Talk:Abortion debate/Archive 4

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Abortion and The Far Left

  • Christians killing abortion doctors is like jewish political leaders killing muslim children on world wide television. Every time a christian kills an abortion doctor laws are past in each state increasing the strenghth of the far left.
  • If Abortion followed animal cruelty laws then many procedures and types of abortion would be illegal. For example: disection of the fetus alive in the womb. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:36, 15 May 2009 (UTC)

When human life "begins"

Other than brief or contorted mentions, I can't find that argument in this article, nor in "abortion". It's usually one of the first things that comes up in oral discussion. Korky Day (talk) 22:08, 12 January 2008 (UTC)

It begins at the pronucleus stage at the end of fertilization.[1] rossnixon 01:09, 15 January 2008 (UTC)
I meant that I can't find in this article the discussion of when life "begins". Korky Day (talk) 17:45, 12 September 2008 (UTC)
There is disagreement on that point. It is mentioned in Abortion_debate#Incomplete_Information. KillerChihuahua?!? 18:16, 12 September 2008 (UTC)
Thanks. There is more in Personhood, just below that. Korky Day (talk) 21:09, 13 September 2008 (UTC)
I removed that section over three edits to explain exactly why, line by line I had a problem with your addition, but in summary. Don't use monty python as a description of debate positions, I couldn't understand what you were talking about the with cells, preconception and so on. The first point about when personhood starts being a political point is an interesting argument, but as far as I can tell, its your argument. Unfortunately, short of you publishing an ethics paper, we can't put it in the article based on existing policies about original research. When articles report on arguments, citations become vital. --Tznkai (talk) 22:28, 13 September 2008 (UTC)
I'll get some citations. Sorry it confused you. Very familiar argument to me. You took out Monty Python saying that humour is not fitting for an encyclopedia. I was not aware of that. Is it part of Wikipedia's rules? Never heard of such a rule. See WP article "Every Sperm Is Sacred". Other than it being satirical, do you have any other objections to it being included here if I make the connexion to the argument? Korky Day (talk) 21:36, 18 September 2008 (UTC)
As far as the humor goes, its not a rule so much an issue of style. Adding the Monty Python references doesn't actually add something to the article. Not everyone has heard of the joke, it isn't the best example you can give, it doesn't fit the tone, and it generally doesn't really make any point. It has the side effect of giving the section a slant. Since its satire, it suggests the view of life sacredness is ridiculous, which may well be true, but isn't encyclopedic.--Tznkai (talk) 00:01, 19 September 2008 (UTC)

Here is that bit by me that Tznkai deleted:

Others argue that we must admit that drawing a line between cells that have a "right" to life and those that do not is purely political, since neither biology nor religion provides a widely accepted dividing line between one generation and the overlapping next generation. Some major religions, including Catholics grant a "right to life", if effect, for pre-conception human cells by restricting contraception, as in the satirical song by Monty Python "Every Sperm Is Sacred". Korky Day (talk) 21:43, 18 September 2008 (UTC)

External Links

I have long felt that there are simply too many links. More importantly, the majority seem to apply better to other pages. I intend to move the 16 links under both Pro-Choice and Pro-Life to their respective pages unless someone has a compelling reason not to.--Red Baron (talk) 00:42, 14 March 2008 (UTC)

A reason not to move more links to the pro-choice and pro-life articles is because those articles used to have way too many links and in the past few months the EL section on both articles has been cleaned up. If we add more links to those articles, it may ruin the clean up work from before. Additionally, a lot of the links are already included in those articles. I think because wikipedia is not a directory of links, and because this article is about the Abortion debate, not pro-life or pro-choice organizations, I feel that we should remove all of the links not relevant directly to the topic of "abortion debate" (and not move them anywhere else, simply delete them). If users think this is too harsh, perhaps we could narrow the links down to half a dozen max for each side of the debate, but my preference would be to just remove them all.-Andrew c [talk] 01:22, 14 March 2008 (UTC)
This discussion died out for awhile but there is still too much here. I removed the other wiki link (how did get here?) as it is not a reliable source. Its like wikipedia linking to itself. The news source from the bbc was a. an overview (should be abortion if at all) and b. it does not provide a unique resource beyond the article. Its more citable as a source than an external link.
Reasons why women have induced abortions, evidence from 27 countries and Are There 'Pro-Life' Libertarians? are also quite touchy. They don't quite bear much relevance to the matter at hand, though by an extended definition it could. Namely, the wikipedia goal is "Links in the "External links" section should be kept to a minimum. A lack of external links, or a small number of external links is not a reason to add external links." We can't keep for the sake of it.
More importantly, WP:SEH says you know when links are too much when points of view creep in. I know this is about a debate, but we need to control the content to a couple of links and still avoid redundancy and the same points rehashed. Not to mention the need to globalize the links. Still keeping in mine the aforementioned rule.
And, this link "Are There 'Pro-Life' Libertarians?, a question answered by Dr. Mary Ruwart" is already countered by the pro-life link "Libertarians for Life" Lihaas (talk) 20:00, 4 September 2008 (UTC)

Useful links

"Legal restrictions on abortion do not affect its incidence"

I notice that Guttmacher says, "Legal restrictions on abortion do not affect its incidence. For example, the abortion rate is 29 in Africa, where abortion is illegal in many circumstances in most countries, and it is 28 in Europe, where abortion is generally permitted on broad grounds. The lowest rates in the world are in Western and Northern Europe, where abortion is accessible with few restrictions." I wonder if this is comparing apples to oranges? Could it be that restrictions do normally reduce abortion's incidence, but the relative lack of contraceptives in Africa overcomes that effect? The source is Aldrich Hanssen (talk) 03:32, 29 May 2008 (UTC)

additional abortion arguments

twice ive added these arguments in and twice they have been deleting with no specfic evidence provided as to why. i'm going to list these arguments here for discussion and modification in preparation for them to be entered on the main page. im happy to make them completely neutral, to add in counter arguments, remove any subjective/biased words, etc. if i dont receive any feedback, i will place them on the main page as they are: —Preceding unsigned comment added by Utopial (talkcontribs)

Incomplete Information

An argument exists that with uncertainty about when life begins (human being or human person), having an abortion is equivalent to consciously taking the risk of killing another, i.e. manslaughter. For example, Ronald Reagan stated in a paper he co-authored "if you don't know whether a body is alive or dead, you would never bury it." ISBN 0964112531


An argument exists that abortion is a form of discrimination comparable to eugenics, where the right to live is based on a value determined by others. ISBN 0964112531


As one of those who removed the above material, I suppose I ought to comment. Both sections are, I think, at odds with the structure of the rest of the article, which has been carefully constructed to present both sides of the debate neutrally; in constrast, I think this material seeks to engage in, rather than describe, the debate. I'm also concerned that the sole source for this material is a book by Ronald Reagan, of all people. If these arguments are really notable, they should have been documented by, well, more scholarly sources. And then, of course, there are the weasels. SHEFFIELDSTEELTALK 15:15, 7 August 2008 (UTC)


(1) a weasel is a comment like 'Ronald Reagan, of all people.' i deliberately opened the arguments with the phrase 'Some argue' because almost all of the other arguments open in an identical manner. Otherwise I would've used the phrase 'one argument is....' Perhaps the other arguments also need to be deleted?

solution: weasels are gone.

(2) the debate is not going to be evenly balanced in each area because: 1. the argument areas can be interrelated 2. typically pro-choice and pro-life people come from different perspectives and focus on arguments from certain areas. as a whole, however, the debate should end up balanced. i said im happy for people to add in counter arguments if they can come up with any. if ppl were unable to come up with counterarguments, this shouldn't serve as a reason to exclude these arguments.

solution: neutral framing - give me counter arguments and ill put them in. if no counterarguments are provided, these 2 arguments will go into the article as they are.

(3) the quality of reagan as a source relative to other authors is subjective and thus not a viable reason for excluding these arguments (is quality important if the view if widely held?). the co-authors were:

William P. Clark (justice of the California Supreme Court before political career)

Wanda Franz [1] Professor of Child Development and Family Studies at West Virginia University in Morgantown, West Virginia; B.A. in Anthropology from the University of Washington (1965), M.S. in Family Resources from West Virginia University, (1970); Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology from West Virginia University (1974).

Brian P. Johnston - author of 'Death as a Salesman: What's Wrong With Assisted Suicide' and former California Commissioner on Aging

solution: coauthors are credible, irrespective of mentioned author.

--Utopial (talk) 12:33, 8 August 2008 (UTC)

posted to article

With no feedback on counter arguments for 3 days, I've added the slightly modified paragraphs into the main article. Do not delete these argument topics. These two argument topics been through the due diligence phase. People have had sufficient time to discuss these arguments on this page and there are no outstanding issues. If you have a problem with these two argument topics, please discuss here on the talk page. If you have any counter arguments, please add them to the article ensuring that they meet this article's wiki standards.

--Utopial (talk) 12:20, 10 August 2008 (UTC)

Please read Wikipedia:Consensus and The Bold-Revert-Discuss cycle for important information on the wiki discussion process. In general, in the absence of a consensus, you should not expect to be able to enforce your preferred version on any article. SHEFFIELDSTEELTALK 13:22, 11 August 2008 (UTC)
Edited to add: In the spirit if improving, rather than reverting, the above editor's contributions, I attempted to incorporate their material into the parent section "Personhood", since it plainly covers exactly the same subject area. However, I was unable to find a satisfying way of juxtaposing the philosophical discussion about the nature of personhood, and the ensuing moral implications, with Reagan's observation that you don't bury someone if you think they might still be alive. If anyone else can manage this, please do. SHEFFIELDSTEELTALK 13:30, 11 August 2008 (UTC)

On the three points of debate, i believe that i resolved two of them (weasels and reference quality) and I left the third option open for people to add in. Like you found yourself, I was unable to find a counter argument that directly opposed those two arguments (i assume that all counter arguments would be indirect through personhood, depravity, etc). If neutral framing is not possible in a direct manner, what is the next step? Surely information shouldn't be excluded because no direct counter argument is available. Removing that information would make the article less valuable. --Utopial (talk) 23:57, 12 August 2008 (UTC)

I don't see a problem with using Reagan as a source: the abotion debate is largely a political and social one, rather than an academic one, so using arguments put forward by politicians seems reasonable. However, the current state of the two sections in question seems fairly unsatisfactory. First, referencing a source simply by its ISBN number is insufficient. In particular, the guideline WP:Citing sources asks for more detailed info such as the name of the author, the name of the book, publication date and the name of the publisher. In terms of weasel words, I agree with SheffieldSteel that the current version is problematic. Saying "some argue" or an "argument exists" seems insufficient for such situation; more directly identifying the proponents of these views, at least in general political and social terms, is necessary. Also, from NPOV and balance prospective, if these subsections are kept in the article, then one needs to include some references to counter-arguments from the other side of the abortion debate regarding these points. Nsk92 (talk) 04:56, 13 August 2008 (UTC)

I've adjusted the reference. Thanks for pointing out that citing standard. As i mentioned, virtually all of the points made in the article begin with 'some argue' (i changed mine to the non-weasel 'an argument exists'). If this is a problem, the entire article needs cleaning. Part of the problem is that it is unlikely that these arguments can be completely isolated to one demographic. That's the purpose of including an example of a person who holds that view. Wrt to balance, what if no direct counter arguments can be found or exist? There are several arguments already in the article that don't have a corresponding counter argument. Isn't it more important to have comprehensiveness and overall balance with the main arugments of both sides completely covered? --Utopial (talk) 22:42, 13 August 2008 (UTC)

Improvement drive

A lot of my article writing time is focused on the main abortion page but it seems to have quieted down, and frankly, the abortion debate article is a mess. There are a lot of annoying weasel words in addition a general sense of disorganization.

Before we get started editing, and before I specifically get started messing with this page wholesale, I thought it'd be useful that we could identify specific problems with the article itself, and answer some questions.--Tznkai (talk) 22:42, 13 September 2008 (UTC)

What is this article?

What exactly is this article. Are we describing the conflict between pro-life and pro-choice movements? Is this just a collection of issues being raised in the debate? Do we want this to act as a top level article to all of the various subparts of abortion debate article group? What encyclopedic purpose can this article serve?

Who do we trust?

I thought it'd be nice if we start collating arguments and people to source them too.


We've had that worldwide view tag since time immemorial. Time to get rid of it.

Church and State

I propose this entire section be removed for cleanup. There are no WP:RS to support any argument that there is a correlation between the issues of "Separation of Church and State" and the abortion debate, and secondly, doesn't present a world-view, but rather a xenocentric American view. I'm removing it in a couple of days if there are no responses here. Also, going to ask a few editors who already contributed to the article. Paranormal Skeptic (talk) 15:41, 25 September 2008 (UTC)

Toss it for now. The subject comes up in abortion debates, but not with any coherence.--Tznkai (talk) 15:46, 25 September 2008 (UTC)
zOMG canvassing! I was asked to contribute, so here I am. I agree that it's mainly Americentric, although at least one of the refs was British and might be moved elsewhere. I have no problem with cutting the section. SHEFFIELDSTEELTALK 16:01, 25 September 2008 (UTC)

Weasel tag

As with any good controversial issue page on Wikipedia, this one is full of vague statements and half assertions. I counted about 10 times where I saw the phrasing "some argue" (Wikipedia:Weasel words#Examples), or something akin to it. We ought by all means to avoid this. Magog the Ogre (talk) 15:25, 18 January 2009 (UTC)

External links

How the system works in my eyes:

  1. Someone flags a bad section of external links
  2. I shred it, taking it to a minimum
  3. Experts and regular contributors to the article build it back up to an acceptable level

Hence, my removal of several external links with little knowledge of the article is a good thing. It takes an external view to actually get down to do things rather than vaguely talk about them. Please now rebuild this to a suitable section if necessary. Greggers (tc) 20:56, 15 February 2009 (UTC)


I inserted the "including abstention from sexual intercourse" to the sentence "Finally, some argue that as gametes have a similar potential to the fetus, the argument would entail that contraception—including abstention from sexual intercourse—is as wrong as the killing of an adult human being—a conclusion that is similarly taken to be counterintuitive or unacceptable." The Catholic Church and others argue that contraception by any other means than fertility awareness and abstention is wrong. The word "contraception" is ambiguous enough that one might say, "of course is as wrong as contraception. Contraception is wrong." The addition of "including abstention from sexual intercourse" shows that even a means of contraception approved of by such firmly pro-life groups as the Catholic Church produces a counterintuitive result by this argument. Abstention solely for the sake of preventing pregnancy is a form of birth control, in fact, the only form that is one hundred percent effective. The Catholic Church and other groups advocate abstention as the only moral way to prevent birth. Therefore not all contraception is morally unacceptable. I feel the need to explain this because my addition has twice been reverted as superfluous or merely an attempt to add humor to the debate. I write from the perspective of a Catholic to clarify something that seemed to me unclear because of the potential for equivocation in the word "contraception." If an argument is unacceptable, then it is unacceptable even if it disproves one's own belief in the matter.Alligator gar (talk) 22:53, 17 February 2009 (UTC)

So what we have now is the claim that "abstention from sexual intercourse is as wrong as the killing of an adult human being". I've never, ever heard that. But I guess my personal knowledge is inconsequential. What is important though.... can you attribute that view to a reliable source? If not, then it has no place in this article. I fear that you may be doing a little original research here. -Andrew c [talk] 23:10, 17 February 2009 (UTC)

While you present a very clever reductio ad absurdum argument (which I may find occasion to quote the next time I end up at College Republicans party -- with suitable attribution, of course), I can only conclude that the "some" who argue this point would consist solely of you, at least at this point. You would thus, in effect, be using Wikipedia to publish your original idea. Since the consensus very strongly wishes Wikipedia to retain its character as a tertiary source, the encyclopedia has several policies and guidelines, most notably Wikipedia:No original research and Wikipedia:Verifiability, which prevent Wikipedia from being used to publish original thought by mandating that all significant content be derivative from, and citable to, reliable, third-party sources. By all means write up your idea in a blog post or expand it enough to get it published elsewhere. Do not include it here, however, unless you can cite sources that show this view has an independent existence of such prominence that it merits inclusion per the encyclopedia's guidelines. --Dynaflow babble 03:14, 18 February 2009 (UTC)

Reductio ad absurdum is a legitimate test of the validity of an argument. It isn't original research; it's a rhetorical device. My change is intended to demonstrate the illegitimacy of the Deprivation argument to people who believe that all contraception is wrong. The use of "contraception" is flawed because there is not a complete consensus that contraception in any form is right. Even natural methods of contraception are explicitly proscribed by Church teaching.

If therefore there are well-grounded reasons for spacing births, arising from the physical or psychological condition of husband or wife, or from external circumstances, the Church teaches that married people may then take advantage of the natural cycles immanent in the reproductive system and engage in marital intercourse only during those times that are infertile, thus controlling birth in a way which does not in the least offend the moral principles which We have just explained.[2]

Note that first sentence: There must be well-grounded reasons for spacing births, not eliminating all possibility of birth. Use of natural family planning is only legitimate when used to delay, not prevent, conception. Another commentator expresses this quite bluntly:

Birth control is never OK if the direct purpose is to prevent birth. NFP [natural family planning] is only OK when the couple have serious social, psychological, physical or financial reasons to avoid another pregnancy for the time being or indefinitely.[3]

According to this view, if one is married, one is not permitted to frustrate the natural order whereby sexual intercourse at all times carries the possibility of pregnancy[4]]

Further, if one is married, complete abstention is a violation of God's law that marriage must permit sexual fecundity. The encyclical specifically states this under the rubric "Married Love." However, married couples may under certain circumstances abstain from sex during fertile periods, not during infertile periods. Complete abstention from sex in marriage is permitted only if there is a compelling reason that only total abstention, forever, must be used.

The phrasing "abstention from sexual intercourse" is necessary, or the argument is not disproved in all cases. Catholic doctrine holds that all forms of contraception are illicit; even the use of abstention in marriage is prohibited. If the couple have serious reason, they may use abstention specifically during fertile periods to space births, not utterly to eliminate the possibility of conception. In all other cases, they may not abstain from sex. To a devout Catholic, there is no argument; all contraception is wrong. Even natural family planning must not be used as contraception.

To disprove the Deprivation argument, one must argue that it brings a result that is fallacious in all cases. According to the Church, in all cases, any method of contraception is illicit. This completely takes the starch out of the argument as it presently stands. Abstention, however, though it may be used as a contraceptive, is not illicit in all cases. Celibacy is required of Catholic clergy and religious. To say that abstention is wrong in all cases is indeed a fallacy, whereas to say contraception is wrong is not a fallacy. I'm not producing original research; I'm eliminating an outright error.

As Dynaflow rightly points out, the phrasing of the sentence should be changed. I recommend the following: "It is possible by this argument to assert that abstention from sexual intercourse is as wrong as murdering an adult human being."

I'm not splitting hairs; as the sentence stands is not a valid logical refutation according to Catholic beliefs. One may reasonably document that some people think all contraception, even in the form of abstention, is wrong because it goes against God's will as much as killing an innocent human being does. One either goes against God's will or one doesn't, extenuating circumstances notwithstanding. Our estimation of the seriousness of the disobedient act is not necessarily God's view on the subject, either. A literal interpretation of Genesis 3 shows that Adam and Eve earned themselves pain and death for merely eating a piece of fruit. Changing "contraception" to the abstinence wording I suggest actually does refute the Deprivation argument in accordance with the rules of logic.

Thanks everybody for caring enough to debate! Debating is fun. (talk) 17:58, 18 February 2009 (UTC)

I'm sorry, wikipedia talk pages are not placed to debate topics. They are placed to discuss ways to improve articles. My initial comment still stands. If you want to have "It is possible by this argument to assert that abstention from sexual intercourse is as wrong as murdering an adult human being." in the article, we need to attribute it to a reliable source. We simply cannot be the first place ever to publish the idea that abstinence is akin to murder.-Andrew c [talk] 18:23, 18 February 2009 (UTC)

I'm not debating the truth or falsity of the topic abortion. I'm debating the appropriateness of a rhetorical device in response to Dynaflow's comments. The matter as it stands does not have a broad enough worldview. I so demonstrate by referring to the existence of people who would argue that abstinence is akin to murder because the two things are equally violations of God's will. My previous post was an effort to explain my reasons for the change, not to express a personal viewpoint on abortion. I use Catholicism as an example because its beliefs are well-documented and widespread. I don't give a holler about what wording you use, but I do believe that a change must be made. The present wording is not a legitimate refutation and should not be characterized as such.

Nor am I the first to use this particular reductio ad absurdam. The "abstinence is akin to murder." argument is raised at the following website: [accessed 18 February at 8 a.m.] wherein that idea is expressed in a published parody and discussed in the subsequent published commentary, particularly by Unicuber ["If you don't have sex, then those eggs will not get fertilized and then a potential life will never happen!! You need to make sure that every egg in your body gets fertilized, every single time, in order to be sure that life happens as often as possible."]and Sicktoaster ["But an unfertilized egg is alive. A sperm is alive. And if they don't combine to form a fertilized egg they die. They both have human DNA, ergo they are human life so if you prevent them from combining you are killing human life."] These views relate directly to the gamete argument presented under the Deprivation heading. Regardless of what you may think of the commentators' credentials, it is decidedly an argument that has been published before, even if you've never heard of it. Furthermore, one needn't consider the credentials of the publishers to prove they have placed a parodic argument before the public eye, even if their opinion seems silly. It is published; that is sufficient.

Some other published instances of the "Abstinence is murder" reductio ad absurdam appear at


A form of the "abstinence is murder" argument also appears in

in the commentary, esp. the one headed "Trillions and Trillions of potential humans die each year!"

The "Abstinence is murder" argument is by no means unheard of, nor is it the isolated usage of one or two people. It is a widely published argument

Alligator gar (talk) 19:16, 18 February 2009 (UTC)

Please, while doing your research, keep in mind WP:V and WP:RS. Self-published content found on the web (forum posts, comments, blog posts, etc) are usually inappropriate for citations here on wikipedia. I'm glad you are doing some research. I like that you've changed the wording of your proposal and you are taking the time to look into this matter further. I just wanted to point out some basic policy points that you may or may not have been aware of that will help guide your future research (as it seems most of the links you posted could not be used as sourced here on Wikipedia). Hope this helps.-Andrew c [talk] 20:38, 18 February 2009 (UTC)

Gee whiz, forget I even mentioned it. I give up.Alligator gar (talk) 22:43, 18 February 2009 (UTC)

Moral arguments on Abortion vs. Rape vs. Incest vs. Pedophilia

One of the most frequent arguments in the Abortion debate is the comparison with rape, incest and pedophilia ; there are many articles in the abortion series, but none of them seem to address this particular issue. Anyways, for both sides it all depends on whether Abortion is considred to be murder or not, and whether the murder of an unborn child is as bad as any other murder. For instance, the (Catholic) Church believes that abortion is the worst sin and is even worst than an average rape-and-murder, and so it cannot even be compared to rape and pedophilia. ADM (talk) 02:28, 8 March 2009 (UTC)

Weasel Words?

As there are no references cited, who is being referred to in the phrase "some argue" in the following sentence? "Finally, some argue that as gametes have a similar potential to the fetus, the argument would entail that contraception or even choosing not to have sex is as wrong as the killing of an adult human being—a conclusion that is similarly taken to be counterintuitive or unacceptable." - who argues? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:59, 15 February 2010 (UTC)

- Removed. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:04, 15 February 2010 (UTC)

The "Terminology" section mentions that calling a fetus a "baby" can be a POV-dependent thing. But there is a valid reason why only calling it a "fetus" is not necessarily a POV-dependent thing. This has to do with the ancient adage, "Don't count your chickens before they hatch." It is well known that some eggs don't hatch. Similarly, we shouldn't count babies before they are born because some are born dead not alive, and therefore a too-early count would be incorrect. Meanwhile, counting the unborn using the term "fetus" will always be mathematically correct. This fact-of-counting is reflected in the U.S. Census (and likely of any typical census undertaken by other nations), which never has counted the unborn. V (talk) 16:21, 12 June 2010 (UTC)

Also, regarding another special word, "person", it is an interesting fact (though not of international importance) that the U.S. Constitution explicitly requires that all "persons" be counted every ten years, and that the writers of that Constitution were also in charge of specifying which questions were asked in the nation's first Census of 1790. However, because the unborn were not counted, it logically follows that the Founding Fathers did not consider them to be "persons". (I see this is relevant to the "Personhood" section below, but because of the highly relevant data in the above paragraph, I put this here.) V (talk) 16:16, 12 June 2010 (UTC)

Privacy Section

Under the Privacy section, I added the sentence "The issue of privacy is a common argument presented by pro-choice advocates." This edit was then reverted by User:Dawn Bard for the reason "vague and redundant." I believe my edit should be kept.--Minimidgy (talk) 07:08, 7 May 2009 (UTC)


The argument that the pro-life presents is that "an unborn child is and innocent human being with the right to life." We should use the language the pro-life arguments use. Changing this to "fetus" is presenting POV.--Minimidgy (talk) 00:41, 19 May 2009 (UTC)

To me, "unborn child" is POV, and "fetus" is simply medically accurate. Also note that "fetus" is the de facto consensus here - it's been in place for more than a year. Dawn Bard (talk) 00:43, 19 May 2009 (UTC)
If we are to use POV language, we would need to qualify it and possibly place it in quotes: i.e. ...a fetus, or what the pro-life movement calls "an unborn child",.... But I don't see the benefit of using POV language. There is a bit of terminology framing that goes on with both sides of the debate, and I don't believe it is beneficial to insert that framing into the article. On top of that, I'm not convinced that the pro-life movement, as a whole, uses that sort of language.-Andrew c [talk] 01:07, 19 May 2009 (UTC)
We are talking about the pro-life argument, not "medically accurate." Abortion is considered a "medical" procedure, but I would be willing to bet pro-lifers do not recognize it as a valid form of medicine. In addition, many pro-lifers would view "fetus" as an attempt to dehumanize what they believe is a child, and is POV.

Andrew, shouldn't we qualify "fetus" as POV then? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Minimidgy (talkcontribs) 01:11, 19 May 2009 (UTC)

Why? What POV? What do we say at the fetus article? Is the term qualified there?-Andrew c [talk] 01:17, 19 May 2009 (UTC)
I never said if I believe that to be POV. The pro-life side often objects to using the term "fetus" because they say it dehumanizes what they believe to be a child. Therefore, using that term is POV. When discussing the pro-life argument, the language should be what the pro-life side uses. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Minimidgy (talkcontribs) 01:22, 19 May 2009 (UTC)
That logic is flawed. It is the POV that a fetus is more than just a fetus, that leads to claims that there is a slanted-POV to call it only a fetus! For example, consider the word "mineral". Synonyms for that word include "rock" and "stone", but those words have been associated with other meanings than just "mineral". Likewise, the word "baby" can have various meanings (and sometimes is even used by adults talking to/about each other; a woman might even object to being called that if she thinks a man is using the term to reduce her understanding of her rights as an adult). The word "fetus" does not have multiple meanings. It promotes clear thinking to use whenever possible words that have only one meaning! V (talk) 16:37, 12 June 2010 (UTC)
We don't follow the sympathetic point of view, we follow the neutral point of view. What you are saying is akin to arguing that on the Cannabis article, we should use the word "reefer" or "weed" or "pot" in the sections that talk about recreational drug use. I see no valid reason to use unqalified inaccurate, POV terms, and it's hard to take your arguments in good faith when you are editing in bad faith. Edit warring is a serious form of disruptive editing. 3RR is not a right, and I would advise all users to follow 0RR or 1RR. Please reconsider how you edit wikipedia if you want other users to keep assuming good faith on your behalf. -Andrew c [talk] 01:39, 19 May 2009 (UTC)
Like I have said, pro-lifers view "fetus" as POV. The pro-life position claims that there is a child in the womb with the right to live. I will gladly source this if there is a need. It seems that we have differing points of view on abortion; I am pro-life and trying to reflect the pro-life views accurately. Looking at your edits, it would seem that you are pro-choice and are changing words to those that the pro-life community object to.--Minimidgy (talk) 05:20, 19 May 2009 (UTC)
Yes, sources would be great. We shouldn't edit wikipedia based on personal preferences. -Andrew c [talk] 12:57, 19 May 2009 (UTC)
And, sources or not, remember that it is best if you seek consensus on the talk page BEFORE making controversial edits. Dawn Bard (talk) 14:42, 19 May 2009 (UTC)
So, if I find sources that present the argument in terms of referring to the word in question as "child" instead of "fetus" would it be appropriate present those here and then possibly change the article?--Minimidgy (talk) 07:07, 3 June 2009 (UTC)
If I found a source that presented unwanted pregnancies as "tumors that need to be eradicated", would it be ok for me to change the article? The best we can do is qualify a statement, such as "they believe the fetus, or what they term an "unborn child", deserves...." I do not see any situation where we should introduced unqualified POV language, such as outright replacement. It's a double sided coin. On one side we have "unborn child" or "preborn" and the other side we have "blob of tissue" or "tumor". Are there instances in the article where we should replace "fetus" with either set of terms? How are we to choose what terms we use? Again, we don't follow a favorable point-of-view policy where we can color arguments in non-neutral language. We follow a neutral POV. -Andrew c [talk] 13:35, 3 June 2009 (UTC)
In his book Aborting America, Bernard Nathanson M.D. uses the term "alpha" to refer to any human before birth. I believe this is the truly neutral position that this article should take. Furthermore, from conception to 8 weeks the medical term is 'embryo'; from 8 weeks to birth the medical term is 'foetus.' Thus, numerous sentences in this article are medically incorrect. The article should refer to 'alpha' or 'pre-birth human' if it is referring in general to a foetus or embryo, however, if there is a need to specifically refer to the fetal/embryonic period then use of the term foetus/embryo is acceptable.—Preceding unsigned comment added by Utopial (talkcontribs) 06:37, 4 June 2009 (UTC)
Since days have passed without comment/rebuke, I'm going to assume consensus has been achieved and make the appropriate corrections to the main article - removing medically incorrect references to 'foetus' and replacing them with 'pre-birth human.' There are two reasons why I'm choosing this term over alpha: (1) alpha would need defining and confuse readers who don't see the definition (2) 'pre-birth human' is biologically correct and all sides of the debate would agree that it is a human of some kind - the debate is about whether it is a 'human being' or a 'human person.' I'm also keen to make the changes I've listed in the 2 sections below, both without feedback. I ask that everyone reviews these comments and provides any feedback within the next day.Utopial (talk) 12:27, 5 June 2009 (UTC)
I don't think "pre-birth human" is appropriate - one very POV source is not enough to make that change. Dawn Bard (talk) 12:50, 5 June 2009 (UTC)
Because the source is POV doesn't mean that the term is necessarily POV. Can you justify why 'pre-birth human' isn't appropriate (or why it is less appropriate than 'foetus')? The article discusses the use of framing, stating: "The medical terms "embryo" and "fetus" are seen by pro-life advocates as dehumanizing; the terms "baby" and "unborn child" are seen by pro-choice advocates as emotionalized." The use of 'fetus' is thus a POV weasel. 'Pre-birth human' doesn't fall into the category of being dehumanizing or emotionalised. It is medically correct and 'human' is a term accepted by all perspectives of the debateUtopial (talk) 13:02, 5 June 2009 (UTC)
Several editors are of the opinion that the medically correct terminology is embryo/fetus, and that choice of terminology certainly seems to be reflected in the sources. It does seem clear that consensus is against this change. SHEFFIELDSTEELTALK 13:09, 5 June 2009 (UTC)
"Pre-birth human" is going to fall into the same category as "unborn child" for pro-choice advocates. Also, it isn't, as far as I can tell, a widely used term - if only one source is using it, it shouldn't be in the article. And I don't know how you can say that "pre-birth human" is somehow medically neutral - not everyone on the pro-choice side is goung to agree about "human" for one thing, and also, not all fetuses are going to be born, so "pre-birth" is medically inaccurate. Dawn Bard (talk) 13:12, 5 June 2009 (UTC)
Sheffield, no one discussed the difference between embryo and foetus before i brought it up. It is medically incorrect to use the term foetus in this article. Whilst users are against 'pre-birth human', they are also against 'foetus'. Neither have consensus. The article itself states "Others reject this position by drawing a distinction between human being and human person, arguing that while the fetus is innocent and biologically human, it is not a person with a right to life." Thus, the pro-choice sides agrees that the term 'human' is biologically correct. 'Pre-birth' doesn't imply birth will occur - it's comparable to 'pre-pubescent'. The rationally correct term should be used, not one supported dogmatically by bias. Utopial (talk) 13:23, 5 June 2009 (UTC)
You have repeatedly asserted that "fetus" isn't medically correct. Unless you can demonstrate that medical sources either state that it is incorrect, or predominantly use a different term, then your argument seems to be without justification according to our Verifiability policy. The fact that you have provided only one source to back up your preferred text has the effect of raising a red flag and the similarity of your preferred term "pre-birth human" to the pro-life preferred term "unborn child" gives your proposed edit the appearance of violating our neutral point of view policy. SHEFFIELDSTEELTALK 13:42, 5 June 2009 (UTC) 'In humans, the fetal stage of prenatal development begins about eight weeks'. 'Fetus' excludes embryos, which are part of the abortion debate. Child and human are entirely different terms - 'child' is a human between birth and puberty (, 'human' is merely a member of the homosapien species which is based on DNA alone ( (talk) 13:54, 5 June 2009 (UTC)

(edit conflict - I was writing at the same time as Utopial)

If I'm interpreting Utopial correctly (and please correct me if I'm not), the idea is that "fetus" is sometimes not accurate in the article, because it is often used to mean "fetus or embryo". If necessary, I could see adding "or embryo" where appropriat - that would be much more medically accurate than "pre-birth human", which isn't a (widely accepted) medical phrase at all. -Dawn Bard (talk) 13:59, 5 June 2009 (UTC)
'Pre-birth' is a universally medically accepted term as is 'human'. You are effectively saying that medically accepted terms can't be used together. There is also the issue that 'foetus' is seen as dehumanizing from the pro-life movement, so is widely not accepted.Utopial (talk) 14:05, 5 June 2009 (UTC)
Pre-birth is not universally accepted. If you were to go to a foreign country, where english is not the dominant language, the terms Fetus, Embryo, and Zygote are used. Not pre-birth human. Paranormal Skeptic (talk) 14:21, 5 June 2009 (UTC)
Post-translation, it is universal. Also, zygote is an embryo at a particular stage. Furthermore, 'unborn child' is equivalent to 'pre-pubescent adult' - both are non-sensical. 'Pre-birth' and 'human' are both universally medically accepted, avoid the framing debate and are supported by the pro-choice movement as being true (as I cited above, with reference to the article). Foetus, on the other hand, is medically incorrect as a general term and is central to the framing debate, heavily not accepted by the pro-life movement. Utopial (talk) 14:33, 5 June 2009 (UTC)
A quick Google search shows that those who accept and use the term are overwhelmingly pro-life activists. SHEFFIELDSTEELTALK 14:38, 5 June 2009 (UTC)
I'd like to see a source that states the pro-life movement believes "foetus" is a dehumanizing term. I don't buy any arguments that the word fetus is insufficient, and I've yet to see any alternate proposal which is supported by a majority of neutral sources. I honestly don't see how this is an issue in the first place. -Andrew c [talk] 14:41, 5 June 2009 (UTC)

(Un-indent) If one were to walk into a hosptital, or a research lab; how many times would one hear pre-birth {fill in species} compared to fetus, zygote, or emrbyo. Let's look at scholarly articles:

* - 16 hits
* - 1.24 million hits
* - 74,100 hits
* - 673,000 hits

Still considered universal? Hardly. Paranormal Skeptic (talk) 14:44, 5 June 2009 (UTC)

I didn't say it was universally used, I said it was universally accepted, which it is. Because a combination of terms isn't used commonly by different groups doesn't prove that it shouldn't be used in wikipedia. That is effectively arguing that all wikipedia information must be written as a series of clichés. Also, the source I originally quoted used the term 'alpha'. I came up with pre-birth human myself after logically thinking about the most medically accurate, neutral and practical way of phrasing the concept. 'Alpha' had practical issues. 'Foetus' had medical accuracy issues (excludes embryos). 'Foetus or embryo' had neutrality issues (framing debate). Andrew c, have you not read the comments above? Foetus excludes 0-8 weeks (embryos). By definition, that is insufficient. Note: using foetus, unborn child, etc means choosing a side of the debate. It's equivalent to rephrasing pro-choice as anti-life in the article.Utopial (talk) 15:05, 5 June 2009 (UTC)
I think the fact that you came up with "pre-birth human" yourself is pretty much proof that it shouldn't be in the article, given WP:NOTE, WP:RS WP:VERIFY, etc., and you're really just making an assumption about it being "universally" accepted. What would be wrong with using "fetus or embryo" or "fetus and embryo" where applicable? I still see that as the medically accurate option. Dawn Bard (talk) 15:19, 5 June 2009 (UTC)
Then, if anything, we should start clarifying the word fetus with either of the scientifically accepted terms, or a combination there of. When checking for scholarly hits, only 16 hits came up. Consider, why might that be? Could it be a new term, and thusly, slang? If so, then I could hardly consider it encyclopedic. Paranormal Skeptic (talk) 15:14, 5 June 2009 (UTC)
I think this thread has just about reached its maximum potential as far as productive discussion is concerned. The term "pre-birth human" is neither universally accepted nor medically accurate, and there is a clear consensus not to use it in the article. SHEFFIELDSTEELTALK 15:20, 5 June 2009 (UTC)
Agreed. - Dawn Bard (talk)
Agreed. At this point in time, there are no Secondary Sources to support the use of this term, and since consensus can change at a later time (Such as when it is supportable), we can close this for now. Paranormal Skeptic (talk) 15:30, 5 June 2009 (UTC)
I have engaged the services of a paediatric medical doctor. The doctor said that 'pre-birth human' is not only entirely medically accurate but more accurate than 'embryo or foetus', which are not necessarily human/homosapien (e.g. chicken foetus). Sheffieldsteel, I would appreciate if you (and others) refrain from drawing conclusions that 'pre-birth human' is not medically accurate without any factual evidence - these dogmatic contentions serve no purposes in rational discussion. Also, consensus may have been reached amongst a small (potentially biased) group of editors, but not amongst the wider community - pro-lifers are opposed and a significant group.

However, in seeking consensus I believe the best term is 'the unborn'. Whilst this doesn't specify the species (like foetus/embryo), an assumption can be made that the reader will understand the discussion is about the human species (else the term 'the unborn human' can be used). There are numerous reasons why this term is the best option: (1) Medically accurate with scholarly sources (20100). (2) avoids the framing debate entirely by not taking sides (which embryo/foetus doesn't and thus has less consensus support) (3) practical - simple, comprehensive and concise

Well, I guess it would be easy to cite this Doctor's papers he has written on the subject. As for the number of hits, that's 20K with 4 different terms, compared to 673K with the singular term fetus. Sounds too POV to me. Paranormal Skeptic (talk) 00:52, 6 June 2009 (UTC)
As a side note, Utpoial, I would ask you Assume Good Faith when referring to other editors, to avoid appearing to use Wikipedia as a battleground. Paranormal Skeptic (talk) 00:55, 6 June 2009 (UTC)
Paranormal Skeptic, that is 1 term with 3 other terms removed. 20100 is significant and the difference is likely to be due to the the alternative discussions for which foetus can be used (since it is more specific). When refining this to the correct use of "embryo or foetus" or "foetus or embryo" less than 6k result appears:

The scientific terms are the ones that are accepted when used in any lab or hospital setting, with zero confusion. And we are not looking for the term "embryo or fetus". Each can stand on their own. This is getting to the point where you are merely looking at this as a battleground or to make a point. Paranormal Skeptic (talk) 01:18, 6 June 2009 (UTC)

20k scholarly uses is significant enough to assume acceptance and use. The key issue now is that of framing. 'The unborn' avoids this debate and avoids taking sides, while foetus/embryo doesn't. This issue can't be ignored. Please assume good faith, as I am not using this discussion for those purposes but to improve the article (for which I am the main contributor - I have written 1/3 of the abortion debate myself). Utopial (talk) 01:23, 6 June 2009 (UTC)
True. 20K hits can't be ignore. But it is half of the hits for "human fetus". Paranormal Skeptic (talk) 01:27, 6 June 2009 (UTC)
Why is that important? If fetus has more hits than gamete, is gamete unacceptable? All terms are acceptable and used. I hope that we can agree on this and move on to the key issue which is trying to avoid framing or taking sides. Utopial (talk) 01:31, 6 June 2009 (UTC)
We can. And in a situation like this, the medically and scientifically correct terms would be the most neutral.Paranormal Skeptic (talk) 01:34, 6 June 2009 (UTC)
The unborn is also a medically and scientifically correct term. So we must choose which scientifically correct term to use. embryo/foetus is specifically opposed as framing. The unborn lacks opposed for framing. Utopial (talk) 01:46, 6 June 2009 (UTC)
Also, as a token of cooperation, I would be willing to submit this to RfC if you like, so we can get some more voices in here. Paranormal Skeptic (talk) 01:22, 6 June 2009 (UTC)
Utopial, I just wanted to mention that the fact that the fact that you wrote 1/3 of the article yourself, even if true, is irrelevant. Nobody owns this, or any other, Wikipedia article. And it's interesting that you say that "this issue can't be ignored" - we aren't ignoring the issue, we are disagreeing with you about the issue. The pro-choice community would say "the unborn" is framing and that "fetus" and"embryo" are neutral and scientifically accurate. Dawn Bard (talk) 01:35, 6 June 2009 (UTC)
It is relevant in arguing that I am not using this as a battleground, but because I regularly contribute to this article. Firstly, all terms are scientifically accurate - foetus, embryo and the unborn. "the unborn" hasn't been raised as framing by the pro-choice - the term "the unborn child" has been raised as framing due to the involvement of emotion related to children. Foetus and embryo have both been raised as framing by the pro-life community by being dehumanising. Thus, there is no evidence that the unborn isn't neutral, whilst there is evidence that foetus/embryo lack neutrality. Utopial (talk) 01:42, 6 June 2009 (UTC)
I would think the contention here would indicate it's not neutral :P Paranormal Skeptic (talk) 01:52, 6 June 2009 (UTC)
Contention here is merely (1) opinion (2) a small sample. Evidence is all that counts. The evidence is that foetus and embryo have both been raised as framing by the pro-life community by being dehumanising, thus there isnt widespread consensus that this term is neutral. The evidence is also that there is a lack of (no) evidence that 'the unborn' is framing (or emotional like 'child'), thus there is widespread consensus that this term is neutral. Please provide evidence to the contrary. Note: This article's neutrality is disputed. I am precisely working on resolving this issue and would appreciate your cooperation rather than agreeing to use a term that is prominently and controversially seen as framing. Utopial (talk) 03:29, 6 June 2009 (UTC)
The statements that there is no evidence that "the unborn" is framing, and that there is widespread cconsensus that it is neutral, are not proven, and don't seem to have consensus. Dawn Bard (talk) 04:15, 6 June 2009 (UTC)
The burden of proof is on the disputer of neutrality to provide evidence of lack of neutrality. There is no such thing as 'evidence of neutrality' only 'evidence of lack of neutrality'. I have provided evidence that foetus/embryo is seen as unneutral by many due to dehumanisation and thus lacks consensus. Please provide evidence that 'the unborn' is a term viewed as not neutral. The evidence is supporting 'the unborn' as the more consensual/neutral term. Utopial (talk) 04:46, 6 June 2009 (UTC)

Unindenting may be appropriate because I'm going to talk about some old stuff in a new way. I will start by not objecting to the phrase "unborn human" as an alternative to "fetus", but I will also state a preference for using both terms instead of either exclusively (it can get boring to use just one specific description all the time; that's why synonyms exist generically). Next, I will strenuously object to using the phrase "unborn human being" at all. This reason has to do with "common usage" in the English language. Clarifying, consider a pregnant dog and a fetus it carries: We could certainly call that fetus an "unborn dog", but has anyone ever called even an adult dog a "dog being"??? In common usage of English, there is an unstated/unconscious association of the word "being" with the phrase "intelligent being", and no dog outside of fiction has ever exhibited enough intelligence to have earned the label "dog being". Now back to humans, and particularly to brain-dead humans on extreme medical life-support. Why do the Courts allow such humans to be unplugged? Because they are no longer "human beings" in the sense of being intelligent beings! Brain-death has made those humans into nothing more than living animal bodies. Finally, we return to an unborn human, which we can legitimately call a fetus, but which nobody has ever called a "fetus being". It is not an intelligent being; even a full-term/late-term fetus provably has no more intelligence than an adult dog; it is a living animal body that also has an animal-level mind. So, while a human fetus can correctly be called an unborn human, it would not be correct at all to call it an unborn human being (it would be POV-specific to do that). V (talk) 17:11, 12 June 2010 (UTC)

Debate - use of 'pro-choice/life' terms

When arguments related to the abortion debate begin with a reference to the ultimate position they take, e.g. 'Pro-life supporters argue', in many cases this can stimulate a preconceived acceptance/rejection of the argument before the actual argument is read. I believe it would be sensible to do the following: - remove references to 'pro-choice/life' within the abortion debate section - Where possible, conclude with the position an argument ultimately takes, rather than start with it, e.g. 'Therefore, they argue that abortion is permissible after xxx' Utopial (talk) 2 June 2009

I'm not sure this is necessary - maybe if you gave a specific example of a sentence where you would make the change? Then we could see exactly how it would look. Dawn Bard (talk) 12:51, 5 June 2009 (UTC)

'Bodily rights' title

I believe that a more generic and meaningful title should be used, such as 'Subordinate Rights', particularly as analogies not involving the body can be used for comparison and the underlying theme in this discussion relates to the relative value of different rights. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Utopial (talkcontribs) 01:47, 3 June 2009 (UTC)

I'm not sure what you're trying to say here. Can you be more specific? Dawn Bard (talk) 12:53, 5 June 2009 (UTC)
This section is about which rights trump other rights, as any rights granted to the pre-birth human must come at the expense of the pregnant woman. Not all of these rights relate to the use of the woman's body, with examples including future expenses, emotional distress, etc. Thus, there are various rights a woman has that are in conflict with the presumed right to life of the pre-birth human. Utopial (talk) 13:41, 5 June 2009 (UTC)
The section is actually about a particular (notable, sourced) argment put forth by the pro-choice movement, and the notable, sourced refutations by pro-life advocates. It's not supposed to be a general discussion of which rights trump others, it's supposed to be about the idea first proposed by Judith Jarvis Thomson in A Defense of Abortion, and as she proposed it, even if a woman is ultimately having an abortion for emotional or financial reasons, it's still an issue of bodily rights, because women should have ultimate control of their bodies. If you can find notable, sourced, independent information which frames the debate as an issue of "subordinate rights", thenit would certainly be appropriate for this article, maybe even this section, but the name of the section should stay as it is. Dawn Bard (talk) 15:13, 5 June 2009 (UTC)
I am actually currently deciding how to phrase and include an additional argument into this section that does discuss the concept of rights subordination (not using that term specifically) - utilitarian theory with reference to Peter Singer's argument on the relative preferences of the mother and the unborn. It has nothing to do with Thomson or her argument. I think that it is tremendously biased to have an entire section dedicated to one author and debate about that author's arguments. All sections should be generic and have generic names. Utopial (talk) 00:31, 6 June 2009 (UTC)
She is not the only proponent of bodily rights as a defence of abortion, she was just the first notable one, and it's not biased to include such a prominent, notable, sourced argument in an article about the abortion debate. Dawn Bard (talk) 01:18, 6 June 2009 (UTC)
As I mentioned, I will be including a utilitarian argument in this section. Thus a generic name should be used, otherwise this section is biased. Utopial (talk) 01:27, 6 June 2009 (UTC)
I disagree, and I respectfully suggest that you post any proposed changes here on the talk page before adding them to the article. Dawn Bard (talk) 01:53, 6 June 2009 (UTC)
Saying "I disagree" is insufficient. Please provide evidence. My evidence: when the related (both weigh off rights and presume a right to life for the unborn) utilitarian discussion is added, the bodily rights title will no longer be relevant to all items in this section. By using a generic title, all items could co-exist in this section. Your evidence? Utopial (talk) 03:23, 6 June 2009 (UTC)
I'm new to this Section and after carefully reading the above, I do not see any sign of any evidence in terms of outside sources. I see you repeated talking about "presumed right to life" of an unborn human, but just because you presume it, that does not mean such a thing actually exists. Nor do I see you providing any evidence that it should exist. Meanwhile, at least with respect to U.S. law, there is significant evidence that it does not exist. For example, note that the 14th Amendment of the Constitution specifically talks about the right to life of "all persons born", and says absolutely nothing about the unborn! V (talk) 05:55, 13 June 2010 (UTC)

<--(undent)I have provided my comments, and as the only one who wants to change the consensus version, the burden of providing evidence to justify a change is on you. You have not convinced me, but then, I haven't seen what exactly you are proposing yet. Dawn Bard (talk) 04:11, 6 June 2009 (UTC)

I have provided the evidence, now the burden is on you to provide counter evidence or refute my evidence (not just say 'i disagree' or 'im not convinced'). Don't worry, i'm sure you will love what I'm adding - it's pro-choice after all... Utopial (talk) 04:39, 6 June 2009 (UTC)
You say you have provided evidence, but all you have provided is argument. If you want to change the article, please provide reliable sources that verify the material you want to change. SHEFFIELDSTEELTALK 13:46, 8 June 2009 (UTC)

Proposal for RfC for embryo or fetus vs the unborn

Since it appears with the editors here, we are at an impasse. Would a Request for Comment be helpful in this case? Paranormal Skeptic (talk) 01:37, 6 June 2009 (UTC)

This is incorrect. The term being proposed is 'the unborn' NOT 'the unborn human'. I have corrected for this. Utopial (talk) 01:43, 6 June 2009 (UTC)
I'll take that as a "yea" for RfC then? Paranormal Skeptic (talk) 01:46, 6 June 2009 (UTC)
Yes, but it is 'embryo or fetus' not 'embryo, fetus'. The term must be comprehensive of everything abortion applies to and embryo and fetus are medically different. Utopial (talk) 01:48, 6 June 2009 (UTC)
Not true. We can differentiate in their usages. Paranormal Skeptic (talk) 01:56, 6 June 2009 (UTC)
Are we at an impasse, really? I don't feel like having one person who dissents from consensus really constitutes an insurmountable problem. That being said, I don't think an RFC is necessarily a bad idea. I guess I'm neutral on the idea. My worry is that it will attract people on both sides of the debate that will comment based on emotion rather than on sources. Cheers, Dawn Bard (talk) 01:51, 6 June 2009 (UTC)
I agree, I don't want this debate to be lost amongst a mass of irrational comments. Utopial (talk) 01:54, 6 June 2009 (UTC)
Then, you would agree to the consensus that has been reached then not in favor of your change, yes? Paranormal Skeptic (talk) 01:56, 6 June 2009 (UTC)
No. We can have an RfC. We are a small sample so our consensus is unlikely to be representative. Also, as I have mentioned, embryo is 0-8 weeks, fetus is 8 weeks to birth and so the medically correct comprehensive term to use in this article is 'embryo or fetus'. Utopial (talk) 03:35, 6 June 2009 (UTC)

Request for Comment fetus, embryo, or the unborn as to which is more neutral

Due to an impass on subject matter here, question is which is more neutral in tone, in respect to the aricle: fetus, embryo, or the unborn Paranormal Skeptic (talk) 04:51, 6 June 2009 (UTC)

  • Fetus or embryo should be used, as applicable, per being the scientific terms for such things, and as nom.
I am sure if conservapedia, which is self-described as a conservative source, is using it as the primary term, it can easily be considered not as neutral in tone as embryo or fetus.
  • 'The unborn' and 'the unborn child' are entirely different phrases and you should not equate them. Child is the key word and what causes the framing by emotionalizing the description. It's like saying 'fetus' is the same as 'fetus parasite'.Utopial (talk) 10:50, 7 June 2009 (UTC)
  • 'The unborn' is also correct scientific terminology, as evidenced by significant scholarly use [2]. Utopial (talk) 05:36, 6 June 2009 (UTC)
  • The unborn would be the more accurate definition, since fetus and embryo are both often used in an attempt to cause the reader to forget that we are talking about unborn human beings, not just masses of cells that we have the right to do whatever we want with. --Andrew Kelly (talk) 05:01, 6 June 2009 (UTC)
  • Whilst the three terms are scientifically accurate (as evidenced by significant scholarly use of all), 'fetus' and 'embryo' are often used by pro-choice supporters in an attempt to dehumanize the subject. No evidence has been provided that 'the unborn' is used for such framing - pro-life supporters frame by including emotionalized words such as baby and child. Therefore, the unborn is the most neutral. Utopial (talk) 05:05, 6 June 2009 (UTC)
  • Fetus and embryo are scientifically accurate, neutral, medical-textbook- type words. "The unborn" is spectacularly vague. If all mentions of 'fetus' in the article were replaced with 'the unborn' the article would no longer make sense. It leaves the reader asking the obvious question, "the unborn...what?" I am in favour of the scientific/medical terminology, therefore of fetus and embryo. Dawn Bard (talk) 05:19, 6 June 2009 (UTC)
  • Dawn, likewise the question can be posed 'what fetus/embryo?' - a chicken fetus? We are leaving out the term 'human/homosapein' from both. Scholars use all three terms. Utopial (talk) 05:22, 6 June 2009 (UTC)

:*Who would ask such a question? Obviously we are talking about an unborn human being. --Andrew Kelly (talk) 05:31, 6 June 2009 (UTC)

  • Just from grammar standpoint, unborn is an adjective and fetus and embryo are nouns. (And, yeah, I know, we are talking about the construction "the unborn", but fetus and embryo are used with "the" or "a" or "an" as well.) Anyway, that was hardly my whole argument, obviously - fetus and embryo, aside from being nouns, are specific, neutral scientific terms. If they weren't, there would be calls to rename the fetus and embryo articles. Dawn Bard (talk) 05:42, 6 June 2009 (UTC)
  • They are all scientific terms. Embryo (0-8 weeks), fetus (8 weeks-birth), the unborn (0-birth). Thus it would be incorrect to rename those development stage specific articles. Please address the pro-choice framing dehumanization issue.
  • It doesn't need to be addressed - I don't see any sources saying that it is a notable issue. The terms "embryo" and "fetus" are used in totally neutral medical texts because they are accurate and neutral. They are appropriate here, just as they are in the Abortion article. Dawn Bard (talk) 05:54, 6 June 2009 (UTC)
  • Search google and you will see how prominent a topic it is. Also, see Prof. William Brennan "Dehumanizing the Vulnerable: When Word Games Take Lives" and [3]. Now you have evidence of framing taking place, you must refute it or accept it as unneutral. Utopial (talk) 06:18, 6 June 2009 (UTC)
  • Prof. Brennan's book could certainly be used as a source for the statement that many pro-lifers consider the terms to have dehumanizing connotations, but an overtly pro-life book by an outspoken pro-life author is naturally a presentation of the pro-life point of view – it does not establish that, for the sake of this encyclopedic article, the words "fetus" and "embryo" are not in fact completely neutral medical terms. --Icarus (Hi!) 07:49, 6 June 2009 (UTC)
  • It establishes that, in the context of the abortion debate, those terms are perceived as POV and thus not neutral for an abortion related article. Neither the pro-choice or life side should be taken for this article. That is why I have proposed using the term 'the unborn' (originally I proposed using a greek symbol alpha as one author did). Framing isn't about a word being right or wrong, it's about the connotations it has and the motivations for selecting it instead of the other equally valid options. Utopial (talk) 14:45, 6 June 2009 (UTC)
Actually, as pointed out elsewhere on this page, it is the POV that an unborn human is somehow more than just a fetus, that leads to claims that to call it a fetus is to somehow diminish it. So far, though, nobody has ever offered any evidence of any sort that an unborn human is actually more than just a fetus. Do you or anyone take issue with the scientific fact that the human body is just an animal body? Have you noticed that if you Google for the exact phrase "human animal" you will get more than 1.5 million matches? There is no aspect of the human animal body that is intrinsically superior to aspects of other animal bodies. Sure, our hands are specialized for grasping in a different way than other apes' hands are specialized for grasping, but it can be argued that if humans only grasped the types of things that other apes grasp, for the same purposes that other apes grasp those things, then at least some of the other apes probably have an advantage, because their hands are specialized toward grasping those things, see? If our hands were intrinsically superior, they would be superior at grasping anything for any purpose, and they aren't. Indeed, for some purposes an elephant's trunk is a superior grasping organ than the human hand. But back to the unborn human, and the one thing that sets humans apart from all the creatures that are considered to be only animals: brainpower. Humans generally have a magnitude of unspecialized-but-versatile brainpower that no other animal is known to be able to match. The human mind does appear to be intrinsically superior to the animal mind. However! Note that word "generally" in the previous sentence; not every human has that much brainpower. A brain-dead adult human on life-support certainly doesn't, and that's why the Courts allow such a human to be unplugged from that life-support. And, of course, a human fetus measurably also doesn't have that much brainpower. While it is well known that toward the end of a pregnancy the brain of an unborn human is growing at a furious rate, it is still a fact that even the most late-term human fetus ever born didn't have more than merely animal-level total brainpower. Which most certainly means that a months-old unborn human is always and only just a fetus, nothing more than a fetus, and absolutely not intrinsically superior to the fetus of any other animal. V (talk) 06:35, 13 June 2010 (UTC)

:::::*"Unborn" is just as accurate. And, seeing as abortion is murder, being neutral is simply not important. Any attempt to define abortion as anything but murder or to define the unborn children as anything but unborn children is an attempt to whitewash the sin of abortion. --Andrew Kelly (talk) 06:05, 6 June 2009 (UTC)

  • Okay, see, "abortion is murder" is not a consensus position, or a neutral one, and being neutral on Wikipedia is absolutely important - please see WP:NPOV. I am concerned that you might be making an argument based on your personal views, rather than on reliable, neutral, independent sources. Dawn Bard (talk) 06:12, 6 June 2009 (UTC)

:::::::*The fact that abortion is murder is not an opinion or a personal view. It is biblical fact. As I said above, any attempt to put abortion in a positive or neutral light is whitewash, even when it is for the sake of "being neutral." And, on a side note, it is not possible to be neutral. Everyone believes something and their beliefs manifest themselves in everything that they do. The writers of Wikipedia cannot just leave their beliefs at the door when they come to write. That is why so much of Wikipedia is written from an atheistic point of view, because many of the writers of Wikipedia are atheists. Total neutrality is impossible. --Andrew Kelly (talk) 06:41, 6 June 2009 (UTC) Andrew, "abortion is murder" is not a fact, because there is debate as to whether unborn babies are human persons. As for biblical fact, the Bible may be fact to you, but that is your belief. Unfortunately, the writers of Wikipedia must leave their beliefs at the door, because this is a neutral encyclopedia for reference purposes and not an outlet for your beliefs. If you want to write about your own beliefs you can write your own blog or website or join a pro-life forum but in Wikipedia we must address both sides of all controversies, and not assume any controversial position is a "fact". -Unsigned —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:37, 24 July 2009 (UTC)

  • Fetus and embryo are completely neutral medical terms. They are used in describing gestation in any context, including those which will end in birth, not just in abortion-related contexts. Therefore, the idea that they are specifically used to dehumanize humans in this stage of development to make abortion sound more acceptable is untenable. Additionally, while Dawn Bard's wording was a little odd, I agree with the basic sentiment that using "the unborn," an adjective with no associated noun, is at best awkward. There's no need to use such a grammatically dubious wording when we have perfectly good NPOV medical terms at our disposal. --Icarus (Hi!) 06:02, 6 June 2009 (UTC)
  • Was my wording odd? Sorry - I'm not the world's best writer, but you phrased it perfectly - you pretty much said what I meant to say, only you said it much better. Cheers, Dawn Bard (talk) 06:06, 6 June 2009 (UTC)
  • The terms human fetus, human embryo and unborn human are all nouns, all scientifically correct, all refers to homosapiens/humans. We can change the debate to refer to this set instead. Within the abortion context framing takes place from both sides. Framing isn't about definitions (the words are correct), it is about the perspective presented. Utopial (talk) 06:23, 6 June 2009 (UTC)
  • The terms "embryo" and "fetus" are also far, far more common in scientific usage, and "the unborn" is more of a colloquial term which has crept into scientific contexts, rather than a genuine medical term in its own right. There is no justification for switching to a less common term unless the more common one is blatantly POV, and the claim that "fetus" and "embryo" are POV is debatable at best. --Icarus (Hi!) 07:49, 6 June 2009 (UTC)
  • Significant usage (20k scholarly hits for the unborn) is all that is required. Gamete has less hits than fetus - that doesn't make it a less valid term. There is no evidence that "the unborn" is a colloquial term. As demonstrated, fetus/embryo is prominently perceived as POV in the abortion context and there is no evidence that 'the unborn' is. The terminology should also be consistent: (woman, man, human, unborn/prenatal human) or (adult female homo sapien, adult male homo sapien, homo sapien, fetus/embryo). Currently the juxtaposition of the terms fetus and woman accentuates the dehumanization. The aim of this exercise is to finally get rid of the 'neutrality disputed' tag on this article. I'm trying to propose solutions but no one is working with me - people keep choosing pro choice or pro life terminology which won't solve this problem. Utopial (talk) 14:45, 6 June 2009 (UTC)
  • I almost always am a huge advocate of people working together, and finding commons ground and a compromise. But the claim that basic technical terms (but not jargon by any means) are some how pro-choice bias is utter nonsense. Strong pro-choice advocates say stuff like "blob of tissue" or even refer to fetuses as "tumors". That sort of language is clearly dehumanizing. But calling something by what it would be technically referred to if this article was about birth defects, or embryogenesis, or pregnancy or any other non-abortion related topic only makes sense. I cannot find common ground because I will not concede that there is anything problematic with the words embryo and fetus. Attempts to use jargon or neologisms, or coin some sort of super-neutral terminology seems contrived to me at best. If it isn't broke, don't fix it. We aren't saying unborn child, we aren't saying blob of tissue. We are using high school (heck, middle school) level biology textbook terms. Please consider letting this drop. -Andrew c [talk] 17:36, 6 June 2009 (UTC)
  • Thanks for that, Andrew. Very well said - I agree completely. Dawn Bard (talk) 18:10, 6 June 2009 (UTC)
  • You've ignored the lack of consistency in the article. Why don't we use the scientific term for woman as well - adult female homo sapien? The article should exclusively use either the common set (woman, man, human, unborn/prenatal human) or dehumanized scientific set (adult female homo sapien, adult male homo sapien, homo sapien, fetus/embryo) or emotionalized set (mother, father, human being, unborn child/baby). Everyday usage would be the common set and all terms except fetus in this article come from that set. The mixing of dehumanized terms (fetus) with common/humanized terms (woman) for contrast is what pro-choice choice advocates are criticised for. Utopial (talk) 00:55, 7 June 2009 (UTC)
  • I apologize if this question is a bit blunt. Have you made up those three "sets" yourself? I don't equate the terms personally in the same manner as you. But to the point, neither my personally classification scheme, nor yours should be used. I'm not even sure how we'd go about sourcing such a scheme as the ones you proposed above. Seeing as "adult female homo sapien" gets 38 google hits. I can't help but think that this is just something you made up, and not some valid form of categorizing the formality/technicality of words to describe the same object. If you want me to address "the lack of consistency in the article", you first need to establish that this is somehow inconsistent in the first place. I really don't understand how this is even a big deal at all. I apologize that I don't get it .-Andrew c [talk] 01:51, 7 June 2009 (UTC)
  • Yes, I attempted to devise them myself. Clearly woman is consistent with human is consistent with unborn/prenatal human linguistically. Fetus is a biological term directly from Latin as is homo sapiens, so they are linguistically consistent. Utopial (talk) 02:01, 7 June 2009 (UTC)
  • Secondly, in terms of google hits, those terms (adult, female, homo sapiens) each stand on their own and have a significant amount of hits each. Paranormal Skeptic said this about using the term 'embryo or fetus' and why this section is titled 'fetus, embryo or the unborn' as opposed to "'fetus or embryo' or 'the unborn'". Sentences in wikipedia can be constructed without needing to source their structure. If I wanted to write about schizophrenic ugandan herbivores I don't need to source that particular combination/construction, just the individual components. Utopial (talk) 11:01, 7 June 2009 (UTC)
  • (Edit conflict - I was writing at the same time as Utopial)Andrew, please don't apologize - you have nothing to be sorry for. Again, I agree with you that no inconsistency exists. Dawn Bard (talk) 02:03, 7 June 2009 (UTC)
  • I'm trying my best to be respectful in spite of agreeing with Andrew c that I really don't see why the simple matter of using common medical terminology is an issue, but this is really getting rather silly. The term "adult female homo sapien" is never used as a common medical term. The woman will be referred to as "woman," "patient," perhaps even "gravida," never "adult female homo sapien." These personally crafted "sets" are at best good-faith but simply not accurate reflections of actual usage, and at worst a spurious straw-man. There are a number of other points that part of me wishes to make on several of the comments throughout this discussion, but I really agree with Andrew c that it's best if this affair is just ended forthwith. --Icarus (Hi!) 23:41, 7 June 2009 (UTC)
  • The issue is that a dehumanized term is being used for 'embryo or fetus' and not for all the other references. This contrast creates a bias and is something pro-life advocates prominently see as framing. I demonstrated that 'the unborn' (or prenatal) is a common medical reference and the argument against this was that the article must use the most scientific technical term, ignoring actual usage, to be neutral. It has to be consistent. I think it would be reasonable to have 'prenatal human' or 'the unborn' in the article, but if the argument is that the article must use the most scientific terms then homo sapiens can't be ignored as it is the etymologically comparable term to embryo/fetus. Otherwise, the article is not neutral. Also, the WP:OR ref is irrelevant as each of those terms stand on their own and are reliably sourced and etymology isn't personal. Utopial (talk) 01:40, 8 June 2009 (UTC)
The actual issue is that you are claiming that the word "fetus" somehow dehumanizes a particular living organism, without offering any rationale why such a claim might be true. The subject of abortion is generally not about any other variety of fetus!!! --so why, just because the word "human" might not be explicitly specified, would any reader somehow conclude that something less-than-human is being discussed???? In the interests of offering something of a compromise, though, I might suggest that the article specify "human fetus" occasionally. Do note, though, that it can be annoyingly verbose to say a long phrase over and over and over again, especially when a short phrase might exist that is understood to have the same meaning as the long phrase. In this case, "human fetus" is the "long" phrase, while "fetus" is the short phrase. V (talk) 07:25, 13 June 2010 (UTC)
  • Comment Please, remember this is not a vote, and whether or not abortion is murder is not the contention, and wikipedia is not a place to lay such judgments. This is purely to determine which term(s) are most neutral in tone. Paranormal Skeptic (talk) 14:41, 6 June 2009 (UTC)
  • Fetus or embryo is acceptable, though simply fetus is preferable except in cases where there is some doubt, or when reporting the viewpoint of a source that uses both terms. The fact that non-neutral people say these terms are non-neutral really doesn't prove anything (other than that those people have specific strongly-held views). SHEFFIELDSTEELTALK 13:55, 8 June 2009 (UTC)
  • To ensure consistency, either all or none of the strict scientific Latin/Greek classifications should be used (embryo, homo sapiens, fetus, femina, etc). Alternative terminology is available that, whilst not strictly scientific, is commonly used by scholars (woman, prenatal, human, the unborn, adult, female, male, etc). Given that this is a philosophy/ethics article and not a physical sciences article, I don't believe it is necessary to use the strict scientific classifications, so long as the terminology is consistent. Consistency is necessary for neutrality (rather than humanizing some terms and dehumanizing/sterilising other terms). If it is necessary to make reference to the specific embryonic period or homo sapiens species for instance, using this scientific terminology is acceptable as there are no alternatives. Let me know your thoughts on which type of terminology (scientific Latin/Greek or merely scholarly) you feel is more appropriate and why. Utopial (talk) 02:50, 9 June 2009 (UTC)
  • An alternative, non-scientific, scholarly common, simple, etymologically consistent system that could be used as an alternative are the following words (adult, female, male, pre-natal, human), all originally English words, derived from Latin (typically through French). When unnecessary, 'human' can be omitted - e.g. 'in the prenatal stage' or 'female adult'. Utopial (talk) 06:07, 9 June 2009 (UTC)
  • It looks to me that, overall, a consensus has been reached to keep the standard medical terminology. I propose that we consider this matter closed unless anyone has an argument against using standard medical terminology other than Andrew Kelly's self-admitted refusal to be neutral or Utopial's unilateral support for a contrived false dichotomy which does not reflect actual usage of the terms. --Icarus (Hi!) 03:42, 9 June 2009 (UTC)
  • As afore stated, this is not a vote. Scientific classification is neither contrived nor false - it is the only true standard. Medical terminology merely borrows scientific classification. To suggest there is a standard in practice is false, evidenced by the wide variation and informality in the terminology used in published medical papers. The only contrived, false dichotomy is the one presently in place for which no standard classification system can be referenced to prove it correct (it also incorrectly ignores the embryonic period by solely using 'fetus'). If the scientific standard is used, it should be used in entirety so as to be consistent. Utopial (talk) 04:53, 9 June 2009 (UTC)
You're right. It's not a vote. However, consensus at this time states we should use the medical terminology. The catholic online encyclopedia uses it, conservapedia uses the terms you propose, encyclopedia brittanica uses fetus. It would appear fetus is the more neutral, and the most encyclopedic. Paranormal Skeptic (talk) 11:21, 9 June 2009 (UTC)
  • Conservapedia does not use the terms I proposed (read my two points above this thread - I am proposing either true Latin/Greek scientific classification or terms consistently derived from Latin). This article currently uses a system that is not verified by any formal classification system and is etymologically inconsistent. The two systems I have proposed avoid inconsistencies and thus the bias created by dehumanising some terms and not others. This lack of neutrality must be addressed, not ignored. Utopial (talk) 12:44, 9 June 2009 (UTC)
Well, since you see it as true that there is bias, I guess it must be true. Consesnsus at this time is showing it (the term fetus or embryo) as being the most neutral. So, the argument that bias is being ignored is simply unfounded, since you are the only one seeing it. Paranormal Skeptic (talk) 14:02, 9 June 2009 (UTC)
  • Read my two posts in the above thread (6 or 7 posts back). Fetus is fine so long as: all or none of the strict scientific Latin/Greek classifications should be used (embryo, homo sapiens, fetus, femina, etc). Utopial (talk) 14:26, 9 June 2009 (UTC)
  • Common medical terminology has no requirement that all words used derive from the same language. We do not, for instance, say that someone has a paralyzed brachionas to meet your contrived standard for linguistic "consistency." We say that they have a paralyzed arm, a Greek word and an English one. The consensus is to be consistent with actual useage, in which most common medical/scientific terms are embryo and/or fetus and the woman is never referred to as an "adult female homo sapien." --Icarus (Hi!) 15:26, 9 June 2009 (UTC)
  • Your argument is that we go with actual usage. The problem is that there is no standard medical terminology in actual usage - as evidenced by the wide variation and informality in published medical papers. Actual usage doesn't narrow things down for us. We are left with a pool of scholarly, medical, used words to choose from. To choose from this pool, we need to employ the 'science of language' - linguistics, particularly etymology (Greek for 'the study of true meaning'). There is one standard that has a very strict system of individual terms with no alternatives - scientific classification (which uses Greek/Latin terms) - embryo, homo sapiens, fetus, femina, etc. This is one defined classification scheme we could use. Another (as I mentioned above), are non-scientific terms derived from Latin - prenatal, female, human, male, adult, etc. These classification systems ensure linguistic etymological consistency (ie consistent 'true meaning' of 'language'). Basically, the further removed from the scientific standard, the more colloquial and thus the more connotations and less neutrality, e.g. fetus -> prenatal human -> baby. But if we used words equally removed from the scientific standard, the colloquial level will be the same and we achieve a neutral consistent result in meaning. The issue of neutrality is one solved by linguistics & etymology. Utopial (talk) 01:24, 10 June 2009 (UTC)
  • Fetus or embryo seems the most neutral to me as someone with a foot on both sides of the fence. Babies are 'born', fetuses and embryos are not, and therefore I think the term unborn carries a certain bias towards the pro-life position.heavensblade23 (talk) —Preceding undated comment added 20:31, 9 June 2009 (UTC).
  • Fetus. --œ 10:46, 11 June 2009 (UTC)