Benefits to Women of “Egg-As-Person” Laws? Hmmmm…We Didn’t Think Of That!


It seems that in our concern about the negative implications of "egg-as-person" laws for women–you know, loss of autonomy for the woman as a person, loss of access to contraception, abortion and any medical intervention that might save her life but adversely affect her fertilized egg, loss of legal rights to do anything that might *potentially* adversely affect a fertilized egg because she might *potentially* be pregnant at any moment between the years of 11 and 55–we have overlooked some potential benefits.

Courtesy of our friends in the feminist blogger/journalist communities in Colorado and throughout the U.S., here are some potential benefits and some additional negative implications of recognizing zygotes, or fertilized eggs, as persons.

Women could:

  • Drive in the high-occupancy or carpool lane at all times
  • Get a federal dependent tax deduction from the moment of fertilization

  • Demand to be served two-for-one meal restaurant specials

  • Collect Social Security and Medicare nine months early

  • Blame the "egg" for any misdeed or crimes; cop only to being an unwilling accessory

  • Sue their egg(s) for pain and suffering

 

On the other hand, there are some as-yet unconsidered implications for those zygotes and their "hosts."

  • Eggs could appear as aggrieved parties on "Judge Judy."
  • The possibility of carrying a fertilized egg could leave women subject to being charged for two seats by an airline (for her and her "egg") (but no extra peanuts!).
  • Ultrasounds could be subject to invasion of privacy complaints by eggs.
  • The "truth truck" could be sued for defamation of character.
  • A fertilized egg could sue for wrongful imprisonment in a womb.
  • Age discrimination law age ranges would need to be rolled back 9 months.

 

It’s all those unintended consequences….

Feel free to add your own.

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  • jenkcarl

    Hahaha THIS. Hilarious. But also very, very creepy. Women need, NEED to have more rights than that of a collection of an embryo, fetus, etc. If not, then we are little more than test tubes – make the baby, then throw away the tube. Life magically begins at birth no more than it magically begins at conception; to me life begins with a functioning brain, as science says when a brain is no longer functioning, that is where life ends. But even so, until it is no longer a part or extension of my body, it’s my body and it’s MY right-to-life. Life doesn’t magically begin at birth, but the law that recognizes it as a life does, and so it needs to stay. Great piece!

    ****

    If the anti-choice movement was really pro-life, they would be pro-choice.

  • colleen

    I noticed with some amusement that in one of the eggs-are-people-too-bills which failed to pass (the ND one?) the situation in which a blastocyst was not a person was for the purposes of census counts.

    The only difference between the American anti-abortion movement and the Taliban is about 8,000 miles.

    Dr Warren Hern, MD

  • cycles

    It might be difficult, but name and ID would need to be issued at conception. How else is TSA supposed to check it against the terrorist database?

     

    I’m reading "When Abortion Was a Crime: Women, Medicine, and Law in the United States, 1867-1973" by Leslie J. Reagan. The prologue brings up a very interesting point about how people define pregnancy: it was only recently that insemination and implantation have been considered (by some) to be the difference between pregnant and not-pregnant. Prior to that, a Western woman considered herself pregnant at "quickening" (the first time she felt movement), but not before. The condition of "pregnancy" centered on the detectable change in the woman’s body, and had little to do with her male partner’s role in donating the sperm that met the egg many weeks before.

     

    The recent focus on defining pregnancy at the instant of fertilization has a lot to do with waning patriarchies struggling to maintain relevance and control by insisting that pregnancy is all about the sperm part of the process.

  • figleaf

    At the moment it takes zero effort for opponents of pollution and product regulation to also support anti-choice legislation. Life-Begins-At-Conception really ought to change that.

    If the law were really to say life began at conception then every company that emits even potentially toxic materials either in their production process or end products becomes potentially not just legally but possibly criminally liable for any or all miscarriages.

    It seems like just a couple of pro-consumer initiatives (if someone like the NRDC said they were drafting lawsuits in anticipation of LBAC laws, that muckrakers from Grist or Mother Jones was making inquiries into miscarriage rates in mining states, that Nate Silver was cross-tabbing pesticide use and miscarriage rates, that trial lawyers were preparing "public service" ads reminding folks that so-called late periods are often just very early miscarriage and that early miscarriages could be the result of gasoline or plastic additives) would at the very least raise the classic fear, uncertainty, and doubt that company shareholders and board members really, really don’t like to see in the potential-liability sections of quarterly earnings reports. It best it could derail funding, divide conservative coalitions, and force advocates to add enough hypocritcal clauses to their initiatives that even cable news networks would call them on it.

    I mean, yes, it’s a two-edged sword. Assuming there were any "pro-life" groups who really are pro-life and not just anti-women’s-choice it’s possible that they’d take up the cause as an argument *for* LBAC. But even if there were there’s little chance that anti-choice groups would support them and no chance business interests would.

    Anyway, with a little help from our side that could become the biggest potential repercussion. And, I think, the biggest wedge against it ever passing in the first place.

    figleaf

  • larry-j

    Is ridiculing a straw men just shooting fish in a barrel?

     

    The "egg-as-person" movement is easy to make light of because it is a piece of political horror fiction no different than the "death panels" in health care reform.

     

    "We use the term ‘egg-as-person’ purposefully to underscore the ridiculous nature of the claim." (JJ)

     

    Isn’t that the same as a ridiculing?

     

    "We have made an editorial decision to ‘call it as we see it.’" (JJ)

     

    Editorial decision?

     

    Your policies state that…

     

    Journalists should:

    • Ensure the accuracy of all information, regardless of where it comes from. Review facts and stories. Never knowingly publish false information.
    • Acknowledge the difference between advocacy and news reporting. Analysis and commentary should be understood as such.


    The term "egg-as-person" is inaccurate, and using it in headlines for newis stories mixes advocacy and reportage.

     

    Is ‘advocacy before accuracy’ a new editorial policy?

     

  • jodi-jacobson

    have news, commentary and editorial.

    We are, as stated on our site, "unapologetically progressive and pro-choice," we are also pro-evidence and rely on it all the time.

    The media have for too long just adopted the rhetoric of the far right in making ridiculous claims about biology and reproduction.  We have made an editorial decision not to do so.  There is no more evidence for the "personhood" of zygotes than for "egg-as-person" as a description of this effort for what it is.

     

    Thanks for writing.

  • silviahall

    Can the egg vote? Will the law give the egg voting rights?

    This can be another benefit. Nobody can say that eggs have not rights.

  • silviahall

    You are right on this.  I will certainly check the book. It is all about power and control.  

  • larry-j

    You obviously may say anything you like, however, you take a position that being inaccurate in order to gain rhetorical advantage is something for which people should be held accountable. I am trying to hold you to account.

     

    Here are my claims:

    • #1) You have made a commitment to being accurate in discourse, but you are not honoring that commitment.
    • #2) Equating zygotes with ova is scientifically inaccurate.
    • #3) Portraying people who advocate on behalf of human life beginning at fertilization as people who would grant rights to gametes is journalistically inaccurate a well as inflammatory.

     

    Your views regarding the worthiness of the philosophical viewpoints or political actions of those with whom you disagree are subjective just as are my judgments regarding your beliefs and political activities.  Presumably you would take issue with the opposition if they were to make claims about accuracy, but then defend an inaccurate portrayal of you merely because they found your beliefs to be worthy of ridicule. 

     

    By way of illustration, allow my to propose a hypothetical (but entirely plausible) scenario.  Suppose that a pro-choice individual felt that granting legal protection to a fetus during the first trimester was inappropriate, but that the individual felt that granting protections during the third trimester was appropriate.  If my philosophical beliefs do not allow me to find a morally significant distinction between first and third trimester fetuses, then am I entitled to be misleading about the pro-choice individual’s position? 

     

    I don’t think that I would be so entitled, and I make good faith attempts (acknowledhing that this is an emotion laden issue and at times when people seem deliberately provocative I may fail to live up to this standard) to accurately portray the position of those with whom I disagree.  The fact that you may view granting legal rights to a zygote as so absurd that it is no more morally justified than granting those rights to an ovum does not give you the right to misrepresent the position of those who have different  beliefs.

     

    Subjective judgments are not what I am taking issue with- rather the objective inaccuracy of your language is.
    If you have some (objective rather than ideological) defense against #2 or #3, then I’d like to hear it.
    If not, then you either have abandoned the commitment in #1, or you should correct your practices.

     

    Were you to say that we engage in advocacy of ‘zygotes-as-persons’, then I would have no objection whatsoever.

     

    I look forward to your response.

     

    Respectfully,

     

    Larry

  • larry-j

    Certainly, pregnancy was traditionally associated with quickening if one is willing to look to times when the understanding of the mechanism of human reproduction was primitive.  Does that mean that associating pregnancy with changes in the female body was part of a view that gave a priveleged position to the status of the women?  Obviously not- early thinking also presumed that the female body was passive and that the male contribution was active.  (Hence analogies with argiculture: associating wome’s bodies with a field to be plowed and sperm with seed that was planted in it.)

     

    It makes much more sense (if one is not looking to justify preconceived notions about gender attitudes) to conclude that the emphasis on earlier stages in reproduction has been a result of advances in scientific understanding.  Quickening was emphasized because it was observable  evidence of life that was different from that of the mother at a time when movement was still inextricably connected to ideas of what the essential nature of life was (the soul or ‘anima’ being the ‘animating principle) and because hormonal changes were not yet scientifically detectable.

     

    When hormonal changes were discovered and tests were developed, then that became the standard.

     

    The present tension between emphasizing fertilization and emphasizing implantation is better understood as a conflict between those who prioritize a scientifically accurate beginning point to the human life cycle and those who prioritize change for which there are empirical tests.  In other words, it is about theory versus pragmatism.

     

    You can (and I’m sure will) interpret it as a struggle between forces of patriarchy and empowerment of women if you are so predisposed- but you should remember that if you do so, then you are actually focusing on motives which you attribute to people (sometimes accurately, but sometimes not) rather than to the substance of the debate.  In other words, it is not a theory which deals with the debate, but which deals with the roles you assign to the debators.

     

     

  • ahunt

    Funny you should mention science, Larry, given the astounding pace at which maternal science is advancing. For example, we know that breastfeeding acts as an "abortifacient."

    Scientists are fairly certain that upwards of 2/3rds of all fertilized ovum get "flushed."

    Scientists are just now uncovering the role that stress plays in early miscarriage…(in the initial study, 90% of the women with elevated levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, miscarried in the first three weeks.

    In other words, it is about theory versus pragmatism.

    If the substance of the debate is when the developing BEF is considered to be alive…there is no dispute. But you and I both know, Larry…that the dispute is over the "legal personhood" of fertilized ovum. And just as BEF science is advancing, so too is maternal science. You are on a collision course here…and I suggest you carry the "personhood" argument through to the logical conclusions.

     

     

     

     

  • paul-bradford

    I suggest you carry the "personhood" argument through to the logical conclusions.

     

    It may intrigue you to learn, ahunt, that I think about you and the arguments you make at odd times in the day.  (I don’t know, maybe that thought will distress you.)  At any rate, I give your ideas a lot of consideration.

     

    Today, for example, while I was walking around the MIT neighborhood, I thought about your ‘logical conclusion’ arguments and I found myself wishing there were some way to persuade you that many of those who are looking for ways to foster respect for the lives of the unborn actually want women to lead lives of freedom and fulfillment.  Some of us actually hold women in as high a regard as you do.

     

    Take a moment, please, and think about the fact that there are already millions of women who predicate their behavior on the belief that any unborn child they bear (or might be bearing) has as much right to life as they do.  I’m sure you don’t suppose that these women are so crippled by scruples that they refuse to breast feed, or mourn over their menstrual periods, or avoid any pursuit that might prove exciting or interesting.  No.  They don’t put ridiculous or unreasonable constraints on their own behavior.  They do, however, respect life and are cognizant of the possibility that they might be carrying life. 

     

    Why, then, do you assume that we as a society would throw common sense to the wind if we ever made it our goal to improve survival rates for the unborn?  When I think about some of the conversations we’ve had I have to shake my head over the fact that you think we must choose between two stark extremes: thoroughly degrading women or completely denying the intrinsic worth of the lives of the very young.

     

    There is a middle ground.  A rational, sensible, well-intentioned, generous and open-minded middle ground.  I’d love to be able to figure out what would motivate you to start looking for it.

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • ahunt

    Uh Paul…last I checked, you are opposed to "fertilized ova as person" legislation. Larry and others are not. Why is that, do you think?

    Instead, you appear to envision a world where women voluntarily remove themselves from participation in public life, and severely limit thier activities in private life…on behalf of an ova that may or may not be fertilized.

    Your middle ground consists of: A) If women would just think like you, behave the way you  want them to behave, believe what you believe, then women will be rational, sensible, well-intentioned, generous and open-minded. And B) You seek to define the best interests of women and the BEF as one in the same. Can’t be done…rationally.

     

  • larry-j

    That’s a bit off topic.  My comment was just a response to the patriarchy stuff, but that’s okay. 

     

    Do 2 out of 3 zygotes naturally fail to implant?  (I assume that that is what you mean by ‘get flushed’.)  If that is true (I’m not saying that it is false, but I’ll need some sort of evidence in order to accept it as true) then it is interesting, but not morally or legally significant so far as I can discern.  Newborn infants (or neonates) have higher mortality rates than adults.  Even if prenates (or z/e/f’s as you probably call them) have high mortality rates, then so what?  High infant mortality rates don’t change our moral compunctions against infanticide. 

     

    Significantly, I am aware of no philosophical theory of ‘personhood’ in the professional literature (and I’ve read all of them that I’ve been able to find) which counts neonates as persons.  I’m not 100% up to date on that.  There may have been a journal article in the last 5 years or so that I’ve missed, but I try to keep abreast.  Their cognitive development is too primitive. 
    (There are plenty of theological accounts which give this status to neonates, but I reject those because I am not religious.)

     

    We grant neonates a legal and a moral ‘right to life’ precisely because of the importance of the potential they possess.  Legal personhood is granted to them because the populations of most countries would be apalled if they had no such protection, but legal personhood is not based on philosophical notions of personhood, which is obvious when one considers that corporations can be legal persons.

     

    PS: I don’t think that you mean abortifacient.  I’ve never heard that at least.  There is evidence that suggests that breastfeeding has contragestive effects.  I assume that that’s what you mean.  If you’ve got a reference on the 1/3 implantation claim, I’d be interested.

  • ahunt

    We grant them a ‘right to life’ precisely because of the potential they possess.

    By that reasoning, you would simultaneously have to DENY the "potential" of unwilling "Mom," given the social, economic and biological realities of pregnancy and childbirth. "Who knows what she could have accomplished, had she not been forced into motherhood against her will."

     

    And you are avoiding the very science you proclaim. If in fact, you believe that "personhood" begins at conception, then any activity that disrupts, endangers, damages or prevents the BEF from coming into this world is…what…murder?

     

    Google breastfeeding and luteal phase, Larry, and then get back to us.

  • larry-j

    I consider the difference between irrational and rational to be that one both prohibits logical contradictions and uses empirical evidence and the principle of parsimony to justify objective claims, whereas the other does not.  Your claim that the interests of prenates (or z/e/f’s) and women who are reproductive mature must rationally be in conflict with one another is likely to be true IF you are a hedonistic utilitarian.  Not everyone is. 

     

    Then again, on the basis of hedonistic utilitarianism, the welfare rights of the poor and the property rights of the wealthy are always in conflict when one considers taxes and entitlement programs.  If you are a liberal, then when the benefit to the less powerful is greater than the loss of benefit to the more powerful, then you prioritize the right of the less powerful.  I assume therefore that generally you would favor increasing the tax rates on the wealthy to provide services for the poor.  If one accepts that a right to life for prenates exists, then the same principle would prioritize their right over that of the biological mother.

     

    Food for thought.

  • ahunt

    Babble much?

     

    Your claim that the interests of prenates (or z/e/f’s) and women who
    are reproductive mature must rationally be in conflict with one another
    is likely to be true IF you are a hedonistic utilitarian.  Not everyone
    is. 

     

    No. I claim that the interests of the BEF and the woman is rationally in conflict if the woman does not wish to be pregnant, does not want to give birth, does not want a (another) child,  and does want an abortion. Clear now?

  • larry-j

    First, on the issue of newborns- they are not persons, but they are ‘potential persons’.  (The same is true for prenates.)  When one argues that infanticide should be immoral, people base this on the potential (to be a person) of the infant.  Human newborns are (likely because of the size of our skulls) are born at an earlier stage of development than other mammals.  If you did not consider their potential to be persons, but merely their actual abilities at the time of birth, then killing them would be morally equivalent to killing an animal.  (Some animal rights activists- who I think are a bit crazy- actually thinks that this is the position one ought to take.)

    I was not refering to potential accomplishments (writing a piano sonata or discovering a treatment for Alzheimers disease). I was talking about the potential to develop morally significant abilities rather than possessing the abilities.

     

    Secondly, I am not ignoring science at all.  You have no basis to say so.  That’s just hyperbole on your part.  Tell me where I am doing so.

     

    You asked, "If in fact, you believe that "personhood" begins at conception, then any activity that disrupts, endangers, damages or prevents the BEF from coming into this world is…what…murder?"

     

    That is an ethical question, not a scientific one.  

     

    Here is are analagous questions:

     

    • Is any activity that disrupts the life of a person murder?
    • Is any activity that endangers the life of a person murder?
    • Is any activity that damages the body of a person murder?
    • Is any activity that causes the death of a person murder?

     

    The answer to all of these questions is ‘no’.

     

    Murder requires an intent to kill.

     

    PS: "
    Google breastfeeding and luteal phase, Larry, and then get back to us.
    "  Huh- needlessly rude, ahunt.  I guess you missed that I already responded to this above.  (I wrote: I don’t think that you mean abortifacient
    I’ve never heard that at least.  There is evidence that suggests that
    breastfeeding has contragestive effects.  I assume that that’s what you
    mean.  If you’ve got a reference on the 1/3 implantation claim, I’d be interested.)  Next time read the whole comment before you start snapping at people please.

     

  • larry-j

    Again with the rudeness ahunt? 

     

    Didactic I’d own up to, but not babbling!

     

    I know what you said.  I was clear on that.  You don’t seem to understand what I was saying.  You talked about the woman and the prenate having interests which were in conflict.  You are assuming that one’s interests are merely a matter of either fulfillment of desire or having greater ‘satisfaction’ or ‘happiness’.  That is a hedonistic utilitarian view.  There are other philosophical views which do not place a premium on such subjective psychological states.

     

    Do you understand now what I said?

  • steveloveswomen

    Larry,

     

    I think you’re making two errors here. First, you still seem to assume you’re debating with people who are doing so in good faith, even if they disagree with you. This is clearly not the case. Second, every human being is a person because of what she is, not because of what she was or might potentially become. Otherwise, personhood comes and goes based on our ability to demonstrate sentience, or, as the Nazis demonstrated, we can destroy an entire population by depersonalizing them. Many of us would fail the sentience test at various points in our lives (as many do here with their posts) but that does not make it morally acceptable to destroy them. It isn’t wrong to kill the fetus because of what the fetus might become, it’s wrong to kill the fetus because of what she is, a human being.

     

    Ahunt is making the common error among those who obfuscate in order to deny the truth of agency. Murder is a serious offense, involuntary manslaughter is not. In both cases someone dies – in the former instance there is intention, in the latter there is not.

     

    To say that natural discharge of the fetal human being is the same as procured abortion is nonsense, because of the lack of agency in the first case. Pro-choicers know this but still throw it out there as if it means something. This is just silliness. Actually, maybe they don’t know this, even though every child who has ever (honestly) said "but I didn’t MEAN to do it" is making a legitimate case for why they are not responsible for whatever the problem was, and thus knows the difference between agency and passivity.

  • larry-j

    [duplicate comment deleted by author]

  • ahunt

    Not following…you are claiming that the status of legal personhood should be conferred on fertilized ovum while simultaneously acknowledging that fertilized ovum are not persons…but merely potential persons.

     

    Does. Not. Compute.

  • ahunt

    Doesn’t fly, Steve. Science is demonstrating that varied maternal activities have a profound effect on the BEF, for good or ill. Just as we have legislated mandatory car seats to protect infants…in the event of fetal personhood laws, we will be legislating profound restrictions on what women may and may not do…if in fact, the BEF is a "person" entitled to equal protection of the law.

     

    The fact that Mom may be engaging in perfectly legal activities w/o intent will not matter. If the BEF is threatened by legal activities…the charge is at best, child endangerment…and at worst, voluntary manslaughter or murder.

  • ahunt

    You are assuming that one’s interests are merely a matter of either
    fulfillment of desire or having greater ‘satisfaction’ or ‘happiness’.

     

    Project much? The facts are that women choose abortion for all kinds of reasons, and to reduce their motivations to personal fulfillment and/or happiness denies the reality of women’s lives and experiences.

  • ahunt

    Ah, so RH is now allowing editing of posts after the fact. Who knew?

     

    And I’m delighted to know that you do not consider any BC form/practice that prevents implantation to be an abortifacient. My mistake. Bear in mind then, that you must also not believe that legal personhood exists at the moment of conception.

  • colleen

    Again with the rudeness ahunt?

    Larry,
    You’ve been condescending and abusive since you started posting here. We’re used to this from the men of the religious right. We understand that this is how you guys talk to women when we dare to express an opinion you disagree with.  We understand that you have deeply held beliefs about our place in relation to you. We’ve all had men like you as bosses, neighbors, co-workers and so on.
    I am not complaining, an honest objection would do no good and would only encourage you and exacerbate your behavior. But I would like to point out two things:

    • 1. you’re the last person with any right to whine about rudeness.
    • 2. Disagreeing with you is not "rudeness".

    PS Coughing up what you managed to learn in philosophy 101 does not make you look smart or educated. Nor does it grant you any of the authority you so desperately crave and are clearly not entitled to. Hope this helps

     

    <i>The only difference between the American anti-abortion movement and the Taliban is about 8,000 miles.</i>

    Dr Warren Hern, MD

  • crowepps

    You talked about the woman and the prenate having interests which were in conflict.  You are assuming that one’s interests are merely a matter of either fulfillment of desire or having greater ‘satisfaction’ or ‘happiness’.  That is a hedonistic utilitarian view.

    Women and prenates have biological interests which are in conflict.  Every calorie and molecule of oxygen used by the prenate is used at the woman’s expense.

    There are other philosophical views which do not place a premium on such subjective psychological states.

    Certain the "philosophical view" that zygotes have an absolute right to life at the expense of the woman in whom they MAY implant is a philosophical view that completely ignores the "subjective psychological state" of the woman in favor of the "subjective psychological state" of the philosopher who is promoting this sentimental myth.

     

  • crowepps

    The present tension between emphasizing fertilization and emphasizing implantation is better understood as a conflict between those who prioritize a scientifically accurate beginning point to the human life cycle and those who prioritize change for which there are empirical tests.  In other words, it is about theory versus pragmatism.

    The problem with this is that theory can be tested against actual fact and having been established as supported by fact, they then can translate into pragmatism.  Theories which are entirely disconnected from facts have to remain only theories, since they are incapable of becoming enforceable laws.

    Quickening was emphasized because it was observable evidence of life

    Actually, back in the bad old days, quickening was the first sure sign of pregnancy.  When times were hard, and they usually were, missing a menstrual period was as likely to be malnutrition or starvation.

     

  • crowepps

    Considering the heated objection to hormonal birth control on the basis that although its KNOWN mechanism is suppressing ovulation there isn’t any proof that it doesn’t ALSO sometimes possibly prevent implantation, it seems to me that women in their reproductive years would be in a position where it would be PRESUMED that they were pregnant unless they could prove they were not and that any activity whatsoever could be PRESUMED to be harmful to the fetus without proof that it was not.

     

    Several posters have protested that it’s irrational and hysterical to even suggest that society might try to ENFORCE draconian laws, and yet they seem to have missed the point underlying the various horror stories that have been posted here – there are ALREADY people attempting and sometimes succeeding in idiocies like forcing women carrying anencephalic infants to complete their pregnancies, preventing women who have been raped from receiving Plan B, putting pregnant women who use drugs in jail, and applying for and getting court orders to force women to have unnecessary caesarians because of a purported benefit to the fetus.

     

    Why would it be irrational and hysterical to assert that when the facts are demonstrably that these things are happening with the law in its PRESENT state, that if the law is changed to provide ‘right to life’ to zygotes BEFORE IMPLANTATION, the same people who are NOW ignoring the rights of pregnant women would become more controlling and more invasive and more dismissive of the rights of every woman of reproductive age?

     

    The best way to predict the future is to assume that the THINGS THAT ARE HAPPENING NOW would continue, that if the law were changed they would HAPPEN MORE OFTEN, and that the people who are right now asserting that women’s rights should be subordinate to fetal rights are sincere in their statements, mean exactly what they say, and are attempting to mandate their beliefs as they assert they are.

  • crowepps

    many of those who are looking for ways to foster respect for the lives of the unborn actually want women to lead lives of freedom and fulfillment. Some of us actually hold women in as high a regard as you do.

    Yes, yes, sure — freedom and fulfillment so long as they choose either the role of virgin or mother. High regard so long as they understand that the instant there’s a zygote possible, their freedom and fulfillment are instantly void. High regard so long as THEY DO AS THEY ARE TOLD.

    Why, then, do you assume that we as a society would throw common sense to the wind if we ever made it our goal to improve survival rates for the unborn?

    Our society has no common sense. This whole ‘controversy’ shows that. Any society which can simultaneously argue the government should ‘protect the unborn’ by promoting/enforcing that pregnant women should ‘value them’ AND at the same time asserts that the government shouldn’t be involved in health care because ‘government shouldn’t be involved in medical decisions’ is entirely unacquainted with common sense.

    There is a middle ground. A rational, sensible, well-intentioned, generous and open-minded middle ground. I’d love to be able to figure out what would motivate you to start looking for it.

    This sort of snotty remark does not advance your argument. The clear implication that anyone who doesn’t agree with you is irrational, impractical, ill-intentioned, selfish and close-minded is exactly the attitude which leaves many women, INCLUDING ME, distrusting both you and your position because it’s a pretty clear indication that you only ‘respect’ women who agree with you and do what you tell them to do.

  • paul-bradford

    you appear to envision a world where women  voluntarily  remove themselves from participation in public life

     

    ahunt,

     

    I don’t know if you’ve noticed this, but I detect that your comments are becoming less strident as you develop some confidence that I’m actually attempting to have a conversation with you.

     

    In fact, I’ll bet that you already realize that I’m going to deny that I expect or desire that women remove themselves from participation in life.  It won’t surprise you to hear that what I’m hoping for is that more and more people will be aware of the safety issues faced by the unborn and that more and more women will take reasonable steps to address those safety concerns.

     

    Consider this: Fifty years ago, hardly anybody wore seat belts.  Most people, then, considered seat belts a terrible inconvenience.  Auto companies didn’t want the extra expense of installing them.  Since that time there’s been a huge change in public attitudes and, not surprisingly, a huge improvement in highway safety.  Fifty years ago you couldn’t go to a restaurant without being bowled over by cigarette smoke.  It’s not that way now because now people are more concerned about the safety risks of second hand smoke.  Don’t you remember how forcefully smokers argued that they couldn’t be expected to eat a meal without smoking?  Don’t you remember how forcefully motorists argued that wearing a seat belt was ‘too confining’? 

     

    Fifty years from now mothers will routinely take steps that they are neglecting to take now — and, because of these steps, the mortality rates of unborn children will go down.  No woman will be forced to go to jail while we make this transition toward increased fetal safety but attitudes will change.  Women will be more careful, but they’ll still be able to have rich and fulfilling lives — and young people will be safer.

     

    That’s my middle ground. 

     

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • paul-bradford

    If you are a liberal, then when the benefit to the less powerful is greater than the loss of benefit to the more powerful, then you prioritize the right of the less powerful.

     

    Larry,

     

    Do you consider yourself a liberal?  People twist that word around to mean different things.  I often consider myself to be liberal, but when people accuse me of being liberal they’re generally insinuating that I’m basically stupid and that I undervalue hard work and responsibility.

     

    I’ll own up to this much.  I don’t think it’s right to go through life thinking only of your own ‘best interests’.  I think we live, not just for ourselves, but for others as well.  When we recognize and value the well being of others, even when it has no bearing on our own concerns, we become more human.  When we view others only through the lens of our own purposes we ‘itify’ people.  I make an effort to remember that other people have intrinsic worth.

     

    The best way I know to assert my own worth is to notice the worth of others. 

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • paul-bradford

    women choose abortion for all kinds of reasons, and to reduce their motivations to personal fulfillment and/or happiness denies the reality of women’s lives and experiences

     

    The decision to abort is made by the mother, but the motivation to abort can come from all kinds of people and all kinds of situations.

     

    I don’t win friends, here, by saying this but every child who’s ever been aborted had a father — and fathers make a big contribution to the motivation to abort, or to bring to term.  It seems to me that fathers who advocate for their unborn children do more to bring down the abortion rate than men who do no more than remind women of their ‘responsibilities’.

     

    Let me repeat myself and point out that if men had a heart-to-heart conversation with their partners before having sex and made it clear how important it was to them that they not have a child die in a procured abortion, couples would be forced to expand their ideas about what is meant by ‘satisfaction’ or ‘happiness’

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • jayn

    Paul, I think you’re still either missing, or minimizing, the very real fear of what your ideals could result in.  Fifty years ago seatbelts were rare–and today, there are places where they’re mandatory (for minors, at least).  Fifty years ago restaurants were smoking areas–now we’ve gotten to the point of legislating seperately ventilated rooms, and in some places even that is no longer legal.  While I know you do not want to enact your ideals into law, there are others who would, and the ‘intrinsic value’ of these lives, as you put it, could result in restrictions on the freedom of women of childbearing age.

     

    That is what we’re afraid of happening, if your ideals do take hold.  The value of the very very young could very well result in women being stripped of their freedoms, rendering us second-class citizens.

  • ahunt

    Fifty years from now mothers will routinely take steps that they are
    neglecting to take now — and, because of these steps, the mortality
    rates of unborn children will go down.  No woman will be forced to go
    to jail while we make this transition toward increased fetal safety but
    attitudes will change.  Women will be more careful, but they’ll still
    be able to have rich and fulfilling lives — and young people will be
    safer.

     

    Sigh…Paul, you are essentially saying that women can have rich and fulfilling lives according to your definition of "rich and fulfilling," if they would simply define ALL their hopes, dreams, aspirations, talents and abilities solely in terms of "motherhood."  

     

    "Women will be more careful"

     

    So you are acknowledging that you DO expect women to severely limit their activities, hobbies, lifestyle and occupations to that which will pose no obstacle to fertility. Correct?

     

  • paul-bradford

    Certain the "philosophical view" that zygotes have an absolute right to life at the expense of the woman in whom they MAY implant is a philosophical view that completely ignores the "subjective psychological state" of the woman in favor of the "subjective psychological state" of the philosopher who is promoting this sentimental myth.

     

    crowepps,

     

    Two arguments against the Pro-Life position keep coming up on this ‘site: 1) Pro-Lifers are simply nasty men who want to subjugate women and 2) It’s downright ridiculous to consider a z/b/e/f a human being.

     

    I’m happy to engage in either of these arguments, and I can always count on colleen to propose argument #1, but I’m glad you bring up argument #2 from time to time.

     

    Take it from me, Pro-Lifers lose any argument that centers around ‘subjective psychological state’.  Z/b/e/f’s simply don’t have any kind of subjective state that the rest of us can identify with.  Once you buy into the childish notion that the reason you have to give people their rights is because, otherwise, it would ‘hurt their feelings’, you give up any chance to argue the Pro-Life side of the argument.  (Well, you can argue it but you only end up looking like a jackass.)

     

    Zygotes don’t have feelings.  Blastocysts don’t have feelings.  Embryos don’t have feelings.  Fetuses don’t have feelings in the sense we do.  Guess what??  Neonates don’t have feelings either!  We have feelings of affection and tenderness when we notice how cute and cuddly and adorable neonates are — but their brains are too immature to have any kinds of feelings about us (or about themselves).

     

    Somehow or another we’ve gotten around to the idea it’s morally repugnant to end the life of a neonate.  This hasn’t always been the case.  It’s only been in the last ten thousand years or so that society has objected to infanticide.  Before that it was commonplace and acceptable.  What caused the change?  People did.  Grownup, walking around people with subjective states of their own.

     

    Neonates can’t ‘fight for their rights’ anymore than zygotes can — but we’ve decided to give them their rights anyway.  Neonates count because we count them.  We could count others as well, and we will.

     

    My right to life shouldn’t depend upon my cognitive abilities, nor should it depend upon the value I have to others, nor should it depend upon the degree to which others have invested in me.  My right to life ought to depend upon the fact that I have a living human body — and those who have living human bodies ought to be treated like human beings.

     

    That’s the idea I posit.  The other ideas about ‘subjective states’ are ridiculous.  Mothers have subjective states, their unborn children do not.  

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • paul-bradford

    you are essentially saying that women can have rich and fulfilling lives according to your definition of "rich and fulfilling," if they would simply define ALL their hopes, dreams, aspirations, talents and abilities solely in terms of "motherhood."

     

    ahunt, 

     

    Hello?  Hello?  Please recall that you are not talking to some Bible-thumping, pornography-addicted virgin living in his mother’s attic.  I actually have a wife.  I actually have a grown daughter.  I actually have a mental health practice with actual women for clients and co-clinicians.

     

    It seems to me that we get stuck, on this board, between two extremes.  We have, on the one hand, a strong sentiment that it ought to be all right for people to exercise the use of their reproductive organs without making any allowances at all for the reproductive function.  Men, according to this view, have ‘always’ behaved as if they could satisfy themselves without taking responsibility and fairness dictates that women ought to have this ‘right’ as well. 

     

    Then when we get some misogynistic right-wing creep like me who declares that the capacity to produce sperm or ova carries with it the need to consider the possibility that you might become a father or a mother, I’m accused of demeaning all human aspiration that doesn’t involve having children.

     

    One extreme or the other!

     

    What I’m actually saying is that men, and women, ought to be mindful of the fact that their actions have consequences — in the area of reproduction and in every other area.

     

    "If you don’t want to be a father, don’t become a father."   "If you become a father you have to behave as a father."  Goes for girls too!

     

    So you are acknowledging that you DO expect women to severely limit their activities, hobbies, lifestyle and occupations to that which will pose no obstacle to fertility. Correct?

     

    Let’s begin by acknowledging that you and I are operating in an information vacuum.  We both know that there’s a connection between maternal behavior and pregnancy outcome and we both suspect that lives could be saved if women went about things in a different way.  But….. we don’t know enough to know what changes women could reasonably make that would result in a significant improvement in fetal safety.

     

    So, my answer is this:  I expect civilization to advance, I expect people to get smarter, I expect we’ll know more in the future than we know now, and I expect mothers to make reasonable changes to improve survival rates for their children. 

     

    I’ve thought about asking you this question.  Let’s say you and I were both senators.  Let’s say I submitted a bill that would allocate $1.5 billion for medical research to find interventions that would improve pregnancy outcomes.  Let’s say I also allocated $500 million to disseminate the information we gather to doctors and to the public at large.  Would you vote for my bill?  What would you tell your constituents if they asked you why you voted as you did?  (You don’t have to ask, Senator Bradford would be speaking before every Pro-Life group that would have him, promoting the legislation as being a boon for the unborn.)  

     

     

     

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • colleen

    Paul,

    Perhaps you missed it but I’ve often pointed out the absurdity of the ridiculous claim that zygotes are ‘persons’. Likewise I hardly limit my criticisms of the religious right to the abusive men your religion produces as a natural result of it’s dogma..

    The only difference between the American anti-abortion movement and the Taliban is about 8,000 miles.

    Dr Warren Hern, MD

  • ahunt

    What do you mean by "intervention," Paul? Please be specific.

  • frolicnaked

    … I expect mothers to make reasonable changes…

     

    Are you going to trust the women actually in those situations to define what is "reasonable" for themselves?

     

  • larry-j

    "Project much?" -  Nope.  I don’t.

     

    ahunt- Do you fulfill some deep seated need to compensate for intellectual inadequacies by being snide? (Just wondering)

     

    You brought up conflicting interests of the woman and the prenate. 

     

    You could say that her actions might have benefits to others, but her interests (her own interests) can only (by definition) be egoistic, even if that only implies psychological egoism: it is still her own personal fulfillment and desire.  The behavior could be one which is altruistic, but her interests (which YOU brough up, not I) cannot be anything other than personal.

  • larry-j

    If there is a biological interest, then presumably it would involve the propagation of the species.  Unless reproduction endangers the life of the parent, from a biological perspective there is no conflict of interest.

     

    All value claims are ultimately subjective, so in that regard my view of what is ethical and yours are both subjective.  Of course, there’s nothing sentimental about my view, but there are sentimental views which come to the same conclusion.

     

    I was just trying to point out that there are theories of value which aren’t focused on people’s subjective experiences and desires.

  • larry-j

    Well now- so you’re saying that it’s equal opportunity rudeness, I guess?

     

    I guess you can interpret things your way (I’m condescending and abusive) and I’ll interpret them my way (you are rude and hypocritical).

     

    Add prejudiced too, since you are ‘prejudging’ me as a member of the religious right, when you could see from the above comments that I’ve already said I’m not.

    I’m actually an atheist.

    Not that it’s really any of your business.

     

    I don’t object to your disagreeing.  I object to your being rude, which you are.

     

    If you can’t find a better way to respond then that doesn’t speak well either of you or the merits of your position.

     

    And Colleen, you either have very thin skin and don’t know what abusiveness is, or else you think that people who disagree and don’t take kindly to the unmerited superior attitudes of others just ‘get what they deserve’.  Furthermore, if you think that I am seeking validation from you, then you are seriously deluded.  

     

    With best wishes for you and yours.

     

     

  • larry-j

    ahunt, it’s perfectly logical.

     

    Newborns have the legal status of persons (as do some corporations). 

    Neither fit the philosophical definition of ‘personhood’.

    The legal definition and the philosophical definition are different already.

    I’m advocating prenates have the same status as neonates (legal status despite being only potential persons from a philosophical perspective.)

    It computes just fine :)

  • ahunt

    but her interests (which YOU brough up, not I) cannot be anything other than personal.

     

    So what, Larry?  Permit me to point out that there is no
    experience in the life of a woman more intensely personal than
    pregnancy.

     

    So far, you have claimed that recognizing the conflicting interests of the the BEF and the woman constitututes "utilitarian hedonism" (and in the future, you may want to avoid "only/if" statements. Bad form, and in the case of abortion, demonstrably false, as you yourself have noted the possibility of altruism), equated the involuntary use of a woman’s body with "taxing the rich," and you are now attempting to diminish the real life circumstances and experiences of women as "egoistic," with all the baggage the term carries. 

    And you do all of this by regurgitating the jargon of Philosophy 101/ Psychology 100. You’ll have to forgive me if I find it impossible to take you seriously.

  • ahunt

    Uh Larry, as it happens, abortion is frequently chosen by women who think they have sufficiently propagated, and who also think their biological processes are put to better use ensuring the well-being of existing offspring. Oh look! Conflict.

     

    Moreover, Nature has put in place mechanisms that "flush" the BEF whether or not the woman’s life is endangered. For example,, from a biological perspective, breast-feeding would indicate a serious conflict of interests, when the process is known to prevent implantation.

  • colleen

    Well now- so you’re saying that it’s equal opportunity rudeness, I guess?

    No I’m saying that you’ve been rude and abusive and controlling since you started posting here. I don’t believe that shallow intellectual pretensions and whining about the lack of respect you receive here is going to be an effective way to control the conversation. It just makes you look stupid.

    Best wishes

    The only difference between the American anti-abortion movement and the Taliban is about 8,000 miles.

    Dr Warren Hern, MD

  • larry-j

    Ccontragestion is the term I try to use. 

     

    I think that it is distinct from both contraception and abortion.  (Of course there are abortifacients which are known to work as contragestives.)  There are people on my side who want to call contragestion a form of abortion, and on your side who want to call it contraception.  I say call it what is most accurate.

     

    I do readily acknowledge that there is not legal personhood at the moment of conception- in the United States today.

     

    There are places (in the Mexican state of Jalisco, I believe) where that is not the case. 

     

    I hope that some of our states will do likewise.

  • larry-j

    Actually, back in the bad old days, quickening was the first sure sign of pregnancy.

    That’s what I was saying. If you go (way way back) up the thread, the original issue was about defining pregnancy in terms of implantation versus fertilization. My point regarding quickening was that people emphasized it because it was the earliest observable sign. People emphasized implantation because of tests for hCG. We still frequently use LMP dating because we know when that is.

    The problem with this is that theory can be tested against actual fact and having been established as supported by fact, they then can translate into pragmatism. Theories which are entirely disconnected from facts have to remain only theories, since they are incapable of becoming enforceable laws.

    Again, the original context was how to define pregnancy. Conception is the accurate starting point of the human life cycle, but we don’t know precisely when it occurred (except in cases of IVF). Usually we can only estimate when it occurred after the fact. Implantation is something we can test for- so there is a pragmatic argument for defining pregnancy in terms of implantation, but a better theoretical argument for conception.

  • larry-j

    Is that happening in Mexico?

     

     

    in the event of fetal personhood laws, we will be legislating profound
    restrictions on what women may and may not do…if in fact, the BEF is
    a "person" entitled to equal protection of the law.

     

    I must have missed the news when the members of  La Leche League got dragged off in handcuffs.  LOL

     

  • ahunt

    So, in your view, what are the moral implications of "contragestion," in all the forms?

  • ahunt

    so there is a pragmatic argument for defining pregnancy in terms of
    implantation, but a better theoretical argument for conception.

     

    I imagine that a theoretical argument for defining pregnancy in terms of conception would have to account for the fact that 2/3+ of the fertilized ovum either fail to implant, or get flushed post implantation. IOWs, you are insisting that the minority defines the rule. Give me any other theoretical construct where such is the case.

  • larry-j

    human being is a person because of what she is, not because of what she
    was or might potentially become.

     

     

    I’m afraid that I have to disagree with you on that Steve.  Do you consider anencephalics to be persons?  They’re human beings, but thet have no potential to become thinking and aware creatures.  I do not oppose abortion in such cases.

     

     

    Ahunt is making the common error among those who obfuscate in order
    to deny the truth of agency. Murder is a serious offense, involuntary
    manslaughter is not. In both cases someone dies – in the former
    instance there is intention, in the latter there is not.

     

     

    It is very silly- I agree. If a manufacturing process uses toxic chemicals, then there will always be some leakage into the environment and a POSSIBILITY that this could cause people to get sick and die.  If we said that no risk was acceptable, then we’d have to go back to a pre-industrial economy.  We acknowledge that minimal risk is a fact of life and don’t try to punish people unless they had malign intent.

  • ahunt

    and don’t try to punish people unless they had malign intent.

     

    So negligent homicide and involuntary manslaughter are…what…?

  • larry-j

     

    So what, Larry?  Permit me to point out that there is no
    experience in the life of a woman more intensely personal than
    pregnancy.

     

     

    Now who’s making a sentimental argument?

     

     

    So far, you have claimed that recognizing the conflicting interests of
    the the BEF and the woman constitututes "utilitarian hedonism" (and in
    the future, you may want to avoid "only/if" statements. Bad form, and
    in the case of abortion, demonstrably false, as you yourself have noted
    the possibility of altruism),

     

     

    What ‘only/if’ statement?  I don’r know  what you’re refering to with that?

     

    I acknowledged the possibility of altruistic action or behavior but not
    interest.  You brought up the issue of the woman’s personal interests, which
    must be egoistic, even if it is only psychological egoism.  You could
    say, "she could act because she’s concerned about a child that is
    already born."  Fine.  If we are still talking about ‘her interests’,
    then you cannot say that her interests are that of the child that is
    already born anymore than I can say that her interests are that of the
    unborn.  Rather, her interests may be that she not act in a way that would make her "feel" that she had caused harm or failed to benefit one or the other. 

     

     

    equated the involuntary use of a woman’s
    body with "taxing the rich,"

     

     

    That’s exactly right.  They are analogous in that you are compelling something from one individual for the benefit of another because the proportionate benefit to one vastly outweighs the proportionate disadvantage to the other.  (A partial loss of freedom for approximately 1% of the life of one versus a total loss of nearly 100% of life for the other.)

     

     

    and you are now attempting to diminish the
    real life circumstances and experiences of women as "egoistic," with
    all the baggage the term carries. 

     

     

    *sigh* There is a difference between egoism as a description of character and psychological egoism.  Moreover, you are trying to make a rhetorical move that I’ll not let you get away with.  You began by pointing to a conflict between the interests of one individual and another- and when I pointed out that giving priority to narrowly defined personal interests is a feature only of certain belief systems (like utilitariamism), then you try to take the ‘egoism’ term out of one context and treat it as if it were from the other.

     

    And you do all of this by regurgitating the jargon of Philosophy 101/
    Psychology 100. You’ll have to forgive me if I find it impossible to
    take you seriously.

     

     

    Yes- that’s a cute meme you and your friends have: Phil 101, indeed.

     

    I’ll repay your snide remark with a complement.  If I were still teaching Phil 101, I would take your remarks seriously. 

     

    On the other hand, if you had been in one of my 300 level courses, I’m not sure if I’d give many of you better than a ‘C’.  

  • larry-j

    You’ve made your feelings clear.  In future, I wil make no attempt to be polite to you.

  • larry-j

    Okay.

     

    1. You started out with the idea of a "biological" interest.  You talked about calories. The implication was that this was not merely an interest that was a matter of psychological predisposition, but that it was objective.  The desire not to have additional children because you think you’ve had enough is clearly not such an interest- it is manifestly about preference and subjective value.

     

    2. The issue of breast feeding having a contragestive effect comes closer.  One could argue that it is an evolutionary adaptation which developed so that humans who did not have ample food would not end up having to care for two babies at once.  However, it still would seem to be a question of the interest of the born offspring conflicting with the interest of the unborn.  Moreover, in our society, that adaptation is no longer adaptive.  (Perhaps it still is in parts of the undeveloped world were famines still occur, but not here.)

  • larry-j

    So, in your view, what are the moral implications of "contragestion," in all the forms?

     

    First- When do I get a citation for 66% non-implantation?  I’m not challenging your veracity.  I just want to read it.  My understanding was that it was other way around.  (66% of zygotes surviving.)  You’ve used that figure more than once.  Why not source it?

     

    Second-  Okay, you probably know by now that I don’t believe there is a morally legitimate reason to grant a right to life to neonates because of their potential, but deny it to prenates in spite of it.  That reasoning goes all the way back (newborn to fetus to embryo to zygote) as far as I’m concerned.  What practical repercussions would that have if I could alter the law?  ("Be specific, please." – Is it you that usually says that?)  It would be the same as it is now for abortion where it is illegal (Ireland or Malta, for example).  If it is a spontaneous abortion (aka- a miscarriage), then there are no legal consequences.  Likewise, if it were spontaneous contragestion (please stop saying "flushed"- it makes me think of toilets), then there would be no legal consequences.  No one in Malta or Ireland tries to prosecute women who’ve miscarried for drinking coffee.  

  • larry-j

    That’s just wierd.  There are non-human animals where less than a third of the newborns survive to sexual maturity.  Do I have to reach a certain percentage of survival before their life cycle starts?  That’s not how it’s done.

  • larry-j

    Involuntary manslaughter occurs when the killer lacks an intent to committ murder- but not malign intent.  You could attack someone with the intent to injure but not to kill.  You could kill someone unintentionally during the commission of a crime.  In either case there is still malign intent.

     

    Negligent homicide (in our country) often is based on a "reasonable person" standard.  Criminal negligence requires that a reasonable person in the same circumstances would have foreseen the likely consequences- and on this basis the failure to prevent those consequences is deemed worthy of punishment.

     

    Neither of these could apply to a woman who accidentally causes an embryo to implant when she doesn’t know of the existence of the embryo.

  • larry-j

    Well, it depends on what sort of ‘liberal’ you mean.  Just like ‘person’, it means different things in philosophy and politics.  (As you noted with your comment about neonates- we count them as ‘persons’ when we are talking about their legal status, but philosophically, they still aren’t developed enough at birth to be ‘persons’.) 

     

    Politically I don’t consider myself one because I think that the ideology of liberals and consevatives in our country more or less coalesces around interest group alignments rather than consistent principles.  Political conservatives tend to want the government to avoid "interfering" in matters of economics because they argue that it diminishes freedom.  On the other hand, they don’t mind intereference that produces a loss of freedom on non-economic issues like gay marriage.  The liberals aren’t any better, though.  They are willing to give government the power to interfere for the benefit of those who are disadvantaged, but also to the detriment of the disadvantaged if the disadvantaged are not a part of their political coalition.  Libertarians are at least consistant- but they value freedom as if it were always more important than the quality of life. 

     

    I wasn’t trying to accuse anyone of being a liberal.  I don’t think that it is any worse than being a conservative.  I was assuming when I used the term that she would consider herself to be a liberal- and not deem it an insult.

     

    I was just pointing out in my early comment that the same principle of government intereference for the benefit of the weak when it comes at a lower marginal cost for the powerful would be an argument for the pro-life side if you accept that the fetus has a right to life.

  • larry-j

    Take it from me, Pro-Lifers lose any argument that centers around
    ‘subjective psychological state’.  Z/b/e/f’s simply don’t have any kind
    of subjective state that the rest of us can identify with.  Once you
    buy into the childish notion that the reason you have to give people
    their rights is because, otherwise, it would ‘hurt their feelings’, you
    give up any chance to argue the Pro-Life side of the argument.  (Well,
    you can argue it but you only end up looking like a jackass.)

    h

    This whole thing about ‘interests’ and ‘subjective psychological states’ and ‘egoism’ seems to have taken on a life of its own.

     

    I’m worried that I’ve given you the wrong impression.  The original comment I made was in response to the claim that the interests of a woman who wants to have an abortion and the interests of the fetus are in conflict.  I said that if you are a hedonistic utilitarian then that is true, but that it need not be true if you are not one.  The reason that I said this is that the initial remark assumed that if someone desires a thing (an abortion in this case) then it is in their interest to have it and interefering with their getting it is counter to their interests.  My point was that the remark assumes one’s interests to be the same as having what one desires- and that is true if you are a utilitarian.

     

    I wasn’t (as I’m afraid you may have come to think) proposing that the fetus had any desires.  If you grant that it has rights or interests, then you would do it on the same basis as someone who was in a coma but could recover- namely you presume that they prefer survival to death.  I’m not a weirdo imagining embryos with little thought bubbles that say, "please don’t kill me."

     

    I was also no trying to say that women who have abortions are motivated only out of selfishness (which seems to be the latest complaint).  I was just saying that if one is talking about the interests (narrowly defined so that they cannot be different from one’s desires) of an individual, then that interest is psychologically egoistic even if the behavior it engenders is altruistic.  (After all, altruistic behavior is only in one’s narrowly defined self-interest insofar as it brings about feelings of satisfaction.)

     

    Personally, I think this way of looking at what is in one’s interest is entirely too narrow, and it can be in one’s interest to be denied the thing which you desire.  On an account like that, it is possible for the interest of the fetus and the woman desiring to abort it to not be in conflict (even if she is unaware of the fact).

  • colleen

    Oh Larry, it’s sad to see someone so much in need of validation that they would misrepresent themselves with big whopping lies. You should try talking to girls your own age.

    The only difference between the American anti-abortion movement and the Taliban is about 8,000 miles.

    Dr Warren Hern, MD

  • colleen

    How will anyone be able to tell the difference?

    The only difference between the American anti-abortion movement and the Taliban is about 8,000 miles.

    Dr Warren Hern, MD

  • ahunt

    Uh, I thought we were defining the point at which "pregnancy" is established. Life cycles would be a different discussion.

  • ahunt

    Moreover, in our society, that adaptation is no longer adaptive. 
    (Perhaps it still is in parts of the undeveloped world were famines
    still occur, but not here.

     

    So what? 

  • larry-j
    If it’s no longer adaptive then why try to set it apart as having a special status as a ‘biological interest’ (rather than a personal preference)?  It’s like an appendix now.  
  • larry-j

    Why would they be different? That’s my point- from a theoretical perspective, it makes perfect sense to identify pregnancy with the beginning of the life cycle. (Definition #1 from the dictionary: “having a child or other offspring developing in the body; with child or young, as a woman or female mammal.”) If the new offspring exists within the woman’s body, then she would seem to me to be pregnant. Perhaps you’d prefer a different way of defining it, but it is perfectly sensible to use mine.

  • larry-j

    I take it that that’s supposed to imply that I’m what- a teenager? Is that supposed to be clever or something?  You are really making an ass of yourself, you know that?  I’m old enough to be president but younger than any we’ve ever elected.  I get the impression that some of the frequent commenters here are a good deal older (e.g., pop culture references to ‘Archie Bunker’), so maybe you’re old enough to be my mother and are laboring under the misconception that I should be deferential to you in spite of your bilious remarks. 

     

    Or maybe your mind went there because you are the one who’s only a teenager.  I haven’t seen enough of your writing to tell yet.  (I only taught for two years, but that was long enough to become appalled at how so many young people today are dependent upon spell-check and tend to have poorer grammar than ESL students who apply themselves.)  Your attitude that you are somehow entitled to be impertinent and condescending despite the fact that you’ve yet to say anything intelligent is something that can be found amongst many incoming freshmen.

     

    Colleen, it’s become apparent that you have nothing substantive to add to the conversation, and you think that insulting people is the best way to shut them up.  That’s what’s really sad. 

     

    If you’ve got nothing better to do than just try to silence people with personal attacks, then you’re actually lowering the quality of the discourse here.  (Which doesn’t bother me.  It isn’t my site, but it may trouble you or your friends.)

     

  • larry-j

    How? My responses to you will be no different than your comments to me.  Do you just get of on flaming commenters who disagree with you or something?  Maybe you need to grow up a bit or at least think of something worthwhile to add to the discussion.

     

    Perhaps the ‘Pro-life=Taliban’, bumper sticker style observation is as sophisticated as your thinking gets.  That isn’t even a good bumper sticker: it doesn’t merely insult the pro-life movement, but trivializes the suffering and degradation of the women who live(d) under Taliban rule.

     

    I’m sure that they’d really appreciate the implications that: ‘Yeah, not being able to vote or own property or get an education or a divorce or go out in public by myself- those are bad, but I could be okay with all of it if ONLY there were a legal right to abortion.’

     

    You should be ashamed of yourself.

     

    You’d be better of with an old stand by like, ‘if you don’t like abortion, then don’t have one.’

  • crowepps

    You are mixing apples and oranges.  "The beginning of the life cycle" applies to the zygote.  "Pregnancy" applies to its host.  Using your definition, during IVF any petri dish containing sperm and ova becomes ‘pregnant’ when they unite. The xygote is completely independent of the woman in which it is floating until it implants. It may do so, in which case her uterus and the zygote interact and she becomes ‘pregnant’, or it may not do so, in which case she probably doesn’t even know anything happened.

     

    By the way, I don’t know if you’ve gotten your cite yet. If not, you might read "The Good Egg" available here:

    http://discovermagazine.com/2004/may/cover/article_view?b_start:int=1&-C

     

    Here are some other cites:

    Of very early pregnancies, "22% ended before pregnancy was detected clinically." "The total rate of pregnancy loss after implantation, including clinically recognized spontaneous abortions, was 31%." The testing used was able to detect pregnancy accurately by day seven or eight. Wilcox, et al., "Incidence of Early Loss of Pregnancy" New Eng. J. Med., vol 319, no. 4, July 28, 1988, p. 189"

     

    "One reason for the apparent high percent of pre- or immediate post-implantation loss may be due to chromosome abnormalities. Wramsby et al., "Chromosome Analysis of Human Oocytes . . ." New Eng. J. Med., vol. 316, no. 3, Jan. 15, 1987, p. 121"

    I did not supply the 66% failure to implant and do not know where that came from, but it is known from infertility treatments that 25% of fertilized eggs are incapable of splitting/developing further and if that is combined with the 22% very early failures and the 31% spontaneous abortion you get an overall failure rate of 78% even before accounting for stillbirths.

  • crowepps

    If we’re going to speak of ‘non-human animals’ you might consider that if a farmer lets his ram impregnant 100 sheep and eventually ends up with 60 lambs surviving birth, he doesn’t say he’s raised 100 lambs because of the possibility that there were 100 lamb zygotes.

  • crowepps

    Z/b/e/f’s simply don’t have any kind of subjective state that the rest of us can identify with.

    I was speaking of the “subjective psychological state” of the ProLife activist who disregards the actual biological processes that take place and the reality of the z/b/e/f and insists on visualizing that fertilized egg as an eensy teensy baby even though its chances of reaching the completed state of born and living ‘baby’ are slim.

    Neonates count because we count them.

    Exactly. YOU count them. Others don’t. You insist that the fact that you personally count them is a morally and intellectually superior position to that of those who don’t. The human capability to insist that the results of ones own mental calisthenics should control the lives of others is infinite.

    My right to life shouldn’t depend upon my cognitive abilities, nor should it depend upon the value I have to others, nor should it depend upon the degree to which others have invested in me. My right to life ought to depend upon the fact that I have a living human body — and those who have living human bodies ought to be treated like human beings.

    I absolutely agree with you here, right up to the point where you demand that other people should be forced to support you in any way whatsoever.

  • crowepps

    Personally, I think this way of looking at what is in one’s interest is entirely too narrow, and it can be in one’s interest to be denied the thing which you desire. On an account like that, it is possible for the interest of the fetus and the woman desiring to abort it to not be in conflict (even if she is unaware of the fact).

    It doesn’t seem to me that elevating the interest of others (the zygote/the government/society) in the pregnancy above that of the person who actually is carrying the physical penalities and at the inherent risks of the experience can be easily justified by the ancient and traditional rules of “we know better than you do what’s in your best interests” and “when you let people make their own decisions they always choose badly”.”

     

    The problem is that the urge to interfer is also based in psychological egoism, especially a PASSIONATE compulsion to do so, and it doesn’t really matter whether that focus arises from fear of mortality, desire to affirm ones own intrinsic value by elevating the lowest common denominator of ‘human’ as the only necessary qualification, inability to handle ambiguities, personal or societal sexual repressions, attitudes toward gender societal roles or even the classic Freudian conflictual relationships with Mom and Dad.

     

    There are a number of posters on here who repeated claim that those on the ‘other side’ are basing their position on unhealthy psychological states and/or debased emotions merely because of the position they have taken on public policy. Whether or not those states are healthy or not can’t be diagnosed over the internet, but certainly I don’t think anyone here can truthfully claim that they themselves don’t HAVE emotions or psychological issues about this controversy.

     

    It certainly is way, way over the line to
    ‘diagnose’ women who are total strangers as unable to discern their own best interests based on the fact that some man who has never and will never be in the same position doesn’t agree with their decision.

  • crowepps

    contragestion – the prevention of implantation of the blastocyst

    At the present state of medical knowledge, no one can tell that this has even happened – all they can do is speculate. That being true, I’ve just got to ask, WHY do you prefer to use this term?

  • ahunt

    However, it still would seem to be a question of the interest of the born offspring conflicting with the interest of the unborn.

     

    I love how you manage to "disappear" the woman here. So let us try this: if as you claim, biological interest is solely about "propagating the species," and pregnancy either impacts negatively on the health of women or interferes with their ability to ensure the survival of existing offspring, how is there not a conflict of biological interests if a pregnancy prevents or inhibits women from sending their genes downrange?

  • paul-bradford

    Neonates count because we count them.

    Exactly. YOU count them. Others don’t. 

     Who, in this day and age, doesn’t count neonates? I brought up the case of neonates because, to my knowledge, we had reached a point where everyone has agreed to treat them as if they have human rights.

      The only way I know to look for common ground is to start where there is agreement.  Are you suggesting that we don’t yet have agreement about neonates? 

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • emma

    Larry, you sound like almost every ‘pro-life’ man I’ve seen comment at this site. The same themes crop up over and over again. Here are some examples, with commentary:

    ahunt- Do you fulfill some deep seated need to compensate for intellectual inadequacies by being snide? (Just wondering)

    This is pretty characteristic of a ‘pro-life’ guy commenting here. They’re big on insulting the intelligence of the regular female commenters, trumpeting their superior manly capacity for logic and reasoning. They’ll all insist they’re not motivated by hatred of women, but they tip their hand with comments like this.

    Or maybe your mind went there because you are the one who’s only a teenager. I haven’t seen enough of your writing to tell yet. (I only taught for two years, but that was long enough to become appalled at how so many young people today are dependent upon spell-check and tend to have poorer grammar than ESL students who apply themselves.) Your attitude that you are somehow entitled to be impertinent and condescending despite the fact that you’ve yet to say anything intelligent is something that can be found amongst many incoming freshmen.
    Colleen, it’s become apparent that you have nothing substantive to add to the conversation, and you think that insulting people is the best way to shut them up. That’s what’s really sad.
    If you’ve got nothing better to do than just try to silence people with personal attacks, then you’re actually lowering the quality of the discourse here. (Which doesn’t bother me. It isn’t my site, but it may trouble you or your friends.)

    So, Larry’s attempting to establish himself as an intellectual authority, with his opponent as student. Interesting that Larry places himself in a position of authority, with his opponent as his subordinate. Do you have a problem viewing women who disagree with you as equals, Larry?

     

    Accusing an adult of being ‘impertinent’ is pretty damned inappropriate. (Naughty colleen, being insufficiently deferential to Larry!) You just tipped your hand again, Larry.

     

    And now you’re accusing colleen of trying to shut people up by insulting them? Does the word ‘hypocrisy’ mean anything to you, Larry? Colleen isn’t the one lowering the level of the discourse here, and as one of her friends, I’m entirely untroubled by her comment.

    Yes- that’s a cute meme you and your friends have: Phil 101, indeed.
    I’ll repay your snide remark with a complement. If I were still teaching Phil 101, I would take your remarks seriously.
    On the other hand, if you had been in one of my 300 level courses, I’m not sure if I’d give many of you better than a ‘C’.

    Again, Larry is trying to establish himself as an intellectual authority and teacher. It’s an interesting debating technique, and one that I would expect from someone like Larry – it’s insulting; it’s transparent; it’s the male pro-lifer attempting to establish dominance over his female opponent. It’s also bullshit.

    How? My responses to you will be no different than your comments to me. Do you just get of on flaming commenters who disagree with you or something? Maybe you need to grow up a bit or at least think of something worthwhile to add to the discussion.
    Perhaps the ‘Pro-life=Taliban’, bumper sticker style observation is as sophisticated as your thinking gets. That isn’t even a good bumper sticker: it doesn’t merely insult the pro-life movement, but trivializes the suffering and degradation of the women who live(d) under Taliban rule.
    I’m sure that they’d really appreciate the implications that: ‘Yeah, not being able to vote or own property or get an education or a divorce or go out in public by myself- those are bad, but I could be okay with all of it if ONLY there were a legal right to abortion.’
    You should be ashamed of yourself.
    You’d be better of with an old stand by like, ‘if you don’t like abortion, then don’t have one.’

    Blah, same insults. Larry, the comment about the Taliban is from Warren Hern, a colleague of George Tiller’s. The idea is that American pro-life extremists are like the Taliban in that they’re theocratic, oppressive, fundamentalist misogynists who are comfortable with using violence to achieve their goals – pretty much the definition of terrorism.

     

    You’re also knocking down a strawperson there – I very much doubt colleen or Warren Hern believe that all economic, social, civil and political rights are irrelevant. And you know, the right to bodily autonomy is a fundamental right, and reproductive autonomy – including the right to decide what is allowed to reside in one’s uterus – is an important aspect of that for women.

     

    IIRC, something like one in six Afghan women will die from reproduction-related causes – one of the highest rates in the world – so I would imagine reproductive freedom is a significant issue to Afghan women.

     

    What’s wrong with the sentiment behind ‘if you don’t want an abortion, don’t have one’? Is it something to do with the fact that ‘pro-lifers’ have an irresistible urge to interfere in other people’s lives and impose your beliefs on everyone else?
    The question, Larry, is, do you have anything worthwhile to contribute?

     

    See, Larry, the regular commenters here – colleen, ahunt, crowepps, me, and so on – deal with ‘pro-life’ men like you all the damned time, which is why we tend to lose patience when we read the same arguments and see the same obnoxiousness, arrogance and yes, misogyny over and over again. You all seem to think you’re coming up with some brilliant new argument we’ve never heard before and could never possibly counter, and you just don’t get that it’s the same old bullshit.

     

    You guys show up here and inform us that we should be forced to give up an important aspect of our bodily autonomy because you’re overly sentimental about foetuses and find abortion icky, and then get all outraged and offended when we’re unimpressed with that. What exactly do you expect? Why on earth do you think we should feel obligated to be polite to some random guy on the internet who wants to control what goes on in our uteri? You want our bodies to be violated – because being forced to continue an unwanted pregnancy is a massive violation – and you’re whimpering about us being impolite? Do you really not see the problem there?

  • therealistmom

    .. any complete and total smackdown of a smug and pseudointellectual pro-forced-birth male to be called an "Emma".

  • crowepps

    Neonates, or for those who perfer clarity, BABIES from birth to four weeks, are definitely considered to have ‘human rights’ if they are healthy. There is however the problem of those who are NOT healthy, and who are quietly ‘not resuscitated’, and who therefore are not considered to have ‘human rights’ as vigorous as those of the healthy. In addition, the ‘human rights’ of the neonate don’t seem to me to be generally agreed upon when people are advocating that infants born in the United States should no longer receive automatic citzenship through being born here or when people are advocating that the children of illegal immigrants should be refused medical care or schooling and that attempts to access these benefits should be the occasion for the entire family to be promptly deported back to whatever horrible conditions they have fled.

     

    There is and always has been a huge, absolutely STUNNING gap between what ‘we’ think about ethical questions and morality and protecting human rights and how ‘we’ follow through in the real world, except for the persistence of the traditional solution, “Let Joe do it.” ‘We’ can talk about the value of neonates or even zygotes until the cows come home, but the two of us are not women of reproductive age so we have to keep in mind at all times that our discussion is about what OTHER people should be doing and the ‘common ground’ we are trying to reach is the place at which we agree about how much ‘we’ should be interferring with their lives.

  • ahunt

    If Larry is a philosophy prof, then I’m Cleopatra.

     

    As it happens, my CC philosophy teacher is a good friend, and has been since he spoke at my wedding thirty+ years ago, and if I’ve learned anything from him…it is that philosophical musings are best communicated with a sense of humility, and an understanding of and respect for…the audience.

  • crowepps

    If there is a biological interest, then presumably it would involve the propagation of the species. Unless reproduction endangers the life of the parent, from a biological perspective there is no conflict of interest.

    You are talking about the species level. There is also the biological interest of the INDIVIDUAL woman and her already existing children, both of which are impacted by first the pregnancy (requiring extra nutrition for the fetus) and then the new child who requires family resources at the expense of its siblings.

    You started out with the idea of a “biological” interest. You talked about calories. The implication was that this was not merely an interest that was a matter of psychological predisposition, but that it was objective. The desire not to have additional children because you think you’ve had enough is clearly not such an interest- it is manifestly about preference and subjective value.

    Certainly most women would PREFER not to watch their children starve and valuing their continued lives may be entirely SUBJECTIVE.

    The issue of breast feeding having a contragestive effect comes closer. One could argue that it is an evolutionary adaptation which developed so that humans who did not have ample food would not end up having to care for two babies at once. However, it still would seem to be a question of the interest of the born offspring conflicting with the interest of the unborn. Moreover, in our society, that adaptation is no longer adaptive. (Perhaps it still is in parts of the undeveloped world were famines still occur, but not here.)

    Actually, the problem evolutionarily wasn’t having two babies to care for, it was having two babies to CARRY at a time when the entire band spend most of its time walking to gather food. In our society, that adaptation is no longer adaptive mostly because people are so entirely freaked out by the fact that women use their breasts to feed their babies that it’s very difficult to nurse often enough to keep the hormones suppressed.

     

    You don’t seem to be aware that there are women who NEED to work in order to buy food and put a roof over their and their children’s heads, and who are unable to find work or who are fired from work because they are pregnant or the needs of caring for small children interfer. You don’t seem to be aware that daycare is extremely expensive and that daycare costs increase as the number of children climbs from two to three or four. In an industrial society with a minimum age for workers, children are an economic liability, and the more children there are in an individual family, the thinner the spread of resources becomes and the smaller the share is that is available for all the other members.

  • crowepps

    We acknowledge that minimal risk is a fact of life and don’t try to punish people unless they had malign intent.

    In the case of a zygote failing to implant (or a spontaneous abortion), how on Earth could proof of “malign intent” be established? Or the accusation defended against, for that matter?

  • larry-j

    In the case of a zygote failing to implant (or a spontaneous abortion),
    how on Earth could proof of "malign intent" be established?

    Exactly- so there’s no need to worry about criminal charges.

  • larry-j

    It seems as if you want to say that until the woman’s body is affected by the presence of the offspring which is growing within her, that she is not pregnant.  If her body is not yet affected, then you cannot ascertain whether or not the offspring is there- but that is merely the pragmatic consideration. (Is there evidence?  Can I observe a change?)  Pregnancy is the state of having offspring developing within one’s body- which is something that begins at conception (except, as you point out, in cases like IVF- but even then, the pregnancy would technically begin prior to implantation).

     

    Ahunt was making to 2 in 3 (66%) claim.  I’m going to read the info you’ve given me.  (My impression had been that there was a 2 in 3 survival rate, but that could be wrong.)  Thanks for the references, I’ll read them ASAP   

    :)

     

  • ahunt

    Actually Larry…you need to review the lefal definition of involuntary manslaughter. Absence of "malign intent" does not preclude the charge.

  • ahunt

    Snerk! Pregnant petri dishes! Bad crowepps…bad, bad.

  • emma

    Thanks! I think I’ve said to you before that you appear to be a fabulous woman. :)

  • crowepps

    If the law isn’t going to result in the prosecution of ‘crimes’ then what is the point of passing it? If it really is going to result in the prosecution of crimes, who are the purported criminals and how will they be identified? If there aren’t going to be any criminals, then these laws are only ‘feel-good’ and a massive waste of time and money.

  • crowepps

    Pregnancy is the state of having one’s body CONNECTED TO and INTERACTING WITH the offspring, which doesn’t happen until implantation. Pregnancy for the woman happens at that point which is obviously separate from the point, looking backwards, that the live-born baby actually started. You are ignoring the fact that if an egg is fertilized and any of the egg/sperm chromosomes are abnormal so that the zygote can’t develop, the woman is NOT pregnant because the zygote is not viable. To mangle an aphorism, the proof of the zygote is in the implantation.

  • larry-j

    Your question would make perfect sense if all the laws did was grant personhood to zygotes. (Since it would be practically impossible except in very odd cases to establish that someone had committed a crime by intentionally violating the zygotes’ rights, it would be a goofy thing to do.) The laws grant personhood to humans beginning at that point. That is a different matter. Obviously, abortion would become a crime.

  • larry-j

    I can agree with a great deal of what you wrote in that comment.

    1) I agree that both sides are motivated by subjective value judgments.
    2) I agree that assigning moral or psychological labels to the opposition merely for disagreeing is a dubious tactic and probably a bad thing to do.
    3) I agree that if one is to take away an individuals freedoms, then there must be a very significant reason for doing so.

    Each of these cuts both ways, though. #1 just shows that the issue is not resolvable by appealing to facts. It doesn’t tilt in your direction or mine. #2 is a problem, but neither side has “clean hands” on that issue. #3 doesn’t favor your side either given that there are two individuals whose freedoms are in conflict, and even if for some reason “individual” is a label you won’t give to the unborn, taking a human life is significant.

  • larry-j

    the ProLife activist who disregards the actual biological processes that take place and the reality of the z/b/e/f and insists on visualizing that fertilized egg as an eensy teensy baby even though its chances of reaching the completed state of born and living ‘baby’ are slim.

    I see. There are uninformed pro-lifers. There are uninformed pro-choicers too. Merely thinking that there ought to be a moral equivalence between a newborn and the unborn, that doesn’t mean that the person who makes the judgment is uninformed. (In my experience, most people take it as an article of faith that believing so is only possible if you are uninformed.) There are biological similarities as well as differences. I’d be judging people unfairly if I assumed that pro-choicers must be unaware of the similarities.
    Do you consider ‘baby’ to be a scientific or medical term like ‘embryo’ or ‘zygote’? I don’t. Even if it were, then it wouldn’t be exclusively so. I don’t think that there is anything incorrect about calling the unborn babies- it is merely controversial. How is it any better or worse than talking about a fetuses as ‘masses of tissue’? Each use of language offends without being incorrect.
    Why is the probability of natural death so important to you? Do you make a moral distinction between killing a healthy person and a person with a serious illness?
    I think that likelihood of survival is morally significant only in very rare situations (like triage) when it is certain (or nearly certain) that life will be lost. That is one reason that I don’t object to ‘life of the mother’ exceptions.

    Exactly. YOU count them. Others don’t. You insist that the fact that you personally count them is a morally and intellectually superior position to that of those who don’t. The human capability to insist that the results of ones own mental calisthenics should control the lives of others is infinite.

    Don’t you see that both sides are equally guilty of that? It is not as if laws allowing one individual to take the life of another are somehow value neutral. 

     

    Your point would be well taken if the topic were assisted suicide laws, but it isn’t.

  • larry-j

    You and Crowepps are right.  I f@%#ed up, plain and simple, when I wrote that the biological interest would have to be about propogating the species. 

     

    "Sending their genes downrange" is the biological interest of the individual.  (That was what I had in mind, but obviously not what I wrote.  Mea culpa.)

     

    On the other hand, if you correct for my stupid word choice, I think that my point about pre-historic periods of famine versus contemporary  circumstances still holds.   While there may be a few exceptions where there is extreme poverty and/or armed conflict, generally in the modern world killing one of your offspring is no longer in your biological interest because it is no longer necessary to ensure the survival of the older offspring.

  • larry-j

    You are talking about the species level. There is also the biological interest of the INDIVIDUAL woman and her already existing children, both of which are impacted by first the pregnancy (requiring extra nutrition for the fetus) and then the new child who requires family resources at the expense of its siblings.

    You’re right about “species”. (see reply to ahunt above) I probably should have said ‘propagation of one’s genes’. I’m not sure why I didn’t. I probably was just writing without thinking.

    If we were going to look for an interest that isn’t just a subjective value judgment or a psychological preference, then biological interest is a good candidate, and it would deal (as you say) with an individual’s genes. That’s what I had in mind, but after typing ‘propagation’, I typed ‘species’ instead of genes probably because that’s just the word that usually comes after it. (I screwed up.)

    You don’t seem to be aware that there are women who NEED to work in order to buy food and put a roof over their and their children’s heads, and who are unable to find work or who are fired from work because they are pregnant or the needs of caring for small children interfer. You don’t seem to be aware that daycare is extremely expensive and that daycare costs increase as the number of children climbs from two to three or four.

    Now, on that point, I disagree. You seem to be unaware of the fact that you’re conflating the two types of interests. The biological interest is served if the child survives. A psychological interest may be frustrated if one does not raise one’s own children, but that is a separate issue. From a biological perspective, it doesn’t matter if the child is raised by others.

  • larry-j

    Maybe so. If your actions showed a “reckless disregard” for life and a reasonable person would have foreseen that you were acting so as to threaten the lives of others, then I’d not consider that benign. I’m willing to acknowledge that I don’t know much about manslaughter, though. If you’d care to enlighten me, then by all means, go ahead.

  • larry-j

    That is what YOU think SHOULD be the definition. It is not the definition. ‘Connection’ and ‘interaction’ are things that you think are important- fine. Your values are not what gives a word its meaning. If you want to argue for CHANGING the definition, then say that’s what you’re doing.

    Proof of pregnancy is in implantation, but that there can be proof of a thing is not necessary for there being a thing.

  • larry-j

    I’ll bear thst in mind next time I’m trying to define ‘raising’ offspring.

  • larry-j

    Because it isn’t ambiguous or misleading. Labeling it as a subset of abortion or contraception is problematic.

  • larry-j

    Check the tense please.  The "is" is your addition.  Still, if you want to be the artist formerly known as Cleo, then that’s fine with me. Also, if you really believe that all phil prof’s are sweethearts, then you’ve known too few.  There’re plenty of curmudgeons as well.

  • julie-watkins

    With so many groups pushing "traditional gender roles" it might be the "reasonable" policeman (and DA) might agree with the historical disvaluing of women and say the woman should have taken more care. If a woman has a miscarriage and she’s a woman in a man’s job — she could be at risk for being charged. If the doctor said "bed rest" and she couldn’t take sick leave without lossing her job. If someone heard (or thought s/he heard) her saying the pregnancy was an accident/unwanted. If she’s politically inconvient a miscarriage could be uses as a pretex to derail her plans. I live in a county where a political activist got put away for a trumped up charge & it took him a long time & money to get free again … and, in the mean time, the police’s bad behavior continued.

     

    The threat would be an additional burden on women, on top of the sexism and classism of blocking abortion access. Not reasonable at all.

  • larry-j



    I debated whether it was worthwhile
    to respond to this. Would it serve a purpose other than just
    venting my spleen? I decided probably it isn’t worthwhile- but I’m
    going to answer anyway.

    1. Emma complains that pro-life men
      say rude things and cause her to lose her patience. I’m sure that’s
      true. I doubt that it’s just because the men are rude, though.
      About half of the comments imply that we’re all just troglodytes,
      and about one in three just come right out and say that we are.
      Maybe she is oblivious to this. Maybe she thinks that that is
      appropriate- in which case I don’t care if she feels aggrieved by
      the resulting rudeness.

    2. I may have been unfair to ahunt.
      In retrospect, I might have misinterpreted her. Some of what I
      took offense at may have been her trying to be humorous- but after a
      couple of weeks of comments from people who made it clear that they
      thought that I (and those who think like me) are bible thumping
      misogynists who ignore science, I wasn’t very receptive. It got
      under my skin and I may have snapped at the wrong person. I’m not
      sure. She seems more open minded (and maybe crowepps too) than a
      lot of commenters who are openly contemptuous.

    3. Saying that colleen was
      impertinent was hardly “tipping my hand”. It was more like
      putting my cards on the table. Look, one of my friends is an
      expert in the field of linguistics. I know a little bit about this
      because of the overlap with contemporary philosophy, but I defer to
      her on the subject because it is her bailiwick. I have another
      friend who is an industrial chemist. I know almost nothing at all
      about chemistry. If we were talking about it, and he said things
      that I didn’t like, I’d feel free to question him on the topic, but
      I’d never accuse him of being a dilettante or of having a shallow
      understanding of the issue. It would be presumptuous and rude to do
      so.

    4. A lot of doctrinaire communists
      used to act as if power and property were inextricably linked- not
      sometimes, but always. Maybe Emma is the sort of self-identified
      feminist who takes the same view of the relationship between power
      and gender. Obviously, I’m not. Crowepps (or ahunt?) challenged
      something I said about manslaughter saying that my understanding of
      it is flawed. I don’t have any problem with that. That’s probably
      true. If she has experience with the issue, then I’m not in a
      position to challenge her. Maybe she’s a lawyer, or a clerk, or a
      police officer, or works at a law firm or law school or a
      courthouse. It wouldn’t take much because my understanding is based
      on TV shows and what I’ve read on the internet. I don’t care if
      she’s a man or a woman. When someone of the opposite sex knows a
      great deal more than you, and you try to ignore that fact or
      minimize it, you aren’t doing something noble for the cause of
      equality, you’re making an ass of yourself.

    5. Your claim that there’s nothing
      that I or anyone on my side could say to you that you haven’t
      already heard is very revealing. (It explains how you could think
      that calling you or colleen impertinent is inappropriate.) Unless
      you’re a bioethicist, then it’s almost certainly false. You’re so
      presumptuous that you think it is impossible for you to be
      presumptuous. And you think pro-lifers are closed minded! LOL

    6. The Taliban comparison is
      asinine no matter how you try to spin it. People on my side compare
      you guys to the Nazis sometimes. I don’t like that either. Its the
      same tactic, and if it doesn’t bother you than that speaks poorly of
      you.

    7. If you want to complain about the identification of logic and reason with masculinity, then you might want to think about looking inward.  The loudest voices which make that sort of aregument nowadays (in our culture) come from feminists who want to offer ‘female’ alternatives to the emphasis on rationality.  The most impassioned criticism of this I’ve ever heard came from a female logician.
    8. Clearly you don’t have any
      obligation to be polite to me- nor I to you. BTW, I thought that it
      was interesting that you lifted a quote as evidence of my hating
      women without mentioning that it was a response to another comment
      in which it was suggested that I was probably just a teen aged loser
      who was obsessed with religion and afraid of girls. That seems
      relevant because it makes it more likely that my comment showed
      hatred (or at least antipathy) for the previous commenter rather
      than her entire sex. You can play by your own rules if you like.
      I’m suspicious of such obvious attempts to provoke. If your
      opponent shows anger, then they become less sympathetic, and maybe
      they’ll get upset enough to say something that will get them banned
      from your forum.

  • larry-j

    Since a petri dish isn’t a body, it actually cannot satisfy the definition- but I guess you were just joking.

    On the stats…

     

    On the second page of the Discovery article, it said that the odds that an embryo which has implanted will survive until birth are about 2 out of 3.
    The only information on pre-implantation was that in IVF facilities, 50% of zygotes did not survive to be implanted.
    If you use the IVF failure rate for zygotes, then you’d get ahunts figure (only 33% survival).

     

    I don’t think that that’s a legitimate extrapolation given that all things being equal, the survival rate in vitro will certainly be lower than the survival rate in vivo.
    Also, the gametes used are less already less likely to survive given that the people who go to fertility specialists are by definition less fertile than normal.
    So, from the Discovery article, I think what we can say is that the survival rate for a zygote must be more than 33% but less than 66%.

     

    You mentioned a 25% failure for splitting and 22% very early failure. If my math is right, that would make a combined failure rate of 41.5% The 31% spontaneous abortion rate would decrease survival again and yield a total failure rate of about 60% That’s pretty close to the 66% from the other source, but I assume that the same problems are present with the pre-implantation figures.

     

    I can’t think of any way to get pre-implantation failure rates (for humans) that would not involve inflate the failure rate because of selection problems and the problems with growing them in a lab.
    Your thoughts?

  • crowepps

    I do think it’s ambiguous and misleading because it is entirely speculative.  Since there is no evidence that it does or does not happen and no way known to gather that evidence.  An impassioned argument could be constructed that watching morning television or using an umbrella or having a cellphone is ‘contragestive’ and there wouldn’t be any way to prove or disprove the statements.  I would think therefore that including the subject in ANY public policy discussion would be problematic.

  • crowepps

    Survival of ones children to reproductive age is NOT in the biological interest of the individual, it is in the biological interest of the GENES.

  • crowepps

    Now, on that point, I disagree. You seem to be unaware of the fact that you’re conflating the two types of interests. The biological interest is served if the child survives. A psychological interest may be frustrated if one does not raise one’s own children, but that is a separate issue. From a biological perspective, it doesn’t matter if the child is raised by others.

    You seem to be unaware that the survival of ones EXISTING children is put at risk by the PREGNANCY and the woman’s possible inability to feed and shelter those existing children during that pregnancy. The biological interest of the individual CHILD of the unwanted pregnancy is served if that child survives. The biological interest of a poor woman in her genetic DESCENDANTS will be better served if she preserves the two ‘birds’ in her home by eliminating the one potential ‘bird’ of a pregnancy (which has at best an 80% chance anyway).

  • crowepps

    “Exactly. YOU count them. Others don’t. You insist that the fact that you personally count them is a morally and intellectually superior position to that of those who don’t. The human capability to insist that the results of ones own mental calisthenics should control the lives of others is infinite.”
    “Don’t you see that both sides are equally guilty of that? It is not as if laws allowing one individual to take the life of another are somehow value neutral.

    No, both sides are NOT equally guilty of that. The ProLife side insists that its own ethical/moral/religious conclusions should be imposed on other people by law. The ProChoice side says instead that abortion should neither be illegal OR mandated but that instead the person’s involved in each individual situation should be able to make their own decisions based on their own ethical/moral/religious beliefs.

     

    It is a huge waste of society’s available dollars for medical care to spend money doing the necessary ceasarian deliveries of nonviable anencephalic fetuses instead of the far cheaper second trimester abortions but if that is the choice a woman makes based on her own personal beliefs, her right to make that choice should be supported and the rest of us need to resign ourselves to chipping in to pay for that through our taxes or our health insurance premiums.

     

    In my personal opinion, people who have more than four children place an undue burden on the rest of society for medical care, support, education expenses, etc., but if that is their choice based on their own personal beliefs, their right to make that choice should be supported and the rest of us need to resign ourselves to chipping in to pay for that through our taxes or our health insurance premiums.

     

    The presumption that ones own ethical beliefs and group customs are ‘the norm’ and that society should fund ONLY that norm fails to recognize that once the gate is breached and government gets to be involved in making reproductive decisions, there are OTHER ethical sets and groups with customs who can also attempt to legislate laws to enforce THEIR different and even opposing ‘norm’.

  • crowepps

    I was not talking about those ProLifers or ProChoicers who are informed or not informed because information does not trump ‘belief’ and people have an infinite capability to view the same facts and distort them to fit their beliefs. I was making the point that SOME ProLifers hold their beliefs on the grounds of SENTIMENTALITY and that definitely should not control the actions of others. As an example, and acknowledging that you agree with me on this point, in the case of ectopic pregnancy some ProLifers insist that the only ‘moral’ way to eliminate this threat to the life of the mother is remove the TUBE in which it is present because that is more ‘gentle’. Since at that point what is being removed is still a mass of cells whether the removal is ‘gentle’ is totally irrelevant except to someone who is regarding the issue sentimentally. The same issue comes up with many of the situations in which complications of pregnancy are a threat to the mother including the issue of the fetus being DEAD – some insist that the fetus must be removed intact even though that substantially raises the risk to the mother because of sentimental beliefs about how a corpse should be treated. And, by the way, I never said that I personally don’t feel that the death of the zygote or fetus or the decision to abort is significant or insignificant. That’s not the issue. The issue is whether the significance that I personally place on that death or abortion should control other people’s behavior and my answer in that issue is that neither I nor anyone else can make that choice for other people.

  • ahunt

    Indeed…the truth is that pregnancy is not good for women, and is generally NOT in the best interests of thier overall and future physical health, which I assume comes under the definition of personal biological interests.

  • crowepps

    Your claim that there’s nothing that I or anyone on my side could say to you that you haven’t already heard is very revealing. (It explains how you could think that calling you or colleen impertinent is inappropriate.) Unless you’re a bioethicist, then it’s almost certainly false.

    Impertinence is the accusation which the person in a superior position makes against the failure of the person in the inferior position to shut up and do as they’re told. If you truly wish to have an interactive conversation here instead of just giving a lecture, erase the word from your vocabulary.

     

    I find the statement about bioethicists kind of puzzling – being a bioethicist is no guarantee that there’s nothing left to learn or that the facts which hopefully underlie the bioethicist’s speculations are accurate, and not being a bioethicist doesn’t mean being ipso facto ignorant.

     

    There have been many, many philosophers over the centuries who were sure that their internal cogitations or those of their group proved they were ‘right’ about how other people should behave and many whose attempts to enforce the conclusions of their cogitations have led to suffering, oppression, persecution and seas of blood.

     

    Unfortunately none of them has ever seemed to grasp that having a powerful position, ‘superiority’ to others by right of blood or wealth inheritance, going to formal classes and documenting their completed educational steps with parchments, even assembling groups of similar persons who have reached similar conclusions, makes their organized musings any more important/accurate/valuable than the less structured and less documented thoughts of those on whom they wish to impose their ethical conclusions.

     

    Choosing to become a bioethicist, being called as a religious leader, running for political office, all worthy occupations with at least some value to society, does NOT invest those who choose those occupations with the right to legislate the private conscience of other people in private situations. The basis of all of these attempts is always the belief that ones own beliefs or the beliefs of ones tribe/religion/school are superior to others and that this innate superiority carries within it all the excuse necessary for attempts to reorder the world to more accurately reflect oneself.

     

    The medieval French philosophers spent a great deal of time cogitating about what the soul was and who possessed one, what it consisted of and how it could be measured and judged by ‘outward signs’. There was one part of the school who felt that all those who were human had a soul, those who felt that an imperfect body indicated an imperfect soul, and active promotion of the idea that since the trait distinguishing man from animal was speech that the deaf-mute didn’t have souls at all. I’m sure this spirited debate was very important to the important doctors and philosophers, but I’m not aware that at any time they ever considered for one second what their conclusions were going to mean for the actual real mentally disabled and deaf-mute children who were born, judged defective both physically AND spiritually, and discarded in the gutter as not worth feeding. It never seems to occur to the ethicist that once their ethical conclusions have been presented, other people are ACTUALLY GOING TO TAKE ACTION based on what they have said.

  • crowepps

    That is what the definition of pregnancy is NOW. You’re the one that’s trying to get it changed to when the egg is fertilized. By the way the word “proof” as used in “the proof of the pudding is in the eating” actually means “test” (as when speaking of mathematical proofs). My statement should therefore have been read as “the TEST of the zygote is in the implanting”. Considering the number of times people have argued that “but it’s ALIVE” or “but it’s HUMAN DNA” are persuasive arguments, it seems pretty clear to me that if it can’t implant then it’s NOT alive and it’s NOT developable/viable human DNA which is why implantation should be considered a milestone.

  • ahunt

    Review. The problem is that science is beginning to demonstrate that perfectly commonplace, normal, even maternally healthy habits and activities have negative consequences for the BZEF.

     

     

  • paul-bradford

    crowepps,

     

    You must realize how much I enjoy talking with you!  You’re smart and passionate and you care about so many of the things I care about.  I have noticed, however, that our conversations tend to expand — that is, they seem to roam around and take on more and more subject matter without ever coming to a resolution on any single point.

     

    Just look at your last post.  By my count, you made points on six different issues that cover a wide range of controversy.  In some cases we are in general agreement, but in other cases we have pointed differences.  I wonder if we could both try to establish how near (or how far) are our points of view.

     

    YOUR POINTS (AS I UNDERSTAND THEM): 

     

    1) Paul uses confusing fancy words when he could use simple words that everyone understands.  We agree on this!  I first encountered the word ‘neonate’ when my daughter was born and, recently, I have been reading a lot of books about cognitive psychology — especially by the Harvard (formally MIT) professor Steven Pinker.  He spends a lot of time examining the question of which human traits are acculturated and which are ‘inborn’.  He uses the word neonate a lot because he’s a scientist who studies newborns.  

     

    I use the word because Pro-Lifers are generally accused of using emotion-laden words like ‘baby’ so I try to see how far I can get using technical terms: zygote, blastocyst, embryo, fetus, neonate, infant.  If I use the word ‘ baby’ (or child) to refer to those people I leave myself exposed to the criticism that I’m simply playing on people’s emotions.  Even though I include all these people in my understanding of who deserves human rights, I want to remain mindful of the fact  that they are different from each other in many ways.

     

    2) Sick neonates don’t get cared for the same way that healthy ones do.  We agree that this is the way it is, no doubt we disagree on the question of whether it’s the way it ought to be.  I’m of the opinion that it’s positively immoral to give people substandard health care based on the fact that they are sick (or that they are very young, or very old).  I agree with the position of the bishops of my church which is that the issue of inadequate healthcare for the young, the old, the disabled and the sick is a Pro-Life issue.  I’m concerned about those matters in the same way that I’m concerned about abortion.

     

    3)  Immigrants are mistreated in this country.  You and I and the bishops all agree on this point.

     

    4) There’s a gap between what people say and what they do.  Yep.  Because I talk a lot I tend to be circumspect about the things I do.  Knowing about things like morality, ethics, justice, fairness is useless unless your knowledge informs what you actually do.  My sister and I were talking about Sen. Kennedy earlier today. She said, "He was the face of compassion to a lot of people, and that’s what being a Catholic is all about." I said, "That’s what being a human is all about."Kennedy didn’t just talk the talk, he walked the walk. That’s what counts.

     

    5) The perspective that matters visa vis care for the unborn is the perspective of fertile women.  We have a major disagreement there.  My position is that pregnancy is a condition that affects two people, not just one.  The perspective of the mother counts, and the perspective of the child counts even more.  

     

    I wish I could convey to you, crowepps, the fact that I’m totally aware of how much easier life would be if breathers counted and non-breathers didn’t.  I’m as appalled as any Pro-Choice advocate is by the fact that there are far too many children born in this overcrowded world of ours and far too many children born to parents who have no business having children (or as many children as they have.)  It’s not just fertile women who benefit by a liberal attitude toward abortion.  I benefit by a liberal attitude toward abortion.  We’d have a much, much happier world if there weren’t so many unwanted children.  I think about this a lot.

     

    6) Pro-Life attitudes interfere with the lives of women, Pro-Choice attitudes do not.  I was thinking, just today, about a comment you made to me about my instructing women how they should think and how they should feel.  I hope you realize that if I were instructing women about how they should think and feel relative to how they might benefit my life I’d take a very different tack than I do.  My understanding is that living in community with other human beings requires us to be able to put our own interests aside and to sometimes do what’s not in our interest because we need to think, and to feel that other people’s interests count as well as our own.  This is inevitable wherever there is morality.

     

    I’d like you to consider changing the focus of your critique from "The Pro-Life position is wrong because it interferes with the lives of fertile women" to "I agree that the moral imperative ALWAYS interferes with people’s lives — but let’s discuss whether a prohibition against abortion is moral." 

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • ahunt

     I hope you realize that if I were instructing women about how they
    should think and feel relative to how they might benefit my life I’d
    take a very different tack than I do.

     

    The problem here is your implicit assumption that a woman facing an unwanted pregnancy has a moral obligation to care about what you and others think. Not her problem.

     

    My understanding is that living in community with other human beings
    requires us to be able to put our own interests aside and to sometimes
    do what’s not in our interest because we need to think, and to feel
    that other people’s interests count as well as our own.

     

    What I’m not clear on…is how a woman who chooses an abortion is in any way harming the interests of other people in her community.

  • ahunt

    Once again, Larry…for the law to be rational and consistant…not only would abortion become a crime.., so too would any actions and behaviors which are known to potentially cause harm or death to the BZEF.

  • ahunt

    Research is ongoing. We do know that elevated levels of cortisol (stress hormone) is associated with very high early miscarriage rates. Let me find the study for you, and you’ll get an idea of the difficulties of such studies. And if you want to have some fun…google "Bovens and miscarriage."  Dicey and getting dicier.

  • ahunt

    Crowepps nails it, Larry. The general sense is that you are assuming an "authority" that none of us here think you possess, and whether or not this is your intention…it is how you come across. My responses are known to degenerate into "snark" if I perceive any "pulling of imaginary rank."

  • ahunt

    #3 doesn’t favor your side either given that there are two individuals
    whose freedoms are in conflict, and even if for some reason
    "individual" is a label you won’t give to the unborn, taking a human
    life is significant.

     

    You equivocate. Either there are a) two individuals, or b) not. If there are not two individuals, then the conflict of freedoms is between bodily autonomy and squatters rights. If there are two individuals, then the conflict is between bodily autonomy and access to sustaining resources. The first is a birthright…the second depends on the will of the "sustainer."

  • crowepps

    I’m going to start this thread over because it’s getting too skinny for me to read easily —

    You must realize how much I enjoy talking with you! You’re smart and passionate and you care about so many of the things I care about. I have noticed, however, that our conversations tend to expand — that is, they seem to roam around and take on more and more subject matter without ever coming to a resolution on any single point. Just look at your last post. By my count, you made points on six different issues that cover a wide range of controversy. In some cases we are in general agreement, but in other cases we have pointed differences. I wonder if we could both try to establish how near (or how far) are our points of view.

    I enjoy our posts back and forth too.  Hitting six different issues that cover a wide range of controversy in a single post has more to do with how complex this subject is and how interconnected the various parts of it are than it does with a tendency of the conversation to roam. If this subject was simple, a solution would have been found long ago.

    YOUR POINTS (AS I UNDERSTAND THEM): 1) Paul uses confusing fancy words when he could use simple words that everyone understands. We agree on this! I first encountered the word ‘neonate’ when my daughter was born and, recently, I have been reading a lot of books about cognitive psychology — especially by the Harvard (formally MIT) professor Steven Pinker. He spends a lot of time examining the question of which human traits are acculturated and which are ‘inborn’. He uses the word neonate a lot because he’s a scientist who studies newborns. I use the word because Pro-Lifers are generally accused of using emotion-laden words like ‘baby’ so I try to see how far I can get using technical terms: zygote, blastocyst, embryo, fetus, neonate, infant. If I use the word ‘ baby’ (or child) to refer to those people I leave myself exposed to the criticism that I’m simply playing on people’s emotions. Even though I include all these people in my understanding of who deserves human rights, I want to remain mindful of the fact that they are different from each other in many ways.

    To me the word ‘baby’ is reserved for those already born and breathing AND capable of consciousness. Before birth, it can only be the hope of a baby.  Having hoped and been disappointed, I am personally aware of the difference on a gut level most can’t grasp.

    2) Sick neonates don’t get cared for the same way that healthy ones do. We agree that this is the way it is, no doubt we disagree on the question of whether it’s the way it ought to be. I’m of the opinion that it’s positively immoral to give people substandard health care based on the fact that they are sick (or that they are very young, or very old). I agree with the position of the bishops of my church which is that the issue of inadequate healthcare for the young, the old, the disabled and the sick is a Pro-Life issue. I’m concerned about those matters in the same way that I’m concerned about abortion.

    I understand the ethical dilemna here, and yet as someone who has been very involved with a number of different disabled people in my family, among friends and professionally, and who is very aware of the time and expense involved in meeting their needs, the coldly practical question arises, "Just how many blind, mentally handicapped or grossly physically disabled people who are unable to ever work can society support?" Certainly from an ethical standpoint everyone should have equal value but from a practical standpoint, when keeping one individual alive requires that several healthy people who could otherwise be productive be removed from the pool of those doing work useful to society in general and instead keep that one person alive, there are inherent limits. Certainly I would never argue that disabled people who exist should be neglected or suffer, but I just can’t see the purpose in REQUIRING that unwilling people be forced to complete pregnancies which would increase the supply.

    3) Immigrants are mistreated in this country. You and I and the bishops all agree on this point.

    Only some of the immigrants are so mistreated. I haven’t seen a lot of discrimination against those from, for instance, Romania or Germany, but then they don’t ‘look foreign’ because they aren’t brown.

    4) There’s a gap between what people say and what they do. Yep. Because I talk a lot I tend to be circumspect about the things I do. Knowing about things like morality, ethics, justice, fairness is useless unless your knowledge informs what you actually do. My sister and I were talking about Sen. Kennedy earlier today. She said, "He was the face of compassion to a lot of people, and that’s what being a Catholic is all about." I said, "That’s what being a human is all about."Kennedy didn’t just talk the talk, he walked the walk. That’s what counts.

    The problem I have with this truth is that so many who do NOT walk the walk are all gungho to insist that OTHER people be harshly punished for some sin they personally aren’t at risk of committing. For a straight male to be vehemently passionate about the need to discriminate against gays and outlaw abortion because of ‘the family’ while ignoring his own adultery makes me very impatient with the idea of selecting a few ‘moral values’ to impose on others through legislation.

    5) The perspective that matters visa vis care for the unborn is the perspective of fertile women. We have a major disagreement there. My position is that pregnancy is a condition that affects two people, not just one. The perspective of the mother counts, and the perspective of the child counts even more.

    I realize that you believe the child counts "even more". This is certainly a huge disagreement, because to me it is outrageous to ignore the woman’s perspective and focus on a fetus, and especially in a blastocyst. To me it is the equivalent of saying the most valuable about the women is her uterus and its contents because that is what she is FOR, that any other attributes like brains or talent are already in adequate supply among the men and women only get to use their brains and talent until they get pregnant because after that women (but not men) must starve their ego, abandon individuality and become interchangeable (and replaceable) parts of the mommy machine dedicated to always, always putting the ZEF and eventual child first in all things so that her man can continue his intereactions with the world while she raises his children for him.

     

    This meme is very, VERY similar to fundamentalist Muslims talking about how a girl/woman’s value TO THE MEN AROUND HER lies entirely in her ‘purity’, a quality which she must maintain and without which she can be killed out of hand as too damaged to deserve to live. In both cases there is an assumption that the purpose of women is to be OF USE TO OTHERS and the level of usefulness is what determines her value.

    I wish I could convey to you, crowepps, the fact that I’m totally aware of how much easier life would be if breathers counted and non-breathers didn’t. I’m as appalled as any Pro-Choice advocate is by the fact that there are far too many children born in this overcrowded world of ours and far too many children born to parents who have no business having children (or as many children as they have.) It’s not just fertile women who benefit by a liberal attitude toward abortion. I benefit by a liberal attitude toward abortion. We’d have a much, much happier world if there weren’t so many unwanted children. I think about this a lot.

    Maybe I’m too cynical, but it seems to me that when someone understands that their ‘ethical stance’ will actually make everyone involved worse off but still insists it should be followed because it’s ‘the right thing to do’, sometimes they are discounting the psychological benefit they gain from being the powerful one who gets to decide ‘the right thing to do’ and from controlling other people to enforce conformity with their beliefs.  Then of course there’s the self-righteousness involved in a person feeling all virtuous and shiny because their focus is on how moral they are as compared to those sinners. It’s easy to ignore ones own faults while insisting on making someone ELSE be ‘good’.  I don’t think these are necessarily YOUR motivations, but certainly some of the posters leak these attitudes.

    6) Pro-Life attitudes interfere with the lives of women, Pro-Choice attitudes do not. I was thinking, just today, about a comment you made to me about my instructing women how they should think and how they should feel. I hope you realize that if I were instructing women about how they should think and feel relative to how they might benefit my life I’d take a very different tack than I do. My understanding is that living in community with other human beings requires us to be able to put our own interests aside and to sometimes do what’s not in our interest because we need to think, and to feel that other people’s interests count as well as our own. This is inevitable wherever there is morality.

    This misunderstanding seems to me to be an inevitable byproduct of the belief that ones own behavior is the norm and that the value of others depends on how closely they approach that norm – for you, being male is ‘normal’. I am not at all confident of my own ability to ‘understand’ what it is like to be a man, constantly at the mercy of fluctuating testosterone and unconscious primate competitive drives, although reading Sapolsky helps. I am even less confident of the ability of the average man to understand what it is like for women to NOT have those particular influences. It sure seems to me that the inevitability of considering the ‘interests of other people’ is a lot MORE inevitable when the ‘morality’ in question is set up by the men so that women pay the consequences and men can evade them.  Funny how the ‘other people’s interests’ in this case are those of the fetus and the male while the real world physical, emotional and economic effects on the woman are considered irrelevant.

    I’d like you to consider changing the focus of your critique from "The Pro-Life position is wrong because it interferes with the lives of fertile women" to "I agree that the moral imperative ALWAYS interferes with people’s lives — but let’s discuss whether a prohibition against abortion is moral."

    To me, there is a difference in the way moral value ‘interfers with people’s lives’ when the interference is egalitarian and reflux. There are lots of commonly agreed upon moral values which affect everyone equally in prohibiting behavior (theft/murder) but which are reciprocally protective in (hopefully) preventing having that behavior inflicted on oneself. In the case of abortion, the only person adversely affected is the fertile woman. She’s the only one whose behavior and feelings are downgraded by your reverance for the ZEF and ‘counts less’.  I certainly haven’t seen anyone suggesting that obstetricians should be REQUIRED to provide free prenatal and obstetric care because their economic health ‘counts less’ than the right to life of the fetus or that employers should be REQUIRED to provide nine months of paid leave because their economic health ‘counts less’ than the fetus or even that the man actually involved in the pregnancy pay support to the woman during the pregnancy itself.

     

    There is also one part of the argument over moral imperatives which you slid past. WHOSE moral imperatives?  The definition I find for the phrase is "A moral imperative is a principle originating inside a person’s mind that compels that person to act."  The ProChoice side lets each person originate their principles individually in their own minds. The ProLife side argues that the strength of their personal moral imperative justifies their ignoring that of others and imposing their own personal view on others. Is the idea that freedom of conscience should be discarded altogether and ‘majority rules’ should be substituted with nonconformity punished?  Since the majority consistently states that it is satisfied with the compromise reached in Roe v Wade and wants it to remain law, the discussion should be over.  Instead, ProLife activists insist that their moral imperative ‘compels them to act’ by impinging on the rights of others and forcing others to change behaviors (as the moral imperative of the fundamentalist Muslim compels them to cane old women who drink beer). Even those like yourself who don’t actually want to make abortion illegal feel free to discuss what fertile women ‘should’ be doing, thinking, feeling because you assume that women don’t have any moral agency that requires respect, that their individual moral imperative doesn’t count, and that their conscience must be either missing or defective.

  • paul-bradford

    The problem here is your implicit assumption that a woman facing an unwanted pregnancy has a moral obligation to care about what you and others think. Not her problem.

     

    We’re almost there: but it isn’t so much that she has a moral obligation to care about what other people think, it’s that she has a moral obligation to care about how her decision will affect the concerns and interests of other people.  What she has to be particularly concerned about are the concerns and interests of a person who doesn’t yet have opinions about anything — namely her child.

     

    You say, "Not her problem".  We very much disagree.  I’m sure we agree that it’s her CHOICE, but I strongly contend that she’s morally obligated to be mindful of her child’s interests when she makes that choice.  I also believe that the father of the child is morally obligated to advocate for that child and to do whatever is possible to make sure that he takes up the burden of parenthood and takes the pressure off the mother.

     

    Fathers, in my opinion, are more likely than mothers to try and skip out on the responsibilities of parenthood.  More abortions could be prevented by straightening men out than by straightening women out.

     

    What I’m not clear on…is how a woman who chooses an abortion is in any way harming the interests of other people in her community.

     

    Can’t you anticipate what I will say, or are you just being cute?  Obviously, the community itself determines who’s ‘in’ and who’s ‘out’.  That’s why immigration is such a hot button issue, and why all of us have a moral obligation to speak out about immigrant rights.  Are the very young ‘in’ or are they ‘out’?  If we decide that they’re ‘in’ it’s pretty obvious how the decision to abort is harming their interests.

     

    I’m trying very hard, ahunt, to persuade you that you and I have no disagreements about the equality of women or the right of people to opt out on being a parent if they don’t want children.  Our disagreement is about who should be included when we use words like ‘community’ or ‘society’ or ‘human race’.  The whole battle is about who ought to be counted.  Once we come to some consensus about who needs to be counted, we can discuss how those who are counted can be protected.

     

    You and I are ahead of the unborn in terms of age and in terms of accomplishment (I know enough about biology to know that you have to accomplish a great deal, developmentally, before you can live outside the womb).  I don’t want to put words in your mouth, but it seems to be your position that you think there’s a ‘minimum requirement’ of age and/or accomplishment that needs to be met before a person deserves to be treated as a member of the human race.  How is that not ageist?

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • paul-bradford

    crowepps/larry/ahunt,

     

    Steven Pinker put it best.  Of his own decision not to have children, he once wrote, ”If my genes don’t like it they can jump in the lake.”

     

    Pinker, who knows a lot more about evolutionary science than any of us, knew that we can’t take our direction by lionizing the genes that have proven to be adaptive.  People have to live their lives, and they’re going to make decisions for human reasons, not genetic.

     

    Some people have human reasons for having a big family, other people have human reasons for remaining childless or celibate.  You’re not a gene, you’re a human being — and humans are different one from another. 

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • paul-bradford

    ahunt,

     

    How would any of us know what interventions would prove effective?  Suppose we figured out that you’d have a 5% better chance of getting your blastocyst child to implant if you didn’t take a shower for two weeks after having sex.  Who the hell is going to do that?

     

    People are always steering a course between safety and freedom.  The most successful people figure out a way to get a lot of both — and the more they know about what interventions actually make them (and the ones they love) safe, the better chance they have to be successful.

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • julie-watkins

     

    It is sexist/classist to deny a fertile woman the obtion to accept or reject any pregnancy, free of society pressure. The woman has to give too much to expect she should feel morally obligated. You’re sexist/classist to insist that the ethical problem of "ageism" trumps the ethical problem of "nature’s sexism" and the sex & class discrimination of most cultures. It’s more imperive to solve the sexism/classim problem before addressing ageism. Pragmatically, you’re trying to enforce the patriarchy — though I thank you that you are trying to do this "voluntarily" by trying to shame women into thinking correctly, so still I think you should identify your group as "anti-recriminalization" rather than "for choice". Many women who feel they deserve equality will reject this (myself included).

     

    If there’s a pressing ethical problem the blame should be set with nature, not women who want to be treated equal — & with modern medical technology we have a chance, if we could stop the patriarchy from putting up barriers.

  • paul-bradford

    Julie,

     

    Which country do you live in?

     

    Here in the US, both liberals and conservatives have their own ‘nightmare scenarios’.  The conservatives are so terrified of the government getting in between a patient and her/his doctor that they thwart any effort to empower the government to make healthcare a right instead of a privilege.  The liberals are so terrified of the government snooping on private citizens that they oppose steps to combat terrorism inside the country.  The battle cry is the same on both sides, "Government is the problem!"

     

    We’re all scared and we’re all mistrustful and probably that’s for the best, but the only way to get anything done is to overcome fear and distrust.

     

    I want parents to take responsibility for treating their children well.  There are a lot of parents who don’t do this and, as a result, children suffer and even die; but any steps we consider to assure that the society will encourage parents to behave themselves strikes terror in our hearts.

     

    We walk on a tightrope between threats to our safety and threats to our freedom.  It’s important to be mindful of both threats.  Don’t be so terrified of the threat to parents’ freedom that you disregard the threat to children’s safety. 

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • ahunt

    I don’t want to put words in your mouth, but it seems to be your
    position that you think there’s a ‘minimum requirement’ of age and/or
    accomplishment that needs to be met before a person deserves to be
    treated as a member of the human race.  How is that not ageist?

     

    A) My definition of "accomplishment" involves deliberate effort. Perhaps you mean "development?" And B) I’ll see your "ageism" and raise you "sexism."

     

    It seems to be your position that women deserve to be treated as members of the human race pre-puberty and post-menopause. The life in between is defined solely in terms of reproductive capacity. How is this not sexist?

  • ahunt

    That is not what I asked, Paul.

     

    I’d like to know, specifically what you mean by "interventions?" Who intervenes? What are grounds for intervention? When is"intervention" called for? What enforcement construct do you envision? Curious minds want to know.

  • crowepps

    As I understand him, Paul believes that other people SHOULD focus a lot more seriously on their reproductive cycles and SHOULD feel it is vital to carefully monitor that part of their lives and SHOULD want to know how to give every blastocyst the best possible chance and SHOULD be receptive to the results of as yet undone research which MIGHT reveal ways in which other people could voluntarily change the way they live their lives so any possible blastocysts are given the best possible chance because it is obvious to Paul those those blastocysts are much more important than the people involved in creating them.

     

    He has no idea what the research would reveal but can only speculate, he has no idea what the interventions might possibly be but can only speculate, but he passionately believes that this issue is of the highest moral importance and that any suffering or inconvenience this imposes on other people is irrelevant because if people could just understand what Paul means they would all agree with him.

     

    Paul cannot understand why his explanations of his position aren’t persuasive because the ‘truth’ of his position is so blindingly clear to him. Paul does not foresee a need for any enforcement mechanism because Paul insists that a program of scientific, sociological and government propaganda will convince other people to feel the emotions Paul sees as foundational to ‘morality’ and parenthood and will persuade other people to adopt the goal that Paul feels is so vitally important.

     

    While Paul admits that society in general will be worse off, as well as many of the individuals actually involved including the blastocysts who make it through the process till birth, those details doesn’t matter weighed against the intensity of Paul’s belief in the importance of the creation of the blastocyst.

  • crowepps

    “On Thursday, the Ohio Supreme Court affirmed that Totes/Isotoner had the right to fire breastfeeding mother LaNisa Allen for taking breaks to pump milk. Yeah, you read that right. Timothy P. Reilly, attorney for Totes/Isotoner, told the Columbus Dispatch, “Totes has taken the position since the beginning of this case that it terminated the plaintiff (Allen) for a proper reason, and that’s that she took unauthorized work breaks, regardless of her sex or condition.” Because unauthorized pumping, clearly, can be divorced from one’s “sex or condition.” This would be the rare instance in which I find myself tempted to type “LOL,” except the Supreme Court used essentially the same reasoning: It was on Allen to prove that the stated cause for her dismissal (failure to follow directions) was a pretext for discrimination, and technically, she didn’t. Ergo, the court decided not to bother addressing the thornier question of whether lactation counts as a pregnancy-related condition, which would be protected under the state’s anti-discrimination laws.
    In the strictest legal sense, the ruling is logical: Allen admitted she took unauthorized breaks, and that’s a firing offense. If she can’t prove that someone said, “Ha! Now’s our chance to get rid of her for being a woman!” then apparently, she can’t prove discrimination. But it’s manifestly weaselly to suggest that her “insubordination” can somehow be separated from the fact that she was lactating, especially since they were responding to a decision that included this colossal eye-roller:

    Allen gave birth over five months prior to her termination from [Isotoner]. Pregnant [women] who give birth and choose not to breastfeed or pump their breasts do not continue to lactate for five months. Thus, Allen’s condition of lactating was not a condition relating to pregnancy but rather a condition related to breastfeeding. Breastfeeding discrimination does not constitute gender discrimination.

    Of course not.

    Chief Justice Thomas Moyer and one of the court’s three women, Justice Maureen O’Connor, at least had the decency to “concur in judgment only,” meaning they agreed that Allen hadn’t technically proved discrimination but believe lactation should, in fact, be covered under the law against pregnancy discrimination. Yet the only straight-up dissenting opinion came from Justice Paul Pfeifer, who wrote, “Seriously? Are you kidding me with this?”

    OK, no he didn’t. But he did say that even if you insist on separating Allen’s extra breaks from her condition as a lactating mother, then they should be regarded no differently than unscheduled pee breaks. “There is no evidence in the record about any limit on the length of unscheduled restroom breaks and no evidence that employees had to seek permission from a supervisor to take an unscheduled restroom break. There is evidence only that unscheduled bathroom breaks were allowed and that LaNisa Allen was fired for taking them. What made her breaks different?” Ding ding ding!

    http://www.salon.com/mwt/broadsheet/feature/2009/08/28/fired_for_pumping/index.html

  • emma

    Only just saw this, Larry. I don’t have time to respond until some time tomorrow, my time (plus, I need to debate whether it’s worthwhile to respond, as I’m getting tired of pretentious fuckwittery), but will get back to you if possible.
    Responding to one point, because it’s irritating me – I didn’t say there was nothing any of your lot could possibly say that I didn’t already know, and I’d appreciate it if you refrained from misrepresenting me.

     

    My point – and I apologise oh so profusely if I didn’t convey it comprehensibly – was that the male commenters from ‘your side’ all seem to show up thinking they (you) have brilliant, genius arguments that are so original that we couldn’t possibly have heard them before or refute them – i.e. you have a tendency to overestimate your originality and brilliance.
    The point isn’t that no one could ever present an argument we haven’t heard, but that none of you ever do – or at any rate you haven’t to date. The belief you all seem to hold – that your particular arguments are new and spectacular – is one of the numerous common features of the male ‘pro-life’ specimen. At any rate, that is my impression; I’m open to being proven incorrect.

  • julie-watkins

    Which country do you live in?

    U.S.A.

    I was not a "parent" between the time my IUD failed and my abortion. I am not "running in terror" because I refuse to accept your definitions.

    Abortion is the "middle ground" — neither forced prenancy nor forced abortion but the woman’s choice, with the advice of her chosen advisors.

    I thank for not wanting to make abortion illegal, but you should rename your group and correct your signature to "Paul Bradford, Pro-Life Catholics Against Recriminalization" not "Paul Bradford Pro-Life Catholics for Choice". The first name would be more truthful.

  • crowepps

    We’re all scared and we’re all mistrustful and probably that’s for the best, but the only way to get anything done is to overcome fear and distrust.

    I don’t agree with the first part of this statement, although I’ll certain agree with the second part. WE are not all scared. WE are not all mistructful. WE do not all feel that these are appropriate or useful emotional reactions in a democracy, particularly when the fear and mistrust are being deliberately hyped and promoted by those who want the citizenry distracted from what they’re doing.

    I want parents to take responsibility for treating their children well. There are a lot of parents who don’t do this and, as a result, children suffer and even die; but any steps we consider to assure that the society will encourage parents to behave themselves strikes terror in our hearts.

    It doesn’t “strike terror in” MY “heart”. Instead I incredibly intrusive and patronizing because in reality this is arrogant people imposing their own personal definition of ‘treating children well’ on others purportedly for society’s benefit at the same time that they declare that society has no responsibility to assist them to reach that goal, as for instance by providing daycare, medical care, food, shelter, etc.

    We walk on a tightrope between threats to our safety and threats to our freedom. It’s important to be mindful of both threats. Don’t be so terrified of the threat to parents’ freedom that you disregard the threat to children’s safety.

    Perhaps I find it a pretty wide and well worn path that it’s not too difficult to keep on at all. In addition, it’s my reading of history that attempts to ensure safety by giving up freedom never work. Your final sentence sounds compelling except that in reality the problem is not balancing the parents’ freedom against the children’s safety, but instead the parents’ freedom against the children’s freedom and the parents’ safety against the children’s safety, and that in all cases where there is a conflict you take the ageist position that the younger the individual or POSSIBLE individual, the more rights should be invested, so that people’s rights are not stable and inalienable, but instead women in particular LOSE rights as they age.

  • ahunt

    Bu, bu, but Crowepps…women presumably get rights back post-menopause. It is not like fertile women do not have something to look forward too.

  • paul-bradford

    crowepps,

     

    I’m really touched by the fact that you took the trouble to write such a long and thoughtful response to my last post.  I thought quite a bit about it over the past day and then, this evening, I wrote back to you.  I actually spent about 2 1/2 hours trying to get the writing ‘just right’.

     

    Guess what?  When I posted, my computer lost its connection to the RHReality Check server.  All that writing — gone.

     

    I hope you will forgive me if I tell you that it will be a little while before I can get back to you.  You really said a lot, and I had a lot to say in response. 

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • paul-bradford

    I was not a "parent" between the time my IUD failed and my abortion. 

     

    What you’re saying is that the ‘biological phenomenon’ that was going on inside you during those days was not a living human being with the same intrinsic worth as the rest of us.  If it were, you would have been a parent and that ‘phenomenon’ would have been your child.

     

    Saying this is DIFFERENT than saying that forced pregnancy is an unacceptable situation for a woman to have to endure.  I want you to ask yourself whether or not you came to your conclusion on the first matter because of the consequence it would have on the second.

     

    Let me put it a different way.  If human biology were different than it is, and if pregnancy — instead of being the arduous, dangerous, embarrassing affair that it is — were as easy as carrying a set of car keys around; that is, if bearing a child were something that took so little effort that no one could reasonably excuse themselves from the task, would you still claim that a seven week old fetus was something other than a living human being?

     

    I bet a nickel you would!  And if we could talk about that we could get somewhere.

     

    We disagree about whether a z/b/e/f has the same intrinsic worth as you or me; but we never get around to discussing how we arrive at those differing conclusions.  We don’t get to discuss it because we get sidetracked by the observation that IF a z/b/e/f has intrinsic worth equal to anyone else then the CONSEQUENCE of that understanding is that women would be exposed to the responsibility of carrying an unwanted pregnancy to term. 

     

    Will you grant that the expression ‘forced pregnancy’ should be modified to ‘forced pregnancy continuance’?  (We’re speaking, of course, about the force of moral precept rather than legal ordinance).  The pregnancy itself is not a result of legal or moral compulsion, it’s the response to the actions of some man or other.  If you want to protect women from unwanted pregnancies (and I’m totally with you on that one!) you have to put some pressure on men.  That is, you have to alert men to the moral reality that impregnating a woman against her will does more damage than robbing a bank.

     

    It’s a very, very wrong thing for a man to do.  If a man responds to this and says, "Getting a female pregnant is just the natural result of sexual expression, a man has no responsibility to prevent unwanted conception."  I will tell that man that he is wrong.  If he says, "Well, I will decide for myself whether it’s wrong or not.  I won’t take instructions from you.  If I choose to impregnate women and leave them to deal with the consequences that’s my right.  That’s just my idea of ‘reproductive health’ so leave me alone!"  I’ll tell him that he’s the reason for abortion — not his partner. 

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • ahunt

    And as with your definition of "mother," Paul…you expand the general understanding of "parent" to such a degree as to render the condition meaningless. Is a "parent" also defined, in your view, as one of two parties contributing half the genetic information to a zygote?

  • princess-rot

    I do not speak for Julie. Neither
    do you. However, something that should be screamingly obvious to both of us is
    that Julie did not want a baby, regardless of how much anyone else
    thinks her fetus is a precious and unique snowflake inherently deserving to
    eventually soil its diaper in our world. You advocate that Julie, and by effect
    all fertile women, live in self-abnegation the moment a zygote may be possible
    and simply "be mindful" of their own opinion (but only to think about
    it, never act on it, especially if it is in any way different than the your
    purported societal ideal, because that would be the wrong thing to do)
    and ultimately bear out in the way you think is moral.  I get the impression what you mean by "no one could reasonably excuse themselves from the task" is that to NOT want to be pregnant, or be at risk of being pregnant, or to NOT have a child (through avoidance, birth control, or abortion) is "selfish" because to have children and care for them is the pinnacle of female achievement.
    Regardless of how easy science could make childbearing/raising, no female is obligated to do it. Sorry Paul, but my body is unapologetically mine, and it is not for others (including ZBEF) to share at any time. If I do not willingly want it, it is going down. I do not care that getting shut of it will kill it. I am not a baby farm.

    You are
    trying to iron out free will with your suggestions of subtly coercing women to
    unquestioningly accept the mantle of "mother" regardless of their
    circumstances and personal opinions, by the whim of sociological propaganda and
    punishment. You have "othered" women to such an extent that they are
    secondary to a possible potential. I cannot imagine that even the most
    radical man-hater could adopt a position so sociopathic and degrading to half
    of the human race. There is just no parallel. You stretch the meaning of parent so much it is practically transparent. You cannot "parent" a zygote. A biological process is not "parenting", any more than pissing on a plant is the same as taking a hose and watering it. Parenting is the act of actively (and willingly) caring for a born child, not some abstract thing that might occur after sex. Also, what is it non-bio parents and guardians do – intensive babysitting? Way to disappear anyone who didn’t push the child out of their crotch or provide half its genetic material.

    Last
    night I stumbled upon a very thoughtful post on a LJ comm. I sometimes lurk
    on. 

    <a href="http://community.livejournal.com/cf_hardcore/4916164.html"></a&gt;

    (For
    dog’s sake, don’t concern-troll them. Don’t do as you do here and tell them how
    they should think and feel about reproduction as if you are the only man alive
    to have ever thought of women primarily in terms of fertility. Just don’t
    comment at all. Lurk, read, digest, and put aside your privilege and
    sentimentality about fetuses. This is why women hate being defined by
    reproduction. Perhaps it will help you understand.)

    ************************************************************

    Throughout
    the post, there is a strong sense that societies’ pro-natal attitudes are unwontedly
    forming a large part of how these people feel. I know, I’ve been there myself,
    and I have known for a very long time that I DO NOT WANT children. I will do
    everything humanly possible to prevent myself being occupied by an unwanted
    prenate. I don’t want it, regardless of whether society thinks that is all I am
    for. Should all else fail, and that should happen, I’ll abort it. Regardless of
    whether it is a person, or human, or alive, or could go to a good
    home, or it’s-a-child-not-a-choice, it’s a boy, it’s a girl, it’s a pre-born
    gift from god, it’s a baby, it’s a child, it’s precious, it’s unique, it could
    cure cancer, it could become President. It doesn’t matter. It’s my body. That is what you
    fail to grasp. The philosophical importance of life doesn’t matter when someone
    else is demanding half the population give up their autonomy and their potential
    to sacrifice for another potential which might be better than them in the philosopher’s eyes and fulfil
    the philosopher’s dream of a motherly utopia.

    I had a
    very visceral reaction to an ex-boyfriend telling me I had
    "child-bearing" hips. He meant it as flattery. What it did do was
    make my skin crawl. At the time, three years ago, I couldn’t have explained why
    I felt that. Now I can. They aren’t the frame I walk with, they aren’t just
    skeletal structure, and they are for children. Everything is for children. I am
    for children, because that is all I exist for, and society reinforces that
    repeatedly over a female’s life. You don’t see people having the raptures over
    the ability to take a shit unaided, no peons to the wonders of the digestive
    tract, because that would include men, and would thus be stupid. Males are full
    persons in this society, not defined by a single bodily function.

    Scientifically
    speaking, I know it just evolved that way. However, society structures it as my
    bodies’ only real purpose, despite the fact my hips have
    multiple purposes, it always centers around one. It is very telling that my ex
    thought I should find it flattering he viewed me as a potential breeder – he
    too has absorbed the message that a woman’s greatest gift is the ability to
    produce offspring. He, like you, is unconsciously protected from this by gender
    privilege, and cannot understand why it’s really insulting to be seen as the
    font of new life – quite often it’s because it’s at the expense of everything
    else you can do, and all of that will never be as good as one bodily function a
    woman has no direct control over. Your stance seeks to increase this pressure a
    thousand fold, and shove women and girls even further back into the
    "mommy" box.

    Like the
    women on LJ, it’s often observed that there is something wrong with a
    female if she does not define some part of her femininity by reproduction, or
    she’s seen as a confused self-hater if she objects to her reproductive
    capability.
    I do not hate being female. I hate what it is
    taken to mean. Your worldview will never work because women are not biological automatons programmed to unquestioningly breed for "the greater good".

  • julie-watkins

    You got it: I did not want a baby, I did not feel obligated, I don’t think I made the wrong decision and thank you for that link to the LJ post. Parts of this comment sideways remind me of an Ursula K. LeGuin story, "An Die Musik", which I have to track down and reread to see if I’m remembering the story correctly. Like the LJ post, I think it would be something to point to as a way to increase understanding.

     

    Thanks again,

     

    Julie

  • julie-watkins

     No, I don’t want to bet a nickel. I’ll explain later unless it seems totally pointless.

     

    I’ve asked you implicitly twice (three times, actually) and you haven’t answered. This time I’m going to ask explicitly for you to defend your practice of labeling yourself "for choice" when your comments, taken as whole, show you are, instead, "against recriminalization". It’s my opinion that you don’t do this because you trust women, you do this because you think coercian would work better than passing anti-abortion laws & sending women to back-alley abortions.

     

    I futher suspect that (probably unconciously) you are persistantly using the word "choice" in a strategic way to try to change the definition to make my position seem "extreme" instead of yours.

     

    Julie Watkins
    Pro-Choice Athiest Against Forced or Coerced Servitude

  • ahunt

    My sense is that Paul would deny "coercian," while simultaneously winking at subtle discrimination and overt public pressures.

     

    And Paul…this is possibly the largest reason why I profoundly mistrust you and your goals.  I believe that you advocate unwritten public policies that would deny women full participation in public life while virtuously claiming that such is not your intent…that if "women" just had "all the facts," women would interpret them as you do, and voluntarily behave as you think they ought.

    What happens when employers or lawmakers or educators take up your cause? It is disingenuous to pretend public disapproval and censure is not coercian, or that those with that power to "coerce" will NOT use it, subtlely and not.

  • crowepps

    Exactly the same thing happened to me Sunday afternoon in responding to a different post — I think from now on before I press ‘edit’ I’m going to highlight and copy the entire post so it will be lurking somewhere — VERY frustrating!!

  • crowepps

    1185, from O.Fr. parent (11c.), from L. parentem (nom. parens) “father or mother, ancestor,” noun use of prp. of parere “bring forth, give birth to, produce,” from PIE base *per- “to bring forth” (see pare). Began to replace native elder after c.1500.

    http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=parent

    If I’m understanding this correctly, the ‘traditional’ use of this term was only for persons whose child has been born and included grandparents. The more ‘modern’ use which seem to include during the period of pregnancy may have arisen because of the rapid improvement in survival rates so that a pregnancy could be ASSUMED to have a good outcome and the descendent could be counted upon before birth. Certainly, however, I have never heard couples who have suffered repeated miscarriages referred to as ‘parents’ and I think they would be pretty upset by that labeling.

  • crowepps

    What you’re saying is that the ‘biological phenomenon’ that was going on inside you during those days was not a living human being with the same intrinsic worth as the rest of us.  If it were, you would have been a parent and that ‘phenomenon’ would have been your child.

    Paul, you are conflating a number of seperate issues here and drawing conclusions that were not contained in the statement made.  Her statement was

    I was not a "parent" between the time my IUD failed and my abortion. 

     

    I agree with her.  To me and a lot of other people, having a zygote or embryo present temporarily doesn’t make one a  "parent".  It makes a woman pregnant, but does NOT make her a parent.  This has nothing to do with whether that zygote or embryo is alive, whether it is human or what its worth is, but with the fact that my life experience has shown me that its presence can only be considered temporary and provisional until it makes it much further along in development.  It would be silly to consider a couple to both be ‘parents’ because a zygote implanted in the uterus for 15 minutes and then sloughed off.  I don’t think that couple would consider themselves ‘parents’ either even if they had been eager for the zygote to succeed.

     We don’t get to discuss it because we get sidetracked by the observation that IF a z/b/e/f has intrinsic worth equal to anyone else then the CONSEQUENCE of that understanding is that women would be exposed to the responsibility of carrying an unwanted pregnancy to term. 

    This is your conclusion, and you still are not grasping that if the z/b/e/f has intrinsic worth EQUAL to everyone else including the woman upon which it is battening, that equality fails to impose any responsibility on her whatsoever to lend her biological systems to its advantage unwillingly since the fetus certainly does not restrain itself from trying to ruin her health or even take her life.

     

    Certainly no other person is obligated to do anything similiar for any other equal entity.  The biological need of even the most eminent and valuable citizen does not trigger any ‘responsibility’ for others to turn over their organs, marrow or even blood.   If the fetus (or child) needs a bone marrow transplant to save its life, the father isn’t considered to have any ‘responsibility’ to provide that marrow.  Why is a woman with EQUAL rights the only one somehow obligated to allow the fetus to coopt her organs or even disassemble her physical structure and convert it to its own use?

     

    I think you read The Giving Tree at an impressionable age.

  • emma

    Time hasn’t permitted me to reply until now. I don’t have a great deal now, either, so I’ll respond to you quickly. Your response is too long and too full of irrelevant and obfuscatory rambling to bother rereading, so I’m going from memory here.
    Crowepps explained the connotations of the word ‘impertinent’, so no need for me to explain any further why it’s inappropriate to use the term to refer to an adult. It’s also not particularly necessary, as I’m quite certain you are perfectly aware of your intentions in referring to Colleen in such a way. Please feel quite free to justify and obfuscate as you wish.

     

    I think you’re probably aware that there has been a rampant history in the liberal democratic tradition (among others) of subordinating women and excluding us from the public sphere due to the belief that we were incapable of logic and reason. Those qualities – the ‘civilised’ qualities – were considered to be inherent to men, whereas women were associated with the natural; the primal; the unpredictable; the irrational; and so on and so forth. It’s a sexist trope still used to reduce women to baby-making machines whose sole function is to reproduce. Those in favour of forced birth buy into that, regardless of whether they care to admit it, and implying the intellectual inferiority of your female debating opponents invokes those sexist tropes – those connotations are inescapable.

     

    You are welcome to believe that comparing the American ‘pro-life’ movement to the Taliban is asinine. Your suggestion, however, that it is insulting to Afghan women to suggest that the right to access to abortion – the right to all components of reproductive freedom – is secondary of irrelevant to them was utter rubbish. Reproductive rights are one of the most significant indicators of the status of women in a society, and I think the fact that one in six (IIRC) Afghan women will die from pregnancy related causes would suggest that access to comprehensive reproductive health services – which includes abortion – is something that might be rather important to Afghan women. The leaders of the American pro-foetus movement share the Taliban’s fondness for theocracy and the use of violence terrorist tactics (like, you know, murdering or condoning the murder of prominent abortion providers). The comparison is not unreasonable. You are free to disagree.

     

    You still just don’t seem to get why some of the regular pro-choice commenters here are hostile toward obnoxious, arrogant misogynists who show up here to inform us that zygotes are people and that we should be forced to carry all pregnancies to term. All your philosophising is really irrelevant to the point, which is that forced birth is a grotesque violation of our right to bodily autonomy. I don’t particularly care whether you think microscopic organisms are people, and frankly, if I had a 19 year old hanging out in my uterus against my will, I’d forcibly evict hir, too.

     

    If you want to reciprocate the hostility then go for it if it pleases you to do so, however, you might at least to attempt to comprehend the reason for our antipathy toward you and your point of view. If you become hostile to the point that you’re banned, don’t try to pin that on me. You’re responsible for that which you choose to type, regardless of how provoked you feel. You want us to ‘take responsibility’ for fucking by being forced to continue a pregnancy; the least you can do is take responsibility for your words.

     

    I think further responses to you are probably pointless, so this will probably be the last of them.

  • princess-rot

    Thanks, Firefox, for eating my formatting. That link should be: http://community.livejournal.com/cf_hardcore/4916164.html. Hey mods, for some perverse reason only known to Microsoft’s corporate soul, rich text editors don’t work as well with other browsers as they do in IE.

  • princess-rot

    If you’re using Firefox, try Lazarus Form Recovery add-on. It automatically saves anything you type out on the internet, so if you have a crash it won’t be lost. You can pick and choose which sites it’s active on, so it won’t try to copy your name and password for internet banking, Ebay or whatever. It’s been a godsend to me, as I’m on wireless and it’s always going down.

  • larry-j

    Well look what we have here.  More tripe from Emma.  I’m oh so glad you took the time to spew a bunch of garbage in my general direction and so very sorry for the delay in responding.

     

    The ‘impertinent’ comment was deserved- in fact it was milder than was deserved.  Take that however you lilke.

     

    I don’t think that being a woman or pro-choice is more or less likely to make you less logical or rational.  There is however a thread in feminist philosophy that devalues logic and rationality to the point that it ought to be conisidered no more or less important than emotion or ‘caring’ or other such guff.  At any rate, being a woman or pro-choice doesn’t innoculate a person from charges of being illogical or irrational because it ‘might’ be based on sexism, whether you make the claim or not.

     

    The Taliban comparison is not merely asinine.  It is jackassery (which, unlike ‘fuckwittery’, is an actual word).  I’m sure that if you asked a woman if she thought there was no important difference between her lack of rights under Taliban rule and the rights enjoyed by women living in the Republic of Ireland, then she’d tell you so herself.  (Assuming she didn’t just spit in your face.)

     

    Regular comenters here begin with the assumption (by and large- there may be exceptions) that anyone who is pro-life is ignorant, misogynistic, and/or a religious zealot.  Either this prejudice makes them feel justified in misrepresenting those who oppose them, or they actually believe the lies and propaganda they’ve been fed about the opposition.  I didn’t start out aggressive when I began commenting here, but I’m not like Paul Bradford- I have no desire to try to be some sort of peacemaker with you all.  I’m also not trying to proselytize you folks (which I take as a remarkably daft suggestion).

     

    I don’t give a flying fig whether you are pro-choice or pro-life.  You have your mind made up as to which side you’re on, and I don’t care to try to change it.  I’ve had religious people try to talk me out of being an atheist before, and it is a monumental waste of their time and mine.  On the other hand, I’ve also had people tell me that atheists cannot be moral because morality needs to be grounded in the belief in god.  In those cases I DO argue- because they are just plain wrong and they are misrepresenting my beliefs and the beliefs of those like me. 

     

    That’s the sort of thing I had in mind when I started commenting here.  The general assumption that being pro-life is possible only if:  you either are unfamiliar with the relevant scientific information, OR you are trying to inject religion into the law OR you are motivated by misogyny (OR some combination of these) is just flat out wrong.

     

    Now, I admit that I’ve likely been less courteous than perhaps is proper in some of my comments, but I began by trying to be respectful, and the same tired litany of accusations regarding my motivations and condescension from people who (with no justification whatsoever) judge their thinking to be inherently more sophisticated got me fed up.  I’m not saying that I’m an angel here, but under the circumstances (some of the stuff on this site is at or near the right wing talk radio level of incendiary bull) I’m not kicking myself either.

     

    If I get banned for saying the above then so be it.  It wouldn’t count as much of a loss. 

     

    I agree that further communication with you is pointless, so if you don’t address me again, then I’ll return the favor.

  • larry-j

    Responded to other comment first, so this may be out of sequence.

     

    I almost laughed out loud at the idea that you didn’t take kindly to my misrepresenting you!  (Unbelievable.)

     

    I really don’t believe that I’d be unable to make an argument on my side that you haven’t ever heard before- because there are arguments being made now that I’ve only just heard myself.  This is an exquisitely complicated issue which can be affected by different theories about the nature of identity, the philosophy of mind, ethical theory, metaethics, ontological issues, the limits and justification of state action, the nature of moral rights, bioethical issues concerning independent viability, and a bunch of other things I’m probably forgetting.

     

    Switch out one theory in one of these areas for another, and the combination can result in a pro-life conclusion instead of a pro-choice one or vice versa.

     

    No one here seems to be interested in this sort of thing because they start out with one set of theories and only want to shoot down all the others as being ‘unreasonable’.

     

    The larger point is that I’m not trying to change your mind on the ultimate conclusion (‘pro-life’ vs ‘pro-choice’).  That’s a waste of time.  (see comment below for more on this)

     

    I’m just saying that the assumptions that you are making about the oppositions reasoning are bad.  

     

    As a rule, worthwhile philosophical disputes generally cannot be solved by coming up with a new theory.  Take the issue of free will: it has been around forever, and likely always will be because it is an enduring question.

     

    What you can do, however, is reject poorly constructed theories on the basis of their construction.  If it is an enduring question, the there will still be well constructed theories left over which rely on conflicting metaphysical assertions or assumptions of value.  Those fundamental differences are irresolvable. 

     

    In other words, you can never get a final definitive answe as to whether or not there is free will- but you can whittle away all the competing theories which are fundamentally flawed until only the well formed ones are left.

     

    There is a theme here that the pro-life position cannot be supported without religion or misogyny or ignorance of science.  That is wrong. 

     

    I have never claimed that there cannot be a consistent and well formulated defense of the pro-choice position BECAUSE I KNOW that such a claim would be false.  I will not support that position because of fundamental assumptions (primarily about the nature of the justice and the social contract) which are opposed by that position.

     

    It would be folly for someone to try to change my mind on the issue if they could only do so by chnaging those fundamental assumptions. 

     

    I’m not trying to change your mind about in that way – nor am I trying to convert you to "my side". 

     

    I am, and have, and will insist that the pro-life position can be advocated free of logical errors, free of religion, free of misogyny, and with a proper understanding of the relevant scientific facts.

  • larry-j

    You can say what you like, if you feel it’s justified, but I have the same right.  If you think I’m trying to assume undeserved authority, then you can say as much.  I’ve always come accross as overly didactic in speech and writing, but I think I’m too old to change that now.  On the other hand, I feel that someone is being insolent, then I’ll say so.

     

    Whether the commenters here think that I deserve status as an ‘authority’ on philosophy or not doesn’t really make much difference to me one way or the other.  To the extent that my ego is fragile on that score I’ll dwell on how often my friends who are writing bother to ask me for my input before submitting an article.  Internet forum opinions rate about as high as those of the pizza delivery guy.  Nonetheless, spending ten years (not to mention a ton of money) studying a subject (to me at least) counts for something- so if you all say something that I interpret as contemptuous, then I reserve the right to bristle at it.

  • larry-j

    This has happened to me too.  I like P Rot’s suggestion about lazarus!  Does anyone know why (for me at least) sometimes the comment windows are wide and have rounded corners- making them easy to read, but harder to see how the comments nest, WHILE sometimes they have pointed (90 degree) corners, and indent so much for each layer that they get really thin after a bunch of responses.  The same thing happens on IE, firefox, Opera & chrome.

  • larry-j

    If one contends that they are certain that they are so well informed that they cannot learn anything new from a discussion, then I am not likely to give that contention much weight unless there’s a good reason.  If she were a bioethicist, then I’d consider that a good reason.  They’d be likely to have studied the matter more thouroughly than anyone else, and might well have nothing to learn from a discussion with non-bioeticists.

     

    Impertinence isn’t about ‘shutting up’ or ‘following orders’.  Impertinence can merely be a matter of being contemptuous, especially when one is being overly bold or cocky.  I stand by my use of the word.

     

    I found this section interesting…

     

    Unfortunately none of them has ever seemed to grasp that having a powerful position, ‘superiority’ to others by right of blood or wealth inheritance, going to formal classes and documenting their completed educational steps with parchments, even assembling groups of similar persons who have reached similar conclusions, makes their organized musings any more important/accurate/valuable than the less structured and less documented thoughts of those on whom they wish to impose their ethical conclusions.

     

    I’m not sure about the ‘less structured’ bit.  It depends what you mean by that, of course.  There are ways of ‘structuring’ ideas that invalidate them.  I wrote something in another comment that I think applies here:

     

    As a rule, worthwhile philosophical disputes generally cannot be solved by coming up with a new theory.  Take the issue of free will: it has been around forever, and likely always will be because it is an enduring question.

    What you can do, however, is reject poorly constructed theories on the basis of their construction.  If it is an enduring question, the there will still be well constructed theories left over which rely on conflicting metaphysical assertions or assumptions of value.  Those fundamental differences are irresolvable. 

    In other words, you can never get a final definitive answe as to whether or not there is free will- but you can whittle away all the competing theories which are fundamentally flawed until only the well formed ones are left.

     

    Unless you mean something different than what I have in mind when you use the term, then I cannot agree that how you structure the beliefs is not a factor in how important/accurate/valuable they are.  

  • larry-j

    We absolutely do know that it happens.  Mifepristone is both a known abortifacient and contragestive.  What you seem to be saying is that if something is a known phenomenon, but we don’t have good tests for when the phenomenon will occur, then we should refrain from speaking about it lest we confuse people.  I think that the fact that it is a different category than contraception or abortion is enough reason to discuss it and acknowledge it.

  • ahunt

    I thought it was just me. all I have to do is stand next to a piece of electronics, and it will malfunction.

  • ahunt

    Uh Larry…permit me to point out that you are posting on an internet opinion forum, and the implicit and wildly arrogant assumption that your credentials and monetary investment oblige some sort of deference from those whose opinions you rate as high as the kid who delivers your pizza… pretty much guarantees you will be treated to insolence and contempt from time to time.

     

    So by all means, bristle away.

  • larry-j

    I googled.  Interesting.  (As an aside- I had a Catholic grandparent who used to love Lawrence Welk.  Whenever someone mentions the ‘rhythm’ method, I picture the band leader saying, "and a one and a two".)  I agree ith this statement: "Dr. Bovens also contends that opponents of abortion ought to favor barrier methods, like condoms, because these are likely to cause fewer embryonic deaths."  I cannot think of a good non-religious argument against barrier contraception.  I hate that the pro-life movement gets tied in knots over this.  I see no reason why we should be more worried about dispensing condoms than napkins or paper towels!

     

    Do you happen to know what heppened to Norplant?  I had a friend who used it, but she said they stopped making it.  As long as it wasn’t uncomfortable, I thought it was a great innovation.  Back then, I’d thought that by 2010 Norplant might be as common as the pill. 

  • larry-j

    Actually, that’s not true. 

    • carrying developing offspring within the body or being about to produce new life
    • containing a developing embryo, fetus, or unborn offspring within the body
    • The state of carrying a developing embryo or fetus within the female body.

     

    These are ordinary non-partisan definitions.  I can’t say the same for pronouncements by ACOG.

     

    I absolutely agree that implantation is a milestone.

  • larry-j

    I disagree.  I think you guys are just trying to scare people (like Palin’s death chamber or whatever she said).  That standard doesn’t apply to born children.  (Second hand smoking would be child abuse.)  We could just agree to disagree about what MIGHT happen, but fortunately we don’t have to.  There was already a personhood amendment to a state constitution in Mexico.  If what you say you are afraid of is genuine, then we’ll soon see evidence of it.  If not, then you guys will admit (right?) to being mirror universe Palins.

  • ahunt

    Well no, Larry. Mexico is a developing nation…some still consider "3rd world." There are no resources to fund and implement much in the way of interference.

     

    Google Johnson Controls and mandatory sterilization.

  • larry-j

    Respectfully, (sorry Paul- it’s true) the pro-life community won’t accept him with his opposition to recriminalization.  So, that is NOT a better name.

  • ahunt

    These are medical definitions? I’ve read that the new term for failed implantation is "chemical pregnancy,"  to distinguish the event from actual pregnancy.

  • larry-j

    That is a distinction without a difference.  The biological interest of the individual IS creating offspring with your genes.  (As in ‘the selfish gene) You brought up ‘biological interest’ as an alternative to defining interests in terms of satisfying desires.  If that wasn’t what you meant, then what were you getting at?

  • larry-j

    Why is it that you use the term ZBEF and fetus, but you don’t like Paul’s use of neonate or my use of contragestion?  For that matter, how is it not a double standard to object to pro-lifers talking about ‘unborn babies’, but then turn around and talk about rights for ‘eggs’ instead of zygotes. 

  • larry-j

    Equivocate?

     

    How is it equivocating to say that YOU (not I) might deny that there are two individuals.  Of course I say that there are!

     

    In any case, whether or not one has a legal right to an elective medical procedure is a matter for the state to decide- regardless of the "will of the sustainer".  My point was merely that EVEN IF one does not give the status of individual (as I do), then you could STILL prohibit it’s killing.  (We do this with endangered animals, for example.)

  • ahunt

    Well Heck, Larry, are we now not back to the question of ensuring the well being of one’s existing offspring? After all, it is NOT in the biological interests of anyone to litter the world with poorly cared for offspring who deplete the biological resources of the parent, the community and the planet…

     

    Seriously…why is an individual’s personal biological well-being discounted? You cannot possibly be claiming that good health is simply a desire, and not relevant to the biological interests of the "genes"…

  • larry-j

    This is what I’m talking about…

     

    It seems to be your position that women deserve to be treated as members of the human race pre-puberty and post-menopause. The life in between is defined solely in terms of reproductive capacity. How is this not sexist?

     

    You know Paul said nothing of the sort.

     

    as to:

     

    I’ll see your "ageism" and raise you "sexism."

     

    you know the response- I’ll see your (temporary) ‘loss of freedom’ and raise you (permanent) ‘loss of life’

  • larry-j

    Cripes.  I think you really don’t see it.  Pro-choice people are forcing their moral views on others too.  Either we accept that there is a right to life prior to birth, or we accept that there is a right to end pregnancy.  We can’t do both.  You want to stick society with laws based on your morality just like I do.  Surely you see that?

     

    The fact that the abortion is happening in the body of a someone who shares your principles doesn’t absolve you.  You’re still forbidding harming someone because you don’t value them.  You’re still preventing people who think like I do from protecting them.

     

    That the killing occurs in the body of someone who approves doesn’t change that you’ve made your moral principles the basis of law rather thsn mine.  It’s as if the south had won the civil war, and told abolitionists that slave owning was merely an option: "If your values forbid it then don’t own one, but don’t interfere with my rights because I disagree.  We don’t wish to impose our values on others, but criminalizing slavery would impose your values on us."

  • larry-j

    From the genetic point of view, health is trumped by offspring carrying your genes.  Otherwise species which undertake sexual cannibalism would never reproduce.  

     

    Also- the existing offspring need not be threatened by the new offspring unless you ASSUME that they both be raised by the same parent(s).

  • larry-j

    You seem to be unaware that the survival of ones EXISTING children is put at risk by the PREGNANCY and the woman’s possible inability to feed and shelter those existing children during that pregnancy.

     

    It’s not so much a lack of awareness, but a lack of belief.  Unless you’re suggesting that the woman will die in childbirth, then I don’t buy it.  We may not live in the most progressive country in the world, but I don’t think that children die of starvation because their mothers get pregnant.  If for some extreme reason, the existing children were going hungry or without shelter, then either they would be eligible for special assistance or they would be taken from the mother for their own protection.

  • larry-j

    Paul wrote:

     

    There is a middle ground. A rational, sensible, well-intentioned, generous and open-minded middle ground. I’d love to be able to figure out what would motivate you to start looking for it.

     

    crowepps wrote:

     

    This sort of snotty remark does not advance your argument. The clear implication that anyone who doesn’t agree with you is irrational, impractical, ill-intentioned, selfish and close-minded is exactly the attitude which leaves many women, INCLUDING ME, distrusting both you and your position because it’s a pretty clear indication that you only ‘respect’ women who agree with you and do what you tell them to do.

     

     

    To me, this exchange typifies the craptastic (if emma can come up ‘fuckwittery’, I figure that ‘craptastic’ is allowable) nature of the exchanges here.  Paul- possibly because of his Catholicism- seems to have a "turn the other cheek" attitude.  (He must have the patience of a saint.)  I don’t see that it does him any good here.

     

    If any of the regular commenters had made a comparable remark FROM THEIR SIDE of the argument, then it wouldn’t have even raised an eyebrow (much less gotten the sort of response crowepps gave) because it is par for the course or maybe an article of faith that to be pro-life is to be "irrational, impractical, ill-intentioned, selfish and close-minded ". 

     

  • larry-j

    Determinations based on a ‘reasonable person standard’ would ultimately be in the hands of a jury (right?)

     

    I can’t imagine that if some poor woman were prosecuted for manslaughter because she was doing "men’s work" that her attorney would allow an all male jury.

     

    Checks & balances

  • larry-j

    So if Mexico (where 9 in 10 are catholic) doesn’t engage in this scary behavior, then it is because criminal prosecution would cost too much.  I don’t think so.  If they don’t go after pregnant women who miscarry, then we almost surely won’t either.

     

    Johnson Controls is interesting.  I read about 10 pages from a chapter in "At Women’s Expense: State Power and the Politics of Fetal Rights

     By Cynthia R. Daniels" on google books after you  mentioned it.

     

    Johnson apparently tried to have a voluntary policy first.  They gave out warnings about the effects and depended upon women to choose not to work in the high lead areas if they might become pregnant.  (Sounds like Paul’s approach.)  After eight women got pregnant anyway, they made the mandatory policy (which would be my approach).

     

    If you’re concerned about that sort of thing (toxic chemicals which are known to cause birth defects), then I can see where that’s a possibility.  Maybe it should be.  One of the 8 women gave birth to a learning disabled child as a result of her ignoring the warning and choosing not to transfer.

     

    If you’re talking about women getting in trouble for breastfeeding or riding a horse or something like that (in other words, something that doesn’t come with a warning: ‘this should be avoided if you’re pregnant’ ), then I still think you’re just trying to scare people.

  • larry-j

    1. the condition of having a developing embryo or fetus in the body, after union of an oocyte and spermatozoon. It is marked by cessation of the menses; nausea on arising in the morning (morning sickness); enlargement of the breasts and pigmentation of the nipples; progressive enlargement of the abdomen. The absolute signs of pregnancy are fetal movements, sounds of the fetal heart, and demonstration of the fetus by x-ray or ultrasound.

    2. the period during which a female is pregnant, in humans being about 266 days from the time of fertilization of the oocyte until birth (or 288 days from the last normal menstrual period to birth); see gestation period, under period.
    pregnancy.

  • larry-j


    pregnancy n.   the period during which a woman carries a developing fetus, normally in the uterus (compare ectopic pregnancy). Pregnancy lasts for approximately 266 days, from conception until the baby is born, or 280 days from the first day of the last menstrual period (see Naegele rule). During pregnancy menstruation is absent, there may be a great increase in appetite, and the breasts increase in size; the woman may also experience morning sickness. These and other changes are brought about by a hormone ( progesterone) produced at first by the ovary and later by the placenta. Definite evidence of pregnancy is provided by various pregnancy tests, by the detection of the heartbeat of the fetus, and by ultrasound. Medical name: cyesis. See also pseudocyesis (phantom pregnancy).—pregnant adj.

     

    now, since it says, "from conception until the baby is born", and since ACOG has made up their own definition of conception, I’m including this too….

     

    conception n.   1. (in gynaecology) the start of pregnancy, when a male germ cell (sperm) fertilizes a female germ cell (ovum) in the Fallopian tube.; 2. (in psychology) an idea or mental impression.

  • larry-j

    1. The condition of a woman or female mammal from conception until birth; the condition of being pregnant.
    2. The period during which a woman or female mammal is pregnant. Also called cyesis

     

    again, for clarity-

    conception: formation of a viable zygote by the union of a spermatozoon and an ovum; fertilization.

    .

     

  • larry-j

    [Latin praegnans]

    The condition of having a developing embryo or fetus in the body after successful conception. The average duration of pregnancy is about 280 days. Estimation of the date on which delivery should occur is based on the first day of the last menstrual period. See: Naegeli’s rule; See table below

  • larry-j

     

    The state of a woman during the period from fertilization of an ovum (conception) to the birth of a baby or termination by ABORTION.

  • larry-j

    I’ve seen different definitions of chemical pregnancy which seem to contradict one another- not clear what it is.

  • ahunt

     Also- the existing offspring need not be threatened by the new
    offspring unless you ASSUME that they both be raised by the same
    parent(s).

     

     Ah…so you now blend social dynamics with biological interests. I was waiting for this, but I’m processing massive amounts of food. Will hopefully get back sometime this evening.

  • paul-bradford

    And as with your definition of "mother," Paul…you expand the general understanding of "parent" to such a degree as to render the condition meaningless. Is a "parent" also defined, in your view, as one of two parties contributing half the genetic information to a zygote?

     

    There are, as I’m sure you know, three different (and valid) definitions of mother.  One definition is, ‘the woman who raises the child'; another definition is, ‘the woman who bears the child'; a third definition is, ‘the woman who provides half the genes to the child’.

     

    I believe that both men and women have a responsibility to care for and protect any child they provide the genes for (this is part of the reason I consider anonymous artificial insemination to be morally wrong).  

     

    You’ve probably heard me say, "If you don’t want to be a father, don’t become a father." I’m using the word ‘father’ in two different ways: in the first instance I mean ‘father’ in the sense of raising a child, in the second instance I mean ‘father’ in the sense of providing DNA.

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • paul-bradford

    I get the impression what you mean by "no one could reasonably excuse themselves from the task" is that to NOT want to be pregnant, or be at risk of being pregnant, or to NOT have a child (through avoidance, birth control, or abortion) is "selfish" because to have children and care for them is the pinnacle of female achievement.

     

    Who are you talking to?  I don’t believe any woman should become a mother unless that’s what she truly wants (I feel the same way about fathers).  I believe that women who don’t become mothers can live rich and fulfilling lives.  I also believe, and this is the way I’ve lived for the past eighteen years, that fathers have as much responsibility for the care of their children as mothers do.

     

    If you’re looking to debate someone who takes a ‘conservative’ or ‘traditional’ view of women you’re going to have to look for someone else.  I didn’t arrive at the conclusion that we have a right to life even before we’re born because I want to negate the freedom and the dignity our mothers ought to enjoy.  I take that stand because I know that extending respect for the human rights of all people enables us to strengthen the respect we have for ourselves and for the people we love.

     

    I used the expression ‘no one could reasonably excuse themselves from the task’ within the context of a philosophical ‘thought experiment’. I was suggesting that we imagine a situation where producing a child wasn’t the troubling, tumultuous, traumatic experience it can be in reality and consider whether we would extend a right to life to the very young if it weren’t such a burden to someone who is already born.

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • paul-bradford

    I’ve asked you implicitly twice (three times, actually) and you haven’t answered.

     

    Julie,

     

    It’s not that I’m evading your question, it’s that I only devote so much time to posting on RHReality Check and I hadn’t gotten to your question until now.  (Besides, this is an INCREDIBLY unwieldy thread.)

     

    Let’s consider the difference between two somewhat similar situations.  Neither Abby nor Beth want to have a child, both are taking pains to avoid having a child, both have lives that would suffer serious upheaval in the event that they did have a child; but both become pregnant.

     

    Abby believes that a developing fetus is ‘a clump of cells’, a ‘potential person’.  Beth believes that fetuses have the same right to life that any of us have.  Abby, sadly, lives in a country where it is impossible for her to get an abortion.  She’s ‘forced’ to carry the child.  Beth has the right to get an abortion but she doesn’t get one because it would be wrong to end the life of another human being.  She, too, brings her pregnancy to term. 

     

    Certainly you see the difference between these situations even though, in many respects they are identical.  Abby’s behavior was controlled from without, Beth’s was controlled from within.

     

    It is entirely possible for me to advocate for the rights of the very young to you or to anyone without forcing, coercing, controlling or disrespecting.  I claim that we can never have a ‘culture of life’ until everyone’s respect for life is rooted in her/his own choice.  I believe that a respect for life is supported by experiences that are undertaken freely and that it’s degraded by experiences that are contrary to choice.

     

    That’s my interest in using the word "Choice".  I certainly don’t consider your position to be as ‘extreme’ as those who advocate making abortion illegal. 

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • ahunt

    A) As it happens, what the state “decides” has historically proven useless when up against the will of the “sustainer.” Prohibit away, and let us know how that works out.

    B) Humans are comparable to “endangered (non-human) species? You sure you want to go there?

  • princess-rot

    Oh look, a flounce. If this site is not providing you with the non-emotional intellectual stimulation you require, go elsewhere, instead of constructing straw-feminists and whining about people persecuting you when you are called out for being a self-important asshat and trying to shut others down by pretending that you are some sort of intellectual superior. You have demonstrated multiple times that you expect from others the kind of deference one may give to a senior teacher, like not daring to question your ideas too much, but you reserve the right to pull everyone else’s apart with healthy doses of reducto ad absurdum and snark. When this is used against you (because contrary to your beliefs we are not in a student-teacher relationship) you flounce and whine because you a) you aren’t getting your own way and b) you don’t like the taste of your own smart ass medicine. You cannot expect to bash everything from colleen’s freaking tagline to the notion that “women are people, embryos are not” and not attract flak for it. Lawd knows I’ve been argued with for opinions on here and yet I don’t write long, whiny posts on how it’s so unfaaair that other people disagree with me and sometimes tear me down.

    The general assumption that being pro-life is possible only if: you either are unfamiliar with the relevant scientific information, OR you are trying to inject religion into the law OR you are motivated by misogyny (OR some combination of these)

    Or, you are motivated by emotion which you don’t think overlaps with the other three, when in reality, it does. It’s easy to say “But we should think of fetuses as people too! They deserve equal protection! They deserve to be born!” without thinking of the multiple ways in which this effects women, which in itself is a kind of sexism, since you are unwilling to see the myriad of hidden ways this is used to reduce to the status of second-class citizen. This is why such prejudices exist, because quite often it boilds down to a case of someone else saying “I know better than you do what is in your best interests”.

  • paul-bradford

    ahunt,

     

    I certainly get the idea that you mistrust me, even though I’m trustworthy.  I deny that my intention is to ‘wink’ at coercion or discrimination or overt pressure.

     

    As I’ve pointed out before, there are already are women — I would prefer to say that there already are couples — who believe that the life of an unborn person is as precious as any human life.  When these couples don’t want to have a child they use birth control as if somebody’s life depended on it and they’re able to avoid unwanted pregnancies more than couples who take the attitude that abortion is their back-up plan (or couples who make no plan whatsoever).

     

    Winning over people’s trust is absolutely essential for a person in my position precisely because I’m opposed to coercion; but if I’m not for coercion what am I for?  Well, it turns out that I’m for a lot of measures that can be supported both by heterosexually active fertile women and by the rest of us.  Universal Health Care is a step that will absolutely save unborn lives.  Obama’s initiative to promote responsible fatherhood is another.  Comprehensive sex education is another.  As you already know — because we disagree on this — I support medical research to improve fetal and maternal health.  Anyone who yearns for a ‘culture of life’, as I do, has to realize that there’s a lot more to protecting the lives of the very young than simply twisting the arms of mothers.

     

    Please correct me if I’m wrong about this, but my understanding is that neither you nor I will be carrying an unborn child anytime in the future.  That doesn’t mean that we can’t be instrumental in the work of respecting life.  Everyone’s opinion counts, everyone’s actions count.

     

    You accuse me of wanting forced pregnancy.  The truth of the matter is that I want fewer women to become mothers and I want mothers to have fewer children.  I think we can get this result if everyone (men and women) got it into her/his head that we need to value life even before it begins. 

     

     

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • crowepps

    Cripes. I think you really don’t see it. Pro-choice people are forcing their moral views on others too. Either we accept that there is a right to life prior to birth, or we accept that there is a right to end pregnancy. We can’t do both. You want to stick society with laws based on your morality just like I do. Surely you see that?

    And you really can’t see that there could be a difference between my personal morality and the decision I would personally make if in that situation and what I think the law should enforce on strangers, but instead insist that society SHOULD have the ability to use the law to impose the personal morality of part of the group onto those who disagree on the basis that the small group can’t tolerate existing in a society where others are allowed to make choices different than their own.

     

    My position is that in an area where large groups of people disagree, the law should recognize the right of each person to make their own choices as it does now. Your position is that in an area where large groups of people disagree, the law should impose your beliefs and your choices on everyone else.

     

    Bringing up slavery isn’t a good argument for your side, since you are enforcing that argueable “right to life before birth” through the involuntary servitude of the pregnant women.

  • crowepps

    Do I understand correctly that now you’re saying that women whose pregnancies threaten their ability to take care of their already existing children shouldn’t have the option of abortion because their existing children can be torn away from her and tossed into the foster care system?

     

    "For their own protection" from whom?  The fetus?  The economy?  The fact that our country "isn’t the most progressive in the world"?’

     

    You seem to be arguing that ‘motherhood’ as entirely biological — so long as the pregnancy is completed, the job of ‘mother’ is over and the kids will probably survive somehow or other.

  • ahunt

    Yeah…Larry is missing one salient point…

     Possibly alone among mammals, human biological interests are inextricably intertwined with social dynamics for the simple reason that human females can no longer give birth (yes, there are exceptions) without the aid of the community.

  • crowepps

    Since if Paul’s ‘hearts and minds’ efforts were successful there would be no one making the choice to have an abortion, it’s interesting that the ProLife community won’t accept him. Why would be necessary to recriminalize if no one wanted an abortion?

  • crowepps

    I occasionally use the term ZBEF when I’m responding to a post in which the term is used, and do so entirely so I can be sure the person to whom I am responding and I are talking about the same thing. Some of the terms are handy shorthand (ZBEF – all stages of development) some of them are obscure (neonate – newborn baby) and some are of little utility (contragestion – at this point entirely speculation). I do try to distinguish ‘egg’ from ‘fertilized egg’ when I use those terms.

  • crowepps

    We don’t know, as I understand the present state of knowledge, WHY it happens or WHEN it happens. It’s certainly in a different category from contraception and abortion, because it’s a normal and natural part of the reproductive process itself, like spontaneous abortion.

  • crowepps

    Comment on this thread made me curious about how it does work in Mexico — they not only don’t prosecute miscarriages, they don’t prosecute abortions either. “Right to Life” is in the Mexican constitution entirely as a ‘feel-good law’.

    Judges uphold abortion rights in Mexico City

    Jo Tuckman The Guardian, Friday 29 August 2008

    Mexico’s supreme court yesterday upheld the capital’s abortion law by dismissing a challenge brought by the conservative federal government by eight votes to three.

    The law, in effect since April last year, requires Mexico City health services to provide free terminations to any woman up to 12 weeks into a pregnancy.

    The chief federal prosecutor and the national human rights ombudsman took the case to the supreme court, arguing that the constitution’s guarantee of the right to life obliged the authorities to prioritise the protection of every unborn child, from the moment of conception, over a woman’s right to choose.

    A formal vote by the 11 supreme court justices was delivered yesterday, but over the course of a televised discussion lasting several days, eight of the justices made clear they disagreed with the challenge.

    Along with Cuba, Mexico City has the most liberal abortion legislation in Latin America. Fearful of exposing divisions in a country that values its anticlerical political tradition as deeply as its Catholic heritage, politicians and bishops had avoided the abortion question for decades.

    The laws of most Mexican states allow terminations in cases of rape, risk to the mother’s life or severe foetal deformities. In practice almost no states offer abortions in such cases. However, nor do they prosecute the doctors who offer safe illegal abortions or the cheaper life-threatening backstreet practitioners.

    Many thought this compromise would end when the Catholic conservative National Action party won the 2000 general election, after 71 years of rule by the nominally progressive Institutional Revolutionary party. But the right remained wary and it was left to the capital’s leftwing authority to pass legislation.

    Feminists want abortion on demand across Mexico. A fifth of the 12,000 women given free abortions in the capital had gone there from elsewhere in Mexico.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/aug/29/mexico.humanrights

  • crowepps

    If the theory is valid a fairly simple explanation of it should make that clear.  The most elaborate possible structure cannot make an invalid theory correct.  The refutation of that elaborate structure may be only the simple statement "that’s just plain wrong" but if that’s sufficient to the person making the statement, that person has the same right to his/her belief as you do to your own.  The fact that your belief comes in fancy wrapping paper and has a bow on it doesn’t make it more important or accurate or valuable to them or to anyone else.

     

    The thing you continue to miss is that you are talking about THEORIES and how laws should be constructed to accord with what the theory asserts SHOULD be true and I am talking about PEOPLE, real actual living people who will be negatively impacted by those laws as based on actual real world examples from the news.

     

    You insist that there won’t be negative impacts because people will be reasonable about enforcement but you dismiss out of hand the evidence that under the present scheme of laws there are ALREADY negative impacts precisely because people ARE unreasonable.  There are already people who would refuse an abortion to someone carrying an anencephalic pregnancy because they see some value in the infant being able to take a few breaths before dying, people who refuse to allow the safest possible removal procedure of a dead fetus because they think it’s ‘icky’ to dismember its corpse, people who override a woman’s refusal and insist on cutting a woman’s belly open to deliver a fetus because they feel women in labor aren’t being ‘reasonable’ when.  All of these people actually think they are BEING reasonable, because their THEORY about "right to life" doesn’t include the woman’s life or health or mind in the equation at all.

  • paul-bradford

    We may not live in the most progressive country in the world, but I don’t think that children die of starvation because their mothers get pregnant.

     

    Larry,

     

    I truly enjoy reading your comments and I certainly admire your persistence.  I also feel that you are doing your best to be respectful and intellectually honest.  All good things.

     

    Now comes the ‘but’.

     

    I think it’s unwise of you not to grant that children suffer when their mothers give them too many siblings.  Your argument that "they won’t actually starve in the USA" misses the essential fact which is that mothers everywhere have to deal with the problem of limited resources — included in the list of limited resources are their finances, their time, their energy, their emotional equilibrium, their capacity to be hopeful and upbeat.  When Mommy is short on personal resources her children suffer — maybe not enough to have DSS come down and place the kids in a foster home, but they do suffer.

     

    At this point (because I’m the one who keeps banging the drum on this issue) let me add that fatherly resources are also limited.  Family size is an issue for women, but it’s also an issue for men.  Responsible parents, parents who have an authentic respect for life from conception to natural death, have to behave as if they realize that taking responsibility to manage family size is Pro-Life.

     

    I’m as appalled as you are by the idea that a mother would resort to abortion in order to care properly for her other children, but I never for a moment forget that the responsibilities of child care include the responsibility not to overdo it.  Kids need a lot of time, a lot of teaching, a lot of love.  Irresponsible parenting shortchanges children. 

     

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • paul-bradford

    I’m not actually looking for ‘acceptance’ either from the Pro-Life community or the Pro-Choice community.  I’m looking for respectful engagement.

     

    I think it’s possible to save lives without coercing women.  In fact, I’m captivated by that idea.  I’m working to promote a positive and hopeful attitude which is that we can respect the lives of the unborn without putting an untenable burden on women.  To do this, however, would require a great deal more than simply passing a law making abortion illegal or fatalistically accepting the idea that the unborn aren’t important enough to be saved.

     

    Also, it’s not just the ‘hearts and minds’ of the mothers of the unborn that I’m interested in reaching.  Everyone has a part to play in creating a respect for life.  I’ve said before, and I’ll repeat here, that the irresponsibility of men does more to drive up the abortion rate than the irresponsibility of women does.  If I could reach the hearts and minds of young men I would hammer home the idea that it’s absolutely unacceptable to bring a child into the world that doesn’t have the benefit of two parents who are ready, willing and able to do a good job of raising her/him.  Men have as much power and more than women do in preventing such tragedies.

     

    If a man wants to truly respect life, he has to show respect for the power of his own reproductivity. 

     

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • paul-bradford

    It’s easy to say "But we should think of fetuses as people too! They deserve equal protection! They deserve to be born!" without thinking of the multiple ways in which this effects women, which in itself is a kind of sexism, since you are unwilling to see the myriad of hidden ways this is used to reduce to the status of second-class citizen.

     

    It seems to me, Princess Rot, that you have basically admitted that you arrived at your opinion of whether fetuses are people, whether they deserve equal protection, whether they even deserve to be born based upon what you think the consequence of such a belief would have on the lives of women.  In other words, fetal rights are denied simply because upholding them would place a burden on women.  The conclusion then (and I find this a conclusion that degrades you) is that your value a human being is a function of how much your mother would be put out by carrying you to term.

     

    Women know better than anyone else whether it’s in their best interest to have a child.  I wouldn’t dare to argue against that point.  That’s not a question to debate.  What’s worthy of consideration, however, is the question of whether a fetus’s best interests ought to be upheld by others (including the mother) when the fetus’s best interests conflict with the mother’s best interests.

     

    If a woman brings an unintended or unwanted pregnancy to term it’s useful to ask whether she did it as a result of coercion or as a result of conviction. 

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • princess-rot

    In other words, fetal rights are denied simply because upholding them would place a burden on women. The conclusion then (and I find this a conclusion that degrades you) is that your value a human being is a function of how much your mother would be put out by carrying you to term.


    You couldn’t be more wrong, but thanks for the armchair psychoanalysis. In order for that to work, Paul, I should have to be suffering from a massive existential crisis. I am glad my mother chose to have me. I rather like being alive. BUT, there is a difference between being happy to live and demanding somebody else give up theirs so that I can live. I have absolutely no right, (nor does anyone else) to demand any woman bring to term through the means of law, coercion, outright force, petition, or outside pressures to "value life" because someone else thinks all life is sacred and deserves to exist, regardless of the misery it would cause to those who had their rights removed in order to bring that life into the world.

     

    Had I been aborted, miscarried, stillborn, or even my particular genotype did not mix, or my parents did not have sex on that day or whatever else, the world would be no different if I weren’t born, and I do not live in abject horror because of the thought of it. If I had been adopted, I would be sorely unhappy with everyone involved including myself if my birth mother had experienced coercion, or felt pressure to give birth at her expense. Nobody has an obligation to give birth, and nobody has an inherent right to be born, and nobody has the right to demand a woman or girl give up their body for that. I cannot imagine anything more ridiculous than "upholding the value" of the contents of someone else’s uterus. It’s really quite creepy.

     

    A woman does not become lesser when she’s pregnant, nor does she become special. Likewise, she does not become a battleground if her interests are not at peace with pregnancy. Pregnancy is biological state, which effects her and her alone, especially physically. Thus it’s her decision and hers alone to complete it or not. It’s not a case of value. In the event of your ideal society I’d rather value actual people who are here already, and are suffering to make your ideal a reality. Namely, the women whose lives – the large portion of which is spent sexually-active – would revolve around their reproductive apparatus lest fertilized "life" be present, and that they should give up however much is required to bring that baby into the world, regardless of the cost of to themselves, and that they should be subjected to scrutiny and suspicion if they fail to produce the goods.

     

    Women know better than anyone else whether it’s in their best interest to have a child. I wouldn’t dare to argue against that point. That’s not a question to debate. What’s worthy of consideration, however, is the question of whether a fetus’s best interests ought to be upheld by others (including the mother) when the fetus’s best interests conflict with the mother’s best interests.

     

    This doesn’t make sense. Your first sentence contradicts the last one. Make up your mind. Do you or don’t you believe that women are the best people to make decisions on whether to bring a potential person to birth, and no party but her has the right to decide what the fetuses’ "best interests" are? I do. I suspect you are trying to look at this in an even-handed way, but
    when it comes down to rights, the woman’s shouldn’t be mediated away in the name of getting along with a set of rights artificially created by others for fetuses. That view does not allow individuals to make their own decisions. It’s a one-size-fits-all approach and it’s wrong.

    I don’t think crowepps is the only one being cynical on this thread, I am too. Your insistence that your way is the only way, even though it could make everyone involved hellishly miserable, just because you view it as "the right thing to do" is really trying my patience. For the last time Paul, neither you or your beliefs about the value of the unborn speak for everyone else.

    If a woman brings an unintended or unwanted pregnancy to term it’s useful to ask whether she did it as a result of coercion or as a result of conviction.


    Indeed it would be useful to ask, if only to weed out those subtle societal pressures "to do the right thing" you so adore so. Outright coercion concerns me, but not as much as coercion to ensure arrival at the "correct" conviction. Mainly because the latter is so much harder to detect than the former. Judging by he things you have posted before, a lot of your beliefs hinge on women voluntarily lifting the fetus above themselves, no matter what the cost, an action for which they would be lauded. On the other hand, in your ideal society, anything else would be looked down upon as irresponsible, a selfish refusal to "value life". It’s a "choice" like virgin/whore is a choice.

    I see only cosmetic differences between your stance, and the forced-birthers who are all sweetness and light when a woman comes to them with a crisis pregnancy, but they’ll also tell her that she has to have this baby because abortion is murder and contraception is, too. After that, they’ll say she’s selfish to keep the baby and must give it up. If she does, they’ll tell her "You’re the one who spread your legs and got pregnant out of wedlock. You have no right to grieve for this baby." In other words, she had no real choices to begin with, since people who only value what is inside of her have set it up to be so. 

  • paul-bradford

    Do you or don’t you believe that women are the best people to make decisions on whether to bring a potential person to birth, and no party but her has the right to decide what the fetuses’ "best interests" are? I do.

     

    I certainly don’t think that matters could be improved by assigning authority for pregnancy decisions to anyone else but the mother, but that doesn’t mean for a minute that I ‘buy’ a woman’s rationalization that an abortion was in her fetus’s best  interest.  If women cared more about the well-being of their unborn children there would be fewer abortions.  That’s not me imposing my beliefs on anyone, that’s just a bald fact.

     

    Your insistence that your way is the only way, even though it could make everyone involved hellishly miserable, just because you view it as "the right thing to do" is really trying my patience. For the last time Paul, neither you or your beliefs about the value of the unborn speak for everyone else.

     

    First of all, I would never suggest that anyone look to me to figure out what ‘the right thing to do’ is.  People decide what’s right based on what they believe, and their beliefs are molded by what they care about.  I’m not saying, "because I’m against abortion you must do as I say"; I’m saying, "if you get an abortion I know damn well that you don’t really care about the well-being of the unborn."

     

    But here’s the thing, and I don’t think you’ve picked up on it: I don’t think that bringing an unwanted pregnancy to term is exemplary behavior — I think it’s simply scrambling to make the best out of a bad situation.  Exemplary behavior is shown by the couple who care so much about the well-being of others that they would consider it tragic to bring a child into the world who didn’t have the benefit of two parents who were ready, willing and able to do a good job of raising her/him.

     

    If people really cared about the sanctity and the value of life — unborn or otherwise — they would understand that initiating an unintended pregnancy is a serious violation of Pro-Life principles.  Does that make everyone involved ‘hellishly miserable’?  Perhaps it would be hellish if people thought that I was in control of their behavior and was making them do things that were in conflict with their beliefs.  That’s not the kind of power I want to have.  I want people to care more.  If people cared more there would be far fewer unintended pregnancies.  People who care don’t feel as if their behavior is being controlled by some busybody moralist.  People who care simply do the right thing.

     

    I say, "If more people cared about the unborn, fewer would die in procured abortion."

    You say, "My body is my own.  I’m the only one who has authority to decide who gets to live in my uterus."

    I say, "Duh-uh!  Would it be OK if we tried to stay on topic?" 

     

    It’s not simply that I want the mothers of the unborn to care more about the lives of the very young.  I want everyone to care more about the lives of the very young.  I want you to care more.

     

    You could care more by supporting Universal Health Care.  You could care more by supporting Obama’s initiatives for responsible fatherhood.  You could care more by supporting the Preventing Unintended Pregnancies, Reducing the Need for Abortion and Supporting Parents Act.’‘  You could care more by supporting medical research to learn more about fetal and maternal health.

     

    All of these measures demonstrate a care for the unborn.  If you cared more, you’d be more interested in supporting those measures; but if you cared more you wouldn’t be any more dominated by me than you are now. 

     

     

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • crowepps

    I’m not saying, “because I’m against abortion you must do as I say”; I’m saying, “if you get an abortion I know damn well that you don’t really care about the well-being of the unborn.”

    People who don’t feel the way you want them to feel and who don’t share your beliefs and who don’t do what you want them to do “don’t really care” IN YOUR OPINION. Luckily, since you’re not the King of the Universe, nobody else has to submit to your judgment. One of the things you have objected to pretty consistently on this site is other people being judgmental about YOU so far as whether you “really care” about women. You insist that you do and that people are out of line to suggest that you do not. Can you see the irony here? YOU get to decide what other people’s feelings are but it’s outrageous when other people do the same thing to you.

  • julie-watkins

    Any thought experiment you might offer revolving around what a "parent" should do is just strategic move on your part to try to get me to agree to "reasonable" expectations about what women and poor people should do. Accepting a pregnancy is a *gift* not an obligation. That should be the principle of a society that attempts to be fair, that men and women and rich and poor are considered equal under the law. If burdens are places unequally on women and the poor, then it’s a sexist and classist society and I don’t feel receptive to accept that inequity.

    I see the difference between your scenarios of Abby’s & Beth’s pregnancies — but what you wrote supports me describing your possition as "against decriminalization" not "for choice". If you are advocating, as you always do, for "the very young" you’re for "nature’s sexism" not "for choice".

    I do not misunderstand you (and others) when you say I should care about ZBEFs — and, arguably, you have a point. However, to concede the point, I need to concede the rightness of nature’s sexism, and society’s classism and sexism. No, Paul, I won’t. It’s not my fault nature is sexist and you’re asking too much of women. It is logically impossible for a culture to automatically value ZBEFs the way you want them to be valued and not disvalue women & poor people. I don’t care how much you wave your hands and speek ernestly and nonviolently — no, nadda, impossible. Accepting a pregnancy is a gift, not an obligation, and I will not allow anyone to tell me I was a "bad parent" for not accepting or seriously considering to accept.

    It’s quite clear to me that if everyone did what everyone "should" do — according to the status quo — then everything would be so much easier and efficient — for the rulers. The mainstream culture the status quo is working hard to continue is trying very hard. I’ve about given up on TV and movies and any kind of popular culture. I don’t like to be managed and researched as if I and my money are a farm animal the advertisers and politicians are trying to harvest. …. Yesterday I was listening to a Les Mis "soundtrack" — acturally it was from the concert version of the musical. Heartbreakingly beautiful music — but I wish it were sung French or some other language than English so I wouldn’t have to understand the words. I spend my life ignoring the mainstream — because I don’t want to be attacked. And when I’m not being attacked they’re attempting to brainwash me to follow the consumerism, doubletalk, patriarchy, oligarchy, anti-woman, anti-immigrant, anti-minority, neo-liberalism game plan. Phoey on that. I hang out on the internets, food co-ops, woman or minority owned local businesses, … places where there isn’t a gatekeeper and I don’t have to worry about following the money.

    I’m sorry, you’re in denial if you won’t admit you’re supporting the patriarchy even if you think you’re "for choice".

  • princess-rot

    <blockquote>People who don’t feel the way you want them to feel and who don’t share
    your beliefs and who don’t do what you want them to do "don’t really
    care" IN YOUR OPINION.</blockquote>

    Yes, THIS. Who cares if you "buy" it? Why should anyone have to justify their reproduction to you, or live up to pro-life ideals? Women who have abortions are not soulless monsters – they are people. People with free will who are not obligated to "care about the well-being of the unborn" as a building block of their civil morals. Your either/or dichotomy is showing again. Caring about the unborn, to you, is paramount to basic humanity, and anything less is cast as selfish and irresponsible. Can’t you see how your binary fixation is hurting your arguments? You are operating from the assumption that abortion must always be a tragic thing, a weak compromise that would otherwise result in a beautiful little miracle, if only it weren’t for those damn vagaries-of-life getting in the way. Even women who are, for all intents and purposes, equipped to raise a child well and could spare room in their lives for one, get abortions, for reasons which include the fact they want to end the pregnancy, and they do not want a child to be born. I thought this had sunk in when Julie told you about hers, but it seems you really cannot stomach this. What sickens you so much about other people’s autonomy, Paul?

  • paul-bradford

    crowepps,

     

    You’re right, IN MY OPINION, a healthy woman who aborts her healthy fetus because she’s not in a good position to mother a child doesn’t really care about the well-being of the fetus or about the unborn in general.

     

    What’s your opinion?

     

    Any statement that the woman actually cares about the fetus she chooses to abort won’t pass the giggle test.  She may be a wonderful, intelligent, moral, loving person — but she doesn’t love the fetus.  When a woman aborts, she treats her fetus like a household pest — something to be ‘gotten rid of’ and discarded like biological waste.  You have argued eloquently that it’s her RIGHT to do that.  Very well.  But I can’t see how you can say she aborted because she wanted to do what’s right for the fetus.

     

    I object ‘pretty consistently’ to other people judging that I don’t really care about women.  I object because the truth of the matter is that I DO care about women.  Specifically I care about the issue women face with regard to unintended pregnancy — I want very much for women to be protected from that trauma (I know it isn’t a trauma for EVERY woman, but it’s trauma enough for a lot of women) and I want the women who is caught in that situation to be given as much help as she needs.

     

    Do you deny that I have a right to say I care about women?

     

    Deciding other people’s feelings???? Come on, you can tell how a person feels by what they do and say.  I say I care about women and I work for their betterment.  I’ll let you decide what my feelings are.  Some woman says she cares about the unborn and then has an abortion.  Do you really think I’ve gone out on a limb to deduce that she doesn’t care enough to give the fetus what s/he needs?

     

    Irony Schmirony! 

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • jayn

    "I say I care about women and I work for their betterment."

     

    Yet, you also say they should sacrifice themselves for the betterment of others as a matter of course.  These two statements don’t really mesh well.  Especially after this:

     

     "Do you really think I’ve gone out on a limb to deduce that she doesn’t care enough to give the fetus what s/he needs?"

     

    No consideration is apparent about what the mother (and her family) needs, or if she is even capable of giving the fetus proper care.  The problem is, you’re still elevating the position of the fetus above that of the woman.  You talk about giving the fetus what it needs, but I have yet to see you talk about that without ignoring the needs of the woman.  Maybe you should consider turning your position around–worry about the woman first, and her ability to take care of (or avoid) a surprise pregnancy will follow.

  • paul-bradford

    Why should anyone have to justify their reproduction to you, or live up to pro-life ideals?

     

    The advantages of living up to Pro-Life ideals go far beyond the "advantage" of winning my approval.  I claim that the person who recognizes Pro-Life principles (especially if they embrace the entire Pro-Life world view, not just the stuff that relates to abortion) has a deeper appreciation of her/his life and of the life of the society.  I claim that ‘really caring’ about the unborn helps you appreciate the humanity in everyone.

     

    But, to your question: NO ONE has to justify her abortion decision to me. 

     

    Women who have abortions are not soulless monsters – they are people. People with free will who are not obligated to "care about the well-being of the unborn" as a building block of their civil morals.

     

    You don’t have to explain to me that women who abort aren’t ‘soulless monsters’.   Julie’s not a soulless monster.  The woman who aborted my child wasn’t a soulless monster.  I wasn’t a soulless monster when I bought into the idea that the unborn were something less than human.

     

    By the way, people with free will aren’t obligated to care about ANYTHING.  I care a great deal about a certain girl’s school in Guaimaca Honduras.  I care because I’ve visited it, and met the girls, and have become heartsick over the fact that many girls in the area never get more than a sixth grade education.  I care because I agree with the director of the school that the surest way to pull a society out of poverty is to educate girls and young women.  I care because the girls who get an education delay getting pregnant and are more likely to have a small family they can support than a large family that pulls them further into poverty.  I care because educated women are less likely to be abused by their partners.  I care because educated women live longer and earn more money.

     

    I care, but you’ve got FREE WILL.  You don’t have to give a poop about the mission school at Santa Rosa di Lima.  Maybe you’re ‘cared out’.  You don’t have to justify the fact that you don’t contribute to the school — but I’m going to go on urging other people to care.

     

    Princess, you have the opportunity to care about the unborn and to do them some good whether or not you have a fetus in your uterus.  I’ve given you some ideas about what can be done.  You’ve got FREE WILL.  You can follow up on those ideas or you can let them slide.

     

    You are operating from the assumption that abortion must always be a tragic thing, a weak compromise that would otherwise result in a beautiful little miracle, if only it weren’t for those damn vagaries-of-life getting in the way.

     

    Yeah, I think abortion is a ‘tragic thing’.  I also think that, many times, conception is a tragic thing.  I think it’s tragic to bring a child into the world who doesn’t have two parents who are ready, willing and able to do a good job of raising her/him.  (Haven’t I said that before?)  If you actually care about the unborn you’re not going to produce a ‘beautiful little miracle’ out of neglect and inattention — but if you do you’ll take the attitude that, having put someone in a bad spot, you really ought to do what you can to help her/him out as much as you can.

     

    What sickens you so much about other people’s autonomy, Paul?

     

    If I didn’t believe as strongly as I do in ‘people’s autonomy’ I wouldn’t need to bother urging people to care.  It wouldn’t matter if they cared or not if their behavior was being controlled by a ‘Big Brother’ who prevented them from harming the unborn.

     

    You know, Princess, I was carrying you around in my head yesterday while I was working out.  It occurred to me that you sometimes use the word ‘morality’ in a derisive sense — as if it were some sort of coercive force emanating from creepy old men in funny costumes.  I look at it differently.  I think morality is our attempt to bring our behavior in line with our idea of justice, and I believe that love is the foundation of justice (Hah!  I just threw in a ‘religious’ concept).

     

    You at least have the intellectual honesty to admit that those who abort don’t care about the ones who are aborted.  You say they don’t NEED to care — but you admit they don’t care so we don’t have to argue about that. 

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • paul-bradford

     

    Maybe you should consider turning your position around–worry about the woman first, and her ability to take care of (or avoid) a surprise pregnancy will follow.

     

    Any woman, even a woman who doesn’t care at all about the concerns of the unborn, is motivated to avoid a ‘surprise pregnancy’.  Abortion is no day at the beach.  It’s uncomfortable, it’s potentially dangerous, it costs money, sometimes you have to travel a long way, sometimes you have to put up with a crowd of screaming maniacs who’ll shove pictures of dismembered fetuses in your face.  No woman would actually choose to have an abortion.

     

    From the man’s perspective (assuming that he too has no special concern for the unborn) there’s less motivation.  If he’s a ‘real swell guy’ he might accompany his partner and fork over the co-pay but all-in-all having your partner get an abortion is never any worse than having your car break down.

     

    For a couple that doesn’t ‘worry’ about the fetus they bring into the world, there’s a disincentive to conceive an unintended pregnancy; but it’s not a terribly daunting disincentive.

     

     Now let’s look at the couple that believes that the life of an unborn person is as precious and valuable as their own lives.  All of a sudden the prospect of a surprise pregnancy becomes a thousand times more gloomy because you’re looking at putting a child — your child — into a difficult and dangerous situation.  Even if they protect their child’s life (which is even less of a picnic than an abortion) they’re responsible for a child who is born without two parents who are prepared to raise her/him.  That’s a big disadvantage (I should say, "THAT’S A BIG DISADVANTAGE!"), and if you care about the person who’s being disadvantaged you’ll be supremely motivated to avoid that sort of trouble.

     

    You say, "worry about the woman first".  I say, "if you worry about the child you’ll care a hell of a lot more about avoiding surprises". 

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • ahunt

    Actually Paul…it is entirely possible to both care about the BZEF, and care about oneself and one’s circumstances.

    And please take it from me…surprises happen despite our best efforts. #2 son is 11.5 months older than #3 son.

  • crowepps

    Here’s a statement by a woman who chose abortion:

    The pain of an ectopic is multilayered. In addition to the visceral sorrow of losing a child, there’s the horror of how that loss unfolds. Rather than ending naturally, our pregnancy ended because we were forced to terminate it ourselves. That fact haunted me. "We didn’t choose to end it," Scott comforted me. "It was nature that put the fetus in your tube, where it couldn’t survive and where it might have killed you." He was absolutely right, and I knew that, logically. But I felt a pain that was absolutely primal. It was more than just emotional; it was literally cellular, knit into the fibers of my body. I found myself envying friends who had lost pregnancies through miscarriage: a naive reaction, for miscarriages bring unique depths of grief that I can’t begin to comprehend. But all I could think of was that these women didn’t have to be an agent in their own child’s death. That was enough to make me envy them.

    Through all of this, I was forced to see the world anew. I’ve always believed that life is more than just black and white, but I was unprepared for such a shockingly complex study in gray. An ectopic pregnancy turns all rules on its ear. What should have been a cause for celebration was instead a sign of doom. The life that I would have protected at all costs was a life that I had to agree to terminate. For the first time, I was seeing that there is a messy sprawl to the human experience that can take any one of us unawares.

     

    http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1141/is_5_43/ai_n17154150/?tag=content;col1

    Did she "really care"?

     

  • paul-bradford

    it is entirely possible to both care about the BZEF, and care about oneself and one’s circumstances.

     

    I hope that RHReality Check opens up a special page for the smartest comments that show up on these threads.  I will vote that this one be included! 

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • paul-bradford

    Did she "really care"? 

     

    That two paragraph reflection was more than enough to convince me that she did care (and, for that matter, that Scott cared). 

     

    My devoutly Catholic mother also cared about a sister of mine who was developing in an ectopic pregnancy.  The pregnancy almost cost my mother her life and she would have died, too, if her obstetrician hadn’t performed an emergency abortion.  My sister died nearly fifty years ago.  My mother is still alive.  You tell me if the doctor made the right choice.

     

    I still pray for my sister, and I still pray for my mother (every now and then I send out a prayer of gratitude for Dr. M) 

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • princess-rot

    IN MY OPINION, a healthy woman who aborts her healthy fetus because she’s not in a good position to mother a child doesn’t really care about the well-being of the fetus or about the unborn in general.

    Has it crossed your mind that she has thought very much about what the fetuses’ life would be like were it born, and would rather not see it come to that? Also, I don’t understand this insistence that existence itself is a boon, and that it is somehow better to condemn a child (or yourself, if you aren’t cut out for parenting or choose adoption without all the information and support) to a shitty existence in poverty or to a cold and emotionally distant mother who didn’t really want it, just because of the vague concept that abortion is “icky”.

    Really caring about an imaginary class of people – the “unborn” – above all women does not endear me to the pro-life cause. Abortion is necessary, because women are not baby farms and there are sometimes in life when baby = do not want.

    You know, Princess, I was carrying you around in my head yesterday while I was working out.

    Uh-huh.

    It occurred to me that you sometimes use the word ‘morality’ in a derisive sense — as if it were some sort of coercive force emanating from creepy old men in funny costumes.

    Quite often, “morality” is a term used as a dog-whistle for something else, like “family values”. It often means “a set of arbitrary and restrictive rules to govern the lives of women, gays, minorities, and anyone else straight, cis, powerful, white males don’t approve of”.

    I care, but you’ve got FREE WILL. You don’t have to give a poop about the mission school at Santa Rosa di Lima. Maybe you’re ‘cared out’. You don’t have to justify the fact that you don’t contribute to the school — but I’m going to go on urging other people to care.

    I’ve done non-profit work, I’ve volunteered in my alma mater’s women’s center and at as a clinic escort. However, I don’t need to mention it here on a completely unrelated topic to wave people’s faces as if it is qualification that gives me an extra veneer of shiny virtuosity and credibility.