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Friday, September 14, 2012

The Case for the Rape Exception (Sort Of)

[Guest Blogger Nathaniel presents a nuanced perspective on the rape exception.  Secular Pro-Life takes no formal stance on the rape exception, but encourages discussion on the issue.  For more information, see here.]

It's hard to make nuanced arguments in the abortion debate because folks on both sides tend to see a debate primarily as a chance to prove their commitment to their cause to themselves and their friends. This is where you get the concept of symbolic beliefs, which are extreme beliefs people claim solely as a way of demonstrating their passion.

Secular Pro-Life does a very good job of raising the bar when it comes to the debate, and so I want to take a shot at making an argument about abortion and rape that hinges on the kind of fine distinction that wouldn't survive most ordinary arguments.

The distinction I want to make is between active and passive abortion.  The vast majority of abortions performed today are active.  They use surgical instruments or drugs to actively and directly kill the developing human being.  But at least one kind of theoretical abortion is passive.  According to some pro-life arguments, the emergency contraceptive Plan B can act to block a fertilized egg from implanting into the uterus without doing it any direct harm.  This is a passive abortion, and I called it "theoretical" because there's not a lot of clear evidence that it actually works this way.  For the purpose of my argument, however, what matters is that it could.

To see how this distinction matters in the case of rape--and why I support legal access to abortion in the case of rape (sort of)--I'm gong to dredge up the (in)famous 1971 article by Judith Thompson: A Defense of Abortion (full text).  Thompson assumes for the sake of argument that the unborn human being has full ethical and legal status as a person, and so will I. (If you think that the unborn human doesn't have human rights, then obviously abortion should be legal not only in cases of rape but in all cases, and so I'm setting that aside.)

One of the central thought-experiments in the paper is to imagine that a woman wakes up one morning to find that during the night someone has surgically attached her to a concert violinst to save him from being poisoned.  No one asked the woman for her opinion on this decision, she was simply kidnapped and the violinist was attached.  This makes the thought-experiment incredibly poor for talking about abortion generally (unless you think pregnancy happens by kidnapping, I guess), but it's clearly relevant in cases of rape.

So the question Thompson asks is--starting with this scenario--does the woman have a legal right to refuse to donate her body to support the innocent concert violinist?  Thompson argues that she does, and therefore abortion ought to be legal in cases like this.  But wait: does Thompson mean active abortion, or passive abortion?

Here's why it matters.  Suppose that the woman says "I don't have a legal obligation to be attached to this concert violinst, so I'm cutting the cord", and with that she takes scissors and severes the connection between the two of them, leaving the concert violinist to die.  This, Thompson argues, is permissible.  Maybe so, but would it also be permissible for the woman to say "I don't have a legal obligation to be attached to this concert violinist, so I'm killing him." and then take her scissors and stab the violnist in the throat?  I don't think so.

There's a serious disconnect between the philosophical abstraction of abortion, in which a woman merely says "I refuse to donate my body", and the specific reality of abortion, in which a doctor carries out that wish by first ending a life, and then only afterwards removing the unborn human being from the woman.  The ordering might not be so clear-cut because the fetus is removed in pieces and it's not clear when death occurs vs. the first limb being extracted, but you get the picture--there are clearly two activities here: killing and removing/withdrawing support.  Thompson's argument supports the latter, but not the former.

The end result of all this is that, in the case of rape, it is arguably permissible to end a pregnancy by passive abortion (which, for all intents and practices, does not presently exist) but not through active abortion.  This is why I support a rape exception... sort of.

The practical problem is that if we start changing the way we do abortions--for example, carefully snipping the umbilical cord rather than dismembering the fetus--then we've made the fatal mistake (from the pro-choice standpoint) of acknowledging that the unborn human being deseves some consideration.  Once we start that kind of deliberation abortion as it currently exists in the United States simply cannot survive, because any genuine consideration of the interests of the unborn human being kickstarts our sense of empathy, and it's all downhill from there for abortion-as-birth-control.  This is a reason why I suspect that virtually no pro-choicer would ever agree that we ought to restrict abortion to passive abortions, even in theory and even if they are the kind of pro-choicer who can agree that the unborn human being is, in fact, a person.  It's a Pandora's box that they do not wish to open.

There are a couple of additioanl perspectives I want to consider, however.  The first is the perspective of the woman herself.  If the critical flaw of the pro-choice perspective is to refuse to acknowledge the humanity of the unborn human being at all, the corresponding flaw of the pro-life perspective (though perhaps not as widespread) is to refuse to think seriously about the costs of unwanted pregnancies on women.  Too many pro-lifers just don't want to talk about it because to acknowledge the pain and sacrifice is to introduce ambiguity into the discussion.  No activist likes ambiguity.

In Thompsons's article the violinist is just attached in the middle of the night in an apparntly painless procedure.  That's not a very good description of rape.  (I can't overstate how different they are, so I'm not going to try.)  The legal health exception as defined in Doe v. Bolton is a joke, but there is a real self-defense argument to be made on health grounds.  You are authorized to use deadly force to protect yourself not only from a threat to your life, but also from serous injury (including rape).  If a pregnant rape victim's suffering is severe enough and if an abortion will alleviate that suffering--or if the pregnancy is seen as a continuation of the rape, for example--then there is an argument to support even active abortion.  Since I don't know the answer to whether or not abortion can help rape victims in the long run, I don't feel qualified to weigh in on the issue one way or the other, but it's certainly a reasonable position.

On the other hand, there is the concept of necessity as a justification for otherwise criminal acts.  To give credit, I first read this argument in a post by Rebecca Kiessling--who was conceived by rape herself.  This is how she explains it:
In tort (personal injury) law, we have the long-standing "necessity doctrine."  This doctrine allows, for example, a boat in a storm to dock in someone else's "safe harbor."  The right of the individuals on the boat need not be granted or bestowed by the dock owner -- it exists independently, regardless of whether or not a sailor in peril has permission to be in the private harbor.  The reasoning here makes sense:  the lives of those on board are valued more than the right of the dock owner to have his property free from intrusion.  That right, along with any inconvenience the dock owner suffers (even to the extent that the private dock is thereby destroyed) is subsidiary to the right to life at stake here.  This remains true even if those on board the boat were in such a predicament because they had themselves been incredibly irresponsible in ending up out on the water in a treacherous storm in the first place.  Likewise, an unborn child cannot ever be found to have been irresponsible in any capacity for ending up in such a vulnerable position and should, therefore, be granted at least the same consideration nd should be afforded his or her right to life.
Of course property isn't the same thing as a person's body, but this is a philosophical basis for the idea that even passive abortions ought to be banned in cases of rape, because the unborn human being's life is in danger (they can't survive outside the womb), and that danger will pass once they are born. How solid is this legal/philosophical basis?  As with the question of the mental health of rape victims the honest answer is that I'm just not an expert and so I don't really know.

So what's the final verdict?  Is abortion permissible during rape?  The answer is still just "sort of".  I'd say that passive abortions should be legally permissible, but I can also see good arguments that active abortions should also be allowed or that not even passive abortions should be allowed.  Here's the thing: I don't really care that much.

In terms of scale, the vast majority of abortions have nothing to do with rape, incest, life of the mother, fetal abnormality, or any of the other edge cases.  95% or more of abortions are done on healthy women who have healthy pregnancies with a healthy unborn human being developing normally.  In terms of both the scale of the problem (lives lost) and also the moral and ethical outrage: that's where the problem lies and that's where I think the pro-life side needs to focus, rather than becoming distracted with infighting or leaving our case vulnerable to soundbites by taking a hard line on cases like rape or incest or fetal abnormality.

The other thing to keep in mind is what I alluded to earlier: abortion can't survive as it currently exists in the US (on demand and endemic and used as birth control) in a context where we as a society have started to genuinely consider the perspective of the unborn human being.  I'm not sure what the right answer to the rape question, but I actually have a lot of confidence that our society will reach a good conclusion once we can move past the ideological logjam caused by the Roe v. Wade regime.  Everything changed when Roe v. Wade was implemented, and everything can change again once it is overturned.

Until then?  I support a rape exception.  Sort of.

55 comments:

Bryan said...

"
There's a serious disconnect between the philosophical abstraction of abortion, in which a woman merely says "I refuse to donate my body", and the specific reality of abortion, in which a doctor carries out that wish by first ending a life, and then only afterwards removing the unborn human being from the woman. "

Doctors kill the fetus and remove it in pieces because that's the safest way to remove the fetus. Doctors could very well remove the fetus and let it die as a result of no longer receiving support from the mother, but removing a live, intact fetus is much more dangerous, so why endanger the mother needlessly? Sure, doing so technically moves from passive killing to active killing, but if the fetus is dead either way, is there really a meaningful difference?

simonjm1970 said...

I'd be interested to see your views on consensual sex as well.

frank maguire said...

on top of the safe harbour laws and idea of necessity is men who get raped but were forced to pay child support.
The courts deemed that the child's necessity for financial support outweighed any lack of consent in its creation or the crime of one of its parents.
There is still a distinction between violating financial autonomy and bodily autonomy but worth considering nonetheless, in terms of the principle behind the courts arguments.
(Back in the day I found 10 cases, some were statutory rape)

frank maguire said...

The distinction is important but also your hope that it would bring about a change in society.
If children were born alive at 17, 18, 19 weeks, yes they will probably die. BUT
it would a) force our doctors to get better at prenatal care, and lowering the age of viability, improving the care, perfecting incubation techniques (not to mention advances in artificial uterus).
b) surely empathy would kick in, if society knew we would have to watch a premature baby struggle to live for minutes/hours we would surely be more reluctant.


The important point is that merely by ackowledging that it *has* a right to life, as soon as it is no longer violating the mothers body our duty is to save its life as we would any other human being, even if its eventual death (after minutes or hours) is inevitable, it still has a right to those hours.


AllOurLives said...

According to the best & most current scientific evidence, Plan B type emergency contraceptives do *not* have any mechanism for preventing implantation. They only work prior to fertilization. Even though the product labelling in the US has not yet been updated.

http://www.allourlives.org/resources/factsheets-and-presentations/

Bryan said...

"Someone needs a kidney transplant to live. You refuse. Or you shoot them in the head.

Someone is drowning and begs for help, but you're worried if you swim in and try to save them, you might die too. So you don't. Or you shoot them in the head.
Someone is starving and asks for some of your food, but you're also very hungry and afraid you'll be too weak to survive if you share. So you don't. Or you shoot them in the head."

You can't shoot people in any of those cases because you don't know if they're going to live or die until they're actually dead. Not all people who need kidney transplants or who are drowning/starving will die, so by shooting them you've decreased their chance of living over just letting them die. All fetuses removed from the womb before a certain point will die (given existing technology), so the chance of survival is the same no matter what: 0%.


Furthermore, in all your scenarios shooting the person presents no benefit for the shooter over just letting the person die. If it made no difference for the mother health-wise whether the fetus was allowed to die or be actively killed, I'd say just let it die for the sake of closing arguments like this one. But killing vs. letting die does make a difference for the mother.


Let's take starving situation and amend it a little: Let's say we live in a hypothetical world where we can see the future, and you know the other starving guy is going to die no matter what. Furthermore, let's say that if you let the other guy starve to death instead of killing him, you know for a fact he's going to steal some of your food and thus decrease your chance of survival or at least increase your chance of permanent injury. I'd say in that scenario you'd be absolutely entitled to shoot the other guy.

To take another scenario, let's say someone has a disease that's 100% absolutely fatal and contagious. So you can either let them die of the disease and increase the risk of spreading said disease, or you can kill them now and decrease the chance of the disease spreading. Again, I'd say killing the infected person is absolutely justified.

For me, this is a completely utilitarian issue: The fetus gains nothing from being allowed to die instead of being killed, and the mother is harmed by the fetus being allowed to die. Let's say it does become illegal to kill fetuses, but it's still legal to let them die. Basically all you've done is forced doctors to remove the fetus intact, thus allowing it to die moments later and endangering the mother. What exactly have you accomplished in this case other than philosophical consistency for yourself at the expense of the safety of others?

Bryan said...

"
b) surely empathy would kick in, if society knew we would have to watch a premature baby struggle to live for minutes/hours we would surely be more reluctant."

What? I'd say it's even more cruel to let the baby suffer for a few minutes/hours before dying a painful and certain death than to just kill it.

"
As soon as it is no longer violating the mothers body our duty is to save its life as we would any other human being, even if its eventual death (after minutes or hours) is inevitable, it still has a right to those hours."

If the fetus has even a minute chance of survival, I agree. But trying to keep a fetus alive that is 100% certain to die at the expense of the mother's health makes no sense in my book. It might be more philosophically consistent, but realistically it's absolutely pointless.

Nathaniel said...

Bryan,

You have lost track of your own argument. The question of whether or not to kill an unborn human being actively or to allow it to die has (at least) two distinct components.
A - If death is certain, is killing indistinguishable from allowing to die?
B - Can killing instead of allowing to die be justified?

Your analogies in this post are unhelpful because they combine the two issues and are thus just as complicated as the actual matter at hand. If an analogy is not simpler than the issue you're discussing, what's the point?

Now the ponit of my response to you was to address only argument A. You wrote: "If the fetus is dead either way, is there really a meaningful difference?"

I responded with three examples that each demonstrated that there is a difference. I'm sorry if I wasn't even more clear, but in each of the examples you're supposed to take it as a matter of fact that if you don't act the other person will certainly die.

This means that your first objection is invalid. You write: "You can't shoot people in any of those cases because you don't know if they're going to live or die until they're actually dead," but that is how all my examples work: kidney failure, drowning, and starvation will certainly occur.

The second objection is irrelevant because it refers to B instead of A.

So I'd like to see a direct response to my scenarios so that we can settle the individual issue: is killing the same as letting die? I think the answer is very obviously "no", but we'll see what you think.

*Then* we can get to B. Even if you conceed that killing is not the same as letting die, you could argue that the killing is justified in order to protect the mother.

The ironic thing is that it's pretty obvously you intuitively understand that there is a morally significant difference between killing and letting die. If it were not so, you would feel no need to justify the killing by appealing to a woman's safety or to utilitarian arguments. Where there is no distinction there is no need for a defense.

So let's start there: are you willing to conceed that there is an ethical difference between allowing someonen to die through inaction and proactively killing a person (based on the justification that, since you can allow them to die through inaction, they are going to die anyway)?

Bryan said...

"So let's start there: are you willing to conceed that there is an ethical difference between allowing someonen to die through inaction and proactively killing a person (based on the justification that, since you can allow them to die through inaction, they are going to die anyway)?"

Yes, there is an ethical difference between the two. However, I believe the case of a fetus and a mother is different compared to any scenario that you have brought up.

In fact, I believe it is rather unique among moral situations regarding this killing vs. letting die business: I can't think of any other case in real life where the chances of survival are absolutely known to be 0% for one being, and something as important as one's health is threatened for another being.

And that's part of the reason I felt the need to add all those modifiers, because the examples you presented do not, in my opinion, adequately match the situation we have at hand.

Perhaps it will be simpler to work in reverse. All of your examples involve two central factors:

1) I do not suffer if the other person continues to live. My kidney doesn't get worse because the other guy's kidney is failing, I don't suffer any health effects because another person is drowning, and I don't starve faster if another person is starving.
2) If these situations took place in real life, we would never actually know for sure if someone is going to drown, die of organ failure, or starve to death until they're actually dead.
So let's construct an analogous pregnancy situation. Let's say the fetus has an indeterminate chance of survival, and the mother won't suffer any ill effects if the fetus is allowed to die as opposed to being killed. In that case, I'd say killing the fetus is absolutely unjustifiable, because you're denying the fetus a chance (albeit small) to live, and furthermore the mother doesn't stand any extra risk by allowing the fetus to live.

Heck, even if the operation involved ill effects for the mother, but the fetus had a chance to live, however small, I'd still say it'd be completely unjustifiable to kill the fetus, because then we would have an effective difference between killing and letting die.

But that's clearly not the case we have. We have a situation where killing vs. letting die is still philosophically distinguishable, but in reality the difference is moot. It feels like a 'the limit approaches zero' case: You know there's a difference between actually being zero and approaching infinitesimally smaller numbers, but in the end you've effectively got zero in both cases.

And in this case choosing what would be more philosophically defensible, letting the fetus die, involves no benefit whatsoever for one party and a large detriment to another party, which makes transferring this judgment to real life a completely irrational choice in my opinion.

156 said...

"...Plan B can act to block a fertilized egg from implanting into the uterus without doing it any direct harm."

What definition of the word "direct" are you using? If you mean "characterized by close logical, causal, or consequential relationship," then I wish to oppugn your assertion. If Plan B causes a zygote to fail to implant, and it dies as a result, then I would think it fair to conclude that Plan B causes direct harm.

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/direct

"Maybe so..."

This tactic strikes me as a fallacy of distraction, an attempt to distract the reader from the lack of evidence for your thesis by introducing an irrelevant point. You have not given us any reason whatsoever to conclude that a right to bodily autonomy exists, so the distinction between "passive" and "active" is irrelevant.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ignoratio_elenchi#

The notion that people have a right to bodily autonomy that encompasses a right to abort rape-conceived babies but does not include a right of rape-conceived unborn babies to not be killed is a hallucination. That matter was settled in the comments section of a prior post.

http://blog.secularprolife.org/2012/08/punishing-rapist-not-rapists-child.html#disqus_thread

156 said...

"...[I]t is arguably permissible to end a pregnancy by passive abortion... This is why I support a rape exception...
sort of."

So you support killing human beings merely because you claim that a point is arguable?

156 said...

"Since I don't know the answer to whether or not abortion can help rape
victims in the long run, I don't feel qualified to weigh in on the issue
one way or the other, but it's certainly a reasonable position."

This sentence is internally contradictory. If you are not qualified to weigh in on the issue, then you cannot conclude that the position is reasonable.

156 said...

"...I'd say that passive abortions should be legally permissible..."

You just finished saying that you do not know whether Rebecca Kiessling's argument should be considered persuasive, so how can now conclude that it is not persuasive?

156 said...

"Here's the thing: I don't really care that much."

Then why did you write a blog post on the topic? Some of us do care.

LN said...

I care more about the fact that you're incapable of writing less than 10,000 comments-- try keeping it to one, good lord.

Bryan said...

^ I lol'ed

Bryan said...

"The notion that people have a right to bodily autonomy that encompasses a right to abort rape-conceived babies but does not include a right of rape-conceived unborn babies to not be killed is a hallucination. That matter was settled in the comments section of a prior post."

I lol'ed again. I didn't know being able to produce the most verbiage amounted to settling a discussion.

156 said...

First of all, I have written only five. Second, they were short and to the point. Third, many other posters have commented more than once under a blog post and have not been told to do otherwise.

Is this just another pro-abortion site where pro-life views are censors?

156 said...

*censored.

156 said...

"In terms of scale, the vast majority of abortions have nothing to do with rape..."

Perhaps not. I say that for a couple of reasons. First, the statistics that generate assertions like these are based on reporting by the mother. Unfortunately, many women may not be classifying how they were impregnated as rape because they may be under the same misperceptions about what constitutes consent as men. Second, many of the same policies that would stop rapes from occurring would also stop incest, prostitution, adultery, and fornication. Those criminal acts create the vast majority of pregnancies that are aborted.

156 said...

"...[T]he pro-life side needs to [avoid] becoming distracted with infighting..."

Then why did you not view this blog post as counterproductive?

156 said...

"...[T]he pro-life side needs to [avoid] leaving our case vulnerable to soundbites by taking a hard
line on cases like rape or incest or fetal abnormality."

But not taking "a hard line" on the exceptional cases leaves us open to criticism that we are inconsistent and insincere. Even Judith Jarvis Thomson makes that point in her famous piece: "Surely the question of whether you have a right to

life at all, or how much of it you have, shouldn't turn on the question of

whether or not you are a product of a rape."

In addition, those soundbites have drawbacks -- they "...reinforce[] the idea that some abortions are more justified than others..." and "...make it seem abnormal that some women might choose not to terminate a pregnancy following a sexual assault."

http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/article/2012/08/01/an-open-letter-to-rachel-maddow-stop-calling-opposition-to-rape-and-incest-aborti

Nathaniel said...

"
But not taking "a hard line" on the exceptional cases leaves us open to criticism that we are inconsistent and insincere. "

Only if we don't actually establish a framework that justifies the exception, which is what I was trying to do in this piece.

Nathaniel said...

Why would I think it was counterproductive? There's no infighting in this piece. I outlined my position on the rape exception, but I also outlined a position other than my own and said that I could respect it. So I left plenty of room for different opinions to co-exist. So there's no in-fighting.

Nathaniel said...

"
Those criminal acts create the vast majority of pregnancies that are aborted."

I'm very skeptical that abortions are caused by incest and prostitutionf that for the following reason. If you look at the birth and abortion rates before and after Roe, you will find that most of the abortions that happened after Roe were from pregnancies that wouldn't have occurred before Roe. In other words: the *conception* rate when up dramatically, the *abortion* rate also went up dramatically, and the two basically cancelled each other out so that the *birth* rate was stable. The source for this is the same economics article that Freakonomics used to make their case that abortions led to lower crime.

So, either molesters and pimps were carefully waiting for Roe to be passed and changed their behavior dramatically when it was (which I doubt), or most abortions come from consensual sex.

As far as adultery and fornication go: they are not criminal acts.

Nathaniel said...

I care very much about abortion, and it's because I care about the issue that I wrote a piece to try and bring some clarity to one aspect of it.

Nathaniel said...

You're being overly-technical with logic. It seems reasonable based on what I know now, but I'm not a specialist so I don't have a high degree of confidence in that position.

There's nothing contradictory about taking a side tentatively. This applies to your next post as well.

Nathaniel said...

No. "Killing" would imply active abortion, which I don't accept.

Nathaniel said...

I think that's a really solid point. There's definitely a huge double-standard in the law right now. Men are responsible for their biological offspring without any say in the matter, and women are allowed to optionally have their offspring killed as long as they do it in a certain time frame.

This leaves a lot of men in some truly tragic situations when they lose a child they wanted to keep.

Nathaniel said...

Bryan-

"
Yes, there is an ethical difference between the two."

Good. Glad we settled that.

"However, I believe the case of a fetus and a mother is different compared to any scenario that you have brought up."

Or course it is. I've already covered this: if the thought-experiment is identical to the issue being discussed it's a waste of time. My thought experiments honed in on the issue of whether or not killing is the same as letting die, and illustrated that they are not identical. They served their purpose. They were never intended to serve as generic analogies for abortion itself.

"
And that's part of the reason I felt the need to add all those modifiers, "

That's not a good approach. Those hypotheticals served their purpose. If you start stacking complexity on top of them, what are you going to accomplish other than to get us back to the original discussion without adding any clarity?

We've established that killing and letting die are distinct. If you want to argue that abortion is acceptable in the case of rape using active abortion methods, you'll just need to argue that killing is justified in this case, for which a new metaphor (one that doesn't incorporate the killing / letting die aspect) would be used.

Start from scratch, or you'll just get lost in convoluted layers of thought experiment each designed to fulfill some separate purpose.

The problem, of course, is that you seem to have split-personality when it comes to the killing vs. letting die distinction:

"We have a situation where killing vs. letting die is still philosophically distinguishable, but in reality the difference is moot."

There's no basis for this assertion. You've said they are not the same, and now you're saying that--practically speaking--they are.

What's your argument for that?

We should start there.

156 said...

But you still have not defined the term "direct."

156 said...

"It seems reasonable based on what I know now, but I'm not a specialist
so I don't have a high degree of confidence in that position."

Then why did you use the word "certainly?"

156 said...

"This applies to your next post as well."

So, the only argument you present counters the notion that "passive" abortions should be allowed, but you "tentatively" conclude that they should be allowed anyway? Why? You must be withholding some information that has influenced your thinking.

156 said...

"I care very much about abortion..."

I was asking about your assertion that you do not care about whether abortion is permissible in the case of rape, not about your feelings on the abortion issue in general.

156 said...

"...[A]dultery and fornication...are not criminal acts."

They are criminal acts in Minnesota, and they should be criminal.

https://www.revisor.mn.gov/statutes/?id=609.36&year=2011

https://www.revisor.mn.gov/statutes/?id=609.34

Statistics show that eighty-five percent of abortions are performed on unmarried women, so it is reasonably safe to assume that very few abortions involve pregnancies that resulted from legal acts of sexual intercourse.

156 said...

"There's no infighting in this piece."

Then how do you define "infighting?"

156 said...

"...a framework that justifies the exception..."

Let me clarify. Are you saying that this framework rests on a right to bodily autonomy, a right which is not supported by any evidence?

Bryan said...

http://images.cheezburger.com/completestore/2011/8/1/eae906c9-7cdb-4d17-a798-2cfe859585e3.jpg

Bryan said...

http://t0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcR5dtfCzINEhZHwSfxUWCdIHrSepzMiHrEn5wAoTr2CrchNIwkInv6g56HUMA

Bryan said...

Hey Nathaniel, I'll get back ya in a little bit, but I felt the need to counter-troll our special little commenter.

Nathaniel said...

Please try to use the "Reply" button when replying, because as it stands you're flooding the comments with disconnected posts.

156 said...

"Please try to use the 'Reply' button when replying..."

That makes new posts too difficult to find.

LN said...

Is this a joke..? You can't even reply to his comment about replying *in the same thread*? You realize that comments are only difficult to find because you unnecessarily made a sea of comments *to get lost in*.

Kristine Kruszelnicki said...

So I guess it's ok if a postpartum woman leaves her newborn infant in the back yard to die, because she's not actively killing him or her, she's only passively letting him or her die.

Oh that's not ok? Why not? Because that child is in a position of ultimate dependence on his or her mother, and whether or not she wants that obligation, that child is her biological offspring and she is morally obligated to provide for its basic needs of food and shelter until that child becomes independent or someone else can continue the care.

The same applies to a dependent preborn if they are human beings like the newborn.

Kristine Kruszelnicki said...

And I don't think you've done that. There already is a life exception in standard pro-life ideology. if a pregnancy is jeopardizing the woman's life and both mother and child will die, the goal is to save one rather than lose two.

But that aside, a child conceived through rape is no different than a child conceived any other way. Justify the death of one for one woman's hardships, and you justify the death of the others if sliding-scale hardship justifies the homicide.

Roe_Flip said...

People with diseases that require bone marrow donation are in positions of dependence on matching bone marrow donors, yes? Do you think we should have laws that require people to donate bone marrow? What if the donor is the mother of a child who needs the donation? Should the mother be legally obligated to donate then?

Nathaniel said...

Kristine-

"and whether or not she wants that obligation, that child is her biological offspring and she is morally obligated to provide for its basic needs of food and shelter until that child becomes independent or someone else can continue the care."

I don't think that a rape victim has the same parental obligations that a man and woman who engage in consensual sex have. Do you? Furthermore, the woman in your example can simply give the newborn away. The demand for adoptive infants is extraordinarily high and many states even allow anonymous delivery of babies to hospitals or even fire stations.

A woman who has been raped, however, cannot merely give the unborn human being away. She must instead support him or her for an additional 8 or 9 months. She has no right to *kill* the child, but what right does the child have to claim this woman's support? There are two rights in conflict, and it's not clear to me that there's a simple or obvious answer to the dilemma.

Nathaniel said...

Kristine-

"Justify the death of one for one woman's hardships..."

If you think that was my position, then you didn't understand my piece after all.

Nathaniel said...

AllOurLives-

Thanks very much for the informative link. For the purpose of this piece it doesn't actually matter, but as a practical matter this is actually quite relevant and I appreciate the extra info.

156 said...

"I don't think that a rape victim has the same parental obligations that a man and woman who engage in consensual sex have. Do you?"

You are changing the subject.

"Furthermore, the woman in your example can simply give the newborn away."

Not necessarily. There are many children in foster care. Moreover, the biological father can veto the adoption, even if he induced the pregnancy through rape.

"She has no right to *kill* the child, but what right does the child have to claim this woman's support?"

We are not debating whether the child can claim anything.

"There are two rights in conflict, and it's not clear to me that there's a simple or obvious answer to the dilemma."

Personally, I think it should be obvious that we should be doing more to stop rapes, particularly ones that result in pregnancies. Why would you oppose that policy?

bakakurisu said...

Can a mother starve her child to death just because she wants his/her kidney?

What if the mother donates her kidney to her child... Can she take it back from him or her at her own whim?

bakakurisu said...

Blind people are not allowed to drive cars for safety and security reasons.

...But what if someone pokes your eyes out? After all, it's not YOUR fault that you're blind. SURELY you should be allowed to drive - to heck with the lives that could be lost.

Get real, people.

It really breaks my heart to see people call themselves "pro-life" while
they assert that an innocent child should be FORCED to surrender
complete and permanent bodily autonomy for the sake of the mother's
partial and temporary bodily autonomy.

Abortion
and rape are wrong for the same reason - they are self-serving,
self-gratifying choices one makes at the expense of another's humanity.

Fighting fire with fire is just completely irrational.

Natalia said...

Wouldn't RU486 be a passive abortion? It doesn't do anything to the fetus directly. It stops the womans body from producing progesterone but does nothing to the embryo directly. It literally simply cuts off support that the embryo is not entitled to.

Natalia said...

No, I'd say that's wrong because the child resulted in her actions and she has consented to the legal responsibility of caring for it. That is not the case with a rape victim and I resent the claim that a rape victim is reponsible for her rapists actions, or creations solely because they share DNA. A rape victim that not caring for the embryo would be more like the equivalent of a neighbor watching the infant in the backyard die. His/her actions did not to bring about that child's existence, therefore it would be unfair to suggest that he/she is responsible for it. The same with rape conceived pregnancy.


The reason the concept of parental responsibility is even accepted is that parents cause the actions of the child's dependence. To say that a 12 year old rape victim has the same responsibility as an adult married woman that chose to conceive a child is ridiculous.

Natalia said...

Nope. It's not justifying death based on hardships. It's justifying death based on the idea that the rape victim has no obligations to this child, because her actions did not bring about the child's dependence. Saying a pregnancy conceived through rape is the same as a pregnancy conceived through sex is like saying sex and rape are the same. One is a gross violation of another persons rights and the other is something that person allows/enacts and is an active participant.




To me it is also involuntary servitude, the woman must allow use of her body to sustain and maintain another persons existence without her consent.