Inaccuracy in the abortion topic

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Inaccuracy in the abortion topic

Post  Kelsey on Sun Nov 22, 2009 5:04 pm

In the Truth-Saves abortion topic page, it asks whether life begins at conception and answers "Based on any basic understanding of biology the answer of that is clearly, NO." It gives no evidence for this statement, but just goes on to talk about Bible verses. Frankly, I expected better from you. The truth is that there is widespread consensus in the medical community that conception marks the beginning of the life of a unique human individual. You'll find a statement to that effect in any mainstream embryology textbook (I took a prenatal development class at a secular college). The abortion topic page goes on to say that "abortion is a terrible thing," but if you actually believe (in defiance of the facts) that unborn humans are not alive, then this is a condradiction.

Many non-Christians are pro-life. See, for example, SecularProLife.org and GodlessProLifers.org. No belief in a soul is required. We can debate about the best ways to prevent abortion, but if you're pro-choice, at least do the courtesy of not basing your arguments on lies. (And that includes the lie that illegal abortion killed thousands of women a year before Roe. Government records show that to be clearly false, and the activist who invented the figures- Bernard Nathanson- has confessed.)

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Re: Inaccuracy in the abortion topic

Post  Clint on Thu Nov 26, 2009 7:43 pm

Hi Kelsey,

Thanks for your post and welcome to the new Truth-Saves forums.

Does life begin at conception, always a controversial topic... Upon analyzing intial conditions of the early developmental process of post conception that leads to human life we see several different stages. From a zygote, to cleavages, to the formation of a blastocyst, etc right up to late embrionic conditions and eventually a fetus.

"Well in reality "life" starts before conception, each sperm produced in a male body is a living organism." That's directly from the paragraph your referring too. There's no doubt that there is organic life from before the beginning, up until the end. But I think the real question when we get down to it is, where abouts on this line do we say it's a human life? To answer this we really only have to look at the very initial developmental stages, as there's no doubt we all agree that later development in the womb is human life.

A zygote is simply a cell fused together from 2 gametes that contains DNA (pretty much a set of instructions). Organic life, that it is. But human life, no. All mammal's go through this particular stage. We wouldn't call the clump of zygotic cell's in a vampire bat, a human life would we... Eventually, after several days the zygotic replicating cells will turn into a blastocyst, which is a clump of a hundred non-conscious, non-human specific cell's. Once again, this is found in all mamals. Yes it is a fertilized egg, but in no way does that mean it's a human. All the attributes we assign to what it is to being human are completely absent in these early stages of embryonic development. It is the start of a process which will eventually lead to human life, but is not yet currently human life. I think any references to the contrary would be more philosophical, not biological fact.

If your argument is not specifically for human life, but for life in general. Than you have to think about this, in which Sam Harris elegantly puts it. A three-day old human embryo is a collection of 150 cells called a blastocyst. There are, for the sake of comparison, more than 100,000 cells in the brain of a fly. The human embryos that are destroyed in stem-cell research do not have brains, or even neurons. Consequently, there is no reason to believe they can suffer their destruction in any way at all ...If your concerned about suffering and loss of life, killing a fly should present you with far greater moral difficulties than killing a human blastocyst.

It gives no evidence for this statement, but just goes on to talk about Bible verses.
Well this site isn't a text book, and if you looked, the paragraph actually gives references to further information and more related reading if you click on the hyper links given for embryological development and consciousness.

Thanks.
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Re: Inaccuracy in the abortion topic

Post  Kelsey on Fri Nov 27, 2009 7:35 am

Notice the words I used: "unique human individual." A sperm does not fit this description; nor does a vampire bat in its earliest embryonic stages. In any event, I was not talking about stem cell research, and abortion never occurs on a blastocyst. By the time a woman can even get a positive result on a home pregnancy test, the heart is beating and development is well underway. Most abortions occur after 8 weeks, when the all organ systems are established and the embryo is recognizably human.

You say that "if your [sic] concerned about suffering and loss of life, killing a fly should present you with far greater moral difficulties than killing a human blastocyst." First, I do not think that suffering is an appropriate argument for either side. Some people have a rare genetic condition that makes them unable to feel pain, but surely we can agree that they have a right to life; similarly, it's not okay to kill someone just because the victim dies instantly in his or her sleep. "Loss of life," however, is certainly a valid question. A very young human, when killed, loses far more than a fly does. A fly loses a few more days of buzzing around thoughtlessly. A human, though, is deprived of a lifetime of the experiences that define us. Marquis argues, and I agree, that it is precisely the loss of future experiences that makes the killing of a human prima facie wrong.

You don't have to agree with me on the right to life issue. I only ask that you acknowledge that a coherent pro-life position can, and often is, made without the use of the Bible.

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Re: Inaccuracy in the abortion topic

Post  Niels on Fri Nov 27, 2009 7:19 pm

Kelsey wrote:"Loss of life," however, is certainly a valid question. A very young human, when killed, loses far more than a fly does. A fly loses a few more days of buzzing around thoughtlessly. A human, though, is deprived of a lifetime of the experiences that define us. Marquis argues, and I agree, that it is precisely the loss of future experiences that makes the killing of a human prima facie wrong.
That's the best argument I've heard against abortion. Kudos for bringing it up, Kelsey. (And welcome to the forum, by the way.)

I have one problem though with your argument. It seems to me that you chose what to value. Clint values non-suffering, while you value future experiences. Apparently, you agree that it is a matter of opinion, not of universal truth.

If so, then shouldn't we ask the mother what she values most: The fetus' possible future or her own non-suffering?
(For some women, pregnancy, birth and child raising are torture.)
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Re: Inaccuracy in the abortion topic

Post  Clint on Mon Nov 30, 2009 7:48 pm

While I do agree with some of what you say Kelsey. I think you need to define your argument a little better. What specifically are we discussing here? Your words and arguments were (in your initial post) "...conception marks the beginning of the life of a unique human individual." I then went on to explain biologically why conception does not mark the beginning of a "unique human individual". You seem to have now have changed your argument towards how the termination of a fetus in latter stages of pregnancy is wrong. - These two are very different and are distinct from each other.

One is a question more for science to answer, in which I responded too. The other hasn't anything to do with science, but a choice and moral dilemma that has divided opinions on. Is your main argument something along the lines of "abortion at any stage is wrong because it terminates a life / potential life"? If so, I still disagree, but my argument would be from a complete different angle.
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Re: Inaccuracy in the abortion topic

Post  Kelsey on Wed Dec 02, 2009 8:16 am

Sorry it's taken so long to get back to you guys. I'm a law student and finals are fast approaching.
That's the best argument I've heard against abortion. Kudos for bringing it up, Kelsey. (And welcome to the forum, by the way.)
Thanks Niels. I think that most pro-lifers subscribe to this argument, even if they don't realize it. I say this because pro-lifers tend to be supportive of human embryo adoption. The process of thawing and transfer to the adoptive mother's uterus does kill a percentage of embryos. If it were just an issue of maintaining organic life, we'd prefer perpetual frozen storage. There's clearly another value at play here: that of equality of opportunity, giving the embryo a chance.

shouldn't we ask the mother what she values most: The fetus' possible future or her own non-suffering?
No, because it's a human rights issue. An analogy is useful here. In most situations, I'm sure we support parents' rights to make decisions about their childrens' medical treatment. But what about a Jehovah's Witness couple refusing to allow a life-saving blood transfusion for their kid? The morality of blood transfusion is a matter of opinion, and certainly the thought that your child's salvation is threatened by blood transfusion would be incredibly distressing. But courts have consistently ruled that hospitals may carry out the transfusion over parental objections, because the child's right to life trumps these concerns.

Clint, I don't fully understand your argument either. If not at conception, when do you think that an individual's life begins? Growth is continuous, and drawing a line at some arbitrary point is not acceptable to me. While you say that "we all agree that later development in the womb is a human life," prominent philosophers who attempt to justify abortion often end up arguing that human rights don't apply until later in post-birth infancy (see, for instance, Peter Singer). In any event, 8 weeks is hardly late-term.

I'm sure you have counter-arguments, and I'll have a counter-counter-argument, and we can go on indefinitely. Since we're pretty set in our views, there are probably better ways to spend our time. Accordingly, let's agree that we each have some valid points, and redirect to a slightly different vein. Given that some non-theists oppose abortion for reasons that, while you don't agree with them, are at least decent, is it appropriate to present abortion as an "atheist cause"? (In contrast, I have never heard a coherent, non-religious argument against LGBT rights.)

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Re: Inaccuracy in the abortion topic

Post  Nulono on Wed Dec 02, 2009 6:02 pm

Clint wrote:each sperm produced in a male body is a living organism."
I'm sorry, but we all know that gametes are cells of the parents. Alive, yes. Organisms, no.

We wouldn't call the clump of zygotic cell's in a vampire bat, a human life would we...[/quote]No, we wouldn't. We'd call it a vespertilian life.

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Re: Inaccuracy in the abortion topic

Post  Nulono on Wed Dec 02, 2009 6:09 pm

Kelsey wrote:some non-theists oppose abortion
Hey, I have a name! Razz

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Re: Inaccuracy in the abortion topic

Post  Clint on Wed Dec 02, 2009 10:12 pm

@Nulono: I simply disagree that a bunch of non-functioning cell's clumped together is either human life or vespertilian life. ...And so does Biology. It's organic life, which has the potential to eventually lead to a human or vespertilian life form, but biologically is not yet.

...Perhaps if you can define what your definition of a human is?

Because in my books this is not a homosapien...

----------
@Kelsey: When you say "...is it appropriate to present abortion as an "atheist cause"?". I don't think I'd call it a cause. It's a procedure that women can undergo. I'm not 100% sure what you mean sorry.
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Re: Inaccuracy in the abortion topic

Post  Nulono on Thu Dec 03, 2009 7:45 am

I'm sorry, but any biology textbook will tell you that EVERY organism begins life as a zygote.

http://skepticwiki.org/index.php/Argument_from_Incredulity

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Re: Inaccuracy in the abortion topic

Post  Kelsey on Thu Dec 03, 2009 9:05 am

Clint wrote:...Perhaps if you can define what your definition of a human is?
We certainly can't use a definition that relies on whether someone looks like our idea of a person. Historically, human rights based on appearance has never worked out well. If the law is going to be based on science, rather than on an unproven philosophy (whether religious ideology or secular personhood theories), then the best course is to ask how science would define homo sapiens. That definition begins at conception, when the full genetic material of a human individual is first present.

Clint wrote:When you say "...is it appropriate to present abortion as an "atheist cause"?". I don't think I'd call it a cause. It's a procedure that women can undergo. I'm not 100% sure what you mean sorry.
My bad. I should have used "abortion rights" or "Roe v. Wade."

Nulono: pleased to meet you!

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Re: Inaccuracy in the abortion topic

Post  Nulono on Thu Dec 03, 2009 9:46 am

http://www.cca.courts.state.tx.us/OPINIONS/HTMLOPINIONINFO.ASP?OPINIONID=16526
Scroll down to section II.C
Kelsey wrote:My bad. I should have used "abortion rights" or "Roe v. Wade."
Yeah, but this is arguing semantics.

Nulono: pleased to meet you!
You may already know me; I'm Chris R. from Facebook.

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Re: Inaccuracy in the abortion topic

Post  Clint on Thu Dec 03, 2009 8:09 pm

@Nulono: The paragraph you said to read on that site, stipulates that there are people out there with religious and secular reason's for having a stance against abortion. I agree with that, and the fact that you and me (both atheists) are debating it, tell's me that too! Smile

@Kelsey: A definition of something doesn't only include looks. A definition of a human life could include such things as; the last member of the 'homo' species, a bipedal primate, capable of consciousness, ability to feel, ability to think, ability to reason, or even any of the characteristics that human's have that distinguish them from other mammalian or primate species. etc, etc. You could include some or all of those things, I don't know.

But if it includes just one of those things, then a clump of non-functioning cells shortly after conception can not be considered human life. If you don't think any of those things are required to be classified as a human, and only necessitate just a clump of non-functioning cell's to be classified as human life, then you can find a human in literally any mammal's womb. Or with current understanding and medical advancements, any stem-cell or potentially any other cell is a human life.

...I'm sorry guys, but I still haven't seen any information put forward to support that a zygote or blastocyst qualifies as a homosapien, or more on topic, any evidence that 'conception marks the beginning of the life of a unique human individual'. What we have shown is that the result shortly after conception does anything but resemble a unique human individual.
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Re: Inaccuracy in the abortion topic

Post  Nulono on Fri Dec 04, 2009 11:29 am

Clint wrote:@Nulono: The paragraph you said to read on that site, stipulates that there are people out there with religious and secular reason's for having a stance against abortion. I agree with that, and the fact that you and me (both atheists) are debating it, tell's me that too! Smile

@Kelsey: A definition of something doesn't only include looks. A definition of a human life could include such things as; the last member of the 'homo' species, a bipedal primate, capable of consciousness, ability to feel, ability to think, ability to reason, or even any of the characteristics that human's have that distinguish them from other mammalian or primate species. etc, etc. You could include some or all of those things, I don't know.

But if it includes just one of those things, then a clump of non-functioning cells shortly after conception can not be considered human life. If you don't think any of those things are required to be classified as a human, and only necessitate just a clump of non-functioning cell's to be classified as human life, then you can find a human in literally any mammal's womb. Or with current understanding and medical advancements, any stem-cell or potentially any other cell is a human life.

...I'm sorry guys, but I still haven't seen any information put forward to support that a zygote or blastocyst qualifies as a homosapien, or more on topic, any evidence that 'conception marks the beginning of the life of a unique human individual'. What we have shown is that the result shortly after conception does anything but resemble a unique human individual.
Now that's a straw man if I've ever seen one. What is needed is an organism with a human genome.

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Re: Inaccuracy in the abortion topic

Post  Clint on Sat Dec 05, 2009 8:21 pm

...no it's not a strawman. There's several questions in there trying to extract some information. But I can't seem to get anything. I'm completely willing to change my mind on the matter, all you have to do is convince me with evidence or persuasive information. Just continually stating it's human, doesn't cut it for me.

You think a clump of cell's that have no function and currently do nothing, and just because they contain an instruction set (DNA) - that have yet to even be used, constitutes a homosapien. I can't agree with this description. I think being an actual human, a member of the homosapien species, necessitates quite a lot more.

But we're all entitled to our opinions Smile I think we'll just have to agree to disagree on this one. Neutral
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Re: Inaccuracy in the abortion topic

Post  Nulono on Sun Dec 06, 2009 5:42 am

Clint wrote:...no it's not a strawman. There's several questions in there trying to extract some information. But I can't seem to get anything. I'm completely willing to change my mind on the matter, all you have to do is convince me with evidence or persuasive information. Just continually stating it's human, doesn't cut it for me.

You think a clump of cell's that have no function and currently do nothing, and just because they contain an instruction set (DNA) - that have yet to even be used, constitutes a homosapien. I can't agree with this description. I think being an actual human, a member of the homosapien species, necessitates quite a lot more.

But we're all entitled to our opinions Smile I think we'll just have to agree to disagree on this one. Neutral
Not just any old clump of cells qualifies as a human being; those cells have to constitute an organism. An organism with the genome homo sapiens is a human just like an organism with the genome felis catus is a cat. All sexually reproducing species have a zygotal stage.

Also, I wasn't going to say anything, but please stop using apostrophes in plurals.

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Re: Inaccuracy in the abortion topic

Post  Kelsey on Sun Dec 06, 2009 11:41 am

I think being an actual human, a member of the homosapien species, necessitates quite a lot more.
Well, mainstream biologists would disagree. Membership in a species is determined by DNA. Let me phrase it another way: is it possible for any individual creature to change species during its life cycle? Obviously no. But if an embryo is not a homo sapiens and the later newborn is, then that would have to be what has happened. An zygote has the DNA of its species from conception. (I'm not sure what you mean when you say that the DNA is not being used. Actually, since much DNA is dedicated to guiding early development, an embryo may well "use" more DNA than the adult stage of that species.) Humans are no exception.
As someone else put it: "You did not "come from" an embryo, you once were an embryo." That is why I say that conception marks the beginning of a unique human individual.

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Re: Inaccuracy in the abortion topic

Post  Clint on Sun Dec 06, 2009 9:45 pm

Hi Kelsey,

Cheers for the link, I had a read. I still uphold that mainstream biologists do not all agree that "conception marks the beginning of a unique human individual". I'd be interested in seeing quotes from actual biologists specifically making this statement. You might find the odd one, but I don't think you could find many, as it's a very grey area of when you could classify the developing zygote, blastocyst, embryo a member of the homosapien species.

I will quote though one biologists we all should love, cheers P.Z. Myers.
PZ writes: "I'm also confident that the freshly fertilized zygote is not human, either. There's more to being human than bearing a cell with the right collection of genes."

and...

"Life does not begin at conception. It's an utterly nonsensical position to take. There is never a "dead" phase -- life is continuous. Sperm are alive, eggs are alive; you could even make the argument that since two cells (gametes) enter, but only one cell (a zygote) leaves, fertilization ends a life. Not that I would make that particular claim myself, but it's definitely true that life is more complicated than the simplistic ideologues of the anti-choice movement would make it."

PZ Myers also goes on to quote Wolpert, which he describes him as "one of the best known developmental biologists on the planet".
Wolpert writes: "What I'm concerned with is how you develop. I know that you all think about it perpetually that you come from one single cell of a fertilized egg. I don't want to get involved in religion but that is not a human being. I've spoken to these eggs many times and they make it quite clear ... they are not a human being."

...But a question for you guys. If a "unique human individual" starts at conception, whats your view about monozygotic twinning that can occur around day 15 of the embryo's development? This is where the zygote will split a couple of weeks after conception, and start to form identical twins. ...So if the zygote, A, divides into two genetically identical cell groups that give rise to identical twins B and C, B and C cannot be the same individual as A because they are not numerically identical with each other. This shows that not all persons can correctly assert that they began their life as a zygote.
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Re: Inaccuracy in the abortion topic

Post  Nulono on Mon Dec 07, 2009 9:28 am

A sperm and an egg are alive, yes, but they are both cells of the parent organisms. When they join in sexual reproduction, they produce a new organism.

As for the concept of twinning, you are correct. Zygote A divides into B and C, and therefore neither B nor C can claim that their particular life began at conception. However, that does not mean that an organism, A, never existed. If you cut a flatworm in half you get 2 flatworms; this doesn't mean you never started with one.

I think the problem being made is you are not distinguishing between a cell that is part of an organism and a cell that is an organism.

As for "I have spoken to", are you implying that the mute (or infants or the comatose) are not human? As for "fertilized egg", there are no fertilized eggs; when the egg and sperm join, they form a zygote. A zygote is not an egg.

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Re: Inaccuracy in the abortion topic

Post  Kelsey on Mon Dec 07, 2009 8:44 pm

Nulono beat me to the punch on that one, so let's focus on this:
Clint wrote:I'd be interested in seeing quotes from actual biologists specifically making this statement. You might find the odd one, but I don't think you could find many, as it's a very grey area of when you could classify the developing zygote, blastocyst, embryo a member of the homosapien species.
Gladly.
"A zygote is the beginning of a new human being (i.e., an embryo)." ~Keith L. Moore, The Developing Human: Clinically Oriented Embryology, 7th edition
"Development begins with fertilization, the process by which the male gamete, the sperm, and the female gamete, the oocyte, unite to give rise to a zygote." ~T.W. Sadler, Langman's Medical Embryology, 10th edition
"After fertilization has taken place a new human being has come into being. [It] is no longer a matter of taste or opinion...it is plain experimental evidence. Each individual has a very neat beginning, at conception." ~Dr. Alfred M. Bongioanni, University of Pennsylvania
"By all the criteria of modern molecular biology, life is present from the moment of conception." ~Dr. Jerome LeJeune, specialist in genetic disorders
"The beginning of a single human life is from a biological point of view a simple and straightforward matter – the beginning is conception." ~Hymie Gordon, Mayo Clinic

I just pulled out the most salient quotes, but there are many more. Here are some medical quotes about prenatal life at the later ages when abortions are typically done. I respect PZ Myers, but on this point, he's clearly in the minority.

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Re: Inaccuracy in the abortion topic

Post  Nulono on Tue Dec 08, 2009 2:04 pm

You don't even need to go into embryology; high school science courses on sexual reproduction will tell you as much.

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Re: Inaccuracy in the abortion topic

Post  Clint on Sun Dec 13, 2009 1:17 am

Sorry guys it's taken me so long to reply. I've been going back and forth to Australia over the last few of weeks!

Hey, ...question: I know you think that a zygote is a homosapien. Going on this, in your opinion would you consider, say, the abortion of a 4 day old blastocyst, murder?
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Re: Inaccuracy in the abortion topic

Post  Nulono on Sun Dec 13, 2009 12:31 pm

Clint wrote:Sorry guys it's taken me so long to reply. I've been going back and forth to Australia over the last few of weeks!

Hey, ...question: I know you think that a zygote is a homosapien. Going on this, in your opinion would you consider, say, the abortion of a 4 day old blastocyst, murder?

Not that that would technically count as abortion, but no; murder is defined as the unlawful killing of one human being by another. Abortion is currently lawful.

The killing of one human being by another regardless of its legality is homicide. Is it homicide? Yes.

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Re: Inaccuracy in the abortion topic

Post  Clint on Sun Dec 13, 2009 12:57 pm

The definition I got from an attorney website is: Murder is the act of killing another human being with malice, traditionally called "malice aforethought." Malice is defined as the intent to kill or to inflict bodily injury, either express or implied.

But... it doesn't matter, "homicide" / "murder", virtually indistinguishable. It's just playing up on words.

Out of curiosity, what do you think the punishment should be for the woman? the doctor?
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Re: Inaccuracy in the abortion topic

Post  Nulono on Sun Dec 13, 2009 2:06 pm

http://caseforlife.com/evidence.asp

Clint wrote:The definition I got from an attorney website is: Murder is the act of killing another human being with malice, traditionally called "malice aforethought." Malice is defined as the intent to kill or to inflict bodily injury, either express or implied.
http://www.google.com/search?rlz=1C1GGLS_enUS332US333&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8&q=define:murder
unlawful premeditated killing of a human being by a human being

But... it doesn't matter, "homicide" / "murder", virtually indistinguishable. It's just playing up on words.
It's an important distinction.

Out of curiosity, what do you think the punishment should be for the woman? the doctor?
I can't answer that question without any details. Also, my view on what punishments should be for anything haven't quite been decided yet.

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