To take another kind of similar case: suppose that it turns out we arenever able, from a practical standpoint, to viably thaw out people whoare cryogenically frozen in the hope that whatever disease they had beforefreezing can someday be cured. We, of course, might say that such peopleare "frozen alive", but are they really still alive? There is no telling,not because we don't know anything about them, but because the conceptof "alive" never was clearly enough defined or used before to let us discoverwhether it applies in such a case or not. There would be nothing to discover,just a stipulation or decision to be made, an arbitrary stipulation ordecision. Whether embryos or fetuses should be called alive or human ornot is not really important; what is important is that normal fetuses,without abortions being performed, generally become human beings -- thisis the most salient fact. Whether they should be called human or alive,or things that can be murdered, at a stage earlier than they were beforeis an arbitrary matter to be pronounced rather than discovered. But themost salient point about fetuses is that in a fairly short time -- at birth-- they will be alive and human. If we stipulated that a four day old fetuswas not yet alive or human, and that a five day old fetus was, it seemsto me that the fact killing it on the fifth day would be called murderand killing it on the fourth day would not be called murder makes virtuallyno difference in the morality of the situation. I doubt it would make anydifference to the fetus. Consciousness or self-consciousness would be insignificanton the fifth day and nothing else of any moral relevance would be significantlydifferent either. I am not saying that when some people die makesno difference; I am only saying that I think when a fetus dies makes nodifference, no significant moral difference. I think that may also be trueof a newborn baby; that a newborn baby dies is significant, but whetherit dies on its second day after birth or its third day seems to be of littleconsequence relative to continuing to live. Whether a fetus is killed ornot is morally significant, not when. At the other end of the spectrumthere is a joke on an old Jewish toast that one should live "to be 120years old". One fellow toasts to his friend that he should live to be "120and three days." The friend asks why the extra three days, and the onegiving the toast says "because I don't want you should drop dead all ofa sudden." The point of the humor is that it is hard to imagine that formost people it would matter much at all whether they live to be 120 or120 and three days. Three days at the beginning of a short life or at theend of a long life, it seems to me, are of very little consequence, absentsomething very special that could only happen in those three days time.


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