Jesurgislac’s Journal

July 30, 2008

The basics: why pro-choice is the only moral option

Pro-choice is often referred to as if it were synonymous with pro-abortion. It isn’t. Being pro-choice says nothing whatsoever about your own personal views on your own abortion, your best friend’s abortion, or a complete stranger’s abortion; being pro-choice means you believe that the pregnant woman ought to be the one to decide whether, and when, to terminate her pregnancy.

That’s because it’s thoroughly immoral to force a woman to use her body – at potential risk to her life, and likely risk to her health – to make a baby out of a fertilised egg, when she has decided she does not want to make use of her body in this way, and/or she does not want the baby.

If you want the complicated details, read on.


I go back and forth on how I feel about abortion, but as I’m not pregnant and never likely to be, how I feel about abortion is always completely hypothetical. I’ve never changed my mind about being pro-choice, and I don’t go back and forth on how I feel about people who support forced pregnancy: they always arouse a mixture of distaste and rage. In response to a question posed by Mark at A Deo Lumen, here’s the basics:

1. Why do you keep talking about forcing women when it’s all about saving fetuses?

The only means known of making a baby from a fertilised egg takes nine months (approximately) of a woman providing the use of her body and her blood in a tremendously draining, effortful process that may kill her, that will change her body permanently, and that can permanently damage her health. (You can google on maternal morbidity mortality statistics for your own country if you want to find out how dangerous this is for women in your country.) Pregnancy and childbirth involve major hormonal changes which are known to present a high risk of danger to a woman’s mental health. Motherhood entails 18 years of caring for another human being – a major emotional, financial, and life-changing decision.

The same people who argue that once a woman is pregnant, she can’t be allowed to decide to have an abortion, in general avoid talking about the pregnant woman and in general ignore the responsibility of motherhood, and pro-lifers as a movement do not support preventing abortions by providing free contraception, freely available: indeed, as discussed earlier on this blog, the pro-life movement has a history of actively opposing women’s access to contraception. There is, in fact, no record and no tradition among pro-lifers for preventing pregnancy, supporting pregnant women (American pro-life organisations are not active in any campaign for mandatory paid maternity leave in the United States), nor for supporting women who have children (as discussed earlier on this blog, pro-life politicians tend to have a solid record of opposing legislation to help children and mothers).

What pro-lifers do is argue and campaign – legally and illegally – that abortion should be less available and less legal to women who want to terminate their pregnancy. This they tend to refer to as “saving babies”, apparently in the belief that a woman who isn’t allowed to have a safe legal early abortion will be forced to continue her pregnancy until she gives birth. Pro-lifers are a forced pregnancy movement.

2. Abortion is not murder

A woman who has an abortion is – in the vast majority of abortions, those carried out early in the first trimester – not actually killing the fetus: in those instances, no one is killing the fetus. The fetus is removed from the uterus, that’s all: the woman ceases to provide her bodily resources to keep the fetus alive and developing. To cease to provide bodily resources is not murder.

You may refuse to donate a kidney, and the person who could have received a kidney and lived, dies. That isn’t murder: it’s your kidney. A woman may refuse to donate her uterus, and the potential baby that could have existed if she had wanted to provide the use of her body for nine months… never exists. That isn’t murder: it’s her body.

[Pro-lifers tend to be in agreement that forced use of organs is immoral: they just make an exception for using the uterus (using the organs of a pregnant woman) without her consent. As the essay The Only Moral Abortion Is My Abortion has already demonstrated, the anti-choicers are themselves unwilling for their own bodies to be used against their will: men can't get pregnant,and pro-life women have abortions as often as pro-choice women. ]

3. Most people who use the rhetoric of abortion=murder don’t mean it.

People who wish to assert that they do believe that abortion is murder are invited to let me know if that means they approve of sentencing to death (or imprisoning for life) both the woman who asked to have her pregnancy terminated and the doctor who performed the abortion: and if they believe every miscarriage ought to be treated as a homicide investigation: and then they can tell me what their position is on abstinence-only education (proven to increase the abortion rate) and what their position is on denial of contraception (absolutely certain to increase the abortion rate) and what their position is on free provision of contraception to all (proven to decrease the abortion rate), free provision of health care to all pregnant woman and children and mandatory paid maternity leave for all. After all, if abortion is murder, shouldn’t these people be taking prevention of abortion and support of pregnant woman and mothers much more seriously than they do?

(Update (via BitchPhD): a Youtube video which cannot find a single pro-life demonstrator who believes abortion is murder – a succession of pro-life activists who repeat “”oh yes, it should be illegal, it’s killing” but who, asked to commit themselves to the proposition that as abortion is murder, the woman who has an abortion is a murderer… “don’t have an answer to that”, “never really thought about that”. And these are pro-lifers who care enough about the issue to stand outside a health clinic with photos of late-term fetuses aborted via dilation and evacuation.)

3b. But anyone who does sincerely believe that abortion is murder is potentially very dangerous.

Pro-lifers who sincerely believed that abortion=murder have, in the past 30 years, murdered 7 doctors, tried to murder 17 more, and committed acts of terrorism including bombing and arson. Pro-life terrorism has scaled back, largely because the pro-life movement is achieving its goals legally through the legislature and because an important goal has been achieved through most of the US: ensuring abortion is not provided as a normal part of health care for women at all general hospitals, as this would be an unacceptable risk to hospital staff and patients. Pro-life terrorists still carry out several attacks per year. Anyone who convincingly maintains the position that both a woman who requests an abortion and the doctor who carries it out are guilty of premeditated murder, ought to be regarded at least as potentially dangerous, and certainly as strongly associated with the US’s most active homegrown terrorist movement.

4. Late term abortions

Arguments about late-term abortion are by nature arguments about who gets to decide what the best treatment is for a patient in an emergency medical situation. Pro-lifers/anti-choicers take the position that it’s best if political representatives make sweeping decisions for all such patients without any regard for the specifics of any individual case – to remove the legal right of the patient to make an informed decision based on medical advice, and to remove the legal obligation of the doctor to fully inform the patient so that the patient can make the best decision.

The pro-choice position is that in an emergency medical situation it’s always best if the patient and her doctor make the decision, based on the best information available about this specific emergency: and if the pregnant patient and her doctor decide that the best possible resolution is for her pregnancy to be terminated even if that means the fetus will die on delivery, or must be killed before it can be delivered for the health or the life of the woman. When pro-lifers begin to discuss situations like this, they invariably start misusing or omitting pronouns, and sentences start being cast in the passive voice, and often (as with Sebastian Holsclaw in this thread manages to propose the notion of chaining a hysterically suicidal woman to a maternity bed while she gives birth – or anaesthetizing her and performing a damaging operation on her against her will) without ever quite verbally acknowledging the enormity of the crimes proposed.

What people who talk about legally banning or restricting late-term abortions without regard for individual circumstances are saying is: doctors and pregnant woman can’t be trusted to make good decisions about whether or not to terminate a pregnancy. Politicians and judges ought to get to make those decisions for them, and to enforce those decisions on the pregnant woman’s body against her will.

(Memorably, in that same thread linked to above, Sebastian Holsclaw argued that as a lawyer who had been several thousand miles away from a suicidally distraught pregnant woman – on another continent – he was himself better able to decide what should have been done to her than any of the doctors who had actually examined her. This kind of arrogance is far from unusual among pro-lifers, and I almost feel apologetic about using Sebastian as a specific bad example, but the other example I remember is Mabus on Slacktivist, and Slacktivist uses Typepad, which means you can’t just link to a discussion thread on that blog and invite people to read it any more – Six Apart changed the blogging software to make that impossible.)

5. Adoption is not a ‘solution’ or an ‘alternative’ to abortion

“Adoption” is usually cried up as if it were an alternative to abortion – as if all problems are resolved by forcing a woman to take nine months of her life and a huge amount of effort and make a baby out of a fertilised egg, and then take the baby away from her at birth and give it up to strangers in the hope that they will find parents to care for the baby as if it were their own.

Adoption is properly a last alternative to find parents for a child whose biological parents can’t, won’t, or shouldn’t care for their own child. There are always more children in need of adoptive parents than there are adoptive parents able and willing to care for them. This pro-life argument is that a woman should have a baby she doesn’t want and can’t care for because (it’s assumed) it will be easier to find adoptive parents for that baby than it would be to find adoptive parents for any of the thousands of older children who desperately need them.

6. If a woman chose to have sex, that means she chose to get pregnant

The argument that a woman who has chosen to have sex has chosen pregnancy is almost perfectly illogical. Plainly, if choosing to have sex were identical with choosing to be pregnant, there would be no need for contraception, and no need for abortion except if the woman were raped or if the fetus were malformed or if the pregnancy threatened her health or her life or her wellbeing. So it’s a ridiculous argument from the very first premise: clearly, women do choose to have sex without also choosing pregnancy.

What this is about is regarding pregnancy and babies as an appropriate punishment for women who have sex with men for enjoyment and/or intimacy. Pro-lifers who talk about pregnancy as “consequences” and argue that women who terminate an unwanted/accidental pregnancy are being “irresponsible” are not even thinking about “saving babies”: they’re thinking about pregnancy and childbirth as punishment for sex, and women who have abortions (and sometimes, women who use contraception) as irresponsible malefactors.

To state the remarkably obvious: except for instances where a woman made use of fertility treatment to get pregnant, a woman chooses pregnancy when she finds out she is pregnant and decides not to have an abortion. In the ordinary way of things, a woman’s egg isn’t fertilised as an act of choice. A woman who isn’t allowed to decide not to have an abortion isn’t allowed to choose to become pregnant: she’s forced. If she can’t get an abortion (and of course, women who don’t want to be pregnant get abortions, regardless of whether it’s legal or illegal to do so) then she is being forced through pregnancy and childbirth against her will – she isn’t allowed to take responsibility for her own pregnancy,

The distinction is: a woman who chooses to be pregnant, or who chooses not to be by having an abortion, is being responsible. A woman who is forced is not being allowed to be responsible.

A woman may decide that abortion is a morally wrong option for her. No one can decide on behalf of any other person that abortion is the morally wrong option.

7. Exceptions: when someone else may decide

An adult may rightly decide on behalf of a young child or a mentally disabled person that abortion is the morally correct option – for example, an 11-year-old girl doesn’t physically have the ability to carry a baby to term or to care for the baby after birth, and ought not to be presented with the option of being allowed to do so – just as she ought not to be presented with the option of being drafted into the army or allowed to manufacture biological weapons or drive a bus. It’s dangerous for her to do so, and her parent or guardian therefore rightly doesn’t permit it.

There are no circumstances under which it would be morally correct for an adult to decide on behalf of a minor child asking for an abortion, that instead the minor child ought to be forced through pregnancy and childbirth against her will. Making use of a minor child’s body by force, for whatever purpose, is a despicable act.

This exception may also apply to an adult who is more absolutely incapable than a young child – who never possessed the mental equipment to consent to sex, let alone the ability to choose pregnancy, nor to care for a baby. The parents or legal guardians of a woman who is physically adult and mentally incapable may have to decide on her behalf that she should have an abortion. This is clearly not a decision that should be taken lightly, but yes: I think it could morally be taken in some instances, and should be taken if the situation is simply that the woman will give birth without understanding what is happening and then have the baby removed from her because she lacks the capacity to care for a baby even under close supervision.

8. I insist that you tell me whether or not you think the fetus is human!

The right to choose abortion is not based on any discussion of the human rights of the fetus, but on the human rights of a pregnant woman – of all women. Whether or not a fetus can be regarded as fully human, the woman who is carrying the fetus in pregnancy is always fully human, and therefore, it’s always her decision when or if to terminate the pregnancy. The right to make use of another person’s body against her will is not among the basic rights of a human being: it is therefore not a right that can be claimed on behalf of a fetus. Debate about whether or not a fetus is fully human is irrelevant.

67 Comments »

  1. Well done.

    Comment by partyless — July 30, 2008 @ 8:05 am | Reply

  2. Absolutely wonderful post. Agree with you 100%. Thankyou for writing this.

    Comment by Debbie(aussie) — July 30, 2008 @ 10:38 am | Reply

  3. [...] The basics: why pro-choice is the only moral optionPlainly, if choosing to have sex were identical with choosing to be pregnant, there would be no need for contraception, and no need for abortion except if the woman were raped or if the fetus were malformed or if the pregnancy … [...]

    Pingback by Contraception » McCain Opposes Contraception — Pass It On — July 30, 2008 @ 11:26 am | Reply

  4. Abortion is not murder

    One of the most highly regarded pro-choice arguments was offered by Judith Jarvis Thomson. She happens to see abortion as murder:

    You wake up in the morning and find yourself back-to-back in bed with an unconscious violinist. A famous unconscious violinist. He has been found to have a fatal kidney ailment and the Society of Music Lovers has canvassed all the available medical records and found that you alone have the right blood type to help. They have therefore kidnapped you and last night the violinist’s circulatory system was plugged into yours, so that your kidneys can be used to extract poisons from his blood as well as your own. If he is unplugged from you now, he will die; but in nine months he will have recovered from his ailment and can safely be unplugged from you.

    While recognizing the “right to life” of the unborn fetuses, she argues that the “right to life” does not include a right to impose upon the womb of another individual. Instead of murder being the intent of abortion, it is seen as a by-product of removing the child from the womb.

    See the full text of her argument here: http://spot.colorado.edu/~heathwoo/Phil160,Fall02/thomson.htm

    Certain death as a by-product of some action would in most cases be seen as a bad/wrong action, would it not?

    If you had the opportunity to intervene and stop someone from dying and yet chose not to, would you not have taken the ‘wrong’ action?

    Comment by kerrin — July 31, 2008 @ 3:13 am | Reply

  5. If you had the opportunity to intervene and stop someone from dying and yet chose not to, would you not have taken the ‘wrong’ action?

    If you are pregnant and discussing out loud to yourself on the Internet whether or not you should have an abortion, I do feel that there are probably other, more urgent questions you should be asking yourself – however, if you’ve already got them all sorted out, and you want to spend time discussing out loud whether it would be morally ethical for you to decide to terminate your pregnancy, it’s your time.

    As explained in the post you are responding to, your argument is irrelevant to the point I’m making in this post, which is that the only moral stance to take is that it’s up to the pregnant woman to decide whether to terminate or continue her pregnancy.

    Comment by jesurgislac — July 31, 2008 @ 7:26 am | Reply

  6. Actually, kerrin, the very last line of Ms Thompson’s discourse is as follows:

    “At this place, however, it should be remembered that we have only been pretending throughout that the fetus is a human being from the moment of conception. A very early abortion is surely not the killing of a person, and so is not dealt with by anything I have said here.”

    She very clearly accepts the hypothetical assumption that the fetus is a person from the moment of conception in order to explore the ethical structures that would naturally follow. But to state that “she happens to see abortion as murder” is to almost willfully misread her treatise.

    Best, Scott

    Comment by [moran] — July 31, 2008 @ 9:40 pm | Reply

  7. jesurgislac,

    Thanks for your response.

    If you are pregnant and discussing out loud to yourself on the Internet whether or not you should have an abortion…

    I am not pregnant. I was seeking to enter an open discussion. Like you I am testing my thoughts in relation to the subject at hand on the internet.

    …your argument is irrelevant to the point I’m making in this post…

    I was primarily responding to your points 2-3b, which all seem to contain moral arguments in favor of a woman’s liberty to choose (i.e. “Abortion is not murder”, etc. ). There seems to be some morality or moral judgements inherent in your points, which seem contradictory to a highly regarded “pro-choice” argument. I was hoping to hear your response to Thomson.

    I think the abortion issue is a very complicated one. Both legislatively and morally. Being a proponent of individual liberty I find it extremely difficult to limit, by way of legislation, a woman’s liberty of choice based on ‘morality’. In fact I don’t think morality should be legislated at all. Or put another way: legislation should not be made on the sole grounds of “what is moral.”

    You said to me:

    …the only moral stance to take is that it’s up to the pregnant woman to decide whether to terminate or continue her pregnancy

    So can this principle be applied anywhere else when legislating or not legislation morality? If I am hearing you right the morality of an action is up to the individual, right?

    I’m thinking out loud here, in relation to this… What about the morality of someone choosing to drink and drive? Should that choice be left to the individual? Are there not social consequences that are likely from their choice to do so? Is this not why there is legislation prohibiting or demanding judgment for this action? Why inconvenience them and demand that they walk, take a cab, or ask for a ride? Give them the choice. That is true liberty for the individual—freedom of choice.

    I am very interested in your thoughts. Thanks again for accepting my comment and responding.

    Comment by kerrin — August 1, 2008 @ 2:32 am | Reply

  8. I was seeking to enter an open discussion.

    But this discussion is about the morality of forcing women.

    You entered the discussion apparently with the intent of changing the subject: your comment made no reference to the issue of whether it is immoral to force a woman through pregnancy and childbirth against her will, but had to do with the individual moral decision to have an abortion.

    If I am hearing you right the morality of an action is up to the individual, right?

    No, you are not hearing me correctly. I say that the decision whether or not to have an abortion is up to the pregnant woman: and I say this because I say it is immoral to force a woman through pregnancy and childbirth against her will.

    I was primarily responding to your points 2-3b, which all seem to contain moral arguments in favor of a woman’s liberty to choose (i.e. “Abortion is not murder”, etc. ).

    I was pointing out the unreality of most anti-choice arguments. As I noted in 3a, pro-lifers who wish to claim that they sincerely believe abortion is murder are welcome to explain whether they feel that a woman and her doctor ought to be executed or sentenced to life imprisonment. I certainly welcome your views on that – if you’re trying to persuade me that you fall into the small and highly dangerous category of pro-lifers associated with the terrorist wing of the movement.

    Comment by jesurgislac — August 1, 2008 @ 6:52 am | Reply

  9. http://www.patient.co.uk/showdoc/40000301/ suggests that the maternal morbidity in the UK is a mere five.3 per 100,000 for direct morbidity, and 7.8 per 100,000 indirect, so as far as risk of death in my country – not so much.
    This doesn’t cover the other side effects of pregnancy though.

    “Motherhood entails 18 years of caring for another human being – a major emotional, financial, and life-changing decision.” – yes, but adoption avoids motherhood…

    “Pro-lifers are a forced pregnancy movement” – cool, and pro-choicers are a forced stabbing living human tissue in the head and sucking it out of a woman movement. Look, rhetoric gets us nowhere.

    2 Abandoning your baby in the garden is not murder.
    A woman who abandons her baby in the garden is not actually killing the baby: in those instances, no one is killing the baby. The baby is removed from the house, that’s all: the woman ceases to provide her resources to keep the baby alive and developing. To cease to provide resources is not murder.

    This argument is not substantive.

    3 Where you’ve done your accredited survey into the attitudes of pro-lifers I just don’t know. I’d ask for your money back if I were you.

    To answer your questions: The death penalty is wrong. (And this is the official position of the Catholic church, so 1.086 billion baptised members should believe this). I don’t support imprisoning women who’ve had abortions now, when it’s legal – that’d be ridiculously unfair. Were it illegal (this is never going to happen by the way) then of course you should go to prison, just like everyone else who breaks the law. And of course all extenuating circumstances should be taken into consideration.
    abstinence-only education = shit = denial of contraception
    free provision of contraception to all = great = free provision of health care to all pregnant woman and children and mandatory paid maternity leave for all, assuming the economy can support this. (I’m no economist)

    3b. But anyone who does sincerely believe that abortion is murder is potentially very dangerous.

    This is just offensively wrong. You don’t know how many of us sincerely believe it’s murder (for the record, most of us, since when we change our mind, we rapidly stop being pro-life, on the whole).
    As far as I know, those things happened in America, so I’m going to instead suggest that Americans are dangerous, and leave it at that. (offensive comment)

    4 – all honest pro-lifers should hold to the one exception for abortion – that is to save the mother’s life. If that’s what you’re talking about.

    five – There are always more children in need of adoptive parents than there are adoptive parents able and willing to care for them. – yes, but as you touch on in your next sentence, this is not the case for babies. My family works in child protection, and social work extensively and this is no assumption – they’ve seen it in action. The demand for babies for adoption well outstrips supply in the UK, so it won’t just be easier, it will be very easy indeed.
    As for the ‘nine months of effort’ this only makes a difference if you’re not weighing it against ‘the killing of a human being’, so really it’s irrelevant. People who believe it isn’t a life should be pro-choice regardless of how long and hard it is, and people who believe it is a life should only be pro-choice if you can show that that effort is worse than killing a human being.

    6 – the title of course, as you say is clearly stupid.

    7 – We have something called Gillic-competence in the country, I think something like that would work to determine when a parent/other could make this decision. Were it a pro-choice situation.

    8 – Sadly this is where your arguments seem to go wildly off track. The entire crux of the debate should be on whether you are killing a human being in abortion, or whether you are merely chopping up a bit of the woman’s body. The right to life is a paramount right, that supercedes her right not to have her bodily resources used. Just as in the case of a baby it’s right to being looked after supercedes the right of both the parents not to have their resources used.
    If you have a good argument as to why, if the fetus and the baby are both human lives, that one deserves care and the other does not, then I’d have to grant you your argument. Or if you feel abandoning babies is ok, then again you’d be at least consistent.

    Sorry if this isn’t 100 percent coherent, I wrote it pretty quickly, and wanted to respond fully, I’ll clean up any mistakes or inconsistencies later, if you, I or anyone spots them.

    Comment by Opple — August 1, 2008 @ 11:16 am | Reply

  10. Sorry, in responding individually to your points I’ve failed to respond to your overall point – which seems to me to be something along the lines of ‘the woman right to choose supercedes all other rights, even the right to life, so even were a fetus a life (which I don’t believe), that is irrelevant.’
    And therefore the only moral position is pro-choice.

    If I’m right in what you’re saying, I have a few questions, and opinions.

    1) Why is the woman’s right to choose the most important right.
    2) As touched on before, what about the baby-abandoning situation? Is it the same? If different – how?

    Myself, I come from a very different position to you. I think that if I see a person choking to death, and I could cut the wire they’ve accidentally wrapped around their neck, but I don’t, then that is tantamount to murder. The same if I see someone choking on their own vomit, and do not help. Even if there are risks involved.
    I realise that I could be accused of chickenhawking (as this scenario is not likely, and I know that) but were I in the situation above, where I woke up to find someone attached to my circulation system for nine-months, I would not cut them off if that would cause their death, as that I would certainly consider murder.

    And again, this could be written off as bluster, but in the great (if semi-polemical) book ‘The Fresco’ by Sherri S. Tepper, wasp-like aliens rape and impregnate several staunchly pro-life men. This is played as almost funny being hoisted by your own petard, but I geniunely believe, that if I could get past the mind blowing horror of being raped by a giant alien wasp, I would keep that alien pregnancy (unless I would certainly die). However I would certainly insist on keeping custody of the baby, as a rapist is not the sort of parent I want for my wasp child.

    So what I’m gunning for really is, as far as I can see, letting someone die when you could prevent it is almost as bad as murder. And most importantly the right to life should always top the right to autonomy, and I’ve never really seen a strong argument against that position. I’d be very interested to hear why you disagree.

    Comment by Opple — August 1, 2008 @ 11:32 am | Reply

  11. Jes,

    Thanks for putting your thoughts in writing. I think it is a very positive advance for pluralism and effective communication among people who hold different beliefs. It is also a kindness to me that you took the time to write this, as I am very interested in understanding how thoughtful people think about hard questions like abortion. I also know abortion can be a profitable business or political career for some, so hearing from folks who seem to have less at stake professionally adds credibility and authenticity to your arguments.

    I will be traveling on vacation far outside the range of the Internet (if you can believe that) for the coming week. I look forward to re-engaging this discussion with you when I return.

    - ADL

    Comment by Mark — August 1, 2008 @ 1:18 pm | Reply

  12. Mark, thanks for your comment: hope you have a good vacation.

    Many politicians probably do decide to oppose or support access to abortion based on what’s best for their political career – I won’t argue with that. For some, pro-choice or anti-choice are held with genuine conviction, too, but with politicians it is often hard to tell. However, my guess is that in the current political climate in the US, if you are a Republican politician it probably helps your career to be pro-life, and if you are a Democratic politician it probably doesn’t hurt your career much to be pro-life: Democrats seem to be much more broad-church and accepting about even quite extreme differences.

    I haven’t done any research into the relative incomes of pro-life or pro-choice campaigning organizations – I would guess that pro-life organisations probably have the larger income of the two, but it’s just a guess – they certainly seem to spend more money.

    Health care providers that carry out abortions could be counted, but we would in fairness also have to count on the pro-life side the health insurance companies, and indeed the US military, who obstruct access to abortion by refusing to cover it as part of their regular health provision.

    All in all, if we are looking at profit motives, I think it probably works out more profitable to oppose access to abortion than it is to support it. You’re right that profit motives should be looked at – on both sides, naturally – but the common pro-life meme that doctors and clinics make vast amounts of money providing abortions is a clear piece of nonsense: they don’t. (With the ongoing pro-life terrorist campaign, a doctor in the US must be a bit of an idealist and something of a hero, at least, to continue to provide women with this necessary service when it puts their life at risk.)

    Comment by jesurgislac — August 1, 2008 @ 1:33 pm | Reply

  13. Opple: link suggests that the maternal morbidity in the UK is a mere five.3 per 100,000 for direct morbidity, and 7.8 per 100,000 indirect, so as far as risk of death in my country – not so much.

    You’re linking to a page on maternal mortality in the UK. I’ve noted that you think being forced to do something that stands a measurable chance of killing you is “not so much”. The usual estimate of maternal morbidity is that it’s about 16 times the rate of maternal mortality.

    “Motherhood entails 18 years of caring for another human being – a major emotional, financial, and life-changing decision.” – yes, but adoption avoids motherhood…

    See 5.: it’s wrong to force a woman to produce a baby, and it doesn’t magically become right to force her simply because babies are more easily adopted than the older children who desperately need adoptive parents.

    “Pro-lifers are a forced pregnancy movement” – cool, and pro-choicers are a forced stabbing living human tissue in the head and sucking it out of a woman movement. Look, rhetoric gets us nowhere.

    True. But “pro-lifers are a forced pregnancy movement” is not rhetoric: it is a statement of fact. The objective of pro-lifers is to force women who want to terminate through pregnancy and childbirth against their will.

    A woman who abandons her baby in the garden is not actually killing the baby: in those instances, no one is killing the baby. The baby is removed from the house, that’s all

    A human body is not a house. Your analogy falls over. The reason pro-choice is the only moral stance is because it is immoral to make use of another human being’s body against her will. I do not accept any analogy that equates a woman’s body to an inanimate object.

    Where you’ve done your accredited survey into the attitudes of pro-lifers I just don’t know.

    I repeat: if you wish to make your argument that for each abortion carried out, a woman and her doctor should be tried for premeditated murder, and penalties applied accordingly (in the UK, that would mean a mandatory life sentence) I am willing to pay attention. But it has been my experience (and both you and Kerrin have borne this out) that very few pro-lifers actually believe that abortion is murder and want mothers and doctors tried, convicted, and sentenced accordingly.

    This is just offensively wrong. You don’t know how many of us sincerely believe it’s murder

    No, I don’t, but evidently you don’t really believe it’s murder, or you would have responded to my query in 3. (You still can, of course, if you want to convince me.)

    You’re right that the pro-life movement in the UK has been less violent than in the US – but there have been arson attacks by pro-lifers on health clinics that provide abortions, and certainly widespread use of rhetoric that invites violence against doctors and patients by calling them “murderers”. That there has been less violence and no widespread terrorism in the UK is a good thing, but I think that’s partly because the NHS would have been the primary terrorist target, and cooler heads would note that attacking the NHS is never a popular thing to do…

    As far as I know, those things happened in America, so I’m going to instead suggest that Americans are dangerous, and leave it at that.
    :-D :-D :-D

    The demand for babies for adoption well outstrips supply in the UK, so it won’t just be easier, it will be very easy indeed.

    But this does nothing for the children who need adoptive parents. It just means forcing women through pregnancy and childbirth against their will to produce babies because it’s “very easy indeed” to have babies adopted. Meanwhile, there are still older children in desperate need of adoptive parents, who are not helped in the least by stepping up supply of babies to couples who want a baby. In effect, you appear to be arguing that adoption services ought to think of themselves not as charities that find parents for children who need them, but as services providng a marketable product (babies) to couples who want to adopt one. This is immoral: this is doubly immoral when you are arguing that women should be forced against their will to step up “supply” of these marketable babies to satisfy “demand”.

    We have something called Gillic competence in the country, I think something like that would work to determine when a parent/other could make this decision.

    “Gillick competence” actually only applies to prescription of contraception. A pregnant teenager in the UK is fully entitled to ask for an abortion and to get one without her parents being informed or involved at all. The rights of the child are paramount in human rights and common law – to force a minor child through pregnancy and childbirth is both medically extremely inadvisable, besides the basic immorality of allowing anyone – including a parent – to make use of a minor child’s body against her will. In the UK, it’s accepted that a patient always has the right to confidentiality.

    The entire crux of the debate should be on whether you are killing a human being in abortion, or whether you are merely chopping up a bit of the woman’s body.

    No, I think you’re misunderstanding what this debate is. For a pregnant woman deciding whether or not to have an abortion, her debate is how much value she gives to the fertilised egg she is now carrying, that she can with nine months effort make into a baby.

    For everyone but the pregnant woman deciding, the entire crux of the debate is: Are woman to be allowed to choose pregnancy and childbirth? Is it ever moral to force a woman through pregnancy and childbirth? Is it moral – to broaden the debate – for the state (or any individual) to make use of another human being’s body against her will, especially when that use will risk her life, change her body, and could permanently damage her health and wellbeing?

    Myself, I come from a very different position to you. I think that if I see a person choking to death, and I could cut the wire they’ve accidentally wrapped around their neck, but I don’t, then that is tantamount to murder. The same if I see someone choking on their own vomit, and do not help.

    And do you have two kidneys? All of the liver you were born with? People die of renal failure or liver failure all the time. Do you think that people who haven’t given up their kidneys or a chunk of their liver are doing something “tantamount to murder”? Every single organ of the body, including blood, can potentially be made use of to save lives. Most people can afford to lose a pint of blood every six weeks, or lose bone marrow every couple of years: probably most people could live normally with only one kidney, or without a part of their liver (you can lose up to half a liver without reduced function). People can lose large amounts of skin without dying. Or their corneas. (A woman in Poland went blind because she was denied an abortion.) Yet in every free country in the world, the decision to give up a part of your body – even though someone will die without it – is the decision of the donor, not to be compelled or forced. And it is never legally regarded as actionable to deny the use of your body to someone else. And the only exception to this is the uterus – the only organ no man can be required to surrender to save a life. Odd, that: a sacrifice no man can be lawfully required to make, the use of his body’s organs against his will, is a sacrifice men are perfectly willing to vote into law for women to make. (Yes, I know there are woman who say they’re for forced pregnancy. But the statistical data and anecdotal evidence is that pro-lifer women are as likely to abort an unwanted pregnancy as anyone else.)

    So what I’m gunning for really is, as far as I can see, letting someone die when you could prevent it is almost as bad as murder.

    So you don’t believe that abortion is murder. ;-) Sorry, couldn’t resist it. But that’s not the point of the pro-choice movement. The point is: who gets to decide? I say it’s always the pregnant woman. Because I say it’s immoral to make use of another human being’s body against her will.

    Comment by jesurgislac — August 1, 2008 @ 2:33 pm | Reply

  14. (Opple reposted this comment below, replacing [I] and [/I] (BBCode) with <I> and </I> (HTML): hence this deletion. Jesurgislac)

    Comment by Opple — August 6, 2008 @ 1:05 pm | Reply

  15. Sorry, I’ve got my italics code wrong, it seems. If you want to tell me how to do it right, I can re-post this with the italics done correctly, and you can delete the old one. Also, sorry about the delay in replying, my networks been down for a while, and it was my birthday on the weekend, so I spent my time enjoying that, rather than fixing the net :D

    Comment by Opple — August 6, 2008 @ 1:08 pm | Reply

  16. Hi Opple, you’re using square brackets (BBCode) and you should be using pointy brackets (HTML)! If you repost with your [I] and [/I] changed to <I> and </I>, I’ll delete your original comment.

    Comment by jesurgislac — August 6, 2008 @ 3:32 pm | Reply

  17. I loved your opening, “Pro-choice is often referred to as if it were synonymous with pro-abortion. It isn’t.”

    Well done.

    Comment by mikeb302000 — August 6, 2008 @ 5:53 pm | Reply

  18. Thanks! It’s a holdover from a forum I used to visit that used the other bracket, and I sometimes forget which is which.

    “You’re linking to a page on maternal mortality in the UK. I’ve noted that you think being forced to do something that stands a measurable chance of killing you is “not so much”. The usual estimate of maternal morbidity is that it’s about 16 times the rate of maternal mortality.”

    You’re right I misread you. However the page you link to disputes the validity of that 16x no., which in any case seems to be heavily affected by the inclusion of data from the developing world, which obviously would not affect the numbers in the UK.

    Also you say I “think being forced to do something that stands a measurable chance of killing you is “not so much”” That’s not what I said, I said:
    “maternal morbidity in the UK is a mere five.3 per 100,000 for direct morbidity, and 7.8 per 100,000 indirect, so as far as risk of death in my country – not so much.” That’s a statement that that rate of morbidity is “not so much”. I don’t think that your sentence makes any kind of grammatical sense, so I can’t agree that I think “being forced to etc” is “not so much”

    About adoption:
    “See 5.: it’s wrong to force a woman to produce a baby, and it doesn’t magically become right to force her simply because babies are more easily adopted than the older children who desperately need adoptive parents.”

    You’re right, it doesn’t magically become right to force a woman to produce a baby, however that was not my argument. I was in fact responding to your argument against preventing abortions ““Motherhood entails 18 years of caring for another human being – a major emotional, financial, and life-changing decision.” – and adoption does in fact negate that point.

    “But “pro-lifers are a forced pregnancy movement” is not rhetoric: it is a statement of fact. The objective of pro-lifers is to force women who want to terminate through pregnancy and childbirth against their will.”

    I’m not going to debate this with you, since there’s too much being discussed already, – but if you don’t see the problem with using emotive statements (which are statements of fact, to one side of the argument at least), how it is not conducive to rational debate, nor does it add weight to any of your reasons, then how could I possibly persuade you, you evil baby murderer?

    I said in a fisk of your statement: “A woman who abandons her baby in the garden is not actually killing the baby: in those instances, no one is killing the baby. The baby is removed from the house, that’s all”
    You replied : “A human body is not a house. Your analogy falls over. The reason pro-choice is the only moral stance is because it is immoral to make use of another human being’s body against her will. I do not accept any analogy that equates a woman’s body to an inanimate object.”

    Cool, well you’ve misunderstood me here. I needn’t have written ‘house’ nor ‘garden’ since it would be equally feasible to abandon a baby inside its cot in its room. My analogy does not equate a woman’s body to a house, so that is not a problem with it.(which I shall demonstrate by rewording the analogy without a house in it, without changing its meaning) So, allow me to restate my point:

    “A woman who abandons her baby is not actually killing the baby: in those instances, no one is killing the baby. The baby is removed from the cycle of her providing it nutrition, that’s all”

    “But it has been my experience (and both you and Kerrin have borne this out)”

    Firstly, no I haven’t – see below.
    Unfortunately, the mechanism you use to determine whether people ‘really’ believe that abortion is murder is frankly shoddy, and should be abandoned at the first available opportunity.
    To illustrate this: I certainly believe that ‘murder’ is murder, yet I do not think that tribespeople in the deepest darkest jungles of South America who haven’t had any outside contact yet, should go to prison for murder. (Or in fact anyone in a place where murder isn’t illegal).
    By your logic, I now don’t believe that murder is murder.

    And actually, I did answer your question : “Were it illegal (this is never going to happen by the way) then of course you should go to prison, just like everyone else who breaks the law.” I said. Given that you missed that in my post, I find it hard to accept your opinion that ‘Most people who use the rhetoric of abortion=murder don’t mean it.’ How can I know that this opinion, which flies in the face of my own actual experience, proffered by a woman who thinks that I don’t really mean it (when I know that I do), is trustworthy?

    In fact I’d go as far as saying that probably, actually, you don’t have that much contact with pro-life people, nor in fact are you really listening to them, before you assume that they “don’t really mean it”. So I’m going to go overboard and suggest that given my extensive discussion and experience with pro-life people, all of whom were pro-life because they thought that abortion actually was the taking of a human life, that you’re totally wrong.

    “No, I don’t, but evidently you don’t really believe it’s murder, or you would have responded to my query in 3. (You still can, of course, if you want to convince me.)”

    I’m going to answer this again, since you’ve brought it up again. Check my previous post, or just above where I’ve quoted myself unambiguously answering your question. I do think, that when abortion is illegal, all people involved in the crime should be punished.
    I’ve also shown you why your metric for determining ‘true belief’ is invalid. The truth of the matter lies in people’s heads (where they either actually believe that a human life is being lost, or don’t), not how they address arbritrary legal questions.

    “widespread use of rhetoric that invites violence against doctors and patients by calling them “murderers”.”

    So now a ‘statement of fact’ is ‘rhetoric that invites violence against doctors and patients’? You didn’t seem bothered when the rhetoric was directed against the pro-life position.
    Really, even though I’m anti-rhetoric, more than anything I wish that people who used rhetoric weren’t such damn hypocrites about it – like if you call doctors ‘murderers’ you shouldn’t complain when they call you an ‘advocate for forced pregnancy’. Obviously you’re both schmerrels in that situation, but at least you’re not hypocrites too. And that goes for both sides.

    Also, to address the original point, about violent pro-lifers, that doesn’t make any difference to the morality of abortion. Animal rights activists have done lots of terrible things, but if it turns out that murdering animals is wrong, then murdering animals is wrong, whether or not the people who worked that out early on did terrible things or not.

    “But this does nothing for the children who need adoptive parents. It just means forcing women through pregnancy and childbirth against their will to produce babies because it’s “very easy indeed” to have babies adopted. Meanwhile, there are still older children in desperate need of adoptive parents, who are not helped in the least by stepping up supply of babies to couples who want a baby. In effect, you appear to be arguing that adoption services ought to think of themselves not as charities that find parents for children who need them, but as services providng a marketable product (babies) to couples who want to adopt one. This is immoral: this is doubly immoral when you are arguing that women should be forced against their will to step up “supply” of these marketable babies to satisfy “demand”.”

    I dispute your entire characterisation of my position here. Either you have grossly misunderstood me, or are deliberately trying to make it look like I hold an unpleasant position, close to the one I actually hold.

    “But this does nothing for the children who need adoptive parents.” – well apart from the children who will get a chance at life since they weren’t aborted. :p But seriously, when did children who need adoptive parents come up? Isn’t your position based on women’s autonomy, not helping children who need to be adopted?

    “It just means forcing women through pregnancy and childbirth against their will to produce babies because it’s “very easy indeed” to have babies adopted.” – No. The “because” is the error in this sentence. Women are not forced to give birth ‘because’ adoption is easy, women would be forced to give birth because the other option is ‘murder’, by my moral principles. The fact that adoption is easy merely means that the woman will not be forced to be a mother for 18 years.

    “Meanwhile, there are still older children in desperate need of adoptive parents, who are not helped in the least by stepping up supply of babies to couples who want a baby” – this is a pity. Still better than lots of foetus-murders. (So to speak)

    “In effect, you appear to be arguing that adoption services ought to think of themselves not as charities that find parents for children who need them, but as services providng a marketable product (babies) to couples who want to adopt one. This is immoral: this is doubly immoral when you are arguing that women should be forced against their will to step up “supply” of these marketable babies to satisfy “demand””
    - Ok, so far you’ve seemed sane, and sensible, even in holding a differing position to me, even when I think I see what I think are ‘holes’ in your logic
    - but here you step off the Any-clue-what’s-going-on bus to take a ride to ‘Nuts interpretationville’. Point out anywhere, with quotes please, where I suggested that adoption services should see themselves as providing a ‘product’? Even by implication? Or effect? Where did I suggest that you should force women to ‘step up “supply” to satisfy “demand”‘? That’s right, nowhere. Since that’s not my position, it would be pretty batshit crazy of me to say that, wouldn’t it?
    I’m not sure where you’ve come from with this one, so again, I’m not going to delve into detail here, merely say, you have a severely misguided impression of what I’m saying here if you think what you wrote has any relation to it. We can either ignore it and move on (preferably with you no longer thinking that I believe that nonsense), or you can ask me the real meaning (or at least my intended meaning) of the passages that you think imply that.

    Thanks, I know what Gillick competence is, and I do think that a similar principle would apply well to the situation you described, (with additions for incapacitated people too), but again this is a tangent, so I’ll move on.

    I said: The entire crux of the debate should be on whether you are killing a human being in abortion, or whether you are merely chopping up a bit of the woman’s body.

    You replied: No, I think you’re misunderstanding what this debate is. For a pregnant woman deciding whether or not to have an abortion, her debate is how much value she gives to the fertilised egg she is now carrying, that she can with nine months effort make into a baby.

    For everyone but the pregnant woman deciding, the entire crux of the debate is: Are woman to be allowed to choose pregnancy and childbirth? Is it ever moral to force a woman through pregnancy and childbirth? Is it moral – to broaden the debate – for the state (or any individual) to make use of another human being’s body against her will, especially when that use will risk her life, change her body, and could permanently damage her health and wellbeing?

    Well, I’m not talking about the individual decision of each pregnant woman, – the debate I’m talking about is not ‘what does any random pregnant woman think about whether abortion is wrong/murder’ but instead – what is the ‘truth’ of the question? As far as I see, if it is not murder, then there is no reason that abortion would be wrong, or should be illegal (and I’ve never seen a convincing argument otherwise), and if it is murder then notwithstanding the arguments presented here I’ve not seen a single reasonable argument that it should be legal. I’ve only met a few people who think that it should be legal even if it is murder, and they either zipped off before we could talk about it, or happened to be illogical nutters.
    The answer to your second paragraph, as I see is – “only if abortion/the only other alternative in other situations is murder”. So once again we’re back to killing a person.
    (Sorry I’ve just noticed I’m interchanging murder and ‘killing a human being’, I do mean the second, whichever I’ve written.)

    I’ll come back to the debate about whether not donating parts of your body is murder or not in another post, if you’re still interested, as it is only tangential to this already long post. It does interest me a lot though, the question of where inaction becomes tantamount to murder, and where not.

    “So you don’t believe that abortion is murder. ;-) Sorry, couldn’t resist it. But that’s not the po int of the pro-choice movement. The point is: who gets to decide? I say it’s always the pregnant woman. Because I say it’s immoral to make use of another human being’s body against her will.”

    I don’t believe it’s always murder, sometimes it’s manslaughter/death by denial of care, like in the baby analogy above. And I don’t believe the doctors/pregnant women involved are murders, – if you fill a room full of deadly radiation since you’re certain that no-one’s in there, and the law and society around you agrees with you – you can’t be blamed for killing the person who was hiding inside. And no, that was not another instance of me comparing a woman’s body to an inanimate object – that’s not the metaphor part of the metaphor :p

    Comment by Opple — August 7, 2008 @ 1:23 am | Reply

  19. After ‘you evil baby murderer’ it is meant to read {sic} with triangular brackets, to indicate that I wasn’t literally calling you that, but I forgot the commenting thing would eat it.

    Comment by Opple — August 7, 2008 @ 1:26 am | Reply

  20. As far as I can tell, there is only one argument for making abortions illegal (that abortion=murder). Whether or not adoption is an alternative, dealing with minors, etc. are all sort of side issues.
    The strongest argument against the abortion=murder argument, IMHO, is the one presented above about the distinction between killing versus forced donation of one’s body.

    Opple, you write:
    I’ll come back to the debate about whether not donating parts of your body is murder or not in another post, if you’re still interested, as it is only tangential to this already long post. It does interest me a lot though, the question of where inaction becomes tantamount to murder, and where not

    This isn’t tangential – this is the crux of the argument. Is refusing to donate the use of your uterus murder, or not? If so, abortion=murder=illegal. If not, abortion isn’t murder and should not be illegal.
    To use the analogies above, is abortion similar to kidney donation, or abandoning a baby in a crib?

    My view of the distinction between abandoning a baby in its crib and abortion (assuming for purposes of argumentation that a fetus is a person, which is not my personal opinion) is that abortion is the first opportunity the pregnant woman has to decide what to do about getting pregnant. She has not done anything yet that would tacitly accept the responsibilities pregnancy and childbirth imply.
    A mother who carries a baby to term and does not give it up for adoption has implicitly accepted some responsibilities for the baby. She can surrender these responsibilities by placing the infant in someone else’s care without penalty, but the state can hold her responsible for failing to fulfill her responsibilities by abandoning the child.
    The key element here is choice: if a woman takes actions that she *knows* will lead to certain consequences (i.e. ‘chooses’) to become responsible for a baby, she can then be held accountable. The key point, as made in the original post, is that she does not, merely by getting pregnant, choose to be pregnant.

    Side note: it’s worth pointing out that the pro-choice position is that deciding these moral questions should be something an individual does (will I donate a kidney?) not something legislated by the state (all healthy individuals must donate a kidney).

    Opple wrote re violinist hooked to one’s kidneys:
    I realise that I could be accused of chickenhawking (as this scenario is not likely, and I know that) but were I in the situation above, where I woke up to find someone attached to my circulation system for nine-months, I would not cut them off if that would cause their death, as that I would certainly consider murder.

    However, do you think it should be a criminal offense if someone else, in the same situation, chose to unhook the violinist? That is what the pro-life movement is advocating.

    Comment by kb — August 7, 2008 @ 4:28 am | Reply

  21. “A woman who abandons her baby is not actually killing the baby: in those instances, no one is killing the baby. The baby is removed from the cycle of her providing it nutrition, that’s all”

    Quite. A woman who abandons her baby to be adopted by others is not actually killing the baby. The baby is removed from the cycle of her provision of nutrition, care, and shelter: nutrition, care, and shelter are then provided by others. A woman who has an early abortion is not actually killing the fetus: the fetus is removed from her uterus. If the technology existed to keep a fetus alive by any other means than the use of a woman’s uterus, the fetus need not die. The point of discussion here is: is it ever moral to force a woman to use her body against her will to keep [the fetus/any human]* alive?

    And actually, I did answer your question : “Were it illegal (this is never going to happen by the way) then of course you should go to prison, just like everyone else who breaks the law.”

    Okay. I apologize for missing this. So you hold the view that, once abortion is made illegal, every woman who has an abortion, and every doctor or nurse who carries it out, should receive a mandatory life sentence for murder. Well, at least you’re clear: women should be forced to produce babies under threat of a lifetime in prison if they don’t.

    Regarding the adoption discussion: Where did I suggest that you should force women to ’step up “supply” to satisfy “demand”‘?

    You are certainly advocating that women should be forced to “step up supply”; forced by the threat of a life in jail if they do not. If your motivation is merely that the babies should be born, and you are indifferent to whether they are adopted, brought up by their birth mother, or warehoused in a Romanian-style orphanage, I accept that. I find that most pro-lifers are fairly well indifferent to the welfare of the babies as they are to the mothers: they care exclusively about the life of the fetus.

    I have, however, read some screeds against a woman’s right to choose abortion from couples (or friends-of) who want to adopt a baby and who are frustrated that more women can’t be forced to give birth against their will to produce adoptable babies. This position does exist, and frankly, while it’s certainly selfish, I find it more human and understandable than the pure “let’s just force the woman through pregnancy and childbirth” pro-life position you assert.

    I’ll come back to the debate about whether not donating parts of your body is murder or not in another post, if you’re still interested, as it is only tangential to this already long post.

    As KB notes above, it is absolutely central. You argue that a woman has to be forced to use her uterus to keep a fetus alive, because if she chooses not to do so, that is murder. If so, a person with two healthy kidneys who is biologically compatible with a person dying of renal failure, but who declines to give up one kidney to this other person, is guilty of murder and should receive a mandatory life sentence. That is your argument: that the use of organs to keep another person alive ought to be forced, compelled by a jail sentence, because not doing so is murder.

    Well, I’m not talking about the individual decision of each pregnant woman, – the debate I’m talking about is not ‘what does any random pregnant woman think about whether abortion is wrong/murder’ but instead – what is the ‘truth’ of the question?

    And your “truth” is that women should be forced.

    Going back to this: I’m not going to debate this with you, since there’s too much being discussed already

    You are debating forced pregnancy with me. Why duck the issue? You are pro forced pregnancy, you are making this very clear. You believe – all your comments are pro that position – that women ought not to be allowed to abort legally: that all pregnant women should be forced through pregnancy under threat of a jail sentence if they do not continue their pregnancy until they give birth.

    After ‘you evil baby murderer’ it is meant to read {sic} with triangular brackets, to indicate that I wasn’t literally calling you that, but I forgot the commenting thing would eat it.

    Thanks for that follow-up comment (this is an update – I just realised I should make clear I had seen and accepted it). Pro-lifers are fond of referring to fetuses as babies, which confuses the issue: but a fetus is biologically distinct from a baby. The argument that a fetus is a human being is one I’ll accept – without accepting that this gives one human being the right to make use of another human being’s body against her will – but not that a fetus=baby. I also argue that, it is not murder to refuse the use of any other organ, it cannot be murder to refuse the use of the uterus. But I acknowledge that, when the fetus is removed from the uterus, the fetus dies, and a unique human being that could have existed, never will. That’s the germ of truth somewhere in the “evil baby-killers” rhetoric: there’s no baby and (in early abortions) there is no killing: but there is a dead fetus. I accept that.

    Contrary to that, a person who argues that abortion ought to be banned under threat of jail sentences for any woman who has an abortion and any doctor who performs the abortion, is directly, straightforwardly, arguing for forced pregnancy. No “germ” of truth buried there: that is what people who argue for banning abortion are arguing for. Why do you have trouble accepting that?

    Comment by jesurgislac — August 7, 2008 @ 7:36 am | Reply

  22. Let me offer you a think-point, since you appear to believe that only if a fetus is not regarded as a human being can abortion be legal.

    Baby A is dying of renal failure. Without a healthy kidney, Baby A won’t see his first birthday – he will never live to leave hospital, unless his parents take him home so that he can at least die there rather than in a paediatric ward.

    Baby B, born the same day, has two healthy kidneys, is generally in fine shape, big, strong, and fit – looks all set for ninety years of life. Baby B is sufficiently compatible with Baby A that one of Baby B’s kidneys could be removed and transplanted into Baby A. The operation on a baby is a risk, but Baby B has a strong chance of survival, and plenty of people live a normal, long, healthy life with only one kidney.

    The transplant operation doesn’t happen. Baby B goes home from hospital with both the kidneys she was born with, and Baby A dies.

    Clearly, Baby B is not guilty of murder or manslaughter, even though Baby B’s kidney could have kept Baby A alive.

    1. Are the doctors who refused to operate on Baby A and Baby B guilty of murder? They knew that in refusing to do a baby-to-baby kidney transplant, they were condemning Baby A to death. Did they kill Baby A? Ought their refusal to perform the operation be made illegal, since they could have kept Baby A alive by making use of Baby B’s kidney?

    2. Are Baby B’s parents guilty of murder or manslaughter? They knew that in denying the use of their daughter’s kidney, they were condemning Baby A to death. Did they kill Baby A? Ought they to have been allowed to refuse the use of Baby B’s kidney, since only by using Baby B’s kidney could Baby A have been kept alive?

    3. Are Baby A’s parents guilty of murder or manslaughter? They knew that in refusing the use of Baby B’s kidney, they were condemning their own baby to die. Did they kill Baby A? Ought they to have been allowed to decide that their son would not receive a baby-to-baby kidney transplant to keep him alive?

    4. What if Baby A and Baby B’s parents are the same people? Ought they to have been allowed to decide that they would not make use of one of their daughter’s kidneys to save the life of the son? Are they their son’s murderers?

    In all of this, Baby B and Baby A have no choice at all. That’s the position you feel women should be in. But that just puts the choice further out: there are always decisions to be made. Your position, if you apply your reasoning about the uterus to any other part of the body, is that all the people involved – the doctors and the parents – are guilty of either murder or manslaughter if they do not transplant Baby B’s kidney to Baby A: they are to be compelled, under threat of a prison sentence if they refuse, to make use of Baby B’s body to save Baby A’s life.

    Comment by jesurgislac — August 7, 2008 @ 8:14 am | Reply

  23. You write (1): “the argument that a fetus is a human being is one I’ll accept”

    But then you write (2): “I acknowledge that, when the fetus is removed from the uterus, the fetus dies, and a unique human being that could have existed, never will.”

    But these propositions are contradictory. If you allow that a fetus is a human being, then by your own argument abortion destroys “a unique human being,” not–as you seem to believe–one that “could” have existed were the abortion not to take place.

    I am also confused as to whether you argue–a la Judith Jarvis Thomson–that the demands of pregnancy are unjust and are the primary argument in favor of abortion rights, or the demands of child-rearing that follow after birth. These are very different issues, and I don’t think you adequately distinguish them. (Thomson herself, for instance, restricts her own argument to (what she takes to be) the unjust requirements of carrying-to-term: indeed, she allows that, were it possible to remove the fetus without destroying it, we would have the duty to try to keep it alive.)

    Comment by wj — August 7, 2008 @ 3:43 pm | Reply

  24. wj – Well, the fetus is genetically unique, certainly. So were each one of the eggs every woman sheds every 24-28 days for a large part of her life, and so is each individual sperm that every man sheds by thousands daily for a large part of his life. Each egg, each sperm, each fetus, is genetically unique and could become a unique human being. If a woman spends most of a year and a considerable effort in making it so. By “unique human being” I meant personality and mind as well as genetic uniqueness – one of the biological distinctions between fetus and baby is that, even when a fetus has developed a cerebral cortex, the oxygen levels in the cortex are so low that the fetus is not conscious until birth, so a fetus – even one developed enough to possess a cerebral cortex – has no more mind or personality, and never did, than a goldfish. (Possibly less. I’m not that well-acquainted with goldfish.) Hence my phrasing “could become a unique human being”. That’s how I feel about it, in an abstract kind of way. It’s not why I’m pro-choice.

    I am also confused as to whether you argue–a la Judith Jarvis Thomson–that the demands of pregnancy are unjust and are the primary argument in favor of abortion rights, or the demands of child-rearing that follow after birth. These are very different issues, and I don’t think you adequately distinguish them.

    I’m sorry you feel confused. I am pro-choice because it is immoral to force a woman through pregnancy and childbirth against her will. That’s my position, and I thought I’d made that clear. I’ve never read Thomson’s book, though this is not the first time I’ve seen it quoted: I’ve been pro-choice for 30 years or more.

    There are other arguments used by the forced-pregnancy movement about “adoption is the solution”, etc, which are nonsense and which are immoral, and which I took the opportunity to explode in this post. It is no solution to forced pregnancy to argue that the baby can always be taken away from the mother and given to strangers.

    Comment by jesurgislac — August 7, 2008 @ 6:15 pm | Reply

  25. Well, I suppose I’m even more confused now. I assume you do realize that, scientifically speaking, a fetus is qualitatively a different *kind* of entity from the unfertilized eggs of the mother and the sperm of the father that initially comprise its material base. I mean, it is rather sloppy thinking to claim that an egg *could* become a human being in the same way that a fetus could. (A fetus is a self-determining organism that requires sustenance from another body but, if allowed to develop naturally, will eventuate into a baby. An egg–not so much.)

    I very much admire your moral zeal in defending abortion, but I am worried that you do not understand the difference between an argument and an assertion. When you write that you are pro-choice “because it is immoral to force a woman through pregnancy and childbirth against her will,” you are making an assertion. An argument, by contrast, would provide us with reasons *why* it is immoral to “force” a woman through childbirth against her will. An argument, also, must by its nature be open to counter-arguments, possible refutations, etc. For example, imagine that someone were to argue that a fetus was a person, and that because of this, it too had certain rights that must be weighed against those of the mother. Now, you might then argue against this claim, or attempt to show why its conclusion doesn’t follow from its premise, etc. But instead, you seem to have disallowed, ex ante, any response that would proceed on these lines. And your *reason* for disallowing this kind of response is–well, do you have a reason for foreshortening this kind of enquiry? Here’s a hint: merely asserting, again and again, that you will not allow it because it is not the right way to approach the issue of abortion doesn’t constitute a reason.

    I am sorry you have not read the Thomson. I find it helpful sometimes, when I’m thinking hard about a difficult topic, to read what other smart people have written about it before holding forth myself. I recommend that you try this out.

    Comment by wj — August 8, 2008 @ 4:18 pm | Reply

  26. wjL I assume you do realize that, scientifically speaking, a fetus is qualitatively a different *kind* of entity from the unfertilized eggs of the mother and the sperm of the father that initially comprise its material base.

    Indeed. As, scientifically speaking, a fetus is qualitatively a different kind of entity from a baby. I am not arguing that sperm/eggs, fetuses, and babies are all the same kind of entity: they all have qualitative scientific differences, even though they are all genetically human. But sperm, egg, and fetus are all potentially human – they’re not yet independent entities. This is kind of a side-track from the real point of the post, but I’m happy to clear that up for you.

    I very much admire your moral zeal in defending abortion

    I don’t particularly admire your confusion, I’m afraid. In this post, I am defending a woman’s right to choose: I am setting out the clear position that the only moral stance is to be pro-choice, regardless of where people individually stand on abortion.

    An argument, by contrast, would provide us with reasons *why* it is immoral to “force” a woman through [pregnancy and] childbirth against her will.

    I suppose I took for granted that most people reading my post would accept my basic premise: women are human beings. That’s why it’s immoral to force a woman through pregnancy and childbirth against her will.

    For example, imagine that someone were to argue that a fetus was a person, and that because of this, it too had certain rights that must be weighed against those of the mother.

    A person who argues that would have to explain why this person (the fetus) has special rights that no born person can legally claim – the right to make use of another person’s body against her will. Or else why a pregnant woman has fewer rights than a person who is not pregnant – why the right to decide whether or not to donate a part of her body to keep another person alive, has been taken away from her. If you want to make that argument, that’s the case you have to make – either or both.

    Here’s a hint: merely asserting, again and again, that you will not allow it because it is not the right way to approach the issue of abortion doesn’t constitute a reason.

    Here’s a hint; this is not a polite way to ask my reasons! Here’s another hint: this comes across as rude and patronising, as if you had decided in advance that whatever my reasons were, they’re not correct.

    The right way to approach any human rights issue – and access to abortion is a human rights issue – is to begin from the default position that all humans are entitled to all human rights. To begin, as pro-lifers prefer, from the default position that women are not entitled to full human rights, is not a sound position from which to argue about human rights.

    There are plenty of blogs on the Internet where you can set forth your argument that fetuses are human beings and therefore basic human rights can be removed from pregnant women. On this blog, I insist: you first of all have to defend your position that it’s moral to remove basic human rights from some or from all women.

    I find it helpful sometimes, when I’m thinking hard about a difficult topic, to read what other smart people have written about it before holding forth myself.

    I agree. However, you evidently haven’t found it helpful enough, since you don’t appear to have grasped the key fact about this particular “difficult topic”: women are human beings.

    Comment by jesurgislac — August 8, 2008 @ 4:45 pm | Reply

  27. wj: A fetus is a self-determining organism

    I think I understand what you were trying to say here, WJ, but the adjective is wrong. “Self-determining” is just what a fetus isn’t. “Self-determining” – “capable of determining one’s or its own acts” – “Determination of one’s own fate or course of action without compulsion; free will” – or, as a noun: “The capacity to manage one’s own affairs, make one’s own judgments, and provide for oneself:” – No fetus is capable of anything like that.

    Comment by jesurgislac — August 9, 2008 @ 8:49 am | Reply

  28. [...] if that happened. Of course, both of them are pro-choice: to make that decision for yourself is the pro-choice option. But the confusion that pro-lifers perpetually push, between “pro-choice” and [...]

    Pingback by Why wasn’t Trig born in Texas? « Jesurgislac’s Journal — September 1, 2008 @ 7:54 am | Reply

  29. Jes! So sorry I have not been around to comment. Since I suggested you write this, I have taken a vacation from writing, then my wife became quite sick due to her pregnancy, and I just found out my mom has cancer. Not to drag you into personal stuff, but I thought you’d want to know. In fact, these points are not so far from our discussion. More on that later.

    Looks like you have had much good dialog following your post. I have read it, but I need to revisit it, and I will share some of my thoughts here and on my blog. You make many provocative points that deserve a well-reasoned response, which I am eager to mull over and deliver in the next week or so. Again, thanks for taking the time to write your thoughts down.

    Comment by Mark — September 10, 2008 @ 2:02 am | Reply

  30. I’m so sorry to hear about your mom, Mark. Best wishes to her and you. Likewise your wife – I hope all goes well with her pregnancy.

    Don’t worry about delay in responding: real life takes priority over Internetting.

    Comment by jesurgislac — September 10, 2008 @ 7:59 pm | Reply

  31. [...] of the “pro-life” commenters on my post The basics: why pro-choice is the only moral option took exception to my pointing this out: Opple claimed it was an unfair attack, but of course it is [...]

    Pingback by Being “Pro-life” has nothing to do with being pro life « Jesurgislac’s Journal — September 28, 2008 @ 10:48 am | Reply

  32. Forgive me for arriving late to the discussion, but I just recently stumbled upon your post and comments.

    There are several weak arguments in your post, and even more misconceptions, but I will choose to focus on what appears to be your emphasis throughout: the human rights of a woman (which will tie into your argument on choice).

    You are wise to point out that women are human beings; however, you fail to discuss the responsibilities that are an inherent part of being human. As a parent of two, would you agree that I am free, as a human being, to stop feeding my children? If their eating of my food is causing me to fear that I might starve, don’t I have the human right to protect myself and my property? I doubt that you would agree with this logic, as you would more than likely consider this a form of child abuse. In having children, and in deciding to keep those children (as apposed to giving them up for adoption), I have agreed to provide for their physical needs and create for them the most secure environment possible. I have agreed to be RESPONSIBLE for the care of my children. I have relinquished my right to meet my needs only, due to my decision to take on the responsibility of having children.

    As human beings, there are times when we are required to relinquish some of our God-given rights, due to a responsibility or burden we have decided to place upon ourselves. Likewise, women are fully aware that pregnancy is a completely biological process that can be avoided. As a result of pregnancy being completely biological, the fetus has not made the choice to “use” the woman’s body – it has no choice in the matter, as this is a natural phenomena that is the direct result of actions taken by the woman. The fetus no more chooses to use the woman’s body, than it chooses to be conceived. This is where you miss the mark. By stating that a woman has the right to terminate a fetus, you are removing all personal responsibility for the actions of that woman.

    You have made the claim that pro-lifers suggest that a woman that chooses to have sex, has also made the choice to get pregnant. This is a grand misconception and misrepresentation on your part. The argument made is not that the woman has made the choice to get pregnant, but that she has made the choice to engage in sexual intercourse knowing full well that conception is a possible outcome of both protected and unprotected sex. Pro-lifers are also pro-choice: we believe that a woman has the choice to either have sex or abstain from sex. After that choice has been made, however, we expect personal responsibility to take effect. Americans shy away from personal responsibility, many times to the detriment of our society. Like another one of your visitors pointed out, I would not get away with killing another individual if I were to drive drunk – I cannot blame it on the alcohol in my body, and be released of all liability. I chose to participate in an activity, fully aware that it could alter my physical state. Knowing this, I am fully responsible for the consequences that I might face due to this action. I cannot place the burden of responsibility on Jack Daniels. Similarly, a woman cannot place the responsibility of her actions on the fetus, which itself has not made the choice to be conceived.

    You are correct in calling this a human rights issue. Unfortunately, you have misrepresented the full scope of one’s rights, and have neglected to address the responsibility that comes with the exercise of those rights. This line of thinking takes away all personal accountability and responsibility, which is the basis of the pro-life movement.

    Comment by Lance — November 5, 2008 @ 11:20 pm | Reply

  33. As a parent of two, would you agree that I am free, as a human being, to stop feeding my children?

    That’s a false analogy. You need to explain whether, as a parent of two, you are free as a human being to decide whether to give your children a pint of blood every six weeks, a share of your liver, a kidney, a bone-marrow transplant… or whether, given that they are your children, the government ought simply to have you forced into hospital and any parts your children need forcibly removed from your body.

    Please explain if that’s your point of view: forced use of your body without your choice or consent. That’s the issue we’re discussing, not any fake analogies of “feeding children”.

    As human beings, there are times when we are required to relinquish some of our God-given rights, due to a responsibility or burden we have decided to place upon ourselves. Likewise, women are fully aware that pregnancy is a completely biological process that can be avoided.

    Of course. The means of avoiding this completely biological process is abortion: it’s the only possible means under a woman’s control, once the egg is fertilised.

    The fetus no more chooses to use the woman’s body, than it chooses to be conceived.

    True. But you mistake my argument. I am not saying the fetus chooses to use the woman’s body. I am saying that the forced-pregnancy movement chooses to use women’s bodies. The forced-pregnancy movement tries to prevent women having access to safe/legal abortion on the presumption that a pregnant woman who is not permitted to terminate a pregnancy safely, will be forced through pregnancy and childbirth against her will. The fetus is not the actor here: the adult humans who attempt to force pregnancy and childbirth on others are choosing to use the woman’s body against her will.

    You restate the confused notion that a woman who chooses to have sex has “chosen” to get pregnant, but it doesn’t sound any more logical in different words.

    The notion that forcing a woman through pregnancy and childbirth against her will is all about “personal accountability and responsibility” is pure nonsense: if you believe in personal accountability and responsibility, you believe in a woman’s right to choose to terminate or to continue her pregnancy. To argue that a woman must not be allowed to choose, must be forced against her will, is an argument that utterly abrogates her personal accountability and responsibility, and it is the argument you are making here.

    Comment by jesurgislac — November 5, 2008 @ 11:57 pm | Reply

  34. Once again you are avoiding personal responsibility, regardless of how hard you try to accuse others of false analogies. If having an abortion, and terminating the life (most abortions occur after the 6th week, at which point the fetus’ heart is already beating) of the unborn is your definition of responsibility, then you have only proved my point – you are giving a ‘get of jail free card’ for those that are unhappy with the consequence of their actions. You are starting from the premise that life does not begin in the womb, and therefore remove all responsibility of the woman to protect the life that grows within her. Contrary to your opinion, all scientific evidence (with an incredible number of scientists in agreement) points to life beginning at conception. But even if you want to take the position that it does not, terminating the beating of a fetus’ heart after the sixth week will be hard to explain away as just the removal of a non-living entity.

    You did make the argument in an earlier response that one must “explain why this person (the fetus) has special rights that no born person can legally claim – the right to make use of another person’s body against her will.” Once again, the woman placed herself in a position that resulted in the conception of another human, and the “use” of her body. She does not have the right to violate that human’s rights, as she willingly opted to take the risk of becoming impregnated. And on this topic, let me help you understand what I mean by choice, as you try hard to dismiss the importance of one’s choices.

    A woman meets a man, and over the course of her relationship with that man learns that he has HIV. Of course, no one would deny that she still has the choice to engage in a sexual relationship with that man, although she runs the risk of contracting HIV even with the best protection. If indeed she does contract HIV, did she not do so after acting on an informed decision? If she did not intend to contract HIV, or wanted to contract it, can she simply meet with a surgeon and have the virus cut out or removed? Obviously, the answer is NO. She is “forced”, as you like to point out, to live with the consequences of her sexual choices – physical changes, the risk of death, managing her virus, etc. The argument that one can simply “abort” the consequences of their sexual choices is to refuse to acknowledge the importance of one’s decisions.

    Again it comes down to being responsible for your actions, and not transferring that responsibility to another individual or fetus. You like to use the term “forced-pregnancy” to avoid the realization that pro-lifers fight for the rights of the fetus that was created as a result of a woman’s actions – not it’s own.

    Comment by Lance — November 6, 2008 @ 1:18 am | Reply

  35. Lance, I am unclear why you equate “Forced use of your body, against your will” with “Taking personal responsibility”. By that definition of personal responsibility, being raped or being enslaved is the epitome of personal responsibility. Can you explain why you see forced use of your body as an act of “personal responsibility”? Since I’m presuming you can’t yourself get pregnant, feel free to explain it terms of how if you were raped, you would be more personally responsible for being forcibly used.

    You did make the argument in an earlier response that one must “explain why this person (the fetus) has special rights that no born person can legally claim – the right to make use of another person’s body against her will.”

    Yes: if a pro-lifer brings up the argument that a fetus, as a human being, has the right to make use of another human being’s body against her will, I think it appropriate to counter that argument with the point that no human being has that right.

    Again, repeating the argument that you think a woman choosing to have sex is automatically choosing to get pregnant in different words won’t make it make any more sense.

    I await your explanation why you feel that having your body forcibly used by another would make you more personally responsible.

    Comment by jesurgislac — November 6, 2008 @ 2:06 am | Reply

  36. Is the victim of a rape making the choice to be raped? Of course not.

    The beginning of your argument is AFTER conception (“abortion: it’s the only possible means under a woman’s control, once the egg is fertilised”), which was the result of a choice – where my argument begins. Choices have consequences. My argument is very simple, but you are having a hard time seeing it, because you are suffering from tunnel vision. At what point did I equate every sexual encounter with choosing to get pregnant. If a woman chooses to have sex, she realizes that there is the possibility of conceiving a child. Sometimes a woman will get pregnant, sometimes she won’t. It’s the “what if” that’s important, and a woman knows that the “what if” means she might get pregnant. Knowing that, if a woman still chooses to have sex she should be prepared to responsibly deal with the consequences, whether that be pregnancy, an STD, an emotional issue, etc. Hopefully, she will be affected by none of the above, but there is always the risk of an uncomfortable outcome that she did not plan on. “Responsibly deal with” does not mean look out for her own personal interests, while neglecting the human rights of others, in this case the fetus – which again did not choose to be conceived, but is the direct result of the choice to have sex.

    “Again, repeating the argument that you think a woman choosing to have sex is automatically choosing to get pregnant in different words won’t make it make any more sense.”

    As I said earlier, having sex with someone that is known to have an STD also presents a “what if” scenario that the woman should seriously consider before having sex with that person. So, using your argument, am I suggesting that this woman is automatically choosing to get an STD because she chose to have sex with an infected individual? Of course not – she wants, and plans, to avoid that at all cost. But that is the inherent risk that she is fully aware of, making her fully responsible for the outcome of that encounter – good or bad.

    “I await your explanation why you feel that having your body forcibly used by another would make you more personally responsible.”

    Once again, the fetus has not forced itself on the woman, it is a direct result of the woman’s choice to have sex. She may not have chosen to get pregnant, but the choice to have sex was hers. You cannot argue that a woman is being forced to participate in scenario that she herself set in motion. Which again comes back to personal responsibility – it is not the fetus’ responsibility to prevent conception, nor is it the fault of the fetus for being conceived. How nice it would be if we could just “abort” all the uncomfortable results of our actions and personal choices.

    I challenge you to venture further back than the act of fertilization, to the act of having sex – would you not agree that in that act there is an inherent risk of becoming pregnant?

    Comment by Lance — November 6, 2008 @ 4:58 am | Reply

  37. Is the victim of a rape making the choice to be raped? Of course not.

    Thank you. And a woman who lives in a country without access to safe legal abortion, is legally not making the choice to have a baby. Though as a practical matter of fact, making abortion criminal merely means women have illegal (and less safe) abortions, since no woman who has made the decision not to have a baby will accept being forced to do so if she has any means of escape – no more than a rape victim will passively accept being raped if they see a way out – still, the official position in such countries is that all women must be forced against their will to produce children. The net effect is no decrease in the abortion rate, but a substantial increase in the maternal mortality and morbidity rates: it is not good for women to be forced to bear children.

    My argument is very simple, but you are having a hard time seeing it, because you are suffering from tunnel vision.

    Ah, the obsessive digger accuses me of tunnel vision. No, as I am getting increasingly bored by repeating: the claim that a woman who chooses to have sex has also chosen to get pregnant is obviously false. Your repetition of the same argument in different words does not make it any truer.

    I challenge you to venture further back than the act of fertilization, to the act of having sex – would you not agree that in that act there is an inherent risk of becoming pregnant?

    No, of course not. Pregnancy is not a “risk”, and it is not “inherent” in having sex. Pregnancy is nine months hard and risky labour followed by childbirth, followed by a lifetime’s responsibility. Women are not breeding machines or incubators, but human beings with a right to take personal responsibility for all their actions. The forced pregnancy movement is a political attempt to remove the right to personal responsibility from a woman and make use of her as an incubator to force her to produce babies, regardless of the known risk to women’s health and lives that results. As I’ve said in other posts, calling this movement “pro-life” or even “anti-abortion” is such a misnomer it’s practically paradoxical.

    Comment by jesurgislac — November 6, 2008 @ 9:48 am | Reply

  38. We can choose to have a war on words, which is avoiding the topic – call it “risk” (which I used as you refer to as an unwanted outcome), or call it a “possible outcome”. Either way, any person with the most basic biological understanding would argue that conception is inherently possible during the act of sex. There’s no getting around it. Even those that practice safe sex, using multiple forms of birth control, will tell you that there is always the possibility of becoming pregnant – no birth control is 100% full proof (except for abstinence).

    You are determinedly stuck on rhetoric – that the choice to have sex equals the choice to get pregnant. I’ve made it abundantly clear how weak that argument is against the pro-life movement, while you have continually dodged my example of contracting an STD. Because you can cut out a baby does not mean that you are responsible – how many other times in life can you just “cut out” the results of your actions? You want to call it “forced pregnancy movement” – call it what you will. Did anyone force you to have sex? And using your example of rape – let me point out the serious error in your analogy.

    The first problem in your analogy is that you are comparing a situation (rape) in which the woman has no choice in the act, regardless of how it went down. In having consensual sex, the woman has clearly made the choice to engage in that activity, knowing full well what the possible outcomes are. The second problem with your analogy is one that actually supports my point. In the situation of rape, there is clearly a perpetrator and a victim. The victim has no say in the matter, while the perpetrator has complete control. The victim did not create the situation, nor did she ask for it to happen – it was out of her hands. In the same fashion, the fetus did not have any say in it’s creation, it is a biological byproduct of the woman’s choice to have sexual intercourse. Without sexual intercourse, it would not have been conceived. To take away it’s voice in the matter and remove it from the uterus, therefore ending it’s life, is to perpetrate upon it your own will – making it the victim without the choice.

    You seem to be an intelligent individual, with a great ability to organize your thoughts. I’m confused as to how the basics of cause and effect have escaped you. In talking with the pregnant 16 year old students here at my school, they clearly understand that their pregnancy (the effect) is a direct result of their engaging in sexual intercourse (the cause). It would be wonderful if we could all engage in recreational sex without ever having to worry about the possible outcomes – pregnancy, STD’s, emotional baggage, etc. But unfortunately, the forces of nature will require that on some occasions, we will conceive a child, or face other possible outcomes.

    “…I am getting increasingly bored by repeating…” – agreed.

    Comment by Lance — November 6, 2008 @ 6:31 pm | Reply

  39. Always a great discussion – thanks for the debate. We obviously agree to disagree on this one! Take care…

    Comment by Lance — November 6, 2008 @ 6:35 pm | Reply

  40. Thanks for bowing out gracefully, Lance. Given I had already refuted all the points you’d already tried to make upthread or in my original post, I do appreciate your realisation and retreat.

    This is worth saying, though:
    In the situation of rape, there is clearly a perpetrator and a victim. The victim has no say in the matter, while the perpetrator has complete control. The victim did not create the situation, nor did she ask for it to happen – it was out of her hands.

    With anti-choice legislation, banning or rendering difficult access to abortion, it’s possible that some of the women who are victims of it may at some time have supported it. But the situation that anti-choice legislation is designed to bring about is one where the pregnant woman has no say in the matter, while the government has complete control. As one woman reported, her grandmother – a bedrock Republican – had decided to vote for Barack Obama because she couldn’t understand how anyone could vote for a Presidential candidate like McCain who gestured “air quotes” and spoke contemptuously of “health of the mother” in considering the need for access to abortion. It does not matter, in this situation, if some of the victims must bear some responsibility for supporting the perpetrator: as human beings, they still deserve their right to choose, their right not to be forced against their will.

    Comment by jesurgislac — November 7, 2008 @ 11:53 am | Reply

  41. Take it as a retreat if you like, if that benefits your pride. An educated reader will find that your arguments are both illogical and irrational, no matter how hard you try to remove responsibility and accountability from one’s actions. It’s pointless to continue a conversation with one that is not even willing to admit that conceiving a child (aka: being impregnated) is an inherent possible outcome of sexual intercourse (once again, completely illogical and irrational, as it denies the simplest understanding of anatomy and biology). I understand that you are a lesbian and that your view of sexual interaction differs from mine, but we are talking about abortion, which is the result of being impregnated during sexual intercourse between a man and woman (not as a result of alternative methods, which are desired by the woman that wishes to be impregnated, and not the topic of this conversation.) Likewise, we are not talking about rape, we’re talking about consensual sex (although rape is part of the larger debate). Rape was your analogy, and I clearly pointed out that it was a faulty one.

    As for “air quotes” and speaking contemptuously of the “health of the mother” – this grandmother obviously did not do her homework, as is the case with many, many voters. McCain was clearly addressing Obama’s stance on Obama’s strict support of partial-birth abortion, which has received an overwhelming response from the medical community as never being necessary – including the American Medical Association:

    * “The partial delivery of a living fetus for the purpose of killing it outside the womb is ethically offensive to most Americans and physicians. Our panel could not find any identified circumstance in which the procedure was the only safe and effective abortion method.” AMA President Daniel Johnson Jr., M.D., in New York Times, May 26, 1997.

    * “According to the scientific literature, there does not appear to be any identified situation in which intact D & X is the only appropriate procedure to induce abortion, and ethical concerns have been raised about D & X.” Report by Board of Trustees of the American Medical Association, May 1997.

    * “A select panel convened by ACOG could identify no circumstances under which this procedure … would be the only option to save the life or preserve the health of the woman.” American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Statement of Policy, January 12, 1997.

    * “I believe that Mr. Clinton was misled by his medical advisers on what is fact and what is fiction in reference to late-term abortions. Because in no way can I twist my mind to see that the late-term abortion as described — you know, partial birth, and then destruction of the unborn child before the head is born — is a medical necessity for the mother. It certainly can’t be a medical necessity for the baby.” Former U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop in American Medical News, August 19, 1996, p. 3.

    * “I have very serious reservations about this procedure … You really can’t defend it. I’m not going to tell somebody else that they should not do this procedure. But I’m not going to do it … I would dispute any statement that this is the safest procedure to use.” Abortionist Warren Hern in American Medical News, November 20, 1995, p. 3.

    * “None of this risk is ever necessary for any reason. We and many other doctors across the U.S. regularly treat women whose unborn children suffer the same conditions as those cited by the women who appeared at Mr. Clinton’s veto ceremony. Never is the partial-birth procedure necessary.” Drs. Nancy Romer, Pamela Smith, Curtis Cook and Joseph DeCook of Physicians’ Ad Hoc Coalition for Truth (PHACT) in Wall Street Journal, September 19, 1996, p. A 22.

    Once again, educated readers will clearly see the holes in your post and threads.

    With that being said, it’s your blog, and I’m certain that you’ll have the last word – which is why I “gracefully” bowed out previously.

    Comment by Lance — November 7, 2008 @ 4:22 pm | Reply

  42. It’s pointless to continue a conversation with one that is not even willing to admit that

    choosing to have sex is patently not identical to choosing to have a child.

    Quite so. You’ve persistently tried to argue that for a woman choosing to have sex is the same thing as choosing to have a child, ignoring the plain falsity of this claim which was demonstrated in the original post. As I keep pointing out to you, repeating this claim in different words will never make it true.

    McCain was clearly addressing Obama’s stance on Obama’s strict support of partial-birth abortion, which has received an overwhelming response from the medical community as never being necessary an essential technique that saves women’s lives and future fertility – including the American Medical Association

    Fixed that for you. Ironic you should complain that some voters didn’t do their homework without, apparently, even being aware that the medical community overwhelmingly supports (a) not calling IDX “partial-birth abortion”, an emotive and incorrect term, and (b) supports IDX being available when necessary, as otherwise less safe techniques will have to be used.

    I do find it deeply ironic that so many people who identify as pro-life actively prefer late-term abortion techniques that may involve dismembering the fetus inside the uterus (presumably because they love having those bloody photos to be able to wave at women using Planned Parenthood clinics) or other techniques actually lethal to the other fetus a woman is carrying (IDX is the only safe method of removing one dead twin from the uterus while still allowing the living twin to be born) or markedly more dangerous to the woman. Opposition to IDX is how you can tell that the pro-life movement loathes women and thinks women should suffer and die: saving women – and babies – is what IDX was developed for.

    Likewise, we are not talking about rape, we’re talking about consensual sex

    No, we’re not: we’re talking about forced pregnancy – forced use of a woman’s body. As I presume you cannot get pregnant, I asked you to consider how you would feel about the forced use of your body. You evidently object… when it’s your body.

    Comment by jesurgislac — November 7, 2008 @ 5:11 pm | Reply

  43. Again a war of words that attempts to misinform and avoid the truth.

    In referencing partial-birth abortion, I used the name of the procedure that is most commonly used by both McCain and Obama repeatedly throughout their discussions of the procedure (I did not state that this is the official name of the procedure). Also note that the ban (ironically titled the “Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003″), on multiple occasions, refers to the procedure as never being necessary:

    The Congress finds and declares the following:

    (1) A moral, medical, and ethical consensus exists that the practice of performing a partial-birth abortion — an abortion in which a physician delivers an unborn child’s body until only the head remains inside the womb, punctures the back of the child’s skull with a sharp instrument, and sucks the child’s brains out before completing delivery of the dead infant — is a gruesome and inhumane procedure that is never medically necessary and should be prohibited.

    (2) Rather than being an abortion procedure that is embraced by the medical community, particularly among physicians who routinely perform other abortion procedures, partial-birth abortion remains a disfavored procedure that is not only unnecessary to preserve the health of the mother, but in fact poses serious risks to the long-term health of women and in some circumstances, their lives. As a result, at least 27 States banned the procedure as did the United States Congress which voted to ban the procedure during the 104th, 105th, and 106th Congresses.

    CONTINUING ON WITH THE HEALTH RISKS TO THE WOMAN:

    (13) There exists substantial record evidence upon which Congress has reached its conclusion that a ban on partial-birth abortion is not required to contain a “health” exception, because the facts indicate that a partial-birth abortion is never necessary to preserve the health of a woman, poses serious risks to a woman’s health, and lies outside the standard of medical care. Congress was informed by extensive hearings held during the 104th, 105th, and 107th Congresses and passed a ban on partial-birth abortion in the 104th, 105th, and 106th Congresses. These findings reflect the very informed judgment of the Congress that a partial-birth abortion is never necessary to preserve the health of a woman, poses serious risks to a woman’s health, and lies outside the standard of medical care, and should, therefore, be banned.

    (14) Pursuant to the testimony received during extensive legislative hearings during the 104th, 105th, and 107th Congresses, Congress finds and declares that:
    (A) Partial-birth abortion poses serious risks to the health of a woman undergoing the procedure. Those risks include, among other things: an increase in a woman’s risk of suffering from cervical incompetence, a result of cervical dilation making it difficult or impossible for a woman to successfully carry a subsequent pregnancy to term; an increased risk of uterine rupture, abruption, amniotic fluid embolus, and trauma to the uterus as a result of converting the child to a footling breech position, a procedure which, according to a leading obstetrics textbook, “there are very few, if any, indications for . . . other than for delivery of a second twin”; and a risk of lacerations and secondary hemorrhaging due to the doctor blindly forcing a sharp instrument into the base of the unborn child’s skull while he or she is lodged in the birth canal, an act which could result in severe bleeding, brings with it the threat of shock, and could ultimately result in maternal death.
    (B) There is no credible medical evidence that partial-birth abortions are safe or are safer than other abortion procedures…
    (O) For these reasons, Congress finds that partial-birth abortion is never medically indicated to preserve the health of the mother; is in fact unrecognized as a valid abortion procedure by the mainstream medical community; poses additional health risks to the mother; blurs the line between abortion and infanticide in the killing of a partially-born child just inches from birth; and confuses the role of the physician in childbirth and should, therefore, be banned.

    And on, and on…

    Based on Congress’ remarks on the danger that partial-birth abortion poses to the woman’s health, would I then suggest that do you not care about the health of women. No – that would be suggesting that I understand your motives as harmful and careless, which I do not believe to be the case. However, pro-choicers such as yourself, will level that claim against pro-lifers because we believe in looking at the entire picture and not just how the abortion procedure will benefit (if one can use that word) the woman. You will also notice that Congress, in passing the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act, did include provisions for the life of the mother:

    (d)(1) A defendant accused of an offense under this section may seek a hearing before the State Medical Board on whether the physician’s conduct was necessary to save the life of the mother whose life was endangered by a physical disorder, physical illness, or physical injury, including a life-endangering physical condition caused by or arising from the pregnancy itself.
    (e) A woman upon whom a partial-birth abortion is performed may not be prosecuted under this section, for a conspiracy to violate this section, or for an offense under section 2, 3, or 4 of this title based on a violation of this section.”.

    Clearly your argument that I, or any other pro-lifer, do not care about the health of the woman is unsubstantiated and invalid.

    Comment by Lance — November 7, 2008 @ 7:27 pm | Reply

  44. A moral, medical, and ethical consensus exists that the practice of performing a partial-birth abortion — an abortion in which a physician delivers an unborn child’s body until only the head remains inside the womb, punctures the back of the child’s skull with a sharp instrument, and sucks the child’s brains out before completing delivery of the dead infant — is a gruesome and inhumane procedure that is never medically necessary and should be prohibited.

    Yes. And Congress was flat wrong.

    The alternative to this process, where the fetus to be aborted is too large to be delivered intact, is to literally dismember the fetus inside the uterus. The skull is still punctured – in fact, it is shattered – and the pieces removed. It is a nurse’s job to put the dismembered fetus together afterwards to make sure that all the pieces are out: leaving a bit of dead baby behind can mean the woman dies anyway. A mistake made by the doctor as the pieces are removed, can mean that the woman’s uterus or cervix is damaged, ensuring she cannot have children again.

    That was the process that Congress decided was somehow less gruesome than IDX.

    An abortion at this stage – when the fetus is too large to be removed safely – is a medical emergency, performed to save the life or preserve the health of the woman.

    The evidence with which Congress was provided, that IDX saves women’s lives and saves babies (pro-lifers decided that when one twin dies, because IDX can be performed on the dead twin to remove the fetus safely and allow the live twin to develop till normal delivery, that this was “too gruesome” and it was better to have both twins die or let the woman and both fetuses die) was ignored.

    The notion that Congress is better placed to make sweeping decisions about medical procedures to be performed in extreme emergency situations than the woman herself or her chosen medical proxy, and her physician, was just pure arrogance: evidence (if any were needed) that the forced-pregnancy movement is utterly indifferent to women’s lives and women’s health and even the lives of babies.

    Comment by jesurgislac — November 7, 2008 @ 8:24 pm | Reply

  45. “And Congress was flat wrong.” – according to who?

    You will find that many physicians (there’s really no way to measure if it’s the minority or majority) – even those represented by ACOG, would disagree with you.

    Comment by Lance — November 7, 2008 @ 10:16 pm | Reply

  46. Lance, I too have no idea how many American physicians have convinced themselves that it is somehow more moral to puncture a fetal skull and dismember the fetus inside the uterus than it is to use the IDX method to get the dead fetus out more safely and virtually whole. That some American physicians have talked themselves into believing this does not altogether surprise me: I have learned that there are even American physicians who prefer to force their patients to have abortions rather than provide them with contraception!

    The point is: the gruesome preference “pro-lifers” have for cutting up a fetus inside the uterus, which you apparently share, is not something that can be claimed as a medical preference, nor with any respect to the health of the woman concerned. It’s simply that you and others like you prefer to dismember a fetus inside the woman rather than use the safer method of late-term abortion.

    Comment by jesurgislac — November 7, 2008 @ 11:43 pm | Reply

  47. Ok I am pro life! I could write a whole thing of truth to revise ur page but I’m not I’m just gonna stay on one topic when u say abortion is not murder and that the fetus is not killed just removed it is killing him or her they don’t simply remove it by taking it out alive! They rip the baby apart! Look up abortion on google images! Look up the diff proceedures of how they do it

    Comment by Rain — April 1, 2011 @ 2:54 pm | Reply

    • I’ve often wondered why so many prolifers just love to fantasise about “ripping babies apart”. Why, in the US, American prolifers actually passed legislation making it illegal for doctors to perform late-term abortions by any other method but cutting up the fetus inside the uterus – and have consistently promoting making abortions later and later, evidently delighting on the idea.

      Can you clarify that, Rain? Why do you love the idea of “babies being ripped apart” so much that you actually spend your leisure time reading about it in detail and gloating over prolife images on Google? What kind of monster wants to do that?

      Comment by jesurgislac — April 2, 2011 @ 8:53 am | Reply

  48. I am extremely overjoyed in being able to refute virtually every single declarative statement you have made in your blog. Thank you for helping me understand the pro-choice arguments so I can confirm how solid the pro-life argument stands up against this.

    Bottom line – you are seriously misguided and clearly do not understand (or are willing to for that matter) the pro-life argument. Please email me back if you want to have a serious discussion.

    Comment by Jojo — April 8, 2011 @ 1:04 am | Reply

    • I am overjoyed and grateful that you satisfied yourself with typing the claim that you could “refute” the argument that women are human and pretend to yourself that the arguments against choice are “solid”. You cannot believe how bored I get with anti-human prolifers who’re convinced that THIS time they can explain to me that women really aren’t human and only matter as incubators.

      Comment by jesurgislac — April 8, 2011 @ 8:10 am | Reply

  49. I was directed to your blog after writing my blog describing how I became Pro-Life after years of being Pro-Choice. And yes, I do find those titles to be a bit misleading. My biggest issue with your blog is that you do not take into account how early a baby can live outside of the womb. You apparently have never met a pregnant woman or dealt with one, and seen her stomach moving with the child alive inside. I found it ironic that a friend of yours commented that their wife was pregnant, and you wished them well with that. Why would you do such a thing if the fetus is only an object to you? It would be the same thing as someone saying “I’m buying a toaster today”, and you respond “Oh well good luck with that.”
    You seem to close your eyes to a lot of basic biology and understanding of how humans (you included) came to be. Have you ever seen an ultrasound at 20 weeks? Can you honestly say that is not a human in there? This whole thing of equating using a woman’s body as slavery to the baby is a bit much. Yes, the woman’s body is needed to help incubate and grow the child. Not a surprise to anyone as that is how you got here, that is how we all got here. I was willing to let your arguements slide until you decided that the IDX (why you can’t call it a partial birth abortion) was needed. I was blown away at the lack of caring, compassion and general understanding. If you were so concerned with the mother’s health, then the abortion would have been done much earlier in the pregnancy. There is no need to do this procedure. Oh, and if you would like more medical explanations I would be happy to get some from my medical books in my house and my friends in med school.
    The one person who was talking about personal responsibility is correct. It is about being responsible for your actions. You may not like the fact you got pregnant from consensual sex with your partner, but congrats, you now have a baby to carry to term. I will agree on one point, that the government should not force you to do anything. however when your decision directly impacts the life of another, then you can not choose to end that other person’s life. The baby inside the womb is not choosing to kill the mother, but in abortion, the mother is choosing to kill the child. Again, go back to basic biology, look at an ultrasound of a child at 20 weeks, and tell me that isn’t a life. Tell me, when children are able to survive outside the womb at 30 weeks now, that carrying to full term and doing an IDX isn’t a murder. If you can do that, you are really good at lying to yourself.

    Comment by Mike — April 22, 2011 @ 5:14 am | Reply

    • I found it ironic that a friend of yours commented that their wife was pregnant, and you wished them well with that.

      I guess if a woman is just an incubator to you, you would find it ironic. But I don’t. They want to have a baby; why wouldn’t I wish them well?

      You apparently have never met a pregnant woman or dealt with one, and seen her stomach moving with the child alive inside. I

      Why do you think I would be willing to treat a pregnant woman as an incubator to be used against her will, once having seen/met with her? What is wrong with you, that your first meeting with a pregnant woman and seeing her belly moving made you willing to use her until she broke or died?

      What made you feel that pregnant woman are not human? Why do you lack this basic understanding? How does seeing an ultrasound of a fetus at 20 weeks make you think that a pregnant woman is no more human than a toaster?

      Comment by jesurgislac — April 22, 2011 @ 8:39 am | Reply

  50. First off, let me apologize for not stating that my beliefs are not such that place one person above the other. My faith and morals (not subjective morals, but those that have been written and passed down) state that each male, female, child both born and unborn have rights and are special and deserve the chance at life. In fact, our Constitution states we all have a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Now that I have cleared that up, hopefully you can reread my response and not think that I, anywhere, wrote I think of a woman as nothing by an incubator.
    The main point I tried to make, but you did not address, was that what was being aborted was indeed a living human. I would like to ask that you place all straw arguements aside and answer when you believe that a ‘fetus’ becomes ‘human’. I think this clarification first would help the debate and understanding to move forward.
    Secondly, I have to disagree with your stance that morality is subjective. If each person can decide on his or her own morals, then morals themselves have no meaning.
    It does seem that your message is one of feminism. And while the promotion of a people, any group of people, is a noble one. You must be careful not to single out one group and make them above anyone else. To do so invalidates your arguement and is an affront to the basic tenants of liberty. Every woman has a right to choose what she can do. It is said that “all is permissable, but not all is beneficial”.
    Also, where does the father’s choice on this situation fall? Does he not have a say in the child’s destiny?
    Lastly, my metaphor of the toaster was meant to resemble your feelings that a fetus has no more intrinsic value than some random object. Never were my words used to describe a woman nor a man.

    Comment by Mike — April 25, 2011 @ 2:05 am | Reply

    • but those that have been written and passed down) state that each male, female, child both born and unborn have rights and are special and deserve the chance at life.

      Then you have to be prochoice. Are you? Because you appear to be arguing the exact reverse in the rest of your comment – against prochoice ethics, for using women against their will.

      The main point I tried to make, but you did not address, was that what was being aborted was indeed a living human.

      The main point I am making, which you did not and perhaps could not address, is that a woman is a living human being, not an object to be used against her will.

      Comment by jesurgislac — April 25, 2011 @ 9:20 pm | Reply

      • I’m anti-abortion, pro-life, against the idea someone could choose to abort another human. I’m saying that if you so choose to do anything, I can not stop you, but your choices have consequences. A woman is a living human being. What about a female human still in the womb, is that where your feminism stops? Please stop being intellectually dishonest and please just answer the questions I have posed. I figured someone with such a strong opinion would be able to back themself up with facts, figures and well thought out points. I have answered your questions, now please answer mine. Reread what I have written and articulate on what you think about each point. I was hoping for an honest debate with you. A baby is not an object, but a person just like a full grown woman is. A baby is not to be discarded because some woman did not want to be burdened with actually caring about another individual.
        A woman is a wonderful human being that has the ability, more so than any man could dream of, of bringing life into this world. Women were chosen to carry this great accomplishment and honor, and you choose to look at it as a curse. Perhaps it is for you, but to group all females into your line of thinking is disingenuous. Women also have equal opportunites to answer for their decisions, just like any man could. Why is it ok for a woman to walk away from the responibilites of a child, but if a man decided not to be part of it, then he is the scum of the Earth? According to your morals, it would be ok for a man to just leave a woman who is pregnant? Why would you force him to take part in raising the child or financially supporting it?

        Comment by Mike — April 25, 2011 @ 10:20 pm

  51. Hi Mike.

    I’m anti-abortion, pro-life, against the idea someone could choose to abort another human.

    So you believe that women exist only to be forced and used. That’s not truly pro life – tens of thousands of women die each year as a direct result of this belief, and hundreds of thousands indirectly – but it is what is commonly referred to as “pro-life” – the political movement for preventing women from access to safe, legal abortion on demand.

    A woman is a living human being. What about a female human still in the womb, is that where your feminism stops? Please stop being intellectually dishonest and please just answer the questions I have posed.

    I have. There is a very short, simple answer to all prolife questions about when it starts being okay to force women, and it’s this: Never. It is never okay to force women. It’s never moral, or right, nor truly prolife, to make use of a woman’s body against her will. A woman is a person in her own right, not an object: she may not be forced, not on the excuse that you want to use her body to make a baby, not on any excuse.

    If you are honestly looking for an honest debate, that’s where I start from. If you want to try to come up with honest reasons why you think women should be forced, well, I believe in allowing free expression of opinions even from people I disagree with, so long as they don’t descend into outright abuse (which I have a fairly narrow definition of).

    A woman is a wonderful human being that has the ability, more so than any man could dream of, of bringing life into this world.

    Agreed. So why do prolifers want to make this “great accomplishment and honor” as you describe it (and I don’t disagree) into a curse and a punishment, something women are not allowed to choose but something that must be forced on women?

    Women also have equal opportunites to answer for their decisions, just like any man could.

    They do if they live in a pro-choice country, where they get to decide, not be forced. If they live in prolife countries, women don’t have equal opportunities.

    but if a man decided not to be part of it, then he is the scum of the Earth?

    No man is the scum of the Earth for wearing a condom or getting a vasectomy. A man has the choice not to engender a child. That’s his right, he’s not scum for that. Once a child has been born, both parents have legal and financial responsibilities for the child, which neither may walk away from (unless the child is adopted, which brings up a whole other kettle of fish/can of worms!). When the woman is deciding whether or not she will use her body to engender a child – and because she’s the one who gets pregnant, her period of decision is longer than the man’s – she isn’t scum either, whether for deciding she will or she won’t.

    According to your morals, it would be ok for a man to just leave a woman who is pregnant?

    Yes, it would. It would not be OK for him to refuse to pay child support, but nothing says he has to live with the woman.

    Why would you force him to take part in raising the child or financially supporting it?

    Both parents are required to take part in financially supporting the child – that’s not their choice, that’s their obligation towards an independent human being. The mother’s financial obligations, if she’s the one raising the child, are always going to be greater than the man’s, if all he’s putting in is his mandatory child support.

    Pregnancy, however, is something the woman does and the man doesn’t. He doesn’t get to control and use her body just because he had sex with her. If he actively prefers not to engender a baby, he should be using condoms, each time, every time: that’s his responsibility. Accidents happen, and if the condoms fails, it’s not up to him to decide whether or not the woman should have the baby. If she decides to have the baby, both she and he have financial and social obligations to the baby. The man will find it easier to duck out on his.

    Comment by jesurgislac — April 26, 2011 @ 7:54 am | Reply

  52. Believing that “not supplying the fetus with proper nutrition to sustain its growth” is not murder, than neither is not feeding you dog for as long as it takes to watch it keel over dead on the damn kitchen floor! What you debate in this article is a pure farce for debating that abortion is not murder.

    Comment by Isaac — May 3, 2011 @ 4:18 am | Reply

    • Well, Isaac, I’m actually impressed that you picked out on this one point, since it relates into some very current news. My belief that women may not be used against their will stands, but do prolifers really believe that children dying of hunger is any big deal?

      Every day, almost 16,000 children die from hunger-related causes. That’s one child every five seconds.

      There were 1.4 billion people in extreme poverty in 2005. The World Bank estimates that the spike in global food prices in 2008, followed by the global economic recession in 2009 and 2010 has pushed between 100-150 million people into poverty.

      In 2008, nearly 9 million children died before they reached their fifth birthday. One third of these deaths are due directly or indirectly to hunger and malnutrition. link

      This food crisis is caused very directly by financiers on the world market:

      In a new paper released this week, Olivier De Schutter, the UN’s special rapporteur on food, says that the increases in price and the volatility of food commodities can only be explained by the emergence of a “speculative bubble” which he traces back to the early noughties.

      “[Beginning in] 2001, food commodities derivatives markets, and commodities indexes began to see an influx of non-traditional investors,” De Schutter writes. “The reason for this was because other markets dried up one by one: the dotcoms vanished at the end of 2001, the stock market soon after, and the US housing market in August 2007. As each bubble burst, these large institutional investors moved into other markets, each traditionally considered more stable than the last. Strong similarities can be seen between the price behaviour of food commodities and other refuge values, such as gold.”

      He continues: “A significant contributory cause of the price spike [has been] speculation by institutional investors who did not have any expertise or interest in agricultural commodities, and who invested in commodities index funds or in order to hedge speculative bets.” link

      This is a direct result of Ronald Reagan’s administration removing the regulations that protected foodstuffs from this kind of international gambling with people’s lives:

      Futures markets tend to be rather small compared to other investment markets. In 2004, the total value of futures contracts in 25 principal commodities was only $180 billion, compared to $44 trillion invested in stock markets worldwide. So when these outside investors enter with large sums of money into the commodities futures markets, they drive up overall prices for those products. In just the first 55 days of 2008, speculators placed $55 billion into these markets. Clearly these huge influxes of money are having dramatic effects on today’s rising food prices. According to Masters, “[O]ne particularly troubling aspect of … speculator demand is that it actually increases the more prices increase.” We already see this happening as investment advisors increasingly encourage clients to invest in commodities futures. These types of investments could easily increase to as much as $1 trillion if institutional investors switch a greater part of their investments into commodities futures. This would result in catastrophic increases in food prices. link

      People are going hungry, and children are dying – at least six million a year, because financiers are taking lucrative gambles with their lives. Shall we see prolifers rising up in anger, and picketing Wall Street, and calling this kind of commodities gamble with food mass murder?

      No, of course not. Because for prolifers, it’s not about saving people’s lives – if it were, prolifers would be the main supporters in the US for universal free healthcare! – it’s about tormenting and abusing women.

      Comment by jesurgislac — May 3, 2011 @ 7:46 am | Reply

  53. Jesurgislac,

    Great article you hit some points that have been on my mind ever since I became sexually active. I find that the men attempting to refute your views are missing the point that, using a woman’s body to produce a child when she doesn’t want to, is wrong. All the other issues require separate arguments.

    Lance’s STD consequence example was really quite silly because if we could “cut out the HIV virus” after contraction, we would. And aborting life’s “uncomfortable results” that’s called coping. Does he really think that an abortion entirely “aborts” the experience of an unwanted pregnancy- physically and emotionally? That is simply naive and offensive. Nothing goes away in life, unless you get memory loss. The word “abort” may as well be a hyperbole.

    We can only cope with whatever resources we have available. Abortion is one of those resources. Having heterosexual sex does indeed come with the possibility of fertilizing an egg, however sex is not only meant for procreation. I apologize if this next statement is wrong or outdated but homo sapiens are the only species that have sex purely for pleasure with no intent of conceiving a potential child. Therefore it is ridiculous to state that if a woman becomes pregnant she has to keep the child and give birth, because “that is her consequence.”

    I am kind of mortified by the views held by some pro lifers. No one wishes abuse or suffering on any other person (although it is innate in being human); this stance is often carried over to other mammals (i.e. animal abuse, etc…), now I think that is fine, people are welcome to feel and believe whatever they want, but, this entails mixed views not every person shares the same understandings. Life– I understand there is a biological definition and then a more “literary” definition. Biological definition is any organic molecule is alive, with that you cannot use this definition in talking about murder or killing because then nearly every action is committing murder. Now the literary definition is the life that is led. I see this as not only being but asking, desiring, analyzing, suffering, sharing joy, creating, learning, growing, having a life making decisions and differences in the world, etc… A fetus does not have this. If science ever proves that a fetus sits in the womb contemplating whether or not this woman will choose to abort him or her, or the kind of life it wants to live, then I will be at risk of switching sides on the debate. Now I know people freak out because prochoice people are “OK with killing an innocent baby” but that an ignorant notion to assert, Because, fetus, baby, human being, life, etc… can mean different things. Oh and for all the Christians out there, we were born sinful and evil there is no innocence, and I am Calvinist so don’t bother saying a fetus needs the potential to “choose” Christ.

    Comment by ezrahayes — July 6, 2011 @ 9:44 pm | Reply

  54. Your point about using the women’s body is something I never really considered. I am strongly pro-choice just because I believe a fetus is not alive. i mean, it’s like saying an apple is an apple as soon as you plant the seed. But you’re right; you can’t force women to use their body to deliver a baby. Despicable “pro-life” people are not really pro-life. They are pro-fetus, anti-women.

    Comment by dmcarefuldriver — August 6, 2011 @ 6:12 am | Reply

  55. Hello, In absence of your real name I shall write jesurgislac. I have a few things to say within the context of this debate. Let me first say that I am still on the younger side of life and I have gone back and forth on this argument quite a bit.

    I will also say just to make sure its clear, I absolutely support a women’s right to terminate a fetus if it would endanger her life or if the fetus was severely malformed and would experience excruciating pain for it’s whole life. Also to clarify, I truly do not know how i feel about women that are raped for I have heard convincing arguments on both sides. I also would like to say that I support the idea of giving free contraceptives to any women who asks and I believe that every man ought to know how to put a condom on. That said I do not believe that if two twenty year old college students get inebriated one night and make the mistake of not using a condom or any other type of contraceptive, I do not believe that the woman should have the right to terminate the fetus for the sole reason that it would be a detriment to her for
    her college experience and the 9 months that she would have to carry the baby. Now, you state above that,

    “The only means known of making a baby from a fertilised egg takes nine months (approximately) of a woman providing the use of her body and her blood in a tremendously draining, effortful process that may kill her, that will change her body permanently, and that can permanently damage her health. (You can google on maternal morbidity mortality statistics for your own country if you want to find out how dangerous this is for women in your country.) Pregnancy and childbirth involve major hormonal changes which are known to present a high risk of danger to a woman’s mental health. Motherhood entails 18 years of caring for another human being – a major emotional, financial, and life-changing decision.” I live in the USA so the rate of maternal death is fairly low. I understand that pregnancy is really hard and I understand that I truly cannot every really understand for I have a penis and therefore have no ability to carry a baby. But regardless of how hard the pregnancy is you are still talking about another life. Perhaps the child won’t have the greatest life but perhaps he is sweet and kind and what more is needed?

    You also state that, “A woman who has an abortion is – in the vast majority of abortions, those carried out early in the first trimester – not actually killing the fetus: in those instances, no one is killing the fetus. The fetus is removed from the uterus, that’s all: the woman ceases to provide her bodily resources to keep the fetus alive and developing. To cease to provide bodily resources is not murder.” That is a very illogical argument. That would be as if i were choking someone and killed them but it wasn’t murder because all i did was prevent them from ingesting oxygen. If someone relies on something for life and it is knowingly taken away what do we call that?

    Im not saying that if you abort a fetus you get 20 to life I’m saying that no matter how you spin it you are still ending the life of a viable living thing. I am curious how it came to pass that people found it okay to let people who made poor decisions just walk away from the mess they made. the analogy being a pregnant women aborting a fetus but your smart enough to understand that. You talk about how if a women choose to have sex they choose to get pregnant. I agree with you that that is illogical what i will say is that if she chooses to have sex she accepts the risks associated with that activity.

    So while I stand by everything i say people who hold these opinions tend to be labeled as sexist misogynistic pigs. Personally i don’t seem myself as that I love my mom and i would rather have had Senator clinton for president that President Obama. So just letting you know I’m not a sexist i like women and i plan on marrying one someday but i know that if i knocked up some woman i would absolutely say that she should have it and if she chose not to then i would accept it but if she had it i would raise it because thats the right thing to do.

    Finally lets just compare the causes pro-life campaigns for the rights of those who cannot speak where pro-choice campaigns for those who(once again i exclude all the people that would have harm caused to them through pregnancy and am only talking about people who made bad decisions) who want to cut and run. Thanks for reading this if you do and i know its long winded but i have a lot to say

    Comment by Charles — October 17, 2011 @ 2:37 am | Reply

    • “Also to clarify, I truly do not know how i feel about women that are raped for I have heard convincing arguments on both sides”

      Thank you for clarifying that you can be convinced by arguments that say it’s OK to force a raped women through pregnancy and childbirth against her will. Makes the rest of your comment very clear from the very beginning.

      “That said I do not believe that if two twenty year old college students get inebriated one night and make the mistake of not using a condom or any other type of contraceptive, I do not believe that the woman should have the right to terminate the fetus for the sole reason that it would be a detriment to her for her college experience and the 9 months that she would have to carry the baby. ”

      Agreed. Any woman who gets pregnant at any point in her life for any reason whatsoever has the the right to terminate her pregnancy for the sole reason that it’s her body, and neither you nor anyone else has any “right” to force her through pregnancy and childbirth against her will.

      “I live in the USA so”

      …so the rate of maternal morbidity and mortality, and child mortality, is a lot higher than in most developed countries. (Look it up.) The US is one of the worst places in the developed world to have a baby. Often even health insurance won’t help, because quite often health insurance companies specificially exclude pregnancy/childbirth from what they cover. The US has a Third World type healthcare system – great if you’re rich, not so good if you’re not. If I need to point out – which I probably do – a woman with a baby to support is really unlikely to be rich: the US doesn’t even have guaranteed paid maternity leave, not one day. You’re fairly young and I gather from your handle not female, and in any case Americans tend to have a parochial way of not looking outside their own country, but the US really is, for a developed country, a dangerous, expensive place for a woman to get pregnant or to have a baby. Not that this in any way affects a woman’s right to choose; that’s her basic human right. But the US does make it costly and dangerous for her to decide to go ahead with the pregnancy….

      “But regardless of how hard the pregnancy is you are still talking about another life.”

      You’ve kind of lost track of the fact that the woman is a living unique human being. You’re talking about making use of another human being against her will.

      “If someone relies on something for life and it is knowingly taken away what do we call that? ”

      A woman is not “something”. You’re reducing a woman to a “thing” by that argument. No country in the world supports forced organ donation. Only prolifers argue that women should be forced to give up the use of their living organs against their will.

      “I am curious how it came to pass that people found it okay to let people who made poor decisions just walk away from the mess they made.”

      I am curious how it came to pass that prolifers made a guy like you think it was okay to force the use of a woman’s body against her will, on the specious reasoning that because she decided to have sex, that makes it OK to force her to have a baby. Do you think you can ever explain to me why you think women are “things” that can be used?

      “So while I stand by everything i say people who hold these opinions tend to be labeled as sexist misogynistic pigs. 2

      And there’s a reason for that!

      “Personally i don’t seem myself as that I love my mom”

      but you think she’s really a “something” that can be forced? Doesn’t sound like “love” to me, dear.

      “So just letting you know I’m not a sexist i like women and i plan on marrying one someday”

      Well, I hope you get over your youthful confusion about how it’s OK to force women before you try to get near one.

      “Finally lets just compare the causes pro-life campaigns for the rights of those who cannot speak”

      Pro-life campaigns against the human rights of women. Pro-life in the US has been campaigning heartily and with a good deal of enthusiasm against basic health care for low-income women – Planned Parenthood funding has been shut down in state after state, ensuring women on a low income in need of preventive healthcare have nowhere to go. That’s pro-life. You may not think those women matter – you may never even have considered whether a woman who’s a cervical cancer risk should be able to get a regular Pap screening whether or not she can pay for it, or if women who need contraception and don’t have health insurance should be able to go someplace they’ll be treated respectfully. Pro-life in the US is vehemently against preventive healthcare for low-income women. How is that justified in your mind? How do you think that a woman who wants to get contraception or protection against cervical cancer is someone who “wants to cut and run”?

      Comment by jesurgislac — October 17, 2011 @ 7:54 am | Reply

  56. I think every single one of your responses to these pro-life vs pro-choice issues is completely ridiculous. You sound like a self-righteous bitch, honestly. All you talk about is forcing women to give birth against their will. If the woman is mature enough to have sex, then she should be mature enough to have a baby. She does not necessarily have to keep the baby because adoption is an easily solution. You claim it’s not easy because the woman is being forced to use her body for nine months without her consent. She gave her consent when she had sex. If abortion was illegal, she would not be “forced” to carry her baby. No one is forcing her to do anything. The only thing she is forced to do is live with the consequences of her actions. Nine months is not a big deal when you compare it to a lifetime for that baby. I am a pro-lifer and I do not support tormenting and abusing women. I also don’t support the murder of innocent babies. As a fetus, a baby cannot protect itself. The baby needs his/her mother to protect him/her. Not end his/her life. Babies cannot protect themselves. They need someone else to protect them, which is what pro-lifers are actually setting out to do. Not torment women. Get it straight.

    Comment by Hannah — October 20, 2011 @ 9:49 pm | Reply

    • “You sound like a self-righteous bitch”

      Sweetie-pie, try if you can to oppose without being abusive, mmmkay?

      Comment by jesurgislac — October 21, 2011 @ 8:40 am | Reply

    • “If the woman is mature enough to have sex, then she should be mature enough to have a baby”

      The decision to have sex, and the decision to become a parent, are completely separate decisions. A person can be able to decide to have sex, and mature enough to know they’re not yet ready to be a parent. Hence, condoms and other forms of contraception should be freely available to teenagers and teens should be strongly encouraged to use them. That, demonstrably, is the most effective way of preventing teenage pregnancy and hence teenage abortion. Sadly prolifers are seldom if ever interested in preventing abortions, only in getting a morally self-righteous kick out of squealing about how bad they are.

      The majority of women who have abortions already have at least one child.

      “All you talk about is forcing women to give birth against their will.”

      No, that’s what pro-lifers talk about. I talk about opposing the pro-life ideology that women should be forced through pregnancy and childbirth against their will.

      “ou claim it’s not easy because the woman is being forced to use her body for nine months without her consent. She gave her consent when she had sex.”

      No, if that were the case, we’d never have invented abortion. Consent to sex is not the same thing as consent to pregnancy/becoming a parent.

      “If abortion was illegal, she would not be “forced” to carry her baby. ”

      She would have an illegal abortion with more risk of dying. Pro-lifers are never concerned about preventing abortion, only about making abortion illegal, expensive, and otherwise more difficult t access. Prolifers want serving soldiers in the US army to be forced to take personal leave and travel back to the US from a war zone, rather than have a safe, quick abortion on the military base. This in an army with a high incidence of rape of serving soldiers!

      “The only thing she is forced to do is live with the consequences of her actions. ”

      Everyone always has to do that. There’s no “force” entailed. You talk as if a child ought to be regarded by a woman as a punishment, not as a joyous choice. You’re not alone in this, but I cannot understand why prolifers think of babies as a punishment.

      “Nine months is not a big deal when you compare it to a lifetime for that baby”

      But since you regard that baby as a “punishment”, a “consequence” which the woman should be forced to live with, how can you pretend you care one whit about that baby’s lifetime?

      “.I do not support tormenting and abusing women. ”

      You’ve made clear you support forced pregnancy and childbirth and regard a baby as an instrument of punishment. You do support tormenting and abusing women. Ugly.

      “I also don’t support the murder of innocent babies. ”

      No one does, aside from the pro-lifers who want to return us to an era of infanticide – who prefer to force the baby to be born to punish the mother for having sex, and are then indifferent to the baby’s life afterwards. That’s why infanticide, before safe legal abortion was available.

      “As a fetus, a baby cannot protect itself.”

      True. So why are pro-lifers so indifferent to protecting and supporting pregnant women? The pro-life movement in the US has been vehemently and strongly opposed to free/affordable provision of healthcare aimed at women – because provision of such healthcare always includes safe legal abortion and contraception. So the pro-life movement has militated against protecting fetuses, because the only way you can “protect fetuses” is by providing help and support to all women. Prolifers actively and nastily don’t do that.

      “The baby needs his/her mother to protect him/her. ”

      So why do pro-lifers not campaign for mandatory, tax-funded maternity health care and maternity leave? Why so indifferent to babies that the parents actually want to have, and the children who have been born?

      “They need someone else to protect them, which is what pro-lifers are actually setting out to do. ”

      Nope. No pro-lifer I ever met was interested in either preventing abortions or helping mothers of wanted children or the wanted children themselves. Including, from what you’ve said, you.

      Claiming I “haven’t got it straight” and beginning with a foolishly abusive comment just makes you look like an ass, when the rest of your comment is nothing but a torrent of self-righteous justification for pro-lifer torment and abuse of women.

      Comment by jesurgislac — October 21, 2011 @ 9:02 am | Reply

  57. [...] an act of killing, merely a removal of the fetus from the womb, cutting off its resources. Here is an example of such asinine reasoning: A woman who has an abortion is – in the vast majority of abortions, [...]

    Pingback by Is abortion murder?: a comedy of errors. [part 1] | The Prime Directive — March 2, 2012 @ 3:38 am | Reply


RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

The Rubric Theme Blog at WordPress.com.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: