Sunday Sacrilege: an embryo is not a person

I have to join with my colleague Revere in saying that I am pro-abortion. Furthermore, I find the willingness of the devout anti-choice mob to distort the evidence so appalling that I would not join with them in anything.

When I gave a talk at UW Stevens Point last week, there were a few protesters outside the building — friendly, non-violent people who I invited in to listen. It's a shame, though, that I was giving a neuroscience talk, since I also have a talk that rips into the bogus developmental biology that 'pro-lifers' use — and the group picketing me were Catholic right-to-life weirdos. They also were handing out flyers complaining about my desecration of crackers.

Myers hammered his rusty nail while gleefully boasting that "nothing is sacred." One has to wonder if he would likewise gleefully drive nails through the hands and feet of Christians he so publicly despises?! Obviously Christians themselves are not sacred to him.

There they go again, making my point for me. I do not think Christians or crackers are sacred, not because I devalue human life, but because "sacred" is an invalid rationale for doing so; the value comes from the individuals themselves, not from some imaginary decree from a nonexistent ghostly entity. It is also a great shame that Catholics so obliviously and so willingly equate themselves with crackers; they assume that because I would abuse a piece of bread, I would treat human beings in exactly the same way…apparently because they think that cracker is just as precious as a person.

That's a rather gross and dangerous error. A cracker is a flat piece of ground up vegetable matter, baked and processed, mostly inert, sold with the intent of being further broken down in someone's digestive system. Throwing it in the trash in no way implies that a complex and dynamic being can be similarly disposed of, or be casually destroyed and consumed. Sane people have an appropriate perspective on the relative importance of foodstuffs and human beings. Crazy people can't tell the difference.

And speaking of crazy people…one kind of insanity destroys the ability of normal people to distinguish between embryos and people, and encourages them to lie to others about the status of the embryo, treating it as the moral equivalent of a child. It's almost the same problem as revering a cracker over a person. A better question to ask is whether they would kill someone to defend a Jesus wafer? (And some, at least, have told me that they would.) Would they be willing to throw away their purported reverence for the sanctity of life to kill someone to defend a fetus? (We definitely know that some will.)

There are groups that are actively blurring the line between embryos and human beings, and I consider them just as wicked as the howling haters lined up outside women's health clinics — they use mistruths to foment attacks on people to defend non-people. One of the biggest, noisiest, and most dishonest is Pro Life Across America, which puts up billboards all across the US; we have a similar outfit here in my state, Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life.

Their work is easily recognizable. They have one theme: fetuses and babies are exactly the same. All of their signs feature cute baby pictures coupled to factoids about development, and they thoroughly enrage me — I see them all along the roadsides on my drive in to Minneapolis. They are basically generating false associations about development.

Here's a standard example:

i-fa590bea846c1bf51a8d52ae43bb9614-face1.jpeg

Awww, cute plump smiling baby with eyes and ears and a tongue…and did you know he formed those in the first month of pregnancy? How can you support aborting adorable little children!

It's even sort of weakly, tenuously true. The embryo does have non-functional primordia of those organs at 28 days, but it's not exactly cute — it looks more like a worm — and it's only about 4mm (or about 2/10 of an inch) long. It's 'face' is a couple of branchial arches. If they wanted to be honest in their advertising, they ought to revise the billboard to look like this:

i-2c543f53fbded3d95f689d0a87598b44-face2.jpeg

I suggest they add another line of copy, too: I also had a tail!

You get the idea. All of their billboards are like this, listing a known developmental landmark, the earlier the better, and showing a picture of a post-natal infant as if that has any relevance. It's an attempt to make an emotional tie to developmental events. It works with a lot of people, too, the people who are ignorant of reality — and of course, these ads do nothing to educate them.

Here's another of their ads that plays games with the concept of conception:

i-77bc4879080dd4b68231f320e8026ce2-genes1.jpeg

Yes, that baby did get his genes at conception. So? A collection of genes does not make a human being. There was no teeny-tiny infant spontaneously bursting into existence at the instant a sperm cell punched into an oocyte — it was something that looked like this:

i-0271eb53ebe7f9ec029f32a598661d5f-genes2.jpeg

This is a point absolutely and solidly established in biology. The embryo is not the adult. It does not contain the full information present in the newborn -- that will be generated progressively, by interactions with the environment and by complex internal negotiations within an increasingly complex embryo. Pretending that 46 chromosomes in a cell is sufficient to define a person is the most absurd kind of extreme biological reductionism.

The fertilized oocyte is a human cell, but it is not a human being.

Way too many people think that is a sacrilegious idea — we have to cherish every single scrap of human tissue, especially the bits that have the potential to go on and develop into a child.

No, we don't. We don't have to revere every block of rough marble because another Michaelangelo could come along and sculpt it into something as wonderful as his David; we don't have to treasure every scrap of canvas because the next Picasso is going to use it for a masterpiece. The value isn't in the raw materials, but in the pattern, the skill, the art put into it. Similarly, those cells are simply the raw clay that the process and time will sculpt into something that is worth love and care.

Which is more important, the pigments or the painting? Even worse, do you think the pigments are the painting?


A couple of additional points: notice how clever I was in not saying precisely when the fetus becomes a human being? That's because there is no sharp magical border, it's grey and fuzzy all the way. That's a social and personal decision. Don't even ask me when — I'm a guy. I don't have the same responsibilities as a pregnant woman, so I don't get the same privileges.

Also, some people are 'uneasy' about the whole abortion thing. Fine; don't get one. Your personal feelings of yuckiness shouldn't be a factor in deciding what other people do. Churches make me queasy, but I'm not planning to criminalize attendance.

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THANK YOU! (Love the "baby" picture redos.)

Something else that is starting to be worrisome is the Personhood movement. They're trying to do an endrun around the abortion question by declaring that everything with human genes be declared "a person".

Why can't wingnut anti-choice types just go off and shoot each other, or something?

By Givesgoodemail (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

PZ:

Which is more important, the pigments or the painting? Even worse, do you think the pigments are the painting?

*Applause* Very well written, thank you. I imagine we'll get some interesting chew toys trolls on this one. I hope they're interesting, the latest batch have been duds.

By Caine, Fleur du mal (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

As a chemist I'm probably more interested in pigments than paintings, actually.

Interesting 'argument' about the genes. Did they just pop into existence at conception? Weren't there just as many genes before conception? What's so special about the fusion?

I used to be a blood donor - I guess it's a good thing that red blood cells don't have nuclei. It'd be horrible if I went around distributing little humans willy-nilly like that.

Pity we have better things to spend out money on; I think it'd be amusing to put up billboards with foetuses of humans, cats, chickens, apes, fish &c at the same stage of development. And ask the prolifers to pick out the 'person'.

By Sili, The Unkn… (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Givesgoodemail:

Something else that is starting to be worrisome is the Personhood movement.

That's been going on for years. There's an evangelical group in Colorado who has been all hyped up about that for ages now.

By Caine, Fleur du mal (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

I say mandatory abortions for all women everywhere!

But I can sort of sympathize with the anti abortion side, regardless of whether it's cute and cuddly or not, the idea of terminating something that has the potential to be a full fledged human some day makes me kind of uneasy.

I really like this argument, and how you tied it in to the concept of a soul in the talk I heard you give in Syracuse. When you give up the idea that there's a "soul", then that unformed embryo is even less of a special snowflake. And the thing is, even every pro-life activist knows it. If you give them the burning IVF clinic scenario, not one single person would opt to save a dish full of 100 embryos over a single living child. They know there's a difference, but choose to ignore it in favor of punishing the sluts who dared to have sex.

Because, of course, it all goes back to control of women. This post was one of the first to really turn my thinking around on the abortion issue when I was a baby atheist. It's since had a rather long addendum put on it, but the first part is simple and direct, and really puts the whole thing in perspective. Money quote: "When pro-choice feminists like Wolf, or liberal men, or a lot of women, even, say things like, "I'm pro-choice, but I am uncomfortable with... [third-trimester abortion / sex-selection / women who have multiple abortions / women who have abortions for "convenience" / etc.]" then what you are saying is that your discomfort matters more than an individual woman's ability to assess her own circumstances. That you don't think that women who have abortions think through the very questions that you, sitting there in your easy chair, can come up with. That a woman who is contemplating an invasive, expensive, and uncomfortable medical procedure doesn't think it through first. In short, that your judgment is better than hers. Think about the hubris of that. Your judgment of some hypothetical scenario is more reliable than some woman's judgment about her own, very real, life situation?"

Dandruff.

By Stephen Wells (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

But I can sort of sympathize with the anti abortion side, regardless of whether it's cute and cuddly or not, the idea of terminating something that has the potential to be a full fledged human some day makes me kind of uneasy

Then I suppose masturbation and menstruation also make you uneasy? Same thing.

Jordan:

But I can sort of sympathize with the anti abortion side

Well, you shouldn't. These people do not hold life sacred. They don't care one iota for "potential persons" or "the pre-born". They don't care at all that the child resulting from a forced birth may be born into poverty or an abusive situation. They don't care if a woman has serious and frightening medical issues. They don't care if a woman has been raped. They don't care if a girl has been subject to incestuous rape. They don't care how many women died from back alley abortions; they don't care if women die now due to the difficulties in obtaining abortions. They have worked hard and long to make obtaining an abortion difficult, they're happy with what they have done.

They do not want women to be able to abort, nor do they want women to be able to obtain birth control. Pro-lifers are not about "saving babies" - what they are about is controlling women. Full stop.

I used to escort at clinics, and I saw more than one "stand-up, pillar of the christian community, pro-lifer" bring in their daughter for an abortion. Like all hypocrites, it's one rule for them, and one rule for everyone else. They deserve nothing more than complete contempt.

By Caine, Fleur du mal (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

"the idea of terminating something that has the potential to be a full fledged human some day makes me kind of uneasy."

With the right technology (and it's not so far off), the DNA in the skin cells you discard when scratching your nose could be extracted and used to generate a clone. So then, scratching your nose = destroying a potential person.

In general, potential x's don't have the value of x's. And good thing, too, or else it would be deeply immoral to scratch your nose.

By immichaelyoung (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

pfft... my breakfast used to have eyes, ears, and a tongue, too.

I love the picture re-do's... we have those posters all over town, too, and in my more vicious and ambitious moments I have the urge to start a counter-campaign with lineups of embryos or fertilized eggs and captions along the lines of: "future cowboy, or future steak?" or "a precious baby, or a dangerous disease?"

I'm guaranteeing most people wouldn't be able to tell the difference.

By Jadehawk, OM (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Every so often there is a case where a family sues a medical examiner because a gall bladder wasn't replaced into the body cavity before interment. Sometimes they even disinter the body in order to replace the missing piece. I always wondered: what about all the fingernail clippings?

For anyone thinking there is anything to the "pro-life" side, ask where are they from birth to the eighteenth birthday, when it takes a quarter of a million dollars these days to raise a baby to 18. Not one cent from them for that. Just getting the fetus born. Says all you need to know about their hypocrisy...

By Nerd of Redhead, OM (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Well that's the least controversial Sunday Sacrilege I've read yet. Of course religious folks are going to disagree, and keep conflating the forest and the trees, the bricks and the house, etc.

One thing that might help though is to really push the idea that most genetic traits we care about are probabilistic rather than deterministic. I just saw GATTACA again in my Behavioral Genetics course, and I love the film (yeah we criticized it), but I think many otherwise intelligent people buy in too literally to the idea that "we are our genes". That's just not the whole story.

But environment, gene expression, epigenetics, proteomics... those take time to explain.

By MoonShark (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

These redone ads are genius. I want to see these sitting next to highways.

the idea of terminating something that has the potential to be a full fledged human some day makes me kind of uneasy

and the thought that my breakfast was once an intelligent being, and was murdered for my pleasure sometimes makes me queasy. That's not a reason to outlaw all meat though, or to sympathize with those who would try to outlaw it.

By Jadehawk, OM (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Nerd, that's a valid point, but what bothers me more is what I mentioned in #9 - that in many cases, these pro-lifers know a woman has an unstable situation and there is a high probability a child she births will face a very bad life and oftentimes a very short life.

The fact that they don't give a damn that a baby/child ends up killed, that it's all okay because the now dead child wasn't aborted is what infuriates me.

By Caine, Fleur du mal (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Jesus fucking Christ let me clarify:

I don't want to outlaw abortion and I don't want to support people who want to outlaw abortion.

I just fucking said it makes me uneasy.

Carlie, I'm pro-choice but do have some reservations. One of them was created when I overheard a 19 year-old suite mate in my dorm complaining that she missed a party because she was getting her third abortion. Some people are too stupid to have children, so in that sense I was glad she wasn't spreading her genetics around... but if she's also too vapid and whiny to care about the correlation between not using a condom and getting pregnant, I feel that in a proper sense of justice (and malice) that she should be forced to carry the fetus to term and go through labor without an epidural. Maybe then she'd use birth control. And before someone says something, she didn't use the pill because it decreased her sex drive, and condoms felt funny so that's why she didn't use any. No health problems.

But that desire to make stupid young twits deal with pregnancy in order to prevent them breeding is counterproductive, because then they've bred. So I would never try to have something like that enacted as law, because I don't want other people enacting other laws that tell me what I may and may not do with my own uterus. People can still have reservations, can still think certain choices others make are not wise, without imposing their own will.

I just fucking said it makes me uneasy.

you said you sympathise with the anti-abortionists because it makes you queasy. that's different.

By Jadehawk, OM (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

"I also had a tail!"

Can't. Stop. Laughing.

By Josh, Official… (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Great post. Why can't everybody read and understand this?

By negentropyeater (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

"you said you sympathise with the anti-abortionists because it makes you queasy. that's different."

I said I sort of sympathize. Just trying to put myself in the shoes of people with different viewpoints.

Then I suppose masturbation and menstruation also make you uneasy? Same thing.

Yes, each used Kleenex and tampon is a cemetery.

By Josh, Official… (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

PZ nails a key point. Much of the religious rhetoric about abortion and other start of life issues is designed precisely to avoid looking at the biological realities, substituting instead a kind of fairy tail story of development. That in turn meshes with the myth of the sole, and the religious idea that their god is somehow intervening directly to give instantaneous creation to that soul. Look at the biology too closely, and the latter myth seems as remote as the Greek gods residing on Olympus.

Increased biological knowledge and technology also tear down the notion that there is something special in the potential to become a person. With current cloning techniques, many of the cells in one's body possess that same potential.

Way too many people think that is a sacrilegious idea — we have to cherish every single scrap of human tissue, especially the bits that have the potential to go on and develop into a child.

I really don't like the "potential" argument. I tend to ask people whether that means we should never let an ovum go unfertilized, or let an ejaculation go to waste, because they all have potential to become babies. They usually try to tell me that somehow that's different, but they can never explain to me why.

Also, with the advent of cloning technology, doesn't that mean we should not let the skin cells we lose every day go to waste either? Won't they have the potential to become babies too?

Jordan:

I said I sort of sympathize. Just trying to put myself in the shoes of people with different viewpoints.

Which is why I responded in length about 'pro-life' viewpoints. If you're going to express such things, then be prepared for people to respond.

By Caine, Fleur du mal (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

I love the idea of equating 46 chromosomes with a human being. This of course implies that any human being with a genetic disorder resulting in a chromosome count of more or less than magic number 46 is actually not human and therefore should be allowed to be terminated before or after birth. Sorry, Klinefelter's syndrome baby, you've got one chromosome too many! Not human!

By Anneanimouse (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

but if she's also too vapid and whiny to care about the correlation between not using a condom and getting pregnant, I feel that in a proper sense of justice (and malice) that she should be forced to carry the fetus to term and go through labor without an epidural.

This statement scares the crap out of me.

Yes, yes, I know that you said you were pro-choice, but damn. Pregnancy and children as punishment because you feel like slut-shaming this poor girl?

Consider my mind blown.

By OurDeadSelves (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

I feel that in a proper sense of justice (and malice) that she should be forced to carry the fetus to term and go through labor without an epidural. Maybe then she'd use birth control.

Shudder. . . that was unusually ugly. If abortion itself is acceptable, why does it matter why the abortion was chosen? If you find some reasons for choosing abortion to be unacceptable, that means you find something about abortion per se to be wrong. What is that, and why?

By Josh, Official… (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

"We don't have to revere every block of rough marble because another Michaelangelo could come along and sculpt it into something as wonderful as his David; we don't have to treasure every scrap of canvas because the next Picasso is going to use it for a masterpiece. The value isn't in the raw materials, but in the pattern, the skill, the art put into it."

A wonderfully humane and rational way of looking at it, but of course the pro-embryo (a more apt appellation) kooks are just going to see "babies = scrap material" and start screaming.

Jordan,

Just trying to put myself in the shoes of people with different viewpoints.

But the different viewpoints are not equivallent in their relevance. One is based on reason and evidence, the other on myths.

By negentropyeater (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

"They're trying to do an endrun around the abortion question by declaring that everything with human genes be declared "a person"."

So does that make bananas people? Or is the whole bananas share 50% of our genes thing a myth?

By Sir Eccles (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

I'm generally pro-choice, but I think birth is a lousy cut-off point for where the real ethical concerns arise. Embryos, zygotes, etc are more the territory for people who believe in ensoulment though I think atheists can reasonably argue about the ethical concerns with them and come to the conclusion that the mother's liberty has to take primacy.

Drawing the line later is the difficult part for me, especially with premature siblings. I don't think any of us believe that a fetus magically becomes a human being once exposed to air. An 8 month fetus or 1.5 month premature baby is generally at the same stage of development. I think there are reasonable arguments on which side to err on the side of caution, whether it be the mother's liberty or ethical concerns about a more developed fetus.

I think the pro-choice side and the pro-life side obfuscate some of the more pressing ethical dilemmas of abortion by their tendencies to stick to the extremes though. The pro-choice side likes to stay in the safe territory where the offspring resembles a booger. The pro-life side stays safely towards the cute developed baby end when depicting the question.

Skipping past the absurdity of ensoulment and the depiction of abortion only being about the removal of embryos nearly indistinguishable from snot-wads... I'd like to see some better arguments from the rational middle on where and why the draw the line on fetuses. Is viability too early? Too late? Do we need to err more on the side of caution for the mother or the fetus do to potential abuse of the rules?

Just to clarify though: I'm not begrudging atheists who take on the religious yahoos who keep abortion arguments in the durrrr stage of discussion. It's just frustrating that the discussion rarely seems to get out of it.

RowanVT said:

if she's also too vapid and whiny to care about the correlation between not using a condom and getting pregnant, I feel that in a proper sense of justice (and malice) that she should be forced to carry the fetus to term and go through labor without an epidural

Well the other problem with that (besides an idiot breeding) is that it's unfair to the newborn child to be brought into a world where it's not wanted... or at least somehow barely (and wrongly) tolerated over the "funny" feeling of condoms. *sigh*

Sounds to me like what the dumb bitch needs is an education, not physical pain or a financial burden that the rest of us could potential have to shoulder.

By MoonShark (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

@Jordan and Caine: how about the following distinction:
I can understand people who don't want to have an abortion. I can not understand people who want to deny abortions to others.

but if she's also too vapid and whiny to care about the correlation between not using a condom and getting pregnant, I feel that in a proper sense of justice (and malice) that she should be forced to carry the fetus to term and go through labor without an epidural.

You are not pro-choice. I am revoking your membership card. Dues are non-refundable. Thanks for playing.

Nothing makes me more uneasy than the idea of a child being produced when that child is not wanted, when that child can't or won't be properly supported, when that child will be born with fetal alcohol syndrome or some other drug related problem.

Abortion is not a tragedy, abortion prevents tragedy.

By Jillian Swift (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

I'm surprised you missed the point that, if they think you'll willingly do to humans what you did to that cracker, it follows that they'll willingly eat humans like they do their crackers. They made the comparison themselves, and when applied to themselves, it doesn't have the extra layer of error from being used against a strawman.

On the other hand, maybe it's just too obvious, and the Christians = cannibals point has certainly been made, just not usually by themselves, and usually with the cracker as the point of emphasis, rather than the humans to which they're supposedly equivalent.

By Randy Owens (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Rowan @ 19:

but if she's also too vapid and whiny to care about the correlation between not using a condom and getting pregnant, I feel that in a proper sense of justice (and malice) that she should be forced to carry the fetus to term and go through labor without an epidural. Maybe then she'd use birth control.

That's an amazingly ugly, vindictive statement. It also happens to be just how pro-lifers think. Congratulations, you just may be an ugly pro-lifer!

*Yes*, I read the part where you wouldn't want to make this law; that doesn't much matter when you think this way. The primary problem with the above ugliness is that it's all about punishing that slut, who gives a shit about the kid that results from a forced birth, eh?

Women who depend on abortion as a form of BC are rare. I knew a woman who did that, and she's the only woman I've ever known to do that. I'd take a long, cold, hard look at your thoughts on this matter. You're closer to being a pro-lifer than you know.

By Caine, Fleur du mal (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

There is no such thing as "justice (and malice.)"

It happens that post-partum depression or other unfortunate circumstances (fear, uncertainty, doubt) causes a mother to kill her child after birth - either immediately or some time afterwards.

I think that in most cases - when the 'culprit' is found - she's more likely to receive help and therapy rather than imprisonment.

I think I tend to think that babies are not in fact fully persons and while it does squick me out, I have to say that in some cases infanticide isn't 'as bad' a crime as murder.

The main reason I tend to feel different about infanticide than abortion is, I think, that once the baby is out, there are other ways of getting rid of it - put it up for adoption, leave it in the dropbox that, thankfully, are getting more common. So there's no reason to kill a baby once it's born, just as there's no reason to kill a pig, you don't intend to eat.

By Sili, The Unkn… (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

I can understand people who don't want to have an abortion. I can not understand people who want to deny abortions to others.

My thoughts exactly. However, I do have to say that I find it unfair that some people make out all anti abortionists to be these religious morons who have no concern of the welfare of the child after it's born.

but if she's also too vapid and whiny to care about the correlation between not using a condom and getting pregnant, I feel that in a proper sense of justice (and malice) that she should be forced to carry the fetus to term and go through labor without an epidural.

Wow.

Wow.

Really?

Wow.

Um, no. If abortion is ok, then three are ok. Twelve would be ok. Twenty would be ok. The only reason it's not ok is if you think there is a soooper special soul in that little blastocyst. Otherwise, get the hell out of her business.

I don't think any of us believe that a fetus magically becomes a human being once exposed to air.

But some of us understand that it does magically become no longer dependent on the woman who housed it at that point. I can word your issue another way: at what point in pregnancy should a woman cease to become an autonomous free citizen and instead become a slave of the state? Because forcing a woman to remain pregnant against her will is doing exactly that. Late-term abortions are dangerous. They are painful. They are expensive. They are already not undertaken except in the most dire circumstances. All outlawing them would do is to condemn an awful lot of women in that situation to a painful death because their doctor is too scared of losing their license to do what's necessary to save them. Again, go back to the quote I provided earlier. Do you really think that women are so stupid and immoral that making late-term abortions legal means that women would flock to getting pregnant and carrying it around for several months just for the heck of it, so that they could then undergo a dangerous and painful procedure? Do you really think that little of women?

You are not pro-choice. I am revoking your membership card. Dues are non-refundable. Thanks for playing.
No, he's pro-choice - he supports her right to have abortions. He just thinks her reason for having them is stupid.

(That said, I disagree with him vehemently, and agree that his sentiment is quite viscerally grotesque. Attack him for his misogyny in that particular instance, not for his fictional anti-choice stance.)

By Thomas Winwood (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Jordan:

However, I do have to say that I find it unfair that some people make out all anti abortionists to be these religious morons who have no concern of the welfare of the child after it's born.

Anti-abortionists do not want any woman to be able to obtain an abortion, whether they are religious or not. They certainly aren't going to follow all the women prevented from aborting around to see the resultant child is taken care of properly.

By Caine, Fleur du mal (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Hah, I don't feel uncomfortable about abortion at all, not that a male's opinion on the subject deserves any consideration.

Abortion fits in well with my generally misanthropic attitude toward doomed swollen monkey-brain evo-FAIL.

In fact if there wasn't an abortion, I'd have to invent one.

They should have a Downs kid on the Billbaord "I got my genes on extra value day"

Or one of the severe Iraqi birth defect babies: "I got my genes at conception, and depleted uranium in utero. Thanks, America"

By scooterKPFT (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

I have yet to find an anti-choice activist whose final argument was not a variation on one of these:

1) Women deserve to be punished for having sex or generally not following “The Rules”.

2) I am catholic or an ex-catholic and it’s really hard to shake the childhood programming.

3) Thinking about not existing gives me existential anxiety and as such I respond emotionally to any issue like abortion that makes me think about that by trying to make it go away.

4) Sperm Magic, baby. The sperm is the only important part of a pregnancy because it’s the only part that involves a man. Once the sperm hits the egg, it’s all on automatic with little input from the woman because otherwise the man’s role in a pregnancy isn’t as impressive as the woman’s and makes it more about the man and isn’t that what’s really important?

5) Surgery is gross when visualized and I haven’t bothered to think about the issue in any personal manner yet.

6) A combination of some or all of these. All share a general disregard for the woman and she is largely left out. 1 and 4 are the most popular by far and are definitely the big sellers, though 2 and 3 often pop up among the “earnestly struggling with it” types. And 5’s pretty much end up pro-choicers naturally when they start dealing with their lives as adults.

In general, all forced birthers share a general disregard for the woman who is the sole human in the debate. She is viewed rhetorically as a void that stuff happens in rather than her genuine biological role as an active agent, literally leeching the nutrients from her body to literally build piece by piece, the developing embryo.

They’re also almost always male, almost always either religious or libertarian, and often don’t support anything that genuinely reduces the number of abortions, because those methods often involve improving the lives of sluts (I mean women) rather than punishing them for not slutting up with the men arguing against abortion.

They will also argue like abortions aren’t the most commonly performed surgery in this country nor that the “sluts” would be 1/3 of all women, most likely including your mother or another close relation.

@Jordan:

However, I do have to say that I find it unfair that some people make out all anti abortionists to be these religious morons who have no concern of the welfare of the child after it's born.

Maybe not all of them, but the correlation is good enough for a rule of thumb.

I really had a good laugh at the realistic photo replacements.

The way I see it, our side really is pro-life despite their claim to the name because we value the people carrying the embryo over the embryo and we value the lives of the doctors and other medical staff who provide women with the means to a safe abortion. We are pro-person.

The so-called pro-life side is really the pro-force side. They are only interested in forcing every woman to live by the ideals that the pro-lifers hold; they are fascist in that regard. Their reasoning for their position is entirely irrational. I can't think of a better way to point that out than how you just did.

By aratina cage (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

I'd like to see some better arguments from the rational middle on where and why the draw the line on fetuses.

I don't think it's that difficult:

nobody has the right to use someone else's body.

Nobody means no human being or no fetus. A sick person in urgent need of a heart transplant doesn't have the right to take someone else's heart. If a woman doesn't want a fetus using her body, she should be allowed to get rid of that parasite. If society deems that the fetus is too precious to be killed and can be saved, it should take care of it if it's viable.
If medical and technological progress means that the age limit for viability changes, it doesn't change the principle.

By negentropyeater (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Anti-abortionists do not want any woman to be able to obtain an abortion, whether they are religious or not. They certainly aren't going to follow all the women prevented from aborting around to see the resultant child is taken care of properly.

I was trying to be nice about, but yeah, you were the "some people" I was referring to. I think you're just as ignorant and unreasonable as your anti abortionist counterparts.

Sili, The Unknown Virgin:

leave it in the dropbox that, thankfully, are getting more common.

Except for the fact those 'safe harbor baby drops' didn't work out. When possible, the mother is still traced and usually prosecuted.

By Caine, Fleur du mal (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

So... I'm not allowed to have nasty thoughts about people? Woot! Call me evil and send to me Hell. That's where all the fun people are anyways.

I'm not always a nice, sweet, wonderful, loving person. I desire, for example, Glen Beck to be smited by an asteroid. I think G. W. should have his colon explode from constipation.

I will fight tooth and nail for that child in a woman's body to have her abortions that make her miss parties. I even said I was glad she made that choice as spreading around her genes (and yes, punishing a child with a life that includes her as a mother) would be detrimental to everyone involved.

#42... I think that's an interesting end of the argument that lends weight to the idea of keeping abortion legal all the way through the pregnancy. Unfortunately it would be political suicide to suggest that babies themselves may have less value (in spite of various other age restrictions on liberty and inherently their value) since it directly conflicts with instinctual psychology to adore/protect babies. Though infanticide does happen it's mostly an aberration. I also think we tread on dangerous territory when our ethical concerns try to put instinctual traits such as empathy, or in this case defense of our young, on the back burner. We may need to rationally temper them, but I hope you're not suggesting we ignore them entirely.

Cerberus:

They’re also almost always male

I'll argue that one, Cerberus. I've known way too many female pro-lifers.

By Caine, Fleur du mal (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

When possible, the mother is still traced and usually prosecuted.

Fuck

What country are we talking about here? I only really know of the, because there was talk about them working in Germany, and therefore we might should* get them here in Denmark as well.

*Damn you LanguageLog, when did I start thinking in double modals?

By Sili, The Unkn… (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

There is a nice summary of anti-abortion policies and whether they are consistent with the hypothesis that a fetus is a baby or whether they are designed primarily to punish women here. No surprise how it turns out.

No, he's pro-choice - he supports her right to have abortions. He just thinks her reason for having them is stupid.

The reasons for having an abortion are irrelevant. Citing them at all is evidence of judgment and a desire to punish.

He is not pro-choice. You cannot simultaneously be pro-choice but also cherry-pick who should be entitled to abortions based on their personal reasons, sexual behavior, or any other factor.

Doing so imposes morality on abortion, which is the entire point that pro-choicers refute.

I especially like the "soul at conception" hoo-ha. Oh, really!? What about twins who separate up to 14 days after conception? Try again, fetus lovers.

By https://www.go… (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Jordan:

I was trying to be nice about, but yeah, you were the "some people" I was referring to. I think you're just as ignorant and unreasonable as your anti abortionist counterparts.

Yes, Jordan. Because believing that women have the right to autonomy and advocating for wider and easier access to birth control as well as better education makes me an unreasonable, irrational, evil person who wishes to mandate other people's morals.

Sili, The Unknown Virgin:

Fuck

What country are we talking about here?

The U.S.

By Caine, Fleur du mal (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

I'm not always a nice, sweet, wonderful, loving person.

Oh, trust me, I noticed.

Do you really think it's a good idea to slut shame a girl who has had "too many abortions" on a thread like this, on a blog like this? No one is going to let you live down your incredibly horrific opinion.

Sure, you say that you're pro-choice, but you echo the same exact sentiments of many anti-choicers that I have known. The suite-mate is a slut! Abortion as birth control is wrong! Forced birth! It's a disgusting view point and you will continue to be called out on it.

By OurDeadSelves (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Yes, Jordan. Because believing that women have the right to autonomy and advocating for wider and easier access to birth control as well as better education makes me an unreasonable, irrational, evil person who wishes to mandate other people's morals.

Bad choice of words. Let me clarify:
I think that your attitude that all anti abortionists are evil stupid people makes you a bitch.

How about the octoMom kids, "We got our genes at Bob's discount fertility clinic"

Or a Bill Donahue angerBear billboard, "I got my genes at conception, too bad my mom drank Thunderbird the whole nine months"

By scooterKPFT (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Thank you, Glock21. The last time I noticed a thread about abortion here I saw a lot of talk about blastulas and "fucking clumps of cells," completely ignoring the fact that by the time a lot of women know they are pregnant it is no longer a blastula, and a lot of abortions (though I do not know the percentage) do not involve anything I would consider to be a "clump of cells." I guess any organism could be considered a clump of cells, but that term implies to me a lack of differentiation in the cells (i.e. no tissues or organs). I am pro-choice, but I don't like seeing my side distort the issue so badly.

#63

Oh Noes...

By negentropyeater (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Also, for every abortion thread, it is worth noting, primarily because many people apparently believe embryos grow completely without input in a hyperspace womb that has no real connection to the woman involved, that even if fetuses and embryos were in fact completely 100% equal to fully grown human beings, abortion would still be moral and anti-choice activism would still be women-hating garbage.

How can I say this?

Because by ordering a woman to bring a fetus to term, we grant fetuses a right we do not grant any living person, the right to someone else's body without their consent (i.e. the right to rape or the right to enslave).

If I'm a combination of Douglas Adams and Albert Einstein and you are the the combination of Skeletor and Hitler and I need one of your non-vital organs to survive? I do not have the right to it. If I need your blood to survive? I do not have the right to it. If I need to rape your body and inhabit you for 9 months leeching the nutrients from your blood, bones, tissue, and other organs? I most certainly do not have that right.

But, suddenly if its a woman and a meaningless bundle of semi-tumorous cells and suddenly we're all supposed to pretend like a massive new unheard of right is just "common sense" to "protect the babies".

No, not even to live do FULL HUMAN BEINGS have this right.

And I think we're only so susceptible on abortion because the notion that a woman is a full human being who has a right to her own body (i.e. the right to consent and the right to not be raped) is relatively new. Women are still treated as house-slaves in many religions, rape is woefully under-prosecuted and practically something every woman has experienced once in her life, and we're still accustoming ourselves to the idea of women in the workplace, the educational systems, and the sporting tournaments.

No wonder when someone says, hey a clump of cells has the right to enslave and use the bodies of women who dare sleep with men who aren't you, the response of too many idiots is "That sounds fair."

@Rowan:

So... I'm not allowed to have nasty thoughts about people? Woot! Call me evil and send to me Hell. That's where all the fun people are anyways.

I'm not always a nice, sweet, wonderful, loving person. I desire, for example, Glen Beck to be smited by an asteroid. I think G. W. should have his colon explode from constipation.

You're in good company here. Lots of us have nasty feelings, and we disgorge them here regularly. Yep, you're certainly allowed to have them. :)

The question, to me, is why you have those particular feelings about the woman whose story you told. I asked you above what was it about abortion itself that you found suspicious, or in need of careful justification if it weren't to be seen as an immoral act. I'm asking that out of genuine curiousity - if you didn't find something inherently suspect about abortion, you wouldn't find some reasons for it so distasteful that they bring up revenge fantasies.

I'm not trying to insult you or be provocative, and I think this is a reasonable question.

By Josh, Official… (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Venture Brothers had an answer for the soul thing:

Henchman 24: Here's something. You know how people cry about aborting babies because of their soul? Turns out you don't get a soul until you're like one.
Henchman 21: So, weird, one. Really?
Henchman 24: Or maybe six months. I forget. Either way, you're just this little crying, pooing monster blob until you get your soul.

For those of you wringing your hands at "when does the fetus become equal to a pre-term baby" meme, the answer is "when it is no longer housed in my property." Abortion is property rights. No one may live in my property w/o my permission. Ever. My property, my decision.

By https://www.go… (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

What Cerberus said, a hundred times over. Oh, how I want to engrave that on the arm of every fauxgressive who says "but abortion is icky so it's ok to limit it and Hyde amendment and waiting period and mandatory ultrasounds and late-term and and" and force them to read it 20 times a day.

What about twins who separate up to 14 days after conception?

Even more squicky, what about chimeras who twin and then fuse? What happens to the poor other soul?

You cannot simultaneously be pro-choice but also cherry-pick who should be entitled to abortions based on their personal reasons, sexual behavior, or any other factor.

We do that for guns and plastic surgery. Not great analogies, I know. Just saying.

I think that your attitude that all anti abortionists are evil stupid people makes you a bitch.

switching from implicit to explicit misogyny improves your point... how?

By Jadehawk, OM (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

KOPD,

why would it matter whether it is a clump of cells or a mature person?

I'll repeat the simple and only relevant ethical principle:

Nobody has the right to use someone else's body

Not a mature adult, not a fetus. Whatever age.

That throws away the whole discussion about when someone should be considered a person. It's an irrelevant discussion.

By negentropyeater (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

How about a Fat Blob Teabagger on a hover-round at a tax protest billboard: "I got my soul at conception but I still can't fucking dance"

By scooterKPFT (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

So... I'm not allowed to have nasty thoughts about people? Woot! Call me evil and send to me Hell. That's where all the fun people are anyways.

Wishing actual pain on someone else? Yeah, that's pretty misanthropic. And when it's just because she doesn't act sexually the way you think she should? Misanthropic, misogynistic, and creepy as hell.

Jordan:

Bad choice of words. Let me clarify:
I think that your attitude that all anti abortionists are evil stupid people makes you a bitch.

I see. Well, your choice of words has certainly clarified your position.

By Caine, Fleur du mal (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

whoops. . blockquote fail, sorry.

By Josh, Official… (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

A couple of points I like to raise about this issue:

A) The need for abortions is a symptom of a problem in society: what to do with unwanted pregnancies. [There are many reasons a pregnancy is unwanted, but let's not get sidetracked.] Abortion is just one of several options to deal with this problem. The need for abortions would then evaporate if there were no unwanted preganancies. So, preach birth control! -(duh!) Unfortunately, there is a jingle going through my mind about "every sperm is sacred" which means these knuckleheads will never come around to a reasonable solution for minimizing if not eliminating abortions....

B)The part about chromosomes equals a human makes me think that the catholic opposition to stem cell research and cloning is truly based on the fact that if successful, all catholics can never take a shower without committing murder of potential life from the skin cells that are sloughed-off via the cleansing process!

By Cathaholics An… (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

I would also suggest that PZ's first altered image show the 12 week fetus to scale.

By claudia.sawyer (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

I was trying to be nice about, but yeah, you were the "some people" I was referring to. I think you're just as ignorant and unreasonable as your anti abortionist counterparts.

Oh, you wanted us to be more reasonable about this? OK. Reason with me, if you will:

Which political party in the US is most loudly opposed to abortion and is trying everything in its power to restrict access to them? And which party has been trying to block any improvements of social security which would benefit children and single parents, such as universal health care that also covers children with pre-existing conditions? And which party is most vocally religious?

Is it a coincidence that all of these questions have the same answer?

And besides, if the anti-abortion crowd really cared about preventing abortions so much, why do they also generally want to restrict access to contraceptives and safe-sex education, arguably the most effective ways to prevent unwanted pregnancies? It suggests that anti-abortion is not primarily about the babies, but it's part of a wider agenda. It's about sex. It's about not letting women get away with having free access to it.

The anti-choice movement continues to ignore the plain fact that the legality of abortion has next to nothing to do with the incidence of abortion. Western Europe has relatively unrestricted abortion and the lowest abortion rates in the world. Around 3 in 250 women between ages 15-44 will get an abortion. In Brazil, where abortion is illegal except for rape or medical necessity, the lifetime average is between 1-2 abortions per woman. Clearly, making abortion illegal does not prevent abortions, though it is pretty good at making them unsafe.

What would reduce the incidence of abortion would be to eliminate unwanted pregnancies (no demand for abortions = no abortions), but I've yet to find a "pro-life" group that focuses on ending abortion by improving access to doctors, contraception, or mandating comprehensive sex education. Because they aren't actually interested in preventing abortion. They are interested in punishing women for having sex.

By ButchKitties (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

@70

So you're saying you're okay with abortion up to and including when labor has begun.

Judie Brown of the "American Life League" is my favorite pro-life crazy. I check her out regularly for info on what's new with wingnuts. One of my favorite chestnuts, re pregnant 10 year olds: A raped child shouldn't be subjected to the further trauma of abortion!

Today Judie responds to a troubled supporter (or maybe a troll!) who's read a (truly) horrifying story in Newsweek about women who are coerced by abusive boyfriends into becoming/remaining pregnant. This potentially lost soul is starting to wonder if abortion is always so bad after all!

But Judie sets her straight!! Read on if you can even follow it, but do be sure to check out the end of the first paragraph. I think someone's finally seen the light:

Dear Marie

We live in a culture of violence brought about by the ongoing slaughter of the most innocent in our midst, the preborn. To address the wrong being perpetrated against women like those discussed in the Newseek article we have to begin at the root cause of such discrimiation and abuse, the Lord.

A culture of violence is a culture that hates God.

This is not a popular topic for mainstream media, they dislike the discussion of faith and the power of God, but believe me in a world attempting at every turn to deny God's creation and His power, this sort of abuse will only increase.

Judie Brown

By ex-Texan Barb (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Caine @56

Right, the catholics. Majority, then? Pretty much if they aren't male, they strongly identify with the patriarchy and sustaining it. I would argue that over 75% of anti-choicers also either fought against the ERA or would have if they had been around back then.

Certainly almost every single female pro-life leader is literally recycled from that old battle or other battles against "encroaching feminism".

The fact that it's about controlling women and punishing them for the victories they've made towards equality is not subtle.

It's especially worth noting that this is because free reproductive health is critical for women's rights. The ability to plan when you will give birth is critical to being able to plan your career, take priority of your education and be a full individual including the right to experience a sex life if you so choose.

Having to sacrifice an element of personhood to "have the freedom" of a career or knowing that a tryst could end up knocking you out of a job or an opportunity before you are ready are huge stumbling blocks.

And this is before we get into the fact I hinted at in my last post which is that the abortion war is a cleaned up version of the rape-culture war. I.e. men have lost a large amount of ground on the war to dictate that some women by virtue of angering the patriarchy deserve to be raped and that men have inherent rights to use their spouses and partners for sex on their terms rather than their partner's consent.

Abortion tries and dilute the idea of female autonomy and the right to your own body while female, by saying that a "cute, lil' baby" gets to trump a woman's right to autonomy...by the virtue of the man impregnating her and putting her in her place.

A lot of it is also sperm magic.

A fetus does not automagically "grow" into a baby. It is constructed BY THE WOMAN. Enzymes in her surrounding tissues recruit nutrients, blood, bones, tissue, etc... from the food the woman eats and mostly from her own body. Piece by piece she cannibalizes herself to construct the "miracle baby". So much so that women who have many problems or can't take care of nutrition for two is having her body heavily compromised by the strain.

Let me repeat that. Women build fetuses into birthable children by cannibalizing their own body.

Again, without consent, this is a horror show. Something akin to the way a tumor leeches the nutrients and important tissues of the body in order to grow itself.

Without the mother's input of differentiation signals and the like, there would be no difference between growing fetus and tumor cluster.

But men aren't used to thinking of women as wholly human so thinking about all of that is distant, unreal, disconnected. But not existing. The existential dread of that is terrifying and to think a woman with her vagina denata has that power and that she almost entirely alone is responsible for most of the creation of "the miracle of life".

That just will not stand for so many.

And to all of them, I'd like to say, Le Fuck You.

why would it matter whether it is a clump of cells or a mature person?

Whether it makes a difference is not the same as whether it's honest. Is a bit of honesty too much to ask?

Yes, that baby did get his genes at conception. So?

Those pro-lifers really think we're stupid, don't they?

Is it supposed to be some revelation that the genes come together at conception? Do they think we're okay with legal abortion because we don't realize a fetus has the full set of human genes?

Yeah, you got your genes at conception. And you had to parasitize another person's bloodstream, hormones and organ functions for the next 40 weeks! I did the same thing. I'm here and typing because that person and her husband actively decided to have children. I exist not because my mom was pro-life (she wasn't) but because I was a wanted baby. The real tragedy is that an awful lot of people can't say that.

By alysonmiers (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Carle @ 71

what about chimeras who twin and then fuse? What happens to the poor other soul?

It becomes a plot device in a hollywood B-movie horror flick.

By scooterKPFT (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

An advertising campaign being misleading? Never. Next you're going to tell me that if I buy a Lexus beautiful scantily-clad women aren't going to drape themselves over it... you're just talking nonsense PZ.

I've yet to find a "pro-life" group that focuses on ending abortion by improving access to doctors, contraception, or mandating comprehensive sex education. Because they aren't actually interested in preventing abortion. They are interested in punishing women for having sex.

Just repeating that for emphasis.

So you're saying you're okay with abortion up to and including when labor has begun.

So you're saying that your ridiculous hypothetical is so much more important than actual cases of late-term abortion that yours should be the primary rationale for formulating law?

KOPD @83

Yes.

And you should too.

Now read my posts and grow the fuck up.

Love,
A bitch

So you're saying you're okay with abortion up to and including when labor has begun.-KOPD

When and where has that happened when it wasn't medically necessary?

By aratina cage (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

*checks to make sure alisonmiers#87 is on a list*

PZ, Molly time is overdue...

By Nerd of Redhead, OM (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

KOPD,

what's dishonest about saying that nobody has the right to use someone else's body? Nobody means no person or no clump of cells. it doesn't matter.

By negentropyeater (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Cerberus @ 85:

Caine @56

Right, the catholics. Majority, then? Pretty much if they aren't male, they strongly identify with the patriarchy and sustaining it. I would argue that over 75% of anti-choicers also either fought against the ERA or would have if they had been around back then.

Certainly almost every single female pro-life leader is literally recycled from that old battle or other battles against "encroaching feminism".

A fair amount of catholics, yes. I've known too many female pro-lifers who aren't catholic though. They run the spectrum of "christian" from fundies to moderate. Abortion is a polarizing issue, however, what I cannot stand is the pro-lifers refusing the idea of a woman having autonomy. In that regard, yes, there is the standard "a man is head of the household" garbage, but it's not limited to one particular flavor of christianity.

Women have been finding ways to abort since they've been getting pregnant. It's foolish to think it will stop. A lot of my anger towards the lifers not just the attempt to stop abortions; it's the constant fight to make BC unavailable and deny better education. Apparently, though, my thinking on these issues makes me a bitch. Ah well.

By Caine, Fleur du mal (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

So you're saying you're okay with abortion up to and including when labor has begun.

If you're not, how many women are you comfortable with killing to prevent this hypothetical situation from happening? One? Ten? A hundred? A thousand? If abortion is limited, it will happen. Some of them will die. How many are you comfortable with? That's not a rhetorical question. How many?

I've yet to find a "pro-life" group that focuses on ending abortion by improving access to doctors, contraception, or mandating comprehensive sex education. Because they aren't actually interested in preventing abortion. They are interested in punishing women for having sex.

Well said Carlie. It's amazing that pro-lifers aren't looking at which countries have the lowest abortion rates in the world and seeing what reasons there are for it. You'd think that if they really cared about lowering abortion rates they would be all over that.

This is merely the thin edge of the wedge they can use to push their greater agenda. If it were actually about stopping abortion then they are failing spectacularly.

A thought just occurred to me.* Many if not most anti-abortion folks are in favor of punishing women for having sex. The ones who allow exemptions in anti-abortion laws for rape and incest give those women a pass because sex was forced on them and they probably didn't enjoy it.

*Yes, it does happen occasionally.

By 'Tis Himself, OM (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

So you're saying you're okay with abortion up to and including when labor has begun.

Why does this scenario need to be an issue in the debate?

If a woman is pregnant and doesn't want to be, she's not going to wait until labor has begun and then decide to get rid of it. She's not going to wait until the third trimester, if she has a choice in the matter.

If a woman doesn't want to be pregnant, she will terminate the pregnancy as soon as she is able. She's not going to subject her body to all that strain for a child she doesn't want. If she ends up waiting too long, it's probably because she couldn't afford the procedure or she walked into one of those "crisis pregnancy centers" that gave her the run-around until she was past the cut-off stage.

By alysonmiers (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

alysonmiers @ 87:

I exist not because my mom was pro-life (she wasn't) but because I was a wanted baby. The real tragedy is that an awful lot of people can't say that.

Damn straight. And QTF.

By Caine, Fleur du mal (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

@Kel, OM:

It's amazing that pro-lifers aren't looking at which countries have the lowest abortion rates in the world and seeing what reasons there are for it.

Not that amazing, as they are all evil socialist countries. You don't want to become like them.

The reasons for having an abortion are irrelevant. Citing them at all is evidence of judgment and a desire to punish.

He is not pro-choice. You cannot simultaneously be pro-choice but also cherry-pick who should be entitled to abortions based on their personal reasons, sexual behavior, or any other factor.

Doing so imposes morality on abortion, which is the entire point that pro-choicers refute.

That's utter bullshit. A pro-choicer is someone who accepts and supports the principle that women should be free to have an abortion, without fear of coercion or punishment. That doesn't mean all pro-choicers have to believe it's always morally right to have an abortion. There is a difference between believing that people should be free to do X, and believing that X is morally acceptable.

It's exactly like freedom of speech. I support everyone's right to freedom of speech, without exception, from Sunsara Taylor to Fred Phelps and everyone in between. That doesn't mean I agree with or approve of the things that Taylor or Phelps say. It just means that I accept their right to say it without state coercion, because the state should not be trusted to determine what is and isn't acceptable speech.

Equally, I have always found late-term abortion morally repugnant. I do not, however, think it should be illegal - because I don't want to trust the state with the power to make decisions about what individual women can and can't do with their bodies, or to enforce such decisions by coercive force. Because once we entrust the state with control over individuals' bodies, we make ourselves, in a sense, slaves to government.

Believing that women should be free to have abortions, and that this freedom is a fundamental right, is not the same as saying that abortion is a morally neutral act. In my personal opinion, it isn't. I don't think an entity transitions magically from "nonperson" to "person" the second it emerges from the mother's womb; rather, the process is obviously more gradual. But I nonetheless believe that a woman should have a legal right to an abortion - because a woman's body is her property, not the state's.

Just wanted to give props to good statements by Deen @81 and alysonmiers @87.

It's really very (what's a word that means to make me want to hug every feminist on the planet and thank them for their work just from hearing the excuses of the rape culture) having to listen to the endless runaround.

It's just the case that we don't yet have a solid grounding in especially American culture on the idea of a woman as a full human being and for her right to her own body.

We're always looking for exceptions in the male dominant culture. Well, is it still rape if we are both drunk? What if I just didn't hear her say no? What if she withdraws consent at the very moment I'm climaxing? Is there a way a fetus can trump her rights to her own body? It's a cute child isn't it? Well then, when does it become a cute child? Can we push that back a little ways? How about a little more? I hear conception is a nice point, that way when I forget to pull out she'll have to carry my proof of virility.

It's (again, I search for the word). The worst in us as a culture, maybe?

Oh, that should be ButchKitties who should be congratulated.

I exist not because my mom was pro-life (she wasn't) but because I was a wanted baby. The real tragedy is that an awful lot of people can't say that.

Damn straight. And QTF.

yup. even though I was an accident, and to an unmarried college student no less, I can say with 100% certainty that I was wanted, because my mom had the choice, and choose to have me.

By Jadehawk, OM (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

As always, an insightful bit of commentary.

I do however, have one bone to pick with our squidly overlord. I think it's important to say one is pro-choice, and not "pro-abortion," just as a matter of not playing into the paranoid delusional fantasies of the "pro-life" (read: anti-woman) movement. They love mentioning things like China's population control and conjuring up police-state imagery. I'm sure that nobody here would actively force a woman to have an abortion against her will.

Just as we need to educate the public about biology to prevent them from being able to manipulate them using biological ignorance, we need to prevent them from being ignorant of what pro-choice actually means. That way pro-lifers can't manipulate that ignorance.

Sorry Kel, I should have cited. When I was composing it I *thought* I would be the very next comment below, but should have known a few others would pop up in the meantime.

@Walton:

Equally, I have always found late-term abortion morally repugnant.

What, always? As in, under all circumstances? What about cases where the continuation of the pregnancy is likely going to kill the mother and probably the child too? It happens, you know.

alysonmiers:

If a woman doesn't want to be pregnant, she will terminate the pregnancy as soon as she is able. She's not going to subject her body to all that strain for a child she doesn't want.

That's a fact, one I can vouch for personally.

If she ends up waiting too long, it's probably because she couldn't afford the procedure or she walked into one of those "crisis pregnancy centers" that gave her the run-around until she was past the cut-off stage.

Unfortunately, that happens all too often. The thing is, most late term abortions are due to medical issues, very serious issues. Women who find themselves in the position of having to abort late-term are in an agonizing position; generally speaking, these women want the child.

There are already limits on when you can abort, no more laws are needed in that regard. I'd also like to point out that there is a difference between an unwanted pregnancy and an unwanted child. For example, adoption is not a solution to an unwanted pregnancy, where it can be a solution to an unwanted child.

By Caine, Fleur du mal (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

The replacing of cute baby faces with more accurate pictures is pretty funny and fair enough, and I especially like the tail comment, but your "raw materials" analogy dances vaguely and distantly around the not-at-all easy question about what defines life and when we should dignify that life. What about infants? what about prematurely born infants? Viable fetuses of a comparable age? Surely I agree that a 28 day old fetus ought not be morally equivalent to a todler, but the "line" isn't and has never been "easy" and abortion is not a simple matter of women's rights vs. sexist oppression, but listening to some of the cat-herd here meow about it, you'd think it was the new women's suffrage.

#85 -

You have to know that your "killing a fetus/baby is ethically acceptable up until the moment the umbilical cord is severed" viewpoint is not held by very many people. I see your point about gene combination not equaling a human being, but you're taking it to kind of a ridiculous degree.

I think it's an important thing to emphasize here, amongst the rampant ad hominem attacks and constant vitriolic rants:

There exist people who are as intelligent, educated, and thoughtful as you are, who nevertheless do not agree with your opinions.

Shocking, I know, but it's true. By standing in a black or white square screaming about how everyone else are idiots, you lump yourself in with all of the jackasses you're trying to lambast.

By the way, I'm not necessarily counting myself amongst the people who don't agree with you - I am very much counting myself among the people who don't agree with your violent, divisive and infantile manner of "debate".

Scientific knowledge does not by itself suffice when discussing matters of ethics and morality.

the preborn

Hah! Because they might become preborn again Christians?
I only worry about the postborn.

So you're saying you're okay with abortion up to and including when labor has begun.

That's a non-argument, an abortion during labor is called a Cesarian, and if done correctly all survive.

By scooterKPFT (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Jordan,

Bad choice of words. Let me clarify:
I think that your attitude that all anti abortionists are evil stupid people makes you a bitch.

Seriously, fuck off.

Using misogynistic language does not help your case. It just makes you look like a sexist moron.

Walton @102

It's worth noting that philosophy aside, the only late-term abortions that occur (including in super-ultra-commie countries where they allow more unfetered access to abortion) are those necessary for the life or health of the mother.

Most of the stories are horrifyingly gut-wrenching. Fetuses that have died inside the womb and need to be expunged, fetuses born with giant holes in the back of their heads, fetuses born without skin or organs, fetuses that can't be birthed without endangering or killing the mother.

Late-term abortions, by their very temporal nature tend to be wanted pregnancies where something has gone horribly horribly wrong and it is medically necessary to remove the damaged fetus with a safe medical procedure.

It is not "sluts who 'forgot' to get an abortion deciding to whack an angel baby which totally has a brain and everything because the act of pushing the baby through labor would totally ruin the fuckability of their twat".

So even though I would argue the only "moral" position is one that doesn't allow any person, organization, or object to enslave full human beings without their consent, even without that, there is no reason to be troubled by the "moral question" of late-term abortions.

They are a medically necessary procedure for the life of the mother. So her surviving children or future children can still have a mother and so her loved ones can still have a lover, a family member, a friend, and she can have the right to LIVE.

So you don't need to be bothered at all by the procedure.

With the right technology (and it's not so far off), the DNA in the skin cells you discard when scratching your nose could be extracted and used to generate a clone.

[Abortionist of the future:] Oh my god!! You CLONED yourself!? An abomination! Terminate that thing! Praise be to the cracker Lord!

By nixscripter (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

#103... you seem to be imply (forgive me if I'm misinterpreting) that even acknowledging that there may be ethical concerns with a viable fetus and whether any of those may conflict with the liberty of the mother is on par with being pro-rape. This comes off as totally unhinged (and again forgive me if I'm just misinterpreting) and little different than with pro-lifers accuse me of being pro-genocide for being unconcerned with zygotes and embryos after weighing the arguments.

You make a good argument on why abortion should remain legal in almost any situation, but I think the ethical issues get far more complicated when the difference between protected baby with rights and unprotected fetus with none is exposure to air. I think you would surely argue the mother's liberty outweighs all of those concerns, but your implication, intended or not, that even acknowledging those concerns is on par with being pro-rape is indefensible. If it was something where someone was defending policies that would force raped women to carry babies to term, either directly or through imperfect legislation, the accusation would seem to make more sense.

Morgan @ 111:

I am very much counting myself among the people who don't agree with your violent, divisive and infantile manner of "debate".

Your concern is noted. Don't clutch your pearls too tightly, you might choke yourself.

By Caine, Fleur du mal (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

It's worth noting that philosophy aside, the only late-term abortions that occur (including in super-ultra-commie countries where they allow more unfetered access to abortion) are those necessary for the life or health of the mother.

Yes, I know that the great majority of late-term abortions are medically necessary to save the mother's life. And no, I don't have any moral qualm about it in that circumstance.

Anyway, as I said - and as I will say again - a woman absolutely should have a legal right to an abortion. Regardless of my or anyone else's moral views, it should be clear that individuals' bodies are their own property, not the state's property, and that it should be up to the woman to make her own choice about abortion. As I said, for me, it's exactly the same as freedom of speech; whatever I think of someone's political opinion, I believe in their right to express it without fear of coercion.

^5 Jordan. I'm on your side.

By skatje.myers (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

What about infants? what about prematurely born infants?

Already-born, breathing infants, whether born at full term or prematurely, are no longer parasitizing their mothers' bodies, and so the debate over abortion rights does not apply to them.

Viable fetuses of a comparable age?

If the pregnant woman had a choice in the matter, and she has carried the fetus to viability, then she probably doesn't want to get rid of it, so again: not relevant.

and abortion is not a simple matter of women's rights vs. sexist oppression, but listening to some of the cat-herd here meow about it, you'd think it was the new women's suffrage.

By all means, keep calling us the cat-herd. Great way to get us to listen to you.

By alysonmiers (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

When I let my full feelings out about the forced birthers, I find there's only one word that properly describes them:

SLAVERS.

They basically believe that women are property--property of men, property of the fetus, property of God. They're just popping babies instead of picking cotton.

I also note that the old-school slavers also thought they were doing God's will--which just happened to be convenient for them, as well.

It's time we called them what they are.

By Stardrake (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

In contrast to last week's blasphemy, where I felt denying the existence of a soul was extreme and indefensible, this was a simply amazing post end-to-end. Your point about extreme biological reductionism and the disturbing philosophy it represents was particularly enlightening.

As a bisexual, I occasionally come across issues involving transgendered people since the fate of all sexual minorities are rather intertwined. There is almost always someone using that exact same genetic reductionism argument to deride the notion that a person's psychology and external phenotype could ever diverge. The pigment-painting analogy is particularly powerful rebuttal. I think it would be particularly accessible to people lacking a sophisticated understanding of science.

By evergreenotter (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Morgan @111

James Watson doesn't believe that black people could be as smart as white people. Physically. He believes this against all evidence of reality and the facts on the matter.

It's very easy to be intelligent, educated, thoughtful and wrong.

I'm a warrior for a large number of minority groups. Mainly because I belong to many of them. I am trans, I am woman, I am asexual, I am part of the LGBTQ community, I am poor, I am a strong ally of those fighting for racial equality, etc...

I have met large numbers of very intelligent, very educated, very thoughtful people carrying on the social prejudices, carrying out the actions of casual bigotry without a thought, because it's natural, because that's how they were raised, because that's the culture, because it's hard to empathize and really imagine when your brain is inserting all sorts of emotions and biases.

You may think you are making a point here.

You are trying a dismissive form of aggressive privilege known as the "tone argument".

Also, I've yet to meet an anti-choice person who did not fit one of the six types I noted way back in comment 48.

Phew, the Trophy Daughter™ is on the side of reason (big surprise). Lots of potential Molly material (HINT PZ) here.

By Nerd of Redhead, OM (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

The colloquial use of the term parasite seems a bit off for a biology based blog. It'd be difficult to use the biological term parasite to describe something as fundamentally necessary to life as reproduction. Arguments for the mother's liberty make more sense than something as easily picked off as a misuse of biological jargon.

Glock21 @ 117:

If it was something where someone was defending policies that would force raped women to carry babies to term, either directly or through imperfect legislation, the accusation would seem to make more sense.

That does happen, you know. At least here in the U.S. South Dakota, a while back, legislated that abortion was completely illegal, with no exception in the cases of rape or the health/life of the mother. This was after successfully hounding the only clinic in the area which had provided abortions into closing and went hand in hand with a measure which stated, by law, that pharmacists had the right of "religious conscience". That means any pharmacist in the state can decide to not carry birth control or refuse to dispense it on 'moral grounds'.

Now, imagine discovering you're pregnant while living in that particular state, and you don't want to be pregnant. Good luck, you'll need it! The nearest places a woman in SD can obtain an abortion: Fargo (ND), Grand Forks (ND) or Minnesota. Those clinics have all been made to use ultrasound and impose a mandatory 3 day wait before termination. Just think about the difficulties involved.

By Caine, Fleur du mal (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

@Walton:

Regardless of my or anyone else's moral views, it should be clear that individuals' bodies are their own property, not the state's property, and that it should be up to the woman to make her own choice about abortion.

I don't think you come off that easily. Moral condemnation of abortion is still an extra barrier for women to actually go out and get an abortion. It's not a limitation by the state, but pressure from the state is not all that matters. Social pressure matters too.

Sure, you have the right to express your moral views, but you may still be wrong, and it may still have harmful effects.

Glock @117

I was talking about incrementalist arguments regarding the autonomy of women.

Buhhutt.

I would urge you to read my comment @67 for why the viability of a fetus is a red herring.

However, I am fully willing to let people remove their fetal tissue at any point and allow it to attempt to build itself to full personhood without the intervention of a womb. At that point it is not violating a person's right to the consent of their body.

Seriously, my comment @67, read it.

#127... I realize it does happen and it should be called out. The post I was responding to seemed to be implying even discussing the ethical concerns was on par with being pro-rape. Reminded me a bit of the other side's unhinged accusations.

The colloquial use of the term parasite seems a bit off for a biology based blog.

What else would you call it? It's one organism completely dependent for its survival on siphoning off resources from another, with no reciprocal nutrition going the other direction. Parasitic correctly defines the relationship.

It'd be difficult to use the biological term parasite to describe something as fundamentally necessary to life as reproduction.

I see. So we should stop calling cancer a decease, since it's merely good, lifefurthering celldivision?

By Sili, The Unkn… (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

One thing everyone is missing is that anti-choicers DON'T WANT to lower the # of unwanted pregnancies- they want to push women into having them and giving them up for adoption through their CPC centers.

http://www.exiledmothers.com/adoption_facts/robbing_the_cradle.html

http://www.abortionaccess.info/chooselie.htm

Ever since Roe v Wade, the rate of adoptions has plummeted (from 25% to 1%,last I read). Xtians created CPC centers to "educate" women away from abortion. Basically, CPC's tell desperate women that they would be sinning to "kill their baby", and that they will pay for everything if they don't abort! Later on, the woman finds out that they are only supported IF they give the baby up- there is NO PLACE for women who want to KEEP their unplanned pregnancies! Some are told if they don't give the baby up, they will have to pay back any assistance given to them!!!
This is a little known facet of the abortion wars, and shows where all their anti-life policies (anti-WIC, welfare, sex ed) lead.

Yes, the anti-choicers have "biblical" reasons for their abstinence only nonsense, and their hatred of contraception, but these aren't the only things that push them. Behind it all is a desire to control women- reverse all the gains we have made and return us to submissive breeders without rights.

And for all of those (not here) who say "adoption is the answer- please remember that it causes lots of lifelong hurt. Of course, its the WOMAN that hurts, and anti-choicers don't care about her at all. Adoption is a great option for those who CHOOSE IT, not those who are coerced into it, as so many scared and desperate women are.

"Adoption is a violent act, a political act of aggression towards a woman who has supposedly offended the sexual mores by committing the unforgivable act of not suppressing her sexuality, and therefore not keeping it for trading purposes through traditional marriage. The crime is a grave one, for she threatens the very fabric of our society. The penalty is severe. She is stripped of her child by a variety of subtle and not so subtle manoeuvres and then brutally abandoned." - Joss Shawyer, Death by Adoption, Cicada Press (1979)

(I was adopted, and realized how much heartache went into it when I met my first-mom)

And Jordan- guess I'm a BITCH then, since I do think all anti-choice activists that try to limit my rights are EVIL STUPID SCUM!!!

By staceyjwsolar (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

#131... it's not about nutrients, as I pointed out.

#132... um... no. How is pointing out that parasitism wouldn't apply given the function of reproduction at all related to cancer somehow being good because cells divide? That doesn't make a lick of sense.

Glock21:

The colloquial use of the term parasite seems a bit off for a biology based blog. It'd be difficult to use the biological term parasite to describe something as fundamentally necessary to life as reproduction.

Of course it's a parasite. The exact nature of the 'relationship' is parasitical. People shy away from parasite because they don't care to think realistically about the process.

By Caine, Fleur du mal (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

For Glock, the summation of my 67 comment is this:

Forced birthers seek to extend a right given to no other FULL HUMAN BEING (the right to another's body without their consent). If I am Secular Jesus and I need an organ to survive, a small amount of blood to survive, leech the nutrients, bone mass, and vital energy and enzymes of another person for 9 months and the only person who can give it is a combination of Pat Robertson and Hitler?

I do not have that right. I will never have that right. I can never have that right.

Ever.

So why are we giving it to growing cell matter being constructed by the mother's body into something that may at one point at birth be a full human being?

There is no other reason but the complete lack of respect we naturally give to female personhood and autonomy and how little respect we give to exactly what is occurring in the "creation of a baby".

@alysonmiers

whether or not a baby is "parasitizing" the mother shouldn't affect whether it is considered a living being or not, hence i see no justifcation for calling a baby which is soon to be born distinct from a prematurely born baby as far as it's status as living is concerned.

even if we justify this in cases of danger to hte mother's life as one life for another, do we place no restrictions on the conditions under which this is allowable? should we consider it morally and legally neutral even if there is not danger?

i don't claim to have an iron definition on where i say life begins, i only wish to call attention to the fact that the issue IS debatable, not obvious, and not a simple matter of oppressing or not oppressing women.

and yes, i generally try not to resort to barbs an name calling, but i've been in this debate before and tried to be sensible and fair to no avail. this is an issue many atheists really seem to get their A t-shirts in a bundle about and I don't really care about winning most of them over becaue i don't think it's possible.

i do, however, expect the more sensislbe people here to be as annoyed as i am by the various overreactions and exclude themselves from my insults.

when the difference between protected baby with rights and unprotected fetus with none is exposure to air.

I think the concept of "rights" is inapplicable to the fetus.

"Rights" implies that the entity makes a decision. Since a fetus cannot communicate a preference, make a decision, or accept responsibility, it has no rights, actually.

So then you might ask me: then how does a newborn baby have rights? It can't make decisions or accept responsibility, either.

My answer to that is: no, the breathing infant doesn't have rights, either.

We make protections for the safety and dignity of infants. Perhaps that's merely a semantic distinction rather than a real argument, but I think it's an important distinction. A late-term fetus or newborn infant does not have rights in the same sense that you and I do.

The difference between protections for a breathing infant and protections for a gestating fetus is that the breathing infant does not need to be protected from a non-negotiable caretaker. Whereas protecting a fetus necessarily affects the liberty of a pregnant woman. If she wants to protect her gestating fetus, then all is fine and dandy. But if she doesn't want to be pregnant, then protecting that fetus is a lot more complicated than looking after the welfare of an already-born child.

A breathing infant can be placed in foster care. A fetus can only be protected in ways that affect the bodily autonomy of its mother.

By alysonmiers (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

@ Cerberus... thanks for the clarification. I believe I just misunderstood who you were directing the comment at. Sorry about that. I do think you make a good case for a woman's rights taking primacy. No misunderstandings there.

Cerebrus at 124

What is the Q at the end of LBGTQ? I haven't seen that before. I assume it means queer but not sure what 'queer' adds.

just curious

By scooterKPFT (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

It'd be difficult to use the biological term parasite to describe something as fundamentally necessary to life as reproduction.

not really. some things procreate by parasitizing other species; some things procreate by parasitizing their own. the method is the same though.

By Jadehawk, OM (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

@serpdesu: did you just define "sensible people" with "people who agree with me"? Seems like a sensible way to get those that don't agree to listen to you...

#132... um... no. How is pointing out that parasitism wouldn't apply given the function of reproduction at all related to cancer somehow being good because cells divide? That doesn't make a lick of sense.

So cell division is not an integral part of reproduction - and life, itself?

By Sili, The Unkn… (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

I think it's an important thing to emphasize here, amongst the rampant ad hominem attacks and constant vitriolic rants:

There exist people who are as intelligent, educated, and thoughtful as you are, who nevertheless do not agree with your opinions.

Shocking, I know, but it's true. By standing in a black or white square screaming about how everyone else are idiots, you lump yourself in with all of the jackasses you're trying to lambast.

By the way, I'm not necessarily counting myself amongst the people who don't agree with you - I am very much counting myself among the people who don't agree with your violent, divisive and infantile manner of "debate".

Scientific knowledge does not by itself suffice when discussing matters of ethics and morality.

Indeed. These individuals have carefully weighed the scientific literature, have cross-referenced this with the copious scripture passages that specifically address this matter, and have circumspectly considered the ethical issues a woman faces when choosing this procedure. We should not slight them by failing to acknowledge the judicious opinion they have formulated: an opinion certainly more holistic in approach than our own.

How dare we even consider challenging these opinions (even in the most milquetoast of approaches) without offering these courageous and ever-decorous individuals the utmost respect and deference? We should agree to disagree and keep our opinions to ourselves.

I feel that I may be in need of a fainting couch if this discussion continues the way it has been developing...

By SquidBrandon (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

whether or not a baby is "parasitizing" the mother shouldn't affect whether it is considered a living being or not, hence i see no justifcation for calling a baby which is soon to be born distinct from a prematurely born baby as far as it's status as living is concerned.

way tho miss the point. fully and inarguably alive human beings don't have the right to use other human being's organs against their will, even if it would save their lives; why would fetuses?

By Jadehawk, OM (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

#141... but when an organism uses another to allow it's offspring to be a parasite of it, that other organism does not actually get any gain. It just loses. The original organism does get a benefit: reproduction. You can see how the comparison falls flat.

Several people here have talked about moral qualms about abortion, even if they support a woman's right to have one.

All right then, lay them out on the table. Specifics. No vague words like "uneasy," "ethically unclear," or any of that. Tell us why and specifically what the actual foundation is to your moral qualms. Until I hear these, I'm going to assume they're based on a vague "ick factor." That's understandable as far as emotions go.

But it's not good enough for this conversation. This is a vitally serious issue, and until we can get past the infantile stage of going about about "moral" qualms without identifying their roots, we're getting nowhere.

I've asked Rowan about this, he hasn't answered. Walton's used the same phrase, and he hasn't done any better.

We need to do better. Let's please start. The entire anti-choice movement is founded on "moral" concerns that no one ever demands be explained in foudational, specific terms. We have to interrogate ourselves - and the rest of society - about this if we're ever going to get past this.

By Josh, Official… (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Finch @ 106

one bone to pick with our squidly overlord. I think it's important to say one is pro-choice, and not "pro-abortion,"

He did that on purpose. Once you have taken the squidly overlord into your heart, you begin to know these things.

You need more faith, take my word for it.

By scooterKPFT (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

#132... um... no. How is pointing out that parasitism wouldn't apply given the function of reproduction at all related to cancer somehow being good because cells divide? That doesn't make a lick of sense.

So cell division is not an integral part of reproduction - and life, itself?

Not uncontrolled, malignant cell division, no.

You can see how the comparison falls flat.

no it doesn't; your claim is actually begging the question, assuming all reproduction is good, harmless, and wanted.

By Jadehawk, OM (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Not uncontrolled, malignant cell division, no.

Neoplasm.

By Nerd of Redhead, OM (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

serpdesu @ 137:

i do, however, expect the more sensislbe people here to be as annoyed as i am by the various overreactions and exclude themselves from my insults.

At this moment, I'm annoyed with idjits who can't figure out where the shift key is and manage to use it coupled with an inability to spell or use a spellchecker.

By Caine, Fleur du mal (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

#131... it's not about nutrients, as I pointed out.

From the embryo's point of view, it's entirely about the nutrients. You can claim that it's a bad PR idea to call an embryo a parasite, but you led off by saying that description was "off" for a "biology based blog". It's an entirely appropriate descriptor for a biology based blog. Did you know that there are hundreds of animals that die as soon as they give birth because their energy has been so spent by feeding the embryos? That straw itch mites not only devour the energy of their mother during development, but then turn around and eat their mother to death within minutes of birth? Is that not parasitic? Reproduction is a parasitic experience in any organism that has internal gestation. If you like, you can argue that it's not a politically expedient term to use, but you can't say that it's biologically incorrect.

@Glock21 in #146:
I think I get what you're trying to get at. Parasites live off their hosts without giving the host any benefit, and you think the "no benefit" part doesn't apply to human babies, because it's how humans procreate. Am I right?

Well then. Explain to us what the benefit is of a baby to a mother who doesn't want it.

Nothing? "Parasite" it is then.

#143... assuming you aren't being willfully obtuse to argue for the sake of argument, the cell division of a tumor isn't typically beneficial to the "host."

Also glock, I just noticed the straw man you erected so I might as well knock it down.

I and no one else is trying to "take away your right" to be all confused about the humanity of a fetus or trying to talk about viability. Nor do I equate having that discussion as equivalent to an actual crime.

You fully have that right and the right to seek that discussion.

And we, we have the right to note the problematic history of that discussion, how it ignores greater issues and that some people with greater understanding of the biology of the matter will answer it in ways you didn't expect with the leading nature of your questions.

Some people even have the right to call you a woman-hating asshole who's JAQing off.

Some people even have the right to think less of you or too react angrily and make sweeping assumptions about your moral character.

We all have rights.

But the right to not be called an asshole is never a right.

Now, I know the emotional response you will have to all that. I'm not one of the some people and I'm not entirely sure you're on the "not being called an asshole is a right" bandwagon.

But being of a lot of minority groups, I've run into people who've been of that school. They think that the right to disagree goes only one way and that a crowd of people enraged by the dishonest nature or dismissive of humanity nature of a conversation somehow do not have the right to disagree or even bring in their own knowledge bases.

So yeah.

That all said, the abortion debate is triply infuriating for me. As a woman it's dismissive of my humanity and right to personhood and bodily autonomy (which yes, affects the rape culture). As a feminist, it's dismissive of women's rights in general and again, female bodily and sexual autonomy, which are critical for most all women's rights. And most of all as a biologist, all the hand-wrining is based in an ignorant understanding of micro and cellular biology, which are my goddamned fields of expertise.

Constantly those "struggling with it" are completely ignorant about what a fetus is, how its formed into a "person", and the toll that process takes on the mother's body. There is an easy glide into thinking it a type of magic that's all smiles, rather than a disgusting inch by inch snapshot of evolution where the mother's enzymes and hormone levels "direct" the sculpting of the cell division into the formation of more and more complex human-like objects.

And that infuriates me. Just like the evolution debate or the climate change debate. Ignorant people trying to make their delusions and desires trump reality, especially when even if they could rewrite reality, what they are asking for is for this special class of "human" to have rights granted to NO OTHER HUMAN BEING.

Infuriating.

Forced birthers seek to extend a right given to no other FULL HUMAN BEING (the right to another's body without their consent).

Not true. Suppose Al and Bob are adult conjoined twins. Al can't say "This half of the body is mine, cut him off" if he knows it will kill Bob or Bob doesn't consent to the surgery.

The original organism does get a benefit: reproduction. You can see how the comparison falls flat.

And if the original organism is not interested in reproducing at the present time, then there is no benefit. Only exploitation.

whether or not a baby is "parasitizing" the mother shouldn't affect whether it is considered a living being or not, hence i see no justifcation for calling a baby which is soon to be born distinct from a prematurely born baby as far as it's status as living is concerned.

Whether it is considered a "living being" is not the point. The question is what that living being is entitled to demand from another living being.

By alysonmiers (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

what they are asking for is for this special class of "human" to have rights granted to NO OTHER HUMAN BEING.

And to state it another way, they are asking for women to have rights taken away from them that are taken away from no man.

glock @146

Ah, balls. Ignore my straw man related opening in my comment 157. It was way of target and will do more harm than good now.

The comment can continue on from "That all said"

Sorry for its inclusion.

@jadehawk

so if i were born a siamese twin, and i could be given the liberty of independent movement by lopping off my living twin, you would support this as my right? now imagine further that i had a choice in my twin coming into this state of affairs, but my twin had no choice. harsh, eh?

ignore the implausibility of the exact situation, i make the analogy only for the purpose of comparison.

#143... assuming you aren't being willfully obtuse to argue for the sake of argument, the cell division of a tumor isn't typically beneficial to the "host."

Nor is an unwanted baby. Unless of course you reduce procreation to selfish genes in which case the mother just becomes a hindrance to her own genetic material.

An unwanted pregnancy is in no way, shape or form different from a cancerous growth.

And cancer can be quite beneficial for the procreation of selfish genes. Somehow I don't think Henrietta Lacks woulda been particularly grateful for the immortality her womb (ironically) granted her.

By Sili, The Unkn… (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

ignore the implausibility of the exact situation

why would I do such a thing? in a discussion of real issues concerning real humans, idiotic and unrealistic hypotheticals are nothing but red herrings.

By Jadehawk, OM (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

now imagine further that i had a choice in my twin coming into this state of affairs, but my twin had no choice. harsh, eh?

Oh, I see what you did there.

If you don't want a baby, then don't have sex, right?

Yeah, no. Try again.

By alysonmiers (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

I'm generally pro-choice, but I think birth is a lousy cut-off point for where the real ethical concerns arise.

Abortions are only performed near birth when the mother's health is at risk. There are substantially fewer ethical dilemmas than you might think.

By strange gods b… (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

@jadehawk

what-if's are good tests to see where an individual's moral rules lie, even when they are implausible or difficult.

glock @156

Got to correct you, a fetus most definitely has a parasitical relationship to the host pregnant woman.

The reason is not because it's "using her nutrients", but because by using her nutrients, it is leeching (or technically, the woman's enzymes are cannibalizing her for the sake of growing the fetus) out of critical structural parts of her body. A woman who gives birth a large number of times will have a great risk of having her teeth fall out because of the drained calcium. Her bones will be weaker because calcium was drained out of them. Her organs during pregnancy are running under extra stress because it is running the homeostasis for an additional life-form. There is a drain in ATP production which puts the mother under additional risk of mitochondrial-related diseases, greater risks of infections, etc...

It may be less deadly of a parasitical relationship than say a cancerous tumor cell, but it is definitely not commensalism (one party benefits, the other party, nothing happened because the womb is a magical portal to another land and it doesn't at all cause any damage to the mother in growing).

Making that choice is a fine one to make. If my sexual organs could work, I'd love to birth a life into this world, but it needs to be on the consent of the mother that this parasitical process is occurring.

@124 Cerberus

No, I was making a point, just not the one you assume. I wasn't attempting in any way to say that you are wrong, nor that all people who meet the criteria of educated, intelligent, and thoughtful are necessarily right. In order to be accused of using an appeal to moral superiority (i.e., the tone argument), I would have to follow up with "therefore, you are incorrect".

The point I was making is that your method of debate by insult and hyperbole is ineffective, inflammatory, and actually reduces the impact of your views.

If it would make it more clear, add as many adjectives to the list of "thoughtful, intelligent, and educated" as is necessary to describe someone on par with your self-image. That wouldn't make them correct, but it would make them just as worthy of being listened to with an open mind as you are.

Glock21, you are by far the most respectful, insightful person in this discussion, and I salute you for that.

Thank you for this thread.

This issue is so deeply painful to me, and thus normally reading any comment thread on the subject is gut-wrenching. It's good to be around people who know how to think deeply and with compassion. As opposed to, you know, anti-choicers who don't give a shit about people like me once we're born.

My mother got 5 (illegal) abortions after waiting too long the first time and getting stuck having me, but is vehemently against anyone else having the right to choose, since they're all just sluts who deserve to be saddled with a baby as penance for their sins. She swallowed the misogynistic hatred transmitted by her religion and believes it to this day, to her own detriment.

Somehow I lived through my childhood, no thanks to the anti-choicers. Slavers, indeed. And torturers. They had no right to do that to me or my mother.

Besides: the fact I didn't die in utero doesn't mean I won't die as an end result of their actions.

They have no moral leg to stand on.

Cerberus... no worries. I share pretty much all of your frustrations.

Others on parasitism... I'm treating the human as just another animal here. The macroscopic considerations seem to fit better with the colloquial use of the term than the biological. I think, especially given our population problems, that those macroscopic considerations are important and cannot be dismissed in this debate. I just don't think it's relevant to whether parasitism is the proper descriptor. I don't think it is critical to the argument on why abortion should be legal, the use just bugged me.

@jadehawk

so if i were born a siamese twin, and i could be given the liberty of independent movement by lopping off my living twin, you would support this as my right? now imagine further that i had a choice in my twin coming into this state of affairs, but my twin had no choice. harsh, eh?

ignore the implausibility of the exact situation, i make the analogy only for the purpose of comparison.

You do realise, of course, that sometimes parents have to make that decision on behalf of their conjoined children in order to ensure the survival of at least one.

If parents can do it, why shouldn't the individuals involved be able too, once they're of sound mind?

That said, I have no idea what should be done in that case. I suspect that Bob would smother Al in his sleep, though.

By Sili, The Unkn… (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Captain Catholic #155

What is the thinking behind your doctored pictures, what point are you trying to make by them? That humanity can only be something that looks human>?

The original pictures showed infants and pretended that's what a fetus looked like at early development. Which is more honest, to show a baby and pretend it's a fetus or to show an actual fetus?

There is a difference between human and potentially human. Something that's potentially human doesn't have human attributes or a human appearance.

By 'Tis Himself, OM (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

I think Walton is right. There can be a wide range of ideas about when/if it is morally wrong to have an abortion, but that is for the WOMAN who is pregnant to decide. The LAW has to be that the woman's body is her body and that is that.

I personally would probably only have an abortion for medical reasons. The idea of aborting a fetus for any other reason bothers me.

But so what? So what if it bothers me? That's me. In such circumstances it would be my body. That's my choice and I would not under any circumstances try to enforce my own personal squick-factor on the rest of women. (In the interest of full disclosure, I have only had one unwanted pregnancy and it turned out to be ectopic, so I did not have to make that decision).

And I agree whole-heartedly with those who believe the leaders of the anti-choice movement have no interest in babies. Remember, these are the same creeps who have tried mightily to prevent the vaccination of all our young women to end cervical cancer. That is all the proof you need that what they want is to control who women have sex with.

So until I see these self-righteous fuckers working hard to reduce abortion by making education and birth control technologies available to everyone so that unwanted pregnancies are reduced, they get nothing from me but my contempt.

what-if's are good tests to see where an individual's moral rules lie, even when they are implausible or difficult.

really? splendid.

would you abort Rosemary's baby?
would you let Hattie Durham have an abortion?

these are important hypotheticals. really.

By Jadehawk, OM (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

I'm having a problem with the use of the word 'parasite.'

All of the biological definitions I can find are similar to this one:

par·a·site  noun
1. an organism that lives on or in an organism of another species, known as the host, from the body of which it obtains nutriment.

Further definitions are mostly sociological. I'm fine with poetic liscense in metaphors, as long as it's clearly metaphorical.

If the use of the word 'parasite' here is not meant to be metaphorical, then I have to assert that the statement is wrong.

Words have meanings, meaning builds knowledge, knowledge informs actions, and actions have consequences.

By scooterKPFT (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

@Sili, The Unknown Virgin

you do realise that adding mortal danger to both twins ruins and invalidates my analogy thus making it pointless to answer at all.

And before someone says something, she didn't use the pill because it decreased her sex drive, and condoms felt funny so that's why she didn't use any. No health problems.

I've got to ask - @Rowan - have you actually experienced labor? It's something I would not wish on my very worst enemy and using childbirth as torture for slutty college students is a pretty brutal way to enforce those great values of yours. I hope someone like you doesn't make sexual health decisions for actual real world people.

This girl's vapid attitude towards abortion is an example of really bad sex ed and health care more than anyone else. She deserves some serious education about available methods of birth control (progesterone IUD, maybe - easy, foolproof, and lasts up to 7 years?). And who taught her that condoms "feel funny" and that this outweighs all concerns about STDs? Probably some boyfriend who's never heard of lube. Her punishment for having had this bad education, which is almost certainly not her fault, is that she undergoes significant hormonal disruption (early pregnancy is not particularly fun) and a painful and expensive medical procedure three times! Shouldn't that be punishment enough for you? Or do you need actual torture to satisfy your judgments about her sexual ethics?

Many pro-life Catholics whom I know are explicit about caring about fetuses more than actual born children because the fetuses have never committed any sins of their own and only have the imaginary taint associated with having a "soul." One woman actually told me that she was far more concerned with sin than with suffering, which I though said a lot about her values. Having worked with children who've been raped and known women struggling with violence, severe poverty, and health issues, I'd rather live in the real world, which is often difficult and requires one to compromise and choose the least-bad option.

When anti-abortion activists ignore the contribution of the maternal environment, it's just another facet of the sexism inherent in their desire to restrict reproductive freedom. It's as if the contribution of the mother's body and the dangers associated with pregnancy are irrelevant to the "personhood" of the embryo instead of factors which contribute to the "person" it may one day become. It's also another problem with the magical idea that people have a soul in the first place, or that we get our souls all in one chunk. There are saner religious traditions, including Judaism, which view decisions about abortion as more of a balancing act (i.e. choosing the least bad option) and which teach that whatever magical soul we acquire comes in bits and pieces over time. Even as a metaphor, I think this is a better approach to the process of becoming a person, whatever that means.

Funny how the religions that don't have that Christian idea of "soul" (UUs, Buddhists, pagans, a lot of strands of Judaism) don't get to have much of a voice in the debate...

IOW: the slaughter of imaginary people concerns me not in the slightest.

By Jadehawk, OM (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

I just don't think it's relevant to whether parasitism is the proper descriptor. I don't think it is critical to the argument on why abortion should be legal, the use just bugged me.

No, but it often gets people off-guard (like it did with you) and can sometimes make them think about the issue from a different angle.

@scooterKPFT #176

Is that last line a quote, or original? I just want to be sure of whom I'm going to be plagiarizing :)

The most troublesome thing I find in this discussion is the belief that you must be crazy, sexist, and/or religious to not be okay with abortion. I'd like to disprove this.

Hello, I'm Skatje. I was raised without religion, by the author of this blog. Personally, I would not have an abortion, unless my life was at stake. I do not find this stance to be inconsistant with my other moral values; in fact, I would say that not holding this stance would prove to be inconsistant. And of course, according to my own values, I believe that other people shouldn't have abortions either.

Am I going to go protest outside Planned Parenthood? No. Let me attempt a convuluted explanation of why I'm not an activist: The matter of what value to place on embryos/fetuses is not as simple as the soundbites and faulty analogies portray. The line is blurry. I don't pretend that an embryo is the same as a child. I don't even pretend that a 6 month fetus is the same as a 1 month fetus. There's a gradiant of some sort here, and the lack of a solid sense is why I don't jump down other people's throats, but I at least know which side of the line I want to be on.

Anyway, I think it's apparent that I'm not one of the lunatics so commonly lanced in these comments. And I promise it's not out of some kind of woman-hating self-loathing.

By skatje.myers (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

I blogged here on this topic four years ago. As the title suggests, the post coincided with a debate in the Australian Federal Parliament which culminated in the easing of restrictions on the availability of RU486.

you do realise that adding mortal danger to both twins ruins and invalidates my analogy thus making it pointless to answer at all.

Point taken.

I'm still inclined to side with Al, but as I said, Bob'll likely take matters into his own hands if it comes to that.

By Sili, The Unkn… (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

There is an easy glide into thinking it a type of magic that's all smiles, rather than a disgusting inch by inch snapshot of evolution where the mother's enzymes and hormone levels "direct" the sculpting of the cell division into the formation of more and more complex human-like objects.

This, holy shit, this.

I think it is immensely helpful to take the "mystery" and "miracle" out of pregnancy and childbirth, which is why I like PZ's doctored billboards so damn much.

By OurDeadSelves (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

And before someone says something, she didn't use the pill because it decreased her sex drive, and condoms felt funny so that's why she didn't use any. No health problems.

And torturing her and then forcing an child into her care that was unwanted, to live with a selfish mother with little to no impulse control makes sense ... how?

Morgan, #169 wrote:

The point I was making is that your method of debate by insult and hyperbole is ineffective, inflammatory, and actually reduces the impact of your views.

That is the tone argument - at least around here. If you wish to keep using it you have to demonstrate that [the truth + harsh language] is in some way less effective than [the truth plus fawning deference].

We get a lot of assertions that it is - but (funnily enoguh) very few examples.

By WowbaggerOM (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Morgan @169

Uh, that's not the tone argument. The tone argument is where someone argues that the method by which someone is arguing their case is too angry/emotional/caustic/confrontational/etc... and thus the words and meaning of their argument are less than and can be safely ignored. Furthermore it is argued that that someone needs to be "less X" in order to be worthy of debate and that the other party is perfectly justified ignoring the argument until it is placed more civilly.

The reason that the tone argument is so famous in anti-oppression circles is because a) it happens all the time and b) there is no way to be "nice" enough to be listened to.

There have been several informal studies that showed that even when the author of a point about an oppression was exceedingly polite and open-minded in their tone, they would still get accused of being angry or insulting or close-minded. We can see this all the time in creationist arguments regarding Richard Dawkins who is about as unflappable and approachable as you can be.

Here's a link.

Also, quelle surprise, the person arguing for your case just so happens to be the only "respectful person" here? Shocking.

Maybe, maybe, some of us are responding naturally to the arguments being made. We're having conversations where the anti-woman side are making arguments they are wholly detached to and where the pro-choice side are arguing for the basic recognition of their personhood, their right to bodily autonomy naturally assumed and protected for men, and their basic human rights to not lose rights and have said unprecedented rights granted to something, rights that no full human being have.

It's a familiar tactic is what I am saying. But feel free to continue to tut tut us angry nasty feminists.

Skatje, be specific. What is going on under Roe that is not okay?

By strange gods b… (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

This:

Personally, I would not have an abortion, unless my life was at stake.

is not the same as this:

And of course, according to my own values, I believe that other people shouldn't have abortions either.

These are two very different positions.

I don't think a 1-month fetus is the same thing as a 6-month fetus, either. I see the gradient. I also see a significant difference in the stage of decision-making between a pregnant woman gestating a 1-month fetus, and one gestating a 6-month fetus.

By alysonmiers (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

No vague words like "uneasy," "ethically unclear," or any of that. Tell us why and specifically what the actual foundation is to your moral qualms.

I used to be "uneasy" with the whole abortion topic because I was always getting mixed up with the definition of personhood. Why at birth? Or why from the moment of viability? Or why from the moment of sufficient neurological developement? It all seemed rather arbitrary, ethically unclear.

But it's really when I came accross Judith Jarvis Thomson's A defense of Abortion and the straightforward and very clear ethical principle that nobody, whether a mature person or not, has the right to use someone else's body against her/his will, that I became convinced that women must have the right to abort an unwanted pregnancy at any moment during its course.

We're still far from there in most countries in the world. But we must fight to get there, we must stop the enslavement of women, and especially as men we have an additional moral responsibility to fight for this: it's not our body that's enslaved, we must stop being such inconsiderate assholes.

By negentropyeater (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

skatje.myers #182

It's one thing to decide you don't want to have an abortion. It's something altogether different to decide no woman should have an abortion. You've made a choice that you won't have an abortion except for medical necessity. Nobody here has a problem with that because we're pro-choice.

By 'Tis Himself, OM (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

@Skatje: but do you think that your preference that women shouldn't have abortions should result in a ban on abortion? If not, wouldn't that make you still pro-choice?

would you let Hattie Durham have an abortion?

+10 for that reference. :)

The most troublesome thing I find in this discussion is the belief that you must be crazy, sexist, and/or religious to not be okay with abortion. I'd like to disprove this.

I think you're confusing outcomes and correlations with intent. Of course we know that not everyone who is anti-abortion is literally crazy, or definitively religious, or consciously sexist.

HOWEVER.

Almost all people who are activists for anti-abortion are religious. Almost all of the groups that bankroll lobbying to the government against abortion rights are religious groups. There is a very, very strong correlation there, and as the original post was meant to convey, it is important for people who claim to not be religious to understand that the feelings they have regarding pregnancy have been very much colored by the religion-soaked milieu. As Josh requested, step past the "morally uneasy" feeling and define it. If you get that feeling from religious teachings you've absorbed through culture, you ought to at least recognize that.

As for being sexist, the results of anti-abortion legislation are most definitely sexist. That may not be the intent of some of the people who advocate for it, but the effects are the same. The effect of anti-abortion legislation is that more women die. Abortion rates don't change; women's death rates skyrocket. Study after study after study, in every country that it's been done in show this. Advocating for something that kills women but not men IS sexist. Advocating for something that denies women agency over their own bodies IS sexist. It doesn't matter if the intent to be sexist was there or not, the effects are still sexist.

On the "parasite" idea - I got scolded mightily by a psychoanalyst friend for referring to my 5 month in-utero twins as "naked strangers living in my belly," while another psychoanalyst friend asked me late in pregnancy why I hadn't had a reduction. Apparently, for friend #1, I was supposed to feel some magical connection with the fetuses, but I was just awed that these two totally separate people were living inside of me and using my body to build their own. Now the twins are 14, love the idea that they were once "naked strangers," and are vehemently and loudly pro-choice, although they still debate who should have been "reduced."

And friend #1 has decided that if she were ever to reproduce she'd hire an surrogate in India so that she didn't have to deal with the ickiness of having a parasite in one's body.

People are really very strange. And I now number significantly fewer psychoanalysts among my friends, which has led to a lot fewer bizarre comments being directed my way.

Walton #102:

There is a difference between believing that people should be free to do X, and believing that X is morally acceptable.

In practice there is, but there shouldn't be. Morality isn't just personal preference. Morality is a set of prescriptions or proscriptions on behavior, and it is illogical to be believe that people should not do X (immoral), but should be free to do X.

I believe murder is immoral, which is precisely why I think people shouldn't be free to do it (it should be banned, and offenders prosecuted). I don't have a preference for gay sex, but I don't think it is immoral, which is why I think people should be free to do it.

When people say they think something is immoral but people should be free to do it, they're really not taking their morality seriously. They are relegating it to personal preference.

By BigMKnows (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Morgan @ 180

I'm paraphrasing Matt Dillahunty from Atheist Experience, he expresses that a lot. I imagine that line of reasoning has been around awhile, but I heard it in distilled fashion from Matt.

http://atheist-experience.org
great stuff

By scooterKPFT (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Having failed to develop a very compelling sense of morality (and being somewhat of a misanthrope), I am pro-choice for very utilitarian reasons. I am unwilling to contribute to the upbringing of all the children that would be born were abortion illegal. The point at which a person becomes human is not empirically identifiable. "At birth" seems to be a convenient milestone, precisely because the direct dependency on a single other person has been removed.

I mean I do care about women's rights, but even if I didn't I would still likely be pro-choice.

By Antiochus Epiphanes (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Briefly in response to Skatje's point, here in Australia we have a bumper sticker that reads "If you are against abortion, don't have one".

If you get that feeling from religious teachings you've absorbed through culture, you ought to at least recognize that.

I'm going to go out on a limb and say it probably has more to do with her veganism than religion...

By Jadehawk, OM (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Carlie:

The effect of anti-abortion legislation is that more women die. Abortion rates don't change; women's death rates skyrocket. Study after study after study, in every country that it's been done in show this. Advocating for something that kills women but not men IS sexist. Advocating for something that denies women agency over their own bodies IS sexist. It doesn't matter if the intent to be sexist was there or not, the effects are still sexist.

QFT.

By Caine, Fleur du mal (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Hear, hear!

I'll be interested to read the comments, but for now, I just gotta say I heartily agree. What's more these ignoramuses put a human cell above a real, living, full human being.

To clarify, if legislature was proposed to ban abortion, I wouldn't be opposed it. I'm just not going to start a fight for it.

And no, there's no way I could hold the position that it's not okay for me to have abortions, but it's okay for other people to. The babies in other people aren't less privileged than the babies in me. If I believe the one in me should not have anyone intervene in its existence, I believe the ones in other people should not have anyone intervene in their existence. Am I making sense here?

By skatje.myers (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

I would love to see a campaign based around something like your "revised" billboards.

Embryos are embryos. For a fairly healthy chunk of their development it is impossible to distinguish between a potential human and a potential-vertebrate-of-your-choice, and driving that point home might open a few eyes.

By dmorrison (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Personally, I would not have an abortion, unless my life was at stake.

I don't *think* I would either. Never having had to face that decision I don't actually know.

I do know, for instance, that in my previous life I would likely have had an abortion. I was seriously psychologically wounded and might have even been dangerous to a dependent child. Poor and homeless, I can't imagine childbirth in complete poverty would have done any thing good for either of us. Would it have allowed my abuser a permanent place in my life and access to my child?

Not to mention how it might have impacted me psychologically. Might I have survived? Sure. Like I said, I never had to face it. I didn't get pregnant. Always took birth control (thank you Planned Parenthood for your cheap exams and low price pills!!!), didn't sleep around anyway.

But I have seen a lot of people in my short life who are not ideal, and I do think some who had an elective abortion made the right decision. Especially one I know whose first child was already taken away by the state. That she, a single woman with serious mental and drug problems, chose to abort her second pregnancy... avoided pain and suffering for all involved. Can you make such people disappear? I don't know, but I suspect not. What would you do with them anyway? Lock them all up, put them down like dogs? What's the difference then?

Really though I think that the law and the state should not have any rule over what is inside of a human body anyway.

More people suffer where abortion is illegal from what I have seen, so making it illegal makes society worse IMO.

For the record because of the degree to which access to birth control helped my via planned parenthood now that I have a much more fortunate life I try very hard to make significant annual donations to them. They do good work!

When people say they think something is immoral but people should be free to do it, they're really not taking their morality seriously. They are relegating it to personal preference.

Or they are thinking deeply enough to see that the effects of enforcement may be more immoral still.

Or careful enough about the authoritarian impulse and its effects on a society. (Voting Republican is immoral, but should not be illegal.)

By strange gods b… (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

ambook @171

Yes, very much.

I think it's related to sperm magic. Somehow, it's not "right" if the woman's body is doing way more work in the creation of a child. Nine months of sculpting cell division by enzymes and hormone levels and the only contribution by the man was adding some DNA material that may or may not implant. That seems "wrong" by our society, so its better if the magic addition of sperm takes this inert lifeless egg and makes it start duplicating and directing itself and growing all on its own without any input from the mother. A full human unto itself that just happens to need the womb as a protective environment that doesn't really effect anything too important.

And that illusion of parity or male-directed growth is so critical that it must be defended against the horrible truth that men really don't do much in the making of a child. It's the woman cannibalizing herself, going through the rigors of labor and pregnancy, and that it's her egg that contains the mitochondria that drive the energy for the cell division in this purposeless set of growing cells.

But admitting that, seems scary, because then men aren't dominant in that conversation, so they need to insert themselves by forcing women to suffer the consequences of their delusion by being forced to give birth.

Briefly in response to Skatje's point, here in Australia we have a bumper sticker that reads "If you are against abortion, don't have one".

Hardy har. I've heard that. I used to think that was clever when I was 14.

If you are against murder, don't kill people.

This is basically what that statement is equivalent to, in the eyes of people who place a right to life on fetuses. So that's a pretty stupid thing to say to me, IMO.

By skatje.myers (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

#194... some may confuse the various hormonal responses for magic or the divine. That's a bit sad. There's an insane mom posse out there that is convinced biological responses are godliness. Sometimes it's just a response to depression of their otherwise failed lives and latching onto anything to live for. The religious analogy is pretty obvious. Still sad though.

To clarify, if legislature was proposed to ban abortion, I wouldn't be opposed it.

and this is where the "effect is more important than intent" thing comes into play.

just as libertarian policies are often racist because they affect racial minorities more than whites rather than because the libertarians in question hold racist views, so would an abortion ban be sexist; not opposing sexist laws is sexist, intents and beliefs notwithstanding.

By Jadehawk, OM (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

skatje.myers @ 202:

Am I making sense here?

Not to me. What you're saying is that you are fine with women's autonomy being legislated by others; that one group's morals be allowed to override all women.

As Carlie noted, illegalizing abortion will not change anything, except for the death rate of women. I know a lot of people are too young to know about Jane, I'm old enough to remember. I was a kid, but my mother and grandmothers were a part of Jane, and I helped where I could. When women are put in a position where they have no choices, it's a terrible thing.

Those who fight abortion are not on the forefront when it comes to birth control and education; they fight those just as strongly. This reduces women, it demeans them, it turns them back into chattel and locks too many of them into unthinkable situations.

By Caine, Fleur du mal (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Am I the only person who's thinking fake Skatje?

And no, there's no way I could hold the position that it's not okay for me to have abortions, but it's okay for other people to. The babies in other people aren't less privileged than the babies in me.

But there is an important difference between the fetus that grows in you and the fetus that grows in another woman. YOU can decide whether you want to be a parent to the fetus growing in you. YOU can decide that you agree to use your body for the next 40 weeks to grow another person.

You can't make that decision for other women. You can offer to foster their children IF those women agree to maintain their pregnancies to term, but you can't do the baby-growing for them.

If I believe the one in me should not have anyone intervene in its existence, I believe the ones in other people should not have anyone intervene in their existence.

The process of bringing a pregnancy to term is quite a bit more complicated than simply not intervening in a gestating fetus's existence. It requires more work and sacrifice on the pregnant woman's part than asking her simply not to terminate. She must spend the rest of the pregnancy eating, drinking, breathing, sleeping and exercising both for herself and for the benefit of the fetus. She must subject herself not merely to inconvenience but also to non-trivial risk in order to maintain the pregnancy and give birth. Even a perfectly healthy pregnancy requires a great deal of physiological recovery. It's not a matter of non-intervention.

By alysonmiers (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

There's a very easy way to reduce the number of abortions in dah USA. Simply have the anti-abortion groups supply half the cost of the quarter million dollars to raise a child to 18. Something about actually putting their money where their mouths are. I'm sure their offer will be taken up by a large number of women...

By Nerd of Redhead, OM (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Forgive this non-biology-major's question, but are there human cancers which have 46 chromosomes? What differentiates them from blastulas, or are both to be "persons" under the personhood movement's thinking?

By Randomfactor (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

If it were a fake Skatje, the shock waves from the epic bannation would be felt all the way to the Yucatan peninsula.

Wow. I have so many thoughts about this swirling in my head, I hope I can be coherent...

As I've said before (to the point of boredom, I'm sure), my kids are adopted. Neither kid was wanted by their birth mother - she'd had 2 or 3 abortions before in her life. Both kids were conceived through multiple forms of birth control (she says, and knowing her, I believe it). In both cases, she didn't realize she was pregnant until it was too late to have a first-trimester abortion. Thea chose adoption, because she recognized (rightly) that she would have been a horrible mother. We have an open adoption, and my kids have grown up knowing Thea and knowing she is their birth mother.

that said, I totally support a woman's right to choice. I believe that abortions should be cheap and easy to get, because if a woman doesn't want to give birth to a child, she shouldn't have to. Making it difficult for her just makes a difficult situation even worse.

Had Thea decided to abort Tori during the first trimester, I would have gone with her and held her hand.

*That* said, I'm terribly glad that Thea lived in enough of a state of denial when she got pregnant with Tori that I have Tori as my daughter - because even though Thea didn't want her, I did and do.

But I have NO RIGHT (I'd say that in blinky colors worthy of a TimeCube if I could) to force another woman to continue a pregnancy and give birth just so *I* could have a muchly desired child.

I don't totally agree that adoption is a violent act, per se - but *forced* adoption certainly is. Someone above used the word "slavery" and that surely is an accurate word.

I could say much, much more on this, but I'm afraid I've already gone into tl;dr range. Sorry. I'll get off my soap box now.

Either way, I direct the person using the skatje name, whether the real Skatje or not to read my comments at 48 and 67, especially 67, which is on why it would be granting "pre-born babies" rights extended to no other fully formed human being on the planet.

And if it is someone using her name to post anti-choice garbage. For shame, troll. For shame.

@skatje.myers:

The babies in other people aren't less privileged than the babies in me. If I believe the one in me should not have anyone intervene in its existence, I believe the ones in other people should not have anyone intervene in their existence. Am I making sense here?

Well, you're trying to be consistent and apply the same rules for everyone, which is sensible. But the problem is that you appear to assume what is actually under discussion here: you assume that a fetus is the same as a baby.

Besides, do you support other types of interventions that prevent the existence of babies, such as condoms, contraceptives and morning-after pills? If not, why not? If so, why support those, but not early-term abortions? Clearly you don't believe some special magic happened at conception, so that can't be it.

To clarify, if legislature was proposed to ban abortion, I wouldn't be opposed it. I'm just not going to start a fight for it.

And no, there's no way I could hold the position that it's not okay for me to have abortions, but it's okay for other people to. The babies in other people aren't less privileged than the babies in me. If I believe the one in me should not have anyone intervene in its existence, I believe the ones in other people should not have anyone intervene in their existence. Am I making sense here?

That you are willing to give up your own choice does not grant you the right to make the choice for others.

Would it be acceptable if women who are known to be seeking abortions are imprisoned? If not, how could a law be enforced? What would be an acceptable penalty for breaking it?

Increased police enforcement brings its own inherent problems, as the drug war shows. Who wants to live in the kind of society where anti-abortion laws could again be implemented? Is there a great and pressing need for the intrusion of SWAT teams into medical clinics?

By strange gods b… (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

There's an insane mom posse out there that is convinced biological responses are godliness.

@Glock21 - not sure how this relates to my anecdote - all I meant to say is that prescriptions for how one "should" experience pregnancy are just like prescriptions for how one "should" experience anything else. Friend#1 thought that I wouldn't have the right "maternal" attitude towards my kids if I didn't feel all blissed out and merged, which I agree would be a hormonal thing, whether from the pregnancy itself or from the neurochemical imprints left by previous life experience. Of course, my lack of blissed-out-edness was ALSO a hormonal/neurochemical thing, but doesn't seem to have left some horrid scar on the twinks.

It's pretty problematic to view ANY parental behavior as serving a particular religious or nationalistic cause. I remember reading once that women of Japan felt tremendously betrayed because their work caring for their families had been portrayed as supporting the war effort and supporting the war was viewed as shameful after WWII. (Probably a gross oversimplification of the argument, but I hope it makes sense.)

As Carlie noted, illegalizing abortion will not change anything, except for the death rate of women

This and exponentially. It isn't just the women who will kill themselves trying to self abort or getting illegal abortions and dying of sepsis and blood loss. (One of my mom's good friends, Tina, in high school died this way, cutting into her vagina with a long knife and bleeding to death alone where she had hidden to do it. It was labeled a suicide.)

It's also the women who will be allowed to die because the surgeons and doctors will have to save the baby at any cost.

Death death death. If you like death, then ban abortion.

Carlie:

If it were a fake Skatje, the shock waves from the epic bannation would be felt all the way to the Yucatan peninsula.

Indeed. I'm trying to remember from when Skatje last posted...didn't she usually have a link to her blog in her name?

By Caine, Fleur du mal (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Not to me. What you're saying is that you are fine with women's autonomy being legislated by others; that one group's morals be allowed to override all women.

This isn't a women's right issue at the core. The issue isn't whether women can do whatever they want with their own bodies, it's whether fetuses are a protected entity. Asking whether women can do what they want to "their body" is begging the question; that fetuses are merely part of their body.

Those who fight abortion are not on the forefront when it comes to birth control and education; they fight those just as strongly.

You're conflating "pro-life" with other, SEPARATE views that are sometimes commonly held. These are different things. Don't forget that.

By skatje.myers (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Skatje plz don't abort your ferrets =*(

That you are willing to give up your own choice does not grant you the right to make the choice for others.

That is, you've only worked out part of Kant's imperative. You haven't established that you ought to possess authority to enforce your point of view with the police.

By strange gods b… (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

that fetuses are merely part of their body.

nope.

they are however using those bodies. which is fine if permission to do so is given. but no one gets to use other people's bodies without that consent. why would fetuses get a special right in that regard?

By Jadehawk, OM (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Asking whether women can do what they want to "their body" is begging the question; that fetuses are merely part of their body.

Since the fetus cannot survive without using its mother's body for shelter, warmth, nutrients and hormones, and in fact cannot survive without significantly affecting the way its mother's body functions, the fetus cannot be considered a protected entity without interfering with women's bodily autonomy.

The two ideas cannot be separated any more than a fetus can be separated from its mother's body and still survive.

By alysonmiers (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

No, that's Skatje. She's asserting her independence and intellectual autonomy so that I have no excuse to abort her any more.

Dang. Why didn't I raise a family of obedient slaves?

It is not fake Skatje. We are all in IRC cybering and worshipping ferrets.

Also, for those arguing, remember that many of us are also arguing from a pragmatic perspective. We aren't dwelling in gauzy hypothetical conjoined twin delivery minus a day situations; we're concerned about women who are pregnant now. Women who will be pregnant next year. Women who are bleeding out from prolapsed uteri, and women who are frantic and losing their grip because they can't take their antipsychotics while pregnant, and women whose husbands will beat them when they find out they have another mouth to feed, and women who are crushed with grief because they've found out their baby has no brain, and women who are holding their acceptance letter to college in one hand and a positive pregnancy test in the other. These are women who don't have the luxury of thought experiments.

Do you want abortion to be entirely illegal? Then there will be many, many back alley abortions, and many, many women will die from them, and an awful lot of those women will leave behind families who need them. Lots of women with children have abortions to try and maintain a decent standard of life for those they already have.

Do you want abortion to be available only if the life of the mother is at stake? Then either doctors will circumvent that completely by making up excuses, in which case you're advocating a whitewash solution, or (more likely) they'll hesitate in emergencies, not quite sure whether they'll be able to properly prove it or if their license will get pulled, and women will die as their doctors try and decide.

Do you want abortion to be available in cases of rape and incest? Then you can't say you care about the embryo; that is a position that is only consistent with punishing the woman in question if she's not pure and innocent enough.

The babies in other people aren't less privileged than the babies in me.

So, you're willing to make reproductive choices for other women because of your magical thinking about your womb-boogers?

Does it mean nothing to you that we can never be fully equal members of society if we have no choices about where, when, and how we start our families? You're implying that the potential life is more important than my life and I find that incredibly -fucking- offensive.

By OurDeadSelves (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

"You're conflating "pro-life" with other, SEPARATE views that are sometimes commonly held. "

They weren't conflating anything. They were considering the overlap between these views as being significant.

I think there's more call for it than for the reverse: dissociating views from the people holding them, from other views and from their consequences if they are applied; until being "against abortion" is something very abstract indeed.

Internet arguing while at work on a slow connection is frustrating. I'll do my best.

Am I the only person who's thinking fake Skatje?

Sorry to disappoint. We can't all be clones with the same opinions. And also, I've been posting from this username since the comment registration thing was implemented. I used the gmail sign-in thing, where there was no way to have a link to my blog (which is not really there anymore, anyway).

That you are willing to give up your own choice does not grant you the right to make the choice for others.

It's not my choice that causes me to think that others shouldn't abort either. It's the placing a certain value on fetuses that I do.

And yes, this does allow me to tell other people what I believe is the right thing for them to do. We all have our own ideas about right and wrong, and we all wish to see the world operate according to our own beliefs.

By skatje.myers (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

skatje.myers:

This isn't a women's right issue at the core. The issue isn't whether women can do whatever they want with their own bodies, it's whether fetuses are a protected entity.

No. It most definitely is a women's rights issue. If you put fetal protection above the woman who happens to be hosting it, you have condemned that woman to incubator status, not human adult status. When an embryo or fetus can maintain life outside of a host, you can get busy protecting them.

You're conflating "pro-life" with other, SEPARATE views that are sometimes commonly held. These are different things. Don't forget that.

No, I'm not. I have spent so much time involved with women's rights, escorting at clinics, etc., that I'm well aware of the agendas going on. For sure, not every single person who is anti-abortion is also anti-birth control and anti-sex education, however, the majority of them are. Just look at all the schools teaching abstinence only, look at all the initiatives for 'religious conscience'.

If you are honestly against abortion, you should be seriously involved in campaigning for widespread, ease of access, affordable birth control. You should be involved in campaigning for good sex education. Those things will reduce the abortion rate. Attempting to stop a/o illegalize abortion will result in only one thing: dead women. As your priority seems to be fetuses, that would make you pro-dead women along with pro-forced birth. These are not good things.

By Caine, Fleur du mal (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

You're implying that the potential life is more important than my life and I find that incredibly -fucking- offensive.

Yes. This is one thing I have never understood about this position. If the potential baby trumps the woman's life then why would a potential baby that is female also do so? It seems hypocritical. After all the potential female baby will only become a female, and thus lose value to society as anything but a womb.

I've never had any problem with a woman who say "abortion is not for me". My problem comes when that is expended to other women. That is where the first woman's personal decision ends, and the second woman's begins. Just like with smokers. Their right to smoke ends halfway to my nose.

By Nerd of Redhead, OM (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Do you want abortion to be available in cases of rape and incest? Then you can't say you care about the embryo; that is a position that is only consistent with punishing the woman in question if she's not pure and innocent enough.

The problem I have with making exceptions for rape and incest is that the distinction is unenforceable.

Make that law, and suddenly every girl who doesn't want to be pregnant is a rape victim. A heckuva lot of them, anyway. How do you sort out the liars from the real victims? Either you assume they're all telling the truth, in which case most abortions that would have otherwise happened will still happened. Or you set up a well-intended but inevitably imperfect system for deciding which unhappily pregnant women were actually raped and which of them just failed to prevent pregnancy, and there will inevitably be some actual rape victims who are denied legal abortion procedures. Either way, what looks defensible on paper doesn't work out in reality.

By alysonmiers (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

No, that's Skatje. She's asserting her independence and intellectual autonomy so that I have no excuse to abort her any more.

No, PZ, you'd REDUCE her. Gotta use the right euphamism when they begin asserting independence and intellectual autonomy.

This isn't a women's right issue at the core. The issue isn't whether women can do whatever they want with their own bodies, it's whether fetuses are a protected entity. Asking whether women can do what they want to "their body" is begging the question; that fetuses are merely part of their body.

Actually you are begging the question: you assume that even if a fetus is a "protected entity" it should be afforded the right to occupy a person's body against that person's will.

Our system of laws regularly holds that a person may have a right to live, but not the right to be given all those things which sustain life.

By strange gods b… (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

You're conflating "pro-life" with other, SEPARATE views that are sometimes commonly held. These are different things. Don't forget that.

But they are quite related: contraception is an intervention to prevent babies being born that happens before conception, abortion an intervention that happens after conception. The effect is quite the same: no baby is being born, and especially if abortion is done early enough, nobody has suffered any harm. What's so special about conception that it should change our opinion about intervention? It's one of the main issues of the original post, and you haven't addressed it.

And no, there's no way I could hold the position that it's not okay for me to have abortions, but it's okay for other people to.

In other words, you are anti-abortion. You would deny other people the right to make their own decision about their own bodies

The babies in other people aren't less privileged than the babies in me.

So every fetus holds its mother hostage because you don't like abortion.

I don't like rap music. Most of what I've heard is crude, misogynistic, and promotes violence. Should my personal dislike be the basis for outlawing rap? No, I don't think so. If I don't like rap then I won't listen to it. But I will not make that decision for anyone else.

Similarly, your dislike of abortion should not be made mandatory for other women who might not hold your views.

By 'Tis Himself, OM (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Ah ok, PZ. Thanks.

I was worried that it was a sick joke.

Sadly, knowing Skatje is the real Skatje both comforts me and makes me feel really depressed.

The battle for the cultural recognition of female sexual and bodily autonomy is a long ass one and we're winning it, but it's always sad to see young women parroting the same old.

Ah well, why we fight, right? To try and argue the case, etc...

I still might need to bow out. It's way too late here and arguing with someone who had all the education and privileges of a non-abusive non-coercive raising environment and deliberately chose ignorance is just going to bum me out royally.

Skatje, you're not being clear. We understand you would not have an abortion, and you think other people 'shouldn't' have abortions.
Those are personal beliefs and personal beliefs are to be respected otherwise, uh-oh, here come the thought crime police.

I respect your right to be wrong.

However, if you want to impose your beliefs on others through legalistic coersion, then your personal rights are overlapping others' personal rights and that's why we have politics.

Your right to your beliefs end where others' rights begin. The overlap is the public arena.

If you think we should overturn abortion on demand, then I disagree with you, I think you are wrong because you want to impose your beliefs on others.

Morality is a strategy, and people in societies have rights because the society grants those rights. Progressivism is the expansion of rights to others. If we grant marriage rights to gays, that is the expansion established legal rights to include more people. If we continue to deny gay marriage, we are practicing discrimination.

A woman's right to control her reproduction is currently a right granted by our society, I fully support that, and I think you're entitled to your opinion.

I respect your right to be wrong.

Hey, I used to be a libertarian

By scooterKPFT (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

skatje.myers:

And yes, this does allow me to tell other people what I believe is the right thing for them to do.

You absolutely have the right to tell other people you think abortion is wrong, and they are all kinds of fucked up if they think differently.

What you have said though, is that you wouldn't mind at all if your personal opinion was turned into law. That is not the same at all. I'll support your right to an opinion, however, that opinion of yours does not get any say in regard to my body.

By Caine, Fleur du mal (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

It's not my choice that causes me to think that others shouldn't abort either. It's the placing a certain value on fetuses that I do.

And yes, this does allow me to tell other people what I believe is the right thing for them to do. We all have our own ideas about right and wrong, and we all wish to see the world operate according to our own beliefs.

No one disputes your right to tell whoever whatever.

But mere desire does not grant rightful authority. What gives you the right to use police violence to get your way?

By strange gods b… (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Skatje, you say you would be ok aborting if your life was at medical risk in the continuation of pregnancy. What risk do you think should be lawfully *imposed* forcefully on you? Under your system, we are just quibbling where the line should be drawn, and that women should not be the ones permitted to draw it.

ALL pregnancies carry an increased risk of death to the mother, an increased risk of permanent disability.

It is hypothetically theoretically possible that even ectopic pregnancies in the fallopian tubes, may possibly somewhere in some woman not be fatal. *Most* people would say that is a stupid amount of risk to legislate women to take on. Many pregnancies carry no more risk than live kidney transplants, should that be the level of risk mandated?

You say you would only abort in the case of medical necessity. But I am quite certain that *YOU* still want to be the one deciding quite exactly how much risk results in medical necessity. It is YOUR life, and your future we are talking about. And if you are allowed to decide which line of medical risk justifies your abortion, than you should allow other women that same right.

Let's use the organ donor experiment, but change it a little. Let's make it a wee baby. A very, very cute baby who needs a new liver very, very badly.

Skatje, you have a liver that baby could use. It's ok, they just cut off part and adults can usually regrow it just fine. You probably shouldn't ever drink alcohol after that just in case, and it will be a few months of recovery time that will put off your studies in college (and if you have a scholarship, you might lose it due to the down time), and you'll have a pretty big scar, and that part of your body will always twinge a little, but the baby needs it, and you're compatible. Can the state of Minnesota force you to undergo the surgery and donate your liver? Should they? It's the only thing that will save the life of this cute innocent baby. It's in the best interest of society for you to donate it. Can we force you to?

If you think so, why don't we do that already? That scenario plays out dozens of times in this country every day, in every state. So, so many babies could be saved. If not, why not? And what exactly makes this different than forcing a woman to continue a pregnancy? That is a serious question, and gets right back to what Josh asked. Why is a pregnancy any different? Do you have any reason other than "she had sex so she asked for it"?

Cerberus:

I still might need to bow out. It's way too late here and arguing with someone who had all the education and privileges of a non-abusive non-coercive raising environment and deliberately chose ignorance is just going to bum me out royally.

I'm feeling the same way, if it helps any. I've been thinking, while replying to Skatje, that she's had a privileged life. She was wanted, loved, cared for, has parents who actively wanted her to get a good education, etc.

So many women are not in that boat.

By Caine, Fleur du mal (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

they are however using those bodies. which is fine if permission to do so is given. but no one gets to use other people's bodies without that consent. why would fetuses get a special right in that regard?

The fetus isn't some parasite that just popped up there. YOU put it in your body. It is YOUR fault.

I recognise that pregnancy is a serious thing, full of discomfort and health risk. But I'm going to have to say I would place the right of a fetus to live over your right to ignore the consequences of your actions because they're too hard.

If you are honestly against abortion, you should be seriously involved in campaigning for widespread, ease of access, affordable birth control. You should be involved in campaigning for good sex education.

Obviously I am. It's the reason I donate to Planned Parenthood, even though they spam me with email about abortions.

By skatje.myers (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

And no, there's no way I could hold the position that it's not okay for me to have abortions, but it's okay for other people to.

Thinking that something is wrong and that it should be illegal are different. I can think that it's wrong for people to teach their kids that the world is 6000 years old without thinking that making this illegal would cause way more harm than good. This is where I differ from religionists - I believe in harm reduction and choosing the least-bad alternative and think that the totalitarian state in which I could forbid other people from having abortions would be WAY worse in terms of human suffering.

Plus I am not so arrogant as to assume that my beliefs about right and wrong are definitely the correct ones, or even that there are definitive right and wrong categories. (See my earlier comment about how religious traditions that believe that abortion can be the correct decision get ignored in the abortion debate.)

If I don't think abortion is right for me and don't view abortion as a trivial decision for other women, I can seek to support the women in whom fetuses abide so that they can make decisions other than abortion. And I can do this without a lot of inflammatory and abusive rhetoric about ensoulment and murder. Universal health care, a decent social safety net, and quality child care and public education are the best ways to make abortion less frequent, but those are way less dramatic than flouncing around holding signs with pictures of aborted fetuses.

It's the placing a certain value on fetuses that I do.

pffft. in that sense, I place exactly the same value on fetuses as on born people: neither gets to use my body against my will, and in both cases I'm willing to do whatever is necessary to stop them if they try, and I will plead self-defense for doing so.

By Jadehawk, OM (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Skatje, leaving all the "morals" out of whether abortion should be legal, you have to accept that making it illegal will once more will increase the incidence of this. ( Warning:There is a photo in this article that is NSFW and is extremely unpleasant to look at. But that photograph is the truth about making abortion illegal.) Making abortion illegal won't stop abortion. It will just stop safe abortions.

And Skatje, I believe that if you are a moral person who feels as you do about abortion, then you must become an activist for birth control technology and education being available for all young women. That is the way to stop unwanted pregnancy and thus abortion.

I do admire your courage to come here and express an opinion that you know very well is not shared by most here and is not shared by your dad. That took real courage. In all the anger I feel towards the anti-choice crowd, I sometimes lose track of the fact that some people simply can't get away from the potential that is inherent in an embryo. That doesn't make them (and you) crazy or evil. But though I also have feeling for that inherent potential and, as I said above, would probably not have an abortion myself unless it was medically necessary or I knew the embryo was badly damaged (for instance by rubella), I truly believe a woman has a right to control her body and even leaving that aside, I truly believe that it is far more harmful to society in general for abortion to be illegal.

As a final note to Skatje, before the despair sinks me to sleep, read my comment @67

No human has a right to someone else's body without their consent.

If I am a combination of Richard Dawkins and Superman and I will die tomorrow if I don't get a non-vital organ or a blood transfusion from someone who is a combination of George Bush and Hitler? If Bush von Hitler doesn't grant his consent, I get to die.

I certainly don't have the right to occupy his body and drain his nutrients for 9 months without his consent.

This is as a fully grown, full human being. Why in Bob's name would this right be granted to dividing cells that need the mother's enzymes, nutrients, and hormone concentrations to sculpt them into anything even resembling human and build from scratch the organism we call a human being?

A right not given to LIVING HUMAN BEINGS?

Because a fetus is a babee and babees are cute? Because a woman deserves it for spreading her legs?

These are not reasons. If I am SuperDawkins and I need something of the body of Bush von Hitler to survive, I don't have the right to take it or demand it. No matter how awesome or innocent or necessary to my life it is. No matter how bad of a person he is, no matter if he is planning to kill himself the day after I die anyways.

I don't have the right. No one has the right.

But you want to give that unprecedented extra right to a fetus and deny the human right of bodily autonomy to all women.

That's insanity.

Also, how much jail time should a woman serve for murdering a fetus in your mind? 10 years, life, the death sentence? How many years should women serve in prison for having an abortion?

It is YOUR fault.

So you agree that pregnancy and birth, no matter how damaging to both parties, is an acceptable punishment for women who have sex.

The fetus isn't some parasite that just popped up there. YOU put it in your body. It is YOUR fault.

No. I'm not capable of conscious self-fertilization.

By Jadehawk, OM (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

It's the placing a certain value on fetuses that I do.

Placing a certain value on a fetus by definition means also placing a corresponding value and purpose on its mother. If you tell a pregnant woman that her fetus is a protected entity and must be allowed to develop to live birth, then you are also telling that woman that her purpose is to grow a baby. The effect is that her body no longer belongs to her. If she does not get to decide whether to maintain the pregnancy or not, then she is no longer in control of her life. It means that whatever ill effects she suffers from the pregnancy and childbirth are her responsibility to bear because she happened to become pregnant.

There are no protections on a fetus that do not affect the rights of a pregnant woman. The two cannot be separated.

By alysonmiers (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

The fetus isn't some parasite that just popped up there. YOU put it in your body. It is YOUR fault.

What if the fetus is the result of rape? Then it wasn't put in the body, it was forced into the body.

This is the rhetoric we see all too often from the people who want to punish women for having sex. There are better arguments against abortion. I suggest you use them instead of this misogynistic ranting.

By 'Tis Himself, OM (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Jeez I started typing responses offline an hour ago and comments keep on coming. Guess I'll post what I've got and quit.

I'm in total agreement with PZ's OP and I support abortion rights 100%.

That said, I find many of the arguments and rhetoric used by people on "my side" unfortunate. Also as per usual I get picky about some of the details.

Then I suppose masturbation and menstruation also make you uneasy? Same thing.

Seriously? The same? Fighting one false equivalence with another--not wise.

These people do not hold life sacred. They don't care... Pro-lifers are not about "saving babies" - what they are about is controlling women.

This sort of broad-brushing is largely inaccurate and (puts on accomodationist hat) unhelpful. Any one of those "they don't care" statements is going to be untrue of many, many individuals among "them". I think they are mistaken and confused and misinformed and irrational and arrogant and probably hypocritical, but I doubt that the vast majority of them are insincere.
By and large they truly think it's evil to murder babies, and they truly think of fetuses as "not-yet-born" babies. That's it. That's all. That's as far as they can or are willing to think about it. It doesn't even necessarily have to be about "souls". The whole controlling-women's-bodies thing is a largely unexamined consequence of that priority, not a motivation (except perhaps unconsciously in those who are also misogynistic). Hey, I think murdering babies is evil, too.

I am pro-choice, but I don't like seeing my side distort the issue so badly.

agreed

Nobody has the right to use someone else's body

And if they try, they should be killed? Because of "property rights"?

when it's just because she doesn't act sexually the way you think she should?

Unfair. It was not her sexual activity that was criticized ("slut-shaming"), it was the irresponsibility and selfishness of her choice to avoid contraception.

It suggests that anti-abortion is not primarily about the babies, but it's part of a wider agenda. It's about sex. It's about not letting women get away with having free access to it.

Those anti-abortionists who are also anti-contraception (I have no idea what proportion that is and I doubt you do either) are hypocritical fools, of course. Those are your Papists. But their opposition to contraception is motivated purely by religious fealty, whereas their opposition to abortion really is about baby-killing (to them). Of course, these folks also think that sex outside of MW marriage is wrong, etc.

Because they aren't actually interested in preventing abortion. They are interested in punishing women for having sex.

Nope. They--the individual people we are referring to as "They"--really are interested in stopping abortion. Women being punished is a (perhaps, to them) unfortunate consequence but not the motivator.

It is constructed BY THE WOMAN. Enzymes in her surrounding tissues recruit nutrients, blood, bones, tissue, etc... from the food the woman eats and mostly from her own body. Piece by piece she cannibalizes herself

*eyeroll* Pretty melodramatic. If we laid eggs then women would "cannibalize themselves" to put all the raw materials into the egg and the embryo/fetus would still build itself. Mammals just provide the raw materials mostly from income rather than capital.

Something akin to the way a tumor leeches the nutrients and important tissues of the body in order to grow itself.

Really? Reproduction is like cancer to you?

The colloquial use of the term parasite seems a bit off for a biology based blog. It'd be difficult to use the biological term parasite to describe something as fundamentally necessary to life as reproduction.

Correct. Technically, a parasite must reduce its host's fitness. Since fitness is measured (first pass) in population-relative offspring, an offspring cannot in general be a parasite.

It's one organism completely dependent for its survival on siphoning off resources from another, with no reciprocal nutrition going the other direction.

That is true of ALL reproduction and it's simply not what parasitism means in a technical sense.

So we should stop calling cancer a decease, since it's merely good, lifefurthering celldivision?

This makes no fucking sense at all.

The exact nature of the 'relationship' is parasitical.

Wrong. Just because eutherian reproductive physiology is real-time rather than front-loaded does not change the difference between reproduction and parasitism.
A nursing baby is also a parasite by this definition. Hell, my 14-year-old gets all her nutrition from me (indirectly) and gives me no nutrition back. She's no parasite.

some things procreate by parasitizing their own. the method is the same though.

ridiculous.

Reproduction is a parasitic experience in any organism that has internal gestation. If you like, you can argue that it's not a politically expedient term to use, but you can't say that it's biologically incorrect.

You're wrong about this, Carlie.

Parasites live off their hosts without giving the host any benefit

Wrong. That's called "commensalism". Parasitism by definition harms the host, and in biology that means specifically "decreases reproductive success."
You can use words casually however you want, but the point here is that a eutherian fetus is not, biologically, a parasite.

the mother's enzymes and hormone levels "direct" the sculpting of the cell division into the formation of more and more complex human-like objects.

Wow. You're a biologist and that's your take on what's going on in mammalian development?

An unwanted pregnancy is in no way, shape or form different from a cancerous growth.

Because it's "unwanted"? That's a very, very weird argument.

It may be less deadly of a parasitical relationship than say a cancerous tumor cell, but it is definitely not commensalism

Gah! You may be a microbiologist but you don;t know shit about ecology! It's REPRODUCTION. Reproduction is mutually exclusive to parasitism BY DEFINITION.

but whatever. Keep on arguin'.

By Sven DiMilo (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

No. I'm not capable of conscious self-fertilization.

No shit!

skatje.myers wrote:

The fetus isn't some parasite that just popped up there. YOU put it in your body. It is YOUR fault.

Methinks you're going to regret turning to that line of argument, since it's tantamount to saying 'sluts get what they deserve and shouldn't be allowed to avoid punishment'.

By WowbaggerOM (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

@skatje.myers:

The fetus isn't some parasite that just popped up there. YOU put it in your body. It is YOUR fault.

So if it's not your fault, abortion would be OK? If you took all the precautions, but despite condoms and birth control you get pregnant anyway? Or if you got raped? Then where is the line? Do you still qualify for abortion if you used some of the precautions, like condoms only?

Or would abortion still not be OK? If so, then why use this argument?

And even if it is your fault, for instance because you didn't think through the consequences of unprotected sex, do you really think that a forced pregnancy is an appropriate punishment for this crime?

The fetus isn't some parasite that just popped up there. YOU put it in your body. It is YOUR fault.

Ah, so there it is. The "bitch asked for it" rationale.

What do you think about the fact that all contraceptives fail? Is a woman less liable for a pregnancy if she's on a birth control that fails than if she's not on any? What if she's on two? What if she's lied to about whether her partner had a vasectomy?

Do you think that no one should have sex, ever, unless they are fully capable and willing to have a child?

Do you think that 9-10 months of pregnancy, subsequent childbirth, and 18-20 years of fully supporting another person is appropriate punishment for a half-hour of what may or may not have been a rash decision?

What about women who have medical reasons that they can't have a baby? Should they be celibate for life?

But I'm going to have to say I would place the right of a fetus to live over your right to ignore the consequences of your actions because they're too hard.

so you'd be ok with refusing medical treatment to all smokers, obese people, athletes, couch potatoes, people who knew they're allergic to peanuts but had a reaction anyway, etc. ad nauseam?

interesting.

By Jadehawk, OM (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

skatje.myers:

The fetus isn't some parasite that just popped up there. YOU put it in your body. It is YOUR fault.

FFS. Do you even understand how "damn sluts, that what you get for having sex" that statement is?

I got pregnant one time. I've had an abortion one time. I was using two types of birth control when I got pregnant. It happens. Any child I would have been forced to birth would have had an excruciatingly miserable life.* I know this, because I know myself. So, as far as you're concerned, all that would have been worth a so what, you're the one who had sex, it's your fault, you should have thought first or been celibate forever, now take your punishment, and screw what the kid's life will be like!

Nice. Real nice.

*Don't bother to bring up adoption. Not an answer for me, never was an answer.

By Caine, Fleur du mal (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Skatje just used argument #1 of my post @48.

...

Caine @248 Yes, exactly. 100%

But right now, I need to cry myself to sleep.

Someone that loved, raised without so much garbage women have in this society, using a version of the "sluts bring it on themselves" argument...

I understand it. I understand why, but damnitt if this isn't hitting hard.

Night all.

skatje, number. What is the percentage chance of death which the state shall mandate upon all straight women for the privilege of having sex?

What is that number? You are ok for abortion in the case of medical "necessity" but what percentage chance of death must a woman be compelled to experience against her will?

Yep, dandruff. (This may have already been touched upon.) And every time I trim my finger- & toenails. And when the Goodwife trims my hair. The countless intestinal cells sloughed off every time I take a dump. Innumerable bazillions of doomed "persons." This would all be hilarious (and not always in good taste) if this sham philosophy & bozo biology were not taken so seriously by folks several sandwiches shy of a picnic.

Skeetar @ 224

Skatje plz don't abort your ferrets =*(

Three of my family members find your comments offensive and insensitive:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uNpHtJW4GCA

The primate is my son, the other two are distant relatives. Comparing a tame weasel to a potential primate is an insult to muscalites everywhere, which include those adorable otters everybody is so crazy about.

By scooterKPFT (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

I recognise that pregnancy is a serious thing, full of discomfort and health risk. But I'm going to have to say I would place the right of a fetus to live over your right to ignore the consequences of your actions because they're too hard.

Again, why do you presuppose that a fetus has the right to be provided with an incubator, by an individual who does not consent to this, all with the force of the state?

You have not established that such a right exists, nor why it should override a woman's right not to serve as a forced incubator for the government.

I would ask again, what is wrong with the legal system we have now under Roe?

By strange gods b… (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

It is YOUR fault.

But the male half of that equation, he gets off* with no consequences?

There is nothing wrong with consequence-free sex, even if birth control fails or is not used.

Once again, the potential for life should never ever ever trump an actual life, even if one (or both) partners screwed up.

*Pun totally intended. Heh.

By OurDeadSelves (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Sorry, Skatjie, but you are NOT disproving the opinion that you don't have to be crazy, sexist, and/or religious to be against abortion- you certainly ARE SEXIST, even if it's only towards this one (VERY CRITICAL) issue.

As soon as you place the rights of a fetus ahead of the rights of the LIVING WOMAN, you become both sexist and anti-choice. That you wouldn't actively fight to ban abortion means nothing.

The most troubling thing I see in any discussion about abortion is the way that WOMANS AUTONOMY gets ignored straight away! Not that women have negative opinions about their oppressors (and YES, anti-choice is oppression).

I sure hope you never have to make a personal decision about abortion, but even more, I hope you never try to make it for ME! Here's a link to some stories of women that said they would NEVER have an abortion, and fought against it, but ended up doing it anyway (its always different once its your problem!):

http://mypage.direct.ca/w/writer/anti-tales.html

The whole "If you don't like murder don't commit it" is ignorant nonsense that I would expect to hear yelled at a fundie wing nut rally, not here.

By staceyjwsolar (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

There is nothing wrong with consequence-free sex

It's to be preferred.

By strange gods b… (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Tryyying to keep up. Mostly skimming at this point.

The battle for the cultural recognition of female sexual and bodily autonomy is a long ass one and we're winning it, but it's always sad to see young women parroting the same old.

Condescending ass. Parroting the same old? No. I did not form my opinions from hearing pro-lifers argue. Because most of them are retards who think that billboards like the ones above are rational arguments. I resent the idea that I can't come to my own conclusions in my own way, that I must somehow be the same as the rest of the people under this hideous label.

"No one disputes your right to tell whoever whatever. But mere desire does not grant rightful authority. What gives you the right to use police violence to get your way?"

Allow me to explain how the world works.

If I was morally okay with beating people up who didn't give me their money, I guess that's what I would do. But the next person, who has the view that people who beat up other people should go to jail, gets the right to try to put me in jail. etc. Sounds chaotic. Usually something prevails, ends up in law, and we're all forced to follow it, not because we believe it, but because of punishment. I'm fine with the world working that way. I find this to be the best way. So I'll participate.

Skatje, you have a liver that baby could use. It's ok, they just cut off part and adults can usually regrow it just fine.[...]Can the state of Minnesota force you to undergo the surgery and donate your liver?

First of all, I'm going to point out that you're talking to someone who has looked into donating her liver to someone who needs it.

And... I do not find this analogy relevant whatsoever. That is a very different situation.

By skatje.myers (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

If a woman is that irresponsible, surely you don't want her raising a child? It would be unfair to the child.

"I am pro-abortion"

I'll one-up you, PZ. Abortion should be mandatory in many cases.

You need a license to drive (and you need other licenses of sorts to do many society interactions); the law can force you to take a pill if you drink and interact in public (in Colorado, they can force you to do this if you have 2 beers and then ride a bicycle); yet the biggest responsibility, that of creating a human, is unregulated. How many children are the result of planned, wanted pregnancy? Unwanted children are the result of eventual problems in too many cases. The churches have convinced people that this is okay.

Case in point, me babysitting my neighbors kid, born after a few-night-stand to a 19 yr-old-mother. She's since quit college & ended up homeless and government-supported (thank FSM for this because she otherwise would have changed the crime statistics). She'll never be educated and the kid has so little opportunity. Because she wasn't ready, she's a shitty mother (it all led to a drinking problem). All because she felt threatened and frightened by the Catholic church. Yeah, it was real fun to watch. Just one story I have out of a dozen on this topic. Conversely, how many unprepared mothers/couples have had this happen BECAUSE of legal, easy abortion? We use medication/medical procedures to improve our lives/lifestyles routinely. Termination of pregnancy should be likewise routine.

By TimKO,,.,, (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

also, I did NOT consent to be born a straight female. It is none of my damned fault, I didn't do it to myself. So if I get pregnant, it's *not* something I "did to myself" and it's NOT "my fault."

The ability to pursue sexual fulfillment is a strong part of what it is to be fully human, a real person with a real healthy, psychological state. Birth control may sometimes fail. My status as a straight woman is not going to fail. And it is no more my "fault" or something I "did to myself" than the sexual orientation or gender of anyone else on the planet.

It is YOUR fault.

Let me echo those who say that you are really brave to express unpopular opinions on your dad's blog. Personally, I'm sort of afraid to do that, and I don't ever have to deal with him at breakfast... (The homeschooling debate got sort of hairy for me, but I did stick around.)

On the "fault" issue, however, no, that's not true. Even IUDs, Norplant, and sterilization can fail. There are plenty of teen girls who get pregnant and don't know how it happened (think chastity ball attendees). There are women who are raped in relationships, women whose partners sabotage birth control, women who are raped by strangers or family members (think of that 9 year old Brazilian girl pregnant with twins by her rapist stepfather). I am not willing to treat pregnancy and motherhood as a punishment for sexual activity or victimization. Pregnancy often feels like re-victimization for women who have experienced sexual violence, even when it's a planned and highly desired event - how dare I tell a rape victim that she has to devote a year of life (9 months plus at least 3 months hormonal and physical recovery) to the pregnancy her rapist produced?

I'm cynically amused that skatje's original post was about using herself as an example of someone who's anti-abortion but not sexist, only to result in a thoroughly sexist "sluts must be punished" argument.

total fail.

By Jadehawk, OM (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

PZ, although I am in agreement with the main points you made today- how do you counter the church's biggest argument, that the fetus counts as a living human being once it gets a heart. No it's not the same thing as a fully formed baby, but once it has a heart- stopping that is difficult to swallow. Doesn't that argument make your blog post somewhat irrelevant?

That said, I do consider myself pro-choice (although not pro-abortion). But my reasons are that as distatesful as I find abortion, I find harassing women making the most difficult choice of their lives, the legal complications of outlawing it(who decides what is rape or what is medically necessary for any exceptions to an abortion law?), and risks from backwoods abortions all far more distateful.

By ravenkatie (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

But I'm going to have to say I would place the right of a fetus to live over your right to ignore the consequences of your actions because they're too hard.

Whores who fuck deserve what's coming to them? So what kind of women get pregnant? Do you have a mental image? What are their lives like? I'd love to hear it described. Because clearly there's no diversity here.

What happens to them after they're forced to have a baby. Will anyone help them? How about the unwanted and possibly unhealthy children, or the orphans? Their welfare is tied to the welfare of the unwilling slave that was forced to bear and now care for them.

Allow me to explain how the world works.

If I was morally okay with beating people up who didn't give me their money, I guess that's what I would do. But the next person, who has the view that people who beat up other people should go to jail, gets the right to try to put me in jail. etc.

Again, it's not that simple. There has to be a victim, which is apparent in the case of beating up adults, but which is less obvious in the case of abortion. When do you even propose that a fetus acquires rights, anyway? You haven't offered important details. Like what is an acceptable enforcement mechanism, who should be punished and how.

By strange gods b… (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

@ravenkatie: I thought the idea that the heart was the seat of the soul was falsified a long time ago? Wouldn't it be more important to look at the development of the brain?

OurDeadSelves wrote:

But the male half of that equation, he gets off* with no consequences?

To be fair, there is at least a reasonable proportion of males who experience 'consequences' as the result of their contribution - but (obviously) it's nowhere near as impactful as the consequences for the woman.

For me (a male, for those who weren't aware) the thought of an accident leading to pregnancy is something that's affected relationships I've had because I most certainly do not consider myself fit to be a father - not just financially and emotionally but genetically; the thought of passing on what I consider unsuitable characteristics is, for me, a serious consequence that I would have to live with should it happen.

By WowbaggerOM (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Technically, a parasite must reduce its host's fitness. Since fitness is measured (first pass) in population-relative offspring, an offspring cannot in general be a parasite.

Fuck me. I work on parasites. All the times that my parents called me a parasite, and I never thought of this response.

*self-loathing*

*regret*

By Antiochus Epiphanes (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

"...as a living human being once it gets a heart..."

The presence of a functioning circulatory system is no more assurance of "a living human being" than having a given number of chromosomes. Or a tail. Or undeveloped gills.

"We have anti-choice women in for abortions all the time. Many of them are just naive and ignorant until they find themselves with an unwanted pregnancy. Many of them are not malicious. They just haven't given it the proper amount of thought until it completely affects them. They can be judgmental about their friends, family, and other women. Then suddenly they become pregnant. Suddenly they see the truth. That it should only be their own choice. Unfortunately, many also think that somehow they are different than everyone else and they deserve to have an abortion, while no one else does." (Physician, Washington State)

Not sure if its on topic, but wanted to add it anyway.

There IS a difference between being morally against something, and using the power of the government to make others do what you think it right. I don't care if people think abortion is wrong, as long as they don't stand in the way of others that don't agree with them.

By staceyjwsolar (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

I did NOT consent to be born a straight female

Neither did I, and I resent it to the point that I have sometimes thought I should not be one, but becoming transgender is too much for me.

Truthfully I see myself as neither sex.

Reproduction is mutually exclusive to parasitism BY DEFINITION.

Only because we've separated them. Seriously, how are you arguing this? Because it doesn't reduce the fitness level of the individual, is that right? So a parasite is only a parasite if it reduces overall fitness? I can have lice and still have just as many babies as I would without them; does that make the lice nonparasitic? There are all kinds of parasites that routinely operate at a sub-fitness level of injury, and we don't avoid calling them parasites. And even if you want to argue that, I could say that any individual pregnancy has a huge possibility of reducing the overall fitness of the mother, due to lasting health effects like calcium depletion, internal scarring if it was a traumatic birth, and you know, death during pregnancy and childbirth. You mentioned nursing; that's the whole underlying hypothesis behind weaning conflict. The infant wants to keep parasitizing, which reduces the ability of the mother to reproduce again, so they fight it out over a few weeks or months. That's the hypothesis behind infanticide as a form of male competition; the male has to remove the current batch from the mother or she won't come into heat again so she can reproduce. In an animal that has a lot of gestational and infant care like mammals, each pregnancy can most definitely reduce overall fitness.

What would you call the relationship between fetus and host, then, if not parasitism? You can't just call it "reproduction"; that's sloppy, and covers everything from eutherian mammals to sponges' broadcast spawning. What do you define it as?

To be fair, there is at least a reasonable proportion of males who experience 'consequences' as the result of their contribution - but (obviously) it's nowhere near as impactful as the consequences for the woman.

Oh no, I didn't mean to imply that I felt that men were by and large scumbags!

I was reacting to the "it's YOUR fault*" argument-- with the implication that unwanted pregnancy is completely the woman's fault. If we're going to be punishing people for being sexually active, then the men have to fit into that equation somewhere.

*AKA that filthy slut deserves it.

By OurDeadSelves (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Jadehawk, OM:

I'm cynically amused that skatje's original post was about using herself as an example of someone who's anti-abortion but not sexist, only to result in a thoroughly sexist "sluts must be punished" argument.

total fail.

+10 and QFT.

By Caine, Fleur du mal (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

@Carlie #44:

You expressed that very well. I think you may have changed my point of view from being more like Glock21's to being more like yours. This kind of thing is one of the reasons I'm glad to be on Pharyngula.

By molto legato e… (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

So, here come the strawmen.

No, this isn't punishing women for having sex. This is telling them (men and women alike) that "not 100% effective" means something, and you should understand that. You engaged in something, knowing that a pregnancy could result. There is only so much sympathy I can feel. I don't get off on people suffering for it, I wish no one did, but I'm not going to pat you on the back and act like you and the man who impregnated you had no part in the result. (and FYI, I emphasise the bit about the man in this. He's just as responsible, and should never get to abandon (at minimum) financial responsibility)

If I end up pregnant, I won't be sitting there going "oh man, how did THIS happen? I better get this taken care of". I'm aware of how effective my birth control is. I'm aware of what will happen if it fails. I know that if it does, I will have to own up to the result.

It's called admitting responsibility. Not punishment.

By skatje.myers (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

@molto in #291:
We always hear people who claim that these discussions are pointless, because nobody ever changes their minds. Good to hear that is not true.

The World Health Organization in recent years conducted a comprehensive study of abortion rates in nations around the world.

Their findings were extremely consistent, allowing me to simplify greatly here without sacrificing accuracy:

In nations where abortion is illegal, the rate of abortions performed was equal to the rate in nations where abortion is legal. In other words, no matter whether abortion is legal or illegal, the same number of fetuses get killed. Procuring abortions is so important to women who need them, that the possibility of jail time is no impediment. And that makes sense, because the rational person weighing her options can see that the possibility of imprisonment (or death; see next paragraph) is preferable to the certainty of unwanted childbirth and childrearing.

That was the first finding. Illegality does not reduce the number of fetuses being killed.

However, in nations where abortion is illegal, more women die during and after the procedure. That also makes sense. Of course back-alley abortions are going to be more dangerous than abortions in a hospital or clinic with well-trained staff under minimal pressure.

Summary: outlawing abortion does not reduce the number of fetuses being killed, but it does increase the number of women being killed.

Still wouldn't oppose a ban, Skatje?

By strange gods b… (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

ravenkatie:

the fetus counts as a living human being once it gets a heart.

So, brainless is okay, as long as there's a heart?

By Caine, Fleur du mal (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

@ Ol'Greg,

yeah... I wasn't trying to make any statement on transgender or androgynous persons. I actually am not unhappy or resentful of *being* a straight woman. I am *quite* resentful of the double standards and sexist treatment this ensures me in the modern world.

I was just trying to tie the autonomy of female bodies to all other freedoms we are currently fighting for, that of gays and lesbians to be able to pursue sexually fulfilling and full lives, that of transgender persons to pursue their own sexually fulfilling and full lives in the bodies and genders (not necessarily binary) they identify with.

I actually *do* happen to identify fairly well with being a straight woman. I see absolutely NO reason why this should be the only class of person who should not be permitted to pursue sexually fulfilling and full lives, with full bodily autonomy and self-direction.

I am happy for the advance of gay and lesbian rights, but it sometimes appears that even long after we grant the ability of everyone else to have fulfilling and self determined lives, straight women will still be having to fight the same battles, over, and over, and over again.

Which depresses me :(

He's just as responsible

Not hardly. Unless men gain the ability to get pregnant, there's absolutely no way he can responsible (at this stage at least) at all.

It's called admitting responsibility.

And if that choice works for you, all the more power to you. However, because that works for you, do you honestly think that it would work for me? Should I have to put my entire life on hold because of a mistake?

And if you sit back and think about it, yeah you are using a slut-shaming argument, no matter how you phrase it. I will say it again: There is absolutely nothing wrong with consequence-free sex.

By OurDeadSelves (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Leah, you're being too harsh. It's quite typical for people who haven't thought deeply about abortion to be vaguely pro-choice but to have some reservations. If they do think about it, they tend to move to a firmer pro-choice position. E.g. suppose it is a person. Suppose it's conscious. Does the person next to me in a crowd get to use my body against my will, even to keep himself alive? No. Does anyone force me to use my body to keep him alive? No. Is anyone contemplating laws to force everyone to keep others alive by using yet more others' bodies for life support? No. Then it's not about personhood, it's about punishment.

Adult women who have abortions in their lifetime is more about 40% now, not 33%.

I don't know the exact legal situation now, but up til 3 months killing a baby used to be infanticide, which was a less serious crime than murder.

I find it a shame that women bear the most of the responsibility of reproduction. If the world was perfect, it would be equal. Because both parties' actions are equal. I don't hate my gender specifically, I hate them both equally. <3

By skatje.myers (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Anyone arguing "personhood" has let the other side set the terms of the debate. Personhood is irrelevant in the face of the precedent for life support, e.g. organ donation or blood donation, which is key.

No, this isn't punishing women for having sex. This is telling them (men and women alike) that "not 100% effective" means something, and you should understand that.

Automobiles are not 100% safe. Should people who ride in cars not be medically treated in the case of accident? Why not just let them suffer and die so they can admit responsibility?

Subjecting women to unnecessary pain and forfeiture of medical choice sure sounds exactly like "punishment."

By strange gods b… (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

We live in Minnesota, and my wife and I enjoy mocking those billboards (which are ALL over along the interstates).

Someday I would like to produce a billboard that says, "I could slam dunk a basketball six months after I was conceived!" and has a silhouette of a fetus with a basketball springing toward the hoop, Nike-Air Jordan style.

If anyone can help me with this, it would bring my joy.

OurDeadSelves wrote:

I was reacting to the "it's YOUR fault*" argument-- with the implication that unwanted pregnancy is completely the woman's fault. If we're going to be punishing people for being sexually active, then the men have to fit into that equation somewhere.

Agreed. I see slut-shaming as one of the worst justifications for holding anti-choice views, if for no other reason than it's so ridiculously one-sided. If I've impregnated her then it's grossly unfair for me to get off so easy if the woman is to be punished with forced pregnancy.

By WowbaggerOM (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

It's called admitting responsibility.

And going for an abortion is a method of taking responsibility for what happened. Abortions aren't a visit to the ice-cream shop; they take time, and effort, and pain, and often ridicule from the protesters outside, and money. Why shouldn't this option be open? Why is this not a form of taking responsibility?

I'm getting frustrated, so I should stop for the night. But glancing over the thread again, I see that what I've written are views that have honestly taken me several years to develop. I don't expect that you, or anyone, will suddenly say "Oh yes, it's all true as you said it!" It's the kind of thing that, for a person who is really wedded to the idea that embryos are precious snowflake people, takes an awful lot of time to unpack. Yes, the idea of women = people is a simple one. But there are so many entanglements here, and people do fall at various places in their comfort level, and there are so many angles to approach it from. It takes a long, long time to formulate a solid viewpoint on the subject that isn't just a knee-jerk response, whatever that viewpiont is. I think the biggest thing anyone can ask is for you (and anyone else with that view) to take the time to really evaluate what you think about it and why. Look past the stereotype straw woman of a slut who doesn't bother to use birth control and see all of the reasons women have abortions, and all of the situations they're stuck in. Think about what it really means to privilege a fetus over the woman outside it. If you want to hold that position, be sure that you understand all its underlying assumptions and all of its ramifications.

@ 293

Interesting, because as much as I disagree with you in principle, it was sloppy birth control and bureacratic firewalls that turned me into a family man, with no regrets.

However, that was a joint decision with my partner (now wife) which ignores this:

High school girl with a bourgeois dream
Just like the pictures in the magazine
That she found on the floor of the laundromat

A woman with kids can forget all that
If she comes up pregnant what'll she do
Forget the career, forget about school
Can she live on faith? live on hope?
High on Jesus or hooked on dope
When it's way too late to just say no
You can't make it here anymore

By scooterKPFT (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

sometimes, being responsible looks like using contraception.

sometimes, being responsible looks like getting an abortion.

sometimes, being responsible looks like pursuing adoption.

sometimes, being responsible looks like properly caring for a child.

Often, children aren't cared for. THAT is irresponsible. Anything in the above list is responsible.

No, this isn't punishing women for having sex. This is telling them (men and women alike) that "not 100% effective" means something, and you should understand that. You engaged in something, knowing that a pregnancy could result.

So what do you suggest women who don't want children do? No sex at all? How is this not a women's rights issue if you are willing to frame it like this?

It's called admitting responsibility.

You don't need to be forced through a pregnancy to admit responsibility. You can also admit responsibility for the unintended pregnancy and then very responsibly go to an abortion clinic to end it.

You still haven't explained why it's OK to intervene before conception, but not after.

You engaged in something, knowing that a pregnancy could result.

You're still insisting that only one type of woman or one type of sexual activity results in pregnancy.

You're expectations here are unrealistic. Should a family with four children be forced into poverty because of failed birth control?

These aren't strawmen, they are the real stories of human beings whose lives are ruined by the delusions for which you argue so prettily.

Delusions that pretend away the realities of life.

And if that choice works for you, all the more power to you. However, because that works for you, do you honestly think that it would work for me? Should I have to put my entire life on hold because of a mistake?

I wish the consequences weren't so dire, but that's unfortunately how life is.

And if you sit back and think about it, yeah you are using a slut-shaming argument, no matter how you phrase it. I will say it again: There is absolutely nothing wrong with consequence-free sex.

There is something wrong with it if it results in the death of something that ought to be allowed to live. Which brings us back to the main argument.

By skatje.myers (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

the fetus counts as a living human being once it gets a heart

So would you say that someone who took a person, opened their chest (without anesthesia) and ripped their heart out had committed murder? In many circumstances I would too, but not in one special circumstance: if the person in question were brain dead and the heart were being removed for organ donation. No brain, no living person. One can debate at what point "brain birth" happens or if the concept even makes sense but it is absolutely certain that an embryo (it's not a fetus yet) at the time of first heart beat does not a working brain.

It's called admitting responsibility. Not punishment.

getting an abortion is being responsible. it's just not the flavor of responsibility you like, because you'd like to confer on fetuses the special right of slaveholders.

but just like a slave doesn't actually have any automatic moral responsibility to their slavemaster, even if their capture was the unintended consequence of their actions, so a woman doesn't have an automatic moral responsibility to a fetus, just because her enslavement was the unintended consequence of her actions.

If the world was perfect, it would be equal.

and if unicorns shat sandwiches, we could end world hunger.

wishful thinking and hypotheticals are a shitty basis for arguing the fate of real human beings.

By Jadehawk, OM (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

As a further commentary on the sanities and insanities of our culture; zygotes are not people, but corporations are, atleast as far as our Supreme Court is concerned.

By Dornier Pfeil (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

And... I do not find this analogy relevant whatsoever. That is a very different situation.

It appears to be the same situation. At issue is one's need of another's body to survive, and the role of the state in deciding how much one should be forced to give to another.

Why shouldn't the government be allowed to decide that you should give me part of your liver, or a kidney?

If this is "just different," exactly why is it too different?

By strange gods b… (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

"Reproduction is mutually exclusive to parasitism BY DEFINITION.

Try telling that to your mitochondria.

I don't hate my gender specifically, I hate them both equally.

A fellow misanthrope, I salute you.

Freinds of George Carlin and Mark Twain

By scooterKPFT (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

No, this isn't punishing women for having sex. This is telling them (men and women alike) that "not 100% effective" means something, and you should understand that.

Oh yes it is punishment. It's blatant slut shaming. Anyone who thinks a woman must be forced to birth is all about the punishment. You denying that isn't going to make it so.

By Caine, Fleur du mal (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Why do I eternally use the wrong form of your/you're

skatje.myers wrote:

(and FYI, I emphasise the bit about the man in this. He's just as responsible, and should never get to abandon (at minimum) financial responsibility)

But if the child is adopted out, the man need only pay for his share up until the birth and then he's 'done his time' - while the woman being punished has to bear any physical consequences of having had the child* for the rest of her life. How is that comparable?

*Which - as has been noted - include death, infertility and other very serious physical ailments, not to mention any psychological/emotional problems they might suffer.

By WowbaggerOM (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

I wish the consequences weren't so dire, but that's unfortunately how life is.

But it doesn't have to be, that is my point.

Any what's with the magical thinking about fetuses? Potential for human life =/= human life.

By OurDeadSelves (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

There is something wrong with it if it results in the death of something that ought to be allowed to live.

ought? yeah, I don't think so. just like I'm not going to legislate cannibalism because the death of one might save a bunch of others, I'm not gonna legislate forced pregnancies.

By Jadehawk, OM (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

getting an abortion is being responsible.

Objectively correct.

I wish the consequences weren't so dire, but that's unfortunately how life is.

How life is: we have Roe as settled law, and we're lucky as a society for it.

How life is: nations with more restrictions do not have fewer abortions, but they do have more deaths of women.

By strange gods b… (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

So a parasite is only a parasite if it reduces overall fitness?

Corect. This is not my personal definition, but the conventional term of art in community ecology.

I can have lice and still have just as many babies as I would without them; does that make the lice nonparasitic?

Yes. It makes them commensal (unless they are disease vectors).

any individual pregnancy has a huge possibility of reducing the overall fitness of the mother,

This is crazy talk. Without pregnancy fitness is zero.

The infant wants to keep parasitizing, which reduces the ability of the mother to reproduce again

No, the "infant" "wants" to keep receiving direct parental care. It's not parasitizing, again, by definition. Parental care increases the mother's fitness. Fitness is not how many kids are popped out, it's how many kids go on themselves to successfully reproduce. But you know this.

In an animal that has a lot of gestational and infant care like mammals, each pregnancy can most definitely reduce overall fitness.

Read what you just wrote there. Sorry, parental care most emphatically does not decrease overall fitness; if it did it wouldn't evolve.

What would you call the relationship between fetus and host, then, if not parasitism? You can't just call it "reproduction"; that's sloppy, and covers everything from eutherian mammals to sponges' broadcast spawning.

I wouldn't refer to a pregnant eutherian as a "host". "Reproduction" is exactly what it is. Extended gestation is much more similar to laying eggs or broadcast spawning or even asexual budding than it is to parasitism. That's not "sloppy," it's basic biology.

What do you define it as?

You mean what do I call the relationship? "Gestation."

By Sven DiMilo (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Automobiles are not 100% safe. Should people who ride in cars not be medically treated in the case of accident? Why not just let them suffer and die so they can admit responsibility?

Irrelevant. Ignoring the fact that women must deal with this pregnancy because suddenly there is another entity within her.

You're expectations here are unrealistic. Should a family with four children be forced into poverty because of failed birth control?

Man, does adoption NOT exist?

By skatje.myers (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

317

forced to birth and abortion rights are not the same thing, that's a logical fallacy. Or maybe phallusey, whatever, my spelling suckles.

By scooterKPFT (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

No, this isn't punishing women for having sex. This is telling them (men and women alike) that "not 100% effective" means something, and you should understand that. You engaged in something, knowing that a pregnancy could result. There is only so much sympathy I can feel.

Again, there is a divide between intent and effect.

No contraceptive method is 100% effective at preventing pregnancy. However, abortion is 100% effective at ending it. If there is nothing wrong with having sex, then there should be no consequences of unwanted pregnancy and childbirth. A fertile woman should not have to "admit responsibility" for her actions if she has done nothing wrong.

This here:

YOU put it in your body. It is YOUR fault.

ultimately means that, by having sex with a man, a woman of childbearing age has done something wrong and must accept the consequences. It means that having sex is somehow wrong, and it must be justified with the possibility of childbearing.

It ultimately means that the baby is her punishment.

I don't know about y'all, but I think children deserve better than to be their parents' punishment.

You can say that's not what you mean, but if your opinions are made into public policy, that is the effect. There is no equivalent punishment for a man or a non-fertile woman. If abortion is illegal except in severely restricted circumstances, then the concrete effect is that fertile women are punished for having sex.

By alysonmiers (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Man, does adoption NOT exist?

You have no idea what it is like to carry or have a child.

It is not a magic box from which a baby pops out.

It costs many thousands of dollars, has permanent affects on your body, can kill you.

No, adoption is not ideal or even possible for some.

Why should a woman be FORCED to undergo a pregnancy as a punishment?

skatje.myers spake:

Hello, I'm Skatje. I was raised without religion, by the author of this blog. Personally, I would not have an abortion, unless my life was at stake.

Since hypotheticals are popular today, how about this: What if legislation was adopted banning all abortion without exception? Even if an abortion was medically necessary to protect the life of the mother, because fetuses are determined to be "protected entities." The state would enforce this law so that any woman determined to be a high risk pregnancy was immediately institutionalized and subsequently physically/chemically restrained to ensure the pregnancy would be carried to term, such that the mother (let's say it's you) could in no way even choose to endanger this protected entity. In fact the protected entity will benefit from proper medical care. If the mother dies, the resulting baby would be then adopted by some eager parents-to-be.

You said:

This isn't a women's right issue at the core. The issue isn't whether women can do whatever they want with their own bodies, it's whether fetuses are a protected entity.

This hypothetical legislation is really about the protected entity and has nothing to do with a what decisions a woman can make about her own bodies, right?

At what exact milestone should the fetus become protected? Would you feel comfortable if that milestone was used for the legislation in this scenario?

The vibe I'm getting from some commenters here is: "Oh I support a woman's right to choose, but we need to have a serious discussion of a theoretical dividing line that we could employ to determine which abortions are less icky. I mean it's not a black-and-white decision and coming to a consensus on a agreed upon milestone in this forum will make it easier for the women who might have to have to make a decision about her body. And easier for me to sleep at night without feeling anxiety for all the potential persons forever lost to mankind"

By SquidBrandon (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

skatje,

Other people are in a multitude different situations - and the law is a very ineffective tool to use when the decisions are so complex.

In a quiet moment, you might want to try out listing the potential situations that any such law will apply to - everything from the 9 yo incest victim, people with miserable/fatal genetic flaws, drug user, pedophile, person in abusive relationship, college applicant, person who really doesn't know how they became pregnant (date-rape drug?), malformed fetus, financial constraints, mother has health issues, girl who has not had sex education of any sort, and so on.
Try to write a law that will give you the desired outcome, knowing that if you exclude people who feel they need an abortion from obtaining one, that you are increasing their risk of misery and death, and possibly rendering them infertile due to a botched abortion.

You will find that such a law is difficult to get right, because it is so dependent on circumstances. The question is not so much if abortion is right or wrong, but who is in the best position to make that decision: the individual or the state.

Something else that is starting to be worrisome is the Personhood movement. They're trying to do an endrun around the abortion question by declaring that everything with human genes be declared "a person".

Ah, crap. If they win what am I going to do about all those people sitting in petri dishes in my lab? They've got human genes, they're alive, they must be people. Ok, they're single celled and do nothing but reproduce, but so what? They're people. I guess it doesn't really matter since I've also been committing mass murder against a bunch of cancer cells with human genes anyway. So what if they were going to kill their hosts, they're alive and have human genes, they must be people, right?

In short, are the people involved in the "Personhood movement" prepared to take the consequences of their actions: No cancer treatment of any sort whatsoever, a drastic reduction in the amount of biology and medical research that occurs in the US, and the need to support, eternally, a bunch of cell cultures? Anti-abortion advocates often talk about "taking responsibility". Are they prepared to take the consequences of their philosophy and actions?

I think you should not have an abortion whenever possible. Although you should not deny a woman the right to have an abortion who made this tough decision. It is a personal matter not a legal one.

As a man, I can speak only about my putative offspring here, and I would actually not respect but rather accept a woman's decision to abort my genetic information. Instead I would try to convince her to deliver this child and give it to me. Most people reject a moral like mine, but it is a product my own selfish thinking. If the fetus is mine, I want it to develop to a child and get a fighting chance to make a difference in this world. I would even pay her three times her regular salary for the nine month and 6 month after to, at least financially, compensate her for the effort. I know that there is more to it than just a couple of month of pregnancy and money, but again, if it is my genetic information I would do everything allowed by the law to preserve it.

Something I learned in the age of 15 which had a big influence on my personal ethics is this:
When my mom was pregnant with me, several doctors told her that she and her baby would die if she doesn't have an abortion right. So to say, I was a medically justified abortion. She took the chance and lived to become old, healthy and happy.

Mommy is my hero!
Y.

Irrelevant. Ignoring the fact that women must deal with this pregnancy because suddenly there is another entity within her.

abortion is a way of dealing with it.

what you're suggesting is that she must face the full consequences rather than choosing the best option available. that's punishment. and since it only affects women, it's sexist punishment.

By Jadehawk, OM (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Just caught this:

and if unicorns shat sandwiches, we could end world hunger.

I love you Jadehawk. :D

By OurDeadSelves (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

skatje

does adoption NOT exist?

Oh no, you really haven't done too much research on this.
Yes adoption does exist, there is a great demand for white babies in the US.

By scooterKPFT (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

I wish the consequences weren't so dire, but that's unfortunately how life is.

But we have changed how life is. We now have RU-486 and other methods to safely end pregnancies. The consequences don't have to be dire at all. Why do insist that the consequences continue to be dire?

There is something wrong with it if it results in the death of something that ought to be allowed to live.

So what about all the babies that you didn't allow to live because you never allowed any sperm to reach the eggs? Why don't you consider that wrong as well?

Try telling that to your mitochondria.

what?

By Sven DiMilo (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

sorry, missed one word which is necessary for context

"she and her baby would die if she doesn't have an abortion right away."

One last comment for the night -

There's a very interesting book called "The Unit" by Ninni Holmqvist that was translated into English last year. It's about a society in which people over the age of 50 have to check into government-run facilities where they live in the lap of luxury - except that they have to donate any part of their bodies needed until they finally collapse from the losses. The concept definitely has some parallels with the current discussion.

I love how people keep saying Skatje is so brave for posting her opinions on her own father's blog, knowing full well that everyone else knows she's the overlord's daughter, and they will (and in fact are) granting her a lot of respect, mostly for that very reason.

If she used a pseudonym, or even deigned to offer a religious argument against abortion, you would be on her like hounds in the most visceral way, and making oneself vulnerable to the kinds of abuses regularly thrown at religious commenters is a much better show of bravery.

By BigMKnows (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

The state would enforce this law so that any woman determined to be a high risk pregnancy was immediately institutionalized and subsequently physically/chemically restrained to ensure the pregnancy would be carried to term, such that the mother (let's say it's you) could in no way even choose to endanger this protected entity.

Let's carry this to it's logical extreme.

All women found pregnant are held in state control and forced to undergo a regime of health activities geared toward preserving the infant's health.

Mentally ill women are sedated and kept in restraint.

After the infants are harvested from these women, the state will then determine which of them are fit mothers and which should have their children remain in state care.

The wages of sin are to remain as permanent reminders in the woman's bodies of what they brought on themselves by allowing a penis inside of them under any circumstances.

skatje.myers wrote:

Irrelevant. Ignoring the fact that women must deal with this pregnancy because suddenly there is another entity within her.

It's not irrelevant because you linked pregnancy with responsibility. The comparison is apt, and you can't just handwave it away as you have done.

By WowbaggerOM (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Irrelevant. Ignoring the fact that women must deal with this pregnancy because suddenly there is another entity within her.

You said that because people know condoms are not 100% effective, they should not be allowed to have a medical procedure that addresses the problem.

This is an extremist claim, one that does not make sense alongside the other ways we deal with medical risk in this country. We do not normally withhold medical treatment just because the patient could have avoided the need for treatment.

You have not yet established that there is a right to use another person's body for one's own subsistence. Neither have you explained when during the pregnancy this right is supposed to arise, or why.

By strange gods b… (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

and just because I think this really needs to be said:

I really wouldn't have minded if my mom had aborted me.

By Jadehawk, OM (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

@ 335

interesting point, I think we might be able to turn Skatje a bit with the RU-486 (morning after pill)

Hopefully PZ will have some grandkids though.

By scooterKPFT (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Man, does adoption NOT exist?

Adoption has its own consequences, including severe and often life long depression in the relinquishing mother. The issue hasn't been studied extensively but all available evidence suggests that placing a baby for adoption is extremely dangerous to a woman's mental health. Even assuming that her physical health is only minimally affected by the pregnancy.

Yubal,
That was a piece of luck - your mum took a big risk, and it panned out.

Not everyone is so fortunate, so you are quite right to recognise that evaluating the risk is a personal decision.

I think we might be able to turn Skatje a bit with the RU-486 (morning after pill)

IIRC, RU-486 is an abortion pill. Plan B (the "morning after pill") is a wicked high dose of birth control that does not allow the embryo to implant in the uterine wall.

By OurDeadSelves (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

I think this is Skatje's point: if you have reached the conclusion that a fetus at age X is an individual, some reasonable approximation of a human being, then the argument about the woman's autonomy doesn't matter -- you don't get to kill a person simply because they are dependent on another individual, their mother. It's a fairly principled position that says no one should kill another person...and makes the assumption that the fetus has some status as a person.

It's a fair argument, but it's also one that ignores the central point of this post: whether the fetus is a person is ambiguous. Sure, there's some point where it is; it's definitely later than conception, but precisely when that personhood is instantiated is undefined, and probably can't defined.

I'd push it to a date much later than most people (I'm not even certain that a newborn counts as a human being). Others set it much earlier. Reasonable people can argue about where the dividing line lies. Except that only crazy people can argue that it is at conception, which ignores all the biology that must intervene to turn a one-celled or multi-celled mass into something functional.

I see that Skatje is answering comments after #295. It's an appropriate time to ask, then:

Skatje, why would you allow the banning of abortion when you know that such laws do not reduce the number of abortions, but do cause the deaths of more women?

Why are you OK with more women dying?

By strange gods b… (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Yes adoption does exist, there is a great demand for white babies in the US

And babies whose mothers aren't addicted to narcotics, on crack, have AIDS.

Yes skatje... AIDS. I've volunteered at a hospice for babies born HIV positive. Does adoption exist for these women, who have been infected by their last partner, who may very well have been their husband?

No, really it doesn't. The amount of people willing to care for these children vs the number of them does not balance.

In the case of an AIDS infected pregnant woman, abortion may be the most humane thing she can do.

no, Plan B prevents ovulation. RU-486 is the high-dose birth control that induces an abortion.

By Jadehawk, OM (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Not everyone is so fortunate, so you are quite right to recognise that evaluating the risk is a personal decision.

Yeah. A patient of mine decided to take that risk. She's dead now. Despite aggressive prenatal care. Pregnancy can kill and it does. More often than we like to pretend.

Man, does adoption NOT exist?

Yes, it exists, in a highly broken state in the U.S. There are a wealth of children who don't get adopted. Adding more isn't the best thing. A lot of people don't want to adopt anything other than a very young baby. A lot of other people simply want to do their own breeding. IVF wouldn't have the clients it does if adoption were such a solution.

However, adoption is not an answer to an unwanted pregnancy. I've said this before. I have never had the least desire to have children; if I had been in a situation where, through lack of choice, I had to birth, adoption would still mean I had a child "out there" somewhere. I didn't want that.

I'm not an irresponsible adult. I used birth control until I was able to get sterilized (something which is incredibly difficult for a young woman to do. A doctor won't think twice about a pregnant 15 year old; however, if an 18 year old wants to be sterilized, you get patted on the head and told to come back when you're 35, after you've had kids).

I got pregnant while using two forms of birth control. I made the responsible choice of aborting. I know that was the right choice. You don't get to make the decision for me, citing your self-righteousness as knowing what's best. You don't understand what responsibility entails. If you did, you wouldn't be so focused on reducing women to incubator status or punishing them for having sex.

By Caine, Fleur du mal (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Let's carry this to it's logical extreme.

All women found pregnant are held in state control and forced to undergo a regime of health activities geared toward preserving the infant's health.

Already

being

done.

In #147, Josh asked for moral qualms about abortion (right?). A bit about me: I have been on both sides of this issue. I have been a birth mother twice rather than have an abortion. That was years ago, and if I knew then what I know now, I would have chosen to have an abortion in the second case (it would have been illegally late in the first case; for medical reasons that pregnancy was undiagnosed until well into my second trimester). At that time I shared Skatje's views, almost identically.

I am now pro-woman on the issue of abortion. However, if I was to express why I might think abortions are not morally neutral now, I would say these things (and I do not necessarily defend them, I am just offering something like a lingering state of doubt):

1. To be forced to admit that I am bearing an unwanted and/or coerced pregnancy would be shameful to me, and having an abortion would be the same as making such an admission, and I would feel ashamed. I would feel like an incompetent slacker if the reason for getting an abortion was economic or due to something like depression, and like there was something wrong with me fundamentally as a reproducing woman if there turned out to be something wrong with the fetus. Because this causes me such deep personal pain, I would not want to put any other woman in the position of having to make that admission. I can't think of a reason for getting an abortion that would be one hundred percent praiseworthy and desirable. (This is not altogether rational, I admit. My failure to think of such a reason does not mean that such a reason could never exist.)

2. The fetus, whatever else it is, is mine. It is approximately half my own genetic material, and it is being built out of my own body. It is either part of me or it is not. Many abortion rights proponents, in order to build the claim that I have the right to evict it, say that it is. If I agree, and if I have normal self-esteem, I should naturally feel protective of and take ownership of that part of my self, and see that it develops naturally and normally and under the best possible circumstances, as I would any other part of my body. I would protect it against harm because I protect myself from harm. The fact that it will be autonomous later is irrelevant until the moment it actually gains autonomy.

Again, I am absolutely one hundred percent on the side of reproductive freedom. Remember, I was once pretty vocal about Libertarianism on this blog (under a different name, though). Though I am a Libertarian no longer, I still uphold personal freedom of choice.

By badgersdaughter (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

There is something wrong with it if it results in the death of something that ought to be allowed to live.

A pregnant woman does not simply "allow" her fetus to live. She goes through the work of maintaining the pregnancy. Again, this is not a matter of simple non-intervention.

Furthermore: have you ever donated blood, Skatje? If so, whose decision was it for you to get in that chair and let that nice white-coated phlebotomist take your blood?

If the hospital and blood bank suddenly ran out of blood in your type, and surgery patients and accident victims desperately needed transfusions in order to survive, could you be forced to get in that donation chair at a moment's notice and give up another pint? I'm not asking you if you would be willing to donate, I'm asking what the authorities could do to you, regardless of your consent.

If those patients died because no one could be persuaded to donate blood, are those deaths murders? Can the people who didn't feel like donating blood recently be charged with a crime?

And if a car crash victim cannot be entitled to a blood transfusion, then why does a fetus have an absolute entitlement to live off its mother's body without her consent?

Man, does adoption NOT exist?

That is a...TREMENDOUS empathy fail.

By alysonmiers (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

BigMKnows,
Skatje gets respect in part because she uses the phrase "beg the question" correctly :-)

I think that she is getting treatment similar to Walton - we know he is intelligent, young, and sometimes quite wrong, and so people are generally patient and write respectfully and at length, hoping to persuade, knowing that he will be able to understand the arguments (eventually), even if he rejects them.

Maybe patience is extended a little more for Skatje, and there is less cursing, but notice the way her arguments are ripped to shreds with no mercy.

no, Plan B prevents ovulation. RU-486 is the high-dose birth control that induces an abortion.

Well, shit. I should have looked that up before I opened my mouth.

Side note: I don't understand why a thoughtful, educated, godless woman would feel that sex ought to have consequences. It just doesn't jive.

By OurDeadSelves (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

This slut-shaming business is ridiculous. I didn't set the damn rules. To accuse me of targeting women is nonsensical. If it was men who had to be pregnant, I would STILL say that a fetus has some degree of a right to life. Go figure.

Anyway. I'm glad a few people have decided to remember what this discussion was originally about.

The point I was trying to make somewhere was that I give fetuses some level of value, which is higher than the right to consequence-free sex. This value is not the same as a child. Or an adult. The mother's life takes precedence over the fetus' life. But the mother's comfort (plus degrees of health effects, etc.) after knowingly bringing about a life does not take precedence over the fetus' life, IMO.

If you think it's more important for you to be able to have sex without worries than to allow a fetus to live, then I'm not going to change your mind. You place your values there, I place my values here. Why I do is a bit longer than I can post in a comment thread on Pharyngula, while I'm at work and procrastinating writing my senior seminar paper. I might get around to it on my own site someday, but not right this second.

I think I started this by just wanting to point out that we're not all religious conservatards. But then I ended up in a debate. :S

By skatje.myers (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

I really wouldn't have minded if my mom had aborted me.

This would hurt my mom a lot, but I some times wish she might have.

I have had a hard life and don't feel I've done much worthwhile.

But my mother was very bright and talented. Her main fault was staying faithful to an abusive man. She wanted children and chose to have one although it was not a good situation.

I love my dad, but he is unstable in the extreme and an addict.

My mother put us both through hell, and she lost most of her options in life in order to have me.

If she had not had me, or had aborted me, I can't help but think maybe she would have left 30 years ago and done some of the things she wanted to with her life.

Instead my childhood can be summed up by Eliot Smith pretty eloquently:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nO37ro-IfVQ

One thing that is wrong with Skatje's "responsibility for having sex" argument is that it is perfectly possible to get pregnant without having penetrative sex. All it takes is for the sperm to meet up with the egg somehow, someway, whether carried by fingers, mouth, or (in one notable case in the medical literature) speeding bullet.

Skatje, I'm telling you, it may save your life someday to know that it is possible to get pregnant while deliberately avoiding pregnancy.

By badgersdaughter (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

@Yubal:

As a man, I can speak only about my putative offspring here, and I would actually not respect but rather accept a woman's decision to abort my genetic information.

A woman has just as much right to reject your genetic information when it is embedded in a fetus as when it is in your sperm.

You also speak as if you can own a fetus, and pay a woman for the use of her body. At least you are already aware that you are selfish and your morals are off.

If she used a pseudonym, or even deigned to offer a religious argument against abortion, you would be on her like hounds in the most visceral way, and making oneself vulnerable to the kinds of abuses regularly thrown at religious commenters is a much better show of bravery.

I'm only impressed because she's disagreeing vigorously with someone she presumably has to have a continuing relationship with, and in a very public and archived manner. Same as I was impressed with my 10 year old daughter took on an anti-abortion acquaintance in a face-to-face argument and held her own beautifully. And while I'm not particular concerned about "tone," I personally don't like to behave like a hound, even when I agree with those who do. Preferences vary...

This slut-shaming business is ridiculous. I didn't set the damn rules. To accuse me of targeting women is nonsensical. If it was men who had to be pregnant, I would STILL say that a fetus has some degree of a right to life. Go figure.

but they don't. the real results of your positions have disproportionate consequences on women. that alone already makes them sexist. make your peace with that, if you're going to insist on holding these opinions.

By Jadehawk, OM (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

And here's a point that has been brought up, but as far as I can see, not addressed:

I am a smoker. I know the risks to my health that cigarettes pose. I have tried to quit several times (my personal triumph was remaining smoke-free for a year). Should I be denied live-saving medical care if I develop cancer, even though I know the risk of tobacco use?

Should my life end because I made a stupid mistake in my teens?

By OurDeadSelves (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Cerberus:

grow the fuck up.

What the fuck are you on about? Save your histrionics for somebody who gives a fuck.

Aratina:

When and where has that happened when it wasn't medically necessary?

Don't know. Don't care. Not the point. In fact, there wasn't a point other than I was just trying to clarify Cerberus' position so I knew for sure what he/she meant.

Negetropyeater:

what's dishonest about saying that nobody has the right to use someone else's body? Nobody means no person or no clump of cells. it doesn't matter.

Nice red herring. That has nothing to do with what I said. Try addressing what I actually said. It is dishonest to call any fetus a child, and it is dishonest to imply that all fetuses are a "fucking clump of cells" or a blastocyst. One of those changes the moral implications, the other doesn't. But they are both dishonest. Dishonesty is something I feel should be avoided. Do you think I'm wrong about that?

Carlie:

If you're not, how many women are you comfortable with killing to prevent this hypothetical situation from happening? One? Ten? A hundred? A thousand? If abortion is limited, it will happen. Some of them will die. How many are you comfortable with? That's not a rhetorical question. How many?

Extremely distorting me here. Read what I wrote and you'll see that there were no value judgements in there at all. I was merely clarifying Cerberus' position for the sake of honest dialog. That appears to be a crime here.I am pro-choice and said so already. The answer, by the way, is ZERO!

Skooter

That's a non-argument, an abortion during labor is called a Cesarian, and if done correctly all survive.

What I told everybody else. There was no fucking argument. The point of that post was not to make a fucking argument. Just translating idiomatic language into honest direct language for the sake of clarity. Jesus Hussein Christ!

Meta: It is interesting that just trying to keep people honest is interepretted as attacking some sacred cow. There is a lot of emotion invested in both sides of this issue and I think it is clouding people's judgement and reading comprehension. Hopefully I've cleared it up adequately. This is precisely why I usually don't comment on these threads and will not on future ones. Even agreeing with you people is not enough to avoid being attacked.

@339

knowing full well that everyone else knows she's the overlord's daughter, and they will (and in fact are) granting her a lot of respect, mostly for that very reason.

Well DUHHHH we are a tribe, so we do hold back on the polemics when dealing with our young.

However I think if Skatje had introduced herself as a circa 19 year old young woman she would have gotten the same restrained responces. It's the adults with power we seek to destroy and hopefully exterminate in Obama FEMA camps, so we can wipe them out and take all their stuff.

Young minds like Skatje's are to be indoctrinated into the way of the squid, we all understand that, or maybe you didn't get the memo

By scooterKPFT (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

When you give the state the right to deny you an abortion, you give it the right to force you to have an abortion, because you have already conceded that the state knows better than you what to do with your life.

Mark Twain, I believe, said that it's always easy for people to decide what other people should suffer for. Some of the anti-choice people who come in for abortions literally say, "But this is me. This is different. I really need an abortion." Some of them even look down their noses at all the "sluts" in the waiting room. And they go right back to picketing.

Frankly, I'd make them sign an agreement that they were authorizing me to release the videotape of them asking for an abortion at my discretion and tell them it would be on local TV if they continued their anti-abortion activities. Nothing like exposing the hypocrisy of "one rule for me, another for you." That's my own little revenge fantasy. Norma Scarborough once said that if a little light went on over the head of every Member of Parliament whose wife, mother, girlfriend, or sister had had an abortion, they would never be able to pass anti-abortion laws.

Jadehawk wrote:

I really wouldn't have minded if my mom had aborted me.

Interesting you should mention that.

Would it be fair to say that that's a counterintuitive way to think because humans have evolved to value their own lives?

By that I mean we're programmed to think that way because if our ancestors didn't they would have died more easily when faced with hardships. We've been selected to want to live, because wanting to live (funnily enough) increases your chances of actually living.

And I think that's maybe why a lot of anti-choicers are the way they are, because it's a kind of a cognitive no-no to be okay with your own non-existence, and they're projecting that perception onto the fetus?

This comes from no scholarly sources, mind you; it's just something that occurred to me - so I'm happy to have the flaws pointed out.

By WowbaggerOM (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

"I don't understand why a thoughtful, educated, godless woman would feel that sex ought to have consequences. It just doesn't jive."

It's not a damn handshake. It's how we reproduce. Human beings are the result of this action. Immediately or in 9 months or somewhere in between. If you think it's an easy call, you're being stupid.

By skatje.myers (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Jadehawk, OM:

and just because I think this really needs to be said:

I really wouldn't have minded if my mom had aborted me.

It's more to the point that you wouldn't have known. I get what you're saying though. My mother would have aborted me, she wanted to, except her fear of dying via a back alley abortion prevented her from taking that action.

Given the dynamics of my family, and the utter nightmare which was my childhood, it would have been the best and most responsible decision she could have made. I appreciate her not wanting to die, that's something I can definitely understand.

By Caine, Fleur du mal (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

If you think it's more important for you to be able to have sex without worries than to allow a fetus to live

You are still assuming all women who get pregnant are as smart as you, as privileged as you, as rich as you, and as healthy as you.

THEY ARE NOT!

The point I was trying to make somewhere was that I give fetuses some level of value, which is higher than the right to consequence-free sex.

Again, you have not explained why you believe you should have the authority to use police violence to get your way, or how more police violence would be an improvement on the situation.

How you choose to assign value is your business, but you've made no argument for why your choice should be the more compelling.

I think I started this by just wanting to point out that we're not all religious conservatards.

You have not even made that case. It appears that you are assigning rights to organisms without any interests, or brains to prefer one thing over another. If that's the case, then it's not apparent how your belief is any different from believing in souls.

By strange gods b… (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

"I didn't set the damn rules."

You ARE setting the rules. Pretending not to be is just being dishonest. If abortion were technologically impossible, than your argument would have merit, that it isn't a socially imposed discrimination that pregnancy falls on women only.

But no! Abortion exists, either occurs before any sentience or in the event of a medical necessity later, and YOU are the one making the 'rule' that it is may not be used.

Don't pretend you aren't the one making the rules, and you are being discriminatory. Your argument that sex is inextricably linked to reproduction is one and the SAME argument against gay rights. If it is not possible to separate sex and any reproductive risk, no matter how hypothetical or small, than gay sex isn't *really* the same kind of sex now, is it?

So yeah, your views are regularly used to promote all kinds of harm and cruelty in the world. Don't pretend they aren't.

Skatje: A thought experiment, but one that might well happen in real life. Suppose a person has aplastic anemia. They fail immunosuppressive therapy and their only option is a hematopoietic stem cell transplant. Unfortunately, they have no matched related donor. So, their doctor scans the donor registry for a volunteer unrelated donor. Remember, you are not in this registry unless you freely, voluntarily signed up to be in it. No one is forced to be in the registry. One match is found.

The person who is the match is contacted and agrees to donate. He or she passes all the physical and mental requirements for being a donor. As is usual now, a peripheral blood stem cell collection is planned. The volunteer takes neupogen to mobilize stem cells. He or she comes-voluntarily-to the blood bank for stem cell harvest. The procedure is started. Shortly thereafter-long before enough cells are collected to contemplate transplant-s/he suddenly changes his/her mind and demands that the procedure be stopped.

What should the phlebotomist do? Remember, the volunteer agreed to everything up to this point, is at very little risk (the death rate for volunteer HSC donors is 10-100X less than that of the average pregnancy), and there is a life at stake. The patient WILL die, soon, without the stem cells. Should the volunteer be legally forced to continue the donation? Should the phlebotomist simply refuse to stop the pheresis? What do you recommend as the ethical and legal solution?

If you think it's more important for you to be able to have sex without worries than to allow a fetus to live, then I'm not going to change your mind.

Sigh. That's really a severe mischaracterization of the last 360 comments. Please at least acknowledge that you've been given rationales from the points of bodily autonomy, the absence of forced body donation in any other circumstances for any other group of people, the actual abortion/death rates of pregnant women in countries with and without abortion restrictions, the many reasons that women might medically need abortions, the ways in which anti-abortion laws can backfire, and the questionable status of rights granted to embryos at varying developmental points. There's a reason so many of us spent so much time today tied to our computers on this thread, and it wasn't just to say "I want teh sexx but no babeez".

skatje @ 359

But the mother's comfort (plus degrees of health effects, etc.) after knowingly bringing about a life

The word 'knowingly' makes that sentence ridiculous in context. I'm trying to hang with you, but there's some old saying about stop digging that has to do with holes

By scooterKPFT (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

This slut-shaming business is ridiculous. I didn't set the damn rules.

Oh? Who set them then? Your views are right in line with patriarchal based religious people's views. By insisting that women have no right whatsoever to abort because they had sex, so it's their fault, you certainly are slut shaming.

It was you who yelled "It's YOUR fault!" You don't get to walk away from that now.

By Caine, Fleur du mal (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

To accuse me of targeting women is nonsensical. If it was men who had to be pregnant, I would STILL say that a fetus has some degree of a right to life. Go figure.

So you're not targeting women, you're targeting those that are able to become pregnant. Which just so happens to be women. Right, much more sensical.

I think I started this by just wanting to point out that we're not all religious conservatards.

Well, you've at least established that. Then again, that was never really in dispute in the first place.

It's not a damn handshake. It's how we reproduce. Human beings are the result of this action. Immediately or in 9 months or somewhere in between. If you think it's an easy call, you're being stupid.

Are you, the person who's been insisting that abortion should be more restricted than the compromise of Roe, seriously accusing other people of thinking reproductive choice is an easy call?

By strange gods b… (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Would it be fair to say that that's a counterintuitive way to think because humans have evolved to value their own lives?

of course. but I have significantly less existential angst about the idea of never having been born than about dying sometime in the future.

It's more to the point that you wouldn't have known.

that's actually precisely my point. None of us really would have minded, because we didn't precisely have the capacity for minding. just like vegetables on life support can't mind. and we kill them all the time, too.

Anyway, I just wanted to make a counterstatement to all this "I'm glad I wasn't aborted/the abortion failed/whatever, because now I'm alive" statements. Because I really don't care. If my mom had aborted me, I wouldn't be worse off than now, because I simply wouldn't ever have been to make that comparison.

By Jadehawk, OM (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

If you think it's an easy call, you're being stupid.

isn't all about reproduction, sorry. Many people have sex (hetero-, homo-, solo or otherwise) simply for pleasure. Modern birth control and modern abortion techniques allow those who engage in hetero sex to behave sexually without having to worry about the consequences of bringing another child into this world.

Two questions: Why is it so wrong to enjoy sex without producing a child? Why is it wrong to abort a fetus if a mistake was made or birth control failed?

By OurDeadSelves (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

It's not a damn handshake. It's how we reproduce.

Actually it serves a bunch of other purposes for humans, which makes us different from many other animals. Recreation leading to group and/or pair bonding come to mind. Irrelevant to the fetal rights argument.

Now I have to go to sleep and the overlord's daughter should go write her paper and stop engaging random people on the internet.

The point I was trying to make somewhere was that I give fetuses some level of value, which is higher than the right to consequence-free sex. This value is not the same as a child. Or an adult. The mother's life takes precedence over the fetus' life. But the mother's comfort (plus degrees of health effects, etc.) after knowingly bringing about a life does not take precedence over the fetus' life, IMO.

What about abortion in the case of rape? Knowingly requires some measure of consent, of intent.

What of those who specifically go out of their way to avoid bringing about a life?

I don't care if people do or don't have them. I just think that that removing agency is pointless.

By Rutee, Shrieki… (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

This discussion reminds me forcibly of the irony of the very success of vaccines having made possible a world where children, particularly in developed lands, have very good goods of surviving to adulthood -- to the point where several generations have come along who have never known, firsthand, the terrors of polio, rubella, or even HIB, and who have never heard of herd immunity.

The existence of Roe v. Wade as well as the legalization of effective birth control (both of which were and are fought tooth and nail by the same religious authorities that PZ combats every waking day) are what make it possible for middle-class white girls and young women like Skatje Myers to live lives where they don't have to worry about pregnancies putting an end to any dreams they may have had of supporting themselves, much less getting through college and into a career that uses their talents to the fullest.

Especially if they live in big cities or places where the pharmacist isn't a nosy prick, girls and women of Skatje's generation and social class never have had to worry about not having access to birth control or not being able to find a doctor willing and able to do a therapeutic abortion to save them from runaway pre-eclampsia, which less than a century ago in America was an extremely common, and extremely horrible, way for women to die, usually while pregnant with their first child after having sex for the very first time. (By the way, the risk of pre-eclampsia decreases with each time that a woman is exposed to the sperm of a single partner before getting pregnant.)

Skatje, look at all the women and girls you have known in your time on earth. Every third one of them has had an abortion.

Let me repeat that:

Every third one of them has had an abortion.

And it won't be the ones that you think had them, either. At least one of the Nice and Sensible Girls (or Women) you know will have had at least one.

By phoenixwoman (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Fucking blockquotes. Let's try this again:

If you think it's an easy call, you're being stupid.

Sex isn't all about reproduction, sorry. Many people have sex (hetero-, homo-, solo or otherwise) simply for pleasure. Modern birth control and modern abortion techniques allow those who engage in hetero sex to behave sexually without having to worry about the consequences of bringing another child into this world.

Two questions: Why is it so wrong to enjoy sex without producing a child? Why is it wrong to abort a fetus if a mistake was made or birth control failed?

(Re-posted for clarification.)

By OurDeadSelves (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

This slut-shaming business is ridiculous. I didn't set the damn rules.

But you ARE trying to set the damn rules. You are trying to trying to set the rule that the rightful consequence of heterosexual sex on a fertile woman's part is 40 weeks of pregnancy.

To accuse me of targeting women is nonsensical. If it was men who had to be pregnant, I would STILL say that a fetus has some degree of a right to life. Go figure.

The reality remains that women are the ones who suffer the physiological and emotional effects of pregnancy and childbirth. We do not live in a world where the responsibility of childbearing is equally distributed. There is no equivalent consequence of sex for a man or a non-fertile woman. We also do not live in a world where there is always a ready family waiting to adopt any unwanted child, or where society gives single mothers and poor families a fair deal, or where children are never neglected or abused by overwhelmed, unprepared parents. We do not live in a world in which maintaining a pregnancy to term and then handing the newborn over to a stranger never to see it again is a non-damaging alternative to an early pregnancy termination. We do not live in a world where unwilling fathers can be relied upon to care for their accidental offspring.

But the mother's comfort (plus degrees of health effects, etc.) after knowingly bringing about a life does not take precedence over the fetus' life, IMO.

I take issue with your use of the word "knowingly" here. Any woman who is trying to procure an abortion was, by definition, NOT trying to get pregnant, therefore did not "knowingly" put an embryo in her womb. She has not given consent for her blood and organ functions to be used for the survival of that life. If she has the same rights as any other member of society who could choose to donate blood, or bone marrow, or a kidney, but not coerced into doing so, then she cannot be forced to give birth.

By alysonmiers (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Folks, I have fought anti-born-person activists alongside Skatje before. She knows the arguments. We're not telling her anything she hasn't already heard.

Of course, that brings up the question of why she no longer accepts some of the arguments she was once in favor of, but I think I see... it is just absolutely repugnant to think and act like no fetus has any intrinsic value. I agree with that.

However, I believe that when set against the value of the interests and the reproductive freedom of a living, old-enough-to-reproduce woman, that value is anywhere from significant to negligible. The question is, who assigns the value?

Skatje can't assign value to the fetus of another woman. Only the woman carrying the fetus gets to determine its value. And that value can never, never exceed the value of any born, living person.

By badgersdaughter (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Adoption has its own consequences, including severe and often life long depression in the relinquishing mother. The issue hasn't been studied extensively but all available evidence suggests that placing a baby for adoption is extremely dangerous to a woman's mental health.

Hold on there. I'd really like to see some evidence for that statement. The only people I've heard make claim are people who have bought into CUB's (Concerned United Birthmothers) propaganda... and CUB is entirely made up of people who have either placed children for adoption and regretted it or who are opposed to adoption for other reasons.

All I have is anecdotal evidence of my kids' birth mother, who was forced to go through pregnancy and birth and forced adoption when she was 17 (long years before she got pregnant with what turned into my son David). She was bitter about the way she had been treated, but not bitter about the adoption, nor did that doom her to a lifetime of depression.

and... um... not to sound creepy, but both O' Greg and Caine have even stronger arguments for my point than I do.

Like I said earlier, my mom did have the option, but she chose otherwise, and it worked out. And it's nice to know I was wanted, and I'd like that for everybody, because it's a better fate than being unwanted but born anyway. But I really really can't say that I'm happy she didn't get an abortion, because I can't say I'd be unhappy if she had.

By Jadehawk, OM (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

P.S. I do not need a lecture about casual sex from a teenager. I have had random encounter sex and you know what? It really wasn't much different from a handshake, only slightly more pleasurable.

Does that make me a bad person because I didn't place enough importance on the act of intercourse? I sure as shit hope not.

By OurDeadSelves (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Skatje at #207:

Briefly in response to Skatje's point, here in Australia we have a bumper sticker that reads "If you are against abortion, don't have one".

Hardy har. I've heard that. I used to think that was clever when I was 14.

If you are against murder, don't kill people.

This is basically what that statement is equivalent to, in the eyes of people who place a right to life on fetuses. So that's a pretty stupid thing to say to me, IMO.

Except that the crucial difference is that you and I would agree that (for example) the 3000 people murdered on 9/11 were all conscious human persons with the characteristics which make human persons morally considerable as human persons, whereas people such as you and I genuinely differ in good faith about whether a newly fertilised ovum, an embryo or a foetus at various stages of development is a human person, indeed is capable even in principle of being a human person until relatively late in pregnancy. Skatje, it is only your opinion, and far from either a settled fact or a generally accepted philosophical conclusion, that such entities are human persons.

For my part, arguing that a human person comes into being at the moment of conception has the superficial merit of providing a clear-cut answer to the question of when does a human person come into being, but is completely unconvincing to those of us for whom mind and consciousness are central to the concept of human personhood and the moral considerability of human (and other) persons.

strange gods before me:

I just want to know why more women dying is the preferable thing.

You're not going to get an answer. I said the same thing at least a hundred posts ago (probably more), so did Carlie and quite a few others. Apparently being pro-women's deaths is better than abortions.

By Caine, Fleur du mal (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Jadehawk wrote:

of course. but I have significantly less existential angst about the idea of never having been born than about dying sometime in the future.

I wasn't saying counterintuitive = wrong - just that it's a cognitive stumbling block. Because I realised that not feeling bad about not being born is quite a sensible state of mind - but only after I thought about it. When I first considered it, I found the concept very unsettling.

I think you have to be able to think your way into being okay with your non-existence - and not everyone can do that, because it goes against how we've evolved. That that also plays a part in the delusion of religion - since, according to most of them, you can never not exist - is more than a little significant.

By WowbaggerOM (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

There's a lot of things that won't get an answer... because she's operating under the delusions of unexamined privilege. She thinks all women are her equals.

It's kind of sweet, but it's very sad.

Jadehawk, OM:

And it's nice to know I was wanted, and I'd like that for everybody, because it's a better fate than being unwanted but born anyway.

First, you aren't being creepy. What you say here is the absolute truth. Being unwanted, having been birthed solely because your mother feared death does not equate to a happy time for the child. That, by the way, is one fuck of an understatement.

I'm getting pretty sick and tired of a young, white, spoiled, privileged girl woman insist she knows what's best, and what's best is you pay the fucking consequences for sex. Fuck that noise.

By Caine, Fleur du mal (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

I wasn't saying counterintuitive = wrong - just that it's a cognitive stumbling block.

oh, I know. And I can't say that non-existence isn't unsettling for me. I'm actually sometimes quite scared of death (or more precisely, of dying) and prefer to pretend it's never gonna happen.

But I'm just not bothered by the idea of never having existed. because they I would have never had to consciously experience dying.

By Jadehawk, OM (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

@badgersdaughter: thanks, that's a great summary.

Now I really need to go to sleep. I've been sucked into this discussion for way too long again.

Becca, I was happy about the outcome of my second pregnancy. I had an open adoption, in which I chose the parents of my daughter (a teacher and a psychologist both specializing in gifted and special education, important to me because I am gifted and ADHD and Aspergers run in my family). They were caring, decent, intelligent people who I was glad to give my daughter up to. If I had never found out the name they gave her, I would think a little better of them... honestly, what a bloody tin ear for names they had... but if that's the worst, you know what they say.

By badgersdaughter (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Ol'Greg @ 396, agreed. It's getting on every last nerve, though.

By Caine, Fleur du mal (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

I'm officially too drunk to continue this argument.

Goodnight.

Skatje, you seem bright, let's try to make a world where abortion is almost unheard of because no one ever depends on it!

PZ Myers said:

I think this is Skatje's point: if you have reached the conclusion that a fetus at age X is an individual, some reasonable approximation of a human being, then the argument about the woman's autonomy doesn't matter -- you don't get to kill a person simply because they are dependent on another individual, their mother. It's a fairly principled position that says no one should kill another person...and makes the assumption that the fetus has some status as a person.

It's a fair argument, but it's also one that ignores the central point of this post: whether the fetus is a person is ambiguous. Sure, there's some point where it is; it's definitely later than conception, but precisely when that personhood is instantiated is undefined, and probably can't defined.

I'd push it to a date much later than most people (I'm not even certain that a newborn counts as a human being). Others set it much earlier. Reasonable people can argue about where the dividing line lies. Except that only crazy people can argue that it is at conception, which ignores all the biology that must intervene to turn a one-celled or multi-celled mass into something functional.

Wholeheartedly agree here. The serious ethical concerns are far later and could cross past actual birth. Rational people can argue on these ethical issues and debate both the historical ramifications for women as equals, as many have passionately argued thus far, or argue tirelessly that at some point the fetus becomes indistinguishable from other protected humans and argue passionately for empathy and taking responsibility for ones actions.

There is a great debate to be had here that I wish was the true focus of the abortion debate than the dumbed down ensoulment nonsense that the religious tend to drag it down into. I think it's great that Skatje jumped into the fray (even if it seemed more like hitting a bees nest with a stick) to drag the conversation towards a debate between the two rationalist sides of the debate.

That said I still have grave concerns that any abortion policy that attempted to limit abortion would be either unenforceable to ensure that the liberty of the mother is fully protected against non-chosen pregnancies (ie rape, incest) or would force them to prove something that is notoriously difficult to prove. Current policy may be the most ideal to err on the side of caution as far as the law is concerned yet have defenders of ethics arguing to the people in rational ways (as opposed to ensoulment, sin, and other mystical nonsense) to ensure that women have the highest degree of freedom given the circumstances of this world and leave it to the people themselves to instill matters of conscience, something a modern Madison might even support.

Anyhoo, that's my 2 cents. Hopefully less controversial than taking a definition of parasitism out of a biology text.

It's not a damn handshake. It's how we reproduce. Human beings are the result of this action. Immediately or in 9 months or somewhere in between. If you think it's an easy call, you're being stupid.

Personally, I exist as a result of my parents deciding to have a baby. When my mom found out she was pregnant, bringing me to term was an easy call because they were invested in reproduction. When I came into the world it wasn't as a consequence to my parents' actions, it was as a welcome addition to the family.

By alysonmiers (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

First, you aren't being creepy. What you say here is the absolute truth. Being unwanted, having been birthed solely because your mother feared death does not equate to a happy time for the child. That, by the way, is one fuck of an understatement.

I'm getting pretty sick and tired of a young, white, spoiled, privileged girl woman insist she knows what's best, and what's best is you pay the fucking consequences for sex. Fuck that noise.

thanks, I was hoping that didn't sound weirdly creepy.

Anyway, to sum this up from the "bottom up" perspective: a world in which every born child is a wanted and cared-for child is a better world than one in which there are no abortions.

By Jadehawk, OM (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Ugh. I hate the arguments that a blastocyst/zygote is a full human being (like billboard 2). In a lab, it has the potential to grow into a bunch of nerve cells, or a liver, or a pancreas, and will probably be considered an important medical treatment one day. Without IVF, a procedure that results in multiple killed blastocysts, many innocent, wonderful children wouldn't be here today. In the series of tubes that is the female reproductive system, it could split into two, resulting in multiple babies, and the majority (I think) of its cells are really only potential placenta. It was never a me--it was a potential me that could also be a potential twin but was mostly a potential placenta.

I reject the idea that if there's a fetus in my uterus, then I necessarily put it there. I've had sex whose existence was consensual but whose unprotectedness was not: men are heavy, and I do not have impressive upper body strength. It was not a 50/50 decision, it was a 100/0 decision, and I was the 0. (I did not get pregnant though, which was lucky--for me.)

Even if I did decide to have consensual sex, and the protection failed, and I ended up pregnant, I would still like the choice to keep the baby or not. I'm nearing a time in my life when I'd decide abortion is not for me, but I have trouble not thinking of fetuses as parasites. In the first week or so, it eats the wall of your uterus. Like, literally. It digests your uterus. It's not sharing nutrition with your circulatory system, it's taking the contents of your uterus cells, and absorbing them for energy. I mean, score one for procreation, but I guess that explains my slight chronic anemia (cause, you know, girls shed the sacrificial uterine offering to potential procreates every month or so, if it doesn't get eaten first).

"It's a fair argument, but it's also one that ignores the central point of this post: whether the fetus is a person is ambiguous. Sure, there's some point where it is; it's definitely later than conception, but precisely when that personhood is instantiated is undefined, and probably can't defined."

Which isn't really any different than what I believe. I've said from the beginning that the line is blurry.

"Skatje, why would you allow the banning of abortion when you know that such laws do not reduce the number of abortions, but do cause the deaths of more women?"

Because I simulataneously advocate better sex ed, readily available contraceptives, and other things that reduce abortion rates. I also advocate a cultural shift that places more value on life and less on instant gratification, but I'm just an idealist hippy.

"You don't get to make the decision for me, citing your self-righteousness as knowing what's best"

Every cites their own self-righteousness as knowing what's best. I'm no different than anyone else for this.

And I think I just realised that I was reading comments made a long time ago. Huh.

"Are you, the person who's been insisting that abortion should be more restricted than the compromise of Roe, seriously accusing other people of thinking reproductive choice is an easy call?"

Try reading the rest of the discussion that has been going on. I already said I wasn't pushing for a law. I would just not stand in the way of it, should it come about. Because I have more important things to be passionate about than something I don't feel certain on.

"What about abortion in the case of rape? Knowingly requires some measure of consent, of intent."

Blah blah, I'm okay with abortion in cases of rape.

"Of course, that brings up the question of why she no longer accepts some of the arguments she was once in favor of, but I think I see... it is just absolutely repugnant to think and act like no fetus has any intrinsic value. I agree with that."

Some of the arguments I was in favour of I realised were fallacious and poor. Which causes me no end in shame.

By skatje.myers (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Oh, and KOPD, Cerberus is a woman, as you would know from reading her posts (you did actually read them, not just react to them, right?). Using the pronoun he/she to refer to Cerberus constitutes abuse once she posted her gender, even more so since she identified as trans. Be more careful than that, unless you want to be identified as an ignorant bigot.

By badgersdaughter (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

skatje wrote:

"...a fetus has some degree of a right to life..."

This projects a legalistic referent upon a biologic instance. How does a fetus have any more "right to life" than a developing tumor? Both may occur within the same "nurturing" body? We generally treasure and protect the one while abjuring and (hopefully) excising the latter. That the fetus "may" develop into a viable, living person is not always assured; many nightmares and tragedies may possibly result - physiological, social, economic . . . Consult any gynecologist for a reality call that Mother Nature does not always give us what we desire - or are even capable of adequately dealing with. She can present nightmares beyond SFX imaginings - and some of them "viable."

And, then "...to some degree..." waffles you out of the picture entirely.

Skatje said, Some of the arguments I was in favour of I realised were fallacious and poor. Which causes me no end in shame.

I'm sorry, Skatje, I did not mean to shame you and I don't think you need feel ashamed. But I do not recognize your right to impinge upon the choices of others on matters affecting their own reproductive health. And for my part I would consider any effort to limit my own reproductive choices (to the extent I still have any, since I'm almost twice your age and my cycles are slowly tapering off) a personal attack on my mind and body.

By badgersdaughter (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Dr. Paul @ 309

Except that the crucial difference is that you and I would agree that (for example) the 3000 people murdered on 9/11 were all conscious human persons with the characteristics which make human persons morally considerable as human persons,

Doctor Dickhead, the death toll of 9-11 was 2200 not 3000, please ask a seven year old child for a math book and learn about how numbers are rounded.

Everybody who died in those towers had a vote, so the majority of them were responsible for the government that pissed off the agressors, and are fair game as all American citizens are fair game to be killed by outside forces who feel they are under attack by us, because we bear direct responsibility for the actions of our government, there is no such thing as innocents in a democracy..

What is not fair is to kill civilians of dictatorial nations who have no input into the insanity of their governments, they are fellow victims. Read the slaughter of Iraqis under stalinistic rule.

any other red herrings you'd like to stink the place up with, I can forward to Karl Rove.

By scooterKPFT (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

... Can I ask how many people currently participating in this discussion are under the false impression that I'm storming the capital to get Roe v. Wade overturned?

I would like to say, yet again:

I personally will not have an abortion. I think it is wrong to do so, for myself and anyone. But the definition of where life begins is fuzzy, and therefore, I don't push my views on other people. I recognise that I do not have The Answer on this question, and therefore do not advocate actively preventing people from getting abortions, and can really only alter my own behaviour and try to engage people in discussing it further.

This is the same thing I was saying in the beginning, but it sounds like some people missed that.

By skatje.myers (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Jadehawk, OM:

a world in which every born child is a wanted and cared-for child is a better world than one in which there are no abortions.

Absolutely. Unfortunately that isn't the case. I can (and do) respect someone who finds abortions distressing, and as a result, works hard to make abortions legal, accessible and rare. Ease of access and affordability of birth control, sterilizations and education help to make abortion rare.

Insistence on making abortion a moral issue and degrading a woman's status do not make abortion rare. Views which involve increasing womens death rates and consider pregnancy a consequential punishment for having had sex are contemptible and don't do a damn thing to decrease abortion. It's an ugly attitude, and like many others, I've had enough of it for one night. I'm headed for the endless thread.

By Caine, Fleur du mal (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Blah blah, I'm okay with abortion in cases of rape.

Wait, what? If it's all about the fetus' rights, then why would a fetus resulting from rape have less rights than one resulting from failed birth control?

I also advocate a cultural shift that places more value on life and less on instant gratification, but I'm just an idealist hippy.

Oh yeah, that's right, it's all about the sex after all.

By the way, didn't hippies believe in free love?

For anyone who doesn't think they live privileged lives as white (Or white looking, in my case) people, spend a bit of time on a rez. It'll help to see what the real bottom rung and results of cultural genocide are.

Anyways.

It's been mentioned a few times: The countries with the lowest abortions rates are not the ones that make abortion illegal... all that does is kill women. WHO studies support that.

What does reduce abortions is easy access to contraceptives, and comprehensive sex education.
Neither of which is available across the US.

The human cost of making abortion illegal is /extreme/.

Again, using the WHO as a source.

Skatje's arguments, unfortunately, are coming from a flawed, and privileged, position.

Because, at it's core: This IS a woman's rights issue. Saying it isn't doesn't make that so.
The issue isn't even legal abortions.
It's /safe/ legal abortions, done by trained medical staff.

Because it's worth restating: Legalization of abortion, and making sure that it's safe procedure available as a woman's choice is about saving lives. Period.

Source:
http://www.who.int/reproductivehealth/publications/unsafe_abortion/ua_p…

but if she's also too vapid and whiny to care about the correlation between not using a condom and getting pregnant, I feel that in a proper sense of justice (and malice) that she should be forced to carry the fetus to term and go through labor without an epidural.

You are not pro-choice. I am revoking your membership card. Dues are non-refundable. Thanks for playing.

The original poster does just fine conveying the sense that she understands the baby does not deserve the injustice of being born to such a mindless slut as she describes. I am revoking your reading comprehension card, back to kindergarten with you.

I agree with the sentiment, if only it WERE possible to force that person to carry a fetus to term and go thru labor WITHOUT the result being a baby that didn't deserve to be born to such an irresponsible person.

By Dornier Pfeil (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

and in my ideal world, people could only have children if they consciously decided on them; they would be carefully crafted to avoid genetic diseases, and pre-gestated (or not, for those freaks who like being pregnant for 9 months :-p) to the desirable level, and then sent home with the happy new parents.

And maybe someday this will even happen.

But I live in the here and now, and my flights of fancy have fuck all to do with reality. and therefore, abortion must stay legal, safe, and easily accessible, because forced births and forced abstinence suck for everyone involved.

By Jadehawk, OM (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

I agree with the sentiment, if only it WERE possible to force that person to carry a fetus to term and go thru labor WITHOUT the result being a baby that didn't deserve to be born to such an irresponsible person

What types of torture and corporal punishment do you support for other crimes?

Maybe nails beneath the fingernails, small wounds poured with lye, acid up the butthole?

What other pain and suffering do people deserve?

This is the same thing I was saying in the beginning, but it sounds like some people missed that.

no one is missing that, but you've already admitted you'd let others ban abortion. from where I'm standing, it's all the same.

By Jadehawk, OM (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

" I don't push my views on other people. "

OH???

badgersdaughter @400 - We, too, have an open adoption. I know it's not for everyone, but we've made it work.

In our case, it was the birth mom pushing for odd names for the children.

but, Skatje, adoption as an option still has to put a woman through pregnancy and delivery with an unwanted child. In my day, girls "went to live with a relative" for a year, or "went to Europe" for a year... enough time for them to be pregnant, give birth, and recover from it. But that option isn't open to everyone, and there is a terrible amount of prejudice against birth mothers in our culture. Should a woman have to put up with not only the shame of being pregnant when she didn't want to be, but also the "shame" of being an "unnatural" woman for not wanting to parent the child herself?

I'll say it again: no woman should be forced to be a baby factory against her will for my benefit.

I also advocate a cultural shift that places more value on life and less on instant gratification, but I'm just an idealist hippy.

What is wrong with instant gratification?

By OurDeadSelves (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Everybody who died in those towers had a vote, so the majority of them were responsible for the government that pissed off the agressors, and are fair game as all American citizens are fair game to be killed by outside forces who feel they are under attack by us, because we bear direct responsibility for the actions of our government, there is no such thing as innocents in a democracy.

You can't be serious.

By Antiochus Epiphanes (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Deen:

By the way, didn't hippies believe in free love?

Yes. And I am actually old enough to be one. With that, I really am out of this thread.

By Caine, Fleur du mal (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

In my ideal world people worry about their own damned lives and recognize how little their experience has to do with anyone else.

Thanks for clarifying, Skatje, I actually wasn't clear that you didn't mean that you were for limiting the reproductive choices of other women. It is simply hard to see how someone who has at least the normal helpings of brains, decency, and self-esteem would deliberately fail to take action to protect that which she sees as both intrinsically valuable, and tragically undervalued by other people.

By badgersdaughter (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Absolutely. Unfortunately that isn't the case. I can (and do) respect someone who finds abortions distressing, and as a result, works hard to make abortions legal, accessible and rare. Ease of access and affordability of birth control, sterilizations and education help to make abortion rare.

Insistence on making abortion a moral issue and degrading a woman's status do not make abortion rare. Views which involve increasing womens death rates and consider pregnancy a consequential punishment for having had sex are contemptible and don't do a damn thing to decrease abortion. It's an ugly attitude, and like many others, I've had enough of it for one night.

I totally agree.

By Jadehawk, OM (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

There is no such thing as "justice (and malice.)"

Sure there is. That is simply the definition of vengeance.

By Dornier Pfeil (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Oh, and KOPD, Cerberus is a woman, as you would know from reading her posts (you did actually read them, not just react to them, right?). Using the pronoun he/she to refer to Cerberus constitutes abuse once she posted her gender, even more so since she identified as trans. Be more careful than that, unless you want to be identified as an ignorant bigot.

I thought she had identified as female, but didn't take the time to go back and check. I was attempting to clarify the meaning of one fucking sentence and didn't think it was relevant. I see now that I was mistaken. Apparently the rule here is that if you aren't sure you understand exactly what a person means by something, you should close you browser and move on to another thread. Got it.

Wait, what? If it's all about the fetus' rights, then why would a fetus resulting from rape have less rights than one resulting from failed birth control?

Longer answer summed up: With the burden of pregnancy on a woman who will now probably suffer emotional distress from a pregnancy she did not consent to being worse than the usual case, the amount that we must ask a woman to bear for the sake of a fetus's life is now greater, and, I would tentatively say outweighs. See how these values are placed arbitrarily and uncertainly? That's why I'm not going out and trying to stop abortion.

OH???

Yeah, because debating in comments on Pharyngula is REALLY forcing my views into your life.

By the way, didn't hippies believe in free love?

I'm using the modern "someone who rejects the established culture" definition of hippy.

By skatje.myers (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Any time you want to get depressed, look at the maternal mortality statistics for Nicaragua, a country that banned all abortions not so long ago. I think about 80 women died in the first 11 months of that ban. That were counted officially, I mean. In Ontario, deaths by illegal abortion were usually recorded by the Coroner as something else to save the family from embarrassment. Morton Shulman, who was the Chief Coroner in the 1950s-60s, wrote in his biography that he had been a force in getting abortion legalized, simply by honestly declaring illegal abortion as a cause of death instead of concealing it.

Interesting that the anti-abortion people can't see the cause and effect:

The court did... encourage the government to introduce a new and improved abortion law, which it attempted to do in 1989. This new bill, which threatened doctors with a two-year jail term if they approved an abortion when the woman's health was not in danger, was widely and loudly condemned by the country's doctors. While the bill was approved by the Canadian House of Commons in a largely free vote (only members of the Cabinet were required to vote in favour), it was defeated in the Senate by a tie vote. The defeat was controversial and somewhat unexpected since was the first time since 1941 that the unelected Senate had outright vetoed legislation passed by the House. Nonetheless, in the wake of the controversy surrounding passage of the GST the Progressive Conservative government did not wish to provoke a contest of wills with the Senate and announced it would not re-introduce the legislation. The fact that no subsequent government has re-visited this decision has been what has led to the unique situation of Canada having no abortion law whatsoever. Between the time the law was passed in the House of Commons and the time it was defeated in the senate, a 20-year-old student at the University of Waterloo bled to death after trying to perform an abortion on herself, the first such case in years.

Oh... Unrelated: You have Protesters PZ!
Congratulations!
There really should be a special card for this... or a cake?

Some sort of special dinner?
Roast lamb in a red wine reduction crusted with host crumbs?

KOPD: Funny, if someone pointed out that I had made such a hideous mistake, I would be embarrassed, and apologize to both the person I inadvertently insulted, and the person who pointed it out. But maybe I was brought up differently from you. Because it's not a blog rule (around here rudeness is the expected thing and courtesy is a lagniappe), it's just an indicator of whether or not you care about the thoughts and feelings of other people.

By badgersdaughter (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

not just react to them,

And what's with this "them?" I was not "reacting" to her posts, just making sure I was parsing one of them correctly. Fuck me for giving a shit if I'm reading correctly. But I would like to apologize to Cerberus for one thing. Sometimes when I read a lot of posts I do forget who said what. The post I was attempting to clarify did give an indication of gender that had slipped my mind by the time I was composing #366. I was focused on the posts I was responding to in #366. I am sorry. I will not forget who you are again.

"no one is missing that, but you've already admitted you'd let others ban abortion. from where I'm standing, it's all the same."

How the fuck is that the same? I prefer to withhold my vote when I feel that I do not have enough information and reason to MAKE a vote.

By skatje.myers (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

OK, I admit I am "pushing my views on you"; in fact, I'm doing worse, I'm taking personal offense at something you did to a third party. Tell me to go to Hell, and I will do so, cheerfully, and probably enjoy the company. :)

By badgersdaughter (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Any time you want to get depressed, look at the maternal mortality statistics for Nicaragua, a country that banned all abortions not so long ago. I think about 80 women died in the first 11 months of that ban.

http://www.amnesty.org/en/news-and-updates/news/un-urged-condemn-nicara…

It's horrible.

And it's the poor who suffer the most. Brown, poor, and desperate.

The rich just go to other countries where it's legal.

How the fuck is that the same? I prefer to withhold my vote when I feel that I do not have enough information and reason to MAKE a vote.

because the result is the same.

I live in a world where results matter more than intent.

By Jadehawk, OM (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

There's a lot of things that won't get an answer... because she's operating under the delusions of unexamined privilege. She thinks all women are her equals.

It's kind of sweet, but it's very sad.

Yup.

I'm sorry, Skatje, I did not mean to shame you and I don't think you need feel ashamed. But I do not recognize your right to impinge upon the choices of others on matters affecting their own reproductive health. And for my part I would consider any effort to limit my own reproductive choices (to the extent I still have any, since I'm almost twice your age and my cycles are slowly tapering off) a personal attack on my mind and body.

Same here.

How old is Skatje again?

Does she realize just who she's making common cause with? The leaders of the anti-choice movement don't like effective birth control, either.

It's kinda like when ivory-tower lesbian feminist Kate Millett, overjoyed to hear that the Shah of Iran was overthrown, went to Teheran to commune with the revolutionaries -- and barely escaped with her life. Why she thought that a bunch of Shiite Muslims who toppled the Shah in part because they felt he gave too many freedoms to women would ever greet her with open arms is something I'll never understand.

By phoenixwoman (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

But in actuality, I am merely going to bed, where I have, unfortunately, no company at all, except for three lead-footed cats who like to walk on me at two in the morning. Ciao meow.

By badgersdaughter (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

If you think it's more important for you to be able to have sex without worries than to allow a fetus to live

Of course sex is more important to me than a fetus, otherwise I wouldn't be using birth control.

Skatje, you haven't adressed the real challenges to your argument.

1. where abortions are illegal there are just as many abortions and more women die.

2. upon what version of morality do you base your opposition to abortion, other than your icky feeling. Your arguments are all vague, you are not nailing it.

3. how do you reconcile the class difference in your convenient opinion, knowing that if you get pregnant you can fall back on established family resources compared to someone who is all alone? Y

4. where do your personal opinions and political ideals infringe on the rights of others, and what grants you the right to coerse others to your will, if indeed you support the right for women to choose, which you have not clearly stated? You seem to be just jerking us around.

5. If you found out that PZ and I were having a torrid sexual affair for the last five years how would that effect you?

Oh

Wait a minute.

strike number 5.

By scooterKPFT (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

I just realized I fucked up more than I realized. Because of the way Cerberus responded to me in #91, my faulty memory had me thinking that it was Cerberus who had posted #70 that I was responding to earlier. And so in #366 I said that it was Cerberus' position I was trying to make sure I understood. It was not. It was a googlemess account.

Cerberus, I really do owe you an apology. I am sorry for getting you confused with somebody else. I still don't know why you told me to grow the fuck up, but I guess I may never. I will, though, go back and re-read your posts and see if they shed some light on why you reacted to me the way you did.

To continue about the student who bled to death, I wrote to a Conservative MP and asked if she realized that this was probably a result of the Conservatives' anti-abortion law. She wrote back that she didn't think they were related. So they do deny, stop up their ears and run away.

How the fuck is that the same? I prefer to withhold my vote when I feel that I do not have enough information and reason to MAKE a vote.

The consequences of making abortion illegal have been pointed out. Credible research has been done, and sources are easy to find.

Yes, you donate to planned parenthood. Good. :) So do I.

World isn't black and white... sometimes you have to take a stance for something you find distasteful to prevent something far worse.

Like defending someone's right to free speech even if you dislike what they do with it.

gotta go.

Don't let'em tear you down , Skatje, but all chinks in the armor are worth investigating.

By scooterKPFT (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

"Longer answer summed up: With the burden of pregnancy on a woman who will now probably suffer emotional distress from a pregnancy she did not consent to being worse than the usual case, the amount that we must ask a woman to bear for the sake of a fetus's life is now greater, and, I would tentatively say outweighs."

So, you see that emotional distress can outweigh the value of keeping a fetus around. But still you presume to say that you, and only you, can properly measure the amount of emotional distress another woman is going through in relation to her pregnancy.

That is NOT something you can presume to know.

If a woman is asking for an abortion, the emotional distress of that pregnancy is already by definition more than the "usual case" because she's not comfortable in carrying it to term.

To continue about the student who bled to death, I wrote to a Conservative MP and asked if she realized that this was probably a result of the Conservatives' anti-abortion law. She wrote back that she didn't think they were related. So they do deny, stop up their ears and run away.

Something to think about for those that think it could never happen here.
It did. And it could still.

Even if you don't like abortion, or disagree with people who have them: This is the cost of doing nothing to protect reproductive freedom for women.

anyway, to conclude my part in this discussion, I'll say that I can understand wanting a world in which abortions don't happen. But to stop there is simplistic and deadly to women, and to refuse to protect women from those who actively want to cause this suffering by outlawing abortion is privileged bullshit, and not sufficiently different from those who actively promote this shit. And I'm fucking sick of privileged Americans who boil all the worlds problems down to "personal responsibility".

By Jadehawk, OM (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Okay, I have reread your posts and I still don't see why you attacked me for trying to make sure that in googlemess's mind
"For those of you wringing your hands at "when does the fetus become equal to a pre-term baby" meme, the answer is "when it is no longer housed in my property." Abortion is property rights. No one may live in my property w/o my permission. Ever. My property, my decision."
is absolutely equal in no uncertain terms to
"I am okay with abortion up to and including when labor has begun."

I never said I disagreed, I was just trying to get past the metaphors and make sure I understood clearly what was meant.

I am not sure that some of the commenter's here have thought about their ideas long enough. The only way that I have seen the morality of abortion presented is through the righteousness of the action, but I think that the intent of an action is also important to take into account. It seems like a lot of people are universalizing abortion to be equal in all circumstances, while it may be legal in all circumstance and I would never suggest denying that, it may not be moral in all circumstances. For example it is legal for two different women to receive abortions, however if one of the women is having one performed because she was a rape victim or it will cause health complications and the other is the girl with three abortions mentioned near the top, then there is a difference in the moral intent of the act of denying the pregnancy. And I think that you can all intuitively feel that out. I think that this is the source of Jordan's uneasiness.
If you disagree with me that is fine most people have different views of morality anyway, so if you have a logical argument against me please share I love having my viewpoints changed.

I'm going to be bad and admit I am staying up past my bedtime simply for the sheer pleasure of replying to Jadehawk's comment, And I'm fucking sick of privileged Americans who boil all the worlds problems down to "personal responsibility".

I wish I had said that. It's why I refuse to call myself a Libertarian anymore, in case anyone wanted to know.

By badgersdaughter (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Does she realize just who she's making common cause with? The leaders of the anti-choice movement don't like effective birth control, either.

I know that just about every pro-lifer is an idiot. That's not going to make me okay with abortion, though. It just means I have to kick pro-lifers as often as I kick pro-choicers.

where abortions are illegal there are just as many abortions and more women die.

I find statistics such as these very dubious. If you posted them before, I apologise, I haven't read every comment. But are there statistics regarding nations similar to the US in terms of both development and culture? These are pretty important variables, I think.

upon what version of morality do you base your opposition to abortion, other than your icky feeling. Your arguments are all vague, you are not nailing it.

I know, I'm guilty of being vague. I haven't found a way to condense many long philosophical/ethical discussions into a single comment for explanation. I may write something longer about it someday. For now... lesee... If we value life after birth, but not before, there must be a very significant difference between the two. The differences that people claim do not sway me, and it seems the distinction is more out of convenience than anything else.

where do your personal opinions and political ideals infringe on the rights of others, and what grants you the right to coerse others to your will, if indeed you support the right for women to choose, which you have not clearly stated? You seem to be just jerking us around.

I'm not positive what you're getting at here, but I'll say some words. The idea of coercing others to our will because of what we see as "just" isn't alien, and I don't find myself out of line here. Would you not advocate intervening in a case of child abuse? Or is that too far outside your moral jurisdiction?

If I'm missing your point, please let me know. :S

By skatje.myers (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Alex -
I don't think the moral issue should come into it at all.
Not my place to dictate what a women does with her body. That's hers and hers alone.

But, back to my point: Laws based on the morality of abortion will be flawed, because morality isn't fixed. It changes as society changes.
Best to leave that out of it completely, and concentrate on what we do know. Making abortion illegal has a direct and dramatic effect on mortality rates of young women.

Abortion rights are founded upon the right to privacy, not the right to property. To be clear we're not talking about privacy as in what is done in secret without anyone else seeing. The right to privacy is the right to private decisions, they belong to you as an individual and the government fundamentally lacks the power to deprive you of such a fundamental liberty without due process of law. People are not property. Neither your womb nor your person constitute "property" under the law.

I fully support a substantive due process right to property, not for abortion, but for almost anything within the realm of liberty. I'd like to see it more broadly applied. Property rights arguments for abortion are clever, but they inherently rely on ideas that have been thrown out years ago in other civil rights litigation. It's a non-starter per Constitutional law. Griswold is the case to read on the substantive due process arguments (especially the concurrences that led to Casey): Griswold v Connecticut.

The legal end is far more complex than the slogans of either side and it is worth knowing for an activist or interested party leaning or strongly supportive of either.

That is NOT something you can presume to know.

Wow. No shit. Are you understanding now why I'm too hesitant to ever make a vote to overturn Roe v. Wade?

By skatje.myers (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Alex, there is clearly a moral difference between the two cases. In the first case, the rape victim lost her volition and we feel sorry for her, and in the second, the party girl took a risk and we feel contempt for her. In other words, we feel that the first woman was moral because her virtue was violated, and the second was immoral because, you might say, she had no virtue left.

However the moral difference does not extend to the right of each woman to have an abortion. The moral choice is different. It is moral to uphold each woman's right to bodily integrity and reproductive choice for reasons known and chosen only be herself, and it is immoral to restrict her rights because a third party decides to do so without the woman's consent.

By badgersdaughter (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Quick typo correction I noticed during the lag: "I fully support a substantive due process right to property, not for abortion, but for almost anything within the realm of liberty." should have been "I fully support a substantive due process right to liberty, not just for abortion, but for almost anything within the realm of liberty."

skatje.myers:
I've known people who carried and raised babies conceived in rape. It's not an unbearable burden. There's a TED talk where Eve Ensler asked a woman what she felt about her baby that was a result of rape, and the woman says, "How could I not love my baby? It's my baby and it's full of love."

My feelings towards my uterus and its inhabitants are not judged as important, merely because I consented to sex. A pregnancy is an emotional event for a rape victim, but not for someone going through a divorce, or who knows their partner will not be supportive, or who can't financially support a child, or who just wants a stable life, one where they can bring up a child with a partner they have a strong bond with, a bond that will be ruined by a baby now instead of later. It's emotional to create a baby when the sex was forced, but if not, you can "just give it up for adoption." If it's consensual, it's not *as bad.* I don't think I'm being frivolous when I choose the rest of my life over a fetus, I think it's more than life-altering, more than important, more than just convenient. I can understand women who would risk their lives to end a pregnancy, who want their uterus empty so badly they would risk infection and death. No, I'm not treating it as a full human being, but to do that, I think you have to accept that it is worth the suffering of rape victims.

Alex, I should add that what you characterize as "morality" is rarely so cut-and-dried. What if, as is sadly not all that uncommon, the woman in the case was raped at a party while drunk and high, after flirting drunkenly with the man who turned out to be her rapist? Rape, risk, volition, intoxication, not so easy, is it?

By badgersdaughter (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

@#50
Right, and the funny thing is, so-called pro-lifers are (almost always) pro-death penalty, and war advocates. They're wayyy more pro-death than pro-life. It's a misnomer.

@#133
"the anti-choicers have "biblical" reasons"
No. They have extra-biblical reasons. They make it all up. Abortion is revered in the bible and there are several verses which say that life begins with first breath.

My billboard:
Hi! I'm Zyggy the Zygote. Give me special rights or I'll make God hate you. Cheers.

By TimKO,,.,, (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

The World Health Organization had concluded that access to contraception, safe abortion, and safe childbirth is one of the biggest health issues for women. They estimate that 875,000 women die every year as a result of unwanted fertility.

"A parasites by definition has to reduce fitness?

Correct. This is not my personal definition, but the conventional term of art in community ecology."

I'm surprised at a science blog no one caught this bullshit. No a parasite does not have to reduce it's host fitness. all it has to do is take and not give. In fact, a parasite does not WANT to reduce its host's fitness. Killing your host is a bad way to live as a parasite. The vast majority of parasites are asymptomatic. Even many ones that are notorious disease causes only do so unintentionally. Take Shistosomes (the blood fluke). The adults are mostly benign (they do cause fever and some other ill symptoms but not particularly deadly...many folks brush off the symptoms), it is only when their offspring accidentally burrow into the host tissue (humans are not their intermediate host and thus they can't mature in it) do they get stuck in the body and cause an immune response.

Another example is T. Vagilaris (take a WILD guess where they live). As many as 25% of the world may have it. YOU might have it right now. It can cause vagina or urethra rash and itching and inflamed prostate, many are unaware they have it. It is successful because the vast majority of its hosts are so unaffected by it to continue spreading it unawares.

Hell, some absolute parasites may even work reduce their impact on their host. Leishmaniasins secretes chemicals that down regulate host immunity. This allows it to survive, but it also hast he added bonus of sometimes preventing host complications due to inflammation. Since some of them can actually wind up in the brain or visceral tissue, letting them do this can be preferable to allowing an inflammation response.

The parasites that wind up causing diseases and reducing fitness are the minority. You are coated with many many many parasites. They eat your by-products, they get their nutrients from you and they don't give a damn back. Even many of the disease causers want you to live a long happy healthy life and only cause you trouble when something does horribly wrong for them.

I don't give a crap what ECOLOGY might consider a parasite, but PARASITOLOGY most definitely has buggers that don't reduce fitness.

"That is NOT something you can presume to know.
Wow. No shit. Are you understanding now why I'm too hesitant to ever make a vote to overturn Roe v. Wade?"

Well, that answers my comment, which was written in the meantime.

I have little to add to the debate that has commenced, but I do have a story.

My great-grandmother got married on her 16th birthday, from what I can understand because she was pregnant. She had three children in 3 years and named them all after movie stars because what she really wanted was to leave her tiny town and move to New York. She died when my grandma was less than a year old from an illegal abortion- with knitting needles. My great grandfather died when my grandma was 10 from miner's lung, but that of course is another cause.

I would have supported my great-grandmother's right to a safe, legal, affordable abortion. Even when she was pregnant at 15- even when she was pregnant at 18 with my grandma. Even though I'm a philosophy major, and it's practically my job to be overwhelmed with the existential complexities of what would happen if I had never existed.

"I would have supported my great-grandmother's right to a safe, legal, affordable abortion. Even when she was pregnant at 15- even when she was pregnant at 18 with my grandma. Even though I'm a philosophy major, and it's practically my job to be overwhelmed with the existential complexities of what would happen if I had never existed."

..But if you did that and succeded then your grandmother wouldn't be born and thus you wouldn't be born and thus no one would go back to support her right so your grandmother would be born so *headasplodes*

but it's such a cute little pharyngula . . .

One more question that I'd like Skatje to answer that might have slipped by: Sex only for reproduction is the way that it works for most mammals, but humans (and bonobos, which bolsters the argument) do not visibly mark when they ovulate, and therefore have sex all the time throughout their menstrual cycle including when they can't get pregnant. Doesn't this imply that non-reproductive sex is a natural human social function, such that it's rather otiose to say that sex is "not a handshake" -- by implication, "only for reproduction"?

That is: I look at birth control and abortion and see humans having got better at non-reproductive sex, not having invented it.

Also, you keep rejecting the "mandatory organ donation to strangers" thing, so I'm going to propose a hopefully more-relevant hypothetical. Say I knock someone up accidentally. She decides to carry the unwanted pregnancy to term, dumps me, and raises the kid with someone else who will probably be a better father. Then this child, who I have never met but would not have existed without my decision to have sex with my girlfriend, needs a kidney transplant; her mom calls me and tells me this. Regardless of my personal choice at this point, is it reasonable for the law to compel me to donate one of my kidneys to her? And if this hypothetical is not a reasonable analogy to the process of pregnancy, can someone tell me why?

Also on the "slut shamming" ie the sex has consequences arguement.

If we have Joe Whitetrash who due to his own amazing stupidity poor judgment winds up hacking off his leg with a chainsaw on a drunken bet...would you thus deny Joe the emergency treatment to reattach the leg? Or even give him a prosthetic?

*picks up the pieces of Ing's head*

Except that since all possible outcomes exist in some branching universe somewhere, Haley would still exist in a form for all intents and purposes identical to her existing form, yet have a different (though obviously not a very different) grandmother. In fact there would be an infinity of possible Haleys with and without grandmothers, including the Haley momentarily created ex nihilo in the middle of an exploding star by sheer force of chaos, only to be ripped apart again a nanosecond or so later by the same forces.

By badgersdaughter (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

*hugs Badgersdaughter for actually knowing the branching universe time travel*

I can't tell you how long i've spent trying to explain this to friends. I have graphs and charts on napkins that rival Glen Beck.

Okay, I wasn't going to comment, but this pissed me off something fierce:

Man, does adoption NOT exist?

Do you realize how overtaxed adoption services are with the children that are already here? Do you realize how many of them are never adopted? Do you realize what happens to them when they come of age? Do you realize what an effect this has on their lives, and on the society they live in?

Forcing a woman to carry to term just to punish her for being "irresponsible" affects more than just the woman, or the man who sired the kid.

If we value life after birth, but not before, there must be a very significant difference between the two.

Oh, there is.

The former has been put into the system, and the latter hasn't.

such that it's rather otiose to say that sex is "not a handshake" -- by implication, "only for reproduction"?

Um, why are you accusing me of saying "only for reproduction"? That is not what I said at all.

By skatje.myers (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Sigh....

TL;DR and TMI warning.

My grandmother was forced to marry my grandfather. She beat both children mercilessly. My dad is an addict and completely insane although not really a mean or bad person. His sister has BPD. My grandad was a sadist. My grandmother went insane and began prying her teeth out. She then caught encephalitis from mosquitoes and became brain damaged. Now she is living in a spare room where my dad lives off of her social security. She's a bedridden invalid who stares out of a window all day.

I support any of them having an abortion along the way. Really. I'm trash, from trash and always trash. The stigma I carried with me through modeling and into a relationship with a guy who would have killed me. It's an accident I ended up alive past the age of 19 really. I owe a lot of it to a very nice man who let me live with him and didn't hurt me. Pure dumb luck, that.

People like me are real.

My life is not very enjoyable and seriously not important. The damage done to people all along the way is sad. I try to do things that I think are worthwhile or important.

When I was 7 or so I resolved never carry on the family, realizing I was the last one.

Now by some fluke I've found myself earning a middle class salary. I found my way through college, and for the past 10 years I've worked on dealing with my PTSD and various problems from a lifetime of chronic abuse.

I repeat, people like me are real. There is no easy solution, and it is only good luck that I did not end up with my birth control failing at some point.

There is a very strong possibility, given how close I have come to suicide in the past, that under the emotional pressure of pregnancy I might have killed myself anyway.

I can not safely say that my giving birth is a good thing anyway. I'd like not to be hated for what I am, but I am also not capable of being anything but what I am.

I don't feel different from whores on Robinson, or people in prisons. That's where I come from. And yet I was never cruel in my disposition.

Hell, I had to have it explained to me that giving other kids eggs I found was not the purpose of an Easter egg hunt.

Please don't pretend away these things. It's painful to people like me who wonder some times if they will ever be real people. I'm not some outlier you can smooth out. If you add up the abnormalities I'm very certain they will outnumber the norm and you'll see that your perfect curve is basically artistically selected to find only the points that manage some semblance of a curve.

LOL, Ing *hugsback* You owe Neil Stephenson a hug, too, then, given that I basically ripped the whole example out of Anathem, substituting Haley for the ice cube created in the middle of the star. ;)

By badgersdaughter (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

badgersdaughter you are right, there are many instances if not most in which the moral ambiguity of an action makes it impossible to come to a verdict of what is and isn't the right action. This is the reason that I am a pro choicer. However, there are instances when it is quite clear on what did and didn't happen, and i think that in these instances a person is liable for the consequences of their actions.
As this is impossible to tell on a case to case basis we cannot take the liberty of making the judgment on the chance that we do infringe on an individuals rights. But that doesn't stop the act from being not moral, I am for abortion, but I think that we should stop trying to justify it as being right in order to make us feel better about it.

Alex, if I didn't know better, I would say you meant "if the woman commits a sexual sin, it's perfectly justifiable to force her to live with the results as a deserved punishment." The reason I do know better is that you identify as being pro-choice.

I think that instead of calling abortion "immoral" (I know you said "not moral" and you may see those two words differently, but others may not), it might fit better with how you feel if you chose words like "tragic," or "regrettable," or "unfortunate," or "sad."

It's worth repeating, however, that many abortions represent something positive indeed: an actual freeing of a woman from an intolerable burden or a medical emergency.

By badgersdaughter (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

I have to wonder what people would think if it wasn't a human life, but a sentient alien that reproduces via implanted spores. Would humans implanted against their will be allowed to have the embryos surgically removed? Is it the cute cuddly factor at work? If it looked like a space lizard with a bad weave would it make a difference?

I actually hate the entire concept of "morality" anyway.

What the fuck is a "moral" or a moral value?

What does it really mean but an emotionally held judgement.

I think it should all be about net destruction vs net gain.

Jadehawk, OM | April 18, 2010 5:14 PM:

and the thought that my breakfast was once an intelligent being, and was murdered for my pleasure sometimes makes me queasy.

For this very reason, today's atheist youth are opting for a scrumptious, serving-size fetus rather than a full-term baby stewed overnight with vegetables.

"I think that instead of calling abortion "immoral" (I know you said "not moral" and you may see those two words differently, but others may not), it might fit better with how you feel if you chose words like "tragic," or "regrettable," or "unfortunate," or "sad."

I'm fine with people stating their criticism as seeing it as a bad choice as long as they don't meddle...just like how many would say smoking is a bad choice but not deserving out outlawing

*smokes a zygote*

Ing, if a person found they were impregnated and that the embryo was going to grow up to be a (squee!) cute fuzzy helpless little kitten, I'm sure the ick factor would still be firmly at work.

By badgersdaughter (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

"..... an actual freeing of a woman from an intolerable burden or a medical emergency.
#478

As in....

"Anencephaly is a cephalic disorder that results from a neural tube defect that occurs when the cephalic (head) end of the neural tube fails to close, usually between the 23rd and 26th day of pregnancy, resulting in the absence of a major portion of the brain, skull, and scalp[1]. Children with this disorder are born without a forebrain, the largest part of the brain consisting mainly of the cerebral hemispheres (which include the neocortex, which is responsible for higher-level cognition, i.e., thinking). The remaining brain tissue is often exposed—not covered by bone or skin.[2]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anencephaly

By dustycrickets (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

The fetus isn't some parasite that just popped up there. YOU put it in your body. It is YOUR fault.

Pulling this quote out for scrutiny, I would like to say that so many times have I heard this exact argument used to blame AIDS on gays, and it is utter bullshit. It is not our fault that biology works the way it does, which is why we have developed ways to assess, reduce, and eliminate the risk of biological interactions and to control or avoid their side effects. Sex, for humans, is not usually primarily about reproduction even though a specific variant of it is a direct cause of pregnancy.

If one were to take the stance quoted above to its moral conclusion, then no female should ever allow a male to copulate with her through vaginal-penile sexual intercourse unless the female was knowingly attempting to reproduce and well prepared for the consequences, which is a favorite political theme of those under the most stringently vile of god delusions. It is necessarily anti-choice because it favors the non-person organisms featured above on the accurate billboards over the lives of women, and it certainly paints a picture of a society I would want no part in, for where would the moralizing end?

By aratina cage (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

"I actually hate the entire concept of "morality" anyway.

What the fuck is a "moral" or a moral value?

What does it really mean but an emotionally held judgement.

I think it should all be about net destruction vs net gain."

Ok you've given the emotionally held judgment a new label. Feel better? Some of us actually base our morality by making a few goals and using reason and logic to build up from there. I personally start with the principle of autonomy and everything has kind of built up from that.

"A parasites by definition has to reduce fitness?
Correct. This is not my personal definition, but the conventional term of art in community ecology."
I'm surprised at a science blog no one caught this bullshit. No a parasite does not have to reduce it's host fitness. all it has to do is take and not give.

It's not "bullshit". It refers to the overall effect, it doesn't mean that the parasite will produce a measurable decrease in offspring in each and every case. Even if serious complications are rare, they will result in a statistical reduction of fitness, however small.

Ok you've given the emotionally held judgment a new label.

No, it's not a new label. What is a moral? It can mean fucking anything. It's a useless word.

If one were to take the stance quoted above to its moral conclusion, then no female should ever allow a male to copulate with her through vaginal-penile sexual intercourse unless the female was knowingly attempting to reproduce and well prepared for the consequences...

You mean, no male should allow his females to expose themselves to a fertile male in any way unless he is prepared to support the consequences of them possibly coming into contact with sperm, right. (snerk)

Remember, because it bears repeating, that sperm up the vagina can be accomplished in lots of ways besides the default vaginal/penile penetrative intercourse. I remember my mother explaining how a virgin high school friend of hers got pregnant because she had masturbated after having given her boyfriend a hand job. (Yeah, Mom was not exactly a shrinking violet with the birds-and-bees thing.)

By badgersdaughter (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

badgersdaughter once again you are correct, on most accounts. I did specifically mean not moral, I did not mean immoral. I think that abortion in some instances but definitely not all, is not the right choice, and there is really no immoral choice out of the two.
I do feel though that abortion is not the moral choice in some instances, the grey areas I will not judge, but the others should not be attempted to be justified because the times where it does become a benefit to health or psychology. We cannot say that an action as a whole is alright because of the good it does in some instances when in others it is does not.
And I think that the jump from what I said to crazy religious nut is something you need to be more careful of. I am an atheist, most who read this blog are, and i think that you should not relate the ideas of a person in one topic to theirs in another. I know that there are pro lifers who do not use religion as an argument at all

"It's not "bullshit". It refers to the overall effect, it doesn't mean that the parasite will produce a measurable decrease in offspring in each and every case. Even if serious complications are rare, they will result in a statistical reduction of fitness, however small."

And again there are parasites that don't effect reproductive fitness at all. Like...none. The Guinea Worm is selected for irradiation programs specifically because of this. It lacks the Parasitologist dilemma, ie infection has no result on birth rate.

I'm reading right from the text now "Parasitism is the symbiotic relationship where the organism benefits at expense of the host." period. Nothing about 'reduced fitness' One looses, another gains. that's it. E. Dispar is a completely benign parasite. It causes NO disease, no infection, no complication. it is only of note because it's confused with it's pathogenic cousin E. hystolitica.

Saying reduced fitness is redefining it just to make your argument.

And I think that the jump from what I said to crazy religious nut is something you need to be more careful of.

No, you need to be more careful of it. You are ascribing culpable sexual carelessness, if not wrongdoing to the "immoral" woman, and allowing extra lenience to the "moral" woman. I really can't see how that differs in anything but jargon from calling the first woman a sinful slut who deserves her wretched fate, and the second a criminally victimized innocent who deserves rescue.

By badgersdaughter (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

I guess it really doesn't matter. Health, including reproductive health, is as important to all women as is food, water, and shelter. What's immoral is depriving them of it, or looking down on certain women because they avail themselves of the doctor more often than others.

By badgersdaughter (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

No, it's not a new label. What is a moral? It can mean fucking anything. It's a useless word."

Define "net destruction vs net gain" then.

by your definition I can kill 1 man to harvest organs for 5 right?

Maybe I'm just hormonal, but Skatje's comments re potential mothers not *deserving* a choice have made me cry. (Hormones, cos my baby is 11 weeks old, and apt to cry cos my sister-in-law had her baby less than 3 hours ago. Note: both of these babies were wanted - mine planned and theirs unplanned.)

That being said, I want to be able to choose any continuing family that we (are not planning to) have. If I do have another child, then that pregnancy will NEED to end in a 'planned c-section' (not elective - I will need to have it), done by a senior registrar with experience in the matter. Not only that, but I am regarded as 'geriatric pregnancy' (I am currently 37), and with that comes all other kinds of health issues - not just for me, but for the (eventual) child. When you say that you are ok for abortions for health reasons - is that just for the mother or the fetus as well?

Here in South Australia, if you are high risk of fetal problems, you can have a scan at 13 weeks, and everyone gets a scan at 20 weeks - at this time is when they find the (health) problems for the majority of pregnancies, and then look at medical abortions. These can be performed up to 22-23 weeks here. Are these fetuses too old to be aborted by you?

PS - with regards to the billboards - the kids are older than my 11 week old - they are about 6 months old (at least) by the look of them

Define "net destruction vs net gain" then.
by your definition I can kill 1 man to harvest organs for 5 right?

Whatever. I'm not up to it right now. You win. I don't give a fuck.

Oh hey, by pure Net destruction vs Net Gain, we HAVE to force the mother to give birth if she has twins, even at expense of her own life. 2 for the price of 1 right?

Gah, midnight. Sorry, my coach is turning back into a pumpkin and I need to get my glass slippers out of here. :)

By badgersdaughter (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Oh hey, by pure Net destruction vs Net Gain, we HAVE to force the mother to give birth if she has twins, even at expense of her own life. 2 for the price of 1 right?

Oh ffs are you really that stupid?

Skatje -

Despite your denials, you are indeed slut-shaming. Your comments are rife with blame, and with judgement. As to your views re: women who've been raped perhaps being entitled to an abortion: Either all fetuses "deserve" the right to potential life or you're simply giving a pass to women who are "innocent" of being sluts-who-should-know-better. Either abortion is killing a baby or it is not; how a woman got pregnant cannot come in to that equation.

Is the emotional distress of a woman who gets pregnant when using birth control, who is the sole support of her family and who cannot afford the loss of hourly work time/pay from, say, prolonged morning sickness, any less mentally distressed than a woman who has been raped? Is a woman whose doctors tell her that her fetus suffers from a condition that will kill it shortly after birth, should she not choose to terminate, more or less distressed?

A lot of the commenters here are quite correct: You're a privileged, young, white girl whose family would not literally kick her out onto the streets for getting knocked up. I've given living space to girls who were kicked out - you have no idea of the "distress", mental and otherwise, faced by some women, or the non-medical dangers they face.

Re: What Every Woman Should Know: Several of my son's friends, in high school, had heard or read various myths: A girl can't get pregnant the first time, or if she doesn't have an orgasm, or if she douches immediately after intercourse. They thought they knew what they needed to know. Several of them got pregnant. My kid took to passing out condoms and explaining just how that sperm and that egg got together.

As for adoption - and I am an adoptive mother - the "market" is for blonde, blue-eyed, healthy babies. Babies born with birth defects, babies of colour, babies with fetal alcohol syndrome, babies with genetic diseases, babies with AIDS - very few people want to adopt them. Most of these children end up in foster care, where they are shunted from family to family and often neglected and/or abused, sometimes killed and sometimes ending up a suicide. Adoption as an option is far more fraught with complications than you seem to understand.

By DominEditrix (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Skatje:

The babies in other people aren't less privileged than the babies in me.

But that's just it: the baby in my mother's uterus (me) WAS less privileged than the one in your mother's uterus (you). You do people like me no favors by conflating your reality with what we go through. An abortion would have caused much less pain and suffering -- to TWO people, my mother and me -- than what we've both endured for 50 years.

It's amazing I actually was born alive, thanks to the alcohol, etc. that she used to self-medicate in her anger and fear. No prenatal medical care. Labor and delivery was spent alone in a dark hallway with virtually no medical assistance....the hospital staff's decision to punish her for getting pregnant out of wedlock, with no concern over how that might affect the bastard coming out.

Oh, and then there was the physical, sexual and emotional abuse that nearly killed me many times. Yeah, not much similarity in our childhoods there, I'll bet.

Ah, the luxury of being so privileged.

The fetus isn't some parasite that just popped up there. YOU put it in your body. It is YOUR fault.

Why did I have to suffer for a lifetime just so people like you could punish my mother for being a slut?

Sidestepping the issue of the pregnant woman's bodily autonomy by playing the "fetuses have rights too" card isn't going to work with me around. I'm one of the anti-choice movement's victims too. Your naive arguments are insulting when used against actual victims.

More death and more victims: the anti-choice position isn't about valuing human life at all.

By the time I was a teenager -- younger than you -- I already knew the truth that has thus far eluded you. As I used to joke: I had human rights once, for about 9 months...and then a funny thing happened on the way to the delivery room.

The fact that you have no empathy for unwanted fetuses as actual people but instead value us merely as political pawns cannot be explained solely by your young age.