Follow Up: Working it Out

A while ago, I started an audience participation post entitled “Working It Out”, the first in a series of posts putting forth basic questions to both sides of the abortion debate. And we certainly got audience participation! We received over 700 comments on our blog page alone, and the question was discussed in various other forums.

For details about how the series of posts work, please visit here for the original post.

Here I will discuss some good points that were presented, as well as my thoughts. In this post, there will be follow-up questions that I would love if you addressed! Here is the statement we discussed:

Scientific information about fetal development does not answer the question of the worth of the fetus.

Now one thing that quickly became apparent to me was that people–especially on the internet and while talking about controversial issues–do not naturally take things at face value. A large number of comments read the statement as “science can’t dictate morality” and began commenting on that premise. I found that so many people leaped to this interpretation to be fascinating. However, I took care to not use the word “morality” while crafting the post. So many people began talking about science and morality, in fact, that I was convinced I must had accidentally dropped the “m-word” accidentally somewhere in the post. But I didn’t!

Follow up question: is there a difference between asking if science can determine a worth of a fetus and if science can determine the morality of abortion?

In my opinion, “value of the fetus” and “morality of abortion” are two completely different things–but I could be the only one thinking this.

Commenter “ignorance_is_curable” on the blog made the point (edited heavily for the sake of room):

It doesn’t matter in the least if you think human beings have “innate worth”, if you can’t actually prove such a thing truly exists…that is, the whole concept of “innate worth” should be proven to exist, before anyone can say, “this entity has innate worth”… So far as I’ve seen, no one has offered any evidence that innate worth exists for anything. And do remember, the claim that it exists is the sort of “positive claim” that puts the Burden of Proof on the claimant.

This strikes me as a reasonable point, and one that matches well with my atheist sensibilities. What do my fellow atheists think about this?

Of course, don’t pro-choicers ascribe innate value to adults, and particularly to women? Indeed, isn’t their value of pregnant women so high that they believe it’s acceptable to abort the fetus with no say from anyone else but herself? What about in the case where an unborn fetus is wanted? That strikes me as quite a large amount of value, however undefined “value” may be. Secular people often stand up for various human rights causes–aren’t we putting value on people then?

EdinburghEye (another pro-choicer), said the following (again, edited for the sake of space):

That prolifers think the morality of abortion is determined by how much “worth” can be allotted to a fetus, and literally don’t understand that for most normal people the morality of abortion is determined by the effect of the pregnancy on the human being who is pregnant…for human rights activists, obviously, the ethics of abortion are around the right of each human being not to be forced, used, enslaved, or harmed at the will of another.
But you don’t have to be a human rights activist, just a normal person who knows women are human, to see that pregnancy is an action undertaken by a human that can permanently change her health, her wellbeing, her life.
Yet for prolifers, human health, human wellbeing, human life, are never discussed except with regard to fetuses. The girls and women they want to force do not exist.

The points this person brings up here I think raise a large concern that I and many other pro-lifers have about our own movement. Pro-life advocates who are heavily involved in the movement, and particularly those who are involved in the pregnancy resource and/or post-abortion aspects of the movement, clearly do not have an attitude that women “do not exist.” But what about the “average” pro-lifers who are less involved? Are we giving them an adequate feminist education? While I think that EdinburghEye is painting with a rather large, broad brush, it’s still an important point to bear in mind. Pro-life advocates should always be careful not to dehumanize the woman due to a bias toward the fetus.

However, on the other hand, pro-lifers think that abortion always ends a human life. I simply cannot see how a pro-choicer can deny that, if we take out any never-ending discussion of “personhood”. It’s a human life, and it is ended, for a variety of reasons that range from inconvenience to risk of severe quality-of-life impacts on the woman. I’m not saying that this fact ends debate or even puts pro-lifers in the right, but if this is how pro-lifers view the act of abortion, is it not unreasonable that they would at least favor the side of the fetus a little? Again, understanding how pro-lifers see the issue, do pro-choicers really see it as an intentional dehumanization rather than a step in logic on the part of the pro-life position?

The question is, do pro-lifers take it too far? I would have to say that at times yes, we do. Black and white thinking about the act of abortion and our reason for being pro-life can make us blind to the reasons why women seek not only abortion but control over their bodies. I know that for myself, despite having done almost a decade of pro-life work, it took a worldview change and feminist theory to actually make me understand the severity of situations that women face, not only around the world but right here in our own country, and thus for me to pause at my rather large assertion, “Abortion is always wrong.”

And, sadly, this post is already getting long! Was there a comment from someone on the other side that you found insightful and thought-provoking? Share it in the comments!

93 thoughts on “Follow Up: Working it Out”

  1. It would definitely be cool if the more active pro-lifers made a point of giving "average" pro-lifers their feminist education. But what I'm probably more concerned about is that I don't feel that pro-lifers adequately spread a pro-child/pro-unborn education. Addressing abortion from a pro-woman, sex-positive perspective is a necessary piece of the puzzle, but so is advocating for the unborn, and by that I mean dismantling the underlying concepts behind discrimination against the unborn (literal invisibility, erasure of the non-verbal, ableism, adultism, etc.).

    I feel that if you ask the average pro-lifer, "How is it that our society allows the legal killing of unborn children, but few other groups of people?" the response will be something along the lines of, "because abortionists are selfish and evil." How are you going to accomplish anything with that kind of lack of understanding?

  2. Please stop referring to pregnancy as an "inconvenience". Pregnancy is a medical condition that can go wrong at ANY time. Birth itself can last from hours to days, and be incredibly painful. You just can't handwave away the numerous side effects of pregnancy and pretend that women are selfis for not wanting to suffer the " inconvenience " of pushing a watermelon sized object through a lemon sized hole.

    And speaking of "inconveniences", surely it is an inconvenience to give blood, bone marrow or a liver lobe, yes? But if life trumps inconvenience, then what possible argument can be made against forced tissue donations? Or is all of the above a supererogatory burden provided the person being forced to put life and health at risk isn't a pregnant person? Again, this talk of " inconvenience " is just a way to erase the pregnant person from the equation, to disregard her feelings, because pregnancy is what women were *made* for, and they should have no more say about how their bodies are used than your fridge has about what you choose to put inside it.

  3. Pregnancy is way more than an inconvenience. An inconvenience is something that mildly disrupts your life for a short time. A unwanted pregnancy can and would destroy my life and cause me nothing but misery. It would destroy everything I have worked for in my life.

    Also child birth is FAR more than an inconvenience. The health risks from that alone make it more than an inconvenience.

  4. Yes but, as Sarah pointed out in another thread, your feelings don't actually count. What counts is whether she or other pro lifers believe that you are truly miserable and/or suicidal *enough*.

    Remember, though, they love women and are the TRUE feminists.

  5. Value of pregnant woman vs value of prenate..

    Do we, as a society, value sick and dying children less than corpses, even, since we do not legally *inconvenience* people with forced blood, tissue and organ donations? We won't even "inconvenience" a beating heart cadaver to donate its organs to a dying person. Are people with cancer and faulty organs worth less than a corpse?

  6. As others have pointed out in a different way:

    Everytime someone dies of renal failure, leukemia, liver failure, or blood loss, a human life is ended.

    Many of those lives could be saved by the provision of healthy, compatible kidneys, bone marrow, livers, or blood.

    Yet it is universally understood as a basic human rights principle: it doesn't matter who will die if they don't get a piece of your body, unless you choose to donate, so long as you live, you're the only one who gets to decide who gets a piece of you, what pieces, and when.

    So, Nate and other prolifers who earnestly argue that it's not up to the pregnant woman or girl to decide the use of her body, because if she terminates her pregnancy, a human life is ended, can you explain if you think your liver, your kidney, your bone marrow, your blood, should be harvested against your will if and when not harvesting from you would mean "a human life is ended"?

  7. I appreciate your quoting me, by the way.
    And in response to this:

     Pro-life advocates who are heavily involved in the movement, and particularly those who are involved in the pregnancy resource and/or post-abortion aspects of the movement, clearly do not have an attitude that women "do not exist." 

    Actually, it's the fanatics heavily involved in the prolife movement from which that attitude comes most intensely – after all, Nate, your original "working it out" article barely acknowledged in passing that women might have human rights, though you weren't sufficiently convinced that we do to become more than "reluctantly" supportive of the forced use of women's bodies.

    Better phrased than 'do not exist' is probably 'do not matter': to prolifers, the human rights of girls and women do not matter.

  8. You can say that the woman matters until you are blue in the face, but by forcing her to remain pregnant against her will you are objectifying her and sending a very strong message that she only "matters" insofar as she can incubate an unborn human.

  9. For example, Sarah Terzo, your most recent guest blogger, has been arguing consistently and without exception that women who have abortions aren't "loving". She's also not made any exceptions for life-saving or health-preserving abortions, but then prolife support for life-saving abortions is always a rather shaky pretence.

  10. Maybe you should read for comprehension. No doubt you would be uncomfortable with a society that strapped you down and seized your bodily tissues for the benefit of another. Legally, we cannot do this, even to a corpse. Yet you would force women to use their bodily tissues for the benefit of a fetus. Where is the comparison to a corpse? You cannot benefit a corpse, that's a dead person. But living people could benefit from the organs and tissues harvested from a corpse (depending on manner of death and access to life support, etc.). But legally you cannot force the donation, even from a dead person. What does that tell you? That tells me there's a great deal of respect for the bodily integrity of human beings. Being pregnant doesn't erase that respect. Even being dead doesn't erase it.

  11. How so? In our modern society, it seems to me that there are relatively few pregnancies that lead to debilitating or life-affecting changes. It may be that there are fewer risks to donors, but I'm not sure what that proves. I will most likely donate a kidney to my daughter in the future, and I am more concerned about the effects of organ donation than I was about pregnancy (and pregnancy was a horrible experience for me).

  12. Follow up question: is there a difference between asking if science
    can determine a worth of a fetus and if science can determine the
    morality of abortion?
    Yes, they are two completely different questions. You are not alone here. And to anticipate a further follow up question, no, science can no more determine the morality of abortion than it can determine the worth of a prenate. Science can provide information that may or may not be useful in making such determinations, but that is it. You're going to have to turn to philosophy and/or religion to answer those questions.

    Of course, don't pro-choicers ascribe innate value to adults, and particularly to women? Indeed, isn't their value of pregnant women so high that they believe it's acceptable to abort the fetus with no say from anyone else but herself? What about in the case where an unborn fetus is wanted? That strikes me as quite a large amount of value, however undefined "value" may be. Secular people often stand up for various human rights causes–aren't we putting value on people then?
    Yes. No. Maybe. One need not ascribe any innate value to pregnant women, let alone ascibe her more worth than the prenate. All we need to do is apply the same rules to pregnant women as we would to anyone else to get to the conclusion abortion is permissible. I can't stress that enough. It is the pro-criminalization advocate that has to split hairs and make "nuanced arguments" and dismiss pregnancy as an "inconvenience" and otherwise give the prenate special rights in order to get to their position. As I said before, the only way to get to an argument prohibiting abortion based on the fetus' "worth" is to argue that the fetus is "worth" more than the woman carrying it.

    However, on the other hand, pro-lifers think that abortion always ends a human life. I simply cannot see how a pro-choicer can deny that, if we take out any never-ending discussion of "personhood". It's a human life, and it is ended, for a variety of reasons that range from inconvenience to risk of severe quality-of-life impacts on the woman. I'm not saying that this fact ends debate or even puts pro-lifers in the right, but if this is how pro-lifers view the act of abortion, is it not unreasonable that they would at least favor the side of the fetus a little? Again, understanding how pro-lifers see the issue, do pro-choicers really see it as an intentional dehumanization rather than a step in logic on the part of the pro-life position?
    Of course we do. Especially when we see arguments like that found here: And not one "pro-lifer" takes the poster to task for it. Of course we do. Especially when we see pregnancy dismissed as a mere "inconvenience" that only a cruel, selfish bitch would consider ending. Of course we do. Especially when we see someone claims to "see" the unborn when the only way to do that is to ignore the woman they are actually looking at. Of course we do. Especially when we see them apply rules to the pregnant woman that do not apply to everyone else. Of course we do. Especially when we see that you cannot prohibit abortion without dehumanizing the woman.

  13. The first quote about innate worth is interesting — yes, ok, no one can "prove" something has innate worth because worth is subjective. Then (as you pointed out, Nate) how can the pro-choicer rationally defend anyone or anything? They have no "proof" that it should be defended. How are they any better than the pro-lifer?

    From where I'm standing the pro-lifer is simply applying value consistently to all humans (most people value most humans), and asking why we would selectively exclude some humans. I think it's less about providing a positive claim, but more about asking the pro-choicer on what grounds they are inconsistent about valuing human life.

  14. You held to the responsibility argument. But you had to modify your statements–twice–just to get the rape exception to stick. And despite your argument about responsibility, you would still absolve people from giving up their organs when they are responsible for their victim's condition. You, personally made me realize how abortion is about granting the prenate special rights.

    And yet you call us inconsistent?

  15. How so?

    Because pregnancy is dangerous.

    In our modern society, it seems to me that there are relatively few pregnancies that lead to debilitating or life-affecting changes.

    Absolutely. Because in our modern society, women have free access to safe legal abortion.

  16. **From where I'm standing the pro-lifer is simply applying value consistently to all humans**

    Unfortunately, since there is no way to create actual value where it does not exist, the real effect of this is to reduce the value of all 'humans' to zero, then re-assign rights on the basis of cuteness and sad feelings.

  17. I'm still waiting for Sarah and her friends to tell me which heart surgeon they would want operating on a precious preemie with a hole in it's heart, one who thought the heart was a pump, or one who gushed about how magical and specialty-special the heart was, especially in a widdle embwyo.

  18. If women mean a lot to you than you would not want to force them into the misery of gestational slavery.
    You would understand that an unwanted pregnancy can destroy a woman's life.

  19. Show me where my stances are not consistent with the principles I espouse and I will endeavor to bring them in line. Have you figured out a way to prohibit abortion that does not give the prenate special rights yet? Or are you willing to bring your other stances in line with your arguments against abortion now?

  20. Sorry, here's the link to Martin Luther King's acceptance speech of the first PPFA Margaret Sanger award:

  21. It's pretty much along the lines of whining that the pwecious embwyo with Downs Syndrome is being (gasp) killed 'just because it is UNWANTED'. The dust under my bed is 'unwanted'. A child with Down's syndrome is going to cause severe, life altering problems for about the next three generations of that family.

  22. At the very worst, with an extremely low-functioning child, the effects could be that far-reaching or more. A test can tell you about some of the more common Down Syndrome markers, but what it can't tell you is how high or low functioning the kid will be.

    If you've got a lot of resources – health insurance, good income, family support, plentiful social services – you can probably weather one who needs 24/7 care. If you've got few or none of those things, even high functioning is going to be a massive challenge, especially if you're the only ones doing all the caregiving without respite. Good grief, no one quibbles with the fact that people doing all the caregiving for a myriad of conditions need time off, but pro-life consistently handwaves the fact that parents of DS kids need that away time just as much, or more; and they have a tendency to wildly overestimate just how many services are available for those who need it.

    I'm not saying the situation is always hopeless, but let's not pretend that families who simply don't have the financial, emotional, or mental resources are going to thrive, and I've known a couple of families who were absolutely destroyed. There's been a real PR push lately proclaiming, 'Hey, it's just an extra chromosome. Otherwise it's totally the same as a non DS kid!' No, it isn't, and it's dishonest and unethical to pull the wool over parents' eyes to keep them ignorant about what they're likely facing. The choice to terminate or carry to term needs to be made with factual, accurate, helpful information and a clear-headed idea of what you and your family can realistically deal with long-term.

  23. And there is a dark secret – disabled children that the parents cannot care for will spend their lives in an institution, often abused by staff, chained to a bed all day, in shit and piss.

    But tell a pro lifer this, and they will say that being abused and made to sit in your own feces all day is preferable to non existence.

  24. "Again, understanding how pro-lifers see the issue, do pro-choicers really see it as an intentional dehumanization rather than a step in logic on the part of the pro-life position?"

    Personally I think this issue is especially problematic in the US where pro-lifers are in the same political coalition with libertarians. Its the combination of abortion prohibition and the Randian rhetoric about individual freedom and liberty that seems especially problematic, at least to me. Babies are valuable but not so valuable as to require additional redistribution of resources to feed them or educated them. That, I think, is why pro-lifers (in the US) are seen to be misogynists– they want to rob women of the choice to end a pregnancy but saddle her with more of the costs to raise the kid. It seems callous to me to make such a public decision with so much personal cost.

    To put it another way, its hard to take pro-life rhetoric about the sanctity of life seriously when that concern seems to whither and die anytime it gets too close to one's wallet. It seems that, at best, what we are talking about is often just crocodile tears.

    That being said, I don't see why there is anything that intrinsically ties one's position on abortion to one's position on a variety of other political issues, its just played out that way in the US as both sides struggle to form the bigger coalition of voting interests. Pro-lifers who don't take such Randian political positions and don't form coalitions with those who do seem to me (at least) less likely to come off as being, how shall I say this, indifferent to the well-being of women.

  25. I don't think so, but then again, I'm not in the Ayn Rand absolutist camp. Our rights are always balanced against the rights of others.

    To me the assignment of value argument is besides the point. We live in a society which tends to believe that individuals should bear the costs of their decisions. So if a woman chooses to give birth, she and (hopefully) the guy involved have to bear the lion's share of the cost. For poor women in uncertain relationships, most of them will bear the costs almost completely on own and with public assistance.

    Pro-lifers want to limit her decision to do so. Fair enough, I suppose. But to me they should have to bear the cost of doing so because the women's burden is one, absent pro-life interference, she would not otherwise have made. Giving birth is a life changing experience economically, physically, and emotionally. That being the case, forcing someone to undertake such a massive commitment should require a corresponding commitment on the part of those taking the pro-life position.

  26. If she does not want to 1) suffer the physical effects of pregnancy 2) pay hospital bills and raise a kid

    Then she

    A) should abstain from sex until menopause

    B) don't get raped

  27. Its particularly bad for pro-lifers to do so since it seems they ought to be committed to believing that the well being of all humans is so valuable that it trumps individual freedom and liberty.

  28. Infant mortality rates are on the rise, specifically because the GOP opposes the ACA in red states which would cover pre natal and post natal care and save infant lives.

    To the tea party pro lifers, their wallets come before infant lives. They believe in saving lives – providing it won't inconvenience them

  29. Expanding medicaid would help with infant mortality rates, I agree. But there seems to be very little that the more libertarian right thinks is important enough to justify redistribution of resources in any meaningful sense.

    I suppose politics makes strange bedfellows. I have to shake my head at pro-lifers who like to quote Ayn Rand.

  30. My life is not balanced against your life until and unless you are a threat to me – then you are going to be the one who dies or is wounded. I will kill you eezey peezey and without remorse. The right to self defense is primal and absolute and completely moral.

  31. There is a good libertarian argument for abortion:

    Anyhoo, its simple. They oppose abortion and don't favour socialist policies to save lives because it is about moral purity to them. Women should NOT be having sex or getting raped unless they plan on having kids. If you cross the moral purity boundary, you deserve what you get, even if it is death and injury.

    Now, the pro lifers here are mainly liberal and secular. They support a social safety net in order to preserve these precious lives, however, many of them want abortion to be banned FIRST, before socialist policies are implemened, IF EVER.

  32. You can't use lethal force in self-defense just because you feel threatened, if that threat isn't reasonable. That is, you do not have a absolute right to self defense in any meaningful sense. Otherwise I would shoot at least one or two people on my way to work every day I drove during rush hour

    Abortion rights, like any other right, are not absolute either. You can't, outside of a really desperate situation, get an abortion at 8 months.

    The real question, outside of blog comment sections and faux-philosophizing, is where to draw the line.

    I'm arguing that any line drawing ought to come with a corresponding personal commitment on the line drawers. I expect that doing so would force pro-lifers to take the real burden of what they are proposing much more seriously.

    Or, at least, much more seriously than threats to kill them eazy pleazy. Not that those are not effective…

  33. I'm not sure its an "active" vs. a "average" pro lifer issue. We aren't just talking about a philosophical problem, we are talking about a contentious political issue.

    How do pro-lifers in the pro-women/ pro-child/sex positive camp deal with pro-lifers in the women are intrinsically ordered to have babies/ slut shaming camp? Especially since outside of prohibiting abortion, the interests of each group are not consistent with each other.
    I don't mean to imply that this is a problem unique to either abortion or to pro-lifers, of course. But given the uniqueness of the stakes in this debate, it seems especially problematic here.

  34. I don't disagree that their is a good libertarian for abortion. A woman has a property right to her uterine wall. A property right entails a right to exclude others from the use and enjoyment of the thing in question. End stop.
    But, really, I've yet to meet anyone who is really a libertarian.
    I agree with both your statement about a majority of pro-lifers generally and your statement about pro-lifers here.
    However, in their defense (here) they have to choose to ally themselves with the Santorums because there aren't secular, liberal allies for the most part interested in allying with them.

  35. What's interesting, is that if you take socialism to its logical ends, what is wrong with mandatory organ/tissue donation to save lives?

    The problem is, socialist pro lifers seek to ONLY make such demands in regards to pregnancy. They often won't even argue for mandatory blood donation, which is nowhere near as invasive as pregnancy.

  36. I like this argument:

    "Men can't kill unborn children, therefore women shouldn't have a special right to kill because of biology"

  37. Taking almost anything to its logical end gets you to funky places, in my experience.
    I'm not really much of a socialist. But I do think that legal rules that place burdens on individuals that they otherwise wouldn't assume ought to be paid by the rule makers, not the individual, to a large degree. You want X, generally speaking you should pay for X. You don't want people to do X, then you pay for the burden that not doing X imposes.
    So if pro-lifers feel that strongly about prohibiting abortion, fine, just don't complain about the corresponding burden they should have to take on to compensate women whose lives are completely changed as a result.

  38. Abortion should never be "banned" because that's too extreme. What these folks of libertarian bent don't realize is that abortion will naturally fall away of it's own accord when women don't need to decide whether to buy contraceptives or a week's groceries (I have my own story about that, from back in the eighties), when women don't have to worry about losing our jobs for taking time off for health concerns related to a pregnancy, and when nobody goes bankrupt from a pre-term birth. In the USA, we *glorify* motherhood. But looking objectively, we don't really *support* motherhood, and that's my problem with the pro-life movement. There are lots of things they could do that I could really get behind. But they aren't doing those things. They wish to put the cart before the horse. Anyone from Amish country can tell you, that's going nowhere. That's my message to the "pro-life" movement. You aren't pro-life. You are pro-natal. There are no shortcuts. Making abortion illegal only means women will have illegal abortions, not that they won't have them. Either put in the hard work to change the way our nation supports mothers, or keep being corporatists and expect more of the same. I'm reminded of Albert Einstein's quote about the definition of insanity – "Doning the same

  39. Exactly..

    The"no abortion in the case of rape" really gets me though…

    Who is gonna pay her hospital bills? What if there are complications and she loses her job and house? What if she is permanently disabled and can no longer work?

    You won't find any pro lifers stepping up to pay millions of dollars to restore her to her original condition. Yet, we don't demand that people literally lose *everything* under any other circumstance. Life just isn't precious enough to destroy a persons life from forced organ donation.

  40. I'm not just talking about compensation when things go wrong. Becoming a mother is an existential change. It means being connected to someone personally. Pro-lifers want to force women who, for a variety of reasons, do not want (at least at the moment in time) to make that existential change.
    I think that making a legal rule that imposes such a "choice" upon women should come with a corresponding commitment to financially, physically, and emotionally support the woman and child in question.

  41. Yep. And that will never happen, even in a perfect society, because many women simply don't want to be pregnant. I couldn't handle it. I'd rather die

  42. Well, I think it does happen to a degree. While we don't redistubute resources to the extent some other countries do, we do socialize some of the costs. It comes as no surprise to me that many of the countries that do supply more support, also restrict abortion access more.
    But I think the real debate, as opposed to the pseudo-philosophical one that all too often stands in itsplace, is where the proper balance of rights and responsibilities should lie.
    Which is too bad, really, since it almost certainly undermines women's agency, results in more abortions, and abortions later in pregnancy. But, hey, being an American seems to mean that we do everything the worse way possible!

  43. Argent is an advocate for chilfren, and she should be commended for that. Children are too often treated like property and not given a voice.

    However, I once asked her if a 9yo rape victim should be forced to gestate and birth. She refused to answer, said it was a "gotcha" question.

    But uh, from where I am standing, it is a relevant question. Do fetal rights trump children's rights? And little girls are becoming pregnant more and more frequently now.

  44. While I'm pro-choice, I think both sides are guilty of glossing over what abortion really means. PCers (like myself) don't usually want to really engage on what it means to perform a DX procedure, for example. Pro-lifers don't usually want to really like to contemplate the profound effect forced birth would have on real women's lives. I think your point above about glossing over pregnancy is a great example of this.
    IMO, that's why both sides like to talk about abortion in the abstract, in rights talk. We certainly don't want to contemplate the actual significance, weighed in misery, that our actions might actually have.

  45. Agreed

    Bear in mind IDX is used for medical emergencies, on fetuses that are not viable. And a third trimester pregnancy termination can cost from 8k minimum to 30k. Its not something done frivolously.

    91% of abortions are performed prior to 13 weeks, and the embryo/fetus dies precisely because it is denied use of the woman's organs as life support.

    I was shoveling snow earlier, and your comments got me thinking.

    What is "killing?" Do you kill by denying your organs to someone who needs them? If someone needs your body or your property "for their very life" are they entitled to it? If you deny them, knowing they will die without, have you killed them?

    If the right to life, as a general principle, entitles you to other peoples bodies, then shouldn't this extend to all of society? Shouldn't we all have the same rights and responsibilities? Why do pro lifers only seem to care about the absolute right to life when it comes to prenatal life? Why are only prenates entitled to other peoples bodies?

    Why do pro lifers say that letting a 5yo die by denying your bone marrow = not killing, because the kid is "diseased", and sick kids are not entitled to other people's bodies? Why is it only killing if a prenate is disconnected from the womans uterus? They try to get out of this by saying that pregnancy is " natural" , but this doesn't fly, because they are then having to argue that the sick are not as valuable as fetuses. And now we have another problem – if it would be killing to disconnect a sick person from a kidney dialysis machine, then why do they argue that it is suddenly NOT killing if the patient is disconnected from a biological donor? And if in this case, it isn't killing to disconnect from a biological donor, then why is it magically killing if a woman refuses to act as a biological life support machine?

    A seething mass of contradictions

  46. Can it be otherwise? Is there any issue where so many of the fundamental principles that we live by intersect?
    At some point during a pregnancy it becomes pretty clear, at least to me, that there isn't much that distinguishes a fetus from a baby except location.
    But, as you pointed out, that is a really big deal. You cannot respect the both the woman and the fetus equally. One prevails and the other does not.
    At a certain level of abstraction that is palatable, I suppose. But, I think, really grasping the stakes and thinking about it what it means in at least some cases really isn't.
    Which is why we flail around with philosophically unsound assertions like the act/omission distinction or, even worse, the natural is normative voodoo.

  47. It seems to mean that, at time, we value the bodily integrity of corpses more than pregnant women. That is a rather dismal observation, no?

  48. Yes.

    People have said that this is a trite observation, and dismissed it, but its TRUE. LIVES CAN BE SAVED , if body parts are taken from corpses without consent

  49. I have thought, at length, about how it is a small tragedy that every embryo cannot be born, and have the chance to live a full and productive life. Just think of all of the beautiful humans who don't exist because of abortion and contraception…

    Then I think of children's hospitals, and how thousands of kids don't have a future because organ and tissue donation isn't mandatory. Why do pro lifers shed tears over embryos being denied a future, but not little kids?

    What is it, about abortion, that makes it seem so much worse to condemn an embryo to death vs a 5yo? Why can a pro lifer say that ejecting a mindless brainless embryo is BRUTAL killing, yet turn around and say that letting a diseased kid die from lack of bone marrow is ethically sound?

    Any ideas? Why the visceral reaction to abortion and not dying 5yos?

  50. The bullet that really needs to be bitten by pro-criminalization advocates is to force living people to give up their organs to save lives.

  51. Depends on your brand of socialism. Personally, I've never encountered a "pro-life" socialist, and I am a socialist. All the socialist parties I've encountered are pro-choice.

  52. **You can't use lethal force in self-defense just because you feel threatened**

    Uh huh. By this logic, you could justify rape, so long as the rapist isn't actually beating the woman, she might only 'feel' that she is threatened.

  53. Which would seem to imply that since it doesn't affect the embryo or fetus when the father gets sick, it therefore will not cause harm to the embryo or fetus when the mother gets sick.

  54. Since the forced gestationers like to sob that it doesn't seem 'fair' to them that an innocent widdle embwyo has to pay the price of someone having an orgasm, I might point out that it doesn't seem fair to ME that an innocent brain damaged person, who unlike the pwecious embwyo is actually capable of experiencing suffering, has to 'pay the price' of the forced gestationers sad feelies.

  55. **She refused to answer, said it was a "gotcha" question.**

    Refusing to answer seems to be common with forced gestationers. I can make a list of things that myintx alone has refused to answer:

    1. Who would be responsible for her performing an abortion on an unwilling woman while being controlled by a computer chip I put in her head.

    2. Why we value human beings more than cattle and bacteria.

    3. Who owns a woman's uterus.

    4. Why the widdle embwyo should get a pass because 'can't help it', but the same isn't true of a brain controlled rapist.

    5. What are the brilliant and compelling logical and ethical arguments that supposedly absolutely prove the right of the embryo to be protected that she claims she knows but deliberately will not tell us.

    6. What constitutes being a person.

    There are several other questions she has not answered but I can't remember them right now.

  56. **At some point during a pregnancy it becomes pretty clear, at least to me, that there isn't much that distinguishes a fetus from a baby except location.**

    Thing is, we do make moral distinctions based on 'location' a lot of the time. For instance, most people believe there is a moral difference between a penis attached to a man standing a few feet away from you, and the same penis stuffed into one of your bodily orifices without your consent. Ditto with someone standing 6 feet outside your house, and someone standing 6 feet INSIDE your house, also without your consent.

  57. Come to think of it, if a father went to an IVF clinic and microwaved his "babies" to death, I don't think he'd be charged with murder. Its simply destruction of property, his property.

  58. The anti abortionists here are serious intellectuals, and it is really really tiring to them to have to be asked inconvenient questions

    Rape exception
    Tampon funerals
    If embryos are people, investigation of miscarriage?

    And many more. These questions are unfair and offensive – not grounded in reality, they say.

    Of course, LAWYERS think about these questions, because they have to live in the real world, where the legal system WILL be impacted if embryos are declared people. And sure, rape is only 1% of abortions, but you can't pretend it doesn't exist, especially if you believe that EVERY precious life is sacred.

  59. Some of the PL posters here claim to be very liberal, if not outright socialist.

    Anyhoo, the argument that I have heard that is if in a socialist society, we pool our resources to help the least fortunate among us, what better way to help but with saving lives through organ and tissue donation? If the government takes our property to save lives, then what is problematic about taking our body parts? And since the sick and dying cannot enjoy their rights if they are dead, we *owe* them our body parts

    This was, interestingly enough, a critique of liberal pro choicers, made by an anti natalist. He was complaining that liberals are *inconsistent* when it comes to bodily autonomy, especially if the health and wellbeing of the collective comes first in a socialist society. He said that ideas of bodily autonomy were in fact libertarian.

    I see what he is saying, but as we have discussed, some burdens go above and beyond what should be expected of people, and forced donation will create a slave society, not a free, happy liberal society

  60. He thinks that if he keeps repeating it…

    Also thinks that over the top moral outrage will win the day. I tried to counter that with more moral outrage, not so sure that was the best strategy.

  61. Innocent brain damaged people love being alive, sitting in their own excrement, and being sexually abused by the hired help at the "facility". How dare we even think for a second that a life of abuse might not be a life worth living. Pro choicers, why do you lack empathy? Just because YOU might not like sitting in shit and piss all day, and being made to eat vomit, doesn't mean that a brain damaged person won't be thankful just to be alive!

  62. In my experience, being a sex-positive pro-lifer involves 1) straight-up debating sex-negative pro-lifers when they say sex-negative things, and 2) simply asserting our existence in pro-life spaces. The last one I think is especially important because I think the anti-contraception/sex-negative crowd makes headway only by hitching its wagon to the pro-life star, by promoting the idea that being against abortion means believing a bunch of other stuff about how evil and nasty sex is, rather than by the strength of its arguments.

    Just asserting my existence is really most of my "political activity", whether it's being a sex-positive person in pro-life spaces, being a children's rights advocate in feminist spaces, being a nonbinary person in any space, etc.

  63. Uh, no. If the rapist isn't actually beating on her, arguably she might only 'feel threatened'. Ditto if someone points a gun at you, provided they don't actually shoot you, it can technically be claimed that you only 'feel threatened;.


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