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February 23, 2010

Comments

Eric: My point is to take your argument to its logical conclusion, which I feel results in some pretty extreme outcomes.

Define life, Eric, bearing in mind what I said previously about brains and experiences. If an embyro is human, then it deserves protection, no matter how extreme it sounds.

Eric: In the example of the rhythm method, aged gametes may produce embryos incapable of implanting. If that's the case, would practicing said method be tantamount to murder if the parents knew

Well, I've said no twice, and giving a reason that is consistent with what I state previously. If you think there should be a reason to call it murder, then say why.

Jes: Because why on earth are you trying to argue this point

I never have! ever!! go look back if you have to. I'm arguing about the definition of life, and the morality/legality of non-life threatening abortions. I have never said anything to suggest otherwise.

Jes: So it's okay to pass laws requiring forced kidney, liver, or blood "donation", against the will of the person whose body is thus being used, providing these forced "donations" are being used to save the life of someone who would die if they did not receive them? There is no reason to allow a person who has healthy organs the legal right to decide for herself whether or not to use them to keep another person alive?

I've already responded to this. Obviously there is no basis for this, under the same reasoning there's no basis to force a woman to have a baby when it might kill her. You can't force someone to risk their life to save someone elses. This has nothing to do with what I've been talking about.

DKPSR:

According to you, an embryo is a human life.

The rhythm method is likely to result in embryos that can't implant, and thus will die.

Since, according to you, and embryo is a human life, and given that engaging in an act likely to result in the destruction of human life is murder or some close approximate thereof, other than in the case of extenuating circumstances, this raises an interesting question.

Is the rhythm method murder (if the science backs up the aged gamete leads to embryo implantation inability)

Your responses have thus far relied on misreading the material and, in connection with that misreading, describing an embryo as a gamete, and thus avoiding the question.

That is why I'm not satisfied.

Jes: I've never tried to contend that a human fetus isn't human - that would be a tautological absurdity.

If you think fetuses are human, then why would you support inalienable human rights for one human (life, women) and not another (life, fetuses)? And don't bring up the life-threatening situation again. I am not talking about those scenarios. Why can a mother kill a fetus but not a baby, if fetuses are humans with the same rights as babies.

Obviously there is no basis for this

So what makes it okay to force women to "donate" her uterus against her will, when you agree there is no basis for forcing the use of any other organs of her body?

. You can't force someone to risk their life to save someone elses.

But you're arguing that it is okay to do that. Any pregnancy carries with it the risk of death and the certainty of permanent physical change to the woman's body. You've been arguing all the way down this thread that it's perfectly morally justifiable to force a woman to risk her life by pregancy because if she doesn't, the fetus she is carrying will die.

Giving blood is far, far less risky than being pregnant. You think it's okay to force a woman to stay pregnant, but not okay to force her to give blood? Why do you make this distinction?

If you think fetuses are human, then why would you support inalienable human rights for one human (life, women) and not another (life, fetuses)

Because I hold that inalienable human rights include the right not to have your body used against your will.

You don't have the right to stay alive by taking half a liver or even a pint of blood from another human being unless that human being has consented to let you have that part of their body to save your life.

A fetus doesn't have the right to stay alive by using a human being's uterus - and indeed all her bodily resources, unless that human being has consented to let that fetus have the use of her body to save its life.

And don't bring up the life-threatening situation again. I am not talking about those scenarios.

Yes, you are. Women don't stop dying for want of access to safe legal abortion just because you don't want to talk about their deaths.

Eric, I'm not describing an embryo as a gamete. The process you describe is occurring before there is an embryo. the action is being done to unfertilized eggs. We don't even know if conception will yet occur to the damaged egg or not.

That's like bringing someone up for double murder because they killed a fertile twenty year old woman, who "might" one day have had a kid. Or, it's like the "pre-crime" from minority report.

Jes: what's the death rate among women giving birth in the United States today? I bet more people die from choking on food nowadays.

body used against your will? Well then maybe that person and their coupler should have thought a bit more deeply about their consequences. "Will" was surrendered when they decided to engage in an act purely designed to produce other humans.

avoiding 9 months of admittedly strenuous pregnancy to kill someone who could live to be 80. That's not unselfish, no sir.

I'm going to bed. This was a waste of a night.

According to thisarticle the death rate from child birth in the United States in 2004 was 13 in every 100,000, or a 0.013% chance of dying. Not large, but not zero either. Further, the article also notes that 29% of such births are by C-section (which I think is actually higher now), which is major surgery and most assuredly results in "permanent physical damage" to the mother.

So, a pregnant woman has a better than 1 in 10,000 chance of dying in childbirth, and an almost 1 in 3 chance of undergoing major surgery (and not to mention that vaginal birth is none too pleasant and also can result in permanent damage).

Eric, I'm not describing an embryo as a gamete. The process you describe is occurring before there is an embryo. the action is being done to unfertilized eggs. We don't even know if conception will yet occur to the damaged egg or not.

I guess I need to re-post this again:

Fertility awareness...[may] have a secondary effect of creating embryos incapable of implanting (due to aged gametes at the time of fertilization)

To repeat: "An embryo incapable of implanting."

The question remains, if a person engages in such a practice, and (as was expected) the practice leads to the creation of embryos that then fail to implant, is that murder or some variation thereof?

Your answers, thus far, don't seem to match the question.

That's like bringing someone up for double murder because they killed a fertile twenty year old woman, who "might" one day have had a kid. Or, it's like the "pre-crime" from minority report.

No, it's more like negligent homicide: engaging in conduct likely to bring about loss of human life without specific mens rea.

don't kill people. simple rule

The funny thing that I don't think anyone has commented on so far: the case in point shows that "don't kill people" is not a "simple rule". Preventing someone from receiving chemotherapy when they have cancer is, in fact, killing them.

maybe that person and their coupler should have thought a bit more deeply about their consequences.

Again, as the case in point demonstrates, "thinking about consequences" is not a cure-all. Unexpected things happen.

"Will" was surrendered when they decided to engage in an act purely designed to produce other humans.

I've had sex, I guess, er, at least a few thousand times, and only once produced another human. Maybe I am doing it wrong?

dkp.sr: body used against your will? Well then maybe that person and their coupler should have thought a bit more deeply about their consequences. "Will" was surrendered when they decided to engage in an act purely designed to produce other humans.

As many others have already noted, over and over again: eventually, pro-lifers always turn out to be anti-sex, anti-women, and regard having children as a punishment for having sex rather than a joyous choice.

You yourself, dkp.sr, may never in your life have sex except when you intend to engender children. If that's how you feel about sex, that's OK. But most people, most of the time, have sex when they want to give themselves and their sexual partner pleasure. That's how we evolved. To presume having sex is exactly equivalent to deciding to have a child is ludicrously false.

avoiding 9 months of admittedly strenuous pregnancy to kill someone who could live to be 80

As someone else already said upthread: "You can't force someone to risk their life to save someone else's."

"Will" was surrendered when they decided to engage in an act purely designed to produce other humans.

"Designed"?

"Designed purely"?

I'm not really sure what to make of this.

DKP...,

You seem determined to ignore that the interests of the fetus do not exist in a vacuum. The problem is that in a pregnancy there are competing interests: those of the mother and those of the fetus. You can't accord rights to the fetus without taking them away from the mother. If a fetus has an absolute right to life, then the mother has no right to control her own body - she must carry the baby to term whether she wants to or not, regardless of whether it endangers her life or harms her health. This is why the distinction between unborn and born that you tried to wave away earlier is important - after birth the baby needs support, but it needn't come from a specific individual. Prior to birth, only the specific woman in whose womb it resides can supply that support. Given those competing interests, I'm inclined to favor the interests of the one who is actually sentient, rather than one who's only potentially sentient.

"Will" was surrendered when they decided to engage in an act purely designed to produce other humans.

Hooo-boy. Ummm, hmmm. There seem to be some rather dubious assumptions buried in this little bit of slut-blaming. First off, "designed"? Unless you're a creationist (which is certainly a possibility) that's hardly an appropriate term. The evolutionary origin of a structure or behavior has no necessary implications as to morality. I use my brain to do crossword puzzles, even though it wasn't "designed" for that. Sex may have evolved for reproduction, but I see no logical reason why it should be restricted to that purpose. Maybe you could explain your reasoning?

BTW, do you mind my asking if you're a man or a woman?

I've had sex, I guess, er, at least a few thousand times, and only once produced another human. Maybe I am doing it wrong?

Were you with someone else, other than that one time?

"Will" was surrendered when they decided to engage in an act purely designed to produce other humans.

what is this I don't even

What about all the Walt Disneys and Han Solos at the fertility clinics?

Were you with someone else, other than that one time?

Well, I thought so, but now I'm very confused about the whole thing. I might have just been playing canasta or something.

But the real point is that no matter how well you understand the potential consequences of sex, and even if you had a conscious intent to produce another human being, you do not have control over what happens next. The mother might get cancer, the fetus might develop in such a way that it could never survive and threatens the life of the mother. These aren't angels-on-the-head-of-a-pin theoreticals. We were lucky enough that none of them occurred, but no amount of "knowing the consequences" would have had anything to do with it.

I know I’m late to this game, but I must address Marty’s insistence on calling a fetus…”the child.”

My wife and I also experienced a miscarriage, 5 months into the pregnancy. During those 5 months my wife always called the life within her “the fetus” for 2 reasons. First, she’s a nurse and all of her colleagues (nurses and doctors) refer to the fetus as “the fetus.” And secondly, it was consciously political, because of the vast amount of anti-abortion folks in both our families. I don’t mean to sound cold; it was hard not to refer to the fetus as “the child.”

I was going to be a father, for the first time, and the excitement was overwhelming. So when she miscarried, it was devastating…clothing was purchased, rooms were painted, and the vast amounts of dream scenarios that I entertained were shattered. And during the grief period; my wife and I stopped calling it “the fetus” and started calling her “our child, Lilith.” At the same time, the emotional devastation we felt did not change the fact that it was a fetus. Words are important, so while our grief was helped by fashioning the fetus into child, I am careful not to confuse my grief state with reality. If my grief state could have been assisted by my wife and I referring to the fetus as “woman” or “elderly lady” or “toddler” or “young lady” or “teenager” we would have done it, but it doesn’t change the fact that a fetus died.

My mother is always reminding me that I am her baby, (I am 39) and as much as I love her, and would never dream of correcting her, there is good reason why I am glad the State and hospitals do not take her at her word.

There is a scientific reason as well as a political reason to use the proper labels.

What about all the Walt Disneys and Han Solos at the fertility clinics?

This is a very good question.

All the unused frozen embryos in fertility clinics are, ex arguendo, people. So are the clinics permitted to destroy them? Must they keep them on ice indefinitely then?

Also, since fertility treatments inevitably result in many excess embryos that are never implanted, should we outlaw fertility treatments as a form of murder?

That's not unselfish, no sir.

Wait, we're passing laws against selfishness now? What country am I living in?

I knew this would happen when the Democrats got back into the White House.

Well, I think Prattlehorn's comment from way back should have obviated the vast majority of subsequent discussion, but let me try to restate the point. If fetuses (and even zygotes) are fully human, then there no abortions can be justified, not even to save the life of the mother. I don't get to kill an innocent human to save my own life, under any circumstances. This would also preclude abortion of pregnancies resulting from rape (a point I'm surprised hasn't been raised yet). As a society we don't think rape justifies the taking of the life of even the rapist, so how could it possibly justify the taking of the life of an innocent third party? As pretty much everyone (even the most strident pro-lifers on this thread) agree that abortion is justified in order to save the mother's life and in cases of rape, it follows that there is a consensus that a fetus (at least before a certain stage of pregnancy) is that a fetus is not fully human.

And of course, it would abhorrent to put the burden of proof of rape or endangerment of life upon a woman seeking abortion. Therefore, the only sensible course is to leave the ultimate decision up to the woman.

Grrr, stupid parenthetical comment causing me to lose track my sentence structure. Oh, well.

BooThisMan: As pretty much everyone (even the most strident pro-lifers on this thread) agree that abortion is justified in order to save the mother's life and in cases of rape, it follows that there is a consensus that a fetus (at least before a certain stage of pregnancy) is that a fetus is not fully human.

Not at all. I have no problem acknowledging that the fetus is a human fetus.

My argument is that the woman is fully human, and thus perfectly entitled to decide for herself whether she's going to have an abortion: forced use of someone else's body is abhorrent.

Catsy:

"Moreover, the medical procedures and conditions in question exclusively affect women, but the people fighting to outlaw abortions are vastly disproportionately men who are unaffected by the laws they propose."

The section of your statement in bold is wrong. Women are statistically no less likely to be pro-life than men, and in many studies end up being slightly more likely to be pro-life than men. See for example this utterly typical CBS News poll.

It shows that 40% of men and 37% of women think abortion should be generally available. 40% of men and 37% of women think abortion should be available but with stricter limits than now. 20% of men and 24% of women think it should be unavailable.

So it appears that women are slightly LESS supportive of abortion than men in general, and among the more hardcore pro-lifers are actually more represented than men.

I don't know if it is important to your argument that women be more pro-choice than men. But if it is, you should rethink it, because the underlying facts aren't what you think.

" As pretty much everyone (even the most strident pro-lifers on this thread) agree that abortion is justified in order to save the mother's life and in cases of rape, it follows that there is a consensus that a fetus (at least before a certain stage of pregnancy) is that a fetus is not fully human."

This doesn't follow at all. If someone else is causing a substantial danger to your life, you can take steps to save yourself *even if doing so causes them to die*. That is what self defense is all about.

This doesn't follow at all. If someone else is causing a substantial danger to your life, you can take steps to save yourself *even if doing so causes them to die*. That is what self defense is all about.

This presumes that there's another course of action available to the individual against whom you are defending yourself. Yes, you can shoot and kill an intruder to your home, but the intruder could have avoided being killed by not invading your home. This is decidedly not the case for a fetus. You seem to have missed the word "innocent" in my post.

And the self-defense argument doesn't apply to cases of pregnancy induced by rape.

Hey, here's a crazy, radical idea: How about MEN start taking some responsibility, instead of engaging in slut-blaming all the time? You've got two choices, men:

1. Have a vasectomy. If you think you might want children later, bank some sperm for future fertilization treatments with a willing partner.

2. Wear a condom EVERY SINGLE TIME you have sex, absolutely, no matter what, unless you have agreed IN ADVANCE with your partner that you are attempting with that particular sex act to conceive a child.

If every man in America agrees to do that, then we'll be able to take it as given that, when a woman gets pregnant, it's either by agreed-upon choice or because some man didn't keep up his end of the bargain.

And then we can end all this talk about women "giving up their free will" and "not taking responsibility" and all the other attendant misogyny that pops up again and again in these discussions. Everyone on board with that?

I used to believe that there were principled anti-abortion stances. Now I really do think that it basically comes down to misogyny.

Sebastian; So it appears that women are slightly LESS supportive of abortion than men in general, and among the more hardcore pro-lifers are actually more represented than men.

But it also appears that, regardless of whether women feel other women should be denied the right to choose abortion - pro-life women are just as likely to choose abortion for themselves as women who publicly identify as pro-choice.

So the polls demonstrate, if anything, that women are slightly more likely to have double standards than men - or possibly, that women are more frequently shamed into claiming they believe women ought not to be allowed to choose abortion than men are.

But the statistics on the ground say - no woman believes she should be forced through pregnancy and childbirth against her will. No woman chooses to be enslaved, forced, and broken - regardless of what she says she wants for other women.

Indeed, if you read through any of the heartbreaking stories that patients at Doctor Tiller's clinic shared about their experiences, you often find that they had always believed they would never have an abortion - and would likely have identified themselves as pro-life - until they were faced with the plain fact that if they didn't have an abortion at Doctor Tiller's clinic, they were likely going to die or be permanently damaged, and the fetus they were carrying wasn't going to live.

So what can a poll of women who claim to be "pro-life" possibly mean, when it's demonstrable that women actually are overwhelmingly pro-choice?

"This is decidedly not the case for a fetus. You seem to have missed the word "innocent" in my post."

No I didn't. Self defense isn't only in the case of intruders. If two people are drowning in a choppy ocean and climbing up a slippery rock, you can climb up the rock even if it ends up causing the other person to fall back in the water and drown. If two people are shipwrecked and there is only one life-jacket, you can wear it and let the other person drown. In fact, if you wear the life jacket, and them holding on to you is causing you both to go underwater, you can kick them away.

Your generalization about self defense doesn't accurately track how it operates, so you end up misstating the pro-life view.

I tried to keep up with this thread, but I don't have time to read all. Did anyone answer the question: what's the dif between insisting that a sole identified donor donate an organ to save someone's life versus insisting that a woman lend her wombout? Let's assume that the potential donor is the parent of the potential donee.

If anyone would be so kind to point out whether there was a coherent distinction argued, thank you.

Perhaps this discussion would work better if we stepped back and recognized that what we are really discussing is: At what point to we have a human being? Possible answers include (but obviously are not limited to):

-- Conception
-- when the fetus is able to survive outside the womb without mechanical assistance. I.e., will survive with food (given orally) and temperature control, but does not require oxygen, IV nourishment, etc.
-- Birth

Until you have a human being, abortion is fine. Once you have a human being, it isn't.

Anyone can play. But you have to provide a rationalization why your choice of a threshold is correct (and other proposed thresholds are not). Rationales based on religion, ethics, biology, or anything else are fine -- provided you identify them clearly. Fun!

Actually, wj, whether the fetus is human is NOT the standard to use. The standard to use is what is one human's duty to another? If the standard is that we, as humans, have a legal obligation to rent our organs to other humans, then we should apply that across the board. In other words, give me your kidney, brother!

Your generalization about self defense doesn't accurately track how it operates, so you end up misstating the pro-life view.

I think "using force against one who intends to cause you harm" is a pretty reasonable layman's definition of self-defense. But even using the broader definition, you still haven't produced an example that's analogous to abortion. The actions in your examples don't inevitably lead to the death of the other party, as abortion by definition does. Is it legal for Alice to shoot Bob multiple times in the head in the struggle for the last life jacket? Maybe a more pertinent example can be concocted, but even if the legal issues are clear-cut, we're already dealing with moral gray areas and far-fetched scenarios in your examples.

And you continue to ignore the case of pregnancy induced by rape.

wj: Until you have a human being, abortion is fine. Once you have a human being, it isn't.

Other way round. You always have a human being: the woman's always human, and that's why abortion is always ... well, if not "fine", at least "none of your business". Trying to argue that at some point a fetus is or is not human is irrelevant.

But you have to provide a rationalization why your choice of a threshold is correct

My rationalization why I believe women are human... er, biology?

What's your rationalization for ignoring the fact that women are human?

"But even using the broader definition, you still haven't produced an example that's analogous to abortion."

Sure I did. Kicking away the person who is holding on to you and dragging you underwater. And it isn't a hypothetical, it has been part of the law of the sea for thousands of years.

Sure I did. Kicking away the person who is holding on to you and dragging you underwater.

This is not even close. The kicked off sailor could possibly be picked up by boat or helicopter, or swim to shore. Or, if we assume that the waters are so choppy that no one could possibly survive, then this is only analogous to an abortion where neither the mother nor fetus would have any chance of survival without the procedure.

On this thread, we even have someone going by "don't kill people. simple rule" claiming that (s)he is fine with abortions where the mother's life is merely in danger (not where she's guaranteed to die, and with no assumption that the fetus is guaranteed to die anyway). So I don't think an abortion where both mother and fetus have, say, a 50% chance of survival without the procedure is exactly controversial. But it is also in no way analogous to your scenario. There's also the difference between a premeditated action and a heat of the moment decision.


"So I don't think an abortion where both mother and fetus have, say, a 50% chance of survival without the procedure is exactly controversial."

That isn't really the problem question. 50% is clearly in the self defense zone. We have people on the pro-abortion side here who would suggest that even the most trivial chance of any injury whatsoever is enough. Which isn't self defense.

Seb what about in cases of rape and fertility clinics?

That isn't really the problem question. 50% is clearly in the self defense zone.

My point seems to have been lost somewhere, so let me walk it back a bit. DKPSI was claiming even zygotes are full human beings, and also that abortion is justified when the mother's life is in danger. I find those statements to be completely inconsistent.

Given that we agree abortion is acceptable in the "50% case", in order to reconcile the statements, we would have to find an analogous case involving two human beings (not counting fetuses) that we would consider self-defense. That is, we would have to find a case where Person A and Person B each have a roughly 50% chance of living, A kills B (with no chance of B surviving), and thereby increases A's own chance of survival. Furthermore, the action by A would have to be premeditated (as most abortions are), and not the immediate reaction to an emergency.

Now maybe there is a case that fits the above description, and also your legal definition of self-defense, but I think most people would be morally appalled by A's actions as described. I also think the level of disgust would rise as the survival percentage in the scenario is raised. On the other hand, I don't think many people would have a problem with the abortion, even if you crank the percentage up to the 80 or 90% range.

The conclusion I draw is that we don't really view fetuses (at least before a certain stage of pregnancy) as full human beings. Or at least no more than a very small fringe do.

The argument becomes even more clear to me if one accepts that rape victims can justifiably have abortions. There's no way that fits into the self-defense paradigm.

Boo, your problem is that you are trying to impute all of the most extreme arguments to everyone who doesn't agree with you. And you are trying to do them all simultaneously.

The self defense question really doesn't intersect with the rape question at all. There isn't much of a reason to try to look at them simultaneously because *even an innocent full grown human being can be killed in self defense*. So "how much personhood" isn't a useful question in the self defense (which is to say in the REAL medical endangerment cases).

" I also think the level of disgust would rise as the survival percentage in the scenario is raised. On the other hand, I don't think many people would have a problem with the abortion, even if you crank the percentage up to the 80 or 90% range."

I don't know why you think that. A clear majority think that abortions should be more limited than they are now. And in my view the non-endangerment mid-term cases are pretty much the gimmee cases for almost anyone who thinks they should be more limited than now.

Sebastian: We have people on the pro-abortion side here who would suggest that even the most trivial chance of any injury whatsoever is enough

Nobody's on the pro-abortion side, apart from the pro-lifer who attack family planning and a few MRAs.

People who believe women are human beings believe that it's up to the pregnant woman to decide about abortion, with medical advice from her doctor in later pregnancy. It's as simple as that: do you think women are human, or don't you?

A clear majority think that abortions should be more limited than they are now.

Except when a woman actually wants an abortion. At that point, we know for a fact she doesn't want her access to abortion limited: she wants the healthcare she needs.

If every man in America agrees to do that [using methods of contraceptive purpose, HB], then we'll be able to take it as given that, when a woman gets pregnant, it's either by agreed-upon choice or because some man didn't keep up his end of the bargain.

This leaves out the natural failure rate of all contraceptive methods. Even vasectomies are not 100% foolproof (although close).

This leaves out the natural failure rate of all contraceptive methods. Even vasectomies are not 100% foolproof (although close).

Everyone could quit having p-in-v sex, I suppose. Especially those people who regard p-in-v sex as "purely designed" for having children.

Or the people who regard women as non-human could just ... quit thinking their bigotry against women entitles them to deny women the right to make important decisions?

Persistently trying to argue that the issue is when the fetus becomes human is a sidetrack: the issue is when and if you regard the woman is human. If you do, abortion is always her choice.

Nonpenetrative sex has led to pregnancies too (although there is no proof that any woman has ever become pregnant in a public swimming pool because someone ejaculated in the water, something many young girls fear*).
---
What discussions will we have when fetus transfer becomes possible?

*this seems to be a regular question to gynecologists and the 'pink pages' of teenager magazines.


What discussions will we have when fetus transfer becomes possible?

What discussions will we have when fetus transfer to men becomes possible?

Will all those men out there claiming that it would be completely wrong for a woman to have an abortion stand up and declare they're up for having the unwanted fetus implanted in their body, to be removed by c-section at the end of pregnancy?

How many pro-life men will be willing to risk their lives to bring a fetus to term?

Sebastian? How about you? Would you be willing to volunteer as a fetus host, so that a woman who wants an abortion can transfer her fetus to your body and you take all the health risks and all the responsibility? How many fetuses are you willing to consider hosting in your life? Will you feel responsible for all the fetuses you could host and refuse and they die because you were unwilling to provide the use of their body to save your life? Will you support laws making it illegal for a man to refuse a fetal implant - especially any man who has publicly identified himself as "pro-life" or campaigned/voted against women's access to abortion?

Any of the other guys here? Anyone?

The uterus remains the only organ in the body that people argue ought to be made use of unwilling, and justify it by claiming it's okay because it saves a life. No one argues that men ought to be forced to be blood "donors" against their will, or that anyone ought to be forced into giving up a kidney or a lobe of their liver, no matter that the recipient needs it to stay alive.

For men and for most women, arguing that a women's uterus can be made use of against her will to save another person's life, is something abstract (as I noted to Sebastian, when it becomes reality, women invariably discover they're pro-choice). But demanding the forced use of liver or kidney or blood, is something that could happen to anyone, at any time, if a person your match needed it to stay alive.

Amalia, who began this discussion, really is waiting in a hospital for a bunch of people to decide if she's human enough that they will let her live, or if she is just an incubator, to be used till broken.

1. Have a vasectomy. If you think you might want children later, bank some sperm for future fertilization treatments with a willing partner.

2. Wear a condom EVERY SINGLE TIME you have sex, absolutely, no matter what, unless you have agreed IN ADVANCE with your partner that you are attempting with that particular sex act to conceive a child.

3: If you are going out with a devout Roman Catholic (as I was for five years), avoid p-in-v sex.

The reason I used the analogy I did with the shrink ray is that the sex was ultimately the woman's choice (unless rape). And sure, that wasn't the intent. But when you go driving it's not your intent to hit someone. Despite that, if you do hit someone and leave them needing medical attention, yes you are responsible. (Yes, it was the woman driving and the man aiding and abetting.) Yes, if the foetus is human, the woman does have the choice to abort. But the driver has a choice to reverse over the person they drove into so they can't be sued.

And as for personhood and functional brains, Terry Schiavo was already dead for all practical purposes. Developmentally disabled children do have functional brains - just not very good ones.

The decision to have sex is not equivalent to the decision to have a baby.

And the idea that babies ought to be considered the equivalent of road accidents? Bizarre.

Pro-lifers do seem to talk up the idea of saving fetuses, without actually understanding that having children can be regarded as something other than a road accident or a punishment.

Boo, your problem is that you are trying to impute all of the most extreme arguments to everyone who doesn't agree with you.

Boo is not the only one. It's a tactic that's shared by lots of people who positively delight in murdering their children.

Also used quite frequently by misogynist men who take fiendish glee in forcing women to gestate, when doing so will almost certainly kill them.

I can have all sorts of opinions and judgments about when an abortion is or is not acceptable given any number of varying circumstances. The problem I have is that, in the real world, I'm not privy to those circumstances, that is, the circumstances of other people's lives. Really, no one is, aside from the people, themselves, and certainly not the government.

What I see is a practical problem that far outweighs the philosophical, moral and ethical ones that inform my personal opinions about abortion. That problem being that the law is not equipped for this in any but the most extreme of circumstances, circumstances so unlikely that they may not be worth considering until they surface, and that murder charges under existing law would likely apply to, anyway, without much controversy. There are situations that almost everyone can agree should not be allowed, and there is no evidence I know of that leads me to think they happen with any regularity (or at all, but people might get away with things in secret, making the law not so relevant, anyway).

So, while it's engaging to go back and forth over where to draw the lines on abortion, there is no reason to think that the world will benefit from governments doing the same. Yes, people will decide to do things we don't like. It's an imperfect world, but I don't think that there's a better way to handle abortion than to let people decide for themselves, imperfect as that may be.

The decision to have sex is not equivalent to the decision to have a baby.

I never said it was. The decision to drive a car is not equivalent to the decision to drive into someone. The baby did, however, follow as a consequence from the decision and a mix of bad luck and carelessness.

And the idea that babies ought to be considered the equivalent of road accidents? Bizarre.

The idea that in your analogies about how sacrosanct the body of the woman is, the foetus should be considered a third party who is only utterly dependent on the woman because of the willing acts of both parents, and entirely innocent of having chosen this state itself should not be a novel one. And that in order to rid herself of serious inconvenience the mother promptly kills the person she has forced into a state of dependence is the inevitable consequence of framing abortion this way.

Pro-lifers do seem to talk up the idea of saving fetuses, without actually understanding that having children can be regarded as something other than a road accident or a punishment.

You confuse me with a pro-lifer. Rather than someone who is only slightly more repulsed by the pro-life camp than the extreme pro-choice camp but comes down on the side of "Let there not be one single accidental or unwanted pregnancy. Then we can start to talk about banning abortion. Until then if you so-called pro-lifers actually were interested in practicing what you preached you'd be handing out condoms and running adoption agencies (to be fair, a few do do the latter). Even if my condition held, abortion would remain a necessary medical procedure that should no more be banned than limb amputation how ever much I may wish that was unnecessary."

The baby did, however, follow as a consequence from the decision and a mix of bad luck and carelessness.

Only if the pregnant woman decides not to have an abortion. Having a baby follows as a consequence from the decision not to abort, not from the decision to have sex.

is the inevitable consequence of framing abortion this way.

Nope. Women have abortions because they get pregnant and they decide not to have the baby. Having an abortion is a necessary consequence of deciding not to have a baby.

That you believe that a woman's body is not "sacrosanct" and that she has no right to decide for herself whether or not she should have a baby, somehow does not surprise me.

You confuse me with a pro-lifer.

That's because you're talking like a pro-lifer.

"Let there not be one single accidental or unwanted pregnancy."

And let everyone have a pony, too!

and running adoption agencies (to be fair, a few do do the latter).

Adoption is big business. The more I find out about how profitable the adoption business is, the more convinced I am that this is a source of the pro-lifer conviction that women's bodies are not sacrosanct but ought to be used to produce babies that can then be snatched up by adoption agencies.

And for those who think Jes is exaggerating when she talks about forced pregnancy and women being used as incubators and suchlike:

Last March, Florida resident Samantha Burton was in week 25 of her pregnancy when she paid a visit to her doctor. Burton was showing signs of potential miscarriage, so her physician ordered bed rest. Burton explained that, as a working mother of two toddlers, bed rest simply wasn't a viable option and then proceeded to ask for a second medical opinion. Seems reasonable, right?

Her doctor, however, was having none of that. Rather than refer Burton for the desired second opinion, he instead felt it necessary to contact state authorities, who then proceeded to force Burton to be admitted to Tallahassee Memorial Hospital against her will and undergo any procedure the doctor felt like prescribing. When Burton had the audacity to request a change in the hospital in which she was being treated, the court denied her request. Three days into her forced hospitalization, Burton miscarried.

Never mind that there is actually no scientific research to support the claim that bed rest helps prevent preterm birth and that even the American College of of Obstetricians and Gynecologists does not believe it should be routinely recommended. Never mind Burton's very real concern for the care of her two small children. Never mind the psychological, physical, and financial toll this takes on her family. The only thing that mattered to the doctor and the government was that they got their (ultimately ineffectual) way.

Oh, and did I mention this case gets worse? Burton (with help from her pro bono lawyer and the ACLU) sued the State of Florida claiming it -- duh -- violated her constitutional rights. The court ruled against her, claiming that that State was merely maintaining "status quo" in the situation.

"The more I find out about how profitable the adoption business is, the more convinced I am that this is a source of the pro-lifer conviction that women's bodies are not sacrosanct but ought to be used to produce babies that can then be snatched up by adoption agencies."

Oh good heavens. Seriously? Did you really write that? Do you *really* think that? If you really do think that, do you really want to admit it?

I mean if you really wanted to stretch, I suppose you could cast an eye on the actual owners and operators of adoption agencies, and suggest that for them, pro-life views are awfully convenient. So now that you covered a couple hundred people, how exactly are you going to extend that to the other 60 million people in the US who suggest that abortion should almost never be allowed (more than half of those are women remember) and the additional 115 million or so people who think that abortion shoud be more restricted than now.

I could probably find a couple hundred people willing to suggest that abortions for fun would be ok. (Based on the principle that you can find nearly anything in a group of 300 million people--in fact I seem to remember a recent op-ed that made it all seem super trivial)

Do you have specific bills or laws in mind?

I was under the impression, that women aborted fetuses, so that they would not give birth to babies--a human...they don't have abortions so that they can kill babies.

I still find the use of the word baby, instead of zygote or fetus radically manipulative.


So the next time we discuss torture, should we call it “the torture of babies”? I mean, since each torture victim is somebody’s baby.

Boo, your problem is that you are trying to impute all of the most extreme arguments to everyone who doesn't agree with you. And you are trying to do them all simultaneously.

What a bizarre claim. I've imputed exactly one extreme argument - "A zygote is a human being" - to exactly one person, who explicitly made that claim on the thread. I'm arguing against the more common claim that a fetus is a human being, but I haven't imputed that claim to anyone, much less "everyone who doesn't agree with (me)."

The self defense question really doesn't intersect with the rape question at all.

That's precisely my point: we generally accept that abortion is justifiable in a case that clearly doesn't involve self-defense of the mother.


There isn't much of a reason to try to look at them simultaneously because *even an innocent full grown human being can be killed in self defense*.

Exactly. If your only justification for abortion is self-defense, you have to disallow abortions in case of rape.


So "how much personhood" isn't a useful question in the self defense (which is to say in the REAL medical endangerment cases).

If you presume that medical endangerment cases qualify as self-defense. It's certainly a grayer area than rape cases, but I argued above why I don't think the situations are morally equivalent. You didn't respond to that argument, so forgive me for not taking it as granted that the two are equivalent.

"If you presume that medical endangerment cases qualify as self-defense. It's certainly a grayer area than rape cases, but I argued above why I don't think the situations are morally equivalent. You didn't respond to that argument, so forgive me for not taking it as granted that the two are equivalent."

I have no idea what you think I'm trying to get you to grant is equivalent. You think I'm trying to get you to grant that medical endangerment abortions are equivalent to what? Rape cases? Self defense?

You seemed to suggest that there was some sort of contradiction in the pro-life position because almost all of them allow for true self defence medical abortions.

Earlier you seemed to suggest that medical endangerment cases were nothing like self defense because they didn't involve an innocent. I showed that self defense cases can easily involve an innocent (and in fact they do in real life). Now the person who lives isn't often charged with homicide, because the principle is pretty clear.

You seemed to think that the whole thing turned on 'innocent'. But it doesn't.

You also seemed to want to conflate the rape issue with the self defense issue, but I don't see why you want to do that.

The rape issue I think speaks to very different moral intuitions than the self defense issue. The rape issue is why the sick violinist hypothetical which is so often invoked doesn't track well with actual abortion beliefs. We tend to believe that parents, for various reasons, have heightened responsibilities and duties toward their offspring. Those aren't as clear for the victim of rape.

The two I had in mind are medical endangerment and self-defense. Apologies if that wasn't clear. I argued why I don't think the "50% case" qualifies as self-defense, you didn't respond to that argument, and continue to refer to such cases as self-defense.

I did initially misunderstand what you meant by self-defense, but I've accepted the broader definition, and agree that they can involve the killing of a innocent. However, you still haven't proved that all cases of justifiable abortion fit the broader definition.

Finally, I'm not conflating rape and endangerment. I said that if we consider fetuses to be human beings, then we can't justify abortions in (many) cases of endangerment or rape. You said that we could under the self-defense doctrine. I see the argument for the endangerment cases (although I'm not convinced by it), but the argument doesn't apply to rape cases. How is pointing out that the argument doesn't apply "conflating" the two cases?

Anyway, I think I'm at the "agree to disagree" point here.

Cheers.


Sebastian: Oh good heavens. Seriously? Did you really write that? Do you *really* think that? If you really do think that, do you really want to admit it?

Parents who want to adopt a baby, in the United States, especially if they want to adopt a healthy white (or at least very light) baby, are looking to pay big fees. (There are plenty of older children needing adoptive parents, but babies are a hot commodity.)

Pro-lifers routinely claim that after all, if a woman who is pregnant genuinely can't afford to have a baby, she can always just give the baby up for adoption. The so-called crisis pregnancy support centers are, as far as I can tell, almost invariably linked to adoption agencies, and (while I have no statistics) according to all anecdote from women who have experienced the "care" of the CPCs, their "support" is primarily confined to advocating to the pregnant woman that she give the baby up for adoption.

This is not to say that every adoption agency in the US is hooked up to the pro-life movement. Nor that every pro-lifer who mindlessly bleats that a woman who doesn't want to have a baby should have the baby and abandon it to the care of strangers, is actually thinking in terms of the money this will bring people in the adoption business, any more than they are thinking of the acute and lifelong pain of losing a newborn baby.

But yeah, Sebastian: I'm just that cynical. Where there are large sums of money passing, I think it not unreasonable to suppose that the people who are receiving the money are motivated by the money rather than by the hifalutin ideals about human life that they claim.

We tend to believe that parents, for various reasons, have heightened responsibilities and duties toward their offspring.

We do. But pro-lifers don't.

"But yeah, Sebastian: I'm just that cynical. Where there are large sums of money passing, I think it not unreasonable to suppose that the people who are receiving the money are motivated by the money rather than by the hifalutin ideals about human life that they claim."

You know that people who perform abortions are doctors who tend to get paid rather well, right? ;)

Here's a specific example of a an anti-abortion activist involved in coercing young women into improper adoptions.

The center was fined $500 in 1987 after pleading no contest to five misdemeanor charges of unlicensed adoption and foster care practices. That was part of a plea bargain in which 19 charges, including four felonies, were dropped.

The dropped felony charges centered on an alleged offer of money to women who would agree to put their unborn children up for adoption.

Ultimately the people of South Dakota voted against the abortion ban mentioned in that article. It would have criminalized abortion (a felony) except in cases where the woman's life was in danger. It was never clear exactly how the danger of death was to be determined. A zealous prosecutor could/would have brought charges after every abortion. It would have been a de-facto total ban.

They also rejected a 2008 measure which:

would prohibit all abortions performed by medical procedures or substances administered to terminate a pregnancy, except for: abortions medically necessary to prevent death or the serious risk of substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily organ or system of the woman; and abortions to terminate a pregnancy of less than 20 weeks resulting from rape or incest reported to law enforcement.
When an abortion is performed as a result of reported rape or incest, the woman must consent to biological sampling from herself and the embryo or fetus for DNA testing by law enforcement.

(emphasis mine)

The campaign for this stressed how reasonable those exceptions were.

You know that people who perform abortions are doctors who tend to get paid rather well, right?

Yes.

And in the US, doctors who perform abortions do so in the full awareness that they're targets of a terrorist movement that may kill them.

Regardless of how much they get paid, that makes them heroes.

The same does not apply to anyone working in the adoption industry.

You know that people who perform abortions are doctors who tend to get paid rather well, right? ;)

The one and only doctor who performs abortions in South Dakota (a state of 77k square miles) lives out of state and flies in one day per week. She ain't doing it to get rich.

You know that people who perform abortions are doctors who tend to get paid rather well, right?

I recall reading about the director of a women's health clinic - one which offered abortions as one of its services. She opened all of the clinic's mail. Because the board of trustees had decided that they could afford to insure only one member of the clinic staff against the risk that they'd be sent a letter-bomb, or real anthrax, and the director had decided that that one person had better be her.

I don't know what she gets paid, Sebastian: but I doubt very much if salary is her motivation for coming to work every day and opening the clinic's mail.

Boo: Finally, I'm not conflating rape and endangerment. I said that if we consider fetuses to be human beings, then we can't justify abortions in (many) cases of endangerment or rape.

You're still not dealing with the point: women are human, and therefore are fully entitled to choose whether or not they're going to save another human's life by providing the use of one or more of their organs.

For an example of what I meant by pro-lifers opposing the belief that parents
have heightened responsibilities and duties toward their offspring: Amalia was the example I was thinking of, since pro-lifers apparently believe she has no responsibilities or duties towards her 10-year-old daughter: and the pro-life argument that a mother has no responsibility or duty towards her newborn baby, but ought to simply abandon that baby to the care of strangers: but also Angie Jackson, who recently live-tweeted her medical abortion, and the reaction from pro-lifers was that she owed no responsibility or duty towards her son, a special-needs child, but ought to have hazarded her life in a second, unwilled pregnancy caused by contraception failure.

What has the reaction from people been?

Angie Jackson: I’ve been astonished. I had imagined, naively, that people would accept it because I’m in a committed relationship. I was monogamous. I was using protection. I had a kid. I have health risks. We paid for this out of pocket and not out of any taxpayer means. If I can’t talk about my first trimester abortion, which was legal and in my case life-saving, then who the hell can talk about her abortion? Or his abortion story, from the women he was with? ... I’ve just been astonished by the level of hatred and death threats and threats of violence against my son. It’s been a very ugly side of people to see.

Death threats?

Angie Jackson: In the YouTube comments. A lot of them are sort of these throwaway statements in the comments of conservative blog and things like that. “Someone should put a bullet in her,” or “If the whore can’t keep her legs closed ...” People have threatened to call Child Protective Services and take [my son] away from me because [of the abortion]. They’re either calling me a killer or calling me a monster, which is their right, but ... I think we need to say quality of life matters. I don’t think an embryo gets to trump the life of my live son. I see this as risking my life.

Pro-lifers are self-evidently not believers in parental responsibility.

"The one and only doctor who performs abortions in South Dakota (a state of 77k square miles) lives out of state and flies in one day per week. She ain't doing it to get rich."

And we can find at leas a few adoption agencies that aren't doing it to get rich either. Jes's analysis is so broad as to certainly not be refuted by a mere single charitable example. You would have to show that in general, abortionists don't make good money.


"And in the US, doctors who perform abortions do so in the full awareness that they're targets of a terrorist movement that may kill them. Regardless of how much they get paid, that makes them heroes."

Oh good freaking heavens. About as many university professors and workers were attacked by Unabomber, but that doesn't make university workers all heros.

There have been similar numbers of arsons against university animal and genetics research labs as against abortion centers, especially in the last ten years (in which abortion violence has been on a steep decline while environmentalist/animal rights violence has been on the upswing. But I doubt you think of them as the same kind of heroes.

Jes's analysis is so broad

Pay attention to what I wrote, and respond to what I wrote, if you can. The financial/business link between Crisis Pregnancy Centers, which urge pregnant woman to have the baby in order to give it up for adoption: the adoption agencies which take the babies so produced. Discuss.

About as many university professors and workers were attacked by Unabomber

Not even close. Between 1978 and 1995, the Unabomber was responsible for a grand total of 16 bombings, which in three instances resulted in people being killed, and injured 23 people.

Between 1977 (when NAF first began recording pro-lifer terrorist actions) and 2009, the pro-lifer terrorist movement has been responsible for 8 murders, 17 attempted murders, 41 bombings, 175 acts of arson, 96 recorded acts of attempted arson (undoubtedly an underreporting), 100 butyric acid attacks (to make clinic personnel and patients vomit uncontrollably), 659 anthrax threats, 179 recorded acts of assault and battery, 406 recorded death threats, 4 kidnappings, and 525 recorded stalkings ("as the persistent following, threatening, and harassing of an abortion provider, staff member, or patient away from the clinic") Tabulation of stalking incidents began only in 1993.

Abortion in the United States is generally performed at separate health clinics from mainstream hospitals not because there's any medical reason, but because the pro-life movement has ensured that wherever abortions are performed must be regarded as a target for terrorist action. Pro-life terrorism has been hideously successful in the United States in restricting access to abortion and ensuring many doctors and many hospitals simply do not feel safe in providing it.

> The baby did, however, follow as a consequence from the decision and a mix of bad luck and carelessness.

Nope. Women have abortions because they get pregnant and they decide not to have the baby. Having an abortion is a necessary consequence of deciding not to have a baby.

Having an abortion is a necessary consequence of deciding not to have a baby after the baby has already been put into a position of dependence.

Shooting the victim is a necessary consequence of deciding not to get sued after you have already hit the car crash victim. It is not something you wanted to happen. But it is something that happened. And it is something where killing the person left crippled by the event in which you were at least nominally in control can save a lot because of limitations on damages.

That you believe that a woman's body is not "sacrosanct" and that she has no right to decide for herself whether or not she should have a baby, somehow does not surprise me.

I have pointed out another case where I believe peoples bodies aren't sacrosanct. You should not have the right to turn your body into an incubator of infectious diseases thereby actively endangering others by refusing vaccinations.

You should not be able to destroy the lives of others on a whim simply because you have put them in a position where their continued survival is dependent on your loss of bodily integrity. It's wrong vs wrong here. And in such cases

>You confuse me with a pro-lifer.

That's because you're talking like a pro-lifer.

I'm talking like someone who finds your mafia morality repellant. That you should shoot the victim and witness to prevent them sueing.

> "Let there not be one single accidental or unwanted pregnancy."

And let everyone have a pony, too!

That was my point exactly! If we lived in a world where things were perfect I'd come to some very different conclusions.

It's right but repulsive (your side) vs wrong but romantic (the lifers with their seductive but spurious ideological clarity). I'll act on the side of the right. But this won't stop me arguing against the repulsive.

Sebastian:
Oh good freaking heavens. About as many university professors and workers were attacked by Unabomber, but that doesn't make university workers all heros.

1: What is your source for this?
2: How many university workers are there? How many doctors in the whole of the US doing third trimester abortions? Do the math.

Sebastian, I was trying to find an equivalent site for ALF / ELF actions in the United States, and couldn't. The record of their actions - while reprehensible - does suggest that they do not, as pro-lifers do, go as far as direct violence against people, including murder: they target property. Their worst crimes against people appear to be the harassment of employees of a company that deals with HLS (a UK company guilty of cruelty in live animal testing).

Other people have already noted that the FBI's assumption that ALF/ELF are the most dangerous homegrown domestic terrorism group in America really kind of ignores the terrorist actions of the pro-life movement, which continue to be a real threat not only to clinic staff, but to patients. The pro-life movement has committed murder and attempted murder. Individual pro-lifers picketing a clinic may as individuals have no real intention of doing anything other than put the patients and staff in fear: but collectively, they are part of the terrorist movement that has killed. That's why they're a threat.

wwww, smbd sd ctl fcts t rft Sbstn's t qq nd md hm ll ngw.

[Ed: comment adherence to posting rules has been enhanced. You can take this as a long-overdue warning.]

FrancisD: Having an abortion is a necessary consequence of deciding not to have a baby after the [fetus] has already been put into a position of dependence.

The baby doesn't exist at the time the abortion takes place: the whole point of having an abortion is that there never will be a baby.

Shooting the victim is a necessary consequence of deciding not to get sued after you have already hit the car crash victim.

That's not quite the most impossibly stupid analogy I've heard a pro-lifer make against women being able to have abortions, but it's... close.

I'll act on the side of the right. But this won't stop me arguing against the repulsive.

I don't see anything repulsive about women being able to live and women being able to decide for themselves whether and how many children to have. That you find that repulsive, if right, says more about you than it does about abortion.

The baby doesn't exist at the time the abortion takes place: the whole point of having an abortion is that there never will be a baby.

That depends on what you consider the status of the foetus to be. I am entirely in the pro-choice camp because I do not consider the foetus to be a person as it is just a ball of cells. (I would be in clear opposition to the pro-life camp, which is a different matter, even if I didn't believe this simply because abortion is sometimes a medically necessary procedure and therefore banning it is stupid even before you get to the anti-contraception lobby). Your arguments have made it perfectly clear that this is irrelevant to you. And if a foetus is a person then objecting to the term baby is just playing with the overton window.

I don't see anything repulsive about women being able to live and women being able to decide for themselves whether and how many children to have.

Neither do I. Unless they retroactively get to decide by killing already existing children. Which is what your position appears to be for as long as the child is taking the mother's bodily resources.

Change the premises to the debate and I change my conclusions.

That depends on what you consider the status of the foetus to be.

For individuals - as both Marty and someotherdude have made poignantly clear - the status of their fetus may be individually different. As someotherdude says, and I concur completely, you use the word that helps with your grief.

But on a general, medical, legislative, and scientific level, a fetus is not a baby: a baby is not a fetus. I can completely understand and sympathise with an individual experiencing and talking of her loss as a lost baby, not a lost fetus. I'm pro-choice, remember? respecting the rights and wishes of the individual woman with regard to her own pregnancy, that's what being pro-choice is all about.

Pro-lifers wanting to use "baby" or "child" for all fetuses from the moment of conception is something different and far uglier.

And if a foetus is a person then objecting to the term baby is just playing with the overton window.

Not. A fetus is not a baby is not a toddler is not a teenager is not a geriatric. There's nothing "overton window" about saying you should, generally, use the correct terminology.

The pro-lifers who insist on using incorrect terminology are playing with the overton window.

Unless they retroactively get to decide by killing already existing children.

Nobody's arguing for the right to kill already-existing children (well, aside from those righteous pro-lifers who feel pregnant children should die): abortion terminates the life of a fetus, not a child.

Cardinal Giovanni Batista Re argued for the killing of an already-existing child: you argue that the doctors who saved her life by aborting the twin fetuses were "right but repulsive"?

Approximately 43% of American women have an abortion at some point during their lifetime. Whether or not some people consider it repulsive, it's pretty much a reality that most women you meet either have had an abortion, will have an abortion, or would have an abortion if they became pregnant in circumstances that were unfavorable to continuing a pregnancy.

I don't really understand how just because some people consider it repulsive (many of which have no chance of ever facing the situation themselves), those people feel that they should be able to prohibit a medical procedure that so many women decide to undergo. It's arrogant in the extreme.

Approximately 43% of American women have an abortion at some point during their lifetime.

I wonder about statistics like these, is it simply a matter of dividing the # of abortions by the number of women, and then saying 43% of women will have an abortion at some point? Does it take into account the fact that some women will have more than one abortion? I seem to recall statistics such as 1/2 of all marriages will end in divorce being interpreted as 1/2 of all married people will end up having a divorce, which is not the case.

Well, I don't know, Ugh, and don't have time to find out - it's a statistic that's used by both the right and the left. And it means that abortion is pretty darned common, and that a whole lot of women face circumstances which they believe justifies their decision to have one. I would wager that a whole lot more don't face those circumstances, but if they did, they'd have one too. So for every woman who may have had multiple abortions, there are probably several women who were lucky enough not to have been faced with the issue.

Nobody's arguing for the right to kill already-existing children

If you accept that a foetus is a person or human being, then that is exactly what you are arguing for.

And if you are arguing against someone who thinks that the soul enters at conception (a political redefinition) then that is exactly what they will see you as arguing for whether you intend to or not.

To use an analogy, imagine that you meet someone from the Deep South arguing for absolute rights over his property in 1855 or so. That is how what you are arguing will be taken. (Especially as a lot of the pro-Life Evangelical framing quite deliberately mentions Wilberforce).

you argue that the doctors who saved her life by aborting the twin fetuses were "right but repulsive"?

No. The repulsive part is the why you are arguing what you are - predicating it all on the right to bodily integrity. (I do, however, argue that it's one good illustration of why the Lifers are Wrong).

I don't really understand how just because some people consider it repulsive (many of which have no chance of ever facing the situation themselves), those people feel that they should be able to prohibit

Because they think that their pretty, idealised world is what matters and unpleasant things shouldn't be allowed. (If I were to start getting rid of medical procedures I found repulsive we'd probably be down half a hospital).

"The record of their actions - while reprehensible - does suggest that they do not, as pro-lifers do, go as far as direct violence against people, including murder: they target property."

Which is what a huge proportion of your abortion related violence is--arson. In many cases they are exactly the same crime--firebombing at night.

My argument isn't that such arsons are anything other than terrorism--they clearly are terrorism. But if you are going to be dismissive of them as 'property crimes' in the laboratory cases, I'm going to call you on it in the abortion cases. You don't get to romanticize the opression value of one while being dismissive of the other for the exact same act.

(As for the 'most dangerous' label, I would suggest it is hyperbole at any given press conference. But, it may be related to the fact that fire-bombing in suburban/mixed-use areas in Southern California is drastically more likely to spread into a wholesale wildfire threatening thousands of homes than it is if you fire bomb a clinic in).

Anecdote alert: I had a friend who threw out his half lit cigarette on the ground while I was visiting him in Virginia. I kind of freaked out as it landed on a plant and I went to stamp it out. It fizzled and didn't go anywhere even before I got there. It led to a discussion where he admitted that throwing the butt was a nasty habit, but didn't understand why I reacted so strongly. "You Californians react so strongly to fire". Most of the inhabited part of California is much drier than most places people live in the US. And most other places with similar rainfall end up as fairly barren desert. California on the other hand is dry and brushy--perfect for out of control fires. A thrown butt is most likely to smoulder and maybe destroy one plant in much of the US (and certainly England). If it gets well out of control it might destroy a single house, or maybe most horifically a single block of dwellings. A similar act in Southern California can destroy thousands of homes and subject hundreds of square miles to fire. Similarly firebombing a lab in California is much more generally dangerous (in the sense of having the potential to randomly spread) than bombing a clinic in Virginia. Which may partially explain the 'most dangerous' label.

End of anecdote.

If you accept that a foetus is a person or human being, then that is exactly what you are arguing for.

No. A fetus is not a child. You cannot make a fetus into a child by arguing that people ought to think of fetuses as exactly the same as babies or as children.

The only thing that will make a fetus into a child is pregnancy and childbirth - if a woman chooses to use her body in that way for the required amount of time. Your words won't do it.

And if you are arguing against someone who thinks that the soul enters at conception (a political redefinition) then that is exactly what they will see you as arguing for whether you intend to or not.

If people believe that the soul enters into a fetus at the moment of conception, how does that stop them using correct scientific terminolgy to refer to the ensouled fetus? *shrug* In any case, people who earnestly believe that twins have only one soul between them and that Heaven (or Hell) is 50% populated by souls that never knew life on Earth outside the uterus are not my problem. (If one twin dies in the uterus, does the remaining twin have only half a soul?)

To use an analogy, imagine that you meet someone from the Deep South arguing for absolute rights over his property in 1855 or so. That is how what you are arguing will be taken.

Which is exactly how I take their arguments that women are breeding animals who ought not to be allowed to decide for themselves how and whether they are to bred: they think women are property, exactly as a white slaveowner in the Deep South regarded his black slaves - his property, to be bred at his will. It's not even an analogy: it's a straightforward descendent of the same kind of dehumanization of the other.

No. The repulsive part is the why you are arguing what you are - predicating it all on the right to bodily integrity.

If you find it repulsive that people own their own bodies, why would you object to the thinking of the slaveowner in the Deep South? He thought some people didn't own their own bodies or have any right to bodily integrity, too.

Sebastian: My argument isn't that such arsons are anything other than terrorism--they clearly are terrorism. But if you are going to be dismissive of them as 'property crimes' in the laboratory cases, I'm going to call you on it in the abortion cases.

No. Because the pro-lifers do not stop with property damage - and I agree with you completely that arson is a serious crime that can kill. (You haven't yet linked to any site outlining ALF's attacks, to justify your claim that these arson attacks are as widespread and consistent a threat to animal researchers as the pro-life movement is to doctors and patients in women's health clinics. Can you? Or ELF's?)

But pro-lifers are a jump more threatening, because pro-lifers do not stop at arson.

Pro-lifers commit murder. And justify it by the "killing babies" rhetoric that we've seen examples of in this thread. Most of the pro-lifers who use "killing babies" language are manifestly insincere - which is a good thing. But anyone who is really seriously deluded enough to think that a doctor who performs abortions is really truly "killing babies" is a potential deadly danger. Because, as a pro-lifer who dropped past my journal the other day noted: "How many murders is enough for the abortion industry? They’re at about 50 million and counting. OK, so a few abortionists have been shot. That’s like saying the Nazis murdered 6 million Jews, and the Jews murdered a handful of Nazis."

Doctors who perform abortions - especially late-term, literally life-saving abortions - are at risk every day of their working lives. But even doctors who perform early abortions must run the hazard, every day, that this will be the day a pro-lifer who sincerely believes the deadly rhetoric of "killing babies" is going to step up and kill one of the "baby killers" - doctors, clinic escorts, receptionists.

No one who works in a clinic that performs abortion can be sure this may not happen to them. Pro-lifers who claim they would not kill will nonetheless publish home and work details of clinic staff, names and photographs, to make sure they're easy targets. Because they help women. How many women's lives did Doctor Tiller save before a pro-lifer murdered him? Do you even know, or care?

They're heroes, Sebastian. The pro-life movement have succeeded in driving out everyone who isn't prepared to be a hero.

Oh, and now - apparently after and because a 17-year-old girl was so desperate to get an abortion and couldn't access Utah's legal abortion services, such as they are, that she paid someone $150 to beat her till she miscarried - the pro-lifers of Utah have written and passed a law to make having a miscarriage due to "reckless endangerment" illegal. So that the next desperate teenage girl who's pregnant and doesn't want to be can be charged with criminal homicide.

Let's not have any doubts about this, Francis, Sebastian: people who do this hate women.

You are speaking of the Vernal, Utah case with Aaron Harrison.

The girl couldn't get an abortion because she was healthy, the baby was healthy, she was well into the third trimester (more than seven months pregnant), and the baby could have survived outside the womb.

She had wanted to have the baby, but in the third trimester, tried to induce a miscarriage because her boyfriend didn't want a baby and was going to break up with her.

Oh, and now she wants the baby.

Is this really the case you want to use? It doesn't fit well with your longstanding "3rd trimester abortions only happen for severe medical reasons" claim.

I don't think she's a great poster child for the pro-choice side of things, but then neither should she be the basis for a new, sweeping law that risks criminalizing people who simply suffer a tragic miscarriage but can't prove it wasn't because of their own negligence.

Do you think that making what she did illegal will actually prevent a repeat? Do you think she thought what she was doing was legal, or cared? How often does something like this happen anyway?

You can't make stupidity illegal. Creating laws again ultra-rare occurrences that would only be undertaken by people too stupid and shortsighted to understand the consequences won't work. Much more likely - given the enormous number of miscarriages that occur for completely unknown reasons - is that such a law will be misapplied.

If a teenager intentionally chops off his own arm with a circular saw, do you think making a law against sawing off your own arm is going be very useful? Do you think the next time some lunatic decides to cut off his own arm he's going to be deterred by its illegality? Do you think having the police investigate every limb-severing accident just in case it was intentional is going to be very effective? How many people need to go to jail for accidentally cutting off their own arm before you think that this law would be unjust? Do you think that punishing someone for cutting off their own arm is really necessary, given the whole missing-arm thing?

There's plenty of deterrent already to inducing miscarriage, like the substantial chance that you might die or be seriously injured. What on earth is a law against it going to do?

Jacob: You can't make stupidity illegal.

I'm not even sure you can say what she did was stupid.

Utah has parental notification laws, so that in order to get an abortion legally, this girl would have had to tell her parents or to convince a judge that she'd be at physical risk if she did tell her parents. Where she lived (according to report) there isn't a Planned Parenthood clinic within reach. Utah public schools teach abstinence-only sex ed, so it is likely that as far as she knew none of her teachers could or would help her.

With all that against her: I really don't think her deciding to procure a miscarriage by arranging to have herself beaten was stupid. It was at least thinking-outside-the-box: she needed to induce a miscarriage, and she had no legal or safe way to do it.

I see Sebastian is being his usual compassionate, woman-friendly self with regard to a girl in a horrible situation that Sebastian has never, and will never, have to experience.

Well, beginning by stipulating that this assumes that the case has been accurately reported, which is not at all a certain thing, but taking that as a given-

It is certainly worth looking at what things could have headed off this situation - better sex education and provision of contraception would certainly be a good place to start. I'm not at all denying that. Nor am I saying that what she did ought to be a crime (at least for her; for it to be a crime to be the person paid to do it is not a problem for me).

But I have no problem saying that if the facts are as-described, that she was aware she was pregnant, and she intended to deliver through the first two trimesters but changed her mind in the third trimester, I'm sorry, that is stupid. Not criminal, no. Just stupid.

And there is nothing special about Utah if we're talking about ability to obtain a legal third-trimester abortion when the fetus is healthy and poses no special threat to the health of the mother. It's illegal in many states and for that matter it's illegal in Britain. I don't think it needs to be illegal, but I have no problem saying it would be immoral and abhorrent, and in having a cultural norm that says that that specific case is repulsive. The difference between a cultural norm and a law is very significant. Cultural norms do not conduct investigations and prosecutions, they don't throw people in jail, they are much less likely than a law to deter legitimate use of the procedure.

I believe that the fact that it is abhorrent is sufficient motivation to prevent most cases from occurring, and I trust that most people have the moral sense to keep from doing it. I think that the legal restrictions tend to make it difficult for women to obtain a late-term abortion when there are major fetal abnormalities or when the health of the mother is genuinely in danger, and that in any case the law is the wrong instrument for dealing with it. But I think it's profoundly unhelpful to act as if there is a moral equivalence between a late-term abortion prompted by medical reasons and a late-term abortion for purely elective reasons. Statements that express a desired cultural norm of accepting late-term elective abortion hurt, not help, the cause of choice. There are very few people who think that we should accept - in a moral sense - that sort of procedure. Acting as if that is an accepted norm on the pro-choice side (rightfully) scares the crap out of people, and is hardly going to prompt them to loosen legal restrictions.

The fact is, those cases are extremely rare, because most people are not stupid, and the existing taboo on late-term elective abortion is extremely strong. As a practical matter, the arguments that apply to early-term abortions apply much less strongly to late-term abortions. By very late in term, with a healthy fetus, abortion carries many of the same kinds of risks as live delivery, and the "use of the mother's organs" has already run most of its course.

There are still times when it might be legitimate. I don't think the law should be the one distinguishing between the two cases; the law is a blunt instrument. I trust in people's moral sense.

But not everyone has much of a moral sense. And if the facts are as reported, this girl did not have much of one, nor much foresight or compassion; she was stupid. You don't sit around knowing you're pregnant for six or seven months and then decide, "Gee, I don't want to have this baby now" unless you are a moral idiot.

Now, making a law against it is even more stupid. You can't outlaw stupidity. It won't prevent this from happening again, and by criminalizing certain kinds of miscarriage you are essentially saying that all unexplained miscarriages are potentially a crime scene - which is a revolting idea liable to lead to horrific miscarriages of justice. I'm right with you there.

Run it through again bearing in mind we are discussing a 17-year-old girl.

One of the reasons why I'd absolutely support her right to have an abortion - beyond my general principle that no woman should have her body used against her will - is that if you turn a teenager away from getting a safe, legal abortion... you have just upped the odds that (a) she will procure a miscarriage in some sufficiently crazy way that it will cause her long-term damage or (b) she will commit infanticide because her mind literally cannot cope with the baby.

I think it's every woman's right to have an abortion, even if I find her reasons for it abhorrent.

I think a teenage girl deserves more help and more support than the fetus she is carrying does.

And I think that when the consequences of denying a teenager help are so bloody, the proper reaction is not a smug "oh, she was stupid", or a disgusting "oh, she's hardly a poster child", or a truly abhorrent decision to pass a law so that the next teenager can be jailed ...

...it's to resolve that the next time a teenager in that situation needs help - even if the help they need is an abortion you personally don't approve of - she should get that help. And let her be the one to decide when and what she's going to tell her parents.

No. A fetus is not a child. You cannot make a fetus into a child by arguing that people ought to think of fetuses as exactly the same as babies or as children.

The problem is that you accept that a fetus is a human. And a person. And it's human rights that matter. Children are a subset thereof. You have conceded that a fetus is a human but not one with any rights at all. Here is where your approach becomes repulsive.

If you find it repulsive that people own their own bodies, why would you object to the thinking of the slaveowner in the Deep South?

I do not find the concept of owning bodies repulsive. I find repulsive the idea that this gives you an arbitrary right to kill people who you made dependent on your good grace.

They're heroes, Sebastian. The pro-life movement have succeeded in driving out everyone who isn't prepared to be a hero.

Agreed. The Pro-life movement deserves to be fucked sideways with a coracle. Before the pro-life movement made Dr. Tiller into a martyr, there were only three doctors in the entire United States of America who were brave enough to perform third term abortions.

Let's not have any doubts about this, Francis, Sebastian: people who do this hate women.

A subset of the pro-life movement hate women, granted. I have two litmus tests - anyone trying to ban abortion and anyone trying to restrict contraception at all need to be opposed. But I know a number of pro-life (female) feminists. I know a number of highly conflicted Roman Catholics who are pro-life because of the objectively disordered* teachings of the Vatican. Those people do not hate women. Quite the reverse. And on most issues most of them agree with you. (Hell, on many I agree with you). But they do identify as pro-life.

Not everyone who disagrees with you is evil. (Some are. Joseph Ratzinger is lower on my scale of people to be civil about than Dick Cheney, and that takes some doing.) Some simply start from different premises and are trying to do the best they can.

By the concessions you have made about the nature of a fetus, you have staked out a position where if you use words the same way I do, if I held those premises I would be forced over to the pro-life camp. And that is why I argue so strongly against you here.

(Oh, and the car analogy was originally my counter to the too common violinist analogy. The reason the violinist needs the potential donor's kidneys is because the donor knocked him down with the car meaning that the violinist did not have a working set. And in that case if the donor doesn't donate then the violinist dies and the donor is tried for manslaughter. If the donor donates the donor isn't tried for manslaughter because the victim is still alive.)

* If the Vatican can claim that homosexuality is objectively disordered then I can claim that the overwhelming majority of Roman Catholic teachings about sex, not limited to Contraception, Abortion, Homophobia, and Pristly Celibacy, and random mysogeny are all objectively disordered. And believe I have far more evidence to back this up.

"Utah has parental notification laws, so that in order to get an abortion legally, this girl would have had to tell her parents or to convince a judge that she'd be at physical risk if she did tell her parents."

Parental notification laws have nothing to do with this case.

She couldn't get an abortion because she was seeking one after the seventh month where the fetus provided no danger to her. She was seeking a medically unnecessary late term abortion. (The kind you have repeatedly said women don't seek, and which you have repeatedly said are a figment of my imagination).

Her abortion would have been illegal in the UK and pretty much anywhere in Europe. So this isn't some weird US law.

In fact, the weird thing is that the abortion would have been legal in any state at all, and that in some of the larger states she almost certainly would have found a Planned Parenthood or other abortionist willing to lie and say that it was medically necessary.

The funny thing about you raising this case, is that you are playing into the patriarchy under the pretense of women's rights. She wanted to keep her baby until her boyfriend said he was going to break up with her over it. Only then did she want to kill her baby. He told her to get rid of it, and she tried to. Abortion as a tool of male power over women. Good show, Jes.

(Again, all of this assumes that the description of the facts of the case is accurate, and much of my response would be different if the facts were different.)

Jes: I'd absolutely support her right to have an abortion - beyond my general principle that no woman should have her body used against her will

Look, if you know you're pregnant, make no attempt to obtain an abortion earlier, in fact state that you wish to have the baby, and wait until the third trimester to decide that you want an abortion, I think it's a real stretch to say that it's "your body being used against your will". I'm all for choices, I appreciate that it may take people some time to make up their minds one way or another, and that a lot of the time people don't realize that they're pregnant until quite late (occasionally until they actually give birth). But I also think that once you've known for a while, and assuming that you do have options available to you - as this girl did, even if those options were unjustly restricted by parental notification - you have to make a decision one way or another. If you decide to have the baby, having had plenty of time to think about it early in the term, as this girl apparently did, the fetus is not "using your body against your will". It's using your body with your consent. It's not a good thing to do that and then decide in the 7th month that you changed your mind. I don't believe that should be illegal, I think the law is a pretty bad way of drawing lines around these kinds of things, but I sure believe it is wrong. I don't want to "punish women for sex", but

is that if you turn a teenager away from getting a safe, legal abortion... you have just upped the odds that (a) she will procure a miscarriage in some sufficiently crazy way that it will cause her long-term damage or (b) she will commit infanticide because her mind literally cannot cope with the baby

I'd really like some statistics on the occurrence of those two things in response to the unavailability of late-term abortions, since late-term elective abortions are illegal almost everywhere, teenagers get pregnant all the time, and yet those kinds of events are extremely rare.

In any case, I don't think they should be illegal, although in fact they are illegal almost everywhere. The law is the wrong instrument for those kinds of decisions, although for me what is far more important is the chilling effect that legal restrictions have on medically-necessary late-term abortions. What I think is that making a personal moral judgment about them is justified, and that a desirable cultural norm should acknowledge the right to choose whether to continue a pregnancy once you learn about it, accept that it may take some people some time to decide, accept that some people may not realize they are pregnant for some time, accept that fetal abnormalities or threats to the health of the mother may necessitate a later abortion, accept that making the decision about those things must in the end be made by the woman and not by a third party or a law, but at the same time acknowledge that once you've made an informed decision to continue a pregnancy - which requires actual choices, and I appreciate that the choices available to this girl were limited - it's not a good thing to decide to abort it in the third trimester.

That cultural norm already exists and is widely held. I think very few people, even people who are strongly pro-choice, think that it is perfectly okay to have a late term elective abortion just because you changed your mind. And while I respect your right to express an opinion and to make your own moral judgments, I think that the way you talk about this is unlikely to convince anyone who has any qualms at all about abortion. Expanded access to early-term elective abortion - and in cases of medical necessity to late-term abortion - is not something to be sacrificed to absolutism. The fact that I don't think the law should be involved doesn't change the reality that it is involved now, and that this kind of opinion gets us absolutely nowhere in expanding access to early-term abortion.

Francis: The problem is that you accept that a fetus is a human. And a person. And it's human rights that matter.

Absolutely. The problem is that I accept that a woman is a human. And a person. And it's human rights that matter.

I find repulsive the idea that this gives you an arbitrary right to kill people who you made dependent on your good grace.

So you would support legislation giving people the right to take - without consent - the organs of their matched donors? Have you ever donated a kidney to a dialysis patient? If not, how repelled do you feel about yourself that you have taken the arbitrary right to kill a person who was made dependent on your good grace?

A subset of the pro-life movement hate women, granted. I have two litmus tests - anyone trying to ban abortion and anyone trying to restrict contraception at all need to be opposed. But I know a number of pro-life (female) feminists. I know a number of highly conflicted Roman Catholics who are pro-life because of the objectively disordered* teachings of the Vatican. Those people do not hate women. Quite the reverse. And on most issues most of them agree with you. (Hell, on many I agree with you). But they do identify as pro-life.

I know. But when you pin them down and ask them to face who they think ought to have the right to decide, and really answer honestly - while for some reason they still want to publicly identify with the terrorist movement they claim to hate, they are in fact pro-choice, not pro-life at all.

Not everyone who disagrees with you is evil.

What? That's crazy talk!

More seriously, Francis, the fact that you sufficiently identify with the pro-life movement that you are aware is a terrorist movement, that you use their rhetoric about "killing children" that justified murdering Doctor Tiller, makes you more on their side than on the side of the women whose lives he saved, and yet you seem to be well aware that's the evil side to be on. Why choose evil, when you have sufficient self-awareness to know it's evil?

By the concessions you have made about the nature of a fetus, you have staked out a position where if you use words the same way I do, if I held those premises I would be forced over to the pro-life camp.

Because you do not regard women as having human rights....? Because seriously, Francis, to me it's a no-brainer: women are human, human rights are paramount, no one has the right to use another human's body unconsenting, so abortion on demand is the only moral option. You keep going back to arguing that a fetus is human, as if you simply aren't aware that women are human.

Jacob, Sebastian: again, seventeen-year-old girl. When you can show you have actually put yourself into the position of a teenage pregnant girl, you might have something worthwhile to say - as it stands, you both just come across as smug gits.

(And Jacob: if you want stats on infanticide, I suggest you go look 'em up yourself. Sebastian I know already has neither compassion nor interest for women... you might find research helped you get the point.)

Yes, Jes, a 17 year old girl. You know what? We don't let 17 year old girls kill people. There's a reason elective abortions beyond the point of viability are almost universally illegal: It's murder, with no excuse for it. Once the baby can be delivered alive, the pregnancy can be ended without anybody dying.

Both the pro-life, and pro-choice movements have their extremists, who carry the cause to the point of moral insanity. You're proof enough of that.

Once the baby can be delivered alive, the pregnancy can be ended without anybody dying.

Sure, so long as you're willing to violate a living woman's bodily sovereignty.

And that concludes another lecture on morality, with absolutely ludicrous and contradictory conclusions, from Fake Libertarian Brett Bellmore.

One of the brilliant aspects of the decision in Roe v. Wade was Justice Blackmun's careful discussion of the rights of a woman being, throughout the pregnancy, paramount, but at the same time acknowledging that as the fetus comes closer to term, its potential becomes a more legitimate subject of societal interest. Ultimately, the woman's life and health is paramount in all three trimesters of pregnancy, but as the fetus becomes viable, there becomes a greater burden on the mother to justify ending a pregnancy.

I don't really see a problem with the logic of Roe v. Wade, which accommodates mainstream cultural beliefs (including some historical wisdom) and science, and it gives great latitude for a woman to protect her lifestyle, health and life throughout her pregnancy.

I agree with every word Jacob Davies wrote, and I'm not sure how his clear statement that he does not believe third-trimester abortions should be legally restricted would not be taken as a sufficiently pro-choice statement, regardless of his stated personal opinions on the morality of the the Vernal, Utah case of Aaron Harrison. Isn't that the essence of "pro-choice," or does pro-choice mean you cannot think or say anything regarding the morality what other people do, no matter how extreme?

Jes: Jacob: if you want stats on infanticide, I suggest you go look 'em up yourself.

Don't take this too personally, but if you want your arguments to be seriously considered you're going to have to do better than this. I didn't bring up the claim that unavailability of late-term abortion led to high rates of infanticide and induced miscarriage; you did. Unless you want your readers to assume you're a fabulist, you have to be willing to produce evidence to support factual claims you make. Telling them to find it themselves isn't going to cut it.

I understand that this was a 17 year old girl, however, 17 year old girls do not get a pass on basic morality. We accept that teenagers make stupid decisions, I don't think she should be punished, I don't think we need laws against that kind of stupidity, but (assumingagainthecasehasbeenaccuratelyreported) I think we are justified in making a moral judgment. So are you, and you are welcome to yours, but I'm saying it's not a very helpful one.

What is really missing from this is a discussion of trust. Trust in cultural norms and in the basic morality of one's fellow citizens is what prevents us from needing laws governing every damn thing a person can do, and law enforcement that watches every second of our lives to ensure compliance. Trust does not require absolute agreement; it just requires the belief that certain underlying values are shared, even if we differ in implementation. I trust that a bunch of fundamentalist Christians are going to look after their children pretty well even if they homeschool them and don't teach them about evolution. I trust that people who voted for George W. Bush twice are not in fact menaces to society. We deplore the lack of trust in good intentions that has supported the conspiracy theories about Obama. And a decent, stable compromise on abortion - and it will be a compromise, because as you might have noticed, people don't agree - requires a trust by opponents of abortion, people who fear that they are licensing all kinds of what-they-consider-immoral behavior beyond "choice" and "medical necessity". That trust needs to be that people supporting access to abortion do not intend to throw all moral concerns out the window.

In what I have read, and I've read a fair amount, this is in fact how those doctors willing to perform late-term abortions where it is legal behaved. I think that trust is justified. I have a very high level of trust in human behavior, especially given all that I have read about the moral thoughtfulness of those doctors.

But you're not doing them - or women who might very badly need a late-term abortion for medical reasons - any favors by suggesting that the ideal regime of pro-choicers is some zone where conventional morality simply doesn't apply, where it's not even okay to say that a 17 year old who changes her mind about delivering her fetus 7 months into pregnancy is stupid. That's harmful, it undermines the trust that would support a reasonable compromise.

I would give anything for the state of the law in the US to be what it is in Britain - a compromise, one which makes certain kinds of abortion illegal, but one which allows a great many people who have the most pressing need for abortion to obtain them. It is not a political wedge issue, it is not used to imply that anyone supporting the status quo is a baby-murderer (or hates women), it just is, and it's a lot better than the crazy-quilt system in the US, where abortion access & legality varies wildly from place to place. In my opinion, the difference is trust: in Britain, there is much greater trust that doctors and women will make morally acceptable decisions about abortion, even if that trust is not absolute, given the legal restrictions on late-term abortions.

It's not my ideal legal framework, because I do trust that doctors and women can make these decisions. But it's better than what we have in the US. Even in those states where abortion restrictions are extremely lax by comparison, in practical terms access to abortion is much more restricted than it is in Britain.

"In my opinion, the difference is trust: in Britain, there is much greater trust that doctors and women will make morally acceptable decisions about abortion, even if that trust is not absolute, given the legal restrictions on late-term abortions."

I think that's because England didn't have Roe v Wade, or Doe v Bolton. Having the courts impose by fiat something approximating the most extreme position of pro-choicers has really warped things here. I'm sure that, in England, somebody like Jes can be pretty much ignored, because her views have no chance of being implemented. Here, what with the courts, we can't count on that.

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