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Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Bodily Rights Arguments, Revisited

I've recently met a pro-choice blogger by the name of Deanna Young, who runs a blog called Restringing the Violinist. She has written a couple of articles defending the right to refuse argument, one in which she has linked to my article, so I'd like to take the time to respond.

Forced blood donation analogy

In the first argument I'd like to respond to from her article explaining bodily rights to pro-life people, she formulated the following thought experiment in an attempt to be less "weird" than the Thomson's violinist scenario:

"In September 2013 a 72 year old man onboard a cruise ship required a life-saving blood transfusion. In order to save his life an urgent announcement was made asking crew members if they would be able to donate. Over 40 crew members ended up responding to the announcement. I'd then ask the pro-life person I'm talking to if they think what the crew members did was a supererogatory act (something good to do but not evil to refuse) or not."

I would agree that what the crew members did was supererogatory. They were not morally obligated to donate blood to the man who needed it. Having established that, Ms. Young then modifies the thought experiment as follows:

"...suppose nobody volunteered their blood and in their desperation three of the mans [sic] family members kidnapped you. While you were unconscious they attach you to a device that removes blood from your body and puts it into his. When you regain consciousness a doctor tells you that in order to save the mans [sic] life you will need to come in and donate regularly for the next nine months."

So this thought experiment is similar to the violinist, but a little more down to earth since it's a blood transfusion that's being forced and not being hooked up kidney-to-kidney with a famous unconscious violinist. She notes four parallels to pregnancy: One, that one person requires another person's body to survive. Two, the person whose body is being used does not want to be used in this way. Three, we are assuming both people have a right to life. And four, if one person decides to discontinue care, the other will die.

These are certainly parallels to pregnancy, but in this case it's the differences that matter. The reason that so many pro-choice thought experiments are flawed is because they remove one key piece from the moral equation: the person's responsibility. In the vast majority of pregnancies, the man and woman are responsible for the child's existence in a naturally needy state. Any thought experiment which doesn't have the "kidnapped" party voluntarily committing an act will be leading us in the wrong direction. As a result, the intuitions in these thought experiments are misleading. Otherwise you're just talking about pregnancies in the case of rape, and the responsibility objection obviously doesn't respond to rape cases. If we change the "kidnapped" person into, say, a mugger who inadvertently cut the 72-year-old man and caused him to bleed out, even if he wasn't intending to cut the man, I believe he absolutely would have a moral obligation to donate blood; in fact, I would say he should even be legally compelled to do so.

Car Accident Analogy

So in Ms. Young's second article responding to the responsibility objection, she has given two thought experiments to show that "having done a voluntary action that causes someone to need you to survive does not mean you should be legally obligated to sacrifice your bodily autonomy for their benefit even if you are morally obligated." Do her thought experiments do the work she needs them to do?

Well, the first thing we need to keep in mind is that the responsibility objection is not just the position that she causes the child to be in a naturally needy position, but that she caused the child to exist in the first place (and of course the man shares responsibility, but as this is about bodily rights of the woman, I'll be referring primarily to her). So while you may have the right to kill someone in self-defense if they are on your property and threatening you, in essence abortion is more like dragging someone onto your property, then killing them and claiming self-defense.

Her first thought experiment is as follows: "...suppose you and your wife are going on a romantic road trip to a cabin in the mountains. You know there is a chance that you will get into an accident and injure someone, but you are a good driver and you follow all the rules of the road. You are in a residential area and a child is obliviously playing with a ball. He runs out from behind a parked car and you hit him. He is rushed to the hospital. He is okay except for his kidneys, they are severely damaged and he needs a transplant or he will die. Although you took precautions in order to avoid a situation like this, you have still caused someone to need you to survive so a government worker visits you at your home and informs you that if you do not donate your kidney to the child you may face jail time. You don't want to have a criminal record so you agree to donate. You have to undergo surgery. You have to take a few months off work, so you are now in a terrible financial situation. Your wife leaves you and everyone around you looks down on you because you ran over a kid."

Now one thing bears mentioning. I highly doubt that if a guy accidentally hits a kid while driving and faces financial hardship, that his wife would leave him and people would look down on him. I know that she's trying to make this analogous to pregnancy, but if this is how people treat pregnancy then they really need to change their perceptions of it.

This thought experiment ignores two key factors: First, where is the responsibility located? Why was this kid just playing around the street without his parents supervising him? It seems to me that in this case, the parents are responsible for letting their kid play around the street and possibly getting hit. The man who hit the kid would probably feel horrible, but it doesn't seem to me that the situation would be his fault unless, of course, he was driving recklessly (and the point of this thought experiment is that the driver is being "safe").

Second, there is a distinction between driving and having sex. Driving a car is not an act that leads to running over people as the act of sex leads to pregnancy. No one should be hit by cars if all people are acting responsibly and being safe on the road, but sex is an act that intrinsically (that is, by the very nature of the act) leads to pregnancy. Even if you are being "safe," you are merely adding a barrier to pregnancy, you are not changing the nature of the act. [1]

The right to life, properly understood, is a negative right not to be killed unjustly. There is something else we must keep in mind, that the act of donating a bodily organ may be similar in some respects, but not in relevant ones. For example, pregnancy is a natural process. There are some bodily changes that occur to the woman during pregnancy, but these are all changes that her body has been adapted to handle. In contrast, organ donation is a recent phenomenon; no one's body is naturally adapted to handle organ donation, and as a result, donating an organ is a more dangerous act. Even if we take the position that a woman can't legally abort a pregnancy, we would not necessarily be committed to the position that people should be forced to donate organs. But if someone is responsible for someone's damaged organ, then I think a legitimate case can be made. But in any case, continuing with pregnancy (assuming it's not a life-threatening pregnancy) is a morally obligatory act, not supererogatory, as pro-choice advocates need it to be. Organ donations are supererogatory acts, morally heroic but in no way obligatory.

Slippery When Wet Sign

As for her second thought experiment: "Suppose I run a small coffee shop and I fail to put up a 'slippery when wet' sign and a customer trips, falls, and gets impaled on a straw. It goes right through his kidney! He can survive for now, but he will eventually need a transplant. There is a very long waiting list for the next kidney and there is no chance that he will get one in time. Does he now get to sue me for my kidney?"

I would hate to see the coffee shop that uses such dangerous straws! But at any rate, again, you are not obligated to give up your kidney. Putting up a sign is a nice warning, but you are not responsible for the patron's slipping and falling. Presumably he can see the water on the ground, and presumably he knows that water makes things slippery. Suing for a kidney in this case would be about as frivolous a lawsuit as they come.

I just don't see that her thought experiments here show that the responsibility objection fails, especially since there are some key elements to the responsibility objection that she has overlooked.

[1] I owe Christopher Kaczor and Frank Beckwith for my thoughts in this paragraph.

72 comments:

Jameson Graber said...

"Now one thing bears mentioning. I highly doubt that if a guy accidentally hits a kid while driving and faces financial hardship, that his wife would leave him and people would look down on him. I know that she's trying to make this analogous to pregnancy, but if this is how pregnancy is perceived then people need to change their perceptions."

This paragraph kind of made me wince a bit. I think you should try to be more sensitive in your writing to the reality behind her analogy.


Overall your argument is pretty good, but it seems that Young has already responded: http://restringingtheviolinist.blogspot.ca/2014/01/responding-to-responsibility-objestion.html


Locating the responsibility is pretty difficult in most of these situations, while it's fairly clear in the case of consensual sex leading to pregnancy. Nevertheless, Young does a good job of raising questions about the limits of human bodily autonomy. Your point about pregnancy being "natural" and organ transplants being modern and less natural is interesting; I'm not sure what I think about it.

argent said...

I have a few issues with this article.


Firstly, you have pretty much neglected one key difference between Young's second and third analogies and pregnancy: the fact that pregnant and unborn humans are already hooked together, and for the pregnant one to "refuse to support" the unborn one requires violently detaching them. One reason such pro-choice analogies fail is because they rely implicitly on the fact that someone is doing something to the "pregnant" person without their consent (kidnappers, court system), whereas in reality, the adults who consented to sex were the only rational agents who caused the pregnancy situation.


But secondly, while I don't know Young's overall position, in general I'd question the wisdom of quibbling over whether abortion should be illegal or is merely completely reprehensible. Any human rights advocate worth their salt will tell you that it's impossible to make accurate assessments of what rights someone deserves if you can't even respect them as a person.


"But is the fetus really alive?" is still a mainstream pro-choice argument. Unless Young emphatically denounces those on her side who attack and dehumanize the unborn human, I think her contention that the unborn's uniquely needy situation overrides their right to life is more of a derailment than anything.


If you think abortion is analogous to not donating a kidney to a kid you ran over, fine. You can still work to stop the constant dehumanizing rhetoric leveled against the unborn, one of the main causes of abortion. I made a post on my own blog detailing some of the ways you can put your money where your mouth is that have nothing to do with government, the law, or competing rights: http://argentconflagration.tumblr.com/post/62005032859


Is a person like Young really going to follow through on these things? If not, I suspect they're not worth arguing with on the issue of the rights of the unborn.

m17l6s85 said...

"if this is how pregnancy is perceived then people need to change their perceptions."


Which people are you talking about?


Because if you mean the people who treat women poorly when they accidentally get pregnant, then yes, those people need to change their attitudes, IMO. But if you mean people afraid of getting pregnant and the social repercussions it will have, then I think their concerns are legitimate. Can you clarify this point?

m17l6s85 said...

I disagree. Young may not thing the unborn is worth anything at all, but the point of the bodily rights argument is that *even if we all agreed* that the unborn is a valuable human being, no human being can use another human being's body against their will.


As pro-lifers, we believe that if the unborn are valuable human beings, the bodily rights argument fails in some key ways. It's important to address those issues, because pro-choicers will make this argument regardless of how they personally feel about the fetus, and many people not "in" the abortion debate find it compelling.

m17l6s85 said...

Also: the relative danger of pregnancy versus other organ donations is a good point, but I am not sure why it would matter whether one is natural and the other is not. For example, in some cases a C-section is safer than natural birth, so it seems to me relative danger matters regardless of which options are natural, don't you think?

Drew Hymer said...

I've read Young's response and it's weak. Young wants to quibble of the word "natural" as if he doesn't understand the difference between something that's designed for an outcome and something that can be a possible outcome.

argent said...

I guess my response would be that I view the 'abortion debate' as secondary to the goal of having people treat the unborn justly, as human beings.


I don't think pro-choicers should be making the bodily rights argument unless they genuinely accept its premises--again, you cannot make an accurate assessment of someone's rights if you fail to respect them as a human being.


And what if we granted that the pregnant-person's-bodily-rights argument is sound? That wouldn't change the fact that unborn human beings are being dehumanized and exploited en masse, which is what we as pro-lifers should be focusing on.

m17l6s85 said...

I agree the nature of the unborn is the main point, but I think there are a lot of factors that go into the "abortion debate" that we need to work on, and it takes all kinds to do it. Bodily rights is an important argument to address, especially since (at least in my experience) plenty of pro-lifers talk about the nature of the unborn, but very few address or even really seem to understand the bodily rights argument. I think articles like these are filling an important gap.


But yes, I do agree that the nature of the unborn is paramount.

Nick Reynosa said...

I think the one thing both sides can take from this is to find common ground on the rape exception component. While Clinton correctly notes that both the mother and father are responsible for the existence of the child through voluntary sex, this only serves to highlight that a woman forcibly impregnated by rape does not have the same responsibility. Likewise the fact that both the violinist and this second author's arguments lead with situations analogous to rape, which speaks volumes to the pro - choice side's avoidance to the fact that 99 percent of pregnancies are the result of consensual acts.

Clinton said...

Hi, Nick: You are correct that this objection to the violinist does not speak against rape pregnancies, which is why many pro-life advocates actually believe that abortion in the case of rape, while still immoral, should be legally permitted. This is a point of disagreement I have with them, as I believe that abortions in the case of rape should still be illegal, for other reasons. But you're right, that by focusing on rape pro-choice people are trying to justify abortion-on-demand with one of the rarest reasons that women have abortions, which simply can't be done.

Clinton said...

Sure. I was, indeed, speaking of the people who treat women poorly. I was essentially saying that we need to end the negative stigma surrounding pregnancy, if in fact one exists (I'm certainly not convinced there's a stigma as far as pro-choice people tend to make it out to be).

Clinton said...

It's possible that I should be more sensitive when I write. But the thing about writing about the abortion issue is it's already a sensitive topic, and if someone is so sensitive that we have to walk on eggshells every time we write about it, then perhaps reading about the issue isn't the best thing for them. I was speaking of the hypothetical situation that Young pointed out. If I had been speaking of an actual person whose example Young was using, I would have used more tact.

Also, I'm aware of Young's response, and I responded to her response on my personal blog. I was considering amending this article to incorporate Young's response, but that would have just added to the length of the article. Here's my response, if you're curious:

http://prolifephilosophy.blogspot.com/2014/01/revisiting-bodily-rights-argument-again.html

Clinton said...

I'm not sure this really matters, in the long wrong. For an example, I have a friend whose wife *had* to have c-sections because it would have been too dangerous for his wife to give birth naturally. So it seems that the safer "c-sections" were used than natural childbirth. But in the long run, c-sections are probably more dangerous than natural childbirth, so even if the first c-section would be safer, I really can't see justifying having a c-section rather than natural birth on the grounds that it be safer in the short run.

m17l6s85 said...

My point wasn't that c-sections are safer in the long run or even safer for everyone in the short run. My point was that "safe" and "natural" are separate ideas, and I don't see why "natural" matters in terms of the ethics of the situation.

m17l6s85 said...

I think overall you've written a really good post, so I'm sorry to quibble on this lone sentence, but perhaps if you wrote "If this is how pregnancy is treated then we need to change the way we treat pregnancy" that would be clearer. The way the sentence read to me at first (and, it sounds like, the way it read to Jameson), it seemed like you were saying people don't get socially ostracized or lose relationships over unplanned pregnancies. But they do. (Not all of them, but too many of them.)

Michelle Ewing said...

I agree they are already hooked up. the kidney thing, would be more like, you donated your kidney already (the sex has already lead to pregnancy, an act you willingly had), and then sue to get it back, giving no reason (abortion on demand). this would kill the person you donated to, but because it is your body, the court rules in your favor, and they allow you to be the person with control over your kidney. to do this, they poison the person in the heart. after that, weather they are still alive or not, they take you kidney back. in the process of taking your kidney back, they tear this persons body apart. they also assume that this is not a living human, and subject the person to much pain is the process (surgical abortion).

Once you allow someone to use your body, they should be legally protected and be able to use it. When I say someone I mean human of any kind (unborn, a prisoner, terrorist, friend ect.) these people may not have all there rights, but if you willingly allow someone to use your body, they should be able to use it until it is no longer needed or they die. of course this doesn't work with a blood transfusion, but I think that a blood transfusion is nothing like pregnancy.

Clinton said...

Thanks, JoAnna. It's a point a lot of people miss, pro-life and pro-choice, but it's an important one. Pro-choice people love to bring up forced organ donation because they because of its rhetorical force, but the reality is if we look at who's rights are being violated then forced organ donation is clearly not on a par with forbidding abortion.

GEIxBattleRifle said...

Abortion is pretty much comparable to squashing a mosquito that attached itself to your arm with you KNOWING beforehand what could happen when you walk by a swamp.

m17l6s85 said...

As long as a mosquito is a human being, sure.


Oh wait.

Clinton said...

As m1716 said, you're begging the question with your response. This is only true if the unborn are not human beings. If they are human beings, then having an abortion is more comparable to dragging someone onto your property, then shooting them and claiming self-defense.

berniebacon said...

The violinist argument is only half an analogy anyway. It leaves out the question of what the doctor's would have the obligation to do to the violinist after they disconnected him from the unwilling donor. They certainly would not have the right or obligation to kill the violinist even if the violinist had been the one who was guilty of kidnapping the donor. If the Roe v. Wade decision had said that doctors have the obligation to act as if they have two patients when they terminate pregnancies I suspect we'd have nonlethal pregnancy termination methods and a right to life amendment by now.

ignorance_is_curable said...

The main flaw in this anti-abortion argument can be found in this sentence (slightly edited for greater honesty): "In the vast majority of pregnancies, the man and woman are responsible for the unborn human animal's existence in a naturally needy state."

The Fact is, the man and the woman are only partly responsible. The process that leads from sex to pregnancy involves some organisms other than the man and the woman, such as sperm and egg. Sex does not force them to merge; their actions are independent of the sex act. For more info about how the egg is actually an active participant, see this (prepend the http): discovermagazine.com/1992/jun/theaggressiveegg55#.Ude51zu-rcM

It is entirely possible for an egg to refuse all its sperm-suitors.


After fertilization, we have another organism acting independently of the sex act. The egg has a built-in food supply that can last several days while the zygote begins its cell-division thing (becoming a "morula" after the first dividing). Eventually we get to talk about a "blastocyst" that attempts to implant into a womb. The sex act does not force that organism to make that particular attempt, and in fact a significant percentage actually don't. A "confirmed pregnancy" can only exist after a successful implantation.


When a woman desires a pregnancy to occur, and it doesn't happen, much of the blame can be assigned to the actions of those intermediate organisms. Logically, that means when a woman does not desire a pregnancy, but it does happen, much of the blame can be assigned to the actions of those intermediate organisms. Any other interpretation is pure hypocrisy.


And so, because not all the blame for a pregnancy can be laid upon the sex-participants, there is a lesser degree of responsibility that can be associated with that blame. As a result, and because the unborn human is just an animal, not a person, abortion becomes an acceptable choice.

GEIxBattleRifle said...

''you're begging the question with your response. This is only true if the unborn are not human beings''

It still is true since I still accept the unborn are members of the species homo sapien.

''having an abortion is more comparable to dragging someone onto your property, then shooting them and claiming self-defense.''
Still the same thing. I walked by the swamp knowing before hand that I would be inviting mosquitos to come on my property (skin) and can still kill them since they're sucking body resources out of my body like unborn humans do though in much more larger amounts. If one can be killed for the reasons than logically the other can also though this is assuming though that you're not assigning value to one and not the other.

ignorance_is_curable said...

One of the synonyms for "organism" is "living thing". If sperm and egg are dead, then reproduction is impossible.


So, the Fact is, there are living things that act independently of the sex act, involved in either the success or failure of reproduction. SOME of the blame for either success or failure of reproduction IS attributable to the actions of those intermediary living things. Period. Which means that the sex-participants are not solely responsible.


What you suggests is equivalent to saying, if you choose to walk near a swamp, you are solely responsible for any mosquito bites you get. NOPE!

Clinton said...

In that case, it's not true. By your logic, murdering an adult would be just like squishing a mosquito. You still have to establish that killing the unborn is no morally worse than killing a mosquito. But as we try people who kill human beings for murder, even newborns and toddlers, then if the unborn are human beings, killing them is also tantamount to murder.

GEIxBattleRifle said...

Newborns, toddlers and adult humans are not sucking body resources out of someone else's body like a mosquito and leach does so therefore they're fine.

Jordan Edmonson said...

I have to agree with BattleRifle here.

Also take a look at this from ignorance_is_curable website on this. Number #27 http://fightforsense.wordpress.com/

Clinton said...

You seriously need to take a biology class. The unborn are human beings, full human beings, as the science of embryology attests. They exist in a natural position, the same position that each one of us, you and I, started from. Nothing is more natural than pregnancy; the analogy of a leech sucking "resources" is a false analogy.

GEIxBattleRifle said...

The unborn are humans like I stated already Clinton.
It doesn't matter if it's in a natural position. If the leach can be killed because it takes our body resources than obviously identical actions from another entity like a mosquito, lamprey, tick, hookworms, tapeworms, and a unborn human should be killable as well for the same reasons.

PJ4 said...

As a matter of fact, in this scenario… the mother "leeched of rescuers" from her baby… so now what?

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-562589/Unborn-baby-saves-mothers-life-pregnancy-hormones-reveal-deadly-brain-tumour.html

Clinton said...

It absolutely does matter. A leech (parasite, etc.) is a foreign organism stealing resources from the parent organism (of a completely different species). The unborn are human beings, taking resources (not stealing them). The mother's body is designed/adapted to facilitate pregnancy. The situation is not a parasitic one, it is a symbiotic one, because the unborn child gives back, as well (pregnancy in an intense time of bonding between child and mother, and there is a situation called microchimerism, in which the unborn child actually exchanges cells with the mother which can help her stave off illness as well as even help prevent cancer).


Incidentally, but your logic we should be able to kill our children until they've left the house, since they are leeching off of their parents (and draining their resources).

GEIxBattleRifle said...

SO? Taking resources is still taking resources no matter how you want to twist it. Women can decide if she was to ''benefit'' from what the unborn human offers her though she can kill it if she wants to because it is taking her body resources just like ticks and leaches do.
''Incidentally, but your logic we should be able to kill our children until they've left the house, since they are leeching off of their parents (and draining their resources).''
I said BODY resources not outside resources like water and hamburgers which have nothing to do with your body resources.

Clinton said...

I do pay attention. The problem is whether it's inside the body or outside is irrelevant, and you haven't shown why being inside the body is such that we can suddenly justify killing a human being, whereas outside the body we cannot.


At this point, I'm going to put an end to the conversation. You're not engaging with my arguments, you're only repeating yours, thinking that somehow makes them stronger. Good day.

Em said...

All organisms are living things. true, but not all living things are organisms. Skin cells, for instance, are living, and they're things, but they're not organisms. Same goes for gametes. They belong to you body, and they are not organisms.

What you're saying would be like causing a drunk driving accident and then saying "It wasn't solely my fault officer, you should blame my liver for not doing a better job breaking down the alcohol."

GEIxBattleRifle said...

'' I do pay attention. The problem is whether it's inside the body or outside is irrelevant.''

You haven't explained why it is irrelevant. Most can see the clear distinction between killing a entity inside your body sucking body resources like a tapeworm does and killing something else just eating a eating a burger from Mcdonalds.

''you haven't shown why being inside the body is such that we can suddenly justify killing a human being,''

Can a women kill a tapeworm inside her body?

YES

Can a women kill and remove a hookworm inside her body?

YES

Can a women kill and remove a unborn human inside her body? If your answer to the other two was YES than this one should be yes as well unless you want to operate under stupid prejudiceness like most pro lifers do

''whereas outside the body we cannot.''

A born human does not dump bio toxic waste into her blood stream and disable her immune system plus infusing addictive drugs into her like “HCG” and “progesterone” the withdrawal symptoms are known as “postpartum depression” All of this stops when the placenta cord is cut at birth.

Heck even a tapeworm inside the body ain't that bad

''You're not engaging with my arguments, you're only repeating yours.''

I already did. You on the other hand are trying to make it much more complicated than it needs to be.

''you're only repeating yours, thinking that somehow makes them stronger.''

They been strong since day one while you on the other hand haven't offered any reasons why she can kill a variety of entities inside her body but not one particular one.

''Good day.''
You to bud = )

Rachel B said...

It's as if you see the point & just as you are in danger of really understanding your mind shouts DOES NOT COMPUTE!

You are committing a naturalistic fallacy: pregnancy is a natural state for women, therefore, it cannot be harmful or dangerous. However, throughout most of human history, childbirth has been the #1 killer of women of child-bearing age.And while it is safer it is still not without risk. According to the World health Organization August 2013 "Every minute, at least one woman dies from complications related to pregnancy or childbirth – that means 287 000 women a year. In addition, for every woman who dies in childbirth, around 20 more suffer injury, infection or disease – approximately 10 million women each year."

Many women develop health problems DUE to pregnancy, gestational diabetes, anemia (which almost killed my mother), hypertension (not good for a bad heart, duh) and there is of course the need to abstain from many medicines should due to potential damage to the fetus.

STDs are natural & can be a consequence of sex even if precautions are taken. Should STDs be required to go untreated? At least that way, the health burden would be equal for both sexes not just women!

MarcusFenix said...

You're incorrect, on multiple fronts.

First, the fact that pregnacy is a natural state for women isn't the naturalistic fallacy. That fallacy involves the process of claiming that -because- something is natural, it's good or bad for you, depending on the context. Stating that natural state is not a declaration of good or bad, and the author makes no such claim. You've incorrectly labeled a statement of biological fact as a fallacy.

" However, throughout most of human history, childbirth has been the #1 killer of women of child-bearing age."

I would ask for some citation, but but advised a common claim is that it's the number 2 killer world wide. It's a strange stat, and one open to interpretation

http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs334/en/

You'll take note of the graph, about halfway down the page. It shows birth problems as #9, not 1 or 2. Also, the WHO notes that most of those problems occur in third world conditions, as well as the notation that improper abortions are a leading factor in health problems.

" "Every minute, at least one woman dies from complications related to
pregnancy or childbirth – that means 287 000 women a year. In addition,
for every woman who dies in childbirth, around 20 more suffer injury,
infection or disease – approximately 10 million women each year."

To a point...but you're missing a greater context.

287k women out of 3.5 billion is a pretty small number, but...that statistic holds a second, more insidious problem.

A woman who gives birth, leaves the hospital 3 days later and dies in a car wreck on the way home would be included in the number of "maternal deaths". It has long been known that the factors involved have been compiled from sources taht didn't directly pertain to birth problems. Another example is where a woman dies from an abortion. This isn't listed as an abortion death, but a maternal death. The statistics don't delineate between such factors, and are skewed as a result.

"Many women develop health problems DUE to pregnancy, gestational
diabetes, anemia (which almost killed my mother), hypertension (not good
for a bad heart, duh) and there is of course the need to abstain from
many medicines should due to potential damage to the fetus. "

The ones you've cited occur and are unfortunate, but they also don't include other things, such as pre-existing conditions. I need to find the link again, so i'm sorry i don't have that handy. For those stats, if a woman came into the hospital with diabetes, it would be listed as her condition for pregnancy, even if it was present years before. Same with heart trouble. There's no seperation of those statistics, which creates a skew there as well. When I can find that link again, i'll post it.

"STDs are natural & can be a consequence of sex even if precautions are taken. Should STDs be required to go untreated? "

Of course they should be treated....no one is claiming they shouldn't be. But treating the clap isn't abortion...they're not really related in that way, and it's incorrect to do so.

Rachel B said...

I think it's important to make the distinction between the morality of abortion itself and the morality of denying or requiring a medical procedure against someone's will via legislation.

Here's a thought experiment I just thought up! Let's assume there is a successful medical procedure that allows bio-sex men to become pregnant via fetal transplants (given the right hormones & a brief, low-complication surgery you can plop a baby in his abdomen). Now there is a law stating mandating this procedure for the health & safety of an endangered fetus.

Let's say a married man with children of his own has a one-night stand with one of his co-workers and the condom breaks. The woman becomes pregnant & wants to carry out the pregnancy herself. She does not tell him he impregnated her.

However she finds out she has cancer and the hormones of pregnancy exacerbate the growth of the tumor. She contacts him & he shows up wanting to visit his sick friend. He is then informed of the law and is told he has a few days to be prepped for surgery. His wife & children now have to see him pregnant with another woman's baby. His wife leaves him, takes the kids, not only for the infidelity, but for the drain to their finances, since he has to pay for the expenses of the operation & prenatal care.

Consent to sex is NOT consent to pregnancy or else contraception wouldn't be so damn popular! You can argue that he should not have had sex with another woman all you want, but does not mean that the government should be able to take away someone's bodily autonomy.

Coyote said...

"But you're right, that by focusing on rape pro-choice people are trying to justify abortion-on-demand with one of the rarest reasons that women have abortions, which simply can't be done."

Actually, I could see pro-choicers trying to apply the case of rape to the case of all abortions by saying that not all rapes can be sufficiently proven, and that thus it would be morally justifiable to let all females get abortions just to be "on the safe side" in regards to this.

Coyote said...

Isn't a human infant who can only survive on someone's breast milk (for instance, if the only source of breast milk available was his or her mother's breasts, since this infant is on a boat far at sea with his parents) also sucking bodily resources, though?

Coyote said...

"Consent to sex is NOT consent to pregnancy or else contraception wouldn't be so damn popular!"

I am leaning in agreement with you on this. However, even if consent to sex does not equal consent to pregnancy, one can still make a case that if one consents to A and if B is a (direct or indirect) consequence of A, then one can still be held responsible for B if one consented to A. After all, consent to sex does not equal consent to paying child support for 18/21 years either, but males are still forced to pay. And Yes, I am obviously aware that child support and pregnancy aren't completely comparable, but my point here in regards to consent appears to still stand.

Also, we are not advocating taking away anyone's right to bodily autonomy. We simply don't think that it should be as broad as it currently is.

Coyote said...

In regards to childbirth, I apologize if what I say offends you and/or anyone else here.

That said, the risk of females dying during childbirth is *much less* than the risk of prenatal human beings dying during an abortion. Thus, if one considers prenatal human beings to be persons/worthy of legal rights, then this fact should be taken into serious consideration here.

In addition, I want to point out that I *do* support a maternal life exception in cases such as ectopic pregnancies, where AFAIK, the choice is either to save the woman or to save no one. However, there is a distinction between things during a pregnancy which could *potentially* threaten a woman's life and between abortion, which *actually* threatens the life of a prenatal human being.

As for STDs, STDs are not organisms, and thus your analogy here fails, considering that one getting one's STDs treated does not and should not violate anyone's rights.

For the record, though, in regards to gender equality, I want to point out that we are not God (*if* God even exists) and that thus we are unable to completely control basic biology right now. That said, hopefully in the future everyone who will want to get a full, complete sex change (of his or her body and/or of his or her brain) will be able to successfully do this. For the record, the idea of getting such a sex change strongly appeals to me (a current biological male).

ignorance_is_curable said...

Regardless of how you classify them, the actions of sperm and egg are not controlled by any aspect of the sex act. Those living things are simply "released", and their actions are self-directed, per instructions in their own DNA. Mindless biological machines, they are! (You do know, don't you, that molecular biology is basically "natural nanotechnology?)


And like I previously wrote, if those life-forms fail to perform "normally", then pregnancy does not happen even if wanted, and blame can be assigned to those life-forms.


Which Logically means that if those life-forms succeed at performing "normally", then pregnancy does happen even if not wanted, and blame can be assigned to those life-forms.


Your drunk-driver analogy is flawed in that the liver is part of an overall human organism. But sperm and egg are independent life-forms, else "in-vitro fertilization" would be impossible.

Clinton said...

I still don't think it follows that we can justify abortion on demand for that reason, though. It's just a fact of life that not all crimes can be sufficiently proven. We wouldn't allow people to kill someone else as revenge just because not all murders can be sufficiently proven. We can't let women kill fetuses that they're responsible for creating just because we can't sufficiently prove all rapes. If we do, then we're committing a grave moral injustice because of all the human beings that are being killed.

Rachel B said...

I would appreciate that information when you come by it.

My impression was that the author was implicitly making the naturalistic fallacy.
By far, childbirth is no longer as dangerous as it once was, but it is not without risk of health & life to the mother.

Quoting you:
"A woman who gives birth, leaves the hospital 3 days later and dies in a car wreck on the way home would be included in the number of 'maternal deaths'."

However, the World Health Organization (WHO) defines maternal death as "the death of a woman while pregnant or within 42 days of termination of pregnancy, irrespective of the duration and site of the pregnancy, from any cause related to or aggravated by the pregnancy or its management but not from accidental or incidental causes." Doesn't that mean they do exclude coincidental deaths, such as a car accident after a safe delivery?

I realize that abortion-related maternal deaths are included in those statistics & it makes sense. But if you were to break down the comparative risk of abortion to childbirth abortions is lower risk, provided that they are safe, legal & regulated.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22270271 (abstract only)

Woman may have pre-existing conditions that are discovered due to pregnancy, but that does not change the fact that pregnancy often exacerbates those conditions, such as a heart conditions & diabetes. Whether these women want to continue their pregnancy or not should be their choice and it shouldn't be left to politicians to have them & their doctors prove that they are sick enough or their lives are in enough danger.

I have several friends who are married or in monogamous relationships, have children and have decided to not have other children due to health issues from their previous pregnancies. One was bed-ridden for nearly 6 months with her second child. Another has a serious, treatable illness, but the treatments are not compatible with carrying a pregnancy to term. These women use every reasonable precaution, but what if they became pregnant regardless of their best efforts? Should they stop having penetrative sex with their husbands? Only oral & manual sex acts, just in case? Should their families suffer from the costs associated with a high-risk pregnancy? Months to a year with only one income; effectively 1 parent to care for the children in the face of mounting medical costs? I think it would be a reasonable & responsible thing for them to choose abortion.

Rachel B said...

I like you, Coyote. I really do!

Technically, many STDs are caused by microbial organisms. But my intention was not to compare the unborn with a microbial disease, but to underline that abortion is a medical procedure
.

MarcusFenix said...

Fair enough, I'll endeavor to find it, but I have a few things going on, so if it takes a few, my apologies.

The fallacy would be if he was claiming that because it's natural, that it's good. I took it as being simply a statement, here, of fact.

As far as the WHO numbers, sometimes they do, sometimes they don't. The numbers don't reflect things to be seperated out, such as pre-existing conditions that existed beforehand. The condition might have been worsened, but it was still there before. The issue would have occurred at some point anyway. Outside of the WHO stats, some of the numbers from other groups are less clear, and sometimes lump them in together. You have to read them really carefully to be sure.

"I realize that abortion-related maternal deaths are included in those statistics & it makes sense."

I tend to disagree. Those should be separate stats, to show problems with the procedure. The other thing to consider is if an abortion affects someone long afterwards, such as depression which causes suicides, physical problems that happen outside of the time frame, etc. In total, those stats should be separate, and tracked much longer than they already are, to ensure accuracy.

"Woman may have pre-existing conditions that are discovered due to
pregnancy, but that does not change the fact that pregnancy often
exacerbates those conditions..."

Yet doesn't remove the fact they were there previously. Exacerbation of an issue doesn't mean pregnancy caused the issue, which is what is often touted by abortion supporters I've come across. It's sad, but sometimes one is linked to have caused the other, which isn't true. Of course, not knowing the diagnosis of such beforehand makes things problematic, but if someone has a condition and then does something to put themselves in harms way anyway....then their judgment is what should be questioned.

"it shouldn't be left to politicians to have them & their doctors
prove that they are sick enough or their lives are in enough danger."

So who would judge that they're sick enough, and be of sound mind to do so? Certainly the doctor in mind, right?

" These women use every reasonable precaution, but what if they became
pregnant regardless of their best efforts? Should they stop having
penetrative sex with their husbands?"

That can sound like an emotional plea, but no one is really calling for that. Tubal ligation, as well as options for men, can be on the table and addressed. With those and birth control methods, the chance of pregnancy would be virtually none. If it is a case of medical necessity for an abortion (as Clint has posted previously elsewhere, but others as well), you'll find little resistance to such treatment in cases where it's needed.

Using such a small minority of cases, however (realistically, 1% or so of abortions are for medical necessity) to try and prove the vast majority are required falls incredibly short in any reasonable context.

" Months to a year with only one income; effectively 1 parent to care for
the children in the face of mounting medical costs? I think it would be
a reasonable & responsible thing for them to choose abortion.'

Reasonable and responsible should be the first thing considered, certainly. But punishing a new life for the irresponsible nature of the parent isn't terribly fair either. This, of course, sort of sidesteps the ethical or moral problems with abortion, which need to be considered as well.

Personally, if food, shelter, clean water, and other life necessities are in question, then what kind of good judgment is someone using in those situations? Food for thought.

GracieW said...

no he is completely right. My husband is not responsible for the bad gas he sometimes exudes (with great pleasure, let me tell you). It is the fault of his bowels. Sometimes those silly eggs and sperm get together even when you're just laying bed not even having sex!! They just have a will of their own and they don't always wait for the body they belong to to give the go ahead and create a baby. Sometimes they just jump the gun and do it all on their own.


Seriously...with logic such as this no wonder more people are agreeing with the pro-life side.

GracieW said...

The relationship between fetus and woman is a parent/child relationship and parents have a duty to care for their children until such a time they can hand the child over to someone else to care for if they do not wish to care for the child any longer. You can go on and on about tapeworms but the unborn are not parasites (their stem cells actually heal the mother's body and they are the same species as the mom). The unborn are living human beings. You admit as such. So then you squarely place yourself in the camp of those who think some human beings should not have any rights. Where in history have we read about such people? Hmmmm....you're in 10th grade? Hopefully you learn about it this year.

GracieW said...

No because the child is a living human being no matter how conceived. To say that all women must carry to term unless they were raped is to buy into this idea that women who have sex must be punished. Women shouldn't carry to term "cause they chose to have sex" but because the unborn are living human beings who have the basic and most fundamental of all rights...life.


google Rebecca Kiessling. She is my friend and she was conceived through rape. Should she have died because of her father's crimes? We don't even put rapists to death but children should die instead? Btw, Rebecca's birth mom is glad abortion was illegal and that Rebecca was born!

Em said...

My sarcasm detector failed and I thought you were being serious until the end, and my face was like O_o wat.

GEIxBattleRifle said...

If you actually read more carefully I did not say unborn humans are parasites. I said they're exactly as killable as guinea worms and tapeworms that are inside your body sucking your body resources like unborn humans do as well. None of you have given any reason why one particular entity inside someone else's body should get special treatment while other entities inside her body are killable for some reason.
Like I stated, It doesn't really matter if the unborn human benefits the women's body as it is her decision if she wants to benefit off of it AND her decision if she has a ''duty'' to the unborn human. That's how it works.

Em said...

No, they're not. The DNA they possess is the DNA of the organism to which they belong, except that they're haploid instead of diploid. If you put skin cells in a petri dish with the right nutrients, they'll grow and divide for a time, too. That doesn't mean that you're surrounded by a trillion independent little life forms that could even remotely reasonably be considered responsible for their actions. Whatever they do in the petri dish would be the responsibility of the scientist who put them there, just as, for instance, the behavior of sperm is the responsibility of the man who deposited them in a woman's vagina.

ignorance_is_curable said...

Are you not aware that an overall "human organism" is actually an "ecology" in which bacterial cells outnumber human cells by about 10 to 1? Those bacteria are "symbiotic"; the human cells cannot survive without their help (and vice versa).


Well, if any single bacterial cell in the body is an organism, why can't every single human cell also be called an organism? The overall human body is a "gestalt", greater than the sum of its parts because of the way those parts cooperate with each other.


Sperm and egg, regardless of their status as organisms, are independent living things. They are Naturally Evolved specifically to interact in a way that is actually somewhat similar to something that many bacterial cells sometimes do upon meeting, even when they are different species: DNA injection occurs (but the bacteria do it to each other).


And the point remains that just because a scientist might put sperm and egg into a petri dish, they are not guaranteed to yield a zygote. Because they are independent of the scientist's action!


Your picture of the overall reproduction process appears to be constructed like a "Rube Goldberg" device. Only if you were right about that can all blame be assigned to the sex-participants. Because this device is actuated by sex and a newborn baby is a guaranteed result, no matter how complicated the intermediary steps. NOPE! Because Murphy's Law is a factor in all complex processes! The device actually breaks down as much as 65% of the time! (And it is always broken for infertile couples, which is why they go to reproduction clinics to try to get a "fix" for their problematic Rube Goldberg device.)


So, once again, if the intermediaries in the overall reproductive process can be blamed when unwanted failure happens, they can equally be blamed when unwanted success happens. Any other view is Pure Hypocrisy.

Em said...

*sigh* Yes, I'm aware of that, although by mass those various microorganisms comprise only a small part of you. However, most people probably aren't aware, so you shouldn't cite relatively unknown facts and then be like "are you not aware that" as though it's some shock that they don't know such common knowledge, because it comes across like you're saying people are stupid if they're not up on irrelevant microbiology fun facts.


Cells are classified by their composition and function. Skin is an organ, skin cells are somatic cells, and they are a part of the body, just as liver cells are a part of the body, and saying that a cell can function and live in vitro does not mean that the nature of the cell is an "independent life form."


The term "life form" is too nebulously defined to be worth anything. There are multi-cellular organisms, single celled organisms, somatic cells belonging to a multi-cellular organism, germ cells belonging to a multi-cellular organism (in animals), and matured, differentiated gametes-sperm and eggs. Probably other designations too, involving fungal life-cycles, etc. Generally though, I think people use "life-form" to refer to organisms. Gametes have your DNA, function because of your DNA, develop in your body, don't get rejected by your body's immune system, etc. The fact that they don't work in conjunction with similar cells to form tissue doesn't make them independent life forms.


And even if they were, it's patently ridiculous to assign responsibility to sperm or egg for "causing" conception. They have no conscious awareness and cannot make decisions. If the sperm doesn't fertilize the ovum, it's because something went wrong, not because the sperm was like "nah, not today." Their sole purpose is conception, the biological purpose of sex is conception, sex is intrinsically ordered toward conception, the expected result of depositing sperm in a woman's vagina when she's ovulating should be conception, and the only two life forms who made a decision to have sex are those responsible for the conception of the child: the mother and father. A zygote is an independent life form-an organism. Sperm and eggs are not.

GEIxBattleRifle said...

Which were her body resources to begin with.
How dumb can you get?

GEIxBattleRifle said...

Which were her body resources to begin with.
Seriously how dumb can you get?

Timothy Griffy said...

Congratulations. You have soundly rebutted a particularly poor argument. You should have quit while you were ahead. At least then you wouldn't exposed your hypocrisy for the world to see.

You revealed your hand when you wrote:

“The right to life, properly understood, is a negative right not to be killed unjustly. There is something else we must keep in mind, that the act of donating a bodily organ may be similar in some respects, but not in relevant ones. For example, pregnancy is a natural process. There are some bodily changes that occur to the woman during pregnancy, but these are all changes that her body has been adapted to handle. In contrast, organ donation is a recent phenomenon; no one's body is naturally adapted to handle organ donation, and as a result, donating an organ is a more dangerous act. Even if we take the position that a woman can't legally abort a pregnancy, we would not necessarily be committed to the position that people should be forced to donate organs. But if someone is responsible for someone's damaged organ,
then I think a legitimate case can be made. But in any case, continuing with pregnancy (assuming it's not a life-threatening pregnancy) is a morally obligatory act, not supererogatory, as
pro-choice advocates need it to be. Organ donations are supererogatory acts, morally heroic but in no way obligatory.”

It is your distinction between natural and unnatural that it irrelevant. Yes, pregnancy is a natural
process, but it is a process that risks death and permanent disability, and it always has. Yes, donating an organ is a recent phenomenon, but it also risks death and permanent disability. Forcing
a woman to continue with a pregnancy forces her to assume those risks. Forcing someone to donate their organs forces them to assume those risks. There is no morally (or legally) relevant difference
here. If continuing with pregnancy is a morally obligatory act, then so is organ donation (assuming it's not a life-threatening donation).

Bottom line: Even if unborn humans are persons, this would only grant it the same rights as anyone else. Either everyone has a right to life that supersedes another person's right to bodily autonomy, or it does not. If the right to life gives
the fetus a claim to the woman's body, then the right to life gives the same claim to everyone else, especially now that we can manipulate nature in such a way as to ensure the right to life for
those who would otherwise die. If you take the position that a woman cannot legally abort a pregnancy, you do in fact commit yourself to a
position people should be forced to donate organs. Because even pregnant women can expect everyone else will receive equal treatment
under the law.



Or perhaps you should admit that forcing women to carry a pregnancy really is about controlling their bodies.

Timothy Griffy said...

Actually, the author did implicitly make the claim that the natural state is better when he went on to write, "no one's body is naturally adapted to
handle organ donation, and as a result, donating an organ is a more
dangerous act." In making such a claim, he was implying that the natural process of pregnancy was better.

Timothy Griffy said...

It doesn't.

MarcusFenix said...

Unfortunately, context here won't give you that.

Is something the body can do as part of its function going to be better than a surgical/medical procedure which is, by all definition, an unnatural act?

Of course.

That's not an argument that because childbirth is a natural process, that it's naturally better, in the sense you mean it. Take a simple example.

Humans pee. When I pee, it happens naturally. Doesn't make it good, bad, or indifferent in that case...just is what it is. Now, take a catheter, shove it up the urethra, and give me medication that forces me to urinate.

I'll take naturally going to the bathroom any day over that. That's what was meant in the article, incidentally.

Timothy Griffy said...

Actually, it is context that gives me exactly that. Let's note, once again, what Mr. Wilcox actually wrote:

“For example, pregnancy is a natural process. There are some bodily changes that occur to the woman during pregnancy, but these are all changes that her body has been adapted to handle. In contrast, organ donation is a recent phenomenon; no one's body is naturally adapted to handle organ donation, and as a result, donating an organ is a more dangerous act.”

So, “donating an organ is a more dangerous act.” More dangerous than what? In context, the only thing Wilcox could be referring to is pregnancy. And why does he say that donating an organ is more dangerous? Did he offer any statistics to make that case? No. His evidence that donating an organ is more dangerous is that it “is a recent phenomenon; no one's body is naturally adapted to handle organ donation.” If he didn't want to leave the impression that pregnancy is better or safer because it is natural, then he should have dropped the safety angle entirely or supported his claim better.

“Is something the body can do as part of its function going to be better than a surgical/medical procedure which is, by all definition, an unnatural act?”

I guess that is going to depend on how you define “better.” Most birds can fly as a function of their bodies, but airplanes will still beat most birds in terms of speed and range.

Okay, let's talk about peeing. While I've never had to cath, I have had an experience that is similar enough to get going on. When I was a kid, one of my ureters developed a blockage. For those who don't know, the ureters are the tubes that take urine from the kidneys to the bladder. Anyway, correcting the problem required going in, cutting out the blocked part of the ureter, and connecting the severed ends. In order to help it heal, a catheter was connected directly to my kidney so that my urine collected in a bag that periodically needed emptying.

As it so happened, they miscalculated the time my ureter needed to heal, and took out the catheter. I wound up with an infection that could have cost me my life. They inserted a new catheter. This time, when they removed it, they inserted a stent so my ureter would gain the strength it needed to resume its natural function. Take a wild guess how it was both inserted and removed. I'll give you a hint: they didn't open me up.

So then, what was “better”? Allowing nature to do what it was doing, or using an artificial method to do the job nature was supposed to be doing?

KB said...

Consider this Gei,

Can a woman kill a tapeworm outside of her body?

YES

Can a woman kill a a hookworm outside of her body?

YES.

Correct me if I am wrong, but it sounds like the argument you are trying to make is that the location of the organism, be it fetus or tapeworm, is what makes it morally or legally okay for a woman to decide to terminate it. However, the woman's ability to kill hookworms and tapeworms is not dependent at all to the geography of those said organisms. And while a woman is just as free to kill tapeworms outside of her body, she is not just as free to kill homo sapiens outside of her body. That is the reason why I think Clinton was having trouble with your analogy.

Chalkdust said...

Okay, try this analogy:

Someone is very, very sick. They need a series of bone marrow transfusions, or they will die. You are a compatible donor. You choose to donate bone marrow once, thus saving their life. They now need a second bone marrow transfusion. This is a completely foreseeable consequence of your action in donating the first time. You caused them to be in a position of needing bone marrow. According to are legal system, you are allowed to change your mind at any point: you may choose not to donate any more bone marrow at any time. Your prior donation does not obligate you to donate a second time.

The legal system does not actually hold us accountable for all foreseeable consequences of our actions. It only holds us accountable for mitigating the harm they cause.

If I have sex and conception results, I have just saved my egg cell's life (by giving it the sperm cell it needs to continue to grow). Or if you don't think a zygote is the same entity as its parent oocyte, I have just granted this new human life existence. It's hard to argue that I have harmed this zygote by giving it a sperm cell/bringing it into existence! Thus, allowing (or causing) fertilization to occur is helping the zygote, not injuring it.

The zygote's need to use my uterus is a foreseeable consequence of fertilization. And the patient's need to use your bone marrow again is a foreseeable consequence of your first donation. The law does not compel you to let the patient use your bone marrow a second time. Thus, if the law is to be consistent, it cannot compel me to allow a zygote to use my uterus, either.

Timothy Griffy said...

I don't think this analogy will work. It might be foreseeable that a person will need a further donation, but how does the first donation actually create the need for the second?

In any case, very few people, even "pro-lifers," argue the ovum is a person, and it is even harder to argue the zygote is the same as the parent oocyte.

You're better off just sticking to the fact that the donor has to continue giving consent each time.

Chalkdust said...

I was envisioning a situation where the patient would die immediately if they didn't get the first transplant, and eventually if they didn't get the second transplant. The first transplant causes the need for the second transplant because the patient would be dead without it, and a dead patient doesn't need a transplant.

The next time I formulate this I'll try making the first one an immediately-necessary blood transfusion instead.

I was trying to write it so that you could think of "saving the patient's life" as analogous to either "saving the ovum's life" or "granting the zygote existence". If the second one works better, fine.

I was trying specifically to address the responsibility argument--the argument that if you cause a zygote to need your body, then it has the right to use your body. I'm arguing that "granted the zygote existence, with the side effect that it needs a uterus" is analogous to "saving a sick person with a blood donation, with the side effect that they now need a bone marrow transplant" rather than "hurt a healthy person, with the side effect that they now need a kidney transplant".

That is, we don't force people to "take responsibility" for people we've helped, only people we've hurt, and a zygote is not hurt by being brought into existence.

Clinton said...

I don't know what you mean by asserting that I've rebutted a poor argument. Bodily rights arguments are some of the strongest arguments the pro-choice side has. And I was responding to one particular blogger on the issue. I have several articles on this site in which I give a more robust defense of the pro-life position.


Preventing a woman from killing her child does not risk death or serious injury to the woman. Many woman don't experience any problems or difficulties during pregnancy, and many have said they never felt better. Plus, as even Alan Guttmacher has written, today it is possible to bring almost any woman through pregnancy alive and if they have a condition in which they risk death or serious injury, abortion is unlikely to save, much less prolong, life.


A woman is not justified in having an abortion in the off-chance it may pose a significant threat later on. By that logic, we should allow parents to kill their toddlers because they may grow up to kill them later.

Clinton said...

Sorry for the late reply. You have fallen into a common trap, in that whenever people see the word "natural" they automatically assume "naturalistic fallacy." Pregnancy is the natural way that our species reproduces. It is not a disease, nor is it an unnatural state such as being plugged into the kidneys of a violinist. Does it carry risks? Of course, just like with eating, a natural process to nourish our bodies, we run the risk of choking or overeating.

Clinton said...

For some reason, when people see the word "nature" or "natural," they automatically assume "naturalistic fallacy." I'm thinking I may have to start including a definition key in my articles.

Timothy Griffy said...

The bodily rights argument is the strongest argument the pro-choice side has, for the simple fact that the pro-life side has come up with nothing that overcomes it. No, the particularly poor argument you rebutted was Ms. Young's attempt to deal with the "responsibility objection." As I pointed out to Ms. Young on her site, she made the wrong type of argument altogether and you soundly rebutted her.


Pregnancy itself poses risks to the life and health to the woman. Prohibiting abortion forces them to take those risks. That "many" women don't actually experience them does not remove the fact that the risks exist, and that "many" other women have experienced them. As long as the risks to life and health are nonzero, a woman is entirely justified in having an abortion. After all, everybody else gets the choice whether whether to undergo taking even an off-chance risk to their lives and health. You know, equal treatment under the law and all that.


As a reminder, having a toddler does not in and of itself pose a threat to life and health the way pregnancy does. You'd be better off quitting with the apples-and-oranges comparisons and focusing on the actual argument I made.

Timothy Griffy said...

The situation you are envisioning is one where it is known from the beginning that at least two donations will actually be needed. Even as edited, I have a hard time seeing how the first donation *causes* the need for a later donation. That is a crucial link. You're argument may apply to a subset of women who willingly became pregnant, but later changed their mind about wanting a baby. But in such cases, the "responsibility objection" applies in spades, as I'm sure Clinton would inform you.

What I'd advise is that, for now, don't try to make an analogy here. Make your argument more straightforwardly. Your main thesis has some potential, and I'd like to see how it will play out.

Timothy Griffy said...

Excellent. I think you are really on to something here. I wish Disqus had a way for us to communicate directly with each other so we could work on this further. With me at least, you don't have to worry much about tl;dr summaries.

Meanwhile, here are some points you may wish to consider in the interest of strengthening your argument:

1. I am not so sure the "responsibility argument" isn't about punishing the woman for sex. You actually nailed that point when you talked about whether the mother owed the zygote reparations for bring it into existence. They very structure of the "responsibility argument" implies pregnancy as punishment for sex, and I have seen enough people push it that way for me to believe the onus is on the person making the argument to convince me otherwise.

2. You're probably going to have to defend your assertion that causing someone to exist is not special, or not special enough to become a compelling reason for prohibiting abortion.

3. I think the difficulties of turning your blood (marrow) donation example into an analogy is too much to overcome. I see what you are saying about how one donation "causes" the need for the second, but the problem here is that the "cause" in this case is remote, whereas sex causing pregnancy is proximate. You can still use the donation example as an *example,* but if you try to push it into an *analogy,* your going to get nailed on the proximate/remote distinction. They will still try to do it anyway, but why give them an easy slam dunk?

4. Most "pro-lifers" don't think of an ovum as a person (though I understand some have been floating laws recognizing the egg as a person), whereas do think the zygote is a person with the right to life. So get used to thinking in terms of "creating a zygote." For the typical "pro-lifer," that is what counts.