April 01, 2009

Symmetry of Death


Penn Jillette made an interesting point on his video blog, searching for consistency within the abortion debate. His argument is that at the end of one's life, no brain activity means you can legally pull the plug on them, so shouldn't no brain activity of the unborn child mean they don't have human rights either?

I think this argument of consistency could do well in the legislation world. But, here's my ethical problem with it. In the case of the dying patient on the gurney, if you KNEW that in a certain number of weeks their brain would start kicking again, there's no way you'd pull the plug, right?

4 comments:

The Great I'm Not said...

Fantastic point!

Bobby Teenager said...

Good point. Also, "brain dead" is extremely loose terminolgy, almost as complicated as trying to figure out when life begins. (see article: http://www.scielo.cl/pdf/bres/v40n4/art14.pdf ) I've also heard arguments that life doesnt begin until there are "electrical signals" in the brain. The problem with this argument is that the brainstem and spinal cord are the first parts of us to start developing, and there are electrical currents in single cells and in between just 2 cells.

Bobby Teenager said...

Sorry I hit publish before I finshed. So technically there is "brain activity" from the moment of conception.

Meghan said...

You bring up a very interesting point! I think most people would say of course they wouldn't pull the plug, but those same people might have a different answer when questioned about abortion. The debate about when does life begin and end is a very controversial topic. I took a class called "Science & Society" where we discussed the issues. It brings up a lot of topics such as abortion, doctor-assisted euthanasia, and life support. Each person may have a different definition for "life" and when it begins or ends. And like Bobby Teenager said, even the definition for "brain activity" can be interpreted in different ways.