Pages

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Punishing the Rapist, Not the Rapist's Child

As a pro-lifer who does not support the rape exception, I cringed as I watched Todd Akin's suicidal interview.   Todd Akin should never have publicly raised an argument that he was not able and prepared to back up - especially one as groundless as the claim that "legitimate rape" doesn't result in pregnancy.  Doing so not only discredited his entire statement on abortion, but also brought the entirety of his pro-life convictions into question. 

Much has already been said on the matter of where Todd Akin went wrong (see yesterday's post by Jen if you missed it), but I'd like to take a few moments to emphasize where Todd Akin went right.  
Let me be clear:  I don't believe this is reason to support Akin, and certainly the right doesn't wash away the wrong, but for the sake of discussion, it does bear mentioning that his subsequent point (and the only one he should have made, in my opinion) is nonetheless valid and worthy of consideration:

"I do think there should be some punishment,
but the punishment ought to be on the rapist,
and not attacking the child."  

This statement addresses the seriousness of the rape and that a crime did occur and should be punished.   The statement also emphasizes the humanity of the unborn by pointing out that the rapist is not the same as the rapist's child.   Finally the statement emphasizes the crux of the opposition to the rape exception: We should punish the rapist, not the punish the child conceived in rape.


I'd like to now introduce a slightly more successful interview that follows on the tails of the Todd Akin comments.  Rebecca Kiessling was interviewed on the Piers Morgan show a few days ago, thanks in large part to the rape-abortion media attention generated by Akin's blunder.   Rebecca faced a very hostile and forceful  Gloria Allred (who kept interrupting her with outlandish and sometimes irrelevant comments) and a less than supportive Piers Morgan (who promised Rebecca the last word and then repeatedly allowed Allred to interrupt and talk over her), but I feel she nonetheless stood her ground and argued well.



At 6:37 Piers asks Rebecca: "My problem is with the women who get raped and impregnated and they are desperate - desperate - to not have the rapist's baby.  On any human level shouldn't they just have a basic human right in that situation to make that decision for themselves, isn't that what a modern America should stand for?"

Rebecca responds: "Modern America has said, according to the supreme court, that it is cruel and unusual punishment to give the death penalty to a rapist or even a child molester...  I don't think that I or any other child similarly situated deserved the death penalty for the crimes of our fathers."

Gloria interrupts by pointing out that it's only the death penalty if you consider an embryo equal to a full-grown woman and when Rebecca finally gets the floor back from Gloria and from Piers, Rebecca continues:

"You know I may not look the same now as I did when I was four years old or four weeks old unborn in my mother's womb but that was still undeniably me.   I would've been killed.    My life would have been ended...  I was targeted for abortion - that was my near-death experience and the fact that I was younger doesn't make it any less real or any less significant than someone who wakes up out of a coma to find out they were almost killed in an automobile accident."  

Gloria cuts Rebecca off yet again, trying to voice a tangent about coma victims getting raped, and when Rebecca gets to finally finish her thought she concludes with:

"Gloria I'm a woman.  You talk about how much you care about women, but what good is my right to anything as a woman if I don't have my right to life?"  



One thing is for certain, Todd Akin screwed up.   But we can be grateful for one thing:   Akin has allowed pro-lifers and pro-choicers to once again discuss the ever-crucial matter of whether or not abortion should be permissible in cases of rape.    To read more on the matter, please re-visit the point/counter-point debate had between M and I this past spring.  

Her arguments in favour of the rape exception can be found here
My arguments in opposition to a rape exception can be found here

67 comments:

Scott Rutherford said...

I don't know much about Missouri politics, and I'm neither supporting nor advocating for Akin. However, it is worth noting that the opinion he stated is not exactly new, nor is it mired in the Middle Ages. I remember a discussion about abortion in health class where that argument was made (I don't remember, in all fairness, whether the suggestion came from the text books, a teacher, or a student). When I share this, some suggest that it couldn't have been the texst because NO ONE would believe something so absurd in the mid '80s. But if you do a little research, you'll find that opinion was put forward by A.N. Groth in the late 1970s (* New England Journal of Medicine, A.N. Groth, Sexual Dysfunction During Rape, 6Oct1977, p.764-766). Groth is still widely regarded as a top authority on the psychology of rape. He's not exactly a right wing nut job, either. He is often cited (for different reasons) by bith sides of the abortion debate. He is also often cited by homosexual rights groups, largely because he was the first major proponet (or one of the first) of the idea that a man who molests boys is not necessarily a homosexual. I've looked to see if more recent research has contradicted Groth's work, but have only been able to find vague references to "studies." Most of the studies make no differentiation between forcible rape and statutory or other forms of rape (when an 18 year old has consensual sex with a 15 year old, it is rape legally, but OF COURSE the chance of conception is the same as any other consensual sex). Not saying Groth (or Akin) is right, necessarily. Just saying it wasn't something Akin pulled out of his butt and until fairly recently, it was widely believed.

TheSteamroller said...

hWhile we're on the topic of misspeaking, did anyone else pick up on the fact that Gloria Allred is disturbed by the fact that Todd Akin believes that rape should not be legally available and safe?

LN said...

Gloria is practically rabid, I could barely get through that. Cut off Rebecca only to repeat yourself, that's intelligent.

Anyway the difference between them obviously boils down to how much they value the fetus. I think both value the woman, but one sees conflicting rights-- and one does not which makes the decision so straightforward and any other decision just baffling.

Anonymous said...

Good comment.

156

Anonymous said...

Thank you for reporting on Rebecca's appearance. I think she did a fine job of arguing against exceptions and you did a good job of highlighting her points.

Incidentally, I have no problem with Piers Morgan's handling of the segment. While he was not unbiased, he was not unfair, either. Right-to-lifers can rarely say that about abortion coverage in the media. We also rarely get to make our case on national, prime-time television.

Also, I am not so concerned that Gloria Allred may have spoken more words. The winner of a debate cannot be judged merely by counting the number of words each debater uttered.

156

Unknown said...

Reposted from my facebook posting on SPL:

Alright, this is one aspect of abortion that gets on my nerves for two reasons:

1) I can see good arguments for why elective abortions should be illegal. The bodily autonomy argument has a hard time justifying elective abortions and usually ends up falling back on the fact that early development fetuses do not have human rights because they lack functional brains, moral interests, whatever your favorite buzz word is. There's definitely room for argument.

However, there is absolutely no good argument for why women who have been raped should not have access to abortion. Rape is an exact match for the violinist analogy which pro-choicers mistakenly try to use to justify elective abortion. A raped woman did not consent to sex and the possibility of becoming pregnant, therefore she has absolutely no moral obligation to provide bodily support for the fetus.

2) To try and get around #1, pro-lifers often argue that aborting a fetus conceived in rape is some kind of death penalty designed to punish the fetus for being the child of rapist. Quite frankly, this argument is just dumb. If someone asked a rape victim why she was getting an abortion, the answer would be something like "it's a reminder of that horrible night" or "I can't handle a pregnancy," not "I'm going to punish this fetus for having a rapist father."

But let's say for some strange reason that the victim in question is looking to punish the fetus. That's still well within her right to bodily autonomy. She did not consent at any point to supporting a fetus, and why she wants to remove the fetus is irrelevant to her right to do so. For example, I can kick people off my lawn because they're ruining my garden or because I just like being a mean old man. Either way, I have the same right to kick those damn kids off my lawn.

Kristine Kruszelnicki said...

Trouble is, if you can't back up the claim, it's not something that you should be presenting as an argument.

There are a number of theories I believe when it comes to the issue of abortion, some more strongly than others (including the abortion-breast cancer link), but I would never bring that up during a debate or interview because it's not known fact.

Akin would have done better to stick to making a philosophical argument. People could then disagree with his ideology but he wouldn't have been stuck trying to convince people of both his ideology AND his scientific claim.

Kristine Kruszelnicki said...

lol - I did hear that (played the video a few too many times in order to record the transcript)! I let that one go in the course of this blog entry but you're right. She can make slip-ups and get away with them. Must be nice.

Kristine Kruszelnicki said...

Any thoughts on how to reconcile the two?

Kristine Kruszelnicki said...

True, good point. I do wish that Piers had held Allred back just a little more though when she kept interrupting Rebecca. Overall though I think she delivered a real zinger when it came to her line about "my rights as a woman if I don't have the right to life". It's the first time we hear silence in the entire interview. :)

Kristine Kruszelnicki said...

You may have a right to kick kids off your lawn, but do you have a right to kill them? Abortion doesn't merely deny a child access to a woman's resources and body, abortion actively dismembers and kills them.

Second, (as this is one of the ways the bodily autonomy argument misses the mark), if the fetus is a human being, then in reality she is fully in her right to maintain residence in the uterus that opened itself up to her. A uterus does not exist for the woman, it exists primarily for a fetus' body, and a fetus in a uterus is in her natural habitat at that stage of her human development.

A woman has a right to her body, but a fetus has a right to her naturalized home as well. If both are human beings, then both must be accommodated in a way that doesn't cause the death of either.

Thank you for your comments. Much appreciated and you raise some great points which help me better understand the bodily autonomy argument. I had prepared a lengthy response but it would probably be better suited to a blog post due to its length. I will inquire of the other SPL bloggers whether this is an option and hope to have the opportunity to further respond to you on this matter.

Anonymous said...

"Rape is an exact match for the violinist analogy..."

Not true. There are many differences between the the violinist analogy and abortion in the case of rape. For example, abortion rarely requires nine months of confinement to a bed. Rebecca Kiessling lists other differences.

http://www.rebeccakiessling.com/PhilosophicalAbortionEssay.html

"A raped woman did not consent to sex and the possibility of becoming pregnant, therefore she has absolutely no moral obligation to provide bodily support for the fetus."

What is your evidence to support that assertion? Simply doing whatever suits you in the moment cannot be a moral system because morality, by its definition, imposes standards, or rules, of conduct.

Even if citizens do have a right to disconnect as in the violist scenario, that single example does not establish the propriety of an absolute right to bodily autonomy. A proposition cannot be proven by giving examples of situations in which the proposition holds.

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

Furthermore, even if an absolute right to bodily integrity does, or should, exist, you have not established that government should not suppress the incidence of abortion in the case of rape.

"...[P]ro-lifers often argue that aborting a fetus conceived in rape is some kind of death penalty designed to punish the fetus for being the child of rapist."

Could you please provide some examples? Kiessling only raised the issue because the host suggested that abortion should be legal in the case of rape for women who do not want to "have a rapist's baby." Her main point was that her rights as a woman are irrelevant if she does not possess a right to life.

http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/1208/21/pmt.01.html

"...[H]er right to bodily autonomy."

What right to bodily autonomy?

"...I can kick people off my lawn because they're ruining my garden or because I just like being a mean old man.

Right, because the law gives you that right, not because some self-serving concept of morality gives you that right. But supporters of legalized abortion are using circular reasoning when they appeal to law to support legalized abortion. It is tantamount to saying "abortion should be legal because it is legal."

156

Anonymous said...

I am glad that neither he nor Rebecca held her back initially. A common strategy in chess is to invite one's opponent to self-destruct. Rebecca mirrored that strategy and Gloria Allred accepted the invitation.

Incidentally, Simon and I recently reactivated the debate from the spring. I am not sure that "M" has noticed yet.

156

Unknown said...

Kristine

"Abortion doesn't merely deny a child access to a woman's resources and body, abortion actively dismembers and kills them."

This difference is meaningless for a non-viable fetus. Removing the fetus from the woman's body will result in its death, and removing the fetus alive and in one piece just so it can die from underdevelopment would be needlessly dangerous to the woman.

"Second, (as this is one of the ways the bodily autonomy argument misses the mark), if the fetus is a human being, then in reality she is fully in her right to maintain residence in the uterus that opened itself up to her."

A rape victim didn't open up her uterus to anyone.

"A uterus does not exist for the woman, it exists primarily for a fetus' body,..."

A woman's uterus most definitely belongs to her and no one else, regardless of whatever organism takes up residence in that organ, just as my intestines belong to me, not to E Coli, even though E Coli naturally takes up residence in my intestines.

"...and a fetus in a uterus is in her natural habitat at that stage of her human development."

Unless you've got a point I'm missing, I smell a naturalistic fallacy.

"A woman has a right to her body, but a fetus has a right to her naturalized home as well. If both are human beings, then both must be accommodated in a way that doesn't cause the death of either."

I'm curious where you got this idea of "a right to her naturalized home." I have never heard of any such right existing.

"Thank you for your comments. Much appreciated and you raise some great points which help me better understand the bodily autonomy argument. I had prepared a lengthy response but it would probably be better suited to a blog post due to its length. I will inquire of the other SPL bloggers whether this is an option and hope to have the opportunity to further respond to you on this matter."

I appreciate your feedback as well :). I will keep an eye out for further blog posts.

Anonymous said...

"I'm curious where you got this idea of 'a right to her naturalized home.' I have never heard of any such right existing."

Likewise, the "right to bodily autonomy" is a hallucination.

156

Unknown said...

Anon

"For example, abortion rarely requires nine months of confinement to a bed."

I assume you mean pregnancy, and this difference is irrelevant. Pregnancy could require 2 days of confinement to a bed or 20 years. The underpinnings of the bodily autonomy argument would remain the same.

"Rebecca Kiessling lists other differences."

Alright, I'm willing to read short pieces if people send them to me, but don't be lazy and just link someone else's long treatise to me and call it a day for your rebuttal. Sources are meant to enhance your argument, not make the argument for you. At very least quote/paraphrase important portions of long sources so I can get an idea of what you’re getting at instead of making me go through your entire source and rebut every claim that I consider wrong.

“What is your evidence to support that assertion?”

A host of analogies and not a single opposing analogy that can support the notion that people should be required to provide bodily support in situations that they had no consent in creating? Legal precedent which consistently upholds the right to bodily autonomy even in cases unrelated to abortion?

“Simply doing whatever suits you in the moment cannot be a moral system because morality, by its definition, imposes standards, or rules, of conduct.”

How is refusing bodily support for an organism that you had no say in creating qualify as “simply doing whatever suits you in the moment”?

“Even if citizens do have a right to disconnect as in the violist scenario, that single example does not establish the propriety of an absolute right to bodily autonomy. A proposition cannot be proven by giving examples of situations in which the proposition holds.”

True, examples cannot definitively prove if a proposition holds, but if examples A, B, C, D, E, and F support proposition 1 while proposition 2 has no such examples, proposition 1 has a leg up.

“Furthermore, even if an absolute right to bodily integrity does, or should, exist, you have not established that government should not suppress the incidence of abortion in the case of rape.”

You’d have to prove first that government has an interest in suppressing abortion in the case of rape which furthermore overrides women’s right to bodily autonomy before I have to show that the government shouldn’t be doing so.

"Could you please provide some examples?"

Uhhh this blog post’s title?

“What right to bodily autonomy?”

I’m getting slightly confused here. Are you here to argue that a woman’s right to bodily autonomy can be overridden in this case, or that women don’t have a right to bodily autonomy to start with?

“Right, because the law gives you that right, not because some self-serving concept of morality gives you that right. But supporters of legalized abortion are using circular reasoning when they appeal to law to support legalized abortion. It is tantamount to saying "abortion should be legal because it is legal."”

We’re arguing within the framework of the United States, therefore appealing to laws and regulations within the United States is valid, obviously aside from appealing to the laws that say abortion is legal because doing that would indeed be circular.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

"Allegheny County refused to issue an order whereby McFall, a terminally ill patient with a rare bone marrow disease, could compel Shimp, his cousin and the only suitable donor, to undergo testing and a bone marrow transplant. The court based its decision on the fact that “[t]he common law has consistently held to a
rule which provides that one human being is under no legal compulsion to give aid or take action to save another human being or to rescue.” The court called the refusal morally indefensible, but argued that forcible submission to a medical procedure would violate the first
principle of society, respect for an individual."

Griswold v. Connecticut is a case of the right to privacy, but the right to privacy relates to bodily autonomy.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Griswold_v._Connecticut

The following source ties the right to privacy to the right to bodily autonomy as well as providing the historical basis of the right to bodily autonomy

"Some years later, a reluctant majority of the Court would again look to history in order to “assume” that under the Due Process Clause, an individual possessed a right to bodily integrity, which encompassed the right to refuse unwanted medical treatment.88"

"The right of an individual to control his or her own body is deeply rooted in our nation’s history and tradition. At common law, every person of adult years and sound mind had the “right to determine what shall be done with his own body”779 and any touching of one person by another without consent or legal justification was a battery.780 Indeed, well over a century ago, the Supreme Court proclaimed, “No right is held more sacred, or is more
carefully guarded, by the common law, than the right of every individual to the possession and control of his own person, free from all restraint or interference of others, unless by clear and unquestionable authority of law.”781 Thus, at common law there was a right to control one’s own person; that is, a right of bodily integrity."

http://org.law.rutgers.edu/publications/lawjournal/issues/37_4/Shaman.pdf

Anonymous said...

"...[T]his difference is irrelevant."

Not to someone who does not believe in a moral right to bodily autonomy. How do you know that your reader, Kristine Kruszelnicki, believes in such a right?

"Sources are meant to enhance your argument, not make the argument for you."

I agree and have made the same point in online discussions many times. However, in this case, I cited a short list of facts, not an argument. I was expecting that you would search for the word "violinist" and find the paragraph headed "Psychological manipulation." I apologize for the incorrect assumption. I did not quote or paraphrase that list because I doubted that it would be helpful. I think now that I was right.

"A host of analogies..."

What host of analogies?

"Legal precedent..."

How does legal precedent establish moral precedent? (I will address whether legal precedence exists in response to your other post.)

"How is refusing bodily support for an organism that you had no say in creating qualify as 'simply doing whatever suits you in the moment'?"

If you really are appealing to a formal moral system, my point is irrelevant. But you have not pointed to any such moral system, much less one to which Kristine Kruszelnicki adheres.

"True, examples cannot definitively prove if a proposition holds, but if examples A, B, C, D, E, and F support proposition 1 while proposition 2 has no such examples, proposition 1 has a leg up."

This point has several flaws. First, Kristine Kruszelnicki does not necessarily agree with your conclusions, about the Violinist analogy, so you have not established any examples at all, much less six. Second, she certainly does not agree that an absolute right to bodily autonomy exists, so such analogies could never overcome her disagreement. Third, The correctness, or lack thereof, of someone other proposition has no bearing on the correctness of the one at issue.

"You’d have to prove first that government has an interest in suppressing abortion in the case of rape which furthermore overrides women’s right to bodily autonomy before I have to show that the government shouldn’t be doing so."

One of the points that I was alluding to was that anti-abortion laws do not necessarily override such a right. For example, I support informed consent laws. How do they override bodily autonomy? Even laws that act by punishing abortionists arguably do not remove a woman's bodily autonomy. One reason is that they act on the abortionist, not the woman. Another reason is that the woman might still be able to obtain an abortion despite the law.

"Uhhh this blog post’s title?"

But the only references in this blog post were to Todd Akin and Rebecca Kiessing. Neither argued that women abort such pregnancies to punish the baby for having a rapist biological father.

"Are you here to argue that a woman’s right to bodily autonomy can be overridden in this case, or that women don’t have a right to bodily autonomy to start with?"

Both.

"We’re arguing within the framework of the United States, therefore appealing to laws and regulations within the United States is valid, obviously aside from appealing to the laws that say abortion is legal because doing that would indeed be circular."

If a federal constitutional right to bodily autonomy exists, then statutes could not override such a right. If a statute constitution establishes such a right, the legislature of that state could not impose a law that abridges that right. But I doubt that you can point to any such constitutional right. Furthermore, constitutions can be changed.

Anonymous said...

"...McFall..."

So are you arguing that a ruling of a county court in Pennsylvania establishes a moral principle that is binding on the rest of us? Or are your referring to the common law principle? Either way, how does that establish a moral principle? That reference is also problematic as a legal citation, although I will wait to elaborate until I get clarification.

Griswold was based on the Constitution, not on a moral principle.

You last source was also a legal citation rather than a moral one, among other problems.

M said...

Can you give me an example of what you would consider a "moral citation"? Particularly one that would be binding to society in general?

Unknown said...

“Not to someone who does not believe in a moral right to bodily autonomy. How do you know that your reader, Kristine Kruszelnicki, believes in such a right?”

Whether or not my reader believes in a right does not affect its existence. Unless I also get to say I don’t believe in fetuses having the right to life, in which case making all of my arguments becomes a whole lot easier.

“I agree and have made the same point in online discussions many times. However, in this case, I cited a short list of facts, not an argument. I was expecting that you would search for the word "violinist" and find the paragraph headed "Psychological manipulation." I apologize for the incorrect assumption. I did not quote or paraphrase that list because I doubted that it would be helpful. I think now that I was right.”

I did search for violinist, and I found enough material that I decided it’s your job to point out what you want responded to in the article, not my job to guess what you found relevant to our discussion. Indeed, why exactly would you expect me to know that you wanted me to read the section “Psychological manipulation” when there are plenty of other sub-headings dealing with the violinist analogy? I’m not doing this to be an ass. I’m doing it because whenever I play the guessing game and rebut someone’s long source, I usually cover 95% of the claims and miss 5% due to sheer size and time constraints. And then you know what happens? Almost guaranteed my opponent will bring up the 5% I didn’t cover so they can say I’m ignoring their argument, purposely evading important points, etc. and score some cheap rhetorical points. This isn’t my first rodeo.

“What host of analogies?”

It’s not that hard to find analogies or come up with your own. For example:

If you’re dying because your kidneys are failing, I can’t be compelled to give you a kidney, even though I’ll be just fine with one kidney.

I can’t be compelled to donate blood or plasma even though both are in short supply.
I can refuse dialysis or other medical treatments even if doing so will result in my death, and I can even put myself on those treatments and later revoke my consent to those treatments even if doing so will result in my death.

Etc.

“How does legal precedent establish moral precedent? (I will address whether legal precedence exists in response to your other post.)”

It doesn’t. However, once again, since I assume we’re both from the United States, legal precedent is a valid form of evidence for why a law should stand, especially since many rulings are based on earlier rulings which come from common law which is itself derived from the moral foundations of western society. Indeed, while the precise nature of the connection between law and morality is a hotly contested issue, one can safely say that society’s laws are derived in part from its moral beliefs. Now, like you pointed out, it’s still fallacious to argue that some action is moral because it is legal, but to claim that all legal precedent is inadmissible is just being purposely obtuse, probably because all legal precedent opposes your argument.

Unknown said...

“If you really are appealing to a formal moral system, my point is irrelevant. But you have not pointed to any such moral system, much less one to which Kristine Kruszelnicki adheres.”

I don’t even know what you’re getting at here.

“This point has several flaws. First, Kristine Kruszelnicki does not necessarily agree with your conclusions, about the Violinist analogy, so you have not established any examples at all, much less six.”

Last I checked, one person doesn’t have to agree with my conclusions for them to be correct or at least illustrative of relevant considerations.

“Second, she certainly does not agree that an absolute right to bodily autonomy exists, so such analogies could never overcome her disagreement.”

Also last I checked people disagreeing that a right exists doesn’t make it go away.

“Third, The correctness, or lack thereof, of someone other proposition has no bearing on the correctness of the one at issue.”

Again not sure what you’re saying here.

“But the only references in this blog post were to Todd Akin and Rebecca Kiessing. Neither argued that women abort such pregnancies to punish the baby for having a rapist biological father.”

Did you read the transcript you posted? Kiessing most certainly did make that assertion.

“KIESSLING: You know, modern America has said, according to the Supreme Court, that it is cruel and unusual punishment to give the death penalty for rapists. Even for child molesters. The Supreme Court has said that they did not deserve the death penalty. And I don't believe that I or any other child similarly situated deserve the death penalty for the crimes of our fathers.”

“Both.”

Seeing as one does not need to override a right which does not exist, that’s impossible, unless your approach is to prove that the right to bodily autonomy does not exist and that, even if it did, it wouldn’t override the right to life. However, since you haven’t addressed why the right to life should override the right to bodily autonomy, I don’t see any reason to believe you are approaching the discussion this way.

Unknown said...

“If a federal constitutional right to bodily autonomy exists, then statutes could not override such a right. If a statute constitution establishes such a right, the legislature of that state could not impose a law that abridges that right. But I doubt that you can point to any such constitutional right.”

The following took me about three minutes of searching:

“The right of privacy has developed primarily through decisions of the United States Supreme Court interpreting the Federal Constitution.9”

“The states have long recognized, first under the common law and later as an aspect of the constitutional right of privacy, a right of bodily integrity which comprehends the right of an individual to refuse medical treatment even if doing so will hasten death.25”

http://org.law.rutgers.edu/publications/lawjournal/issues/37_4/Shaman.pdf

The basis of the right to bodily autonomy exists both in federal and state law.

“Furthermore, constitutions can be changed.”

Point being…?

“So are you arguing that a ruling of a county court in Pennsylvania establishes a moral principle that is binding on the rest of us? Or are your referring to the common law principle? Either way, how does that establish a moral principle? That reference is also problematic as a legal citation, although I will wait to elaborate until I get clarification.

Griswold was based on the Constitution, not on a moral principle.

You last source was also a legal citation rather than a moral one, among other problems.”

Alright, so I’ve gathered that your entire argument up to this point has been “nope, doesn’t count because x point, quote, source, etc. is legal not moral.” Is the moral basis of bodily autonomy not obvious to you? I can’t take your kidneys because I need one. I can’t force you to donate blood to save people. Hell, if I walk up and stab someone repeatedly, even then I can’t be forced to donate any part of my body to keep them alive, albeit I will be charged with murder if they die. Do you believe otherwise? It’s because of this obvious moral basis that the right to bodily autonomy is so ingrained in our legal structure. I cite legal sources because they all point to how much emphasis our society places on people’s right to bodily autonomy, and you’re basically playing a game right now where you say none of this is admissible because then you’d actually have to make an argument instead of me doing all the footwork and you getting to shake your head dismissively.

Bryan said...

That's a very good question. I suppose it would help our discussion if I knew what this poster is looking for.

Anonymous said...

"Can you give me an example of what you would consider a 'moral citation'?"

My understanding, based on his prior comments, is that he believes that people have a moral right to bodily autonomy. Therefore, he presumably believes in some moral system that includes a right to bodily autonomy. I would like him to identify that moral system.

Anonymous said...

"Whether or not my reader believes in a right does not affect its existence."

So what was your point in raising the Violinist analogy? Usually the point of raising is an analogy is to make an argument with the assumption that your reader agrees with your conclusion about the hypothetical scenario and does so for the same reasons that you do.

"If you’re dying because your kidneys are failing, I can’t be compelled to give you a kidney, even though I’ll be just fine with one kidney."

"I can’t be compelled to donate blood or plasma even though both are in short supply."

"I can refuse dialysis or other medical treatments even if doing so will result in my death, and I can even put myself on those treatments and later revoke my consent to those treatments even if doing so will result in my death."

What is your basis for these assertions?

"However, once again, since I assume we’re both from the United States, legal precedent is a valid form of evidence for why a law should stand, especially since many rulings are based on earlier rulings which come from common law which is itself derived from the moral foundations of western society."

No constitution or statute must conform to the common law. Many do not.

More later. My computer is infected by a virus right now -- from an anti-virus software make, of course -- so I might not be able to response until Wednesday.

M said...

So...you reject his several examples of our society recognizing a right to bodily integrity on the grounds that those examples aren't "moral citations"...but you don't know what a "moral citation" is? Am I misunderstanding you? You have no example of a "moral citation"?

M said...

"What is your basis for these assertions?"

At this point, Unknown, I think you're really wasting your time. If Anon doesn't realize we live in a society where no one can make you donate your kidney to save another, then you two are on such different wavelengths I don't believe any real communication is possible.

Bryan said...

"So what was your point in raising the Violinist analogy? Usually the point of raising is an analogy is to make an argument with the assumption that your reader agrees with your conclusion about the hypothetical scenario and does so for the same reasons that you do."

Alright which point are you getting at? Because you've quoted me on the existence of the right to bodily autonomy, but you're making a statement on the Violinist Analogy. Those are two different sub-points on bodily autonomy.

"What is your basis for these assertions?"

My body belongs to me, not to the state or anyone else. Also, see M's post.

"No constitution or statute must conform to the common law. Many do not."

I like how 'many rulings are derived from common law' becomes 'constitutions and statutes must conform to common law.' I think there's a fallacy for that one :P

Bryan said...

Like good ol Harry S Truman said, "If you can't beat 'em, confuse 'em."

Simon said...

Unknown. Really well argued, better than I could have done.

Bryan said...

Thanks! It's nice to know that people enjoy reading what I write :)

Anonymous said...

"So...you reject his several examples of our society recognizing a right to bodily integrity on the grounds that those examples aren't 'moral citations'...but you don't know what a "moral citation" is?"

Why are you inferring that I do not know the definition, or understanding the concept, of a moral citation?

"Am I misunderstanding you?"

At least one of us must be misunderstanding the other.

"You have no example of a 'moral citation'?"

Certainly I could provide a moral citation. But right now I am asking about the moral system that he is using, and only he is aware of that.

M said...

I guess I'm just misunderstanding you. *I* don't know what you mean by a "moral citation" and I'd like for you to provide me an example--whether it's about this subject or any other--so that I can see what you're talking about. I don't care if it relates to Bryan's argument--I just want to know what a "moral citation" is, as opposed to a legal citation or anything else.

LifeChoices said...

I agree with, M, Unknown (Bryan?). Anon's probably not going to get your point.

But nicely argued! I definitely appreciated reading your posts, and it's good reading for pro-choicers who are still trying to flesh out their own understanding of their beliefs into a consistent and comprehensive argument. I hope to see you around. :-)

156 said...

I thought we were having an interesting discussion, so I hope the comments return. My computer returned from the shop just as the comments went down. If not, then I am sure we could start a similar discussion in the future.

Bryan said...

Hey, comments are back!

156 said...

"...[S]ince I assume we’re both from the United States, legal precedent is a valid form of evidence for why a law should stand..."

Call me obtuse if you want, but I fail to see why you think either Kristine Kruszelnicki or I would give much deference to legal precedent. We disagree with Roe v. Wade, which has been law of the land since before I was born, so why would we hold other legal precedence in high regard?

http://blog.secularprolife.org/2010/12/roe-v-wade-brief-overview.html

Furthermore, here was your statement: "A raped woman...has absolutely no moral obligation to provide
bodily support for the fetus." I still fail to see how legal precedence leads you to conclude that a moral obligation does not exist.

"...[O]ne can safely say that society’s laws are derived in part from its moral beliefs."

This is a reasonable statement. However, our society's moral beliefs have historically been motivated largely be religion. I doubt Kristine Kruszelnicki or other people here would give much deference to religiously-inspired beliefs or use them as a basis for their positions, given the theme of the organization. How did this supposed "right to bodily autonomy" originate?

"...all legal precedent opposes your argument."

I disagree. Even Roe v. Wade asserted that "[t]he Court has refused to recognize an unlimited right [to do with one's body as one pleases] in the past."

http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/cgi-bin/getcase.pl?court=us&vol=410&invol=113

156 said...

“The common law has consistently held to a
rule which provides that
one human being is under no legal compulsion to give aid or take action
to save another human being or to rescue.”

I have been researching the common-law principle that people generally have no obligation to rescue and, from what I can see, it is not clear that it is closely related to the right to bodily autonomy. The no-duty-to-rescue principle in the common law seems to be based on the idea that we should be held responsible for what we do, not for what we fail to do. Abortion laws criminalize an affirmative act -- actively killing an unborn child --, so they would not seem to impose such a duty. In fact, the principle has been invoked on behalf of men who failed to stop rapes from occurring, thereby allowing a woman's bodily autonomy to be undermined.

http://scholarship.law.wm.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2168&context=wmlr

"Feminists in the United States have also called for the end of the rule
and the emphasis on a collective obligation as opposed to the intense
individual autonomy model underlying the rule."

http://jonathanturley.org/2009/04/10/no-duty-to-rescue-rule-court-holds-that-new-york-transit-workers-had-no-obligation-to-help-woman-being-raped-in-station/

Furthermore, the principle has exceptions to it. One is the duty of a parent to a child. Such an exception would seem to apply to abortion.

Moreover, the common law principle has been eroded by changing laws and mores. An example is the response to the Penn State scandal. Few people seem to be defending Joe Paterno's right to not report child abuse. In addition, many states have imposed duties to rescue and obligations to not leave the scene of an accident. In Minnesota, a person can be charged with a felony for leaving the scene of an crash even if that person did not cause the crash.

https://www.revisor.mn.gov/statutes/?id=604A.01&year=2011

https://www.revisor.mn.gov/statutes/?year=2011&id=169.09#stat.169.09.1

Furthermore, we are increasingly being forced to pay taxes to "rescue" others -- like the Wall Street fat cats in 2008 (TARP).

Finally, many of my sources argued that the principle is not related to a moral duty, which contradicts your original statement.

156 said...

"The following source ties the right to privacy to the right to bodily
autonomy as well as providing the historical basis of the right to
bodily autonomy."

The only authorities provided by that web page are the Cruzan case and an earlier Supreme Court decision. A footnote to the Cruzan decision states the following: "Although many state courts have held that a right to refuse treatment is
encompassed by a generalized constitutional right of privacy, we have
never so held." Therefore, I fail to see how you concluded that the page "ties the right to privacy to the right to bodily autonomy." I also am not clear about how it provides the historical basis of the right to bodily autonomy.

That link essentially reduces to the following quotation from an 1891 Supreme Court decision: "No right is held more sacred, or is more carefully guarded by the
common law, than the right of every individual to the possession and
control of his own person, free from all restraint or interference of
others, unless by clear and unquestionable authority of law." That "clear and unquestionable authority of law" part of the formulation would seem to be a problem with respect to applying this right to the case of abortion. This right also does not seem to apply because the body that is mainly at issue in the case of abortion is the body of the unborn child. In fact, this right to refuse a medical procedure and right to bodily integrity would seem to apply more to the right of the child not to be aborted than to the mother.

Cruzan also provides this explanatory quotation: "Every human being of adult years and sound mind has a right to
determine what shall be done with his own body, and a surgeon who
performs an operation without his patient's consent commits an assault,
for which he is liable in damages." This description also does not seem easily applicable to the case of abortion, because the unborn baby is the only person not consenting to the abortion. You could argue that the baby's use of the mother's body for sustenance and shelter violates her autonomy, but that creates a couple of problems. First, the quotation clearly indicates that the right simply identifies a tort for which recompense is due. It does not grant the victim a right to kill the person who committed the tort. Second, to the extent that it does create liability, why would that liability not be on the rapist rather than the unborn baby?

156 said...

"I don’t even know what you’re getting at here."

My point is that you have not pointed to any moral system that holds that "[a] raped woman...has absolutely no moral obligation to provide bodily support for the fetus."

156 said...

"Last I checked, one person doesn’t have to agree with my conclusions for
them to be correct or at least illustrative of relevant considerations."

No, but it does undermine the validity of the rhetorical shortcut you used to answer the following question: "What is your evidence to support that assertion?"

156 said...

"Again not sure what you’re saying here."

You were making a point about hypothetical Proposition 1 and Proposition 2 and suggested that, if proposition 2 did not have any good analogies illustrating it, Proposition 1 is somehow more likely to be true.

156 said...

"Kiess[l]ing most certainly did make that assertion."

Here is what the host included in the preceding question: "...they are desperate, desperate not to have a rapist's baby."

Referring to a rape-conceived child as a "rapist's baby" is a slur designed to hold the unborn child responsible for the actions of the biological father. In addition, it assumes either that society will treat the biological father as a legal father (as many states do) or that the child will be like the biological father. Neither is a safe or fair assumption.

156 said...

"Seeing as one does not need to override a right which does not exist, that’s impossible..."

My point was that I did not, and do not, believe that you either explained how you derived the conclusion that a right to bodily autonomy exists or, if it does, how you concluded that it is not overridden by the right to life or other considerations. Essentially, I am taking an agnostic position on your views. I simply do not know what they are.

156 said...

"Point being…?"

My point was that legal precedent is of limited value when discussing future laws because all laws -- including constitutional law -- can be changed.

156 said...

"Is the moral basis of bodily autonomy not obvious to you?"

No.

"I can’t take your kidneys because I need one. I can’t force you to donate blood to save people."

How did you derive such a conclusion?

"Hell, if I walk up and stab someone repeatedly, even then I can’t be
forced to donate any part of my body to keep them alive, albeit I will
be charged with murder if they die. Do you believe otherwise?"

I think that you should, in that hypothetical situation, be forced to donate part of your body to keep the victim.

"It’s because of this obvious moral basis that the right to bodily autonomy is so ingrained in our legal structure."

I do not think that such a right, at least one encompassing a right to kill a rape-conceived baby, is obvious at all or that it is ingrained in our legal structure. I wonder what Kristine Kruszelnicki and M think about the obviousness of that suppposed moral right.

"...[Y]ou’re basically playing a game right now where you say none of this is
admissible because then you’d actually have to make an argument instead
of me doing all the footwork and you getting to shake your head
dismissively."

Why would I respond to a completely irrelevant point? I have not made an argument because nobody has asked for an argument. If you want to join in the fun of dismissive head-shaking, I expressed some opinions in response to the Friday, August 31, 2012 post.

156 said...

"If Anon doesn't realize we live in a society where no one can make you donate your kidney to save another..."

You have evidently not been following the discussion very carefully. He was talking about a moral right to bodily autonomy, not a legal one, and he must establish one that includes the right to kill on unborn baby who was conceived from rape.

156 said...

"Alright which point are you getting at?"

The question that I was asking that led to this question was about the Violinist analogy and why you invoked it.

156 said...

"My body belongs to me, not to the state or anyone else."

According to who, or what, is this statement true?

156 said...

"I like how 'many rulings are derived from common law' becomes 'constitutions and statutes must conform to common law.'"

Are you suggesting that common law is somehow more indicative of public mores than other forms of law? Or that the public attitudes that existed at the time the common law was created should be viewed as ones that we should model our laws after now? Remember that the common law was created during times when slavery was legal and women could not vote.

156 said...

"Really well argued..."

We are not arguing. We are engaging in a mutually beneficial discussion.

156 said...

"*I* don't know what you mean by a 'moral citation' and I'd like for you
to provide me an example--whether it's about this subject or any
other--so that I can see what you're talking about."

He is the one who asserted that a moral right to bodily autonomy exists, so he should be better suited to answer the question.

But to give examples of moral systems, the moral systems embedded in religions are good examples. Others include moral relativism, secular humanism, social contract theory, and utilitarianism.

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

An example of a moral citation would be someone who argues that committing a rape might be ethical based on the ethical egoism theory that moral agents ought to do what is in their own self-interest. Another person might argue the opposite based on moralistic altruism.

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

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Altruism_%28ethics%29

156 said...

"...it's good reading for pro-choicers who are still trying to flesh out their own understanding of their beliefs..."

So, Bryan, are you "pro-choice?"

156 said...

I must have won this mutually-beneficial discussion.

Kristine Kruszelnicki said...

The situation of being forced to donate your kidney to your child vs being forced to allow your unborn offspring access to your resources are different for a number of reasons, a key one being that a kidney exists for the woman's body, but a uterus exists for the fetus' body. The uterus is a fetus' rightful home. It's where a preborn human being naturally belongs. Nature has designed our species through the process of evolution to begin our existence in the sheltered environment of the uterus. If the woman has bodily rights because she is a human being, than so does the fetus if she is a human being.

A fetus has a right to her home, the uterus. She is not an intruder. It is the woman's body that monthly prepares for the existence of someone else's body, and when that body accepts the invitation and comes into existence as a dependent human being, she has a right to her mother's resources.

Whether by conscious choice or not, the woman is in part responsible for her child's existence and she has basic obligations to feed and shelter her preborn offspring just as any mother would have such an obligation to a born child.

It's absolutely unfair that a rape victim was forced into a position of responsibility for the life and survival of a child. But that doesn't negate her responsibility to care for that child now depending on her.

Kristine Kruszelnicki said...

No one has absolute bodily autonomy. That's why we're free to get drunk but we're not free to get drunk and then go for a drive. Our rights to do what we want with our bodies end where they jeopardize, harm or endanger other people's bodies.

Kristine Kruszelnicki said...

1. "The difference is meaningless" I'm glad you recognize that. Abortion doesn't just send a dying human away and prevent them from accessing one's resources, it actively kills a human being who is dependent on his or her mother for survival.

2. "A rape victim didn't open up her uterus to anyone."

Directly, no. But indirectly yes. Her body prepares monthly for another human's body and when that embryonic body presented itself, her body received the implantation.

Assuming, (as Thompson's argument does) that the unborn is a human being like the violinist, that human being is a dependent offspring of the woman's. Just as a woman is morally obligated to provide protection, food and share her resources with her born offspring until such a time as she can pass on those responsibilities to someone else, the mother of a preborn dependent human being has the same basic obligation.


3. "A woman's uterus most definitely belongs to her... just
as my intestines belong to me, not to E Coli, even though E Coli
naturally takes up residence in my intestines."
"...and a fetus in a uterus is in her natural habitat at that stage of her human development." .....Unless you've got a point I'm missing, I smell a naturalistic fallacy."

It is not a naturalistic fallacy to point out that humans beget humans. We are biologically responsible for human beings that we beget, and the natural relationship between a born offspring and her mother is just as real as the biological relationship between a preborn offspring and her mother.

E Coli and other parasites living in a hosts' body are not of the host's species and as such have no claim on the resources of the woman. A human child does.


4. I'm curious where you got this idea of "a right to her naturalized home."

Simply as I stated above. If the preborn is a human being, then as a human being she has a right to not be killed and that includes not being evicted from her natural habitat. She is living in the place evolution has destined our race to begin our existence. We cannot speak of the bodily rights of one human without taking into account the bodily rights of the dependent human as well.

None of us have an absolute right to bodily autonomy. Our rights end where our choices jeopardize, harm, or destroy the bodies and lives of others.

156 said...

"Just as a woman is morally obligated to provide protection, food and
share her resources with her born offspring until such a time as she can
pass on those responsibilities to someone else, the mother of a
preborn dependent human being has the same basic obligation."

This is a good point and is important in this context because it forces the defender of the notion that a right to bodily autonomy exists to contrive a definition of that right that is so narrow that it cannot be supported. For example, they will argue that the baby being inside the mother is somehow relevant. But where in the Cruzan decision did the Supreme Court make that distinction? It appears to be fabricated for convenience.

156 said...

"I'm curious where you got this idea of..."

How can it not be completely obvious to you?

156 said...

Kristine Kruszelnicki has recently responded. The following character strings can be used to search for the new posts.

"uation of being forced to d"

"ree to get drunk but we're no"

"y and prevent them from a"

She obviously does not believe in a right to bodily autonomy that encompasses the right to abort a rape-conceived child. Therefore, if you want to persuade her to accept your viewpoint or even explain your viewpoint, you must either first establish this right to bodily autonomy or use a different approach entirely.

Bryan said...

"I must have won this mutually-beneficial discussion."

Errr I'm still here. However, when responses start reaching essay length, I start contemplating time vs. benefit ratio. I decided reading your posts was very interesting, but I don't really know if I want to expend the effort to construct the mammoth reply it would take to cover all your points.

156 said...

Then that settles the matter. Abortion should be against the law in the case of rape.

Bryan said...

I sense this is a childishly obnoxious attempt to get me to respond to your posts.

156 said...

Absolutely not! It is an attempt to summarize the discussion in a completely accurate way.

By the way, that "contemplating time vs. benefit ratio" ploy gave me a chuckle. Like any of us here have lives to lead.

Bryan said...

"It is an attempt to summarize the discussion in a completely accurate way."

Uhhh sure. I'll let the crowd decide that one based on our discussion.

Also, you're assuming I was making some underhanded attempt to say I have a life and you don't. On the contrary, I just want to spend my time on World of Tanks (or a different discussion or my research) instead of a giant reply.