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Monday, October 29, 2012

The "Solid" Pro-Choice Stance: Texas Freethought Convention 2012

Recently Secular Pro-Life participated in an abortion debate at the Texas FreeThought Convention. Pro-life atheist Kristine Kruszelnicki and pro-choice atheist Matt Dillahunty presented their sides, questioned each other, and then answered questions from the crowd. You can watch the entire debate here.

I'm pro-life, and I'd like to say the pro-life side dominated the debate, but that wasn't the case. While I agreed with some of Kristine's points, I also found some of her arguments confusing and problematic. Matt seemed calmer, clearer, and more confident. I don't agree with his conclusions but he made a strong case, arguing based on bodily rights.

Still, I thought Matt benefited a lot from an audience clearly on his side. It's not just that Kristine was laughed at and repeatedly cut off by applause. It's also that Matt had people cheering him on even when his points were ridiculous.

I agree people have a fundamental right to bodily autonomy. I believe one person's right to bodily autonomy supersedes another person's right to life in many (though not all) situations. Matt was right to focus on bodily rights. In my opinion, it's the only strong pro-choice argument.

However, Matt had some other, much weaker positions.

Human vs. Person

Matt insisted his argument is not based on the nature of the fetus. That is, even if we all agreed the fetus is a full person with equal rights, no one--a fetus, a child, an adult--has the right to use another person's body against that person's will. (There's room for debate over whether the Courts would agree.)

While Matt agreed that, biologically, human beings begin at "the instant of conception," Matt made it clear he does not believe the fetus is a person, calling the idea irrational and stupid. Yet when Kristine asked Matt for his view on when we become "people," Matt dodged:
When do we become a person? Ah! Now that’s a difficult question, and I think that pregnancy is the process of going from a fertilized egg to something that qualifies as a person, and that we can figure out—try to make our best judgments about that. But the fact that we can’t necessarily draw a quick and easy line--like, you know, the day that it pops out of a womb or 10 days before or 20 days before—doesn’t mean that we can’t make a determination that there’s a big difference between Day 2 and Week 38.
So..."I don't know when the fetus becomes a person, but I know it's not at conception."

Of course there are big differences between Day 2 and Week 38. As Kristine pointed out early in the debate, there are also big differences between newborns and adults. No one is denying big differences. The questions are:
  1. Which differences apply to the fetus alone among other human beings?
  2. What makes those differences morally significant?
Matt asserts bodily rights are supreme regardless of whether the fetus is a person. Even if I agreed with him, that would make fetal personhood insufficient to outlawing abortion. It would not make fetal personhood irrelevant. Personhood still needs to be addressed. 

There are many factors that complicate the morality of unwanted pregnancy and abortion. It's simplistic to assert that because you've decided one factor is the most important, all the other factors need not even be considered. 

[Aside: This works both ways. Many pro-choicers avoid personhood because they feel bodily autonomy supersedes. Many pro-lifers avoid bodily autonomy because they feel personhood supersedes. I find it generally irritating, but especially so if you've agreed to debate the other side. What sort of debate boils down to, "I feel the factors you emphasize are irrelevant and so I'm not going to discuss them"?]

Anyway, Kristine pressed further: "So if you don’t know, then, when a person begins, is it not possible that you might be killing a person?" Matt dodged again.
Well what I said was, first of all, personhood is irrelevant to my issue of bodily rights.  My defense of bodily rights takes into account the idea of a person and this is not an issue for that. But what I just said was that even though we can’t make a necessarily distinct moment, that doesn’t mean we’re blind, that doesn’t mean we don’t have any information to consider. We know, roughly, about the development of embryos. PZ can explain it.
I didn't hear an answer in any of that, did you? 

Even if we all agreed that it's justifiable to kill another person to preserve your bodily autonomy, the question "Are we killing a person in the first place?" is still an important question. After all, if the fetus is not a moral entity worthy of rights, none of this matters at all. We don't need to justify abortion through bodily autonomy any more than we need to justify a cavity extraction. But if the fetus is a person, things are much more complicated. Abortion advocates may assert personhood is irrelevant, but notice how carefully they avoid even the possibility that abortion kills a person?

[Aside: Kristine used the "SLED" argument to discuss differences between the fetus and other humans. While it's not necessarily incorrect, I think the SLED argument is a bit vague. I think it's better to get more specific about developmental differences, as I've found many people are dubious about fetal personhood based on these differences.]

"To Us" vs. "By Us"

Pregnancy is an involuntary condition that results from our natural biological drives and interactions, and is often in conflict with our desires, our designs, and our best interests. It's something that happens to us, not by us.
First, yes, I think it's natural to want to have sex (or, to use Matt's euphemism, to want to have a "biological interaction"). And yes, pregnancy can result from having sex. And yes, pregnancy is not always in the best interest of the pregnant woman, and certainly not always her desire or plan. I agree.

But saying pregnancy "happens to us, not by us" seems to imply we have no control or choice and no responsibility in the situation. And that is false.

[Aside: I am referring here only to consensual sex. Clearly rape victims had no control or choice and therefore have no responsibility. Because of this crucial factor, I do not agree with Kristine on rape exceptions.]

When you choose to take an action knowing the risks, you are choosing to take those risks. If those risks come to pass, it is at least partially because of a choice you made. The risks didn't just happen to you--they happened because of your choices.

This is true for many circumstances, including the choice to have sex--and it's not just pro-lifers who see it this way. Consider current child support laws. If a man fathers a child, he can be legally required to pay child support. It doesn't matter whether having the child was in his best interest, and it doesn't matter whether he desired or planned to have the child. He consented to have a "biological interaction" and risk pregnancy. He is responsible for the child.

I am amazed at how strongly the more adamant pro-choicers reject this connection. I suspect, as with fetal personhood, acknowledging the important factors of consent to risks and responsibility for outcomes make the situation too complicated. This came up a few times during the debate. Here:
Matt: "The fact that you happen to die when we deny you the right to use somebody else’s body is not the woman’s fault."
Kristine: "Well the woman is actually the one who has put that child in a position of dependence on her."
Audience: "No!" "Not agree!" "No! No!" 
I'm sorry, what? Kristine's statement is not a moral judgment--it's a biological reality. (I would only alter her statement by saying the woman is one of two people to put the fetus in a position of dependence. Both the man and woman are responsible.) I can't fathom how people can so strongly deny this fact. What's the alternative? Do fetuses invade the womb of their own volition?

Let me put it another way: has anyone ever accidentally gotten pregnant without having a "biological interaction"?

To be sure, sex is necessary but not sufficient for unplanned pregnancies. There are many other factors that can determine whether the woman gets pregnant. However, in the process of becoming pregnant, there is a choice over which people have control (sex), and then there are factors over which people don't have control (fertilization, implantation). In order to be subject to the factors you can't control, you must first choose to have sex.

This is not actually how it happens, guys.


Audience member: "I was on birth control, I used condoms, I did not want to be pregnant, I did not choose to be pregnant, at all—I guess by having sex I guess I did, but whatever—I didn’t choose to be pregnant. I took every precaution I possibly could. I got pregnant. Then I had an almost nervous breakdown because I did not want to go through that (at that time, I was much younger). And I ended up with a spontaneous abortion."
I do not envy this woman's situation; given my way, no woman would get pregnant who didn't want to be pregnant. It's smart for sexually-active people to use birth control if they don't want children.

However--as this woman's story so amply demonstrates--protected sex still includes risks. She is right when she says she didn't choose to become pregnant, but she's wrong when she says she took every precaution she possibly could. She took every precaution except refraining from sex (at least the type of sexual interactions that can cause pregnancy). She didn't choose to become pregnant; she did choose to risk becoming pregnant. These are distinct choices, but both include a level of responsibility. Saying "whatever" doesn't negate this reality.

This is usually the part in the conversation when people start accusing me of hating sex and/or women and demand I stop being so judgmental/such a prude and the like. These are all faulty assumptions. Nowhere have I said having sex is wrong. I don't care whether you have sex or how often or with who (as long as it's consensual, obviously). All I ask is you not put yourself in a position you will hate so badly you'll want to kill someone to get out of it. And all I'm saying here is that, yes, sex can cause pregnancy, and when you choose to take risks, the outcomes don't just "happen to you"--they happen because of your choices.

Termination vs. Killing

I've seen people avoid fetal personhood and the sex/pregnancy connection many times. I've seen people avoid the "killing" aspect of abortion by only discussing the restoration of bodily autonomy. ("Nothing to see here, folks!") But rarely have I seen people specifically assert that abortion isn't killing. I find that really bizarre, but that's what Matt seems to think:
Matt: "You can abdicate parental rights, and termination of a pregnancy is one of the ways in which you can abdicate those rights."
Kristine: "You can abdicate parental rights, but you can’t kill your children. If you abdicate parental rights by saying 'I’m going to place my child for adoption' or 'I’m going to withdraw child support,' that’s not the same as killing the child." 
Matt: "Right, and neither, really, is abortion. We’re talking about the termination of a pregnancy. It is a fact of nature that this tends to result in the death of the fetus. There are also cases in late term abortions and late term [unclear] deliveries where we actually have a vested interest in the viable fetus." 
It's also a fact of nature that a bullet in the brain tends to result in the death of a person, but "nature" doesn't put the bullet there. People do. Likewise, "nature" doesn't use surgical tools to break apart and remove the fetus from the womb. People do. When people take actions which result directly in the death of someone else, we call those actions "killing."


I'm interested to learn more about these late-term abortions in which there is a vested interest in the viable fetus. And by "vested interest" I mean an interest in protecting the life of the fetus. There are plenty of premature deliveries in which medical professionals try to protect the life of the fetus, but those aren't referred to as "abortions." They're referred to as childbirth. To me, Matt's reasoning sounds like an equivocation. If we define "abortion" to include premature delivery and childbirth, then sure, abortion isn't necessarily killing. I just didn't realize anyone defined abortion that way.
Kristine: "If there was a situation in which somebody became obligated for a born human being, you would not say ‘Well I’m meeting the responsibility of my obligation by killing them.’ The same way the child…"
Matt: "Yes, because I reject your ignorant strawman of "killing them"...[audience applause] The fact that they die is not necessarily the same as terminating the pregnancy."
Kristine: "If you’re actively going in there and you’re decapitating, dismembering, and disemboweling them, how is that not an act of killing?"
Matt: "It is, but that’s not the sum total of all abortions, first of all, and second of all, that is depending entirely on your assertion that it is a person with full personal rights."
I'm not sure what Matt means when he says that's not the sum total of abortions. He may be again referring to the idea that some late term abortions include trying to preserve the fetus, or that "abortion" includes childbirth. Alternatively, he may be asserting that Kristine's description would not apply to abortions in the earliest stages of pregnancy. For example, you can't be disemboweled unless you have, well, bowels, and intestines don't start developing until between 4 - 5 weeks after fertilization.

But 66% of abortions are performed after 6 weeks gestation. I can't find data that specifies how many are performed after 5 weeks gestation, but it's moot anyway. Even though earlier-term abortions don't disembowel the embryo, they still kill the embryo, which was Kristine's main assertion.

Beyond that, the assertion that abortion is a form of killing does not depend at all on the fetus being a person with "full personal rights." Living organisms that aren't people can still be killed. If you ran over your neighbor's cat and she said "You killed my cat!" you wouldn't say "Actually, I didn't, because your cat was not a person."

To say "abortion is killing" is not an "ignorant strawman." It's not even a moral judgment. It's physical reality, nothing more. You can reject the assertion if you like, but facts don't change based on whether we believe them.

So yeah.

As I said, I think bodily autonomy is an important right and a significant argument from the pro-choice side. But maybe it's not as strong of an argument as I had originally thought. If it were, I'd expect pro-choicers wouldn't require the mental gymnastics displayed here. As long as you ignore the possibility of fetal personhood, reject the connection between your choices and your circumstances, and, above all, don't think of abortion as "killing," I guess the pro-choice stance will actually feel solid.

139 comments:

Jameson Graber said...

I haven't watched the debate, but from your comments it sounds like pro-life arguments are starting to make a real difference in intellectual discourse on the subject. The fact that the pro-choice side seemed to want to ignore the issue of personhood, but couldn't, reveals a slight change in the present state of the discussion, in my opinion. Thank you once again for providing a thorough take-down of pro-choice arguments. This blog is a fantastic resource for rational pro-life arguments.

Clinton Wilcox said...

Great analysis of the debate.


I think that Kristine did an admirable job, considering what she was up against. This was her first debate, and she was going up against a seasoned debater and a hostile audience against the pro-life side. Yes, she could have done better but you should always expect your first debate to go horribly. This was a very stressful situation and it could have gone much worse. I think she did some things really well in the debate.

That being said, I don't consider Matt to be a very careful thinker. His arguments against Christianity are pretty sophomoric, and his arguments supporting abortion are no better. I would have definitely liked to see Kristine tackle his bodily rights argument and continue pressing him on it (which, by the way, are much weaker than Thomson's original violinist).

Matt Dillahunty said...

I've already offered to debate Kristine again, in an environment of her choosing - but if you'd like to debate me instead, or in addition, please let me know.

That said, you responses and characterization of my positions betray some of the same fundamental misunderstandings that Kristine presented. I'm preparing for a different debate, right now, so I haven't read your full article in detail...but here are a few quick notes, just to help you avoid falling into the same old traps:

"So..."I don't know when the fetus becomes a person, but I know it's not at conception.""

Correct, just like I don't know when an individual person is sufficiently responsible and skilled to warrant giving them a license to drive - but I know that toddlers and infants almost certainly never qualify. This entire line of argument from the anti-choice crowd is one big fallacy...and it betrays a hole in your reasoning. When you have to 'err' on the side of caution - you're admitting that your assertion of immediate personhood is without grounding. It's nothing more than a cop-out to avoid the difficult work of honestly evaluating the situation.

"Matt asserts bodily rights are supreme regardless of whether the fetus is a person. Even if I agreed with him, that would make fetal personhood insufficient to outlawing abortion. It would not make fetal personhood irrelevant."

Actually, it does make personhood irrelevant - that's the point. A point that you missed and Kristine repeatedly missed. Read it again: "bodily rights are supreme regardless of whether the fetus is a person"...that - by definition - makes personhood irrelevant to this question. I'm not sure how you guys keep missing such an OBVIOUS fallacy.

Let's just pretend that I don't have any good responses to any of your other points...that way you folks will keep raising them in debates.

Matt Dillahunty said...

Oh, and Clinton - if you'd like to take on my "sophomoric" arguments against Christianity, feel free. Sophomoric is sufficient, by the way, when the argument for Christianity haven't made it past pre-school.

Dolce said...

This is great, thanks for writing it! Your last statement cuts right down to the core of the issue.

Clinton Wilcox said...

To be honest, I'm much more qualified to debate abortion than to debate Christianity. There are much smarter guys than me you can debate if you really want a challenge, as far as debating Atheism vs. Christianity.

I'd be open to debating abortion with you, sometime.

Kelsey said...

I think Monica's point is that bodily autonomy may not win out if it is put against fetal personhood PLUS additional concerns (e.g. harm to women, society, etc.), even if it would win out against fetal personhood alone-- so fetal personhood isn't irrelevant. But I hate to put words in Monica's mouth; Monica, care to jump in? My own position is that fetal personhood is sufficient to defeat the bodily autonomy claim, but this point could have been argued better.

Kristine has left SPL to pursue independent debates and other projects, but we'll be happy to cover any future debates between you two on the blog.



I understand your point about driving, and agree that it's an arbitrary line between the 15- and 16-year-old. But driving isn't a fundamental right. Life is. When a fundamental right is at stake, an arbitrary age line is not going to cut it.

M said...

Matt -

I have no interest in an oral debate. I think I'd do poorly. Online you can reread the arguments, consider quotes on their own and in connection with other things your opponent has said, look up facts and check sources, and consider and rewrite responses. It's quite different.

In fact, I find even watching real-time debates irritating, because it's difficult for the debaters to track and respond to the arguments. Watching this video, it wasn't just Kristine who I thought could've pointed out certain weaknesses on your end--I was actually surprised you didn't point out certain weaknesses on hers. And it can be very difficult to get your opponent to directly answer a question. This is why I don't like watching the Presidential debates either.

Anyway…

"When you have to 'err' on the side of caution - you're admitting that your assertion of immediate personhood is without grounding."

I don't believe I am erring on the side of caution. To date, I haven't seen anyone give an objective, consistent definition of personhood that would not include the fetus. I find it problematic how subjective the philosophical side of this is, particularly when deciding which humans qualify for rights.

During the debate you said it makes no sense to start with no rights and then give rights as necessary. It makes sense to start with all rights and then take away rights as necessary. I agree.

But to my mind, pro-choicers are doing the former when they say “well the fetus is human, but it doesn’t get rights because it’s not a *person*,” particularly given how varied and subjective the whole “personhood” concept is. On what basis do we decide being human isn’t enough?

Usually that’s when pro-choicers point to the logistical issues of granting personhood as reason not to do so but, as you said in the debate, logistical issues are separate from moral issues. It’s just another way to avoid the question.

“Actually, it does make personhood irrelevant - that's the point.”

Perhaps when you have time to more carefully read my article, you’ll see more why I disagree. And I would add that, at a minimum, personhood is relevant because it could drastically change our laws with regard to later term abortions. Although I think it’s relevant for more reasons than that.

M said...

Actually I thought the debate was pretty frustrating. You should watch it. See it if inspires any guest blog posts.

Matt Dillahunty said...

The fetus has no right to use the woman's body - and it doesn't matter if you consider it a person because other persons don't have that right, either.

That's the point of the bodily rights argument.

M said...

Are we going to do the thing where we just restate our conclusions to each other over and over? If you like I could just order some bumper stickers instead, have them sent to you. C'mon, now.

KB said...

Agreed on pretty much all of these points. With all due respect to Kristine, in some ways I think this was a missed opportunity. In particular, Matt brought up the analogy of parents not being required by law to donate a kidney to their child very often. This could have been avoided by tackling that question following his first use of it. Instead, she mostly ignored it which gave him a seemingly unanswered rallying cry.
Withholding the donation of a kidney is a non-action resulting in death. It is not the killing of a human being. She touched on it slightly, but I don't think the audience or her opponent was able to connect the dots. We are not prosecuted for not running into a burning building to save the life of another person, but we are prosecuted for setting a house on fire that results in the death of a person. Our law and moral tradition make this clear.

M said...

I thought Kristine had several strong moments and good points, don't get me wrong. I'm not sure how I would've done in her place--it looked like a tough situation.

LN said...

The point we are trying to make, Matt, is that the important factors in pregnancy have no analogous situation with which one may sufficiently draw a comparison. Those being that, in consensual sex, the person made a choice to risk losing bodily autonomy; the dependent human is fully dependent on the mothers body; and, as of yet, there is no other who can offer their body to keep them alive in replacement of the mother. These reasons together contribute to the conclusion that bodily autonomy is not a justifiable reason for abortion. If you know of a similar situation where these three factors *don't* lead to the conclusion that right to life dominates, I'd like to hear it. Or you could just keep repeating how personhood is irrelevant while ignoring these factors as you have been doing.

LN said...

The point we are trying to make, Matt, is that the important factors in pregnancy have no analogous situation with which one may sufficiently draw a comparison. Those being that, in consensual sex, the person made a choice to risk losing bodily autonomy; the dependent human is fully dependent on the mothers body; and, as of yet, there is no other who can offer their body to keep them alive in replacement of the mother. These reasons together contribute to the conclusion that bodily autonomy is not a justifiable reason for abortion. If you know of a similar situation where these three factors *don't* lead to the conclusion that right to life dominates, I'd like to hear it. Or you could just keep repeating how personhood is irrelevant while ignoring these factors as you have been doing.

VAprochoiceLIBERALdemocrat said...

There is no point to this debate. regardless of whether there is agreement on the "origin of personhood" question, the pro-lifers on this site will ALWAYS support republican legislation restricting reproductive freedom. Look at the support that Kelsey Hazzard gave for the un-amended version of the VA forced-vaginal ultrasound bill? Even the governor, who graduated from Pat Robertson's Regent University after writing a treatise on the need to legislate christian morality in america thought that the provisions in the ultrasound bill were too severe for the state. Yet "atheist" Kelsey Hazzard defended it as strongly as the most ardent fundamentalist would. Secular Pro-life has no credibility as a secular organization and Matt is wasting his time with the very notion of dignifying them by engaging in a debate with you people.

Laura said...

"What do you mean 'you people'??"


You cut us deep, buddy. I bet I won't be able to sleep tonight. *chuckle*

Diane said...

Hi M. I have a comment regarding only one small portion of your overall post.

Remember where you wrote these 2 statements?

"This is usually the part in the conversation when people start accusing me of hating sex and/or women and demand I stop being so judgmental/such a prude and the like." - and - "all I'm saying here is that, yes, sex can cause pregnancy, and when you choose to take risks".


I can relate to those thoughts/statements of yours.


And along those lines, I believe that it's really important that we get more specific with our language. Because it's not "sex" in its entirety, nor sexual relationships, that cause pregnancy. It's intercourse, very specifically (penis inside the vagina + ejaculation into the woman's vagina/cervix/uterus.).

Sorry to get so graphic. My point here is that, in reality, there is so much more to "sex" and sexuality (especially for women) than the very male-centric penis ejaculating inside/into the woman's reproductive organs. We can have very fulfilling and interesting sexual relationships with whomever (our spouse, sig other, or even strangers really, this isn't a moral point that I'm making about monogamy) that are not reliant upon intercourse, and all it's serious, and very real, consequences to women's bodies. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of things we can do with one another sexually, as men and women, that do not cause a living being to begin to grow on the inside of one of the participants bodies!


I have encountered something similar to what you have mentioned in your above post: when I make mention of the very real, serious and life-altering consequences of intercourse, sometimes people twist this into a "sex neg" P.O.V.



Yet I don't think it's accurate to describe me as sex negative - at all! To the contrary, I think my concept of "sex" is actually far less limited and less confining than the "sex"=intercourse only P.O.V. I think my P.O.V. is one that makes sex, overall, far more pleasurable, less stressful, and less destructive to women. Infinitely more GENUINELY enjoyable, truly freeing. Less heartbreaking, costly, and physically destructive.


I consider this to be very "sex positive". Really positive! And reality-based.


I don't know. What do you think?

M said...

I agree. I was hinting at the same idea when I said "She took every precaution except refraining from sex (at least the type of sexual interactions that can cause pregnancy)." It doesn't get discussed often but there are certainly sexual acts that *don't* risk pregnancy. People seem to think that the choices are to either risk pregnancy or be celibate, but there's definitely middle ground.

Diane said...

What do you think of the idea of being specific, in order to make the (quite expansive) middle ground less deniable - by using the word "intercourse" instead of "sex"?

M said...

I think that would be fine. I say "sex" mostly because that's what most people say when they mean "intercourse" but you're right that there's a lot more to sex than that.

Diane said...

Right, I definitely get your point: most people mean "intercourse" when they say "sex".


I think that's fundamentally so problematic, unfair to women - and really needs to change. (In order to advance these conversations about biological realities vs. freedom/choices in a forward direction.)

Anyway, you don't have to reply to me again about this. Just wanted to make that final point, about change. :)

Daniel said...

Personally I found Matt's arguments highly problematic and dangerous. Despite clearly being nervous in the 'Dragon's Den' I thought Kristine did well and I liked her analogy of a child climbing into your boat meaning that you don't have a choice NOT to look after the child. If you happened to be out at sea with no way of contacting the outside world by radio it would be your responsibility to look after the child which would mean feeding it and making sure it came to no harm until you got to land where you could then hand it over to the authorities (giving birth). Simply throwing your hands in the air and shouting 'bodily rights, bodily rights' is clearly nonsense.
The temporary loss of bodily automony for nine months is nowhere near on the same scale as a defenceless unborn in its natural state losing its (developing) life!

Daniel said...

On top of that, Matt's complete non analogy of 'let's try and equate the (non) similarity of being forced to permanently give up one of your kidneys with the temporary loss of bodily autonomy for nine months with the woman's body still being in full working order after birth' is one of the biggest red herring fallacies I've ever come across, or is that the apples and oranges fallacy. I don't know, maybe Matt can answer as he seems to be an expert on fallacies--unless he's committing them of course.

Daniel said...

Absolutely spot on Guest. They try to impose a certain objective rationale on the situation where, because of the unique circumstances of pregnancy, non is possible.

Daniel said...

And by that same rationale the woman doesn't have a right to use the fetus' body either. In this case using it in a way that brings about its termination (in most cases).
You're committing so many fallacies that I'm beginning to wonder if you believe any of this crap yourself or your just parroting your wife's extremism for a quiet life at home.

Shawn said...

" If you ran over your neighbor's cat and she said "You killed my cat!"
you wouldn't say "Actually, I didn't, because your cat was not a
person." "

So we shouldn't let animal control put down stray cats/dogs then?

M said...

My point was that you can kill something even if that something isn't a "person."

I'm not sure I understand your point in response.

M said...

Diane, would you be interested in writing an SPL guest blog post on the distinctions between "sex" and "intercourse"?

If so, please feel free to submit it to info@secularprolife.org and we can discuss/pick a posting date.

Shawn said...

How dishonest of you to assert fallacies when there are none, and of course not mention what they are, then to throw in petty accusations. As if only women care about womens rights. You seem to imply pro choice is led by a bunch of women who can't wait to kill something.

The woman is not using the fetus' body. The woman is not dependant on the fetus to live. If you walk out your door, there is a possibility you might get raped. Does this mean that you are at fault because you should have stayed home or took better precautions? BS. Stop with this victim blaming.

DNA in the egg and sperm are also 'human' and have the potential to combine and turn in to a baby, but no one is putting men in jail over murder in kleenexes in the trash bin.

I would like to know what makes sperm or eggs not people, but when they combine, suddenly they are a person and require a SS# birth certificate and the same rights of people. Should they get to vote too?

Laura said...

Rapists are responsible for rape. No one else. Men and women who choose to have intercourse are responsible for pregnancy. Who else would be?

Egg and sperm are gametes, not organisms. The zygote is a human organism. You and I both began as zygotes. We did not begin as sperm or egg--in either case you're still missing half of your DNA. You don't have to acknowledge the fundamental difference between gametes and organisms, but that doesn't mean the difference isn't there.

LN said...

Haha I'm sorry but that last line just made zero sense. Here let me demonstrate: You would defend a toddler's personhood and right to life, no? OMG do you want them to be able to vote as well?!?
Do you see how silly that sounds?

LN said...

The boat analogy is bad because a boat is not a body. Property rights are not as highly regarded as bodily rights.

But I think the core of our disagreement here will stem from a difference in how important we see the right to bodily autonomy, considering your last line. You see it as on par with property rights. In reality it's much more than that.


And yes, I too think that it's morally wrong to take an innocent life rather than sacrifice bodily autonomy for 9 months. But legally, bodily autonomy already dominates right to life; and if the woman didn't even consent (ie, willingly reduce the hierarchy of her bodily autonomy rights) then that hierarchy remains.

Jason Koskey said...

A woman who makes a choice to have consensual sex is not risking losing bodily autonomy, she is risking pregnancy. Women who find themselves pregnant only risk losing their bodily autonomy to those who would seek to deny it to them through force of law.

LN said...

"A woman who makes a choice to have consensual sex is not risking losing bodily autonomy, she is risking pregnancy."
Isn't the whole point of this conversation-- particularly from the pro-choice stance-- that pregnancy *is* a loss of bodily autonomy? And that abortion restores bodily autonomy?

Daniel said...

I understand all that LN but I'm arguing from the pov that in the uniqueness of pregnancy, the comparison of bodily rights with property rights is irrelevant, a red herring, because we're talking about the process of caring for another human where no alternative option is available. That's why it's a good analogy from my standpoint.
There are many instances where our natural state means that we loose BA every day of our lives. If you're in the middle of an exciting football game and you need to take a dump then sorry bud but that foreign body just has to be expelled.
I understand the point that faeces isn't another human imposing on you but my point nevertheless stands that nobody has has complete bodily rights in reality so, once again it's all a big red herring.

LN said...

I am constantly amazed at how little people seem to understand about what bodily autonomy is.

Bodily autonomy is the notion that *no other PERSON can use your body against your will*.

It's *not* that "you have complete control of your body" in the most vague/general sense (ie, you can mind control everything-- no poop, no barf, no pee, etc)-- that's absolutely ridiculous/impossible and has nothing to do with the legal right to BA.

You JUST said that feces is not another person, but then immediately contradicted this by saying, "but it's basically the same thing". No, it's not. And your point does not stand if your analogy is of *poop* taking control of your body against your will. Poop is not subject to the law. Poop can not be told, "you cannot use that persons body against their will." Poop HAS no will. Comparing poop to a human being is about as bad of an analogy as you could have possibly made.

People do have complete right to bodily autonomy if you are using the actual legal definition of bodily autonomy and not simply what you imagine bodily autonomy to be.

Kurt H said...

No, pregnancy is not a loss of autonomy. Autonomy is a *right*. It does not get "lost" -- it can only be infringed upon. A pregnant woman who chooses to remain pregnant still has bodily autonomy, because she chooses to continue. The laws that you support would infringe on her autonomy by giving her only one legal option.

Kurt H said...

The boat analogy is bad for a different reason -- that the stowaway poses no threat to the boat or its owner. Pregnancy, however, does mean significant dangers and costs for a woman which she may, or may not, be interested in bearing. Combine this with the fact that there is no way to avoid these costs without killing the fetus and you can see just how bad the boat analogy is.

Kelsey said...

"Bodily autonomy is the notion that *no other PERSON can use your body against your will*."


That's a defensible definition, but it certainly isn't the one that abortion advocates are using, because they will vehemently deny that the unborn baby is a person. If they really do believe that a fetus is nothing more than a lifeless object-- which is ridiculous-- then Daniel's ridiculous analogy simply meets them where they are :-)

Daniel said...

First of all I'm not going to be dictated to simply using the legal definition of BA. It's irrelevant to me what is causing the loss of BA. All you're doing is making special dispensation for other humans not to be able to dictate what somebody else does with their body when this is happening to most people every day of their lives in one form or another. We need, as a society, to cumulatively make the best decision for everybody concerned but to give priority to those who have no voice. That, fundamentally, is my position.

"You JUST said that feces is not another person, but then immediately contradicted this by saying, "but it's basically the same thing". No, it's not. And your point does not stand if your analogy is of *poop* taking control of your body against your will. Poop is not subject to the law. Poop can not be told, "you cannot use that persons body against their will." Poop HAS no will."



I didn't say it was "basically the same thing". I was simply making the objective point that there are a whole load of situations where we have no choice and lose BA whether it's to natural bodily functions or some other animal, human or not, dictating what we can and cannot do.

Jason Koskey said...

No, your are confusing your conclusion for a premise. You may think that a woman who becomes pregnant *should* lose her autonomy,

Daniel said...

The stowaway may or may not pose a threat to the boat/owner and pregnancy does NOT necessarily mean significant danger to a woman. If a pregnancy does pose danger to the woman then that's a different matter altogether just like it would be if the stowaway posed a danger to the boat/owner.

M said...

In the context of the abortion debate, when we talk about bodily autonomy we are talking about the idea that no one has the right to use your body against your will.

Now, you can try to redefine that however the heck you want, but then you are having your own side conversation, not addressing the argument at hand. It's kind of like this:


Person A: I don't think anyone should be able to control your body against your will.
Daniel: Well, we can't control whether we poop or not, therefore bodily autonomy is not a real concern.
Person A: Um...what?


Speaking as a pro-lifer, you're not helping our side, dude.

M said...

It certainly is the position abortion advocates are taking. They say repeatedly--including Matt during this debate--that *even if the fetus is a person* it doesn't matter because no *person* can use your body against your will. And if the fetus is not a person, then no other people--pro-lifers for example--can dictate what a woman does with her body, such as gestate. In either case they are talking about people.

For Daniel's absurd analogy to make sense, it would have to be about either a) another *person* using your body or b) other people controlling what you do with the non-person products of your body. In other words, he'd have to say other *people* are trying to stop you from pooping.


Anything else is just misunderstanding or misconstruing the pro-choicer's perspective.

Kelsey said...

You're right. I rescind my earlier comment.

Daniel said...

"How dishonest of you to assert fallacies when there are none, and of course not mention what they are, then to throw in petty accusations."

You clearly haven't read my other posts where I point out Matt's fallacies.

"As if only women care about womens rights. You seem to imply pro choice is led by a bunch of women who can't wait to kill something."

Certainly looks that way to me when I see the fervour of these people.

"The woman is not using the fetus' body. The woman is not dependant on the fetus to live. "

So fucking what? In aborting it she still has to consciously make a decision to get somebody else to carry out an act that affects the unborn child's BA.

"If you walk out your door, there is a possibility you might get raped. Does this mean that you are at fault because you should have stayed home or took better precautions? BS. Stop with this victim blaming."

Who the fuck's blaming who? I've not mentioned or even implied blame once in this thread.

If somebody attempts to rape me I can try and fight back or avoid the situation altogether so I don't see the point of your poor analogy.

"DNA in the egg and sperm are also 'human' and have the potential to combine and turn in to a baby, but no one is putting men in jail over murder in kleenexes in the trash bin."

No they're fucking not and neither have I argued that point so I'm not sure where exactly you're coming from. (pun intended if you so wish. :)

"I would like to know what makes sperm or eggs not people, but when they combine, suddenly they are a person and require a SS# birth certificate and the same rights of people. Should they get to vote too?"



Maybe you need to look up the definition of person. A person has certain attributes that a sperm and egg don't and a sperm and egg have certain attributes that a person doesn't. Hence a person is a person, an egg is an egg and a sperm is a sperm. If there weren't clear definitions then we'd be in a right pickle wouldn't we?

Daniel said...

I wouldn't describe myself necessarily as a pro lifer. I think abortions are acceptable in very limited circumstances so I can see both sides in certain respects.

"In the context of the abortion debate, when we talk about bodily autonomy we are talking about the idea that no one has the right to use your body against your will."



And I would *generally* agree with that statement but pregnancy is clearly an exception because there are no alternatives if the woman is to be prevented from carrying out an act that uses the fetus' body against it's will while it's in its natural state. (Concluded from the understanding that we are evolutionarily driven to survive).

Kurt H said...

Yes, it does. There is a chance of serious health consequences, up to and including death, that increases as the pregnancy continues. This risk is far higher than the risks from abortion (even surgical ones). And that's just the health risks -- a pregnancy can also end or disrupt a career, delay or prevent higher education, or spur a hasty marriage with a bad partner. All of those things carry substantial costs that extend far beyond just the time of pregnancy -- and that all assumes that the pregnant woman gives the baby up for adoption rather than putting out the time and resources to raise it. So, yes, it does result in serious consequences that the woman can only avoid by aborting the pregnancy.


The stowaway anaology conveniently fails to describe any consequences for the stowaway remaining on the boat, as a way of focusing attention on the stowaway. Which is, of course, the point of all pro-life arguments -- making the pregnant woman's interests invisible.

Daniel said...

No, that is clearly a strawman of my argument. I'm simply arguing from the point that BA is a red herring because we don't have it as much as we think we do and to simply narrow it down to the point where we're saying that only other people can or should be stopped from using our bodies as they wish when this happens throughout our lives on so many different levels is simply philosophical and linguistic gymnastics in an attempt to create a hierarchical system to get anti lifers to a position where their argument *appears* unarguable.
I'm having non of it. It's a classic case of the King's new clothes. BA being the King's new clothes.

LN said...

Women who seek abortions are women who see pregnancy as a loss of bodily integrity, no? The problem with outlawing abortion is not with women who would stay pregnant, it's with women who wouldn't. So when you only refer to women who would remain pregnant by choice, you're ignoring the crux of the objection to outlawing abortion: women who want abortions and would be obtaining one to restore their loss of bodily autonomy..
"A woman who makes a choice to have consensual sex is not risking losing bodily autonomy, she is risking pregnancy."
A woman who doesn't *want* to be pregnant and chooses to have sex is, indeed, risking losing bodily autonomy by risking pregnancy.

Daniel said...

"Yes, it does. There is a chance of serious health consequences, up to and including death, that increases as the pregnancy continues. This risk is far higher than the risks from abortion (even surgical ones)."


Yes, and if, in the rare occasion there's a risk to the mother's life and the only option is a termination then I don't have a problem with that. Just like I wouldn't have a problem with the owner of the boat cast out at sea killing the stowaway and eating it if that was the only option to survive so the boat analogy stands up once again.


"And that's just the health risks -- a pregnancy can also end or disrupt a career, delay or prevent higher education, or spur a hasty marriage with a bad partner. All of those things carry substantial costs that extend far beyond just the time of pregnancy -- and that all assumes that the pregnant woman gives the baby up for adoption rather than putting out the time and resources to raise it. So, yes, it does result in serious consequences that the woman can only avoid by aborting the pregnancy."


So fucking what? That's all entirely irrelevant because it makes the crass assumption that there is only one route to happiness.....a career, a college eduction etc etc etc. A one dimensional approach to life that you somehow think you're entitled to.
The reality of the matter is that you don't always get to choose how you might wish to live your life, quite often you have to make the best of the life you have. We all have to make sacrifices at one time or another, what makes you think that a pregnant woman shouldn't? (Even though she's entitled to give up the child after birth)

"The stowaway anaology conveniently fails to describe any consequences for the stowaway remaining on the boat, as a way of focusing attention on the stowaway. Which is, of course, the point of all pro-life arguments -- making the pregnant woman's interests invisible."



Yes because it's a strawman to claim that the boat analogy is in any way meant to deal with anything other than the responsibility of one human for another in a unique situation.
However let me address this supposed impasse.
Clearly a boat cast out at sea for days on end with no contact with the outside world also impacts on the boat owner's possible career, education, family life, emotional health as well as his survival. but hey, that's the situation he finds himself in and he has to make the most of it until there is no other option.

Kurt H said...

You're still not getting it (and Jason has also pointed this out). Having autonomy means that the choice is hers. Pregnancy is not where the damage occurs -- the infringement upon autonomy occurs when either a) the woman wants to continue the pregnancy and is forced to abort or b) wants to end the pregnancy and is forced to continue it. The infringement is the removal of an option.

156 said...
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LN said...

Yeah, I believe my second paragraph stated that. As long as women have an option, then they never lost their bodily autonomy.

Which would mean that if you have the option to kill your rapist, when you are in the process of being raped, you have not lost your bodily autonomy (because you have a choice to kill the rapist or endure it). I just find this to be a very odd definition of bodily autonomy. I thought that if someone was using your body against your will, they are violating your right?

Clinton Wilcox said...

I'm in a little late, but most people here are misunderstanding the purpose of the boat analogy.

Essentially, your body is your own property, just like a boat is. But if you're out at sea and you find a stowaway, you are not justified in casting him overboard to drown or be devoured by sharks, even though he/she is consuming your resources (like in pregnancy). You must wait until you get back to shore to turn him in to the authorities.

Similarly, a woman is not justified in expelling an unborn child from her body if so doing will result in the child's death. The difference between boat/body is irrelevant to the force of the analogy.

Avak said...

You are assuming that consensual sex must mean consent to losing bodily autonomy. It should not. Just because a pregnancy could occur does not mean that consent to sex must also mean consent to pregnancy. And just because there is no one else to offer bodily resources to a fetus certainly does not mean that we must then force it on the woman.


The issue with abortion is that it is a zero-sum game -- you cannot grant two people trying to occupy the same body equal rights under the law. And regardless of a woman's choices, her body is still her own. It never belongs to the fetus, and she therefore has every right to deny it use of her body. To say that a woman should ever lose her bodily autonomy to a fetus is a dangerous slippery slope, as autonomy is a basic human right.


And Daniel ... nobody is "using" the fetus while terminating a pregnancy. The woman's body is her own, and removing the fetus is an exercise in her own bodily choices. There is no situation in which a government can justify forcing a woman to give up rights to her body by saying that doing so is a fetus' "bodily autonomy." Nobody -- I repeat, nobody -- has a right to someone else's body. That is not what bodily autonomy means. Don't be absurd.

Avak said...

Nobody has a right to sustain their life through the use of someone else's body. Personhood is not enough to refute bodily rights. I am a person, but do I have a right to demand bodily resources from my mother (or anyone else) for the purpose of my own survival? If I need a body part from you, do you have a right to turn me down because of my right to life?


The argument that Kristine made in the debate regarding a uterus being there "for" a baby falls flat, as it's a naturalistic fallacy that assumes nature to be cognizant, with some sort of plan that we cannot infringe on. It assumes a definition of "natural" that is ultimately superior. I am a Type 1 diabetic, and if left to my "natural" state, I would be dead. We have, as a species, taken it upon ourselves to infringe on the natural state of things in order to enhance our lives and societies. This is a good thing, even in the case of abortion, where a woman exercising her rights to her body and her life results in the termination of another life.

Avak said...

You make no sense. In what world is hitting a cat with your car analogous to being forced to allow another person to use your body for survival?

M said...

It's not meant to be analogous to pregnancy or abortion. It's meant to illustrate that you can kill a living thing even if that thing isn't a "person."

M said...

So, do you think your right to property and your right to bodily autonomy are equivalent?

LN said...

"Essentially, your body is your own property, just like a boat is."
No. It's not. A boat is not a body, Clinton, no matter how many times you insist that they are basically the same. They don't require the same level of justification for infringement.

LN said...

Try reading the responses first.

Avak said...

It doesn't matter that there are no other alternatives. A woman's body is still her body, and it never belongs to the fetus. Abortion is not using the fetus' body -- it is expelling the body, but not using it. And, assuming that your definition for "natural" stands, human beings already defy nature in plenty of instances in order to enhance our own lives. Just because you think a woman should sacrifice and donate her body if she finds herself pregnant does not mean that you can legally obligate her to.


I have one life to live. I defy nature and take insulin shots so that I can live. My best friend defies nature and wears glasses so that he can see. My mother defies nature and takes medication for her mental illness so that she can live a functional life.


Yes, abortion is terminating a life. But pregnancy is a zero-sum game -- you cannot grant two people trying to occupy the same body equal rights under the law. One must concede to the other. And a woman's body will always be her own, and she will always have a right to decide whether a fetus is going to be allowed to live inside of it. A basic tenet of freedom is bodily autonomy -- you cannot deny a person their rights to their life, to make their own decisions and live how they want to live in their one and only life, for the sake of another.

M said...

That's interesting, because even the justices in Roe v. Wade specifically denied that their decision was based on an unlimited right to bodily autonomy:

“…appellant and some amici argue that the woman's right is absolute and that she is entitled to terminate her pregnancy at whatever time, in whatever way, and for whatever reason she alone chooses. With this we do not agree. … In fact, it is not clear to us that the claim asserted by some amici that one has an unlimited right to do with one's body as one pleases bears a close relationship to the right of privacy previously articulated in the Court's decisions. The Court has refused to recognize an unlimited right of this kind in the past.” - Roe v. Wade

It sounds like you're just asserting that, regardless of all possible circumstances, bodily integrity should and will trump all else. You don't spend much time talking about *why* it must be that way, you just say that it must be that way.

M said...

I see a lot of your points, but Do you think you could lay off the swearing? SPL strives to be a pro-discussion group, and including being (relative to the rest of the internet) civil even in disagreement. It would be much appreciated.

Daniel said...

Sorry. Will do but it gets a little frustrating when people are continually arguing huge red herrings amongst themselves.

Daniel said...

Yes, that's exactly what I'm trying to say but you've made it much clearer.

Daniel said...

Once again we have the red herring of BA muddying the waters. The ownership issue is irrelevant, what's important is the responsibility we have to another human given the circumstances we find ourselves in.

Daniel said...

"It doesn't matter that there are no other alternatives."

It clearly matters to the fetus.

"A woman's body is still her body, and it never belongs to the fetus."

I never made a claim that a woman's body *does* belong to the fetus. It simply rents out the womb for 9 months but it never actually owns it. This further highlights the nonsense of the 'donating a kidney' analogy. I don't think I've ever seen a clearer case of the 'apples and oranges' fallacy.

"Abortion is not using the fetus' body -- it is expelling the body, but not using it."


It absolutely *is* using (misusing) the fetus' body for the purpose of not wishing to be pregnant. You simply can't carry out an act on someone or something for a particular purpose and claim that you're not using them/it. That's clearly not logical.

"And, assuming that your definition for "natural" stands, human beings already defy nature in plenty of instances in order to enhance our own lives. Just because you think a woman should sacrifice and donate her body if she finds herself pregnant does not mean that you can legally obligate her to."

And here we have another fallacy
http://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/strawman
I don't think a woman either should, or necessarily is, sacrificing and donating her body because she finds herself pregnant. Those are very emotive terms that put you on the verge of committing this fallacy.
http://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/appeal-to-emotion

"I have one life to live. I defy nature and take insulin shots so that I can live. My best friend defies nature and wears glasses so that he can see. My mother defies nature and takes medication for her mental illness so that she can live a functional life."

And so you highlight another poor analogy and a misrepresentation of my position. That is, to compare pregnancy with a disease or other chronic illness.
I'm not quite sure when pregnancy became strawmaned to become compared to a disease. Clearly it's to make it easier and more acceptable in an individual's mind to destroy the fetus and at the risk of reciting Godwin's Law that's precisely what Hitler did with the Jews. It's easier to destroy them if you don't look at them as being human.

"Yes, abortion is terminating a life. But pregnancy is a zero-sum game -- you cannot grant two people trying to occupy the same body equal rights under the law. One must concede to the other. And a woman's body will always be her own, and she will always have a right to decide whether a fetus is going to be allowed to live inside of it."

I agree one must concede to the other but as the woman only loses temporary loss of BA and the unborn child loses it permanently logic dictates that the child's rights are paramount in this case.

"A basic tenet of freedom is bodily autonomy -- you cannot deny a person their rights to their life, to make their own decisions and live how they want to live in their one and only life, for the sake of another."

In most cases I would agree but in the unique case of pregnancy, until the child is born, that's precisely what a woman must do because if she doesn't then she is, in pretty much your own words, denying a person their right to their life, to make their own decisions and live how they want to live in their one and only life.

Jason Koskey said...

Pregnancy can been seen as a loss of bodily integrity, yes, but not as a loss of autonomy. Those aren't synonyms. A woman who acts to restore her bodily integrity is *exercising* her autonomy. Your argument falls into dishonesty when you blur the distinction between those concepts.


And I'm not sure I understand the point of your hypothetical. Of course a woman--or any person--can lose their autonomy, either to violence or threat of force. Laws that strict women's bodily rights are a good example. But a fetus is not a good example. It does not impinge upon a woman's autonomy the same way a rapist does, since a fetus has no way to impose its will. Indeed, a fetus has no will to impose. People who have decided to advocate on behalf of fetuses, such as yourself, can impose their will upon women. *You* can act to restrict other women's bodily autonomy, but not fetuses themselves.



But even if it were true that a fetus is capable of diminishing a woman's autonomy, I'm not sure how that's supposed to make a difference. The law recognizes the right to self defense. Any woman who found herself in the process of being raped--and thus in a state where her autonomy was being violated--is more than justified in using whatever force necessary to restore her autonomy. A fetus has no more legal right to use a woman's body than a rapist does.

Clinton Wilcox said...

Why is that, LN? What is the morally relevant difference between a boat and a body that makes it okay to kill a human to expel him from one (your body), but you are not justified in killing someone to expel them from the other (your boat)?

Clinton Wilcox said...

I've posed this question to LN, but I'll ask you too. What is the morally relevant difference between a boat and your body that makes it okay to kill someone to expel him from one (your body) and not from the other (your boat)?

The way I see it, both are your property, and you have absolute rights to both of them. But you may not harm or kill someone with/in your body, just like you may not harm or kill someone with your boat (or car, or anything else you own), and you are not justified in throwing someone out of your car while traveling 55 mph down the freeway if you no longer want them in there, whether you wanted them in there or not.

Obviously, if they are threatening you, this is different (as life-saving abortions are moral). But if they are not threatening you, merely consuming your resources you are not justified in killing them to remove them.

So again, what is the morally relevant difference between your body and any of your other property?

Clinton Wilcox said...

Another thing, it's worth noting that PZ Meyers, at the end, was simply wrong about embryologists, and whether or not they agree that the unborn are human beings biologically. "I talked to a guy" is not an argument. Aside from the numerous embryology textbooks that attest to the fact that the unborn are human beings biologically, I just watched a debate between internationally-known embryologist Malcolm Potts and Scott Klusendorf. Doctor Potts said, in no uncertain terms, that no one argues that the unborn are not human beings biologically. What they argue about is when we should assign rights and values to the entity.

LN said...

I think I understand the distinction you're making. But even so it seems who/what can infringe upon autonomy vs. integrity is blurred. So before I comment on that, can you separately define "bodily autonomy" and "bodily integrity" in your own words and add who/what you believe is capable of infringing on those?
[You say bodily autonomy can only be lost by a human with a will. But bodily integrity can be lost by any human being (more broad). This means that loss of BA is only dependent on the entity that is infringing, not on the actual loss of freedom by the victim. Which is very questionable to me.]

"But even if it were true that a fetus is capable of diminishing a woman's autonomy, I'm not sure how that's supposed to make a difference."

Well the point I was trying to make initially-- and I guess I should have just used "integrity" instead of "autonomy"-- involved consent: a fetus infringes upon a woman's bodily integrity, yet women who don't want to be pregnant have sex knowing that this may occur. And this is an important factor to consider when there are two competing rights at stake.

"A fetus has no more right to use a woman's body against her will than a rapist does."

There are aspects about rape and pregnancy that are alike, but they're certainly not the same. A rapist is not sustaining his right to life; a fetus is. Thus we have two competing rights. That combined with the fact that a woman consents to the risk of losing bodily integrity seems compelling enough to place right to life over bodily autonomy.

Jason Koskey said...

Integrity refers to the health or wholeness of a body. Autonomy is the ability to make decisions concerning one's body. So a person who consents to an ear-piercing or heart surgery is allowing their bodily integrity to be violated, but not their autonomy, since it was still their decision.

"This means that loss of BA is only dependent on the entity that is
infringing, not on the actual loss of freedom by the victim. Which is
very questionable to me."

I've read this several times now and I still don't quite understand what you are trying to say. Perhaps you could clarify.

"A rapist is not sustaining his right to life; a fetus is."

Irrelevant. The purpose of the violation does not matter. No one is entitled to the body of another. You think it's relevant for fetuses to be considered persons, yet you ignore the fact that you are asking for "rights" for the fetus that no person currently shares. Even in circumstances where a person's life is in jeopardy, they have no legal right to use another person's body against their will. Neither do fetuses.

LN said...

I'd say the purpose of the violation AND the consent to the risk of this violation both matter.

First of all, bodily autonomy is not an absolute right. The right to bodily autonomy may be reduced based on the person's decisions. For example, in CA if a driver is arrested for driving under the influence, they can be subject to a forced blood draw. We go to these lengths because those that choose to drink and drive *put other people's right to life at stake*. Thus, you have a reduction of BA rights based on (1) the persons decision to drink and drive and (2) the simultaneous threat to other peoples lives. And this is a law upheld by the Supreme Court.

Because bodily autonomy is not an absolute right, we must carefully consider what situations warrant overriding BA. Certainly if you have a situation involving both (1) consent to the risks involved and (2) a life at stake, it is worth considering if it's a situation that warrants reduction of BA rights.

Jason Koskey said...

Bodily autonomy is not an absolutely right, and the government does act to restrict it in certain instances. Blood draws should also be illegal if they are obtained without consent, in my opinion, but that is another issue. However, your point stands. The state does restrict the bodily autonomy of those declared mentally incompetent or the criminally deranged (and even they usually retain they right to make personal medical decisions). So which category are suggesting pregnant women fall under?

LN said...

[Though I doubt that was a serious question]: I think pregnant women fall under a different category-- that is not criminally deranged or mentally incompetent. This should not be surprising since pregnancy is so unique. Pregnant women have made direct decisions to put themselves in a position of total power over another's life. The woman consented to risk this, and she consented to risk being the *only* one who could fulfill this life-sustaining role. In such a situation, exercising self-given power should not entail ending that person's life.

Jason Koskey said...

You keep trying to frame this issue as being one where pregnant women have *consented* to giving up their autonomy, when the reality is pregnant women have not consented to anything of the kind. In fact, your argument relies on the premise that their consent does not strictly matter, and the government is morally obligated to restrict their bodily autonomy *against* their wishes and consent. At least be honest about your aims and intentions. You advocate forcing women to carry unwanted pregnancies to term under penalty of law. Have the courage to accept responsibility for what you are really suggesting and all that it will entail.

But returning to your argument, It doesn't matter if the woman is in a life sustaining role that no one else can fulfill. No person is legally obligated to sustain another person's life by using their own body. Full stop. The right you are claiming for fetuses simply doesn't exist. Saying fetuses and *only* fetuses have the right to use another person's body against their wishes is not consistent. And declaring fetuses *unique* doesn't solve the problem so much as highlight it.

LN said...

Obviously pregnant women haven't consented to giving up their autonomy if autonomy = freedom to abort, since abortion is legal. That's not the case and that's not what I'm saying.


I am saying women consented to risk putting a life dependent on their body alone, and that *should* entail a loss of one aspect of bodily autonomy-- killing that person. That is not the status quo. I'm saying it should be. I have no problem admitting that, you simply misunderstood what "consent" was referring to in my last post.


The fact that there is precedent-- reduction of BA rights based on choice and potential loss of life-- is plenty of justification for banning abortion. If there is a similar situation to pregnancy (namely that someone consents to risk putting another human being temporarily dependent on their body alone to live) where the person's BA rights *aren't* reduced, I'd like to hear it. This is what I mean by pregnancy is unique. Repeatedly stating the status quo (a person being totally dependent on someone who made the decision to risk that situation isn't enough to override BA; ie, women can abort) is simply stating that abortion is legal because this does not happen elsewhere. Effectively using abortion law as your premise for why abortion should be legal is circular reasoning.


I'm saying there is precedent for banning abortion. You're saying that because abortion is legal, it should stay legal.

Sally Strange said...

So, anti-choice folks... I assume that you are promoting your position because you want the government to step in and mandate that women complete their pregnancies in all situations, or in some situations where you deem it appropriate.

I'm curious: what penalties should there be for getting an abortion? Should they be civil? Criminal? Fines? Jail time?

Should there be government actions to prevent women from getting abortions? If somehow the government learns that a woman is pregnant and seeking an abortion, what action should be taken? Should the woman be confined until she gives birth successfully?

If you think there shouldn't be any government interference to force women to give birth against their will, then you are, in reality, pro-choice.

Sally Strange said...

A woman's bodily autonomy is not lost when she becomes pregnant. It is lost when government agents, or other external powers, decide that they are going to decide for her whether to complete the pregnancy or not. If I am pregnant and I want to complete my pregnancy, but am forced to abort, then my bodily autonomy is being infringed upon. If I am pregnant and want to terminate, but am forced to give birth, my bodily autonomy is being infringed upon.

Sally Strange said...

The only forces acting to infringe on a woman's bodily autonomy when she is pregnant are other adults, not the fetus. If she is able to choose for herself whether to complete the pregnancy or not, her bodily autonomy is fine. If other adult human beings are stepping in and saying, "No, it doesn't matter what YOU want, what matters is what WE think you should do with your uterus."

Sally Strange said...

In this analogy, you are equating pregnancy to non-action. Building a human being from scratch with your own cells and body is not doing nothing.

Daniel said...

Spot on Clinton. They throw the red herring of BA to simply muddy the waters. It's a classic case of special pleading.

Daniel said...

But that's not what pro lifers are doing. They're not trying to permanently have control of another person's body. They're simply making a value judgement that, when no alternative is available, the permanent loss of BA, and therefore life, of a defenceless, voiceless human requires greater protection than the temporary loss of BA of the woman.

LN said...

I hear ya. However, I have to ask-- do you see BA as only something the government acts to restrict? Like, BA is only something infringed upon by law, or is it more general?

For example, in the thread below (we were talking about this), someone said that BA was simply, "the ability to make decisions concerning one's body." If a woman has little to no money, and she can't afford an abortion, or even some other form of surgery that's vastly more expensive, would you say she has less BA than someone with lots of money? Because even though she's legally able to make decisions, practically speaking she's not since her finances limit her choices.

LN said...

I think she is referring to human will. Willfully, it is inaction. You don't have to will your heart to beat, and you don't have to will a pregnancy to continue-- it does it automatically. Legally, there's a huge difference between actions you willfully control and ones you don't.

156 said...

"...[W]hat penalties should there be for getting an abortion?"

I am not sure if my opinion is representative of the members of SPL, considering that "M" seems to think that my perspective can be dismissed without consideration. However, I do support public policies designed to reduce the number of abortions, so I will attempt to respond.

I think the law should not treat late-term abortions (at least those that actually kill the fetus) much differently from how it treats the killing of born people. Therefore, the protagonist should generally receive the same penalty as in any other murder, and the accessories should receive the same penalty as accessories to murder. In my opinion, the biological father of the murdered baby should generally be considered the protagonist, the abortionist should generally be considered the primary accessory, and the mother should, depending on the circumstances, be considered a lesser accessory. The exact penalty might vary based on a variety of factors such as the level of punishment needed to deter the crime, special considerations based on the circumstances, and the resources available. For unusual circumstances, I might favor considering the mother to be the protagonist and the father to be a lesser accessory or innocent, but only if he did everything reasonably possible to avoid the abortion. Certainly, no father who was not married to the mother at any time from conception to the time of abortion would meet that criterion.

I favor somewhat lesser punishments for abortions earlier in gestation. Importantly, I favor a variety of other policies that would probably be even more important in reducing early-term abortions. For example, I favor facilitating and encouraging the use of Nexplanon and sterilization, I favor reform of adoption laws to allow birth mothers to choose adoption as freely as they can choose abortion, I favor laws that ensure that women can obtain employment and education while pregnant or parenting, I favor laws prohibiting coercing women to abort, I favor generous and aggressively-enforced child support laws, I favor ending government subsidies for abortion, and I favor aggressive enforcement of laws against crimes that result in abortions -- like rape, incest, prostitution, adultery, fornication, domestic violence, and drug abuse.

M said...

"...considering that "M" seems to think that my perspective can be dismissed without consideration."

...What are you talking about?

156 said...

Here is your quotation: "Don't worry about 156."

https://www.facebook.com/secularprolife?ref=ts&fref=ts

M said...

That quote has a context. To the extent that you dismiss someone's arguments based on anything other than the logic of the arguments, I *don't* think people should worry about what you have to say. It doesn't matter whether someone is a Christian, Atheist, Wiccan, or whatever--it only matters whether their argument makes sense.

I'm not sure how you got from there to thinking I think everything you say should be dismissed, but interpret as you will.

156 said...

"To the extent that you dismiss someone's arguments based on anything
other than the logic of the arguments, I *don't* think people should
worry about what you have to say."

I never did that, unless you are referring to my point that sources on this site should probably not be religious authorities. The mission of SPL is "To encourage religious diversity in the pro-life movement and combat stereotypes promulgated by the abortion lobby," so I thought that using Catholic religious authorities as sources probably did not help that mission.


The person who wrote the blog posts at issue said that he cited those authorities only because he wanted to avoid being accused of plagiarism. But that means that he effectively had no sources to justify his assumptions. Using logic alone, absent evidence, to persuade is rarely successful because you will often make assumptions not held by your audience.

M said...

If you check out SPL's FAQ, it also says,

"Can religious people be part of Secular Pro-Life?

Yes. We want to create a space for the secular pro-life perspective. This of course means we embrace pro-life atheists and agnostics, but anyone who uses secular reasoning to defend the pro-life position is welcome here. We are not interested in convincing people to be non-religious. We are interested in showing people that you do not have to be religious to be pro-life."

It doesn't matter if his sources are Catholic. It only matters if his sources use Catholic-specific reasoning rather than secular reasoning.

So, like I said, to the extent that you dismiss his sources because they are Catholic, rather than because you find something wrong with their actual reasoning, I don't think he should be concerned with your perspective.

Diane said...

Are you kidding? I'd love that. I'll get to work on it. FYI: I'll aim to make it less "ranty" than my above post. :)

156 said...

I have never claimed that religious people could not be part of SPL, so that part of the quote is irrelevant to the discussion.

"It doesn't matter if his sources are Catholic."

It does matter if his sources are Catholic. I have spent many years debating the pro-life position online and I have repeatedly found that people will disregard my message if I use a pro-life or religious source. The only qualifications of Frank Beckwith is knowledge of sectarian religious dogma, so his religion is not incidental to his writing.

"It only matters if his sources use Catholic-specific reasoning rather than secular reasoning."

Few people will read the entirety of sources. Instead, they will usually only determine whether the source is reliable and whether the material in the source was accurately represented. If they had done so in that case, though, they would have found Catholic-specific reasoning. For example, that poster used the Catholic doctrine of double effect. That doctrine's only source was a writing which was "...intended as...a compendium of all of the main theological teachings of the Catholic Church" and "...the theological dicta of the [Roman Catholic C]hurch." The only reason why anyone would give any credence to the doctrine of double effect is if that person is Catholic.

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

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

http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/573302/Summa-theologiae

"...[T]o the extent that you dismiss his sources because they are Catholic, rather than because you find something wrong with their actual reasoning..."

There was something wrong with the reasoning. It was not appropriate for this blog because its reliance on a religious source did not help to "...encourage religious diversity in the pro-life movement and combat stereotypes promulgated by the abortion lobby."

156 said...

"That quote has a context."

While we are talking about context, your comment endorsed another post which accused me of ignoring specific other posters, fabricating information, and refusing to listen to arguments because of the religious affiliation of the speaker. All of those accusations were demonstrably false.

M said...

This is exactly what I'm talking about. Seems to me you equate "comes from a Catholic source" with "requires Catholic-specific beliefs."

Can you explain to me why I would need to believe in God--or anything supernatural at all--to agree that an action which has both good and bad effects may be justifiable depending on specific criteria? Is there some divine component to this thought process that I'm missing?

M said...

I already explained to you what I meant by the quote. Take it or leave it.

SynerGenetics said...

Disclaimer: Male.

Body autonomy or the right to privacy as presented in Roe V Wade? The only time a person looses their rights is when they commit a criminal act and or receive a jail sentence as of yet pregnancy is not a crime.

Since abortion is regulated by the state and patient doctor privilege is still respected by state law, she has the right of privacy when she visits her doctor for birth control, hormonal therapy, pregnancy test, treatment following a miscarriage, an abortion because of fetal abnormality, and the right to an abortion.

Why when a women uses the services of a doctor must her privacy be invaded for the sake others? Women not men can have offspring, yet men are not subject to such infraction of their rights. If anything women should be given extended rights for their very ability to have children.

Pro-lifers seem to have a very short attention span between conception and birth. Pro-lifers bitch about abortion yet they also bitch about paying for as in family planning services, child care, health care, paid family leave, education / job training.

People argue about the fetus having rights but seem to forget quite quickly the woman that the fetus is in has actual rights. So Roe v Wade were overturned it would return to the states some states would be anti abortion and other states would be pro-choice, all she would have to do is visit another pro-choice state which in the end solves nothing.

156 said...

"This is exactly what I'm talking about. Seems to me you equate 'comes from a Catholic source' with 'requires Catholic-specific beliefs.'"

Not true. His blog assumed that "A child does not lose its right to life simply because its father or its mother was a sexual criminal or a deviant." The only source that he gave for that assumption was Michael Bauman. The only professional qualifications possessed by Michael Bauman are education in Christian dogma. The blog did not just use material that happened to come from religious sources, it depended on the correctness of religious dogma.

156 said...

"Can you explain to me why I would need to believe in God--or anything supernatural at all--to agree that an action which has both good and bad effects may be justifiable depending on specific criteria?"

I did not claim that belief in something supernatural is necessary to agree that an action which has both good and bad effects may be justifiable depending on specific criteria. All I asserted was that an appeal to a Christian authority was improper to justify his assumptions that "we may never kill innocent person B to save person A" and "...[a] child does not lose its right to life simply because its father or its mother was a sexual criminal or a deviant."

SynerGenetics said...

I found the whole "bodily autonomy" backwards considering you would ignore the woman's right of "bodily autonomy" to deny her right of privacy and the right to an abortion.

NorthStar156 said...

"Matt seemed calmer, clearer, and more confident."

I thought Kristine also seemed calm, clear, and confident considering the task she was trying to achieve. It is easy for a professional speaker to be surrounded by like-minded people and feel confident. Attempting to change hearts and minds is a much more difficult task, but one that can have a bigger impact.

"...[H]e made a strong case, arguing based on bodily rights."

I disagree. While his delivery was smooth, his arguments were haphazard and unconvincing. His main argument was to simply assert that some "right to bodily autonomy" could not be overcome by the pro-life side, but he neither defined the term nor provided any evidence for its existence. He apparently accepted it as self-evident. Another word for that is "faith." But wait -- is that not what freethinkers are against?

Coyote said...

Actually, willingly doing something which infected someone else with a kidney illness or something similar and which required him/her to be plugged into your body for nine months to survive and sustain his/her life would be a good analogy to pregnancy.

Coyote said...

The problem is that I don't accept this premise. I think that postnatal and prenatal human beings should be allowed to use someone else's body in certain cases.

Also, do you support allowing men to choose whether or not to pay child support?

Coyote said...

False. Actually if one creates a situation where in order to exercise one right one must violate someone else's rights he/she often does not get to do so.

For instance:

-I have a right to squeeze my finger. However, if I put a loaded gun into my hands and point this gun towards someone else's head, then I am not able to exercise this right since my willing actions created a situation where in order to exercise one right I must violate someone else's rights.

-Let's look at the recent case of Brian Banks and Wanetta Gibson. Gibson falsely claimed that Banks raped her, got him thrown in jail for several years, and caused him to lose his hope for a good future. Gibson then felt somewhat guilty about what she did and arranged a meeting or two with Banks after he got out of jail. She told him that she lied about him raping her but she won't tell the cops that she lied out of fear of losing her 1.5 million dollar compensation money from the state of California. Brian Banks secretly taped/recorded what she said and gave it to the police/authorities, who exonerated him. Normally Gibson would have the right to privacy and be able to exercise it, and people would be legally unable to tape/record what she said in private without her consent. However, since her willing actions created a situation where in order to exercise her right to privacy she must have violated Banks's rights, she did not get to exercise her right to privacy in this case.

Explain to me why this should be different with pregnancy in cases of consensual sex.

I'm aware of how Roe v. Wade works but the laws can be changed later on even after a Roe overruling even more in favor of the anti-abortion side.

And actually, men's right not to be held responsible/liable for the decisions of others are already violated with forced child support payments.

In complaining about pro-life hypocrisy you are guilty of the appeal to hypocrisy fallacy.

It isn't as convenient to travel halfway around the country as you think (some women will need to do this if Roe is overturned).

Coyote said...

I disagree with you that I (or anyone else) should never be able to use someone else's body to survive and sustain our lives.

I support forcing people to let others use their body if their willing actions created a situation with a dependent individual. If you needed to use my body, then I should generally be obliged and forced to let you use my body if my willing actions created your dependence on me (for instance, if I infected you with a kidney illness).

Coyote said...

I didn't watch this debate but I would have responded like this:

"If the parent was not responsible for the child's kidney illness, then he/she should not be forced to let their child use their body. However, if he/she infected the child with a kidney illness, then he/she should let his/her child use his/her body in order to survive and sustain his/her life."

Also, I don't buy the withholding aid vs. actively killing difference that much. For instance, let's (hypothetically) say that a parent brings his/her child to the park for a picnic. This parent then has a heart attack and dies immediately. The child is left alone in the park (there are no other people anywhere in or near the park), and then continues eating his/her food. The child then accidentally begins choking on a piece of food, and you enter the park seeing this. You could save the child from choking to death (and you know that you're guaranteed to save the child if you want to), but you could also avoid saving the child's life because you're not responsible for the child being there or choking. Should you be allowed to walk away and let the child choke to death? You (hypothetically) know for a fact that no one else will be able to come to the park in time to save this child from choking to death.

Coyote said...

Do you think that people should have an absolute right to squeeze their fingers as well?

Also, do you think that non-sentient and non-viable fetuses are persons/worthy of rights?

Finally, do you think that the right not to be held responsible/liable for someone else's willing decisions/actions should be absolute?

Coyote said...

There should be no punishment for the woman, unless it is a self-induced abortion, in which case manslughter would probably be a good punishment. As for the abortion doctors/providers, the punishments should be the same as in the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, if not harsher.

If a woman is seeking an abortion then the govt. should not punish her in any way or restrict her unless she tries inducing an abortion or miscarriage by herself.

If you're going to call us anti-choice I could all you anti-life, as well as pro-death, as well as anti-prenatal rights, as well as misandrists depending on your position on forcing men to pay child support against their will.

Coyote said...

Please elaborate on why you think that the Virginia ultrasound bill was extreme.

Also, who Bob McDonnell is is irrelevant to this debate. Someone's position on a particular issue is not any more or any less valid due to their background/personality/views/et cetera.

Coyote said...

First of all, I've heard that pregnancy could theoretically permanently affect a woman's body.

Let's modify this scenario: Instead of permanently giving up one of your kidneys, you are temporarily using it for nine months like the Violinist in Thomson's scenario is.

Coyote said...

The problem with saying that this right is superior to this right is that it's essentially picking-and-choosing. Also, an undue burden is still an undue burden regardless of magnitude.

Coyote said...

The stowaway could theoretically choke, strangle, or throw the boat owner overboard while he's sleeping.

Coyote said...

Can you explain to me the relevance of the different burdens, LN? After all, any undue burden is still an undue burden regardless of magnitude.

That said, if I had a choice between letting someone else use my body for several months and giving up a million dollars to this (or another) individual, I'd probably let the individual use my body for several months since a million dollars would be much more important for me than other people using my body to survive for several months.

Coyote said...

As for the boat stowaway, I'm tempted to think that you should have a right to throw him/her overboard, but you'd be a douche of epic proportions for doing so.

Coyote said...

I disagree that abortion should be a right (in most cases) and I disagree that abortion would fall under your right to privacy. I already responded to you in more detail in another post.

Coyote said...

I'll be honest here--I really don't get the choicers' religious-like obsession with absolute bodily autonomy. If you think that one should ALWAYS be able to exercise his/her right to bodily autonomy without any exceptions, please let me why without an answer like "this is self-evident" or something along those lines.

Coyote said...

Matt,

How about you debate Conner Alford. He has a YouTube channel called WarThemedRevolution. You can create a YouTube account and talk to him about the idea of a public debate. He already told me that he'd open to the possibility of having a public debate with you.

Coyote said...

It's a bit ironic, since many choicers criticize many religious beliefs yet have a religious-like belief/political view themselves.

SynerGenetics said...

A woman has a right to control her body and since no one has actually provided clues on clues on how the state would enforce anti-abortion laws, you want the state to force women to birth children.

"Brian Banks and Wanetta Gibson" I really don't get the connection, the only analogy with abortion is when a woman miscarries or has a stillbirth, this is the only analogy. The problem with the Brian Banks he accepted a plea bargained instead of a jury trial.

The other problem is lack of understating what privacy is and under what context. A woman has a right of privacy when visits her doctor during a misscarge or stillbirth the notion that she visits her doctor for an abortion while the other two is ignore is selective reasoning. You ignoring facts when presented that fit your cognitive bias but when a women chooses to have an abortion its send out a red flag, which is not consistent with the acceptance of medical reasons why a fetus dies.

The most pro-lifers have accepted if a woman is raped or had a medical condition that is harmful to the the woman's heath she is given the choice to of continuing the pregnancy. Its her choice to ignore her doctors warnings and its her choice.

In regards to a males responsibility if he has unprotected casual sex.

Deal with it .

It is impossible to live in this society in this day and age at the time of puberty to not "understand" that unprotected sex can lead to pregnancy. If you are a parent and your kids get pregnant you failed.

Men should not complain if they are now financial responsible for the next 18 years of their because they didn't protect themselves. If you are that concerned of the the consequences of pregancy, don't have sex.

SynerGenetics said...

The only analogy to pregnancy is pregnancy. Provide a source where one person is medically connected to another to use their body to maintain the life of another.

Coyote said...

You want me to tell you how the state would enforce anti-abortion laws? OK--basically the state would track down illegal abortion providers and shut them down. Without illegal abortion providers, it would be much harder and less convenient for women to get abortions.

As for the Wanetta Gibson and Brian Banks, it is pretty relevant to this debate. One would normally have a right to privacy, except when one's willing actions create a situation where in order to exercise one right one must violate someone else's right. This should be the same with pregnancy. And the reason that Banks accepted a plea bargain is because the possibility of spending decades in jail for something that he didn't do was obviously unacceptable to him.

When a woman has a miscarriage or stillbirth no one else's rights are violated, since even if fetuses would have rights the fetus would be dead by then. In contrast, before an abortion a fetus is still alive.

The problem with your child support argument is that if a new person is created at some point after conception, such as viability, sentience, or birth, then it is purely the woman's decision whether or not to create a new *person* right now. Therefore, why should the man be held responsible/liable for the woman's decision when it comes to this?

Coyote said...

I don't need to, since it is a hypothetical scenario, or a thought experiment. A scenario being hypothetical does not make it any less valid.

Coyote said...

Did PZ Meyers ever claim that the prenatal population are not human beings?

SynerGenetics said...

If your going to pull examples out of some magic hat to to pawn it off as real discussion then go ahead. We are not dealing with hypothetical issues, but real ones which require "real" examples an analogies and not "magic" ones. If you can't give "real" examples then personally I don't know where to go with this other than your just offering "red herrings" to change the subject.



A woman has a right of privacy in regards to what happens between her and her doctor. If she miscarries, stillbirths, medical emergency, and rape are all kept as private issues then if / when a woman has an abortion then this should be private as well.



In regards to closing down all abortion clinics in the US their is still Mexico and Canada not including the rise of underground clinics of

Ben said...

Your body is not your property. Your body is you. Also, human beings do not have value. Human beings simply are. This idea of your body is your property is straight out of ancient religious beliefs. How can your body be property unless you believe that you really are something else that possesses a body? In English be say "my body", "my hand", "my eyes". That is simply a linguistic property of the English language. Many other languages do not have that feature. Unfortunately, the abortion debate is partly fueled by not understanding that language often creates entities that do not exist other than within the language itself.

Ben said...

Straw man! Where exactly did someone say that? how is it that anti-choicers can't spot obvious straw men they throw out there??

Ben said...

Nope! This is another straw man built on constantly shifting around the terms: human (adjective), human (noun), human being and person. He said that science does not determine what is a person or when a developing human life become a person. The definition of person is a subject of philosophy, not science.

Ben said...

As a former Christian minister, I assure you that you are just as qualified as anyone to debate Christianity. Theologians and ministers haven't come up with anything of substance that the average Christian on the street doesn't think of on the subject of the existence of their deity.

Clinton Wilcox said...

If you truly believe that, then you really need to expose yourself to academic Christian philosophers (e.g. William Lane Craig, Alvin Plantinga, J.P. Moreland, etc.). William Lane Craig has destroyed almost every Atheist he has debated (and usually by the admission of Atheists). I have been reading more academic works, so I believe I will soon be qualified to debate the topic. But I'm not sure if Matt was really honest about wanting to debate (as I am definitely willing to do so, if he wishes to). But he hasn't responded yet.

Shiva said...

You know what so messed up about these "bodily rights" arguments? They tend to stop once the living being inside the womb - a living human - gets to a certain age. If that's not a contradiction itself, then what is? An 8-and-a-half month old fetus is still infringing the "bodily autonomy" of a woman. So is a baby that is partially born. Do we now lose sight of the life of that being, which is being terminated simply because us born people think we need to cater to our own convenience as much as possible? Since when did a woman's "bodily autonomy" become superior to a life? Why is humanity losing track of the fact that it is killing a life, with as much emphasis as possible on the word killing, in order to be convenient for women who don't want nature to take its rightful role. Stop trying to compare a fetus's infringement of "bodily autonomy" to that of born people, especially adults. There is absolutely no direct parallel that can be made.
And thank you for saying this: "you cannot grant two people trying to occupy the same body equal rights . . .". Thank you for admitting that the unborn child is a real concept, that those too are persons, at minimum in the sense that they are living and human.
What has the world turned into, that it has chosen to consider a woman's "bodily autonomy" at an effort to say that she is "free" to be and do whatever she wants with "her body", in order to justify the killing of a human life? What has humanity come to? Upon which basis did you decide that her bodily autonomy is more important than the life of the child inside of her?
Let's get real: the real reason people are so pro-choice these days is because of this situation: oops, I got pregnant; what's the best way out of this?
That's the reality. It's not about women's "health" or dignity or even about human rights. It's about convenience. And that's why way back when, the debate didn't start on women's health or bodily rights, it started with silly statements such as, "a fetus is just a lump of tissue" or "it can't feel anything" or "it's not a baby". And that's why when you ask young girls why they aborted, they will tell you things like, "I'm still in school. I'm not financially stable. I was worried about getting fat. My boyfriend didn't support me. I would bring shame to my family." etc. Sorry but, why is that justifiable killing? This is insanity.

Shiva said...

"you cannot grant two people trying to occupy the same body equal rights"

Umm - why can't we say that about pregnant women? Why should a woman have the right to kill a life if we can also tell her "deal with it"? In fact, isn't that something pro-choicers complain about all the time? What happened to your logic now?

Shiva said...

I meant to quote this:
Men should not complain if they are now financial responsible for the next 18 years of their because they didn't protect themselves. If you are that concerned of the the consequences of pregancy, don't have sex.

Shiva said...

The fact that you just compared sperm to a fetus makes you seem like the most illegitimate idiot ever.

"Should they get to vote too?"
Um, should a 10 year old get to vote too? Is a ten year old a human with the right to life?
What kind of sad logic are you trying to pull?

SynerGenetics said...

Shiva said: Why should a woman have the right to kill a life if we can also tell her "deal with it"?

Women have stillbirths, women have miscarriages, and some abort because of illness. Society does not care, or concern itself with the said issues, but when a woman decides to terminate a pregnancy because she: has other obligations, like work, like school, like other children, like family members, like boyfriends / husbands not ready for fatherhood, like financial concerns, everyone seems to have the right to get involved in another persons life, gets involved in violating anthers persons privacy for no other reason than her choosing to abort with good reaons

Their are over 500,000 kids in foster care and over 3 million children who are abused by their parents / guardians each year.

Women have a right to privacy as rights as child living has the right to sane parents, food, shelter, education, health care, etc until its proven ready to be an adult at 18 years of age.

Most if not all of Pro-life have an attention span between conception / birth and completely forget the next 18 years of the kids life.



Where is the logic in that?

Jim Balter said...

"in consensual sex, the person made a choice to risk losing bodily autonomy"

Yes, yes, legally forced pregnancy is punishment for having sex.

In the current state of affairs, they made no such choice because abortion is allowed. They only such a choice in a world in which authoritarian slime manage to change the laws to criminalize abortion. Decent people oppose that.