is a fetus a human?

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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robertk
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is a fetus a human?

Post by robertk » Mon Aug 31, 2015 7:01 am

Dan74 » Sun Aug 30, 2015 7:30 pm

While abortion is certainly not a trivial matter, to equate the life of a 2-month-old foetus to a life of say, a two-year-old child, like the comparison of the statistics of people dying of poverty and abortion, suggest, is wrong, IMO.
A 2-month-old foetus is one-inch long and has not even formed the nerve-endings to feel pain. It is a potential human, true, but it is not a human. As much as I respect people feeling strongly about abortion, we should respect all the facts too.
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Mkoll
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Re: is a fetus a human?

Post by Mkoll » Mon Aug 31, 2015 7:59 am

Here we go...

:popcorn:
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa

Dinsdale
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Re: is a fetus a human?

Post by Dinsdale » Mon Aug 31, 2015 8:44 am

It's a tricky one, but I do find the time limits rather arbitrary. Whichever way you look at it somebody is being deprived of a human life.
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SarathW
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Re: is a fetus a human?

Post by SarathW » Mon Aug 31, 2015 9:00 am

I would like to know whether a fetaus has got the consciousness. (from day one)
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Bhikkhu Pesala
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Re: is a fetus a human?

Post by Bhikkhu Pesala » Mon Aug 31, 2015 9:29 am

Some threads are best terminated in the earliest stages of life — others can be permitted to die of natural causes.
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robertk
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Re: is a fetus a human?

Post by robertk » Mon Aug 31, 2015 9:33 am

visuddhimgga VIII
30. Herein, firstly the span has no sign because there is no definition such as:
Just so much must be lived, no more than that. For beings [die in the various
stages of the embryo, namely], at the time of the kalala, of the abbuda, of the pesi, of
the ghana, at one month gone, two months gone, three months gone, four months
gone, five months gone … ten months gone, and on the occasion of coming out
of the womb. And after that they die this side or the other of the century.
The kalala is that time shortly after the meeting of the male seed with the female egg when the fetus is just beginning to develop. Once this occurs the matter is ripe for the arising of a new consciousness.
XVII
1
52. But when that minimal amount arises in the two kinds of generation
termed egg-born and womb-born, it amounts to no more than a drop of cream of
ghee on a single fibre of new-born [kid’s] wool, and it is known as the “embryo
in the first stage” (S I 206).

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robertk
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Re: is a fetus a human?

Post by robertk » Mon Aug 31, 2015 9:34 am

how long is the being in the womb?
XVI
37.When this being is born in the mother’s womb, he is not born inside a blue or
red or white lotus, etc., but on the contrary, like a worm in rotting fish, rotting dough,
cesspools, etc., he is born in the belly in a position that is below the receptacle for
undigested food (stomach), above the receptacle for digested food (rectum), between
the belly-lining and the backbone, which is very cramped, quite dark, pervaded by
very fetid draughts redolent of various smells of ordure, and exception-ally
loathsome.11 And on being reborn there, for ten months he undergoes excessive
suffering, being cooked like a pudding in a bag by the heat produced in the mother’s
womb, and steamed like a dumpling of dough, with no bending, stretching, and so
on. So this, firstly, is the suffering rooted in the descent into the womb.
The pain of abortion
XVI
39. When the mother has an abortion, the pain that arises in him through the
cutting and rending in the place where the pain arises that is not fit to be seen
even by friends and intimates and companions—this is the suffering rooted in
abortion.

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acinteyyo
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Re: is a fetus a human?

Post by acinteyyo » Mon Aug 31, 2015 10:51 am

A human fetus is certainly of human descent, but isn't the question rather whether a fetus is a living being or not?

I throw these questions in for the sake of discussion.

What about the "gandhabba" that needs to be present in order for an embryo to acquire sense faculties?
(Can't find the sutta at the moment, where the Buddha describes that without the descent of the "gandhabba" consciousness would not develop in a being to be born... if I remember correctly...)
MN141 wrote:"What is birth? It is the birth of beings in the various classes (planes) of beings; the production, their conception, coming into existence (re-birth), the appearance of the aggregates, acquiring of the sense-bases. This is called birth."
Does appearance of the aggregates or acquiring of the sense-bases apply for a fetus so that birth applies?
SN23.2 wrote:"'A being,' lord. 'A being,' it's said. To what extent is one said to be 'a being'?
"Any desire, passion, delight, or craving for form, Radha: when one is caught up there, tied up there, one is said to be 'a being.
"Any desire, passion, delight, or craving for feeling... perception... fabrications...
"Any desire, passion, delight, or craving for consciousness, Radha: when one is caught up there, tied up there, one is said to be 'a being.'
Is there desire, passion, delight or craving in a fetus? Is a fetus caught up there even when the aggregates or the sense-faculties aren't fully established yet?

best wishes, acinteyyo
Last edited by acinteyyo on Mon Aug 31, 2015 1:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Kim OHara
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Re: is a fetus a human?

Post by Kim OHara » Mon Aug 31, 2015 11:10 am

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:Some threads are best terminated in the earliest stages of life — others can be permitted to die of natural causes.
:smile:
That may well qualify as the best post in the thread, no matter how long the thread is allowed to grow.

:namaste:
Kim

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waterchan
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Re: is a fetus a human?

Post by waterchan » Mon Aug 31, 2015 12:03 pm

An embryo is definitely not a human because you can chuck it in the freezer and preserve it for many years.

Can you do that to a fetus, though? Hmm...

Ice ice ice baby...

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acinteyyo
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Re: is a fetus a human?

Post by acinteyyo » Mon Aug 31, 2015 12:09 pm

Spiny Norman wrote:It's a tricky one, but I do find the time limits rather arbitrary.
I was of the opinion that the time limits can be estimated more or less precisely, but now I do not believe it anymore.
Kim OHara wrote:
Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:Some threads are best terminated in the earliest stages of life — others can be permitted to die of natural causes.
:smile:
That may well qualify as the best post in the thread, no matter how long the thread is allowed to grow.
:namaste:
Kim
Yes maybe... and maybe on the other hand it settles the matter once and for all...
Thag 1.20. Ajita - I do not fear death; nor do I long for life. I’ll lay down this body, aware and mindful.

Herbie
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Re: is a fetus a human?

Post by Herbie » Mon Aug 31, 2015 1:07 pm

is a fetus a human?
Depends on the definition of "human" and the scientific verifiability of the so defined in a fetus.
Inspiration is based on the exchange of different linguistic expressions. But inspiration is best knowing how language relates to truth. :smile:

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Bundokji
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Re: is a fetus a human?

Post by Bundokji » Mon Aug 31, 2015 1:12 pm

acinteyyo wrote:A human fetus is certainly of human descent, but isn't the question rather whether a fetus is a living being or not
:goodpost:
And the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus, saying: "Behold now, bhikkhus, I exhort you: All compounded things are subject to vanish. Strive with earnestness!"

This was the last word of the Tathagata.

Dan74
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Re: is a fetus a human?

Post by Dan74 » Mon Aug 31, 2015 2:26 pm

I guess my point was that as far as harm goes we make distinction between killing a mosquito and killing a child. Obviously the foetus is on this spectrum and closer to a child. But how close, depends on its level of development, IMO. A day old foetus is not the same as a 2-month-old foetus and both are very different to a 35 week one when it is a fully formed baby that would very likely survive if born prematurely.

So to equate loss of life due to early-term abortion to say a deliberate murder of a child, is not right, in my view. We don't function in such black-and-white fashion as to say 'both are murder, there is no difference'. Then what is to stop us from putting swatting a mosquito into the same category?
_/|\_

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ryanM
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Re: is a fetus a human?

Post by ryanM » Mon Aug 31, 2015 2:52 pm

Usually we refer to fetuses of humans as human fetuses. They are most certainly 'human' seeing that fetuses have the genetic material of humans. No matter how much you'd want a zebra, it's just not going to happen. Though the question usually tends around viability. Sorry, but I think the question might not address any critical point in the typical abortion debate. Just the way I see it though!

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