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.

More like this

In my own experience, most people who call themselves pro-life are the ones more likely to support death penalty and war, while opposing universal healthcare. The only reason they are "pro-life" regarding abortion is because that is the only option where women lose the most control over their own lives.

And why don't they say that the egg has the potential to be a human being? Or the sperm? Why is it only after fusion that those "unique" genes matter?

By Citizen of the… (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Firstly I am not judging anyones sexual choices, I cannot make those prescriptions, I am saying my opinions on what I see the moral challenges in a reproductive sense.
Next I am not saying that people shouldn't get an abortion, if I was in the circumstance right now, I might have wanted one. What I am saying is that just because it is not the wrong action does not mean that it is the right action, and therefore it is not praiseworthy.
Lastly, none of what you said has anything to do with my complaint about regressing into a religious ad hominem.

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?

I don't know about that.

What's the cost of raising the two to the same level of skills/usefulness/whatnot as the mother, compared to keeping the mother and losing the two? What's the cost of having an 18+ year gap in that time? What if they never reach her level of skills/usefulness/whatnot, even together?

Or am I misunderstanding the "net" in this?

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)

I actually thought about stating it as a shared responsibility, but that really isn't how the stance was put. It was all about how it was TeH Weemenz fault. Either way, female's responsibility, male's responsibility, or shared responsibility, it would make society look fairly militaristic or extremely hierarchical.

Remember, because it bears repeating, that sperm up the vagina can be accomplished in lots of ways besides the default vaginal/penile penetrative intercourse.

Too true, I used to rage about that when saddlebacking first came up. I also remember that sperm poster the other day that said sperm can survive for hours in certain places. Which is why all kinds of interactions that involve the possibility of sperm being ejaculated in the proximity of a female would be strictly controlled in this brave new society where abortion is illegal.

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

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.

I find the idea that we can't overcome our own biology because of our consciences rather... dehumanising.

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

The whole subject is uncomfortable to me> I see no reason that it should be comfortable or easy.

I am a male and I do not get pregnant so I do not see how I should be expected make that kind of decision for anyone. It is often a very difficult and serious one for the woman but lets be honest not always. Is that OK? I do not know nor do I think it is even possible to know.
Until such time as we require testing and certification of suitability and a proper license for parenthood I do not see that say anyone but the woman involved has any business getting involved uneasy or not.
The argument is not so simple as to be about babies alone it is tied up with the identities of the protesters and deep emotional conflicts of the anti-abortion protesters. reason will not help.
It is reproduction after all we are talking about, if there is any other thing that would be entangled in our emotions and hence our DNA isn't it what life wants to do, what it is all about?

Th issue of abortion is part of the larger issue of reproduction and there will be no simple solutions or resolutions either.

uncle frogy

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

#187

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.

That is exactly what I said: the argument is that those who argue in a caustic, insulting manner must therefore be less correct. That can't be the case if the last bit - the "therefore they are wrong" part - is left out. I specifically pointed out that I wasn't saying that you were "therefore wrong", nor had I in the previous post.

there is no way to be "nice" enough to be listened to.

That isn't the same as saying that therefore respect in debate is worthless. If you want people to listen to you, being an ass is not a good way to go about it.

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.

I'm not trying to say that if you're respectful everyone will listen to you and like you. I'm just saying that it's hard to debate with someone who is admitting through their vitriol that they aren't going to listen to anyone else's opinion.

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

This quote is the main reason I felt compelled to reply. I literally laughed out loud when I read it, because in my original post I had included the following:
"PS - Cerberus: Keep in mind that just because I'm admiring Glock21's demeanor does not mean that I think they are more or less right than you are"
I took it out because I thought it was redundant and baiting. :D

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.

That certainly offends me as a feminist.

Regardless, I never argued against your positions, some of which I agree with, some of which I don't. I was just angered by your self-righteous, hate-filled posts.

I just can't look away from the arguments....

PZ @ #348:

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.

This makes sense. May I suggest a corollary? Given that personhood happens at some point after conception, isn't it a reasonable moral imperative to terminate a pregnancy as quickly as humanly possible after the decision to terminate has been reached? If I'm reading some of the posts above correctly, any time up to the moment of delivery is fair game to terminate the pregnancy - I suppose that's a philosophically consistent position, but...just...damn.

Ol' Greg: try EMDR for the PTSD.

Believe me, I know.

I would think it starts to get interesting when the brain starts to develop, so I think 12 weeks, as is the law where I live, reasonable.

By Citizen of the… (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

I find the idea that we can't overcome our own biology because of our consciences rather... dehumanising.

so does the RCC, and the celibacy thing is working just splendidly for them, don't you think?

it's a naive thing to say we can "overcome" our biology; we're not gods, we're animals. we can adjust and tweak and tame it, but we cannot overcome it. if we could, there could be no fat people either.

like I said: really fucking sick of this American and libertarian obsession with reducing everything to personal responsibility

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

I find the idea that we can't overcome our own biology because of our consciences rather... dehumanising.

Why should we have to "overcome our own biology" in this case? Why are we less of a human if we choose not to?

What's wrong with having sex for the fun of it?

also, I love how claiming that we should stop fucking to satisfy other people's consciences is suddenly a valid argument, just because it's not framed in terms of god, sin and purity. it's still the same argument.

did you even read the posts by those who said they'd rather their ancestors had aborted? did you consider the fear and love- and joylessness in which women would live their lives if abortion weren't an option? that's the reality of what you're advocating: misery for the living, because death makes you squeamish.

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

If its got a beating heart and a mother, its a life. If its human and you kill it, that's murder (IMHO). Religion's got nothing to do with it, its just common sense.

By Al B. Quirky (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

"...its just common sense."

Too bad common sense was never a good barometer for moral codes.

I find the idea that we can't overcome our own biology because of our consciences rather... dehumanising.-skatje.myers

Could you elaborate? I don't follow exactly what you are getting at by that, especially with how it would apply to reproduction. Do you mean something like asceticism? Like something Gandhi would have done?

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

Ol'Greg:

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.

^This brought me back to the discussion. For what it's worth, I know exactly what you mean and how you feel. I have never considered myself a 'person'. I will never know who I might have been if I have been born to someone who wanted me. I will never know who I might have been had I not felt completely shattered at a young age by verbal, mental, physical and sexual abuse.

The things I went through, I wouldn't wish on anyone. If my mother had not feared dying from a back alley abortion, a whole lot of lives would have been better. My mother's life would have been better, so would all the relatives lives who I was dumped on (and bounced back and forth between, when my mother wasn't busy ripping me away). I certainly wouldn't have suffered; nor would I end up having to spend the bulk of my 52 years in an attempt to be a somewhat normal person.

It's exhausting enough to live such a life; it's worse when you have judgmental idiots jump on you because you understand it isn't right, or moral, if you wish, to value an embryo's life over that of an adult woman, nor is it right to question why an adult woman might want an abortion.

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

Hello all. As the name says, I am a lurker, have been for about a year now. On this issue I feel I have to throw my two cents in. I'm glad PZ's daughter had the advantages that she did but feel very sorry that she doesn't see the illogical and sexist argument she is making.
First of all, I am the demographic at the heart of the issue. I became pregnant at 16, my father was an abusive alcoholic and had left 2 years earlier, my mother was a pot head turner crackhead and I was in an abusive relationship. I was on birth control and we did use condoms. After the cycle of abuse had been gone through several times and he thoroughly had his clutches in me (which admittedly wasn't hard, I was a fucked up kid) he pulled the whole “you're on birth control, you're cheating on me and using BC to cover it up”. Well, like I said I was young, stupid and “in love”. I fell for it and we started having unprotected sex. Not a big surprise that I got pregnant soon after, but I was admittedly shocked. I didn't think it would happen to me. I wasn't thinking coherently or logically at the time. I looked into all of my options including abortion, but my abuser at the time made it clear I was having the baby or else.
Abortion was too expensive and the people I met with made it hassle with guilt trips, God talk and other such nonsense. Personally, adoption wasn't an option either since I didn't think I could willingly give up my child after pregnancy and birth. (Did I mention said abuser told it me that wasn't a choice either?). Well, I got kicked out on the streets once the pregnancy became known to my mother and then went bouncing from shelter to shelter. I soon got my senses, left my abuser (had him arrested and everything but in this state nothing happened, again no surprise), got an education, and got my life together. I am now in my own apartment, two associates degrees and am taking classes while I wait for a seat in a Nursing BA program. I do plan to get my master's degree to become a Physician's Assistant. This productive member of society is here, proud and loud because of welfare programs and shelters. It pisses me off to hear people spout off about things they have no clue about.
I know how much shelters suck (some are hardly better than the streets), I know how much welfare helps, I know how difficult the DECISION is whether or not to keep a fetus. Let me tell you, I may not think I could ever get an abortion, but it is completely different problem in reality than if you think about it is abstractly. There are a million factors and there are plenty of women who say they wouldn't get one, until a situation arose to where they DECIDED too. Thankfully, I got my act together because I didn't want my child to grow up in my situation. I became a logical, determined and educated individual. However, I have known lots of women in my situation who did not and their children are suffering because of it. It becomes a cycle.
While no one has the right to force them to have an abortion, since it is their bodies, we can only offer help to those accept it and rescue the kids and arrest the parents when it turns criminal. I am vehemently pro-choice and am appalled at those who would dictate how others make such life changing decisions about their bodies, their minds, and their lives. All the logical arguments have been made on this thread for pro-choice and I wholeheartedly agree with them, like the fact that the embryo or fetuses isn't a person and doesn't have rights. I'm just not going to try to say it better, since all of you guys here, PZ especially, have said it so well. ( I also have to add how sad it is that I had to go to college to actually be educated and make an informed decision on this and other important issues )
Skatje, I respect your right to your own opinions and to make the decisions about your body. However, it has been pointed out to you how illogical your argument is. While you may feel that you can make a better decision whether or not I should or should not have had an abortion, I can assure you that you cannot. I may have been an educated, poor, homeless kid, who was shaped and molded by coercion and abuse, but I am still the only one who could have made the decision because I am the one who has to live with it and through it.
While I do credit my pregnancy with waking me up, since that I didn't want my child to go through the same crap I did, not everyone will have the same positive outcome as I. I do not regret keeping my child because I made the decision (despite my circumstances if I really wanted an abortion I would have done it illegally and probably died) and I take care of my child damn well, thank you very much. While you may think you know whats best for me and my child you certainly do not. You don't know whats best for anybody else on this issue.
On a related note, my mother didn't want me at all. She was looking into an abortion but because of her circumstances she kept me so she could have a place to live, food to eat, etc. It sucks knowing that she had to keep me for her own self preservation. Though it does helped explain a lot of why she was such a horrible parent. I feel much better knowing that I can tell my child, while you were not planned to be conceived, when you were I decided to keep you. I fought for you and provided the best I could for you. Now when you grow up you can make the same decision about your life and your body and you and any children of yours will be better off because of it. As another commenter said, I wouldn't have minded if my mother aborted me but with the current circumstances I am glad I am here.
I'm sorry if this post is long and too much information but I wanted to share since I am a demographic often quoted and a prime example of why abortion should be legal, why BC, morning after pill, and sex education is important, and why it is important for us to have welfare, shelters and other aides.

P.S It is also late here and I am tired ( I have a full schedule with 40 hour work weeks, part time school, a soon to be three year old running around and everything else to boot) so if there are grammar mistakes please forgive and If I don't make sense feel free to ask questions, I will try again to clarify. I apologize if I muddled my attempt at adding to the discussion. Admittedly, I sit back and learn a lot from this site, googling where needed and have always been to afraid to post because I didn't want to make an ass out of myself in front of people I respect and on a blog I love. I also usually don't have anything useful to add to the mix.

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

...isn't it a reasonable moral imperative to terminate a pregnancy as quickly as humanly possible after the decision to terminate has been reached?

You know, that initially appealed to me purely as an alternate way of thinking about abortion law. What if "as soon as possible" was written into law instead of a certain defined date before which abortion was legally permissible and after which abortion was legally impermissible? We currently do have laws on the books with "as soon as possible" language in them.

After I thought about it some more, though, I realized how dangerous this was when applied to abortion. "As soon as possible" is a very difficult call, legally. It requires careful law writing to make at all plausible (what constitutes possibility? when do you determine due diligence has been performed? what about mitigating circumstances?). It requires a painstakingly built body of case law and precedent that can be relied upon as the basis for an argument as to whether the mother actually did act as soon as possible, or not. And there is no hope that such a law could be applied equally to all groups of pregnant women. The groups that would suffer the most from such a law would be the least privileged, least able to obtain an abortion in the first place, most likely to be thought of as lazy and indolent by prejudiced juries, least able to deal with medical complications from a botched job, and least able to live with the consequences of being denied an abortion or of being punished by fines or imprisonment for having one deemed illegal. Plus, when is "as soon as possible" actually in practice? If an abortion is consistently made impossible to obtain, for whatever reason, for nine months or more, it is de facto eliminated altogether.

As far as the morality gradient between moment-of-conception and moment-of-birth, it's an appealing idea, but as we explained in the comments above, the morality lies not in whether the developing fetus gains an increasing foothold in humanity and human rights, but in whether the woman carrying it is to be granted her full entitlement of human rights, or not.

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

Ing:

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.

This is getting rather far off topic, but... the guinea worm?? Idiotic. You don't think this has any negative effects on fitness?

Jadehawk back in @141

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

True, but it's not really about the method, it's about the outcome.

For instance, we say that "the common cuckoo is a brood parasite of songbirds", even if the cuckoo and the songbird offsping depend on the same method to feed themselves. It would get confusing if we had to say that "songbirds are parasitized by their own young which are sometimes replaced by a different parasite, the cuckoo"

I can think of a counterexample, that we speak of "parasitic males" although they are necessary for the female's reproduction. But IMO, that's more a figurative use of the term parasite, than a rigorous biological definition.

attacking her age and her upbringing instead of arguments is real compelling

instant argument, just ad hominem!

Glock @451, my uterus is more my property than any piece of real estate could ever be. If it is not, then we should all go home because that means none of us own our own bodies.

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

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?

This has been addressed, already. And I already acknowledged that the line is blurry, and I've never been certain about these things. There may be cases which I find equivalently stressful as rape. I've never said this is my only free pass to give, and I've never said I knew all the answers.

I am continually amazed at just how ready people are to jump down my throat on my tentative moral ideas. You would think I had just murdered a few women for enjoying sex too much or something. :/

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

fuck off serpdesu. pointing out privilege is an essential part of these conversations. you can't have a conversation about realities without pointing out blind-spots, and how they affect the way people form opinions about things.

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

@517

Completely, agree and that is the point I was trying to make with my post. I just added my personal experience in since it was relevant and thought it would help having a living person example of all the statistics and arguments. Again, a regular poster does it better than I ever could. Should've figured that =)

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

serpdesu:

attacking her age and her upbringing instead of arguments is real compelling

instant argument, just ad hominem!

No, it is not an ad hominem. Learn the actual definition. Her age and upbringing are factors in her current thinking on the subject, and they are relevant. No one has said "oh well, you're young therefore you're stupid and wrong." That would be ad hominem.

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

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.

As you point out - it depends merely on the state of mind of the female. Her perspective. I can pretty much guarantee that if the female decides her next implanted embryo is a desirable state of affairs, she won't be going around complaining about the "exploitive" "parasite" in her womb, will she? So we have heard your version of pregnancy, which is completely subjective to the whim of the female at any given moment.

Here is a perspective for you, as equally overblown as your own: from the embryo's perspective, he/she/it has been kidnapped and is being held hostage against its will. By a landlord who feels it is her right to kill anyone on her property, even if she is responsible for bringing it into her home.

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.

Well, that cuts both ways, doesn't it? Generally, in a free society we want to maximize our individual liberty up to the point where we bring injury to others. Killing someone over a property rights issue would be extreme, to say the least, and would land you in prison for a very long time if that someone was only ten seconds old.

Of course, an embryo is not a person yet. It is, however, a potential person and given some time will, in all likelihood, emerge from its hostage situation as a bouncing baby. An implanted embryo is on an ineluctable arc to personhood, powered by every natural instinct and provision of human evolution. Every day it becomes more like a newborn human than it was the day before. A matter of time.

How much time are talking about? Nine months is an endless stretch of purgatory to the female who believes she has a (temporary) parasite growing in her, a brief special period of overwhelming actualization to the proudly expectant mother, a vanishingly small slice of geological time. It's all in the perspective.

I think it is important to recognize that people of goodwill can have varying perspectives on this issue. Roe v Wade seems a pretty good compromise after all.

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

I am continually amazed at just how ready people are to jump down my throat on my tentative moral ideas.

Possibly because you implied that other women should be forced to comply to them?

Having tentative morals are fine (to an extent, I suppose), until we expect other people to follow them.

JustALurker:

@517

Completely, agree and that is the point I was trying to make with my post. I just added my personal experience in since it was relevant and thought it would help having a living person example of all the statistics and arguments. Again, a regular poster does it better than I ever could. Should've figured that =)

Nonsense. Your post about your particular experience and life is important and it was compelling. Thank you for taking the time. It certainly does help to have an upfront point of view from someone who is considered a vital statistic.

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

You would think I had just murdered a few women for enjoying sex too much or something. :/

the core and application of your "tentative moral ideas" has done precisely that, and ruined the lives of many others.

so yeah, you're going to get people a mite upset when you're making such claims, especially since you're not bloody likely to find yourself in any of these shitty situations.

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

@ 423

You can't be serious.

I could not be more serious, I have posted on this blog almost three years and have yet to get a single rational response to my claim that american nationalist idiocracy is far more stupid, illiterate, drueling knuckle-dragging horseshit than a cave man worshipping cow dung, I am still pondering whether Islamic terrorist fundamentalism is more r54etrograde anti-intellectual.

But as far as the kill record, there is no competition.

I'll be up for another hour if you'd like to give me a try, but if you think that as an American, I consider you one of my tribe, I wear a maple leaf jersey when I leave the country so as not to be confused with the pondscum I have to suffer daily in this thrid rate cesspool of stupidity you idjhits call a democracy.

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

Gingerbaker @527 "Killing someone over a property rights issue would be extreme" So, if you own property and a person you invite over to dinner brings a friend and the friend plugs in their life support machine, are you compelled to let them live there for 9 mos using your resources against your consent?

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

Wow, when I travel abroad, I do so quite openly as an employee of an oilfield engineering megacorporation from Texas, and I get no hassle from anyone. Maybe I improve people's impressions of the breed. ;)

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

{{{{{{{Ol'Greg}}}}}}} hugs.

Bp, there are cases where pregnancy starts but it's all (or mostly) placental cells. That's called a molar pregnancy. The mole must be removed by a D&C and then the woman is monitored for a year for recurrences of the mole, which is essentially cancerous--uncontrolled growth in unwanted spots.

I'm a bit of a latecomer to this discussion here, but I'd like to weigh in nonetheless.

When thinking about abortion issues, there's a thought experiment I like to bring up. It's known as the "violinist" case conventionally, but I usually divest it from that qualification because I think it's needlessly confusing. Here it is (slightly modified by me):

Mr Smith was at a party, had a bit too much to drink and passed out. When he woke up, he found himself attached to a machine, and a doctor in a white coat explained to him what was going on. The machine was providing life support to a man he did not know, Mr Jones, who had suffered a terrible accident and would not recover for a year. During this year, Smith would need to remain attached to the machine in order to power it (hey, this is science fiction, give me a break here); if at any point he chooses to remove himself, Jones will die. Jones is unconscious and cannot be consulted on the matter; Smith knows nothing whatsoever about who he is or what he will do with his life after (if) he recovers. Is Smith permitted to opt out even though it will kill Jones?

For what it's worth, I think he can. I tend to take a Kantian perspective on this, which I think is what most people are unconsciously doing: the problem with forbidding abortion is that it then forces the woman (or Mr Smith in my imaginary case) to be used as an unconsenting means to the end of preserving another's life (whether a fetus or the imaginary Mr Jones). This is not treating the woman, nor Mr Smith, as a rational being, but merely using them.

In the case of Smith and Jones I actually find it slightly harder to justify my stance than in the abortion case: Jones has already lived for a while (hence has accumulated experiences and presumably influenced others' lives) and is a being capable of suffering, while an embryo fails both criteria. A utilitarian approach which concerns itself with minimising suffering ends up coming to a similar conclusion: to forbid abortion is to place the minimal (if any) suffering of an aborted embryo above the (very real and significant) suffering of the woman throughout the pregnancy; the calculation is obvious.

Whichever approach to morality ("ethics" if you don't like the word morality) you prefer, it ends up being immoral not to be pro-choice.

I'll add one further consideration: the last thing we need in this overpopulated world is more people to consume resources. Encouraging people to be more conscientious about their breeding practices would clearly be beneficial in the long term, and in order to do that it seems to me that the termination of pregnancy must remain an option.

-M. C. Bender

You would think I had just murdered a few women for enjoying sex too much or something. :/

Are we supposed to feel sorry for you now? Do you remember when you wrote "I'll teach you how the world works"? The arrogance you have displayed on this thread has been nothing short of stunning.

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

Ing @ 463

I'm surprised at a science blog no one caught this bullshit.

It was brought up multiple times by myself and others at least 100 posts before you mentioned it.

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

@skatje I recommend you watch this documentary: When Abortion Was Illegal. This is what happens in real life when access to abortion is cut off. This isn't a vague, airy ethical question that doesn't actually matter.

Fertile women shouldn't be coerced to give birth just because they've chosen to have sex. There is only one contraception that is 100% effective for fertile women, and that is complete abstinence from sex with virile men.

Moreover, we do not require more human beings on the planet. Our species is not in danger of extinction. We have enough to deal with providing resources to the children who are wanted. Forcing the birth of the unwanted is not good for the planet.

You are the only one who has the right to decide whether to carry your pregnancy to term. Period. Not the state, not your doctor, not the sperm donor, not a judge, not the police. Not another woman.

Abortion, both pharmaceutical and medical (depending on what's possible of course), should be safe, accessible, and affordable/cost-covered, from the beginning of gestation till the end.

Anything else is giving precedence of something not even an individual over a live, real human being. That is morally unjust.

Alright, maybe I misunderstood your "handshake" comment -- sorry.

I'm pretty sure the reason people are jumping down your throat for these "tentative moral ideas" of yours is strictly because you suggested they should be applied to other people, though. It's sort of like wandering in somewhere saying "I'm vegetarian on ethical grounds -- we should legislate it such that everyone else is too!", except with even more unfortunate implications of sexist enforcement (even if not sexist intent).

On a related note

http://www.abc.net.au/catalyst/stories/2867545.htm

Stem Cell Ethics

Couple of quotes - first from the arsehole Catholic 'ethicist'

Assoc. Professor Nicholas Tonti-Filippini
'The Church's view is that the embryos be taken out of storage and allowed to succumb.'[i.e. not be used for stem cell research]

but then, the winner for me is

Carrie Beetham
'When I die or when I get to heaven or wherever, I’ll be asking why didn’t you send us a cure? And maybe the reply would be well "we did..."'

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

I'm pretty much down the line in agreement with just about everything that is posted here.

But I just can't go here with P.Z. on abortion:

"Don't even ask me when — I'm a guy."

Well, now, that doesn't make the line so gray and fuzzy, does it? Just gotta be a woman, right?

By mr.obelus (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

"Gingerbaker @527 "Killing someone over a property rights issue would be extreme" So, if you own property and a person you invite over to dinner brings a friend and the friend plugs in their life support machine, are you compelled to let them live there for 9 mos using your resources against your consent?"

No. Do you think you should be allowed to shoot him in the head?

What I meant to convey is that this parasite analogy sucks. One woman's "parasite" (and I believe that Sven DeMilo did a damn good job of dismantling that "parasite" analogy) is another woman's reason for being. Even the same woman on a different day.

At some point along that "ineluctable arc" a blob of cells turns into a human being. Many people think it is morally reprehensible to kill innocent human beings. So, at some point ethics compels most of us to recognize the interest of the fetus. And Roe v Wade, it seems to me, does a pretty good job of balancing the interests of the woman as well as the fetus.

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

badgersdaughter @ 533

Wow, when I travel abroad, I do so quite openly as an employee of an oilfield engineering megacorporation from Texas, and I get no hassle from anyone.

Depends on where you are traveling, I'm sure they love you in the fascist dictatorships and kingdoms, but I wouldn't wear a Chevron T-shirt in Nigeria, outside of air conditioned towers.

South and Central Americans tend to get a bit dodgy if you brag about your pathetic little pit of North American greed since we ran out of Indians to murder here, and have moved into their neighborhoods and are scraping them off the surface so as to access the minerals beneath.

I used to be a tool of evil Texas oil fucks, which I considered a step down the moral chain from biker drug gangster, but I managed to find a real job. The pay sucks but at least I can look my children in the eye. Good luck with your mega oil texas money fuck. May your houses be large, your school districts white, and your Pharyngula posts cheerful, positive and properly toned.

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

Soooo many anecdotal sob stories.

As an aside to people who keep referring to me as a spoiled little privileged white girl, fuck off. To the people who keep saying "How did godless, educated parenting go so wrong?", fuck off as well.

I've had good luck in some ways, shitty luck in others. Overall, I'm much better off than most people, but that doesn't mean I lack empathy and live in a fantasy world where everything is just peachy. Get off your my-life-was-harder-than-yours high horse.

--

I still find this slut-shaming thing to be absurd. If we were seahorses, I guess I would be a player-shamer. And man, all those libertarians are racists. Their policies hit minorities pretty hard. I mean, intent irrelevant, it's only effect that matters, right?

--

There are cases of abuse, rape, extenuating circumstances, etc., where I feel like, when weighing things against each other, I would side with the mother. I don't pretend this is as clear-cut as the pro-lifers you're used to arguing with say it is. So if you would kindly stop acting like I've made some definitive proclamation, I would appreciate it.

You're crying and condemning me for actions I have not committed. If I knew that discussing with Pharyngulites recently developed moral ideas that I wish to become more certain on would result in accusations of hating women and people actually crying, I wouldn't have bothered. :/

--

Do you remember when you wrote "I'll teach you how the world works"? The arrogance you have displayed on this thread has been nothing short of stunning.

No, actually. What are you talking about?

P.S. I think I lost my patience and coherence somewhere after midnight. And congealed confusing, broken thought processes into a single comment. Meh. Whatever.

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

mr.obelus:

But I just can't go here with P.Z. on abortion:

"Don't even ask me when — I'm a guy."

Well, now, that doesn't make the line so gray and fuzzy, does it? Just gotta be a woman, right?

What's your point? As it's a woman who becomes pregnant and must make the decision to carry to term and birth, and if she decides to birth, to then support that child, so, yes, it's "gotta" be a woman.

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

I think I should have a reward for going through about 470 comments in one go.

To Skatje Myers

What I am about to tell you is what I would say even if you weren't a kid who can't even drink legally and PZ Myers' daughter.

Just by thinking about typing "YOU put it in your body. It is YOUR fault." you instantly became the most smackable person in the blog and, considering the nature of this blog, that says something.

You have had the luck to have a very sheltered life with doting and loving parents in a social milieu that gives you unlimited access to health information and services. You don't know of the statistics that demonstrate the massacre that is caused by unwanted fertility in places where abortion is illegal. And you have the unmitigated gall to make sweeping statements such as THAT? Nothing you say or do after typing this will ever help you live this down.

Be very very glad you are not *my* daughter. I would have kicked you out of the house and send you off to work with Caine, Fleur du Mal/women's shelters/NICUs and paediatric wards that deal with abused children/orphanages and not let you back in the house until you were in the same time-space continuum as the rest of the planet.

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

And man, all those libertarians are racists. Their policies hit minorities pretty hard. I mean, intent irrelevant, it's only effect that matters, right?

yes. I actually already said that. Do you really think this is some absurd over the top statement?

or, let me put it this way: if someone grew up in a racist culture, and was therefore unconsciously often racist, but he supported policies which didn't affect minorities more than the majority, would his policies be more racist than that of a man who didn't have any racial prejudice, but whose policies disadvantaged minorities?

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

skatje-
" I also advocate a cultural shift that places more value on life and less on instant gratification, but I'm just an idealist hippy."

Do you mean values the quantity of life, or quality of life? Unwanted children do not generally experience the same quality of life as those of us who were wanted. Being born as a punishment for your mom is damaging to children. Those kids who have been hurt psychologically by this situation, and are likely to be less economically privileged as well, live in the same society as you and I. We all affect each other, and I suspect that unwanted kids being born would ruin society for the wanted kids, too. I just could not expect any other result, the work of mothers and parents and other caring adults is the glue that holds society together and is taken for granted. What happens to children who do not get cared for isn't mysterious and it makes for an extremely unpleasant reality for the rest of us. Poverty, violence, mental illness, etc all affect us collectively. Kids do not ask to be born and suffer real consequences when they are born unwanted. I cannot stress this enough; worrying about who is 'at fault' for a thinking feeling human being is a terrible thing to concern yourself with. Imagine being born a punishment- imagine your very being here as a punishment for someone else. The guilt involved for existing would be crushing to an adult, but we are talking about children feeling this. Imagine how human and unsaintly parents are, and how they would treat the punishment-human compared to someone they want around. It is cruel to want people to be born into the world for your personal satisfaction when they will just be hurt for being born. The alternative- not existing, and improving the circumstances for the rest of us, seems completely fine as an alternative. I cannot figure out why the pain involved with unwanted kids being born is preferable at all. If you are wishing for people to always want their kids then yes, that is idealism in the extreme, and should be abandoned because of how unlikely/immoral that aspiration would be.

My life experiences are influencing my opinion, and I want to talk about why. For one thing, my mom was born unwanted, and actually I suspect none of the kids in her family were wanted. Their mom did not have birth control or abortion as options as the time, and was socially expected to marry. Her oldest kid raised all the other kids (poorly, she beat them quite often with things like high heeled shoes), and when the catholic nuns would beat my mother there wasn't anyone around to notice. My mom went into dangerous parts of town and hung out with other kids who had parents who didn't care about them. She was told that she was stupid for her entire childhood, and believed it until she got up the courage to try college (in her 30's). There are a million other things I could mention, but how awful it was isn't exactly the point.
She normalized all of this and did not figure out how abusive it was until she had us. This made her severely depressed (understandably), which I in turn had to deal with as a kid. The problems that come from stuff like this do not just end abruptly or follow any defined course, it can proceed on for generations.

So I know, *yawn* she didn't have the option for birth control, but it is still very relevant. Choosing to have unwanted kids isn't any less horrible than being forced to, if you are looking at it from the child's point of view.

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

Just by thinking about typing "YOU put it in your body. It is YOUR fault." you instantly became the most smackable person in the blog and, considering the nature of this blog, that says something.

Poor phrasing on my part, admittedly, but I feel I adequately explained my position afterwards. "Fault" has more negative connotations than I intended for it.

"You have had the luck to have a very sheltered life with doting and loving parents in a social milieu that gives you unlimited access to health information and services."

Yeah, like I said earlier, fuck off. What the fuck do you know about my parents? I swear... goddamn, I'm out of patience for this bullshit. Stop presuming you know everything about my life.

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

Skatje:

Please consider the thought-experiment I outlined above; divest the scenario from any feelings about sex or "going into things with knowledge of the possible consequences". Make it a completely capricious occurrence and a man connected to a life-support machine and then tell me where you stand.

That ought to put this slut-shaming business to rest (which, incidentally, you did do but it's easy to do accidentally), along with all of the other confounding factors that are confusing things here. Let's ignore who your parents are, where any of us grew up, who we are, our personal histories, all of these irrelevancies... let's even ignore the fact that it's fetuses.

Let's get the core issue out in the open: do you think a person can be used merely as a means to another's life? Can I force you to give me a kidney if I'll going to die otherwise? Can Mr Smith be connected to a life-support machine without his knowledge or consent, then forced to remain connected for a year (at significant inconvenience to himself) without any say in the matter?

It's all the same issue. It's exactly the same. Casting the debate as only being about abortion specifically seems to me to confuse things unnecessarily; it's about using people for others' benefit without their consent. It doesn't really matter whether the party benefitting is a blastocyst, a fetus, or even a full-fledged human being.

It's all the same issue. It's exactly the same. Casting the debate as only being about abortion specifically seems to me to confuse things unnecessarily

Not that it is my opinion (I think the opposite), but someone could point that the difference lies in the fact that you did do something that caused, at least in part, what happens next in one case and not in the other. The hooked up man should've done something prior to the abduction for the analogy to really work.

If I knew that discussing with Pharyngulites recently developed moral ideas that I wish to become more certain on would result in accusations of hating women and people actually crying, I wouldn't have bothered. :/

um. yeah. people tend to dislike others theorizing about them possibly losing their ability to control their own bodies. And since you've admitted you wouldn't stand in the way of those wanting to take this control away from them, and agree that fucking means consenting to pregnancy, people take this theorizing seriously.

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

mcbender:

He should be able to opt-out.

This isn't relevant to abortion, though. Jones is completely irrelevant to Mr Smith. In the case of pregnancy, the "other" life, the fetus, was not just some random happenstance that wants to use the mother. It is a direct result of the mother's action.

Maybe... more equivalently... let's try a different analogy. It's completely absurd, because I'm tired and can't be bothered to think of realistic things, but it's useful anyway. Let's say Mr Smith played a game of chance. Push a button, and you could either win a million dollars or Jones here is going to lose a liver. If Smith chooses to take this gamble, and it ends up with Jones losing his liver, I honestly feel that *morally* (we'll keep legality aside here for the time being, for simplicity), Smith should give Jones his liver. As his predicament is a direct consequence of his actions, he should bear responsibility.

I'm really tired. I hope I'm making a sense. ;__;

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

mcbender:

Please consider the thought-experiment I outlined above; divest the scenario from any feelings about sex or "going into things with knowledge of the possible consequences".

How about you read the whole frigging thread? Your scenario has been brought up countless times, hundreds of posts ago.

Let's ignore who your parents are, where any of us grew up, who we are, our personal histories, all of these irrelevancies...

Let's not, because those things are not irrelevancies. You are missing the point by miles on end.

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

except that Jones didn't agree to lose his liver, just like a person walking down the street doesn't agree to being run over by a drunk driver.

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

just like a person walking down the street doesn't agree to being run over by a drunk driver.

That's exactly what comes to mind when people say that a girl dressing sexy has it coming if she gets harassed or raped.

Does how I was raised, my age, etc., effect my thinking?

Yes.

Am I so stupid as to be unable to think outside that, to put myself in other people's shoes?

No.

Now shut up. :|

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

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.

So you think it isn't immoral for Fred Phelps to protest at funerals and rant about the evils of homosexuality? Or do you think he should be banned from doing so?

The reason that there are circumstances in which people should not do X, but should be free to do X, is because we recognise the need for limitations on state power. There are a whole range of decisions which government cannot be trusted to make, because it leads to authoritarianism and the corruption of power, and makes individuals slaves of the state. One of these is the political, religious and other opiions which a person holds. Another of these is what decisions a woman makes about her body. In both cases, government should not be permitted to make those decisions, because this gives government far too much power over our lives. That's the whole point of individual liberties.

By saying that there is no difference between "people should not do X" and "people should not be free to do X", you're saying that you trust government absolutely to make moral decisions about our lives, and that the whole concept of individual liberty is meaningless to you.

Skatje:

to people who keep referring to me as a spoiled little privileged white girl, fuck off.

Being priveleged, as far as not being poor, or white, over which you have no control, are extremely relevant. Spoiled and little and girl (you are a woman) are the derogatory terms.

I'm not even a Marxist but your class is more important than your ethnicity, your color, your gender, or which state you were born in as far as your options, which dictate the baseline from which you launch your morality.

That is the essence of the moral strategy.

I would never murder you, a woman and daughter of a friend, unless it was an apocalypse, and you were the only meat left to feed my children.

I'm sure PZ would do the same for you.

Your options and situation will hopefully always influence your morality, and at this point in your life, the morality that defines your expressed points of view is an affordable strategy.

There is nothing spoiled or brattish about it, it just is.

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

except that Jones didn't agree to lose his liver

Let's substitutes the intended entities in the analogies now.

"except that the fetus didn't agree to be dependent"

Wait, how is this supposed to be in your favour?

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

"That ought to put this slut-shaming business to rest (which, incidentally, you did do but it's easy to do accidentally), along with all of the other confounding factors that are confusing things here."

I didn't see it that way at all. Skatje made that statement in response to one (of the many) defective premises of the parasite analogy, which presented the impregnated female as being invaded out of the blue. She rightfully pointed out that the female was not invaded but was herself responsible for the placement of the "parasite".

Some people responded with a knee jerk accusation of slut-shaming, which, IMO, totally missed the mark. I don't recall that Skatje ever made an argument that a female's lack of morals deserved punishment.

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

If I knew that discussing with Pharyngulites recently developed moral ideas that I wish to become more certain on would result in accusations of hating women and people actually crying, I wouldn't have bothered. :/

So, are you more upset about the accusations or people crying? For what it's worth, I didn't cry, you've simply pissed me off no end. You're coming across as being put upon unnecessarily, and people should have been supportive and nurturing of your recently developed moral ideas.

What happened is people took issue with your ideas, and you got a lot of real world experience right back atcha. You came across as an arrogant know-it-all, who was capable of deciding what was right for all women in all situations. This happens when you decide to test out new ideas to a large group of diverse people. That's part of life experience. Happens to us all. In the end, it's generally a positive thing, because it presents different points of view and gives a lot of food for thought. Do with it what you will, ignore it, think about it, whatever. All I ask is that you don't presume to know me (or anyone else) with such certainty of moral certitude that you can claim what is right for all women.

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

That's because there is no sharp magical border, it's grey and fuzzy all the way.

This is clearly true, and a very important point to make.

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.

This is a bullshit cop-out. As a participant in civil society, you have a say in deciding what people can do to an 8-month-old fetus or a 1-day-old neonate. If you decide that the choice to kill the former is a fundamentally protected right, while a choice to kill the latter is first-degree murder, then you ought to give reasons.

I don't say for a moment that decent reasons don't exist, or that PZ doesn't have them. The bulk of the post is excellent. We absolutely have to consider developmental details and counter deceptive propaganda from people who believe in ensoulment. But if we conclude that late-term fetuses are a lot more like neonates than they are like embryos, then dumping off the ethical reasoning on "the woman's decision" is a default on our social responsibility.

Now, in today's political climate, this kind of argument should not be made without pointing out how very few abortions are late-term, probably less than 1,000 per year in the US after viability, and most of these because of medical risk. Still, I think there is a good moral case for legally discouraging late-term abortions while strongly protecting early abortions, especially if public information underscores early abortion as a responsible act for women who are likely to become unsure later.

Am I so stupid as to be unable to think outside that, to put myself in other people's shoes?

oh yeah. you're extra-special-super-woman who, unlike virtually everybody else in the world, can overcome her privilege bias just by the awesome power of her smarts[/sarcasm]

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

I find the idea that we can't overcome our own biology because of our consciences rather... dehumanising.

Couldn't this be turned around and applied to your own argument? We can overcome our own biology by interrupting a pregnancy, but you are arguing that we should follow the "rules" imposed by... biology.

If I knew that discussing with Pharyngulites recently developed moral ideas that I wish to become more certain on would result in accusations of hating women and people actually crying, I wouldn't have bothered. :/

Don't take it personally, some of your moral ideas have gotten a much better reception here :)

@544

First off, I wasn't on a my life was harder than yours high horse. It wasn't meant to be a sob story for you to snide at. I was trying to add to a living discussion about something I have personally gone though. If you cannot see the value that is your own loss. A discussion about x is happening, I offered my personal anecdotal knowledge of x. period. I am not saying my life is harder than anybody's. I do not know you personally or your childhood or anything you have gone though. I am not passing judgment and wouldn't even if I knew you personally. Everybody goes though different things. There are plenty of people that have gone though painful but different things than me and people that I know have gone though worse. I was not trying for pity or sympathy. I'm a demographic and statistic because of my sad life but do not imply or stuff words in my mouth about it. My tone was not oh woes is me, or you're so sheltered in your fantasy world. Nor did I say or mean it. I said “if I was in situation x I would do y” but due to my personal experience I sincerely do not believe you can REALLY know what you are going to do until you are in situation x, which in this case was unplanned pregnancy.

Yes, I said glad I am you had a better, stable environment (meaning no drug abusing parents, poverty, lack of health care, etc.) from what I know. I didn't say you were sheltered or happy or shit didn't happen, that is two different things. Yes, I said it was sad you didn't see your illogical sexist argument for what it is, but I say that for every person who holds your same views. Its especially sad because you were indoctrinated in your childhood or anything else. You were left to make up your own mind, with every advantage available as you pointed out and still reached the same fucked up conclusion. Let me clarify, I mean your views are fucked up in my opinion ( no, that's not ad hominem) since you want to control my body and my life.

You have said several times that you don't have all the answers and that's why you are not willing to vote either way on the issue. You can't claim the right to make the decision for others (has you have in previous posts) then claim you don't know what to do. If you don't have the answers, don't get all pissy when people ask you questions can all you on your statements. If this is tentative for you and you are still making up your mind, I suggest looking at ALL the evidence and then making your claims. Instead of doing it half cocked. I also suggest not making such decisions on a gut feeling either. Just because you feel* its not right for you doesn't mean it isn't okay for someone else., just because you feel* the fetus has more value. Try hitting us with a logical and reasonable reason why fetuses have more rights then women, why women should be shackled with the burden of childbearing when there isn't a necessity to, why should others decide my reproductive life? Oh, wait there isn't.

* to have a general or thorough conviction of; think; believe; but in this instance provide no logical argument, evidence or otherwise thought provoking reason to believe said feeling.

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

Gingerbaker:

I don't recall that Skatje ever made an argument that a female's lack of morals deserved punishment.

skatje.myers: The fetus isn't some parasite that just popped up there. YOU put it in your body. It is YOUR fault.

Oh? What exactly do you call that? Try reading the whole fucking thread.

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

Dear Skatje, I'm glad you are proving that atheists are quite capable of bringing up children who don't simply tow the party line when it comes to moral and ethical decisions, but I have to say I am saddened that you choose the side which thinks slavery is okay.

Understand this, that when you put the "rights" of a bundle of cells above the rights of a fully-formed, independant, thinking and feeling human being, you are advocating slavery.

You state that you wouldn't have an abortion, but that you wouldn't fight laws that would remove the possibility for others (and yourself) - and at the same time state you wouldn't "interfere" with the existence of another fetus. Sorry to say, but your amicable inaction is interference, leading to consequences of the worst kind.

Gedanken experiment here - you did nothing, the anti-abortion laws came into effect, you get raped. Would you bring up that child? Seriously? Many people would say yes.

Would you protest the choice, the ability to choose, the law that allows choice, or the decision? Would you take away that choice? Because that is the question here - not your choice, but the availability of that choice.

Now, imagine you're pregnant, but there's something wrong. The anti-abortion law is in effect, and you're going to die if you don't break it.

You may think this is a game (and it is, of a sort), but it's a very real problem.

"except that the fetus didn't agree to be dependent"

then the fetus can move out and get a job.

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

"You came across as an arrogant know-it-all, who was capable of deciding what was right for all women in all situations."

How exactly did she do that? By saying she might not vote if anti-abortion legislation was introduced?

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

JustALurker @ 566:

My tone was not oh woes is me

It sure as hell wasn't. Excellent post, by the way. There's a distinct lack of empathy happening, when your explanation of your circumstances is taken so wrongly.

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

Gingerbaker:

I don't recall that Skatje ever made an argument that a female's lack of morals deserved punishment.

skatje.myers: The fetus isn't some parasite that just popped up there. YOU put it in your body. It is YOUR fault.

Oh? What exactly do you call that? Try reading the whole fucking thread.

Try reading my post that you just cut and pasted.

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

Gingerbaker:

How exactly did she do that? By saying she might not vote if anti-abortion legislation was introduced?

First, see post #567. Didn't bother to answer that, I see. Then, read the whole fucking thread.

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

I'd just like to weigh in that scooterKPFT is *hilarious*. Generalizations for all, and to all a good night!

Thank you.

skatje.myers wrote:

What the fuck do you know about my parents?

What an odd thing to say; I'm going to put it down to your tiredness.

Because I believe that, since the blog we're on belongs to your father, and he talks about himself quite a lot and your mother from time to time, it's entirely accurate to say that we - the regulars at least - know about a metric fuck-ton more about your parents compared to what you know about any of us.

I've also met the man, and spent a few hours in his company; from that I can tell he's a genuinely nice guy - or a very, very good actor.

So, with that in mind, we know he's not going to disown you, kick you out on the street to fend for yourself, beat the shit out of you or some combination of the above if you come home knocked up - can you honestly say you know the same is true of every other woman who gets pregnant?

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

Couldn't this be turned around and applied to your own argument? We can overcome our own biology by interrupting a pregnancy, but you are arguing that we should follow the "rules" imposed by... biology.

If you could get around the rule of a female having to carry it in her for nine months, please do.

But I don't find giving value to a fetus really a "rule" imposed by biology, that we may overcome. I am not sure you're making sense here.

You can't claim the right to make the decision for others (has you have in previous posts) then claim you don't know what to do.

This is by no means inconsistent. If I wish to tell others what to do, I feel it is completely reasonable and appropriate to do so. It's that I have chosen not to.

It may have looked confusing for me to argue with people who are saying things akin to "What gives you the right to decide for other people?", but it was a question asked of me, and I would give the same response (approx.) if someone asked me "What gives you the right to tell other people they can't murder people?"

If you don't have the answers, don't get all pissy when people ask you questions can all you on your statements.

I find it not far out of comprehension that I get pissy when people accuse me of being a whiny spoiled brat, who wants to punish people's mothers. This clearly isn't me being pissy at questions. This is being pissy at other people's pissiness. In summary: This is all a great big pissfest.

If this is tentative for you and you are still making up your mind, I suggest looking at ALL the evidence and then making your claims.

Probably more applicable to someone who spent all their time as a pro-lifer, as opposed to someone who spent years arguing AGAINST pro-life, then later decided to lean away from their original position.

What "evidence", as you call it, I lack is more likely to be found in discussing this with pro-choice people. Or so I had thought.

Oh? What exactly do you call that?

I call that "taking some poor phrasing that was later clarified, assuming a few extra propositions, and running with it".

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

@Caine (554):

I have read the entire thread, thank you very much, and similar scenarios have been brought up, yes. My intention was to make the analogue as close as possible but in such a way as to tilt intuitive moral judgments in the opposite direction; if I failed to do that, then yes, I was probably being redundant.

And I still maintain that personal idiosyncrasies should be irrelevant to what is at least in theory a discussion of objective principles.

@Skatje (553):

I don't think your new analogy works. There is no way to justify Smith's taking a gamble where the stakes affect somebody else (some other agent who has interests of his own).

A fetus is not an agent. It simply does not have the capacity that a fully-fledged human does (let's not get into potential here, the grown human has already realised his/her potential while a fetus has not; there's no comparison). Nor does the fetus have the capacity for suffering.

Let's assume I ignore that and grant you the analogy of sex : gambling with Jones' liver. It still doesn't work. Jones exists as an agent prior to any of the gambling occurring, and its affecting an entity which has interests makes that gamble a very different scenario from sex (which has a probability of creating something which might under the proper conditions become an agent).

-For the time being I'm going to bow out of this discussion, as it seems as though (1) I'm not contributing anything productive and (2) it's getting late.

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.

Yes, this is true.

Making abortion illegal is not an effective way to reduce the number of abortions. It just makes them less safe, and causes more women's unnecessary deaths. The criminal justice system is a very bad tool for social change: just as bans on alcohol and drugs have always been disastrous failures, and have caused more human suffering while achieving nothing, so too with bans on abortion.

Rather, the best way to reduce the number of abortions would be to ensure the availability of birth control to everyone, teach more sex education in schools, and provide enough welfare, childcare, health support and so on that no woman would have to worry about being plunged into poverty by giving birth. With this in mind, it's sad that much of the "pro-life" movement also opposes birth control and sex education, and wants to reduce welfare for single mothers. Indeed, the ideas of religious "pro-lifers" seem carefully formulated to produce the maximum possible human suffering.

@570

She did that on several comments -
@181

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.

@202

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?

@232

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.
@249
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.

@359

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.

@553

Maybe... more equivalently... let's try a different analogy. It's completely absurd, because I'm tired and can't be bothered to think of realistic things, but it's useful anyway. Let's say Mr Smith played a game of chance. Push a button, and you could either win a million dollars or Jones here is going to lose a liver. If Smith chooses to take this gamble, and it ends up with Jones losing his liver, I honestly feel that *morally* (we'll keep legality aside here for the time being, for simplicity), Smith should give Jones his liver. As his predicament is a direct consequence of his actions, he should bear responsibility.

There's more but read the whole thread if you want more evidence.

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

Walton wrote:

With this in mind, it's sad that much of the "pro-life" movement also opposes birth control and sex education, and wants to reduce welfare for single mothers.

'Sad' isn't strong enough to truly reflect 'pro-life' attitude; I'd substitute 'pathetic', 'hateful' or 'monstrously shit-headed' instead.

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

I call that "taking some poor phrasing that was later clarified, assuming a few extra propositions, and running with it".

Note to PZ,
she's definitely yours

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

in theory a discussion of objective principles.

well, it really isn't. it's a question of real-life policies regarding real-life situations that happen to real-life people.

Because in principle, we all want pregnancy only to happen when it's wanted, and no such a pregnancy ending in abortion. Until the invention of the 100% safe contraception that doesn't require the sexual version of anorexia nervosa and a shitload of luck, this principle is another meaningless red herring.

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

Gingerbaker:

Try reading my post that you just cut and pasted.

I did. And that's called quoting, you know, like you just did with my post?

Gingerbaker:

She rightfully pointed out that the female was not invaded but was herself responsible for the placement of the "parasite".

Rightfully, eh? As it has been said, women do not have a "consciously impregnate" button. Pregnancy is sometimes a consequence of having sex, however, unless one is actively trying to get pregnant, it's an unintended consequence. It can, and often does, happen even when multiple forms of birth control are being used. In such a case, a woman most definitely did not want to get pregnant.

Skatje's argument was not one of biological accuracy. It was one of blame, which she elaborated on. She made the point that if a woman does not wish to get pregnant, she shouldn't have sex, as she is aware that no birth control is 100% effective. This is blaming the woman for having sex in the first place.

This has all been argued, in depth. Read the whole thread. If you have nothing more than Skatje's lame arguments, go away. If you feel you can present her same arguments so they will actually make sense in the real world, go for it.

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

"There's more but read the whole thread if you want more evidence. "

I have read the whole thread. And the quotes you have provided ( thanks for the effort that took, btw) don't look to me like Skatje was:

"...an arrogant know-it-all, who was capable of deciding what was right for all women in all situations."

That seems to imply that Skatje would vote for legislation to severely restrict, if not outlaw abortion. As far as I can see, she has not gone that far. She has said she might not "stand in its way" which is not the same thing.

Her other statements basically say that she feels she has the right to her opinion, and to voice that opinion. This does not, it seems to me, to deserve the hyperbole being thrown at her, although I must say that people seem to be talking past each other in this thread - not picking up on each other's points, and then misreading intent.

I'm on the East coast - it's 4:15 am here - I've got insomnia - do we all? :D

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

If you could get around the rule of a female having to carry it in her for nine months, please do.

Easy: abortion. We can now get around that "rule" by choosing not to carry a fetus to term.

Pregnancy is sometimes a consequence of having sex, however, unless one is actively trying to get pregnant, it's an unintended consequence.

but not an unsurprising or really unexpected one. this is a matter of people PLAYING THE ODDS, intentionally. i do it, everyone else does it. but i'm willing to fess up to my mistake if that .3% failure rate comes around.

Either take the gamble, knowing that it might end with unintended consequences, or learn to appreciate oral sex more.

i have no sympathy for "BUT I DIDNT MEAN TO" when you know your method could very well end up this way. it's not an excuse.

This is blaming the woman for having sex in the first place.

I "blame" both equally. As I said before. And "blame" is a word I've possibly used but offers more negative connotation than is accurate.

idonteven imtootiredtokeepgoing

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

I'm on the East coast - it's 4:15 am here - I've got insomnia - do we all?

not insomnia; nightowls and non-Americans abound.

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

but not an unsurprising or really unexpected one.

neither is getting hit by a car, but I wouldn't suggest people stop leaving their homes.

It's nice for you that you have the resources to "fess up to [your] mistake(!)" by means other than abortion. but to say that every woman should play by your rules is bull. Sex is not a reward for the luck of having a stable life. that's just punishing people for being poor, in unstable life-situations, etc.

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

What an odd thing to say; I'm going to put it down to your tiredness.
Because I believe that, since the blog we're on belongs to your father, and he talks about himself quite a lot and your mother from time to time, it's entirely accurate to say that we - the regulars at least - know about a metric fuck-ton more about your parents compared to what you know about any of us.
I've also met the man, and spent a few hours in his company; from that I can tell he's a genuinely nice guy - or a very, very good actor.

That is unbelievable. You think you understand my childhood because you read the things my father writes on his blog? You think you understand my father because you spent a few hours around him?

That's... ridiculous. A level of presumption and fake analysis that Freud couldn't even pull off.

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

skatje.myers wrote:

...but i'm willing to fess up to my mistake if that .3% failure rate comes around.

But many of the consequences of that 'mistake' aren't as serious for you as they are for all women - and that's the point people have been trying to make all day/night/morning and which you seem to keep missing.

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

@576

How is that not inconsistent? You said you were against all abortions except if it was necessary to save the woman's life. You were asked simple examples, like what if the mother was raped, or lied to about birth control, or if birth control failed. If you want to dictate how other people live you better damn well have all the answers instead of making shit up all the way so that people actually do know what they are dealing with. And just because you want dictate other's life does not give you the right or ability to. This not murder we are talking about. Murder is the killing of another person. The debate lies whether or not a fetus is a person, what constitutes a person, and when does another person have the right to use another person's body. As for evidence, provide some of what makes a fetus a person for starters and why you get to make a personal decision for somebody else. Ok, maybe evidence was a bad word for this example , how about logical reason? Something other than,” this is what I feel and others should have to follow it” would be nice.
As for an analogy try this on for size*, say a drunk driver hits a person who is fatally wounded. The person needs a heart transplant, should said drunk driver be responsible to give up their heart since it was their reckless actions that cause the person's injuries? How about a liver? The person hit was just walking by, didn't want to get hit, has no say and no other way to live but the drunk driver's heart/liver. The answer is no, obviously the drunk driver has to pay damages and go to prison but we don't make them give up their life, their body. The difference is a woman shouldn't be punished for having a abortion since fetuses do not meet the requirements of a person. Hell, even if you give the fetus rights no person on this planet has the right to use my body to live no matter what I did to said person to make it so. It may be a nice thing to do but still its not morally or legally my responsibility to do so. Would you have the fireman save 1,000 embryos or living child? All embryos have the potential to become human, obviously same man and woman donated to create them and go through the same development but there is a difference. Fetuses are not children or a person. Honestly, if you rather save the embryos please never become a firewoman! LOL =)

Also, I was not pissy with you on my original post. I made a simple statement. I never called you a spoiled little brat. And you are most certainly punishing said mothers to carry a fetus if they don't want it due to economic, physical, social problems, which is only to name a few of the issues when a woman becomes pregnant. You said it yourself consequences are dire but seriously should I carry a fetus that would economically screw me over, send me back to the shelters, disrupt and maybe end my education goals and screw my 3 year old and ruin all the progress I've made in the last 4 years because my IUD and condoms broke? Are you kidding me? A fetus is nothing but a bunch of parasite cells with 46 chromosomes. So what if it has half my genes? I don't punish my daughter for having half her genes come from her bastard father, why would I care more if it has my genes. Plenty of people love their adopted children just as much as I love my daughter, genes don't matter. If it gets to the 3rd trimester and would be able to survive if it was born prematurely, at that point I could birth it and openly adopt it to a loving couple who could help all parties in this situation and be involved. But that's just me and it would be mainly because I would feel it moving, and I would get all attached to it. And it wouldn't be that much longer anyways. No way in hell I'm going to make that decision for anybody else, just like I wouldn't decide their careers, lovers, opinions or college.

*yes, its a lame one but the best I can do so late and so tired as it is. All analogies can be defeated simply by saying there are not similar enough but the goal is to look at the moral principals involved. And I'm sure someone mentioned the firemen already but I just had to reiterate.

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

Gingerbaker @ 584:

I have read the whole thread. And the quotes you have provided ( thanks for the effort that took, btw)

I didn't provide the quotes. JustALurker provide them @ #579. You obviously aren't reading very carefully.

She has said she might not "stand in its way" which is not the same thing.

What that means is she would either not vote at all, or vote for it. It means she would not choose to uphold a woman's right to autonomy.

Her other statements basically say that she feels she has the right to her opinion, and to voice that opinion.

To which I responded, vociferously, that she does indeed have the right to spout her opinion to all and sundry, but that is not at all the same as passing something into law. I'm beginning to doubt you read the thread. If you had, you would have noticed my response.

This does not, it seems to me, to deserve the hyperbole being thrown at her

It's not hyperbole. She has been incredibly arrogant, and I'm far from the only person to think so. When many people point out the same thing, it's generally a good idea to take stock of what you're saying. Skatje has not done that.

I'm on the East coast - it's 4:15 am here - I've got insomnia - do we all?

I'm nocturnal.

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

WowbaggerOM:

But many of the consequences of that 'mistake' aren't as serious for you as they are for all women - and that's the point people have been trying to make all day/night/morning and which you seem to keep missing.

Emphasized and Quoted for truth.

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

@571 and 529

Thank you for your kind words and support. I didn't mean to ignore you or take so long I was just trying to respond to skatje quickly.

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

Either take the gamble, knowing that it might end with unintended consequences

Sure, like having to get an abortion. That's not an intended consequence.

@584

I didn't mean to sound condescending when I said read the whole thread for more, simply a statement and I hate scrolling and searching for quotes. Its a pain but necessary to quote someone correctly. And the first quote I gave specifically states since she doesn't want an abortion no one else should have an abortion and she has the right to dictate that on all women. In reality she has to vote to get her opinion across and its not her opinion alone that makes it possible (she's not queen of the world) but I'm not talking about whether or not she's going to vote agianist woman's rights.

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

PZ #348,

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.

No, that no one should kill another person isn't an ethically sound position. First, you have to demonstrate that not allowing someone to use your body against your will in order to survive means that you are the one responsible for killing that person. But why you and not everybody else who isn't accepting to let that person use his body? Second, what about self defense? If someone is about to tie you up to a chair and torture you for months, aren't you allowed to use that gun that you've got hidden in your pocket?
It's quite clear that the only sound ethical principle is that noone should kill another person unjustly. That's the basis for our system of laws.

So you have to demonstrate that if someone, say a famous violinist, is about to tie you up to a bed for nine months and connect a machine to your body to use it to extract poisons from his blood that his own body is incapable of and will die if not done, you are the one responsible for unjustly killing that person if you don't let him do it.

Whether that someone is a famous violinist or a fetus doesn't change the answer to that question. It doesn't matter if that someone is a fully mature person or a clump of cells where you have some difficulties deciding if it has the status of a person or not. It is impossible to show that separating you from it and possibly causing its death represents unjust killing.

"The right to life consists not in the right not to be killed, but rather in the right not to be killed unjustly. Therefore, to show that abortion isn't morally permissible, it is by no means enough to show that the fetus is a person and to remind us that all persons have a right to life—we need to be shown also that killing the fetus violates its right to life, i.e., that abortion is unjust killing. And is it?
J.J.Thomson

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

@584

I didn't mean to sound condescending when I said read the whole thread for more, simply a statement and I hate scrolling and searching for quotes. Its a pain but necessary to quote someone correctly. And the first quote I gave specifically states since she doesn't want an abortion no one else should have an abortion and she has the right to dictate that on all women. In reality she has to vote to get her opinion across and its not her opinion alone that makes it possible (she's not queen of the world) but I'm not talking about whether or not she's going to vote against woman's rights. I'm talking about why she believes the fetus is a person, what makes it person and why should society force women to give birth if they don't want to. I never said she was a brat or spoiled, but she certainly came off as a know it all and said she had the right to make that decision for all women. But maybe thats just me.

Sorry, this is what I meant to post, I accidentally clicked to soon. My bad. =(

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

skatje.myers wrote:

That is unbelievable. You think you understand my childhood because you read the things my father writes on his blog? You think you understand my father because you spent a few hours around him?

Did you read the rest of the post where I wrote that? Here it is again:

So, with that in mind, we know he's not going to disown you, kick you out on the street to fend for yourself, beat the shit out of you or some combination of the above if you come home knocked up...

Are you saying I'm wrong about that? Are you implying that the PZ Myers whose words we read every day isn't the person we think he is and he's going to suddenly abandon his daughter if she gets pregnant?

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

@590 and 588 and 597

I wholeheartedly agree and second that!!! Of course there are so many awesome posts by commenters here I really can't list them all. =(

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

"Gingerbaker @ 584:

I have read the whole thread. And the quotes you have provided ( thanks for the effort that took, btw)

I didn't provide the quotes. JustALurker provide them @ #579. You obviously aren't reading very carefully. "

I wasn't thanking you, I was thanking justalurker for his/her post. My post was to justalurker, not you, it just contained your quote cut and pasted, he-he from his post.

" She has said she might not "stand in its way" which is not the same thing.

What that means is she would either not vote at all, or vote for it. It means she would not choose to uphold a woman's right to autonomy. "

If she would vote for it, I would have a (big) problem with that. But she gave no indication of that, and therefore your charge of her being "...an arrogant know-it-all, who was capable of deciding what was right for all women in all situations" is unfounded.

You and she seem to be talking at cross purposes here. You are talking about legislation, and she is talking about voicing her opinion to people. I get the impression that she has not picked up on your intent.

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

@Josh #147 via negentropyeater #190

I'm sure like me you would have moral qualms about killing a newly born infant is wrong - and I'm also sure that like me you would see nothing wrong with the morning after pill.

So where did you transition from the latter to the former? Was it a discrete transformation, say at 27.56 days? Or is it like me, and I imagine everyone with "qualms" that the closer you get to birth the less acceptable termination is?

It is a continuous curve. And after two weeks, you might be 0.001% "uneasy"; after 2 months 1%; after 8 months 90%.

You could of course, be fine with termination as long as the [insert stage] is dependent on the mother, up to and including 5 minutes before it is born. If you're that cold, well then fine - but I would have to question your overall ethical model.

I think that the black and white viewpoint is very much the domain of the absolute moralist, and should be avoided at all costs. We should have our qualms, but we should also be aware that qualms have to be weighed against the rights of the individual.

@negentropyeater et al

(And getting myself into bother)

You talk of rights as if they were some kind of "written in stone" nonsense. And that there is an unquestionable right for the mother to her own body (which I pretty much agree with).

But we only have rights because we all agreed that we should - the right to life or the right to free speech are not carved in stone. And the same applies to the right being in charge of your own body.

Anyone who suggests that the Magna Carta, or the Bill of Rights or the UN Convention on Human Rights are some kind of fundamental principles of the universe, is as daft as someone who says that the 10 Commandments are.

The reason foetuses don't have rights is because they can't contribute to the debate.

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

WowbaggerOM:

Are you saying I'm wrong about that? Are you implying that the PZ Myers whose words we read every day isn't the person we think he is and he's going to suddenly abandon his daughter if she gets pregnant?

I think Skatje is trying to imply that her situation, really, isn't any different from any other woman's. This isn't so, obviously, but many arguments have been forthcoming in regard to her very fortunate position in life, and that fortune would continue if she were to find herself pregnant.

Now, this is just my opinion, mind, I think Skatje doesn't want to face the fact that she is, indeed, privileged, unlike many women. She has a firm support system in place, and I imagine that's making her uncomfortable. Again, just my opinion.

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

Gingerbaker:

My post was to justalurker, not you, it just contained your quote

In that case, don't be an asshole and use names for the specific bits you quote. Other people have done that throughout this thread, including myself. If you're going to act the assclown, expect to be treated like one.

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

Being pro-choice is easy. You don't even have to be for abortion., just a recognition that there should be a choice. Heck, even if you are against abortion there are good grounds to legalise the practice so as to get rid of some of the shit that goes along with it.

Being pro-infanticide, now there's a hard position to sell. Because if you're not going to categorically rule out that in some circumstances that termination of a infant is best for all concerned, then that's the equivalent of saying you eat babies.

Caine, Fleur du mal wrote:

Now, this is just my opinion, mind, I think Skatje doesn't want to face the fact that she is, indeed, privileged, unlike many women. She has a firm support system in place, and I imagine that's making her uncomfortable. Again, just my opinion.

I think it's understandable to be blind to one's own privilege in a broader sociocultural sense - I suspect many of us here have spent at least some of our lives in exactly that position - but I'm less inclined to be forgiving about being blind to the fact that not everyone in the world, regardless of any other factor, has two parents who love them and would look after them if they needed help.

I don't need a degree in psychology (although, incidentally, I have one) to know PZ loves his daughter a fuckload more than a lot of fathers do.

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

Caine, get some sleep. Gingerbaker is being neither an "asshole" nor an "assclown." You misinterpreted a perfectly clear response comment.

By Sven DiMilo (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Pinkydead,

You could of course, be fine with termination as long as the [insert stage] is dependent on the mother, up to and including 5 minutes before it is born. If you're that cold, well then fine - but I would have to question your overall ethical model.

You seem to confuse termination of the pregnancy and killing the fetus. One doesn't necessarily mean the other. Nobody with a sane mind would suggest that terminating the pregnancy 5 minutes before term (what does that even mean?) and needlessly killing the baby is the right thing to do.

You talk of rights as if they were some kind of "written in stone" nonsense. And that there is an unquestionable right for the mother to her own body (which I pretty much agree with).
...
But we only have rights because we all agreed that we should - the right to life or the right to free speech are not carved in stone. And the same applies to the right being in charge of your own body.

Please point me to where I suggested that rights were carved in stone?

Either you agree that nobody has the right to use someone's else's body against one's will, or you don't. If you don't, please explain in which cases you think it's wrong.

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

WowbaggerOM:

I don't need a degree in psychology (although, incidentally, I have one) to know PZ loves his daughter a fuckload more than a lot of fathers do.

Agreed. And PZ is very proud of his children. I imagine it's a grand thing, to have two parents who love you. I had a mother who didn't love me, and she made sure my father was not in my life past the age of four. Although, to be fair, I'm sure my grandfather trying to shoot him didn't help matters much.

And before you start, Skatje, no, that's not whining, it's a simple statement of fact. It's yet one more data point that you have much more than a great many people have. No, we don't know the details of your childhood. On that score, you don't know about ours, either. I said a very small bit about mine in #517. Do you think, if it were possible, you'd trade your parents and childhood for mine? I'll tell you what, no one in their right mind would.

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

"Gingerbaker:

My post was to justalurker, not you, it just contained your quote

In that case, don't be an asshole and use names for the specific bits you quote. Other people have done that throughout this thread, including myself. If you're going to act the assclown, expect to be treated like one. "

You are calling me an asshole? Fuck you if you think every other post is about you. You gratuitously rude shithead.

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

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

Exactly.

Exactly!

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

It really is quote depressing to see someone who is clearly intelligent and well-educated using an argument which is, at root, "Biology is unfair and the victims of biological unfairness should simply suffer the consequences of it - as if we haven't developed, as a species, to the stage where we can address biological unfairness".

And it doesn't do to try to sneakily ass-cover by saying one would neither support nor oppose a legal enforcement of this attitude when one has also said:

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.

- which is a pretty disgracefully loaded way of describing most women's decision to abort. "Ignore the consequences"? Really? Is that what you think they do when they abort?

Every[one] cites their own self-righteousness as knowing what's best. I'm no different than anyone else for this.

- which is simply untrue, and delivered with quite stunning arrogance.

But the definition of where life begins is fuzzy, and therefore, I don't push my views on other people.

- no, you're just willing to stand aside and not resist should others decide to do that. Nice.

By jack.rawlinson (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Sven @ 607, I disagree. Oh, and thanks ever so much, but I'll go to sleep when I'm ready to do so.

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

"You are calling me an asshole? Fuck you if you think every other post is about you. You gratuitously rude shithead.

Okay, so NOW, OK, I'm an asshole. But I only aspire to be an assclown.

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

Skatje ended this thread at post 412.

It was over. Read it.

But there is no concept of over at Pharyngula.

Everything is up in the air, they run from our shadows, and we fake withering before whatever is fashionably cringeworthy, laughing all the way.

Somehow Skatje was sucked back into the never ending conversation about what the fuck is up with whatever.

And it went on from there, and beyond ond ond omnd.

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

You think you understand my childhood because you read the things my father writes on his blog? You think you understand my father because you spent a few hours around him? That's... ridiculous. A level of presumption and fake analysis that Freud couldn't even pull off.

It doesn't need to have anything to do with your particular father.

Unpacking white privilege.

Unpacking middle class privilege.

You have an exceptionally good background, whether there's teen angst involved or not. That's one of the major things people are trying to explain. And as for this:

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.

No kidding, those are important variables. Do you think that no one else realizes that? Did you notice that the information comes from the World Health Organization, which is normally considered to run pretty good studies? Is your personal thought that those statistics are dubious more important and real than the fact that those statistics exist? It's really disheartening to think that you're ignoring data, especially when you then summarily dismiss it. I understand that it was late at night and you had other things to do, but then you should have said "I don't have time to check everything out right now, I will and get back to this thread later" rather than continuing to argue your point without even pretending to address anything that was being said to you.

Also, reading assignment:
The Girls Who Went Away: The Hidden History of Women Who Surrendered Children for Adoption in the Decades Before Roe v. Wade by Ann Fessler

When Abortion Was a Crime: Women, Medicine, and Law in the United States, 1867-1973 by Leslie Reagan

@601

Well, if your comment 584 was for me, I have responded and clarified about the voting and the spoiled brat part at comment 598. I respect her right to her opinion and told her that in my first post. I was disputing whether or not her opinion was right with anecdotal evidence to help back up the arguments for women's rights already stated up thread. I would be against her voting choice to abolish abortion but I would never be against her right to cast such a vote. I would simply do what every other citizen can by vocalizing, organizing and voting pro-choice myself. I was simply trying to get her to understand my situation to enlighten her views on women's rights since she will never be in a position like me. She may sympathize but she could never fully understand or empathize with a situation like mine. Again this is my own opinion of her from her postings here. I could be wrong but I honestly don't think anyone who could understand my situation would be "pro-life". I refer you to South Park's "With Apologies to Jesse Jackson" for more enlightenment about understanding not understanding LOL ;)

By JustALurker (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

*shrug* Caine, it was a friendly suggestion. You're coming off as uncharacteristically irrational. You did misinterpret Gingerbaker's comment, and Gb is not an asshole for pointing that out.

By Sven DiMilo (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

I'm going to link to Julie Jarvis Thompson's paper which is the one that contains the origonal violinist example modified by Mcbender because the origonal paper is so wonderful and thourough and debunks pretty much every single one of Skatje's arguments http://spot.colorado.edu/~heathwoo/Phil160,Fall02/thomson.htm

And here's the majoriy opinion on Roe v Wade, which discusses 'essential liberties' and declares for health only exceptions to be violating the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment. Roe is far more complicated than 'privacy rights' and the opinion discusses state interest vs personal liberties, which is covered far more thouroughly than privacy. http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/historics/USSC_CR_0410_0113_ZO.ht…

I also wanted to mention something on the 'better off aborted' discussion. First of all, I dislike this because it once again makes it about fetal value, which is a line of argument I despise because it generally sets certain groups of born people as being less desering of existence rather than actually discussing bodily automony and rights of pregnant people. Secondly, just because an event is part of a causal chain that creates a person does not make it good. I know a wonderful woman whose grandparents met in a Nazi concentration camp. Her parents were from different nations and social classes, so it is almost certain she would not have existed but for the Holocaust. This, however, does not make the Holocaust good or mean that people who wish the Holocaust never happened hate this woman and don't want her to exist. The fact that a terrible situation such as lack of birth control, lack of abortion access, or rape caused a child does not make it good, nor does it make the resulting child bad. I love my little sister who was born as the result of reproductive coercion (my father sabotaged my mother's birth control), but that does not mean that I think it is ever acceptable to poke holes in condoms to coerce your spouse into a pregnancy to prevent them from divorcing your abusive, drunken ass. Innocent people are not less valuable because their existence happened due to an immoral occurance. My sister is not less valuable because of how she was concieved, but that does not mean that we should not understand that how it happened was immoral and bad. Ol'Greg rightly notes that his family situation meant that the way he entered existence involved a painful situation for others. However, this does not mean that Ol'Greg is of less worth because of this. I want to stress that because it seems like he has a large amount of ongoing emotional trauma over this. Ol'Greg, your family and social situation was not your fault or responsibility and you are no more to blame than the woman I know is to blame for the Holocaust because it resulted in her birth.

By https://me.yah… (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

@619

While it seems this thread is dead or everyone just left (yea right this is pharyngula there are always people here LOL) I appreciate your links and comment, I have read them before in class and will now bookmark for future reference =)

By JustALurker (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

Skatje ended this thread at post 412.
It was over. Read it.
But there is no concept of over at Pharyngula.

Who says she gets to determine when it's over? There are multiple reasons to post, only one of which is engaging one specific person. We're all cognizant of the fact that these threads are on the internet and can be read by anyone. There may be a whole number of people with similar views to her who are reading along and might want to read a little more about it than she does. I look at a lot of these threads as repositories of information - just because she might decide she doesn't want to deal with it any more doesn't mean that no one does, and it doesn't mean those who like the practice of thinking through and writing out their justifications ought to stop.

Sven, I'll give you a *shrug* back. Even JustALurker couldn't tell his [GB's] missive was addressed to her.

You're perfectly within your rights to consider me wrong. This, considering the topic, is an asinine thing to argue about, so no more about it from me.

By Caine, Fleur du mal (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

Yahoomess @ 619:

However, this does not mean that Ol'Greg is of less worth because of this. I want to stress that because it seems like he has a large amount of ongoing emotional trauma over this.

Ol'Greg is female.

By Caine, Fleur du mal (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

I am an IVF mother and have been attacked by these "pro-lifers" before. According to them, I have killed babies. Apparently my 3 day old embryo in a petri dish was a baby. It sickens me that people feel the need to make an incredibly difficult situation, like IVF, harder.

For the record, I believe that every woman should have choice.

By emilyjharders (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

Of course people makes queasy. Its a big fucking decision. But that doesn't mean that it shouldn't be free for those unfortunate enough to need it.
What you should do (I, myself, am from Denmark, where it IS leagal, AND free) is to help women to avoid getting pregnant before they want to. For example overfly most bigger cities, dropping pamphles with the text "this i how you avoid pregnancy/abortion" an one side, and a condom taped to the other.

Clearly, a very emotive issue.

I'll just quote the post's headline again,
an embryo is not a person,
so that I can emphatically say: I unequivocally agree.

By John Morales (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

OK, folks, I just have to say one thing: "Privilege" is not privilege if you don't actually have the privilege.

I was a normal middle-class college student, going through normal shit like my parents getting divorced, when my boyfriend and future abusive husband coerced me into getting pregnant. I was too ashamed to tell my parents because I was taught that (I'm trying to put into words something I no longer believe) only "bad," low-class, ignorant girls had unplanned pregnancies. My mother, when she found out, refused to have anything to do with me because she considered me my boyfriend's responsibility at that point, and my father literally called me "stupid" when I called him from the hospital to tell him he was a grandfather. I had no help from my family to survive as a new mother, and no help in any meaningful sense from my boyfriend, who still depended on me to work and pay his bills.

Nobody would have thought my parents would act like that. Certainly I had every reason to believe my parents wouldn't be less supportive than the parents of my friends who got pregnant in high school. I'm not saying Skatje's parents would act the same way mine did, but one never knows, does one?

I don't particularly like Skatje that much, and frankly I never have; we would never make good friends because we would both be much too critical and intolerant of each other, I'm guessing. She reminds me very much of my spitfire red-headed grandmother... who, come to think of it, is currently the only member of my family to be on my side about what happened during that time in my life, so, who knows, really.

If Skatje ever found herself in some such predicament as I did when I was her age, though, she would be welcome to my spare room and my help while she worked things out, because the little I know of her puts her closer to me than perfect strangers, of whom I am wary. And because I believe her to be equal to living up to her convictions, as I was when I shared her beliefs about abortion, and I support her right to live out her own life and maintain her own body as she chooses, even though she does not necessarily fully support mine. But mostly because she's proud and gifted and I know how specially hard it is for such a person ever to ask for assistance for something they believe is their fault and their responsibility.

By badgersdaughter (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

@627

because I believe her to be equal to living up to her convictions

I never said she wouldn't, I just said I don't think anyone including her could ever really know what they would do in that situation until they are since there are so many variables and life changing consequences. I also never addressed the privileged thing either but I don't know her, her family or situation personally. I may think great things of our tentacled overlord but I don't actually know so I refrain from judgement. He did however make a brief statement on the Endless thread about it. I do have know how well people can act, lie and hide abuse, etc. from personal experience.

By JustALurker (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

@Carlie in #616 (quoting skatje.myers in #453):

But are there statistics regarding nations similar to the US in terms of both development and culture?

To be frank, I'm not sure there are any nations comparable to the US at the moment. Economically, it's one of the richest nations in the world, but socially it's by far the most backward first world nation.

Of course, it's also trivially easy to find information on the health effects of legalizing abortion in the US itself.

Skatje said:

Am I so stupid as to be unable to think outside that, to put myself in other people's shoes?
No.

I think there is one particular privilege which is almost taboo to examine: intelligence, of which Skatje has plenty. She assumes, as most of us do, that everyone is as intelligent as she is because anything different is, well, conceited.

To put yourself in the shoes of someone less intelligent than yourself is extremely difficult, because to do this you have to assume that you are smarter than other people - which is something that we are conditioned to consider arrogant.

let's try a different analogy. It's completely absurd, because I'm tired and can't be bothered to think of realistic things, but it's useful anyway. Let's say Mr Smith played a game of chance. Push a button, and you could either win a million dollars or Jones here is going to lose a liver. -skatje.myers #553

This is no different from the "It's YOUR fault" line, still blaming the woman because she played the game and got knocked up (lost her liver). Under your system, there isn't anything she can do about it; under ours, there is.

I still have to go over many of the comments, but getting back to what is "dehumanizing", I think, if you were talking about total abstinence from sex in that comment, that asceticism is what is dehumanizing so you would have it backwards. Ascetics continually pretend that they are not human, much in the same way Roman Catholic nuns and priests do. They live in a perpetual state of denial of self and sometimes denial of reality to attain their mystical goal. It takes all the fun out of life as a human.

By aratina cage (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

Just wanted to emphasise that I am not implying anything about any group of people, just wanting to point out that examining privilege is not trivial, even when you put great effort into it.

skatje:

I didn't set the damn rules.

It is not our fault that biology works the way it does

You seem to be hung up on this idea that sex carrying the possibility of childbirth is just the way it is, 'the rules'. It doesn't have to be. We make the rules. Your argument seems to hinge on the idea that there are some eternal, sacred 'rules' of nature that cannot be changed.

we have developed ways to assess, reduce, and eliminate the risk of biological interactions and to control or avoid their side effects

Exactly. Like, y'know, abortion.

I find the idea that we can't overcome our own biology because of our consciences rather... dehumanising.

I find this statement completely at odds with what I've quoted from you above, at least in a pragmatic sense. We obviously can overcome our own biology - that is what the whole discussion is about. But you think that particular solution is unacceptable? What I'm getting from this is you think it's wonderful to overcome our biology through asceticism, but dehumanising to overcome it through technology. Where is the difference? Why?

I still find this slut-shaming thing to be absurd.

Having read all of the things you've posted in this thread, I don't think it's an entirely unfounded accusation. Of course you would think it's crazy, just as you would think it's crazy to accuse you of being blind to the effects of privilege on your views. That's the the really insidious thing about privilege, or sexism, or any other preconception: the people who are affected by them don't realize they're affected. They always think the accusations are crazy. That's what it means to be prejudiced: you views are skewed in a way you don't realize.
I don't actually know anything about you besides what I've read in this thread, so I'm not going to say you're definitely a slut-shamer or blind to your privilege. But I can certainly see how someone could come to that conclusion by reading this thread.

Echidna, it is more difficult, not less difficult, for intelligent people to feel entitled to assistance that less intelligent people take for granted, if only because more intelligent people are aware of their privilege in that respect and often ashamed to admit they are in the same predicament as less intelligent people. It is more, not less, difficult for intelligent people to receive help, because those who offer it believe that they're most charitable to give to the least deserving--they have the belief that those who have the capacity to dig themselves out of a hole must do so. It is more, not less, difficult for intelligent people to be at the mercy of their bodies in a situation that has nothing to do with how intelligent you are, only with how fertile you are. And it is more, not less, difficult for intelligent people to avoid be manipulated emotionally, because they are used to living on their wits and often lack heart-wisdom, especially when they are young people who have been correctly trained to consider their fine brains one of their finest assets.

By badgersdaughter (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

No argument with any of that, badgersdaughter.

Clearly, a very emotive issue
...
an embryo is not a person,
so that I can emphatically say: I unequivocally agree

I also agree. But I do think it's a sidetrack.

What I'd like to understand is from people who believe an embryo or a fetus is a person, why do they think we should force a woman let that "person" use her body ungainst her will?

Do they also agree that if they were in a situation where a person was in dire need to use their body in order to survive, society should force them to allow that person to use their body?

If not, why is it different if that "person" is an embryo or a fetus? Why do we need to protect them and not other people in urgent survival needs?

I think a lot of the emotionality around the discussion about abortion comes from the fact that most people have a lot of difficulty telling what's a person from what's not, and not only because of religious myths. Of course it's a very difficult question, because there is no evident and consensual basis for a clear dividing line.

All I'm trying to understand why it matters.

By negentropyeater (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

(semi-OT) This is nice:
(article in German) German court orders bishop to shut up

http://archiv.c6-magazin.de/06/news/?neuigkeit=3503

The Berlin state court has ordered the bishop of Regensburg, Mr. Müller, to cease repeating, reiterating and spreading his allegations against the Humanist Union (HU). When the German secretary of justice, Mrs. Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, herself a member of the HU, had criticized the Catholic Church for their inadequate cooperation with the law a few weeks ago, Müller had lashed out verbally. His claims that the court order was issued against were that the HU regarded paedophilia as a "normal reality", and that they promoted an agenda of legalizing sexual conduct with minors.
Müller had also criticized atheism, saying that it offered no positions of orientation and ordering force, and that atheism had only been thought up to train people in irresponsibility and to thereby make them more ideologically manipulable.
When the court declared its decision, representatives of the HU clarified that they in no way advocated decriminalization of paedosexuality, but called for a rational and non-demonizing treatment of the offenders.

By black-wolf72 (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

Post #544, First line: “Soooo many anecdotal sob stories.”

That may be the single most condescending, insensitive thing I have ever seen written on this blog by someone who was not obviously trying to be a troll of assholeroic proportions. What the fuck do you think human existence is except a series of stories? Sob stories are suspect, is that it? Someone who has had a bad life has no right to express an opinion, especially if it was their own fault? OK, yes, engaging in some hyperbole here, but I do find that phrase nasty, hateful, and rude. If you wanted to prove you were missing the points of people arguing with you, you could not have done a better job. If you wanted to prove you were more interested in your views of morality than the real world of those who make difficult choices, you nailed it with that line.

Spit! Nope, still have an unclean taste in the mouth.

JustALurker, please be less of a lurker and more of a regular. (smile)

@negentropyeater

Nobody with a sane mind would suggest that terminating the pregnancy 5 minutes before term (what does that even mean?)

Exactly, so there is point where we have qualms and a point where we don't.

And I don't believe there is a discreet transition from one to the other - it has to be gradual. (Unless, of course, you believe that it all happens in the last 5 minutes - which is clearly an absurd case.)

So to a certain extent we must all have "moral qualms" about this issue, that we weigh up against our sense of practicality. And though we might all have a different standard, it is merely obtuse to suggest that this is just vague "ickiness".

By Pinkydead (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

I don't know about that.

What's the cost of raising the two to the same level of skills/usefulness/whatnot as the mother, compared to keeping the mother and losing the two? What's the cost of having an 18+ year gap in that time? What if they never reach her level of skills/usefulness/whatnot, even together?

Or am I misunderstanding the "net" in this?"

Besides the point. The point was that "Net destruction vs Gain" is just as 'meaningless' as "morals"

To be clear, I neither expect nor want a reply to my last post. Your opinions and reasoning are clear to me from your posts. I have posted my opinion in reply. Time for me to close this canker sore of a thread and not bother to come back.

Spit! Nope, mouth still tastes bad.

If not, why is it different if that "person" is an embryo or a fetus? Why do we need to protect them and not other people in urgent survival needs?

I think the answer often given (and given here by Skatje) is that the embryo is there just because the woman dared to have sex. Which again is slut shaming, and doesn't really hold up. If sex is the problem and embryos are the forced consequence, what about all the times that sex doesn't lead to pregnancy? Are those ok? It leads to the conclusion that man-man sex is ok, and woman-woman sex is ok, and man-woman sex is ok for the man, but man-woman sex for the woman is sometimes HA SUCKER YOU ASKED FOR IT! but sometimes not, and for some reason although we have defied our natural biology in every freaking way possible through modern medicine, somehow that one is off-limits.

JeffreyD - it's even more obnoxious given that she said that she would moderate her opinion in the case of rape and other situations in which the angst was strong enough to pass her own internal mental barrier. And then, given situations describing such angst, dismissed them as anecdotal sob stories. That doesn't give me much confidence that her barrier is low enough for anyone to pass by it.

JeffreyD:

Post #544, First line: “Soooo many anecdotal sob stories.”

That may be the single most condescending, insensitive thing I have ever seen written on this blog by someone who was not obviously trying to be a troll of assholeroic proportions.

Yes, it just oozes empathy and compassion, doesn't it.

By Caine, Fleur du mal (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

If we're going to talk about how an embryo has the 'potential' to create a sentient person, we might as well talk about how the sex act itself has the 'potential' to create a sentient person.
I understand, Skatje, that you have placed a dividing line somewhere in there, so that it is okay to 'abort' the potentiality of the sex act by using contraceptives, but not okay to abort the potentiality of the embryo. What I don't understand is how you came to make that distinction, or, more importantly, how you came to decide that it would be okay if everyone else were forced to abide by that distinction.

(Yes, I know you said you're not actively promoting making abortion illegal, but not minding if it becomes illegal is the same as not minding everyone being forced to comply.)

Pinkydead,

So to a certain extent we must all have "moral qualms" about this issue, that we weigh up against our sense of practicality.

Moral qualms about what issue? About what's a person or about whether we should force someone let another person use one's body against one's will? I understand "moral qualms" about the former, I understand why women who are confronted with the decision to let the fetus use their body or any other person in a situation of making a decision about whether to let someone in an urgent survival situation use their body have "moral qualms".

But I don't understand why anybody would have "moral qualms" about whether or not to force someone else do this against their will.

Please answer my questions in #636.

By negentropyeater (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

Oh good, going to sleep didn't stop people from nailing Skatje for the trap I set for her. Thanks for catching the turn around ("It's about the fetus' rights! No wait, that person didn't knowingly put it there so it's about the person's rights!"), folks.

Get an Ackbar, girl, they help.

So can you ethically defend slut shaming, or are you willing to change your mind on what other women /should/ be allowed to do? I don't care whether or not you're willing to, merely whether or not you're okay with other women exercising autonomy over their bodies?

And man, all those libertarians are racists. Their policies hit minorities pretty hard. I mean, intent irrelevant, it's only effect that matters, right?

There was a discussion on slacktivist's blog on this a few months ago, actually. The conclusion was that English lacks sufficient levels of meaning for bigot. We use the same word for everything, which generally means that when someone is being ignorant, we assign the same moral culpability as when someone is being a jackass. However, until that new word is made:
Yeah, they're being racist. They're less blameworthy actors in it then the guy who shouts about niggers, but they're not blameless either.

By Rutee, Shrieki… (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

So hypothetically, if I could go back in time and kill you as an embryo, there would be nothing wrong with me doing that?

I cried myself to sleep last night.

Going back and reading through the discussion I see there have been some excellent posts overall.

It's disheartening in a lot of ways to see skatje parroting so much anti-women crap without her realizing it. Especially as I really don't think she fully grasps exactly what she is saying.

Many wonderful people have dog-piled on the slut-shaming, the idea of the denial of the sexual for women and feeling like sex for women should come with a price. And yeah, it's really critical. I'm asexual, but 99% of humanity is sexual and the sexual urge for sexuals is something really important. Arguing that someone can just "forego" any hope of meeting it is a denial of full humanhood in no uncertain terms.

Plus, it reinfores traditional narratives that hinder full-and-informed consent and prevent women from fully understanding their sexuality and the right to free expression on par with men.

This is another way in which one cannot be anti-choice and pro-woman. The anti-choice position in every way blocks the free expression of a woman on the same par as a man and claims a sinfulness of sexuality with disproportionate punishment on the woman.

It's sad that someone presumably raised in a very feminist household seems to have stumbled into a raw sexism which would seek to deny women the full comfort of sexuality and that one raised with a full biology education would buy into unscientific sperm magic "baby at conception" ideas about reproduction.

And that's why I cried myself to sleep.

But, I also don't think Skatje has a clue exactly what she is arguing and I think this is where the arrogance and privilege comes in that many people had excellent posts knocking down.

Skatje may be a Kinsey 6 homosexual or a Kinsey X asexual, she may even be a he and a transman. But more likely than not, she'll be somewhere in the Kinsey 0-5 side of things and as such, presumably finds men sexually attractive and either has sex with them or would like to have sexual encounters with them in the future.

And Skatje doesn't seem to realize that her slut-shaming "sex has consequences, if you didn't want it, don't do it" would make every single sexual encounter she has with any boyfriends or one-night-stands potentially a life-sentence.

I don't fully think she appreciates the depth of what she is arguing women like she presumably is would have to do with their lives for 5, 10, 20, 80 years.

Say she'd be happy if she got knocked up at a critical point in her University or right before a critical job, even if there was absolutely no hope of paternal support. Is she happy never having sex again if she doesn't want to have a second child? Ever? Is she happy remaining sexually frustrated and trying to clear out the mental stresses that can build? And if she isn't ok with the first, is she really thinking she can avoid ever fulfilling her sexual desires with a partner she lusts for until allowing herself one and only one sexual encounter when she's planning to have a kid?

I don't know much about the sexual world, but I hear that kind of shit is really not easy on you, nor is it necessary. We have procedures now that if we didn't have such a women-hating sex-phobic culture would allow women to enjoy the similar freedoms a man does to enjoy sex on their own terms and plan when they want to have children. We have contraceptives, day-after pills, abortions.

But women have always been trained culturally to feel ashamed of their sexuality, to view their desires as "less important" compared to men, and that it is natural that all the "punishment" for "giving into sin" should fall onto them.

Secularizing those messages does not mean the same as not internalizing them. That's why we call it internalized sexism.

I hope that Skatje's views change with experience. If she is like most sexually-active heterosexual women, the simplistic ideology will quickly fall apart at the first inconveniently timed pregnancy scare.

Because she apparently has no idea exactly what she is arguing for herself and all sexually active women who are attracted to men.

Penetrative sex shouldn't be a one-way life-sentence for women.

And if antis want to continue arguing with that slut-shaming, then I'm more than willing to pass a law banning the dangerous act of penetrative sex, arguing that men must instead use strap-ons or face 10-20 years in prison for potential endangerment unless both parties are deliberately trying to procreate.

But yeah, depressing thread, but great comments. Kudos to everyone who fought. There have been some fantastic Molly-worthy comments on this thread.

KingUber @ 647:

So hypothetically, if I could go back in time and kill you as an embryo, there would be nothing wrong with me doing that?

Who are you addressing?

By Caine, Fleur du mal (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

So to a certain extent we must all have "moral qualms" about this issue, that we weigh up against our sense of practicality.

Only if the issue is discussed in a vacuum. Take an abstract form of the argument and all you're ever doing is conforming to an ideal not present in reality. Put the question in a greater context and all moral qualms go away - at least for me.

KingUber:

So hypothetically, if I could go back in time and kill you as an embryo, there would be nothing wrong with me doing that?

First, that's not a hypothetical, since it could not possibly occur; it's a fantasy.

Second, do you think any embryos are reading your comment? If so, you're just being silly; if not, killing an embryo is not killing any "you"s reading your post.

By John Morales (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

So hypothetically, if I could go back in time and kill you as an embryo, there would be nothing wrong with me doing that?

There sure as hell would be if the woman surrounding the embryo doesn't want you to. What is it with making the woman disappear? :(

And if antis want to continue arguing with that slut-shaming, then I'm more than willing to pass a law banning the dangerous act of penetrative sex, arguing that men must instead use strap-ons or face 10-20 years in prison for potential endangerment unless both parties are deliberately trying to procreate.

Would you mind if I used that argument from here to eternity? Because that's a fantastic way of putting it.

I think the answer often given (and given here by Skatje) is that the embryo is there just because the woman dared to have sex.

But any person in urgent survial need is there because the mother (and the father) dared to have sex. Does that mean we should force parents donate their Kidney to their offspring if that's required for their survival.

If people like Skatje make that argument against abortion, they should also argue that parental organ donation should be required by law. Actually, maybe we should force the father first as the mother was already forced to donate her body in the past.

By negentropyeater (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

So hypothetically, if I could go back in time and kill you as an embryo, there would be nothing wrong with me doing that?

Does my mother approve of you doing so? If so, then fine. If not, then no.

She's pretty hard catholic, so she'd mind, a lot. But that's besides the point, because it's her decision, not yours.

Honestly, it'd save me a lot of trouble right now.

By Rutee, Shrieki… (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

Do they also agree that if they were in a situation where a person was in dire need to use their body in order to survive, society should force them to allow that person to use their body? -negentropyeater #636

Injecting some Star Trek into this, Worf (the Klingon) actually chose to let a person die rather than save that person with some sort of transfusion. Nobody tried to force Worf to save the life though they implored him to do so and could have taken that option, and nobody held him responsible for the death. Of course, from the point of view of the people making the story, that was supposed to be an alien moral action, but even so, the humans remained pro-choice.

By aratina cage (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

Kingtroll @647

If you "killed me" as an embryo, I wouldn't have been around then so it wouldn't really matter.

And this would be all the way back to my comment @48, argument #3.

Yeah, thinking about never existing gives us all existential anxiety on a philosophical level. If I was aborted then I would have never been. But I like existing.

The thing is there would never be a you to not like existing if you never existed, you'd just never existed.

However, the time-traveling thought experiment is designed to trigger all the existential anxiety we have about dying. Being killed. We are emotionally trained then to dump that baggage on a theoretically potential you.

This seems especially potent for people who strongly suspect that their mothers may not have chosen them or fully wanted them. It's sort of a fuck you, mom, I'm glad I existed at your expense.

I think that's kind of sick. I wouldn't want to exist by causing my mother that level of pain. Hell, my partner probably would have had her very real life come to an ignoble end if her mother hadn't had an abortion. She was being raised on starvation rations already and her mother was heavily emotionally compromised already, so trying to have that second child probably would have killed her mother and potentially her as well, possibly in "mommy's taking her babies to the angels now" fashion.

Death is scary and as most science-fiction fans know, thinking about not-existing is scary as well. But the thing to realize is that generalized anxiety about theoreticals does not trump real people, real lives, and the very real biology behind abortion. Even if we were to ignore the substantial fact that no one has a right to another's body without consent, even to live. It is the case that a fetus is in no way comparable to an existing child and until VERY late on (in fact most of it grows and develops after birth) there is no brain and no even potentiality of a consciousness of any form.

If you were aborted, you wouldn't have cared, because you would never have had a consciousness that could be sad about not existing. But the trick of it is that emotional existential anxiety is a bitch to shake off so the reality of that is difficult to penetrate.

Cerberus:

We have contraceptives, day-after pills, abortions.

We also have sterilization. Or should have, anyway. I started seeking sterilization when I was 17. (This was before I discovered women sexually.) I cannot begin to tell you the amount of condescending asses I had to deal with, all the pats on the head, all the "oh, you don't know your own mind, of course you want kids, come back when you're 35, after you've had children" lines, all the "*chuckles* you aren't even married yet, dear" crap, etc. These same doctors didn't blink twice if a pregnant 15 year old landed in their office.

*Yes, I know a certain percentage of women change their mind about sterilization. This does not excuse treating all women like idiots who couldn't possibly know their own mind.

By Caine, Fleur du mal (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

Carlie @652

Please please do.

Also, yes, yes, a thousand times yes to your first response to the troll. I didn't go into that in my response to them, but yeah, the whole thing about abortion is basically, minimize the women involved and pretend they don't exist or aren't affected or that the womb is a sort of extradimensional object with little connection to the mother. It seems the only time the pregnant woman is acknowledged is as part of a "women suck because they are so stupid" or "sluts need to keep their legs shut" sort of argument.

I find the idea that we can't overcome our own biology because of our consciences rather... dehumanising.

I find this statement completely at odds with what I've quoted from you above, at least in a pragmatic sense. We obviously can overcome our own biology - that is what the whole discussion is about. But you think that particular solution is unacceptable? What I'm getting from this is you think it's wonderful to overcome our biology through asceticism, but dehumanising to overcome it through technology. Where is the difference? Why?

This is what I was getting at in #565, but you said it much better.

I wonder how different attitudes towards the termination of pregnancy would be in a world where reabsorption of fetuses was more common in humans (and perhaps could be intentionally triggered from the outside). The moral issues should theoretically be the same, but I suspect people's intuitions about the "rules" would be very different.

So hypothetically, if I could go back in time and kill you as an embryo, there would be nothing wrong with me doing that?

I don't think arguing for the legality of abortion means arguing for the legality of anybody (that includes yourself) forcing an abortion on a woman against her will.

So obviously the answer to your perfectly stupid question is NO.

By negentropyeater (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

Caine @657

True. I didn't really mention that, because I don't think a fertile hetero or bisexual woman should only have two choices if she wants to have sex that of never having children ever or having no real control over when they have children and risking it every time they have penetrative sex.

And the thing is even with sterilization, we end up needing the emergency options. Someone's tubes untie and suddenly that "we're in a closed relationship and we don't need to use contraception" turns into a "what the fuck" sort of deal.

But back to your point, yes, sterilization is definitely on the list of things we have as humans to better control reproduction and gives great freedom of thought to those who either do not want children ever or those who do not want any more children than those they already have.

We also have sterilization. Or should have, anyway. I started seeking sterilization when I was 17. (This was before I discovered women sexually.) I cannot begin to tell you the amount of condescending asses I had to deal with, all the pats on the head, all the "oh, you don't know your own mind, of course you want kids, come back when you're 35, after you've had children" lines, all the "*chuckles* you aren't even married yet, dear" crap, etc. These same doctors didn't blink twice if a pregnant 15 year old landed in their office.

FFFFFFFFFfffffuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuccccckkkkk that makes me angrier then I was from learning other things. Those people are SO ANNOYING. Doubly so when they're family -.-

By Rutee, Shrieki… (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

#660, I meant, the answer is NO, there would be something clearly wrong with that

By negentropyeater (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

@negentropyeater

The former, as per the original challenge in #147.

As for #636. I agree with everything you say. But I think you are creating a strawman there.

I haven't seen anyone (long thread though) suggesting that you don't have the right to control your body. See #102 for example.

By Pinkydead (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

Cerberus,

And if antis want to continue arguing with that slut-shaming, then I'm more than willing to pass a law banning the dangerous act of penetrative sex, arguing that men must instead use strap-ons or face 10-20 years in prison for potential endangerment unless both parties are deliberately trying to procreate.

Winner.

By John Morales (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

Skatje (and anyone else who's interested), may I direct your attention to post #375? I'd like to see your response to this situation.

At its heart, your argument seems to be that withdrawl of consent is not valid (please correct me if I'm misinterpreting what you wrote). A person can consent to taking the risk of pregnancy or not, but once the pregnancy is established-whether intentional or not-they can not withdraw their consent and discontinue the pregnancy. Currently, the usual ethical statement in medicine is that the patient has the right to withdraw their consent at any time. Also in law-if a person changes his or her mind about having sex, even after sexual contact has been initiated, the other partner does not have the right to force him or her to continue. Why do you believe that the rules should be different in pregnancy? Or do you think that the rules should be different all around: that withdrawl of consent is an invalid concept?

Also that by negentropyeater @660

Pro-choice means that a woman is allowed to carry a wanted fetus to term and childhood without someone trying to force an abortion on her and an unwanted fetus can be aborted from leeching her body without her being forced to bring it to term and have that 9 months of hell ruining her life.

And I think this again highlights the undercutting rage that is part of this. A lot of men in particular seem angered that they have so little control over reproduction. That it really is all the woman doing it and that it's really hers and only her decision whether or not she wants to carry it to term or not.

They want some way to reach in and impose their mark, either by demanding the right to get rid of it (I could go back in time and stab the fetus like you stabbed me in the cock by saying I'm mostly ancillary to reproduction) or by demanding she bring it to term against her will (yeah, see how haughty you are about being the bringer of life now bitch now that I dictate when and how my precious seed will erupt and how it's dealt with).

A lot of it is residual cultural anger from the patriarchy about women no longer being property. It is a very recent development and culturally there are many pockets even here in America where women and children are very much considered property of the "man of the house". Some men seem unable to handle the fact that women are full people and that they aren't toys to play around with.

And some women by internalized sexism are willing to go along with this patriarchy for the illusion of being "better than those women" in some way.

So hypothetically, if I could go back in time and kill you as an embryo, there would be nothing wrong with me doing that?

Yes, there is, but not what you think: If you went back in time and killed the embryo that would eventuallly form me because I annoyed you then you would have violated causality. Very bad behavior. The same as if you prevented my parents from having sex at just the right moment to conceive the blastulocyte that became me. Both are equivalent acts and I'd really prefer you did neither, but not wanting you to prevent my conception does not mean that I'm pro-continuous orgies to produce as many offspring as possible.

Also to negentropyeater @660

The "you're not even married types" or "why aren't you married types" are really annoying.

The asexual community almost has as many horror stories of that crap as the more general feminist community, because for aromantic asexuals, they aren't really wanting to fall in love and have no other desires to punt them towards marriage, but they almost get attacked by strangers about it. "Why aren't you marrying? What's wrong with you? God wants you to marry and reproduce. You'll think differently when you have children." Like it's an affront that a group of people somewhere may not want to have kids.

Personally, it's kind of apparent we have a population crisis. Thus, I'm cheered by people who naturally decide to abstain from having kids, because allowing people with this natural inclination is a very natural, women's choice-centric way to lower the amount of unwanted children and the amount of population growth.

Pinkydead,

As for #636. I agree with everything you say.

Well I still don't get what you were trying to say in your comment #602 then...

By negentropyeater (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

Cerberus,

Also to negentropyeater @660

I don't understand what you mean...

By negentropyeater (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

I haven't seen anyone (long thread though) suggesting that you don't have the right to control your body.

Except of course for the right to stop your body from being pregnant.

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...

This.

But the definition of where life begins is fuzzy

No, it's not. Life began in the precambrian and has come from non-life since then. What is uncertain is when consciousness begins. The available evidence suggests that the answer is probably long after birth. Babies don't pass the mirror test until about 12-18 months of age. Which is not to say that infanticide is ok: of course, it's not, if only because the newborn is an independent life and not living parasititcally off another person.

Nor is a fetus just a newborn in another place. The fetus lives in a low oxygen environment which might prevent consciousness from existing, even assuming that the neurons and axonal/dendritic connections for forming consciousness are present. Which they may not be. So saying that life (ie independent life with rights) begins at birth is actually a fairly conservative position. And the position most consistent with current ethical thinking. Why should pregnancy be different?

negrentropyeater @671

Sorry, I put it poorly. I was basically adding on to what you said regarding the annoying "but you're not married and you may want kids someday" pushers.

More critically, the thing you're personal experience is the most like?

The bs surrounding getting a transition. All of these steps, unnecessary psychological appointments and having your gender deemed "real" by the official say-so of a doctor working off bad Harry Benjamin protocols about what a woman and a man are, because "Oh noes, you might change your mind, we need to make extra, double-plus sure because it's so likely that you're making a huge mistake".

Nope, women gotta remain fertile and trans people need to stay locked in bodies they hate because there might maybe could possibly be a chance you'd change your mind if we just delay it out.

Moving that to the abortion debate, the current assaults on abortion access are all about that, delaying when a woman can access an abortion clinic in the hopes that the delays will somehow change her mind or otherwise make it "too late".

This would be medical paternalism, of course.

Moving that to the abortion debate, the current assaults on abortion access are all about that, delaying when a woman can access an abortion clinic in the hopes that the delays will somehow change her mind or otherwise make it "too late".

As well as requiring the woman to make multiple trips and take multiple days off from work. For many women, that means they effectively have no access to abortion anymore.

Oh, this is a tricky one. I am pro-choice. But someone already stated that it was a sliding scale of uneasiness with it and, well, yeah. Pro-choice, but that choice always has to be informed and I recognise that for some individuals, due to medical, mental, societal or financial reasons (bad or good) the only choice they feel they have is to abort. I value life, but a cell is not a human being, an early term embryo is not a human being, a wasp I swat is a more complex and viable organism but I have no qualms about killing that. However I would not like the job of deciding when, during a pregnancy, abortion ceases to be an option, and when it can still be carried out.

Not every culture has been so squeamish...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Infanticide

Oops, sorry I misgendered you Ol'Greg, it was not intentional, just a sloppy result of assuming from your name.

On the 'five minutes before birth' issue, like Thompson said in the article I linked to, it is the right to terminate a pregnancy that is absolute, if it can be done without fetal fatality, that's perfectly acceptable. Thompson's position would be that the woman always retains the right to remove the fetus from her body, but after there is a chance for viability, barring health and other factions, induction or c-section should be the preferred removal method. If the fetus can survive outside the womb, by all means it may do so without further imposition on the woman's body. (Also, as a practical matter, five minutes before delivery is too late to prepare for anything but delivery in terms of removal and too late for induction meds to really get the fetus out any quicker).

By https://me.yah… (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

Stibbons @677

Which is why the best method is to leave each woman to decide that for herself, educate the public about what a fetus is and is not with real scientific data, and fully fight for feminism and greater cultural equality for women so she is more and more treated as a full human being.

Your link to infanticide has no relevance to any of that or even the abortion debate at all. If a person wants to give up the rights of parenthood of a specific child they can do so and if they fail to prove competence that endangers the child, the government can take them away.

This again, has nothing to do with a fetus being developed with toll on the woman's body by the woman's body, especially when consent has been withdrawn.

I think birth is a fabulous compromise of when to mark the independent humanity. But even if we tried to push back humanity, there is no way we should be granting "potential life" greater rights than those given to actual living people.

And the reason we do so gets at the heart of the ideas of "innocent" and "fallen world" that permeate even our secular culture as well as the more generalized misogyny and dismissal of the humanity and bodily autonomy of women only.

Gingerbaker @561 - rape is invasion. So the Smith/Jones analogy holds in the case of a pregnancy by rape. So abortion is ok in the case of rape? And by the way, sex is not an invitation to pregnancy if one takes precautions that fail.

By https://www.go… (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

googlename @680

Pregnancy isn't consented to if one didn't consent to being impregnated and just like someone can withdraw consent during sex if it isn't working for them, they should be able to withdraw consent during pregnancy.

It isn't just, did they use precautions. The very act of seeking an abortion is pretty much a clear sign the pregnancy is not being consented to, nor the impregnation.

We make precautions as available as they are to limit the amount of unwanted pregnancies by giving more options to prevent unwanted fertilization and implantation so that an unwanted pregnancy does not occur, but when it does occur it should be freely available cause, yeah, consent has been withdrawn. All those in the womb must vacate with all post haste.

The reason foetuses don't have rights is because they can't contribute to the debate.

And yet, when some of us who were unwanted fetuses unwillingly brought to term come into this discussion to talk about what we've experienced as a direct result of anti-choice laws, our life experience is discounted/ignored/insulted by Skatje.

Toying with theoretical ideas that end in denying human rights to women *and* the unwanted babies they are forced to carry is doubly wrong, ignorant, immoral, unethical...pick an adjective.

Oh dear. My great grandmother and a great-aunt died because abortion was illegal. But that's just a meaningless sob story, right? As is the story of my grandmother, who got pulled out of school, aged 13, to be the carer for her five siblings, because her mother was dead. Anecdotes are such dull things compared to abstract ethical speculation, aren't they?

I'd like to think that sort of thing was all in the past, at least in the first world... and yes, I am very much reminded of the anti-vacc people who have never seen polio or pertussis.

By Cath the Canbe… (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

PZ wrote:

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.

Yet that misses the point that so many others were making, that the personhood status of the fetus is irrelevant, because you don't have the right to use another person's body, even if you will die as a result. Imagine that you are the only compatible organ donor for someone on the verge of death. They do not have the right to force you to undergo an operation and make the organ donation.

Imagine a more hypothetical situation, where someone could only live if they physically attached themselves to your body. Without getting your permission, you wake up one morning to find that they HAVE physically attached themselves to your body. You would have every right to remove them, even if it meant that they would die. That is the case with fetuses.

By BigMKnows (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

JeffreyD:

Post #544, First line: “Soooo many anecdotal sob stories.”

That may be the single most condescending, insensitive thing I have ever seen written on this blog by someone who was not obviously trying to be a troll of assholeroic proportions.

Quoted For Truth.

I mean seriously. The stories recounted are not (sadly) rare occurrences, but they are heart-wrenching nonetheless.

You are a vegetarian due to some empathy with animals. Yet when some of your own species bare their wounds, instead of showing, if not compassion, then at least common courtesy, you wave off the painful life experiences of people who have suffered in the past and perhaps still do. And, according to your first post, this is not how you were raised.

The thought that someone as callous and uncompassionate as you has a right to vote fills me with dread, as you are demonstrably unfit to be part of any societal decision-making process. For if you had the slightest bit of any decent attribute, you would have humbly apologised to Ol'Greg and czgo_liz and everyone else who had to suffer for hurting their feelings and thank profusely Caine, Fleur du mal, and everyone like her for their efforts to stand by women during what is always a trying time.

Congratulations Skatje Myers. You managed to elevate yourself from most smackable person in the blog to Most Smackable Person In The Internet. I hope you enjoy your title in whatever fantasy land you live in and that unicorns don't eat your rose bushes.

PS: Oh, and something else, MSPITI. I see your "fuck off" and I raise you double. I had more empathy and compassion for unwanted children and suffering pregnant women at less than *half* your age, when I was still a pious and sanctimonious little shit who believed that only "bad" girls have sex outside of marriage (of which belief I eventually recovered before 19, mind you). So far the only thing you have achieved is how proud you are of being irrelevant to the human condition.

By somewhereingreece (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

@ Deen #362

At least you are already aware that you are selfish and your morals are off.

That is exactly what moral is supposed to be. Selfishness. Morales are self-righteous, any attempt to expand then to the entire society will eventually fail on our individual diversity.

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.

That is correct, but also, women are supposed to choose the partner based on their judgment of the genetic information before they receive it. That is the major obligation of the female in breeding and also a major drive in evolution.

Female -> Only pick the worthy male for pregnancy is resource expensive.

Male -> Pick every mate possible.

You also speak as if you can own a fetus, and pay a woman for the use of her body.

I did not say that. You can not own a fetus or a child. A fetus IS part of the female body with the inherent property to develop in a child. I would always give it a chance, that is what I said. What other options do I have in this society than offering a bribe? I can not force her to go through this process.

I am enlisted for bone-marrow donation. Which means I might need go through a short but very unpleasant procedure without rewards in order to 'maybe' save someones life I do not know. I can refuse the procedure if I do change my mind when the situation comes up. I guess if the particular patient would know my name, he/she or the patient's family would try to bribe me into that procedure, too. Don't you think?

JillianSwift: Abortion is not a tragedy, abortion prevents tragedy.

Ahh, this assumption that abortions are 99% of the time by young girls, drunks, and child abusers.

It's assumed on both sides, when the reality is that families often have abortions under more difficult conditions. They often want the child, but realize that they simply don't have the resources, that the timing would be detrimental to currently existing children, that you are too old, and so on.

So often it is a tragedy, but also prevents a tragedy. Life is complicated like that. We are often stuck on the horns of a dilemma.

So, you end up sad that you couldn't raise another child -- that you had to be practical and minimize harm, rather than maximize the good.

Being finite is a tragedy -- the tragedy of existence. It is also what makes our choices so valuable, our lives heroic in a sense.

By frog, Inc. (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

Ah balls, I just figured out why negentropyeater was so confused at 671, the original comment and my follow-up was actually going off Caine at 657 and I got a brain-fart on the names and the numbers.

Does studying Alzheimer's actually cause Alzheimer's?

Anyways, apologies to both negentropyeater and Caine for the confusion.

Dunno if this point was addressed (and ain't gonna read through to find out) but...

even assuming the embryo WAS a person, why would this legitimize essentially enslaving another person for a minimum of nine months in order for it to use the second person's body to keep itself alive? Would anti-choicers also argue that people who refuse to donate organs be compelled by law to do so?

Would anti-choicers also argue that people who refuse to donate organs be compelled by law to do so?

Apparently, only if they had sex with the person who needed the organ first.

@678

On the 'five minutes before birth' issue, like Thompson said in the article I linked to, it is the right to terminate a pregnancy that is absolute, if it can be done without fetal fatality, that's perfectly acceptable. Thompson's position would be that the woman always retains the right to remove the fetus from her body, but after there is a chance for viability, barring health and other factions, induction or c-section should be the preferred removal method. If the fetus can survive outside the womb, by all means it may do so without further imposition on the woman's body.

With the medical technology we have this is not a theoretical "5 minutes before birth" nonsensical scenario. Very much undeveloped foetuses/neonates can be kept alive through extensive medical intervention. Are you suggesting that if a woman is 23 or 24 weeks pregnant when she decides to terminate, that she should be forced to give birth and have the preterm neonate hooked up to machines to keep it alive? Despite the suffering of the infant, the possible brain damage, incomplete development, cerebral palsy etc.? Not to mention the fact that you'd be forcing her to become a parent with all the responsibilities of supporting and raising this child for the rest of its life? or putting her in the position to have to adopt it out (& what are the chances of that happening successfully given the aforementioned medical complications)?

This is a nightmare scenario if I've ever heard one.

Sorry, even if the foetus is viable, it's still all right for the woman to have an abortion and terminate the foetus. In the real world (especially one where there are no bars to abortion), it would be a rare thing indeed for a healthy woman to say "let me carry this healthy foetus until it's nearly fully developed (i.e. 36-40 weeks) and then I'll terminate the pregnancy with an unpleasant medical procedure".

PZ should read Peter Singer's Practical Ethics and Animal Liberation. The thing is that a newborn baby has less cognitive abilities than an adult pig. The problem with the pro-life position isn't that they claim that a fetus is a human being. Its that they claim it is a person and then don't make similar moral claims about animals. Moreover there are many cases where infanticide is justified such as when a baby is born without a brain stem or with other severe disabilities. Its definitely true that we ultimately have to draw the line somewhere arbitrary, but we have to base it on the morally relevant characteristics of the being and not insist on a superior status for beings of our species. I also don't think men can extract ourselves from discussions about where these lines should be drawn.

By craig.mcgillivary (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

@Azkyroth in #689: don't worry, it was only brought up a dozen or so times ;)

Moreover there are many cases where infanticide is justified such as when a baby is born without a brain stem

If you mean anencephaly, that's not infanticide, that's organ donation. No brain activity=dead.

@myself #691
I feel compelled to add that, as far as I'm concerned, the woman has the right to abortion even at the unlikely 36-40 week mark. Her legal responsibility as a parent begins at the same time as the father's: after she gives birth. Until then, the foetus is, for all intents and purposes part of her own body to do with as she wills (or a parasite if you prefer).

Wow, I just realized the "Anecdotal sob stories comment" was from Skatje.

Listen, you stupid twit, your argument is entirely theoretical and emotional. You have not submitted one iota of evidence. You have not provided even one shred of empirical fact that supports your position (For instance, that the children that go into adoption are generally happy, not miserable, or are well cared for, etc). You do not get the right to go "OMG ANECDOTES" at the side that has had the courtesy to provide empirical evidence in support of their points.

By Rutee, Shrieki… (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

don't worry, it was only brought up a dozen or so times ;)

Brought up, yes. Responded to, no. Keep bringing it up until you get an answer or the thread dies of bloat.

@craig.mcgillivary:

Its definitely true that we ultimately have to draw the line somewhere arbitrary

Actually, no we don't. There is no reason to impose some arbitrary line and expect it to apply to everyone. We can and should evaluate abortions on a case by case basis, with the ultimate decision resting with the mother, as she is the one taking all the risks. Incidentally, that's also how most abortion laws appear to be structured in practice.

Man, does adoption NOT exist?

This is how we know you are young and thus completely unaware of certain realities that your privileged middle-class life post-Roe v Wade has protected you from.

Before Roe v. Wade, orphanages were both more abundant and more populated than they are now, probably millions of children in them at any given time, and not even 1% of the orphans were adopted. Roe v Wade made orphanages less of a blight on the landscape. But they will return with a vengeance if abortion ever becomes illegal again. There simply aren't enough adoptive parents to meet the supply of babies that would flood the market, dooming children to a very mean existence.

And for what? Abortion will never go away. Not entirely. Like it or not, women will get raped, forget birth control, have birth control fail, get abandoned by a man, fall for the wrong kind of man, lose their heads over a man, and have complications with pregnancies that will make many of them turn to abortion by any means necessary to rid themselves of an unwanted pregnancy. These realities will never change, and expecting that any of it will is both deluded and dangerous.

As for what happens when abortion is illegal, nothing needs to be said but this.

Look at that image long and hard, skatje.

That is what happens when abortion is illegal. That is what your ideal would result in. That's why it's an ideal--it's usually not possible in reality, and would cause horrific suffering if it were. Wanting abortion illegal definitely results in the latter.

Out here in reality, ideals about wielding pregnancy as a weapon against women who get ideas about being sexual will literally kill women who are mothers, daughters, sisters, cousins and friends. And when they die, they usually take with them the unborn you deem somehow superior to living breathing women. And superior the unborn are to you, because you care more about their rights than you do about the rights of the living, breathing women pregnant with them. That's why you are sexist, and all your obfuscating and denial won't change that.

So hypothetically, if I could go back in time and kill you as an embryo, there would be nothing wrong with me doing that?

Of course there is. It would be a violation of the Temporal Prime Directive. In other words, Star Fleet would have your ass on a silver platter.

By Antiochus Epiphanes (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

Star Fleet would have your ass on a silver platter.

Unless, of course, preventing the birth of the hypothetical person prevented Star Fleet from ever forming...

Being in my mid-30s I am realizing that I don't understand the generation that is younger than I. I've had students declare to me that they are pro-abortion when they tell me about debating abortion at school. I will smile and say, "don't you mean pro-choice" and they almost always look at me like I've sprouted a second head and say, "No... I'm 100% pro-abortion!" I'm positive they really don't know what that means.

Then there are those that are apathetic to the debate. The whole, "*I'd* never do it, but I'm not going to stand in the way of it becoming illegal." Like anyone really knows what they would or would not do when actually IN the situation of being pregnant unexpectedly. This group bothers me more than the pro-lifers. At least the pro-lifer brand of bat-shit craziness is identifiable.

I think that this next generation is very far removed from Roe vs. Wade and what things were like prior to that time. This detachment to the issue is changing the dynamics of the debate. That's their grandparent's time. I, myself, only have knowledge of that time from my mother's generation - those women that fought very hard for equal rights.

To them I would ask what would they hope for their daughters or grand-daughters in the future? Should they be not granted the privledge of control over their own bodies because YOU were too lazy to care whether or not abortion was legal or not? And let's not forget, those that would ban abortion also want to ban ANY form of birth control and stood firmly against the shot for cervical cancer prevention. Would you wish that on any future daughters of yours too? Because when the one falls, it will start a very slippery slope for the others also. We can't let the nutty pro-life movement have that momentum.

As an aside, while participating in the Planned Parenthood Solidarity Event on Good Friday this year (my first year participating in this counter protest) I was so proud when I overheard a woman in her SUV that was passing us telling her young children (looked like 2 girls and a boy between the ages of 5 - 10), "those women are out there standing up for your rights." Damn straight! I'll be out there next year too!

"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. "

It's obviously not as simple as that. Like you said, the line is fuzzy as to when life begins.

So would you rather err on the side of protecting human life or destroying it?

And that decision isn't just for me. If our current law was more heavily influenced by religion, and the law said that a newborn didn't have a soul (and therefore life worth protecting) until the eighth day, would you nod and smile if they said, "Make your decision for yourself - we'll continue to retroactively abort on the third day after birth."

No, you'd call it wrong and work to stop the murder.

Shit, folks, just... shit.

Skatje, I'm frankly ashamed I ever had any respect for you now that you come out with something like what you've come out with.

By Katharine (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

I'm probably not going to comment too much more here, since it's gotten so far away from what I was originally saying.

Do I feel sympathy for your great-grandmother, or grandmother? Yes. What has happened is tragic. Would I have supported preventing them from obtaining an abortion? Likely not.

Do I feel sympathy for you, who's simultaneously using your confession of personal information as a right to make condescending jabs at my personal life? Not so much.

I respect the people in your stories, but I see no reason to respect you. You're right that I wouldn't be disowned for getting pregnant. But you don't know me. You don't know what I can empathise with, you don't know who I know personally who may have similar stories. You are being awfully presumptuous.

(This is applying to the condescending jackasses, not to everyone. I was being pissy at aforementioned people, and apologise that some kinder people got caught in my fantastic blanket statementing.)

Also, the idea that I need to provide "evidence", because my argument is all theory, is rather silly. Sorry, no, this is going to come down to a philosophical debate. I can't give you a statistic on why I find it important to value fetuses, or value adult humans, for that matter.

--

To make my point clearer, let's say there was an election. One candidate was saying he would outlaw abortion. The other candidate was saying he would fix the adoption system, and/or put better sex education in schools, and/or, give out free contraceptives. This would be an easy choice. I care far more about those things and lowering abortion rates that way than to straight outlaw it. If that still offends you, by all means, keep crying.

By skatje.myers (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

So would you rather err on the side of protecting human life or destroying it?

Sorry, your question is inane. It is between the fetus and the human being. Her humanity you cannot be denied in any fashion. Stand across the street and take a photo of the alleged human being you are trying to save. I bet you will only see the woman. Saving her may require an abortion...

By Nerd of Redhead, OM (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

@703

The example doesn't stand because once the child is born it can be cared for by any other human being. That would be considered infanticide and no way that would stand up especially based on something as nonexistent as a "soul". This point as been made before but let me reiterate, the fetus is not a person and even if it was no fucking person on the plant has the right to use my body to survive without my permission. My body, my right, my permission. period. I don't have to save another life by donated organs if it makes me "uneasy" but that doesn't mean I have the right to restrict others from doing so. Thats their body, their organs, their choice. Read the thread others have said it better and there's so much there to help educate you.

And no by having sex I did not give the embryo the right to form and implant. If you are so worried about life of an embryo, how about all the unknown miscarriages that happen simply because they didn't implant?

I apologize if I am overly sensitive, defensive, taking it out on you or whatthefuckever. But if you read the thread you will understand why, I'm tired of hearing this bull.

By JustALurker (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

So would you rather err on the side of protecting human life or destroying it?

Protecting, of course, which is why women should be allowed to get abortions. Unless you don't consider women to be human life?

YEE HAH!

Stand back everyone and applaud. Dry your eyes, Cerberus, and celebrate. Where else will you find a (mostly) civilized debate on such an issue? Where do reasonable and rational people to arrive at different conclusions to challenge your own views? Where can the Farmer's Daughter write "learn to enjoy oral sex more" and at the same time be identified a _slut shamer_?

Pharyngula, that's where!

(And you're wrong, Skatje! Where the line is fuzzy, as you admit, you have to allow personal choice; to some a fetus is simply not human and you have yet to advance an argument on this point. Child abuse or murder on the other hand is not fuzzy. Of course we can impose our will on others in such a case, in defense of a victim who to whom the principle of reciprocity clearly applies.)

So would you rather err on the side of protecting human life or destroying it?

I think it's rather pointless to try to protect a human life from the decisions of the one person who's capable of nurturing that life. Those resources could be used elsewhere.

By alysonmiers (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

Sorry, no, this is going to come down to a philosophical debate.

What people have been telling you for seven hundred comments is that it is not philosophical so much as directly tied to hundreds of thousands of deaths of actual women, in addition to eliminating the basic rights of millions more. But hey, if you want to think it's just philosophical, knock yourself out. Your position doesn't bother me nearly as much as the fact that you absolutely refuse to consider any information that disagrees with your position. I don't know if it's embarrassed self-defense or a falsely gained sense of superiority that's causing it, but that's a stunning and disappointing display of willful ignorance.

If we exclude people who oppose abortion only because they are ill-informed or their opinion is based on emotions instead of actual facts, what we have left is those who object strictly on religious grounds. When we generalize and look at what they believe as a whole, there is a glaring dichotomy. They are “pro-life”, but drop that stance once that life is assigned a social security number. They oppose not only the widespread use of birth control, but even teaching about it. They object to social welfare programs. They support the death penalty. (etc.ad nauseum…) Despite their claims to the contrary, they really don’t care about human beings. What everything boils down to is innocence. (read: lack of sin).

Some denominations** believe there is an age of accountability, before which one cannot be spiritually punished for any sins committed. Just about everyone else believes (as is stated in the bible) that upon birth, progeny automatically inherit the sins of their fathers and are thus accountable. [*gasps in horror* I just came to the startling conclusion that if there really is a hell (pffffft), it’s filled with screaming infants & toddlers. Terrifying. /digression…]

When we take into consideration this issue of innocence, the dichotomies make sense:

Innocent
Zygotes
Embryos
Fetuses

Not Innocent
Anyone that has ever had sex—ESPECIALLY those tramps and whores that some refer to as women. (Nearly as bad as the tramps: Anyone that has so much as even considered non-procreative, non-standard heterosexual sex.)
Babies, children, etc.
Soldiers
Convicts
Drug users
Single mothers (see: tramps and whores)
Anyone that is not employed
Anyone that does not have sufficient health insurance coverage
Every other living thing on this planet

Special Circumstances
Anything involving MY uterus
Anything involving my teenage daughter’s uterus
“[I’m/She’s] not a whore, just a person that made a mistake and is now in a very special and complicated situation that no person anywhere in the entire world has ever been in; therefore, I’m not going to hell for this even though those disgusting sluts I scream at every Friday in front of the Planned Parenthood clinic are.”

With this worldview, the mindset of “Even though I knew I had a serious life-threatening condition before I became pregnant, I would rather die and leave my 3 young children alone with an abusive father than abort this fetus that won’t even make it to term because I’ll be dead before the third trimester.” makes sense. She herself is not innocent, her husband obviously is not, and neither are their children. But the fetus…the innocent fetus

Excuse me while I vomit.

**disclaimer: While I have no desire to give the Bible any sort of factual relevancy outside of its historical standing as a work(s) of literature, we still need to consider it when trying to understand the motives of this anti-women’s rights demographic. If we can’t address the real motives, then we’re going to have even more difficulty changing anyone’s mind.

"This is getting rather far off topic, but... the guinea worm?? Idiotic. You don't think this has any negative effects on fitness?"

Insults, nice. I said the rational for the Carter eradication programs is that it doesn't reduce reproductive rates. It reduces quality of life but doesn't lead to morality or decreased reproduction. Yes it's a horrible disease.

I've now read the whole thread (to comment 702) in one sitting... the day is gone...

Comment 204:

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!

So... Planned Parenthood is a separate, private organization that lives off donations?

That's scary.

Over here, there's no such thing; instead, there's your friendly neighborhood gynecologist who lives off a tax (via universal healthcare) and prescribes your contraception.

205:

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.)

Perfect!

258:

Mammals just provide the raw materials mostly from income rather than capital.

LOL! True. :-)

(Yes, it is true of all mammals, monotremes included; the monotremes are just less extreme about it than others. They lay their eggs late, and hatch early, living off milk afterwards.)

351:

no, Plan B prevents ovulation. RU-486 is the high-dose birth control that induces an abortion.

No, hormonal contraception (pill, mini-pill, NuvaRing, Mirena coil) prevents ovulation. Plan B, AFAIK basically a pill overdose, prevents implantation. Low doses of RU-486 likewise prevent implantation; higher doses are "abortifacient in the first two months of pregnancy".

385:

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.

So... hang on a second: it's 1 to 2 abortions per woman in Brazil, 1 per 3 women in the US, and 1 in 83 to 84 in western Europe???

I know about the US deficiencies in sex education, access to contraception, and welfare state, but can it really be that bad? How were all these numbers calculated?

406:

the series of tubes that is the female reproductive system

ROTFLMAO!!!

Never thought I'd find an abortion thread so funny :-D :-D :-D

411:

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..

...Interesting argument. :-S

However, do keep in mind that only nine people had the right to vote for POTUS in 2000. The decision in Bush v. Gore was a coup.

461:

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.

As I've been saying for years (and I don't think I came up with it), Republicans stop caring about you once you're born.

The Catholic Church, on the other hand, is officially against the death penalty and now likes war a lot less than it used to; but their stance on contraception... <headdesk>

500:

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.

The hospital staff!?!?!

WTF. That was not in their job description.

518:

“you're on birth control, you're cheating on me and using BC to cover it up”

:-O

Sometimes I'm glad I'm leading such a sheltered life that I haven't encountered this kind of attitude despite being 27 years old.

Incredible.

557:

Does how I was raised, my age, etc., effect my thinking?

Yes.

Am I so stupid as to be unable to think outside that, to put myself in other people's shoes?

No.

Does how you were raised etc. affect what you know and what you don't know?

Apparently.

It has for me, just for the record; I'm still learning.

Stupidity has nothing to do with it – if you don't know the facts, you can't take them into consideration, and you end up deriving logically valid but wrong conclusions from false premises, "wrong" in the sense of unintended consequences like sexism and classism. (See comments 564, 606, 612, and 627, for instance.)

630:

To put yourself in the shoes of someone less intelligent than yourself is extremely difficult, because to do this you have to assume that you are smarter than other people - which is something that we are conditioned to consider arrogant.

More to the point, it's extremely difficult to figure out exactly which points are beyond the grasp of exactly which other person. Often it turns out that everything can be understood if it's only explained in some other way.

668:

then you would have violated causality. Very bad behavior.

LOL!

By David Marjanović (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

@711
Thank you Carlie!

By JustALurker (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

Plan B, AFAIK basically a pill overdose, prevents implantation.

I'm fairly sure that Plan B makes no difference in fertility if taken after ovulation. It basically prevents ovulation on shorter notice.
(However, if it did prevent implantation, I'd see nothing wrong with that and would not consider it an abortifacient. The pregnancy hasn't really begun until implantation. Anything before that is a non-abortion.)

By alysonmiers (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

Also, the idea that I need to provide "evidence", because my argument is all theory, is rather silly. Sorry, no, this is going to come down to a philosophical debate. I can't give you a statistic on why I find it important to value fetuses, or value adult humans, for that matter.

Compare: In the US, pregnancy has a rate of 17 maternal deaths per 100000 live births, while legal abortion has a rate of 1 maternal death per 100000 procedures.

Abortion in general is safer than pregnancy. A doctor's job is to care for the patient's health. If the patient seeks abortion, why should the doctor have to stand in the way of the patient's own choice to minimize her health risks?

By strange gods b… (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

If a woman who is a doctor, in the course of being a doctor, encounters a situation she does not feel capable of, or emotionally prepared to, or qualified to deal with, we cannot force her to continue being a doctor, even if means the death of the patient. She can, in fact, stop being a doctor whenever she feels being a doctor is no longer in her best interest. She does not have to seek permission from a judge to stop being a doctor.

Please decide if you agree with the above statement.

Then, replace 'a doctor' with 'pregnant', and 'patient' with 'fetus'.

I've caught up! :-) :-) :-)

Remarkable how troll- and religion-free this thread is.

I'm fairly sure that Plan B makes no difference in fertility if taken after ovulation. It basically prevents ovulation on shorter notice.

I'll look it up, I have to go. That it prevents implantation and thus causes "technically an early abortion" is what was taught to me 15 years ago.

By David Marjanović (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

@ 714

Yea, that by no means is the worst of it either. I am not sad or mad however that I was not sheltered growing up. It has given me a great deal of experience, caused me to learn and grow up quick and speak up for the demographics and statistics in certain issues. I can't change it or go back, I just accept, learn, grow and speak the fuck up so my child will not have to undergo the same things. I would never wish someone to go through what I have. Believe me the stories get worse, but like I said before I am not looking for pity or oh woes me tone.

By JustALurker (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

For those that are inquiring, here is information regarding Plan B, from fda.gov:

3. How does Plan B work?

Plan B works like other birth control pills to prevent pregnancy. Plan B acts primarily by stopping the release of an egg from the ovary (ovulation). It may prevent the union of sperm and egg (fertilization). If fertilization does occur, Plan B may prevent a fertilized egg from attaching to the womb (implantation). If a fertilized egg is implanted prior to taking Plan B, Plan B will not work.

Is my calendar broken? Is today April 1st? Surely Skatje doesn't really hang her hat on the garbage she has been shoveling? This certainly feels like it has prank-gone-too-far written all over it...

By https://www.go… (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

re 689:

even assuming the embryo WAS a person, why would this legitimize essentially enslaving another person for a minimum of nine months in order for it to use the second person's body to keep itself alive? Would anti-choicers also argue that people who refuse to donate organs be compelled by law to do so?

In the few years that I have been reading Pharyngula, I have tried to make this exact point in just about every abortion thread here. To me, the whole question of the fetus' rights is a red herring. They (anti-choicers) would not allow an adult human to do to another person what they say a fetus has a right to. A person's (or fetus')right to life is not a right to enslave.

This is neither here nor there, but it comforts me that the child of such a brilliant thinker can be so muddled. Neither of my parents are mental heavy lifters, and I wasn't nurtured by anyone else who was either, so I always felt like I was missing some starting spark that would have helped me along in life.

Some of the intellectual rags-to-riches stories are quite encouraging in the face of riches-to-rags ignorance.

By The Otter God (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

The Most Smackable Person In The Internet said:

Posted by: skatje.myers Author Profile Page | April 19, 2010 1:23 PM

I'm probably not going to comment too much more here, since it's gotten so far away from what I was originally saying.

Do I feel sympathy for your great-grandmother, or grandmother? Yes. What has happened is tragic. Would I have supported preventing them from obtaining an abortion? Likely not.

Likely? Not very sympathetic then.

Do I feel sympathy for you, who's simultaneously using your confession of personal information as a right to make condescending jabs at my personal life? Not so much.

I respect the people in your stories, but I see no reason to respect you. You're right that I wouldn't be disowned for getting pregnant. But you don't know me. You don't know what I can empathise with, you don't know who I know personally who may have similar stories. You are being awfully presumptuous.

(This is applying to the condescending jackasses, not to everyone. I was being pissy at aforementioned people, and apologise that some kinder people got caught in my fantastic blanket statementing.)

MSPITI, you have been treated with much more kindness and patience than others have in this blog. These testimonials, both by the angry and the kind, were intended to educate you on the harsh realities many women have to face every single day and how their children are affected by it. It was your slut-shaming comments and deriding manner towards those who have suffered that brought about the "well, what do you know?" comments about.

Which brings us to the next quote.

Also, the idea that I need to provide "evidence", because my argument is all theory, is rather silly. Sorry, no, this is going to come down to a philosophical debate. I can't give you a statistic on why I find it important to value fetuses, or value adult humans, for that matter.

Here is where you were supposed to answer the "Well what do you know?" question, but you still spectacularly fail at that. And you also still fail, by not understanding that the question is by no means philosophical. It is very real because it has very real effects on the very real lives of women and the very real lives of babies born in an unwelcoming family.

To make my point clearer, let's say there was an election. One candidate was saying he would outlaw abortion. The other candidate was saying he would fix the adoption system, and/or put better sex education in schools, and/or, give out free contraceptives. This would be an easy choice. I care far more about those things and lowering abortion rates that way than to straight outlaw it.

This example makes no sense. Is candidate No#2 supposed to support abortion or not? If yes, then picking him is a no-brainer. If no, it would make him the lesser of two evils, but he would be a crap choice nonetheless.

Denmark and the Scandinavian countries are very close to the ideal you have described, but women still have abortions there. Because they are too young to have a child. Because they are too young to be pregnant. Because they are under medical treatment that is toxic for the baby and would result in stillbirth anyway. Because they cannot afford to be out of the workforce during their pregnancy, even if they were to give up the child immediately. Because their child has a medical condition which means they will outlive it. Because they were raped. Because of all of the above AND birth control failed on top.

You have no place in your philosophy for real people in real conundrums, this much is well established. At least try to make your hypothetical scenarios internally consistent.

If that still offends you, by all means, keep crying.

MSPITI, with this sentence you prove that you are, indeed, a privileged white young girl who has no idea what she is talking about. You insult people, you make no attempts at apologising and when you are called on your inhumane comments, you get all in a huff and go "Haters to the right". So off you go now, listen to something emo, mumbling "those condescending jackasses, how dare they have awful life experiences they can present as arguments" and all the while oblivious of the fact that if you were not Professor PZ Myers' daughter (which makes you white and a young girl), you would have been sent crying within a couple of your posts (which makes you privileged). Remember, your father has eaten Vegemite on Host for insults not even directed out him. And the only tears we may shed are for his sake.

By somewhereingreece (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

I apologise for the blockquote fail

By somewhereingreece (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

Carlie, etc.:

The reason I have been delaying commenting on such things is because this is going to require me checking a few other sites. For the sake of some sense of fairness, I've been trying to address as many people as possible. With things slowing down now, I'm going to take a look at things you cited. If I find some compelling stuff there, which I suspect I might, I apologise for wasting time addressing less worthwhile arguments and insults. But y'know, trying to get around to everything.

Please be patient. I have to run and do other things at the moment.

By skatje.myers (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

Enough talking smack, please.

"About 60% of abortions are obtained by women who have one or more children. ... The reasons women give for having an abortion underscore their understanding of the responsibilities of parenthood and family life. Three-fourths of women cite concern for or responsibility to other individuals; three-fourths say they cannot afford a child; three-fourths say that having a baby would interfere with work, school or the ability to care for dependents; and half say they do not want to be a single parent or are having problems with their husband or partner."

Many women who have abortions want to have a child later, but are not yet prepared to give a child all that they can offer. Why can't we let women make these complex and highly individualistic plans?

By strange gods b… (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

"Would I have supported preventing them from obtaining an abortion? Likely not."

You are certain. CERTAIN that you wouldn't have an abortion. You don't just say "likely not."

But when it is a WOMAN's life on the line? When it is a WOMAN's life which could be saved? You only "likely" wouldn't promote what kills them.

FWIW, oral contraceptives prevent pregnancy by preventing ovulation and making the uterus a hostile environment to implantation (you don't get nice, nutritious glands to eat). Plan B also prevents ovulation and makes the uterus a hostile environment to implantation. There is also something about the fallopian tubes not working as well, and cervical mucous being thick and difficult for sperm to get through. In either case, you can have ovulation anyway, but you may not get fertilization because of the fallopian tubes and cervical mucous, and THEN if that doesn't work implantation is also inhibited.

@211 - IT was my first thought, too. But I'm only up to your comment, let's see how this plays out.

By whitebird (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

I'm curious to see what Skatje finds, and whether it humanizes her.

OT: I think this would be a good thread to bookmark the next time censorship comes up over at the Colgate Twins' Fairytale Town.

By stuv.myopenid.com (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

oral contraceptives prevent pregnancy by preventing ovulation and making the uterus a hostile environment to implantation

Since the convential wisdom is that oral contraceptives inhibit ovulation, you need to supply a link to the appropriate literature. Which doesn't include anti-abortion web sites.

By Nerd of Redhead, OM (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

138: 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.

Irrespective of what one thinks about abortion rights, this is a terrifying assertion. Rights imply inherent status while "protections" do not. Without true rights, the sick, the infirm, the mentally ill, the aged, and others are at tremendous risk.

Thanks, Anodyne and kb!

By David Marjanović (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

@skatje

One last post (I hope) before I go. I hope you take the time to read it and think about it.

From what you've said, I gather your position is somewhat like this: Life is precious. The embryo/foetus/whatever is alive and ought to be protected (even protected by law) unless there are serious mitigating circumstances (as in the case of self defence; i.e. similar to standards we hold for fully independent human beings). It's just too bad, so sad that all the major consequences of the implementation of this policy happen to fall on women, specifically those women who are the most heavily burdened by them. You won't go to the lengths of campaigning for legislation to protect these precious lives,* but you're content if such a policy is implemented through the agency of others. Because if a woman doesn't want to risk pregnancy she should be celibate, have sex only with sterile men/other women, or have a radical hysterectomy, even if she's in a marriage or otherwise committed relationship with her partner.

But wait, there are exceptions: like the rape victim or Hayley's great-grandmother. It's okay if they have abortions because you have sat at your bench and judged that their circumstances somehow absolve them of the great sin of having an abortion for mere convenience.

So really, you're okay with abortion as long as you're the one making the decision about which abortions are evil and which ones are ("regrettably") allowed. Now, what makes you (or some representative of you, i.e. a legislator, judge, or police officer) and not the woman whose life is at stake the best one to make that decision?

*So precious that women unknown to you would have to suffer unspeakable agonies if such a policy were implemented despite your lack of conviction, but not so precious that you should go out of your way to try to get such a policy implemented--do you even see the cruelty of that position? On the one side we have skatje who won't get up off her ass and go and picket with the pro-lifers and vote for anti-choice candidates but on the other she's perfectly willing to abandon any number of women to lives of penury and enslavement and children to lives of abuse and suffering for the exact same "principle". In other words, if the lives of foetuses are so valuable that we should condone the sacrifice those women and children, then they are so valuable that you should be prepared to sacrifice yourself to protect them.

If not, then you should be lining up with those who say leave it to the woman to decide whether this particular foetus is worth her own sacrifices.

Now, what makes you (or some representative of you, i.e. a legislator, judge, or police officer) and not the woman whose life is at stake the best one to make that decision?

And don't forget, it's a decision that affects at LEAST two lives: the mother and the child. Would not the mother also be the best judge on the quality of life the fetus would have if carried to term?

By stuv.myopenid.com (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

I have never understood the position of the so called 'pro-life' (I think the term 'anti-choice' is more appropriate) brigade. If you do not accept a woman's right to control her pro-creative potential, then you are endorsing a gendered form of slavery. It really is that simple. You are reducing women to the status of living, breathing incubators whose rights as humans and citizens evaporate at the point of conception.

The argument that is sometimes wheeled out that contraception can replace abortion is vacuous. No system of contraception is 100% reliable, and if it should fail, then such people are right back to the woman-as-incubator paradigm. A woman must have the right to maintain her own biological sovereignty, and in practice this means abortion.

Religion has no place in this debate. It is utterly ridiculous to privilige one person's self-indulgent fantasy over another's fundamental rights, yet that is exactly what the pro-lifers are trying to acheive.

By Gregory Greenwood (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

So... Planned Parenthood is a separate, private organization that lives off donations?

yup, PP is a non-profit organization; it does get some federal funding though IIRC.

By Jadehawk, OM (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

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.

Skatje, the study is available from The Lancet. They compared all the nations they could compare. They did not find that restrictions on abortions reduce the number of abortions. There's no particular reason to assume that the US is unique in this regard; the need for abortion does not change when the law changes.

You could compare the US to itself. Data from illegal markets are hard to come by, but the American Medical Association's Council on Scientific Affairs has used an estimate of one million abortions a year in the US immediately preceding 1967. There are fewer than that now.

However, over a hundred women died each year in abortion at that time. The decrease is attributed by the AMA to legality via more experienced doctors, and also to earlier operations, both trends which would reverse if abortion were restricted again.

You would agree that earlier abortions are better, yes? When women don't have to put out word on the illegal market, a doctor can be quickly located and safe plans made without complicating delay. We need to have availability, for the sake of both speed and experience, in order to have a humane policy on reproductive rights.

Can you articulate what it is about current law under Roe that needs to be changed? And at what approximate time should fetuses be afforded legal consideration? I have a suspicion that you do not realize the sort of abortions you are worried about are already illegal under Roe's viability provisions.

By strange gods b… (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

#700 Antiochus Epiphanes -

I spent so much time reading this thread that I actually had a dream about it last night where it had gotten so off topic that people were vehemently arguing over what sounds a Federation phaser makes. So I thought it was great to see Trek actually got mentioned! :)

Without true rights, the sick, the infirm, the mentally ill, the aged, and others are at tremendous risk.

Surprise, Robocrock is making the same inane point other right to life let me tell you how you must live groups say. Which has nothing whatsoever to do with abortion, and is simply a misdirection ploy. Just like saying gay marriage leads to beastiality. Meaningless and irrelevant.

By Nerd of Redhead, OM (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

Suppose in a hundred years the mother's body is not required at all, and the entire process -- from fertilized ovum to 'birth' -- can be taken care of artificially. Then no one's body is being used, taking away one of the arguments presented above. However, the concept of voluntary termination of pregnancy (or rather voluntary termination of the fetus) will still be applicable. The question is, who should have the right to decide? Seems like it should be the parents who have the right to decide to turn off the life support system, not the State. In that sense it is not too different from the decision to turn off life support to an adult in a "vegetative" state. The adult may have personally designated someone to make the decision whereas a fetus cannot have, thus the default to the parents. Given the additional factors of the mother's body, rights etc. it only strengthens the conclusion that abortion should not be illegal. Making it legal does not imply making it a trivial decision.

I realize that the logic suggests that viability be defined as being able to live without a medical life support system, and consequently parents should also have the right to turn off life support to prematurely born babies. Not sure yet what to make of that.

Lastly, a pet peeve. <rant> Until people can take a dead egg cell and a dead sperm cell and create a living human being they should stop talking about when life begins. Life began several billion years ago. And since every cell involved, from the single celled fertilized egg onwards is identifiably a human cell, a fetus doesn't become human from non-human. But, as PZ said, an embryo is not a person.</rant opt=Thanks for listening>

I finally figured out what this "it's your fault" argument reminded me of:

a while ago, in a bout of masochism, I read some posts on a radical separatist lesbian blog. one of them dealt with rape, and she was basically saying that rape-prevention means protecting women from being forced to be in the presence of men in general. However, if some women insist on putting themselves voluntarily in the company of men, then it's their own fault for getting raped, because that's what men do, and that they shouldn't go crying about how they were victimized, since they were knowingly and willingly putting themselves in that situation.

By Jadehawk, OM (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

More on the degree to which pregnancy itself is a dangerous undertaking:

black women in the U.S. are nearly four times as likely as white women to die from pregnancy-related causes, although they are no more likely to experience certain complications like hemorrhage.

It should be a woman's choice to take that risk of her life, and if she wants to be pregnant then we should give her the sort of prenatal care that this nation can afford. But if she chooses her own health, we have no business forcing her to undergo a significantly greater risk of death.

By strange gods b… (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

Robocrock is making the same inane point other right to life let me tell you how you must live groups say. Which has nothing whatsoever to do with abortion, and is simply a misdirection ploy.

Even by your standards that's shockingly stupid, Nerd. If, as claimed, rights only apply to those who can "communicate a preference, make a decision, or accept responsibility [#138]," the groups I mentioned are indeed profoundly at risk. One can still, of course, justify abortion rights on other grounds (as you should have figured out from my "[i]rrespective of what one thinks about abortion rights" qualifier). Do you really want to argue that a child with Down's or a senior with Alzheimer's may have no rights whatsoever?

Suppose in a hundred years the mother's body is not required at all, and the entire process -- from fertilized ovum to 'birth' -- can be taken care of artificially. Then no one's body is being used, taking away one of the arguments presented above. However, the concept of voluntary termination of pregnancy (or rather voluntary termination of the fetus) will still be applicable. The question is, who should have the right to decide? Seems like it should be the parents who have the right to decide to turn off the life support system, not the State.

If this level of technology comes to pass, then the situation will be very different. If a pregnancy takes place in a life-support machine, from fertilization to birth, then that pregnancy is probably not unintended. If the creation of the pregnancy requires a conscious decision on the parents' part, then many of the reasons for procuring an abortion procedure do not apply. Terminations would occasionally be sought in cases of life-threatening or impairing conditions in the fetus, but they would be far less common than the elective abortion procedures we have now to end unintended pregnancies. The debate would look extremely different.

By alysonmiers (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

The idea that the only way one could value the life of a fetus over the temporary inconvenience of the mother is by being anti-women is ridiculous. I think even in the organ case people keep bringing up, there's a strong utilitarian case to be made that donation should be mandatory. I don't see why someone should ever die when someone else could prevent it at some cost minor in relation to that death.

That said, fetuses aren't people, consciousness is the dividing line and I don't believe that line is passed until substantially after birth. Therefore I am 100% pro-choice. But the personhood of the fetus is the only relevant issue. No one's property rights should be valued above anyone else's right to life.

What strange gods said - I'm really uncomfortable with calling anyone "smackworthy", much less a 19 year old female. I overlooked it the first time, but it keeps being repeated. And it's bad.

As for Plan B, it's super-duper high progestin, which helps keep a pregnancy going once it's started. That's how it prevents ovulation, by making your body think that you're pregnant already. From what I understand, the "may also inhibit implantation" was a phrase added at the beginning of birth control pamphlets just to cover all bases, before it was really studied in detail. What I do know for sure is that high levels of progestins will be helpful to pregnancy, not harmful. Here are a couple of studies:

Ortiz, M.E., R.E. Ortiz, M.A. Fuentes, V. H. Parraguez,and H.B. Croxatto. 2004. “Post-coital administration of levonorgestrel does not interfere with post-fertilization events in the new-world monkey Cebus apella,” Human Reproduction 19: 1352–1356.

Muller, A.L., C.M. Llados, and H.B. Croxatto. 2003.“Postcoital treatment with levonorgestrel does not disrupt postfertilization events in the rat,” Contraception 67(5): 415–419.

Skatje, let's try a thought experiment. Imagine that you go sailing on Lake Michigan. You enjoy sailing. You're a pretty good sailor, the weather is fine, and you try to stay close to shore and avoid sudden turns. You're wearing your life jacket, so you have two ways to keep from drowning or dying of hypothermia. But the current carries you farther out and a sudden gust of wind capsizes your boat. You still have your life-jacket, but you know that the cold water will kill you in an hour or less. You need prompt rescue. So you wave and call out to the people in a passing motorboat. And they yell: "You knew the dangers when you went sailing!" and keep going.

Getting pregnant while having sex for the pleasure of it is something like that. Sometimes, you don't even have to go sailing to get into trouble. Someone could just push you off the sea-wall into deep water. A little more than 5% of rape victims get pregnant.

Abortion is a necessary backup to contraception. Of course you are well within your rights to say that you wouldn't have an abortion because you think it's wrong, but you're hitting a sensitive nerve. I've noticed that young, single, childless women tend to think of themselves as the typical example. Most women who want abortions already have children; they know more about the reality of childbirth and the exhaustion of mothering an infant. Maybe abortion is wasteful or wrong from an idealistic point of view, but I think very strongly that forcing someone to have a child does much more harm and is much more wrong. Every barrier to safe, early abortion puts women into more danger. Unfortunately, even stating your opinion as you did, without qualifiers, e.g. "wrong for me" or "the lesser of two evils," makes it harder for them to act when they need to.

However, if some women insist on putting themselves voluntarily in the company of men, then it's their own fault for getting raped, because that's what men do, and that they shouldn't go crying about how they were victimized, since they were knowingly and willingly putting themselves in that situation.

May I ask a question ? I'm not trolling or anything, it's just something I've thought about lately and cannot quite get my finger on it so I thought I should ask more enlightened people than me.

I had a discussion last year with someone who held the view that women who dressed "inappropriately" (for whatever that means and notwithstanding the criterion change in space and time)and knew they had more chances of being harassed for that shared some kind of responsibility for it since they know it will happen and they do it altogether. I replied among other things, that, as Jadehawk pointed out, you have greater chances of being hit by a care while walking on the street than by sitting at home so if you do walk on the street, knowing that, you're partly responsible for what happens. Same thing with eating : you can always suffocate. Or drown if swimming, etc.

He and (his girlfriend) replied that it would be more like going in a mostly African-American neighborhood wearing a "I hate niggers" t-shirt and being beaten up. Or standing in the middle of the highway. Or eating fugu, etc. Of course, these are completely out of proportion compared to being responsible of being raped because your skirt is two inches shorter than some other women on the street. And even though we would recognize some degree of responsibility in those cases, we would still provide help.

But it made me think and I haven't quite reached a definitive nor really satisfying answer yet. What is the amount of personal responsibility before we can say "it's your fault" or "you had it coming" ? Because, I mean, trivially, we do it all the time to some degree or another(not always explicitly, but we still do it).

I think the reason I can't find an answer is because I don't phrase it correctly but still can't quite see where the problem is exactly. Any thoughts by some more brilliant minds than mine would be appreciated.

The usual analogy is, "He shouldn't have been wearing a suit and looking prosperous, so it's his fault he was robbed. Besides, he gave money to charity last year! He deserves it."

xyx, it's not property rights, although someone expressed it that way. It's bodily integrity of the woman.

skatje.myers @ 705;

Sorry, no, this is going to come down to a philosophical debate.

Carlie (or should I say Carlity?) @ 711 pretty much hit the nail on the head. While you may contend that this is merely a philosophiical debate supported only by anecdotal evidence, for millions of women world wide the issues, and the consequences, are very real indeed. This is literally a matter of life and death.

Even where the threat of death is not imminent, child birth is still a massively physically and potentially psychologically traumatic experience. Compelling a woman to undergo it by the use of legal power is not only a sorely misguided attempt to legislate morality, but could even be argued to be morally equivilent to state-sanctioned torture.

Should abortion be outlawed, this will not prevent abortion. One need look no further than the experience of Eire. Abortions will continue, the only real differences being that they will occur in backstreet abortionist clinics without proper equipment or medically trained personnel and likeely in utterly unsanitary conditions. Even if a botched operation does not kill, secondary infection may well finish the job. Such a law would directly condemn countless women to death, as it did in the Irish example.

@ 249

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 I may be frank, I consider the idea that a woman is somehow deserving of all that befalls her because she chose to have sex to be the very nadir of misogyny. I honestly believe that if abortion is outlawed (especially on the prating, pseudo-ethical grounds put forward by the anti-choicers) there is a significant possibility that this will normalise the idea that if a woman choses to have sex she accepts whatever follows; that sex is sinful, and that women are somehow to be held morally accountable for this sin. From this flawed proposition, a whole host of further misogyny could easily flow.

It was a long, hard fight for women to acheive what rights they possess today, that even in the supposedly gender-equal Western world could hardly be termed to be unabridged equal status. No one should be eager to turn back the clock over an ephemeral sense of personal unease relating to abortion.

@ 232

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.

You may, of course, think whasoever you like. Equally, the other commentators here are entitled to express their views on the opinions you choose to express on this thread, including calling you on statements that could give legitimate offence.

All I would suggest is that you think carefully about all the possible ramifications that your chosen position would have if adopted as law by society at large in terms of the rights and status of women and the sheer level of suffering that would be caused to actual, fully formed people as opposed to embryos that, on all the available evidence, are yet to develop individual personalities or even to have acheived the rudiments of consciousness. Are you sure that this is a potential future that you are happy to unreservedly endorse?

By Gregory Greenwood (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

BdN, let's start with the fact that women mostly don't get raped by strangers.

Let's then proceed to the part where systemic problems won't be solved by "personal responsibility"; we live in rape culture, and the separatist lesbian is right that the only way to take real responsibility is to remove yourself entirely from the system and avoid all men, always, at all costs.

So, just because we often trivially do lay blame at the foot of the victim for becoming a victim of a systemic problem (see also fat-shaming), it's actually always wrong to do so.

By Jadehawk, OM (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

xyx, it's not property rights, although someone expressed it that way. It's bodily integrity of the woman.

Ok. That doesn't change the conclusion. Life (by which I mean consciousness specifically) is more valuable than bodily integrity.

Do you really want to argue that a child with Down's or a senior with Alzheimer's may have no rights whatsoever?

I love the smell of straw-men in the afternoon!

If a person is incapable of making a decision or communicating a preference, how exactly does that person exercise any rights?

How does a gestating fetus exercise any rights? How do you ask a fetus whether it wants to live? How does it answer? If it can't answer, then what exactly does it mean to have rights?

Furthermore, how do you get from the fetus to the impaired and infirm? A severely disabled child or senile adult is not dependent on someone else's bloodstream. No one else's bodily autonomy is affected by making sure they are treated with kindness and consideration. A fetus can only have one caretaker. This is not a slippery slope.

By alysonmiers (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

Do you really want to argue that a child with Down's or a senior with Alzheimer's may have no rights whatsoever?

I never said that. Nor would I. I can take a picture of those folks with my digital camera. I can't take a picture of a fetus without invading the woman. Ergo, it is different. Even your meager intelligence should see that. And never brought up your strawman argument. Not even a good strawman argument. Just as lame as your proof of your imaginary deity.

By Nerd of Redhead, OM (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

I have to run and do other things at the moment.

That is perfectly understandable. My (and possibly others') frustration was that you didn't say that, but did address the "easy" comments that were derogatory towards you. That made it look like you were cherry-picking what you were going to respond to.

I had a discussion last year with someone who held the view that women who dressed "inappropriately" (for whatever that means and notwithstanding the criterion change in space and time)and knew they had more chances of being harassed for that shared some kind of responsibility for it since they know it will happen and they do it altogether.

The response is that there isn't a higher chance of being raped just because of being dressed inappropriately. Rapists rape because they can, not because someone turned them on by showing a flash of cleavage. See here and here, especially "Women aged 18-22 in the US who attend university are more likely to be raped than women who don't. Would Hitchens argue that female university students are therefore "partially culpable" in their own rapes? I mean, getting an education is presumably "acting responsibly," but it's also engaging in high-risk (for rape) behavior. What a conundrum! Who to blame…?"

For actual stats, there's the fact that 76% of rapes are committed by a partner, so how is being around your own partner acting irresponsibly? I keep seeing reference to "A Federal Commission on Crime of Violence Study found that only 4.4% of all reported rapes involved provocative behavior on the part of the victim" in several places, but can't trace down the original.

I don't see why someone should ever die when someone else could prevent it at some cost minor in relation to that death.

So you'd be in favor of the mandatory quarterly blood extraction of all citizens. Or the mandatory "donation" of kidneys.

With transplantation and immune system suppression at its current state it is likely that you would probably be a good match for somebody looking for a kidney right now. Would you object if you were forced to donate?

Ok. That doesn't change the conclusion. Life (by which I mean consciousness specifically) is more valuable than bodily integrity.

no it isn't. I'm legally allowed to stab a rapist or a robber in the face with a screwdriver to stop them from raping/robbing me. Just the same, I'm allowed to stop a fetus from incubating inside me.

By Jadehawk, OM (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

xyx, if a pregnant woman dies in a car wreck and her fetus is still alive, do you think that if there are no volunteers, some woman should be surgically implanted with the fetus?

By strange gods b… (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

Also, the idea that I need to provide "evidence", because my argument is all theory, is rather silly. Sorry, no, this is going to come down to a philosophical debate.

As far as I'm concerned, a philosophical debate is all theory.

My apologies if this has been said before - I have to leave the computer for a bit, but did get up to the mid-500's - but Skatje, I hold a very similar opinion to yours.

If I got pregnant, I would have an abortion because I am unmarried and don't have the resources to provide for a child. Since I feel that way, I think that all unmarried women who are below the poverty line should have mandatory abortions. And I wouldn't vote against making that law.

By whitebird (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

So you'd be in favor of the mandatory quarterly blood extraction of all citizens. Or the mandatory "donation" of kidneys.

I said I was in favor of mandatory organ donation in the post you were quoting. Whatever is most efficient for saving lives. There are details to be worked out, and society as a whole should compensate the donors monetarily, but, yes, I still don't see why someone should have to die because someone else wasn't willing to accept a relative inconvenience.

I know I'm really late to the game here, but I so wanted to do this on the last abortion-related thread:

"-en this must be it, okay... *ahem* Good morning, this is your potential pilot speaking, welcome to flight number-r-r-r-r... [hmm, what's the plane's number again?] hang on, I need to get out and look at the side. [what? that isn't it?] Nevermind, my co-pilot is telling me that the number on the side of the plane isn't the flight number. Really? that is fucked up, man."

"Anyway, welcome aboard my very first piloting trip! Now don't worry, I may not be a pilot YET, but I certainly have the *potential* to be one. At least that's what my teacher said during orientation yesterday. I may not have that license in my hands for another year or... [how long does it take? REALLY?! Are you SHITTING me?!] WOW! My copilot says th- well now he's yelling at me again telling me not to call him my co-PILOT... something about implying that we are somehow equal in piloting ability. Well, he doesn't know it yet but I am going to be a really good pilot someday! Just as good as he is... definitely nicer, but anyway..."

"Where was I? Oh, forget it. Let's just get on our way, shall we? Let me just fire up the old engines and-oh WOW! You guys wouldn't be-LIEVE how many lights and knobs and things there are in here!!! Where's the ignition on this damned thing? [hey, how do you--hello?] well that other guy left, so I guess he thinks I can do this on my own already! How's THAT for a vote of confidence in my potential abilities, eh?"

"Hmmm, seems a bunch of lights are going off, something about the doors being opened. Hey, could one of you stewart-ladies check the door? Thanks. Now let's just put this baby into reverse and I can (*BAM-BAM-BAM*) Hey! Who is banging on the cockpit door?! That can be really distracting to a future pilot, ya' know. Good thing we weren't in the air or it could've made me crash or someth-(*sounds of door being broken and scuffling*) OUCH! HEY LEGGO!! This is MY Plane! Get OFF of me!! I'M A FUTURE PILOT!! I DESERVE TO SIT IN HE--"

whitebird, see #717 and #295. Why is it better to favor increased deaths of women?

By strange gods b… (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

@Carlie

Thanks a lot for the links and the info. But I meant to convey a larger thing. Rape was only the starting point and these are some arguments, not nearly as well worded as yours, that I also tried to use (that's why I wrote "among others"). But it made me think about the more general "responsibility" thing. I know that nobody likes it, as as been said earlier, but even IF there was a correlation between rape and the way women dress (because it would turn on the rapist or by another way), I would still think she doesn't have responsibility. That's why I tried using other examples.

@Jadehawk

Thanks for the answer an I get your point (I think). How do we differentiate systemic problems from others ?

no it isn't. I'm legally allowed to stab a rapist or a robber in the face with a screwdriver to stop them from raping/robbing me.

I am not a lawyer, but I do not believe it to be generally true in the US that you are allowed to use lethal force on someone else unless you are in danger of having lethal force used on yourself or some other.

xyx, if a pregnant woman dies in a car wreck and her fetus is still alive, do you think that if there are no volunteers, some woman should be surgically implanted with the fetus?

The answer is no, but only because fetuses are not conscious and therefore their life is not to be valued as a person's is.

Just to be clear the "nobody likes it" was meant to refer to the "if" way of thinking.

And if you found out you were wrong about consciousness, you'd favor cutting some random woman open.

By strange gods b… (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

@ xyx,

Actually, your system is preferable to the anti-abortion argument, it is not explicitly sexist or misogynist for one. It does not have one standard of bodily autonomy given for men, even DEAD men, and then build in an exception to those rights for the *one* case that can only happen to women.

I disagree with your proposed legal system, but I don't see any additional bigotry or sexism in your plan, which makes it something I can *respect* even while I argue against it.

You have a uniform ethic, one which orders values differently than I do, but one which doesn't generally agree with mine except in the *one* case where only women are affected.

I still think it is unfair in that it will target certain people, those with rare blood types, etc, much more than others, etc.

I am not a lawyer, but I do not believe it to be generally true in the US that you are allowed to use lethal force on someone else unless you are in danger of having lethal force used on yourself or some other.

I'm not allowed to use "excessive" force, but all necessary force to remove the threat to my bodily integrity is entirely legal.

By Jadehawk, OM (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

xyx @ 776;

I said I was in favor of mandatory organ donation in the post you were quoting. Whatever is most efficient for saving lives. There are details to be worked out, and society as a whole should compensate the donors monetarily, but, yes, I still don't see why someone should have to die because someone else wasn't willing to accept a relative inconvenience.

Let me get this straight. You are actually endorsing the manditory, (and, one assumes in the event of non-compliance, potentially forcible) removal of organs from perfectly healthy individuals, with all the attendent risks of complication and long term health impairment, in order to eliminate the waiting lists for organs?

You do not see the use of citizens for spare parts against their will to be oppressive? You do not understand why the performance of unsolicited and unnecessary surgery is considered an abuse of human rights? You do not see a problem with a government claiming the moral authority to declare de facto ownership of the bodies of its citizenry? You do not see how this would fatally undermine the balance between the government and the governed?

I do not wish to give gratuitous offence, but all I can say is that I am glad that you are not in power, and that this will remain no more than a particularly unpleasant Orwellian fantasy.

By Gregory Greenwood (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

strangegods, did you not read all of whitebird's comment or are you being snarky?

By stuv.myopenid.com (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

chgo_liz @ 682:

And yet, when some of us who were unwanted fetuses unwillingly brought to term come into this discussion to talk about what we've experienced as a direct result of anti-choice laws, our life experience is discounted/ignored/insulted by Skatje.

Toying with theoretical ideas that end in denying human rights to women *and* the unwanted babies they are forced to carry is doubly wrong, ignorant, immoral, unethical...pick an adjective.

As one of your fellow unwanted former fetuses (who are dismissed by Skatje in her philosophical tower), I'll pick an adjective or three: Ugly. Hypocritical.* Deadly.

Also, +10 and QFT.

*Yes, hypocritical, Skatje. If you're gonna declare your love for the fetuses, you have to go all the way. You don't get an out for health or rape. As all our lives are meaningless next to a fetus, you certainly wouldn't dream of putting your own life first, I'm sure.

By Caine, Fleur du mal (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

stuv, I'm probably high.

By strange gods b… (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

759: I never said that. Nor would I. I can take a picture of those folks with my digital camera. I can't take a picture of a fetus without invading the woman. Ergo, it is different.

Since I have expressed no opinion re abortion in this thread, you might work on your reading comprehension skills. I was reacting to the claim that "rights" only apply to those who can "communicate a preference, make a decision, or accept responsibility [#138]." Since we're discussing human rights, since they attach with personhood and since personhood can be established or denied on other grounds, we aren't necessarily discussing abortion, as I have pointed out three times now. On the other hand, since a child with Down's or a senior with Alzheimer's may indeed be unable to perform such tasks, if the claim were correct, persons with those kinds of disabilities would cease to be persons and would have no rights. I find that a horrifying concept. It's simple, really.

758: If a person is incapable of making a decision or communicating a preference, how exactly does that person exercise any rights?

As it stands now, the law grants rights to a person irrespective of whether s/he "is incapable of making a decision or communicating a preference." A person in a coma or in surgery can't do that but retains rights. If the incapacity extends longer term, the expressed intentions of the person can apply (as with living wills, for example). In some instances, others are granted the fiduciary capacity to act in another's stead, as with living wills or trusts for the benefit of minors, for example.

If it can't answer, then what exactly does it mean to have rights?

Irrespective of whether I am sufficiently healthy to act personally upon my rights, my rights still exist. If I own property, I don't lose that right on account of my lack of health, for example.

Furthermore, how do you get from the fetus to the impaired and infirm?

If the fetus is not a person (on other grounds), you don't. But if personhood is predicated upon your proposed standard, many of the infirm and impaired lose their status as persons and the rights associated therewith.

Thanks for the answer an I get your point (I think). How do we differentiate systemic problems from others ?

that's often difficult, and a lot of work actually. Sheer numbers of incidents in proportion to the population is a pretty good sign that something is a systemic problem rather than an isolated problem; usually though, when something is a systemic problem you can find all kinds of (cultural, social, physical, economic, whatever)infrastructure within that society that promotes or causes the incidence of a problem. I'm not sure at which point precisely you can say that this infrastructure is established enough for any given problem that something can qualify definitely as a systemic problem, but at least in the case of rape, the existence of Rape Culture is so obvious and ubiquitous, there's no doubt about its existence.

By Jadehawk, OM (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

@545:

Hooray! Since I have a penis, I am dismissed from caring about this issue.

Yay!

By mr.obelus (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

I don't see why someone should ever die when someone else could prevent it at some cost minor in relation to that death.

XYX: Could I refer you to comment #375? What do you think the phlebotomist should do about a stem cell donor who changes his/her mind in the middle of a donation? Should the donor be forced to continue?

re 766:

I said I was in favor of mandatory organ donation in the post you were quoting. Whatever is most efficient for saving lives. There are details to be worked out, and society as a whole should compensate the donors monetarily, but, yes, I still don't see why someone should have to die because someone else wasn't willing to accept a relative inconvenience.

So put your kidney where your mouth is, have you volunteered to donate a kidney to those waiting for one? I have a cousin looking for a kidney, now, should I tell her you want to be tested for a match?

I have a cousin looking for a kidney, now, should I tell her you want to be tested for a match?

I'm not sure that there even is a living unrelated kidney donor program. Kidney donation is about as dangerous as pregnancy-and as such is considered way too dangerous to ask of random strangers.

I agree with Robocop#779.

Anyway, birth makes a useful dividing line because at that point we can demand a particular action with regard to unwanted babies: abandon children at a designated location. Abandoning them elsewhere is a crime and you can prosecute if you think it'll help. This is not an infringement upon anyone else's rights, and does not mean the surrender of the body to the state.

How would you enforce a functioning anti-abortion law? Women found to be seeking abortions would have to be imprisoned.

By strange gods b… (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

On the other hand, since a child with Down's or a senior with Alzheimer's may indeed be unable to perform such tasks

Er...have you actually met any people with DS or AD? People with Alzheimer's lose the ability to communicate and have a preference quite late in the disease. Heck, we elected a person with AD to the presidency and nicknamed him "the great communicator". If someone with AD has lost the ability to communicate then they are in very, very bad shape and are going to die soon regardless. Similarly, most children with Down's learn to talk and communicate their preferences in multiple ways. Only the very worst cases don't develop the ability to communicate. Unlike the world's smartest fetus. The mentation level of a person with moderate AD or DS is much, much higher than that of a fetus.

786: Er...have you actually met any people with DS or AD?

Yes. Related to some too.

People with Alzheimer's lose the ability to communicate and have a preference quite late in the disease. Heck, we elected a person with AD to the presidency and nicknamed him "the great communicator". If someone with AD has lost the ability to communicate then they are in very, very bad shape and are going to die soon regardless. Similarly, most children with Down's learn to talk and communicate their preferences in multiple ways. Only the very worst cases don't develop the ability to communicate.

So you agree with me that they may indeed be unable to perform such tasks.

Unlike the world's smartest fetus.

For the fourth time, my concern herein is not with abortion, but with the idea that rights don't attach when the individual at issue "is incapable of making a decision or communicating a preference." This isn't rocket surgery.

@786 -

"May be" - they said "may be unable to perform such tasks". If the theoretical inability of individuals with these particular conditions bothers you, replace them with other conditions that result in the person possibly not being able to perform said tasks. You're kind of missing the point.

What about having something to lose? A person who has been conscious before has something to lose. Prior to the first instance of consciousness, there is nothing to lose, except perhaps if pain-avoidance is not wholly contained by consciousness. It does not make sense to talk about a fetus's personhood in the same way as a comatose person.

By strange gods b… (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

BdN - I think I get what you're trying to do. Maybe it's that personal responsibility enters in at trying to violate physical laws of the universe? If you go out almost naked, you can't get blamed for being raped (that's the agency of another person who you can't control), but it is your fault if you get sunburned (because sun+skin=burn), but it isn't your fault if you wear SPF 50 sunscreen and it fails because the company that made it sucks (you did the best you could). If you play in heavy traffic and get hit by a car it's your fault (because drivers can't stop in time even if they see you) but not if you're crossing at a crosswalk and a drunk driver hits you (their agency). Is that along the right lines?

I don't have time for a specific response to everyone right now. A general response:

I am not an expert in the details of organ donation. Therefore I don't think I am qualified to state whether in any particular case organ donation should be mandatory. My point is more general. The inconvenience of one person, even if quite substantial, should usually not be valued over the life of another. I say "usually" because even this standard isn't absolute--extending an individual's life from 80 to 82 at great cost to another individual may not be worthwhile.

Real life is messy. Should organ donation be mandatory if there's only a 25% chance the patient will live in any case? If there's some substantial chance the donor will die in the process? These are complicated issues, and I don't think it's necessary to work them out here. The important moral issue, the issue that would be relevant to abortion except that fetuses aren't actually people, is whether organ donation should be mandatory under some set of specified circumstances--or whether, alternatively, there should be some absolute prohibition on invading someone else's bodily integrity. This latter position is that of the people who argue that the fetus is mere parasite on the woman, which she can kill in self defense regardless of its personhood. And I think it's wrong.

Why? Well, I would rather live in a society where I had p chance of having to give up an organ than one in which I had p chance of dying from organ failure. Indeed, I have a hard time understanding the opposite position. Nature infringes upon my body much greater with organ failure than the government infringes on it by removing an organ (under ideal circumstances). It would seem to require an extreme anti-governmental prejudice to prefer nature's infringement in such a case over government's. Again, I understand that in real life organ donation isn't so simple as that, and I would need more thorough education in the relevant medical science to make a determination as to appropriate rules regarding real life organ donation. But on the moral issue at hand, I think the principle that one has an absolute right to bodily integrity, regardless of consequences to society, is just as wrong, and for the same reasons, as the principle that one has an absolute right to any other property regardless of social consequences.

No chance a government can handle such power without graft, an expanded underground market, and targeted non-randomized organ hits.

By strange gods b… (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

But on the moral issue at hand, I think the principle that one has an absolute right to bodily integrity, regardless of consequences to society...

WHAT consequences to society? To maintain that there are consequences to society of a woman's choice to terminate a pregnancy versus any other decision she might make as regards her medical care is to assert that society has an interest in the continuation of that particular pregnancy. What is that interest?

If someone with AD has lost the ability to communicate then they are in very, very bad shape and are going to die soon regardless. -Dianne #786

Dianne, I've been in near complete agreeance with your previous comments, but this is wrong (soon is relative) and comes off a tad bit flippant. People with Alzheimer's can continue living for years after losing the ability to communicate and even some time after losing all ability to speak and becoming 100% dependent on the care of others.

Anyway, given the history of human experience attained by people with Alzheimer's, I don't think they are an apt comparison to an embryo or fetus with absolutely no experience as a human, which starts at birth.

By aratina cage (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

This isn't rocket surgery science.

Fixed it for you. Your statement was nonsensical. Nobody was headed toward already born folks being euthanized. So why bother with your posts?

By Nerd of Redhead, OM (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

Nerd, the 'rocket surgery' line is an old joke, combining 'rocket science' and 'brain surgery'.

By WowbaggerOM (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

As it stands now, the law grants rights to a person irrespective of whether s/he "is incapable of making a decision or communicating a preference." A person in a coma or in surgery can't do that but retains rights. If the incapacity extends longer term, the expressed intentions of the person can apply (as with living wills, for example). In some instances, others are granted the fiduciary capacity to act in another's stead, as with living wills or trusts for the benefit of minors, for example.

I'm sure this is mainly a semantic disagreement rather than an ethical one, but what you're describing is not what I call "rights." A person in a coma with no predicted end in sight, for example, who never got around to writing a living will before losing brain function, cannot communicate their wishes and so whatever happens to them is not a matter of honoring their rights, it is a matter of someone else making decisions for them.

And this is the point that I wished to make as it regards to the abortion debate: if a person's rights consist of nothing more than someone else deciding what should be done to them, then those rights are not comparable to a conscious adult's right to decide what goes on in her uterus. The rhetoric of "an unborn child's right to life" is dishonest when placed against a fertile woman's right to bodily autonomy.

Furthermore, in my opinion, the issue of personhood is frankly moot where abortion is concerned. A fetus could arguably qualify as a person, but that does not mean it is entitled to live off an unwilling person's body. That entitlement belongs to no one.

By alysonmiers (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

WHAT consequences to society? To maintain that there are consequences to society of a woman's choice to terminate a pregnancy versus any other decision she might make as regards her medical care is to assert that society has an interest in the continuation of that particular pregnancy. What is that interest?

I've heard people seriously making the argument that abortions are socialist because it will mess up the economy down the road (lack of growth), and that you can see this happening in Europe.

I invented the quad facepalm that day.

By stuv.myopenid.com (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

Nerd, the 'rocket surgery' line is an old joke, combining 'rocket science' and 'brain surgery'.

Not all of us understand every joke, nor remember them. Unlike my father, I can't remember a joke for even one day.

By Nerd of Redhead, OM (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

This is neither here nor there, but I saw the conversation is going in the direction of kidney donation -- and hey, I'm in the process of voluntarily donating a kidney right now! :) I can tell you all about the risks and such. And yes, non-directed altruistic donation (what they call it when you are not donating to someone in particular) exists and is going strong.

For kidney donation, the overall risks of dying are about 1/2,500. You will be in the hospital for 2-5 days, in bad pain for 1-2 weeks, and unable to lift more than 10 pounds for 6 weeks.

You aren't really saving a life so much as improving someone's quality of life for a few years since they'd eventually get off the waitlist somewhere anyway. That being said, some do die on the waitlist or find their condition deteriorate such that they are unable to receive an organ when their turn comes up, and imagine someone having a really crappy quality of life for (say) 3 years, having to put his/her entire life on hold -- that's definitely worth a 1 in 2,500 chance of dying, in my view.

I haven't read the thread closely enough to see whether kidney donation was brought up in the pro or anti life side. Personally, as the only actual soon-to-be (surgery scheduled) living kidney donor on this thread, I am proudly anti-life for all the reasons I saw others give above.

By https://me.yah… (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

I haven't read the thread closely enough to see whether kidney donation was brought up in the pro or anti life side.

Everybody is fine with voluntary donation. Only the troll xyx appears in favor of involuntary donation...

By Nerd of Redhead, OM (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

P.S. One more thing (I'm that living kidney donor) -- if I ever got pregnant, I would sooner kill myself than carry it to term. An anti-abortion law would kill me. Period. Full stop.

By https://me.yah… (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

789: What about having something to lose?

I don't think that helps. I think that someone who is severely disabled (for example) is entitled to the full rights of personhood irrespective of whether they "gained something" at some point. Those rights attach not based upon what they have, how smart or aware they are, or who they may be related to, but rather, based upon their status as human persons. Moreover, I think these rights are inalienable.

795: Fixed it for you. Your statement was nonsensical.

It was a joke, and an old an common one at that. Why do fundies, of whatever sort, tend to be so woodenly literal?

Nobody was headed toward already born folks being euthanized.

Let's sing along with Sam Cooke: "Don't know much about history...".

797: I'm sure this is mainly a semantic disagreement rather than an ethical one, but what you're describing is not what I call "rights."

Then you're using an idiosyncratic definition so divorced from reality as to make your claim essentially meaningless.

Furthermore, in my opinion, the issue of personhood is frankly moot where abortion is concerned. A fetus could arguably qualify as a person, but that does not mean it is entitled to live off an unwilling person's body. That entitlement belongs to no one.

Only if you deem the right of the parent to take full and complete priority over the rights of the fetus/person (assumed for the sake of argument) no matter the circumstances. I don't see nearly the bright line you do. Parents can (rightly, in my view) be forced to support their children after birth. You see a much clearer and more obvious distinction in that instance from a pregnancy than I do. Personhood is the crucial question in my view, and if personhood is granted, there are competing rights and interests to be considered and weighed.

somewhereingreece #725

MSPITI

Multiple Scattering Parameterization in Thermal Imagery?

By 'Tis Himself, OM (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

@800

You aren't really saving a life so much as improving someone's quality of life

The anonymous stranger who died and donated a kidney to my older sister saved her life. You can't live on dialysis indefinitely, and when the one kidney she had failed, it was transplant or death.

I tried to donate to her, and discovered that I have compromised kidney functioning myself. I may live my allotted life span just fine, or may find myself looking for a transplant one day, and there's no way to tell when/if it'll ever happen.

No chance a government can handle such power without graft, an expanded underground market, and targeted non-randomized organ hits.

I don't understand why an expanded underground market would result. Increasing the legal supply would reduce the underground market. As for graft, this is a libertarian argument against all government intervention into society. Do you think it is a correct argument when generalized, or is there something in particular about organ donation that makes it susceptible to such issues?

WHAT consequences to society? To maintain that there are consequences to society of a woman's choice to terminate a pregnancy versus

Please read my posts in full before responding. I have stated in almost every post in this thread that fetuses are not people--thus, no negative social consequences for abortion. On the other hand, organ recipients are people--thus, the existence of negative social consequences for not having mandatory organ donation.

Jadehawk, OM #745

she was basically saying that rape-prevention means protecting women from being forced to be in the presence of men in general. However, if some women insist on putting themselves voluntarily in the company of men, then it's their own fault for getting raped, because that's what men do, and that they shouldn't go crying about how they were victimized, since they were knowingly and willingly putting themselves in that situation.

If the women were wearing burkhas then there wouldn't be a problem. The men would not get into rape mode. Plus earthquakes would be prevented.

By 'Tis Himself, OM (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

Sorry, I received an important phone call and now am out of free time and have to go. Sorry, I don't want to give the impression I asked questions and then ran away.

Jadehawk:

that's often difficult, and a lot of work actually.

Glad to know it's not only because of my lack of intelligence. As for the rest of your post, I agree.

@Carlie

Yes, I think that's along the right lines (right being what I'm trying to say and that it is right, of course). And just to be sure, I'm no Meyrick Kirby who is gonna go "tada" after 50 posts. I wish it was as simple as "the rules of physics" or something like this but there are cases where I think this would fail. I really have to run so the only example that jumps to mind right now is this one.

2 years ago, a young man was killed where I live because he wore a coat which was the same color as the one used by one of two notorious gang members in the neighborhood to identify themselves. Not being from here, he couldn't have possibly known it so it is obvious he doesn't have any responsibility in it. And even if he knew, I can't imagine blaming the victim of a murder because she wore the wrong jacket in a particular place. You cannot simply stop living your life the way you want because criminals have made some decision. And there are those who ARE members of the gang and are getting killed because of their colors. Of course, that would probably at least in part fall under the "systemic" problem Jadehawk was talking about.

Anyways, I really have to go. Sorry again if I run away for now.

Parents can (rightly, in my view) be forced to support their children after birth.

Um no, they can't. Not in any country I'm aware of.

@ 806

The anonymous stranger who died and donated a kidney to my older sister saved her life. You can't live on dialysis indefinitely, and when the one kidney she had failed, it was transplant or death.

I'm not denying one needs a kidney to live. I'm just saying that the marginal benefit of getting a kidney from me is (in expectation, i.e. on average across the population it would be) a few years of improved quality of life, because people on waitlists do tend to get them after a few years have passed anyway, from people who have died. And the more urgent one's need for a kidney from a waitlist, the higher one is on the waitlist, generally, although some people who have very particular needs (like whose body will reject almost all kidneys) might still have to wait too long.

By https://me.yah… (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

Edit :

right being what I'm trying to say and NOT that I am right, of course

Carlie wrote [about parents having to support their children]:

Um no, they can't. Not in any country I'm aware of.

I'm pretty sure that if the mother keeps the child the father is obliged to provide support.

By WowbaggerOM (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

810: Um no, they can't. Not in any country I'm aware of.

You're not aware of the United States of America? According to the American Bar Association, here's the general rule:

"Parents are legally responsible for their children until they reach the age of majority (usually eighteen), marry, or leave home to support themselves. In some states, divorced parents may be obliged to pay for a child's college or trade school education. In addition, a parent's duty to support a disabled child might continue for the child's entire life."

Wowbagger - I was thinking in terms of giving up for adoption.

This isn't about to turn into "men have to pay money so that's why we should get to control women's bodies", is it?

@813

That's true but I can tell you if you're a single mom don't hold your fucking breath. I have never seen support from my sperm donor (he has NO right to be called a father) and considering the circumstance I wouldn't accept it. Maybe AZ is just jacked up (well, ok it def. is) but heres no support help, no action for domestic violence. Women get screwed royally. Of course I'm willing to accept evidence that shows my story is is not how it normally works here but considering my experience of shelters, etc where I got to meet a lot of similar people I don't think there's any evidence that contradicts what I'm saying. I know there's men that get arrested for large amounts of outstanding child support but honestly from inside the system, it doesn't appear to be doing a damn thing. Again, its Pharyngula so I'm happy and willing to be educated =)
Also, I think she might also have meant theres no law to force the parents to house and care for the child since adoption and foster care is available but I could be wrong.

By JustALurker (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

I don't think that helps. I think that someone who is severely disabled (for example) is entitled to the full rights of personhood irrespective of whether they "gained something" at some point. Those rights attach not based upon what they have, how smart or aware they are, or who they may be related to, but rather, based upon their status as human persons. Moreover, I think these rights are inalienable.

What is a human person, Robocop? I am proposing that animal awareness is enough to warrant rights. The person who has always been severely disabled still has this. If not -- if there is not sufficient brainstem to manage animal awareness -- then which phenomenon are you calling a person?

By strange gods b… (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

Carlie wrote:

This isn't about to turn into "men have to pay money so that's why we should get to control women's bodies", is it?

No, it's not; I'm a little surprised you'd think that that's where I might be going, given the comments I've made in this thread so far.

However, since it's come up, it is a fact that if the woman chooses not to abort and keep the eventual child, the woman is technically getting to control the man's body by being able to force him work to provide for the child even if he doesn't want to.

I don't really like that, but the alternative is -to me at least - unthinkable.

By WowbaggerOM (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

Strange gods @768 - "whitebird, see #717 and #295. Why is it better to favor increased deaths of women?"

Huh? Looks like abortion kills fewer women than childbirth..what are you saying?

By whitebird (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

..P.S. - ah, I see, strange gods...well, it is actually 4/20 somewhere :o

By whitebird (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

817: What is a human person, Robocop?

Honestly, I don't have a good answer to that question and the views I hold I hold extremely tentatively. I'm especially reticent because I'm male. In a way, I envy the certainty so many on all sides of this issue have because it surely eludes me. I'm not at all comfortable with what Singer proposes -- I don't think parents should be able to euthanize severely disabled children, for example. I recognize the problems and hardships that position could cause, but my fear of what could happen to the unwanted, the disabled and "undesirables" is too strong to allow me to go there easily. I think the common practice in China of sex-selection abortion is horrific but I'm not happy to give the state the power to control who gets an abortion and who doesn't, either. I'm also leary of any standard that risks becoming outdated quickly by scientific discovery or advance. Who knows what we'll come to learn in terms of awareness in the relatively near future? Practicality sugests the need for clear, universal standards but it's hard for me to apply any in difficult cases.

I wish I had a better answer....

Wow, yall are still duking it out over here?

Impressive

By scooterKPFT (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

Ha ha. Great post. I also love the blatant logical fallacy, "Be happy your mother was pro-life!" No, my mother was pro-choice. Because pro-choice women HAVE BABIES TOO, idiots. :/

By https://me.yah… (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

please don't anastomose to teh Thread please don't anastomose to teh Thread please don't anastomose to teh Thread please don't anastomose to teh Thread please don't anastomose to teh Thread please don't anastomose to teh Thread please don't anastomose to teh Thread please don't anastomose to teh Thread

By Sven DiMilo (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

Wowbagger, I wasn't questioning your motives, rather the original person who brought it up.

the woman is technically getting to control the man's body by being able to force him work to provide for the child even if he doesn't want to.

Not comparable though, as I'm sure you know. Financial obligation is a far cry from forced gestation.

@824
I certainly don't plan to. The topic will stay here as it should. This has been a long and frustrating thread. At least for me.

By JustALurker (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

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.

I am rabidly pro-choice. However, I do need to take exception to this argument in general.

The general form "If you find X immoral, simply avoid doing X, and STFU" goes plenty of places you really don't want it to go.

Case in point: FGM. You don't like people hacking up their children's genitals? Fine, don't do it, I'm not making you. Now, pass me that razor blade...

No. Nonono. Ethical relativism FTL. The morality of an action does not depend on the identity of the agent. It lies in the eye of the beholder.

Asking pro-lifers not to be idiots, and to get their ethical principles self-consistent is one thing.

But asking them to simply abandon their ethics, to stand by and not even say anything while (what they perceive as) atrocities are being committed?

Fuck no. I wouldn't stand for that, and neither would anyone here, I hope. Anyone tried that with me, I'd hit them.

I don't think the world is made a better place by encouraging people not to do what they believe to be right. By all means encourage them to change what they believe, but don't ask them to simply turn a blind eye.

And yes, personal feelings of yuckiness. I agree, the Argument From Ick is stupid and needs to be combated, but I think it's important to acknowledge that outrage and approval are inherently emotional responses.

Ones that we carefully tune and cultivate to be utterly compelling, and often according to a rational heuristic - but at heart, morality is something you feel first, and justify second. If it weren't, I don't think it would have much effect on people's behaviour.

As such, when dealing with misplaced outrage, I think it's foolish to try and do so without treating it as an emotion-wrangling exercise.

If you don't push the right buttons, the system won't respond the way you want it to. Just because the system is made of people and memes, doesn't change the principle one little bit. It's no good pushing the wrong button harder - you need to do what works.

By His Noodly Appendage (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

Carlie wrote:

Not comparable though, as I'm sure you know. Financial obligation is a far cry from forced gestation.

Agree 100%.

I would, however, love for there to be a non-permanent, 100% effective form of male contraception to make sure guys are able to take complete responsibility from their end and remove the problem entirely.

Had such a thing existed in the past I might not have ended up ending relationships (at least partly) because of my inability to bring up the topic of birth control and subsequently being filled with so much fear about an accident that I couldn't sleep at night for worrying.

By WowbaggerOM (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

Carlie:

Financial obligation is a far cry from forced gestation.

Yes it is. It shouldn't be diminished though. To me, it just emphasizes the need for greater access and affordability when it comes to BC, and education, education, education. The attitude towards sex in the U.S. is so incredibly backwards, and the years of abstinence only ed has done a lot of damage.

By Caine, Fleur du mal (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

Wowbagger,

However, since it's come up, it is a fact that if the woman chooses not to abort and keep the eventual child, the woman is technically getting to control the man's body by being able to force him work to provide for the child even if he doesn't want to.

In the USA no one can force the man to work to pay child support. Remaining officially unemployed is one of the many ways to escape paying child support over here. A friend of mine had a horrible time getting child support from her ex-husband because he just kept quitting his crappy jobs as soon as the paperwork went through to garnish his wages. Remaining officially unemployed may not be the most attractive option, but it does mean you don't have to pay child support. Sucks.

By Pygmy Loris (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

I laughed at this when I watched it so I just had to share. I have Ni Hao, Kai Lan on with my daughter watching as I make dinner for us and the message today is "Everyone is happy when they get a choice". No worries though she's not attached, addicted or watching that much T.V. Its just on as a pre-dinner treat and a distraction so I don't step on her while cooking. lol

By JustALurker (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

I certainly don't plan to.

Not up to you, man. That was a plea to the ECO.

By Sven DiMilo (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

ECO? Since people have already started talking about it there and was asked not to, I was just saying I wasn't going to be doing that. Did I misinterpret what you where talking about? My apologies for making myself look like an ass, I know I'm not that important and don't get to make the decision for everybody else.

By JustALurker (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

Skatje,

I read your comments and all the replies over the last two evenings, and you've shown tremendous privilege. You have had a sheltered, comfortable life, and the evidence of that oozes from your every post. Denial of the facts won't change that. Further, people have repeatedly asked you to justify your anti-woman, slut-shaming position, but you have repeatedly refused to address why you think fetuses (and yes they're fetuses, not babies) deserve to leech off of another human being against her will. Saying she asked for it by having sex is a ridiculous and by definition sexist position.

If you have reasons besides "abortion makes me uneasy for indeterminate reasons related to fetus babies" that you have thought through, then it should not take you that long to post them in a few comments. You have not despite the opportunity to do so. Therefore, I have to conclude that you're running your mouth about things you haven't really thought through. Maybe instead of being condescending (the sob stories quote, really?) towards the people who choose to put themselves out there and engage you with the reality of your "philosophical debate" you could actually do some thinking and form some arguments that are not clearly anti-woman and unsound.

Here's a question for you to consider. Others have pointed out that the risk of death during an abortion procedure (even late term abortions) is lower than that of labor and delivery. You claim you would never choose abortion. If you were pregnant with a severely anacephalic fetus, would you get an abortion. The fetus has no chance of surviving outside of the uterus regardless of medical intervention, but an abortion is a volitional act that will actively kill the fetus. OTOH, it's safer for you and carrying the fetus to term will not change its life-outcome. What would you do?

Since you say you would get an abortion to save your life, I have to ask if you know how many doctors are trained to perform abortions for women whose lives are at risk from the pregnancy, particularly late-term abortions. There are fewer and fewer every year. The ones who are still practicing are also older and not being replaced by new doctors. Limiting abortion will result in even fewer doctors trained in providing this kind of life-saving care. In your hypothetical world without elective abortion, or even abortion for the health of the woman, getting an abortion when your life is at risk would be very difficult, and less safe.

By Pygmy Loris (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

@ 734:
I did mention in the first post that not only is ovulation inhibited, but also fertilization. Chronologically, first you have to ovulate, which is inhibited under both medications, then you have to get fertilized, which is inhibited under both medications, and THEN implantation is inhibited, on the off chance that you need that. Although it's not the primary purpose of either OC or Plan B, it could theoretically happen. Mainly, I was annoyed that people were saying they were different, which they aren't, they have pretty much the same mechanisms. It isn't one preventing ovulation and one preventing implantation. I'm sorry it wasn't clear, and I'm extra sorry, but also a little annoyed, if I set off crazy-troll alarms.

Because the two medications inhibit ovulation so well, and then after that inhibit fertilization, no one has caught a video of a blastocyst bouncing off the wall of a contraceptived uterus. Also, it would affect too few people to pick up in a study, unless you wanted to have a really really big study, and those are always about omg bloodclots. I was actually disappointed not to find a study that could say "x people ovulated, x-y people got fertilized, but only x-y-z people got preggers which means there MUST BE ANOTHER MECHANISM!!!!" Apparently it's hard to separate the anti-fertilization effects from the anti-implantation ones. But it is very well established that your endometrium is different on oral contraceptives, and lacks the lining that your body normally preps for being cannibalized (assuming "you" are female and have a fertile uterus). I have a few studies that say this:

"Hormonal Pathology of the Endometrium," in Modern Pathology, 2000, March, 13(3): 285-94

"Oral contraceptives exert a predominant progestational effect on the endometrium, inducing an arrest of glandular proliferation, pseudosecretion, and stromal edema followed by decidualized stroma with granulocytes and thin sinusoidal blood vessels. Prolonged use results in progressive endometrial atrophy."

(Normally, you have a lot of glandular proliferation and secretion of stuff a ball of cells would enjoy endocytosing. And large twisty blood vessels. Dinky decidualization and thin blood vessels are kind of like the uterus thinking it's traveling towards pregnancy but ending up in Idaho. Which we all know is barren.

Even perfect use of hormone oral contraceptives has a fail rate, which means that it's not impossible to have implantation. But it's plausible that it's less likely, and that's not just anti-choice people.)

"The effect of oral contraceptive pills on markers of endometrial receptivity" in Fertility and Sterility, 1996, March 65(3) 484-8

"These alterations in epithelial and stromal integrin expression suggest that impaired uterine receptivity is one mechanism whereby OCs exert their contraceptive actions."

"Effects of contraceptive agents on the biochemical and protein composition of human endometrium." in Contraception, 1980, Oct 22(4): 425-40

"Therefore, it is concluded that both types of contraception induce changes in the macromolecular composition of human endometrium, and that these changes may be related to their contraceptive modes of action."

("Both types" refer to IUD and OC)

And this one doesn't really make my point about available oral contraceptives, but some people worked on making a once-a-month birth control pill that would prevent implantation and not ovulation, so that lack of a secretory lining does matter to real scientists who aren't all like "Blarrgh!" about very small amounts of human tissue:

"A single dose of mifepristone (200 mg) in the immediate preovulatory phase offers contraceptive potential without cycle disruption." in Contraception, 2003, Sep 68(3):203-9

"If given in the early luteal phase, the formation of a secretory endometrium is inhibited or delayed and implantation of the embryo prevented."

Carlie #750

I'm really uncomfortable with calling anyone "smackworthy", much less a 19 year old female. I overlooked it the first time, but it keeps being repeated. And it's bad.

I am sincerely sorry I am making you uncomfortable. In my defence, I did make it clear the very first time I used the term that this is what I would say to anyone who used phrases such as "it's YOUR fault" and "Sooooo many anecdotal sob stories". Moreover, Skatje Myers herself is burning with indignation towards those who take her youth into account when responding to her.

'Tis Himself #805

Multiple Scattering Parameterization in Thermal Imagery?

I wish I had thought of that.

By somewhereingreece (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

Pygmy @ #830

It's the same here in Australia ( trust me, I've had to go head to head with a ton of these type of bastards when I was practicing family law). NO one can "force" you to work. Albeit you do have to "prove" you're "looking" for work on a fortnightly basis or you'll lose your dole money. Needless to say these "proofs" are not hard to come by and can be as lenient as stating you've loked in the paper and there's nothing there. Having said that,evem on the dole, you still have to pay the minimum child support patyment which is a measly fucking $5, or thereabouts, a week.

Fortunately most men ( and increasingly women as family shapes change) have the intestinal fortitude to know it is the CHILD that the support is for and THEY are the one suffering if they don't pay it, not the ex-spouse whom they are just trying to score petty revenge points off.

..ah, I don't miss family law at all, funnily enough.

By Bride of Shrek OM (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

@691, of course I understand that in real life the demand for elective post twenty weeks abortion is slim to none and that the women that do have these procedures in reality almost exclusively have health risks or fetal disability which is incompatible with life. I did specifically point out, however, an ability to survive outside the womb and the scenario was one in which there were not compelling health concerns for other procedures. So, we are talking about nonmedically nessecary elective abortions after 22 weeks or so (which is only legal in one state in the US up to 24, so yeah, this would be an increase in legal ability to remove the fetus, not a decrease at least in the US). Why is abortion ethical? That's the key question. It is ethical because a person has an absolute right to deny useage of their body to another, not because a fetus never becomes a person (embryos are definitely not people, newborn infants definitely are, there is some point in between where they pass that threshold), but because a person does not get to demand a right to use another's body. Now, I would generally hold a viable fetus to be a person, though, like any other person, it does not hold the right to nonconsensually use another's body. So, the woman maintains the right to exercise bodily sovereignty by removing it. However, if there is a method which does not risk her health wherein she may exercise her right and the fetus is free to survive if it can, this is the best method. The woman's rights are not being violated because no one is using her body without consent. Consider a case of surrogacy. A couple contracts a surrogate who becomes pregnant with their biological child. Then, the husband dies and the wife decides she does not want a child any longer. The state in which they live gives legal rights and responsibilities to the biological parents, not the surrogate. Surely, this woman does not have the right to coerce the surrogate to abort or to kill the born infant to refuse parental responsibility, despite the fact that she no longer wants the child and will suffer emotionally from its birth. She does, however, have the right to give up her legal rights over the child after birth, as would a woman who removed her viable fetus.

As to the issue of forced delivery, the medical procedure most commonly used for an abortion at this stage involves dilation of the cerivix and vaginal delivery, either in whole or in pieces. An intact D&E only requires a few less centimeters of dilation compared to a birth, but with a nonviable fetus, there is no reason to bother with the extra dilation (also, with the major health problems usually occuring in these cases, sometimes extra dilation involves health risk, but again, that would be a health reason). That fetus has to be removed somehow, and vaginally is the most common way of doing that in late term abortions, so a vaginal removal of a live fetus rather than a dead one is not a compelling distinction.

Also, while we do need better social support for infants and children with disabilites, this is not justification to suggest that such a life is not worth living.

By https://me.yah… (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

Two things:
* Value accrues as the fetus develops; but women who don't want to be pregnant have abortions, if possible, before that value is significant. If you think this needs to be externally enforced in any way except by making safe abortions available, you are not trusting women to be adult moral agents.
* We don't normally force people to risk their lives. (Drafted military service under some conditions is an exception.) By forcing a woman to continue a pregnancy instead of taking the safer abortion, you are forcing her to risk her life against her will. It's unethical.

OT, but: Bride of Shrek, did you get my email the other day?

Sadly, the "let her suffer" tone of some posts reminds me of a teenage girl who was murdered in St. Catharines several years ago by Paul Bernardo and his wife, who acted as a Judas goat in luring girls close enough to be abducted. One of their victims had missed her curfew, so when she came home later her mother locked her out of the house to drive home the lesson that it was dangerous to stay out late.

skatje.myers and anyone else who would like to know what anti-abortion, anti-choice "pro-lifers" really think and do when it comes to their own choices and uteruses (uterii?) should read http://mypage.direct.ca/w/writer/anti-tales.html because I believe it will open your eyes.

This is at the end of a long thread, I would not be surprised if it sank into the mire that is the internet without notice, which would be sad, but it is important that it get read.

Oh, Walton, sorry honey, I did and it's very rude of me to have not replied but I've been crazy busy. I'll send you and email later on tonight after my little "treasures" are in bed.

By Bride of Shrek OM (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

Well, I've arrived late to a great discussion, as usual. I'd say I found this thread "entertaining," if it weren't such a weighty topic... I'll stick with "fascinating."

I thoroughly enjoyed the sudden appearance of Skatje, and was pretty surprised by the viciousness/rudeness of subsequent attacks on her position, which I found to be far more well-reasoned/-supported than most gave her credit for.... Some Skatje quotes I loved:

"This is a matter of people PLAYING THE ODDS, intentionally....Either take the gamble, knowing that it might end with unintended consequences, or learn to appreciate oral sex more."

"I have no sympathy for "BUT I DIDNT MEAN TO" when you know your method could very well end up this way. it's not an excuse."

"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."

I also note with amusement that by the wee hours of Monday morning, the conversation had largely devolved into what Skatje aptly termed a "pissfest," as often seems to happen here.

Question for PZ (or perhaps a fellow commenter, who could direct me to previous statements by PZ on the topic): As you are a biologist intimately familiar with embryonic development, I'm very curious where you'd place full "personhood."

Obviously, no one (except the "crazy people") can claim that the line is anything but fuzzy. But if you *had* to place a line somewhere -- "at this point the developing human is certainly a person, and deserves the protection of the law" -- where would it be? Upon the emergence of what characteristics, either before birth, or even *after* birth, as you hinted in comment #348?

"Sooooo many anecdotal sob stories".

No, Skatje, real-life stories, as it is clear that your stance is purely theoretical, with no thought given to reality and no ability to empathise with others who are not in your position.

If your childhood was, indeed, not "privileged" by having two parents in the same middle-class household, access to higher education, a father who allows you to post ideas antithetical to his own without censoring you, and who has, on multiple occasions indicated his pride in you - and on at least one occasion, loosed a blast at people who would harass you for his thoughts and actions - well, why don't you tell us about it? All the evidence, including your own posts on your blog, indicate that your life has been and will continue to be a hell of a lot easier than many of your peers and that you have no concept of what hell life could be for a pregnant teen, much less for a pregnant woman. That's why people have been trying to get you to understand by telling you stories of real life. Not theoretical, not philosophical, but real life.

We aren't denying that you're capable of sympathy, but pointing out that you quite obviously don't have the life experience to understand what others lives can be like. I'm old enough to remember pre-Roe v. Wade times and what it was like for women. I worked in a hospital whilst at university and there were far too many women brought in haemorrhaging after a botched abortion. Whether you like it or not, whether it is legal or not, there will always be abortions. If, indeed, you truly value life, consider that women who are reduced to seeking an illegal abortion are far more likely to die or suffer hysterectomies or become unable to have wanted children - well, you should have a vested interest in keeping abortion legal and safe, whether you would ever have one or not..

Should there be better sex-ed and availability of contraception and more research into safer and more successful contraception? Of course - but there will always be glitches, be it a condom breaking or that tummy flu last month throwing off the effectiveness of an oral contraceptive. Your rather glib suggestion that people practice oral sex rather than intercourse is simply silly; that's not how life works in adult relationships.

Telling those who critique your worldview to 'Fuck off' is immature and only leads people to further discount your thought processes. Five year olds argue by trading potty-mouth insults; adults should know better.

By DominEditrix (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

Although it's not the primary purpose of either OC or Plan B, it could theoretically happen. Mainly, I was annoyed that people were saying they were different, which they aren't, they have pretty much the same mechanisms.

But they are different. Estrogens and progestins have opposing mechanisms of action, and Plan B is only progestin. That means that the action is different than in combination BC. One of the effects of progestins is to help out the whole implantation process. It can increase the lifespan of blastocysts, which gives them more time to implant, it and sets off the change in the endometrium to be implantable. That's why there's a huge progesterone spike right after ovulation. Plan B is only progestin, and in the studies I cited yesterday it didn't inhibit implantation rates at all. If there's a fertilized egg there, all Plan B does is help jump-start the pregnancy.

I also note with amusement that by the wee hours of Monday morning, the conversation had largely devolved into what Skatje aptly termed a "pissfest," as often seems to happen here.

Where on earth do you see that? This has been one of the least pissy threads I've ever seen.

The thing about Skatje that probably depresses me the most (and yes, I'm trying to avoid fixating on the whole thing because it's not healthy) is that my partner is a philosophy major. And my partner is a wonderful person and philosophy as a degree and an institution has produced so many wonderful thinkers who do not try and shut their brains off to reality and facts in order to protect their nice clean theories and deep thoughts.

And yet, I keep running into members of this alternate crew of philosophy types. Religious freaks who try and hide their God in philosophical tautologies, conservative activists who learn philosophy for no other reason than to practice arguing in bad faith or otherwise derail any argument, people who think the major in and of itself means they are the only people who think, and yes, people, like Skatje who use it to trick themselves into supporting base bigoted positions and very unscientific views of important issues and still feel smarter than everyone else.

And these people really bother me, because not only are they often annoying and wrong and the worst types of people to debate (because they are often high-school debate club, argue to win types, fans of devil's advocate assholes), but because they are so abusing the major that is so important to the most important person in my life.

Skatje in general, well, it always sucks that someone who should know better doesn't and it always sucks when a woman of the generation that should know better seems just as susceptible to the "bitch shouldn't have spread her legs" type arguments. But I said way back in comment 48 that all the arguments end up in a handful of arguments. That Skatje ended up at #1 is not surprising. Furthermore, I have no doubt that if someone was to tease her super-secret philosophical reasoning for her position and why a fetus needs to be granted rights granted to no living full human being and why a woman needs to be denied fundamental human rights, we'd find out her argument would be a very haughty version of #3 (existential anxiety makes me anxious, thus women need to suffer).

Thing is, it's not really worth hammering too much on the Skatje thing. It's disappointing, yes, that someone with all of her privileges would turn up with views like these, but really, these views are not going to last long.

The thing about "I would never have an abortion, personally" types when they are fertile heterosexual women? Is that real life experience intervenes eventually to really make people who stumbled on that idea casually rethink things.

Sure, when we're thinking about how cute babies are and we're patting ourselves on the back about how diligently we use multiple forms of birth control and how we'd never be stupid like those sluts, it's easy to use it as a feel-good sort of clutch.

And then, an abusive boyfriend happens who keeps trying to forget his condom or a pregnancy scare will occur at a bad time, or a real pregnancy that just can't be handled without ruining one's entire life and the potential life of the fetus if you carried it to term. Or even they maybe make it to the point where they want to have kids and something goes so horribly wrong that they need to have an abortion of a wanted pregnancy.

And if not all that, then definitely one of the above for a close friend, another one of the "good girls" who's scared and frightened about what is happening to her.

Philosophical ideals based on a hunch may fuel some self-righteousness over the "sluts", but they tend to get hammered down by life when you're personally in the demographic that gets "punished" by things like this.

So, I doubt Skatje is long for her ill-reasoned self-righteousness. And really, weren't we all at some point annoying little shits growing up? I wrote a play in high school that had some serious Nice Guy TM elements including a throwaway line attacking feminism because I was too stupid at the time to know that my belief structure at the time was proto-feminist.

And I sincerely believe that each new generation, though we may all go through our fits and starts growing up and individual members may go astray, is on whole better than the generation previous. That they grow up with less baggage and will fight and win for advances that confer less baggage to their kids on average.

When the anti-choice brigade began, we had just begun the war on rape and for the idea of bodily autonomy. Men believed we had made up the right out of whole-cloth in order to ban all sex (because only men like sex, women are just there to delay or avoid it and be seduced by masculinity or so went the theory). Nowadays, we've made some strong gains and maybe another generation, we all will release that the whole issue of fetal viability is pretty well moot over the inherent rights of bodily autonomy (no grown human has the right to use someone else's body without their consent, the same is true of miracle potential life made of fucking magnets).

The fight is slow and long, but we are winning, brick by brick, piece by piece, struggle by struggle.

And to the late-comers who want to debate viability. Its moot. No fully viable human being, no matter how awesome has the right to use another person's body to survive. If all I need from you is a blood transfusion. I do not have the right to force you to give it to me. No matter how pure and good and worthy of life I am, no matter how cruel and evil and worthy of death you are. If I'm Richard Dawkins and you're Dick Cheney? No go. And just like sex, that consent isn't a universal for all time at the moment of penetration. I can withdraw the right of sex at any time and you don't have the right to continue, neither does magical magnet babies.

The fact that anti-choicers are also wrong about the point of viability and the potentiality of having a consciousness denoting personhood in the science is sort of the icing on the fail cake.

In fact, the fact that these arguments do not matter, gets at the heart that it's all the reasons I listed at my comment @48 and the universal dismissal of women, especially regarding the right to sex on equal terms of men that's the big sticking point.

As such, I'm more than happy to reiterate that I'll be happy to support continued roll-backs on abortion rights if penetration with a penis carried a 10-20 jail sentence for endangerment. Want to make penetrative sex a "punishment" for women or want to ignore women in pregnancy? Then men can learn to use strap-ons and start "enjoying more oral" as Skatje's inane argument went.

827: The general form "If you find X immoral, simply avoid doing X, and STFU" goes plenty of places you really don't want it to go.

Excellent point.

Some years ago I took another look at the Lincoln-Douglas debates in this context and was struck by how close some of the arguments seemed to be to some of those surrounding abortion. As I recall, Douglas kept coming back to the idea (although he didn't use contemporary language) that the slavers saw things differently and that the abolishionists should not be trying to impose their morality on them, especially since the slavers' rights in this regard were granted by the Constitution. In that instance, at least (and in my view), it was a morality that needed to be imposed and was, though far too late, rightly imposed.

justalurker said:

"This point as been made before but let me reiterate, the fetus is not a person and even if it was no fucking person on the plant has the right to use my body to survive without my permission. My body, my right, my permission. period. "

Do you feel it is ethical to preserve this right at all times during your pregnancy?

Let's say a woman gets pregnant, wants the baby, and then, during delivery she changes her mind, and says "You know, this parasite no longer has my permission to reside in my body and has, therefore, no right to live . Since it is still inside my body, kill it."

Please don't avoid the question of whether that would ethical by simply arguing it is unlikely.

By Gingerbaker (not verified) on 20 Apr 2010 #permalink

Can anyone tell me if they are enforcing Jewish males to remove their skullcaps?

In public schools Yes.

By negentropyeater (not verified) on 20 Apr 2010 #permalink

Let's say a woman gets pregnant, wants the baby, and then, during delivery she changes her mind, and says "You know, this parasite no longer has my permission to reside in my body and has, therefore, no right to live . Since it is still inside my body, kill it."

Sheesh. OK, despite the idiocy of this strawman, I'll bite.

I assume you've never been present at a birth.

At the point of actual delivery, no one is in a position to change things. What would the doctor/midwife/nurse do differently at that point? Remember, whatever their personal beliefs about fetuses are, they're professionally prohibited from endangering the woman's life (unless it's a Catholic hospital...don't get me started on that side argument!). And if the pregnant woman were somehow able to hold the fetus in one position in the birth canal for an extended length of time (HAH!!), it's not like she can force the fetus to suffocate because it's not breathing yet anyway. Yes, obviously, fetuses do die in the birth canal in cases where delivery goes on too long, but that's because there are legitimate problems, not because the woman willed herself to keep the baby inside.

There is no difference to the physical health of the woman at that point (pregnancy vs. abortion), because any of the medical risks of pregnancy have already happened. If pre-eclampsia occurs, the medical staff would deal with it as they normally do. The woman's feelings about the baby (pro or con) don't enter into the medical procedures at that point.

Believe me, once you're in the delivery stage, things move quickly and there isn't time for intellectual discussion. Everyone is focused on GET.THE.BABY.OUT.

Who cares for it after it's born is open to discussion.

Let's say a woman gets pregnant, wants the baby, and then, during delivery she changes her mind, and says "You know, this parasite no longer has my permission to reside in my body and has, therefore, no right to live . Since it is still inside my body, kill it."

No she does not, and never had, the right to say "kill it". What she does say is "remove it from my body". It is just that most abortions are performed at a time when removing it necessarily kills it.

And FU anyway, it is not just "unlikely" but fucking absurd and does nothing to advance the discussion about the ethics of abortion. It is a trick to try to get people to either be inconsistent or "monstrous".

chgo_liz,

My question is not about the exigencies and mechanics of birth.

I am just wondering if the people here who use the argument that the woman has ultimate ownership rights of her body believe - as justalurker seems to be doing -this should hold at ALL times of the pregnancy - including late-stage. My scenario was to illustrate the problem, as I see it, with an absolutist argument.

By Gingerbaker (not verified) on 20 Apr 2010 #permalink

her mother locked her out of the house to drive home the lesson that it was dangerous to stay out late.

<headdesk>

This is the point where we should start to punish stupidity.

uteruses (uterii?)

Uteri. -us, -i; -ius, -ii.

By David Marjanović (not verified) on 20 Apr 2010 #permalink

What if it was just born, and the mother grabs it and shoves it back in, then can she have an abortion?

No, Gingerbaker, your scenario did nothing of the sort to "illustrate the problem", it's as ridiculous and impossible of a hypothetical as what I just wrote.

Gingerbaker and robocop-

What part of no fully formed, living, existing, actual, non-theoretical full human being with full real human rights do not have the right to another person's body without their consent, is too obtuse to you morons.

But, but, the margins. The magic is in the margins.

The margins are a false game.

Yeah, it's absurd that you want to extend this non-precedented right (oh yeah, unprecedented except as you know slavery or the role of women as a male's property in times gone past) to growing fetal matter with no potentiality of consciousness, but even if every single miracle fucking magnet baby instantly got the brain of Einstein at the moment an egg's perimeter was breached, it wouldn't change a goddamn thing.

No one, no real actual human has this right. None. Nor should they.

Yet, you want us to grant this non-existant right to something that might only possibly be a human being if we stand on one leg and sort of squint?!?

And you want us to believe that you are at all not arguing from the standpoint of one of the women-dismissive arguments I listed way back at comment 48?

Allow me to scoff.

This among other reasons is why I hate anti-choicers and everyone who wants to "be fair to them".

And before you even start, no, infants do not have that right either. A parent has full right to abandon them at any point. They may be forced to pay child support or serve jail time depending on the method of abandonment, but they are not forced at any time to raise the child, nor can anyone even think of charging them with any form of crime if they should refuse to donate organs or blood to keep an infant alive.

It is an unprecedented right that those easily-swayed to dismiss women find satisfying that they think should only apply to the pre-born and at the expense of the already living.

Madness, stupidity, evil.

Gingerbaker, read SteveM @ #856 again.

I'm aborting you. Yay for killfile.

@scooterKPFT #822: The thread will probably be aborted soon to preserve the life of the server.

By Naked Bunny wi… (not verified) on 20 Apr 2010 #permalink

Cerberus:

"What part of no fully formed, living, existing, actual, non-theoretical full human being with full real human rights do not have the right to another person's body without their consent, is too obtuse to you morons."

Wipe the spittle off your monitor. It is impeding your ability to write a coherent sentence.

Cerberus:

"Yet, you want us to grant this non-existant right to something that might only possibly be a human being if we stand on one leg and sort of squint?!?"

I said any such thing. I'm not antichoice. Pay attention. You sound like a raving maniac.

I am simply wondering - for the third time - if the people who use the argument that a woman has ownership of her body during pregnancy believe that that this interest is absolute at all times, or whether they also believe that at some point the state has an interest in preserving the interests of the fetus.

By Gingerbaker (not verified) on 20 Apr 2010 #permalink

Carlie-

Ooh ooh, what if she used a super future beam to turn a fetus into a theoretical 18 year old fully formed adult man in front of her that was fully autonomous and then she attached a robo-umbilical cord into his neck and started stabbing him with a knife because she's a feminist and thus hates babies and men screaming "smothering femininity will kill the man-sperm triumphant" right before going to her daily Wiccan orgies where she will try to get knocked up to repeat this action before the next day.

What about then? Uppity women? Does that margin mean something gets to trump your "body autonomy" and thus enshrine a clear reduction of women in comparison to men? Oh, no? Can I try another bullshit argument? How about now?

But how can you be so mean? We're only talking about beautiful bouncing BABEEZ, after all. Why do feminists like slaughtering infants?

Gingerbaker-

Reduced for your reading comprehension.

No one has the right to another person's body for any reason.

Period.

Not to live.

Not if there survival depends on it.

No reason.

Not if the other person is a monster.

Not if the other person will die tomorrow anyways.

No reason.

No one has this right.

No full formed, fully human person has this right. From cute innocent infants to Most Giving Humanitarians to the Greatest Minds of our Generations.

No one has this right.

But you keep arguing "for" anti-choicers and ask us to really dig deep and play by their rules and ignore this unfortunate reality.

We can't.

It doesn't matter when a fetus is "viable". It does not have a right to survive with someone else's body without their consent.

Is this simple enough?

Do I need to use smaller words?

And gosh, women having their very humanity reduced and asked to consider losing basic human rights that often come at the cost of their very lives.

Gosh, I wonder why some of us may be spittle-flecked.

Oh, I know, I must be on my period again.

GB, check the real reasons for third trimester abortions. Then get back to us. Your game is played by the anti-choice folks to get us to move. We won't move. Which is why you are getting the response you are. If we were talking in private, your response might be different.

By Nerd of Redhead, OM (not verified) on 20 Apr 2010 #permalink

Cerberus:

"Is this simple enough?"

Yes. "Simple" is exactly the word that comes to mind.

Nerd of Redhead:

"Your game is played by the anti-choice folks to get us to move."

This "game" as you put it, is also played by Planned Parenthood and anyone who supports Roe v. Wade. Rowe balances two competing interests: a woman's autonomy over her body and the life of a viable fetus. It seems to me to be a pretty good compromise, an argument that is bolstered by the rarity of third-trimester abortion.

I find the position of Cerberus et al, who - if I understand them correctly - are unwilling to concede the state any reasonable interest to protect the life of a viable fetus to be astonishing.

By Gingerbaker (not verified) on 20 Apr 2010 #permalink

@Gingerbaker: How is killing the baby during delivery going to get it out of the body faster? It's a stupid question.

But yes, even in the last month of pregnancy, a woman has the right to terminate her pregnancy. It's just that by that point, induced labor or a cesarean are usually perfectly acceptable methods for doing so, for both the mother and child.

Cerberus @ 864:

But how can you be so mean? We're only talking about beautiful bouncing BABEEZ, after all. Why do feminists like slaughtering infants?

Because they taste good and make wonderful roasts.

*I see Gingerbaker is being every bit the assclown. I sees 'em, I call 'em.

By Caine, Fleur du mal (not verified) on 20 Apr 2010 #permalink

Gingerbaker.

If Richard Dawkins needs a blood transfusion from Dick Cheney to live. To survive. He does not get to have it if Dick Cheney refuses consent. If Cheney gives consent and Dawkins makes all the effort to get himself prepped and Dick Cheney decides to withdraw consent at the last minute, Richard Dawkins is shit out of luck and gets to die.

These are the laws and rights extended to fully born, full humans.

This isn't simplicity. This is the rights as granted about the value of the right to bodily autonomy versus the value of the right to live.

What your "thought experiment" and "gotcha game" amount to is trying to call those who acknowledge this reality child-murderers for not being willing to bend on this and grant this unprecedented right to something that isn't even remotely human for most of its development and only mostly human in late development (most of the important higher brain functions actually develop post-birth in the first year of an infant's life).

The compromise as went in Roe was made at a time when we were still in the thick of it fighting for a basic recognition of a woman's right to exist and to be considered a full human being. Of course it overbalances. Because the idea that a woman as separate from every human back then had a right to bodily autonomy was starkly new to the even more sexist culture we lived in.

Oh, yeah, we also do balance those two very well as SteveM @856 noted.

The way things work is to prevent a literal slavery. No one can hold you down and force you to give them your organs. No one can hold you down and rape you. No one has a right to your body and your labor without consent not even to survive, not even for a good cause.

It's the most important aspect of your rights to swing your fist end at my face. And yet for something that is clearly less than human, we demand the right to ignore this critical fundamental human right and pretend that it is somehow different from anything else suffered in the real world.

Today, a man will die, needing an organ or blood transfusion from a family member who will refuse to give it for one reason or another. They only needed it to survive and they will cease to be. A full real human being. Not an argument, not a philosophical margin definition game, people. Real people.

We still do not violate that fundamental human right. And this balance is fair and right. While we may all have certain rights when we are actually human persons, we do not have the right to those rights at the forced expense of another.

Parents who wish to leave their responsibility can give up children to adoption. No one has the right to a specific parent. People who want to fuck someone must first acquire their consent, we do not have a right to fuck a specific person without consent. People who want to live can seek a consensual donor, we do not have a right to take someone's blood, organs, or other tissues without their permission.

This is the right that trumps all others at least in the age post-slavery and it is good this right does so, because it is critical for us to plan and live our lives without fear of being highjacked.

So yeah, 9 months of pregnancy where your own body is leeching the very calcium from your bones and teeth, compromising your own immune system, blocking your full range of motion, draining your nutrients, leaving long-lasting damage on your body?

For something that is not even remotely a full human being? Because anti-choicers claim their hatred of women is just a concern about "balancing" the right to live with a woman's right to body autonomy in a way wholly different than we balance that right with full real human beings?

Yeah, no.

I'm sorry. I know you really really need this moment of dominance, but you're recycling garbage and its really on you to take a good long look at why you are so dismissive of the basic humanity of women that you would deny them this critical human right in your argumentation.

I don't mean in life, I mean in your argument. What does it say about you that you need to argue the margins and pretend like there is some point, some force where a fetus can gain rights and powers given to no other human being in the planet and women must suffer the loss of rights only lost by those currently being raped and slaves.

The right to bodily autonomy trumps the right to life. Every time in our society. No one can be compelled to risk themselves to save another. No one can be compelled to even give a non-essential bit of themselves to save another.

This isn't ideals, this isn't crazy feminist talk, this is the basic rights of man.

@robocop, the difference here is that abolitionist did not commonly secretly own slaves (and that they had more to their argument than "I think slavery is icky"), whereas anti-choice women are not actually less likely to get abortions (in the US at least). As anyone who has worked or volunteered long term at a clinic will tell you, the women who protest against abortion outside will come in for their own abortions before rejoining the picket lines. Anti-choice women see themselves as the exception, they aren't irresponsible sluts like the rest of the women who get abortions, no they deserve abortions because they are good girls with troubles. Here's a collection of some provider stories http://www.dailykos.com/story/2007/7/22/9334/83825
Dr. Warren Hern, one of the few doctors who provides life saving late term abortion was actually sued for refusing to perform an abortion for a woman who called him a murderer and said that she hoped he was was killed by anti-abortion groups while she was in the clinic to have her abortion.

That said, I have alway preferred to use the slogan "If you can't trust me with a choice how can you trust me with a child?" Because, you know, those women that anti-choicers consider to be heartless, slutty bitches are expected to birth and raise these children.

By https://me.yah… (not verified) on 20 Apr 2010 #permalink

Caine:

"*I see Gingerbaker is being every bit the assclown. I sees 'em, I call 'em. "

And you're still a putz.

By Gingerbaker (not verified) on 20 Apr 2010 #permalink

@Gingerbaker #869:

Unless we are talking about a totalitarian state where all children are soldiers, or soldiers' mothers in potentia, the state has no interest in viable fetuses. What it does have interest in is having children born to families who want them in as great a percentage as possible, for these would be children less likely to be at risk, therefore less likely to put a strain in social services.

The delivery room argument is, to put it plainly, ridiculous. In a country where there is access to abortion, the mothers who want to kill their child in the delivery room are most likely psychiatric patients, like Andrea Yates, who need help and the child out as fast as possible. There is no way you can call the woman in this situation capable of making informed decisions.

It has been said before. Women who have third trimester abortions are carrying wanted children who are either setting their life in danger or have debilitating diseases and each and every case is tragic. This is not the droid you are looking for.

By somewhereingreece (not verified) on 20 Apr 2010 #permalink

Gingerbaker, you know that late term abortions are not being performed for frivolous reasons.

So you can quit lying by implying otherwise.

By strange gods b… (not verified) on 20 Apr 2010 #permalink

OT

On a completely separate issue, arguing tired shit like this, makes me just say, "Fuck Children."

Seriously, every damn issue about minorities having basic human rights triggers the supremacist brigade to start hiding behind the children.

Gay people want to get married.

But, then my child might learn about gay people existing and may ask uncomfortable questions about how they do it! Ban it!

Trans people want to use the restroom.

Where my child will have her underwear off in close proximity to them and protected by privacy walls? No thank you. You freaks can pee at home.

Women want the basic human rights afforded to men.

Baby-killers (abortion)! What about your children? You're abandoning them (working outside the home). You're going to teach my child to become a slut (sex-education, contraception, STD testing, HPV Vaccine).

Blacks want equality and to be treated as full human beings.

You all are "bad influences" on my children. We need to get these people off the airwaves. Plus, you curse sometimes. Bad influences! Bad influences! Also scary and dangerous (falling into less use these days but an old favorite).

Recent Immigrants from Spanish-speaking countries would like their children to have some help acclimating to english-speaking schools so they can get a full education.

You're planning on stealing education resources from my children for this. Learn English if you want to live here!

People want to depict what actual life looks like on the media programs.

My kid could see it, ban it, ban it, ban it! Inappropriate for children.

Etc...

Every damn issue, this crap. But the children. And what's worse is that for most of it, the kids don't actually give a damn. Sexual innuendo flies over the heads of those too young. Kids can grasp people who are different than them apparently easier than their parents. And kids viscerally understand and suffer when it is clear they are unwanted or viewed as a punishment. Much less when they are used as a sex object by a family member or trusted church official.

And the same people block laws that protect actual born children "for the children".

It just makes me go, "fuck the damn children already".

Minor quibble with Skatje's response to 'the argument that you should provide evidence'.

Actually, I said "If you have no evidence, you have no ground to wave away anecdotes". I'm alright with you not having evidence on a matter of ethics, but you don't get to take the refuge of the rational (The plural of data is not anecdotes) if you do not provide actual data. You do not get to use the word 'anecdote' as a means to dismiss things htat are uncomfortable for your argument if you can not at least say, with clear evidence supporting you "Yes, but..."

If all you have is philosophy, you can pretty much shut the hell up and listen to what happens because of your philosophy.

By Rutee, Shrieki… (not verified) on 20 Apr 2010 #permalink

Cerberus, no hating on the children. They *have* the sense they were born with.

I think "fuck the damn breeders already" is a better phrase, as it puts the responsibility where it belongs: on the lap of those who allow sad excuses of human beings to use their children as an excuse for oppressing others.

By somewhereingreece (not verified) on 20 Apr 2010 #permalink

Cerberus:

"What your "thought experiment" and "gotcha game" amount to is trying to call those who acknowledge this reality child-murderers for not being willing to bend on this and grant this unprecedented right to something that isn't even remotely human for most of its development and only mostly human in late development (most of the important higher brain functions actually develop post-birth in the first year of an infant's life)."

Bullshit.

I'm not calling anyone a child murderer. Stop arguing with a strawman.

And WTF is this:

" and only mostly human in late development (most of the important higher brain functions actually develop post-birth in the first year of an infant's life)."

I have a sister who was born two months prematurely. By your standards she was not a full human being when she was born? That's absurd. Fetuses are human. Newborns are human. Shit, embryos are human - that's why we call them 'human embryos'. What species do you think they belong to?

This meme you believe in so rabidly - that a fetus is an alien residing in sacrosanct temple of a woman's body SUCKS - because it is extremist 'at the margins'. It is too intellectually pure to have meaning in the real world. You are trying to argue that this "right", as you put it, of a woman's privacy outranks the life interest of a viable fetus. That has got to be the most selfish position I have ever seen.

somewhereingreece:

"the state has no interest in viable fetuses."

That's wrong. IIRC, Rowe v. Wade went to the Supreme Court. The court most definitely affirmed the state's interest in protecting the life of a viable fetus. That is why third-semester abortions are regulated.

"The delivery room argument is, to put it plainly, ridiculous. In a country where there is access to abortion, the mothers who want to kill their child in the delivery room are most likely psychiatric patients, like Andrea Yates, who need help and the child out as fast as possible. There is no way you can call the woman in this situation capable of making informed decisions."

Um., yeah it's a scenario. Taking the "parasite in a temple" meme to absurd length to argue against its validity.

cerberus:

"I'm sorry. I know you really really need this moment of dominance, but you're recycling garbage and its really on you to take a good long look at why you are so dismissive of the basic humanity of women that you would deny them this critical human right in your argumentation."

Project much?

I agree with the general principle of Rowe v. Wade which preserves the basic humanity of women up until a time when the interests of a viable fetus balance her privacy rights. Perhaps that time point might be moved later. But Rowe is the law of the land, and the timetable it created seems pretty darned reasonable. It balances the basic rights of the female and the fetus.

It is YOUR position, I would argue, that is "dismissive of the basic humanity". You dismiss the humanity of viable fetus - hell, you got damn close to dismissing the humanity of a one-year-old child, for fuck's sake.

When you are wedded to an argument that makes such conclusions mandatory, it is time to revise your position.

By Gingerbaker (not verified) on 20 Apr 2010 #permalink

This is what happens when you restrict abortion.

A pregnant 10-year-old, allegedly raped by her stepfather, has become the latest lightning rod in the country's heated abortion debate.

Abortion is legal in Mexico's capital city, but prohibited or significantly restricted in most of the country's states. The girl's home state of Quintana Roo, on the Yucatan peninsula, allows abortion in cases of rape during the first 90 days of the pregnancy. But the 10-year-old girl is at 17½ weeks, nearly a month past that limit.

State Attorney General Francisco Alor Quezada said he did not know whether officials had told the girl she had the option of pursuing an abortion, and he did not know how far the girl was into her pregnancy when her mother reported the assault to authorities last month.

Gingerbaker, I've only heard your comments come only from the anti-choice side. And I've heard all the arguments since RvW was announced back when I was an undergraduate. Since we presently have limitations on third trimester abortions, the question is moot. But, I will always put the rights of those who I can see, like the woman, over the rights of those I can't, the fetus.

By Nerd of Redhead, OM (not verified) on 20 Apr 2010 #permalink

870: The right to bodily autonomy trumps the right to life. Every time in our society. No one can be compelled to risk themselves to save another. No one can be compelled to even give a non-essential bit of themselves to save another.

Societies often make exceptions to the usual rules for those most in need of protection. My children have no right to my financial support because they have reached the age of majority and are healthy. Yet had they suffered a severe disability they would be entitled to my financial support for as long as they live. I think that's just and proper.

Similarly, certain "usual rules" don't always apply to parents. A father can be tricked into parenthood in various ways and still be obligated to support the child. A father has no say whatsoever in the abortion decision yet is still be obligated to support the child if the situation comes to that. I think that's just and proper.

Most societies are further committed to the idea that children deserve special protection. For example, they are deemed unable to contract or make other informed decisions. They receive special protection from sexual abuse (as with so-called "statutory rape" -- usually when the age difference is relatively significant). I think that's just and proper.

Thus I don't think your "Unprecedented!" charge carries as much weight as you do.

I also see your claim that a mother's absolute right to revoke consent to pregnancy at any time as far more problematic than you do. From a biological standpoint, the primary purpose of sex is procreation. As such, I don't see the idea of consensual sex implying consent to the results thereof, even when reasonable attempts to prevent pregnancy are undertaken, as being necessary wrong. I recognize that various of my actions will have side effects and unintended consequences for which I may be responsible. To pick a mundane and relatively trivial example, in most states I am responsible if my dog bites someone irrespective of the precautions I may have taken to prevent it or of the lack of any indication that my dog would bite someone. It comes with the territory. I think that's just and proper.

On the other hand, I am well aware that pregnancy disproportionately burdens women and especially poor women. Hugely. Furthermore, as a male, I am uncomfortable making the rules in this area and in any way. But I have nothing like the certainty you do and, along with the vast majority of people and Roe v. Wade, I see a real interest in late-term fetuses that deserves at least some protection.

Gingerbaker, I have worked both pregnant women, new mothers and newborns in both neonatal wards and NICUs. These are not nebulous scenarios I am talking about.

I had a patient who stayed in the hospital for two months because she had eclampsia, risking her life every minute of the day until her fetus was strong enough to survive delivery. I had a patient who was born at six months with severe sepsis due to chorioamnionitis and lived for a very, very miserable week. I have held the hands of women as they screamed bloody murder during vaginal deliveries and watched them forget everything once they held their babies. I have met a woman who got brucella while pregnant, whose child was in NICU for two months and suffered to the point that it own mother wished him dead, just to end his suffering.

Please pay more attention what everyone who has worked in women's health is saying. Women who don't want to get pregnant get abortions early. Women who end up having third trimester abortions put up with all the inconveniences of the first two trimesters but came to the point of either outliving their children or have their own parents outlive them.

By somewhereingreece (not verified) on 20 Apr 2010 #permalink

@ Carlie, #849

You're right, I stand corrected. My bad. I was thinking they were both estrogen and progesterone, but turns out I was completely wrong.

Cerberus:

It just makes me go, "fuck the damn children already".

Nitpickin' here, but that should be fuck the damn "what about the chiiiildren!?" excuse. Reasonable people don't hide behind that monstrosity of an excuse, which is generally used as a front for some type of bigotry or irrational fear.

By Caine, Fleur du mal (not verified) on 20 Apr 2010 #permalink

Gingerbaker-

Strawman much?

Oh, by the way, you blew your cover.

Rational, pro-choicer who's just policing the margins?

Yeah, no, you revealed yourself quite handily here:

You are trying to argue that this "right", as you put it, of a woman's privacy outranks the life interest of a viable fetus.

Cause, no one has been arguing privacy rights. And you're trying to dismiss a whole bigger issue on the legalistic founding of Roe v Wade (which you can't even be bothered to look up the spelling of).

We have not been nor have we ever been talking about privacy. We have been talking about bodily autonomy. No, that's not a fancy term for privacy. It's not a fancy term for people should be able to murder their babies in secret. It's a fancy term for the right for someone to have the full ownership and right over their own body and the use of it.

It is the cornerstone of protection against rape, of protection against slavery, of the very value of the individual and what line cannot be crossed no matter how dire the reason.

Bodily autonomy is what can and can't be done with your body and whether you have the right to complain about how your body is used.

Giving this right primacy, allows the very idea of consent to work. If all someone needs is a good reason to use your body without consent, then what does your consent matter? And that right would expand as it is want to do and in decades past, having that right be so negotiable was at the cornerstone of the slave trade and the idea of wives as their husband's property.

Bodily autonomy is something men take for granted. They fully expect that their wishes regarding sex, their body and organs, and the like will be maintained and that the only rights they can abrogate will be those they voluntarily surrender in the realm of contracts.

Would that women were so equal that their bodily autonomy was so equally taken for granted.

While I'm thankful for Roe v Wade as written both for striking a moderate increase in freedom for women and enshrining the separate issue of privacy as a federally protected right of its own merit, it's not what we are talking about here.

But people who like comparing life to privacy?

They are everywhere in the anti-choice movement. They like to pretend that wombs exist almost outside the body and have no impact on the bodily integrity or autonomy of women and like to think as little about that.

And you just fucked up and admitted it.

So, what gives?

In lieu of fairness to any lingering ideas that you were at all arguing in good faith. I personally believe a very good marker of the margin at which we denote personhood is the marker we all use when we are honest about it (birth). Of course embryos are of human in the same way as a tumorous cell is a human cancer cell. It is not a full person denoting or deserving of the full rights of a human being.

I'd be willing to fully compromise with the idea that it gains those rights at the moment of birth when it is fully separated from the mother and is a recognizably unique individual. The potentiality of consciousness as another marker arrives very late and mostly grows post-birth, but I'll backdate it all to birth for legalistic cleanliness.

And a fetus unwanted is something unwanted leeching off your body against your will.

Imagine this scenario. You want sex, you initiate it, it's enjoyable. You withdraw consent, the other person continues. This thing that was wonderful and wanted is now horrifying, menacing, and traumatic.

This fetus during the usual months that a woman would be planning a voluntary abortion and pursuing such an option, is nothing. A lump of flesh still being sculpted by the mother's inputting hormones and enzymes telling which cells to die and which cells to switch to start dividing a new type of cell. It has nothing akin to anything we would denote as worthy of being given full human status in any form and again even if it were, it does not have a right to this uterus without consent.

It is not a human being being killed, it is an unwanted clump of cells that has no potentiality of any of the hallmarks of humanhood, especially anything in the way of nerves or the raw clumpings needed for any version of a primitive brain much less potential consciousness.

In cultures like Scandanavia, where access is much more unfettered, these voluntary abortions occur even more rapidly because access is not artificially constrained.

Late term abortions are almost universally of wanted pregnancies, fully consented to by the mother and desired where something truly horrifying has gone wrong (growing without a brain, without skin, died inside of her, birthing it will risk her life). There are pretty much no instances of late-term by choice, but in an infinite world, we can speculate and the exact type of person who would make that choice is very much the least able to handle emotionally the strains of raising a kid (people abused so far they were scared to get help until it was way too late, people with severe emotional issues that make them unsafe around other people, etc...).

Modern medical science allows us to induce birth or perform a cessarian to abort these as needed resulting in a now born child and a mother hastily filling out the adoption paperwork. Though of course the existing compromise usually means these women are more often than not shit out of luck and get a couple more months of suffering until this happens.

This would be that reality you claim my extremist ass is ignoring in my evil zeal to be dastardly.

Now, that answers the remaining illusion of good faith, but it's largely ancillary as you are very obviously, very clearly arguing in very bad faith.

Who knows, you may prove me wrong. I've been happily proven wrong in the past, but somehow I doubt it.

But do carry on anyways.

Robocop-

I fucking knew it. MRA was just sneaking around the edges of your shit.

But, bam!

Paying money is not the same as a violation of bodily autonomy (or are you one of those assholes that think paying taxes is the same as being raped).

I covered already that when someone gives up responsibility raising a child, we may have them pay money, we may take away the kids, but we can't force those parents to raise those kids. You couldn't be forced to raise those kids without your consent with your time and effort and the hard work and massive changes to your life to accommodate it. Nor would it have been right for any force to do so.

Pregnant women do not have that right. If they don't want their bodies to be used anymore bringing a dividing clump of cells to term, we get assholes like you saying, "but I pay money, thus that woman's body should be used against her".

No, it is truly unprecedented that the right to bodily autonomy is stripped away. Financial autonomy? All the time. Consented to use of someone's body in the form of jobs and contracts such as the army (certainly within limits). But never ever universal loss of bodily autonomy as is the focus point of the abortion debate.

No one has that right without consent, even to survive as we've pointed out through the medical examples.

And your example about children. They don't have the right to "consent" to sex with adults, because we know fully well that they lack enough knowledge about sexuality especially their own to fully understand what they are consenting to and their rights of bodily autonomy.

It is at worst, a removal of the right of consent, not of the right of bodily autonomy. Statutory rape would be the removal of their bodily autonomy.

re 878:

This meme you believe in so rabidly - that a fetus is an alien residing in sacrosanct temple of a woman's body SUCKS - because it is extremist 'at the margins'.

You claim to be pro-choice but you write like an anti-. Try reading the previous replies again, the argument is NOT that the fetus isn't human nor that it is some kind of alien. Just that it is not fully formed. And the crux of the argument that you seem to missing entirely is that even if the fetus was a fully formed adult, it would not have the right to commandeer another's body they way that a fetus has to until birth. The fetus, as any human, has a right to life, but we do not place that right above all other rights. That right does not grant a right to anyone else's body. The fetus is allowed access to the mother's body by her permission alone, not by the fetus' "right to life". And yes, the woman has the right to withdraw that permission at any time. But as I said earlier, that does not mean she can command it to be killed, just that it can no longer use her body. If that is late enough in the pregnancy then it should be an induced labor or a ceasarian.

Caine and somewhere-

Yeah, I know. My post was more about a bad reflexive response from constantly having to deal with "what about the children" arguments. I know that it's all about the cowardly people using the arguments trying to borrow the emotions we are instinctively drawn to regarding kids to protect and enshrine bigotry.

It's just what plays in my head as a snappy comeback before I start deconstructing them. Sort of a "fuck your children, this is real life, now stop hiding behind your children and start standing proudly behind your dehumanization and bigotry" sort of deal.

But yes, your points are very valid and very true and why it ends up remaining a private response that plays in my head rather than something I actually try arguing.

886: Paying money is not the same as a violation of bodily autonomy."

It is not and, if you would read my posts again, you'd see I'm no MRA. My point, essentially, is that the usual rules don't always apply to parents and children. In part that's because children are particularly vulnerable and in part that's because we see children and their care as so important.

I covered already that when someone gives up responsibility raising a child, we may have them pay money, we may take away the kids, but we can't force those parents to raise those kids.

By I would suggest to you that the reason for it has nothing to do with bodily automony and everything to do with the best interests of the child. At a more trivial level, it's why parents in a divorce may be prevented from moving. In general, the rights of children take priority over the rights of parents.

No, it is truly unprecedented that the right to bodily autonomy is stripped away. Financial autonomy? All the time. Consented to use of someone's body in the form of jobs and contracts such as the army (certainly within limits). But never ever universal loss of bodily autonomy as is the focus point of the abortion debate.

If I consent to enter the military and am inducted, I can't withdraw that consent until my term of service is complete. In a related way, I don't see it as far-fetched to consider that women who consent to sex and thus the risk of pregnancy may not have an absolute right to withdraw that consent at all times before birth.

In a related way, I don't see it as far-fetched to consider that women who consent to sex and thus the risk of pregnancy may not have an absolute right to withdraw that consent at all times before birth.

Consenting to sex is not consenting to childbirth. It is consenting to sex.

strange gods before me:

"Gingerbaker, you know that late term abortions are not being performed for frivolous reasons.

So you can quit lying by implying otherwise."

I never said they were, so please don't accuse me of being a liar.

I said that the fact that 3rd term abortions are rare bolsters the argument that Roe v Wade's timetable seems to be reasonable since almost all women get their abortions early.

I wish people in this thread would stop assigning all the shitty 'pro-life' arguments onto me, and would instead read with better attention and at least try to understand what I am saying.

I am pro-choice. I think that Roe v Wade is a reasonable decision. I support it, and the right of all women to get an abortion at state expense if they need to.

That's not exactly a radical position, unlike many here who are - if I understand them, which ain't easy - trying to claim that a woman has an absolute right to abortion at any time in her pregnancy, or that it is unreasonable for the state to take an any interest in preserving the life of a viable - that means capable of surviving outside of the mother - fetus.

By Gingerbaker (not verified) on 20 Apr 2010 #permalink

robocop-

You have no idea what bodily autonomy is, do you?

Following the trail of sub-arguments however...

No, that's not the same thing regarding the army. Here's why. Let's look at the recent racists who have refused to deploy because there's a black man in charge of the country. They are being court-martialed for failure to honor their signed contracts, but there is no way to force them to serve on the front if the physically refuse to. We can't forcibly move their unwilling body to the front, we can merely dishonorably discharge them and charge them with breaking employment contract.

Similarly, with parents, children have rights of protection to have someone take care of them, but there is no ability to require that to be the birth parents. If you want to move away, you can forfeit visitation rights and pay child support, but no one can physically compel you to raise your child if you physically do not want to.

If you initiate sex and decide in the middle you no longer want it, you can revoke the consent to sex and no one can physically compel you to continue (this would be rape).

Yet, for fetuses we demand that the mother be compelled to carry the fetus to term for 9 months at the expense of her body, physically compelled. This is what is unprecedented. The violation of bodily autonomy. There is no other field where this is the case. Especially on the level we are talking about. The inner body. Our organs, our blood, our sexual organs. Even prisoners (at least legally, practically is another matter) have rights to their personal body that are supposed to not be violated (though the practice of this is indeed problematically enforced as is the rights of women to bodily autonomy in sex (See rape culture)).

And I think you grossly do not understand exactly what I'm referring to regarding bodily autonomy and why such a violation is such a horror.

I suspect this is because you unlike me have never had it violated. Nor have you ever expected that it would be.

I was thinking about this thread today and another aspect came to mind. It's along the idea of bodily integrity, but extends to the fetus's potential reality rather than that of the pregnant woman....

Q: Is it acceptable to sentence an American citizen to torture and death because his/her parents committed a crime?

A: No.

Q: Is it acceptable to sentence an American citizen to torture and death because his/her parents committed a religious sin?

A: Yes.

I've paid a terrible price for my parents' religious "sin" (and we've heard similar examples from others here, just in this one blog's microcosm). It's amazing I didn't die from the abuse or from turning to crime/drugs the way so many do in my situation. The fact is, though, I will die, not due to my mother's choice (which was legally denied her) but as the inevitable end result of society's edict.

Gingerbaker-

That's because you're too aggressively ignorant to grasp our points that "aborting the pregnancy" of viable fetuses results in an early birth. The "abortion procedure" for viable fetuses that can survive outside the mother is that of early induction of labor or a cessarian.

Capiche?

Cerberus:

"...In lieu of fairness to any lingering ideas that you were at all arguing in good faith. "...

Oh just go fuck yourself. I'm done replying to you.

By Gingerbaker (not verified) on 20 Apr 2010 #permalink

Gingerbaker-

Believe me, I'm not the one of us two in more deserving of a fuck you, miss "the extremists are arguing about the right to privacy rather than the right to bodily autonomy".

But it's probably for the best of both of us. I'm already in fantasizing about killing half the planet with an uzi mode so that's definitely a good twenty clicks past anything healthy and any hope of this being anything approaching a relaxing evening.

Frankly, It's beyond frustrating to me how little cultural respect we give bodily autonomy, consent, and equal sexual freedom. If the subject is women, we just consider it natural that something should trump them. Maybe children, maybe a man, maybe just the man's sperm in the person of an embryo or fetus, but always something.

It's literally dehumanizing and nowhere is that more apparent than the "abortion debate" where women are literally begging to have their humanity considered at all. The fetus is granted rights and considerations given to no existing full human being, even children all so it can be justified that there exists something where a woman's bodily autonomy can be trumped and she can be put in her place as second-class citizens.

And the debate rages on about fetal viability because the woman is an afterthought (oh yeah, something about privacy, maybe) rather than the only f-ing person for the vast majority of the debate's parameters.

It removes the woman's humanity, deliberately, and that is why the anti-choicers fight us there. Because they can't go out and state that they want women back in the kitchen, enslaved to men again, but babies? Everyone loves babies. And people don't love women enough to resist the emotional pull of innocence untouched by the fallen world.

And it causes a burning sensation in my gut in the same way as when someone calls me "it". Because it is my humanity and basic rights that's up for debate and more often than not, dismissal.

892: They are being court-martialed for failure to honor their signed contracts, but there is no way to force them to serve on the front if the physically refuse to. We can't forcibly move their unwilling body to the front, we can merely dishonorably discharge them and charge them with breaking employment contract.

To the extent possible, they will indeed be physically compelled to serve. The mechanisms will of course include force and intimidation. If all of these approaches fail, the brig and dishonorable discharge await. You are correct that they won't be forcibly carried to the front or some such, but most decidedly not because of some perceived bodily autonomy argument. They will not be forcibly carried to the front in order to protect their comrades.

896: It removes the woman's humanity, deliberately, and that is why the anti-choicers fight us there.

I have no doubt that you're correct in many instances. Why then do you think that every poll (at least that I've seen) shows men supporting abortion rights at a significantly higher rate than women?

No, that's not the same thing regarding the army. Here's why. Let's look at the recent racists who have refused to deploy because there's a black man in charge of the country. They are being court-martialed for failure to honor their signed contracts, but there is no way to force them to serve on the front if the physically refuse to. We can't forcibly move their unwilling body to the front, we can merely dishonorably discharge them and charge them with breaking employment contract.

Thankfully, this is true today. But in less civilised times this was not always the case. Just saying.

chgo_liz @ 893:

I've paid a terrible price for my parents' religious "sin" (and we've heard similar examples from others here, just in this one blog's microcosm). It's amazing I didn't die from the abuse or from turning to crime/drugs the way so many do in my situation.

Word. There are times I'm honestly surprised I managed to not commit murder. I've been close enough to it, in my younger years at least. If I can say the degree of abuse I went through had any sort of positive effect, it would be in having iron self control. When I was young, it was my "goddamn motherfuckers, I won't give them the satisfaction of seeing me break stubbornness that got me through. Not that it does any good with the consequent rage.

By Caine, Fleur du mal (not verified) on 20 Apr 2010 #permalink

@Gingerbaker:

That's not exactly a radical position, unlike many here who are - if I understand them, which ain't easy - trying to claim that a woman has an absolute right to abortion at any time in her pregnancy, or that it is unreasonable for the state to take an any interest in preserving the life of a viable - that means capable of surviving outside of the mother - fetus.

When are you going to acknowledge that a pregnancy can be terminated by an induced early birth or a cesarean? It's been pointed out to you several times now. Abortion isn't about killing fetuses or babies, it's about ending pregnancies.

Finally, I have to point out that you are doing a terribly crappy job at communicating how you are pro-choice.

What does it mean to assert a "right to life" of a fetus when it has no right to, or even access to, health care? It's fucking insane that the pro-choicers in America aren't also lobbying to reduce the infant mortality rate.

By aaronlogan (not verified) on 20 Apr 2010 #permalink

Uh, aaron, pro-choicers are the only ones who have been working to reduce the infant mortality rate, perhaps you meant to say pro-lifers there?

Overall, guys, I'm sorry, but I'm out of energy. I'm really drained of this shit and I'm going to have to cut myself off for my own good. I'm killing myself during the day working to finish my thesis. I can't keep fucking myself up like this every night fighting people who are wrong on the internet (as the XKCD joke goes).

So for my own psychological health, I'm out.

Huge apologies, Cerberus, I meant the pro-lifers. Thanks for your contributions.

By aaronlogan (not verified) on 20 Apr 2010 #permalink

@ 897

"Why then do you think that every poll (at least that I've seen) shows men supporting abortion rights at a significantly higher rate than women?"

Uh -- duh. Women are more misogynistic, at least in polls, than men, usually. That's standard for an oppressed class. I can't believe anyone is using this argument. When you have a whole class of people who are condemned and shamed, lord knows that as a member of that class of people you're going to be very tempted to say oh but that's not me. I'm a good woman. I'm not a slut. Notice how many women are slut-shamers versus men.

By https://me.yah… (not verified) on 20 Apr 2010 #permalink

904: Uh -- duh. Women are more misogynistic, at least in polls, than men, usually. That's standard for an oppressed class. I can't believe anyone is using this argument.

It wasn't an argument, it was a question.

@Cerberus: you did more than your part. Have a good night.

@Robocop:

They will not be forcibly carried to the front in order to protect their comrades.

I'm sure we can think of many ways an unwilling soldier could be useful in war without endangering its comrades. As a decoy, for instance. Cannon fodder. Sniper bait. Human mine sweeper. But I'm sure rules about bodily autonomy have nothing to do with the fact that we don't do any of this.

It wasn't an argument, it was a question.

Ah, but was it an honest question, or a leading question?

@853

In that case, fine remove it. It's called a C section and then the baby can be taken care of by someone who wants it.

By JustALurker (not verified) on 20 Apr 2010 #permalink

The standard doctors' rule for when to agree to a woman's demand for sterilization was the century rule: the number of children times her age had to be more than 100. In case she changed her little lack of mind, of course, or because she was trying to avoid her Duty to MankindTM.

Cerberus: "Frankly, It's beyond frustrating to me how little cultural respect we give bodily autonomy, consent, and equal sexual freedom. If the subject is women, we just consider it natural that something should trump them. Maybe children, maybe a man, maybe just the man's sperm in the person of an embryo or fetus, but always something."
I just wanted to say HELL YES.
HELL GODDAMN EFFING YES.
That's the gist of it. Anything else - all other arguments- are people trying not to seem like the giant dickweed they are for thinking that women are just pieces of meat.

By BBCaddict (not verified) on 20 Apr 2010 #permalink

I'm amused by the "I'm for protecting Innocent Life" brigade. It's not as if a fetus can go out and rob a bank or. Or have sex. It's the innocence of incapability.

But they do masturbate in the womb.

One more sob story.

And of course, infanticide is relevant. It was the cure for excess fertility before abortion. I prefer the pre-natal cure.

Walton, what a horrible bit of history! Besides that, "encouraging" bravery has a long history. Young Zulu warriors in battle were followed by older warriors who would spear them if they showed fear. And Russian troops were trailed by a female corps armed with rifles, who were there to shoot any who fled.

Cerberus, thank you for your many heartfelt comments. And don't forget that pregnancy makes the heart work 40% harder.

PZ, we need a fresh thread so we can play all night!

@Windy (#520):

I don't know how you managed to get people defending the parasite-like properties of a fetus trying to come up with some documented parasite that never has any negative effect on fitness.

It's really this simple: pregnancy has the potential to negatively impact a woman's fitness. All sorts of horrible side-effects of pregnancy are well documented. Women have developed diabetes, lost limbs, and yes, even died in pregnancy - especially in places where modern medicine as we know it in the developed world is not readily available.

By bluedragonflye (not verified) on 20 Apr 2010 #permalink

And of course, our very own host has written about Plan B as well.

907: Ah, but was it an honest question, or a leading question?

...because of course anyone with the temerity to disagree with you has to be dishonest, doltish or disingenuous donchaknow....

It seems to me that a lot of pro-life rhetoric is actually about making people afraid of sex. Sex might lead to pregnancy, even if good precautions are taken. Pregnancy, as has been repeatedly pointed out, can maim and kill. And is at best temporarily debilitating and painful. As for the male partner, I can't imagine that any decent man would not feel anxiety at the possibility of forcing someone he loved into a similar situation, even accidentally.

So, hard to relax and enjoy sex with all that hanging over your head, isn't it? And it's hard to connect fully with your partner if you can't enjoy sex and other physical expressions of love.

In short, maybe pro-lifers are really the front people for Oceania's anti-sex league.

Carlie wrote @ #916:

And of course, our very own host has written about Plan B as well.

Does that mean we are his parasites?

*runs away giggling*

A scattering of thoughts after skimming the thread:

A couple of folks have mentioned being depressed by Skatje's stance, and yeup, it's the stance of somebody who is privileged, loved, in good health, probably financially stable (and at least possessing a financially stable network of family and friends), and surrounded by folks who will support her personal choice, should she ever turn up pregnant herself, no matter what it is. As others have noted, much of this may have to do with her level of experience and seeing how this very issue affects people she knows directly, or herself. It's one thing to posit how you'd feel about a situation....and another thing to actually BE in that situation.

And like Cerberus noted, we all probably passed through stages where our politics or ideologies are a little half-baked. Hey, I grew up Mormon and once had the self-righteous smug thought that people should just take the consequences....and now I'm pro-choice because I realise that it is all about bodily autonomy. There are many reasons for a woman to end a pregnancy, starting with health (physical AND mental), financial resources, time and timing, personal inclination to be a parent, consideration for existing children, prior obligations or goals, being in an abusive relationship, inherited diseases, ability to perform one's job, age, and so on. Ideally people do their best to prevent pregnancy, but it really is a good thing to not force women to submit to a situation they don't want to be in.

As an aside, the whole "stand by the consequences" rhetoric I was raised with would like to ignore that with modern medicine you don't have to have the same consequences as once we did. Or the people promoting such nonsense would be delighted to have women suffer for the "sin" of spreading their legs. I remember the outcry when Obama said he would support his daughters because he wouldn't want them punished with an STD or a baby....and predictably the conservatives went up in flames. "OH NOES! He implied babies are punishment!" But that's how the anti-choice crowd treats them: you spread your legs, you reap the set of consequences they think you should have, not the ones you want. That's punishment.

(And can I say how much I want to smack people who say that you should just carry the child to term and give it up for adoption? Pregnancy crisis centers try to feed the line about how you will regret your abortion, but they never discuss how you might regret your adoption, how you'll still be susceptible to post-partum and other pregnancy woes. The idea that I should labour to produce a child for somebody else because my birth control didn't work or because I was raped just sets my teeth on edge.)

Interesting facts about abortion:
(from the Guttmacher Institute)

About 60% of abortions are obtained by women who have one or more children.

Women who have never married obtain two-thirds of all abortions.

The reasons women give for having an abortion underscore their understanding of the responsibilities of parenthood and family life. Three-fourths of women cite concern for or responsibility to other individuals; three-fourths say they cannot afford a child; three-fourths say that having a baby would interfere with work, school or the ability to care for dependents; and half say they do not want to be a single parent or are having problems with their husband or partner.

89 percent of abortions occur in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.

Fifty-eight percent of abortion patients say they would have liked to have had their abortion earlier. Nearly 60% of women who experienced a delay in obtaining an abortion cite the time it took to make arrangements and raise money.

Teens are more likely than older women to delay having an abortion until after 15 weeks of pregnancy, when the medical risks associated with abortion are significantly higher.

The abortion rate among women living below the federal poverty level ($9,570 for a single woman with no children) is more than four times that of women above 300% of the poverty level (44 vs. 10 abortions per 1,000 women). This is partly because the rate of unintended pregnancies among poor women (below 100% of poverty) is nearly four times that of women above 200% of poverty* (112 vs. 29 per 1,000 women

(I suggest reading the whole page....it paints a picture that suggests that access to birth control and education to use the birth control correctly becomes much easier the better off you are financially, and that correspondingly abortion rates spike with poverty. I think it's interesting that a majority of the women say they wished they could have had access earlier than they did. )

A final note from the Guttmacher page: Family planning clinics funded under Title X of the federal Public Health Service Act have helped women prevent 20 million unintended pregnancies during the last 20 years. An estimated nine million of these pregnancies would have ended in abortion.

(Somehow I think it's hard to say the pregnancy crisis centers which are primarily religiously driven are having the same effect in preventing unwanted pregnancies, since they usually don't offer contraception, and will actively post or promote bad information about contraception. Random googling of a few crisis centers also had their websites spitting out information about how getting an abortion would leave you vulnerable to breast cancer, a link which has not been proven.)

By pixelfish (not verified) on 20 Apr 2010 #permalink

@Robocop:

...because of course anyone with the temerity to disagree with you has to be dishonest, doltish or disingenuous donchaknow....

Hey, no reason to get all huffy about it, I was just asking a question, donchaknow.

I don't like how it's only the woman's choice. I'm not saying that a man should be able to tell a woman to have an abortion, that would be wrong. What I'm saying is that if a father wants an abortion and the mother doesn't, the father would still be liable for paying child support for the next 18 years. A father should be able to sign away all rights in that situation and not have to pay anything.

Also, since I'm married with two kids, if my wife were to get pregnant in spite of her tubal ligation, the decision is solely hers whether to keep the kid or not, yet it would effect both of our kids and me just as much once she has the child. We actually thought she was pregnant at one point and I said I would want her to get an abortion, to which she replied that she would not get one under any circumstances and that my only choices were to deal with it, or get a divorce. Is that fair? No, but I would have no choice but to listen to her and then have to raise another child (or pay for it if I left) when we don't have enough for the ones we have.

By boondockseven (not verified) on 21 Apr 2010 #permalink

because of course anyone with the temerity to disagree with you has to be dishonest, doltish or disingenuous donchaknow....

yes, robo, you certainly would know all about being dishonest, doltish and disingenuous.

Admittedly there are some tricky questions in abortion, at least in late-term abortions that are performed on very infant-like fetuses which are now or might someday be (with technological advances) viable outside the womb.

Also, potential sentience does matter in fact---in some sense that is all I have when I am in delta sleep or under anesthesia---and it does seem cavalier to me to destroy life of any sort without a good reason, and I wonder whether most abortions are really performed for the right reasons.

But of course you're absolutely right that early fetuses are barely recognizable as human, and clearly do not deserve the same rights as infants. Most of the pro-life community is composed of dogmatists who cannot bear to accept the obvious fact that zygotes are not babies.

But on the other hand, there are also pro-choice dogmatists, those who insist that "the right to choose" outweighs all other considerations of moral harm, medical expenditure, social impact, or psychological damage that abortion might entail. "It's my body!" Well, first of all, that's part of the issue under dispute---at what point does your body end and your baby's body begin? But second of all, we don't actually grant you a right to do whatever you want with your body---you must participate in an appropriate way in society, and there are certain things you cannot do as a result. Your right to move your arm ends at the other fellow's face.

Because both sides are so unwilling to compromise, the abortion debate stalls and turns to violence. Pro-lifers are most responsible for this, but I do not think that pro-choicers can be entirely exonerated either.

What is needed here is self-reflection and nuance, not aggressive assertions of superiority.

By pnrjulius (not verified) on 21 Apr 2010 #permalink

It is particularly weird that the people who most hate abortion also hate contraception. The best way to eliminate abortion would be to make contraception cheap, easy, and effective.

By pnrjulius (not verified) on 21 Apr 2010 #permalink

Your right to move your arm ends at the other fellow's face.

You do not see how that is exactly the argument for letting the woman decide whether or not to permit the fetus to leech off her body? Your right to move your arm stops at the woman's face but a fetus has the right to implant a placenta into the wall of her uterus? You don't see this as giving the fetus a much more invasive "right" than any adult has?

Hello, long time avid lurker here. Probably too late now, but I wanted to read the whole thread before i put my foot in it (probably).

Skatje, you may not see this now as I've left it late like I said, but could I please just suggest a couple of books and stuff you might take a look at?

The Cider House Rules by John Irving
The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
and the film 'Vera Drake', which quite apart from anything else has Imelda Staunton as the leading lady and I think she's wonderful!

But getting back to the point, I just think they might give you a few different angles on things.
Maybe some new ways to think about the whole subject, you may of course have already read/seen them.

And if anyone has previously suggested them as 'homework' so to speak, my apologies.

By Evolved Dolly (not verified) on 21 Apr 2010 #permalink

Because both sides are so unwilling to compromise, the abortion debate stalls and turns to violence. Pro-lifers are most responsible for this, but I do not think that pro-choicers can be entirely exonerated either.

Yeah, right, it's partially the fault of those who are pro-choice that pro-lifers bomb abortion clinics and kill doctors.

Roe v. Wade is a compromise -- abortions are state-controlled after the first trimester. But pro-lifers want far more than that.

By truth machine, OM (not verified) on 21 Apr 2010 #permalink

It is particularly weird that the people who most hate abortion also hate contraception. The best way to eliminate abortion would be to make contraception cheap, easy, and effective.

It's not weird at all and that you think so reveals your ignorance. So called "pro-lifers" aren't; they are anti-choice, specifically anti women's choices; they are authoritarians who want to encode their small-mindedness into the law. Those who really truly dislike abortion are pro-choice, pro-woman, pro-education.

By truth machine, OM (not verified) on 21 Apr 2010 #permalink

Pro-choice is the ultimate compromise position. One doesn't even have to take a stance on abortion, it's just the recognition that it shouldn't be up to the state to decide whether a woman should be forced to carry a zygote to full term. It's a question over legality. What can be a greater compromise than to take the issue out of the hands of legislators?

Also, potential sentience does matter in fact---in some sense that is all I have when I am in delta sleep or under anesthesia

Another pathetically ignorant statement. What you have is a developed mind, personality, real relationships with other people -- a fetus has none of that.

it does seem cavalier to me to destroy life of any sort without a good reason

Better stop brushing your teeth, then.

What is needed here is self-reflection and nuance, not aggressive assertions of superiority.

Yes, your pompousness.

By truth machine, OM (not verified) on 21 Apr 2010 #permalink

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

You're fucked up. Does it matter to you what the penalty would be? How about capital punishment, since many people consider abortion to be murder?

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?

No, you're very very fucked up. First, there's a difference between a moral judgment -- that something is not ok -- and making it illegal. Second, you appear to have no concern whatsoever for the "people" -- that is, women -- whose existences are intervened in by having a "baby" in them -- oftentimes put in them by other "people" -- that is, men -- against their will. You appear to have never read or considered anything ever said or written justifying the right to an abortion. I daresay that what you have written here is one of the most appallingly ignorant and ill-reasoned statements on the issue I have ever seen. It's tragic considering the source.

By truth machine, OM (not verified) on 21 Apr 2010 #permalink

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.

You are mistaken:

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.

This is a lunatic, woman-hating view.

By truth machine, OM (not verified) on 22 Apr 2010 #permalink

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.

As, so you do want the death penalty for abortion.

Lunatic.

By truth machine, OM (not verified) on 22 Apr 2010 #permalink

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

No, it's the real person posting shameful anti-choice garbage. There was a comment about intellectual autonomy -- her intellect seems to be so autonomous that it is detached from reason, fact, and empathy for living human beings. There isn't really any such thing as autonomy; one must wonder what influences have led to such a deranged view. In any case, she should serve as a warning to all parents.

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

But ... but ... they have human DNA! And potential!

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.

It's sickening. Here she goes:

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 none on women.


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.

But we aren't all authoritarian monsters who would impose our own moral judgments on everyone else through the force of law. And you are very lucky that we aren't.

The fetus isn't some parasite that just popped up there. YOU put it in your body. It is YOUR fault.

An authoritarian anti-sex monster.

By truth machine, OM (not verified) on 22 Apr 2010 #permalink

^5 Jordan. I'm on your side.

And yet here is what Jordan wrote:

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

See, Jordan isn't fucked up the way you are and doesn't support your fucked-up-ness.

By truth machine, OM (not verified) on 22 Apr 2010 #permalink

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.

She doesn't have the excuse of being from Oklahoma.

By truth machine, OM (not verified) on 22 Apr 2010 #permalink

The fetus isn't some parasite that just popped up there. YOU put it in your body. It is YOUR fault.

Such a monstrous statement.

So you agree that pregnancy and birth, no matter how damaging to both parties, is an acceptable punishment for women who have sex.
...
No. I'm not capable of conscious self-fertilization.

Indeed, despite all her denial, her words make clear that she is extremely anti-woman. It's the woman's fault that her partner used psychological coercion to get her to have sex with him. It's the woman's fault that a man got her drunk and then had unprotected sex with her. It's the woman's fault that she was raped. It's the woman's fault that the condom broke. It's the woman's fault that her birth control pill together with her biology didn't manage to stop conception. The woman put a baby in her body and it's HER FAULT.

What millenium is this person living in?

By truth machine, OM (not verified) on 22 Apr 2010 #permalink

Condescending ass. Parroting the same old? No. I did not form my opinions from hearing pro-lifers argue. Because most of them are retards

Sorry, but after what you have written in this thread, you're in no position to make that distinction.

"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.

No, you little indistinguishable-from-those-other-pro-lifers monster, it's how you want to make it.

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.

Well said.

This thread is so sad and depressing.

By truth machine, OM (not verified) on 22 Apr 2010 #permalink

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.

Of course you "get to kill a person" if they are only surviving by being hooked up to you and killing them consists of detaching them -- you yourself have made this argument.

It's a fair argument

You would never say so of anyone else. It's understandable that you say it here, but it isn't credible. And this is not the only argument she made -- there's also that whole "it's your fault for getting pregnant" bit.

By truth machine, OM (not verified) on 22 Apr 2010 #permalink

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?

Yes, and then there's that about her "fair argument" ... the appalling ignorance so common among pro-life "retards" (her word). And the arrogance and the lack of empathy with her "your FAULT" and "Soooo many anecdotal sob stories" and the vast intellectual dishonesty.

The one good thing I can say is that few here treated her like a sacred cow -- her atrocious arguments and attitude received appropriate treatment.

By truth machine, OM (not verified) on 22 Apr 2010 #permalink

Truth Machine, I throughly enjoy your comments and thank you for posting them! If I wasn't a fan of your posts before, after this I certainly would be =)

By JustALurker (not verified) on 22 Apr 2010 #permalink

"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.

That doesn't answer the question. You really shouldn't talk about other pro-lifers being "retards" when you are so lacking in logic. Advocating all of those things indeed reduces the number of abortions, and we're all for them, but making them illegal doesn't -- so why make them illegal? Arguments about the rights of fetuses don't come into play since no fewer fetuses die because of the ban. (You could argue the contrary, but you didn't.)

"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.

No, you are quite different from those of us who are not authoritarian monsters.

By truth machine, OM (not verified) on 22 Apr 2010 #permalink

The fetus isn't some parasite that just popped up there. YOU put it in your body. It is YOUR fault.

Such a monstrous statement.

Not monstrous.Just, not even wrong.How anyone could come up with this is beyond me.

This thread is so sad and depressing.

Which is why I have stayed out of it.

By Rorschach (not verified) on 22 Apr 2010 #permalink

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.

Don't blame everyone else for you being a crappy communicator and not even understanding -- or admitting -- the implications of your statements. You said that "if legislature was proposed to ban abortion, I wouldn't be opposed it. I'm just not going to start a fight for it." In normal political parlance that means you favor it, but you'll leave it up to others to do the dirty work. It means that, if it came to you for a vote, you would vote for it, not leave your ballot unmarked. And I believe you would do just that, and I condemn you for it.

By truth machine, OM (not verified) on 22 Apr 2010 #permalink

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.

That's because she did mean exactly that -- as evidenced not only by her original statement that she would not oppose a ban, but by the fact that, on all the numerous occasions when people wrote as if that was her position, she did not correct them.

By truth machine, OM (not verified) on 22 Apr 2010 #permalink

"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?

Oh yes, arbitrarily and uncertainly indeed. Aside from how seeing wanting sex (and "instant gratification") as a bad thing permeates your thinking, why isn't your answer to a woman who was raped simply

"Man, does adoption NOT exist?"

Oh, wait, I already answered that: because wanting sex is a bad thing, so a different standard applies. The rights of the fetus matter far more to you if the woman had sex out of desire than if she was raped, which is why you don't just tell the raped woman to get an adoption like you would tell the impoverished mother of four (who most likely you blame for that).

By truth machine, OM (not verified) on 22 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.

Oh yes. Again, the statement was monstrous.

also, I love how claiming that we should stop fucking to satisfy other people's consciences is suddenly a valid argument, just because it's not framed in terms of god, sin and purity. it's still the same argument.

Indeed it is.

I'm using the modern "someone who rejects the established culture" definition of hippy.

So Hell's Angels, the Mafia, Tea Partiers, Dominionists, and authoritarian monsters who would legislate morality through a ban on abortions are all "hippies"?

By truth machine, OM (not verified) on 22 Apr 2010 #permalink

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.

Well, generally, an expense or loss is going to have a (statistically) negative effect on fitness. However, the latter isn't the case with a fetus, since "fitness" is defined in terms of having offspring. Which means that defining parasitism in terms of loss is not equivalent to defining parasitism in terms of fitness. And which of those definitions you use determines whether a fetus qualifies as a parasite. The "loss" definition seems more natural, with the "fitness" definition being derivative, making a fetus a parasite.

But that's just a word game. Regardless of all that, one should not make a woman suffer just because some people have authoritarian negative judgments about pleasure combined with irrational emotional judgments about organisms with no minds, no accomplishments, no personal histories, nothing that deserves elevating their interests -- even their existence -- over the interests of the woman.

By truth machine, OM (not verified) on 22 Apr 2010 #permalink

Soooo many anecdotal sob stories.
As an aside to people who keep referring to me as a spoiled little privileged white girl, fuck off. To the people who keep saying "How did godless, educated parenting go so wrong?", fuck off as well.
I've had good luck in some ways, shitty luck in others. Overall, I'm much better off than most people, but that doesn't mean I lack empathy and live in a fantasy world where everything is just peachy. Get off your my-life-was-harder-than-yours high horse.

Fuck. Just ... fuck. What spoiled brat.

By truth machine, OM (not verified) on 22 Apr 2010 #permalink

It's a matter of stipulating the currency by which we measure loss, gain, benefit, and expense.
In evolutionary ecology, the idea is to categorize all interactions among organisms, and here parasitism is one category among several (predator/prey, commensalism, amensalism, mutualism). The only currency that is meaningful across the spectrum is Darwinian fitness.
Parasitology is, historically, the study of organisms that live in and on people. Here it makes sense to apply a broader definition, presumably based on nutrient transfer (though unspecified "benefit" and "loss" is too vague). This is going to include some relationships that a community ecologist would classify as commensalism.

However, I repeat that if you insist on classifying eutherian placental nutrition as 'parasitism' by the nutrient-transfer definition* then you need to include all forms of reproduction by multicellular organisms, because it always involves parental transfer of nutrients to offspring with no benefit other than reproductive fitness to the parent. The only difference is that in metatherians (and certain sharks and lizards, btw) the nutrient transfer is from income ('trickled' at a rate that matches growth of the fetus) instead of capital (saving up all year to lay a clutch of eggs, e.g.).

But, look, regardless of its technical definitions, "parasite" is a word loaded with negative connotations, and therefore its use is a rhetorical device. And it's one that bothers me for its biological inaccuracy.

*it seems like parasitism mostly because the fetus is inside the mother's body; in the case of marsupials attached to the outside. There are many examples, though, of internal or attached development without further direct nutrient transfer beyond the egg investment.

By Sven DiMilo (not verified) on 22 Apr 2010 #permalink

but not an unsurprising or really unexpected one. this is a matter of people PLAYING THE ODDS, intentionally. i do it, everyone else does it. but i'm willing to fess up to my mistake if that .3% failure rate comes around.

Ah yes, sex is a mistake. And being forced to carry a pregnancy to term is "fessing up" to it.

How did PZ end up with a Catholic daughter?

By truth machine, OM (not verified) on 22 Apr 2010 #permalink

But, look, regardless of its technical definitions, "parasite" is a word loaded with negative connotations

Pregnancy is loaded with negative consequences.

By truth machine, OM (not verified) on 22 Apr 2010 #permalink

i have no sympathy for "BUT I DIDNT MEAN TO" when you know your method could very well end up this way. it's not an excuse.

And I have no sympathy for someone this ... RETARDED. (It's your word that you apply to other pro-lifers.)

By truth machine, OM (not verified) on 22 Apr 2010 #permalink

Post #544, First line: “Soooo many anecdotal sob stories.”
That may be the single most condescending, insensitive thing I have ever seen written on this blog by someone who was not obviously trying to be a troll of assholeroic proportions. What the fuck do you think human existence is except a series of stories? Sob stories are suspect, is that it? Someone who has had a bad life has no right to express an opinion, especially if it was their own fault? OK, yes, engaging in some hyperbole here, but I do find that phrase nasty, hateful, and rude. If you wanted to prove you were missing the points of people arguing with you, you could not have done a better job. If you wanted to prove you were more interested in your views of morality than the real world of those who make difficult choices, you nailed it with that line.
Spit! Nope, still have an unclean taste in the mouth.

To be clear, I neither expect nor want a reply to my last post. Your opinions and reasoning are clear to me from your posts. I have posted my opinion in reply. Time for me to close this canker sore of a thread and not bother to come back.

Spit! Nope, mouth still tastes bad.

It might be said that JeffreyD was being generous. Oh, wait, Carlie did:

JeffreyD - it's even more obnoxious given that she said that she would moderate her opinion in the case of rape and other situations in which the angst was strong enough to pass her own internal mental barrier. And then, given situations describing such angst, dismissed them as anecdotal sob stories. That doesn't give me much confidence that her barrier is low enough for anyone to pass by it.

A truly sickening thread featuring a truly sickening person.

By truth machine, OM (not verified) on 22 Apr 2010 #permalink

Skatja is of course waaaaaaaay off in her worldview, but she's also relatively very young. I've had friends and acquaintances that held pretty much the exact same view as her (Even I did as a younger teen...but I was raised by psychotic fundies. ugh.) Now that time has gone on and they've learned more about reality, a vast majority of them have since changed their views to "pro-choice" (I prefer pro-autonomy, because that's really what it boils down to.)

Nineteen is pretty young. There's still a ton of life experience to be had. While I wholly disagree with her stance (more like gobsmacked and absolutely disgusted), it's likely that she's still an intelligent person. ...But intelligence doesn't automatically equate to knowledge. I'm willing to bet that as she gains more knowledge about the way the world actually works, she'll change her tune a bit.

I'm hoping that the change comes soon.

It isn't just knowledge that she is lacking.

By truth machine, OM (not verified) on 22 Apr 2010 #permalink

Please elaborate, truth machine.

Please elaborate, truth machine.

She lacks empathy. If you can't tell that in this thread, you can't read.

If you think one cannot become more empathic with time, you're sadly mistaken.

If you think one cannot become more empathic with time, you're sadly mistaken.

Nobody said that. It's a whole different issue from gaining knowledge, though. And she's already shown a disdain for it in principle (I still can't get over "Soooo many anecdotal sob stories" in this context, I don't see how anyone with even a seed of the potential for empathy could say that).

Sure she's young with a sheltered world view. Sure, she could grow, gain experience and empathy and change her views later. I certainly hope she does before she's faced with an unplanned pregnancy. However, that has nothing to do with any of it. I'm 19 too (well actually tomorrow is my 20th B-day) but I wouldn't want anyone here to give me a pass to spout bullshit because of my age or handle me with kid gloves. She clearly didn't want to be handled with kid gloves either.
If anything we should argue with her more to help show the reality of her argument. Especially since she claimed to formally be pro-choice. Admittedly, she stated she didn't have the answers, said it was a tentative moral of hers and that her argument was all philosophical. Now, If I'm trying to gain knowledge and understanding on something, I state that, ask for help and people here are always very helpful. However, she wasn't here to get information on the subject. She made her statements and defended them like any other pro-lifer with a horrible tone of "I can make the decision for other woman, I've thought this through and those sluts haven't". Now, I may not have ripped into her as others have but that's not because she's 19 or PZ daughter. This is the first thread I've posted on so I preceded with caution in the argument since I admire the regulars here and didn't want to embarrass myself. Everyone else here does it so much better anyways ;)

By JustALurker (not verified) on 22 Apr 2010 #permalink

However, that has nothing to do with any of it. I'm 19 too (well actually tomorrow is my 20th B-day)

Wow, there's actually someone here younger than me (other than Skatje)! I'm 20, will be 21 in June.

How did PZ end up with a Catholic daughter?

How else do you expect her to rebel?

By Sili, The Unkn… (not verified) on 22 Apr 2010 #permalink

Well said, JustALurker.

As for proceding with caution, just make sure you don't claim anything you're not willing to support and you should be fine. It's always good to have another voice.

I miss being the youngest person I know on the internet...whippersnappers....

Priceless pics :)

Meanwhile, Givesgoodemail writes:

"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"."

I got interested in the idea of personhood a while ago, and read a great paper by Glenn Langford. For Langford personhood is the capacity (not potential) to hold an internal representation of the mental states of others. But he put it better than I just did.

Langford, G (1978). Persons as Necessarily Social. Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour, Volume 8 Issue 3, Pages 263 - 296

The point for me is, it sets the bar an awful lot higher than 'with human genes', whatever they are.

By Grandmaster (not verified) on 22 Apr 2010 #permalink

Anodyne:

If you think one cannot become more empathic with time, you're sadly mistaken.

Yes, people can develop empathy. However, people can also simply become more deeply entrenched in their beliefs which happen to lack empathy altogether.

Skatje doesn't get a special pass because she's 19. It's not that young. She refused, outright, what many of us were saying in regard to her particular fortune and possible lack of experience. Those of us who did relate stories for illustrative purposes (such as mine, I'm one of those former unwanted fetuses who was birthed due to my mother fearing death via a back alley abortion) were dismissed as "boo hoo, oh, all the sob stories".

Skatje's a sanctimonious snot who has led a privileged life. I won't cut her views any slack. If they happen to change later, great. I'm not going to pat her on the head and treat her like a wilfull child on the basis she might change her mind and she might develop empathy one day.

By Caine, Fleur du mal (not verified) on 22 Apr 2010 #permalink

Paul: I sincerely hope you aren't that cynical when it comes to young adults. I feel a vibe of "she's an uncaring and emotionless bitch, so she can just fuck off."
Granted, I can very much see where you're coming from. I just don't think you can label someone as rotten when they've barely lived life.
To address the whole "she doesn't just lack knowledge; she lacks empathy" thing--Last time I checked, gaining knowledge about others and their situations is a damned good way to develop some empathy.

JustALurker:
I wasn't trying to give her a free pass for having such idiotic views; I was trying to put a little bit of perspective on it. She's saying some truly horrible things. And I've seen the same kind of bullshit spewed by peers--and a lot of those peers have since changed their views. Does the phrase "teenagers think they know everything" ring a bell? For a lot of young adults, it takes time to develop a decent amount of humility. She's not exactly the first 19-year-old to be arrogant about their opinions. Like I said, I hope the change comes soon. It usually takes longer for the sheltered ones to change their views. And her views indicate that she is indeed very sheltered.

I'm not suggesting for one minute that her callousness and misogyny shouldn't be addressed--she absolutely needs someone to criticize her inconsistencies and haughtiness-- there are no "kid gloves". At no point did I neglect to mention that she holds a warped and disgusting viewpoint. Age is not a free pass; it's a consideration.

Her arguments should be ripped to shreds because they're absolute shit ideas. But there's a difference between calling someone an idiot and saying their ideas are idiotic. That is where age is a consideration--NOT a free pass.

Again, I'm not defending her; I just felt it was a nuance that bore consideration. Bringing a little bit of empathy into a conversation does not make one a yellow-bellied accommodationist.

Paul: I sincerely hope you aren't that cynical when it comes to young adults. I feel a vibe of "she's an uncaring and emotionless bitch, so she can just fuck off."

I never said that. I did say that she lacks empathy. Anything else you're just projecting onto me. I do not feel the need to treat her with kid gloves if she says something hateful, though. She's old enough to vote. She's considered an adult. She considers herself an adult, and got upset when she felt people weren't taking her seriously as an adult. Just something to think about, when you're trying to infantilize her and pat her on the head with a "well, she's still got a lot to learn". That's no reason not to take her seriously when she says hateful and callous things.

Last time I checked, gaining knowledge about others and their situations is a damned good way to develop some empathy.

Yes, but gaining knowledge and gaining empathy are not synonymous. That's all I was saying, ffs. It's clear she needs the latter, and gaining the former won't help if she's dead set on slut shaming (which she gets offended if you point out) and dismissing anecdotal sob stories if they challenge her "philosophical position". Gaining knowledge won't help if she's actively steeling herself to ignore anything that goes against her "philosophical position", which is what she spent most of this thread doing.

For Langford personhood is the capacity (not potential) to hold an internal representation of the mental states of others. But he put it better than I just did.

He also mentioned, rather crucially, that those representations include the pictures that the other people have of other people's pictures about ... etc. Sorry about that. Read it a long while ago.

By Grandmaster (not verified) on 22 Apr 2010 #permalink

She also lacks philosophical depth, logical coherence, intellectual honesty, humility, introspection ... at least.

By truth machine, OM (not verified) on 22 Apr 2010 #permalink

To address the whole "she doesn't just lack knowledge; she lacks empathy" thing--Last time I checked, gaining knowledge about others and their situations is a damned good way to develop some empathy.

Nice strawman you've built there.

me: It isn't just knowledge that she is lacking.
Paul: She [also] lacks empathy.
Anodyne: [non sequitur hostile attack]: If you think one cannot become more empathic with time, you're sadly mistaken.
Paul: Nobody said that. [duh]
Anodyne [continues to be a jerk]: I sincerely hope you aren't that cynical when it comes to young adults.

By truth machine, OM (not verified) on 22 Apr 2010 #permalink

975: Anodyne (continues to be a jerk)....

Pot. Kettle. Introductions.

Pot. Kettle. Introductions.

Been you since day one...

By Nerd of Redhead, OM (not verified) on 22 Apr 2010 #permalink

@966
LOL. Yep and just think I've been here the whole time...=). (Actually, lurking for about a year)

@968

Absolutely true.

@971

But there's a difference between calling someone an idiot and saying their ideas are idiotic. That is where age is a consideration--NOT a free pass.

So you're saying we shouldn't have insulted her no matter how true the insults are because of her age? So you do want her to be treated with kid gloves , defined as kid gloves-To treat someone with extra care and gentleness see urbandictionary.com, because of the consideration of her age. She's 19, not 10. She's heard that language before. Almost everyone was very respectful and held their tongues in the beginning as far as insults go. That ended because of her attitude and responses. We're not protecting her innocence or ignorance by doing so. It wouldn't have mattered if we were nice and respectful in our attempt to educate her. It sure as hell didn't make a damn difference in the beginning. I was one poster that was respectful in that sense when I first commented around 600 and she shitted on everything I had to say. She dismissed my input entirely and told me fuck you and fuck off. There are plenty of people here who used to believe the same line of shit, people who were very religious then grew up, learned, had their eyes opened, etc and changed their views. Sometimes it takes a person most of their life to get out of it but no one (here, that I know of) holds it against them later though. I bet you that every single person that went through this change will say they deserved every bit of shit they received for their previous idiotic views.

There were posts of books,websites,etc for her to check out to help get her out of her ignorance and I'm sure she knows how to do some research at least. I don't understand how considering her age the responses to her should have been any different. And so what she thinks she knows all the answers? so what if she feels entitled to make all the decisions for everybody else? That means we aren't allowed to be as vicious in our comments? She didn't want to engage in an calm, adult discussion of the matter. She said "I believe X and because of my belief X is true". Her attitude is that of a teenage brat that thinks she knows everything. So what if we said her out on this and held no punches? She's a spoiled teenage brat and we called her one**. Big deal. She received fair enough treatment all things considered.

I never said you were defending her. I'm glad you're not. However, I just wanted to add my 2 cents in since I don't appreciate arguments about tone or language. She knew full well what she was getting in to, it was HER own fault for engaging in the first place.**(snark)

* Sarcasm about her slut slamming statement, her words, not mine.
**I may not have engaged in calling her a spoiled teenage brat and such before, while I was certainly thinking it and defend anyone else that said exactly what they were thinking.

By JustALurker (not verified) on 22 Apr 2010 #permalink

Pot. Kettle.

Tu quoque/ad hominem/fallacy of irrelevance.

By truth machine, OM (not verified) on 22 Apr 2010 #permalink

She received fair enough treatment all things considered.

She was treated considerably more gently than someone without her pedigree wold have been.

By truth machine, OM (not verified) on 22 Apr 2010 #permalink

So you're saying we shouldn't have insulted her no matter how true the insults are because of her age?

I find that pattern seems to hold with Walton, too.

Can we include Robocop in the next Survivor: Pharyngula?

it has my vote, and has for a long time.

Truth Machine - Agreed, it's why I put italics on considered. Next time, I will come right out and say what I mean. =)

Ichthyic - Yes, of course! How could I forget Walton? ;)

By JustALurker (not verified) on 22 Apr 2010 #permalink

How did PZ end up with a Catholic daughter?

I'd say it has less to do with the household that raised her, but where, geographically, she grew up.

I gotta think most of her peers of same age would be religious.

check out the history of Minnesota, and especially Morris, sometime.

I can't imagine but that it would have some influence.

I mentioned this in the OK thread, but I will here too. Having grown up in conservative Southern California (home of the folks that put Ronald Reagan in office, and where most of the money and effort came from to support props 13 and much later, 8), that most certainly had an impact on my early thinking. I voted for Reagan's re-election, for example. Bloody well learned the hard way that I shot myself in the foot with that one.

I lived.

I learned.

I'm a liberal now.

all my old friends hate me for it, but you live long enough you learn it doesn't matter what the fuck your friends think, if it's simply wrong.

JustALurker @ 978:

She's 19, not 10. She's heard that language before.

Yep. And this isn't the first time Skatje has put forth these particular types of views here. Some of us were around for the other discussion. I think Anodyne is just jumping because of her age and the potential for growth. That's one for the irony meter.

By Caine, Fleur du mal (not verified) on 22 Apr 2010 #permalink

Can we include Robocop in the next Survivor: Pharyngula?

I think Robocop's contributions here, except for the last one, were high quality, well argued, and thought provoking.

By truth machine, OM (not verified) on 22 Apr 2010 #permalink

TM -- Thanks for the kind words. I always find your posts challenging, thought-provoking and, sometimes, even convincing. But at the risk of "pearl-clutching," I'm going to talk about style for a bit.

I used to buy the "make nice" argument in its entirety. I've never seen anybody change his or her mind by being called names. And in real-life, personal interactions, I still think that. But I've come to think that if one is interested in changing cultural paradigms, a much stronger approach is needed in a public setting. Surprisingly, I came to that conclusion on account of Malcolm Gladwell and Atticus Finch (link). So I am no longer so sympathetic to the "tone" argument, especially on the internet (where courtesy is a very different thing than in RL; people I have had nasty arguments with online have become good friends in RL). Moreover, I am not sympathetic to a "woe is me" defense and try never to complain about how I am treated online. I recognize that I'm more than a bit of a contrarian and that I'm pretty comfortable defending my positions in places they are unpopular, so I expect a fair amount of stick.

But, even allowing for Pharyngula's rough-and-tumble culture, I think you do yourself and your position a disservice by being so abusive ("a truly sickening person", "RETARDED", "spoiled brat", "authoritarian monster", and so on). Despite your carefully-cultivated style (and I do appreciate it), I think it's excessive and excessively rude. Moreover, while some will take pride in the idea that they didn't hold back the vitriol from the host's daughter (as opposed to her ideas: love the sin and hate the sinner?) -- Pharyngula tries to be relentlessly egalitarian after all -- I think it's akin to being invited into someone's home and taking a crap on the living room rug.

So I'll take my pearls and go home, leaving you to your regularly scheduled programming.

I dislike dismissing people's beliefs automatically as a function of their age, but there are some beliefs that are easier to hold when less experienced. Overestimating one's own and others' control over their lives and oversimplifying the complex processes involved in decision-making is likely when one simply hasn't yet had to make that many decisions.

I held beliefs about abortion very similar to Skatje's when I was 19. (And here I'd thought it was a remnant of my Catholic upbringing.)

By Brownian, OM (not verified) on 23 Apr 2010 #permalink

Having grown up in conservative Southern California

Represent.

(home of the folks that put Ronald Reagan in office, and where most of the money and effort came from to support props 13 and much later, 8), that most certainly had an impact on my early thinking.

Yeah, I was a pseudo-libertarian until I really achieved sentience around age 17 and realized that the vast majority of people holding those views did so on the basis of "I've got mine, fuck you". Not old enough to have been around for Reagan, but I can definitely sympathize with internal kneejerk conservative tendencies based on childhood geography.

Truth Machine:
Really? Name-calling? I'm a jerk because I said I hope someone's not that cynical about young adults? Please. If having a differing opinion from you makes me a jerk in your book, your value judgment is laughable and easily dismissed.

Anodyne: [non sequitur hostile attack]: If you think one cannot become more empathic with time, you're sadly mistaken.

You're stretching the definition of non sequitur. And hostile? lol Do you even know what that means? Disagreeing with you doesn't make me hostile, you dingbat. If I said "you fucking piece of shit, you don't know what you're talking about. I hate people like you *plugs ears and goes lalalalala*", then maybe you'd have a point.

You don't.
-----------------------------

Paul:
Looking back, you are fairly correct; it seems there was a misunderstanding of what the other said about knowledge and empathy. I understand what you were getting at, but it wasn't initially interpreted that way. Essentially, we're in agreement but differ a little in nuance. Not a big deal.

She knew full well what she was getting in to, it was HER own fault for engaging in the first place.**(snark)

*tries to subdue chortle so that co-workers don't stare at her like she's crazy*
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JustALurker:

That means we aren't allowed to be as vicious in our comments?

Riiiiight... So, because I said she does need to be called out on her bullshit, that means I said that we can't tell her her views are infinitely retarded horse shit. Give me a break. I was saying that too many of the comments I read had the gist of "she's a hopeless case and a complete fucking retard", which on an emotional level I can definitely understand--she said some things that make me want to slap her upside the head too--but the point is that it's illogical to write-off someone at that age based on their assessment of the world. Yes, she's blatantly sheltered. And yes, she's acting like a totally heartless little prick. I've never denied that. In pointing out that she's young, I'm not giving her a free pass. It just bears consideration that she's 19 and it's not like sexuality and gender issues have been in her radar since the day she was born. Yes, they are legally an adult at that age, but the adult is primitive.
-----------------------------

Caine:

I think Anodyne is just jumping because of her age and the potential for growth. That's one for the irony meter.

Explain how it's ironic. I don't want to make assumptions as to what you were specifically referring, so I'll address that later.

I wasn't jumping; I wrote a post based on my observations. That's it. If it sounded that way to you, I can assure you there was no panicked jumping involved. (Note the lack of !!1!1!!!1 and egregious upper case text :p)

I was pointing out that the attitude I see here labels her as a lost cause, and it's not appropriate. Because she is not steeped in fundie bullshit, the chances of her changing her mind are much higher than a lot of her peers that have been drowned in religion. So yes, she does have the potential to change her mind. Pointing this out as if it has some sort of negative connotation is absurd.
-----------------------------

Should I refrain from looking at the big picture since the lot of you don't seem to think it has any bearing on the discussion at hand?

For the record, my observations aren't only Skatje-specific. The same applies for all of her sheltered & secular contemporaries. And don't give me that 19-is-old-enough-to-know-better crap unless you're asserting that you're each some kind of super-human that never had to adjust their mistaken worldview at any time to sync with reality. I find it hard to believe that none of you were ever haughty about something and later discovered that you'd firmly placed your foot in your mouth and down your throat. I'm not saying that one's opinion is invalidated because they used to similarly think in poorly conceived terms, but to pretend like a 19-year-old that doesn't grasp why the right to autonomy is so important makes him/her just as repulsively culpable as a 45-year-old that holds the same beliefs is to deny reality.

Addendum -
I'm posting here at work, and getting interrupted several times during my commentary causes me to lose my train of thought, which sometimes lends itself to a lack of concise expression on my part. If in the future it should happen that I'm not making sense, it's probably not on purpose--by all means, if I contradict myself in a post, please quote it and point it out.

Should I refrain from looking at the big picture since the a lot of you don't seem to think it has any bearing on the discussion at hand?

Oops...fixed that.

Despite your carefully-cultivated style (and I do appreciate it), I think it's excessive and excessively rude.

this should be fun

By Rev. BigDumbChimp (not verified) on 23 Apr 2010 #permalink

Anodyne:

I was pointing out that the attitude I see here labels her as a lost cause, and it's not appropriate. Because she is not steeped in fundie bullshit, the chances of her changing her mind are much higher than a lot of her peers that have been drowned in religion. So yes, she does have the potential to change her mind. Pointing this out as if it has some sort of negative connotation is absurd.

You seem to have completely missed my first response to you (970). As far as many of the attitudes here, as I pointed out, this is not the first time Skatje has argued these viewpoints here. Some of us have more experience in regard to her views on this subject. This isn't a brand new "revelation" or anything. Also, her distinct lack of empathy is disturbing. One could reasonably expect her to have a finer developed sense of empathy at this point.

Yes, she may "grow" out of it. She may also simply "grow" more entrenched. As it stands, she's been treated better than most pro-lifers would be. I take this issue very seriously. If someone is going to persist in placing fetuses first, they are going to hear about it. Full stop.

By Caine, Fleur du mal (not verified) on 23 Apr 2010 #permalink

Okay, so someone's opinion hasn't changed fast enough for you. That doesn't invalidate anything I've said.

If I'm talking to a Christian whose views I've already countered, I'm not going to say "you're such fucking stupid son of a bitch--you really don't get it, do you? I've already told you why you're wrong, but since you're dense, I'll repeat." Do you really think that tactic is going to work on a strong-willed young adult?

Truth is truth, and it's not diminished if I concede that my opponent is a human being, however irrational they may be.

wow - I read the whole page and I can't believe it has to be said on a pharygula thread, but re: Rape and who is responsible -
As a female I am NOT responsible for preventing my rape; all those men out there are responsible for NOT RAPING ME. I should be able to walk outside, naked, in mixed company, and expect to not be molested or raped.

This idea that women can somehow be 'asking for it' is so sad, and so indicative of how our culture expects women to be on guard, and distrusting of sex (and men) at all times.

I won't even wade in to the abortion debate because, although I haven't had one, I WAS forcefully coerced into sex by my abusive then-boyfriend and getting pregnant by him (thereby allowing him into my life forever, even if I managed to get my self away at a later date) would have very much ruined my life - making me just another sob story. I very much suspect the position of "women should just accept pregnancy as a possible side-effect of sex" comes very much from someone who has
a) never been forced into grey-area sex where it's not so much that you didn't consent, but that you didn't think you would be *allowed* to not consent, and
b) never actually been pregnant or given birth (if you think early pregnancy is uncomfortable, try late pregnancy). I can tell you, there is NOTHING positive about being pregnant except that baby, and if you don't want that baby, WTF would you go through pregnancy??
c) hasn't spent time living in the house with a small baby. My youngest brother is 14 years younger than me and I took care of him a lot as a teen. That fact alone kept me celibate until my 20's when I met the above, abusive boyfriend. The burden born by a woman relative to pregnancy doesn't end with childbirth.

I'm now very happily married with a very-much-wanted daughter (who was accidentally conceived while I was using contraceptives), but I still spent the entire pregnancy/birth experience wondering how the species hadn't died out already. My hair grew in WHITE for the first trimester because the fetus took so much out of me.

Ok, a little wading - one thing I haven't seen addressed here is how much fucking HARD WORK the first couple of years of parenthood are, and unless you have some magical arrangement where the father can breastfeed, the onus is STILL on the mother. I mean, there are possible breaks, but the majority of care is still undertaken by the mother -mammals and all that- and taking care of a young baby makes pregnancy look like a picnic. A fetus is surprisingly portable and complacent. Not so after birth. True, my baby wasn't kicking my kidneys anymore, so that's a plus, but I didn't get more than 45 minutes of sleep together for the first six weeks. I would NEVER push parenthood onto someone who hadn't 100% signed up for ALL of it so yes, I FULLY 100% support a woman's right to not have a baby if she has any doubts. For every painful, sleep-deprived, horrific moment, I never once doubted that I wanted to be my daughter's mother. No one should be denied that or forced into a situation where they don't want it (pregnancy OR parenthood). Ever. And guess what, I came to that conclusion from the rights of the fetus too - every baby ought to be wanted. You could even say I wish there were more abortions (or more correctly, more prevented-pregnancies). I'll start aguing about the benefits of adoption when we suddenly have a surplus of adoptive parents and no unwanted kids to be found for them. Until then, for me the adoption argument fails full stop.

By https://me.yah… (not verified) on 23 Apr 2010 #permalink

I'm going to talk about style for a bit.

And I'm not going to waste my time reading it; sorry that you wasted yours writing it.

By truth machine, OM (not verified) on 23 Apr 2010 #permalink

I'm a jerk because I said I hope someone's not that cynical about young adults?

No, asshole, that's not what I said, or anything like it. Paul said that Skatje lacks empathy as well as knowledge; that's a simple fact that you agree with. Your LEAP to the notion that he was saying she couldn't change was unwarranted and stupid. Who knows, maybe you can change.

By truth machine, OM (not verified) on 23 Apr 2010 #permalink

Ok, Robocop, I did skim your post and it's just the usual blah blah blah, but I will respond to one point:

"RETARDED"

As I noted three times, it was her word that she applies to other pro-lifers. Surely you aren't so retarded as to not be able to understand the point of applying back at her.

By truth machine, OM (not verified) on 23 Apr 2010 #permalink

Anodyne:

Do you really think that tactic is going to work on a strong-willed young adult?

*snorts* Anodyne, if you read the whole thread, you'd find many people took your preferred approach, which simply garnered vicious responses from our young correspondent.

For myself, this wasn't about changing anyone's mind. It certainly was about making my viewpoint known. This isn't and wasn't some sort of "rescue Skatje" mission, FFS.

For what it's worth, you're now bordering heavily on the concern troll argument. Tone and style might be important to you, however, they do not take precedence here. Substance does. By the way, most of us weren't peppering our posts with "you fucking idiot" or anything else of that nature. Some people did. So what? That doesn't invalidate the substance of their point or argument.

Look, clutch your pearls all you wish; maunder on about the need to gently guide and nurture young adults and so forth. I disagree with your parts of your viewpoint and have clearly set forth why. I am strongly opposed to anti-choice views and will counter them no matter where I find them. I don't care if they come from a 17 year old or a 70 year old. Simply because there is an off chance distasteful views might be held due to age is no reason to let them slide. Okay? Now, I'm tired of circular arguing which is rapidly descending into concern troll territory. I'm agreeing to disagree here. Vehemently.

By Caine, Fleur du mal (not verified) on 23 Apr 2010 #permalink

I think it's akin to being invited into someone's home and taking a crap on the living room rug.

Now that is just so wrong. Both PZ and Skatje made the point that she is an independent and autonomous person. If anyone crapped on the rug, it is her with her "fuck off" and "sob story" and her whole attitude towards both the issue at hand and the people here. For the most part people were rather restrained in their treatment of her, including me. There was one instance of "stupid twit" from Rutee. As for "spoiled brat", look at what it was in response to. And sickening is a personal and honest assessment, and was in response and concurrence with what JeffreyD (someone highly regarded by those who have been here for a while) wrote of having a bad taste in his mouth that he couldn't get rid of and of this being a "canker sore" of a thread.

By truth machine, OM (not verified) on 23 Apr 2010 #permalink