) 22:40, 16 June 2011 (UTC)
Ed, please leave out "moral .. implications" - remember NPOV, COI, etc. Our job is to state accurately what the RS's say; not make moral judgments. Secondarily, I concur with MCPrice - I don't see it either.
Gandydancer and NW have made excellent points regarding the terminology used by the medical literature, which per UNDUE should have the most weight in our deliberations here. So far, I have seen little effort to directly address their statements and concerns. KillerChihuahua?!?Advice 22:54, 16 June 2011 (UTC)
I have seen at least 5 editors address the concerns of Gandy amd NW and provide citations and well-stated analysis. (talk) 23:10, 16 June 2011 (UTC)
Pardon me, but this is exactly the kind of useless post I am talking about when I refer to spamming the talk page. You assert 5 editors have addressed the concerns; but you do not link a single dif, or state how they addressed the concerns; in short, this is one more bit of useless non-information which does not move the discussion forward at all. Do you understand what I'm talking about now? If you are going to post, post something which conveys some information. Otherwise, you're just doing the text version of running your mouth. I am sorry if this offends, but I am trying to help you communicate more effectively. If your posts convey no information and irritate rather than communicate, you harm your own cause, so to speak. KillerChihuahua?!?Advice 13:19, 17 June 2011 (UTC)
I actually considered asking 67 to furnish that information and decided against it. It was my feeling that when we seemed to have moved forward from that argument to the argument about a decision regarding which published definition was the most acceptable for a Wikipedia article, I saw no reason to cover old ground. Since it remains an issue with him/her, perhaps s/he may want to reopen it with the "citations and well-stated analysis" information in a separate section. It should be interesting because I do not feel that the information is available - anywhere. I feel that this is the reason that most of the definitions that we have found do not use the term "death of the fetus" rather than 67's idea that there is some sort of conspiracy on the part of the medical profession to avoid using the word because abortionists must or should feel guilty for killing a baby. If all of medicine, philosophy, and theology do not agree and the Biological Criteria for Life are not fulfilled by the non-viable fetus, it is not our place as Wikipedia editors to even dream that we are in a position to make the decision about life and death. Gandydancer (talk) 15:06, 17 June 2011 (UTC)
Please help me understand UNDUE. The article (as editors seem to historically point out) covers abortion from all angles (social, biological, human, veterinary, medical, political, etc.). In this broad context, does UNDUE elevate medical texts that are silent regarding an alleged (meaning a fact that the parties are trying to verify) fact such that the silence would dispositively trump medical and other texts that assert the same alleged fact to be true? (talk) 23:06, 16 June 2011 (UTC)
Is it not obvious that including an "alleged fact" in the lede would violate WP:UNDUE et al. nine ways from Sunday? ArtifexMayhem (talk) 23:16, 16 June 2011 (UTC)
Thanks for noting your misunderstanding - "alleged" is often understood as an adjective used to describe an assertion that is in the process of being verified or rejected. I have edited for clarity. (talk) 23:42, 16 June 2011 (UTC)
Thanks for the clarification. ArtifexMayhem (talk) 23:48, 16 June 2011 (UTC)
That would violate WP:V, actually, if I understand your statement correctly. KillerChihuahua?!?Advice 23:18, 16 June 2011 (UTC)
(after ec) I do not understand your question as written, so I will simply explain UNDUE in a general way. Let's say, for example, we are writing about nails. An authoritative work about nails, written by an expert on nails, and used as a textbook, or source for a textbook about nails, would get a lot of weight - we would regard it as definitive. A differing view from a nail manufacturer's website would get considerably less weight, as would a newspaper article about nails. Finally, a politician or celebrity's comments about nails would get no weight at all, unless in their article, not the article on nails. And your cousin Bob's random comments on nails in his blog not only gets no weight, mentioning them on a talk page might be considered a violation of WP:FORUM. Giving a newspaper article the same weight as an authoritative text by an expert is a violation of UNDUE - you are giving a less important source undue weight. Applying this here, then medical texts on Abortion carry the most weight; other sources carry less and less weight the farther they move from authoritative sources. I hope this helps; if this does not address your question please try rephrasing. KillerChihuahua?!?Advice 23:18, 16 June 2011 (UTC)
If an article covers what is equally a social and political and veterinary and biological and medical issue (such as this article), then
  • Would UNDUE require that a medical source that does not address one specific fact trump a reliable widely-used medical dictionary that does address that one specific fact?
  • Rephrased: Would UNDUE require us to consider a medical source's silence regarding one specific fact to be the same as a refutation of a medical dictionary's verification of the same specific fact? (talk) 00:04, 17 June 2011 (UTC)
This is poorly phrased in the context of this discussion, IMO. The medical texts being discussed are not silent on abortion; they cover abortion. They do not all use the word death, which is not at all the same. In other words, your question is loaded, and therefore fallacious. KillerChihuahua?!?Advice 13:23, 17 June 2011 (UTC)
In my opinion, WP:UNDUE would indicate that it the majority of most-respected sources are silent on a matter then adding in the lede rather than as a less-well-placed point lower in the article is not appropriate. However, WP:UNDUE primarily refers to fringe views, and I would not characterize this as one. But it does phrase matters in terms of minority views: "Wikipedia aims to present competing views in proportion to their representation in reliable sources on the subject. " The idea of abortion always involving death is apparently a minority view--it certainly is not even mentioned in most major WP:MEDRS JJL (talk) 03:14, 17 June 2011 (UTC)
──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── That's the crux of the matter: whether silence on a particular point should be interpreted as a positive claim, in violation of WP:NOR. And that's assuming that the no-death references are actually silent on the substantive issue, and not using "termination" as a euphemism for "death". Chester Markel (talk) 03:16, 17 June 2011 (UTC)‘‘Comments of banned sockpuupet account stricken - Wikidemon (talk) 14:30, 19 June 2011 (UTC)’’
No, it's only the crux of the matter if we assume your conclusion--that if any sources use 'death', the term must occur in the lead. 'Destruction' is an equally unopposed term that appears in some sources. Why not include it? You're sitting on the fact that there are sources that use this term. How about engaging the point that 'viable' is the preferred term in modern technical literature? JJL (talk) 03:38, 17 June 2011 (UTC)
We don't just have any sources which describe "death of the fetus" as an abortion outcome - we have thousands[26]. "Destruction" is either a euphemism for "death", quite likely given the number of sources which use "death", or nearly irrelevant. Something ultimately thrown in a medical waste incinerator would be "destroyed", would it not? If this is all such sources are actually claiming, then it isn't really a salient point. "Viable" has its own problems: are we saying that what would otherwise constitute an abortion procedure, post viability, is infanticide? The late term abortion dispute is not one we should be taking sides on in the introduction. Chester Markel (talk) 03:54, 17 June 2011 (UTC)‘‘Comments of banned sockpuupet account stricken - Wikidemon (talk) 14:30, 19 June 2011 (UTC)’’
We do not have thousands of sources which describe "death of the fetus" as an abortion outcome--you have a Google search that turns up the phrase thousands of times. That is no argument at all. JJL (talk) 04:22, 17 June 2011 (UTC)
As ought to be obvious by now, many editors disagree with you, and believe that my search results are generally contextually relevant, and that many specific reliable sources cited by many editors also establish fetal death as an abortion outcome. Want to achieve consensus? Present a better argument, or take a position which has more widespread support. Chester Markel (talk) 04:41, 17 June 2011 (UTC)‘‘Comments of banned sockpuupet account stricken - Wikidemon (talk) 14:30, 19 June 2011 (UTC)’’
Slow down, Chester. For something to "die" it must first be "alive". But we're not talking about debridement of tissue from an organ of the patient's body. The zygote grows into an embryo and then (typically) into a "viable fetus" (if that's the right phrase); and frequently the result is the birth of a human child. But there are legal distinctions here (not to mention those pesky moral ones, which influence legislation), and as you may know these have strict and often crucially important implications.
If at any point this "mass of living tissue" is considered to be "alive" it can imply that it is a human being (see Beginning of personhood), and that would also imply that "ending its life" is infanticide, homicide, or even murder. Do we really need to open that can of worms in the lede?
Maybe we need a section on Implications of ending the pregnancy which can introduce these issues. --04:55, 17 June 2011 (UTC)
The MEDRS cited to support "death of the fetus" and similar claims are asserting biological death only, not death of a person. Antibacterial claims that "bactericidal agents kill bacteria". Are we pushing a POV that use of bactericides is murder? Hardly. The fetus is comprised of human cells, but the same principle applies: if we wrote in Heart transplantation that excessive delays in transportation of the heart will kill it, no reasonable reader will be construing that as a description of the death of a person (the intended recipient might die for lack of the organ, but that's a separate issue.) Ultimately, the prior consensus, still largely supported today, is that "death of the fetus" is a biological fact, and the moral, religious, and political debate over abortion concerns whether or not the killing of the fetus constitutes murder, depending on whether one believes that the fetus is a person/human/sentient. We shouldn't proceed under the premise that claiming killing/death is the same as claiming murder, then reject the former claim because of the obvious POV of the latter. Chester Markel (talk) 05:07, 17 June 2011 (UTC)‘‘Comments of banned sockpuupet account stricken - Wikidemon (talk) 14:30, 19 June 2011 (UTC)’’
In this case a reasonable person could possibly so construe it, though, and it's far from clear that that's the right, or only, conclusion. (Indeed, one wonders if that is what is desired by some who seek to have 'death' in the lede.) You say "the prior consensus [is] still largely supported today". How do you know that? Would it be helpful to have a straw poll? We're certainly going in circles right now. JJL (talk) 13:55, 17 June 2011 (UTC)
I would prefer a concise list of sources and verbiage used by the sources be complied prior to any such straw poll. LeadSongDog, NW, and others have made varying statements regarding the medical literature and terminology used; it appears the weight might be slightly towards termination rather than death. KillerChihuahua?!?Advice 15:00, 17 June 2011 (UTC)
We could, I suppose, say "The cells of which the fetus is comprised die", but sources for it would be questionable. The MEDRS, in describing the "death of the fetus", are referring to the point at which the overall organism dies. The later death landmark, when almost all of the individual cells are dead, is not as well researched. Chester Markel (talk) 05:17, 17 June 2011 (UTC)‘‘Comments of banned sockpuupet account stricken - Wikidemon (talk) 14:30, 19 June 2011 (UTC)’’
This is the issue of 'cellular death' vs. 'organismal death' and indeed I am not of the opinion that a blastocyst in an early spontaneous abortion experiences the latter as opposed to the former. The matter is not simple, and googling a couple of phrases doesn't help us understand the matter any better. JJL (talk) 13:55, 17 June 2011 (UTC)

(outdent) Chester, with no commentary on the rest of your arguments, I must agree with JJL that a Google search is worse than useless in this particular instance. KillerChihuahua?!?Advice 13:27, 17 June 2011 (UTC)

How else can one establish anything about thousands of MEDRS in this context? To the best of my knowledge, there are no review articles considering whether or not the fetus dies as a result of abortion. So we're in a pickle: use individual sources (accusations of cherry-picking) or use the Google Scholar results (accusations of lacking contextual relevancy.) Chester Markel (talk) 16:09, 17 June 2011 (UTC)‘‘Comments of banned sockpuupet account stricken - Wikidemon (talk) 14:30, 19 June 2011 (UTC)’’
The problem is that the word "death" has two meanings: a technical meaning and an emotional one. Technically, tissue that is removed from its supporting structures, dies. Plants die when you pick them, cancers die when you excise them etc. Emotionally, death is the opposite of life, and there is a whole load of baggage around the point at which life can be said to exist. Under the circumstances, and particularly given the fact that the life/death terminology is an integral part of the political football that is abortion policy, it's probably better to avoid the term. Guy (Help!) 11:51, 18 June 2011 (UTC)
Would it be reasonable to consider that if we believe the embryo/fetus to be biologically alive me must consider the placenta to be biologically alive as well, since it is the placenta that carries on the life-supporting activities of nutrition, respiration, etc.? We never think of a placenta as having died, and yet in the case of the pre-viable fetus it is even more alive, biologically speaking, than the fetus. Gandydancer (talk) 12:35, 18 June 2011 (UTC)

This is part of the issue of separating the cellular death the tissue experiences from the organismal death that is highly unclear for the sort of reason you indicate--a blastocyst or embryo doesn't clearly satisfy typical definitions for a living thing, like homeostasis (it has considerable help there) or the ability to reproduce (which is there in potential but not actuality). To my mind the biggest point here is that 'alive' is a very ill-defined matter--a sort of Sorites paradox, a fuzzy line to be crossed--while viable is fairly clear: A fetus that is delivered outside the womb would either survive as a neonate or would not. The fuzziness there is much less--we can't tell exactly when that happens, but at some point it must, whether we can currently test for it or not. JJL (talk) 19:39, 18 June 2011 (UTC)
I'd go further--the technical meanings include not just biological and medical (which are related but not necessarily the same) but also legal, for example. In addition, the biological definition is quite fuzzy; indeed, it almost has to be, for biology is the study of living organisms, and living organisms are what biologists study. (This is common to many fields: Chemists study chemicals, physicists study the physical world, mathematicians study numbers and concepts built thereupon, etc., and while you can bury the circularity in synonyms to some extent the underlying problem remains.) 'Death' is a loaded and over-loaded term that needs much greater elucidation than can be given in the lede. It's disputed; it's not the mainstream term used in the medical community; it's widely used in the context of heated political debates; it carries an emotional impact that is not intended here, as I understand the reasoning for the current form; and it is absolutely unnecessary, as seen from the lack of use of the term by medical references. JJL (talk) 19:39, 18 June 2011 (UTC)
I tried to qualify the meaning of "death" as in the introduction as referring to life sciences issues only[27], but you reverted me[28]. That "the biological definition is quite fuzzy" is your own original research. "Death" is only "not the mainstream term used in the medical community" if we consider references which avoid the topic of fetal death entirely as actually making some positive claim, in contravention of WP:NOR. This problem has been explained many times already. And even the lack of treatment of the "death" issue by some sources is assuming that they aren't using "termination" or similar language as euphemisms. Chester Markel (talk) 21:51, 18 June 2011 (UTC)‘‘Comments of banned sockpuupet account stricken - Wikidemon (talk) 14:30, 19 June 2011 (UTC)’’
It's not OR that defining life is difficult; see refs. 11-16 at Life#Definitions, for example. We disagree fundamentally on reading the sources. You claim some "avoid" using 'death', while I believe they chose not to do so because they felt it was not appropriate to use that term or another term was more appropriate; to my mind, it's OR on your part to infer that they deliberately avoided using it. More to the point, it simply doesn't follow that if some sources use the term 'death' and others do not that we must, therefore, use 'death'. This is both a matter of WP:WEIGHT and of editorial/stylistic decisions even beyond any decision as to what is the most accurate way to describe matters. The preferred description in the medically community appears to be to refer to viability. The existence of sources that don't go that route doesn't compel us to do anything. JJL (talk) 22:14, 18 June 2011 (UTC)
Suppose that 1/4 of all biographies of Rick Santorum in reliable sources mentioned the Santorum controversy regarding homosexuality and 3/4 omitted any information about it. If I removed all material concerning the controversy from the Santorum biography on the grounds of purported WP:NOR or WP:WEIGHT violations, a number of editors would be very angry with me. And they'd be right. Yet your argument that since a majority of descriptions of abortion in MEDRS don't mention fetal death, we can't either, despite the thousands of sources that describe "death of the fetus" as an abortion outcome, is just as spurious, and would never be tolerated for a moment by the community in other contexts. Chester Markel (talk) 02:15, 19 June 2011 (UTC)‘‘Comments of banned sockpuupet account stricken - Wikidemon (talk) 14:30, 19 June 2011 (UTC)’’
Well, firstly, 25% is a lot--what percentage do we have here? From the quality sources (vice random searches), it appears to be a much, much lower number. Secondly, that's a fact and is set out in its own full article, but reasons have been given why 'death' may be more of a judgment and need much more elucidation of its nuances here. Thirdly, that article doesn't define 'Rick Santorum', but the sentence we're speaking of does puport to define 'abortion'. Finally, no one is suggesting we omit any mention of it, but questioning whether it should go in the first sentence of the lede, unqualified. The controversy you mention isn't even in the first paragraph and is in fact not even alluded to until much later in the article. The second paragraph only mentions he's known for his stance on homosexuality among other things--not that there's a controversy there. So, your point proves mine. JJL (talk) 04:03, 19 June 2011 (UTC)
I took a look at some of the old talk from 2006 to try to get an understanding of the thinking from back then and I ran across a statement that I really like. This editor had given the matter a lot of thought and eventually changed his or her mind about the use of the word death in the definition in the lede. Here it is:
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....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)
Brilliant! Gandydancer (talk) 14:50, 19 June 2011 (UTC)


By way of explanation and discussion in this talk page (and in no way suggesting that original resarch be included in the article because using death has been verified by many MEDRS) I offer this: The peer-reviewed Planned Parenthood medical research cited above details the use of digoxin injections by doctors performing abortions so as to intentionally induce "fetal death" in pregnancies up to 24 weeks. Other MEDRS has been cited that discusses "fetal death" exclusively as a spontaneous abortion in which the fetus dies before it is removed or expelled. We can see in the Planned Parenthood research that medical professionals do consider doctor-induced "feticide" (the word used by Planned Parenthood's doctor) to be "fetal death". If we then look at still other MEDRS, some of them can be understood to say that abortion is the termination of pregnancy by removal of what is always a non-viable fetus. Some editors state that because MEDRS have verified that late-term abortions are performed on viable fetuses (verified by MEDRS and by court testimony and congressional testimony of late-term abortion doctors), this points to the falsity of any generally-applicable definition for abortion that includes the abortus's non-viablity. Some editors have even cited here RS that indicate doctors and judges allow that as part of an abortion procedure doctors should/do intentionally kill a breathing fetus that has been removed from the uterus. But in fact, if we look closely there is no real contradiction in all of this - it might be that because the law is not quite clear yet, some MEDRS continue to include mention that in an induced abortion the fetus is not viable. And even then, these MEDRS definitions can be seen as a tacit mention that the fetuses are not viable (alive) when expelled or removed precisely because the fetus has been killed (aka destroyed) by the abortion procedure itself. In compliance with the laws (that still might not clearly permit the killing of a post-partum living fetus as part of an abortion), these MEDRS are written to make it clear that death must be accomplished (induced and completed) in utero. So in the end, what is expelled or extracted is a non-viable fetus (because the doctor already performed feticide in utero). While none of this synthesis should be included in the article, it is offered to explain why fetal viability might be included in some definitions, and why that inclusion need not be seen as a "conflict" or as an affirmative statement that fetuses don't die in an abortion. Finally, this is all a discussion of only the medical jargon used by some abortion providers and some doctors. Cloudy medical jargon should not force the hand of the lead of a generic definition of abortion. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:25, 19 June 2011 (UTC)

The following is a description on the website of an abortion clinic that tells potential patients about abortion procedures that the clinic offers. It is offered only for discussion here on the talk page to show an example of the langauge used by those who perform the abortions when describing them to their patients:

  • For patients that are 18 weeks pregnant or more by LMP, the physician will also administer a medication called digoxin on the first day of the abortion procedure. Digoxin is administered directly into the fetus to induce fetal demise (death). This is administered at 18 or more weeks in a pregnancy in order to prevent a live birth and also to ensure that the fetus is unable to feel any part of the abortion procedure. Medical evidence is unclear as to the exact time a fetus is developed enough to feel pain, but some studies point to a time around 20 – 22 weeks. We feel that administering digoxin is the most humane thing we can do in order to ensure that the fetus does not experience pain during the procedure.

This abortion clinic uses the word death to describe what the state of the fetus after the doctor administers a fatal injection to the fetus. (talk) 00:55, 20 June 2011 (UTC)

Should "death", verifiable fact since 2005, be removed from lede?

"Death" has been verified since 2005

  • by a sound widely recognized dictionary (which supplies everyday definitions that apply very broadly),
  • by a legal dictionary (which supplies definitions from a legal perspective), and
  • by a medical dictionary (which supplies definitions from a clinical/medical perspective).

The publisher of these dictionaries, Merriam-Webster, has determined that the best primary definition in all 3 of these reference books is the same.

  • [As an aside: Perhaps this is because in the contemporary everyday English-speaking culture, when abortion is at play, the sociological, philsosophical, moral, legal, political, biological and medical factors are all implicated; in other words even when we think of abortion in everyday terms, most people realize the many issues that are associated with it. This could be a reason Merriam-Webster chose to use the same definition in all three dictionaries.]

In addition we have medical and veterinary textbooks and peer reviewed resarch that verifies that the offspring in utero dies or is killed as part of the abortion process. Nothing has changed since 2005.

There cannot be any serious plausible debate as to whether "death" has been and remains verified as a medical, biological, veterinary, and scientific fact. It is an insult to editors to carry-on as if this is actually open for debate.

Once the editors who seek to remove "death" from the lede concede that it is a verifiable fact that death of the offspring is part of every abortion, then we can have a sincere discussion as to whether the lede should be changed to delete this verified fact. Until then the discussion here is silly and not accomplishing anything. (talk) 16:16, 17 June 2011 (UTC)

Am I correct that your position is that we can have a reasonable discussion of this issue once we concede that you're right? JJL (talk) 18:37, 17 June 2011 (UTC)
No. Though I suppose someone who assumes bad faith and who does not understand verifiability might think that. I am inviting everyone to acknowledge that the verifaibility policy, as applied to this article, requires all editors to acknowledge that the Merriam-Webster dictionary definition for abortion (which states that an abortion includees the death of the fetus or embryo) is verification that allows us to include that fact (death) in the article. This talk page has much discussion that argues from the perspective that "death" has not been verified. Much of the non-stop debate is about an issue that is not open for debate - one cannot make a good faith claim that "death" has not been verified. If editors keep debating whether this fact (death) has been verified, and keep arguing as if the article cannot include that fact because it has not been verified, then we are wasting our time arguing about including that fact in the first line. I am not demanding that anyone accept the lede. Rather, I am insisting that editors follow verifiability, which will require them to stop suggesting or claiming or premising that death should not be in the lede or anywhere else because it has not been verified.
  • Those who don't want "death" in the lede MUST use a different argument (other than verifiability) to try to persuade. It is a violation of verifiablity and a form of stalling to do otherwise. (talk) 19:18, 17 June 2011 (UTC)


  • Related question: should be prohibited from starting any new threads until at least one of the old threads shows some evidence of progress or resolution? MastCell Talk 16:22, 17 June 2011 (UTC)
I am happy to stop starting new threads (which I suppose is new underlined sections?) until all the prior threads on the talk page are resolved. What is the method to determine that an open thread is resolved? As a point of order, I started this thread to end the endless debate above that does not even address the real issue, which is not whether the death has been verified (it most aboslutely has been since 2005), but whether there is consensus to delete death from the lede. Killer Chihuahua distorts what is going on here and is POV pushing. I am requesting that KillerChihuaHua be disciplined for the constant stalking of eveything I post and the nasty tone in posts to me and the POV pushing. KillerChihuahua is being uncivil and I don't have to accept that. (talk) 17:28, 17 June 2011 (UTC)
Please post a dif of me POV pushing. As I have not even expressed an opinion on whether the word "death" should be in the lead (this year, anyway), I suggest you are in error that I have violated WP:POV. I'm ignoring your accusation of "stalking" as absurd. KillerChihuahua?!?Advice 17:46, 17 June 2011 (UTC)
Your denial of stalking would be more plausible if you would politely assist the editors who have been consistently editing under the pretense that "death" has not been verified. Given your prior comments in years past, you obviously understand that "death" has been verified. That is not open to debate. Yet you have not admonished those who keep ignoring the dictionary citation (as if it did not exist and did not confirm that "death" is verifiable) and making assertions that death is not verifiable (or refusing to acknowledge (when asked) that it is. That is one good reason why I don't consider your actions to be in good faith. (talk) 21:02, 17 June 2011 (UTC)
I'm sorry, that doesn't even make sense. Nothing you have said has anything at all to do with stalking. You are accusing me of ... not admonishing those who disagree with your assertion that a DicDef trumps all other sources (no one has said the dictionary fails WP:V or WP:RS, so your harping on V is unintelligible to me; you're tilting at windmills again and arguing that which was never asserted.) I have no reason to admonish editors for disagreeing with you. Failing to admonish them has absolutely no relation to stalking at all. You're not even making basic sense in this post. KillerChihuahua?!?Advice 21:09, 17 June 2011 (UTC)
I am straightforward and direct. You can't stand that. And please stop coyly pretending that your anger is not involved with the way you are behaving. Please stop being obtuse. You have decided to target me. I called that stalking. I am sorry if I confused you because wikipedia has a more narrow definition of stalking. Your tone just sucks and I am sick of your incessant nastiness. I am going to stay away for 24 hours, and I suggest you look inside and cut the crapola (latin for crap) when I return. Thanks. (talk) 21:17, 17 June 2011 (UTC)
I'm not angry. I'm puzzled. We seem to be having a communications problem of epic proportions; you seem to be becoming more and more hostile, making more and wilder accusations against me. I think you are wise to take a break at this juncture. KillerChihuahua?!?Advice 21:35, 17 June 2011 (UTC)
I'm in agreement with the sentiments expressed by MastCell and KillerChihuahua here. Opening new fronts before old ones are closed is a standard stalling tactic. JJL (talk) 18:37, 17 June 2011 (UTC)
Your posts advocate a position that WP:Verifiability ["The threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is verifiability, not truth—whether readers can check that material in Wikipedia has already been published by a reliable source, not whether editors think it is true."] is inapplicable to this article, at least not when it comes to and "death". Because you won't follow verifiability, from this a reasonable person draws the conclusion that you don't agree that death is part of abortion, and it is no stretch to conclude that this has tainted your hounding of me and your posts on this talk page, and your advocacy against the letter and spirit of FAQ #1 of this article. This is all an indication of your bad faith editing here, though I won't discount that there could be some other explanation. (talk) 17:58, 17 June 2011 (UTC)
I'm sorry, I was under the mistaken impression you had actually bothered to read the FAQ you keep citing. Had you done so, and read the archives, you would have found that I have been involved in the death/notdeath debate since the beginning, and my position has always been clearly and strongly in support of the use of the word death in the lead. If you'll note, I have not even indicated whether I'm open to changing that view on the talk page this go-round. I've confined myself strictly to policy; comments aimed at assisting the discussion to move forward, in keeping with my mediator experience; and requests for brevity, clarity, and civility - all of which you have ignored. The earliest edits of mine regarding the use of the word "death" that I've found are and both from Mar 2006. Before that the main debate about that section was how to describe the abortus. Now, I ask again: as I have in no way indicated this year what my position on the use of the word "death" might be, how on earth can anyone logically accuse me of POV-pushing? You are equally in error about your presumption regarding my views on WP:V vis-a-vis the MW dicdef. In short, you are accusing without evidence, and indeed have continually wrongly stated what you erroneously think are my views, and I would appreciate if you cease such actions. KillerChihuahua?!?Advice 18:08, 17 June 2011 (UTC)
67.233 Please stop with these baseless personal attacks and attempts of misdirection. ArtifexMayhem (talk) 18:15, 17 June 2011 (UTC)
I ask once again: What is the basis for the implied authority of this fact? It's presented as though it has the authority of an ArbCom decision yet I believe--please correct me if I'm mistaken--that it's merely a statement of the 2005 consensus. JJL (talk) 18:41, 17 June 2011 (UTC)
Apologies, while the word "death" has been in the lead since 2005 (and on and off from 2001), the debate and resulting consensus was from 2006, not 2005. I don't mean to nitpick, I merely offer the correction for accuracy's sake. You are correct, the FAQ#1 merely documents the consensus arrived at, at that time. KillerChihuahua?!?Advice 18:52, 17 June 2011 (UTC)
You used the word merely, which is W-R-O-N-G. In addition to documenting the consensus, FAQ #1 ALSO cautions editors to acheive a new consensus before changinf the lede to delete "death". (talk) 20:56, 17 June 2011 (UTC)
Got it! Thanks. I'd suggest then that those here who are citing the FAQ might stop as it's redundant with citing the 2006 consensus (the fact of which is not in dispute). JJL (talk) 19:16, 17 June 2011 (UTC)
Citing FAQ #1 is most helpful. Twice in the last few days some have edited the lede with disregard for the letter and spirit of FAQ #1 as if they had not read it. FAQ #1 is there to assist editors who are interested in being civil. It is a much more specific and helpful reference point than stating "it's been this way for years", and it presents context and tone. (talk) 19:26, 17 June 2011 (UTC)
  • Support measure, with additional note that such leading and argumentative approaches as calling current phrasing "verifiable fact" rather than "established consensus" be addressed as well - if 67.233 cannot phrase his comments in a non-confrontational fashion, some sort of remedy must be found. This has gone beyond irritating spam and well into disruption. KillerChihuahua?!?Advice 16:52, 17 June 2011 (UTC)
Because you mis-state what is going on, I will correct you, KillerChuhuaha: That "abortion" includes offspring death is verifiable by The issue is whether there is consensus to delete that verifiable fact from the lede. Your comment and tone above are intended to avoid dealing with this absolutely correct framing of the content of this talk discussion. (talk) 17:44, 17 June 2011 (UTC)
  • Support MastCell's suggestion; Oppose KillerChihuahua's. -- cheers, Michael C. Price talk 17:15, 17 June 2011 (UTC)
  • Comment I'm not going to express my opinion till this is changed from this idiotic "When did you stop beating your wife" style of coming to some sort of agreement. Gandydancer (talk) 17:39, 17 June 2011 (UTC)
  • Comment I'm with Gandydancer. This isn't how it works. -GTBacchus(talk) 17:42, 17 June 2011 (UTC)
  • Support MastCell's suggestion; Support KillerChihuahua's. The constant attacks (veiled, thinly or otherwise), POV pushing, soapboxing, etc. by 67.233 must stop. ArtifexMayhem (talk) 17:58, 17 June 2011 (UTC)
  • Support the suggestion by MastCell; I'm in basic agreement with KillerChihuahua's suggestion but am unsure how such civility could be enforced absent a permanent judge being appointed to this page (which isn't a bad idea). JJL (talk) 18:48, 17 June 2011 (UTC)
  • Support MastCell's suggestion; Support KillerChihuahua's. We don't tolerate this in other articles. OrangeMarlin Talk• Contributions 21:25, 17 June 2011 (UTC)
    • Correction: we do, but we shouldn't. MastCell Talk 23:04, 17 June 2011 (UTC)
  • I think I count as uninvolved here, I will issue a warning and if necessary take action. Guy (Help!) 21:45, 17 June 2011 (UTC)
    • Perhaps you were, until you took a position on the content dispute[29]. Chester Markel (talk) 21:36, 18 June 2011 (UTC)‘‘Comments of banned sockpuupet account stricken - Wikidemon (talk) 14:30, 19 June 2011 (UTC)’’
  • Comment taking the foot off the gas would be advisable Allow us to reconstitute the rationale of why "viable" wasn't selected in 2006. This will provide context for why death was chosen, and we can have constructive dialogue from that starting point; well I hope it'll be better than reiterating positions and wiki-policy. - RoyBoy 05:45, 18 June 2011 (UTC)
I think the historical perspective will be helpful. It seems consensus has been lost and not yet regained and I would certainly find it a constructive approach to see the rationale laid out in summary form (as some have briefly attempted to do above, which was helpful) and be able to refer to it as we discuss how best to construct the lede. I also appreciate your comments directed to me above and am also willing to slow down and try to make better progress. JJL (talk) 16:09, 18 June 2011 (UTC)
  • Comment Yes, I agree that it would be a good time to take a look at the reasons that death rather than viable was selected in the past. That said, I do not at all feel that any of this extremely long and sometimes exhausting conversation was "wasted" - and that includes the many posts that 67 made. I came to this discussion having never given the issue any thought at all and till now I believe that I would have said certainly the fetus dies - it was alive, and now it's dead. But it really bothered me when someone said that it was so obvious that anyone that thought differently should get kicked off the article, and so I looked into it more deeply. I think that what is so beautiful about using consensus is that first there is a lot of brain storming - and we could have not gotten here without first being there. I think I have been lucky to have 67's perspective because I have needed to hear what I don't agree with besides what seems to make sense to me. And while there is nobody here with the expertise to give us an answer, even the Supreme Court did not attempt to do that, reading the posts I find that there are plenty of Wikipedia experts here to help us decide what is the best answer for a Wikipedia article. Gandydancer (talk) 17:11, 18 June 2011 (UTC)
    • Bravo. What he said. When was the last content RfC on this page, anyway? -GTBacchus(talk) 22:08, 18 June 2011 (UTC)
  • Oppose Topic banning someone for too fervently articulating the view held by thousands of reliable sources, and apparently refuted by none, is an exceptionally bad idea. And essentially everyone participating in this discussion, myself included, is involved in the content dispute. A community consensus for a topic ban would only exist when expressed by uninvolved users. This is why such matters are normally discussed at WP:AN or WP:AN/I, not on article talk pages where uninvolved users are extremely rare. Chester Markel (talk) 21:36, 18 June 2011 (UTC)‘‘Comments of banned sockpuupet account stricken - Wikidemon (talk) 14:30, 19 June 2011 (UTC)’’
I need to correct your statement. As a matter of fact Orangemarlin did not "fervently articulate" his position. If I remember correctly, he stated it only once and joined in the discussion only rarely. Or perhaps I misunderstand your statement? Gandydancer (talk) 22:34, 18 June 2011 (UTC)
I thought we were voting on the opening of new threads, not on topic banning someone? -- cheers, Michael C. Price talk 08:12, 19 June 2011 (UTC)
  • Comment: Not sure what we are voting on? I do concur with RoyBoy's comment 67.223... needed to throttle back a little on the new sections, but starting a new section is an understandable thing to do if a discussion is drifting away from its main issue and I don't see that it was a "stalling tactic". Perhaps a "steering comment" would have been better, but looks like water under the bridge now. Still I oppose any ban, a comment was given on the editor's talk page and I don't support any further action. I too concur with Gandydancer that the IPs comments have been candid and would continue to be valuable to the discussion. DMSBel (talk) 09:32, 19 June 2011 (UTC)
Well that's not exactly what I said. I feel they have been valuable but I did not say they would continue to be valuable. One must be able to move forward rather than just run around in circles. Not sure how to put this nicely and I'm not sure that I need to, but I felt that 67 was really coming unglued near the end. Gandydancer (talk) 12:34, 19 June 2011 (UTC)
Unglued?? As I see it, it was just a case of an editor becoming more sure of what he was debating, and becoming a little frustrated by others veering off the main points. Anyway I apologise if I summed up your words inaccurately. If the issue (opening new sections) had been a major one, it should have been taken to an AN/I first, for un-involved comment. There was no repeat after the issue was raised. Anyway - water under the bridge. (talk) 17:52, 19 June 2011 (UTC)

Lead edit - viable - Current form of first sentence

The current version is: "Abortion is the termination of a pregnancy by the removal or expulsion of a fetus or embryo from the uterus before the fetus is viable." This is a well-supported version that doesn't use contentious and/or ambiguous terms. The only real unaddressed issue I see is that Selective reduction doesn't terminate the woman's state of pregnancy. I think this can be clarified later in the article--it doesn't merit a caveat here, esp. because of the use of 'a' (vice 'the') in the phrasing. I would not have used 'viable' if I were crafting a defn. myself but it is well-attested based on the sources provided by NW on this page. The use of Viability (fetal) addresses the able-to-be-born-live issue without raising the currently-living issue. JJL (talk) 04:06, 15 June 2011 (UTC)

Why has the lede been changed twice in the last day when there is no consensus? Are you violating 1RR? (talk) 10:02, 15 June 2011 (UTC)
Me? No. I didn't change it. I've only made one edit in the past several days--to revert a change made under a premature claim of Talk page consensus. But it looks to me as though what was made were primarily new edits--perhaps one reversion of 'death', then new editing--apart from NuclearWarfare self-reverting while editing, which I can't believe is intended as a violation (WP:1RR refers to WP:3RR which refers to undoing another's edits). JJL (talk) 13:12, 15 June 2011 (UTC)
Thanks. NuclearWar has made changes that do not enjoy consensus and ignore the FAQ #1 for the Abortion article. I think you actually reverted this yesterday when someone else did the same thing. Thanks. The current version is not acceptable. (talk) 16:08, 15 June 2011 (UTC)
I'm seeing a fair amount of agreement on the Talk page about the current version. What would it take to "officially" declare consensus? We can't expect universal agreement. (WP:CONS says: "Consensus is not necessarily unanimity. Ideally, it arrives with an absence of objections, but if this proves impossible, a majority decision must be taken. More than a simple majority is generally required for major changes.") This approach--checking the significant new sources as an experiment--seemed to enjoy broad support as a way of moving forward, and I personally am fine with the wording that is now in there even though 'viability' would not have been my preferred wording, but it'd be good to find a clear new consensus on what is obviously a contentious matter. JJL (talk) 16:26, 15 June 2011 (UTC)
The presumed consensus is insulting, and the way this was done could lead NW and JJL to be topic banned. However, it is obviously a bold good-faith attempt, so we won't go down that road this week. (I am suggesting to revert it yourselves, I won't be so balanced if an admin is required to intervene.) I can do it myself, not from some sense of ownership of the lead, but from y'all ignoring the FAQ and archives.
Anyway, please clarify, did you read any of this? Talk:Abortion/First paragraph The first archive, I was even studious enough to put "viability" in the summary! Here viability is first discussed, I believe the conclusion there and much later on when the lead was being developed, is "viability" is a term usually used for birth. It is somewhat out of context for an abortion. Certainly viability is a consideration for a therapeutic abortion done for medical reasons/risks, but that's a fraction of abortion cases and misconstrues what an elective abortion is. - RoyBoy 18:12, 15 June 2011 (UTC)
Roy, I have only been an administrator for two years or so, almost four full years fewer than you. But I certainly have been around the block enough to know that none of JJL or my edits is even remotely close to being deserving of a topic ban. Please drop the red herring. NW (Talk) 20:44, 15 June 2011 (UTC)
It was a red herring, this week, and I didn't know you were an admin. I expect better: your change was against a long established - very well discussed - precedent. That by itself qualifies as poor judgement (I won't expand on further minor faux pas). But since it was good faith, in the end I'm glad to say you're absolutely right. However, even my cursory participation on this round indicates the leads been repeatedly messed with. Not promising. - RoyBoy 01:30, 16 June 2011 (UTC)
It would be helpful if there were fewer threats of seeking topic bans, ANI, etc., and more good-faith discussion. As for me personally, I ask you this question: Since I didn't make the edit and since I ask immediately above your comments how we can get to a new consensus, what are you complaining about me for? Simply because I disagree with you? Is it not apparent that I made this new section so we could discuss the change that was made, despite the fact that I largely agreed with it? I call your bluff: Get me topic-banned for this. I've left space below for your reply. JJL (talk) 19:47, 15 June 2011 (UTC)
I'll take quick issue with any editor claiming consensus cavalierly (I don't have enough digits to count how many times pro-lifers claimed it here), it's something to be avoided in disputed articles/topics. Do you disagree? If viable remained in the article -- while discussion continued -- I wouldn't be using qualifiers such as "could". To be clear, it was warning of how bad that edit/support was; not a goddamn game of chicken. - RoyBoy 01:30, 16 June 2011 (UTC)
An editor acting in good faith will never edit an endelessly-discussed-from-every-possible-angle long-established consensus lede that has a constant history of being questioned but confirmed, and even includes as the number 1 article FAQ an explnation that makes it clear that in order to change the lede (which might be possible, but only after significant dicussion involving dozens of editors over several weeks' time) you will have to put in some work to try to gain a new consensus. Do you really not understand this? (talk) 20:15, 15 June 2011 (UTC)
Please AGF and do not make such accusatory absolute judgments which claim a good-faith editor would never be bold. KillerChihuahua?!?Advice 20:27, 15 June 2011 (UTC)
KillerC: Take a does of your own medicine, please. Please AGF by exerting some self-control before alleging others have not assumed good faith, or at least by being consistent in accusing others of violating AGF . My comment mentioned good faith in a less provocative tone than JJL did when JJL used it in reply to RoyBoy. In fact, I had already compelemnted JJL just above, and only mentioned what would be (and what would not be) good faith behavior of an editor only after JJL violated AGF in reply to RoyBoy. Why did you single me out, but you failed to invite JJL to AGF? Inquiring minds want to know. (talk) 20:48, 15 June 2011 (UTC)
You said "an editor acting in good faith will never". My response was directly to what you stated; I reminded you not to judge another's good faith, or lack thereof, so sweepingly. I am sure you meant well; I in no way accused you of failing to act in good faith. Please let me know if you are still confused. KillerChihuahua?!?Advice 20:53, 15 June 2011 (UTC)
OK. I hear you (should I have said "a sane editor acting in good faith will never..."?). ;0) (talk) 21:34, 15 June 2011 (UTC)
That personal attack is even more appreciated. Keep it up. NW (Talk) 02:22, 16 June 2011 (UTC)
Now to the point: The edit was in keeping with the experiment that was described in advance and I find it the wording and the fact of the edit quite reasonable. According to WP:CONS, consensus can change, and referring to previous consensus or old Talk page archives as an argument against forming a new one is discouraged. That doesn't mean we have a new consensus--it means all should work collegially toward achieving consensus. Your pointer to a discussion of 'viability' over 5 years ago is largely irrelevant. What do you have to say about the matter in light of the recent discussion and new sources? JJL (talk) 19:47, 15 June 2011 (UTC)
I continue to AGF with you (and everyone) as I believe you see it as reasonable; moreover I'd be in agreement if this was early 2006. I haven't read through and processed the furious recentism of the talk page, but I don't see the reinvention of the wheel happening soon (but I am reading). If this sounds flippant, intentional, apparently we banged this out on teletype in the dark ages and archives shouldn't be rigorously consulted on a keyword ... did bioethics/society revolutionize in 5 years? Perhaps it's just new arrivals being over enthusiastic. (not a bad thing in of itself)- RoyBoy 02:13, 16 June 2011 (UTC)
Society didn't change, but you know what did change? The growing use of high-quality secondary sources instead of whatever comes up in a Google search. The few times that high-impact sources are mentioned [30], [31] to a lesser extent, almost universally supports exclusion of "death" from the lead sentence. It has only ever been Wikipedia editors trying to add their preferred wording that led us to this. Using definitions only from the highest quality and highest impact reliable sources, I am at a complete loss to see how one would end up there. NW (Talk) 02:22, 16 June 2011 (UTC)
I completely sympathize with your position and confusion; and appreciative you found pertinent archive sections. It seems clear we have let you down, and not provided in summary fashion the relevant source(s) to how viable was found wanting. We are reconstituting below, and will correct this oversight hopefully shortly. - RoyBoy 14:26, 16 June 2011 (UTC)

This has been discussed before. Abortion has nothing to do with whether the fetus is viable or not - the definition inserted above would mean that abortions post the viabiltiy range are not actually abortions, which of course is ridiculous. And yes, the old consensus - which is also proper contentwise - still stands. Str1977 (talk) 20:10, 15 June 2011 (UTC)

Please remember that consensus can change. KillerChihuahua?!?Advice 20:26, 15 June 2011 (UTC)
Consensus can change but there is no indication that it did in this case, especially given how often this has been discussed. I know you know about this because we were both there some time ago. Str1977 (talk) 08:25, 16 June 2011 (UTC)
First off, thank you for mentioning that you were canvassed here. I'm glad that people are following appropriate procedure and informing people that they have not come here on their own volition.

I have reinserted the four definitions that I had added to the article in a footnote earlier. They are properly sourced to far more authoritative sources than "Gynecology for Lawyers"; I hardly think that anyone can object to that as a first step.

With regards your comment about viability being ridiculous point to define abortion by, please tell that to Dr. Schorge. It was he (and colleagues) who edited the textbook Williams Gynecology, which states exactly that: "Abortion is the spontaneous or induced termination of pregnancy before fetal viability. Because popular use of the word abortion implies a deliberate pregnancy termination, some prefer the word miscarriage to refer to spontaneous fetal loss before viability." But I'm sure you know better than a Vanderbilt/BWH-MGH trained OB/GYN.

As KC and JJL note above, consensus can change. I have looked through the previous discussions, and I have to say that I believe I have done a more comprehensive literature review for the exact definition of the word abortion than has been done by Wikipedia editors before now. I honestly affirm that there was no bias in the method I used to look textbooks up; I had never read a single one of them before and I put down everything I read. Consequently, I find it ironic that you and Chester (et al) would wish to keep "viability" out and "death" in. Almost every single one of the references (please read them above, looked for the green collapsed box) mention fetal viability, and almost none mention death. Perhaps there is a case to be made that fetal death needs to be mentioned in the first sentence. I honestly have not made up my mind yet, but any discussion of such needs to include solid academic (not necessarily med. biological, but med. ethical or med. historical too) sources that prominently state that the definition of abortion includes "death" as a key component. Our guideline(s) demand nothing less. NW (Talk) 20:44, 15 June 2011 (UTC)

NW, what procedure are you talking about? I don't need no procedure to post here. Yes, I was informed by some IP that something was going on here but given that I have been involved in this article for quite a while, I see no reson why that should interest you. I haven't done anything clandestine. And I am certainly here on my own volition! I am not forced!
On the issue: you are obviously confusing different meanings of abortion. This is a general encyclopedia and hence must take the generally accepted meaning of the word into account first (specialist meanings may of course be mentioned as well). And Abortion is generally defined in such a way that non-viabiltiy is not a prequisite for it. This would mean that late-term abortions are not actually abortions, that no one ever survived his or her own abortion etc. Worse still, your wording can be taken to imply a POV that abortion results in the death of only those not viable anyway - given the very controversial nature of the issue certainly a no-go. This is the reality of how the word is defined and no "comprehensive literature review" can change that.
"Perhaps there is a case to be made that fetal death needs to be mentioned in the first sentence." Given that it is the centrepiece of the ethical controversy, which in turn makes this issue more prominent than other medical issues, it certainly is. And we already have a source stating the obvious. :::Str1977 (talk) 08:25, 16 June 2011 (UTC)
If you "honestly haven't made up [your] mind yet", then it seems premature to make a prominent edit that requires consensus before you have reached concensus even within your own mind. By the way, is there a reason your comments are written as if the most widely cited, most widely relied upon, best-selling American English dictionary does not include "death" in its main abortion definition? Assuming good faith on your part, there must be an explanation, because you indicate that we have to rely on "sources that prominently state the definition of abortion includes death", and other editors keep explaining to you that Merriam-Websters regular, medical and legal dictionaries all do just that ("abortion:the termination of a pregnancy after, accompanied by, resulting in, or closely followed by the death of the embryo or fetus"). (talk) 20:59, 15 June 2011 (UTC)
It is a falsehood that I made any such edit, and I request that you retract that statement. I certainly didn't revert it, but I didn't make it. NW (Talk) 22:20, 15 June 2011 (UTC)
Merriam-Webster is, as you point out, a dictionary. NW made it clear that he was looking at academic, medical sources. KillerChihuahua?!?Advice 21:03, 15 June 2011 (UTC)
Regarding the Merriam-Webster Medical Dictionary (used by medical professionals), I will repeat and extend for those that might want or need clarification: Merriam-Webster Medical Dictionary includes "death" in the core basic definition of abortion because fetal death or embryonic death is the sine qua non of abortion.
  • The pregnancy cannot end unless the fetus goes away:
  • If the fetus goes away and lives (even for a short period), there is a live birth and no abortion.
  • If the fetus goes away and dies before or during the process, there is an abortion and no live birth.
I say again: Merriam-Webster Medical Dictionary includes "death" because "death" is the sine qua non of abortion. All the medical literature and scientific literature agrees, but Merriam-Webster is bold enough to state it plainly, which is actually a very wikipedia thing to do. (talk) 21:20, 15 June 2011 (UTC)
67..NW supplied valid sources as part of the discussion above and made a WP:BOLD edit. Are you refuting the sources ? ArtifexMayhem (talk) 21:16, 15 June 2011 (UTC)
Perhaps you read too quickly. I did not refute anything except NW's implication (or premise) that there are no medical "sources that prominently state the definition of abortion includes death". (talk) 21:20, 15 June 2011 (UTC)
Artifex, are you indicating that despite the big red bold FAQ warning, etc., that it is both a good practice and a good faith practice for editors to plow ahead and change the lede to the abortion article? It seems self-explanatory that the opposite it true. Or do you find NW to be either inexperienced at wikipeida or lacking in basic reading comprehension skills? For goodness sake the lede has always been controversial and the article is under protection because this article is not generally as amenable to bold changes as other articles are. Is this really that hard to understand? (talk) 21:30, 15 June 2011 (UTC)
I am not indicating anything. I made a statement and I asked a question. ArtifexMayhem (talk) 21:37, 15 June 2011 (UTC)
I asked a question, too! We're kindred spirits. My question followed from your (odd) question about refutation of sources, which was a non-sequitur to my post. My question was very logical because your post indicated affirmation for a bold non-consensus edit to a controversial lede that has a big red bold FAQ (that warns people not to change the lead without consensus and makes it clear that acheiving such consensus will likely take no small amount of work) in an article that is protected at least in part because people edit it all the time without consensus. So, I asked you if you REALLY REALLY REALLY think that it is good practice and good faith to make such a an edit. Now, I know you did not intend to indicate anything (as you replied to me above). Thank you for your answer. I now ask you whether you find it is both a good practice and a good faith practice for editors to plow ahead and change the lede to the abortion article without spending significant time and effort to achieve consensus after input from many (dozens of) editors? Just asking. (talk) 22:02, 15 June 2011 (UTC)
Second the question. I see no issues with NW's research and/or sources, and am interested to know whether 67.233 is objecting to those sources, and if so what his/her objections are, or if s/he accepts the sources and research. KillerChihuahua?!?Advice 21:50, 15 June 2011 (UTC)
I answered the question above: "I did not refute anything except NW's implication (or premise) that there are no medical 'sources that prominently state the definition of abortion includes death'". (talk) 22:02, 15 June 2011 (UTC)

KillerChihuahua: Do you accept that "abortion: the termination of a pregnancy after, accompanied by, resulting in, or closely followed by the death of the embryo or fetus" ( is a:

*abortion definition 
*from a medical dictionary 
*that "prominently state[s] the definition of abortion includes death"?

It would be helpful to know. (talk) 22:10, 15 June 2011 (UTC)

I question whether Merriam-Webster fits the criteria for major medical dictionary or major OB/GYN textbook. It obviously isn't the latter, and out article notes that "The three major English language medical dictionaries are Stedman's, Taber's, and Dorland's Pocket Medical Dictionary. Other significant medical dictionaries are distributed by Elsevier, the world's largest publisher of medical and scientific literature, and their French division Masson." Merriam-Webster isn't one of those. The nearest medical school to me (a public state medical school) does not even have it in their library collection, though they do have Stedman's, Taber's and Dorland's. NW (Talk) 22:18, 15 June 2011 (UTC)
  • Merriam Webster Medical Dictionary is a medical dictionary. It is used by medical professionals. It is included in the websites of major medical and healthcare companies and agencies as an online medical reference text.
  • Perhaps it does not meet your definition of "major medical dictionary", but that peculiar factoid should not effect the lede.
  • Wikipedia articles about everyday topics, such as abortion, should not read like medical texts. It is good to have a fairly simple medical reference text available to assist in keeping the article text simple.
  • It can be helpful to have more information, but nothing in the references you mention refutes the Merriam-Webster definition (which also that publisher's standard dictionary definition and legal dictionary definition).
  • Come to think of it, the Merriam-Webster definition is so good precisely because it is so broadly applicable and is accurate in every single situation that occurs that could be described as an abortion.
  • Whereas the abortion definitions in the medical dictionaries you listed all fall short because they are not applicable in some verifiable abortion situations. (talk) 22:37, 15 June 2011 (UTC)
I'd say that "the abortion definitions in the medical dictionaries you listed all fall short because they are not applicable in some verifiable abortion situations" is certainly OR. No one is disputing the existence of sources that use 'death', but the evidence clearly indicates that the best and most widely used sources do not. I'd also say that in the context of the described-in-advance experiment and the comments of those editing at the time that the edit was very reasonable and not even bold. That's not the same as claiming that there's a new, widely-accepted consensus. But repeatedly citing a FAQ that contradicts the basic notion that WP is the encyclopedia anyone can edit is inherently self-contradictory. JJL (talk) 01:41, 16 June 2011 (UTC)
Please provide some evidence that MWMD is a medical dictionary used extensively by medical professionals. I note in particular that it fails to be listed here, a list of books that all medical libraries should have. The three dictionaries that I suggested are all listed on there. NW (Talk) 01:49, 16 June 2011 (UTC)

The change to the definition was backed by sources and seemed in the spirit of this site's bold guideline. It got undone but no one put it back and we're here talking about it now instead of having an edit duel. Besides one of the two ips taking part here (I'm sorry I'm having trouble keeping track) changed the therapeutic abortion definition twice and no one really commented on it so evidently there's room for being bold as long as it doesn't go too far. Another thing is that not using "death" is not the same as saying it doesn't happen. That would be something explicit like "abortion is the expulsion or removal of an inorganic mass called a fetus or embryo from the uterus." There's a lot of things about abortion that aren't mentioned in the definition. Like it doesn't say anything about the expulsion or removal of the placenta, but does that mean the placenta gets left in? It's just brevity and the fact that references apparently don't see fit to mention placentas in their abortion definitions unless they refer broadly to "products of conception." Friend of the Facts (talk) 22:47, 15 June 2011 (UTC)

67.233 Are there sources claiming the definitions in the medical dictionaries listed are incorrect some way? ArtifexMayhem (talk) 23:04, 15 June 2011 (UTC)
It is absolutely verifiable that there are both errors and omissions in the major medical dicionary definitions.
  • Are you really unaware that abortions are routinely performed post-viability (and that this is verifiable)?
  • Are you really unaware that abortion always involves the death of an embryo/fetus (and that this is verifiable)? (talk) 23:24, 15 June 2011 (UTC)
Can you provide sources claiming the definitions in the medical dictionaries listed are incorrect some way? ArtifexMayhem (talk) 00:52, 16 June 2011 (UTC)
Sure, I can. But since I and others already have, I am not going to invest time in doing it again. Let's presume we have a person who psys attention to the abortion situation in western English-speaking society. That means that we have a person who knows that if a woman is 30 weeks pregnant, she can get a legal abortion if she wishes to have one in the USA, for example. If a medical dictionary states that abortion is limited to fetuses that are not viable, then that same person understands that the medical dictionary includes incorrect information, at least incorrect as far as an accurate factual discussion about abortion by non-doctors. Of course this fact of post viability abortions in the UK and the USA is verifiable (as I have posted elsewhere on this page). But I won't waste my time because I can't see that it would further the conversation to repost the same verification (or any other verification). Can you help me see how it would be helpful? (talk) 01:04, 16 June 2011 (UTC)
This is simply OR. You're putting your judgment against that of the many physicians who wrote and reviewed all those texts and other sources. You're refusing to accept the prominent sources that don't agree with your POV. We have to rely on the best expert resources, not those left after you personally exclude ones you don't like. And abortions performed by non-physicians? Of course it happens, but so do other sorts of unlicensed pro-active of medicine. It doesn't change what a thing is that some people do it incorrectly. My mother things that colds are caused by going out without one's jacket rather than by viruses. Should we update Common cold accordingly? JJL (talk) 01:51, 16 June 2011 (UTC)
Sure. It would be helpful to have sources considered WP:MEDRS and/or WP:RS that support your claim against the edit in question and revert by authority of the FAQ. ArtifexMayhem (talk) 01:41, 16 June 2011 (UTC)
What precisely is the "authority of the FAQ"? Is it enforced by some Arbitration Committee ruling, for example? It sounds like those favoring the use of 'death' are trying to create a principle of impotence here--that every attempt to change the leded is banned by for one reason or another. JJL (talk) 01:51, 16 June 2011 (UTC)

It would be helpful to have sources that support your claim that abortion does not always involve the death of the fetus or embryo.

It would be helpful to have sources that support your claim that abortion cannot occur after viability. (talk) 01:57, 16 June 2011 (UTC

Why existing consensus used "death" instead of "viable"

@GTBacchus (below), may I refer you to the first sentence of Wikipedia:Verifiability? For the past several years now, it has been something along the lines of: "The threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is verifiability, not truth—whether readers can check that material in Wikipedia has already been published by a reliable source, not whether editors think it is true." For the purposes of this discussion, we should be treating both Williams, Gabbe, and other reference works of similar stature, as if they were Holy Writ, not saying "Well, these references are wrong" and ignoring them. I understand that there are some less-prominent references that disagree with the definitions give in Williams Gyn., Comp. Gyn., Taber's and Steadman's. They might not contradict it, but they provide...shall we say as additional qualifiers to use the word properly, in their view. That opinion in a minority opinion. The only references that even comes close to meeting WP:MEDRS thusfar provided that can be directly verified is the Merriam-Webster's Medical Dictionary & Blueprints Obstetrics and Gynecology. As I explain above, MWMD is not a dictionary that appears to have a wide following compared with others in the field. Blueprints I explained earlier as well. This is a simple matter of due weight and verifiability, not truth. The overwhelming consensus of the scientific community as expressed through the most prominent overview textbooks and dictionaries is what should be followed.

67, those statements are merely not being addressed in the first sentence, because that is the way the overwhelming majority of the standard, authoritative sources have put it. As ArbCom said many years ago, "Serious and respected encyclopedias and reference works are generally expected to provide overviews of scientific topics that are in line with respected scientific thought. Wikipedia aspires to be such a respected work." NW (Talk) 02:03, 16 June 2011 (UTC)

NuclearWarfare, hi. I'd prefer you didn't quote basic policy to me; I'm very familiar with it. I know about "verifiability, not truth", and I also know that there has never been a broad-based community consensus for this encyclopedia to relate information that we know to be false. If such a consensus ever has carried the day, I'd like to see that. Why don't we ask over at WT:V what they think? Surely bringing the question before a larger audience can't hurt, right? -GTBacchus(talk) 13:49, 16 June 2011 (UTC)
The people at WT:V might have an issue with this massive discussion being imported over there, but I would have no objection to using other noticeboards like WP:RSN or WP:NPOV to attract people here. NW (Talk) 16:02, 16 June 2011 (UTC)
Whatever's clever. :) It seldom hurts to add people to a discussion in a neutral way. -GTBacchus(talk) 16:16, 16 June 2011 (UTC)
My vote is to narrow down what we got right/wrong in 2006 (now below), and clarify for everyone. Then chisel/add clay from there. More editors in a ballooning talk page may not be helpful; especially if they start from square one and think "termination" is the best option. - RoyBoy 06:47, 18 June 2011 (UTC)
This seems to assume certain conclusions--that the current lede is fundamentally accurate and just needs to be slightly modified (which in fact I don't really disagree with), and that 'termination' is not the best option, which is much less clear to me. I think we're moving in a useful direction though and am pleased to see that. JJL (talk) 16:07, 18 June 2011 (UTC)
Indeed, something so heavily discussed / edited should move in slight steps, that was my clay intent. :") As to termination, I'd add to my summation above that we also quickly found it frames the abortion procedure on ending a pregnancy. Seems straight forward enough, but ending a pregnancy does not specify what happens to its contents (are they placed in stasis? moved to another host? silly questions now, but the future holds many possibilities), and with selective reduction of a pregnancy its simply inaccurate. - RoyBoy 00:52, 19 June 2011 (UTC)
@67.233 I made no such claims. ArtifexMayhem (talk) 02:02, 16 June 2011 (UTC)
Merriam Webster certainly fits the definition of a reliable source. And given its standing it might better reflect the whole, comprehensive meaning of the word. It doesn't need to be a top-notch academic medical dictionary to do that. Still, it is a medical dictionary, hence it is also scientific. Str1977 (talk) 08:25, 16 June 2011 (UTC)
Just for reference, here is our previous def list, and some discussion. - RoyBoy 14:29, 16 June 2011 (UTC)
I forget offhand why precisely the "scientific community consensus" position didn't carry the day in 2006, or 2007, or 2008 or 2009 or 2010. MastCell / GTBacchus / Andrew C do you remember? I'm a few years out of date here, but I think we dissected this prior. - RoyBoy 02:29, 16 June 2011 (UTC)
Yeah, I basically remember. We couldn't come up with a definition excluding "death" that didn't define lots of live births as "abortions". Also, we (by which I mean "I") dug up "Intrauterine 2", the source where we saw precisely why the definitions in the medical sources are written the way they are. It would be great if we could include that in the article, but I'm not sure just how or where we would do that. -GTBacchus(talk) 13:49, 16 June 2011 (UTC)
NW did a great thing, and created a note section where we can put the pertinent information. Currently it has notes as to the disputed nature of defining abortion, if there is a succinct clarification of how a medical defs are not appropriate, that would be good and should take precedent. Can you provide the details / link, thanks to you and your fast access cerebrum. - RoyBoy 14:13, 16 June 2011 (UTC)
Meh, I wish it were faster. I'll have to do some digging, but I can do that. I've recalled a little bit more just by sleeping on it.

We were trying to write a well-supported definition that accurately informed readers what the article is about. Most definitions either implied that live births are abortions, or else that late term abortions aren't abortions at all. Both of these are contradicted by the actual scope of the article. The current lead sentence, on the other hand, accurately reflects the scope of the article.

The relevant content of Intrauterine 2 was that the terminology surrounding abortion was designed by the medical community for political rather than medical reasons. Those medical sources, as they pertain to the question of the precise definition of abortion, aren't independent of the political interests of the medical community.

That's how I remember it, but I'll do some digging in the archives, and get more detailed information. Gimme a few hours; I've got a class to teach. -GTBacchus(talk) 14:53, 16 June 2011 (UTC)

Where is this note section you refer to, Roy? I'm somehow dense and not seeing it. :P

I found the beginning of the conversation I was thinking of at Talk:Abortion/Archive 18#Change of definition??. That whole page is a helluva trip down memory lane... -GTBacchus(talk) 16:41, 16 June 2011 (UTC)

Tis my bad, I meant the death note section in the article, no matter. We need to discuss with recent arrivals. Then after we will see what will be added that section. Clearly we cannot expect bold editors to go through the detailed discussions we had in 2006. I've read over it quickly, it's late, indeed memory lane with Talk:Abortion/Archive_18#Uterine_2 -- hopefully this will provide traction. - RoyBoy 06:40, 18 June 2011 (UTC)
I will make my best attempt to congeal several crucial elements of our previous consensus for discussion, but I'll need assistance. - RoyBoy 01:42, 19 June 2011 (UTC)

termination was out of contention early because:

  • unnecessarily technical term (seen has euphemistic by pro-life), confusing
  • frames abortion as a medical procedure, encyclopedia's have a wider scope (ie. Wikipedia is not a medical reference book / dictionary)
  • refers to pregnancy, does not clarify what happens to its contents, confusing
  • selective abortions do not end the entire pregnancy, incomplete

not viable / non-viable was also not selected:

  • aborting viable fetuses do occur, eg. partial-birth abortions
  • defining viability is very problematic (eg. non-viable in Afghanistan / viable elsewhere)
  • can infer embryos are not going to be viable
  • would redefine abortion

death was used, but has issues as well:

  • Key objection: does not follow the medical/scientific consensus, conflicts with WP:NPOV
  • seen as emotional/moral pro-life language, addressed here
  • negative word, not valid, abortion is a negative subject


  • GTBacchus (or any editor familiar with the subject), if you have time, can you clarify in summary form with specific references / quotes, how "death" was found to be the best fit for WP:NPOV; and/or historic context on the medical community deciding how to describe abortion in a medical context, with the patient in mind. I can try later this week, but after a cold I'll be catching up with real life for a bit (though I am looking right now, I'd like to avoid a Wiki-lawyering clinic if possible). - RoyBoy 03:06, 19 June 2011 (UTC)

I think I found what I was looking for:

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)

Here was the reply:

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)

Now, do I have to explain how Pro-Lick is using policy incorrectly? - RoyBoy 15:08, 19 June 2011 (UTC) @Everyone, please comment here. - RoyBoy 15:11, 19 June 2011 (UTC)

First, thanks for digging things up. I'm leery of all WP:IAR-based reasoning despite the fact that I think it's a valuable rule. This was the beginning of a straw poll that led to selecting 'death', then? JJL (talk) 00:03, 20 June 2011 (UTC)
As you should be, but specifically here GTBacchus clarified that Wikipedia need not -- rely on -- editorial policy of others and source scoring. The primary goal of our very long discussion and consensus building was a rigorous lead that would actually work. One rule we adhered to steadfastly is: "...when necessary, coming to a compromise about how a controversy should be described, so that it is fair to all sides." WP:IAR is valuable, in that it forces us to look beyond policy minutia that isn't necessarily applicable and find a larger context that works for complex subjects. - RoyBoy 03:44, 20 June 2011 (UTC)
To answer the straw poll question, it was key to unburdening us with the "but these sources say this" and "oh yeah, well these sources say that" and "but weight is this" and "no, weight is that" and "historically this" and "who cares bout that". By early April we had made actual progress to drafting. Then by May it was by and large complete. I am thinking offhand of merging these archives into one large archive page for 2006-2007. It would make navigation a lot easier. - RoyBoy 04:15, 20 June 2011 (UTC)
I'm a fan of the straw poll as long as it's not too early on in a discussion all agree it's no more than that. Thanks again for digging around--it is helpful in my understanding of how we got where we are and should help bring us to the point more quickly in later discussions. JJL (talk) 04:38, 20 June 2011 (UTC)
Sorry, I wrote that incorrectly, GTBacchus statement above is what unburdened us; and after much progress we had some mini-votes I think; with a final vote to make the draft live, but it was simply classic Wiki-collaboration than gave us the end product we have today. Re-doing that effort from 2007 to 2011 seemed foolhardy, and continues to do so. Generally straw polls simply delineate where people already stand, they do not clarify much more than that. - RoyBoy 01:01, 21 June 2011 (UTC)

"death" of the fetus is not a medical term

To clarify:

  • When the abortion lede refers to "its [the fetus or embryo's] death", it is not a reference to the medical term of art "fetal death", which (as JJL has verified) is a medical term of art, which is used to refer largely (almost exclusively?) to spontaneous (non-induced) abortion after 20 weeks.
  • It would seem that the term was developed before the medical profession condoned inducing abortions after 20 weeks, and so it is no surprise that abortionists have not embraced this prenatal and perinatal term of art because the established protocol for abortionists is to never use the word "death" when talking to the pregnant and post-abortive patients.
  • In other words, it seems that doctors who are trying to assist a mother to deliver a healthy child have always acknowledged the death of the fetus, and doctors who are trying to assist a pregnant woman to kill and remove the fetus so as to end the pregnancy prefer to avoid any references to the verifiable death of the fetus.
  • None of this can support any deletion from the lede. It should make no difference to this article's main description of what an abortion is that the medical profession has chosen to create a parallel euphemistic lexicon for doctors who induce the death of embryos and fetuses.
  • Do any editors think the article should adopt the premise that whether or not an abortus is "dead" is depenedent upon whether the death was spontaneous or induced?
For the record: Based on the feedback so far, I conclude that everyone agrees that a fetus is dead regardless of whether its death was spontaneous or intentionally induced by medical professionals. I suspected that most people would agree with that idea. Of course there is plenty of time to put your disagreement on record, so my conclusion might be premature. (talk) 21:43, 16 June 2011 (UTC)
  • Regardless of whether a fetus is killed on purpose (through an induced abortion) or dies spontaneously, the fetus dies; this is a medical fact and a biological fact, abortion practitioners' euphemisms aside.
  • The abortion article might want to mention this parallel euphemistic lexicon somewhere in the article, but the lede should not bow to such professional euphemisms. (talk) 15:40, 16 June 2011 (UTC)

If I may make a suggestion, lay off the pro-life rhetoric about "abortionists". Personally, I'm not really listening to you until you figure out that Wikipedia isn't a soapbox. That's just me, though. MastCell Talk 16:25, 16 June 2011 (UTC)
An abortionist is any person who performs an abortion. I also used the term "abortion practitioner". I did not know that term had some special political classification. As a matter of fact, I have seen it in medical and legal literature. (talk) 17:13, 16 June 2011 (UTC)
No, "abortionist" is a partisan political term used by the pro-life lobby. You will not find it in reputable medical or scholarly sources, which tend to use terms like "obstetrician", "gynecologist", or "abortion provider". HTH. MastCell Talk 17:35, 16 June 2011 (UTC)
It is verifiable (by the most trusted dictionary in the USA) that "abortionist" quite plainly and simply means "one who induces abortions". (talk) 18:33, 16 June 2011 (UTC)
If you don't understand the difference between dictionary definition and connotation, it's no wonder you're having trouble getting people to listen to you. MastCell Talk 22:08, 16 June 2011 (UTC)
For your information, Henry Morgentaler, a medical doctor who is by far the most famous abortion provider in Canada, self-describes as an "abortionist".
If Morgentaler himself has no problem with the term, and since it seems to be agreed that abortion opponents also have no problem with the term, I don't see why anyone should have a problem with this word. I also don't see why anyone should have a problem with those who use that word, just because they use it. (talk) 19:47, 18 June 2011 (UTC)
You're not going to convince me with sophistry, misrepresentations, and anecdotes, because this isn't a high-school debating society. But feel free to keep going if I'm not your target audience. (The article you cite notes Morgentaler's self-description precisely because "abortionist" is a partisan pejorative, and so it's highly uncommon for an abortion provider to self-apply it.). MastCell Talk 17:02, 19 June 2011 (UTC)
So long as it's "pull random sources out of [] day": abortionist noun (chiefly derogatory). NW (Talk) 18:11, 19 June 2011 (UTC)
zOMG and from teh Most Trusted Dictionary in the USA! :P Bottom line: "base the article on the best available reliable sources" does not mean "Google-mine a quote that supports your agenda". MastCell Talk 02:48, 20 June 2011 (UTC)
This could be a good point to remind readers that calling MW "the most trusted dictionary in the USA" is not supported by any evidence--it's an empty assertion being made by someone who likes its highly atypical defn. of 'abortion'. JJL (talk) 02:43, 17 June 2011 (UTC)
I was specifically trying to address earlier Google searches showing the prevalence of this precise term but without context or definition. That's why I emphasized the precise 'fetal death' in my comments. I would also concur with MastCell that although this is only a talk page, the rhetoric you're using is somewhat distracting from the point at hand. JJL (talk) 16:34, 16 June 2011 (UTC)
JJL: This is a genuine question. And wikipedia encourages editors to resply to simple questions. Do you think the article should adopt the premise that whether or not an abortus is "dead" is depenedent upon whether the death was spontaneous or induced? (talk) 17:15, 16 June 2011 (UTC)
I think we should follow the medical sources, not my personal opinion. As it turns out, the best sources don't assert that a death occurs in either case, generally speaking. We should go with that. It appears that 'viability' is the preferred term. JJL (talk) 02:43, 17 June 2011 (UTC)
The constant use of rhetorical questions, unsupported claims, thinly veiled accusations of stupidity, et al. are not helpful. Claiming the medical profession has created a parallel euphemistic lexicon is pushing a POV that borders on disingenuous. Please stop. ArtifexMayhem (talk) 17:01, 16 June 2011 (UTC)
Artifex: This is a genuine question. And wikipedia encourages editors to resply to simple questions. Do you think the article should adopt the premise that whether or not an abortus is "dead" is depenedent upon whether the death was spontaneous or induced? (talk) 17:15, 16 June 2011 (UTC)
Please see Ignoratio elenchi. ArtifexMayhem (talk) 18:07, 16 June 2011 (UTC)
The question is a legitimate one. When sources have been construed to indicate an absurd conclusion (that the fetus does or does not die depending on whether an abortion is spontaneous or induced), I think we need to step back and ask ourselves: is there something terribly wrong with the manner of source interpretation applied? In this case, we have copious MEDRS which do specifically claim that induced abortion causes "death of the fetus" or similar. But these references are held to be negated by the sources which simply omit any discussion of whether or not the fetus dies in describing induced abortion. I suggest a method of construing sources which produces a coherent picture, which is presumably what the MEDRS, being MEDRS, are trying to describe. The only way to resolve this discrepancy is to stop assigning special significance to the absence of information, and recognize that a source which makes no claims on whether induced abortion kills the fetus really isn't treating the issue. The result then, is that we have MEDRS for the view that both induced and spontaneous abortion kills the fetus, and none for the contrary. That some references would shy away from any discussion of the fetal death issue at all in the case of induced abortion isn't surprising: if abortion practitioners, or those associated with them, are writing descriptions abortion, do they want to put "death", or details as to the manner of killing in clear, non-euphemistic language? Sometimes not, if they believe that this would portray them in a negative light. Do they want to outright lie about the abortion process? Probably not a good idea either. So they simply avoid the issue of whether or not fetal death occurs entirely. As far as Wikipedia is concerned, per WP:NOR, avoiding the issue isn't making a specific claim on the issue avoided. Wikipedia isn't written from an "abortion practitioner POV", and isn't bound by such decisions to omit relevant information. Chester Markel (talk) 19:34, 16 June 2011 (UTC)‘‘Comments of banned sockpuupet account stricken - Wikidemon (talk) 14:30, 19 June 2011 (UTC)’’
Speculating on why the best sources omit 'death' is OR. They also don't mention whether or not fetuses are made of green cheese...clearly implying that they are? JJL (talk) 02:43, 17 June 2011 (UTC)
That's a spurious argument. We have no MEDRS for the claim that "fetuses are made of green cheese" or other nonsense. Secondly, WP:NOR is only contravened when material not directly supported by a source is added to an article. The policy shouldn't be misconstrued to prohibit the talk page discussion of sources' POVs, and how to handle this. Assessing source reliability and the extent of permissible use is a frequent, useful, and accepted activity. Chester Markel (talk) 03:03, 17 June 2011 (UTC)‘‘Comments of banned sockpuupet account stricken - Wikidemon (talk) 14:30, 19 June 2011 (UTC)’’

Making progress on the lede sentence

It'd be good to come to a consensus about this. After so many days of engaging in discussions with what was apparently a sock puppet we certainly need a fresh start. I know it'd be helpful for me if the various IP addresses set up accounts so I could keep them straight--I think we now have three such accounts posting, and it's easy for me to lose track of who is whom.

As I look at what's been posted thus far I see two key points being made: The number of sources that use 'viable' and the small number that use 'death' on the one hand, and the paucity of sources explicitly contradicting the use of 'death' in various reliable sources on the other hand. I see two main issues to be resolved: Is the use of 'death' accurate? If it is, is it a term we wish to use in the lede? In looking at issues from the 2005-06 discussion it seems that 'death' was chosen from a belief that other defns. in use were either too broad or too narrow. As we take a new look at the issue, with a different set of editors and some newly introduced sources, how can we best proceed constructively? JJL (talk) 03:50, 20 June 2011 (UTC)

I can say for myself that the case has not been convincingly made to me that the medical defns. are inadequate. I see frequent references to cases that are exceptions--say, procedures past the point of viability--but I haven't had a connection made for me that indicates that that means the medical defns. are wrong or too incomplete to be serviceable. I understand some see this as obvious and I'm believed when I say that I don't. I understand why "terminate the pregnancy" is seen as inadequate for selective reduction of one of several fetuses in a multiple-embryo pregnancy but when I read the term I simply understand that this is its own special procedure related to, but not clearly a strict subset of, abortion; indeed, here on Wikipedia the Selective reduction article does not refer to the procedure as an abortion. I am aware that there are WP:MEDRS that do but this article reflects the same view I would have--a special type of procedure, akin to abortion but either different or such a very special case that it merits its own consideration. Regarding 'death', I'm not convinced that the fetus is clearly alive, and see it as a Heap paradox issue of when a blastocyst crosses the line to a living entity rather than merely a group of living cells. Overall I see 'Life' as a very complicated term--a view that entails a complicated meaning for 'death' too. Much of what I see argued in favor of bringing in 'death' reads as WP:SYNTH or undue WP:WEIGHT to me. I say all this not to invite discussion in this section but in hopes of making it more clear where I'm starting from and some of what I'd need to be convinced to move closer toward seeing 'death' in the lede. JJL (talk) 03:50, 20 June 2011 (UTC)
I really don't see that one editor less will make a lot of difference. And I don't see that a new set of editors would dig any deeper into this that the ones who have currently debated it, we can at least assume competence and access to sources for most of those editors who have already been involved in the debate over five years. You're "not convinced that the fetus is clearly alive, and see it as a heap paradox issue...." - That's original research WP:OR. Heap Paradox is talking about removing grains of sand from a heap and debating when it ceases to be a heap of sand! The difference with a developing embyro is that cells are not really comparable to grains of sand. I see no reason to pit reliable medical sources against each other, when basic embryology texts from 40 or so years ago and more recent ones from the last ten years remain constant on the matter of embryonic/fetal life. You seem to not appreciate that you need to not just convince the editors currently editing this page, but those involved in the earlier discussions too. Life and death are still everyday words, and terms. I apologise for not perhaps answering all your points in sequence. The blastocyst is the sac which contains the embryoblast. Embryo : lit. "that which grows," from en- "in" + bryein "to swell, be full". re. your question regarding the line between a blastocyst and a living entity. Do you mean by entity that which possesses the characteristics of personality? As regards the beginning of life the answer is at conception. This is not a pro-life answer or a catholic answer, it is what is stated in the field of embryology.
  • Chronolab: Atlas of human embryology:[[32]] The first two weeks of the human development are called the preembryonic period. This period begins with the fertilization. Fertilization is the beginning of the pregnancy and can be considered as the beginning of a new life. DMSBel (talk) 16:40, 20 June 2011 (UTC)
My understanding is that we only need consensus among those editing now, and that we are in no way bound by any previous consensus--we are fully free to change consensus. We don't need to convince previous editors of anything; those here must forge a consensus to replace the one now seen to have been lost. There's no reason to believe that the current form is the best possible lede of all conceivable ledes, is there? Regardless of whether or not we come to a common understanding of how 'death' should be applied here, we might still elect not to use it there. This seems to be a sticking point: To my mind, even if 'death' is fully accurate, it doesn't follow that it must be in the lede. Would you agree that that's so? JJL (talk) 20:31, 20 June 2011 (UTC)
No, you have to overturn the previous consensus, else you don't have a new consensus. Merely starting a debate doesn't nullify a previous consensus, such that you can question something and assume that makes the situation no consensus, then get a few editors to agree and hey presto. Doesn't work that way. In the case of a factual inaccuracy I guess the situation might be different, but here your objection is not factual inaccuracy, it is that you think the term represents "advocacy" in it's current position, whereas others read it in context as a medical term, which it is. An expression of advocacy might be something like: "Induced abortion equates to the murder of an unborn baby" But you have not shown that "death" in this context is advocacy, or factually inaccurate, or provided an alternative that has not already been discussed, and found to be less accurate or equivocal in some way. "before it is viable" is not an equivalent, or even factually accurate - it tells us something else altogether. To be sufficiently clear the definition has to be in language which allows reader to distinguish it from delivery and birth DMSBel (talk) 12:44, 22 June 2011 (UTC)
You've arranged your opinions and approach so that the consensus can never be overturned to your satisfaction. To say that we must provide "an alternative that has not already been discussed, and found to be less accurate or equivocal in some way" is simply not how Wikipedia works. The prior editors from 2006 do not have any special status that makes their decisions unassailable. It's been 5-6 years now...we can discuss the same issues again, in light of the new sources and the current mix of editors. It's clear t me that 'viable' is preferable here. That a different group of people went another way half a decade ago doesn't make it wrong. You are, in essence, citing (the current state of) Wikipedia as a source--and that's not allowed. If you can't openly engage a new discussion it might be best to acknowledge that you're forgetting one of the key notions of Wikipedia, or which you were warned when signing up: Others may edit and change what you write; if this is bothersome to you, Wikipedia may not be a good fit for you. JJL (talk) 01:52, 23 June 2011 (UTC)

I will try to explain where my mind is at right now. First I want to thank all the excellent. intelligent posts by editors who have expressed both personal outlooks and their understanding of Wikipedia policy. There seems to be a good understanding of policy here and I trust that I can assume that they are experts in their field, so as to speak, and can come to a decision that meets guidelines. That said, I did read in the archives that Wikipedia did wisely leave a small fuzzy area, and I'd like to learn a little more about the fuzzy area.

As this subject was on my mind almost all day yesterday I was thinking how similar this experience is to my first experience on jury duty. The trial involved the building of high-tension power lines across property owned by many small farmers in southern Minnesota. The power company used a series of "dirty tricks" to purchase the properties needed for their right of way and eventually the farmers filed a class action lawsuit. The actual trial was heart-wrenching for me because it was clear that the power company was using very well-paid city slicker lawyers that made the farmer's lawyers look like a bunch of country bumpkins. As we began our jury discussion only one other person and I sided with the farmers. Eventually we did come to an agreement in which we voted for the farmers but gave them only a very small amount of damages. I was satisfied with that because I knew that this was the first of many lawsuits that were to follow and we had set a precedent. I was so sure of my position that I would have hung the jury if need be. It was my first experience of making a decision that strongly affected the lives of many others and I felt that the weight of the world rested on my shoulders. It was a very profound experience. Our decision here will certainly affect the thinking of many others, and perhaps to some extent their lives as well - I do not take it lightly and will come back to this thought again.

Thinking about this I was thinking that it could be considered that Wikipedia editors set a precedent five years ago when they decided to use a Wikipedia-made definition for abortion because they found it more accurate than the definition used by almost all other sources. Considering all the effort that went into coming to the decision, it could rightly be argued that any effort to change it would be almost automatically rejected. So it seems we are in that position once again and whatever is decided it will be the definition for some years to come, and perhaps especially so if the reference to death remains included since it would have held up through two debates.

About Wikipedia - how much authority does it have to affect what is thought of as truthful? I think it has a lot of authority. As an editor I notice the quotes which are very frequently used by newspapers and articles: "According to Wikipedia,..." You see it all the time. But over the years I have noticed that people do not really understand how Wikipedia works. For instance, I remember some time ago in the midst of some sort of crisis reading a blog in which the blogger said, "And the administrators even had to step in and [tag the article - I forget what the tag was]!". People do not seem to realize that WE are the "administrators" and any fool can tag an article (and sometimes do). Or look at our article Moose Lake, Minnesota. The Chippewa did not name Moose Lake "libaquechawen," which roughly translates to "the wandering lands of sorrow". That information was added to the article six months ago and has even been quoted by the Minneapolis Star Tribune since then. So...people may say, "Oh, you can't trust Wikipedia", but they still do.

To move forward to the alive/dead issue. My thinking has progressed to the point where I will no longer debate this issue because I do not feel that as a Wikipedia editor it is my place to attempt to come to a Wikipedia decision about an issue that varies so much from culture to culture, from one religious thinking to another, that has been debated for thousands of years with no consensus, where the embryo/fetus does not seem to fulfill the biological criteria for life, and where the U.S. Supreme Court, when they debated Roe v. Wade, said in their summary:

"We need not resolve the difficult question of when life begins. When those trained in the respective disciplines of medicine, philosophy, and theology are unable to arrive at any consensus, the judiciary, at this point in the development of man's knowledge, is not in a position to speculate."

At this point, to my way of thinking anyone that supports keeping the death of the embryo/fetus wording would need to justify why they feel that Wikipedia guidelines would allow a definition not held by almost every other authority.

Sorry that this got so long and I hope I have stayed somewhat on track. Gandydancer (talk) 13:51, 20 June 2011 (UTC)

Gandydancer, I'm glad you regard defining life/death as a waste of time; the issue was always a monumental waste of time. As for justifying "death" in the lead:
  1. result of previous consensus
  2. plain English, instead of mealy-mouthed medical jargon
  3. it's true (which is why abortion is contentious)
  4. it is the intent of abortion; highly relevant
-- cheers, Michael C. Price talk 16:39, 20 June 2011 (UTC)
My reply:
  1. consensus can change - that's how Wikipedia works
  2. "is viable" is plain English and certainly not "mealy-mouthed" medical jargon
  3. you may believe it's true and I have no problem with that
  4. the intent of abortion is to end an unwanted pregnancy
I don't see where it will help with the ongoing discussion for me to go back and forth over this - you have stated your position and I have stated mine. We do not agree Gandydancer (talk) 21:08, 20 June 2011 (UTC)
My reply:
  1. of course; neverthless until the new consensus is formed the previous consensus carries some weight.
  2. "is viable" is not plain English and is "mealy-mouthed" medical jargon. If I ran over a cat and killed it, I would say it is dead, not that it is "no longer viable".
  3. glad you agree
  4. no, the intent is not to end an unwanted pregnancy, since a live birth will do that. The intent is to both end the pregnancy and kill the fetus.
-- cheers, Michael C. Price talk 21:23, 20 June 2011 (UTC)
You misunderstand the meaning of viable. A viable fetus means a fetus that can survive outside of the womb. Gandydancer (talk) 12:59, 21 June 2011 (UTC)
Which nicely illustrates that "viable" is not plain English! :-) -- cheers, Michael C. Price talk 13:25, 21 June 2011 (UTC)
On the other hand, it may illustrate something quite different. Wondering perhaps if I was not aware that medical knowledge was necessary to understand the meaning of "viable" I asked my daughter and she said, "of course, everybody understands that". She felt fairly certain that both her children would understand the meaning as well. Gandydancer (talk) 14:05, 22 June 2011 (UTC)
'Viable' is plain English, but, as with Death, there is a Viability (fetal) for those who may have need of it. JJL (talk) 01:56, 23 June 2011 (UTC)

I'm glad too :-), However it's truth doesn't depend either on someone not having a problem with him believing it, or on his believing it :-) Hang on I am starting to morph in Gandhi or something :-) Believing something doesn't make it true and something true is still true even if one doesn't believe it. DMSBel (talk) 21:32, 20 June 2011 (UTC)

The intent of induced abortion is to terminate an unwanted pregnancy by terminating the life of the fetus. DMSBel (talk) 21:32, 20 June 2011 (UTC)

Actually I have always thought the term "viable" was misleading. Though to descibe it as "mealy mouthed" medical jargon sounds, well, very nearly spot on! An embyro is viable - it's just not supposed to survive outside the womb at 6 weeks. DMSBel (talk)

1) True, also see WP:CCC. 2) "Abortion is the termination of a pregnancy by the removal or expulsion of a fetus or embryo from the uterus" employs no words that a reasonably educated 16 year old ought not to know. 3) That's nothing more than proof by assertion. 4) Remember that spontaneous abortions have no "intent". As far as induced ones go, one could just as easily write "the intent of an induced abortion is to prevent the beginning of life of a fetus".

Anything else? NW (Talk) 20:48, 20 June 2011 (UTC)

NW, I apreciate the work you have done on putting the footnote together (even if it relegated Merriam/Webster outside the major league). But you need to back down a little. Michael C Price is short and pithy in his replies, but that's his style. I don't object to it. DMSBel (talk) 21:49, 20 June 2011 (UTC)
I agree that that is a simple statement that a high schooler should be able to understand. I also agree that arguments about "intent" can be quite nebulous. Is the intent of an appendectomy to remove the appendix? Yes. Is it to save a person's life? Yes. Is it to prevent sepsis? Yes. If the appendix is ultimately not removed because it looks fine when viewed by the surgeon, was the procedure still an appendectomy? (Leave aside for the moment that removing it anyway would almost surely be prudent.) I don't know. If the intent was to remove it and that doesn't happen, was it exploratory surgery that the surgeon mistakenly believed to be an appendectomy? Was it a failed appendectomy? I'd call it an appendectomy with surgical discretion applied. It isn't helpful to over-think the root meanings of these terms. JJL (talk) 22:21, 20 June 2011 (UTC)

This is the English Wikipedia, not the american wikipedia :-) DMSBel (talk) 17:17, 20 June 2011 (UTC)
Oh. Gandydancer was it your post earlier that listed the phenomena of life, I think I saw your name after it. There was quite a few terms linked. I was looking through the talk page again earlier and noticed it again. You said just above "where the embryo/fetus does not seem to fulfill the biological criteria for life." Well going back to those criteria listed (I see now it was your post):

Since there is no unequivocal definition of life, the current understanding is descriptive, where life is a characteristic of organisms that exhibit all or most of the following phenomena

  • 1. Homeostasis: Regulation of the internal environment to maintain a constant state; for example, electrolyte concentration or sweating to reduce temperature.
  • 2. Organization: Being structurally composed of one or more cells, which are the basic units of life.
  • 3. Metabolism: Transformation of energy by converting chemicals and energy into cellular components (anabolism) and decomposing organic matter (catabolism). Living things require energy to maintain internal organization (homeostasis) and to produce the other phenomena associated with life.
  • 4. Growth: Maintenance of a higher rate of anabolism than catabolism. A growing organism increases in size in all of its parts, rather than simply accumulating matter.
  • 5. Adaptation: The ability to change over a period of time in response to the environment. This ability is fundamental to the process of evolution and is determined by the organism's heredity as well as the composition of metabolized substances, and external factors present.
  • 6. Response to stimuli: A response can take many forms, from the contraction of a unicellular organism to external chemicals, to complex reactions involving all the senses of multicellular organisms. A response is often expressed by motion, for example, the leaves of a plant turning toward the sun (phototropism) and by chemotaxis.
  • 7. Reproduction: The ability to produce new individual organisms, either asexually from a single parent organism, or sexually from two parent organisms. Gandydancer (talk) 04:01, 14 June 2011 (UTC)

Have you changed your view on this? It just that to my mind, the embryo / fetus does exhibit most of those phenomena. How can you post all that and then say "where the embryo/fetus does not seem to fulfill the biological criteria for life." Maybe I am misunderstanding you. I thought that was a helpful post (the earlier one), yet you simply listed these and drew no conclusions. Until just above (again unless I am misunderstanding you). DMSBel (talk) 18:08, 20 June 2011 (UTC)

In that list, I'd say that an embryo has limited homeostasis (independent of the woman) and cannot reproduce its like (embryos don't reproduce embryos). It also has significant assistance with metabolism. Do embryos adapt and evolve? I honestly don't know how the earliest stages respond to stimuli. I see all characteristics of living tissue but less so of a living organism. JJL (talk) 20:31, 20 June 2011 (UTC)
Embryos can't reproduce. LOL. Then children can't either. Samuel Butler had the answer for that. -- cheers, Michael C. Price talk 20:50, 20 June 2011 (UTC)
Making the claim that an embryo is a living organism is different from making the same claim for a child. It's a continuum, and there's no clear beginning of life...but there are significant differences en route from zygote to adult human. Humans reproduce to make humans. Do embryos reproduce to make embryos? The chicken quote is amusing but not an answer--humans can live on their own, but embryos cannot. JJL (talk) 22:21, 20 June 2011 (UTC)
As usual, all red herrings. And your answer admits the falsity of your argument. You say embryos cannot live on their own. Exactly - with a placenta they live. Without it they die. Case closed. -- cheers, Michael C. Price talk 22:29, 20 June 2011 (UTC)
In fact at an extremely early stage of fetal development the female human offspring contains all of her eggs, such that maturity (and a mate) is all she lacks to reproduce: A baby girl is born with egg cells (oocytes) in her ovaries. Between 16 and 20 weeks of pregnancy, the ovaries of a female fetus contain 6 to 7 million oocytes. Most of the oocytes gradually waste away, leaving about 1 to 2 million present at birth. None develop after birth. At puberty, only about 300,000—more than enough for a lifetime of fertility—remain. Only a small percentage of oocytes mature into eggs. The many thousands of oocytes that do not mature degenerate. Degeneration progresses more rapidly in the 10 to 15 years before menopause. All are gone by menopause. (talk) 15:30, 22 June 2011 (UTC)
I feel like I have read enough. I have debated here for quite a few days. It's now getting ridiculous (if it wasn't to start with). Substantial efforts have been made by several editors and a footnote has been added to the lede. But that seemingly is not enough for these few editors. I have held back from using this description, trying to maintain good faith, JJLs comments seem to me to be sophisms. for instance - "Do embryos reproduce to make embryos"!! I have engaged with this editor, I have wanted to see exactly what the issue is he has with the lede. I am now convinced that it is just (along with OrangeMarlin) a simple case of WP:IDONTLIKEIT. This is now into WP:TENDENTIOUS There's nothing more to be said at the moment. DMSBel (talk) 23:14, 20 June 2011 (UTC)
Answer to DMSBel regarding biological criteria for life. Yes, that Wikipedia Life article did have a lot to do with my present opinion. Reading the requirements, I decided that until the fetus is viable the placenta could be considered as much alive as the fetus since it carries on several of the requirements for life - and yet we do not think of the placenta as dead or alive. But keep in mind that I do not base my decision on this aspect alone; several other sources have helped me to form my opinion. Gandydancer (talk) 00:14, 21 June 2011 (UTC)
Gandydancer, I doubt whether anything I say would persuade you. At least I can say this that you have shown a willingness earlier in the discussion to consider the way others view things. Maybe you won't change your view, or maybe you'll read further and come to a different view. I am not going to get into the judicial side of the debate, I don't live in america, and from what I see it just is used as a bait by some to get users banned. All the best with you're editing. DMSBel (talk) 00:44, 21 June 2011 (UTC)

This is veering into a forum again. It should be made very clear placenta is alive as is an embryo/fetus, and a tumor. How we regard them is of no consequence, yes indeed a spectrum; but as a sperm and egg are alive, they die if they cannot meet, such is life. Which is what they are -- life -- or is someone to contend otherwise and lose their Good Faith freshness seal? Throwing heated politics and sensitive patients into the mix might suddenly make oncologists avoid saying a tumor dies (or arbitrarily just relabeling the smaller ones as they haven't ripened by X years), but it does die because it's life... I looked it up. This analogy isn't random, it was brought up in 2006. Also, a tumor shares aspects of a placenta (dense blood vessel formation) and embryo, both have rapid growth and intense resource usage. Sorry to disappoint, this isn't complex and has lost its sheen here in years past, its politics plain and simple. You should acknowledge this and try next week / month to convince anyone you haven't worn out that death should be moved out of the first sentence. Heads up, when I saw Encarta's definition, I stopped hedging on that too and moved on to other challenges at Wikipedia. Plenty to do around here, plenty indeed... now a moment of levity before I start going off the deep end again. "It's not a tumor! It's not a tumor - at all." - Arnold Schwarzenegger - RoyBoy 01:49, 21 June 2011 (UTC)

RoyBoy, trying to understand your post - are you speaking to me?Gandydancer (talk) 02:05, 21 June 2011 (UTC)
To JJL, but your "we do not think" mention did inspire me a bit; so thanks. - RoyBoy 02:48, 21 June 2011 (UTC)
When you say "lose their Good Faith freshness seal" you seem to be saying that anyone who disagrees with you on this matter cannot be acting in good faith. Is that really your position? Let me say again what I've said befroe: Even if you can't imagine anything ever changing your mind--in which case you may not be well-suited to an open encyclopedia that anyone can edit--does that mean it must be in the very first sentence of the article? JJL (talk) 03:38, 21 June 2011 (UTC)
What I am saying, is everything listed above is life, when it stops being life it dies. Disagreeing with this, isn't disagreeing with me, it is disagreeing with reality and wasting our my time. What has aggravated me in this instance, "do embryos adapt and evolve" what is that??? Are you aware that conception is the culmination of sex? Which is one of the most successful strategies of driving the genetic variation of complex lifeforms; which in turn accelerates adaptation and therefore evolution. Any embryo is the very essence of these important biological forces.
As to it being in the first sentence, I wasn't being flippant, I was giving you sound Wiki-advice. If you intend to get something done, don't wear out your audience before trying to do it. There were doubts in years past, they've faded with every ill-advised attempt to outright remove death. - RoyBoy 03:04, 22 June 2011 (UTC)
So the 'discuss'part of WP:BRD doesn't apply here because the sentence is already in optimal form? How could you know that? You're quite pleased with your view of the matter but there are many ways to phrase this and this one is out-of-step with the most common ways to do so, and uses a very loaded term without regard to its many nuances and arguable applicability. JJL (talk) 01:59, 23 June 2011 (UTC)
It is out of step, hence too much debating after, so that didn't escape me/us; it's my firm Opinion the lead is optimal at least for WP:Style because it doesn't require additional verbiage in brackets or reading sub-pages to understand. Death is only loaded in that it's a bummer (negative concept), viable is loaded re: its ambiguity, the sense it is out of step (out of place) on abortion (partially) fools you into thinking it is loaded; I understand as I felt the same in the past. However, this speaks to comfort -- not editorial wisdom. As to "without regard to its many nuances", ummm we've spent more time on that than most other aspects of the article, so you're wrong and presumptuous. This is why mediation wouldn't work in your favor. As to applicable, Encarta uses it, death seems completely applicable to a growth being operated on and removed. You can try and argue it, but that doesn't make it arguable. - RoyBoy 03:00, 23 June 2011 (UTC)
RoyBoy, I will attempt an answer but it is difficult when you make it so hard to understand your post and (apparently) use sarcasm. I am not trying to convince you or anyone else that a fetus can die or not die. It is my opinion that if we go in that direction and attempt to determine if the fetus is alive and thus can experience death, we will have no choice but to go around in circles and never move forward. My research revealed that there is no universal agreement about when the life of the fetus begins and it follows that it can not be determined that it experiences death if it was never alive in the first place. As Wikipedia editors we should not rush in where angels fear to tread and then be foolish enough to think we found the answer. The evidence I offer includes the statement from the Roe v. Wade court and the fact that seven out of the eight references we offer do not use the word death in their definitions. I am speaking of only the lede definition, not the body of the article. At this time my position is that I feel that Wikipedia experts need to justify the reasons that our article has chosen the definition that so drastically differs from seven of the eight references we offer. Gandydancer (talk) 10:56, 21 June 2011 (UTC)
Gandydancer, your "evidence" amounts to an argument from silence, and nothing more, and is therefore invalid. New life begins at conception. Find a source that says anything else! -- cheers, Michael C. Price talk 11:13, 21 June 2011 (UTC)
Here is a mainstream source that agrees with Michael Price: "Conception: From Egg to Embryo. At the moment when a lone sperm penetrates a mature egg, conception or fertilization takes place. To better understand the incredible process of conception, take a journey with us from tiny egg to growing embryo." (talk) 15:36, 22 June 2011 (UTC)
I'm sorry for my style of writing Gandydancer, it is a little dense, at times slipshod and occasionally funny. As to those sources, they are all avoiding and do not hazard (presume) to define when independent life begins. Nor do I, nor does Wikipedia. We have already explained several times why above: "In the end, "termination" frames the entire abortion article as a medical procedure. It is a bit more than that, as an encyclopedia we should -- in good faith -- acknowledge that reality." And mentioned in pieces above and years past, their avoidance of "death" is appropriate for their publication / audience / historic context, it does not make it prescriptive for us. If they were writing an encyclopedia, they may have used different prose. Britannica chose to go with: "before it reached the stage of viability (in human beings, usually about the 20th week of gestation)" It's good, but what's with the brackets and did you notice the weasel word "usually"? Do you think weasel words should be avoided Gandydancer? Oh yes, brackets are needed because the definition is ambiguous. Viable lends itself to gaps and confusion listed here (did you skip past that?).
How do you know they're 'avoiding' the issue? JJL (talk) 02:04, 23 June 2011 (UTC)
Death lends itself to negativity (which is fine) and some feel that death implies an independent life is dead, hence killed. Well no, its life and its dead. Nothing more, nothing less. Inferring beyond that is the reader (the audience)... do you contend our audience requires clarity? I don't see clarity in viability. While the weight of the sources is impressive, I'm more comfortable with summary style accuracy that's easier to understand per WP:Style. The idea that because an embryo is not a human "being", and by being I mean a detached individual -- somehow this means it is not life -- is a fundamental misunderstanding of what these experts are avoiding to define in the first place. All the experts would acknowledge an embryo is an organism, it is true that it isn't self-sustaining... but neither is a 2 year old. Gandydancer... this isn't hard, at all. - RoyBoy 03:04, 22 June 2011 (UTC)
I don't quite understand the distinction you're drawing between 'life' and 'independent life' in your first two sentences above. It does, however, seem to go to my point: That 'life', and hence 'death', are just not that simple terms in this context and need further clarification. If it invites the reader to infer more than intended, as you suggest, then it's poorly written and should be changed. JJL (talk) 02:04, 23 June 2011 (UTC)
Your fledgling attempts of "when life begins", an exploration of independent life or ... awareness (religion's soul) arising has zero bearing on the fact an embryo is a lifeform. Coming from an egg and sperm that are lifeforms, and can die throughout, just as a tumor can. It doesn't invite, a reader always brings their expectations and prejudices to anything they read. If they don't expect to see death, they get upset. Not Wikipedia's fault they are use to reading about abortion from medical references. Britannica chose to follow those references; makes it wordy, increases difficult to understand, and misrepresents the abortion topic as a whole. - RoyBoy 03:00, 23 June 2011 (UTC)
It's also far from clear to me that " All the experts would acknowledge an embryo is an organism". That's a very broad claim. JJL (talk) 02:04, 23 June 2011 (UTC)
I'd say Britannica went with "usually" because 19, 20, 21 weeks is debatable not "weaselly". Why should negativity in the lede be fine? ArtifexMayhem (talk) 03:33, 22 June 2011 (UTC)
@ArtifexMayhem: Is abortion a routine purely clinical procedure with no moral / emotional consequences? Not involved in bitter and divisive debate and politics? If that's of little concern to Wikipedia then viable would be a better fit and we should commence restructuring the entire article to be a medical text. - RoyBoy 03:57, 24 June 2011 (UTC)
@RoyBoy: Abortion is defiantly a politically divisive issue. I might live under a rock, but do I have one of those hand wound radio thingys humor attempt. Moral consequences are just part of that political debate. Is you are saying that the negativity is just the normal baggage that goes with the word and I agree. I have mis-read your statement as meaning "abortion is negative therefore it is ok for the lede to be negative". Apologies, my bad. ArtifexMayhem (talk) 16:18, 24 June 2011 (UTC)
RoyBoy, Your position is that as an encyclopedia our definition would be expected to be broader than that used in medical literature, is that correct? You feel that 7 of the 8 medical references we have listed in the article (and the Supreme Court summary) do not use the word death because their avoidance of "death" is appropriate for their publication / audience / historic context" however, "it does not make it prescriptive for us". Then you go on to the encyclopedia Britannica, which also does not use the word death, and criticize their definition as being ambiguous because it uses the weasel word "usually" and finds the need to clarify the word "viable", a word you feel "lends itself to gaps and confusion".
How you have decided that fetal viability is confusing, ambiguous, or anything else other than correct terminology is a mystery to me. If I were to say "childbirth usually occurs 38 weeks after conception" would you say that "usually" is a weasel word? It is no more a weasel word than if I say, "viability usually occurs about the 20th week of gestation". Britannica used brackets to define what viable means for one who did not understand the meaning. At Wikipedia we would link the word to the meaning. Gandydancer (talk) 12:29, 22 June 2011 (UTC)
That doctors regularly abort viable fetuses has been verified by unassailable and numerous MEDRS. Although some MEDRS do include viability in their abortion definition, I have not seen anyone here cite a MEDRS that actually affirmatively states that "viable fetuses are never aborted" (or similar affirmative denial that no viable fetuses are ver aborted). Can you cite any MEDRS that makes an affirmative denial? Even if you could, then we would weigh how much weight to give such a MEDRS given that we have overwheleming MEDRS (and abortion doctors' tetimony under oath, etc.) that confirms viable fetuses are aborted. While some might consider the abortion of a viable fetus to be bad medicine or even illegal, that does not negate the fact that sometimes bad medicine is practiced and/or laws are broken (when viable fetuses are aborted). But alas, there are MEDRS that declare loudly that aborting a viable fetus is good medicine and legal, so it is hard no to dismiss (as emotionalism or advocacy) any desire to include viability of the fetus in any basic definition. (talk) 16:01, 22 June 2011 (UTC)
My understanding is that this discussion is not about whether the embryo/fetus dies or does not die. The discussion is about whether the definition used in Wikipedia should include the word death. I feel that if Wikipedia decides to use a definition so drastically different than that used by most others, they must back their decision with references. If our article did not use the word death but all but one of the references did, how much sense would that make? It would be pretty obvious that our article was seriously slanted. Gandydancer (talk) 17:26, 22 June 2011 (UTC)
@Gandydancer I do see viable as correct terminology, for a medical context. It is correct for Wikipedia too, but not clear. As to pregnancy "usually" being 38 weeks (excellent attempt, and I'm pleased to continue to discuss with you), going into labor (ending of the pregnancy) isn't ambiguous as the water breaks. You can, despite variation, pinpoint when the pregnancy ends and giving birth begins. JJL torturing us with his "life" explorations, at least demonstrated many have tried to define viable / awareness / the soul; and it isn't possible, that unknown makes viable less preferred for an encyclopedia. Death is a negative word (JJL says loaded), this makes many reasonable people believe it should be less preferred (this is incorrect). I'd emphasize, which word to choose depends on your editorial mandate. - RoyBoy 03:25, 23 June 2011 (UTC)
To go on to address the second section of your reply. Keep in mind that this discussion is about the definition in the lede, not about anything included in the body of the article. As I said some time ago, before this discussion I considered the fetus to have died - actually my thinking has changed very little about that. As a mother myself, I know that I would have grieved a miscarried "fetus" in much the same way that I would have grieved a fully developed baby. I would always think of it as my dear baby that died. But this article is not about my personal feelings. From my understanding about Wikipedia, we look at the information supplied by the best references available and that is what we are obliged to use in our articles. Wikipedia has no editorial staff to make the final decision about what to say or not say. We rely solely on good references because, for one thing, that avoids having pressure groups from taking over an article and claiming what ever they please. If we are to make an exception with the abortion article, whats to stop making exceptions for other highly-contested articles? Gandydancer (talk) 13:23, 22 June 2011 (UTC)
I am not suggesting that the references have somehow discovered the truth of the matter. I am suggesting that they have wisely avoided using the word death because they are well aware of the fact that there is no agreement about when life begins. Could you offer some references that state that life begins at conception? Gandydancer (talk) 11:34, 21 June 2011 (UTC)
I could, but since they have already been proferred, I shan't bother. -- cheers, Michael C. Price talk 11:41, 21 June 2011 (UTC)
I was about to say why don't you look back up the page? See CHRONOLAB: ATLAS OF THE HUMAN EMBRYO (bulleted above) If other embryology sources are produced that state clearly that life begins at conception are you going to change your mind? What sources would convince you? You see I have to ask, as so many have been listed. I'll certainly look out other sources, but is that the issue, are you going to be persuaded by scholarly embryology sources. What if I list a source and you have not heard of it? There was a list linked to with reference to medical dictionaries, earlier in the thread. It was a recommended works list for someone wanting to put together a small medical library. If there is an Embryology Section in it, and one of the books in it confirmed that life begins at conception, would you accept what it says? I would really like to know. (talk) 19:45, 21 June 2011 (UTC)
I would guess that everyone ignored your earlier post because they seriously doubted that a Swiss lab has proven that life begins at conception. Gandydancer (talk) 20:42, 21 June 2011 (UTC)
Eh, run that by me again? Don't you see each time someone comes up with what you asked for, you keep pushing back the requirements you seek. First sources, then particular sources, then proof (but not from a swiss lab). Any country in particular you'd be happy with? Let me know which ones are out for you, before I waste my time. DMSBel (talk) 13:36, 22 June 2011 (UTC)
You are mistaken. I have never hounded you for repeated references. If I am mistaken, please point out the instances where I have wasted other's time by repeatedly being dissatisfied with references for no good reason. Also, could you please remember to sign your posts - it may be confusing for anyone reading this page who is not familiar with the editors. Gandydancer (talk) 16:16, 22 June 2011 (UTC)
Could you provide a link to proffered references? Please. ArtifexMayhem (talk) 11:48, 21 June 2011 (UTC)
A search on this talk page for "Professor Micheline Matthews-Roth" will take you right there. -- cheers, Michael C. Price talk 13:20, 21 June 2011 (UTC)
Thanks. I'm not sure a report from the U.S. Senate (97th, 1981) Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on Separation of Powers will qualify as WP:MEDRS but it should be a fun read. The thing is so old I had to order a paper copy, bleck ArtifexMayhem (talk) 14:50, 21 June 2011 (UTC)
Matthews-Roth is a faculty member at Harvard, and also a fairly prominent advocate against the use of embryonic stem cells. While there's certainly no doubt about her scientific credentials, I don't see how the opinion of one individual on this question is particularly notable, especially when her opinion is at odds with that of most of her scientific colleagues (at least on the question of embryonic stem-cell research). I understand that Matthews-Roth is frequently quoted in partisan pro-life material, but I don't think we should follow that example in prioritizing her statements above a more balanced and weighted discussion. MastCell Talk 16:03, 21 June 2011 (UTC)
Who else cites her work? Photobiology covers quite a bit, she is most likely to have written on subjects and been cited more widely than pro-life material. This is what I have found in a quick search: [[33]]. (talk) 20:15, 21 June 2011 (UTC)
Yes, as I said, her scientific credentials with regard to porphyrias are sound. I would have no problem quoting her work in an article about porphyria or the heme pathway. On the other hand, the topic here is abortion. Her statements on abortion tend to be cited exclusively by pro-life activists, as best I can tell. Can we make an effort to avoid sophistry? MastCell Talk 20:56, 21 June 2011 (UTC)
I'm not going to question her credentials based on who cites her. Where she is cited, is it not from papers she has written? Would those not be peer-reviewed? If there is something which though cited in a pro-life source, has also been published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal I don't see that the citation would disqualify the reliablity of the original source? DMSBel (talk) 12:15, 22 June 2011 (UTC)
If we're going to just pick people at random why not use PZ Myers? The definition of life is irrelevant. The sources provided do not use the word death. Extracting a custom Wikipedia definition for abortion is just making stuff up. We don't get to pick. ArtifexMayhem (talk) 12:57, 22 June 2011 (UTC)
Some sources provided do, why should they be pitted against the others? If most reliable sources said emphatically the fetus does not die in an abortion. And one source was found that said the fetus does die, then we might be dealing with synth. But that is not what we have here. Multiple sources are used throughout the article to give a comprehensive coverage of the subject. DMSBel (talk) 13:53, 22 June 2011 (UTC)

I'm not seeing progress on even the idea of how we could make progress. Should we look to getting outside opinions on the sourcing, or even at mediation? My experiences with non-binding Wikipedia processes doesn't leave me feeling much encouraged, but there is no consensus here and we're mostly going in circles, I think. JJL (talk) 02:57, 22 June 2011 (UTC)

You haven't shown that there is anything wrong with the first sentence of the lede, or that it contains anything that is not included in medical sources. The problem you are up against is not making progress it is convincing people there is a problem. DMSBel (talk) 14:00, 22 June 2011 (UTC)
If you are correct in that those that feel the word death should be left out of the definition compromise only a small minority, I would like to know that for a fact. If after all this discussion the majority feel that the lede should be left as is, I would not consider putting further effort into working for a change. Would it be possible to take a vote? Gandydancer (talk) 14:48, 22 June 2011 (UTC)
I vote for a vote. -- cheers, Michael C. Price talk 16:27, 22 June 2011 (UTC)
I think those who want to change the first sentence of the lede need to demonstate first of all that there is a problem. Taking a vote would not establish that there is a problem, or indeed that the lede is fine as it is. I prefer to work from definitely demonstrated problems, that are solvable, rather than "we lot think this should be changed". (talk) 17:23, 22 June 2011 (UTC)
MCP and Gandydancer, Wikipedia is wp:NOT#Democracy, so we don't vote. Instead we present, consider and refute arguments based on evidence from verifiable and reliable sources in accordance with existing wp:Policy. So far, you're arguments here have been very long on rhetoric and very short on V RS substance. You may not like it, but that is how WP works. LeadSongDog come howl! 17:05, 22 June 2011 (UTC)
RE "very long on rhetoric and very short on V RS substance". I hardly see how I could give a source for or against keeping "death" in the definition, which is mainly what I have posted about. If you have found my posts to be less than meaningful, of course your opinion is important to you, but perhaps some others have found it valuable, as I do theirs. Gandydancer (talk) 20:41, 22 June 2011 (UTC)
Whoa! MCP did not bring up the vote, also his posts are pretty much the shortest and succinctist posts of most editors discussing this. One good reason a vote would be bad: Votes are the least effective way of convincing people. Unless there is a good reason to change something there is nothing to vote about. Arbitrary change based on "we lot think it should be changed" is always a bad idea and out of tune with the spirit of wikipedia. (talk) 17:53, 22 June 2011 (UTC)
LeadSongDog the argument is not about wp:V, nor wp:RS, nor about definition of life/death. It's about clarity and presentation. There's nothing new to say, everyone's said their piece. Which is why it's time for a vote. -- cheers, Michael C. Price talk 18:14, 22 June 2011 (UTC)
I'm afraid I used the word "vote" in a casual sense - I should have said straw poll. I think that a good case could be made for a poll to find if a majority have enough interest in a definition change to continue to hash it out. I, for one, am no longer willing to put effort into discussion if a majority want to keep the definition as it stands. The "Elders", meaning those that participated in the old discussion (and I say that with respect), are understandably tired of this and have other things they would rather be doing. Gandydancer (talk) 18:18, 22 June 2011 (UTC)
I am still a little leery about voting: A major attempt at clarification has already been made, by means of a footnote. You need to convince editors that its not just a case of WP:IDONTLIKEIT, that the footnote doesn't address the advocacy claim. "resulting in... it's death" baldly stated (although it was sourced) without the footnote you had a shot at claiming advocacy, while it's footnoted your only ground of complaint against it's position is starting to sound more and more like "I just don't like it", or "I am ashamed wikipedia has this wording" - neither will run. Familiarise yourself with WP:IDONTLIKEIT. (talk) 19:09, 22 June 2011 (UTC)
RoyBoy made a couple of good posts since you made this post. I believe that I finally have some good points that I would like to consider before I call it quits. It is obvious that the previous group worked very long and hard to come to their conclusion, but it still does not follow that they were correct. He and others who defend the previous conclusion would need to do so again since it has been five years and there are a lot of new kids on the block. That said, there is always plenty to be learned from our "elders". I feel they need to share their experience, as RoyBoy has done, and I'd like to try to pick it apart, if I can.Gandydancer (talk) 10:16, 22 June 2011 (UTC)
Sorry, new kids on the block have the option of reading through the archives. To expect editors to keep re-iterating reasons, debated in the past is simply WP:TENDENTIOUS. Wikipedia would grind to a halt! All experience is shared via the archives. Precedents in the debate are helpfully linked. Other editors have done that for us. It took time, it took effort. (talk) 19:37, 22 June 2011 (UTC)

WP:MEDRS: AJOG states that abortions do happen after viability

This 2009 piece in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology advises peer doctors about the ethics of the post-viable abortions they perform

  • "Some viable fetuses will be diagnosed to have severe anomalies. There is certainty or very high probability of a correct diagnosis and either certainty or a very high probability of death as an outcome of the anomaly diagnosed or certainty or a very high probability of severe irreversible deficit of cognitive developmental capacity as a result of the anomaly diagnosed. When these 2 clinical criteria [high certainty of correct diagnosis of severe anomaly AND very high likelihood that if born the baby would eventually die or be severely disabled due to that anomaly] apply, the beneficence-based obligation to protect and promote the fetus' health-related interests has reached its limits. Induced abortion or feticide when these criteria have been met in rigorous clinical judgment does not violate beneficence-based obligations to the fetal patient."

The title of the piece is An ethically justified practical approach to offering, recommending, performing, and referring for induced abortion and feticide. Interestingly, according to this AJOG article a doctor who aborts a viable fetus should call it feticide, rather than abortion. If the fetus is not-viable yet, its an abortion. If the doctor performs the same procedure on a viable fetus, he calls that a feticide. (FTA: "Abortion and feticide have precise, descriptive, medical meanings. When used with precision, they can and should be distinguished from each other.") Of course, feticide and abortion have always been synonyms, so this is a distinction made by doctors for legal and ethical reasons. The upshot is that regardless of technical terminology used only by physicians (has anyone ever read or heard in any mainstream venue of a doctor performing a legal "feticide"? - no, because abortion providers and feminists would howl if that term was ever used), a really late term abortion is still an abortion. I think the way it works is that a doctor performs a feticide on the fetus in utero, then he has to remove the dead fetus from the womb.

  • Is the removal of the "feticided" fetus then called an abortion?
  • How is this any different than any other feticide (because any "destruction of the embryo or fetus in the uterus" is a feticide according to Stedmans medical dictionary, so virtually all abortions involve feticide)? (talk) 01:43, 25 June 2011 (UTC)

How you can be so cruel as to suggest that a mother should be forced to carry a severely deformed fetus to full term is beyond me. The post-viable age severely deformed fetus should not be considered viable any more than the fetus that they know will die at birth. This is not cute little Down Syndrome babies they are talking about here. Most people have no idea what a "severe deficit" looks like or acts like. Do you? I have seen hundreds of them and it would have been better if they had not been born. I have always found it odd that it is the most religious people that supposedly believe in a wonderful place called heaven that have the most trouble accepting that it would be the best place for the very sick that are ready to die and the unborn who would supossedly go straight to heaven free of sin. I for one am getting pretty sick of all this BS. Gandydancer (talk) 02:03, 25 June 2011 (UTC)
See no such suggestion from the IP. DMSBel (talk) 10:08, 25 June 2011 (UTC)
Please don't presume what my personal feelings might be, Gandy. I have made no suggestions of any kind. There are many who advocate actively killing (such as feticide) those who have severe disabilities/deformities because they view death as better than a bad life. It is something to ponder, for sure (for gosh sakes most of us have had to face a similar choice: whether to euthanise a pet). There are many who oppose that idea, too. But all of us should be able to speak about what it is candidly (as this AJOG piece does). If you think its a good idea, then why can't we talk about what it entails?
I am offering WP:MEDRS that verifies that doctors kill post-viable fetuses in utero in one category of legal abortion (at least legal in the USA). I am also asking for clarification of the medical jargon's semantics so that our article won't rely on anything so tenuous. If you prefer not to acknowledge this information, that's your business, but it won't have any bearing on this article. (talk) 02:12, 25 June 2011 (UTC)
You are the one that refuses to accept the information. The article clearly states that a developing fetus regardless of age that has a severe irreversible deficit of cognitive developmental capacity need NOT be considered a viable fetus. And yes, I do think it's a good idea. And no I don't want to talk about it, and if I did you'd be the last person that I wanted to talk to about it. For you to argue that this is proof that doctors kill post-viable fetuses is the height of absurdity. I won't even get into your creepy comments about putting a pet to sleep. Gandydancer (talk) 02:56, 25 June 2011 (UTC)

I really am going to have to see a source that says that physicians are defining abortion incorrectly (or intentionally misleadingly) and not just have a WP:SYNTHesized argument for it. It may just be that Hard cases make bad law and also bad definitions, and that in the inherently fuzzy world of biology mixed with the variability of medical opinion this is a concern that the various orgs. and textbook authors have addressed with their choices. It may also be that even if 'abortion' is loosely used to describe some cases it isn't technically correct. We need to have a source indicating that the medical community has overlooked these cases, by an error of omission or commission, and not an argument for a Wiki-crafted defn. that is unlike any other one out there. Differing widely from the sources is antithetical to our mission here--we have to be very leery of doing so. JJL (talk) 03:12, 25 June 2011 (UTC)

No, you won't accept sources except those that confirm your own POV. The argument for "before viability" is dead. It's a "late argument", you only had it nailed to the perch!!DMSBel (talk) 11:04, 25 June 2011 (UTC)
When an editor with a copy of Williams Obstetrics joined the discussion, what happened? We got confirmation that abortions are performed after fetal viability. The lower end of viability is earlier than upper legal limits on abortion. We have another source (BBC News) that confirms there are abortions in the UK performed after fetal viability. These are all on the current talk page, so you only need to look back. We have a third peer-reviewed source AJOG which confirms the first two. How many more would you like? DMSBel (talk) 11:24, 25 June 2011 (UTC)

Fresh approach needed

I have changed the lede replacing the phrase "before viability" with "resulting in or caused by fetal demise". I realise "demise" is something of a stilted euphemism. The issue of always and every of course comes into it, and one editor User:JJL has had an issue with that. But that is also problematical to "before viability", as another editor has confirmed from a MEDRS source. It seems to me although I'd appreciate other editors thoughts, that "before viability" is the more problematic phrase here. We could of course try most often before viability, resulting in or caused by the death of the embyro/fetus which would not exhaust the definitional sources. When we have a reliable medical dictionary which uses the term "death", this would not be synth. DMSBel (talk) 13:52, 25 June 2011 (UTC)

"Demise" is a mealy-mouthed euphemism. Better than "viability", though! -- cheers, Michael C. Price talk 13:58, 25 June 2011 (UTC)
Yeah, its not great. Wish there was another way of saying it, "resulting in or caused by it's death" is the least euphemistic in this case. DMSBel (talk) 14:08, 25 June 2011 (UTC)
The most recent consensus version of the lede should not have been changed because there has been no agreement that there is a new consensus version. We have exchanged a clear term (death) for a cloudy euphemism (demise). What is more, "fetal demise" is widely understood to mean stillbirth (a form of spontaneous abortion), but globally human abortion is induced several million times each year. (talk) 15:47, 25 June 2011 (UTC)

"Fetal Demise" is spontaneous. A new term was coined by practitioners: "induced fetal demise", which is intentional feticide as the first step in an induced late-term abortion. This "induced fetal demise" aka "feticide abortion" is most certainly performed on viable fetuses (as verfifed by many WP:MEDRS). For some reason the AJOG article chose to isolate the term feticide and redefine it to apply only to viable fetuses, but this goes aqainst Stedmans, which defines feticide as any intentional intrauterine killing of the embryo or fetus. In any event, although this article is helpful to editors in some ways to try to better understand the topic, such nascent medical jargon in one AJOG article cannot redefine the word feticide and thereby force wikipedia's hand to accept the absurd notion that an abortion of a viable fetus is not an abortion at all. This is not a medical article.

  • "Viable": no way because it contradicts MEDRS and the geat weight of evidence is that hundreds (likely thousands) of abortions are performed eash year throughout the world on viable fetuses. As was noted above, Slate highlights and praises the post-viability abortions done by slain late-term abortionist George Tiller. Also noted above, a group that helps women find abortion providers sponsors this link where a woman can search locally for late-term providers, many of whom offer post-viability (24+ weeks, 25+ weeks, and 26+ weeks LMP) abortions. The Viability (fetal) link mentioned above in this talk page indicates that "50 to 70 percent of babies born at 24 to 25 weeks, and more than 90 percent born at 26 to 27 weeks, survive".
  • "Fetal demise": no way because it contradicts MEDRS and common understanding that fetal demise is spontaneous.
  • "Death": there is no MEDRS that contradicts this and a dead offspring is the only thing that is common to every instance of abortion. Please keep in mind that the lede covers abortion, not just human abortion, and that offspring or young is an appropriate scientific, biological, medical and veterinary term for developing progeny.
  • As noted above, this article in the journal Contraception written by a doctor working for Planned Parenthood verifies that feticide (also called induced fetal death in the article) is part of abortion. She refers to the surgical abortion and refers to one step in that process as feticide and refers to the induced abortion involving the death of the fetus. Of course, feticide literally means the act of "fetus killing" (analagous to homicide or infanticide).
  • Stedmans defines feticide as: "Destruction of the embryo or fetus in the uterus. Also called embryoctony."
  • Stedmans defines the suffix -cide as: "1. Killer. 2. Act of killing."
  • Random House unabridged dictionary 2011 defines feticide as: "the act of destroying a fetus or causing an abortion".
  • As was noted above, this abortion clinic website describes a late-term abortion this way to their potential patients. Note that the abortion clinic uses the word death to describe the state of the fetus after the doctor administers a fatal injection to the fetus:
For patients that are 18 weeks pregnant or more by LMP, the physician will also administer a medication called digoxin on the first day of the abortion procedure. Digoxin is administered directly into the fetus to induce fetal demise (death). This is administered at 18 or more weeks in a pregnancy in order to prevent a live birth and also to ensure that the fetus is unable to feel any part of the abortion procedure. Medical evidence is unclear as to the exact time a fetus is developed enough to feel pain, but some studies point to a time around 20 – 22 weeks. We feel that administering digoxin is the most humane thing we can do in order to ensure that the fetus does not experience pain during the procedure. (talk) 14:26, 25 June 2011 (UTC)

That's a lot of website links, but the overwhelming preponderance of the medical sources goes toward viability being the key idea. We do have sources that call into question whether 'death' occurs (see the "On whether the fetus is alive" section above). I see a lot of arguing that the defns. given by the medical community are wrong but not quality sources explaining that that's so--that they're knowingly using the wrong defn. It seems like synthesis to me. The WP:WEIGHT of sources is clear: Viability is the issue. Why are we making our own, special, out-of-step defn.? JJL (talk) 15:18, 25 June 2011 (UTC)
You are confusing the question of whether a fetus is a person or entity that has rights with the question of whether a fetus is alive. There is no debate about whether a fetus is alive. The use of the word death in the lede to describe what happens in every abortion (of fetal bovines, humans, canines, felines, etc.) is only controversial for people who wish to avoid stating or reading what is a biological fact. (talk) 15:24, 25 June 2011 (UTC)
I agree, JJL continues to confuse the notions of life and death with notions of personhood. It's a waste of time debating with him. -- cheers, Michael C. Price talk 15:52, 25 June 2011 (UTC)
It is interesting that JJL can't acknowledge that the Cherry Hill, NJ, abortion clinic tells its late-term abortion patients quite clearly that the clinic doctors will perform a feticide expressly "in order to prevent a live birth". Well, that is because sometimes such fetuses are viable and are born alive. If on the talk pages JJL can't even agree that this abortion clinic is admitting that it sometimes performs feticides on viable fetuses, then we can't consider JJL to be editing in good faith. (talk) 15:57, 25 June 2011 (UTC)
A clinic website--are you claiming that that is a WP:RS? Because unless you are, it isn't worth engaging the issue. If you are making that claim, then please be specific. JJL (talk) 16:59, 25 June 2011 (UTC)
I am not claiming that, JJL. I am providing the link to demonstrate that it is not unusual or mean to use plain English to explain what abortion is. If an abortion clinic uses the word death to explain what happens to the fetus on its webpage (that is designed to assist women contemplating an abortion procedure), then complaints that wikipedia's use of death is somehow biased/false/inappropriate are hard to accept as good faith assertions. (talk) 19:05, 25 June 2011 (UTC)
You consistently take any disagreement with you as an act of bad faith. No one has disputed that some sources use the term 'death' in describing (some types of) abortion. But the WP:WEIGHT of medical opinion is clearly in favor of 'viable. It's inappropriate because it's not how abortion is defined. JJL (talk) 03:41, 26 June 2011 (UTC)

(undent) While the best refs say before viability would be willing to compromise at "most often before viability" Induced "fetal demise" is specifically in late termination of pregnancies as thus the current wording is poor. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 16:35, 25 June 2011 (UTC)

I was about to propose "almost always before viability". We're fussing about a fraction of 1% of abortions. PhGustaf (talk) 16:54, 25 June 2011 (UTC)
PhGustaf, I see you've reverted the article to impose your "viable" view, claiming that this is the new consensus. Where did you get that claim from? -- cheers, Michael C. Price talk 18:28, 25 June 2011 (UTC)
Nothing is being imposed on anyone. It's not just one person's view that 'viable' is the best term--we've established that that's the overwhelming view of the medical community, and are trying to follow WP guidelines by falling in line with it. Since 'viable' has majority support in the real world and on this page, it might be fruitful to try to work with it rather than claiming victimhood status as things are 'imposed' upon you. JJL (talk) 03:41, 26 June 2011 (UTC)
This is the kind of discussion we need to be having. I prefer the standard medical wording. I think it's understood that in biology and in medicine there are always difficult cases that don't neatly fit the definitions. Biology is not mathematics. JJL (talk) 16:59, 25 June 2011 (UTC)
The standard medical wording is found in Merriam/Webster Medical Dictionary. There is no need to maintain your painful agnosticism on the issue. DMSBel (talk) 18:36, 25 June 2011 (UTC)
The position that that wording is "standard" is completely untenable. It's been shown to be wholly false. You may not agree that 'viable' is correct, but it's wholly standard. It's the mainstream, modal way of describing the matter. JJL (talk) 03:45, 26 June 2011 (UTC)
(reply to JJL) This is why I argue that the best definition may well be, "The majority of medical texts define...". As I have already said, of the 1% of abortions done on post-viable pregnancies, the vast majority are done to remove a severely deformed fetus that would not live at birth or be utterly unable to exist in the way that one would call it a human person, or to save the life of the mother. One could argue that if a mother dies, the fetus will die as well. Of course if you wait till the fetus is certainly viable and the mother dies, is it ethical to exchange one life for another? Certainly the medical texts were well aware of that scenario, but they still went along with the definition of "before viability". I don't feel that we have to reinvent the wheel here. If it works for every medical textbook except the one that can be purchased for 99 cents used at Amazon, it should work for Wikipedia. Gandydancer (talk) 18:25, 25 June 2011 (UTC)
I am reluctant to second-guess the medical texts as to why they define it as they do, but as we all know it's hard to have fully strict defns. in the life and medical sciences. Did penguins have to be classified as birds? What is the dividing line? Certain terms are used certain ways and we should document, not re-engineer, their use, I'd say. But, I'm by no means averse to having this sort of discussion, which is clearly moving in the right direction. JJL (talk) 03:45, 26 June 2011 (UTC)
Actually, thinking about my above post, I could as well argue that if most medical texts use that definition, would our definition need to state the obvious and state that that's what they state? ...perhaps not... :P OK, I think I've changed my mind...for now... Gandydancer (talk) 18:53, 25 June 2011 (UTC)
I don't think it's typical WP style to do that unless we are drawing a contrast between a medical meaning and some other meaning. JJL (talk) 03:45, 26 June 2011 (UTC)
I see I have been incorrect to replace "caused by or resulting in its death" with "caused by or resulting from fetal demise". Thankyou to 67 for giving considered thoughts on this, together with research. Maybe it should be said at this point that any sort of attitude of epistemological nihilism towards the question is totally out of place here. What we can find from looking up a simple medical dictionary, we should be able to find on Wikipedia. I shall change the wording back to the previous consensus version. DMSBel (talk) 17:12, 25 June 2011 (UTC)
But your one medical dictionary is out-of-step with all the other ones...some of which are recommended for medical students, whereas your sis not. Beyond the fact that it agrees with your preconceived notions, why should that one dictionary be elevated over all the others that differ from it in a specific, consistent manner? JJL (talk) 03:48, 26 June 2011 (UTC)

Late-term abortionists on post viable abortion:

The following doctors have made it clear that they have witnessed abortions of viable fetuses and/or that late-term abortions at the viable stage are typically done for purely elective non-medical reasons (the opposite of what some have been baldly asserting, which is that post-viable abortions are almost always done for anomalies or serious medical implications). Of course every doctor has different experiences. I invite someone to post other doctors on record to the contrary.

  • Abortion procedures are performed on viable fetuses and the proof is that annually dozens of them survive their attempted abortion - Dr. Stuart Campbell, former professor of obstetrics and gynaecology at London's St. George’s hospital, commented on the UK government's Confidential Enquiry into Maternal and Child Health (CEMACH) report that 50 babies a year are born alive in the UK after botched National Health Service abortions (as reported by London's The Sunday Times, November 27, 2005) as follows: "They can be born breathing and crying at 19 weeks’ gestation. . . I am not anti-abortion, but as far as I am concerned this is sub-standard medicine. . . If viability is the basis on which they set the 24-week limit for abortion, then the simplest answer is to change the law and reduce the upper limit to 18 weeks."
  • Slain late-term abortion doctor George Tiller stated in a speech to the National Abortion Federation in April 1995 in New Orleans that very few post-vaiability abortions were for complicated medical reasons: "We have some experience with late terminations; about 10,000 patients between 24 and 36 weeks and something like 800 fetal anomalies between 26 and 36 weeks in the past 5 years."
  • Late-term abortion doctor Martin Haskell (who invented partial-birth (D&X) abortion) has flatly denied that most late-term abortions are for fetal anomalies or some other serious medical probelm. He actually noted that nearly 100% of the 28+ week abortions he performed were purely elective: “Two of the criticisms that I’ve been hearing lately about how our side is structuring its debate is that, one, we seem to be taking a position that-in the case of the D&X-that the fetuses are dead at the beginning of the procedure, which is generally not the case. The second criticism has been that we are really skewing the debate to a very small percentage of women that have fetal anomalies or some other problem that really need the procedure versus the 90% who it’s elected, at least through the 20 to 24 week time period, and then as you get on towards 28 weeks it becomes closer to a hundred percent. But these seem to be very uncomfortable issues for people on our side of the debate to deal with.”
  • Also admitting that most late-term abortions are done on healthy fetuses and healthy women was the voice of the abortion provider lobby during the "partial birth" abortion debate, Ron Fitzsimmons, Executive Director of the National Coalition of Abortion Providers, who told the New York Times in 1997: "When you're a doctor who does these abortions and the leaders of your movement appear before Congress and go on network news and say these procedures are done in only the most tragic of circumstances, how do you think that makes you feel? You know they're primarily done on healthy women and healthy fetuses, and it makes you feel like a dirty little abortionist with a dirty little secret. I think we should tell them the truth, let them vote and move on. In the vast majority of cases, the procedure is performed on a healthy mother with a healthy fetus that is 20 weeks or more along. The abortion-rights folks know it, the anti-abortion folks know it, and so, probably, does everyone else." (talk) 18:56, 25 June 2011 (UTC)

All but one of these unsourced bullet points does not use the term 'viable'. In some of these you're conflating viability (ability to survive outside the womb) with the numerical estimates of when it's likely to obtain. Some fetuses aren't viable at 30 weeks (say, in a case of a stillbirth). Viability is defined by survivability. That's hard to test and so it's helpful to have time/weight estimates of when it may have occurred. But your Haskell quotations, for example, doesn't comment on viability. Perhaps he didn't believe that those fetuses were viable. Similarly, for Fitzsimmons, maybe a 5 week old fetus would be termed 'healthy' too though it isn't viable. Viability is not equivalent to 20 weeks (say)'s equivalent to ability to survive outside the womb (WP's article on it states simply: "Viability is the ability of a fetus to survive outside the uterus."). But answer me this: If your point is so obviously true, what is the reason for the fact that a clear majority of major medical texts defines it in terms of viability? JJL (talk) 04:00, 26 June 2011 (UTC)
Yes, anyone actually performing abortions would know that the "procedure" results in the death of the fetus. They are rather closer to the reality of the situation. If a woman going for an abortion asks "will the fetus be dead before you remove it?" the abortion practioner can't hedge on the question. DMSBel (talk) 19:09, 25 June 2011 (UTC)
And Dr. Haskell, the man many think invented the "partial-birth" abortion procedure, has stated that 100% of the 28+ weeks viable abortions that he has performed were purely elective with no "fetal anomalies or some other problem that really need the procedure". Some here won't acknowledge this fact. (talk) 19:15, 25 June 2011 (UTC)
There is no agnosticism on the issue in an abortion clinic. There should not be any on Wikipedia.DMSBel (talk) 19:09, 25 June 2011 (UTC)

Straw poll on lede sentence

I agree with the suggestion that it would be useful to have a straw poll on the viable-vs.-death issue for the lede sentence. The current version reads: Abortion is the termination of a pregnancy by the removal or expulsion of a fetus or embryo from the uterus, resulting in or caused by its death.. The proposed change was: Abortion is the termination of a pregnancy by the removal or expulsion of a fetus or embryo from the uterus before the fetus is viable. I suggest that involved editors indicate that they either Support Current for the current version containing 'death', or Support Viable for the proposed version if they prefer it (or something similar to it that omits 'death'). Neither sentence need be the final form of the lede, of course, but this would help us better see if there is sufficient support for a change to merit continued discussion and possible mediation if needed. JJL (talk) 02:20, 23 June 2011 (UTC)

"Before fetus is Viable":

  • Support Viable (Added: And, of course, oppose death.) JJL (talk) 02:20, 23 June 2011 (UTC)
  • Oppose No new reasons put forward, already debated, as other editors have said to you, "before the fetus is viable" is factually inaccurate. Fetal death is spoken of frequently in reference to both spontaneous abortion and induced abortion, both as cause and result. Straw polls don't overturn an existing consensus, and can't act as a new consensus. Waste of time. (talk) 10:52, 23 June 2011 (UTC)
  • OPPOSE. 1. Women can and do have viable fetuses aborted (by doctors) in some jurisdictions in the world. 2. "Before fetus is Viable" is always accurate only if the common understanding of "viable" is ignored and contrived to mean "no longer viable 'cuz the doctor destroyed the previously viable fetus before it was removed or expelled". 3. Question is not posed neutrally by JJL and voting area presents options in reverse order compared to JJL's question narrative that precedes it. (talk) 11:25, 23 June 2011 (UTC)
    • The ordering was introduced by RoyBoy, not me. [34] JJL (talk) 14:00, 23 June 2011 (UTC)
Neverthless, its confusingly backwards regardless of who introduced it. (talk) 20:10, 23 June 2011 (UTC)
  • Oppose. Pre-viability is simply NOT a requirement for an abortion (induced or spontaneous). (talk) 14:17, 23 June 2011 (UTC)
For "spontaneous" it is per Uptodate "Spontaneous abortion (SAb), also known as miscarriage, refers to a pregnancy that ends spontaneously before the fetus has reached a viable gestational age" PMID 11023804 Still looking into elective. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 15:12, 24 June 2011 (UTC)
"An induced abortion is the medical or surgical termination of pregnancy before the time of fetal viability." AND "The interruption of pregnancy before viability at the request of the woman, but not for medical reasons, is usually termed elective or voluntary abortion." (Williams Obstetrics, 23e, Chp 9) NW (Talk) 16:00, 24 June 2011 (UTC)
And this "Abortion is the spontaneous or induced termination of pregnancy before fetal viability. Because popular use of the word abortion implies a deliberate pregnancy termination, some prefer the word miscarriage to refer to spontaneous fetal loss before viability" from [1] Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 16:52, 24 June 2011 (UTC)
You may be interested in Abortion#Notes. NW (Talk) 18:52, 24 June 2011 (UTC)
  • Comment I would like to suggest this definition: 'The majority of major medical texts define abortion as the termination of a pregnancy by the removal or expulsion of a fetus or embryo from the uterus before the fetus is viable. Gandydancer (talk) 23:03, 23 June 2011 (UTC)

Current Version:

  • Support going to ArbCom, mediation doesn't resolve content disputes. - RoyBoy 03:05, 23 June 2011 (UTC)
    • Arbcom doesn't accept content disputes. -- cheers, Michael C. Price talk 06:40, 23 June 2011 (UTC)
      • And I keep trying to give them work, volunteer slackers!'D - RoyBoy 03:29, 24 June 2011 (UTC)
  • Support Death Cut the crap, say it as it is. -- cheers, Michael C. Price talk 06:40, 23 June 2011 (UTC)
  • Support: Factually accurate and verifiable. (talk) 10:52, 23 June 2011 (UTC)
  • SUPPORT Current version. Death is always accurate (which is why popular and medical dictionaries use it). Thousands of abortions occur each year for which "before fetus is viable" is factually inaccurate. (talk) 11:47, 23 June 2011 (UTC)
  • Oppose death Would have the effect of inaccurately labeling many premature deliveries as abortions, even when an infant does live for some time after delivery LeadSongDog come howl! 13:48, 23 June 2011 (UTC)
    • No, LeadSongDog, your logic is wrong. Abortion => death does not imply that death => abortion. Is that too long on rhetoric and too short on substance for you?-- cheers, Michael C. Price talk 17:41, 23 June 2011 (UTC)
      • Suggest you reread the proposed text. It would include neonatal deaths in its definition of abortion: "...expulsion of a fetus ... from the uterus, resulting in ... its death". LeadSongDog come howl! 22:05, 23 June 2011 (UTC)
        • Suggest you reread the text: "its" refers to fetus or embryo, not baby. -- cheers, Michael C. Price talk 09:46, 24 June 2011 (UTC)
          • I'm glad you've maintained a sense of humour. If there is a less awkward grammatical construction that distinguishes the before and after states feel free to propose it.LeadSongDog come howl! 13:30, 24 June 2011 (UTC)
            • Current wording is precise: fetus dies => abortion; by implication baby dies => not an abortion. -- cheers, Michael C. Price talk 14:06, 24 June 2011 (UTC)
  • Support. But I agree that adding a word could make it more clear ("...its near-simultaneous death"). That is why websters uses "...after, accompanied by, resulting in, or closely followed by the death..." (talk) 14:09, 23 June 2011 (UTC)
  • Oppose death We are going about this all wrong. This is a medical article, and adding "death" is merely a political statement representing ONE POV, not all, since there are a substantial number (if not majority) who do not accept that the fetus is alive, so cannot be killed. Please point out where WP:MEDRS considers a dictionary to be the final statement on this matter? OrangeMarlin Talk•Contributions 14:37, 23 June 2011 (UTC)
Why do you say this a medical article? It is an article about a social/cultural/political/religious/philosophical/legal/medical/veterinary/biological topic. (talk) 16:40, 23 June 2011 (UTC)
OM, find a reliable source that says the fetus is not alive. -- cheers, Michael C. Price talk 17:39, 23 June 2011 (UTC)
Verifiably wrong in every way possible, but if actually accurate then I put Abortion#Art.2C_literature_and_film in the wrong article, OM please direct me to where it should go. Also point out how a medical ref trumps a dictionary to assist a generalist encyclopedia achieve an accurate compromise. I'm not interested in pulling a Britannica in our lead, which is the minimum required to have any semblance of accuracy. - RoyBoy 03:44, 28 June 2011 (UTC)
  • Comment: Simply opposing the current version won't cut it. Opposers need to propose a suitable alternative, a form of words which communicates the same factuality because that is not what is in dispute. But we've been there tried it got the t-shirt... I'd offer as a clumsy alternative : "by terminating the life of the embryo/fetus". But would that would only refer to induced abortion. Following Plain Style guidelines, that could be simplified to "by killing the embryo/fetus" (but untrue in reference to spontaneous abortion). The other alternative is keep it pretty much the same but include the term developing: "resulting in or caused by the death of the developing embryo/fetus". None of these three phrases are totally synonymous, but the last is to me the plainest, most neutral, and factually accurate of the three. Is there a better word than "developing"? I suggest it adds a missing nuance to the first sentence that would deal with other issues raised. (talk) 15:18, 23 June 2011 (UTC)
  • Oppose death I believe that Wikipedia policy obliges editors to avoid personal opinions and use information from only the best available sources. For a small group of editors to stray so far from the references and completely change the definition of abortion to one that endorses the belief that life begins at conception should not be acceptable. Gandydancer (talk) 15:25, 23 June 2011 (UTC)
Your argument is silly; it is analogous to claiming that "Abraham Lincoln died" is likewise not acceptable because that wording endorses the belief that there is no afterlife or that Lincoln is not experiencing an afterlife. All of the medical/veterinary/bological sources are in agreement: only a living offspring (of any species, at whatever stage of pre-natal development) can be aborted, and such an abortion ends in the death of that previously living abortus. If an abortion is threatened spontaneously or an attempt is made to induce an abortion - but the fetus ends up being born alive, then the abortion has failed (and the pregnancy has been terminated by live birth). (talk) 16:47, 23 June 2011 (UTC)
It might be easier to interpret the results of the straw poll if arguments about whose position is "silly" were moved to another section. JJL (talk) 17:29, 23 June 2011 (UTC)
And just think of the difficulty inflicted on the interpretation process by arguments about which comments should be "moved to another section". Lawdy, lawdy! (talk) 19:42, 23 June 2011 (UTC)
  • Oppose current The ending phrase of the current version sounds rather awkward and I believe the sentence would sound better if "resulting in or caused by its death" is removed. On the other hand, the detail "viable" is controversial and I don't think it belongs in the first sentence. I would suggest Abortion is the termination of a pregnancy by the removal or expulsion of a fetus or embryo from the uterus.--EdwardZhao (talk) 17:36, 23 June 2011 (UTC)
So is Delivery. (talk) 17:49, 23 June 2011 (UTC)
62 is right: Zhao's abortion definition is so flawed because it includes the birth of all of my nieces and nephews, all of my neighbors, the entire Yankee infield, and the Broadway cast of RENT! (talk) 19:39, 23 June 2011 (UTC
Oh, I see. In that case, I support using "viable" in the definition. A link to Viability (fetal) can be added for clarity.--EdwardZhao (talk) 19:48, 23 June 2011 (UTC)
Nope. Doctors abort viable fetuses every day (hundreds of them). (talk) 20:01, 23 June 2011 (UTC)
I'm sure you have a reliable source to back up your claim about incidence of post-viability abortions? MastCell Talk 20:37, 23 June 2011 (UTC)
Here you go. Its a mainstream piece that highlights and praises the post-viability abortions done by slain late-term abortionist George Tiller. A group that helps women find abortion providers sponsors this link where a woman can search locally for late-term providers, many of whom offer post-viability (24+ weeks, 25+ weeks, and 26+ weeks LMP) abortions. The Viability (fetal) link mentioned above by Zhao indicates that "50 to 70 percent of babies born at 24 to 25 weeks, and more than 90 percent born at 26 to 27 weeks, survive". Let me know if you want additional sources. (talk) 20:52, 23 June 2011 (UTC)
I want additional sources that address the question, not more sophistry. None of those supports the idea that "hundreds" of post-viable fetuses are aborted "every day". That sounds to me like pro-life hyperbole rather than fact, particularly given your track record to date. In fact, the Slate piece emphasizes the rarity of post-viability abortion, so either you read it and decided to misrepresent it or you didn't read it. But I'm open to being corrected if you have a source that actually supports your claims. MastCell Talk 21:26, 23 June 2011 (UTC)
He failed to mention that the overwhelming majority of late term abortions are done for women who might die if they don’t have one, fetuses who wouldn’t survive outside of the womb, and fetuses with such extreme abnormalities that they’d best be terminated before full term. Gandydancer (talk) 21:39, 23 June 2011 (UTC)
Good calls. - RoyBoy 03:31, 24 June 2011 (UTC)
Not really, Roy. Slate helps us do the math (18,000 late-term abortions annually after viability) :
  • Only 1.5% of abortions occur after 21 weeks of pregnancy," notes Vanessa Valenti at Feministing. She's right. Women and clinics deserve credit for acting earlier and keeping that number down. Still, 1.5 percent of 1.2 million abortions per year is 18,000 very late abortions. How long should the abortion decision clock be allowed to run? (talk) 23:32, 24 June 2011 (UTC)
@Gandydancer, do you have a reply to - RoyBoy 07:48, 26 June 2011 (UTC)
  • Support death is not a dirty word. - Haymaker (talk) 18:10, 23 June 2011 (UTC)
  • Oppose death. Concur with OrangeMarlin, LeadSongDog, Gandydancer, JJL. Adding: What happens to the products of conception post abortion is not defined by abortion. ArtifexMayhem (talk) 18:49, 23 June 2011 (UTC)
  • I dare say I could come up with a lede that might solve the problem, or at least the first few sentences of a lede. But the issue here is whether solving the problem for NPOV editors will be enough. For that reason I think a few questions are in order to see if it would be a waste of time. I'll ask these below. (talk) 09:14, 24 June 2011 (UTC)
As applied, the use of the term "products of conception" above (instead of the well-understood and accurate term used ubiquitously in the bio/med/vet/legal discourse and in everyday discourse: embryo or fetus) is silly. But the use of it does drive home the point that this article is NOT a medical article, and that intentionally euphemistic and murky medical terms used primarily by abortion-minded doctors and activists are NOT appropriate in the lede. (talk) 19:35, 23 June 2011 (UTC)
Your opinion on what may or may not be "silly" is worthless and has no place here. ArtifexMayhem (talk) 21:53, 23 June 2011 (UTC)
The IP has a valid point, but Artifex may not have been wanting to use the euphemistic phrase in the article. I prefer a plain style which describes things as they are. (talk) 09:45, 24 June 2011 (UTC)
  • Oppose "death", and "viable" too. This is the wrong place to decide what "life" is. 60% or more of fertilized ova never implant; medically and legally a pregnancy never starts. Do these blastocysts "die"? Has an abortion happened? BTFOM, and you and your doctor and your clergyman too. Rewrite the lede to use neither term. PhGustaf (talk) 04:00, 24 June 2011 (UTC)
    • While I agree we are not defining life here, I can tell you those blastocysts die, just as surely as the sperm and egg die if they do not join. A pregnancy is the feeding of a biological growth. Before it plants itself into the uterine wall it isn't biologically alive? Just a sack of remixed chemicals, while this chemical soup can justly be seen as just that... the egg doesn't die as it normally would if it remained empty. Biological processes, however rudimentary, are occurring regardless. - RoyBoy 07:58, 26 June 2011 (UTC)
  • Oppose "death" The majority of references don't use this word to define abortion. Wikipedia's definition should be in line with what the references say. Right now Wikipedia's definition is aberrant because it uses a word very few references use to define abortion. If the majority of references we looked at had "death" I'd support it staying there but since they don't I say the word should be taken out. Friend of the Facts (talk) 21:01, 23 June 2011 (UTC)
  • Support Viable When we transplant organs from someone with a beating heart and ventilated lungs we are not causing "death" as the person is already technically "brain dead'. The same is true with abortion we are not killing a human when we abort a fetus as it has been agreed that the fetus is not a living / thinking human. Some thing when we do a hysterectomy or bowel resection even though we are killing human cells we are not killing humans. Thus the more WP:NPOV version would be viability.Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 00:07, 24 June 2011 (UTC)
  • Support death factually accurate and supported by sources – Lionel (talk) 01:09, 26 June 2011 (UTC)
Could you put your comment under the section for "viable". Thanks. (talk) 09:14, 24 June 2011 (UTC)
  • There's been some work on the brain birth/brain death parallel: E.g., [35] D G Jones, The problematic symmetry between brain birth and brain death, J Med Ethics 1998;24:237-242; [36] D G Jones, Brain birth and personal identity, J Med Ethics 1989;15:173-185. JJL (talk) 00:58, 24 June 2011 (UTC)
  • I think I have made my point clear before; I oppose the status quo, mostly because I feel that it does not adequately reflect the consensus of the sources. NW (Talk) 00:48, 24 June 2011 (UTC)
Agree we need to reflect the best quality source. We are to reflect the literature per WP:V and there is consensus for that. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 17:12, 24 June 2011 (UTC)
  • Mildly support "death" and strongly oppose "viable". In any event, absent consensus, the sentence needs to be reverted to the longstanding version, per item #1 of the FAQ at the top of this talk page. "Death" is a pretty strong word, and we don't say in the tonsillectomy article that the tonsils die. But WP:Euphemism argues against sugarcoating, and the stability of this article favors "death" as well, so I mildly support "death". Whatever becomes of "death", I strongly emphatically vociferously oppose "viable". The notion that abortion is physically impossible during the last few months of pregnancy entails an unusual use of the word "abortion" that is contradicted by a vast number of reliable sources.Anythingyouwant (talk) 00:22, 25 June 2011 (UTC)
  • Support Viable The overwhelming description the sources use state nothing about "death", but do in fact give language that describe expulsion "before fetal viability". That is what the opening sentence should read, "Abortion is the termination of a pregnancy by the removal or expulsion of a fetus or embryo from the uterus before fetal viability". This straw poll, although showing that most do support this language, should not overrule Wiki policy. The sources state this language, not the "death" language. So it should be changed. Dave Dial (talk) 01:59, 26 June 2011 (UTC)


It's been over 48 hours. I make it 10 in opposition to 'death' and 6 in support of 'death'. Not all of those who oppose 'death' clearly support 'viable'. JJL (talk) 03:19, 25 June 2011 (UTC)

And you have convinced who? The problems with "before viability" grow larger all the time, not least that its factually false. So you have no alternative wording, but another fait acompli was tried last night, by changing the first sentence before you even tallied your straw poll. So do you guys even really care about either factuality or consensus. Just level with the rest of us? DMSBel (talk) 09:56, 25 June 2011 (UTC)
I don't think saying "you guys" helps--I'm not allied with anyone, but I am in agreement with some and much less so with others. Take your anger to the person who did the actual edit, though based on all the discussion and sources and stonewalling against change here I think it was quite reasonable. I don't see any problems with "before viability" and I think that all that's growing is the volume of your complaints. JJL (talk) 15:09, 25 June 2011 (UTC)
Actually the totals are more like 10-8 in favor of death, so we should revert back to the previously established consensus.-- cheers, Michael C. Price talk 10:59, 25 June 2011 (UTC)
I'd be happy to hear from others as to how they read the responses. It's clear that consensus for 'death' has been lost and that net opinion is currently against it. That's a good reason to work on establishing a new consensus, and 'viable' seems to be the leading candidate. JJL (talk) 15:09, 25 June 2011 (UTC)
Agreed. Would you revert. Thanks.DMSBel (talk) 12:09, 25 June 2011 (UTC)
Or instead of edit warring, we could work from these results towards a new version of the lede by discussion. JJL (talk) 15:09, 25 June 2011 (UTC)
Make that 7 for death. I think it premature to claim a change in any event, and additionally I do not see a consensus to adopt "Viable." – Lionel (talk) 01:09, 26 June 2011 (UTC)
And also another against, for a tally of 11-7 as I read it. The weight of opinion is against 'death' and seems to be for 'viable'. We should start from there. JJL (talk) 03:35, 26 June 2011 (UTC)

That makes it 11-9 in favor of keeping death in the lede. (talk) 03:39, 26 June 2011 (UTC)

(Redacting incorrect report of result. JJL (talk) 01:00, 27 June 2011 (UTC))

I say again--please explain your reasoning here. JJL (talk) 01:36, 27 June 2011 (UTC)
I absolutely do not understand how you reach this conclusion. Here's what I have. I'm counting the following as opposing 'death': JJL, LeadSongDog, OrangeMarlin, Gandydancer, EdwardZhao, ArtifexMayhem, PhGustaf, Friend of the Facts, NW, Doc James, Dave Dial. I'm counting the following as supporting 'death': Michael C. Price,,,, Haymaker, Lionel, Anythingyouwant. That's 11-7 against 'death'. Not all who opposed 'death' supported 'viable'; one person only mildly supported 'death'; and one person (RoyBoy) only indicated support for going to ArbCom. If you count him in the 'death' category then that makes it 11-8. If someone feels that I have mis-assigned or over-looked them then I hope he or she will say so. But, please explain how you reached your conclusion. JJL (talk) 04:22, 26 June 2011 (UTC)
JJL, the confusion comes from your bias and inability to phrase a neutral poll. Self-proclaimed victories are always unconvincing. -- cheers, Michael C. Price talk 07:00, 26 June 2011 (UTC)
How surprising to hear someone from the side receiving less support now claiming it was a problem with the poll. The wording was quite simple and the issue was clear. If you were confused then you should have asked for clarification. It seemed to me that everyone knew what we were talking about, but it was clearly stated nonetheless. There is more opposition to the use of 'death' than there is support for it. But let's here from as to how he reads things. He's even found more total votes than I have! JJL (talk) 14:29, 26 June 2011 (UTC)
As usual you hear and see what you wish, and nothing else. Others complained of your role as self-appointed judge, jury and executioner, but I suppose you didn't hear that either.-- cheers, Michael C. Price talk 14:32, 26 June 2011 (UTC)
It is abundantly clear there is no consensus to change the lead from "death" to "viable". A majority vote has never represented consensus. And everyone here knows that. Editors who continuously revert should be extremely cautious: this article is subject to 1RR and is being watched by admins and they may construe this type of behavior as edit warring and block offenders. – Lionel (talk) 21:09, 26 June 2011 (UTC)
It is abundantly clear there is no consensus at all. However, the results of the straw poll show a majority against 'death' and significant interest in 'viable' as the alternative. What do you suggest as a constructive way to move forward, given this information? JJL (talk) 00:58, 27 June 2011 (UTC)
The first thing before we proceed is that 2006 consensus version remains as the lede until there is a new consensus. Without agreement on that point, then we have bad faith edit warring by those who ignore the article FAQ and edit as if there is a consensus for a change. (talk) 01:55, 27 June 2011 (UTC)
  • Silly question regarding the "viable" alternative - is it not considered to be an abortion if a pregnancy is terminated and the baby killed after viability? If there is a huge hangup on "viable" or "death", why not just put a period after "uterus"? --B (talk) 11:32, 27 June 2011 (UTC)
Because if you put the period there, then every born mammal on earth would have been the result of an abortion so defined [a live birth is also the termination of a pregnancy]. ;o) (talk) 15:26, 27 June 2011 (UTC)
  • That would be acceptable to me as a compromise. The concern that has been raised is that that could also be construed as the definition of a normal pregnancy. I think "terminating the pregnancy" makes it sufficiently clear, but 'viable' is what's used in the vast majority of professional refs. on the subject so I do find that preferable. JJL (talk) 15:17, 27 June 2011 (UTC)

Edit warring: repeated change to non-consensus lede

There is a long-standing consensus lede. We are now discussing whether a new consensus version might exist, but so far there is no new consensus version, yet some editors keep changing the lede. This is not being bold - it is bad faith tendentious edit warring. (talk) 00:18, 27 June 2011 (UTC)

I look forward to such a discussion taking place. How would you suggest we proceed? JJL (talk) 00:53, 27 June 2011 (UTC)
We proceed on the talk page, not on the article page. You could assist in that by encouraging editors to leave the long-standing consensus lede alone unless the first achieve a new consensus leded. Several times now you have participated in the edit war by editing to polish the changed non-consensus lede. To state it plainly: you have been complicit in the edit warring behavior. If you are willing to stop doing that, then I am happy to assume good faith on your part. Are you so willing? (talk) 01:06, 27 June 2011 (UTC)
Stop editing the page to change the grammatical case of one word? No, I'm not willing to agree to stop doing that. It's noncontroversial. (No has said that 'viability' is preferred over 'viable'.) Setting preconditions isn't a helpful way to start. However, I'm prepared to leave the lede as it currently is if others are. JJL (talk) 01:09, 27 June 2011 (UTC)
Exactly the bad faith I was noting: the current lede is the edit-war non-consensus version and you snidely "agree" to leave it as it is if others will. Proof of your tendentiousness. (talk) 01:18, 27 June 2011 (UTC)
You asked. Is there a way to move forward without me agreeing to preconditions you have set? JJL (talk) 01:35, 27 June 2011 (UTC)
First of all, let's stop referring to one version as the "consensus" version and the other as the "non-consensus" version. That's silly and rhetorically dishonest. Clearly there is not, at present, a consensus for how the lead should look. One can reference previous discussions, of course, but not for the purpose of trying to shut down the current discussion. MastCell Talk 16:06, 27 June 2011 (UTC)
Why should we stop to call the version that has been standing here for years and which was the result of hard content discussions and which achieved consensus anything else but the consensus version just to please those that without any justification try to replace it by a version that is both factually incorrect, POV pushing and self-contradictory. If anything, this would be "rhetorically dishonest".
How can anyone oppose the mentioning of death and at the same time include the (false) claim about viability. If the fetus is not-viable, then obviously it is alive and therefore can also die. If pre-viablity were a prequisite of an abortion, the fetus' death is the logical consequence of the procedure.
Str1977 (talk) 07:32, 28 June 2011 (UTC)
You've just asserted as "false" the definition used by almost every leading medical reference. Also, the point of the term 'viable' is that it is not that case that "If the fetus is not-viable, then obviously it is alive and therefore can also die", as we have been discussing here. To say "without any justification" is quite dismissive of all the discussion and sources here. Being the mainstream medical defn. is surely some amount of justification, wouldn't you agree? JJL (talk) 13:37, 28 June 2011 (UTC)
JJL, before you accuse other editors of being dismissive, please read throught the archive, you'll save yourself a lot of time in the long run.DMSBel (talk) 15:48, 29 June 2011 (UTC)

Wording in the 'viable/viability' version of the lede sentence

This sentence has gone back-and-forth between ending in "...before fetal viability" or "...before it is viable" (linking to Viability (fetus) or Fetal viability in either case; the latter has now become the main version and so the current link should be changed to avoid the redirect). I prefer the latter form, but it appears both ways in the sources. The two versions are obviously equivalent, but does anyone have any reason stylistically to prefer one over the other? JJL (talk) 15:24, 28 June 2011 (UTC)

I'll re-iterate my comment below here regarding lede stability - it is has reference to what you have just said, though I don't object to you having moved it to a new section. The current version has stability only because of full page protection, and it does not enjoy consensus. With regard to the issue of style, in so far as it does not touch on meaning, it is rather beside the point at this stage. The real issue is not with fetal, but with "before...viability". You see because on the grounds you should be able to see that the term "viability" is even more problematical according to your own rationale against "resulting in, or caused by its death". I am surprised you cannot see this yet. DMSBel (talk) 12:14, 29 June 2011 (UTC)
Our normal practice is to avoid redirects by piping directly to the target article, but wp:redirects are cheap. So whether the piped link is viable or viable has no substantial impact on the reader's experience except for the appearance of redirected from Viability (fetus) below the title on the target page Fetal viability if the second option is used. Either way, I can think of very few things less worthy of a fuss.LeadSongDog come howl! 14:08, 29 June 2011 (UTC)
I think avoiding the rd is a no-brainer--it's just that what was the rd and what was the target switched during this discussion and about the time the page was locked so it ended up going from direct to rd. But fetal viability vs. it is viable may or may not matter to someone is what I was thinking. JJL (talk) 14:32, 29 June 2011 (UTC)
JJL, what surprises me is that you continue to edit as though there are no other discussions taking place elsewhere on wikipedia with regard to the editing of this article, I think you should throttle back a little if not a lot, till other issues underlying this are resolved. DMSBel (talk) 15:41, 29 June 2011 (UTC)
I started a new section to discuss a minor matter of wording in the version of the lede that is currently in place and that has been the subject of discussion. I indicated in the very section heading that I was referring to this particular version of the lede. I don't understand your objection. As we continue to discuss the two versions, wouldn't it be helpful to know what we're talking about? JJL (talk) 15:58, 29 June 2011 (UTC)
It would be helpful to know what we are talking about while we are continuing to discuss the earlier consensus version and the proposed version. Discussion is as another editor pointed out for the discussion page, not the article itself. This page does indeed operate under a BRD cycle. Would you like for other editors who have already debated this to re-join the discussion? DMSBel (talk) 09:46, 30 June 2011 (UTC)
Also running two discussions in parallel in different sections might risk re-polarising the issue. If you insist on doing this, it would be better to proceed under one section, simply titled Lede First Sentence where we discuss the sentence in toto. Its basically easier to follow developments that way. DMSBel (talk) 09:46, 30 June 2011 (UTC)
I've no objection to that. JJL (talk) 16:38, 30 June 2011 (UTC)

'Death' in the lede

I've moved this to a new section because I am hoping to have the above one used to settle the wording of the 'viable' version of the lede sentence. The 'death' version seems to be well-settled by its adherents. JJL (talk) 02:07, 29 June 2011 (UTC)

If I might ask what you are hoping to achieve by settling a not so new sentence in contention to the one which has consensus (what you refer to as adherents)? Do you then intend to play the two against each other? Or what exactly? GK Chesterton once quipped, there are two ways to get home, one is to walk all the way round the world till you arrive back at the same place, the other is to stay there. We have already walked all the way round the world on this, you'll find that if you look at the archives. All you will be doing is taking a group of editors around again with you, while you say "oh wait I never thought of this before!" and they all reply "we have!" DMSBel (talk) 12:35, 29 June 2011 (UTC)
JJL, If I may make a couple of observations:
Firstly as you know the stability of current lede is due only to full page protection. It is also true that the earlier wording "caused by or resulting in its death" was protected from time to time, that wording however remained fairly stable while signed in users could edit the page.
If you don't mind may I ask you a couple of questions regarding your objection to the earlier consensus version? In your edit summary you asserted that the use of the term death was "clearly advocacy". My difficulty through this discussion has been following your thinking process. You seem (correct me if I am wrong) to be seeking a new rationale for altering the lede (the first sentence at least). If there is a problem with it that is perfectly fine. However I wonder if you might re-consider whether you have been set on the wrong track early on in the discussion? My difficulty is understanding the rationale you went towards, that there is a fuzziness with certain terms. If there is fuzziness would it not prevent clear discernment of advocacy? Perhaps not, but would you mind making visible your thinking process on this before your edit. The reason I said before your edit is that often once a notion captures our attention, it can subtly influence our evidence seeking. Sometimes its true that a wording strikes us as incorrect, but I, if not other editors, would be interested in what led to your view that it was advocacy, if there was anything other than OrangeMarlin's comment. In asking I want to make clear that in itself there is nothing wrong with following another editors comment, but OrangeMarlin's initial comment was not, and has not been credibly demonstrated to be either factual or verifiable in MEDRS. It no doubt is his view. But I wonder how he could credibly defend a claim of advocacy in view of comprehensive debate and discussion which considered many possible alternatives. I wonder if his comment has set you on the wrong track. One other question: would the term fetal death in your view always be advocacy, or is it just in the part of the sentence "...caused by or resulting in its death"? DMSBel (talk) 23:34, 28 June 2011 (UTC)
There are a number of things I felt and continue to feel are wrong with 'death', but the available length of the edit summary limited my ability to say them all. Given the difficulty of defining 'life' and 'death' biologically and medically; the contentiousness of the words as used in the abortion debates (pro-life or pro-death, "baby-killing", etc.); the myriad legal and psychological issues associated with personhood (which can be conflated with life/death, as in brain death vs. cardiac cessation); the differing views on the matter across cultures; and the general murkiness that such a multi-faceted set of meanings brings with it, I felt and feel that 'death' is too laden with conflicting and nuanced meanings to use without much greater discussion of its senses here. (After the lengthy discussion here, however, the secondary medical sources introduced by NW have become a large part of the basis for my position.) I can't speak for any other editor's views, and I wasn't editing because of any Talk page comment here. I must say that while I appreciate the civil tone, the suggestion that someone else "has set [me] on the wrong track" comes across as quite condescending--more because of the statement that my track is wrong than that I'm easily influenced. The continued implication that disagreement can only arise by error is distressing. As to 'fetal death', it clearly appears in the literature and may well have a role to play in the article--but then, I don't oppose having death in general discussed in the article. I just think it's not well-suited to the lede: Another term is more standard and very specifiaclly defined. JJL (talk) 02:07, 29 June 2011 (UTC)
The edit summary is indeed not the first place to try and explain your objections, or to attempt to overturn a well established consensus. After you have brought concerns to the talk page and there is discussion over whether there is in fact a problem, then the edit summary can briefly indicate any change, and reason for it. The reason for all this is that objections based in "feeling" (as you have said "you felt and continue to feel") are inarticulate. There is nothing wrong with feeling something needs changed, but the degree to which a personal point of view enters into that feeling is difficult to quantify - that is why I addressed your rationale. The "fuzziness" of language is rather a tricky rationale from which to argue that a sentence is "clearly advocacy", however strongly one feels it is. Are you not using your own WP:OR when you refer to "general murkiness...", to argue there is "clear advocacy", if so that seems rather bizarre. You are arguing from the term "death" as being multi-faceted in its meaning, but at the same time saying that it has a clear ring of advocacy to it here. Advocacy in regard to what in particular? That's why we cannot debate the term in isolation. My contention along with other editors both past and present is that it has a medical ring to it in context (part of its multi-faceted meaning), therefore cannot be clearly advocacy. Can you perhaps understand why editors feel so strongly that a lengthy debate be not so lightly dismissed as though those editors are not around now, or that they did not adequately look into these matters. Several of them have re-joined the discussion. Would you value fuller participation from more of the editors involved in the earlier consensus? DMSBel (talk) 10:44, 29 June 2011 (UTC) (talk) 10:39, 29 June 2011 (UTC)
I don't feel I'm being "inarticulate". Here's my position: the clear WP:WEIGHT of the major secondary sources is overwhelmingly toward the use of the term 'viable' and the absence of the term 'death'. We should reflect that in the lede. A more nuanced discussion can occur in a section later on in the article. JJL (talk) 14:26, 29 June 2011 (UTC)
Also, nothing is being "lightly dismissed"--we've had a lengthy discussion, lots of new sources, the views of editors who both have and have not been here for a long time, a straw poll, and requests for help from other Wikipedians (e.g. Dispute Resolution, AN/I). The majority of editors are opposed to the use of 'death'. I don't see any effort at all to compromise by the minority who continue to support 'death', while those who do not have been willing to do so (see NW's comments below, or the repeated suggestions that a new section could be added to reflect this disagreement). If no change to the lede can ever be acceptable to you, then discussion doesn't serve much purpose, unfortunately. I've asked before about what would be acceptable compromise language from those who favor 'death' and apparently there is none. B suggested leaving out both 'viable' and 'death' as a compromise. I said that'd be acceptable as a compromise, though I don't prefer it; Doc James suggested a compromise along the lines of "most often before viability" and Gandydancer suggested "The majority of medical texts define..." which were also was met with willingness to discuss by me but gained no traction from the 'death' side, even as a point from which to begin a discussion toward compromise. Your current comments--arguing about arguing--seem to me just another attempt to stonewall. If you're unwilling to compromise and in the minority, then it can't be a surprise that things aren't going your way. Let me ask plainly: Can you imagine compromising on the presence of 'death' in the lede? On the introduction of 'viable' there? JJL (talk) 14:26, 29 June 2011 (UTC)
Once again JJL, this is all rooted in your misunderstanding of consensus. My difficulty is that you did not approach this in a attitude of "lets discuss this". You went ahead and changed the lede and only entered into discussion when several editors called the edit into question. Initially you said the medical sources left you in doubt, but strangely ignored the ones that mentioned "fetal death". You argued from a number of angles in succession, started a straw poll, then counted it up yourself. You have not bothered over all this time to start an RFC on this to see what the wider community thoughts are on what you are proposing. Why is that? An RFC is the standard way to approach this. DMSBel (talk) 15:26, 29 June 2011 (UTC)
I have no objection to an RFC. As to what's standard, please let me direct you once again to WP:BRD: "The BOLD, revert, discuss cycle (BRD) is a proactive method for reaching consensus". I changed it once, it was reverted, we discussed. Standard approach. The attitude among those championing the former consensus comes across to me as a.) you can't make any changes without our permission, and b.) that permission will never be given. As to arguing a point from many angles...that's actually considered good science, and this is a scientific matter. As to counting the straw poll myself, I explicitly asked others to do so. And once again: Telling me that the difficulty is "rooted in (my) misunderstanding" isn't helpful. Could we disagree without it being the case that I am clearly in the wrong? JJL (talk) 16:04, 29 June 2011 (UTC)

Regarding the matter of consensus this might be at the root of the problem

  • At the time of your edit the FAQ clearly said the term "death" had been debated, and no it could not be removed from the lede without a new consensus established. I don't edit the FAQs I think it is bad form to do that if I am involved in any way. Like yourself I am relatively new to the discussion, yet I have been here for several months. When I came to discuss on this page initially it was simply out of interest in what was then a current aspect of discussion which was already well into being debated. I added my comments. Thats all anyone can do. Advancing a new consensus means persuading at least some of those involved in an earlier consensus, either that they did not address a important issue, or if they did that something new has come up which means the matter needs to be re-discussed. I am still not clear what you think you have unearthed that either was not discussed or that represents an important new discovery. The attitude of those previously involved in the discussion has been lets see if we have not already discussed this. There has been no reluctance to give consideration to any genuinely new insight into the issue. You simply cannot claim that you have not been listened to. Let's address the issue you have, that means lets look at it.

Advocacy in the use of the term "death" in the lede's first sentence.

Question: If reference to fetal death was further into the lede would that address your concern with advocacy? In other words do you regard all definitions that mention "death" to be advocacy ipso facto?

To be clear on this as succinctly as possible what is it that is being advocated in your view? DMSBel (talk) 20:31, 29 June 2011 (UTC)

I don't understand why you keep bringing up the term 'advocacy'. I don't think you've been reading my posts. I'm not a priori opposed to any mention of (fetal) death in the lede. Do you have a more specific proposal? JJL (talk) 21:04, 29 June 2011 (UTC)
The reason I bring up advocacy is because it was your initial objection in your edit summary:
04:51, 9 June 2011 JJL (talk | contribs) (93,264 bytes) (this is clearly advocacy--"death" is a highly charged term here and not a medical one (does an embryo 'die'?))
You have claimed that other editors are not permitting a change from the consensus version or allowing a new consensus to be advanced. In reply I say maybe initially there was not a lot of enthusiasm from editors to re-open this, so lets examine the concern about advocacy. A couple of editors have thrown the term "stonewalling" about in the discussion. That is a rather emotive term to use in debate, especially to editors who have re-discussed something year after year. Yet if there is an issue here it should be looked at in depth and all issues of advocacy addressed. Lets do so one at a time. It would help if you could delineate your specific concern, by stating what in your view is being advocated by the use of the term death in the first sentence of the lede? DMSBel (talk) 21:54, 29 June 2011 (UTC)
I think you're well behind where the discussion is. Based on the sources NW presented, the defn. involving 'viable' appears to be strongly preferred by the relevant professionals, while that involving 'death' seems to be deprecated. That's what we've been discussing, and what was being addressed in the straw poll. You're denying stonewalling at the same time that you're asking to set aside 20 days of discussion to start over again. It is now I who must ask you to read the archives and get up to date with the discussion. To put it another way, I advocate that you do so. JJL (talk) 23:43, 29 June 2011 (UTC)
I am well aware of where the discussion is now and where it began in this round of it JJL, if we lose sight of where it began we no longer know what we are discussing, or why we are even discussing it. Are you saying that you no longer think it is advocacy? You see regardless of where the discussion is now, this has to be addressed. I am just puzzled why when that was your initial objection you seem reluctant to discuss it now. What are we discussing if not that? Why are we looking up sources and trying to find alternatives that have not been tried? DMSBel (talk) 10:08, 30 June 2011 (UTC)
Why are we looking up sources? What are we discussing? We're discussing 'viability' in the context of the sources provided by NW. I've addressed your concerns about 'advocacy' as best I can. In light of the sources, we have come to 'viable'. JJL (talk) 15:29, 30 June 2011 (UTC)
Well you have not actually told us what was being advocated. I'd have thought that was easy enough, if you perceived clear advocacy in the lede. Going by archived discussion re-introducing "viable" takes the discussion back considerably. I understand it was first considered about 5 years ago. But the problem as you know is not just with the term viable, its with the term "before viablity". DMSBel (talk) 17:20, 30 June 2011 (UTC)

Draft to replace current "death note section"

Below is the proposed new notes section for "death" in lead:

While "death" has negative connotations, this is appropriate for the subject matter and acknowledges the controversial and bio-ethically difficult nature of abortion. It makes no judgement -- morally or legally -- regarding personhood. Alternatives with medical consensus have been proposed, why they were not chosen is outlined below.

The majority of medical sources define abortion as a procedure occurring before viability:

  • The National Center for Health Statistics defines an "abortus" as "[a] fetus or embryo removed or expelled from the uterus during the first half of gestation—20 weeks or less, or in the absence of accurate dating criteria, born weighing < 500 g." Cunningham, FG; Leveno, KJ; Bloom, SL; Hauth, JC; Rouse, DJ; Spong, CY, eds. (2010). "1. Overview of Obstetrics". Williams Obstetrics (23 ed.). McGraw-Hill Medical. ISBN 978-0-07-149701-5. 
  • "[T]he standard medical definition of abortion [is] termination of a pregnancy when the fetus is not viable". Annas, George J.; Elias, Sherman (2007). "51. Legal and Ethical Issues in Obstetric Practice". In Gabbe, Steven G.; Niebyl, Jennifer R.; Simpson, Joe Leigh. Obstetrics: Normal and Problem Pregnancies (5 ed.). Churchill Livingstone. ISBN 978-0-443-06930-7. 
  • "Termination of a pregnancy, whether spontaneous or induced." Kottke, Melissa J.; Zieman, Mimi (2008). "33. Management of Abortion". In Rock, John A.; Jones III, Howard W. TeLinde's Operative Gynecology (10 ed.). Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. ISBN 978-0-7817-7234-1. 
  • "Expulsion from the uterus an embryo or fetus prior to the stage of viability (20 weeks' gestation or fetal weight <500g). A distinction made between [abortion] and premature birth: premature infants are those born after the stage of viability but prior to 37 weeks." Stedman's Medical Dictionary (27 ed.). Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. ISBN 0683400088. 

Viability is, by its nature, not verifiable on a case by case basis:

  • "Loosely defined, the term viability is the fetus' ability to survive extrauterine life with or without life support. A number of landmark US Supreme Court decisions dealt with this question. In Webster v Reproductive Health Services (1989), the court upheld the state of Missouri's requirement for preabortion viability testing after 20 weeks' gestation. However, there are no reliable or medically acceptable tests for this prior to 28 weeks' gestation." Trupin, Suzanne. "Elective Abortion". Retrieved 26 June 2011.  Unknown parameter |middle= ignored (help)

Abortions -- both elective and medical -- do occur after 20 weeks gestation (trying to find direct stat page, ideally with sex selection tied in):

As an embryo / fetus is an organism, its demise/termination can be accurately described as death:

This best follows Wikipedia's goal of providing reliable, accurate articles in a summary style.

So any comments? - RoyBoy 16:05, 26 June 2011 (UTC)
Looks good. -- cheers, Michael C. Price talk 16:33, 26 June 2011 (UTC)
Can you copy the current article into a sandbox and show us what your proposal would look like? I'm trying to visualize it but I'm not sure if I'm misunderstanding your proposal or not. NW (Talk) 16:54, 26 June 2011 (UTC)
Thanks for the move NW, I was waiting until I stabilized it, but I'm glad you're still bold and getting things done. I don't understand current article, effectively I'm streamlining your note section that is live and putting it in a ... ummm, a death rationale matrix. :"D However, this matrix can be leveraged for an alternative to death. Renamed section to clarify my intent to replace current note section. - RoyBoy 17:05, 26 June 2011 (UTC)
Ooops, sorry about that. And I'm afraid I'm still not totally understanding it. Could you show your proposed changes on User:NuclearWarfare/Abortion notes sandbox? NW (Talk) 17:27, 26 June 2011 (UTC)
Done. - RoyBoy 17:44, 26 June 2011 (UTC)
Is there a source for "As an embryo / fetus is an organism"? I looked at this proposal in the sandbox article. When you say "Alternatives with medical consensus have been proposed, why they were not chosen is outlined below", I see that this is an effort at compromise but at this point the weight of opinion favors choosing 'viable' and I would prefer continuing to work in that direction. I still don't see an argument for the superiority of 'death', which this proposal seems to presume. JJL (talk) 18:07, 26 June 2011 (UTC)
I acknowledged we needed to do better to summarize the choice of "death" above alternatives. This is the culmination of hybridizing 2006 consensus with the dominant valid objections reintroduced recently. The key here, is the acknowledgement from 20 weeks to 28 weeks there is no reliable method to determine viability. WHO notes late period abortions happen. The rationale goes, as it did in 2006 but now with a WHO ref, that there is abortus that is viable. If we agree here this is accurate, how would this be addressed in accordance with WP:policies and Style? - RoyBoy 18:32, 26 June 2011 (UTC)
So after all this, it reads to me that what you've 'acknowledged' is that you need to do a better job of explaining why you were right all along? This isn't an honest attempt at reaching a's a condescending and less abrasive defense of the older version. To more directly respond, even if had reached such agreement, a complicated matter such as this is best handled later in the article with a Late Term Abortions or similar section. JJL (talk) 18:57, 26 June 2011 (UTC)
Obviously my answer to that is use "death", you can have an alternative, but if it just involves using "viable"; I've shown above that isn't sufficient for an encyclopedia. - RoyBoy 18:38, 26 June 2011 (UTC)
You've shown that to your satisfaction, but I'll need much more to be willing to go against such overwhelming medical and scientific consensus. What other sorts of alternatives might you find acceptable? We may be able to find a middle ground. JJL (talk) 18:57, 26 June 2011 (UTC)
Having looked at Britannica, I do not see one. - RoyBoy 20:40, 26 June 2011 (UTC)
If you can't see any possibility of compromising, and you feel one tertiary source outweighs an avalanche of secondary sources, then you're not playing by the rules. JJL (talk) 00:52, 27 June 2011 (UTC)
I do see it (ie. weighing down the lead with trying to define viable medically/legally/practically, and noting exceptions on top of that), but it's bad summary style, what I don't see is a requirement to do it that way. I remind you, you removed the pre-existing summarized compromise. As to rules, people will evoke policy (to the exclusion of others) to get what they want, and ignore them when its convenient. Like you did when y'all replaced death initially, and like you did when you replaced it now with a straw-poll "consensus"; if you're consensus holds under policy review I'm conducting then I'll accept it (Britannified of course, you should get on that). The thing is I will ensure Wikipolicy is updated to reflect what actual policy is, because it rejects your actions at this point in time. (Wikipedia indeed, can always change)
As to an avalanche of secondary medical sources, are you honestly going to pretend I haven't addressed that? Medical sources have a clinical style, they overtly frame abortion in a style appropriate for medical professionals dealing with patients -- and provides a guideline for abortion's intended use. Wikipedia does not define things based on intentions, but strives for reality (aka. accuracy), nor do we censor for a good bed side manner. Your narrow interpretation of Wikipolicy (and selected words) makes you ill suited to edit controversial articles, period. I bare in mind this doesn't make you wrong, you should bare in mind popular support does not make you right. - RoyBoy 23:35, 28 June 2011 (UTC)
I understand you don't see it as a requirement to do it a different way--but I'm in the same position. The case I'm hearing is that the sentence with 'death' is the only possible way, and I don't agree with that in this particular case or in the general case. Replacing 'death' initially was, I think, a reasonable application of WP:BRD. Regardless of whether you agree or not, here we are. But here's the claim I continue to see made but treated as so obvious it need not be sourced: "Medical sources have a clinical style, they overtly frame abortion in a style appropriate for medical professionals dealing with patients -- and provides a guideline for abortion's intended use. Wikipedia does not define things based on intentions, but strives for reality (aka. accuracy), nor do we censor for a good bed side manner." I don't feel the medical sources are overtly framing abortion in a certain style, only appropriate for dealing with patients, only for some 'intended' use, at odds with reality, or censored. That seems to be a personal opinion. Having sources that use 'death' doesn't make the case that medical texts are guilty of all these sins. Can you provide sources that say the medical texts are wrong? There are sources that show some historical documents have been falsified, or written in hagiographic style, for example. Where is the sourced, not synthesized, evidence that the medical sources are wrong? I think this goes to the core of (part of) our disagreement: I believe this is obvious to you, but it's counterintuitive to me. JJL (talk) 01:38, 29 June 2011 (UTC)
I acknowledge "death" is hardly the only way for an encyclopedia to define abortion, but even with Britannica's (and others) best efforts, these clarify to me how viable is inappropriate for an encyclopedia. As to the core of our disagreement, we can explore further in Talk:Abortion#After_the_straw_poll. - RoyBoy 20:12, 1 July 2011 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────In the end, this looks just like the old consensus with some tweaking. Unless someone convinces me otherwise, the 2006 consensus was done by a group of anti-abortion editors (at least the discussion reads that way). No way. OrangeMarlin Talk• Contributions 20:47, 26 June 2011 (UTC)

No surprise there, since everytime OM sees a contrary view he always assumes bad faith, ascribing it to ignorance, stupidity or a different political stance. Which is quite funny since he is still maintaining that the fetus isn't alive. -- cheers, Michael C. Price talk 20:57, 26 June 2011 (UTC)
Surely you'll admit to being very guilty of what you've just accused him of? This is hardly a welcoming environment for editors new to the page, or who hold differing opinions. JJL (talk) 01:02, 27 June 2011 (UTC)
Don't worry JLL. I'm used to Price's continued snarkiness and immature commentary. Since he doesn't have much knowledge in this matter, he must resort to childish namecalling. We have a clinical diagnosis for that. He does know a lot about geology, so Price is quite helpful to me in those articles. I don't get the dichotomy. LOLOrangeMarlin Talk• Contributions 03:00, 27 June 2011 (UTC)
JLL, OM: Rather than slap each other on the back, your time would be better spend finding a source that says the fetus is not alive. You inability to find such a source speaks volumes. -- cheers, Michael C. Price talk 05:59, 27 June 2011 (UTC)
Again, there's a section for that already on this page, above: On whether the fetus is alive. JJL (talk) 15:22, 27 June 2011 (UTC)
A section that illustrates jjl'S inability to distinguish between biological life and legal life (personhood). -- cheers, Michael C. Price talk 16:08, 27 June 2011 (UTC)
Let's agree at this point that you aren't actually considering the sources--you're just defending your territory. JJL (talk) 16:38, 27 June 2011 (UTC)
Think what you like, but we don't agree. And I did look at the sources, although no doubt you can't believe that. How can anyone look at the sources and not agree with you, eh??? -- cheers, Michael C. Price talk 18:52, 27 June 2011 (UTC)
I meant that it would lead to a more fruitful discussion if you addressed the specific sources rather than saying hey indicate I don't understand something that you do. JJL (talk) 19:04, 27 June 2011 (UTC)
Since there are no sources that say the developing fetus is dead, there's not much to discuss. BTW, your stock sinks lower everytime you misrepresent what others editors say. -- cheers, Michael C. Price talk 19:17, 27 June 2011 (UTC)
A tweak that was already found wanting, and remains so. No one needs to convince you of jack. - RoyBoy 20:59, 26 June 2011 (UTC)
It doesn't limit us that 5 years ago other people thought different things. JJL (talk) 01:02, 27 June 2011 (UTC)
Reasonable, but misinformed.
  • Are you or I better suited to delineate what is truly "different" between now and 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 years back? We didn't sit still for 5 years until you rolled in and picked a good time for a straw poll with some well-intentioned but misinformed and bold admins.
  • Does 5 years passing change this wisdom?
- RoyBoy 00:50, 28 June 2011 (UTC)
I agree. In fact, I'd go less far: It's the 2006 version with a different, expanded set of notes buried in the fine print. The straw poll shows that 'death' is not preferred and shows much support for abortion 'viable' (edit). Let's use the straw poll for its intended purpose--to start a discussion from that point. JJL (talk) 00:52, 27 June 2011 (UTC)
But JJL, you did not do this, you launched in without either straw poll or discussion. The lede now stands in contradiction to what you want to discuss. Straw polls are not a good way to start debate, an RFC is the standard way. I'm sorry but throughout this it looks like you wanted to get a fast change, then force anyone who objects to that to follow the etiquet you failed to follow to restore the consensus version! JJL wrote: "straw poll...shows much support for abortion". A strong pro-choice feeling? Maybe it does. Are you saying this article should reflect the personal POVs of whichever group of editors is in the ascendency on the talk page? Could you tell me how that would result in a stable article? Clearly it would not. DMSBel (talk) 11:11, 29 June 2011 (UTC)
I edited my comment as I had intended 'viable' there. I think this article should reflect the professional opinions of experts in biology and medicine. I think the case has been clearly made what that means. If you have an issue with WP:BRD, this may not be the best place to raise it. JJL (talk) 13:58, 29 June 2011 (UTC)

No one is saying that there is not death of cells. What is being said is that when terminations are pre viable there is not a death of a conscious human being. Just as when people transplant organs of a dead person in the West this is not considered murder as the person was not an alive human even though the cells are alive.Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 06:18, 27 June 2011 (UTC)

So to conclude we would not say organ transplant results in death as we would consider death has already occurred. Abortion does not result in a death of a human as a human consciousness has not yet occurred. So stating that abortion causes death is somewhat misleading without clarification. Similarly when one aborts a dead fetus abortion does not cause death. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 06:21, 27 June 2011 (UTC)
We could say "resulting in death of human cells" but even that for abortion carried out on cells already dead would not be correct but would be clearer than simply stating death.Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 06:26, 27 June 2011 (UTC)
"Every mammallian pregnancy at its beginning must have an offspring alive inside of a gravida. If the offspring ends up exiting the gravida alive, we have a birth. If anything happens such that the offspring does not exit the gravida alive and intact, we have an abortion." Please explain any disagreement with that summary (that I assert applies to every mammallian pregnancy). If your argument is that my assertion is wrong, then I assert that you have huge problems with basic biology. If your argument is that you agree with these facts, but you think they should be phrased in some way different than the 2006 consensus lede, then more discussion might be beneficial. (talk) 17:02, 27 June 2011 (UTC)
My disagreement is that this isn't big enough...and that "does not exit the gravida alive and intact" does not clearly imply death, if the embryo/fetus wasn't alive to begin with. Also, that the medical sources are in such unanimity on the matter. This is one reason 'destruction' is used by some sources. [unsigned comment left by JJL] 17:15, 27 June 2011 (UTC)
"Destruction" is used as a euphemism by those doctors who don't want to be candid, which is likely done both to avoid disturbing their own or their patient's mental state and/or to use language that does not invite legal scrutiny. While those may be good reasons for doctors facing those situations, wikipedia is not censored and should use candid accurate language rather than euphemism. (talk) 18:17, 27 June 2011 (UTC)
What's the source for saying that it "is used as a euphemism by those doctors who don't want to be candid, which is likely done both to avoid disturbing their own or their patient's mental state and/or to use language that does not invite legal scrutiny"? Without such a source, this is just your personal inference and can't be used to disregard the sourced defns. I know you feel this way, but I don't see anything to support your opinion as to why the professional refs. don't say it they way you personally would. JJL (talk) 19:04, 27 June 2011 (UTC)

Given the mountains of objective evidence (from WP:MEDRS and other WP:RS) that a non-living fetus is properly called a dead fetus, argumentation to the contrary is tortured POV pushing: (talk) 12:54, 27 June 2011 (UTC)

Google searches for phrases and legal opinions are not much against the carefully analyzed sources that have been shown to be among the most widely used by the medical community in training health care practitioners. JJL (talk) 15:24, 27 June 2011 (UTC)
Regardless of anything you type, it is false to assert that it is partisan or POV to refer to the scientific and medical and legal fact of the death of a fetus as the death of the fetus. No matter how many times you explain what your POV is, the fact is that "death of the fetus" is a mainstream and well-understood way to talk about what happens in an abortion. Laymen use that phrase, doctors use that phrase, lawyers use that phrase, scientists use that phrase. But you don't like that phrase. You won't even acknowledge that it is a legitimate and mainstream way to describe abortion. And if you can't acknowledge that, then it is pointless to discuss the issue with you because you have entered the discussion with a closed mind. (talk) 15:33, 27 June 2011 (UTC)
I don't believe that I've seen JJL refuse to use the word death in the body of the article, I know I sure have not. This discussion is only about the definition used in the lede, nothing more. Because Wikipedia has no expert editorial staff to decide what definition to use, we rely on the best of the best to provide that information and reference to that. Most of us are not physicians, let alone the best in the field of medicine. The only expertise that any Wikipedia expert can claim is to be an expert on Wikipedia policy. If an editor states he or she is an expert on anything but that, they still need to offer published reports that verify their statements. You will need to accept that because that is a fact. Gandydancer (talk) 16:06, 27 June 2011 (UTC)
It would be a reasonable section or subsection to have lower in the article--it's clear that views vary on the matter. JJL (talk) 16:36, 27 June 2011 (UTC)
Yes I would have no problem using death lower in the article where it can be put in proper context and the different opinions bother cultural and social can be elaborated on. Having it without such context in the lead is WP:BIAS and WP:UNDUE. Especially since we do not have top quality sources supporting the position.Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 23:59, 27 June 2011 (UTC)
It is the centrepiece of the whole controversy surrounding this particular procedure, hence it must not be glossed over in the intro.
The "pre-viability" claim however is (at best) nothing more than a misleading generalisation, taking what may hold true for some abortions (and even there, it is hardly fundamental to it) for all. The article is not called "abortion before viability" but simply abortion. Str1977 (talk) 07:36, 28 June 2011 (UTC)
Is the "centrepiece" of the controversy around viable in that they feel that viable fetuses are being aborted or is it that they feel that people are being killed? Gandydancer (talk) 10:34, 28 June 2011 (UTC)

FAQ #1

Given the disappearance of the consensus for 'death' in the lede and the clear weight of opinion toward 'viable', this no longer seems appropriate as phrased regardless of what ultimately becomes of the lede. I'm editing it to simply say please don't change the lede without discussion. Actually, I'd be inclined to remove it altogether, but for now I'll just reword it. JJL (talk) 13:43, 28 June 2011 (UTC)

I've changed it to: "1. Should the first sentence/paragraph of the article be reworded? This is a contentious issue. Please see the archived discussions on the Talk page, and refrain from changing the lede without first determining that there is consensus to do so." I think this should work with any wording in the lede. JJL (talk) 13:47, 28 June 2011 (UTC)
I don't see why a frequently asked question should not be addressed, so I am puzzled at you saying you'd be inclined to remove it altogether. Your unilateral actions are really becoming quite concerning. You are a clearly involved editor, I don't think it is good for you to be making alterations to the FAQ, given that you have not shown a lot of interest in the archived discussion. The basis of the FAQ is basically what has been asked frequently over the last five years. Changing the FAQ does not change what has been asked, it just risks making it unreflective of the discussion.DMSBel (talk) 09:12, 30 June 2011 (UTC)
The current version says essentially the same thing, but in a slightly more general way. Right now 'death' isn't even in the lede sentence so the FAQ entry wouldn't make sense as it was. I understand someone may revert it post-protection, but for now doesn't this accomplish the same thing in a way that reflects the current reality? JJL (talk) 15:25, 30 June 2011 (UTC)
Run that by me again? The FAQ is for the purpose of addressing questions frequently asked on the talk page, and throughout archived discussion, basically from the time the page was started. It has nothing at all to do with the current wording of the article. You didn't know this?DMSBel (talk) 16:35, 30 June 2011 (UTC)
I'll run it by you again. The old version of FAQ #1 read: "Should the first paragraph of the article be changed to remove/reword "death?"" Currently, that word doesn't appear in the first sentence or even the first paragraph. This makes it a very unlikely question as worded--that someone would be wondering if they should remove a word that isn't there. I'm betting you won't get that question right now. On top of that, a majority of those polled actually did favor removing it, so the response was also not in accord with the current situation. While the discussion isn't over, the broader wording makes more sense. It includes the old case in particular, should 'death' reappear. If you're concerned about the archives, perhaps you can suggest a FAQ entry worded "Should the first paragraph of previous versions of the article have been changed to remove/reword "death?"". JJL (talk) 17:19, 30 June 2011 (UTC)
Ok, the wording of FAQ1 has been altered several times by involved editors. I think that is bad practice, whatever they are betting on. I know what I'd be betting on. Also you said earlier you asked someone to add up your straw - poll, can you point me to that please. DMSBel (talk) 17:59, 30 June 2011 (UTC)
It's in the "Tally" subsection. JJL (talk) 19:14, 30 June 2011 (UTC)
To be fair you did tot it up yourself, although you asked others later how they read it:
It's been over 48 hours. I make it 10 in opposition to 'death' and 6 in support of 'death'. Not all of those who oppose 'death' clearly support 'viable'. JJL (talk) 03:19, 25 June 2011 (UTC)
you'd have been wiser though to leave it for an uninvolved editor to close and tot up. There was an issue with the poll narrative too, and it changed in the middle of the poll. Not a very firm basis to conclude anything from is it, let alone assume either support nevermind consensus. DMSBel (talk) 03:02, 1 July 2011 (UTC)

After the straw poll

In my opinion, the results show that there is considerable interest in rephrasing the first sentence to remove 'death' from it. I suggest we leave the current 'viable' wording in place while we work to form a consensus on how to handle the lede (which may or may not involve the concept of viability when all is said and done). I also suggest we delete the FAQ #1 entry as it no longer reflects the current state of affairs. JJL (talk) 03:19, 25 June 2011 (UTC)

Do you not see you are running your own poll, running you own tally and drawing your own conclusion! DMSBel (talk) 10:44, 25 June 2011 (UTC)
...and then I made some suggestions that we could discuss. What's the problem that you have with that? JJL (talk) 15:03, 25 June 2011 (UTC)

There was no consensus to alter the lede, nevertheless it was changed. Such editing is bad faith editing. You don't change the former consensus version without acheiving a new consensus version - especiually on a lede that has such a history of lengthy discussions and hard work to forge what had been the consensus version for over 5 years, with no new arguments having been made. (talk) 15:42, 25 June 2011 (UTC)

I didn't change it. I agree with the change and think there's good cause for making it, but it's inappropriate to take me to task for things I did not do. The length of the previous consensus is immaterial--and all the more so now that we see how it was defended (by stonewalling and name-calling until those with opposing views gave up in disgust and left). If you think no new arguments have been made then you're not really engaging with the posts here, esp. NW's new sources and the arguments that they represent mainstream medical thought. New arguments have been made, but perhaps they have not been heard. JJL (talk) 16:53, 25 June 2011 (UTC)
I'd reiterate, from my perspective they need not be followed after being heard several times, as we are not a medical reference. - RoyBoy 08:13, 26 June 2011 (UTC)
Agreed--but we are supposed to be accurate and un-original. The vast majority of the major references don't use 'death'. Isn't that a strong caution against us doing so? Surely the physicians writing these texts are aware that 'death' is a possible description here. It's conspicuous infrequency of appearance should make us leery of using it here. Viable is a simple term that we can link to a description of--and it's a simple issue, whereas death is a complex, many-faceted one. If death is to be discussed it should be philosophised on later in the article. JJL (talk) 14:39, 26 June 2011 (UTC)
That is clearly one of your best posts on this subject. Did you want me to clarify again why "conspicuous infrequency" has occurred, and how death is dead easy (if tumor growth can die, so can a uterine growth), viable in contrast is very complex. This is the essense of why I've found you impossible to deal with, but again, exceptionally well written post. Hope for you yet. (PS: no need to philosphize on whether an embryo is an organism) - RoyBoy 12:19, 30 June 2011 (UTC)
Here's the thing: That's been clarified repeatedly, but always as OR and never in a sourced way. I have asked several times for sources that state that the medical community knows 'death' is the right description but avoids it for whatever reason(s). I understand that you think you understand why they do, but surely you see that you're asking us to trust your personal opinion over the relevant professional source material? JJL (talk) 15:22, 30 June 2011 (UTC)
Well small confession here, I was pretty sure we had done our homework in 2006 on that, but couldn't figure out where (made me realize we needed to do better on summarizing the previous consensus). When GTBacchus came into the discussion I was relieved to hear we had in Archive 18 with the subject Uterine 2. But at the time I was low on sleep and ill. I gave up trying to understand that section (and archive) and hoped someone else would step in to clarify what it meant in a larger context, but it didn't happen so I decided to rely on aspects I did understand to maintain the consensus. If I thought it would turn this discussion I'd have brought it up again, but I'm still uncertain how to accurately interpret, let alone weigh Uterine 2 in relation to how abortion is defined today. I would say that if we misinterpreted "Uterine 2" that would be a basis for overturning the 2006 consensus. - RoyBoy 19:13, 1 July 2011 (UTC)
Thanks; I see the relevance of the quoted material attributed to Dr. Tietze. I also understand some of the objections mentioned in the archive--that it's (apparently) a primary source and, more importantly, that while he calls for this it isn't clear that his (and others') advice was followed and is the cause of the defn. in use. It also refers to a a particular means of contraception (IUD) that prevents implantation, if I understand the context properly. JJL (talk) 01:20, 2 July 2011 (UTC)

Compromise suggestion from DRN

One suggestion [37] from DRN is that we consider avoiding using either term in the lede sentence. I think part of the difficulty is that this article addresses both spontaneous and induced abortions despite a clear focus on the latter, but I gather there's little support for changing that. (Please speak up if I'm mistaken about this.) Is there a good wording that avoids either term but still says what's in the sources? JJL (talk) 16:22, 30 June 2011 (UTC)

I note that Miscarriage is where Spontaneous abortion points and that that page's lede sentence defines the two terms as being synonymous. The defn. used there is essentially the one proposed here, but without the specific term 'viable': "Miscarriage or spontaneous abortion is the spontaneous end of a pregnancy at a stage where the embryo or fetus is incapable of surviving independently, generally defined in humans at prior to 20 weeks of gestation.". Does this wording help address any of the concerns about the term 'viable'? I wouldn't object to seeing the Abortion page state the matter in a manner like this in the lede sentence. As suggested at DRN, it avoids both terms, and as it spells out what exactly it means it may address the concerns of those who find 'viable' too medical-sounding. For the exceptional cases we could refer the reader to Late termination of pregnancy (and see Late-term_abortion#Definition). JJL (talk) 16:22, 30 June 2011 (UTC)
As another note, WP editors on these other pages define abortion without recourse to using the term 'death'. I take this as evidence against the claim that due to WP's special nature we are somehow obligated to use it, and against the claim that the prior consensus was somehow ideal. It can be, and has been, done using a viability--based approach, though not necessarily using that specific term. I'm willing to compromise at not using 'viable' in the manner that editors at other WP Pages have done--including at the page that covers what some editors here consider the most problematic case for 'viable'. JJL (talk) 16:22, 30 June 2011 (UTC)
I understand that its easy to have subsequent thoughts after having made a comment, and there is nothing wrong with adding those, but would you please not indent your own comments immediately following one another - it makes it look like you are replying to yourself. Indenting distinguishes between one editors comments and another's replies. Thanks DMSBel (talk) 17:28, 30 June 2011 (UTC)
Looking at the DRN comment it in fact makes two suggestions: Rewrite first sentence to
a) Exclude either term
b) Use both terms. DMSBel (talk) 17:42, 30 June 2011 (UTC)
It seems that several suggestions have been offered by those that believe that it is not correct to keep death in the definition because almost none of the references use it. So far a group of editors have refused every suggestion. Would it be possible to open a section where they could offer suggestions that they would agree to? If it turns out that they will accept only the previous definition we need not go on discussing a compromise. Gandydancer (talk) 18:15, 30 June 2011 (UTC)
Yes, as I said, this is one suggestion from one editor. It's not all he, or others, have said, but I thought it could be a fruitful avenue to try. Feel free to start a section on another approach. JJL (talk) 19:24, 30 June 2011 (UTC)
The problem is that none of us really know why we are discussing this. Advocacy? OK - lets discuss advocacy in the article. DMSBel (talk) 19:04, 30 June 2011 (UTC)
You keep bringing this up but it isn't clear to me what it is about 'advocacy' you want to discuss, or even what kind of advocacy you mean. I think most of us know what and why we are discussing: The sources that clearly point to 'viable' being the preferred term and the near-absence of 'death' in quality sources. I'm at a loss as to how to make it clearer that that is the point at issue. JJL (talk) 19:24, 30 June 2011 (UTC)
Upon your arrival on the scene one of your first edits mentioned that "death" is advocacy. Regardless of the countless WP:RS and other references that use the word "death" to define and describe abortion (including a major abortion clinic website that uses that word to discuss what happens to a fetus), your initial claim was that it is an advocacy word. Those wanting to remove the word from the lead initially (and continuously until very recently) based that change on their claimed desire to remove an advocacy word, and refused to acknolwedge that death/dead/die are accurate terms used by doctors/vets/biologists to describe what happens to a fetus when ceases to grow/develop (in fact, those editors were invited to acknolwedge that but would not). It is good to see that there is some movement to admit that the death of a fetus is part of every abortion. Once editors can acknowledge that this has been verified, we can then discuss how and where to state that important fact. And it is very important because without that death, the expulsion/removal of the fetus is considered a birth. It seems that negatively defining abortion as "removal of a fetus that does not result in its live birth" is unnecesarily wordy and complex when the affirmative "removal of a fetus caused by or resulting in its death" is simple, covers all possibilities, and is always accurate. (talk) 19:02, 1 July 2011 (UTC)
That is not what is being discussed. That is the rationale that you and some other editors are attempting to piece together. But advocacy is where you started us, and why I insist on asking you what is being advocated, by the consensus version (not the current version) of the lede's first sentence? DMSBel (talk) 23:24, 30 June 2011 (UTC)
Gandydancer what you're saying sounds a lot like, "If you don't like duck, you're rather stuck!" Or perhaps "If you'd like duck, you're rather stuck!". I would have no objection to either viable or death in the first sentence medically nuanced and correctly phrased, if we were dealing with a simple medical article. Abortion however is not a straighforward, or solely medical topic, and resists being reduced to one. That said I still have hope that the issue can be resolved. As an editor who in the past has attempted to see the issue as others might view it, recall in the picture discussion you were able to recognise that the early stage embryo was seen by some people as a complete human being (I hope I got you right and that I am not putting words into your mouth) I wonder if you might consider the DRN suggestions: Use both terms, a possible way forward, or droping both terms, which I think leaves the definition rather vague, but your thoughts? DMSBel (talk) 19:16, 30 June 2011 (UTC)
Well folks "be excellent to each other!" and take it easy. :-) DMSBel (talk) 19:20, 30 June 2011 (UTC)
DMSBel, I don't remember my words in the photo discussion, however, yes I may have well said that because that is what I believe. I have said in this discussion that if I were to have miscarried a child I would have grieved in much the same way that I would have for a full-term birth. It would not be as deep a grief, of course, but a lot of crying never the less. If I had miscarried a child at one time, the beautiful photo that was being used for this page would have brought the grief back in much the same way that a parent that loses a child of any age never gets completely over the loss. On the other hand, I have many friends who feel completely different. Some of them have had abortions and they have not sensed loss or grief at all. This does not mean that I am more intelligent, or moral, or loving, or anything else, it only means that we are different. It also does not mean that if one of my daughters had decided to have an abortion I would have discouraged her, in fact I would have strongly supported her if she decided to abort an unplanned pregnancy. I feel that all women should have the right to their own decisions about when to start a family, if ever, and the right to limit their family when they feel they hardly can afford and care for the children they already have. I hope that I have fully explained that I believe that it is possible, and in the case of abortion, of the utmost importance, to be able to see an issue from another's point of view.
You state that the definition for our article must not use a medical definition because it is actually broader than only the medical aspect. However this issue has come up in the past and NW furnished us with more references which are not of a medical nature and still the word death is absent. Your comments?
You have suggested a definition using neither death nor viable. Could you submit a possibility? Gandydancer (talk) 13:25, 1 July 2011 (UTC)
I have not suggested a definition using neither death nor viable, but maybe you misunderstood me, or I failed to make myself clear. I have said dropping both terms would leave the definition vague, that to my mind is not good in an encyclopedia. "before it is viable" / "before the fetus is viable" is not an equivalent to "resulting in or caused by its death". However both presuppose the life of the embryo/fetus. Thats why I support a version that can incorporate both [viable] and [death], but not "before viability" or "before it is viable". DMSBel (talk) 17:14, 1 July 2011 (UTC)
No they do not both presuppose the life of the embryo/fetus. Some people believe that life does not begin till birth. You can not tell those people you are right and they are wrong just because God told you so. Maybe they have a different God that told them life begins at birth. Gandydancer (talk) 17:45, 1 July 2011 (UTC)
No scientist or physician believes that a fetus (including an embryo) developing in the womb is not alive. The issue you bring up needlessly (because no editor in favor of "death" has ever relied on it or brought it up) is whether the living fetus should be afforded personhood status (rights). When discussing the state of organisms and parasites and mammallian fetuses, the typical langauge used is alive/living or dead. Non-living things (whether classified as parasites or organisims) are not treated as patients. Yet in Western medicine, doctors are legally and ethically bound to treat the fetus as a patient unless the mother affirmatively declares that she wishes to abort the fetus, and even then the doctor must treat the fetus as a patient until the actual abortion procedure begins, and even then if the fetus ends up alive outside the womb because an induced abortion attempt has failed the doctor must treat the baby as a patient. The medical profession is not thereby conferring personhood on the fetus prior to birth, but rather the profession is simply recognizing that the fetus is alive and is capable of being treated as a patient while in the womb (and must be so treated until such time as the doctor takes affirmative action to end-the-life-of/cause-the-death-of the fetus). Many in the profession will defer to the mother's decision as to whether that life of the fetus will be artificially terminated. After ensuring that the fetus (having been re-classified as an unwanted parasite or organism) is dead, they will then remove it from the uterus (although some abortion procedures are designed so that the act of removal itself is so destructive that it causes the death of the fetus). This is all medicine and science and not at all dependent on any ideas about personhood or any religious ideas. If you review the entire dialogue for the past 3 weeks, not one person has mentioned or implied personhood (rights) or religion as a basis for the word "death". It has always been an appeal to medicine/science/law and the broader context of abortion as a part of the culture. (talk) 19:34, 1 July 2011 (UTC)
Gandydancer: Nice WP:OR. But false. Viability means being able to survive if born prematurely, reaching viability requires growth, which requires life.DMSBel (talk) 19:59, 1 July 2011 (UTC)
If that's all the better you can do how can I even debate you? How can I attempt to start all over again from page 1 of this discussion. You just lead us round and round. I don't think you're doing it on purpose but that is exactly what you are doing. We have discussed again and again that everyone is well aware that cells, etc., are alive - they are "born", they grow, and they die. We are speaking of "personhood life" here, not the life of a cell or an organ. One does not say the baby's liver is alive or dead because it had or had not grown to a state of viability. If you still can not get that clear in your mind I do not see how you can be considered able to go on with this discussion. I can say that I for one am totally unable to continue to discuss this with you and from the looks of things pretty much everyone else has given up as well. Gandydancer (talk) 20:31, 1 July 2011 (UTC)
Who says we are speaking about "personhood life"? You are imposing that POV onto the clinical and scientific and legal fact of death. Certainly the medical profession is quite clear that the fetus dies, and uses "death" to refer to both induced death and spontaneous death.
Your argument apparently is "death" implies personhood. But it does not. It states that in an abortion a living fetus (regardless of what status you afford to it) must die, otherwise the "termination of pregnancy" is always a live birth.
Death can mean many things. But to qualify death in the lede by noting "biological" would then highlight the POV that the fetus is not a person, just as some other qualifier might highlight the POV that the fetus is a person. Either qualifier would be wrong.
Clearly in the profession of medicine, the fetus is treated as a person if the mother does not indicate she wants to abort, and spontaneous abortions (of a wanted fetus) are often situations where the mother considered the death to be same as if the child had died after being born alive. So "biological death" is POV and improper.
Biology considers the cessation of life of any organism to be its death. When a biologist observes that an organism has ceased to be alive, this observation is typically called death. (talk) 21:03, 1 July 2011 (UTC)

That does not seem to be what this editor from the photo discussion said:

The British GMC policy does not address whether a fetus (or for that matter a sperm or blastocyst or zygote) is an internal organ or structure, so I don't think we should assume that the policy would be applicable here. Under British law, a 10-week fetus is equivalent to a tonsil in terms of legal status, which is another reason for us to hesitate before using the GMC policy to erase numerous prenatal images (including featured images) at Commons. In any event, the image in question is not simply a fetus, but rather a fetus internal to an amnion (the latter surely being an internal organ or structure).Ferrylodge (talk) 18:02, 26 June 2011 (UTC) Gandydancer (talk) 20:04, 1 July 2011 (UTC)

Interesting. Is a Fetus alive Gandydancer? DMSBel (talk) 20:21, 1 July 2011 (UTC)
I'm sorry but this has been discussed again and again and I refuse to be led round and round in the same circle any longer. If you really did want my answer to that question all you'd have to do is read my previous posts. In fact if you really want to know what I think about any aspect of this discussion, please just read my previous posts because it's all there and I am not going to keep repeating it over and over. Gandydancer (talk) 22:26, 1 July 2011 (UTC)
Whilst I appreciate that you do try to look at the issue from another angle at times, you also finished one of your comments: "OK, I think I've changed my mind...for now...". It's a little difficult to determine which way you are facing after reading that. Basically I most often see a pro-choice sentiment in your posts though they tend to go off on a tangent at times. Asking people to repeat things is something you have done quite frequently in the discussion, especially sources. From what I can gather you do indeed understand that an embryo / fetus is alive, or at least that life begins before birth. DMSBel (talk) 12:01, 2 July 2011 (UTC)
Gandydancer, the issue is central here, and, as has been previously pointed out, you are one conflating life/death with personhood. That is why the argument is circular. As has been stated Who says we are speaking about "personhood life"? You are imposing that POV . If you think the fetus is not alive then find a reliable source that explicitly states the developing fetus is not alive. I've asked for such a source a number of times and none have been supplied. -- cheers, Michael C. Price talk 06:38, 2 July 2011 (UTC)
The Kushner ref. does that. What is it about that source that you find unreliable? JJL (talk) 14:09, 2 July 2011 (UTC)
No it doesn't. Try again. -- cheers, Michael C. Price talk 16:11, 2 July 2011 (UTC)
Yes, I agree this has been previously discussed. This section was meant to discuss the compromise suggestion from DRN - why don't we all try a little harder to stay on topic. If you still have problems with other issues perhaps you should add your thoughts/requests in the appropriate section. Gandydancer (talk) 10:25, 2 July 2011 (UTC)
And I reject the suggestion, since the developing fetus is alive and can therefore die. -- cheers, Michael C. Price talk 10:29, 2 July 2011 (UTC)
  • Just like a living toenail that is injured and dies, like living skin that dies, and like a living kidney that is ill/injured and dies. "Alive" and "dead" are common terms used to describe human tissue.
  • Of course typical terms used by the general population when referring to a human or animal fetus are "alive", "living" and "dead.
  • Certainly doctors refer to a fetus as alive (and treats the fetus as a patient) until a pregnant woman states that she wants an abortion, and if such a fetus is stillborn, they will refer to it as "dead".
  • Even people who are abortion lobbyists refer to the wanted fetuses among their family and friends as "alive" or "living" (and if there is a miscarriage as "dead").
  • Abortion in every single possible clinical situation is ALWAYS "the expulsion or removal of a dead fetus from the uterus".
  • Abortion does NOT always terminate a pregnancy (e.g. selective reduction).
  • Abortions are performed on at least tens of thousands of viable fetuses each year (many for sex selection in countries where male babies are desired).
  • There are billions of people who think that killing a viable fetus is murder, and hundreds of millions who think any abortion kills a person.
  • The article lede cannot be forced to couch the basic explanation of abortion using a lexicon that doctors performing abortions use when speaking to women seeking induced abortion. (talk) 00:22, 3 July 2011 (UTC)

Removing death from the lede?

Before we go any further I think a few questions need to be asked:

  • 1. Those opposing "death" in the first sentence. Are you opposed to any mention of fetal death in the lede?
  • 2. If there is consensus that the first sentence needs changed, and "death" is removed from that sentence, but not from the lede, will you continue to push for its total removal from the lede? Remember the lede is not a definition but an introduction.
  • 3. How do you propose to differentiate your definition of abortion from delivery?

I see no way things can proceed without candid answers to the above questions. (talk) 09:14, 24 June 2011 (UTC)

I think we could proceed in the obvious way: refashioning the first sentence, possibly but by no means necessarily using the previously suggested 'viable' version, and then moving on to any other issues in the article. If by 'lede' we mean not the first sentence but the whole introduction prior to the TOC then while I think discussion of the complicated issue of life and death better occurs in the body of the article it doesn't follow that the word 'death' cannot appear in the introduction, especially if it's expanded upon later on (or, of course, in the uncontroversial sense of maternal death). At this point this probably wouldn't be my preference but without suggested wording it's hard to say. I don't see a risk that the medical defn. of abortion will be read as if it includes normal delivery. I gather that editors were very concerned about that possibility last time but the concern seems to be much less with the current group of editors. JJL (talk) 13:22, 24 June 2011 (UTC)
You are aware that editors were very concerned about this possibility last time, but a new set of editors does not remove that concern. You seem to think this operates on the basis that once a year we can reboot the discussion. It doesn't. Previous discussion is there for the benefit of all current editors, anything that was a serious concern to previous editors is still a serious concern.User:DMSBel (talk) 17:12, 24 June 2011 (UTC)
It`s not just normal delivery that is at issue. Consider PMID 20840264. It discusses outcomes for extremely low birth weight neonates, that are only "viable" in the context of a modern NICU with advanced interventions. Their births and subsequent deaths should not be conflated with abortions. Conversely, full-term deliveries of evidently viable pregnancies still sometimes result in unintended perinatal "death" (for want of a better term) by asphyxia. That first breath is enormously significant both in biology and in law. Our wording should not obfuscate. LeadSongDog come howl! 14:10, 24 June 2011 (UTC)
The first breath oxidizes chemicals which had kept the fetus sedated and anesthetized during the third term of pregnancy, allowing consciousness to arise for the first time. Some would consider that a significant event. My statement is based on findings by David Mellor and his team, "The importance of 'awareness' for understanding fetal pain." The most up to date consensus shows that the fetal brain is insufficiently developed to experience pain prior to week 24, and probably not before week 29. Since the fetal brain shows no coherent brainwaves at this point, it could be considered brain dead. Ermadog (talk) 05:14, 5 July 2011 (UTC)
No point in mentioning "death of the fetus" in the lede until the article has a section discussing what that means, and what the implications are. Is there controversy about the meaning of words like "life" and "death" in terms of pregnancy and its end? Are there people out there saying that the fetus isn't "alive" and that ending a pregnancy (via abortion) does not "kill" the fetus?
Is all this a way of pussy-footing around the controversy over whether (as "pro-lifers" call it), "Abortion is murder"?
I think we have the cart before the horse. As an engineer, I'd say we need to decide what has to go on the cart, build that cart, load it up - and then craft a concise description of the horse. --Uncle Ed (talk) 15:49, 24 June 2011 (UTC)
LeadSongDog, unless I am not understanding your point, I'm not seeing the problem. If for instance a woman would miscarry a 24 week old fetus and it showed any signs of life it may be placed in intensive neonatal care, in other words machines would give the premature neonate the support that till that time had been provided by the mother/placenta (and it could not survive without it). If the neonate subsequently died it would be termed a non-viable birth and be considered a miscarriage/abortion. If it survived it would be considered a live birth of a premature infant. If a clearly viable fetus suddenly dies, it is considered a stillbirth. Now I do see a little problem, perhaps: Is the neonate considered alive during the hours or days that it survives on life support? Well, I would think that clearly it is alive untill it dies. Or maybe it's not really so clear after all? If one wants to wander down that lane of thought all sorts of problems start to crop up just as in the problems surrounding life support for brain-dead people. Dead or alive? In my opinion, all the more reason to simply use a definition that clearly states what the majority of medical sources term as an abortion without getting into "excepts" and "howevers" and such. If it was good enough for them it should be good enough for us. Gandydancer (talk) 16:28, 24 June 2011 (UTC)
I too am all in favour of sticking to the definition used by the predominance of the best-quality current biomedical sources that we can find. But some here are clearly not, challenging the idea that wp:MEDRS should pertain and wishing to craft a Wikipedian definition. My previous comment was intended for and should have been addressed to that group. Sorry I neglected to make that explicit. LeadSongDog come howl! 17:04, 24 June 2011 (UTC)

Suggested compromises

Well, my original goal in coming here was to settle a dispute, and I fear I have only exacerbated it. In the interests of trying to move on, here are a few compromise versions: [38], [39], [40]. Tell me what you guys think, or suggest your own. NW (Talk) 13:26, 29 June 2011 (UTC)

I'm still inclined to go with the medical defn. and add a section on defns. and/or death later on in the article, as suggested here [41]. We don't need to fit the whole article into the lede. Giving a defn. and then undercutting it isn't what's done, typically, on WP--it's not standard style. I think progress is being made here--it would be good to have a discussion of how 'death' could be worked in later on in the article and see if we can get some kind of agreement on the medical defn. up top and tweaks, caveats, and varying opinions further down. I think that's a pretty standard approach. JJL (talk) 14:05, 29 June 2011 (UTC)
However, if there's agreement that this is the way to go then I certainly won't object. It would be nice to bring this to a conclusion. JJL (talk) 14:28, 29 June 2011 (UTC)
Who, as in who is actually trying to fit the entire article into the lede? How are we undercutting our definition? You think progress is being made here? Progress towards consensus, doesn't come about by ignorance of what has already been debated. Consensus is determined across the whole of the discussion - thats the standard approach. Otherwise you are setting up the article to be based not on Reliable sources, factual accuracy, verifiability, and least of all on consensus. Not good. According to your understanding of consensus (basically who is here now) there can never be one, or it will always be in flux. I am not saying consensus can't change, but it doesn't remain in constant flux, especially when its been debated and re-established five years in a row. If every editor edited like that, I'd hate to be an Admin. Your saying in effect there can never be a firmly established consensus formed even for your own version. DMSBel (talk) 14:55, 29 June 2011 (UTC)
Thanks for taking the time to link to those NW. You might have company in that I cannot say for sure how well I have helped the discussion. Still we each hope if we are neutral something we say might help. I really don't have any issue with the earlier consensus version which was "...expulsion or removal of an embryo/fetus from the uterus, resulting in or caused by its death".
The reasons I have no issue with it are that
1. the first sentence is general in scope and not specific to induced abortion.
2. "death" is not a clear advocacy of personhood
3. "death" is neutral in comparison with "killing"
4. I understand the issue was debated from every angle, and I have enough confidence in those editors who have debated it to assume they looked at the options thoroughly.
5. It's been brought up in tit for tat fashion by OrangeMarlin.
If there is really something new to present in regard to this, could we have it? DMSBel (talk) 14:55, 29 June 2011 (UTC)

Pretty much NW, at least your trying. I'd suggest using the following:

The medical definition of abortion is the termination of a pregnancy by the removal or expulsion of a fetus or embryo from the uterus before it is viable.[note 1] This terminology does not encompass the abortion topic.[note 2]

Note 2 would contain:

The word abortion is derived from the Latin word aborior (ab (from, away from) + orior (rise, get up; appear), translated in English as to miscarry.

The medical definition for abortion is based on "viability" which is, by its nature, not always verifiable: "Loosely defined, the term viability is the fetus' ability to survive extrauterine life with or without life support. A number of landmark US Supreme Court decisions dealt with this question. In Webster v Reproductive Health Services (1989), the court upheld the state of Missouri's requirement for preabortion viability testing after 20 weeks' gestation. However, there are no reliable or medically acceptable tests for this prior to 28 weeks' gestation." Trupin, Suzanne. "Elective Abortion". Retrieved 26 June 2011.

Abortions do occur after 20 weeks gestation: "The second trimester of pregnancy (also called mid-trimester) is the period from 13 to 28 weeks of gestation. It is subdivided into an "early period" (between 13 and 20 weeks) and a "late period" (between 20 and 28 weeks). Worldwide, 10%–15% of all induced abortions occur during the second trimester." Cheng, L.. "Surgical versus medical methods for second-trimester induced abortion : RHL commentary". Retrieved 26 June 2011.

As an embryo / fetus is an organism, its demise/termination can be accurately described as death: "[T]he termination of a pregnancy after, accompanied by, resulting in, or closely followed by the death of the embryo or fetus". "Medical Dictionary". Merriam-Webster's Medical Dictionary. Merriam-Webster. Archived from the original on June 15, 2011. Retrieved June 15, 2011.

While this definition has the advantage of including late-term abortions and avoids the legal/biological ambiguity of viability, it is controversial as it may suggest the fetus is independently alive. (I am unsure if killed is necessary at the end)

And a rewritten "Etymology and definition", get your head examined with: "asserts that a fetus is a life that may be killed". Huh? I'll drink until I forget you wrote that drivel, you deserve that much. asserts = fail NW.

The word abortion is derived from the Latin word aborior -- ab (from, away from) + orior (rise, get up; appear) -- translated in English as to miscarry. The medical definition for abortion is based on "viability", however a few sources use the "death" of the fetus as the marker. While this definition has the advantage of including late-term abortions and avoids the legal/biological ambiguity of viability, it is controversial as it may suggest the fetus is independently alive... to those who cannot read the first sentence of the death article at Wikipedia! Which is significantly easier then to fully understand viable, that may or may not require a masters in bio-ethics."

My version isn't great either, and maybe this section is redundant and can be integrated into my note 2 refs? I've tried that right now in note 2 draft for kicks. - RoyBoy 03:24, 30 June 2011 (UTC)

I assume that in suggesting we add " to those who cannot read the first sentence of the death article at Wikipedia! Which is significantly easier then to fully understand viable, that may or may not require a masters in bio-ethics" to the article and saying to another editor "get your head examined" that you are attempting to be humorous. It isn't working, and it makes it quite plain to me that you have no interest in reaching a new consensus. If you're going to mock someone suggesting a compromise then you're certainly not working to help build a better article. JJL (talk) 04:20, 30 June 2011 (UTC)
I'm not mocking NW in particular (sorry if it came off that way, I acknowledge his efforts above), but rather anyone insufficiently NPOV to acknowledge "death" isn't the end of the world (doesn't mean they need to agree death belongs in the first sentence), and as a consequence are making the lead less "better" (medical style and longer than necessary). I have transferred my intellectually valid humor below note 2. - RoyBoy 12:07, 30 June 2011 (UTC)
The problem is that the word death has two meanings, and is beloved of the anti-abortion faction precisely because it enables the old bait-and-switch between the two (I won't call them pro-life as the implied suggestion that doctors are somehow anti-life is absurd). Viability is unambiguous in context, whereas death is emotive. I would prefer technical to emotive language in any discussion of a contentious topic like this. Just my £0.02 of course. The discussion below looks good-tempered enough. Guy (Help!) 21:30, 30 June 2011 (UTC)
What Guy said. Optionally, something along the lines of NW compromise 436847438...
Abortion is the termination of a pregnancy by the removal or expulsion of a fetus or embryo from the uterus that does not result in birth. or maybe birth.
Just my 0.032134 US$ - ArtifexMayhem (talk) 01:23, 1 July 2011 (UTC)
2006, that proposed "compromise" was the first time I ever agreed with pro-life at Wikipedia. It stands out in my mind as a result. At the time we concluded, pro-choice is so steadfast to contort away from death, they will define abortion with the opposite of what it is, for positive effect. Defining it by what its not, is grammatically awkward and dishonest. - RoyBoy 15:36, 1 July 2011 (UTC)
Glad I'm not an awkward dishonest pro-choicer. - ArtifexMayhem (talk) 20:16, 1 July 2011 (UTC)
Be glad if Wikipedia can avoid it. - RoyBoy 02:39, 5 July 2011 (UTC)
JzG! Long time guy! I'd love your £0.20 on the following. Technical language is not preferred, death is indeed emotive just as the abortion issue is, that's why it was chosen. Can you clarify the two meanings of death, I'd assert death is perfectly defined once. Most importantly for me, viability has way more than 2 meanings (legally, biologically, ethically) and it does not actually define abortion; rather it defines medical intent for abortion. Late-term abortions do not fit it. - RoyBoy 15:36, 1 July 2011 (UTC)
I have waited a few days before commenting, in the hopes that you would strike out some of your nonsense above. I am disappointed that you chose not to do so. But moving on then.

death is indeed emotive just as the abortion issue is, that's why it was chosen—that's nonsensical. We shouldn't be basing the way we write articles on how passionate people are on the subject; if that were the case, The Holocaust would be far too blandly written a million times over. A user below suggested something along the lines of [42], which sidesteps the whole issue somewhat nicely I think. What would you think of that? NW (Talk) 03:20, 4 July 2011 (UTC)

Is the Holocaust controversial? I don't get the analogy in relation to -- one accurate word -- in the lead (to present both sides with biological reality and include exceptions you concede exist). Perhaps someone should call someone else a Nazi to auto-lose the discussion. I'm disappointed too (Holocaust), you don't like anything above? - RoyBoy 02:39, 5 July 2011 (UTC)
As to the sidestep, inventive and great attempt, but Wikipedia isn't a dictionary. Looking here it is opening with generalization of the third definition, or the fifth definition here. Opening with a minor definition doesn't seem to work, I will put "medically defined" in the article for now. - RoyBoy 02:49, 5 July 2011 (UTC)

The Lede opening sentences in light of DRN suggestions

Following on from the Dispute Resolution Noticeboard (DRN) suggestion that we might try to find a version which either avoids both terms or uses both terms, ie death | viable/viability, I offer the following as a basis for further discussion.

The [subject] of abortion is one that ranges across many [fields], as such it is not limited to solely legal, medical, philosophical, bio-ethical, or theological considerations. Abortion is the cessation of embryonic or fetal maturation and the [the ending of nascent life], prior to natural ending of pregnancy at birth, and often before viability. It is caused by, results in or preceeds [embryonic/fetal death]. It includes expulsion or removal of the embryo/fetus from the [uterus] [womb]. It may be termed either spontaneous (miscarriage) when due to embryonic/fetal demise, or induced when an abortificient or other method is used. Medical reference works vary in their definitions [add footnote]. Debate about the beginnings of meaningful life, moral personhood is sometimes polarised...

[....] words/phrases that may need to be discussed further. Where two [….] are together, the terms/phrases are fairly synonymous and it is suggested that either one or other is used rather than both.

The above is only a suggestion for the first few sentences of the lede.

I believe this removes the problematic and inaccurate notion of abortion refering only to abortions done before viability, and leaves open the option of whether or not to include “death”, which has been considered for a long time a good compromise, and enjoyed consensus, and is less emotive than references to “kill” or “killing” and in this version is in the third sentence rather than the first. Most editors here have not objected to any mention of death. But only to where it carries an inference of advocacy. The issue of pro-choice/pro-life advocacy is not limited to the lede of course. But we should deal with one thing at a time here. And lets avoid [[43]]. I hope this helps. DMSBel (talk) 13:59, 2 July 2011 (UTC)

I'm open-minded but we'd need a much less wordy version, I think. This moves the "caused by or resulting in its death" language further down but the very language is still problematic. If 'death' is to be used in this context then its heavily laden meaning must be acknowledged (and then expanded on later in the article). Is this format based on something from another, similarly contentious article? Spontaneous abortion is "natural" but I think the " birth" is reasonably clear. I don't think the medical references vary very much: The truly medical ones are all but unanimous in using 'viability'. I certainly prefer the one-line definition and then later discussion of at-the-edge issues further down in the article approach. Readability is certainly one of our goals and to start by acknowledging (correctly) that it's a tough topic sort of dodges the requirement to tell the reader what we're talking about. I like the form in the currently protected version: It's short and to-the-point and in agreement with the medical community. To my mind it's not that the subject of abortion ranges over many fields--induced abortion is simply a medical procedure. But unlike most medical procedures, there is significant commentary on it from many fields. The Catholic Church doesn't condemn appendectomy but does condemn abortion. They're both medical procedures but one draws the attention of, and criticism from, the outside world. I mean that it isn't so much that the "subject of abortion ranges" as that "a wide range of academic disciplines study abortion" (which is also clearly inadequate phrasing). JJL (talk) 14:23, 2 July 2011 (UTC)
No its not based on any other article. It is an attempt to find a version that manages to address all the issues. It is not intended as a definition but as a suggestion of how the first few sentences of the lede could read while at the same time trying to be more precise and less vague. I am reading your post but not having a lot of success understanding you in places : The version I have suggested starts not by acknowledging its a tough topic but by acknowledging the scope of the topic is wide, so I don't know what you mean by dodge. Once the scope of the topic is acknowledged it moves right into what we are talking about, which is not induced abortion solely, or a procedure solely, that is a fundamental misunderstanding of the article, and is likely at the root of this dispute. Some editors are reading the start of the lede (incorrectly I believe) as though it was speaking about induced abortion specifically. Your alternative wording "a wide range of academic disciplines study abortion" I have no problem with and it could be included easily enough, its not all that inadequate. But is that your issue? "Theological" is not limited to Catholic theology, so that seems a little off on a tangent. I don't think we need to craft a lede to get back at conservatives or catholics, we just need to describe things as clearly, plainly, accurately and honestly as possible. DMSBel (talk) 14:45, 2 July 2011 (UTC)
Question to JJL, is the mention of embryonic/fetal death problematic to you because of the very fact that it is mentioned at all, or because it is mentioned without further elucidation in the article? If the latter would you then be happy with a section specifically in which embryonic/fetal death is addressed in more detail?DMSBel (talk) 14:57, 2 July 2011 (UTC)
A mention of it in the lede would need to be qualified since it's nonstandard and open to wide interpretation. I'm thinking of something like "...which some view as a 'death' though others do not" or the like. That could be expanded on at great length later in the article. JJL (talk) 15:08, 2 July 2011 (UTC)
But is there a medical source in existence which states emphatically it does not view abortion as either caused by resulting in or preceeding fetal death? The article is not supposed to be mixture of WP:OR and medical sources. The silence on "death" in one source and the addressing of "death" in another does not make them contradictory. It is better to craft a description from several complementary sources which don't emphatically contradict each other. Synth is also a problem when sources are selected which studiously avoid something in exclusion to other reliable sources which don't. DMSBel (talk) 15:18, 2 July 2011 (UTC)
I've given some above that point out that while one view is that life begins at conception, there are conflicting views as to when life begins (e.g., "brain birth"), and some that contest the very notion that an embryo is an organism that could be considered alive. JJL (talk) 18:31, 2 July 2011 (UTC)
That rejecting sources that mention "death" is a form of WP:SYNTH is made clear in this quote from an article in California Medicine: The Western Journal of Medicine
"Since the old ethic has not yet been fully displaced it has been necessary to separate the idea of abortion from the idea of killing, which continues to be socially abhorrent. The result has been a curious avoidance of the scientific fact, which everyone really knows, that human life begins at conception and is continuous whether intra- or extra-uterine until death. The very considerable semantic gymnastics which are required to rationalize abortion as anything but taking a human life would be ludicrous if they were not often put forth under socially impeccable auspices. It is suggested that this schizophrenic sort of subterfuge is necessary because while a new ethic is being accepted the old one has not yet been rejected." [[44]]DMSBel (talk) 15:35, 2 July 2011 (UTC)
I don't think you have the journal name correct. That says in 1970 that older ideas were being supplanted by new ones. It's been over 40 years now so I wonder what the author would have to say in 2011? In any event, this goes precisely to my point--that the view of "death" is ill-defined. As this author puts it, new ideas are being accepted but old ones are still around. Isn't that exactly the sort of conflict that makes use of the term 'death' difficult absent any further context? JJL (talk) 18:31, 2 July 2011 (UTC)
Sorry its been renamed, I corrected the title. It's now just Western Journal of Medicine (WJM)[[45]]DMSBel (talk) 20:49, 2 July 2011 (UTC)
So what further context should there be?DMSBel (talk) 20:29, 2 July 2011 (UTC)
By the way I am not saying that it is deliberate WP:SYNTH. But just that things seems to have resulted in WP:SYNTH in the current lede, rather unintentionally. DMSBel (talk) 15:54, 2 July 2011 (UTC)
I just don't see how a quite literal transcription of the modal defn. used in the literature could possibly be considered synthesis. JJL (talk) 18:31, 2 July 2011 (UTC)
Can you explain how the earlier consensus version of the first sentence would be synth, because your earlier suggestion that it seemed like SYNTH has thrown a few editors into confusion. Synth is the result of putting together a combination of sources to draw a conclusion that none of those sources explicitly draws. But in the sources we had footnoted, there was one (a basic medical dictionary) which explicitly defined abortion as:
the termination of a pregnancy after, accompanied by, resulting in, or closely followed by the death of the embryo or fetus
therefore in the lede there was not any drawing of a conclusion not already stated in one of the sources cited. So no WP:SYNTH. So why change the lede? However in the current version a piece of information is omitted from the lede, that at least one source provides, and no other source denies. It also gives the impression abortions are only performed before viability, which is misleading. The problem was solved when the footnote was added to the earlier consensus version. DMSBel (talk) 20:29, 2 July 2011 (UTC)
Why change the lede? Really, you're asking that? Look, you're not even being serious. I don't know which editors you think are confused or where you think I said the old version was synthesized, but at this point it's quite clear to me that you're just playing rhetorical games and not trying to reach a compromise of any sort. You opened up a section allegedly to look for a compromise when in fact you're just suggesting that we have to return to the old version because you still have that one favored source that agrees with your language. There's no point to this. JJL (talk) 21:57, 2 July 2011 (UTC)
Yes I am asking that in regard to the first sentence, because I did not see any particular problem with the version we had as far as the first sentence was concerned. I had added a POV tag, which I explained in edit summaries and on the discussion page was in reference to other editors bringing up concerns with the terms theraputic and elective. OM threatened to open up this whole can of worms, in tit for tat fashion sometime earlier (I have the diff. of what he said), in response to the mere mention I made of it being better to hold an RFC on an image in the article at the time. You joined just after he tried this. I had added the POV tag to the lede but not with reference to the term "death". OM took advantage of that to open up the issue of the word "death" but that was not the reason the POV tag was on the lede at the time. You did claim a synthesis and I can quote the diff here. And I am taking this seriously.DMSBel (talk) 22:40, 2 July 2011 (UTC)
An earlier comment of yours to RoyBoy: Your claim is that the medical side is wrong. That's OR or at least synthesis until you have sources that criticize the medical defns. as mistaken, not just different. JJL (talk) 19:00, 1 July 2011 (UTC)
We are maybe misunderstanding each other. But there most emphatically was no synth in the earlier consensus version. One source supplements the others. Thats great is it not? We don't need to be agnostic. Rejecting a source for no good reason is POV. DMSBel (talk) 22:58, 2 July 2011 (UTC)
But then there is this also: "Much of what I see argued in favor of bringing in 'death' reads as WP:SYNTH or undue WP:WEIGHT to me."
JJL, if there is a problem with something it will fall within the boundaries of one or the other. And you will know which it is when there is a problem. Just casting around for violations because you like one version, and don't like another is not good. DMSBel (talk) 23:11, 2 July 2011 (UTC)
Can you explain what you mean by modal definition. DMSBel (talk) 21:15, 2 July 2011 (UTC)
Most frequently occurring, as in Modal score. JJL (talk) 21:51, 2 July 2011 (UTC)
Ok, I would like us to understand each other as best as possible, but I'd prefer if we could invite a couple of other editors who have some linguistic background before we proceed further. Have you any objections? I am thinking of Ludwigs and Ed Poor.DMSBel (talk) 22:24, 2 July 2011 (UTC)

There is not reason to use a modal definition in the lede for abortion. The whole reason the lede has read as it does since 2005 is because the editors have consistently over time reached the consensus that other definitions were inadequate and inaccurate and thus should not be used in the lede. OM, JJL and the other johnny-come-latelys have approached the article as if they have information that has not been considered by editors over the years as the 2006 consensus has been re-affirmed again and again. That a few editors in June 2011 had a pissy-fit is not a reason to change the consensus when (a) no new information has been brought to the talk page and (b) the dozens and dozens and dozens of editors who have considered the lede over the years have not been asked what they think of upending this applecart because a few people have arrived thinking they are brilliant. (talk) 23:03, 2 July 2011 (UTC)

That's right! It's a well-established fact that if a decision has stood for 6 years any johnny-come-lately that thinks they know better than a decision that has stood the test of time (6 years) and been reaffirmed again and again and has no new information to add, should stand! This was true when the wemmon-folk wanted the right to vote and the nee-gras said they didn't like being slaves and it's still true today, by gawd. I also think we need to go back to kings and queens rather than this voting for different administrations every 4 years. Hog wash! Just a bunch of upstarts thinking they are brilliant and trying to upset the applecart. Balderdash! Gandydancer (talk) 00:14, 3 July 2011 (UTC)
The 2006 version is out. We're not talking about that any longer. Based on the new information and discussions, the best-supported version currently uses 'viable'. Discussion of just leaving the 2006 version alone for time immemorial has ended. You need to get up to speed. JJL (talk) 04:04, 3 July 2011 (UTC)
LOL, we most certainly are talking about it, we have been talking about it for several weeks. You started by talking about. And we are still talking about it, and quite right too. Seems we are all up to speed here except you JJL. You don't resolve things by saying "we are not talking about this anymore". You are not talking about it now maybe, but any resolution to this dispute cannot avoid talking about it. There is a bigger problem with your behaviour JJL than the version of the lede you are against.User:DMSBel (talk) 10:07, 3 July 2011 (UTC)
And the problem here is that JJL is damning with faint praise[[46]], nearly every suggestion. Once again the phrase "caused by or resulting in its death" was the compromise. I have no objections to moving it to the second or third sentence. But I will not support pro-choice advocacy by omission of basic factual information found in a easily available medical dictionary. JJL has argued that other sources are not incorrect, but different. I disagree that Merriam/Webster Medical Dictionary has to evaluated on the basis of what other sources do not say, esp. if those sources are simply "different", that it is impossible to do so. Each one of those sources confirms Merriam/Webster as far as they go. Leaving all agendas aside, "caused by or resulting in its death" meets basic verifiability requirements and has consensus. This information should therefore be mentioned in both the lede and with further elucidation in a section of the article.User:DMSBel (talk) 10:39, 3 July 2011 (UTC)
And I will not support pro-life advocacy by using the information found in only one of the multitude of references we offer. You need to fight your battle in the blogs, on the streets, in letters to newspapers, in petitions, and in any other way you choose, but you may not turn Wikipedia into an abortion battleground and expect to win. Gandydancer (talk) 12:36, 3 July 2011 (UTC)
This is one thing that's nice about using the language that the physicians have settled on--it's scientific and noncontroversial. We avoid being seen as pro- or anti- anything by simply using the best medical defn. available and not claiming that they are engaging in some grand conspiracy top keep the WP:TRUTH from us. JJL (talk) 17:10, 3 July 2011 (UTC)
Thanks, caught up yet with where embyrology was fifty years ago?DMSBel (talk) 17:40, 3 July 2011 (UTC)
The original lede should have been better referenced, yes. That was a failing, but not an irremediable one. It is not grounds to completely change it to a far more contentious version. We just add a tag that more sources are needed when a statement is not well referenced. We are writing an encyclopedia article, not a dictionary definition. We can't find another compromise, because the earlier version was the compromise. When will you see that? Would you prefer "Abortion is the killing of unborn babies"? Do you see what I am getting at? Can you not see what a compromise the version you are complaining about was. It's no more good editorial practice to try to railroad through a version that lacks support, than to try and cement an earlier version in place. But that was not what editors were trying to do, they were trying to see if your proposal had been discussed and what the reasons were that it was not adopted before. DMSBel (talk) 23:24, 2 July 2011 (UTC)
This gentleman is correct and who could deny the sound logic here? Look at it this way: The former group compromised and said that abortion results in the death of an embryo or fetus when they could have said it is the killing of a an unborn baby. Perfect logic. Think perhaps of the Three Fifths Compromise and then some trouble-makers came along and decided 3/5 wasn't good enough. Happens all the time. Anyone should understand that 3/5 was a great compromise compared to making the darkies zero or one, since that was out of the question. Sound logic and worked perfectly till some upstarts upset the applecart. Really, who doesn't long for the days when logic ruled and the women-folk and the darkies knew their place, other than them, of course. Gandydancer (talk) 15:27, 3 July 2011 (UTC)
Are we talking past each other or what JJL, I find you very difficult to understand at times. You undercut your own rationales, then move on to other ones, then forget what you said in the past. I don't know how to discuss this with you. DMSBel (talk) 00:08, 3 July 2011 (UTC)
I guess I missed where JJL forgot what he said in the past. Could you please point that out? Gandydancer (talk) 16:50, 3 July 2011 (UTC)
Stop wasting editors time! DMSBel (talk) 17:34, 3 July 2011 (UTC)
I know exactly what the WJM article is talking about. You are turning this into a complicated mess, for what? I can understand someone who writes in broken english, even though their grammar is bad. I don't take the view that language or some terms are even half as "fuzzy" as you claim. DMSBel (talk) 00:15, 3 July 2011 (UTC)
What terms and language do you speak of here? Gandydancer (talk) 16:57, 3 July 2011 (UTC)
Ask JJL, he made the claim! DMSBel (talk) 17:34, 3 July 2011 (UTC)
By the way: I know that a fetus is alive before viability. I don't need to wait till medical definitions catch up with what most people knew 50 years ago.DMSBel (talk) 00:21, 3 July 2011 (UTC)
What branch of science led you to that knowledge? Gandydancer (talk) 16:27, 3 July 2011 (UTC)
Embryology.DMSBel (talk) 17:34, 3 July 2011 (UTC)
Exactly. The language used in most med. refs. carefully avoids the philosophical issues associated with when life begins and just keeps itself to what's scientifically knowable. Going beyond that is not just leaving science, it's leaving what any group of people could hope to agree upon. Claiming to 'know' medical facts that the medical community does not claim to know is highly problematical here. JJL (talk) 17:10, 3 July 2011 (UTC)
No its not problematic. Conception, Fertilization are not philosophical issues! Or someone should tell doctors. Really!DMSBel (talk) 17:34, 3 July 2011 (UTC)
If we're turning to philosophy now, let's use sources from philosophy dictionaries. Let's start with the one in the article: ""A term that, in philosophy, theology, and social debates, often means the deliberate termination of pregnancy before the fetus is able to survive outside the uterus. However, participants in these debates sometimes use the term abortion simply to mean the termination of pregnancy before birth, regardless of whether the fetus is viable or not." "abortion." Dictionary of World Philosophy. London: Routledge, 2001."

But I forgot, sources don't matter; we don't have to wait until sources catch up to what we know is right. NW (Talk) 03:12, 4 July 2011 (UTC)

JJL doesn't want philosophical discussions in the lede. Not sure if the end of your post was meant to be irony ;-) but I agree with you which is why the Merriam/Webster definition cannot be ruled out. It provides information other sources don't and doesn't contradict other sources. Science does not move from knowledge back to ignorance, there might be a paradigm shift every few centuries, but that's based in genuinely new insights and discoveries. So far embryology still tells us fertilization and conception bring about an organism with a new genetic code, which manifests all of the following: Growth, Response to Stimuli, Organisation and Metabolism. (talk) 17:14, 4 July 2011 (UTC)
Somebody keep an eye on these editors. And be nice to the IPs. Goodnighty :-)DMSBel (talk) 00:27, 3 July 2011 (UTC)

Compromise #6

Compromise # 6

If we are going to introduce our subject with the words "Abortion is medically defined as", then we must provide a definition which includes viability, rather than death, because that reflects the consensus of evidence as to what the medical references actually state. I believe that point has been proven in the previous discussion. However, I also feel that we must include a qualifier along the lines suggested by NW in his 1st compromise suggestion: "This definition is not universally accepted".

Royboy has objected that the medical definition is too narrow, and have suggested we use a more general discussion. I have also suggested a more general discussion, one that allows us to drop the fate of the fetus from the lede entirely. PoorEd has suggested that fetal death can be discussed in another section, and I support that idea.

Additionally, DRN has suggested a compromise which avoids both "viability" and "death", which are the terms under contention in the lede.

In my post "Abortion is not just a medical term," I provided a number of current definitions that are general in nature and can be applied here. the ones I favour most are:

3. Cessation of normal growth, especially of an organ or other body part, prior to full development or maturation. -American Heritage dictionary

3. arrest of development (as of a part or process) resulting in imperfection; -Merriam-Websters

My compromise, which incorporates some of NW's suggestions, is:

"The term "abortion" generally applies to any process which fails to come to fruition, especially biological processes. The term can be applied to any pregnancy which does not result in live birth, either in humans or in other animals. Several medical definitions are detailed below.[note 1] Abortion can occur spontaneously due to complications during pregnancy, or can be induced, in humans and in other species. In the context of human pregnancies, an induced abortion may be referred to as either therapeutic or elective. The term abortion most commonly refers to the induced abortion of a human pregnancy; spontaneous abortions are usually termed miscarriages.Ermadog (talk) 06:54, 5 July 2011 (UTC)

Lets do one thing at a time. Forget about Therapeutic / Elective for now. I'd have prefered you to participate in the writing for the enemy exercise. Gandydancer seems most neutral, and NW has acknowledged his involvement, though he has helped the discussion also. At the moment I'd rather Gandydancer facilitated the discussion of a compromise. Your also skipping over the mention of destruction when it appears [[47]] Not facing these issues doesn't help the discussion. I can accept a compromise that includes "often before viability" in the definintion, but the absense of a mention of fetal death, I cannot agree to. I won't change my mind on that. I am open to discussing position and precise phrasing of death but not total removal of information that meets WP:VERIFIABILITY, and WP:RS. User:DMSBel (talk) 08:49, 5 July 2011 (UTC)
I am not discussing Therapeutic / Elective. I included that material because it is already in the lede and I am proposing no changes to that material. I am also not proposing that I facilitate the compromise. I offered a draft compromise for discussion, based on the expressed interest in a lede that offers a more general discussion of abortion as its introduction to the topic. The question here is: how general should we make it? As for you claim that I am "skipping over" the fate of the fetus, I have twice suggested that the fate of the fetus could be discussed elsewhere in the article. I have endorsed PoorEd's suggestion that the topic deserves its own section. I don't "write for the enemy", as I consider that a polarizing excercise. I would prefer to see a more general discussion of the meanings under dispute here, each in its own section. I fail to see how a discussion can progress when there is unclarity in basic terms.Ermadog (talk) 21:34, 5 July 2011 (UTC)
'Death' is already out and 'viable' is already in. It isn't much of a compromise you're suggesting. The medical sources remain clear on the matter--viability is the key issue. JJL (talk) 21:52, 6 July 2011 (UTC)
But the defn. is universally accepted as a medical defn., so I think we can't say it's medical and then say "This definition is not universally accepted" without pointing out that it's non-medical sources that might differ. I'm not sure how to word that. This is the problem with trying to fit every possible nuance into the first sentence (or two) of the article. JJL (talk) 16:16, 5 July 2011 (UTC)
I'm not sure that you have established that it is universally accepted. However, you have established that a consensus exists. My general discussion avoids the problem of including every nuance in the lede.Ermadog (talk) 21:34, 5 July 2011 (UTC)
The acceptance if so nearly universal that it's difficult to avoid this wording. I do agree a clear consensus exists for the 'viable' version. JJL (talk) 21:52, 6 July 2011 (UTC)
Your statement is false because you ignore the medical definitions from various sources including Merriam-Webster's Medical Dictionary, which is the 6th most popular medical book at
  • Merriam-Webster Medical Dictionary on MedlinePlus - MedlinePlus, the National Library of Medicine's consumer health web site, has expanded to include an online version of Merriam-Webster's Medical Dictionary. "We know that including a dictionary will be very helpful for consumers," says Eve-Marie Lacroix, Chief of the Public Services Division. "Consumers don't always know how to spell medical words, or they come to MedlinePlus with a phrase their healthcare provider has written on a piece of paper and want to know what it means. We received feedback from many users telling us that they'd like to have a dictionary added to our collection of online health information." Nearly 2 million unique visitors access MedlinePlus each month; they view over 15 million content pages. "We're delighted to begin this relationship with MedlinePlus and the National Library of Medicine," said John M. Morse, President and Publisher of Merriam-Webster Inc. "Merriam-Webster's Medical Desk Dictionary introduced a new concept in medical dictionaries, and we welcome the opportunity to introduce one of our finest reference products to a broader audience." The Merriam-Webster Medical Dictionary contains definitions for 60,000 words and phrases used by health- care professionals. Designed to be easy to read, it offers the right spellings of medical terms, a pronunciation guide, and biographies of individuals who have given their names to the language of medicine. (talk) 17:03, 5 July 2011 (UTC)
We've established that the sources used by the medical community use 'viable'. Amazon is a measure of popularity, not reliability. JJL (talk) 21:52, 6 July 2011 (UTC)
No, we have not established any such thing. If you wish to be on record claiming the definitions used by the most trusted dictionaries in the US are not worthy of significant weight, then you are not even trying to act in good faith. Death is a fact of every abortion (and this has been verified by countless RS). You cannot produce any RS that states that death is NOT a fact of every abortion. You have the burden of proof. (talk) 22:39, 6 July 2011 (UTC)
Per Wikipedia:Verifiability#Reliable_sources, "Where available, academic and peer-reviewed publications are usually the most reliable sources, such as in history, medicine, and science.". Per Wikipedia:RS#Some_types_of_sources, "Articles should rely on secondary sources whenever possible." The textbooks trump dictionaries (tertiary sources). JJL (talk) 04:29, 7 July 2011 (UTC)

A living dog fetus dies as part of every spontaneus canine abortion

The key distinction between (a) the stillbirth or miscarriage of a dog fetus, and (b) the live birth of the dog fetus , is the death (at any point prior to emergence from the uterus) of the dog fetus. If the fetus emerges alive, we have the birth of a puppy. If the fetus emerges dead, we have a spontaneous abortion. The naked (unvarnished) description of abortion (as a biological, medical, veterinary issue) is about objective facts and has nothing to do with personhood (personhood is treated as a subjective aspect of abortion). The only argument for death in the lead has been science/reality: if you don't have death, you don't have abortion. This is no small fact. The naked truth objective facts about a human fetus is that a human fetus is by definition a human offspring that doctors MUST treat as a patient unless and until the mother asks for an abortion and the abortion procedure begins. Up until the moment the abortion procedure starts, the doctor MUST treat the fetus as a patient. And obstetricians refer to a fetus as alive unless a woman asks the doctor to rid her of the fetus. Obstetricians also refer to the stillborn or miscarried fetus as dead when the mother wanted the child to live. By all thorough and objective factual accounts, if the fetus exits the womb dead - and ONLY IF the fetus exits the womb dead - then it is AWLAYS an abortion. If the fetus exits the womb alive, it is ALWAYS a live birth (though some abortion providers do sometimes redefine abortion to include the infanticide of those infants who are accidentally born alive during a botched induced abortion). There is plenty of WP:RS to confirm that the fetus dies as part of every abortion. That some sources are not thorough and gloss over this very important and controversial fact is no reason for WP to do the same. In fact, WP principles militate against such daintiness and censorship. By the way: fetus (as correclty used here) is a broad term that includes the embryo at its earliest stage. (talk) 14:20, 5 July 2011 (UTC)

Other pregnancy end-cases exist, such as when the pregnant female dies, or when the foetus is resorbed, never exiting the womb. Do we not consider these to be abortions? LeadSongDog come howl! 16:11, 5 July 2011 (UTC)
The child can fail to be born alive because of problems at delivery. Some continue to search for a mathematical defn. that precisely marks every case as either clearly falling within or without the defn. of the term but such is not appropriate in many biological circumstances. Lots of disorders are diagnosed by certain symptoms interfering with one's life--clearly a subjective matter. It isn't as simple as some would like it to be. JJL (talk) 16:22, 5 July 2011 (UTC)
Sorry could you clarify what you mean by "...falling within or without the definition of the term". Which term are you refering to?DMSBel (talk) 19:53, 5 July 2011 (UTC)
'Abortion'. JJL (talk) 21:52, 6 July 2011 (UTC)
JJL, the 2006 consensus lede sentence applies to every single abortion (incoluding the unusual permutations of abortion). Some editors object to that definition not because it is inaccurate, but because these editors think it violates NPOV. The unmet challenge for those editors is to provide some convincing evidence of the NPOV violation and to come up with an equally clear and concise definition that applies to all abortions and is NPOV. So far, this has not been done. (talk) 20:06, 5 July 2011 (UTC)
I think it's simply inaccurate. The weight of solid medical evidence is that that is indeed the case. JJL (talk) 21:52, 6 July 2011 (UTC)
In both absorption and the death of a gravida, the fetus stops living (dies). They would seem to be forms of spontaneous abortion in which the fetus dies. What is your point? The point that I make (and that the CDC verifies below) is that an abortion - whther spontaneous or induced - always involves the death of a fetus. I don't see how these medical facts can be labled as advocacy of any non-objective information. The objective facts of what happens are neutral. Leaving out a basic fact is not neutral. (talk) 16:54, 5 July 2011 (UTC)
You seem to feel you've discovered something that the mainstream medical community has missed. JJL (talk) 21:52, 6 July 2011 (UTC)
I've been doing a little more research to see how common the term "intra-uterine fetal death" and related terms appear in medical literature, and to see how best a compromise can be reached without advocacy:
Intra-uterine Fetal Death:
Different classification systems for the cause of intra-uterine fetal death (IUFD) are used internationally. About two thirds of these deaths are reported as unexplained and placental causes are often not addressed.[[48]]
Intrauterine fetal death is sadly a common occurrence and one which all labour ward personnel should be trained to manage[[49]]
Fetal Death:
The cause of fetal death can often be determined through gross and histopathologic examination of the fetus and placenta. Determining the cause of death is important because sooner or later parents will want to know "Why did this happen?" and "Will it happen again?" Answers to these questions are often impossible without information gained from pathologic examination. [[50]]
This is all I have had time to come up with at the moment. But if other editors can find more references it would help to see how medical literature uses the term death in a neutral way.DMSBel (talk) 20:30, 5 July 2011 (UTC)

Coding Cause of Fetal Death Under ICD-10

The Centers for Disease Control is a non-partisan medical agency of the US Government. The CDC issues procedures for doctors to use when recording health events (used by the CDC for statistical purposes). The 2011 PROCEDURES FOR CODING CAUSE OF FETAL DEATH UNDER ICD-10 candidly distinguishes between the term of art "fetal death" (which applies only to spontaneous death of the fetus) and an induced abortion (which applies only when a fetus dies during an induced termination). The Procedures note that the induced expulsion or extraction of a spontaneously dead fetus should not be classified as an induced abortion, and clarifies that an induced abortion cannot occur on an "already-dead fetus" because an induced termination is not "one in which fetal death has already occurred" (this is another way of stating that the fetus must be alive at the beginnning of an induced abortion). For this reason, the Procedures note that the term of art "fetal death" does not include a fetus that "died" during an induced abortion.

The CDC Procedures highlight two things pertinent to our discussions:

  • A) "Fetal death" is the term of art used whenever the fetus dies spontaneously in utero (even if doctors later induce its removal).
  • B) "Induced" abortion is an abortion performed on a not already-dead fetus.

Item "A" above verifies that every spontaneous abortion involves the death of a fetus.

Item "B" above verifies that an induced abortion is always performed on a fetus that is not already-dead.

A good encylcopedia editor will state this clearly and concisely.

Here are relevant excerpts (all bold emphasis has been added) from the CDC Procedures:

  • Abortions: All induced terminations of pregnancy should be excluded from the fetal death file except when the fetus was known to be dead before the procedure and when the induction was performed for the sole purpose of removing an already-dead fetus. The term "induced termination of pregnancy" implies an induced termination of a pregnancy in progress, not one in which fetal death has already occurred.
  • As NCHS and the States are trying to get the best count of fetal deaths that occurred, NCHS and the States do want to include those induced terminations where the fetus died prior to the induction procedure, and exclude those where the fetus died during the induction procedure. (talk) 16:46, 5 July 2011 (UTC)

That is all good source material, though perhaps not wp:WORLDWIDE. I'd conclude it will be helpful for the body of the article. But the above discussion is about the lede, which necessarily must be succinct, not comprehensive. LeadSongDog come howl! 19:12, 5 July 2011 (UTC)
"...resulting in or caused by its death" is pretty succinct, would you not agree? Succinctness is fine if its not at the expensive of information. I think we can work on a relevant part of the article, once the consensus version is restored. That would give the context currently lacking. DMSBel (talk) 19:21, 5 July 2011 (UTC)
Marvelously compact. -- cheers, Michael C. Price talk 19:28, 5 July 2011 (UTC)
It would be a wonderful gesture of good faith if JJL or Gandy or Leadsong or NW would restore the most recent consensus lede sentence (the 2006 version). (talk) 20:23, 5 July 2011 (UTC)
The 'viable' version has consensus. JJL (talk) 21:55, 6 July 2011 (UTC)
Certainly I agree. I have refrained from making any changes myself.DMSBel (talk) 20:31, 5 July 2011 (UTC)
Agreed. -- cheers, Michael C. Price talk 20:37, 5 July 2011 (UTC)
2006 consensus for the right wing anti-abortion lobby that is prevalent on Wikipedia, sure. But not a real consensus. NPOV lede (what a fucked up word, since this isn't a newspaper) should stay. OrangeMarlin Talk• Contributions 21:26, 5 July 2011 (UTC)
Because you say so? DMSBel (talk) 21:43, 5 July 2011 (UTC)
Evidently only because OM says so, since he has provided no argument at all, just an assumption of bad faith. -- cheers, Michael C. Price talk 22:37, 5 July 2011 (UTC)
Oh by the way OrangeMarlin thanks for looking back in on what you opened up, what did you call it a few months ago "a shitty can of works"? Correct me if I am wrong.DMSBel (talk) 21:48, 5 July 2011 (UTC)
Oh and its not the "sh##ty" I am bothered about, its your threatened tit-for-tat which violates WP:BATTLEGROUND on a contentious article made in responce to the mere mention of an RFC. User:DMSBel|DMSBel]] (talk) 21:53, 5 July 2011 (UTC)
That sounds like OM. -- cheers, Michael C. Price talk 22:37, 5 July 2011 (UTC)
Please comment on edits, not on editors. See wp:TPG#YES. LeadSongDog come howl! 13:12, 6 July 2011 (UTC)
When someone claims there is a "right wing anti-abortion lobby that is prevalent on Wikipedia" which justifies their non-consensual edits, that merits commenting on here. -- cheers, Michael C. Price talk 17:12, 6 July 2011 (UTC)
Can you link to a policy or a guideline to support that assertion? LeadSongDog come howl! 19:32, 6 July 2011 (UTC)
WP:CONSENSUS & WP:AGF, for starters. -- cheers, Michael C. Price talk 20:33, 6 July 2011 (UTC)
Can you point out a part of those which says this is the place for comment? I don't see it.LeadSongDog come howl! 02:48, 7 July 2011 (UTC)

Discussion of contradiction of source by the phrase "either therapeutic or elective"

Source used in article states most providers consider all abortions elective.

The ability to define therapeutic abortion performed for maternal indications is difficult because of the subjective nature of decisions made about potential morbidity and mortality in pregnant women.(bold mine)[[51]]

Most providers consider all terminations to be elective, or a voluntary decision made by the patient herself.(bold mine) [[52]] DMSBel (talk) 12:02, 6 July 2011 (UTC)

"Therapeutic abortion" is a medical term meaning abortion done for medical reasons and "elective abortion" a medical term meaning abortion done for personal or social reasons. Of course all abortions are "elective" in the sense of being consented to because short of China women can't be forced into it. But the same can be said for any other procedure or treatment. The distinction is based on medical necessity not patient consent. Facelifts are still called "elective surgery" even though people dying of cancer have to consent to chemotherapy they need to save their lives. Friend of the Facts (talk) 17:28, 6 July 2011 (UTC)

On finding compromise

Reminders to all: wp:NOT#BATTLEGROUND. Edits that actively seek to build a text upon which all (or nearly all) can agree are the ones we are looking for. Given that such text will never represent either polar position we should wp:EDITFORTHEENEMY. Consider the smallest change to the other's preferred text which would make it (just barely) acceptable in your own view. Concede the largest change to your preferred text which will leave it (just barely) acceptable in your own view. Acknowledge others' efforts to find compromise, but do not expect others to acknowledge yours. That is how this can ultimately be resolved. LeadSongDog come howl! 15:32, 4 July 2011 (UTC)

Thanks for the suggestion - I think it's a good one. For starters, I will attempt to present the situation from the other's point of view.
Six years ago the community worked long and hard to come to an agreement for the definition for abortion. Every possible issue was presented, including all the issues in the present debate, and we eventually decided on a definition that we could agree upon. This definition has been questioned several times, however the 2006 definition has held firm, further giving weight to my belief that we came to the correct decision.
It is presently being argued that the word death should not be used in the definition. Initially it was argued that it was not appropriate because since it has never been proven that the fetus is alive as a separate person from the mother, it could never be proven that the fetus could experience death. It was argued that an embryo/fetus is alive only in the same sense that a human organ is alive, but a fetus did not have "personhood" any more than an organ does. However, while on the surface this may sound like a good argument, in fact a human fetus has the potential for personhood while an organ does not. There has been an attempt to complicate this issue when as a matter of fact it is quite simple, as any basic biology text will tell you: The life of any organism begins at the moment it is conceived.
The discussion then moved to a period of discussion regarding the references to be used for the definition. Interestingly, none of the major medical texts use the word death. However, it has been pointed out that our article about abortion should and does discuss not only the strictly medical aspects of abortion, it looks at it from a much broader viewpoint, and for this reason a medical definition is not appropriate for the article. Many other references were then offered, again the word death was not used in the definition, however given the well-known fact that there is a tremendous amount of controversy surrounding this term it would not be surprising that published sources would choose to stay out of it. One may view the rightness or wrongness of their decision as they wish, however as editors of Wikipedia it is our duty to not let controversial issues sway our decisions in the same way that a commercial publisher may be swayed.
OK, this was done rather quickly and I'm sure I could improve it, but all in all is this about right? I encourage any help to improve this short overview. Gandydancer (talk) 17:11, 4 July 2011 (UTC)
To be sure I am understood, please do not rewrite my overview with your suggestions - just offer changes that you would like to see and I will rewrite it if "the others" agree with you. Thanks! Gandydancer (talk) 18:13, 4 July 2011 (UTC)
Interestingly, no major embryology text claims that an actual human being is present in the zygote. This is because scientists are able to discern a difference between actual and potential. It also reflects the fact that "human being" is not a scientific term, but a philosophic one, not subject to objective verification. As long as we have majority support for embryonic stem cell research, we have evidence that the general public does not consider the conceptus to be a human being from conception. As long as we have voters in the US consistently rejecting attempts to define the fetus as a person from conception, we have evidence that the general public does not consider the fetus to be a person from the "moment" of conception. As long as we have majorities refusing to support outright bans on abortion, we have evidence that the general public does not believe that the fetus is a human being from conception.
The use of the term "death" in this context does indeed bias the discussion, is an example of the use of weasel words, and comprises a question begging fallacy. It should not be used in the lede sentence.Ermadog (talk) 22:50, 4 July 2011 (UTC)
Ermadog, would you mind not bringing up that just right in the middle of this. Stem cell research takes the whole thing off on a tangent, I don't mind discussing it at some later time, but Gandydancer is trying very admirably to help each side see the others viewpoint. I take it you mean you are refering to the lede first sentence though, not the lede. In any case it is not a weasel word, whether it is advocacy can be discussed. If anything leaving it out would be tergiversation [[53]]. With it in it represents at the least a verifiable assertion, that is not a weasel word at all.DMSBel (talk) 00:27, 5 July 2011 (UTC)
Since DSMBel is no longer reading my posts, I will address this to anyone else who had difficulty figuring out what my point about stem cell research was. It was a point about public opinion of the status of the fetus, specifically, whether the fetus should be considered a person from the point of conception. This is a valid point to make when discussing whether the term "death" in the context of fetal destruction, biases the discussion in favour of treating the fetus as a person from the point of conception. I will continue to make it. And, yes, "lede" and "lead" in this context are interchangeable.Ermadog (talk) 02:44, 5 July 2011 (UTC)
In the first place, why don't you just quit the childish comments re DSMBel. Secondly, he is correct, this information has no place here. It is hard enough to stay on track in this discussion without stem cell research news added just because it's "interesting". Gandydancer (talk) 16:55, 5 July 2011 (UTC)
I think the stem cell comments are on point regarding whether or not we view the fetus as a living human organism, but there's no need to resort to arguments when the sources align themselves so nearly uniformly in favor of 'viable'. JJL (talk) 14:24, 6 July 2011 (UTC)
Well I don't deny that it was on point, etc., but did s/he have to introduce the idea here? There seems to be plenty of other places where that information would be appreciated but it seems to me that this was the last place s/he'd want to place it if s/he'd actually read the (damn thing) to understand what this section was all about. Gandydancer (talk) 15:22, 6 July 2011 (UTC)
(Since we are not face-to-face it does not come across that I am not at all so PO'd as it sounds! :-) Gandy Gandydancer (talk) 15:34, 6 July 2011 (UTC)
Thanks, GandyDancer, yes it sounds to me a pretty good summing up of things from I joined at least, and concurs with archived discussion to the best of my knowledge. I'd say anyone arguing something "can never be proven" isn't talking scientifically at all. In any case absolute, final, unassailable proof the fetus is alive is not required WP:TRUTH. Verifiability is, and we have that in spades[[54]]. The only thing left to discuss is how to introduce it. DMSBel (talk) 18:24, 4 July 2011 (UTC)
In any case following your example of writing for the enemy. I'd say that the removal of "caused by or resulting in its death" was done with good intentions, and the lede may need to be re-worked to introduce that in a better way. JJLs edit was not exactly greeted with great enthusiasm. His interest in removing pro-choice and pro-life advocacy is commendable.DMSBel (talk) 18:34, 4 July 2011 (UTC)
Thanks DMSBel, there was an edit conflict as I was adding this:
I see I forgot the issue about whether or not the straw poll was done properly. I will look through the discussion or perhaps one of the other editors on this side of the argument could suggest that addition to my/our overview? My goal is to write an overview that "the others" find fully and fairly expresses their point of view. Gandydancer (talk) 18:38, 4 July 2011 (UTC)
By the way I come at this with a moderate pro-life viewpoint, but I also accept women have to make a choice, I prefer that to be an informed choice.DMSBel (talk) 18:42, 4 July 2011 (UTC)
Hmm, I hadn't anticipated a history of this discussion discussion, but I suppose it might be useful. Thank you both for a good start. Would someone from the "for death" supporters care to make the reciprocal explanation of the history from the "for viability" perspective? LeadSongDog come howl! 18:52, 4 July 2011 (UTC)
I was thinking that perhaps it may be best to do one at a time? I strongly feel that one at a time would go a long ways to keep the discussion on track, something that has to this time been extremely difficult. Gandydancer (talk) 19:09, 4 July 2011 (UTC)
Fine by me, wp:NODEADLINE and all.LeadSongDog come howl! 19:18, 4 July 2011 (UTC)
Ok, I had something to add regarding that, but I agree one thing at a time works best, we aint all multitasking :-), I'll save it for now.DMSBel (talk) 19:24, 4 July 2011 (UTC)
By the way I have been through a period of philosophical skepticism in the past, and have had to mentally "re-tool". This debate has kind of brought back bad memories, but I still am just on the verge of sanity :-). DMSBel (talk) 19:39, 4 July 2011 (UTC)
I have thought about how to include the poll controversy from the other's point of view and I am having a little trouble. In truth, while I have been careful to read most of the discussion, I have for the most part ignored that controversy because I felt it was just so much sour grapes. JJL, could you or anyone else present an account coming from "the others" POV? On the other hand, if only DMSBel and I are interested in approaching our problem from this point of view I will abandon my efforts here and work on other ideas that the group feels to be more productive. Gandydancer (talk) 20:49, 4 July 2011 (UTC)
I'm not sure I can actually do it from another's point of view, but let me say this: We had discussed the possibility of a straw poll earlier and had seemed to agree that it might be of value but also that it wouldn't define consensus and that consensus isn't as simple as 'majority rules'. I posted a straw poll and voted; RoyBoy refactored it and commented; others voted, and I tweaked my comments after the refactoring. A deadline for voting hadn't been specified as I didn't think it was that formal. When it seemed to me that voting had petered out I posted a tally; two other editors posted that they found a different number of votes and a different conclusion as to which viewpoint had achieved more support (Michael C. Price and believe the later was relying on the former's tally but am not certain); I listed by name whom I had counted against each side and invited to explain how he reached his tally. (I had invited others to post their tallies when mine was questioned.) The other editors did not explain how they had reached their conclusions, and no one else provided a tally. After this a couple more votes were cast, if memory serves. The tally showed, in my opinion, a clear majority in favor of removing 'death' (I had it at 10-6 initially while Michael C. Price reported it as 10-8 in favor of retaining 'death'. Two votes after the tally gave 11-7 against 'death' as I read the results.) Some people voted twice--in favor of one and in opposition to the other--but I did not find it hard to gauge the support/opposition for 'death'. It was clear that not all those who opposed 'death' supported 'viable', however. I didn't consider this consensus but did consider it to mark the end of the previous consensus. Some editors accused me of bias and of phrasing the poll in a non-neutral way. When the tone of the conversation did not improve, another editor made the change to 'viable'. JJL (talk) 22:03, 4 July 2011 (UTC)
(EDIT CONFLICT AND I WIL INSERT MY POST) JJL if you justify your POV in this section the other side will only respond with their POV. I think I may have asked the impossible of you at this point. I have asked "the others" to make a clear statement re their problems re the poll in another section and perhaps we may go from there. The idea for this section is to show that we are listening to the other's viewpoint and really do understand how they see the situation. It has not been long enough for all of the "others" to respond in this section and one editor (and I commend him for his efforts) with "the others" POV has responded with a couple of his concerns which are not yet addressed. Perhaps the poll needs more discussion outside of this section to be certain that all opinions have been expressed and then we may come here and attempt to show that we do understand their POV? On the other hand, this may all well be a nutty idea on my part... I do know that it is an extremely useful tool in some situations. I will say again, if other editors do not respond I will not continue with this effort. Gandydancer (talk) 23:03, 4 July 2011 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── I understand the assumed POV of JJL's camp; they like abortion and don't like abortion's association with "death" in the lede - all the trawling for (irrelevant) quotes, denying the life of the fetus etc etc is just a painful demonstration of post-hoc cognitive dissonance. How do I know this? Because I'm pro-abortion myself, but I believe in honesty, plain talking etc etc.-- cheers, Michael C. Price talk 21:02, 5 July 2011 (UTC)

Yes I agree with JJLs comments regarding the straw poll. I could only remember that a narrative change had occured and was not sure at what point, but I think JJL is right that it was fairly early - There was a change from voting for "death" to voting for the "current version" which at that time if I recall correctly included the phrase "caused, by or resulting in its death". I had no problem with that. The methodology in tallying the poll though caused me concern because I knew JJL had a fairly strong view on the matter. Basically one could count it a few ways. For instance -
the number in favour of "death" and the number in favour of "viable"
or the number against "death" and the number in favour of "viable", (biased towards "viable")
or the number in favor of "death" and the number against "viable" (biased toward "death")
You'd get different results each way!
I don't particularly like polls on these controversial issues, because they tend not to convince anyone. And we are not voting on two equivalents. It needs to be done by a completely neutral editor, and there needs to be agreement by all on who does it, how long its for etc., otherwise it just polarises the debate and positions become more entrenched. DMSBel (talk) 22:36, 4 July 2011 (UTC)

Editor 71 has made some suggestions on my talk page. I'll copy them here: 1)something about the behavior of several editors who changed the lede without respecting the FAQ (and also changed the FAQ) and 2) the fact that not one death editor has argued anything about personhood and instead has relied upon science and medicine and 3) the most popular English-langauge medical dictionary includes death in the definition (it is the top medical dictionary at Amazon and the online dictionary used by the NIH's MEDline.

OK, how about this for 3):

But while it has been argued that the overwhelming number of medical texts do not use the word death, it should also be noted that the top-selling medical dictionary used by non-medical professionals does use the word death in the definition.

I don't understand what you mean in 2). Actually I don't understand 1) either but that is because my understanding of FAQ is very poor. I will try to learn more... As for the previously discussed supposed poll problems, so far I am completely unable to write anything because as I reread that section, it seems to me that the complaints only came after the "score" was tallied. If someone had a problem in the set-up, which was admittedly poor (though it seems it was set up by Royboy?), they should have made their complaints known rather than just go ahead and vote. I also can not see how the wording changes altered the total and I believe that is completely out of line to question JJL's integrity. I may have to conclude that I am unable to speak for "the other" in that case. Gandydancer (talk) 17:59, 5 July 2011 (UTC)

Reading my post, I want to make it perfectly clear I am not suggesting that Royboy set up a crappy poll so he must be to blame, blah, blah, blah. I'm not even sure he set it up. We were all doing the best we could at the time and no one is to be blamed. Gandydancer (talk) 18:22, 5 July 2011 (UTC)

Tto clarify, JJL I think setup the crappy poll, I tried to assist (with headers); but I didn't do much better... then someone else removed my headers. PS: A straw poll has little place on Wikipedia, let alone controversial topics. - RoyBoy 01:45, 8 July 2011 (UTC)
Gandy, The problems with the poll question (as it was posed) were noted almost immediately: "Question is not posed neutrally by JJL and voting area presents options in reverse order compared to JJL's question narrative that precedes it." [at 11:25, 23 June 2011 (UTC)].
Regarding suggestion 1: the "death" editors rightly note that the "war" is the result of rude behavior by editors who changed the long-standing 2006 consensus lede without first acheiving consensus for the change, ignored the FAQ that cautioned editors not to do so, and ignored the special "general sanctions" on the abortion article. It is difficult to see good faith in that behavior. The article has been frozen on a non-consensus version due to rude behavior by these editors.
Regarding suggestion 2: There is a recurring claim that those who want "death" in the lede are advocates against abortion. But not one editor has argued that death should be used "because its killing a baby", etc. Instead, such editors have been saying "regardless of what you think about personhood, a growing offspring always dies and it is censorship to avoid stating such a basic bio/med/vet fact out of political correctness." You do cover this a little, but I think it is hugely important that the argument for "death" has NEVER been about policy advocacy. (talk) 18:53, 5 July 2011 (UTC)
The FAQ#1 has been ping-ponged several times, and like ping-pong I can hardly keep track of it! I'd say going for the FAQ close after an article change, without very good reason is very bad practice. It should be representative of questions asked in the discussion from the start, without the answer giving the impression nothing can never be changed. An answer may need to be in several parts. It should however give a clear answer if things have been discussed. I think more than most things the FAQ requires neutrality. It should state if a consensus has been repeatedly debated. It should be not be used to attempt to erase from memory what has been asked! Phrasing the questions to reflect a current state of the article might be unwise. I wonder if this can be surrmounted in some way?DMSBel (talk) 21:28, 5 July 2011 (UTC) DMSBel (talk) 21:18, 5 July 2011 (UTC)

I understand that at least one "pro-death" editor understands the NPOV implications of the use of the term "death" in discussing the fate of the conceptus in abortion. Uncle Ed explained it to DMSBel on his talk page/ I take "Yes, re implications" to mean that DSMBel does understand how "death" can bias the discussion:

When a contributor wants an idea removed from an article, it's often because of the implications of that idea:
Abortion causes the death of the fetus
The fetus is human
Causing the death of a human is "homicide"
Homicide is sometimes a crime
Therefore, abortion is sometimes a crime
This conclusion is opposed by those (pro-choice?) who assert that elective abortion is rarely or never a crime (or that it should be legal).
Does the implication thing help? --Uncle Ed (talk) 18:18, 1 July 2011 (UTC)
Yes re implications, but nascent is more nuanced than that: beginning to develope or come into existence is a closer definition. 13 DMSBel (talk) 18:42, 1 July 2011 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by Ermadog (talkcontribs)

alphaDictionary (link suggested by Ermadog)

These are some definitions listed at Ermadog's link:

  • MacMillan Dictionary - abortion: a medical operation in which a developing baby is removed from a woman’s body so that it is not born alive.
  • Collins COBUILD English learner’s dictionary - abortion: a medical operation in which a pregnancy is deliberately ended and the baby is not born alive.
  • Cambridge University Dictionary of American English - abort: to end a pregnancy esp. by an operation before the baby is ready to be born. (talk) 20:53, 5 July 2011 (UTC)

The following dictionaries mention in the basic primary definition the death/destruction of the fetus or that the fetus must not be born alive:

  • Merriam-Webster Medical Dictionary ('s best selling medical dictionary and the dictionary NIH provides online at MedLinePlus)
  • Merriam-Webster Legal Dictionary
  • Merriam-Webster Dictionary ('s best selling dictionary and the default dictionary for the prestigious Chicago Manual of Style)
  • American Heritage® Medical Dictionary
  • American Heritage Science Dictionary
  • American Heritage Dictionary
  • Webster's New World Collegiate Dictionary (not related to Meriam-Webster, "any deliberate procedure that removes, or induces the expulsion of, a living or dead embryo or fetus")
  • MacMillan Dictionary
  • Collins COBUILD English learner’s dictionary (talk) 21:56, 5 July 2011 (UTC)

As mentioned previously, I use alphaDictionary to obtain a consensus of current usage. You haven't established any consensus here. You have randomly chosen several definitions that fit your agenda. The last time I searched on the term "baby", I found that half of the dictionaries include the unborn; whereas half either did not mention it or specifically excluded the unborn. Many defined "baby" as "infant". Dorland's Medical Dictionary has, for infant, "the human young from the time of birth to one year of age." Ermadog (talk) 22:16, 5 July 2011 (UTC)
Au contraire: What has been established is that the consensus among the top four most commonly referenced English-language dictionaries in North America is to mention the life, death, or destruction of the fetus in the basic abortion definition. At some point you will have to deal with that fact. (talk) 01:28, 6 July 2011 (UTC)
Ermadog you said the IP has randomly chosen several definitions that fit his agenda??? Surely selecting sources at random would be neutral. It's just that random selection was used to come up with Note 1 apparently. Would random selection not be a sufficiently neutral way of selecting sources to avoid POV? DMSBel (talk) 08:20, 6 July 2011 (UTC)
Great! keep up the good research, knowing how other reliable sources address this is invaluable. DMSBel (talk) 21:58, 5 July 2011 (UTC)
We have to disabuse some of the editors of the notion that medical jargon should prevail when the medical jargon is designed to allow calm professional discourse rather than to provide a clear layman's explanation. If you are about to kill a fetus (or cut off a breast, or lance aboil, or sever a testicle) as part of your professional duties, at least you can discuss the unpleasant task in terms that don't highlight the most gruseome elements of the task. It makes perfect sense. That is precisely what clinical language does: it puts what are often disgusting procedures or descriptions into language that is clean and clinicial - and thus more palatable. (talk) 22:09, 5 July 2011 (UTC)
That isn't what clinical language does. The references selected were ones used by the medical community and for the medical community. Clinical language is used to describe something as precisely as possible so as to communicate it clearly, unambiguously, and in such a way that practitioners in different geographical locations will use the same term in the same way so that communication is meaningful. You're making assumptions that fit your goal--but not the facts. JJL (talk) 22:01, 6 July 2011 (UTC)
IP 71.. No problem with the gist of what you are saying. It's just that I'd say that one of the issues with the lede is that it currently uses easily misunderstood language in places. In that regard there is an issue with "before it is viable." Whether it is jargon per se is open to question. Jargon can be both easily misunderstood, or at times completely incomprehensible to anyone outside the circle which uses it. For instance:Champagne tap-- Reference to the bottle of bubbly a junior should receive from his consultant after achieving a bloodless lumbar puncture. Now known in the new NHS as a shandy tap. Or Crackerjack referral-- It's Friday, it's five to five, it's... " These are british examples of medical slang by the way. Some of them are humorous. But back to viable
Viable [adjective] - World English Dictionary
1. capable of becoming actual, useful, etc; practicable: a viable proposition
2. of seeds, eggs, etc) capable of normal growth and development
3. of a fetus) having reached a stage of development at which further development can occur independently of the mother.
You see the difficulty here is with whether it means capable of reaching a stage of development, or having reached a stage of development.
Even if taken in the sense of having reached, we know that the phrase "before it is viable" is not good enough for the purposes of an encylopedia article. It should be changed to "often before it [or a fetus] has reached a stage of maturation medically refered to as Viability."DMSBel (talk) 09:15, 6 July 2011 (UTC)
Fortunately we have Fetal viability to remove any possible doubts. JJL (talk) 22:01, 6 July 2011 (UTC)

I'm getting a picture that whatever has been said about factual accuracy or simplicity that's not the main reason having "death" in the definition is so important to some people. It seems to me that it's really about casting abortion in the same light some people see it -- "gruesome," "disgusting," "killing a baby" etc. Well it's not Wikipedia's job to do that. We just neutrally report what other references say. No euphemisms or dysphemisms or spin of any kind. If other references use "death" to define abortion most of the time we should use it too, but if they hardly ever do then we shouldn't break suit just make people with strong opinions happy. Frankly it seems to me that trying to find one definition of abortion that fits every case -- spontaneous vs induced, selective reduction, postviability -- is a lost cause. We can't realistically cram every possibility into a single sentence so why let the perfect be the enemy of the good? We should go with the definition that the majority of references use but frame it so that we can explain some of the complexities later in the article. Like "abortion is **commonly defined** as the termination of pregnancy by the expulsion or removal of an embryo or fetus from the uterus before viability." That's reflecting what the majority of references say but it leaves us room to cover stuff that doesn't fit in that general definition later on. Friend of the Facts (talk) 23:20, 5 July 2011 (UTC)

Same could be said for "before viability" - this could be seen avoiding the inconvenient fact of late-term abortion (ie after viability). POV barks loudest at other alleged POVs. You were saying?DMSBel (talk) 09:45, 6 July 2011 (UTC)
This is the heart of the matter--whatever your POV, using the overwhelmingly most widely used definition cannot possibly be considered biased. Argumentation can occur later in the body of the article. Some here want their own personal defn. of the term--that is highly unencyclopedic. JJL (talk) 22:06, 6 July 2011 (UTC)
Personal? - RoyBoy 02:45, 7 July 2011 (UTC)

I said the the definition should include a caveat like "commonly defined as" so there was room to cover exceptions like lateterm abortions later on. The fact is that most references define abortion as taking place before viability. We can't just invent a new definition because we think it makes more sense any more than we can say Pluto isn't considered a dwarf planet because we want it to stay a planet. Also I'm finding your tone impolite and bordering on personal attack. Friend of the Facts (talk) 18:11, 6 July 2011 (UTC)

  • 1. No one mentioned baby killing until you introduced it single-handedly so you could use it as a strawman.
  • 2. The 2006 consensus version applies to every possible abortion situation, so it is fruitless to claim that we can't come up with a universally applicable definition.
  • 3. You are dismissing the most widely recognized and relied-upon English language dictionary (Merriam-Webster) as well as three other widely relied-upon dictionaries (American Heritage, Webster's New World Collegiate, and MacMillans) or else you are acknowledging them but claiming that the langauge they use violates NPOV. This is simply ridiculous and won't ever win consensus. (talk) 00:45, 6 July 2011 (UTC)

1. Why selectively post three dictionary entries that all use "baby" if one is not trying to say that's what abortion involves?

2. I don't think a loose agreement come to by some anonymous Wikipedia users five years ago is so significant any change to this article's defintion is unthinkable. Even the US Constitution isn't written in stone like that. Besides five years ago they seem to have been trying to define abortion to cover every possible situation at the same time. But other references don't try to do that and it's not Wikipedia's job to try to fix things or reinvent the wheel. We should just report what the majority of references say. Also doesn't what the references say trump consensus? Otherwise if enough people got together you could have Wikipedia articles saying tomatoes are a vegetable or Pluto is still considered a planet despite that not being what most references or experts say.

3. The reference survey Nuclear Warfare did earlier showed the majority don't use "death" to define abortion. Basically it looks to me like there are some users here cherrypicking the minority of references that use "death" because they think it's important for Wikipedia to use that word because it reflects their personal opinion. Again that's not Wikipedia's job. Friend of the Facts (talk) 02:36, 6 July 2011 (UTC)

Another editor said the IPs dictionary references were chosen at random. Agreed we should say what abortion involves more clearly. Anonymous users? Your name is? Or in other words remember not to call the kettle black. :-) Also the discussion of the last several weeks shows its not unthinkable to discuss this. But you are confusing thinkable with will automatically be done to please whoever drops by. Interestingly NWs survey was a random survey too.DMSBel (talk) 09:58, 6 July 2011 (UTC)
He said they were cherry-picked, and those are dictionaries and hence inferior sources. JJL (talk) 22:06, 6 July 2011 (UTC)

That wasn't intended to suggest there's anything wrong with going anonymous, just that Wikipedia is an internet site where anyone can join so by its nature it's informal. Anything some essentially random folks on a website decide about abortion doesn't carry the same weight as if say a panel of WHO doctors sat down to consider something and then came out with an official statement or policy on it. So basically I don't think this discussion from 2006 should be treated like holy writ. I get not wanting to constantly reopen closed debates because if that's what happened it'd be impossible to do anything else, but five years is a long time and the level of objection to "death" means it deserves reexamnination. Friend of the Facts (talk) 16:58, 6 July 2011 (UTC)

Indeed, it was suggested by one of the outside editors (DRN? ANI?) that this consensus should be reviewed at least annually. JJL (talk) 22:06, 6 July 2011 (UTC)

You keep discounting out of hand the definitions in the two most popular dictionaries in the USA (both of which include death/destruction of the fetus in the primary definition). And you also have ignored the absolutely clear language used in coding guidlines for "fetal death" that the CDC issued for use by all doctors in the USA: "NCHS and the States do want to include those induced terminations where the fetus died prior to the induction procedure, and exclude those where the fetus died during the induction procedure." The CDC acknowledges that induced abortions always involve a fetus that dies. (talk) 17:23, 6 July 2011 (UTC)

Oddly the above doesn't consider the OED definition 1.a. which elegantly avoids "death", "live", "viable", and the whole question of which comes first. We could learn from that.LeadSongDog come howl! 20:38, 6 July 2011 (UTC)
That version changed considerably from the 1989 version in OED2.LeadSongDog come howl! 20:48, 6 July 2011 (UTC)
Then there's's MedTerms entry, which also avoids "death", "live", "viable" and the question of which comes first, but in a different way.LeadSongDog come howl! 21:44, 6 July 2011 (UTC)
Maybe Wikipedia should change too, then. JJL (talk) 22:10, 6 July 2011 (UTC)
May we please use the 1547 version (Abhorsion is when a woman is delyvered of her chylde before her tyme) instead of arguing so much? :)

I have added the Oxford English Dictionary to the list; thanks for the link. NW (Talk) 23:33, 6 July 2011 (UTC)

Can you please post the OED definition(s) here. As to, "exit", "loss", "lost", makes abortus sound like an escaped pet without a collar. Literally and technically the definition is top notch for abortion. Though completely bypasses the dominant understanding "abortion" refers to "induced abortion", so doesn't seem suitable to me initially; but maybe Wikipedia's summary accuracy is to take "abortion" literally. FYI Medterms was already glanced at. - RoyBoy 02:45, 7 July 2011 (UTC)

NW provided me with the OED content below. - RoyBoy 03:03, 7 July 2011 (UTC)

1. The act of giving untimely birth of offspring, premature delivery, miscarriage; the procuring of premature delivery so as to destroy offspring. (In Med. abortion is limited to a delivery so premature that the offspring cannot live, i.e. in the case of the human foetus before the sixth month.)

b. fig. Failure (of aim or promise)

2. Biol. Arrestment of development of any organ, so that it either remains a mere rudiment, or is entirely shrivelled up or absorbed.

The above is actually the OED2 definition from back in 1989. The current one is as follows (I omit the pronunciation, forms, etymology, and history from the entry):

abortion, n. 1.

a. The expulsion or removal from the womb of a developing embryo or fetus, spec. (Med.) in the period before it is capable of independent survival, occurring as a result either of natural causes (more fully spontaneous abortion) or of a deliberate act (more fully induced abortion); the early or premature termination of pregnancy with loss of the fetus; an instance of this.
In modern general use the unmodified word generally refers to induced abortion, whether caused by drugs or performed surgically, and the term miscarriage is used for spontaneous abortion.

contagious, missed, vacuum abortion, etc.: see the first element.

b. fig. Failure or abandonment of a scheme or process; an instance of this.

2. An aborted or miscarried fetus; an abortus (now rare). Also fig. and in figurative context: a person or thing not fully or properly formed; an ill-conceived or badly executed action or undertaking; a monstrosity.

3. The imperfect offspring of an untimely birth, or any dwarfed and misshapen product of generation; hench fig. the nugatory or empty result of any action.

LeadSongDog come howl! 19:50, 8 July 2011 (UTC)

The primary Oxford defiintion you have supplied above includes two interesting phrases:
  • "expulsion or removal from the womb of a developing embryo or fetus" - developing implies that the thing developing has to be alive (only a living embryo or fetus can be described as developing - in medicine, develop means "to progress from earlier to later stages of a life cycle" according to Stedman's
  • "early or premature termination of pregnancy with loss of the fetus" - loss as used here is a synonym for death (talk) 20:39, 8 July 2011 (UTC)
You're just making things up here. 'Developing' doesn't imply something has to be alive ("developing appendicitis", "developing the radiological film") and 'loss' doesn't imply death ("loss of an eye", "loss of hearing", "loss of balance"), even in a medical context. JJL (talk) 03:40, 9 July 2011 (UTC)

Among the most widely referenced dictionaries in the English-speaking world, all of them either imply or state that the aborted fetus was alive prior to the abortion or dead after the abortion:

  • Oxford
  • Merriam-Webster
  • American Heritage
  • MacMillan (talk) 20:45, 8 July 2011 (UTC)

Sorry 71, but you are mistaken. Bolting in an exhaust pipe is phase in the development of an automobile on the assembly line, yet that doesn't mean it runs, or even that it necessarily will once the key is eventually turned. What you are doing above, reading between the lines at "...impliest that...", is perfectly acceptable for readers, but not for editors. It is the very clearest case of wp:OR. We can leave that inference to our readers, just as the OED does. If anyone is expert in making clear the meaning of words, it is lexicographers, and those at the OED are the best of the best. For us to assume that they did not know how to convey their intent would be the very height of gall. However, if you really think they did not know how to get their intent across, I suggest you let them know so that they can improve their next effort. Be sure to let us know how they respond. LeadSongDog come howl! 21:07, 8 July 2011 (UTC)
You could not be more wrong. The medical definition of develop has nought to do with bolting in exhaust pipes. (talk) 21:23, 8 July 2011 (UTC)
I suppose I should have known that would be taken literally. This discussion is getting increasingly off-topic. The essence, though, is (to borrow from Einstein) that "Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler". We do not need to explicitly say whether or not a foetus is alive in order to define abortion. "Foetal death" is a term of art which is explicitly mutually exclusive of "live birth" and of "death". A single pregnancy can only result in one of the three outcomes (multiple pregnancies obviously have other possibilities). Many but not all reliable sources (lexicographic, medical, legal, and demographic) use those three terms with those meanings. If, as it seems, we cannot come to agree to use those terms with those meanings, let us then agree to not use them at all in the lede. The body text can of course be more explicit about the distinction.LeadSongDog come howl! 22:18, 8 July 2011 (UTC)
This point is well-taken. If we can't agree, then aren't these terms best avoided? Readers won't have the benefit of all this nuance. JJL (talk) 03:46, 9 July 2011 (UTC)

New first sentence

The new first sentence doesn't "serve to disambiguate abortion terminology and and types" like the hidden note at the end of the first paragraph says the first paragraph is supposed to do. It's also redundant with the third paragraph which basically says exactly the same thing about abortion being of interest in politics and religion etc. Also was this change discussed? I admit I've been a way a few days and missed some stuff that's been going on here but it doesn't seem to have been brought up in the last few threads . Friend of the Facts (talk) 16:27, 6 July 2011 (UTC)

Agreed. There was no consensus to change the first paragraph from its status prior to the edit war that began a month ago. Tweaking it now is simply making the article itself a sandbox. (talk) 17:10, 6 July 2011 (UTC)
It was discussed on my user talk page, but I tend to agree with you (per MastCell's comment on my talk page). I'm taking it out now until we can discuss it further. NW (Talk) 17:19, 6 July 2011 (UTC)
Yes tweaking may not solve the problem. But I cannot revert to earlier consensus version, an Admin will have to do that. So I made a couple of discussed and non-controversial changes. I have no problem with going back to the 2006 consensus version (of the lede), as consensus for the unstable version proved impossible to establish. The change I made was presented on this talk page (see section above)[[55]], following on from some DRN suggestions, and in the light of them. It was pretty well sign posted. I had offered a discussable suggestion for how the first few sentences could read. There was a little discussion and no objection to beginning the article with a statement on the scope of the subject of abortion. Its the first I knew of an embedded (not hidden) note regarding disambiguation, but those are common in articles. I'll check after I finish this post, but did the note say the first sentence had to disambiguate terminology and types? If so it would be an impossibility without writing a huge sprawling mess of a sentence. Sorry re-reading your post as I write. You said note states disambiguation in first paragraph required. Ok. The first paragraph still does that to the same degree it did before I made my edit, with the new opening sentence. If better disambiguation is needed no problem, but Elective/Therapeutic is being discussed currently as the source used indicates no "either/or" disjunction between the two. "therapeutic" abortions are also elective (chosen), they are not performed without patient (maternal) consent as far as I know. DMSBel (talk) 18:11, 6 July 2011 (UTC)

The current "definition" sentence: "Abortion refers to the termination of a pregnancy by the removal or expulsion of a fetus or embryo from the uterus often before it can survive outside the womb" is as clear as mud (while removal/expulsion is often before viability, it is also often after viability and then it is called "live birth"). If we substitute "birth" as the first word: *"Birth refers to the termination of a pregnancy by the removal or expulsion of a fetus or embryo from the uterus often before it can survive outside the womb" the sentence is just as accurate (when removal/expulsion occurs before viability it is known as "still birth miscarriage", and when it occurs after viability it is often called "live birth"). (talk) 17:04, 6 July 2011 (UTC)

That's not true at all. Per ref 11 (Concise Medical Dictionary from Oxford U), one can only call a process stillbirth after 24 weeks after conception (presumably viability). NW (Talk) 17:19, 6 July 2011 (UTC)
I have made the correction - and my point stands: the sentence is crapola and meaningless. (talk) 17:30, 6 July 2011 (UTC)
So, at least you are on record admitting that viability is presumed after 24 weeks. In the USA there are 18,000 induced abortions annually on fetuses 24 weeks and older. The doctors who perform these late term abortions consistently acknowledge they are almost always elective and rarely medically indicated. In India there are tens of thousands of late term abortions each year, mainly for sex selection to prevent the birth of females. (talk) 17:35, 6 July 2011 (UTC)
What's your source for the claim that there are 18,000 induced abortions annually in the US at >= 24 weeks' gestation? The best available statistics suggest that there are ~18,000 induced abortions at >= 21 weeks, which is quite different ([56]). Could you comment? MastCell Talk 18:17, 6 July 2011 (UTC)
Could this be apples and oranges? Guttmacher's 1.5% is "21 or more weeks" "from the last menstrual period". That would be 21+ weeks gestational age, or equivalent to 19+ weeks from fertilization, if my arithmetic is correct. The CDC's 2007 surveillance data shows 1.3% of 827,609 reported abortions were at or after 21 weeks gestation. The MMWR also discusses the reporting discrepancies with the considerably higher AGI figures, and how they vary by state. LeadSongDog come howl! 21:33, 6 July 2011 (UTC)
Sure. My point is that whether one uses the CDC's statistics or Guttmacher's (which are more complete), neither one supports the IP's claim. I guess my larger point is that I'm not sure why I should take this particular IP seriously, given how fast and loose they play with facts in service of their agenda, but I'm waiting for a clarification of the above. MastCell Talk 23:13, 6 July 2011 (UTC)
Using terms like "agenda" is bad faith please see WP:AGF (talk) 17:20, 7 July 2011 (UTC)
Making false statements and failing to correct them when called out is evidence of bad faith, at least to me. Particularly when the falsehoods and misrepresentations consistently serve to advance a specific political agenda. Of course, I may have missed something, which is why I invited the IP to source their claim. Curiously, they've gone from making ~20 posts/day to complete silence since I asked them to back up their claims with facts, though. MastCell Talk 18:32, 7 July 2011 (UTC)
Phrases like "making false claims" is bad faith too, please see earlier link. The pro-life movement never politicised the debate. Not done your history? Facts, you'd like facts? Give the boy the facts! (talk) 20:18, 7 July 2011 (UTC)
I'm sorry, that seems a bit incoherent to me. I'll wait to see if the IP had an actual source for their claims. MastCell Talk 20:29, 7 July 2011 (UTC)
Yes, you could have just asked "is there a source for that?" because you don't know. The IP has been very good with sources. (talk) 20:46, 7 July 2011 (UTC)
I did exactly that, as you should be well aware. The IP has been uncharacteristically silent since, despite being "good with sources". MastCell Talk 20:52, 7 July 2011 (UTC)
OK, since the IP is back to deluging the talkpage with threads, I'm going to take his conspicuous silence here as a refusal to address or correct his apparent misstatement, and adjust my interactions with him accordingly. MastCell Talk 23:36, 9 July 2011 (UTC)
Agreed. Unsure what 71.3 is looking at. Here is the WHO article source for 10% abortions happening in the 2nd trimester. Unsure where high estimate of 15% came from, let alone 1.5%. - RoyBoy 00:04, 7 July 2011 (UTC)

On whether the fetus is alive

Here's some sources that support a contrary view to the sources indicating a fetus dies. They take different stances on the details but make it clear that there are WP:RS that back up the claim that a fetus cannot be said to be alive, or to die. Here's one that goes pretty directly to my position, which is indeed somewhat philosophical: [57] T Kushner, Having a life versus being alive, J Med Ethics 1984;10:5-8 : "In an attempt to provide some clarification in the abortion issue it has recently been proposed that since 'brain death' is used to define the end of life, 'brain life' would be a logical demarcation for life's beginning. This paper argues in support of this position, not on empirical grounds, but because of what it reflects of what is valuable about the term 'life'. It is pointed out that 'life' is an ambiguous concept as it is used in English, obscuring the differences between being alive and having a life, a crucial distinction for bioethical questions." The brain birth/brain death parallel has been explored by a number of authors, and they have reached varying conclusions on it. [58] D G Jones, The problematic symmetry between brain birth and brain death, J Med Ethics 1998;24:237-242; [59]D G Jones, Brain birth and personal identity, J Med Ethics 1989;15:173-185. In somewhat more florid language, there's [60] Gareth B. Matthews, Life and Death as the Arrival and Departure of the Psyche, American Philosophical Quarterly, Vol. 16, No. 2, Apr., 1979, which points out that "When does life begin?" is one of the great philosophical questions. A neuroethical approach is taken in [61] Michael S. Gazzaniga, The Ethical Brain, Dana Press (April 29, 2005). In [62], N Pfeffer, What British women say matters to them about donating an aborted fetus to stem cell research: a focus group study, - Social Science & Medicine, 2008, comments on "the difficult issue of how and when an aborted fetus 'dies'" in the context of tissue donation. An interesting Oct 19, 1975 NY Times article [63] discusses a case in which a miscarriage led to a biologically, but not legally, live birth, and the ensuing debate led to the hospital canceling the bill for the care it provided for 48 hours to a legal non-entity. The life/death issue is complicated. JJL (talk) 03:46, 24 June 2011 (UTC)

If you are attempting to define person-hood, with its legal and moral implications it is interesting. The lead isn't doing that. If the lead say "his/her death", "their death" you'd be on topic. But the lead specifies "its", it is an IT. A biological growth that dies, like a tumor, not a legal person. You are repeatedly going off topic, yes we get it, you feel death implies person-hood. Not the case. Though I find this research impressive, its application is misplaced. - RoyBoy 07:33, 26 June 2011 (UTC)
Not I keep saying, the biological tissue is clearly composed of living cells and undergoes cellular death, but I don't believe that throughout the post-conception period there's clearly an organism that is capable of undergoing organismal death. The "it" appears to me to refer to an organism, not a clump of cells. I believe (in line with some of these refs.) that the quality of being a living entity--be it a human or other animal at issue here--is a fuzzy issue. JJL (talk) 14:35, 26 June 2011 (UTC)
Thank you for the clarification, if I missed it above sorry. So this isn't about "life" at all, it is about "organism". Could have saved us some time. Broadly defined by Wikipedia, organisms are an "assembly of molecules functioning as a more or less stable whole which exhibits the properties of life". I presume here we define "stable" to mean what would suit our side of the discussion; you would say it's rapidly developing so hardly stable, I'd say it is self contained and is developing normally, so it is stable. Moving on to "any living structure, such as a plant, animal, fungus or bacterium, capable of growth and reproduction". What I would speak to here, is that reproduction isn't about being fertile (if that was the case toddlers wouldn't be organisms), it speaks to something more fundamental, of stable cell division reproducing cells and leading to continued growth and development. With that said, are you able to acknowledge an embryo is an organism, or are you under the mistaken impression organs have to be formed?
Yes, I've been drawing this distinction from the beginning. Your comments go to the heart of where you and I disagree, I think. I see a slow transition toward the fertilized egg becoming an organism in and of itself without a well-defined point of change--a fuzzy, heap paradox sort of situation. The lack of stability is evident to me in the vast changes it undergoes, for just one point, and more generally "the properties of life" opens up a whole set of issues. Implying I'm 'mistaken' where we disagree ins't helpful, is it? JJL (talk) 17:51, 26 June 2011 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────You would have my genuine sympathy if you hadn't said: "Do embryos adapt and evolve?" Now we have: "an organism in and of itself"... I've just rigorously spelled out for you an embryo, let alone fetus, easily meets the criteria for an organism. An embryo is "capable of growth and reproduction" -- stay specific -- how am I incorrect with reproduction if you consider a toddler an organism? - RoyBoy 00:25, 28 June 2011 (UTC)

Do you wish to continue this, or would you be courteous enough to acknowledge we explored "organism" in 2006, because ... we did. - RoyBoy 15:28, 26 June 2011 (UTC)
It doesn't matter what you did in 2006. That consensus has been lost. New sources and new editors have been introduced. Wikipedia is not static and is meant to be improved. You are very enamored of that magic time, but you need to let it go. If in 2001 the consensus had been for 'viable', would you have never tried to introduce 'death'? JJL (talk) 17:51, 26 June 2011 (UTC)
Lack of courtesy noted. This is typical tendentious behaviour - a complete inability to admit any error, under any circumstances, no matter what the evidence says, even down to not admitting that the subject has been covered previously. -- cheers, Michael C. Price talk 18:06, 26 June 2011 (UTC)
In 2001 I would have been naive enough to think death was an inappropriate, even pro-life definition of abortion. To answer your question directly to clarify, I never introduced death, I did become bold and coordinate a collaborative environment that selected it as the best option and an important (yet accurate) compromise. Something essential to genuine improvement to Wikipedia. By the way straw polls don't meet that criteria. - RoyBoy 00:25, 28 June 2011 (UTC)
Also, I just appreciated the irony of you extolling the ambiguity of life (which doesn't apply here), but are supporting "viable" which is ambiguous in it's own right. Indeed medical community embraces it, so? This means it isn't ambiguous? - RoyBoy 08:27, 26 June 2011 (UTC)
It's a fundamental confusion of facts to think that viability is ill-defined. It's when the fetus can survive outside the womb. That's a yes-or-no question. What's ambiguous is the range of gestational ages and weights various authorities give for when it's likely that a fetus is viable. The moon has a weight, but I can't tell you exactly what it is because I can't directly weigh it. We can get pretty good estimates though. Viability has a crisp definition, but determining when it has occurred without actually removing the fetus and testing it is difficult, and varies case-by-case. JJL (talk) 14:35, 26 June 2011 (UTC)
I am muddled here, it's crisp "Marked by clarity, conciseness, and briskness", but then it varies, based on likelyhoods of various opinions / benchmarks and in the end we rely on estimates. That isn't crisp JJL. If we had a mechanism large enough, the moon is weighable, until then estimates will do. But we don't pretend those estimates are completely accurate, caveats and clarifications are added to clarify that. - RoyBoy 14:52, 26 June 2011 (UTC)
Viability is well-defined. But it's like many things that are difficult to test for. Any one of us may have a small cancer growing in us right now. It either is or isn't, but unless it's big enough for an MRI or other test to find we won't know. In principle you could always remove the fetus from the womb and see what happens--impractical and unwise for obvious reasons, but it shows that survivability is well-defined. The fact that it's hard to predict by indirect factors such as gestational age and weight doesn't change that fact. Viability has a short, easily understood, one-line defn.: Ability of the fetus to survive outside the womb. Unlike 'death', it's simple and unambiguous. Do you not see the difference between something being well-defined and the difficulty of performing Nondestructive testing? JJL (talk) 15:05, 26 June 2011 (UTC)
Your sophomoric examples are unhelpful. As survivability varies from one fetus/mother to the next, from one environment to the next, it's well-defined but not verifiable. You almost seem to understand this at the end with "nondestructive testing", but somehow incapable of coming to the conclusion yourself. Frustrating and strange. - RoyBoy 15:28, 26 June 2011 (UTC)
Why would it matter if it's (practically) verifiable in a given case? It's well-defined. It's certainly verifiable--it just wouldn't be feasible to do so on a human. On an animal you could test viability in any case but removing the developing fetus from the gravida's womb. This is perfectly scientific. I think you want a test that could be used on a given woman prior to performing an abortion. But that that's currently difficult to do with certainty doesn't change the fact that removing the fetus would result in either survival or non-survival, so that viability could be ascertained. Viability is well-defined. I think you don't find the definition useful in making a determination of whether an abortion should be performed because we don't yet have a simple test for that. That's an entirely separate issue. I'm discussing a concept while you're looking for a test. And again, insults like 'sophomoric' aren't helpful--please stop. JJL (talk) 17:57, 26 June 2011 (UTC)
Because it is too easy and presumptuous to define viability in any "crisp" and precise way, it ends up failing very quickly because biology is unpredictable (the spectrum you mention). Viability is in-line with medical procedural consensus, but out of line with the larger reality. As an encyclopedia we handle larger reality first, especially in a lead. For myself, I'm not concerned with "determination of whether an abortion should be performed", that's a moral judgement that has no place in the lead -- and is up to those involved in that individual case faced with tough choices. Not acknowledging viable abortus is inaccurate/incomplete in the lead, if we attempt to do so, we end up with weasel words and bloat and some confusion. If I see further examples of poor rationale, I'll label them differently going forward. - RoyBoy 18:18, 26 June 2011 (UTC)
Viability is crisply defined--the fetus either survives outside the womb or it doesn't. When you say "viable abortus" then I understand that you're arguing against the medical defn. of abortion, but to the extent that you're saying that the concept of viability, in isolation from abortion, is ill-defined, that simply isn't so. Please don't be defensive. I know you cherish the former consensus and have strong feelings favoring the use of 'death'. I suggest you re-commit yourself to the classic advice given to new users: "Your contributions can be edited mercilessly." We are improving the article and hence WP itself. You mustn't become too attached to your own words and your own POV. There is not only one, or even only one best, way to write the lede. JJL (talk) 18:33, 26 June 2011 (UTC)
I "cherish" the previous consensus because, in the end, it was well done. Recent edits and arguments have rarely approached that level of collaborative insight.
Let us take for example "the fetus either survives outside the womb or it doesn't". Are you being intentionally obtuse here? No, it isn't that simple! When an abortion procedure occurs, and is done correctly, an potentially viable fetus becomes (or ensured to be) nonviable. Setting that obvious point aside, it is also a complex calculus of medical skill and technical resources available at the time.
Does a premature infant born from 21 to 28 weeks and dies in Afghanistan mean it was truly nonviable? Attached to my POV? You broke my irony meter, congrats! You're clearly part of the problem and not the solution. - RoyBoy 19:06, 26 June 2011 (UTC)
Again, that question is answered in a well-sourced manner, and best discussed, at fetal viability. JJL (talk) 15:20, 27 June 2011 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────Is that a joke? Viable is in the lead of this article. Ohhhh, here is the punchline: "is usually placed at about seven months (28 weeks) but may occur earlier, even at 24 weeks." Explain, in what dimension is that crisp and worthy of inclusion (especially by itself) in an encyclopedic lead? - RoyBoy 00:25, 28 June 2011 (UTC)

It may occur earlier because it's a well-defined but hard-to-determine point. You're still conflating being viable with estimates of when it has likely occurred. It used to be that we couldn't determine gender before the fetus left the womb. It's still the case that we can't do that with viability. We can estimate when it's likely to have obtained but can only determine it via an experiment that, while it could be performed, would be inappropriate on humans. I don't see the issue you're having with this. JJL (talk) 00:52, 28 June 2011 (UTC)
The issue is its a hard-to-determine point, ergo it cannot be "well-defined" in reality. You can medically define it at 500g, but it's a guideline in the sand (regardless of it being the well reviewed consensus of experts) that has no actual teeth in reality... it does legally etc etc, but for a real pregnancy it being "well-defined" has no practical meaning on the spectrum of mother's health / medical technology available / doctor's competence. - RoyBoy 12:28, 30 June 2011 (UTC)
My understanding is that those numbers are meant as estimates of the median viability point--where 50% of fetuses would survive and 50% would not--but of course they're also round numbers. I agree that in any particular case near the 20 week or 500g mark it would be very unlikely that a physician could make a confident prediction, barring some medical problem that clearly indicates non-viability on other grounds. Do we agree that viability is well-defined in principle but hard to determine around the 20 week/500g point in practice? JJL (talk) 15:07, 30 June 2011 (UTC)
Yes, medically it is well-defined; but you're 50% clarification reiterates it isn't verifiable, something missed with most non-medical reliable sources (Britannica didn't miss it, so they used usually). Add to that viable has legal (depends on jurisdiction) / biological (abnormalities) variability that makes it a confusing and complex concept. Stating it is the medical definition we are using improves things (because this is not a medical article), but it has so much baggage it defies summary style. Death has far less. Some experienced editors have commented pro-life rely on the baggage (dual meaning?) and emotion of death to infer personhood (Guy and maybe Doc James), or that I've allowed myself to be fooled by them (Orangemarlin).
I agree that is the 'intent' for pro-lifers with "death", but Wiki-editors focus this and gloss over the notion viable is simply a poor choice for an encyclopedia; and that viable denotes pro-choice / ethical medical 'intent' for abortion. I do not care we "intend" to abort non-viable fetus', I care about what an encyclopedia should... accuracy and summary style. If we cannot in good faith verify every late-abortion was nonviable, then the definition is worthless. The weight of reliable sources would appear to indicate otherwise, but we need not replicate their mistake(s) or follow a consensus that would rather clinically define a topic that has two sides to it; viable doesn't present both sides. Medically that is not a concern, encyclopedic-ly I assert it is. Redefining what the abortion article is -- to increase our comfort level -- seems silly to me; but certainly preferable to pretending viable works without caveats. - RoyBoy 18:30, 1 July 2011 (UTC)
I disagree entirely that 'viable' is not adequately defined (or has too much baggage), or that is not easily understood. Claiming that the medical community is mistaken is a broad claim that should be sourced to sources that comment on this fact and should not be merely inferred by comparing other sources. It's one thing to say that sources conflict, but your claim is much bigger than that: Your claim is that the medical side is wrong. That's OR or at least synthesis until you have sources that criticize the medical defns. as mistaken, not just different. JJL (talk) 19:00, 1 July 2011 (UTC)
They aren't wrong, they define it as it should medically be done. That does not mean abortion actually conforms to how it "should medically be done". As we are an encyclopedia, we have a broader scope to define. If we fail to do so, then that is our "wrong" / fault. Their scope does not dictate ours, unless you want to contend otherwise as Orangemarlin did? - RoyBoy 00:55, 11 July 2011 (UTC)

Before viability

We have a number of excellent sources that support that abortions (either spontaneous or induced) occur before fetal viability. Procedures or fetal demise outside this period is not an abortion per the CDC, WHO and medical texts.

  • "An induced abortion is the medical or surgical termination of pregnancy before the time of fetal viability." AND "The interruption of pregnancy before viability at the request of the woman, but not for medical reasons, is usually termed elective or voluntary abortion." (Williams Obstetrics, 23e, Chp 9)
  • "Abortion is the spontaneous or induced termination of pregnancy before fetal viability. Because popular use of the word abortion implies a deliberate pregnancy termination, some prefer the word miscarriage to refer to spontaneous fetal loss before viability" from . ISBN 9780071472579.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  • For "spontaneous" it is per Uptodate "Spontaneous abortion (SAb), also known as miscarriage, refers to a pregnancy that ends spontaneously before the fetus has reached a viable gestational age" PMID 11023804 Still looking into elective.

Our definition needs to reflect the references. --Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 17:04, 24 June 2011 (UTC)

Doc James, permit me to be straight and plain in reply - It doesn't matter how many sources you have or what your own subjective view of them is, call them "excellent" if you want. But I ask you do abortions not also take place after viability? This is simple, you can try "before viablity" if you want, it will rightly get shredded as factually inaccurate, and without consensus once you change it. How do I know? Because its already been tried. (talk) 17:26, 24 June 2011 (UTC)
No abortion do not take place after viability. And this is true for both spontaneous and induced. Read the references.Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 17:29, 24 June 2011 (UTC)
You can't substitute your own definition for that used by the sources. That it has been tried before is no argument against it now. That isn't how WP works. The best sources refer to viability. If we don't then our value as a reference is greatly reduced. If we're the only one using a term in a certain way then we're not doing what we should be doing. JJL (talk) 17:37, 24 June 2011 (UTC)
The argument against it is not that it's been tried before, it is that it is factually inaccurate. Our value as a reference is in factual accuracy. (talk) 17:56, 24 June 2011 (UTC)
Your mere assertion that they don't doesn't make it so. The lower limit of viablity is earlier than the legal limit up to which abortions may be performed in many jurisdictions (including the UK and many States in the US), so abortions are performed post-viablity. Editors attempting to make the article a description of some utopian fantasy should give it up already. (talk) 17:44, 24 June 2011 (UTC)
Please provide references so we can discuss them. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 18:24, 24 June 2011 (UTC)
I'm curious: do you think that Williams Gynecology is wrong? NW (Talk) 18:50, 24 June 2011 (UTC)
I get the impression that 62.154 and Doc James are talking past each other. @Doc, do you really intend to say that the end of a pregnancy that happens in between viability and birth is not an abortion, that it is an intervention which should not be done by reputable practioners, or something else? @62, have I caught your concern? LeadSongDog come howl! 19:04, 24 June 2011 (UTC)

(undent) Yes after fetal viability it is known as "Induced fetal demise" or "Spontanous fetal demise" not an induced or spontaneous abortion. Ref [64] So with current medical practice the "abortion procedure" dose not result in the death of the fetus as the fetus is already dead due to "induced fetal demise" WRT legality in most areas of the world induced fetal demise is unethical and illegal except to save the life of the mother. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 19:35, 24 June 2011 (UTC)

You've just confirmed abortion post-viabilty! Thanks. Abortions performed after induced fetal demise would also be after viability by your explanation. DMSBel (talk) 19:59, 24 June 2011 (UTC)
Which is why you see the quotes around "abortion procedure". We go by the ref provided.Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 20:17, 24 June 2011 (UTC)
Not so fast, the ref. you provided says nothing about "induced fetal demise". DMSBel (talk) 20:22, 24 June 2011 (UTC)
Also this "abortion procedure" so called, what does it involve? The expulsion of the fetus from the uterus? DMSBel (talk) 20:34, 24 June 2011 (UTC)
No doubt it is unethical and illegal in many parts of the world, but putting quotes round it not does stop it from being an abortion. Unless you mean that before viability, in an abortion the procedure results in the death of the fetus, but after viability the "abortion procedure" is performed after induced fetal demise? So in Merriam/Webster they have it spot on then. DMSBel (talk) 21:00, 24 June 2011 (UTC)
It is not a matter of what I think, it's a case of viability ranges from an earlier time (23 weeks) than the upper legal limit on abortion in many places (UK 24 weeks, US 26 weeks), therefore the source is wrong if it states that abortions are not performed after the fetus is viable. Less than 1% of abortions in the UK are after 22 weeks (thats still nearly 2000 abortions a year, figures as of 2005, BBC News article [[65]]) (talk) 19:07, 24 June 2011 (UTC)

If you believe that Williams Obstetrics is wrong, you should email the editors and talk to them about it. It's a gold standard in OB/GYN (per an Wikipedia administrator/licensed health care provider). You simply cannot say that a source is wrong because it contradicts a lesser quality source. (Yes, the BBC is a lesser quality source in this context.) NW (Talk) 19:22, 24 June 2011 (UTC)
I wasn't citing the BBC as a comparable source, it's daft to pit the two against each other. What does Williams obstetrics say on fetal viability, at what range does it say viability starts, at how many weeks? (talk) 19:45, 24 June 2011 (UTC)
Williams OB doesn't even attempt to wade into that, so far as I can tell. UpToDate suggests 22-25 weeks, but acknowledges that it is a jurisdiction-by-jurisdiction as well as a case-by-case matter. I don't think that matters though. Even if a woman attempts to terminate her pregnancy at, say, the 26th week, I don't believe that we can call that abortion without engaging in original research. NW (Talk) 20:57, 24 June 2011 (UTC)
Re: Fetal Viability : Williams OB doesn't even attempt to wade into that, so far as I can tell. - Some Gold Standard then!! DMSBel (talk) 21:05, 24 June 2011 (UTC)
You're engaging in so much original research here that if you write it all up we can award you a Ph.D. You're guilty of WP:IDONTLIKEIT and are not even attempting to fight sources with sources. If it's the "gold standard", then it doesn't matter if you personally disagree with it unless you are claiming so much expertise in the matter that you qualify as a superior source. JJL (talk) 21:37, 24 June 2011 (UTC)
JJL, that's quite funny, since your entire argument that the fetus is not alive is pure original research. I have asked at various times for one source that says the developing fetus is not alive (i.e. dead); the silence is deafening. -- cheers, Michael C. Price talk 15:23, 26 June 2011 (UTC)
Not if you look at Talk:Abortion#On_whether_the_fetus_is_alive. JJL (talk) 17:59, 26 June 2011 (UTC)
Note: Williams Obstetrics most certainly mentions fetal viability, at length: "[...] infants born at 22 to 25 weeks. Currently, depending on many factors, this gestational age range is considered the limit of viability." That is only the first of many mentions in the "Diseases and Injuries of the Fetus and Newborn" chapter. (Won't cite page numbers as mine is an older edition.) Fvasconcellos (t·c) 21:45, 24 June 2011 (UTC)
Thanks, very helpful to have someone with a copy at hand. So 22 - 25 weeks is the lower end of viability? DMSBel (talk) 22:07, 24 June 2011 (UTC)
Thanks Fvasconcellos. I'm using an online copy through, which I haven't read in full. I had searched via their internal search feature, and "fetal viability" didn't come up in any of their books. Thanks for pointing that out. There's also a section in Chapter 36 titled "Mortality and Morbidity at the Lower and Upper Extremes of Prematurity," that begins "The tremendous advances in the perinatal and neonatal care of the preterm infant have been found predominantly in those infants delivered at 33 weeks. With survival of increasingly very immature infants in the 1990s, there has been uncertainty and controversy as to the lower limit of fetal maturation compatible with extrauterine survival. This has resulted in continual reassessment of the threshold of viability...It appears generally accepted that births before 26 weeks, especially those weighing less than 750 g, are at the current threshold of viability". NW (Talk) 23:29, 24 June 2011 (UTC)

We also have "Abortus. A fetus or embryo removed or expelled from the uterus during the first half of gestation—20 weeks or less, or in the absence of accurate dating criteria, born weighing < 500 g." Further clarifying the position of the medical literature. Williams Obstetrics, 23e >Chapter 1. Overview of Obstetrics Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 20:33, 24 June 2011 (UTC)

It's already in the article :). NW (Talk) 20:57, 24 June 2011 (UTC)
Yes exactly we have 8 high quality WP:MEDRS compliant sources that support the current version of viability. Enough said :-) Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 21:02, 24 June 2011 (UTC)
Thats right, keep pumping that water out, your sinking fast here. Guess you don't want this to go to an AN/I either?DMSBel (talk) 21:11, 24 June 2011 (UTC)
Doc James, I'd give it up now, you have already told us that abortions are performed after induced fetal demise and that that only takes place after viability. DMSBel (talk) 20:39, 24 June 2011 (UTC)
Sorry we are going by what reliable sources say. I am not here to Wikilawyer. If you have reliable source you wish to present do so. Cheers. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 20:55, 24 June 2011 (UTC)
Maybe you should give it up before you mess it up more. DMSBel (talk) 21:03, 24 June 2011 (UTC)
Unless he's told you that you may rely on his opinion as a WP:V WP:RS, it doesn't matter (what is your interpretation of) what he said. What matters is what the source said. I don't think he's claiming you should listen to him as a source. If his explanation doesn't elucidate matters for you, consult the actual source and engage it. JJL (talk) 21:37, 24 June 2011 (UTC)
Not my interpretation, just what Doc James said. Don't try to re-factor it, it will be spotted. You guys are a joke. Just give it up already. DMSBel (talk) 21:42, 24 June 2011 (UTC)
I don't see how the insults and negativity help here. JJL (talk) 21:44, 24 June 2011 (UTC)
Ok, according to Doc James, after a fetus is viable its not called abortion, its an "abortion procedure". Abortion is only performed after the fetus is dead, brought about by induced fetal demise, an unethical practice that should not be confused with abortion proper, which starts while the fetus is alive. Did I get that right? DMSBel (talk) 21:52, 24 June 2011 (UTC)
Maybe you guys need to check your Gold Standard OB/GYN reference - Williams Obstetrics I believe its called. DMSBel (talk) 22:03, 24 June 2011 (UTC)
Is this how you got topic banned? You are not helping. Please stop. ArtifexMayhem (talk) 22:08, 24 June 2011 (UTC)
No "this" is me trying to figure out how 2 + 2 = 5. DMSBel (talk) 22:12, 24 June 2011 (UTC)
Ok. That only works for large values of 2. humor ArtifexMayhem (talk) 22:18, 24 June 2011 (UTC)
What about 22 is less than 24? DMSBel (talk) 22:22, 24 June 2011 (UTC)
Someone please AN/I this for the Wikipedia Community to see, I am off to bed. DMSBel (talk) 22:41, 24 June 2011 (UTC)

As long as the abortion article is going to be used as pro-abortion propaganda then you folks will probably want to re-write the late-term abortion article so that it also includes the same false information (that abortion of a viable fetus is not an abortion). Right now it includes this line, which disagrees with your campaign material: "Late-term abortions are more controversial than abortion in general because the fetus is more developed and sometimes viable." Any attempt to add this "only before viability" bullshit is an attempt to hide the controversy. (talk) 23:19, 24 June 2011 (UTC)

Thanks will try to address that. Looks like the refs at "Late term abortion" need updating. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 23:24, 24 June 2011 (UTC)
This ref uses the term "Late termination of pregnancy" Graham, RH (2008 Jan). "Understanding feticide: an analytic review.". Social science & medicine (1982). 66 (2): 289–300. PMID 17920742.  Unknown parameter |coauthors= ignored (|author= suggested) (help); Check date values in: |date= (help) Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 23:32, 24 June 2011 (UTC)
Doc James, you might find it wiser to avoid any appearance of WP:POINT DMSBel (talk) 13:23, 25 June 2011 (UTC)

Learned some new things, and it's good to see Doc James here. Indeed Wikilawyering sucks, but I'm reading this Wikipedia:MEDRS#Summarize_scientific_consensus, as MEDRS has been used frequently of late. It states: "Finally, make readers aware of any uncertainty or controversy. A well-referenced article will point to specific journal articles or specific theories proposed by specific researchers." While I'm sure several here would be confident in wording and referencing viability (with or without caveats in brackets), it is hard to think such important issues can be communicated clearly in a lead sentence without weighing it down. I believe Britannica makes the best attempt possible, but still relies on weasel "usually" wording to provide necessary ambiguity to a term that actually isn't clear. Sure, we commonly understand it as surviving outside the womb, but is that with or without ICU? I've stated above, a non-viable baby in Afghanistan could be viable in developed countries. - RoyBoy 08:32, 26 June 2011 (UTC)

Ability to survive does indeed depend on where you are. That's a matter that has already been settled at Fetal viability: "The limit of viability is the gestational age at which a prematurely born fetus/infant has a 50% chance of longterm survival outside its mother's womb. With the support of neonatal intensive care units, the limit of viability in the developed world has declined since 50 years ago, but has remained unchanged in the last 12 years." and "During the past several decades, neonatal care has improved with advances in medical science, and therefore the limit of viability has moved earlier." The statements are sourced at that page. To me this is sensible: Appendicitis is survivable, and shortsightedness is correctable, but probably not if you're alone on a deserted island. The statement is made under the assumption of modern medical care. Anyway, we don't need to address that issue here; if you think a different defn. of 'viable' would be better, that page would be a good place to raise an objection. Viable is the preferred term--if there is concern about its meaning then we have a page for it, just as we do for Death (which has its own similar issues--Brain death, etc.). JJL (talk) 14:56, 26 June 2011 (UTC)
No, death doesn't have similar issues, that's why it was chosen. Brain death - so you are under the incorrect impression organs have to exist for something to die / be considered an organism. Relying on a sub-page to define another article isn't correct. - RoyBoy 15:40, 26 June 2011 (UTC)
The majority of editors on this page disagree with you about 'death' being the appropriate term. I never said anything about organs and don't know why you've started bringing that up. The point is that 'death' itself is used in different ways at different times, unlike 'viable' which has a strict and unambiguous yes-or-no meaning. Physicians and scientists prefer it for a reason, after all. JJL (talk) 18:02, 26 June 2011 (UTC)
Fortunately this isn't a democracy, or are you implying a simple majority denotes a new consensus? Cause that's wrong too, right Orangemarlin? The brain is an organ, so you brought it up. Actually the point is on this talk page watching someone recent fumble around what is life/death/person/organism isn't necessary for the article, it was covered in 2006. As to viable being strict, you're incorrect (which is okay) and being ideological (not okay, as its been shown viable abortions can occur). - RoyBoy 19:20, 26 June 2011 (UTC)
We need to work toward a new consensus. You need to acknowledge that the old one is dead (no pun intended). It doesn't matter what was covered in 2006--no one is bound by that, and no one has certified that group of editors as being authorized to hold teh page hostage to their decisions. You need to let go. I can see your point of view w.r.t. viability in the context of abortion but not w.r.t. the concept itself. It's well-defined, as the sources found on the viability page support. JJL (talk) 19:25, 26 June 2011 (UTC) (edited--lost an important 'not' JJL (talk) 20:21, 26 June 2011 (UTC))
I'll take that as a yes to my consensus question, I know what I need to do. I like puns though... hmmmm. - RoyBoy 20:01, 26 June 2011 (UTC)
Roy I strongly disagree with your statement, "watching someone recent fumble around what is life/death/person/organism isn't necessary for the article". IMO it is your group that attempted to fumble around with that issue, and as I have previously said, only fools rush in where angels fear to tread. It is this group who have wisely avoided that fool's errand by insisting that we must rely on our references to supply the definition rather than produce our own. If you can show me even one other Wikipedia article where editors changed the definition of anything to so drastically differ it from almost all of the references, I'd like to see it. Gandydancer (talk) 19:56, 26 June 2011 (UTC)
Almost good point, but we didn't fumble (ie. confuse, obfuscate, move goal posts, merge / fail to clarify / outright deny) concepts being discussed as recent editors have. As such we were able to work together on a compromise that worked. Your question on Wikipedia precedent is curious, I doubt I would find an example, but as we are not a medical reference; you are presenting the weight of the sources (more accurately their editorial style) in a false light to begin with. Or is that not relevant to you? - RoyBoy 20:16, 26 June 2011 (UTC)
@RoyBoy Keep in mind that I have never called your group a bunch of fumblers as you just called the present group. I have several times spoke of the previous group with respect. However, if you are going to indulge in labels, I only returned the label. This group deserves just as much respect as the previous group. As to your suggestion that medical definitions are a product of "editorial style", well now that's an unusual idea, isn't it? Gandydancer (talk) 21:06, 26 June 2011 (UTC)
How is that false? Almost all use 'viable', almost none use 'death'. That's an extremely compelling argument on its own, and saying we are allowed to change things is a very weak one. JJL (talk) 20:21, 26 June 2011 (UTC)
And once again, I can't imagine what the basis is for the belief that the accord reached in 2006 so was so perfect. It's all well and good to be pleased with your work but you've taken it to quite an extreme. You're not allowed to declare parts of a page closed to new editing--you don'wt WP:OWN it. JJL (talk) 20:24, 26 June 2011 (UTC)
A word used in Encarta and a medical dictionary is extreme? Try again JJL, actually no, don't. You appear oblivious to what I am declaring, you don't form a consensus (new or otherwise) by a straw poll. Or does Wikipolicy only apply to me? - RoyBoy 20:34, 26 June 2011 (UTC)
I'm not following you--I described "an extremely compelling argument" and you're talking about whether or not a word is extreme. This is non sequiter. While a straw poll doesn't make consensus, having a majority against you should suggest that your previous consensus is in need of a serious reconsidering. JJL (talk) 00:48, 27 June 2011 (UTC)
It would if you added something fundamentally new to the discussion, more votes is more eyes focused on a straw poll header under the impression a consensus of sources is the pertinent matter, the former is not extremely compelling. ;') My mistake on extreme, apologies. - RoyBoy 23:49, 27 June 2011 (UTC)
Even if your version were to be undeniably accurate, there's more than one way to say anything. New editors might wish to make a stylistic change. You can't embargo all changes to (part of) an article. JJL (talk) 00:56, 28 June 2011 (UTC)
I/we can if they are Boldly pushed through contrary to established consensus. I didn't stop your edits to the lead, I allowed you to learn from your own mistakes and made it plain it could result in actions being leveled against you. As it was clearly inappropriate, if you don't see it that way its a result of being new. You can't walk into a new controversial situation and expect to know what you need to out of the gate. - RoyBoy 00:49, 11 July 2011 (UTC)
@Gandydancer I'm also waiting for your reply to above on 1.5% of abortion happening after 21 weeks; or should Wikipedia simply ignore this? - RoyBoy 20:34, 26 June 2011 (UTC)
@RoyBoy I don't reply to a lot of posts. I have no idea which post you speak of. I have, however, post re that issue. Please read my posts and you will find the information you are looking for. Gandydancer (talk) 21:16, 26 June 2011 (UTC)
No luck, is it in an archive? You actually almost convinced me viable was sufficiently accurate. But no response here leads me to believe its a grey area we have to choose to ignore to maintain verifiability and accuracy for "viable" by itself. - RoyBoy 23:42, 27 June 2011 (UTC)
Yes I have posted regarding this issue and I will do so again. As you may know from reading this article, thousands of genetic mistakes commonly occur in the developing embryo. Many of these alterations are so severe that the embryo cannot survive and it is passed, often as a large clot. But some genetic mistakes actually are not so severe as to cause the immediate death of the embryo and it continues to grow into the fetal stage and would actually result in a live birth or perhaps a stillbirth. A paper has been offered wherein it was stated that a severely mentally handicapped fetus or one that would die soon after birth can be considered a non-viable fetus and I believe that anyone with any moral integrity at all would agree with that. And then there are other strange physical deformities that are difficult to look at for even seasoned hospital personal. I'm not sure how they handle this today but in my experience from years ago, we considered them a stillborn whether they were dead or not and no attempt was made to extend their life. That too is as it should be and if the deformities can be picked up before birth it is much better for all concerned rather than make the parents go through the heartbreak of losing a full term infant. And then there is a third class that are profoundly retarded but physically viable who can survive for years. I have a fair amount of experience in that area and I can tell you that these individuals have a life of endless suffering and if their condition can be discovered before birth it would be an act of kindness to abort them. Now I really do not know what percent of these fetuses that are aborted at an age over 21 wks have this condition or that condition, or how many of the mothers lives may be compromised if they were to carry the fetus to full term, but you don't either and until you have that information in hand I wish you'd just shut up about it. I apologize for saying "shut up", but I am just sick to death about this whole "viable" controversy. Gandydancer (talk) 01:50, 28 June 2011 (UTC)
If "shut up" is the worse thing you've done here, then you have far more self control than most, certainly more than I. You may need to teach me sometime. The above is profound and is written in a way I've never seen before, so thank you, and it affirms my pro-choice position. Agreed, I was sick of it many many moons ago, but occasionally well intentioned lead editors are interested in going through it ... again, and again. The lack of information in hand, has no bearing on how inappropriate "viable" is for an encyclopedia. I'm not being insensitive, I'm saying viable in common medical / public parlance is understood to mean about 20 weeks. However, now we have an additional neurological/genetic defects caveat to communicate. I can, more than ever, appreciate why Britannica used "usually" in their definition!
Most importantly, you are understandably frustrated, annoyed and maybe even disappointed at my presumptuousness. Ironically that's why I've (eventually) taken the position I have on viable. It is bio-ethically presumptuous to think abortions are always conducted on-time and with clear ethics (ie. sex-selection). I am disappointed with otherwise thoughtful and sophisticated people presuming to know the totality of a subject with such complex circumstances, motivations and outcomes being acted upon a rapidly changing entity (embryo / fetus). Medical references can (and should) take the position they have, as they are obligated to communicate best practice(s) and use clinical terms in a medical setting. Wikipedia's obligation is accuracy in a summary style, and if possible ensure "other perspectives are fairly represented". I sincerely hope you understand, and I apologize for possibly upsetting you. - RoyBoy 00:49, 29 June 2011 (UTC)
There is no need to concern yourself that you may have upset me. I'm sick to death about a lot of things, the current political situation for one, but it doesn't follow that I'm upset. I may find it absolutely absurd that anyone could go on and on insisting that the word viable is too technical a term to use when my 12 and 15 year old grandchildren understand exactly what it means, but that does not mean that it upsets me. It just makes me think that the idea is stupid. It has been suggested that we use "usually before the fetus is viable" which I feel would be an excellent compromise, but you and others continue to argue that viable is too technical and vague. Gandydancer (talk) 16:12, 1 July 2011 (UTC)
Because it is not verifiable. Kids understanding viable means survival outside the womb, doesn't mean they understand it can vary from country to country based on interventions available. A non-viable fetus in the 3rd world can be viable elsewhere, depending on specialist doctors and equipment on hand. This variability is the reality of biology. Do you disagree? Doctors let alone kids can't exactly tell us which 50% of fetus' are viable at week 20, but kids much younger than 12 truly understand death. Add to that fetus' that are technically viable but wouldn't survive long after birth because of various abnormalities. Not exactly a clear and pedestrian concept. Or am I missing something? - RoyBoy 20:35, 1 July 2011 (UTC)
Well that's some progress I guess since it is now agreed that a 12 year old understands what viable means. Now I guess that we'll need to be certain that they know what "usually" means and I feel certain they do. Would you agree? Gandydancer (talk) 20:55, 1 July 2011 (UTC)
────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────Sorry, it isn't progress. Kids like adults think they understand viable -- but they don't -- yes the concept is easy to understand, as JJL points out again below, but the reality isn't clear at all. How do I put this more directly, going ahead with an abortion procedure does not make a fetus defacto non-viable. You have read my reference that says there is no standard procedure before 28 weeks to determine viability. This means from ~19 weeks til ~27 weeks there is a grey zone for modern medicine. Non-modern skews that timeframe. - RoyBoy 03:28, 2 July 2011 (UTC)
Serious question: I know most newspapers strive write for a certain reading ability audience (e.g., an 8th grade reading level). Is there a WP policy or guideline for what age/reading level we are targeting? Viability is verifiable. You could do it on monkeys: Remove the fetus and see what happens. It's just that with humans there's a practical problem--not a scientific one. You keep mentioning the problem of viability varying by country but as per the sources found at Fetal viability the concept is well-defined: Survivability assuming modern medical care, not just what's available in country. That's a standard defn. as I understand it--if you can't get modern treatment for anything then you may die unnecessarily of it. We draw this distinction in this very article by mentioning that abortion is safe when performed properly but that that isn't always how it's done. Kids understand that some cancers can be treated but that if it isn't done then you'll die. That doesn't change their treatability. Sure, physicians can't tell us which 50% will survive--any more than they can tell us which smokers get lung cancer. A 12 year old knows smoking is dangerous and knows a 90 year old who smokes constantly. The notion of LD50 and its variants is standard in biology. It isn't at all different in this case that it is in any other medical case. The term is well-defined which is why it's used in a technical context. JJL (talk) 01:35, 2 July 2011 (UTC)
────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────Good question, there is no target age just a goal of general readability, which I imagine is grade 11 or 12; but specifically for the lead of an article its preferable to keep it straightforward. JJL I stress its not verifiable on a case-by-case basis, unique to each pregnancy because of the many variables involved (health of mother for example). As to treatability, deciding to have an abortion does not automatically change a late-term fetus into being nonviable. Or does it? - RoyBoy 03:28, 2 July 2011 (UTC)
There are two separate issues here. Viability is a yes-or-no issue in principle and in any given case. However, in a specific medical procedure a physician must go by guidelines because it's impractical to determine viability with current technology. This isn't really different in this regard from other medical procedures--you might end up performing an appendectomy because all signs point to it being a case of severe appendicitis only to find out once inside that the true problem is something else. Someone who is given 6 months to live statistically beats the odds. I think you're focusing on clinical guidelines for estimating when viability is likely to have been obtained. Is it really different from all the other protocols physicians use? If you observe A, B, and C, then do D? JJL (talk) 04:24, 7 July 2011 (UTC)
In principle, I concur, but reality is less well defined. Physicians ... are you inferring all abortions are performed by ethical doctors in a clinical setting? As they aren't your starting point is not sufficiently inclusive, at least for a generalist encyclopedia. - RoyBoy 22:06, 8 July 2011 (UTC)
Do we make distinctions like this for other surgeries? I grant that's it's a much more common occurrence in the case of abortion than most cases, but I wouldn't want to define any surgery by what unqualified and/or unethical practitioners do. JJL (talk) 03:35, 9 July 2011 (UTC)
JJL, I really got to give you credit here man... you are sticking with it, that's better form than Gandydancer. Surgery... also implies a skilled (competent) third party is involved in the procedure. This also is not always the case with self-induced abortions happening; this is also unique to abortion (and dentistry I guess). To address your larger point, that we should not define what is a common -- safe -- practice by the exceptions. It does appear foolhardy, but if the goal is the same for all abortions (regardless of viability), we as a generalist encyclopedia are encouraged (I say required) style wise to choose the lowest common (accurate) denominator for the lead. I've been reassured in a number of ways and angles (from repeated change attempts) we got the right compromise. Indeed not perfect, however I can live with my discomfort with death to acknowledge abortion isn't a purely surgical / medical topic. Abortion intertwines larger questions of ethical bounds for doctors, practitioners, women and society. "Viable" isn't true to this complexity. - RoyBoy 00:38, 11 July 2011 (UTC)

1.5% is still 15,000-20,000 in the US and 600,000 worldwide per year. NYyankees51 (talk) 21:38, 26 June 2011 (UTC)

I have asked RoyBoy to provide even one instance of a Wikipedia article in which the definition was so different from the references and he responded, "Your question on Wikipedia precedent is curious, I doubt I would find an example, but as we are not a medical reference; you are presenting the weight of the sources (more accurately their editorial style) in a false light to begin with". Well, I've taken a few IQ tests and it seems that I am, at least according to the tests, extremely intelligent. Bur for the life of me, I cannot figure out his reply. Can anyone out there help me out? Gandydancer (talk) 23:27, 26 June 2011 (UTC)

The argument that we're not a medical reference is being taken as license to reinvent the meaning of words. That's unreasonable. JJL (talk) 00:48, 27 June 2011 (UTC)
NW has added 14 more references for the definition that are not medical sources. If that is actually his concern, that should take care of it. If not, he will continue with his complaints.Gandydancer (talk)
Kudos to NW to be certain. Their adoption of medical terminology certainly buttresses your position regarding RS & WEIGHT, but the origin of my medical source objection is Wikipedia:Style#Technical_language, and that "usually" should be used to encompass exceptions. Something I find unacceptable and unnecessary given we have "death" available. - RoyBoy 15:11, 1 July 2011 (UTC)
Reinvent the meaning of words? Funny coming from someone who has tried to narrowly define/interpret life, organism and death in ways to be consistent with a previously held position. - RoyBoy 23:42, 27 June 2011 (UTC)
And you can't sort out that a uterine growth (ie. embryo) is life? - RoyBoy 23:42, 27 June 2011 (UTC)
I think RobBoy is right here. This whole discussion, in its present round, is putting heads in a spin. Variations between cultures have been cited with regard to supposed advocacy resulting from the use of "death" in the lede first sentence. But that's actually beside the point as its funeral customs that vary, views on an afterlife or cessation of existence that vary, views on intelligent design versus evolution that vary. Conception/Fertilization is the fusion of gametes to produce a new organism
First International Symposium on Abortion statement:
"The changes occuring between implantation, a six week embryo, a six month fetus, a one week old child, or a mature adult are merely stages of development and maturation. There is no point in time between the union of the sperm and egg , or at least the blastocyst stage, and the birth of the infant, at which point we could say that this was not a human life".
The onus is on JJL to refute the scientific consensus of the last 50 years that has continually re-affirmed this. DMSBel (talk) 13:23, 1 July 2011 (UTC)
What's the source for this quotation? I'd like to see it in context. JJL (talk) 15:53, 1 July 2011 (UTC)
Here's another quote from your site:
Q. What about a woman who is pregnant due to rape or incest?
A. This is not a reason for terminating a pregnancy. Rape or incest is never the fault of the child; the guilty party, not the innocent party must be punished. The violence of abortion parallels the violence of rape/incest, in fact it exceeds it! A child is a child regardless of the circumstances of conception. If the rape/incest victim is unable or unwilling to care for the child, there are numerous childless couples who would pay for the pregnancy and then adopt the child, if it is unwanted. Many agencies cater to this need. Gandydancer (talk) 13:53, 1 July 2011 (UTC)
Did they say that at the International symposium on abortion?DMSBel (talk) 15:54, 1 July 2011 (UTC)
Please tell me more about this symposium. When did it occur, who was in attendance, etc. Gandydancer (talk) 16:16, 1 July 2011 (UTC)
I'll try and find out for you more detail.DMSBel (talk) 17:35, 1 July 2011 (UTC)
It was held in Washington BC, in 1967. Attendees ranged across fields including genetics, obstetrics, gynecology (about 20% catholic minority). Sorry it will take me a little longer to find actual names, assuming I can find it on the internet. DMSBel (talk) 19:52, 1 July 2011 (UTC)

Abortion is not just a medical term

I agree with the spirit of the compromise suggested by DMSBel under The Lede opening sentences in light of DRN suggestions and agree that it is currently too wordy.

Abortion is a surgical procedure that ends a pregnancy. In the United States, the public debate over a women's right to have an abortion is a complex and heated political issue.
The words abort and abortion can also apply to non-pregnancy related topics. If you are in the middle of a jewel-heist and the alarm on the vault is tripped, you and your partners in crime might opt to abort the plan and run while you can, debating whether the plan's abortion was a good decision or not later.

I would suggest we need a more general definition of the term "abortion", which would lead into the qualifying sentences currently present. Here are some examples:

3. Cessation of normal growth, especially of an organ or other body part, prior to full development or maturation. 4. An aborted organism. 5. Something malformed or incompletely developed; a monstrosity. -American Heritage dictionary

3. arrest of development (as of a part or process) resulting in imperfection; also : a result of such arrest -Merriam-Websters

(biology) Arrest of development of any organ, so that it remains an imperfect formation or is absorbed. Any fruit or produce that does not come to maturity, or anything which is interrupted in its progress before it is matured or perfect. The act of aborting a project, a mission, etc, before it is completed. (art) Something ugly, an artistic atrocity. -Wiktionary

▸ noun: failure of a plan abort -- (the act of terminating a project or procedure before it is completed; ``I wasted a year of my life working on an abort"; "he sent a short message requesting an abort due to extreme winds in the area ) -Wordnet

3. the failure of a mission or project, -Collins

References to "aborting the mission" are so prevalent in popular culture that I do not feel I need to provide a reference. I would guess that most people here have heard the term in video games, movies, or TV shows dealing with war, spy missions, under cover police work, etc. NASA documents describing the biomedical experiments conducted during the Apollo missions employ the term "abortion" when referring to the failure of plants to produce pollen. NASA Technical Memorandum 58217[66]

All of these definitions were obtained by spending 5 minutes at alphaDictionary online[67], which searches over 1,060 dictionaries allowing us to obtain a consensus of usage. This includes entries from older sources, such as Webster's 1913[68] and Britannica 1911[69]I consider these sources to be current as long as there may be people alive for whom these sources would have been their primary reference on matters of English usage. The search produced results from concise dictionaries, not from the multi volume versions that are produced once or twice a century. My copy of Webster's Third New International does not have any entries that I would consider significantly different from those shown.

To add depth to this consensus, I also consulted Online Etymology[70]


late 14c., from L. abortivus "pertaining to miscarriage; causing abortion," from abort-, pp. stem of aboriri "disappear, miscarry," from ab- "amiss" (see ab-) + oriri "appear, be born, arise" (see orchestra); the compound word used in L. for deaths, miscarriages, sunsets, etc. The Latin verb for "to produce an abortion" was abigo, lit. "to drive away." Not originally used to imply forced or deliberate miscarriage; from 14c.-18c. stillborn children or domestic animals were said to be abortive. Also see abortion. Related: Abortiveness

We can see that the general sense of the term is arrested development, or a failure of a process to come to its natural or intended fruition. The emphasis is on process, not on the fruit of that process.

I suggest we take our cue from the biological definitions, which, unlike medical texts, are strictly technical. Medical texts, especially those directed to the public, tend to intersperse lay terms with technical terms, thus giving undue weight to terms such as "baby", "mother", "death", etc.

I would suggest that the first sentence of the current article be replaced with:

"The term "abortion" generally applies to any process which terminates prematurely. Most frequently, it applies to biological processes, especially pregnancy."

You can work in the "death of the fetus" thingy wherever you wish - just not in the definition. I will take up the death v viability dispute in a separate comment section.Ermadog (talk) 23:31, 3 July 2011 (UTC)

This is an interesting observation. (I would've added that computer programs frequently abort.) My first thought was that it was more of a Wiktionary approach, but then I looked around and found, e.g., Destruction. I do think handling both spontaneous and induced abortion at the same page is a (small) part of the difficulty we're having. Even if making Abortion a broad defn. of the term in its whole or a disambiguation page was done we'd still have the issue of induced abortion eventually. I'm not sure what I think; I couldn't find uses of "abortion" on WP in a cursory search that weren't either in this context or in music. JJL (talk) 00:53, 4 July 2011 (UTC)
Cessation of normal growth, especially of an organ or other body part, prior to full development or maturation. 4. An aborted organism. 5. Something malformed or incompletely developed; a monstrosity. -American Heritage dictionary
Since my proposed change would simply replace the current lede sentence, I don't see this as an attempt to avoid the induced v. spontaneous question. The very next sentences deal with these issues. I'm unclear as to the relevance of a search on "abortion" in WP. I'm addressing current usage of the word as described by a consensus of dictionaries. This consensus shows that abortion is any arrested development or cessation of a process. As applied to human pregnancy, the term "abortion" would then be properly applied to the pregnancy itself as the process under arrested development. the term "pregnancy" necessarily includes the conceptus, as you cannot be pregnant without a conceptus being present. (You can be pregnant without a fetus being present).
I don't see the difficulties as stemming from spontaneous v induced abortion. I see the problem as two groups having two completely different conversations about the same topic. The strict anti-abortion crowd wishes to make the rights of the fetus paramount; while, the strict pro choice crowd deny that the conceptus has any rights at all in the matter (at least in the earlier stages). We're just talking past each other. The insistence of the anti crowd upon the inclusion of "death of the fetus" is an attempt to keep the discussion focused on what they consider to be the "victim" of abortion. This is why I proposed a broad definition of the term "abortion" as the introductory sentence. The various ancillary issues follow, and are properly discussed in the body of article. Ermadog (talk) 02:26, 4 July 2011 (UTC)
On the one hand I see your point and don't actually object to going that way, though I think it'd be a big conversation. But I think that, realistically, many of the other issues would be principally discussed in linked articles, not further down in the main article, and most searches would land on them initially, losing this context where it is needed. The point of searching for non-medical uses of abortion was that I wondered if the term was being used/discussed in its other senses here--such articles would need to be linked to and context for them provided. This is an interesting approach and I'm open-minded. If the main discussion of biological abortion remains here then it could be helpful. If it ends up mostly being a glorified dab page to aborting computer programs, aborting major projects, etc., then I don't think it'd help much, though it might still be sensible for WP to have such a page, perhaps.JJL (talk) 03:01, 4 July 2011 (UTC)
Just to clarify, I wasn't proposing a detailed discussion of the various permutations of the term "abortion" outside its designation of a process of interrupted pregnancy. That would properly belong in a disambiguation page. I was simply proposing a more general definition to replace a currently contentious one. As you yourself noted, "One suggestion [22] from DRN is that we consider avoiding using either term in the lede sentence." My definition shows how the more general meaning applies to human pregnancy.Ermadog (talk) 05:09, 4 July 2011 (UTC)

3. arrest of development (as of a part or process) resulting in imperfection; also : a result of such arrest -Merriam-Websters

As you know, this is an encyclopedia article, and the lede is an introduction not a definition per se, so we don't need to be so concise as some of these definitions. Most people coming to the page will know it is either about spontaneous or induced abortion or both. Abortion originally refered to both intentional abortion and miscarriage, (so if I understand you correctly) it would be rather strange to begin the article with the third definition below, especially when there is nothing in the article specifically about organs or body parts. If there is consensus for separation of articles on abortion and miscarriage, I think abortion could possibly then be merged into Feticide with a redirect. But any separation would be too controversial on this article without an RFC in advance. If a return to the earlier consensus version with some minor changes does not solve the issue, more clarification early on in the lede should help.
1.a) Induced termination of a pregnancy with destruction of the embryo or fetus. b) Any of various procedures resulting in the termination of a pregnancy. Also called induced abortion.
2. See miscarriage.
3. Cessation of normal growth, especially of an organ or other body part, prior to full development or maturation.DMSBel (talk) 01:23, 4 July 2011 (UTC)
I don't understand why you would imagine I would want to introduce the article with "the third definition below", when what I actually proposed was "The term "abortion" generally applies to any process which terminates prematurely. Most frequently, it applies to biological processes, especially pregnancy."
Here, the term "process" is a broad category which includes pregnancy as one of the sub categories. Thus, my discussion is broader than the concise definitions to which you refer. When a military operative proposes to abort a mission, he is not generally proposing to terminate a pregnancy. When a computer operating system proposes to abort a process, it is not generally proposing to terminate a pregnancy. Do you really believe that the broad public has not heard of this type of usage?
As for merging "Abortion" with "Feticide", "Abortion" is the general category; "Feticide" is the subcategory. Furthermore, "fetus" is only one subcategory of "conceptus". The feticide page should be merged with the abortion page, if any merging at all is to occur, especially since the feticide page focuses on the narrower aspect of law.Ermadog (talk) 02:54, 4 July 2011 (UTC)
But your rationale begins by skipping over the first two definitions (above), to reach a conclusion that, arguing on the grounds of "what definitions are there?" is impossible. It's a bit like math in that you can arrive at an answer, but that does not make the answer you have arrived at right. Something seems to have gone awry and I think its because you began by not considering the two main senses of abortion - ie. spontaneous and induced. A wikionary definition can disambiguate a variety of senses more easily so perhaps these other senses (abort mission) (abort program) could be introduced into the the wikionary definition. (talk) 13:32, 4 July 2011 (UTC)
I "skipped over" nothing. I derived a general sense of the term "abortion" by surveying current usage and looking for a common thread. You do know what "general" means in this context? I thought I had spelled it out when I mentioned categories and subcategories. Process is a general category which includes pregnancy. The fact is that pregnancy can be thought of as a process transpiring within a woman's body and ultimately producing a baby, or it can be thought of as the production of a baby, leaving out the woman. I think most people reading the Wikipedia will be aware that pregnancy necessarily entails the production of a conceptus as a byproduct. Since it is the characterization of this byproduct that is the point of contention, one solution is to leave it out of the description.Ermadog (talk) 22:17, 4 July 2011 (UTC)
Perhaps something with: cessation of embryonic or fetal maturation and the ending of nascent life. The "thingy" as the editor refered to it about "death" really seems to be unavoidable. And there is little support for its removal entirely. But we should go back to the consensus version and then discuss possible alterations. DMSBel (talk) 01:44, 4 July 2011 (UTC)
Nowhere did I suggest that the issue of fetal death should be avoided. It simply doesn't belong in a general definition of the term "abortion".Ermadog (talk) 02:54, 4 July 2011 (UTC)
Ok thanks for that it seems that there is growing support for keeping the matter of fetal death in the lede, and less support now for "before viability". I agree with JJL in that it would be necessary to address fetal death in the article also.DMSBel (talk) 14:00, 4 July 2011 (UTC)
I don't see that at all. I mostly see you talking to yourself here. The suggestion from DRN was to compromise by omitting or keeping both terms. I don't think anyone prefers that we do either of those things, but it seemed worthwhile to discuss the possibility in the spirit of compromise. Your comments have made clear that compromise isn't what you want--you want to have it your way despite being in the minority of opinion here. JJL (talk) 15:12, 4 July 2011 (UTC)
Comment For those new to the discussion, there is in fact majority support for the removal of 'death' from the lede and for having it discussed, if it is, later in the article; and, the 2006 consensus featuring it is no longer in play and the current wording in the protected version of the page has the best support--all the more so if one excludes the comments of SPA IPs and the repeatedly blocked and banned. The best available sources do not use 'death' and overwhelmingly use 'viable'. JJL (talk) 03:02, 4 July 2011 (UTC)
There are two things to note here, one is a failed straw poll that had a narrative change in the middle, this rendered it incapable of assessment. Even if it could be used to find consensus (which by Wikipedia definition of consensus it can't), one involved editors tallying and interpretation of the poll is not neutral. Secondly the issue of death in the definition is completely separate from it in the lede. And there is no way to absolutely remove it from the lede, without violating the current consensus, and ending up basing the article on subjective editor preferences. WP:ILIKEIT, WP:IDONTLIKEIT Its use in the article continues to meet WP:VERIFIABILITY DMSBel (talk) 14:01, 4 July 2011 (UTC)
The change occurred immediately after I posted it. I was the only one who had voted at that point. After the reorganization of votes by RoyBoy he added his comment and I modified mine. No one else was affected by any changes. This is hardly the "middle". But as this seems to be very bothersome to you, feel free to address the issue with RoyBoy or an admin if you feel he was intentionally trying to disrupt the discussion or interfere with the poll. The word 'death' has been removed from the lede. You may not call it consensus, but that's what the majority of editors has settled on, based on the best sources around. Continuing to make misstatements doesn't change things and isn't fruitful. JJL (talk) 15:12, 4 July 2011 (UTC)
JJL I have to say your preference for precision in communication is great. When I said "middle" I was imprecise, what I meant was after it was started. I have no issue with RoyBoy's change. But as I said in advance of the poll it would not declare any new consensus. You need to go to the policy discussion pages JJL if you'd like to make a proposal that wikipedia content should be based on a simple majority. DMSBel (talk) 18:02, 4 July 2011 (UTC)
And this is why I say below that I am unable to come to a conclusion as to exactly what the poll problem is and why I have felt it is just sour grapes. Now you change the subject and say well I said it wouldn't make a new consensus anyway. Please make a statement that is precise which states your reasons that the poll was not properly done. Certainly one would think that we could conclude at least this part of the disagreement rather than drag it out into eternity. One is supposedly expected to have good faith, however I tend to guess that you would have quite a different opinion if the poll had turned out to be in your favor. Gandydancer (talk) 22:17, 4 July 2011 (UTC)
Are you being intentionally obtuse? Wikipedia is not a democracy for starters. Then the meat is the preponderance of sources use viable, they are medical sources. It provides no compromise or acknowledgement of larger issues and the broader reality of abortion, which isn't always on-time, by a doctor, in a clinic. Does an abortion make a fetus defacto nonviable? - RoyBoy 00:17, 11 July 2011 (UTC)
To clarify, I was proposing that the whole issue of the fate of the conceptus be dropped from the lead sentence, in favour of a more general definition of the term "abortion". I have read this current talk page, as well as several pages from the discussion archived in 2006. I truly hope consensus has actually been achieved. However, as previously noted, I will be adding my 2 cents to the death v. viability discussion in a separate comment section. Ermadog (talk) 05:09, 4 July 2011 (UTC)
Yes its removal or keeping in the lede first sentence is being discussed. We have no way of determining if consensus for the current version was ever achieved. The straw poll could not determine it ipso facto even if there had not been a narrative change in the middle of it, both in the formulation of the poll and in the article. Thats why the only way out of the current problem (a page protected non-consensus version of the article) is a restoration of the earlier consensus version, and further discussion, on the position of "death" or "fetal death" in the lede.DMSBel (talk) 14:00, 4 July 2011 (UTC)
Oh, yes, I forgot. "Consensus" in Wikipedia, achieved by the first people to write an article is written in stone. Silly me.Ermadog (talk) 22:17, 4 July 2011 (UTC)
Such comments are unhelpful and risk re-polarising this when other editors are attempting to bring sides to an understanding of each others position. Nobody is saying the earlier version cannot be discussed or changed. But neither has any editor a right to demand change. DMSBel (talk) 00:44, 5 July 2011 (UTC)
At first I thought this comment was directed to me. Then I remembered: I never demanded change. Neither did any other editor. Also, you're not talking to me anymore.Ermadog (talk) 03:23, 5 July 2011 (UTC)
No I think you'll find that it was you who said you saw "no point in answering my questions. Have a nice day", I'll certainly hold open the option of reading your posts and replying to them. Best:-)DMSBel (talk) 17:38, 5 July 2011 (UTC)

Agreed: Abortion is not just a medical term. That is why the lede should not simply be a repeat of a medical definition that is couched in medical jargon (words that are not always readily known to non-medical people). For instance, "loss" (meaning death) and "destruction" (meaning death or killing) are jargon used by medical professionals, but there are more clear and effective words to use outside of a clinical setting. For instance, a doctor might refer to a newborn as a "baby" when consulting with the child's mother, but would call him a neonate when discussing the medical situation with other professionals. Likewise a doctor might answer a woman asking about how long the elective late-term abortion of her fetus will take: "it will take a few days to extract all of the tissue", whereas his answer to a woman whose wanted fetus has died in utero might be "it will take a few days to deliver your baby". The WP article should not use jargon without explaining what it means or when non-jargon words can be used to more concisely. (talk) 18:10, 5 July 2011 (UTC)

How is "loss" jargon? If I say "I lost my business" anyone with a grasp of English will know I mean my business failed or was taken away for some reason. Friend of the Facts (talk) 19:17, 5 July 2011 (UTC)
One reason "loss" is not appropriate in the article is because "loss" conveys an incomplete meaning and does not apply to some abortions. A "loss" is typically understood to be something unpleasant or undesirable. "Loss" would apply to many spontaneous abortions and some induced abortions, but would not apply to most induced abortions. "Destruction" also conveys an incomplete meaning and does not apply to some abortions. "Destruction" would apply to induced abortions that dismember or crush the fetus, but would not apply to many spontaneous abortions (and possibly to some induced abortions) where the fetus remains bodily intact. Both "loss" (unintended or unwanted death) and "destruction" (intentional killing or annihilation) are specific types of death. Since abortion can be intentional or spontaneous, the general term "death" is the most succinct and always accurate word to use because it covers what must happen to the fetus as part of every abortion, and does not suggest anything but the cessation of life. (talk) 19:57, 5 July 2011 (UTC)
I don't know what hospitals that you worked in that used some of the bizarre terms that you suggest, but I've been around the hospital block more than a few times and I never heard medical professionals speak in the manner "your" docs and nurses do. Just for starters, "loss" - that's a word for condolence cards not medical professionals. Destruction is medical jargon? you can't be serious. Where are you getting this stuff from? Gandydancer (talk) 20:24, 5 July 2011 (UTC)
Gandydancer, give the IP a opportunity, ask for sources by all means. At least as I read his comments he is saying both "loss" and "destruction" are specific types of death. I agree with the IP in regard to loss of meaning through unneccessary abstraction. And I'd like to hear him out if he has anything else to say, so please be give him the chance to make his point. :-)DMSBel (talk) 20:56, 5 July 2011 (UTC)

If "death" is the best way to describe abortion how come the other references we looked at earlier rarely used that word to define abortion? The fact is that the majority of sources don't use "death" to define abortion. Why should Wikipedia use a word other references almost never use to define abortion? There's no good reason. Friend of the Facts (talk) 21:07, 5 July 2011 (UTC)

The following dictionaries mention in the basic primary definition the death/destruction of the fetus or that the fetus must not be born alive:

  • Merriam-Webster Medical Dictionary ('s best selling medical dictionary and the dictionary NIH provides online at MedLinePlus)
  • Merriam-Webster Legal Dictionary
  • Merriam-Webster Dictionary ('s best selling dictionary and the default dictionary for the prestigious Chicago Manual of Style)
  • American Heritage® Medical Dictionary
  • American Heritage Science Dictionary
  • American Heritage Dictionary
  • Webster's New World Collegiate Dictionary (not related to Meriam-Webster, "any deliberate procedure that removes, or induces the expulsion of, a living or dead embryo or fetus")
  • MacMillan Dictionary
  • Collins COBUILD English learner’s dictionary (talk) 21:50, 5 July 2011 (UTC)

Importantly, 'not being born alive' doesn't imply death if you don't believe the fetus was alive beforehand. Also, is the '''<big></big>''' really necessary? Having bigger sources doesn't mean having more or better ones. JJL (talk) 14:21, 6 July 2011 (UTC)

The fetus is a dead parrot

The History of abortion law debate shows that the status of the conceptus has never been in debate. The ancient Greeks were well aware that the conceptus was alive. The key questions revolved around what came to be known as hominization or ensoulment, that is to say, at what point does the conceptus become a human being. In the West, the Catholic Church eventually settled on quickening as the event signalling that ensoulment had occurred. The debate changed in the late 18th century, when some medical doctors began to advocate for a ban on abortion, claiming scientific knowledge of "when life begins". Since then, the debate has suffered from a lack of clear definitions.

The conceptus is most definitely alive, in the sense that it is composed of living tissue. It is also human, in that it is the product of a human organism. In a very general sense, it can be said that the conceptus is human life. But by these criteria, my big toe is also "human life". My big toe also exhibits a capacity for independent life whenever it cramps up. Better yet, my gut displays a routine capacity for independent life, in the form of homeostasis. The fetus doesn't begin to develop homeostasis until week 34, at which time it begins to regulate its own breathing.

Modern science can tell us a great deal about neonatal development (see Neonatal perception); but, what it can't tell us is when does a conceptus become a human being. The anti choice advocates routinely rely on pronouncements from embryology to claim the contrary. They claim that embryology does indeed tell us that conception or fertilization is "the beginning of a new human life".

But these are weasel words. There is no clear declaration that "a human life" equates, in the scientific literature, to "a human being". I have challenged dozens of anti choice advocates over the years to produce a scientific definition, drawn from any recognized science reference text, for the term "human being". I have searched the internet for one. I don't believe there is one. There is also no clear indication that the term "the beginning of a human life" necessarily implies that the status of human being has already been achieved. On the contrary, some embryologists refer to the conceptus as "a primordium of a human being" See Moore at Most embryology texts clearly indicate that fertilization is merely the beginning of a developmental process.

There is also no clear definition of the terms "human being" and "person" in law. Neither of these terms existed when the common law definition of homicide was formulated in England, in the Leges Henrici Primi of 1115 CE, which was the basis for the formulation of the Born alive rule. (See Murder in English law). These are the precedents which still prevail in common law countries at the federal level. The Canadian parliament has twice refused to give the fetus legal status as person. Abortion has never been treated as homicide in Britain.

While a number of states in the US have succeeded in declaring the fetus to be a human being for the purposes of the Unborn Victims of Violence Acts and similar legislation, none has succeeded in declaring the fetus to be a person from the moment of conception. Here is what one judge declared on the matter, "Judge Schreier said that although doctors must use the term 'human being,' it can be used in a "biological sense" and not an "ideological" one" -Planned Parenthood v, Rounds Civ. 05-4077-KES, August 20, 2009. Attempts to treat the fetus as a person in so-called "fetal abuse" cases have also consistently failed. Courts will prosecute: but, few convictions are secured.

To understand how the term "human being" is understood by the general public, it is usefull to use a multidictionary such as alphaDictionary, which searches over 1060 dictionaries to provide us with a consensus of common usage. We find that the first definition usually equates "human being", with H. Sapien which is not a definition, but a scientific classification. A being must be defined before it can be classified. When we search on Homo Sapien, we typically find "man", "modern human", "mankind", etc. When we search on these terms, we find "human being". We are thereby faced with a logical fallacy known as "circular reasoning". To break out of this circle, we look at the 2nd definition, which is typically "person".

"Person" is usually defined in philosophical terms, for example:

3, self-conscious being, as distinct from an animal or a thing; a moral agent; a human being; a man, woman, or child. Consider what person stands for; which, i think, is a thinking, intelligent being, that has reason and reflection. (locke)

Consciousness arises in the newborn when its natural occurring sedatives are oxidized by the first few breaths taken outside the womb. See, "The importance of 'awareness for understanding fetal pain", David Mellor,

The term "death" in association with the destruction of the conceptus carries an unspoken assertion that human life is being destroyed. (Argument by assertion, especially unspoken assertion, is a logical fallacy.) As long as no clear distinction is being made between "human life" and "human being" is made, this also constitutes a logical fallacy of equivocation.

Ultimately, the question of what kind of life exists in the human uterus is a philosophical one, not answerable by science. This is why abortion is a matter of conscience. Freedom of conscience is protected in democracies. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Ermadog (talkcontribs) 00:41, 5 July 2011 (UTC)

Sorry I could not get past the part where you said your big toe was a human and independent life (when you get cramp in it). I love reading posts but I don't keep reading if they get ridiculous. You should have saved that revelation for the end, as it is you lost me before you got going. Do you draw eyes and a mouth on your big toe? When you get cramp in it does your brain receive this information as discomfort? Therefore it is part of you and cannot be a conceptual metaphor for a mother and fetus. Your are taking the most generic definition of abortion and trying to use it to encompass everything that is described by the term abortion, when the topic here is not so wide as that. [User:DMSBel|DMSBel]] (talk) 00:53, 5 July 2011 (UTC)
Since you are no longer reading my posts, I see no point in responding to your questions. Have a nice day.Ermadog (talk) 02:29, 5 July 2011 (UTC)
Get over yourself, Ermadog. Agree with DMSBel.-- cheers, Michael C. Price talk 05:54, 5 July 2011 (UTC)
Agreed. Resistance is futile. DSMBel is the Borg King. Ermadog (talk) 07:06, 5 July 2011 (UTC)
Ermadog, you were arguing from the sublime to the ridiculous, and peppering your post with rhetoric like "anti-choice". Basically you do not seem to have caught the notion of what the previous section was about, which is probably why you had to start a new one. Basically definitions in most dictionary move from the more specific to the more generic, the most generic definitions cover such a wide range of things, that they are little help to us here. There is certainly a fallacy in any argument that because the generic definition states abortion is "cessation of growth..." we must therefore be talking about the same thing in reference to a fetus as in reference to something else. Another reason an organ cannot be a conceptual metaphor for a fetus is that an unborn baby may have a different blood group from its mother. Blood in your toe is the same blood group as that in the rest of your body. What would happen if you needed a blood transfusion and were given the wrong type? Hemolytic reaction![[71]] Therefore there is a maternal/fetal distinction, in other words we are refering to a mother and her unborn baby. Make sense? User:DMSBel (talk) 07:24, 5 July 2011 (UTC)
Metaphor, from MacMillan as retrieved by alphaDictionary: "a word or phrase that means one thing and is used for referring to another thing in order to emphasize their similar qualities". I listed the similarities between my big toe and a generic fetus. Those similarities exist in the real world, and not merely in my imagination. My metaphor is apt in the current discussion; because, the "pro-death" camp keep emphasizing that the fetus is alive in a most general sense of the term and that it is human. My big toe is also alive and human. Therefore, it makes sense to me that the big toe is an apt metaphor for the fetus in this sense. If you'd read the rest of my post, you'd see that I then went on to an even more apt metaphor: the human gut. The human gut is alive, is human, and has independent existence - homeostasis. It also has its own primitive brain. See, "Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine Volume 77 November 1984, Editorial: Muscle innervation of the gut structure and pathology" jrsocmed00217-0007.pdf The degree to which the fetus has any homeostasis is debatable. It is entirely dependent on the metabolism of the host mother in the earliest stages. It does not even begin to regulate its own breathing until week 34, which is the earliest stage at which the the fetal brain shows signs of coherent brain waves. See "Fetal Pain A Systematic Multidisciplinary Review of the Evidence" As for "arguing from the specific to the generic", Wikipedia is not a dictionary.Ermadog (talk) 21:00, 5 July 2011 (UTC)
MacMillan Dictionary - abortion: a medical operation in which a developing baby is removed from a woman’s body so that it is not born alive. (talk) 21:06, 5 July 2011 (UTC)
Funny how it says 'not born alive' without referring to death--as though the question of whether or not it was alive, and hence could die, was at the least a complicated matter, and so they decided to state it as a negative instead. JJL (talk) 21:28, 6 July 2011 (UTC)
What are the similiarities between your big toe and this?:[[72]] Except that it has toes too!DMSBel (talk) 21:40, 5 July 2011 (UTC)
Let's see, I listed the similarities twice now. Maybe third time's the charm. The fetus is composed of living tissue. The living tissue is human. My big toes is composed of living tissue. My big toe is human (It's not a duck's foot.) You are still ignoring the fact that the human gut is an even more apt comparison, possessing, as it does, both independent life, homeostasis, and a primitive brain.Ermadog (talk) 22:30, 5 July 2011 (UTC)

It is quite humorous to read that a lede that was painstakingly formulated

after lengthy and intense dicussions among dozens of editors and that considered

every single argument now being made and that has withstood the test of time is a "dead parrot". (talk) 14:30, 5 July 2011 (UTC) (consolidated by - RoyBoy 23:35, 7 July 2011 (UTC))

It might be helpful if you were to format your comments as paragraphs. The old consensus has been reconsidered and found wanting. Comments like this don't advance the discussion in any way. You're simply lamenting the fact that WP is not set in stone. Even paper encyclopedias have new editions. JJL (talk) 21:28, 6 July 2011 (UTC)
The spacing seems intentional, I partially consolidated it. - RoyBoy 23:35, 7 July 2011 (UTC)
The fact that the lead sentence of this article continues to be the subject of edit-warring indicates very strongly that the prior consensus version that endured for many years should be restored until a new version achieves consensus. That's what WP:BRD is all about. Sadly, BRD seems to apply at all articles except this one (unless enforcing BRD is occasionally to someone's POV advantage).Anythingyouwant (talk) 19:31, 10 July 2011 (UTC)
I was waiting for a 3rd party to do that, guess I'd be waiting a while. - RoyBoy 00:11, 11 July 2011 (UTC)

Some further thoughts about fetal life and "death" in the lede.

In its earlier compromise/consensus version some readers may have had to make a presupposition accomodation (linguistic term) of a kind when they reached the phrase "caused by or resulting in its death". Most people are willing to do that in non-controversial matters. For instance if you were reading a book and had not noticed it was raining and someone said to you "It stopped raining", you would not reply "But you haven't said that it was raining". In the book What is Meaning: Fundamentals of Formal Semantics, Paul Portner writes:

::Unless you want to dispute the idea that it was raining, the co-operative thing to do in such a situation is to act as if the presupposition that it was raining had been in the Common Ground, discreetly adding it and moving on. (page 187)

In the earlier lede the presupposition the embryo/fetus is alive is presupposed in the meaning of pregnancy and it is taken for granted that for any reader who still does not obtain that presupposition that they can make an accomodation when they reach the part of the sentence "caused by or resulting in its death".

I wonder if expecting readers to make this type of presuppositional accomodation is really so out of the question, although admittedly it is asking a bit more than for someone to act as if the proposition "It was raining" is common ground. It will not be an issue for many readers, and we do make these accomodations in ordinary communication. That there are fields of medicine such as Peri-natal Pediatrics[[73]], [[74]] indicates an acknowledgement of nascent human life within the medical profession and that it is held to be the case that there is no radical disjunction between before and after birth except in terms of environment (intra-uterine or extra-uterine). The existence of this branch of pediatrics confirms the view that birth is an event in life, not the beginning of it as this article in JAMA states [[75]]. To me this indicates that there is a fairly common presupposition or understanding within Medicine and particularly Pediatrics, that most readers are quite able to accomodate when reading the article, and that the earlier definition (with the term "death") was not non-standard, even though it could have been better referenced. Any objections to restoring it? DMSBel (talk) 21:52, 7 July 2011 (UTC)

DMS, I am wondering, why do you think the U.S. Supreme Court said this:
We need not resolve the difficult question of when life begins. When those trained in the respective disciplines of medicine, philosophy, and theology are unable to arrive at any consensus, the judiciary, at this point in the development of man's knowledge, is not in a position to speculate." Gandydancer (talk) 22:17, 7 July 2011 (UTC)
Yes, I am wondering why they said that too. But I live in the UK. Seems to have been pretty well established in this discussion, then again its been going on for five years, I guess the US Supreme Court couldn't spend five years on it! DMSBel (talk) 22:23, 7 July 2011 (UTC)
Objections to restoring what, exactly? ArtifexMayhem (talk) 22:37, 7 July 2011 (UTC)
Says in my post. Hang on I'll find the exact version. DMSBel (talk) 22:40, 7 July 2011 (UTC)
This version of the first sentence (as of 8 June 2011):
  • Abortion is the termination of a pregnancy by the removal or expulsion of a fetus or embryo from the uterus, resulting in or caused by its death.[2]
[In simple words, abortion is termination of pregnancy either through some accidental case like a miscarriage or by choice, when a fetus or an embryo is medically terminated. It is the removal of a fetus or embryo from the uterus, which kills the unborn baby.] [Note: I am not sure if this is a direct quote from the book or a paraphased summary, I am trying to find that out for sure, please bear with me, it comports with actual explanation in the book that life begins at conception though). (Dutt T, Matthews MP (1998). Gynaecology for Lawyers. Routledge) DMSBel (talk) 23:41, 7 July 2011 (UTC)
The book from which that quote is taken, has been reviewed in medico-legal journals, and received the following comments:
"It is undoubtedly excellent as a work of reference and the contents list itself gives any non-medic a thorough grounding in the area to be covered under the general title of gynaecology. The content is well researched and informative. It is also easy to read." -- Medico-Legal Journal, Vol 67, 1999
"This is worth its weight in gold to any medneg practitioner experienced or otherwise... Highly recommended." -- Medical Litigation, June 1999
I guess that is why it was used as a source in the article. DMSBel (talk) 23:41, 7 July 2011 (UTC)
These comments would be more helpful if we knew who made them. Was it endorsement by the editorial board? A book review by a single reviewer (which would not generally be a peer-reviewed item)? An ad? Some journals publish "my favorite text on..." opinion pieces. In any event, to say "I guess that is why it was used as a source in the article" sounds to me rather like citing Wikipedia as a source for Wikipedia. Surely the fact that a book by and for lawyers says "kills the unborn baby" isn't as compellinga s references by and for physicians... including the fact that the term 'baby' is plainly misused here. JJL (talk) 04:54, 8 July 2011 (UTC)
But there again you show you have commented before knowing what you are talking about. Why would you think a book called Gynaecology for Lawyers was written solely by Lawyers? I am puzzled. It's part of a respected medico-legal practitioner series (Routledge-Cavendish). As it is it happens to be written by two authors one a Consultant Gynaecologist. Its currently just titled Gynaecology. It more than meets the basic criteria for a reliable source. Not sure what you mean by "endorsed by an editorial board"? Articles in JAMA don't seem to be, or need to be, to meet WP:RS.
The series editor Walter F Scott[[76]], is a General Practitioner with the following qualifications:
  • Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery
  • Bachelor of Law (Hons)
  • Diploma of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists
  • Member of the Royal College of General Practitioners
Are you suggesting this fails WP:RS in some way? If so you are ridiculously setting the bar so high, no possible source could meet it even if it was from the most respected university on earth. Abortion is a Medico-Legal subject, of course not solely - this source is better equipped to deal with that aspect than any other currently in use in the article. The Medico-Legal series the source is from is unique and unparalled. That said, it would not be correct to use it as the only source. It certainly seems to rank very high though from the medico-legal perspective. DMSBel (talk) 13:21, 8 July 2011 (UTC)
I was suggesting that you hadn't given me enough information to form a conclusion ion its reliability because you don't know how to cite scientific journals and don't seem to grasp the different types of articles that can appear within them. Why is this source unique? JJL (talk) 13:55, 8 July 2011 (UTC)
But I do give you enough information, I just have, if you had read my last post and followed the links you'd know the answer to your question, but I said it was a unique and unparalled series. So you seem to be not reading my posts. Anyway if you want the answer to your question its in my last post. DMSBel (talk) 14:04, 8 July 2011 (UTC)
Trying to begin a discussion about the very semantics of language--as though that notion was somehow uniquely relevant to this page--is a particularly extreme attempt to return the debate to the beginning by forcing a discussion of the philosophy of language. We can't re-invent the English language here. This is a stalling tactic. JJL (talk) 04:54, 8 July 2011 (UTC)
No its not a stalling tactic, but thats the second time you have refered to other editors wanting to discuss things as using "stalling tactics". If discussing this is a stalling tactic, what are editors who refuse to discuss that matter engaging in? Semantics is relevant, we are discussing a definition. Though I agree that the issue of definition is not solely to do with semantics. But it's a neglected area and there is no consensus for the current lede, if you want to find if there is consensus for your version, you need to run an RFC. Can you say why you have not done that? The article is of importance to several projects, there may need to be wider discussion. DMSBel (talk) 11:22, 8 July 2011 (UTC)

As I've indicated previously on the Talk page, our language now matches that used in other, related articles here. JJL (talk) 13:55, 8 July 2011 (UTC)
Oh? Which ones you been changing? (humor) DMSBel (talk) 14:24, 8 July 2011 (UTC)
The 8 June 2011 version of the lede first sentence, was the the consensus/compromise. It's not set in stone. But it will take a lot more to change it than what has been so far presented. Would you like to freeze your own version in carbonite? The current "definition" does not even serve the purpose of a definition which is to differeniate between similiar terms. Currently it does not distinguish between live birth and abortion. Either formal (dictionary) or extended definition can be used, perhaps a formal one in the lede, and an extended one further in the article. Or we can simply use a descriptive explanation which draws from non-contradictory sources. If that is the route then an acknowledgement in one source of what another is silent on (or makes no emphatic refutation of) makes them supplementary to each other. I suggest we use Merriam/Webster and one other major medical dictionary. ThoughtsDMSBel (talk) 12:08, 8 July 2011 (UTC)
You're being very repetitive. The suggestion that we only use the one dictionary that agrees with your preferred wording out of a great many that have been discussed here that do not is simply an "I want it my way" approach. The strong majority of similar sources do not agree with that definition. JJL (talk) 13:58, 8 July 2011 (UTC)
JJL you are the only one who "wants it your way", and is repeating proposals considered in the past before a compromise was reached. Find a mirror, and look in it please. DMSBel (talk) 14:12, 8 July 2011 (UTC)
DMS said; "Semantics is relevant, we are discussing a definition." I certainly would agree. In fact, I believe that semantics are very important. Gandydancer (talk) 12:56, 8 July 2011 (UTC)
They are important because they have been somewhat neglected, not because they are the only thing which matters. Bringing up semantics is not turning the discussion wholly into a semantic one. It would be impossible to do so. DMSBel (talk) 13:29, 8 July 2011 (UTC)
I believe that we are ignoring semantics when we use the phrase "before it can survive outside the womb" Gandydancer (talk) 13:34, 8 July 2011 (UTC)
Would you care to elucidate further?DMSBel (talk) 13:42, 8 July 2011 (UTC)
It's certainly an awkward construction, where a simpler one is available. JJL (talk) 13:58, 8 July 2011 (UTC)
You know a simpler one won't suffice. The more simplistic or generic it becomes the less it serves to tell us anything in particular. DMSBel (talk) 14:07, 8 July 2011 (UTC)
I don't know anything of the sort. I agree with the professionals--the current version minus 'usually' (with caveats placed in the body of the article to indicate any opposing views) and with 'viable' in place of the longer phrasing is how the term is actually defined. JJL (talk) 16:36, 8 July 2011 (UTC)
Therein lies the problem. You can't possibly object to one editor who argues against that and presents reliable sources (as were already in the earlier consensus version), as you began from a position of arguing from your own assertion, without source, evidence or consensus, but only preceded by another editors asinine comment (made in tit-for-tat fashion) already passed over by an editor who has been on the article longer than you have JJL, and who might have been likely to take it up if he didn't know something of the article history. I agree with the consensus on the lede first sentence that stood from 2006 until at least 8 June 2011 (and in my view hasn't been nullified). I won't question without very, very good reason something re-established by consensus several times as the best possible compromise in light of the options. Based on the medico-legal explanation of abortion, refuted by no other MEDRS, and which also concurs with Merriam/Webster Medical Dictionary. There cannot be a change (of the kind you seem to be proposing) that would not at the same time mean the bar is set so high that no other source currently used in the article could reach it and thus disqualifying current sources as unreliable. The best option is to leave the lede as it was as of 8 June 2011, until there is a RFC, or review. You might want to discuss elsewhere about whether wikipedia needs an {advocacy?-discuss} inline tag, if there is not one. Such a tag would in any case be only applicable to advocacy groups, not to my mind at least, non-partisan medico-legal sources.DMSBel (talk) 18:58, 8 July 2011 (UTC)
I believe that its much more than just awkward, its very misleading. Gandydancer (talk) 14:10, 8 July 2011 (UTC)
Either say why, or refrain from commenting, this "its very misleading" without explaining your view on why it is misleading gets us nowhere.DMSBel (talk) 14:14, 8 July 2011 (UTC)
It's misleading because it distorts the meaning of the definition used by 22 of the 24 references that we have used for it. Gandydancer (talk) 14:38, 8 July 2011 (UTC)
I agree. It's a technical term and we shouldn't shy away from giving the proper definition, as per the overwhelming majority of the sources (regardless of what editing has occurred to the current list in the article). JJL (talk) 16:36, 8 July 2011 (UTC)
I'd be surprised if either of you understands exactly what the other is saying. As for a standard definition there isn't one as such as could be called standard. The Merriam/Webster one given that it is used by MEDLINE, seems to be as close to standard as we can find in a medical dictionary. It seems quite POV to not want to use it because it mentions death. DMSBel (talk) 18:58, 8 July 2011 (UTC)
I would need to correct my numbers - I see that the references are much changed since I last looked at them. Gandydancer (talk) 15:10, 8 July 2011 (UTC)

I feel we have gone from bad to worse for the definition. I took a good look at all the definitions and they just do not use the phrase as we are using it. It came up a few times, 4 I believe it was, but even still it was always used a little differently. And I believe that they had good reason for not using that term, survive, at least in the way we are. It's an interesting situation. Look at the definition for survive: intransitive verb 1)to remain alive or in existence : live on 2)to continue to function or prosper 3)to remain alive after the death of <he is survived by his wife> 4)to continue to exist or live after <survived the earthquake> 5) to continue to function or prosper despite : withstand <they survived many hardships> — (survivor is the noun) However when the term is used in fetal viability, it means to reach a stage where one moves from "nothingness" to "survival" rather that from life through a deadly crisis and then to go on with life. Anyone follow me? I may be wrong or I may have not explained it very well. Of course, perhaps both! Gandydancer (talk) 17:35, 8 July 2011 (UTC)

I do agree with you. The current language is a back-door way to get in life/death as much as possible, in contravention of the medical language. I too feel the language used by physicians in their reference works has been carefully chosen and that this has nuances that are not desirable in the defn.. -JJL — Preceding unsigned comment added by JJL (talkcontribs) 14:36, 8 July 2011
Whilst chasing after a definition for "lifetime risk", I stumbled upon an excellent source which explicitly compares WHO to CDC nomenclature in these matters. I believe a careful reading may be helpful and informative.

Even better, an earlier version from 1980 (pp.389-390 pertain) is PD-USGov so we can quote to our hearts' collaborative delight! LeadSongDog come howl! 19:14, 8 July 2011 (UTC)

JJL,Yes, I agree. I believe that by attempting to to get rid of the term death we have tried every which way to compromise and ended up with what we've got - original research. But sometimes compromise is not an option. The fetus is either alive or not alive. Only God knows for sure and apparently some people feel that they have direct communications from Him. As far as I'm concerned "God" said what ever you want to think is just fine as long as you don't tell anybody else what to think. If this issue again comes to a straw poll vote I will never vote for what we've got even if it breaks the vote to the point that the "death" votes would win. Gandydancer (talk) 19:39, 8 July 2011 (UTC)
Lack of consensus is not the same as no knowledge on the subject. Any discovery in science is a given. It is as true before the discovery as after. Consensus takes a little longer to be sure. Medicine is not agnostic on when life begins. Best practice requires where there is lack of consensus to, "err on the side of caution", ie. do no harm. This is normative in the medical profession in regard to pregnancy both with reference to a mother and her fetus. For instance before delicate and risky fetal surgery (not abortion) Tocolytics are not administered if the risk is higher for the fetus inside the womb than if delivered, such as may be the case in intrauterine infection, unexplained vaginal bleeding and fetal distress. DMSBel (talk) 09:29, 9 July 2011 (UTC)
Anyone that has not been following this would wonder what the hell I am talking about "alive or not alive". Obviously it is alive in one sense. I mean Life, not life...Gandydancer (talk) 19:52, 8 July 2011 (UTC)
We could use the preponderance of WP:MEDRS provided in the notes. - ArtifexMayhem (talk) 20:03, 8 July 2011 (UTC)
Please try to not be so sensible as it will only cause confusion. Gandydancer (talk) 21:54, 8 July 2011 (UTC)
Sorry. My bad. - ArtifexMayhem (talk) 00:20, 9 July 2011 (UTC)
Gandydancer, if you're saying that the "death" version of the lead is superior to the current version, I agree. -- cheers, Michael C. Price talk 20:31, 8 July 2011 (UTC)
It's better only in that it did not screw around and hide behind words that say the same thing in a cowardly and sneaky manner. A 12 year old understands what viable means and I'm sick of hearing the excuse that an adult does not. We are not a panel of experts here. If anyone is so brilliant that they need to share their vast knowledge, let them go work on the physics articles or such where they need to at least show that they have some skills. It takes no skill what-so-ever to work on this article so for crying out loud you'd think you would be humble enough to agree that our definition should not be something that we just make up. Gandydancer (talk) 20:56, 8 July 2011 (UTC)
You're never going to convince me that A 12 year old understands what viable means and I'm sick of hearing the excuse that an adult does not. since I misunderstood what it meant earlier (and I'm 51), or at least that's what someone else said! Viable means many things (e.g. "viable option"). But I think I agree with the gist of what you are saying. -- cheers, Michael C. Price talk 22:00, 8 July 2011 (UTC)
Agreed--that's what we have tried to do, but it's slipping backward piece by piece. I would certainly favor a return to 'viable', sand 'usually', because that's what the sources clearly say. JJL (talk) 03:52, 9 July 2011 (UTC)

This article begins by addressing abortion as a biological event related to pregnancy. The article narrows down to human abortion, and even moreso to induced abortion. IN the begininng, when the basic definition mentions life, everyone needs to step back and remember that the definition is not species-specific, and is not even a medical definition. This is a biological, veterinary, and medical definition - and even goes beyond that. All biological, veterinary, and medical resources agree:

  • A pregnancy initially requires a living horse/pig/human embryo/fetus inside of a female horse/pig/human (normally within a uterus).
  • The end of the pregnancy occurs when the horse/pig/human embryo/fetus exits the female horse/pig/human.
  • The horse/pig/human embryo/fetus can exit the female horse/pig/human either dead or alive.
  • If the horse/pig/human embryo/fetus exits the female horse/pig/human dead, it is an abortion (miscarriage, still birth, induced abortion).
  • If the horse/pig/human embryo/fetus exits the female horse/pig/human alive, it is live birth.

There are dozens of MED:RS that confirm this and have been cited repeatedly on this talk page since 2005. Please post citations of MED:RS that negate any of the above facts. (talk) 20:28, 8 July 2011 (UTC)

Hey, since you're back (and talking about "facts" again), could you go two threads up and answer my question about some other "facts" you've cited? Thanks. MastCell Talk 20:47, 8 July 2011 (UTC)
Right. Not human specific. Convenient. ArtifexMayhem (talk) 21:30, 8 July 2011 (UTC)
Give the IP a break. MastCell you don't give a toss if there is a stat. corresponding to what the IP stated. I know your type, keep pushing IPs around. "Wheres it say this?", "wheres it say that?". Then when you're shown you find something else wrong with it, or you just remain silent. Wise up and give the rest of us a break. Goes for other editors who are at that game too. DMSBel (talk) 21:56, 8 July 2011 (UTC)
Such cynicism, and from someone who was just recently criticizing my failure to assume good faith (see #15). I'm willing to let the IP spout whatever rhetoric he wants (clearly, the talk page guidelines were long since beaten into submission). But if he cites a "fact", then I'd like to know whether it's truly a fact. I'm old-fashioned like that. In the best case, the IP provides a source and I learn something. In a not-so-best case, I've at least given him a chance to correct a false statement, before I conclude that he doesn't give a damn about facts and should be ignored.

Incidentally, if you read WP:V (which, admittedly, not many do these days), it actually insists that we as editors ask "Where's it say this? Where's it say that?" But again, I'm old-fashioned. MastCell Talk 23:47, 8 July 2011 (UTC)

Apologies for my cynicism hopefully it has not advanced too far. Maybe you do in fact want a published stat. to confirm what the IP said. But we'd get a lot further in this discussion if we all would just acknowledge the sources we have, including the ones we don't particularly like are the ones that are probably going to be used for this article. Ruling out a respected medico-legal source would only impoverish the quality of sourcing generally across Wikipedia. Not having followed this discussion from earlier years I somewhat accepted at face value a un-informed comment or two earlier in the discussion regarding Gynaecology for Lawyers as not ranking well amongst authorative sources. Well if that is the way wikipedians rank sources, they have set the bar higher than pretty much every source currently in the article! Seriously. I have seen this before - editors saying in disdain in effect "That?! source" in regard to a source with very nearly impeccible credentials, simply because it confirms a particular POV they don't like. By all means we need to careful in regard to sources. But quite simply put, the problems with either Merriam/Webster, or Gynaecology for Lawyers, or some of the other sources given in support of "...caused by or resulting in its death" are more to do with the POVs of a few editors and nothing whatever to do with reliability of those sources. Having found out what a source says, you can't just then retort "I don't like it" WP:IDONTLIKEIT and you're right WP:V does not seem to be read by many these days. Could you tell me on you're reading of that if there is anything in the lede first sentence that is not verifiable, in a reliable source? (talk) 18:54, 9 July 2011 (UTC)
Give the IP a break? After four-months break time is over. ArtifexMayhem (talk) 00:35, 9 July 2011 (UTC)
Artifex, when you joined this discussion you made one of the best posts in the discussion at least in my time here. You didn't take sides, but you made it clear in your post we should not obfusicate the issue. There has been a lot of discussion in between (as well as before), but I think some of your basic comments still have some weight in the discussion. The IP has not been saying anything that is outside the scope of the medical profession's normative view in regard to the status of both fetus and mother as patients, or indeed that contradicts your first post here (as I understood it). Tendentious editing is one thing, but thats not what we have in the case of the IP, he simply wants acknowledgement of what is common knowledge in Medical practice.DMSBel (talk) 10:21, 9 July 2011 (UTC)
Thanks. However you should keep details of my posts in context. Early on there was a debate about when Life begins. The sources supplied didn't hold water so I rejected the argument, finally declaring "that dog won't hunt" (and it still won't). The argument as changed. Currently I'm looking for a policy or guideline and supporting argument that the consensus lede using death overrides the majority of medical texts that don't phrase it that way. The same rehtorical questions, requests for negating sources, claims the article is not medical, is not human specific, google word searches provided as sources, that this or that terminology is meely mouthed or euphemistic, the source doesn't talk about xyz, etc. repeated over the past month in the 398 [77][78][79] edits by the IP and 469 [80][81] edits by you are not helping me find a solution. Right now I see a simple issue of WP:MEDRS verses WP:CONSENSUS and WP:MEDRS is winning. I am listening but patience is not a death pact. - ArtifexMayhem (talk) 13:42, 9 July 2011 (UTC)
What I can't quite understand is why you are looking for policy arguments to remove verifiable and reliable source information. Do you think the silence in definitions of abortion indicates a agnosticism in the medical profession with regard to pre-birth life. It's strange how hard a few editors are trying to remove this. "...resulting in or caused by its death" comports with the sources we have. DMSBel (talk) 15:08, 9 July 2011 (UTC)
I see this all across WP--an editor finds one generally reasonable source that agrees with his viewpoint and insists it be given equal weight with the multitude that don't. I've seen numerous editors all over WP state things like "all verifiable information must be included in the article". The most annoying part of this discussion is that no one is saying that the less commonly occurring views can't be discussed further in the body of the article--just that they don't belong in the lede. It's a matter of the weight of sources. Since this is a definition, it isn't surprising that different authorities define and use it in different ways. But there's a strongly modal phrasing, and it's before it is viable. JJL (talk) 23:29, 9 July 2011 (UTC)
JJL, your spin fails yet again. There is a field of forensic pathology that conducts "post mortem" exams (aka "autopsies") of fetuses that were intentionally killed during induced feticide abortion procedures. Post mortem means "after death" - autopsies can only be performed on a fetus that died. Forensic pathology has as its main goal to understand what led to the subject cadaver's ill-health and death. There is another field of medicine that focuses on fetal therapy and fetal surgery, wherein the fetus is clearly treated as a living patient. Of course I don't expect any acknowledgment from you of these facts of life and death. But I am posting these facts for the record. (talk) 01:41, 10 July 2011 (UTC)
Leaving aside the OR/synthesis aspect of this: Why don't the physicians who write the textbooks know what you do? JJL (talk) 02:06, 10 July 2011 (UTC)
Which is the generally reasonable source you refer to? I have asked you JJL repeatedly about inclusion in lede and body of the article. About your specific objections, limits of your objections? You won't give a plain answer. The problem as I see it and as at least one other editor has noted, is that you have a cognitive bias. Now, I never took issue with the definition in all the time I have worked on this article. I have waited before acting on concern from other editors towards other aspects of the lede and sections, that I agree with. Basically because I know my own views on the matter, and I don't want them to bias my actions and some of the issues raised need broached carefully, and I need to do further reading at times. I see no way at all that a non-partisan medico-legal source could be advocacy. I asked you about this, but you backed away from the advocacy claim. I really am not sure how to convince you. Fallacy from silence meet fallacy from ignorance! And you are basically arguing it seems to me - no knowledge without consensus, which is altogether back to front. You seem to also be putting epistemology before ontology. DMSBel (talk) 14:03, 10 July 2011 (UTC)
Are you arguing that lawyers aren't advocates? JJL (talk) 16:18, 10 July 2011 (UTC)
I wondered if you'd try that little trick with words. To late, you had about three opportunities to say what you meant by advocacy. Each time you backed away. Whats concerning is that you know you are playing games, and you know that the lede has consensus with "death" in it, and you know that you are wasting editors time, and that you are on a mission. Do you think no-one else sees this? Take my word for it they do. And you know what, you'll have a topic block soon if you keep this up. DMSBel (talk) 19:21, 10 July 2011 (UTC)
What do we actually know today, that eclipses what experts in embryology told us 50 years ago? And it better be relevant to the issue of when life begins. DMSBel (talk) 15:30, 10 July 2011 (UTC)
Your argument rests on 50 year old science, despite all the up-to-date references that have been provided? What we know is that what once may have seemed very simple to some is much more complex than first thought. (This is not to say that I agree with your assumptions about what was widely believed 50 years ago.) That is, I presume, one reason why so many sources avoid such unsettled and complicated issues. JJL (talk) 16:18, 10 July 2011 (UTC)
It simple JJL, things don't move out of the domain of knowledge like that. Belief was not needed to know this 50 years ago. What was knowledge then is knowledge now. I am not going to keep arguing with you. Stop changing the lede to the version that there is no consensus for. DMSBel (talk) 18:19, 10 July 2011 (UTC)

Dispute resolution noticeboard

Hi all. I believe that the admin noticeboard is probably the wrong place to get outside input on the matter. Accordingly, I have left a message on the Dispute resolution noticeboard. All editors here are invited to take a look at the post there and comment if they see fit. NW (Talk) 13:17, 28 June 2011 (UTC)

Getting some measure of help would be good. At this point, esp. as the IP SPA accounts continue to be blocked, I'm comfortable saying that those favoring 'viable' sufficiently outnumber those favoring 'death' that the 'viable' form of the lede is what we should be going with as we continue the discussion. JJL (talk) 13:40, 28 June 2011 (UTC)
I didn't want them to resolve the dispute. I wanted to understand if Wikipedia is now a democracy, JJL here again maintains it is. I thought JJL was misinformed; if shown otherwise I will change Wikipedia policy to suit. Careful what you wish for. - RoyBoy 03:08, 5 July 2011 (UTC)
To date, wp:NOT#DEMOCRACY has not been disposed of. LeadSongDog come howl! 20:28, 6 July 2011 (UTC)
That's my understanding. Apparently "consensus can change" means you can push ahead with selective enforcement of policy, contrary to policy! Love it. - RoyBoy 23:54, 6 July 2011 (UTC)
Bearing in mind that when the matter was first brought up new editors were repeatedly informed that the 2006 consensus was perfect and could not be changed, it's amusing to see you raising this defense when on the other side. JJL (talk) 04:25, 7 July 2011 (UTC)
LOLz... so immature and impatient. @NW: I seriously question your admin credentials being on side with JJL, you are suppose to check (slow down) inexperienced people wading into topics out of their depth; in your defense you're too involved to have perspective. @both of you: You didn't check the previous consensus in any serious way, you go ahead and change the consensus because you didn't like it. So yes, we repeatedly tell you there is little new you are bringing to the table apart from being unfamiliar with consensus and how Wikipedia actually works. Expected for JJL, not for others.
@JJL: Compromise is rarely perfect, I presume you are aware compromise was key from my posts above? "other side"? Are you under the impression we need to convince you or your ilk (kind) of anything at this point. Fortunately my amusement is more informed than yours. The lead may remain changed, but it'll be from a process much better than a quick straw poll after a "I JJL (therefore everyone) can't figure out if the fetus is alive/personhood begins/organism or whatever the next word is that lets me continue to pretend I'm exploring an issue I already made up my mind on" ... fiasco. You remember that, it was awful for lots of people at talk:abortion -- lets say -- who been here more than a year. *British heckling on* Shame! SHAME! *British heckling off* - RoyBoy 00:52, 8 July 2011 (UTC)
If you are unable to have discussions on this Talk page without disparaging and attacking other editors, I suggest you take a break. Otherwise, it's going to be you that finds out about certain Wikipedia policies that you are ignoring. Dave Dial (talk) 02:08, 8 July 2011 (UTC)
Disparaging and attacking, where's that? Or are you skipping over multiple missteps in policy, procedure, courtesy, philosophy, biology, evolution, reality, English language etc etc. A break is good advice, you should take a break from being blind to context, lest you think my comments vindictive -- rather than observational. If I'd written only the first paragraph you'd have a point I suppose. So DD2K, what would you call editors that push an edit through in weeks that contravenes a consensus that's existed for years and has been defended many times and in many ways? So long as they are civil (in your eyes) that's what counts? Have something to contribute or find another article you can positively effect, because it appears Abortion won't be your cup of tea presently. - RoyBoy 07:14, 10 July 2011 (UTC)
It's amazing to me how attached many of the older editors here are to their consensus. You're reacting like people are trying to steal your pension fund. Remember WP:MERCILESS? The old consensus may have been the best agreement the group of you were able to get but it wasn't the best possible. You have to be willing to relax your grip and let the article be edited. Courtesy is your argument? I certainly think you (plural) could stand to shine that light on yourselves. Reality? Apparently you know the WP:TRUTH better than I do? This is a weak defense. The sources are aligned against your position--overwhelmingly so. That's the reality. JJL (talk) 16:12, 10 July 2011 (UTC)
I've added "medically defined" to the viable version of the lead, I'm not warring to maintain the "one and only true version". Medical texts do not burden themselves with the legal variability of viability, and they define viable according to their best practice. We should avoid technical language when possible, as we aren't defining a best surgical practice, but rather a topic that encompasses hospitals and war torn jungles. - RoyBoy 02:32, 11 July 2011 (UTC)

Numbered Collection of Definitions

This section is reserved exclusively for a running list of abortion definitions following the format used for #1 with comments in the section that follows labeled "Comments on each Numbered Definition". Please ensure any definition you leave is NOT signed, as the list is designed to be an objective neutral list. I will be housekeeping this section for compliance with the format guidelines that I have outlined here. Please do not leave any comments of any kind in this section (just definitions). (talk) 17:11, 9 July 2011 (UTC)

  • 1. Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, Eleventh Edition, 2008. abortion: 1. the termination of a pregnancy after, accompanied by, resulting in, or closely followed by the death of the embryo or fetus: as (a) : spontaneous expulsion of a human fetus during the first 12 weeks of gestation — compare miscarriage (b) : induced expulsion of a human fetus (c) : expulsion of a fetus by a domestic animal often due to infection at any time before completion of pregnancy.
  • 2. Merriam-Webster's Medical Dictionary, 2005 (also used as the "MedlinePlus" online dictionary by the U.S. National Library of Medicine, a division of the National Institutes for Health). abortion: 1. the termination of a pregnancy after, accompanied by, resulting in, or closely followed by the death of the embryo or fetus: as (a) : spontaneous expulsion of a human fetus during the first 12 weeks of gestation — compare miscarriage (b) : induced expulsion of a human fetus (c) : expulsion of a fetus by a domestic animal often due to infection at any time before completion of pregnancy.
  • 3. Merriam-Webster's Legal Dictionary, 1996 (also used as the online legal dictionary by "FindLaw For Legal Professionals", a Thomson Reuters website). abortion: 1. the termination of a pregnancy after, accompanied by, resulting in, or closely followed by the death of the embryo or fetus; esp. : the medical procedure of inducing expulsion of a human fetus to terminate a pregnancy.
  • 4. Oxford World Dictionary, 2010. abortion: 1. the deliberate termination of a human pregnancy, most often performed during the first 28 weeks: the expulsion of a fetus from the womb by natural causes before it is able to survive independently.
  • 5.MacMillan Dictionary, abortion: a medical operation in which a developing baby is removed from a woman’s body so that it is not born alive.
  • 6.Collins English learner’s dictionary, abortion: a medical operation in which a pregnancy is deliberately ended and the baby is not born alive.
  • 7.Cambridge University Dictionary of American English, abort: to end a pregnancy esp. by an operation before the baby is ready to be born.
  • 8.Webster's New World Collegiate Dictionary, abortion: any deliberate procedure that removes, or induces the expulsion of, a living or dead embryo or fetus

Comments on each Numbered Definition This section is reserved exclusively for a running list of comments following the format used for #1, in numerical order using the corresponding definition numbers from the section "Numbered Collection of Definitions". Please keep all comments for one definition together. I will be housekeeping this section.

  • 1. Plus: The only definition that applies to EVERY abortion, but does not incorrectly apply to any live births. Plus: Absolutely mainstream source. Could not be more mainstream, actually. Plus: Most popular US dictionary (best-selling and most relied upon). Plus: This publisher also uses the same definition in its medical dictionary and its legal dictionary - which means the definition has been vetted by professional editors of specialty dictionaries as appropriate in those specialty dictionaries, as well as in a lay dictionary. Plus: Dictionary recommended and relied upon by the Chicago Manual of Style, which is the bible for most US editors and publishers. (talk) 17:11, 9 July 2011 (UTC)
  • 2. Plus: The NIH trusts this medical dictionary as its online medical dictionary for MedlinePlus. Plus: Could not be more mainstream as a medical reference website. (talk) 18:05, 9 July 2011 (UTC)
  • 3. Plus: FindLaw For Legal Professionals and the consumer version of FindLaw trusts this as its online medical dictionary. Plus: Could not be more mainstream as a legal reference website. (talk) 18:05, 9 July 2011 (UTC)
  • 4. Minus: Definition includes every induced live birth. Plus: Does not make false claims about viability, properly applies to abortions after viability. Plus: Mainstream. Plus: Faulty (because it defines induced live births), but better then those definitions making false claims about viability. (talk) 18:27, 9 July 2011 (UTC)


STOP creating new sections. WP:TLDR. You're pissing everyone off and undermining your own position. -- cheers, Michael C. Price talk 20:11, 9 July 2011 (UTC)
We have an editor claiming that only one resource mentions death/destruction/life. I am documenting that such a claim is simply not true. I appreciate that some people don't want accurate information to inform the lead and so they will attack my style rather then my content - and I appreciate your caution. However, it will be useful to have all the definitions/sources to be in one place (and right now that place is not the article footnotes or notes section). Your tone is not civil, by the way - and your comment would be better at my IP talk page (as WP:TLDR suggests). I suppose I can be bad cop and you can be good cop if you think that will work - let me know. (talk) 20:35, 9 July 2011 (UTC)
Please listen to Michael. If it were up to me, you would have been prohibited from opening new threads a long time ago - what you're doing is completely counterproductive and has rendered this talkpage largely unusable. How about you stop creating new threads, and go back to finish up some of the discussions above? About 3 threads up, you made what I think is a false statement. I've asked you to support it several times now. Would you take someone seriously if they made apparently false statements and then ignored requests for clarification? MastCell Talk 23:34, 9 July 2011 (UTC)
Should we semiprotect the talk page? -- cheers, Michael C. Price talk 05:30, 10 July 2011 (UTC)
A list of dictionaries doesn't stack up well against the earlier lists of textbooks used by professionals to train professionals. Asking that they all be gathered back here again seems to me to be yet another stalling tactic. JJL (talk) 23:38, 9 July 2011 (UTC)
Your spin is tiresome. This is not a medical article. It is a broad article covering mostly non-medical aspects of abortion as a social/political/legal/philosophical phenomenon. Certainly the framing used by "textbooks used by professionals" is framing for professionals - but broad non-medical wikipedia articles (such as this one) are NOT written for that same purpose. In fact, the framing used by mainstream sources should carry more weight than that framing of medical textbooks. There is so much more that is wrong with your comment, but it has all been posted here by other editors in the past month and whenever this topic has been discussed on this talkpage since 2005. And it has frequently been abortion supporters who have been most eloquent at insisting that this article must not be censored and must be factual and candid and void of euphemism and squishy walking on eggshells terminology. (talk)

Stop the horseshit about opening new sections. People open new sections on talk pages. Just stop the whining. And I will answer questions as I see fit; when all other questions above (that several editors have consistently dodged) are answered to my satisfaction, I will consider addressing questions others have of me. The content of the article does not hinge on the nit you wish to pick, anyway. The bottom line is that viable fetuses are aborted every year by the tens of thousands. A tiny fraction of viable-fetus abortions are to prevent death or serious injury to mother or to a seriously deformed/diseased fetus. In fact, most of them in the west are late- choice birth control, and in Asia most of them are sex selection abortions that are performed to kill females fetuses. This is all unassailable fact which has been verified repeatedly on this talk page with no acknowledgment by most of the "viable" crowd. (talk) 01:10, 10 July 2011 (UTC)

Maybe you're right. Death might not be so bad. There is still a lot of good stuff we can cover. You make a good point on the numbers... I think we do around ~3,700 a day in the US, that should have some good positives right? Good for the economy, jobs, taxes and such. Yeah. Here I was thinking abortion just wouldn't be any fun with death in the lede and that if we could just gloss over that the topic would be back to its old self. ArtifexMayhem (talk) 02:14, 10 July 2011 (UTC)
Of course, we shouldn't speak so plainly about X because X is such a widely practiced and universally accepted thing. (talk) 09:40, 10 July 2011 (UTC)
  • Caterpillar: Recite.
  • Alice: Oh. Yes sir. How doth the little bumblebee improve each...
  • Caterpillar: Stop. That is not spoken correctically. It goes: How doth the little crocodile improve his shining tail. And pour the waters of the Nile, on every golden scale. How cheerfully he seems to grin, how neatly spreads his claws. And welcomes little fishes in, with gently smiling jaws.
  • Alice: Well, I must say, I've never heard it that way before.
  • Caterpillar: I know. I have improoooved it.

Gandydancer (talk) 02:29, 10 July 2011 (UTC)

  • Alice = Science.
  • Caterpillar = Euphemism. (talk) 09:24, 10 July 2011 (UTC) Gandydancer (talk) 14:22, 10 July 2011 (UTC)

"An abortion (i) terminates a pregnancy, ending the physical dependency relationship the fetus has to the mother, and (ii) terminates the life of the fetus, ending both its present functions as an organism and its ongoing development into a more complex one."

  • Source: Abortion and the Death of the Fetus, Steven l. Ross, Philosophy & Public Affairs, Vol. 11, No. 3, Summer, 1982 (cited 19 times by other authors)
  • (talk) 06:03, 11 July 2011 (UTC)

I believe that the Porky Pig rendition was a great improvement of the Bing Crosby version. Of course, to each his own. Gandydancer (talk) 11:31, 11 July 2011 (UTC)

Note to uninvolved administrators

Why do you just sit around and do nothing when edit-warriors change longstanding material in this article without consensus? If you do nothing, then the only recourse seems to be for competent editors to continually use 1RR to restore the consensus version via a slow-motion edit-war. Right?Anythingyouwant (talk) 21:12, 10 July 2011 (UTC)

Agree. This is an endless slow-motion edit war between entrenched users on both sides. NYyankees51 (talk) 22:07, 10 July 2011 (UTC)
I don't accept that reverting to the earlier consensus is edit-waring, when no new consensus is established. DMSBel (talk) 22:38, 10 July 2011 (UTC)
Verb conjugation 101:
  • I am a competent editor continually using 1RR to restore the consensus version.
  • You are an edit-warrior changing longstanding material without consensus.
To an uninvolved admin, all of you look like querulous individuals shouting at the top of your lungs with your fingers firmly plugged into your ears. All the more so when you pretend there's a "consensus" version in the face of an obvious lack of consensus. I don't think your claims to the moral high ground are as self-evident as you think they are, which is probably why no uninvolved admins have stepped in to act as you want. MastCell Talk 03:31, 11 July 2011 (UTC)
What was that all about?DMSBel (talk) 08:41, 11 July 2011 (UTC)
MastCell, you seriously believe there is consensus to insert "viable" in the lead's first sentence, which has consistently excluded that word for years? Perhaps no uninvolved admin has stepped in to sanction us "querulous" folk because such an assertion on your part (that you are defending consensus) is not credible.Anythingyouwant (talk) 03:48, 11 July 2011 (UTC)
Anythingyouwant, stop making stuff up. MastCell never said there is consensus to insert "viable" in the lead's first sentence. You're just confirming what MastCell said. -- cheers, Michael C. Price talk 07:09, 11 July 2011 (UTC)
I support changing the lead sentence to what it said for years (including the word "death") until there is consensus how to change it (e.g. consensus to change it to something like "demise"). MastCell apparently views such an opinion as "querulous", for reasons that I don't understand; he claims to be "continually using 1RR to restore the consensus version" but he has not argued or acted to restore the longstanding consensus version of the lead sentence pending formation of a new consensus about how to change that longstanding version. So, MastCell's participation here seems disruptive, throwing around accusations of querulousness while criticizing others for doing what he claims to be doing himself. Please correct me if I'm mistaken. Changing the lead sentence from the longstanding version, without consensus how to do so, means simply that this article will be formed by bullying and warring instead of rational discussion.Anythingyouwant (talk) 15:07, 11 July 2011 (UTC)

On balance

We don't seem to be making much headway in seeing editors writing for the other side. One particularly blatant case is the above list of unlinked references, which 74...81 has prepared listing only those he considers to support one side, "the avalanche" as he puts it. I would challenge him to either prepare the corresponding list as a demonstration of good faith or support someone else in doing so. LeadSongDog come howl! 18:49, 11 July 2011 (UTC)

I wasn't aware the writing for the opposition exercise was still on-going, there was not a lot of participation earlier, its also rather difficult to do when editors are not sure what other editors position is. But to be fair we are into a RFC (rather late but better than not having one and continuing to argue) and two proposals have been suggested for consideration. I think in hindsight we might have been better to set up two versions of the lede first sentence (or maybe even the first two sentences if that would not be too much) for consideration, but as it only occured to me after the RFC started I am as much to blame for not thinking of it sooner. I do think presenting the choice as one of "...before it is viable" versus "...caused by or resulting in its death" risks polarising positions too much. I am going to take a look at how discussion on this was conducted back in 2006, I am sure there is something to be learned. Both phrases are descriptive of the state of affairs in for instance the case of a spontaneous abortion of 6 week old fetus. Does that make sense? DMSBel (talk) 21:39, 11 July 2011 (UTC)
After further reflection: Perhaps there might be a way out of the impasse via another route. Instead of a footnote on definitions of abortion, have a footnote about death and what dies, but retain the word in the lede? DMSBel (talk) 22:34, 11 July 2011 (UTC)
By all means, I heartily support someone else in doing so. What makes you think I didn't? I want editors to have a plentiful and wide array of information. In fact, I actually invited people to post definitions a few sections above and no one supported me in that effort. I applaud your support for me and all the editors who want to have a wealth of WP:RS inform this article. Thank you! (talk) 18:57, 11 July 2011 (UTC)
I'm glad to hear that, though I had hoped you would actually engage in preparing an NPOV listing. Do I take it from the above reply that the two IPs (74...81 and 71...238) are both the same user? LeadSongDog come howl! 19:34, 11 July 2011 (UTC)
Editing anonymously is certainly fair game. Doing so in order to deceive would not be. See wp:IPSOCK. I have no wish to know who you are, but if one uses multiple identities in editing the same topic, particularly a contentious one, one is required to be clear about doing that as a simple matter of honesty with one's fellow editors.
I am not moving the goalposts. I am encouraging editors to be the best contributors they can, which is to say ones who strive to fairly balance their contributions. I hope you will actively participate on both sides, as equally as you are able.
The new section was because the subject changed. See wp:TPG for explanation.LeadSongDog come howl! 20:06, 11 July 2011 (UTC)
You are infering something which is not the case. I posed a question at 18:49 above to user 74..., to which you replied as user 71... Either you were replying as the same person at a different IP or you were not. You should simply clarify that so I know if 74... has answered the question, and then we can move along. LeadSongDog come howl! 21:23, 11 July 2011 (UTC)
Is this editor also Gandydancer (talk) 22:48, 11 July 2011 (UTC)
Presumably, yes, since all of these IPs are registered to Embarq Corporation. Leaving aside the rather... distinctive style of this editor's posts, it's probably reasonable to treat IP editors with that registration as a single editor. Since the editor has had several IP's blocked, the question of evading scrutiny arguably arises, but it's probably not worth pressing since it's fairly easy to associate the IPs. If you're in doubt, you can run a WHOIS on the IP, either at the IP talk page or with standard online tools. MastCell Talk 23:26, 11 July 2011 (UTC)
I am not sure these are the same editor, two computers in different locales would result in two IPs. Of course that could be one editor at work or a library then at home. I think most people know my own IP at least I sometimes sign my posts with both User:DMSBel and my IP if I have forgotten to login. My IP is and I'm in the UK. IP 71... was replying to MastCell and his earlier remark. Beyond that I have no idea if it is the same editor. Assume bad faith and a lot of editors can look alike at times!! How do we know the editor has had several IPs blocked when we don't know for sure this is one editor? And EMBARQ is an exchange carrier serving 18 US States! Doesn't really narrow it down much! Have you run a WHOIS? DMSBel (talk) 23:44, 11 July 2011 (UTC)
Two Embarq IPs editing, with identical POV and text style, one while the other was blocked. That's block evasion. Guy (Help!) 19:31, 13 July 2011 (UTC)
Ah! But only if he/she were legitimately blocked, and had done something wrong first of all. Not sure I could say I saw a any similiarity in text style. Disagreement is not disruption. Using two computers is not doing anything wrong. POV or not the IP made a valuable contrib to the sourcing. Poor Block. DMSBel (talk) 01:18, 14 July 2011 (UTC)
The sheer volume of edits and text can be seen as tendentious editing. Continuing with the discussion despite an announced block is evasion, the details become moot at that point. While not required by any means, when there is an extensive discussion ongoing, it becomes more important to have attribution with user accounts to PointsOV. - RoyBoy 21:29, 16 July 2011 (UTC)


The WP:RS that editors have cited confirm several things, which are not actually in opposition to one another but seem to be needlessly confusing the discussion because they are not being addressed as a whole, but rather as individual elements. This is an attempt to walk through these issues and then propose a lead sentence that factors them in and gives the most significant ones due weight.

  • 1. Spontaneous Abortion always involves a non-viable fetus.
  • 2. Induced Abortion usually involves a non-viable fetus, but sometimes involves a viable fetus.
        • Background (this is offered to explain why there is so much confusion among our pool of editors, not as proof of anything): Until the last 4 decades, the primary meaning of abortion was the spontaneous kind. Thus, the traditional standard definition of the naked word "abortion" included "before viability" because it always referred to miscarriage. At the same time, English speakers would often use "illegal abortion" if they meant "induced abortion", and we can see remnants of that in some dictionary/encyclopedia definitions. Of course, now this has reversed, and the naked word "abortion" normally means induced abortion. Meanwhile, even as abortion was legalized, the definitions for abortion continued to refer to "viability" because until recently, it was typically illegal to abort a viable fetus. Such definitions could give a broad definition that encompassed spontaneous and induced abortion because in both cases the fetus was not viable (and assuming these definitions did not attempt to define a then-illegal post-viability abortion). Some of the problem we have today is that the laws have changed and some definitions contain archaic formulations that used to be true, but which have been superseded as the medical profession and the law have embraced late term abortion as a licit procedure.
  • 3. "Before viability" and "not viable" are not necessarily the same thing: a fetus of viable age can be spontaneously expelled (thus naturally not viable), and a viable fetus can be rendered non-viable via induced feticide.
  • 4. Abortion always involves the death of a fetus/embryo. Spontaneous death can trigger a spontaneous abortion. And an induced abortion can begin with an induced feticide. Often the fetus is literally dismembered as it is removed from the uterus piece by piece, which of course kills the fetus. This is basic modern medicine. In any event, a pregnancy either continues to develop and results in live birth, or else a pregnancy does not continue to develop and the fetus stops developing and dies and exits the uterus. Sometimes these events are spontaneous and sometimes they are induced. But in every pregnancy, the fetus either lives and is born, or dies and is an abortion. The word death as used in obstetrics, fetology or biology does NOT confer personhood status to the fetus. Post mortems {autopsies) are conducted on fetuses from induced abortions; such exams are only done on dead bodies, but this also does not confer personhood status. The use of the pronoun "it" is indicative that the death involved is not being afforded the weight given to a person, as a person would be referred to as "him or her".
  • 5. Pregnancy very often terminates in live birth. "Termination of pregnancy" is not limited to induced or spontaneous abortion.
  • 6. Pregnancy does not always terminate when a fetus is aborted. This is becoming more and more common as women carrying multiple fetuses will frequently abort one or more of them in order to increase the chances that the surviving fetus will be healthy.

The following definition factors in these objective facts, and I invite people to state precisely what they think is good or bad about it:

Abortion is termination of gestation by the removal or expulsion from the uterus of a fetus or embryo, caused by or resulting in its death, typically when it is not viable. (talk) 22:42, 11 July 2011 (UTC)

Another version: Abortion is a gestation that results in a dead fetus; typically an abortion involves a non-viable fetus and ends a pregnancy. (talk) 00:35, 12 July 2011 (UTC)

I support your first version. The second version's wording is a bit ambiguous: "typicaly an abortion... ends a pregnancy". So sometimes the woman is still pregnant after the abortion?--EdwardZhao (talk) 14:16, 12 July 2011 (UTC)

Nevermind, read #6. Still, I prefer the first one.--EdwardZhao (talk) 14:18, 12 July 2011 (UTC)
Can you clarify, what is "first one" and why the preference? Thanks. - RoyBoy 21:36, 16 July 2011 (UTC)

Give readers the full picture

The first sentence of the article is important, so it's worthwhile getting it right. Instead of fighting about which set of reliable sources to use, why not just give to the readers a full picture, without trying to filter it for them?

From 2006 to 2011 the lead sentence said: "Abortion is the termination of a pregnancy by the removal or expulsion of a fetus or embryo from the uterus, caused by or resulting in its death." I propose changing it to: "Abortion is the intentional or unintentional loss of a pregnancy, although some sources do not characterize such a loss as an abortion if the fetus was viable, i.e. sufficiently developed to have survived after birth." ""Abortion is the induced or spontaneous loss of a pregnancy, although abortion may be distinguished from loss of a fetus that was sufficiently developed to have survived after birth."

  • Support as proposer. Please do not install this sentence without consensus to change the 2006-2011 version (including consensus how to change it)..Anythingyouwant (talk) 15:57, 12 July 2011 (UTC)
  • Neutral it might be possible to work with this...I am open-minded. It reads a bit awkwardly as phrased. Would a link to Fetal viability be enough to replace the "i.e...." part? JJL (talk) 16:56, 12 July 2011 (UTC)
    • The first sentence probably should be self-explanatory, without making the reader go somewhere else to figure out what the heck it means. But, maybe we could use a piped link: "Abortion is the intentional or unintentional loss of a pregnancy, although some sources do not characterize such a loss as an abortion if the fetus was sufficiently developed to have survived after birth."Anythingyouwant (talk) 17:05, 12 July 2011 (UTC)
  • Needs workAcceptable. Unless there's a third option, "intentional or unintentional" adds no semantic value to the statement. I would either just delete the clause or else, if the desired is to enumerate the possibilities, say it plainly as "induced or spontaneous". I would prefer just deleting the clause. Similarly, rather than pronounce on "viability", I think we should exercise similar wisdom, perhaps along the lines of "although [some/many/a few/certain] [sources/authorities/jurisdictions] distinguish abortion from loss of a fetus which was was sufficiently developed to have survived after birth." LeadSongDog come howl! 17:27, 12 July 2011 (UTC)
    • Done. Without "induced" it sounds very passive.Anythingyouwant (talk) 17:45, 12 July 2011 (UTC)
      • Much better. Of course Abortion should be bolded. Might also want to wikilink induced and spontaneous, or that could be left for later in the lede.LeadSongDog come howl! 18:14, 12 July 2011 (UTC)
        • Now preferable to the earlier non-consensus-"consensus" versions, despite minor residual issues.LeadSongDog come howl! 21:43, 12 July 2011 (UTC)
  • Needs work. Leaves open the question of what the termination of a viable fetus is called by these sources. Also a bit long winded. Is not "Abortion is the loss of a pregnancy or just the loss of a fetus that was sufficiently developed to have survived after birth." semantically equivalent? Never a fan of padding such as "characterised". -- cheers, Michael C. Price talk 18:01, 12 July 2011 (UTC)
    • "Characterised" is already gone. Would you prefer to formulate an explicit distinction of feticide? LeadSongDog come howl! 18:14, 12 July 2011 (UTC)
      • Fetal death and stillbirth can all occur after viability (or before viability) without feticide (which likewise can occur before or after viability).Anythingyouwant (talk) 18:22, 12 July 2011 (UTC)
  • Support I find it concise and well-worded without being overly vague. It is far better than the preceding alternatives, or the crossed-out text. As noted, what constitutes "viable" is left open. It might be better to explicitly state what it is distinguished from (i.e. miscarriage or stillbirth) in a subordinate clause or omit it entirely. DigitalHoodoo (talk) 18:09, 12 July 2011 (UTC)
  • Support. Giving readers the whole picture is indeed a good idea. Well written.--EdwardZhao (talk) 18:19, 12 July 2011 (UTC)
  • Support give readers the whole picture. However "...loss of a pregnancy..." is not the best phraseology, it seems to my mind to assume non-intentionality, which is fine in reference to spontaneous abortion, but not induced. It might perhaps be better not to define Abortion primarily in reference to pregnancy, but rather termination of pregnancy as the result of an abortion which is the expulsion or removal of the embryo/fetus from the womb/uterus, either spontaneous (Miscarriage), or artificially induced. Reference to viability is not necessary to a formal definition, which is why there was nothing strictly wrong with the earlier version (of 8 June 2011). What I find more objectionable is the manner in which advancing a new consensus has been undertaken. How for instance will any new consensus withstand a simple majority vote to overturn it?. If that is how a new consensus is established what is to stop us having this same discussion 2 months from now? Issues with the lede should be addressed but not by ignoring previous discussion. DMSBel (talk) 19:40, 12 July 2011 (UTC)
    • Doesn't anyone actually remember having read wp:CONSENSUS anymore? Votes have little to nothing to do with it. A workable result should so far as possible address all cogently expressed policy based issues.LeadSongDog come howl! 01:45, 13 July 2011 (UTC)
Good point, I agree re. votes per se. However I didn't ask for a vote, but a RFC. An interesting issue arose (re internet filters/bubbles). Also no one is proposing a version of lede first sentence (LFS from now on in my posts) be based on the result of this in isolation. It is a way of facilitating discussion. Things do tend to turn into votes on wikipedia rather easily. Perhaps you will revert to previous consensus once protection is lifted, addressing the policy based issue of a non-consensus (straw poll based) version of the LFS. A {disputed - discuss} inline tag should have been added before protection too. User:DMSBel (talk) 10:33, 13 July 2011 (UTC)
I don't see that happening, as the revert cycle is pointless at this stage, now that we're actually talking. I'll continue trying to find a wording on which we can agree here on the talkpage instead. As to adding that tag, it just sounds like a way to get wp:Too many cooks. Let's try and keep our eyes on the ball. LeadSongDog come howl! 15:09, 13 July 2011 (UTC)
  • Needs work. The sentence says that abortion "may be distinguished from" termination of a viable fetus, but doesn't say how. It just leaves the reader hanging without an explanation. Is this referring to stillbirth, miscarriage, infanticide? And why does it say "may be"? Are there cases where it is not distinguished? What's wrong with the current wording which seems more clear and concise: "Abortion is ... the termination of a pregnancy ... before it is viable." Kaldari (talk) 20:18, 12 July 2011 (UTC)
    • Yes, there are many cases where it is not distinguished. For example, the Roe v. Wade decision stated: "After viability, the State may regulate, and even prohibit, abortion...." That's inconsistent with the present edit-locked lead sentence, which is the result of edit-warring more than anything else. Numerous reliable sources define and use the term "abortion" with reference to abortions both before and after viability (e.g. see sources cited in the preceding RFC). Yes, lead sentences often leave unanswered questions, and the rest of the article can help answer them. In fact, the more inquisitive a lead sentence makes the reader, the better the lead sentence is, I think. Anyway, the present edit-locked lead sentence also leaves the reader wondering what to call fetal loss after viability, right?Anythingyouwant (talk) 20:33, 12 July 2011 (UTC)
I agree with Anythingyouwant. Basically my view is that we are not restricted to a one sentence definition, and that an extended defn. will serve the reader better. The lede has to introduce and disambiguate. Initially between spontaneous and induced then further in disambiguation of induced (elective without therapeutic factors / elective with therapeutic factors). Neither expulsion/removal of the fetus from the uterus, nor termination of pregnancy is abortion, any definition has to include the sine qua non which differentiates an abortion from a delivery/live birth, and that is fetal death. DMSBel (talk) 23:44, 12 July 2011 (UTC)
So why is this section titled "Give readers the full picture" if you're wanting to give them a confusing partial picture? If we're not going to explain the distinction until later in the article, why are we mentioning it in the lead at all? Why not "Abortion is the induced or spontaneous loss of a pregnancy, caused by or resulting in the death of the fetus."? Kaldari (talk) 18:58, 13 July 2011 (UTC)
Me? I did not start the section. I have no problem, except with "loss", with that as a basic defn. It seems straightforward. But I wasn't arguing there was anything wrong with the earlier lede with the wording "...caused or resulting in its death". What I was saying but perhaps did not make clear enough is that expulsion or removal of the fetus in itself is not the sine qua non not that it was never part of an abortion. Loss of pregnancy might end in resorption of the embryo I am told. So spontaneous abortion sometimes ends in fetal death and resorption. Both delivery and abortion involve the expulsion or removal of the fetus from the womb. Both delivery and abortion bring the pregnancy to an end - a woman is no longer pregnant after she gives birth. Only abortion results in or is caused by the death of the fetus. To my knowledge nobody was saying the lede doesn't mention resorption. Nobody had a issue with that. "...caused by or resulting in its death" is logically contingent and therefore has to be part of the definition. Right? DMSBel (talk) 23:00, 13 July 2011 (UTC)
The article has to start with something, and our house style puts the article's topic in that place. We can and should adopt the middle ground so this article can move ahead instead of remaining perpetually debating one sentence. The first sentence is not the entire lede. A subsequent sentence, even one within the lede, can serve to invite the reader into more detailled discussion in the article body. How about we start a separate discussion of what such a "subsequent lede part" might need to address so that it doesn't muddle the initial sentence discussion?LeadSongDog come howl! 20:59, 13 July 2011 (UTC)
Perhaps it would help if someone explained what two sides we're trying to find the "middle ground" for. Sorry I haven't been following the full debate previously. Kaldari (talk) 21:16, 13 July 2011 (UTC)
@Kaldari. You asked why not "Abortion is the induced or spontaneous loss of a pregnancy, caused by or resulting in the death of the fetus."? That would be fine with me, except that many editors seem to want the lead sentence to mention that there is no such thing as abortion after viability. I emphatically do not want to give anyone a confusing or partial picture. Sometimes a word has more than one meaning. Hence dictionaries often list more than one meaning for a single word. Outside the medical profession, the word "abortion" is often used without regard to whether the fetus is viable (which is how you seem to be using the word "abortion" Kaldari). The current edit-locked lead is entirely partial to the technical viability-related medical definition, and is frequently disregarded even in medical literature, which often discusses "late term abortion" after viability. Medical definitions are sometimes revised for non-medical reasons; e.g. see Beginning of pregnancy controversy for a definitional change to make the word "abortion" apply to fewer procedures. In any event, the partial and confusing thing to do here would be to exclude and demote the definition used in the legal profession and in the layman's context. I would have no objection if you want to explain later in the article which contexts favor the pre-viability limitation, and also no objection to inserting your proposed lead sentence. I do not know why the lead sentence now mentions that viability limitation without explaining anywhere in the article why that definitional limitation was adopted, or by whom, or when. Anythingyouwant (talk) 22:20, 13 July 2011 (UTC)
With regards to your last statement: Do you have sources that talk about that issue? I can give you an answer if you want, but I would be talking out of my ass. So would, I suspect, basically everyone else here. NW (Talk) 20:33, 14 July 2011
I said, "I do not know why the lead sentence now mentions that viability limitation without explaining anywhere in the article why that definitional limitation was adopted, or by whom, or when." In other words, if this viability-definition-of-abortion were really so notable or prominent as to completely eclipse every other definition of the word "abortion", wouldn't you be able to cite a source that explains the rationale for it? For example, why make the Roe v. Wade decision's use of the word "abortion" sound like ignorant gibberish, without referring to any sources that explain why doing so is important or desirable? Or explaining why the usual definition in non-medical sources is undesirable, or explaining why all of the medical sources that discuss late term abortions (after viability) are somehow incorrect when they use the word "abortion"? Why are some editors insisting that this article take such a narrow approach when we can instead be more inclusive and informative? No one has cited any sources that explain why, nor does this article explain anywhere what the various words are that we're supposed to use for fetal loss after viability (e.g. stillbirth versus feticide, et cetera). People seem to want to just jam this word "viable" into the lead sentence of the article without being able to explain in the article why the longstanding definition is no longer politically correct and should be discarded.Anythingyouwant (talk) 21:07, 14 July 2011 (UTC)

Our anonymous friend

Due to persistent and wilful block evasion our anonymous friend may consider himself banned. This page is semiprotected for one week and that can be reimposed as necessary, or anyone here is free to revert on sight edits by the anon after semiprotection expires. Guy (Help!) 19:25, 13 July 2011 (UTC)

I was about to post this, before Guy made his post above, and deleted content from the page. I don't see anyone questioning his (NWs) integrity. However viability simply has no bearing on a definition of abortion, because abortions are performed well into viability, as well as before. I am rather surprised some editors do not grasp this. You can define abortion without reference to viability at all. It has absolutely nothing to do with numbers or percentages before and after when we are talking about a definition. The only thing that can prevent someone from understanding this is a cognitive bias of some sort. When it comes to the actual article, numbers/ percentages etc have a place. The procedure which results in the termination of a pregnancy and, to use Williams Obstetrics definition: "..destroys a fetus", is an abortion at any stage of pregnancy, first, second, third trimester. If fetal death was not induced in advance, or a result of the procedure of removal, the fetus would still be alive. For thought: consider that medicine has moved away from a cardio-respiratory diagnosis of death to a neuro-centric one. Does that indicate life is currently associated with brain activity rather than heart beat or breathing? DMSBel (talk) 19:43, 13 July 2011 (UTC)
People are entirely welcome to discuss things here and come to whatever decision they please, but the anon has forfeit his right to have his voice heard due to the disruptive way he has conducted himself, followed by serial block-evasion. Frankly, his input had pretty much descended to trolling anyway - "anything as long as it says <red>DEATH</red>. Guy (Help!) 20:54, 13 July 2011 (UTC)
Posting comments and sources is being disruptive? How exactly? DMSBel (talk) 01:12, 14 July 2011 (UTC)
So we have two, maybe three IPs arguing along the same line as several editors here. And those IPs are connected through EMBARQ. That means across 18 US States, there are at least 3 people with the same view regarding fetal life, and abortion. Shock! How did they escape. Do they not have a television? Do they not read newspapers? Yikes, what else do they know! Wikipedia Hive Mind Status Yellow: Unassimilatable editors blocked. Returning to normal function! DMSBel (talk) 21:52, 13 July 2011 (UTC)
These are clearly IPs belonging to one editor. Aside from the shared ISP, the content/tone of their posts is consistent and unmistakable. There's both a policy basis and established precedent to treat these as a single editor, and to be honest, I think anyone arguing otherwise is really grasping at straws. MastCell Talk 23:25, 13 July 2011 (UTC)
There is an established precedent to treat these as a single editor? No there isn't! You ran a WHOIS I take it? Has any of the IPs stated the other IPs are different editors? If not then they have not evaded scrutiny, or been deceptive. If they have it still has to be proven it is not two different editors. That takes a lot more evidence than "they sound the same to me" or "they both use EMBARQ". There is nothing wrong with logging in under more than one IP. You can't be blocked for using two computers. Its not a crime. If this is one editor why should they tell you or me they use two different IPs? Perphaps if it is one editor they think its obvious and there is no need to even say. I think its better to say of course. But deception means more than just using two accounts. It means saying another account is not yours when it is. DMSBel (talk) 00:29, 14 July 2011 (UTC)
Deskana said it best many a time ago: Two different, totally unique people with virtually identical views and virtually identical names editing the same article at the same time, and backing each other up? I started to run a checkuser, but then gave up when I realised that I could see a thousand dancing hamsters on the checkuser results and still think they were sockpuppets, or at the very least, meatpuppets.

The user was not blocked for using more than one IP, at least not initially. They were blocked for disruptive editing. And then they evaded their block. That's automatic grounds for resetting and lengthening the block. NW (Talk) 02:13, 14 July 2011 (UTC)

Since being reminded not to open new talk sections the IP had been compliant. The semiprotection is therefore unneeded and should be lifted. -- cheers, Michael C. Price talk 06:58, 14 July 2011 (UTC)

I agree if there was actually any disruptive editing in the first place, it was opening a few new sections in a row. As the IP did not repeat that, I fail to see what the blocks were placed in regard to. The semi-protection is not needed and was far too drastic a measure. Also the block / ban placed on this IP has no duration or extent mentioned. How are they to know how long it is for, what it covers. This was an improper sanction. There should be oversight/supervision on the Admin who made it. DMSBel (talk) 11:00, 14 July 2011 (UTC)

This account(s) was disruptive and I am pleased to see that we can now have a less disjointed conversation. As an aside, I'm traveling and will have difficulty replying until Monday evening. JJL (talk) 18:05, 14 July 2011 (UTC)

Assuming for the moment the account holder is one editor who caused some minor annoyance by opening a few new sections in a row, that is not disruption. Oh! they also disagreed with a couple of other editors in the course of the discussion. I would not speak in defence of an editor who engaged in deliberately disruptive editing. The IP/IPs has a POV, so do most editors here. Having a POV is not having an agenda. Even having a strong POV is not having an agenda. Disagreement need not be disruptive in a discussion, in fact it can be quite helpful. However some articles simply have to accomodate those different views, in the best way possible if they are supported by reliable, verifiable sourcing, cf CarolMooreDCs comment earlier in the RFC. The semi-protection of the talk page is more disruptive than anything the IP did. Some editors are simply going to have to either work on other articles or learn to collaborate with other editors. Unless there is advocacy in the lede, I am not sure what it is we are discussing. Unfortunately I have not been able to ascertain what was being advocated by inclusion of the phrase "caused by or resulting in its death", and why we are having such a protracted discussion on this. I welcome the IP/IPs back to the discussion once their block is lifted - has the duration/scope been clarified yet? DMSBel (talk) 20:01, 14 July 2011 (UTC)
DMSBel, you say that some editors should either leave or learn to collaborate with others. So how can it be that after all this time you still "have not been able to ascertain what was being advocated by inclusion of the phrase "caused by or resulting in its death", and why we are having such a protracted discussion on this." I was apparently able to express your POV, how can it be that after all this time you still have no idea what mine is? Gandydancer (talk) 10:47, 15 July 2011 (UTC)
What makes you think I was refering to you Gandydancer. I asked the editor who made the advocacy claim about it several times. They have not given a plain answer. Your comment doesn't make a lot of sense. DMSBel (talk) 17:00, 15 July 2011 (UTC)
It's possible that your requests were buried in the numerous threads and dozens of edits added to this talk page every day. Whom are you asking, and what is the question? MastCell Talk 19:58, 15 July 2011 (UTC)
I can answer that. He was asking JJL and the question is why is he advocating against the phrase "caused by or resulting in its death". (Ignoring, of course, the fact that all those on "our side" are "advocating" against it as well.) Gandydancer (talk) 20:25, 15 July 2011 (UTC)
I did ask JJL, you are correct up to that point in your comment. What I asked him is "what is being advocated?". I really cannot work out what JJL is saying at times, the same with you Gandydancer.
So I will again ask DMSBel, how can it be that after all this time you still do not have any idea why JJL, and I, and the others are arguing against using the term death in the definition when I, and I assume the others since they did not post to the contrary, seem to understand your point of view? Gandydancer (talk) 22:03, 15 July 2011 (UTC)
That makes little sense, repeating it won't make it any clearer, if you understand my comments then I assume I have made them clear enough for you to understand. Are you saying that your ability to understand me means your own comments and POV is equally clear to me? How would that follow, especially when you said at one point in the discussion you had "changed your mind, for now". DMSBel (talk) 11:29, 16 July 2011 (UTC)
If you were really reading my posts rather than skimming them for something to argue about you would know that in that post when I said, "...changed my mind...for now..." I was discussing my suggestion re the definition I had suggested which was, "Most major medical texts define abortion as...". Well, clearly there is a problem when you and several others still have no idea why those that object to using the word death in the definition are objecting to it. Gandydancer (talk) 15:41, 17 July 2011 (UTC)

Gandydancer, please quit with the assumptions of stupidity on everybody elses' part. We all know what your POV is and where you're coming from, since you're admitted that you don't like to say the fetus is alive prior to, and dies during, an abortion purely because some on the "christian right" use the same language. IOW your refusal to accept the death of an aborted fetus is, contrary to the science (i.e. the facts), purely due to advocating a position. Which is, of course, prohibited. -- cheers, Michael C. Price talk 19:45, 16 July 2011 (UTC)

Well of course you could provide my post where I made that statement, but knowing that it is not available I would say that you just proved my point. Gandydancer (talk) 15:41, 17 July 2011 (UTC)
No, you just proved my point about POV pushing. -- cheers, Michael C. Price talk 15:52, 17 July 2011 (UTC)

Oppose death I believe that Wikipedia policy obliges editors to avoid personal opinions and use information from only the best available sources. For a small group of editors to stray so far from the references and completely change the definition of abortion to one that endorses the belief that life begins at conception should not be acceptable. Gandydancer (talk) 15:25, 23 June 2011 (UTC)

Yes Our references chose to avoid using the term death in their definition because it suggests life begins at the moment of conception, a concept not held by all. Should Wikipedia decide to ignore their wisdom and rather use a minority definition preferred by only a segment of society, most notably the Christian Right in the U.S., we are entering the dangerous waters of political bias. Gandydancer (talk) 11:10, 11 July 2011 (UTC) Gandydancer (talk) 16:06, 17 July 2011 (UTC)

They seem to avoid death not because of suggesting life, or some manufactured bio-ethical quandary, but because viable simply fits their context/setting better. As a result, it doesn't make them the "best" sources for an encyclopedia. - RoyBoy 20:45, 17 July 2011 (UTC)
What are the "best" sources? Gandydancer (talk) 21:41, 17 July 2011 (UTC)
None of them are best, they all have their good and bad aspects. JJL has a good bead on it, though I would strike "professional" from it, as it implies medical defs should always take precedent. I concur they should (and do) mostly take precedent, but its not universally applicable. Simplistic to see it that way, as many of us did in the early 2000's. - RoyBoy 22:10, 18 July 2011 (UTC)
For defintions - dictionaries are best IMHO. Also can someone explain to me the difference between "best" sources and best sources Are the quotes just meant to indicate there is not unanimous agreement which are best?. DMSBel (talk) 01:08, 18 July 2011 (UTC)
Professional, peer-reviewed, widely used secondary sources are generally best. Those sources are near-unanimous in their use of 'viability' in the defn. JJL (talk) 17:25, 18 July 2011 (UTC)
Can you explain why for a definition they are better than medical dictionaries? DMSBel (talk) 20:40, 18 July 2011 (UTC)
See Wikipedia:RS#Some_types_of_sources for more information on this. JJL (talk) 03:43, 19 July 2011 (UTC)
I can see from that and some other sections that secondary and to a lesser extent tertiary sources are prefered over primary sources for detailed discussion. It doesn't indicate whether dictionaries are less preferable for definitions. DMSBel (talk) 21:52, 19 July 2011 (UTC)
Williams Obstetrics does not use viability in its defn.[[82]] Yet I am told it is regarded by at least one other editor as a gold standard reference work. DMSBel (talk) 21:16, 18 July 2011 (UTC)

OK. JJL (talk) 03:43, 19 July 2011 (UTC)
If 'viable' fits the context/setting in which abortions are performed--the medical context/setting--then that make a pretty strong case for using it. An encyclopedia should be accurate. Using 'viable' accurately reflects what this technical term's technical meaning is. That doesn't limit our ability to discuss social/cultural/religious reaction to it later. Some people still think mental illness is occasionally caused by demonic possession and should be treated by exorcism--but I'd still use what the DSM says rather than putting it in a broader context. JJL (talk) 17:25, 18 July 2011 (UTC)
I thought we are to avoid overly-technical terms, if we can use plain language? But the issue is still not with viable, its with "before it is viable". Abortions take place both before and after viability therefore we can define abortion without necessary reference to viability.DMSBel (talk) 20:47, 18 July 2011 (UTC)
Because we know better than virtually the entire medical community? JJL (talk) 03:43, 19 July 2011 (UTC)
No. Because abortions take place both before and after viability.[[83]] DMSBel (talk) 21:07, 19 July 2011 (UTC)

Why not "usually"?

There's too much activity between long-involved users for me to get involved in the discussions already here, but what's the problem with saying "usually before it is viable"? Viability comes around the end of the second trimester or early third trimester. Abortions can occur in the third trimester right up until the moment of birth. To say all abortions happen before viability is a blatant falsehood. NYyankees51 (talk) 04:17, 9 July 2011 (UTC)

Which is why the lead should refer to death, not viability.-- cheers, Michael C. Price talk 05:37, 9 July 2011 (UTC)
As discussed above, "death" only occurs after "live birth" by definition. Perhaps you meant "fetal death"? In any case it ought to be obvious by now that neither wording will gain consensus for use in the lede. We have very reliable sources which manage to define the term without reference to "death", or "fetal death", or "viability". We can keep this very simple, as in "An abortion is the end of a pregnancy which does not result in a live birth." Leave the whole discussion of viability, induced/spontaneous, premature birth, and all the other complications for the article body. They are ancilliary to the fundamental idea. LeadSongDog come howl! 05:53, 9 July 2011 (UTC)
No, Leadsong, you are wrong: forensic pathologists conduct post mortem exams (autopsies) on fetuses who were killed during induced-feticide abortion procedures. (talk) 01:44, 10 July 2011 (UTC)
But pregnancies can end with spontaneous absorptions, which are not abortions. -- cheers, Michael C. Price talk 05:57, 9 July 2011 (UTC)
I have reverted MCP,s edit since only 1 reference of the 24 we offer uses the word death in their definition. Gandydancer (talk) 11:29, 9 July 2011 (UTC)
The threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is verifiability, not truth—whether readers can check that material in Wikipedia has already been published by a reliable source, not whether editors think it is true. Gandydancer (talk) 11:51, 9 July 2011 (UTC)
I have reverted Gandydancer's revert, for the following reason: There are no MEDRS which refute either the earlier medico-legal source used which states: "At conception (the union of a sperm and an egg), a new individual is created" [Gynaecology for Lawyers - Medico-Legal Practitioner Series (1998 Routledge/Cavendish)] page 19.
or Merriam Webster Medical dictionary definition :  : the termination of a pregnancy after, accompanied by, resulting in, or closely followed by the death of the embryo or fetus: as a): spontaneous expulsion of a human fetus during the first 12 weeks of gestation — compare miscarriage b): induced expulsion of a human fetus [[84]], they therefore more than meet WP:RS and MEDRS. DMSBel (talk) 13:50, 9 July 2011 (UTC)
Even assuming all that were true, the 'death' phrasing does not have consensus--indeed, consensus is clearly against using it. Even if all that were it wouldn't mean it must go in the lede. It also fails on the WP:WEIGHT consideration. JJL (talk) 23:35, 9 July 2011 (UTC)
JJL, consensus is not clearly against using it. Either give this up or ask a neutral uninvolved editor to run an RFC. DMSBel (talk) 10:59, 10 July 2011 (UTC)
JJL, your stock sinks lower everytime you claim consensus for your view, just the IP's does when they open a new talk page section. -- cheers, Michael C. Price talk 11:18, 10 July 2011 (UTC)
My stock hit bottom as soon as I edited your precious consensus, didn't it? JJL (talk) 16:30, 10 July 2011 (UTC)
Yes, there is a serious issue in regard to a mere new consensus assertion versus actual established (by neutral Admin) new consensus, which would require an RFC, so far I see only JJL and a couple of other editors even arguing that there is no-consensus. Who in their right mind wants to get involved in a game of consensus ping-pong. "Now we have it", "now you don't" scored by individual players or each side bringing their own umpire!. I agree the FAQ should not set any current wording in stone, but it should address what has been asked in regard to particular terms.DMSBel (talk) 11:41, 10 July 2011 (UTC)
Consensus doesn't require an RFC. The consensus here is clearly against the 'death' version. Can we move forward from there? JJL (talk) 16:30, 10 July 2011 (UTC)
LeadSong, if death is defined by the cessation of a heartbeat and brain function, isn't life defined by the presence of a heartbeat and brain function? The fetus has a heartbeat and brain function, and abortion ceases these, therefore abortion is the death of the fetus. NYyankees51 (talk) 16:41, 9 July 2011 (UTC)
When the cells, tissues, other are cultured for research, stem cells or otherwise, or other uses (i.e. not killed, destroyed, etc) is it still an abortion? ArtifexMayhem (talk) 17:23, 9 July 2011 (UTC)
If it causes the death of the embryo, yes, though it's not referred to as an abortion - it's referred to as death. NYyankees51 (talk) 17:30, 9 July 2011 (UTC)
None of this is supported by even a substantial minority of the professional-quality sources we have, though. As has been discussed here in great detail, the 'life' issue is very complicated at the least, with many conflicting views. I don't agree with yours, for example. JJL (talk) 23:35, 9 July 2011 (UTC)
For the umpteenth time, the medical definitions are not relevant. The issue is about clarity (and accuracy), not some mealy-mouthed surgeon's euphemism. -- cheers, Michael C. Price talk 05:34, 10 July 2011 (UTC)
Wow, I can't believe you actually wrote "the medical definitions are not relevant". Medical opinions on a medical and/or surgical procedure (or medical event in the case of miscarriage) aren't relevant? Abortion is first and foremost a medical matter--indeed, it's only a medical matter, but one that happens to elicit commentary from a wide variety of non-medical communities. The reaction to it is surely an important topic to cover but we are talking about an aspect of medicine and the cultural/religious response to it. As to accuracy, we've established that the medical community--not just one lone surgeon--thinks it's based on viability. JJL (talk) 16:26, 10 July 2011 (UTC)
Why don't the medical textbooks say that, then? JJL (talk) 23:35, 9 July 2011 (UTC)
It is a good question and this page has already provided some answers. Did you miss that? There are various rational reasons that these "textbooks" use imprecise legalisms and sophistry. The bottom line is that most basic abortion descriptions written for abortion practitioners employ imprecise language and euphemism - and some simply defy the unassailable biological facts verified by reams of RS (as has been shown here since 2005 with endless MEDRS and other RS). One does have to ask: "Why would some "textbook" authors writing for certain audiences contradict known biological and medical facts?" Such a lack of integrity by such authors has got you bogged down in defending such defiance of unassailable fact. Word-smithing of the definition for abortion so as to hide any unpleasant science seems to be Orwellian newspeak (and would seemingly be against wikipedia policy, no?). (talk) 09:14, 10 July 2011 (UTC)
People keep saying that it's a conspiracy among all major medical textbook authors but I don't see any verifiable sourcing of that--just that it's obvious to so many of you who prefer 'death' in the description. Since virtually all major sources use 'viable', I'd think you could source the claim of such a conspiracy. If not, it's just your own personal opinion--and that's WP:OR, however common-sense it is to you. Let's see the sources that support the claim that physicians are knowingly writing false things in the texts used to train the next generation of physicians. It isn't enough that it's clear to you that that's so--it must be sourced. Otherwise, you're arguing against an avalanche of first-rate secondary sources on the matter. JJL (talk) 16:26, 10 July 2011 (UTC)

An IVF embryo in a test-tube is not a "pregnancy". If the life/development/growth of the embryo is aborted, it is not an "abortion" in the mainstream sense of the word, which is always related to pregnancy (seems I agree with NYyankee's view of the basic science). Any removal of tissues or stem cells from a living embryo is an embryonic vivisection, which (I suggest) necessarily ends the life of that organism, which is a human offspring (offspring is a widely used technical term for an embryo or fetus), regardless of whether one sees that offspring as a person or not. The point is, the embryo was alive and then dies due to the vivisection. If I donated blood (or a kidney) one day, and died a day later, I am dead even if my blood (or kidney) is alive inside another person. Of course if the vivisection does not kill the embryo (I suppose that might be possible) and it still maintains the normal life function of an embryo such that it could implant inside a uterus and continue its human development cycle, then it would still be a living offspring, so there is no abortion. But if its truly a clump of dismembered and mangled living cells that do not resemble an intact embryonic offspring, then it seems that it would no longer be an offspring, though the cells that remain would be "alive". (talk) 19:17, 9 July 2011 (UTC)

For those who might not know (and I have encountered many who don't know, but think they do), the only time an embryo is destroyed (killed) as part of embryonic stem cell research is when a new embryonic stem cell line is created. The extracted cell is then replicated in labs - an almost infinite replication. The people who do most of the "embryonic stem cell research" use these replicated cells, which are not embryos, and never were in any embryos. The vast majority of these researchers never even get near any embryos, let alone destroy them. When a researcher uses such a cell line, she does not destroy (kill) any embryos. (talk) 19:44, 9 July 2011 (UTC)
Thanks for the question NYyankees51. If we rely on "usually viable" to define abortion in of itself, it doesn't accomplish what we wish it to; to encompass and define the abortion topic -- medical texts do not define the topic, rather the surgical procedure, to gloss over this is intellectually deficient. I've asked users to clarify if an abortion makes a fetus defacto (automatically) non-viable. I haven't received an answer. It is also a weasel word we try to avoid at Wikipedia... biologically that may not be possible, but we should try. - RoyBoy 06:13, 17 July 2011 (UTC)

The lead of the article says that abortion happens before the embryo or fetus is viable. It implies that it is always the case which is simply not true. A very large number of abortions are performed when the fetus is indeed viable, during the second and the third trimester. Abortions performed late in pregnancy are very common in countries like China.

I vote that the lead is changed and no longer mentions viability. Israell (talk) 02:08, 27 July 2011 (UTC)

The lede says that that's the medical definition of it, which is inarguably true. JJL (talk) 03:45, 27 July 2011 (UTC)

More about definitions

There are a lot of dictionary definitions out there. (I wish I could access this: [85].) This page [86] has lots of cited examples. From the State of Georgia [87]: "How does the law define “abortion?” “Abortion” means the use or prescription of any instrument, medicine, drug, or any other substance or device with the intent to terminate the pregnancy of a female known to be pregnant." The CDC says [88]: "How does CDC define abortion? For surveillance purposes, legal abortion is defined as a procedure performed by a licensed physician, or a licensed advanced practice clinician acting under the supervision of a licensed physician, to induce the termination of a pregnancy." From Gutmacher [89]: "In fact, of the 18 states that have some definition of pregnancy as beginning at fertilization or conception, 12 define abortion as the termination of a "known" pregnancy. Furthermore, two of these states (Arizona and Texas) specifically exclude contraceptives from their definitions of abortion, even though they use fertilization as the starting point for pregnancy elsewhere in their statutes." Here's an expended version from Williams Gynecology [90]: "Abortion is the spontaneous or induced termination of pregnancy before fetal viability. Because popular use of the word abortion implies a deliberate pregnancy termination, some prefer the word miscarriage to refer to spontaneous fetal loss before viability. Because the widespread use of sonography and serum measurement of human chorionic gonadotropin levels allows identification of an extremely early pregnancy, a number of other names have come into common use. These include, for example, early pregnancy loss or early pregnancy failure. The National Center for Health Statistics, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the World Health Organization (WHO) define abortion as pregnancy termination prior to 20 weeks' gestation or a fetus born weighing less than 500 g. Despite this, definitions vary widely according to state laws....". From this 2010 article [91]: "(Clayton and Newton, 1976) define abortion as the expulsion of the conceptus before the 28th week of pregnancy; a view that is still held by the British law up to this moment." From a 2000 article in the Journal of Medical Ethics: [92]: "Following US jurisprudence, American commentators often define abortion as the “expulsion of an embryo or fetus before it is viable”." Once again--as always--the key determining factor is usually given as 'viable' or a variant; and the purpose is given is generally to terminate a pregnancy (not to cause a death). JJL (talk) 19:24, 22 July 2011 (UTC)

The williams gynecology reference is from a chapter about first trimester abortions.DMSBel (talk) 17:20, 24 July 2011 (UTC)
...but it defines the term in general before going into first- vs. second-trimester issues. JJL (talk) 19:36, 24 July 2011 (UTC)

Two old sources, to contradict the claim that has been made here that somehow the treatment of the term 'abortion' has changed from what it was 50 years ago: From 1924, "THE MANAGEMENT OF ABORTION",ONSLOW A. GORDON Jr., M.D., JAMA 1924;82(13):1021-1023 [93]: "We define abortion as any interrupted gestation prior to the period of viability." (The context appears to be spontaneous abortion here.) From 1902, "Report on Progress in Obstetrics", Frank A. Higgins, M.D., Boston Med Surg J 1902; 147:352-355 [94]: "[Stuver] would, therefore, define abortion as the deliberate and intentional interruption of pregnancy before viability of the fetus has been attained. " (This journal is now the The New England Journal of Medicine.) More detail on this can be found here [95]. The viability definition is by no means new. JJL (talk) 19:24, 22 July 2011 (UTC)

No one disputes that spontaneous abortion of a viable fetus is impossible, AFAIK. There are a million reliable sources out there that define abortion, and maybe it would be best if everyone go and take a look, rather than relying on the ones picked out to support one side or another in this talk page discussion. (I won't comment on the phonetic accuracy of the header for this talk page section.)Anythingyouwant (talk) 19:56, 22 July 2011 (UTC)
We already tried the non-cherry-picking approach--that was what made the viability-based defn. so clearly the right choice. (See the archives.) I would say that the CDC and Williams are not at all cherry-picked sources; they're highly authoritative in this matter. I did change the section title--I hadn't intended the pun and hadn't seen it. JJL (talk) 18:31, 23 July 2011 (UTC)
Once sources are brought to light if they are reliable they have to be taken into consideration along with what we already have, we have far too many (around fifty) for a footnote (even the current footnote is heavy). I didn't get an explantion from you why tertiary sources are not prefered, the link you gave said secondary and to a lesser extent tertiary sources are preferable over primary sources for detailed discussion. It didn't say secondary sources are preferable over tertiary, in matters of definition.DMSBel (talk) 15:57, 24 July 2011 (UTC)
Also dictionaries and encyclopedia may also be secondary sources[[96]]DMSBel (talk) 16:14, 24 July 2011 (UTC)
JJL, you are arguing in circles. No one disputes that you have identified some highly authoritative sources that correctly identify a particular medical definition of the word "abortion". But sometimes words have more th