My Take on “Open Hearts, Open Minds”


The conference Open Hearts, Open Minds, Fair-Minded Words, took place at Princeton University on October 15th and 16th, 2010.  Videocasts of the sessions can be found at the link.

I have to confess that I registered for this conference with neither an open heart nor an open mind. I intentionally don’t engage in conversations about abortion with people who oppose it.  It’s a form of self-preservation.  I don’t understand a worldview that espouses curtailing women’s autonomy and human rights as necessary and even good in order to protect potential human life.  I simply will not abandon my conviction that women retain their agency, dignity and self-determination, regardless of whether they are pregnant or could become pregnant.  Nor will I judge women for making decisions about their reproductive lives that are best for them.  Knowing that this conference would be a radical departure for me, I ventured to Princeton anyway. Unsure of what to expect and anxious, I nevertheless wanted to lend my support to allies who supported abortion.  I also intended to bear witness to conversations that at least on their surface centered on abortion outside of its actual context, that is, outside the bodies, lives, and experiences of the women who get pregnant and have abortions. 

The organizers of the conference, Frances Kissling (Center for BioEthics, University of Pennsylvania), Peter Singer (University Center for Human Values, Princeton), Jennifer Miller (Bioethics International), and Charles Camosy (Department of Theology, Fordham University), challenged the hundreds of participants to view the conference as an opportunity to understand the thinking of those who feel differently about abortion than we each did personally, and to see disagreement as an opportunity to learn something, not to attack.  The discussions ranged across many issues including the moral status of the fetus, the concept of fetal pain, and the potential discriminatory affects of abortion (as in sex selection or after pre-natal diagnosis of fetal differences).  While each session was thought-provoking in its own way, I want to focus on the opening plenaries on Friday and Saturday morning because they challenged me the most and helped me reaffirm my own values around abortion.

The conference began with a plenary entitled “Bridging The Abortion Divide: Recurring Challenges, Emerging Opportunities.”  Of the five speakers on the panel, David Gushee, a faculty member at McAfee School of Theology struck me most.  He described abortion as “tragic” and implored people to resist abortion as a common social practice.  He defied the idea that abortion was an exercise in women’s human rights or moral agency, but rather he framed abortion as an act of desperation in every case.  And while he shared that he believed every person deserved respect, he also made clear that abortion was never, could never be, a moral good. 

Gushee’s reflections on the need to address the social and economic conditions that perpetuate poverty (one of the main reasons that women choose abortion is because of lack of social and financial resources) resonated with me.  Yet, he never addressed inequality, patriarchy or sexism.  In fact, he seemed to gloss over exactly how those conditions adversely affect women’s lives.  Instead, he repeated the need to limit our engagement in contributing to or supporting the tragedy that is abortion. He made me think of the movie, the Princess Bride.  After one character repeatedly uses (and misuses) the word “inconceivable,” another character says, “I do not think it means what you think it means.”  I think David Gushee and I have extremely different ideas of what tragic means, and moreover, what it means to resist.  I don’t believe abortion is tragic in itself.  I don’t believe that what drives abortion in every case is desperation.  I’ve known too many women who have had abortions to believe that.  I only wish that the conference had valued those experiences enough to lift up their voices, instead of silencing them.

Saturday morning began with the plenary, “From Morality to Public Policy” and featured several legal scholars.  I personally felt challenged by Helen Alvare’s premise that as a woman, “I was chosen to care” for others and that my support for abortion distorted my essential nature.  Alvare, who is affiliated with the George Mason University School of Law, also added that bodily integrity was not an important enough issue to discuss in the context of abortion.  I found these statements patriarchal and offensive. 

I was relieved, however, when David Garrow (Homerton College, University of Cambridge), avowed that Roe v Wade and related cases were rightly and inevitably decided and carried the moral weight of Brown v Board of Education.  He put forward that the crux of the conflict around abortion was society’s feelings around sex, which were also reflected in the political right’s opposition to birth control, gay rights and marriage equality.  Cathleen Kaveny (University of Notre Dame Law School), spoke movingly about views of morality and how they interact with the law.  She was the first person at the conference to raise sexism and its contribution to inequality.  She was also the first pro-life person to really address ideas of justice, and though her ideas stemmed from a religious background, she allowed for different ideas of justice and how to consider the disproportionate burden of injustice born by certain communities, including women, people of color and low-income people.  Kaverny was the only self-identified pro-life speaker, who spoke to values that I understood.  Like other speakers, she spoke about the social conditions that shape and condition women’s decisions about pregnancy.  She also spoke about women with empathy and understanding and brought them into the conversation more than her pro-life colleagues had before or since.

Finally, Dorothy Roberts (School of Law, Northwestern University) called for the recognition of the moral agency of women and argued that women matter equally outside of the context of the fetus.  She was also the first person to talk about the reproductive justice framework as a broad-based approach that addresses the entire social context in which a woman lives and which deeply affects all of her reproductive decisions, not just abortion.  Professor Roberts highlighted that motherhood among women of color, particularly African-American women, and poor women was constantly under attack and devalued.  She called our attention to the pattern of blaming reproduction by women of color as the source of inequality and many social problems.  She cited the numerous campaigns taking place across the country that equate abortion in the Black community with genocide as another example of how society devalues motherhood by questioning Black women’s moral agency.  Professor Roberts also criticized the idea offered by earlier speakers that adoption was a universal, common good and suggested that adoption was a racist, classist system meant to benefit middle-class families, often at the expense of low-income people and people of color.  She appealed to the audience that any movement toward common ground on abortion had to be based on values of social justice. 

Professor Roberts then outlined the numerous policies that hurt and devalue the parenting of women of color and offered positive policies that government could implement to support families.  I was grateful to Dorothy Roberts for giving voice to the work of the reproductive justice movement, where women and their families are central to all discussions, as actors and as leaders.  For the first time during the conference, I felt like someone was speaking about abortion in the context of women’s lives and all the other realities that women must confront every day. 

I tried my best to keep an open heart and an open mind and remain engaged in the various conversations.  Yet I kept returning to several key questions.  What about the woman?  I couldn’t move past the idea that the conference was afraid of bringing women who have had abortions into these discussions.  To talk about abortion as if women were not central to the conversation, was just a further devaluing of women and all the reproductive decisions we make over the course of our lives. 

Where was the discussion about the moral status of the woman?  From the comments of many speakers and audience members, I was not convinced that we were in agreement on the moral status of women, and what society’s obligation was to them.  As one speaker proposed, “Is there a category of personhood for pregnant women that is separate from other people?”  And if so, when does that take affect?  Once a woman is pregnant?  Does it start at puberty and end at menopause?  What about women who cannot or are highly unlikely to ever get pregnant?  Are they exempt from this “separate, but equal” categorization?  Or as my colleague, Lynn Paltrow says, “At what point during pregnancy do women forgo their human rights and dignity?”  Until we all agree that women are moral agents, who are free to exercise their full human rights, I’m afraid these conversations won’t bring us any closer to bridging the gap between those who support the right to choose abortion and those who do not.

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  • kirsten-moore

    Amazing job Aimee – thoughtful and reflective. Thank you.

  • freewomyn

    I was following the tweets from the conference – thanks for keeping us in the loop. 

     

    I think you bring up such an important point.  Women’s basic human right to control their own bodies is at the very core of this debate.  Period.  To fail to acknowledge that, or to involve women who have had an abortion in the conversation underlines the fact that this isn’t about morality – it’s about control.

  • kirsten-sherk

    Thank you, Aimee, for your tweets during the weekend, and for this reflection. I tried several times to write a response to Charlie Camosy’s summary on his blog, and couldn’t quite balance my appreciation with my frustrations. You’ve nailed them all here. I would only add (because I know you were in another session) that the only other place I heard the reproductive justice framework raised was by Kim Mutcherson (a Rutgers law professor) in the panel on preventing pregnancy. It was frustrating that this perspective, that integrates and contextualizes childbearing decisions, was seen only rarely in the conference.

  • crowepps

    What about women who cannot or are highly unlikely to ever get pregnant? 

    What about women who do not want to ever get pregnant again because they have the number of children they want already?  The stubborn resistance of medical personnel to requests by women to be sterilized indicates to me that there is a deeply held conviction that all ‘normal women’ should want to BE ENDLESSLY FERTILE, and that woman who don’t have something ‘wrong’ with them.  There isn’t any similiar resistance to men who decide on vasectomies.

     

    I also am really sick and tired of the ‘women are chosen to care’ meme, particularly since it is usually linked to an unspoken ‘without any compensation’. 

  • on-the-issues-magazine

    I found myself  in a myriad of philosophical discussions relating to the potential or absolute personhood of a fertilized egg–whether calling the fetus a “fetus” as opposed to a “baby” was a form of discrimination- and the exquisite nuances of the etiology of pain perception.
     
    The Woman Question was basically not in question at all- it was missing as were women themselves as  active moral agents.
    As a result, the agenda of  finding “common ground” may have to settle for its real estate in the academy–the battleground of women’s lives and freedom vs. fetal personhood will have to remain a hot war for some time…
    - merle hoffman

  • crowepps

    exquisite nuances of the etiology of pain perception

    I don’t see anybody out there having a cow about how circumcision or PKU tests are often done without any anesthetic and cause PAIN.

     

    I don’t see anybody out there harassing those parents who choose to go through labor/delivery/birth about how their fetus will suffer PAIN during the birth or the baby might in PAIN before he/she inevitably dies.

  • colleen

    I’m sick of being lectured to about my ‘true nature’ by conservatives who primarily value women (or even more sadly OTHER WOMEN) as a source of free or cheap labor.

     

     

     

  • liberaldem

    The Woman Question was basically not in question at all because for some of these speakers women don’t exist as anything other than their uteruses. Period. End of subject.

    The same people who can wax poetic about fetal personhood, how many fetuses can metaphorically dance on the head of a pin could give a rat’s behind about actual living, breathing women. 

     

  • purplemistydez

    Great blog Aimee.  Thank you.

  • waterjoe

    Alvare, who is affiliated with the George Mason University School of Law, also added that bodily integrity was not an important enough issue to discuss in the context of abortion.  I found these statements patriarchal and offensive.

    Could you elaborate?

     

  • aim%C3%A9e-thornethomsen

    Thanks everyone for your feedback and thoughts.  I too read Charlie Camosy’s blog post as well as another piece on a Catholic website, and I would swear that I was at a different conference than they were!

    Waterjoe, I’m not really sure what you’d like me to elaborate on.  During her remarks, Alvare dismissed concerns that denying women access to abortion infringed on their rights to bodily integrity.  She didn’t say much more than that.  If you are asking why I found that problematic, it stems from my belief that women are full human beings entitled to make whatever decisions about their bodies that they deem appropriate.  Forcing women to carry pregnancies to term in every case denies them right to bodily autonomy and integrity. 

     

     

  • crowepps

    From what I’ve read, many of the presenters were there to talk about ‘the philosophy of human value and how beliefs about morality affect the abortion issue’ and you were there hoping to hear someone acknowledge ‘hey, there’s WOMEN surrounding those zygotes!’

    It reminds me irresistably of Aristotle’s philosophizing about the ‘eternal truths’ behind teeth, which includes this tidbit:

    Why have men more teeth then women?
    By reason of the abundance of heat and blood which is more in men than in women.

    http://www.exclassics.com/arist/arist37.htm

    See, the IMPORTANT thing there is arriving at PHILOSOPHIC TRUTH.  It’s just a DISTRACTION to get all hung up on the fact that women and men have exactly the same number of teeth and Aristotle is ignoring reality.

  • rccrawfordswbellnet

    Sounds as if it was nothing more than a sales pitch for the pro life movement.

  • ack

    Thanks so much for offering your perspective, Aimee. This is a very thoughtful post!

  • crowepps

    Here’s Dr. Camosy’s take on the shared ‘goals’ that were identified at the conference:

    Though it will undoubtedly take hard work, many of us can take these discussions as solid evidence that many of us (but, again, not all) can move forward together on several important issues of public policy:

    1. Protecting the consciences of health care workers.

    2. Giving women full informed consent about the biologically-determined chances that her unborn child may or is likely to feel pain: both via abortion and different kinds of birth techniques or fetal surgeries.

    3. Pushing back against practices which lead to the systematic killing of unborn children who have a race, gender, or disability that is inconvenient or unwanted.

    4. Claiming that a pregnant woman’s full and equal moral status in society demands that we (in both our public and private lives) have an absolute, positive duty to provide for her current and future maternal needs.

    5. In light of the best data available, working to create circumstances which reduce unintended pregnancies that lead to abortion.

    http://onfaith.washingtonpost.com/onfaith/guestvoices/2010/10/is_there_common_ground_on_abortion.html

    Seems to me that’s point by point pretty much the ProLife (let’s see if we can con somebody with THIS one) agenda.  Unless of course point five mean he’s surrendering the point on birth control and will stop objecting to it.

  • colleen

    Sounds as if it was nothing more than a sales pitch for the pro life movement.

    I’ve found that to be generally descriptive of all ‘common ground’ efforts. That and a tendency to censor anyone pointing out that the emperor has no clothes and rather a lot of money. As usual, so much for the ‘Third Way’.

     

  • runner

    Ms. Thorne-Thomsen your column is very well written and insightful even though I disagree with the premise that claiming a fetus is a human diminishes the value or integrity of women in general or any specific woman. I do agree saying women have suffered indignities and oppression is a gross understatement.  However, passing on tyranny to those more vulnerable than oneself, only perpetuates tyranny. My question is this: at what point does the silencing of a human heart become a tragedy?

     

  • prochoiceferret

    I disagree with the premise that claiming a fetus is a human diminishes the value or integrity of women in general or any specific woman.

     

    Do you agree with the premise that the human-hood of a fetus in no way diminishes a pregnant woman’s right to terminate her pregnancy?

     

    I do agree saying women have suffered indignities and oppression is a gross understatement.

     

    That’s good. Do you agree that these indignities and oppression are a Bad Thing(tm)?

     

    However, passing on tyranny to those more vulnerable than oneself, only perpetuates tyranny.

     

    I guess you don’t.

     

    My question is this: at what point does the silencing of a human heart become a tragedy?

     

    That depends on the woman, and her specific circumstances. Not that that matters much to you, if you’re willing to swap out Tragedy A (women having abortions) for Tragedy B (women being forced to carry unwanted pregnancies to term).

  • aim%C3%A9e-thornethomsen

    @Runner – thank you for your comments and feedback.  My response is that I don’t believe a fetus is a human life, but rather a potential human life as it cannot survive or thrive outside of the body of a woman.  In my opinion, until the fetus is born, it is not entitled to the same human rights and protections that a woman is.  Therefore, abortion is not inherently tragic to me nor is supporting abortion tyrannical.

  • forced-birth-rape

    ~ Thank you Aimee. ~

  • andenakker

    I don’t understand a worldview that espouses curtailing women’s autonomy and human rights as necessary and even good in order to protect potential human life.

    Perhaps the first thing to understand is that your own language is prejudicial.  Merriam-Webster defines “potential” as: “existing in possibility : capable of development into actuality“.  Regarding the first part of the definition, the term is usually used to describe something that has much less of a chance of occurring than the probability that a developing embryo or fetus will be born, which is simply the normal and expected process that will happen unless something goes horribly wrong.  The second part of the definition doesn’t apply at all – an embryo or fetus is already “actual” human life.

  • aim%C3%A9e-thornethomsen

    @andenakker I respectfully disagree with your application of the definition of potential.  An embryo or fetus is capable of developing into a human being.  That does not mean in my worldview that it is the same as a fully formed human being.  If you believe that an embryo or fetus is human life, so be it.  Furthermore, you miss the point of my argument, which is that I cannot identify with a worldview that would protect fetal life at the expense of women’s autonomy, dignity, human rights and self-determination.  That was the point of the sentence. 

  • panhandler

    An embryo or fetus is capable of developing into a human being. That does not mean in my worldview that it is the same as a fully formed human being.

     

    The problem is that your worldview is scientifically inaccurate. It really doesn’t matter if you believe the unborn are human beings or not, as what one believes simply does not take precedence over a simple scientific fact.

     

    “To accept the fact that after fertilization has taken place a new human has come into being is no longer a matter of taste or opinion… it is plain experimental evidence. Each individual has a very neat beginning, at conception.”

     

    Any argument, thusly, which starts from the position that the unborn are not human beings should be taken with a grain of salt.

  • andenakker

    What one views a fetus to be is obviously a critical factor in determining the position one takes in this debate.  In order for someone to really know where they stand, however, they need to arrive at a positive and narrow definition of what it is they’re talking about.  Your definition of a fetus as a “potential life” could apply just as well to an unfertilized egg, even though there is obviously a huge difference between it and a 10-week old fetus.

    I suggest that it is easier (in fact, unavoidable) to identify with a worldview that protects the life of a fetus if one sees a fetus as (already) a complete, distinct, living and fully human being, which is the understanding that the science of biology has led me to.  You can choose to ignore this science – just as you could choose to ignore the fact that the Earth is spherical and pretend that it is flat – and probably get by with a limited understanding of reality.  But don’t expect to have no conflicts with those of us who seek “the whole enchilada.”

  • arekushieru

    The problem is that your worldview is scientifically inaccurate. It really doesn’t matter if you believe the unborn are human beings or not, as what one believes simply does not take precedence over a simple scientific fact.

    Please point out to me any science textbooks that equate a fetus with a person (which IS what Aimee was talking about).  And not a quote from a book that you can’t even LINK to. 

    Besides, conception is often equated with pregnancy.  You just eliminated all the products of fertilization before pregnancy from being classified AS human beings.  Such vague statements can hardly be from a science textbook, y’know…. 

  • arekushieru

    …reQUIRES that you make arbitrary distinctions?  If a fetus is a human being, then why aren’t sperm, eggs and cells…?  Hmmm…?  See, sperm, cells, and eggs are not only distinct, complete and living, they are indiVIDual, as well, while fetuses are not.  Nice begging the question, there, too, if you want to leave your assumption at the conclusion that a human being must be human, that is….

    Btw, where is your evidence, linked to a science textbook, that a fetus is distinct, complete and living?

    And, I agree, that it is easier to identify with a worldview that provides EXtra potection for fetal, rather than born, life if one sees a fetus, arbitrarily, as a human being. 

  • carolyninthecity

    No one has ever argued that a fetus is not alive. And obviously it’s human- it’s not a sea monkey. The point being made is that it is not a person. And there is no benefit to bestowing rights and liberties (which inevitably infringe on the rights and liberties of the pregnant woman) onto something that can only survive and thrive while it is fully inside another person’s body. 

  • squirrely-girl

    Regarding the first part of the definition, the term is usually used to describe something that has much less of a chance of occurring than the probability that a developing embryo or fetus will be born, which is simply the normal and expected process that will happen unless something goes horribly wrong.

     

    When 1 in 4 pregnancies results in spontaneous abortion I’d say potential is quite an accurate description. Keep in mind these that 25% doesn’t include stillbirths or those that die during or immediately following birth.

     

    You may wish to argue that it’s a strong potential, but it’s potential nonetheless. There’s nothing “disingenuous” about that.

  • panhandler

    Please point out to me any science textbooks that equate a fetus with a person (which IS what Aimee was talking about).  And not a quote from a book that you can’t even LINK to. 

     

    It’s a funny game you’re playing. If, as you’re implying, the word human being is interchangeable with the word person, and science determines what a human being is and classifies the unborn as human beings, then the unborn would be persons because they’re human beings. Quod erat demonstrandum. Now perhaps you’ll disappear in a puff of logic.

     

    Besides, conception is often equated with pregnancy. 

     

    You really have no idea what the heck you’re rambling on about. Conception is, generally speaking, the point in time at which the sperm fertilizes the ovum. It’s synonymous with fertilization. Pregnancy is defined as the time when the embryo implants into the uterine wall.

     

    You just eliminated all the products of fertilization before pregnancy from being classified AS human beings.  Such vague statements can hardly be from a science textbook, y’know…. 

     

    It’s already been established that you don’t understand the very thing you are trying to argue. Anyway–

     

    Keith L. Moore, The Developing Human: Clinically Oriented Embryology, 7th edition. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders, 2003. pp. 16, 2.

    “Human begins at fertilization, the process during which a male gamete or sperm (spermatozoo development) unites with a female gamete or oocyte (ovum) to form a single cell called a zygote. This highly specialized, totipotent cell marked the beginning of each of us as a unique individual.” 

    Ronan O’Rahilly and Fabiola Miller, Human Embryology and Teratology, 3rd edition. New York: Wiley-Liss, 2001. p. 8.

    “Although life is a continuous process, fertilization… is a critical landmark because, under ordinary circumstances, a new genetically distinct human organism is formed when the chromosomes of the male and female pronuclei blend in the oocyte.” 

     

    “Derrr…”

  • jodi-jacobson

    I edited this comment at 10:18 pm on October 23, 2010 because i realized there were a few words missing in sentences the absence of which changed their meaning.  I have noted those with capital letters.

    What the point or the hope is of commenters such as pandhandler and andenakker (whom I suspect of being earlier commenters given the similarities in their voices in writing) in arguing this issue of personhood here.

     

    Bottom line:

    • “when life begins” in regard to personhood and WHEN ONE ASSUMES the full rights of being a person, is a matter of personal and religious ideology, not science.
    • there is no scientific definition of “when life begins” in regard to identifying personhood for the very reasons articulated above.
    • pro-choice advocates believe every child should be a wanted child, that every woman has full human rights to bodily integrity, freedom from coercion and violence (whether by individuals or the state), and ALSO HAS THE INHERENT right to choose whether, when, and with whom to bear a child(ren), how many children to bear, and how to space those children.
    • It is the woman’s body in which an embryo gestates into a fetus, which, if all goes well after nearly 10 months and considerable physical and emotion investment by the woman, out comes a healthy baby.  If a woman does not wish to give birth to a baby, it is her right to determine she does not wish to gestate that embryo in such a way that it reaches its possible potential.  and i say possible potential, because while it has the potential to become a born person, it is also possible that even in a wanted pregnancy the fertilized egg, blastocyst, embryo, fetus will NOT grow to become a baby (IE WILL BE MISCARRIED) OR THAT THE FETUS WILL SUFFER ABNORMALITIES INCOMPATIBLE WITH LIFE.

    Essentially these issues come down to deep and profound personal beliefs about how one uses one’s own body and how one views (religiously, philosophically) the establishment of personhood.  Even the Catholic Church has changed from a position in which abortion was allowed until “ensoulment” to today’s blanket ban on contraception, abortion, healthy discussion about sex, or even permission to allow people on life support to die with dignity.

    No one asks you to have sex when you don’t want to, nor to have sex when you wish to abstain, nor to end an unwanted, unexpected or fatal pregnancy.  No one asks you to make choices not compatible with your conscience.

    Why are you so bent on asking women to make choices incompatible with theirs?  Why are you so bent on compelling/forcing women to bear children they do not want?

    And what do you think you will gain here with the same arguments over and over to people who have committed their lives to women’s rights and health.

    Its an honest question I put to you as we regularly get complaints about allowing these streams to go on and on, and are actively engaged in limiting them for that purpose.

    I am at a loss as to what you hope to achieve in arguing these points here, as I can tell you from many years experience in this field that the people here are determined advocates for health and human rights, and you are not going to change that.

     

  • colleen

    What the point or the hope is of commenters such as pandhandler and andenakker (whom I suspect of being earlier commenters given the similarities in their voices in writing) in arguing this issue of personhood here.

    In this specific instance I believe part of their hope is that they will be able to derail the conversation away from Aimée Thorne-Thomsen’s main argument which was:

     

    …. I cannot identify with a worldview that would protect fetal life at the expense of women’s autonomy, dignity, human rights and self-determination.  That was the point of the sentence.

     

    Indeed the ‘pro-life’ movement as a whole would do and say ANYTHING rather than address this obvious and fatal flaw in their pseudo-morality.

     

     

  • arekushieru

    So, no medical textbook agrees with you (see below) so it doesn’t say that a fetus is a human being OR person.

    You really have no idea what the heck you’re rambling on about. Conception is, generally speaking, the point in time at which the sperm fertilizes the ovum. It’s synonymous with fertilization. Pregnancy is defined as the time when the embryo implants into the uterine wall.

    Oh, what’s this?  Scroll down, second definition.  Hmm, seems Panhandler is wrong as usual:

    http://www.medterms.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=31242

    Oh, and none of the rest of what you said, talks about a human being.  It talks about human life but NOT a human being.  Thanks for proving me right, again.  “Derrr…”

  • andenakker

    “when life begins” in regard to personhood and WHEN ONE ASSUMES the full rights of being a person, is a matter of personal and religious ideology, not science.

    Merriam-Webster defines “person” as simply:  “HUMAN, INDIVIDUAL”.  My own definition provides a much tougher and more specific test, but even this simpler one sounds like something that ought to be scientifically verifiable, especially with all the knowledge and technology we have today.

    More importantly, however, is the fact that you (and I) want to ascribe some value to a “person” that isn’t wholly dependent on the biological sum of its cells and tissues.  I admittedly consider a “person” to have more value than would be conferred by simply being a member of the Homo sapiens species.  I’m happy to rely on science in my understanding of what a person is, however, because it provides an absolute floor below which I know I don’t want to go.  Even someone who believes that a “person” has no value apart from their being a biological aggregation that functions as a unit would have no problem depending on science for their understanding of persons.  Someone who rejects science as a determining factor in what comprises a “person,” however, can have only one motivation – to go where science would not let them.

     

    pro-choice advocates believe every child should be a wanted child

    Pro-life advocates believe that every child (and adult) has inherent value because of what and who they are, regardless of what they’re capable of doing for themselves or whether they’re “wanted.”

     

    Even the Catholic Church has changed from a position in which abortion was allowed until “ensoulment” to today’s blanket ban on contraception, abortion, healthy discussion about sex, or even permission to allow people on life support to die with dignity.

    The Catholic Church has done no such about-face.  While Church teaching has changed on the seriousness of the sin of abortion – which at times some theologians and Church leaders may have viewed as dependent on the fetus’ stage of development – it has always taught that it is morally wrong, and has always respected available scientific knowledge of human development (hence its current positions).

    As for the other end of human life, I don’t think that the Wheaties and sodas we consume every day count as “life support” in most people’s minds.

     

    No one asks you to make choices not compatible with your conscience.

    Sure they do.  I try to have a well-formed conscience, however, so that I make the right choices.

     

    Why are you so bent on compelling/forcing women to bear children they do not want?

    That’s not my objective.  I want them to know what they’re doing, because if they don’t at the time they have an abortion, years later they very well may, and I don’t want anyone coming back to me and saying, “Why did you let them hide the truth from me?”  If someone knows the truth, then they are responsible for their own decisions, but as Fr. John Corapi says, “I’m not goin’ to Hell for you” by failing to speak the truth.

  • panhandler

    The responses are a tad bit out of order for convenience sake.

     

    Oh, what’s this?  Scroll down, second definition.  Hmm, seems Panhandler is wrong as usual:

     

    http://www.medterms.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=31242

     

    I could take my time pointing out how you’re wrong, but there’s a much easier way to go about this. Ask one of your pro-choice friends if, for example, the morning after pill is an abortifacient and see what they tell you (they’ll tell you no because there’s no pregnancy if the embryo doesn’t attach to the uterine wall). That is, of course, any pro-choicer wants to step up and point out that one of their own is “mistaken”.

     

    So, no medical textbook agrees with you (see below) so it doesn’t say that a fetus is a human being OR person.

     

    Is that so?


    Oh, and none of the rest of what you said, talks about a human being.  It talks about human life but NOT a human being.  Thanks for proving me right, again.  “Derrr…”

     

    No, actually, it talks about a human being. You see, I purposely didn’t post the entire quotes, because I wanted to see what you would respond with. As expected, you tried to play “Well, that’s not speaking about a human being!” card. Unfortunately for you, it was speaking of a human being. For example, go to the following link (http://clinicquotes.com/site/story.php?id=28) and scroll down to the 2003 Keith L. Moore quote, which you said wasn’t speaking of a human being, and you’ll find that it says, and I quote–


    “A zygote is the beginning of a new human being (i.e., an embryo.”

     

    Indeed, all of those quotes are talking about a human being, though you will undoubtedly respond with something about how they’re talking about a human life, and not a human being. Unfortunately for you, you will find that multiple quotes specifically talk of a human being, and reference the unborn as such. And since, as you have stated prior, human being and person are synonymous, then the unborn are persons. So, please, do yourself a favor. Just stop and save yourself further embarrassment– especially when you try to tell people “derrr…” when being as wrong as you constantly are.

  • forced-birth-rape

    “pandhandler and andenakker (whom I suspect of being earlier commenters given the similarities in their voices in writing)”

    ~ Yes would Jesus come back on a website after being banned, or told to go? Jesus would never be so deceitful, another example of how these christian men do not worship Jesus, they worship them selves. The bible just tells them everything they want to hear, men rule, women obey. Of course Jesus did not say any of that, so that is the reason they do not fallow Jesus example. Like fundamentalist muslim men they are consumed with sick worry about what women are doing, and getting away with. Have to always be checking up on the women because women need a man directing them, otherwise women may stumble on to conclusions a man has not ordained. Their activity of choice is hurting and harassing women about something so physically and emotionally serious to women as pregnancy and child birth, something they do not have to physically live or worry about. ~

  • jodi-jacobson

    The Catholic Church has done no such about-face. 

    Indeed it has, but I suspect their willingness to discuss it now in public is about as strong as their willlingess to own up to their crimes in the pedophilia scandal.

    That’s not my objective.  I want [women] to know what they’re doing, because if they don’t at the time they have an abortion, years later they very well may, and I don’t want anyone coming back to me and saying, “Why did you let them hide the truth from me?”  If someone knows the truth, then they are responsible for their own decisions, but as Fr. John Corapi says, “I’m not goin’ to Hell for you” by failing to speak the truth.

    First, thanks for reminding us how little you think of women’s capacity for rational thought and moral reasoning; second, we really do not want you taking all that responsibility on yourself on our behalf……really!

    But you simply don’t answer the question: What do you expect to achieve here, on this site, which is the discussion area of lifelong and committed pro-life-pro-choice-pro-human rights individuals to whom your messages and martyrdom are not welcome or invited?  It is a serious question, because again, we are in the process of constantly evaluating the hi-jacking of these articles by the same tired round of men.

     

    Jodi

  • arekushieru

    Oh, really?  You supplied a premise that didn’t support your argument, withOUT providing the link, then go on to say that you didn’t supply the actual premise that supported your argument just to see what I would say?  Why do ProLifers always use the SAME (purposely deceitful) tactics over and over…?  Hmmmm…?

    Now, for the more relevant parts of the pogromme for this thread:

    Indeed, human life is synonymous with human being (at times), just as person is synonymous with human being (most of the time and in almost all cases that it has been used, here).  I’m sorry you didn’t get that.  But, jfyi, I wasn’t as deceitful (as FBIR pointed out) as you were being.

    Similar to your inability to understand the point about conception.  There are two different meanings for it.  As words often have.  Nor does it matter if they tell me that it isn’t an abortifacient.  It has nothing to do with my point about conception.  Whether conception starts at implantation or fertilization, it doesn’t make the morning-after-pill any more or less of an abortifacient.   My point simply meant that for a science textbook the definition is rather surprisingly vague.  I am sorry you didn’t get that.  Better luck next time in getting me to not fall sideways, though… eh…?    

     

     

  • crowepps

    25% of ‘fertilized eggs’ are not capable of transforming into blastocysts.

    Another 25% can’t implant (no pregnancy ever starts), implant in the wrong place and are sloughed off or removed (ectopic), fail to continue to develop and are miscarried in a ‘late period’ within the first few weeks.

    AFTER that first six weeks, approx. another 15% miscarry.

    Another 2% are grossly malformed and die at/soon after birth or are stillborn for one reason or another.

     

    Potential sounds fair to me, since with any one individual fertilization we are talking odds of survival till live birth of at best 1 out of 3.

     

    Some researchers put the odds of survival as long as 1 out of 5.

  • crowepps

     Ask one of your pro-choice friends if, for example, the morning after pill is an abortifacient and see what they tell you (they’ll tell you no because there’s no pregnancy if the embryo doesn’t attach to the uterine wall).

    This Pro-Choice friend would not say anything of the sort, since the morning after pill works by PREVENTING OVULATION and therefore no egg is present to be fertilized, no zygote forms, no blastocyst develops and there isn’t anything AROUND which could be prevented from attaching to the uterine wall.

     

    I realize it’s a waste of time trying to actually get through your obsessive focus on ‘why men should be able to opt out of fatherhood’, and usually don’t waste my time, but since you asserted you were PRESENTING MY OPINION and were TOTALLY inaccurate, that I’d set the record straight.  AGAIN.

  • arekushieru

    Your inability to understand that a fetus is not an individual, thus it is not a person, is very troubling, andenakker.

    This, too, is related to the OP:

    And very troubling that you cannot understand that you contradict yourself so regularly, like Paul Bradford.  I think you both have difficulty separating the value of consciousness and awareness and moral, physical, mental, emotional, social, intellectual and moral agency from the value of merely existing.  Unlike either of you, I don’t automatically deprive certain born humans of their values above and beyond their existence, by inflating the value of a fetus’ existence so that it can be equated with these born humans’ existence AND their other values.  You inflate (and equate) it by ignoring all other values.  You ignore them when you say that value of and respect for life is only shown by permitting and FOcussing on existence.  Also, by giving a fetus more value and respect than it deserves, I believe you actually devalue and disrespect it, too.

    As for the other end of human life, I don’t think that the Wheaties and sodas we consume every day count as “life support” in most people’s minds.

    You seriously demonstrate your lack of understanding of this whole issue with the above quote.  Or have you never heard of artificial life support or organ recipients?  That’s… really amazing… since we’ve talked about this non-stop in all the other threads.  I guess we’ve just been banging our heads against a brick wall, all this time, eh…?

    Sure they do.  I try to have a well-formed conscience, however, so that I make the right choices.

    Really?  Name one.  No?  Thought so.

  • andenakker

    Your inability to understand that a fetus is not an individual, thus it is not a person, is very troubling

    So you don’t agree with Jodi that one’s understanding of personhood is “a matter of personal and religious ideology,” and agree with me that whether a fetus is an individual/person is something that can be determined objectively.  Again, there is no basis – at least if science is to be respected – for saying that a fetus is not an individual, though you could argue that a pregnant woman is not a single individual as long as she’s pregnant.

     

    by giving a fetus more value and respect than it deserves, I believe you actually devalue and disrespect it

    And I contradict myself?

     

    have you never heard of artificial life support or organ recipients?

    The Catholic Church does not require that life be sustained by extraordinary means, nor does it require or discourage organ donation, though there have been questions raised both inside and outside Catholic circles about the practice of people registering as donors ahead of time, especially after several cases in recent years of organs nearly being harvested from “donors” who were still very much alive.

  • arekushieru

    I have explained SEVeral times why a fetus is not an individual.  The fetus’ component parts can be divided down even further and still keep it anatomically correct as defined by its species.  Take away the placenta, the woman’s blood, the amnion, the yolk-sac, etc… after all, and you still have an anatomically correct member of (our) species, because no born human needs a placenta, to survive off the transference of its female host’s blood through the uterus, or a yolk-sac or amnion, last time I checked.  We are NOT disagreeing on individuality, but personhood.  Also, start learning to distinguish between criticisms of your OWN position and someone else’s position, before you respond, next time.  I do NOT agree that individuality (or lack thereof) defines a person, I simply disagree that your OWN (supplied) definition clearly states that a fetus IS a person. 

    How can someone be so obtuse?  If I put the two thoughts together (rather than separately as you did), it implies that I am aware of what the two lines of thought mean, which, in turn, indicates that perhaps there’s a reason, beyond the surface understanding, that I DID put them together…?  Such as, placing more value and respect on something than it deserves (especially given your own position of conflating all the different kinds of values that a born human has with the ones a fetus has), implies that you don’t think it would have ANY value (if you DIDn’t do that). 

    So, thanks for proving that the Catholic Church always is and will be very misogynistic.  If they weren’t it would require ALL people to give up healthy organs in order to save someone else’s life.  After all, pregnancy is much more dangerous and burdensome and time-consuming than giving up ANY of the other organs as a living organ donor.  But, I forget, don’t I, that anti-choicers can’t conflate extraordinary with natural, when it doesn’t suit them.    

  • andenakker

    I suspect their willingness to discuss it now in public is about as strong as their willlingess to own up to their crimes in the pedophilia scandal.

    There’s no reason to think that anything would satisfy those who continue to beat this horse short of dismantling the entire Church, so what’s the point in discussing it?

     

    What do you expect to achieve here, on this site

    I discuss these same topics with more like-minded individuals on a regular basis, which I find far more comfortable than coming here.  However, I know that if public sentiment is going to change, I have to go outside those circles, and I also know that I won’t get anywhere unless my arguments and reasoning are sound.  While I could find other avenues where my message is more well-received, they won’t challenge me to make it better the way I’m challenged here.  Plus, I’m not so arrogant that I don’t believe others can do better than I.  For instance, there is the possibility that I may encounter an understanding of embryonic and fetal life that strikes me as truer than my own, which would have the potential of causing a sea change in my own thought processes.

    Finally, I do occasionally come across very good, unbiased articles on this site, and I much appreciate the knowledge I’ve gleaned from them.

  • andenakker

    The Catholic Church has done no such about-face.

    Indeed it has

    Whatever someone said to make you think that the Catholic Church once allowed abortion, I’m sure it can be found here, along with other similar examples:  http://www.ewtn.com/library/PROLENC/ENCYC043.HTM

    But the truth is:

    Most importantly, the Catholic Church has never “approved of” or “condoned” abortion in any part of its history. It has never taught that the time of ‘ensoulment’ of the unborn child depended on its sex, as stated above; this was merely the speculation of two theologians (who, by the way, both condemned abortion at all times).

    And the Catholic Church has never accepted the theory of delayed animation. The only time that the Church has ever addressed this question is when Pope Innocent XI officially condemned the theory that animation took place at birth.

    The teachings of the Catholic Church have been uniformly against abortion in any form, and have been stated and restated consistently through the centuries.

    Those who believe otherwise are hereby challenged to produce a statement by any Pope, cardinal or bishop supporting abortion from any period in history (declarations by Modernist priests with suspended teaching authority don’t count).

  • arekushieru

    You give us a link to an obviously biased website, then expect us to believe you made your point?

  • arekushieru

    Really?  From what I can see the Pope and his clergy were VERY resistant to punishing the men deemed responsible.  They only did it when their backs were put up against the wall.  Why do you think that would make ANYone satisfied.  Obvious lack of compassion for women and rape victims should make us satisfied…?  Some very weird ideas you have there, andenakker.

  • andenakker

    Those who believe otherwise are hereby challenged to produce a statement by any Pope, cardinal or bishop supporting abortion from any period in history

  • andenakker

    From what I can see the Pope and his clergy were VERY resistant to punishing the men deemed responsible.

    I actually believe they went way overboard in punishing one priest in my own diocese.  However, I’ve been unable to get anyone in a position of higher authority to say or do anything about it.  At least in this country, the pendulum has swung the other way.

  • colleen

    Actually, it’s the opposite from my perspective

     

    Your ignorance is deliberate and inexcusable.

  • prochoiceferret

    I actually believe they went way overboard in punishing one priest in my own diocese.  However, I’ve been unable to get anyone in a position of higher authority to say or do anything about it.

     

    Oh, he was probably just a gay priest, who didn’t molest little kids. The Pope hates those.

  • crowepps

    If you believe they “went way overboard” then my guess is that you aren’t aware of the facts in the case.  Assuming that you are a member of the laity, the people in positions of higher authority don’t have any obligation at all to breach confidentiality or to sacrifice the privacy rights of the complainants because you are NOT a person in authority and so the facts are not believed to be any of your business.

     

    In fact, since Church authorities are far more knowledgeable than you about this priest’s actions and character, I would bet that your persistent defense of him, your insistence that the Church is being unfair and he’s being punished too harshly, leads the authorities to also identify as serious problems in the parish the priest’s failure to avoid unhealthy friendships and prevent partianship and divisions among the parishioners, and that may lead them to be looking at YOU with a very skeptical eye.

  • andenakker

    I’m not sure on what basis you’ve constructed an image of the whole episode, but in any case you’ve got completely the wrong idea.

    I would not challenge a bishop without good standing to do so, and I’ve got no dog in the fight myself.  In this case, the priest himself – whom I’ve never met – publicly acknowledged the incident and enough details to know that it was among the least serious instances of abuse for which priests have been disciplined (e.g. it involved no touching).

  • arekushieru

    And who are you to decide what the least serious instances of abuse are…?  Hmmm…?  Besides, we aren’t talking about just one Bishop, we are talking about SEVeral different religious authority figures.  Thanks.

  • crowepps

    But I don’t have any “image of the whole thing” at all.  What I do have is the sure knowledge that all the details of private personnel matters are NOT released to the laity.

    I would not challenge a bishop without good standing to do so,

    So I’m supposed to accept that based on your assertion that it is true, because you’re not willing to share precisely what it is that lends you standing to challenge a bishop?  I can certainly understand why if you are inappropriately talking about confidential personnel matters on the internet.

     

    I’d add that what the perpetrator publically admits about his behavior is not the most reliable gauge either of how serious it actually was OR whether he is psychologically healthy enough to be trusted as a priest OR how much damage it did to the victim.

     

    Actually, if you have “no dog in the fight”, and have never met the priest, then it’s hard to imagine on what basis you could form and hold an opinion on the issue at all.

  • goatini

    as one of his favorite sermon topics is to rant loudly (VERY loud, if you’re familiar with his style)  on the Sin Of Eve.  Corapi has an intense hatred for women who aren’t Blessed Virgins, which is to say, all actual women.  

  • arekushieru

    Especially considering that Eve was deceived by a serpent (as, in the allegory, which I believe Genesis to be, the serpent is equivalent to the fallen angel, Lucifer [who I also believe is an allegory]) while Adam was deceived by his own wife, another human.

  • andenakker

    I feel like a Costa Rican arguing with an Eskimo about the best way to grow bananas.

  • prochoiceferret

    I feel like a Costa Rican arguing with an Eskimo about the best way to grow bananas.

     

    Oh, it’s nothing to worry about. Self-delusion is a perfectly normal side effect of being an anti-choicer. But if it bothers you, all you have to do is lie down, get some rest, and read Lifesite articles until the cognitive dissonance goes away.

  • colleen

    You flatter yourself. You sound like a man devoid of intellectual integrity.

  • marysia

    Bodily Integrity IS Central

    http://allourlives.org/node/57

     

    More on Bodily Integrity

    http://allourlives.org/node/58

  • aim%C3%A9e-thornethomsen

    @Marysia I think I’m confused by your post.  I agree that bodily integrity is a key component in abortion, though I come to different conclusions than you do about what that means.  What I was reacting to was what I interpreted as Alvare’s dismissal of bodily integrity as an issue worth discussing.  Did I give the impression that I too thought it was a throwaway issue?  If so, that’s not what I meant.  I’m just not sure what you were responding too.

  • marysia

    Oh no, I didn’t think *you* Aimee considered bodily integrity a throwaway issue-quite the opposite.

     

    Just wanted to show that there are people who identify as prolife and who like you take the whole issue of bodily integrity very seriously even if , as you say, we don’t interpret it wholly the same way as you.  If Helen Alvare dismissed it, she was mistaken in that.

    I’m a woman with disabilities. My grandchild is descended from African American slaves. No way I can treat bodily integrity as a throwaway issue!

     

  • crowepps

    Unless you are female, it’s more like a Costa Rican insisting to an Eskimo that the Costa Rican is more knowledgeable about how to hook a dog team to a sled because even though he doesn’ t actually have any dogs himself, and has never mushed, he watched the Iditarod on TV a couple years ago.

  • aim%C3%A9e-thornethomsen

    @Marysia Thanks for the clarification.  I really appreciate that.  Though we come down on different sides of abortion, it’s interesting that we both see bodily integrity as key to the discussion.

  • arekushieru

    If people are arguing that abortion violates a fetuses’ bodily integrity, then why not argue the same for those organ recipients still on the waiting list for organ transplants?  Perhaps because one only has the right to bodily integrity if they aren’t the ones to initially infringe on that right, itself?  (Which still means that this would have to be true in *both* or *neither* case.)  

    And yet, a woman’s body works without that woman’s willingness.  Her body is formed without that same kind of willingness.  In most cases of organ transplants, it is a person’s lifestyle that led to the necessity of them.  They are not ‘trapped’ (for lack of a more descriptive word) into the situation like a woman is/can be/will be/would be. 

    And, still, there are women who will have untenable pregnancies and  require medically necessary abortions.  (I am aware that you have addressed the following, in regards to 100% effective contraception, however, I believe it underlines a couple of the points I stated above, so, I think, I will let it stand as is) Or women, like me, who would choose abortion, even if the pregnancy was healthy, they were financially stable and they were emotionally mature and responsible enough to handle a child.   

  • marysia

    Arekushieru–the US could do a lot more to foster social responsibility on organ/tissue donation. That much said–I don’t know if transplantation is a good analogy for pregnancy.

    There is nothing else in human experience quite like pregnancy, the relationship through which we all enter the world.

    And we live in male dominant culture that has a lot of trouble speaking about let alone dealing with pregnancy. both prolife and prochoice characterize the relationship of woman and fetus as one of superiority and inferiority, domination and submission-they just differ in which one they think is the superior, more important one.

    yes, there are situations where women’s lives are endangered by continuing their pregnancies. sometimes the child’s life cannot be saved along with the woman’s, sometimes abortion is needed for the woman to survive. better to save one life than to lose two.

    with most difficult pregnancies in the wealthier countries, especially in a nation like the US that is so stingy about its social welfare system, the difficulties are socially constructed. they were created through human agency, and they can be largely dismantled through human agency.

    i have no quarrel with your right to nonparenthood (or whatever term you would prefer for your chosen state). i work for all methods of voluntary contraception, including the right of people to choose long term and permanent methods, or to choose forms of sex that have no possibility of conception. i work also for more humane possibilities in adoption, foster care, and guardianship–biological parenthood need not mean social parenthood.

    i work for greater respect for all the ways that people can be generative with their lives–reproducing biologically is but one way, and it is not everyone’s way. the only thing i question is abortion, and that only because it involves lifetaking. 

  • marysia

    Aimee, just wondering, are you surprised that someone who identifies as prolife would be concerned about bodily integrity?

  • prochoiceferret

    Aimee, just wondering, are you surprised that someone who identifies as prolife would be concerned about bodily integrity?

     

    It’s not so surprising when the “bodily integrity” they are concerned about is the fetus’s.

  • marysia

    Is it somehow not possible to be simultaneously concerned about the bodily integrity of *both* woman and fetus?

  • forced-birth-rape

    ~ Females have the right not to have extreme vagianl pain against their will, females have the right not to be terrorized for nine months with horrific worry of future vaginal agony against their will, females have the right to say “NO” to their bodies being used against their will. If you want to force me to have vaginal pain, be pregnant, have my body used, make me worry for nine months about having extreme vaginal pain, you do not care about me, you think it is my job to have extreme vaginal agony because I am female. If you care about females you do not make them give birth against their will. You do not badger and harass them into having their bodies used against their will. ~

  • prochoiceferret

    Is it somehow not possible to be simultaneously concerned about the bodily integrity of *both* woman and fetus?

     

    Not at all, if you posit that abortion “can be defined as a violation of women’s bodily integrity in and of itself … because it involves the lifetaking of a particular, irreplaceable, already existing human being inside of another particular, irreplaceable, already existing human being.”

     

    (Why do I get the feeling that Marysia and Paul Bradford would make great pen pals?)

  • marysia

    forced birth is rape: a fetus is not a rapist, or a parasite. yes, an unintended pregnancy can raise so many difficult problems–but is the fetus the perpetrator, somehow?

    skillful prenatal care and pain relief, plus compehensive social supports, can transform the experiences of pregnancy and birthing. it’s just that in the US, our health system willfully ignores and withholds best practices in these areas.

    if i thought all women HAVE to go through the pain of labor, i wouldn’t care about the above, would i? i wouldn’t care about promoting contraception, i wouldn’t care about preventing and healing sexual assault. i wouldn’t have chosen pain relief when i gave birth to my child, i wouldn’t have done whatever i could to ease her pain when she herself gave birth.

     

    there are reasons for challenging the incidence of abortion that have nothing to do with punishing women-quite the opposite.

    but if someone has decided that punishing women is the only possible motive, i don’t suppose there is anything i could say or do, even if i lived to be a hundred and took action all day every day, that would prove otherwise.

    prochoice ferret: you still say “dook dook dook” to things you disagree with?

  • forced-birth-rape

    ~ I know you do not care about women, you can polish it up like you do, but you dont. You do not know my mind and body, and what my mind and body can go through. I have been sexualy abused and you do not give a damn about me, no pro lifer does. ~

  • marysia

    forced birth is rape: i am sorry to hear that you have been sexually abused. this is something we have in common.

  • forced-birth-rape

    ~ What I learned from sexual abuse is anything in my vagina at anytime or place I do not want it there, is “rape”, there is no exceptions. No one should have a right to use or hurt my vagina, unless I say so. Someone else can not offer up my vagina for use and abuse against my will. Any one who wants to do this is a heartless clueless sadomasochistic pervert. ~

  • marysia

    peace to you.

     

  • marysia

    forced birth is rape: i also owe you an apology, for earlier on being more invested in explaining/defending my own stance than in listening as deeply as possible to yours and where you come from on this issue. and i apologize to any other prochoice advocates here who may feel similarly disrespected.

  • forced-birth-rape

    ~ Thank you so much. ~

  • arekushieru

    forced birth is rape: a fetus is not a rapist, or a parasite. yes, an unintended pregnancy can raise so many difficult problems–but is the fetus the perpetrator, somehow?

    Rape occurs regardless of intent or cause.  That is to say, if I initiated sexual contact, then revoked my consent, and the person with whom I was having sex with entered into a fugue state and continued the sex, it would still be rape.

    A fetus is not a parasite, by definition, but, by definition, it IS parasitic.

  • arekushieru

    …However, I do want to address a number of your points (^^;):

    There is nothing else in human experience quite like pregnancy, the relationship through which we all enter the world.

    But, is that the woman’s fault?  In all the ways that are necessary, organ transplantation and pregnancy are the same.  There are differences, but differences that only place responsibility on the woman for the way her body was developed, if one focusses on them.  However, focussing only on the similarities places blame neither on the woman nor the fetus.

    I assure you, if I could have chosen to be born without a uterus, I would have done so.  It’s a crapshoot, basically.  I was born a cissexual, heterosexual female.  Cissexual, of course, meaning the sex I was born as matches my gender.  Which means I am not a transgender/transsexual male.  Which means, I have a uterus that I must retain until it brings me complications to my health and/or life.  Even if that weren’t the case, I would still have no option but to either undergo an invasive medical procedure or retain it (and  place my rights under the control of strangers and/or the government, again).   My right to medical privacy, in that case, would either be revoked or severely limited, as well. 

    And we live in male dominant culture that has a lot of trouble speaking about let alone dealing with pregnancy. both prolife and prochoice characterize the relationship of woman and fetus as one of superiority and inferiority, domination and submission-they just differ in which one they think is the superior, more important one.

    Actually, ProChoice sees neither the *fetus* nor the *woman* as purely submissive/dominant.  They do see their rights in such a manner, though.  If the woman’s body was the first one to infringe on the fetuses rights, then the fetus would have every right to be separated.  It’s just that, like all other cases of medical determination that require the consent of the primary caregiver, the fetus’ right to be separated is determined in the same manner, the primary caregiver, in this case, being the woman, after all….

    yes, there are situations where women’s lives are endangered by continuing their pregnancies. sometimes the child’s life cannot be saved along with the woman’s, sometimes abortion is needed for the woman to survive. better to save one life than to lose two.

    I know you are not arguing for the right to life, but this is to address those who do:  The fetus either has a right to life or the woman has a right to life.  It cannot be both.

    i have no quarrel with your right to nonparenthood (or whatever term you would prefer for your chosen state). i work for all methods of voluntary contraception, including the right of people to choose long term and permanent methods, or to choose forms of sex that have no possibility of conception. i work also for more humane possibilities in adoption, foster care, and guardianship–biological parenthood need not mean social parenthood.

    I do not equate pregnancy with being a parent.  A parent is someone who takes an infant home from the hospital.  I do not believe abortion is inhumane.  In fact, I believe, in medical, and standing, practice, it is very humane.  A fetus will feel no pain before viability and after viability, since  anaesthesia will be introduced, then.  I also feel that it is much more humane to end one’s life before one has experienced pain OR pleasure.

    i work for greater respect for all the ways that people can be generative with their lives–reproducing biologically is but one way, and it is not everyone’s way. the only thing i question is abortion, and that only because it involves lifetaking. 

    And cycling back to my original point:  So does non-consent to organ  donation.  And placing responsibility on a woman for the way her uterus and its functions create an environment of dependancy upon the sustenance (not life) provided by her body, I strongly feel, blames her for the way her body was developed.

  • colleen

    It’s not so surprising when the “bodily integrity” they are concerned about is the fetus’s.

    Ya, no kidding.

  • saltyc

    forced birth is rape: a fetus is not a rapist, or a parasite. yes, an unintended pregnancy can raise so many difficult problems–but is the fetus the perpetrator, somehow?

    The fetus is not a person, and cannot be a perpetrator.

    Those who wish to force women to give birth are the rapists. Simple.

  • saltyc

    I don’t know if transplantation is a good analogy for pregnancy.

    You can’t just dismiss the analogy of organ donation without a shred of supporting argument, sorry.

    both prolife and prochoice characterize the relationship of woman and fetus as one of superiority and inferiority, domination and submission-they just differ in which one they think is the superior, more important one.

    You say pregnancy is unique, but then go ahead and characterize the pro-choice stance in terms of dominant-submissive human relationships, why? Is it unique or is it like human relations? I don’t see the fetus as a person at all, therefore your analogies with human relations are make-believe.

    The only difference is usually fairy tales are meant to uplift, make our hearts light and joyful.

    Whereas your heavy moralizations have the effect of inducing guilt, burden and sadness. Things women tend to carry like our oversized purses, there’s always more room for guilt in our hearts. Well this woman who had an abortion is an egalitarian, and my abortion did not change that, and I refuse to carry your guilt burden, but thanks for offering anyways. :) Shocking it may be to you, but I did not see the embryo I aborted as submissive to me.

    the only thing i question is abortion, and that only because it involves lifetaking. 

    Nope, it does not, it only involves non life-giving, which is not a requirement. But again, thanks for the guilt-burden offering, I’ll just slap it on back at you.

     

    I am reminded of a boyfriend I had who said he’d kill himself if I didn’t stay with him. I left him. He killed himself. I did not see him as inferior to me, just that living in hell was too big a price for making him stay alive. I felt no guilt, just as I felt no guilt over having an abortion, it was just too much to ask that I give that much so that there might be another person around. In the case of the abortion, the person was hypothetical. That’s how I see it, and my beliefs are serving me pretty well, I think.

     Hell does exist on Earth, and I refuse to live in it, that’s me. *

    * A line from Glenngarry Glenn Ross

  • shooter2000

    I don’t think so. The fetus is a person. It has live. can breathe although in womb. so, to force women to give birth aren’t the rapist.

    http://www.barnastmalistan.com

  • squirrely-girl

    It’s REALLY hard to take your argument seriously when your spelling and grammar suggests, (A) you’re a juvenile in need of education, (B) English is your second language, (C) you’re just ignorant, or (D) all of the above. :/

     

    Also, out of curiosity, since when do fetuses “breathe?” 

  • marysia

    saltyc, i am not interested in guilt tripping or punishment. i am interested in finding and creating ways other than abortion to resolve women’s very real problems.

    in fact, i feel that the burdens of difficult pregnancies are thrown back entirely too much on women, simply because male partners, families, communities, and whole countries refuse to take up the responsibilities that they all have.

  • scarlet

    Do you believe abortion should be illegal or not? I don’t think you’ve ever said anything about it.

     

  • saltyc

    i am not interested in guilt tripping or punishment

     

    But the effect of your rhetoric is punishment and guilt. If you’re interested in ways to resolve women’s problems, please do, please work to re-instate AFDC, to increase minimum wage, to more moeny for schools, etc. Fight to funnel more government money to children! I’m all for that.

    But when you characterize women who are pregnant and don’t want to be as oppressors, as dominators you are trying to guilt-trip them and if that’s not your intention then stop it.

  • jodi-jacobson

    This the issue at its most fundamental.

    Sometimes women find themselves pregnant who simply do not want to be pregnant OR find an unwanted pregnancy untenable for reasons that can not be resolved.

    I realize we are constantly searching for the answer as to “why” women facing unintended pregnancies chose not to continue those pregnancies and there is great merit in doing so when we can identify areas, such as contraceptive failure, abuse, and other specific reasons.

    But unless and until we realize that many times “economic” and similar issues are cited by women but really are not the ultimate reason (in other words, can’t be fixed by some short term economic help) we will not appreciate how profoundly women feel about these things at a fundamental level.  Being a mother is a profound, forever commitment.  Deciding not to be a mother when you know you are not able or capable or ready or willing to be a mother to someone is a profoundly moral act.

    Speaking as someone who terminated an untenable pregnancy–and nothing would have stopped me from doing so, although thankfully at the time I did not face insurmountable obstacles–and as someone who very intentionally got pregnant with and (literally) survived two extremely difficult pregnancies to give birth two my two children, and as someone who has worked in this field for 25 years, I can say with some sense of clarity that:

    Women who want to be pregnant or have a child will do almost anything to realize their desires.

    Women who get pregnant and do not want to become a mother (ever, then, again) will do almost anything not to continue that pregnancy.

    This is historically the case from ancient Egypt onward, and will always be the case.

    We can either trust women, or continue to think we know better.

     

  • julie-watkins

    when you wrote this:

    But unless and until we realize that many times “economic” and similar issues are cited by women but really are not the ultimate reason (in other words, can’t be fixed by some short term economic help) we will not appreciate how profoundly women feel about these things at a fundamental level.  Being a mother is a profound, forever commitment. 

    We had been married about 5 years. Both families would have probably helped out, but even without, we probably could have done it. He said (then) he would accept either decision, it was up to me. He says (now) that we wouldn’t have lasted for 35 years married. I don’t know if that’s true or not. If I (we) had decided to go ahead & be parents, things/emotions probably would have changed. But “maybe” isn’t a reason to turn our lives around just because my IUD failed. I didn’t, then, want to be a mother. I was scared of the responsibility. The world was already over populated. Luckily, our parents didn’t find out about it. Luckily our friends didn’t find out. Or my co-workers: My office goes crazy for babies. If I had loudly announced “I’m having an abortion” I think I would have been frozen out — but if would have been inappropriate for me to do so. I keep getting social pressure from people who want to reduce or end abortions that it’s a cultural failing that so many women choose to end their pregnancies. And it gets me totally cranky. I make no apology; I do not believe that I have any reason to apologize.

  • colleen

    i am not interested in guilt tripping or punishment.

    So, when you write stuff like this:

     

     a fetus is not a rapist, or a parasite. yes, an unintended pregnancy can raise so many difficult problems–but is the fetus the perpetrator, somehow?

    That’s not guilt tripping? That’s “finding and creating ways other than abortion to resolve women’s very real problems.”?

     

     

  • julie-watkins

    i am not interested in guilt tripping or punishment.

    I have no problem with people wanting to help women and families who need help with pregnancies and raising wanted children. If there is social or legal pressure that there is an expectation of how pregnant women should act, that’s guilt tripping and punishment because an unwanted pregnancy is going to impact women and poor families much more than men and families with more resources.

    I am disappointed that someone who wants to be respectful and caring can’t understand how your goals are sexist and classist.

    If you don’t want to guilt trip or punish, please stop.

  • crowepps

    but is the fetus the perpetrator, somehow

    Well, since its presence, along with the presence of the placenta, is the cause of all those problems, I guess it must be ‘the perpetrator’.

     

    It is the ‘perpetrator’ of attaching incorrectly so that ectopic pregnancy threatens the woman’s life.  It is the ‘perpetrator’ of attaching incorrectly so the placenta previa threatens the woman’s life.  It is the ‘perpetrator’ of developing incorrectly so that it has no kidneys or no brain or no heart.  It is the ‘perpetrator’ of eclampsia and gestational diabetes and all sorts of other complications.

     

    You guys need to make up your minds.  If the fetus is ‘a completely separate independent being’ then it is indeed the PERPETRATOR that INFLICTS all of this stuff on the woman because certainly it wasn’t HER idea for the placenta to ‘invade’ her fallopian tube or her uterus right by the cervix and she didn’t give any kind of permission for the placenta to take over her thyroid or pituary glands.  She doesn’t have any control over what the ‘completely separate independent being’ is doing to her body except her right of self-defense by which she may choose to REMOVE it.

  • arekushieru

    Salty, under the legal definition it cannot be a perpetrator, because it isn’t a person.  However, I think that under the ‘non-legal’ definition there is some room for movement. 

  • crowepps

    You haven’t specifically addressed it here, but in the face of news items like this, it’s difficult to fault women who are told their fetus will be disabled and decide to have abortions:

    Ind. parents say state workers have told them to leave disabled adults at homeless shelters

    Last update: October 27, 2010 – 10:06 PM

     

    INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana’s budget crunch has become so severe that some state workers have suggested leaving severely disabled people at homeless shelters if they can’t be cared for at home, parents and advocates said.

    They said workers at Indiana’s Bureau of Developmental Disabilities Services have told parents that’s one option they have when families can no longer care for children at home and haven’t received Medicaid waivers that pay for services that support disabled people living independently.

    http://www.startribune.com/nation/105914723.html

  • crowepps

    The thing is, though, they are insisting that a zygote IS a person, which would mean that it would clearly be “the actor” which “perpetrates” the pregnancy.  The woman isn’t actually ‘pregnant’ until the cascade of substances from the zygote/blastocyst reformat the uterine lining to enable the blastocyst to ‘invade the myometrium’ and start rearranging the woman’s arteries so it can feed itself through using her body, and if it were not emitting immunosuppressants, her body would consider it foreign, assume it was hostile and actively reject it.

  • arekushieru

    Yup.  I absolutely understand that.  :D  They want to define the fetus as a person, well, then, it is a perpetrator in BOTH the legal and non-legal definition.  Could there not be a case made, then, that the fetus is perpetrating incest, as well as rape, then (just a question that I wanted to pose no matter how out-there it is, sorry!)?

     

  • jen-r

    Aimee, I was wondering if you would have a chance to read this post and respond. http://allourlives.org/node/59

     

    I’m honestly curious how you interpreted Helen Alvare’s remarks as dismissing the idea of bodily integrity as a subject worth talking about. When I watched the recording (I was sick that morning and didn’t make it to the panel), I heard her specifically say that it was important. I’m wondering if I missed something, or if we are having two very different interpretations of the same words.

     

    Thank you for your time.

     

  • saltyc

    Salty[C], under the legal definition it cannot be a perpetrator, because it isn’t a person.  However, I think that under the ‘non-legal’ definition there is some room for movement. 

    I don’t get it.

    I’m saying it’s not a person and did not qualify it as legal or moral because I don’t see a difference: it’s just not a person.

    In some places it’s a person legally, in some minds it’s a person morally, how would that affect what I am asserting? OK someone who disagrees will disagree, but my assertion stands because it’s not a person.

    What room for movement? What non-legal definition? Are you conceding that the fetus is a person, because conceding that point is a loser for reproductive rights, no question.

  • crowepps

    I agree with you that a fetus is not a ‘person’.

     

    However, I was trying to point out that those people who argue that the fetus IS a person never assign to the fetus any of the responsibilities or duties which the law imposes on all other persons, such as the responsibility to support itself independently or the duty not to harm others.  Instead, they just take it for granted that the fetus has NO responsibilities or duties because it is ‘innocent’ or ‘helpless’ or ‘didn’t ask to be conceived’.

     

    I really think their attempts to have it both ways at once should be rejected by pointing out that IF the fetus has no responsiblities or duties then it isn’t a person at all and IF a fetus is a person then as the biological ‘perpetrator’ of the pregnancy’s ‘invasion’ of the woman’s body, she would have the right to self-defense to prevent it from continuing to harm her.

  • saltyc

    I agree.

  • arekushieru

    No….  Because the non-legal definition doesn’t require that personhood be a necessity for perpetration of an act, while the legal definition does.

    I don’t think that conceding that a fetus is a person (however much I don’t believe it is, because, at the very least, there has been no consistent method applied to prove otherwise) would be a loser for reproductive rights.  I think that allowing for the right to life to always outweigh the right to bodily autonomy would be a loser for reproductive rights.