When does a baby count as a living being?

Discussion in 'Belief and Spirituality' started by iBrian, Jul 22, 2003.

  1. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Staff Member

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    I've seen this issue raised - when does a baby count as a living being? - for discussion elsewhere, and usually the answer can vary to anywhere between the moment of conception to the moment of birth.

    However, recent experience has me re-evaluating this issue.

    We have two young children already - Hannah Rhiannon, who's 4, and Skye Caitlin, who's 18 months. Personally, I really wanted a vasectomy (even on the NHS!), but my girlfriend wasn't keen.

    Then, for the past three months, I've had a feeling that another one was on its way. I even had a name decided: Maya. During this time I remember distinctly waking from a dream, and thinking that there was someone missing from our family.

    And now my long-term partner, Julie, is pregnant. Maya is coming!

    Or is she? There's always the possibility that the coming child is a boy - and we're both agreed that Torrin is a good boy's name. :)

    OMG - hope it's not twins!

    So on the issue of when does a baby count a living being I have to say that I still couldn't say to a date. But if you ask me when does a baby have a "soul" - I'm now left thinking: three months before conception!

    Oh - and I'm allowed a vasectomy now! :)
     
  2. bgruagach

    bgruagach eclectic Wiccan

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    One joke that I've heard which gives an answer to this question is:

    "A fetus/baby/infant counts as a person with rights of its own when it graduates from medical or law school."

    ; )

    Ben
     
  3. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

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    Namaste Brian,

    very interesting thread topic...

    you can imagine that from the Buddhist point of view, the answer is a bit different than one might ordinarly give. in our view, the child is a continuation of a previous existence, so the question becomes, then... ... when is a child not considered a living being?

    now, if what you are asking is "when does a child aquire human rights" that would be a different answer altogether :) that answer, it seems to me, would be more of a political one than a spiritual one. i think the answer to this question would be very dependent on one's politicial climate and so forth. i tend to feel that children are given lesser rights within a society until they reach an age of maturity (whatever that might be) and can then assume additional responsiblities.

    [tangent] that seems to be one of the strangest logical disconnects that i've been a witness too.. the severing of responsilbility from rights. if you have a right to vote, for instance, it is conversely your responsibility to exercise that right. [/tangent]
     
  4. Dave the Web

    Dave the Web New Member

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    Now that is interesting and I had not thought of that? Perhaps that is why Brian felt like the life was coming through?
     
  5. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Staff Member

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    It is certainly an interesting idea. :)

    However, I wonder how much our reliance on the perception of time flaws our general attitude to the entire question of asking "when" life begins? I have a sneaking suspicion that a proper answer to the question of "when" would be on the lines of "always, will be, and is!"
     
  6. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

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    Namaste Brian...

    are you sure you're not a Buddhist?

    :)
     
  7. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Staff Member

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    LOL! I've never been good with titles. :)

    Maybe I should delve more into general Buddhist thinking. :)
     
  8. petertdavis

    petertdavis New Member

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    Good way to dance around the abortion issue. To me, the most logical answer is that we count as humans when we can survive outside of the womb. However, the issue is far too complicated for any one-liner answer to do justice. A hundred years ago, for example, the point which a fetus could survive as a baby outside the womb was very different than the conditions that exist today. A hundred years from now, I expect it to be very different again. The root of the issue is religious, which again makes it very difficult to apply logic to the question. Since when was religion based on logic? LoL If one religion regarded canibalism as a sacred right, would we discuss the question 'at what point is it okay to eat someone?"
     
  9. petertdavis

    petertdavis New Member

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    BTW, congratulations for the pregnancy. :D
     
  10. mee

    mee Interfaith Forums

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    from conception i would say,

    the Bible makes it plain that God recognizes and respects a life even in its early embryonic development. (Ps. 139:13-16; Jer. 1:5)

     
  11. Tao_Equus

    Tao_Equus Interfaith Forums

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    Congratulations Brian and Julie !!! and hello Maya/Torrin:)

    I dont really have any answer to your question but shared similair 'presight' with my firstborn. The other thing I would say is that you think twice about the snip. Do a bit of research....as there seems to be mounting evidence that it greatly increases certain nasty cancers.

    Regards

    TE
     
  12. wil

    wil UNeyeR1

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    I think that is the strict catholic thought yes?? no contraception as all is stopping life.

    I'm sort of starting to agree, a combination of the buddhist and the catholic...life always is...it is just a matter of when we stop it.
    I can tell you mine are nothing but a joy!

    The funny thing here in the states is that the liberals think life doesn't occur unitl the child is born...but they buy intro utero headsets so they fetus can learn while in the womb! And the conservatives think it is at conception, but they'll put 8 kids in a car w/o seatbelts....now that is what I call a potential for late term abortion...
     
  13. taijasi

    taijasi Gnōthi seauton

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    It has been stated in the esoteric (Ageless Wisdom) teachings, and confirmed repeatedly by various clairvoyant investigators, that the Soul makes its connections with the fetus at approximately 4 1/2 months, i.e., in the middle of the 2nd trimester. Interestingly (if by pure coincidence), this just happens to be what we would get if we "split the difference" in the ongoing debate between conception and birth. ;)

    One important point might be stated: The (re-)incarnating Soul always maintains the karmic right, up until birth, to refuse its new vehicle - if, for example, the vehicles having been built for it do not match up to its karmic merits/requirements. If one thinks about it, this makes perfect sense, and it accounts for instances of still-birth of otherwise healthy babies. The sutratma - or `silver cord' - in such instances, has been attached and maintained for the last 4 1/2 months of gestation, but at the last moment the Soul exercises its right to refuse incarnation (into an unsuitable vehicle) ... and the disconnection of the sutratma results in immediate death. Sad as this seems from an external viewpoint, it is the best possible move for the Soul in question, lest it become subject to the unnecessary additional burdens of an unwarranted karma.

    If this is the case, why on earth would a Soul go through with birth into babies with physical or mental deformities, one might ask? Because that is
    the karma of the particular incarnating Soul, is such cases! The "veto power" does not apply in most instances. Only rarely is a vehicle produced that cannot serve the needs of the supervising Soul.

    And further
    , in many instances where a vehicle is beneath the karmic requirements of the Soul in question, the choice is made to go ahead and incarnate regardless. This is because there is such a tremendous desire for experience on the part of Souls at this time, and sacrifices are made almost as a rule. Perhaps this is partially due to trishna/tanha (and thus a personality pull), but it is also the conscious choice of the Soul to make such a sacrifice.

    As to whether the fetus is a living organism for the first 4 1/2 months ... of this there is no question, and certainly no debate. The issue concerns the scale or type of entity we're considering. Esoterically, the `builders' (lesser, devic lives) begin their work at the moment of conception, and it is safe to say that a vast amount of work goes into the organism from start to finish, during all 9 months. What is being produced, after all, is not just a collection of cells, organs, and so forth - but an entire physical organism, a delicate, comlicated vital mechanism (etheric body) with its force-centers (chakras), and the infinitely more complex astral and mental bodies that each incarnating soul has created for it afresh, per incarnation ... except in certain exceptions.

    And people wonder why we don't remember previous lives. Hell, I don't even remember what I did two Tuesdays ago - and that information IS stored in my current brain/mind!!! :p

    Science will one day be able to corroborate the teachings of Esotericism, and to verify the observations of (trained) clairvoyants. Many ethical questions certainly remain, and the abortion debate is not the false dichotomy that is usually presented ... just as the `creation/evolution' debate is similarly - a false dichotomy. But of course, for the unthinking, life's little mysteries really do boil down to choosing between one of two popular, ready-made viewpoints ... and the implications remained unquestioned (like religious beliefs), as we swallow our choice whole-hog. Yick, what a terrible case of indigestion! :rolleyes:

    What did Winnie-the-Pooh say? Think think think ...
    protokletos
     
  14. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    Thank you for resurrecting this thread. On Brian's behalf, his beautiful little girl was born some time ago, over a year now I think. The remaining details I will leave for him.

    As for the original question, "When does a baby count as a living being?," has anybody here from the states actually taken a look into Rowe v. Wade? What the judges decided, and why, including the English law precedent they based their decision on? Anybody here familiar with the term "quickening?" Or how abortion was not intended, per Rowe, beyond the condition of the quickened fetus?

    Hmmm?

    But let us not turn this thread into a commentary on abortion. The question remains as when does a baby count as a living being?
     
  15. bob x

    bob x New Member

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    The question is badly phrased. The unfertilized egg and the sperm cell are already "living", in the biological sense. Life doesn't "begin", either at conception or birth, it continues. The embryo does not count as a "sentient" being until the ability to sense and react is present, about 4 months as our Hindu friend pointed out (the "quickening" in the old English common law).
     
  16. Popeyesays

    Popeyesays New Member

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    Baha`i's are told that the soul is part of the body at conception. Abortion is not allowed as a means of birth control, but when the health of the mother is the question then it is a personal choice to be soberly evaluated and the decision is between the mother and the doctor.

    Regards,
    Scott
     
  17. Tao_Equus

    Tao_Equus Interfaith Forums

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  18. truthseeker

    truthseeker New Member

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    Why would one not be a living being until born? Would it be because the fetus is dependant on the mother for nourishment? If that is the case, then I would have to agree with bgraugach's joke about one not being a living being until graduated from med or law school. Bob X had a really good point that I had never considered, which puts the Buddhist view right on the nail. Strange how it takes different perspectives to bring a full picture to light.
     
  19. taijasi

    taijasi Gnōthi seauton

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    Regarding a more conventional, or exoteric view on spirits waiting for incarnation - whether Buddhistic or Christian - I'm not sure there are any clear teachings on this subject. I'm sure someone can dig up a sutra somewhere, and possibly there could be some Old Testament quotes ... but I come at things from the perspective of an esoteric Buddhist, if at all.

    From that angle - and as verified by clairvoyant research - the fetus grows from the moment of conception, and the Soul takes hold of the new physical, astral & mental bodies at approx. 4 1/2 months, or in the exact middle of pregnancy. However, even until the moment of birth there is not a full "appropriation" of the vehicles, and esotericists maintain that technically the next 21 years are spent continuing (or recapitulating) this appropriation (~7 years per vehicle).

    The way the subject of this thread is worded, it's almost a no-brainer .... certainly a baby is a living organism at the moment of conception - during the combining of egg & sperm. These, separately, are also living; they're just single cells. Even individual cells, esoterically, are ensouled, in the sense that there is an `animating principle,' albeit very, very simple (and certainly not a soul in the sense of an individual, or individualized entity). Since this is what I think we mean by "living being" when referring to the baby, I'd have to stick with the esoteric view as related.

    Buddhists speak of skandhas, or `personality attributes' - which is certainly what esotericists believe as well, maintaining that the physical, astral & mental bodies have gradually dissolved and been vacated following the end of the last incarnation (the passing through the Bardo). Some Buddhist sects, such as the Pure Land folks, emphasize birth (technically as a Deva) in what Theosophists (and Hindus) call Devachan ... but this is only an interval between lives - and esoterically it signifies the Soul out of incarnation, and closest to its Divine Parent, or source.

    After visiting Devachan, which could equate with a few moments of "time," or last several years ... the Soul returns to birth by the gradual descent through denser & denser matter (something science can one day verify), associating itself with its future personality vehicles from even before the moment of conception, under the guidance or parameters of the Lords of Karma (Lipika). An actual physical connection may not be made for several more months, and finalized until birth, but the Soul has its prior existence in the Heaven-worlds before & apart from birth, as maintained by Neo-Platonists and the Eastern doctrines alike. From a certain spiritual perspective it could even be said that several future incarnations are foreseen (in broad brushstrokes, though not in every minute detail), although there is less clarity as a soul progresses spiritually, since a given lifetime can vary greatly in how much spiritual work is accomplished.

    These are just some things that occur to me before my morning cuppa joe. After that, who knows what crazy sequence of neurons might - or might not - fire.
    andrew
     
  20. Tao_Equus

    Tao_Equus Interfaith Forums

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    Thanks Andrew,
    So does that mean the the physical vehicle is unimportant and thus expendable? And so abortion no real sin?


    Regards

    TE
     

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