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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Misconceptions about the rape exception.

A few notes: (1) SPL doesn't take a stance on the rape exception and invites bloggers to discuss both sides of the issue. (2) Because I’m talking about rape and pregnancy, I use female pronouns to refer to rape survivors. However, please remember that not all rape survivors are women. (3) I reference Thomson’s Violinist a few times. If you don’t know what that is you can read a summary here. 

I believe abortion should be legal in cases of rape. I find that many pro-life activists disagree very strongly with my stance. In the course of our discussions, they make assertions and ask questions that often reflect a misunderstanding of my position. In this post I am trying to clarify what I think the rape exception is—and isn’t—about.


The rape exception is about bodily integrity.

I should preface this point by saying, for me, the rape exception is about bodily integrity. There are many pro-lifers who believe abortion should be legal in cases of rape, and I expect they have a variety of reasons for their stance, including some reasons I am going to object to later in this post. So please understand I am not trying to speak for everyone who makes an exception; I’m only speaking for myself and the people who ground their stance in bodily integrity.

Our society pretty carefully guards people’s bodily integrity. We don’t have required blood, bone marrow, or organ donations, not even from the dead. Taking a non-voluntary blood sample from a drunk driver is controversial. We won’t legally require all citizens to get vaccinated. All of these situations involve risk to other people’s health and safety (people dying on organ waiting lists, people hit by drunk drivers, people getting what should be preventable diseases), but our society is generally willing to pay such a price; bodily integrity takes precedence.

Granted, none of those situations involves such a direct threat to another’s life as abortion. It’s hard to find a truly analogous situation. But I find most people agree that you should legally be allowed to unplug from Thomson’s violinist, even though that would allow the violinist to die.

Even if the violinist was Sherlock. Er, maybe.

As a baseline stance, we protect one person’s bodily integrity even at the expense of another person’s life. I think there are strong reasons to argue for an exception when it comes to most abortions.

But those reasons get a lot weaker when we are talking about pregnancy resulting from rape. It’s very difficult for me to imagine any other circumstance where we would tell someone she is legally required to give of her body that way when she did not cause the other person’s precarious position. (Justice For All has a great analogy to explore that concept in their De Facto Guardian paper. Everyone interested in the abortion debate should really read this paper—or you can listen to a presentation of the concepts here.) 

Because I don’t believe we should legally require people to give of their bodies in any situations analogous to pregnancies from rape, I can’t justify that legal requirement for pregnancies from rape either. My support for the rape exception is about my understanding of—and agreement with—how our society treats bodily integrity. And that’s all it’s about.

However, fellow pro-lifers (and, in fact, many pro-choicers) seem to think I believe abortion should be legal in cases of rape for a whole variety of other reasons—reasons that have little-to-nothing to do with my stance. I hope this post helps clarify a few issues.


1. The rape exception isn’t about valuing children conceived in rape less than other children.

When I tell other pro-lifers I think abortion should be legal in cases of rape, the most common response is “Why do you think children conceived in rape are worth less than other children?”

The answer: I don’t.

How we are conceived doesn’t change our worth. It is illogical and unfair to hold anyone responsible (especially children) for situations over which they have no control, and a child has no control over how she is conceived. This is why I hate the phrases (thankfully now rarely used) “illegitimate child” or “bastard child.” It’s why I also hate the phrases (unfortunately still often used) “rapist's child” or “rape baby.” It’s wrong to assign a child negative qualities based on how she was created.

Rape doesn’t change the child’s worth, but it does change other factors that affect the morality of abortion. For example, as pro-lifers, we very strongly emphasize responsibility and consent to risks. How often have you heard any of the following?
“The two parents consented to risking pregnancy, and they are responsible for putting the child in a position of dependence.”
“The real choice is the choice to have sex in the first place.”
“We aren’t talking about forced pregnancy because people choose to take that risk!”
We get frustrated when our opponents seem to suggest pregnancy happens in a vacuum, divorced from our choices and therefore wholly out of our control. So we respond with ideas like those listed above, and I get that. But when we're talking about rape, those ideas are irrelevant. The child conceived in rape is worth just as much as any other, but a rape survivor is not responsible for the fact that the child is growing inside her. By definition, she did not consent to that risk.

So if responsibility and consent to risks are such important factors, it should be clear how cases of rape are fundamentally different even though the child’s value is the same. You would have to ignore the very nature of rape—the entire reason it’s so much worse and so controversial—to think fetal value is the only factor that could be different about a rape case.


2. The rape exception isn’t about the rape survivor’s emotional turmoil.

Because I think abortion should be legal in cases of rape, people have accused me of “caving under pressure.” They seem to think I just don’t have the nerve to tell women who are emotionally or psychologically traumatized that they should still carry unwanted pregnancies.

I do think it’s important to understand the gravity of rape and how it affects people. And I worry that some pro-lifers, eager to show the consistency of their pro-life stances, end up speaking callously or dismissively about rape. I think, as a movement, we should acknowledge that, yes, many rape survivors want to carry resulting pregnancies and need more social support. But we should also acknowledge that, no, not all rape survivors want to carry resulting pregnancies; some really, really do not want to. I often feel as if my fellow pro-lifers prefer to pretend those women don’t exist.

So yes, the rape survivor’s emotional turmoil is important and we need to strive to understand where she’s coming from. But actually, no, I don’t think her emotional turmoil justifies the rape exception (though some think maybe it could).

As a pro-lifer, when I think about the morality of abortion in a given case I try to imagine how I would view that case if we were talking about a born child rather than an unborn one. And we would not say killing a born child should be legal if the parent is too emotionally traumatized to care for that child. If we wouldn’t say that for a born child, I don’t believe the reasoning works to justify abortion either.

However, if we look at the issue in terms of bodily integrity, it gets more complicated. It’s hard to think of equivalent situations where born children are using their parents’ bodies the way unborn children do. To me, this is why grounding the rape exception in bodily integrity is so different, and more compelling, than grounding the exception in the woman’s emotional turmoil.


3. The rape exception isn’t about political expediency.

Some people assume I grant the rape exception because I believe that’s the only way we can get pro-life legislation passed.

I expect there are many people who grant the rape exception for this reason. After all, only about 1% of abortions are for cases of rape. Given that the debate over the rape exception is especially emotional, controversial, and entrenched, I expect many pro-lifers would rather focus on the majority of abortions which seem clearer cut—that is, abortions performed on a healthy fetus carried by a healthy mother for pregnancies resulting from consensual sex. I think some pro-lifers grant the rape exception to simplify the conversation. They believe it’s more effective to focus our finite political power elsewhere.

But even if we had the political power to do so, I would not support outlawing abortion in cases of rape. This is because I don’t argue for the rape exception to be politically practical; I argue for the rape exception because I believe it’s the right and consistent stance to take. Our society already guards bodily integrity even in cases where doing so can hurt other people, and to my view supporting the rape exception is consistent with that approach.


4a. The rape exception isn’t about punishing the child.

I’ve talked about this point before. People who make this claim usually try to assert that if you advocate for an effect that harms people, you are punishing those people regardless of your motivation. So even if I don’t want to punish anyone for being conceived in rape, they assert that, effectively, I am still punishing the children.

But all we have to do is apply this line of thinking to a myriad of other topics and we see the assertion is disingenuous. If you believe marriage should be between a man and a woman, does that mean you want to punish people for being gay? If you support social welfare of any kind, does that mean you want to punish taxpayers? If you believe we shouldn’t be legally obligated to donate our extra kidneys, does that mean you want to punish people dying while they wait on organ donor lists? Why do you think people waiting on organ donor lists are worth less than everyone else? Why don’t you care about their lives??

See what I did there?

You can apply this punishment accusation to almost anything. If we’re saying that motivation is irrelevant and only effect matters, then when you support any sort of law or regulation or principle that narrows the options of any group at all, people can accuse you of wanting to punish that group. In fact this is the exact mentality that leads so many of our opponents to accuse pro-lifers of wanting to punish women for having sex. If you think that accusation is unfair, maybe keep that unfairness in mind before accusing those of us who support the rape exception of wanting to punish the child.


4b. The rape exception is not about avoiding punishment for the rapist!

How many of you have heard (or said) “punish the rapist, not the child”?

Is there a rule I don’t know about that says if I support a rape exception, I am not allowed to also support punishing rapists? Are the rape exception and punishments for rape mutually exclusive? Does anyone actually believe that people who support the rape exception have some desire to take the focus away from rapists?

I mean, seriously, where do people get this phrase? What is the logic behind this idea? People who advocate for the rape exception often do so from a place of particular empathy for rape survivors and particular concern over the continued violation of their bodily integrity. There’s really no reason to tell us—of all people—to “punish the rapist.” I’m not sure I can overemphasize how baffling this phrase sounds.

And the phrase isn’t just baffling because it implies we don’t care about punishing rapists. It’s also ignorant because it makes it sound as if punishing rapists is a simple thing to do.

Do you know how many rapists ever even get accused of their rapes? And of those who get accused, how many have formal charges brought against them? And of those who get charged, how many go to trial? And of those who go to trial, how many get convicted? Seriously, do you know? Because it’s not many. It’s an appallingly small number, actually.

Source: RAINN.org

Why? Well, there’s no shortage of reasons. Many rape survivors have great difficulty telling anyone, much less telling the authorities, about what has happened to them. Some aren’t psychologically prepared to process it. Many fear they won’t be believed, or that there will be repercussions against them.

A woman who gets pregnant due to rape can find herself in an even more complicated situation, with geniuses like Todd Akin acting as if she doesn’t exist, and with a society that assumes she will want to abort. And, if she chooses to carry her pregnancy, that same society treats her with increased suspicion about whether she was really raped. And, if she lives in one of the majority of states that don’t have specific custody laws regarding rapists, she also risks having to share custody or deal with visitation or other parenting issues with her attacker for years to come. There are already cases where rapists have threatened to assert parental rights unless these women drop charges or testimony against them.

Even if a rape survivor decides to go to the authorities, if she takes a while to work up the courage much or all of the forensic evidence may already be lost, if there was any forensic evidence to begin with! Sometimes there isn’t any.

Even if she goes forward quickly and there is evidence and she has the evidence collected, it doesn’t guarantee a successful prosecution. What’s the difference between forensic evidence of rape and forensic evidence of consensual sex? If he didn’t leave signs of other physical violence (such as bruises or strangulation, etc.) and if she didn’t try to physically fight him off (potentially leaving signs of physical violence on him), the evidence between rape and consensual sex can be indistinguishable.

(And please note that many rapes don’t involve that level of physical violence. Our society falsely believes the “stranger-rape prototype,” where people think “real” rape requires a stranger attacking in some alley with a weapon and threats of violence. In actuality, most rapes are by someone the survivor knows, occur without weapons, and happen in the survivor’s home or the home of a relative, friend, or neighbor. Imagine what kind of evidence those rapes leave.)

When people tell me “punish the rapist, not the child,” I hear “I really do not understand your perspective and I am unaware of what a complicated, painful, and seemingly intractable problem rape is from a judicial standpoint.”


5. The rape exception isn’t about “undoing” the rape.

You don’t “undo” rape. Whether a rape survivor gets pregnant or not, whether she carries that pregnancy or not, she was still raped.

When a rape survivor gets pregnant and doesn’t want to be pregnant, there are two separate issues: (1) she was raped, and (2) she is pregnant against her will. The rape exception is about addressing the second issue, not the first.


6. The rape exception isn’t about wanting women who were raped to get abortions.

This is a less common accusation, but occasionally people will try to claim that I favor or am okay with abortion in cases of rape.

Actually I think abortion in cases of rape is immoral, because it takes the life of an innocent human being. I think the moral choice is to carry the pregnancy and give life to a child who had no choice in how she was conceived. Likewise, I think it would be moral to stay plugged into Thomson’s violinist, and it would be moral for all of us to go donate blood, bone marrow, and our extra kidneys to save other lives. That doesn’t mean I think those actions should be legal requirements.

People ask if I could look in the eyes of those conceived in rape and tell them they deserved to die. No, I couldn’t. Because I don’t think they deserve to die. And I don’t think I have to pretend to think they deserve to die to support the rape exception.

Should we legally require people to donate their extra kidneys? No? So can you look into the eyes of someone dying in need of a kidney, and tell her she deserves to die? Man, I hope not. That’d be cruel and senseless. It also probably has nothing to do with your opposition to forced kidney donation.

The same idea applies to the rape exception. Please don’t assume that because I think this should be legal, I think it’s a good choice. Those are different issues. 


In conclusion…

I know many pro-lifers disagree with me on the rape exception. This post is not my attempt to convince you to make the rape exception. I just ask that, when you are debating the rape exception with someone, first try to find out how they ground their position. You may be surprised by all the points we agree on.

486 comments:

1 – 200 of 486   Newer›   Newest»
Marauder said...

Without getting into all the various moral implications, I'm interested in your thoughts as to how abortion being legal in cases of rape, but not in cases of consensual sex, would work on a practical level, considering that A) as you said, only 40 of every 100 rapes are reported to the police and B) cases that are actually prosecuted could take months or years to get through the judicial system, by which point the baby could have been born already. Do you think abortion should be legal in cases where somebody's been convicted of rape, or where there's been a rape accusation, or where there are criminal charges pending, or...?

frank maguire said...

This is a very compelling logical argument. http://www.rebeccakiessling.com/PhilosophicalAbortionEssay.html
Rebecca Kiessling (herself a product of rape), raises two analogies which are worth considering even if they dont dismantle your bodily autonomy argument.
Furthermore. The rape exception *is* often a great way to force a pro choice person to seriously consider his reasoning. Often when discussing the issue for the first time they will say "but what about rape", respond with this exception and it forces them to think further.

I personally add another caveat though.

As with "threat to the life of the mother", we dont consider the action taken abortion. In fact using the principal of double effect we argue that we are saving both lives, however if saving the mothers life indirectly or unfortunately leads to the death of the child that is unfortunate but not abortion/murder.

Action taken need not require a direct abortion (ie targeting and killing the unborn child) but early delivery or chemotherapy etc.

Likewise in this case. Preserving the bodily autonomy of the mother does not necessitate the killing of the unborn child... merely the removal of the child into an incubator.

These "abortions" should not be carried out in abortion clinics but in normal hospitals with experienced and committed doctors and nurses.

What should happen *if* we do concede the rape exception is a requirement to still try and preserve the unborn childs life. This may be fruitless at first. However doctors will may be forced to confront more premature deliveries and therefore improve the techniques being employed and lower the cut off point further. Artificial wombs *are* being developed, we should be able to do better.

The *biggest* problem with abortion rhetoric is the dehumanising language, the fact that abortion allows many to be convinced that a human being is being attacked and killed because the procedure is hidden.
In this case a woman can still uphold her right to bodily autonomy but we as a society will be showing respect and care for the unwitting second victim of rape by at least nominally trying to save its life.

Josh Brahm said...

While we still disagree about the rape exception, I love this piece because it will help people from two camps, (or slightly different positions in the same camp) understand each other better. We should be charitable, trying to understand the best arguments for the other persons position, and I think this post will help pro-lifers to do that. Well done.

Super_Red said...

This is an interesting post and I appreciate it. While we agree that there should not be forced kidney donation, I think I can assume we can also agree that there is a difference between telling someone who needs a kidney "I'm so sorry, there isn't a kidney available for you," and actively shooting them in the face. That's why it's not a straight analogy to abortion- In abortion, you are actively killing a human being, not failing to save their life- two very different acts.

Thanks for your thoughts!

Clinton said...

I'm not being facetious, just pointing out that if the arguments don't dismantle the bodily autonomy argument, then it's a red herring (even though the argument may be compelling to those who don't argue from bodily integrity). If you want to try to convince the author against the rape exception, you have to address the points that she raises in this article.

argent said...

That's why I like frank's post below, about not 'aborting' people conceived in rape but instead detaching them while making a reasonable effort to preserve their lives (personally I am undecided on the rape exception). What we need more than laws is a fundamental shift in the way people think about life before birth (although laws could certainly help with that).

dudebro said...

Abortion being legal in the case of rape wouldn't really work unless the victim could prove that she was raped. And what is to stop women from lying about it to get an abortion? So basically , a rape exception would only 'benefit' a few, while punishing those whose attackers are still at large.

tee said...

A born child at 1 week postpartum is just as dependent on her mother as the same child at 34 weeks gestation. In fact, a six year old is still dependent on her parents for survival. The difference between the bodily autonomy arguments you gave and pregnancy is that woman is the ONLY option for that child's survival. It is easy to say the child conceived as a result of rape is as valuable as any other child and is not being punished. Abortion means she is being forced to bear her mother's trauma and her father's responsibility. Were she born, that is called abuse. To argue for it's moral validity is to deny the child's value compared even to an unwanted child conceived through consensual sex.
Rape and abortion are difficult. When discussing my opposition to the death penalty, people always point out that if someone I loved were murdered, I would feel differently. They are absolutely correct! However, my feelings do not make the death penalty morally right. Morality exists for situations where there is no "good" solution.

Catherine Wettengel said...

"So if responsibility and consent to risks are such important factors, it should be clear how cases of rape are fundamentally different even though the child’s value is the same. You would have to ignore the very nature of rape—the entire reason it’s so much worse and so controversial—to think fetal value is the only factor that could be different about a rape case." For me, absolutely nothing takes precedence over the value of human life. In my mind, the woman's bodily integrity is violated absolutely and irreversibly during abortion. The woman's body is working on making someone (that's kind its thing) and then we silence it, so to speak. And the body does react negatively even if the mind thinks everything is ok (and, sadly, in many cases, the mind eventually comes into accord with the body years later). Rape is a brazen and open attack on the mind and the body simultaneously. Abortion is a quieter and even more insidious way of accomplishing the same thing. The worst part is, the woman or girl in our "culture" may actually be more likely in a rape case to be convinced (initially) that her bodily integrity is being compromised if she keeps her own kid. pitch black irony there

dudebro said...

The woman's bodily integrity is not lost as a result of abortion, specifically if she consents to the procedure.

By your logic, all surgical procedure are a violation of bodily autonomy, even if consented to. Heck, I guess consensual sex would also qualify as a violation by your standard?

KB said...

Interesting piece, not sure you've convinced me one way or another - but that leads more to our worship of the concept of bodily autonomy in general (I don't disagree with the concept, at least on paper, of forced vaccinations against whooping cough for example). I remain nebulously unsure about the rape exception, erring on the side of favoring it, at the least, because it is a difficult conversation we as a nation have to have, but it isn't worth having until we first, as a nation, establish that the unborn in general have rights. So kind of the expediency argument.

That being said, I'm curious about a hypothetical situation, and how in your ideal world, this might work out. Let's say a boyfriend and girlfriend are sexually active. They have sex on Thursday, and unbeknownst at the time, conceive. That being said, the guy is really not a good person, and comes home the following night, drunk, and rapes his girlfriend. The girlfriend decides she wants an abortion. Should she be able to get one? How about the situation where ovulation was on Saturday (basically, so it is not possible to distinguish if the sperm that fertilized the egg came from Thursday's consensual sex or Friday's rape)?

Catherine Wettengel said...

Abortion isn't just a surgical procedure though. It's a surgical procedure which is designed specifically to stop the life of her child which her body is attempting to make. A surgery to remove a tumor or something like that is an attempt to help the body continue by removing something that will eventually end the body. A surgery to kill a child growing inside a uterus is a direct attempt to stop a "project" that is the body's unmistakable intention.

lady_black said...

No a born child is specifically NOT "just as dependent on her mother" as one at 34 weeks gestation. In fact, the child is not dependent on it's mother AT ALL. She doesn't even have to take the born child home from the hospital. Pretty much anyone can care for the child.

Clinton said...

The child's not dependent on the mother at all? So you're saying the child can get a job, feed himself, use the restroom, etc.?

lady_black said...

Next time you reply, bother to read the comment through to the end, and avoid looking dumb.

lady_black said...

An abortion due to rape couldn't be dependent upon conviction. Conviction rarely happens. That doesn't mean a woman wasn't raped.

m17l6s85 said...

That's a really good question. I'm not sure what I think of that yet. I'm leaning toward saying she'd just have to say she was raped, not prove it (as many are unprovable), but I'm sure that would lead to a spike in false accusations, which would not only be a problem in terms of enforcing abortion law but it would also really undermine the word of any woman accusing someone of rape. So yeah, I'm not sure how that would work, it's a contentious issue.

m17l6s85 said...

You make a great point about double effect and trying to preserve the life of the child. I agree.

m17l6s85 said...

That's a really good point, and I agree. Letting die vs killing are very different acts. I do think there are forms of abortion that are more akin to "unplugging the violinist" than others--for example, it's my understanding that RU-486 detaches the embryo from the uterine wall, which is pretty different from a suction abortion that's sheer force can tear the embryo apart as it removes the embryo. What are your thoughts on that, as far as how it would affect the morality of the situation?

m17l6s85 said...

"For me, absolutely nothing takes precedence over the value of human life."


So do you think we should legally require people to donate blood, bone marrow, and their extra kidneys to save more lives? Honest question.

m17l6s85 said...

That's a really good question, and no one has posed it to me before. I'm not sure what I think about that, I'd have to chew on it for awhile.

Timothy Griffy said...

It's a distinction without a difference, particularly in regard to the violinist analogy. Someone must actively do the unplugging, and the act of unplugging the violinist is the proximate cause of his death.

frank maguire said...

I wasnt trying to convince the author against the rape exception. In fact I do find it logically compelling (if not morally), My point was more that when making such an exception we can still maintain a "no direct abortion" stance. My point is that you can still theoretically protect the right to life of the unborn even in the case of rape (by nominally attempting to preserve their life post delivery).

frank maguire said...

There is a distinct difference here between action an inaction. On the one hand inaction: person dies (not directly our fault), on the other hand action: person dies (directly our fault).
The bodily autonomy argument is valid but not in the sense that pro choicers mean ("the fetus is part of my body so i can destroy it") but in he sense that "I have a right not have my body inhabited against my will therefore I want it removed and no longer my responsibility".

Timothy Griffy said...

Wouldn't that nominally allow anyone to abort a pregnancy, no rape exception needed?

Timothy Griffy said...

I would say that is a distinction without a difference, particularly if, like Catherine you are arguing "Absolutely *nothing* takes precedence over the value of human life" (emphasis added).

I agree there is an inconsistency in forcing men who were raped to pay child support.

Super_Red said...

You don't see a difference between someone dying due to kidney failure after not finding a donor, and someone dying because you shot them in the face?

I would say that's a pretty major difference. Can you help me understand where you disagree?

m17l6s85 said...

Catherine didn't make that distinction. She said "absolutely nothing" takes precedence over human life. That sounds like a much more sweeping claim than the nuanced one you make here, Frank.

m17l6s85 said...

Yeah, Clinton, major strawman buddy. The child is dependent on adults in general--someone has to look after the child, but it doesn't have to be the mother, so the child is not dependent on the mother specifically at all. Hence safe haven laws and giving up children for adoption without even taking them home from the hospital.

k said...

Yes, very good question. I have no idea.

Super_Red said...

I would clarify, first, that I don't think that not donating a kidney means you are "letting someone die." If they need a kidney it means that their own body is shutting down and they are dying, however tragically, of natural causes. Certainly we hope there is a chance to save that person, but you are not morally complicit in someones death under those circumstances.

As to your question regarding RU-486 vs a suction abortion, I would ask your thoughts on my killing you with a gun vs poison. The action - I have actively chosen to end your life- and the end result - your life is ended- is the same. The method, in my mind, makes very little moral difference. Now certainly we would say that someone who chooses to torture their victim before ending their life is a particularly grotesque individual, and in that way we might find the "method" to be particularly immoral. But saying "at least I killed them nicely" doesn't usually fly in a court of law. So to the question is there a moral difference in a method of abortion, I believe that the answer is no. There are merely some forms that catch our attention as particularly torturous.

Duck said...

This is a huge misconception about what "bodily integrity" means. It does not mean "do not interfere with the bodiy's natural processes." It means we protect the individual's freedom for force; we do not take control of a person's body against their will.

lady_black said...

It doesn't matter, does it? In either event she isn't required to birth the spawn of a rapist.

LN said...

I'd still object to your analogy that all abortion is like shooting someone in the face. If you remove an embryo from your uterine wall, that's not like shooting them in the face. They die because of their own condition - their lack of development. But shooting someone in the face takes someone that is functioning perfectly fine on their own and *causes* them to be unable to function, usually killing them immediately.


So I don't think you're making a fair distinction between the actual, original condition of the person dying. Shooting = causing death. Removing someone from your body = refusing to sustain, allowing their original condition to take over.

Marauder said...

Thanks for replying. :)

LN said...

No, that's not the exception M is allowing in her blog post.


She makes an exception for abortion in cases where a child is conceived in a situation where the mother had no say.

Jennifer Starr said...

Why did he misrepresent lady_black's comment, then?

LN said...

You're still missing the point. If a woman has sex with a man for 12 years and then one day he rapes her, would she be justified in aborting any child she had conceived at any point, because the man is a rapist? No. The distinction is whether the woman is pregnant as a result of her choices to have sex or not. That's it! It's not about how shitty the father is. It's about whether the child conceived was conceived in a consensual situation.


I agree sometimes that's impossible to tell, in which case -- probably allow an abortion. However, your sentiment that it's just about what kind of person the father is -- that's off the mark.

Super_Red said...

As is usually the case in this type of conversation, I think we're misunderstanding each other. I'll try and be clear in what I think it is you're saying and hopefully you can help me understand.

I'm not sure why you think that removing a developing human being (who is functioning exactly as he or she is supposed to be functioning) in an effort to cause their death is "allowing their original condition to take over." What is there original condition that they are returning to? They were alive, and now they are dead, due to an active desire on the part of someone else for that younger human being to no longer be alive.

They are not dying from their own lack of development, they are dying because their natural development process was purposefully interrupted. It would be like saying that you didn't kill a fish by pulling it out of the water and letting it flop on the beach- it died due to its own lack of ability to breathe air. Obviously an infant is developmentally incapable of fending for themselves, but if you simply ceased feeding him or her, their death would be because you chose to starve them to death- not a result of their own lack of development.

you said: "But shooting someone in the face takes someone that is functioning perfectly fine on their own and *causes* them to be unable to function, usually killing them immediately."



On my end its entirely clear that that same action- taking someone that is functioning perfectly fine on their own(in this case a developing human being who is functioning and growing exactly like its supposed to) and *causes* them to be unable to function- is exactly the same regardless of what kind of abortion is being performed.


All of that to say, I'm not clear on what point it is you're trying to make and any clarification would be helpful.

Jennifer Starr said...

I think the only person who's qualified to say whether it's justified or not would be the woman who was actually raped.

LN said...

Jesus, you two, did you ever think maybe he honestly didn't understand it? Not that he's *purposefully* misrepresenting it? Sometimes our points take more elaboration. Do you treat people like this every day -- someone responds to you in a way that makes it clear they didn't get you, you accuse them of being dumb and insulting your intelligence? Grow up.

lady_black said...

I disagree. A rapist is a rapist the minute he makes himself a rapist. At that point she is aborting the spawn of a rapist. Not to even mention the vexation of having to deal with the rapist for a lifetime, and possibly having to grant the rapist visitation. I did understand your point.

Jennifer Starr said...

It's actually pretty easy to understand what lady_black was saying. Clinton doesn't strike me as someone with reading comprehension issues. Anyone can take care of a baby once it is born--that person doesn't necessarily have to be the biological parent.

LN said...

Ok if that's your stance, I think that's wrong, but that's you. My only point was that's not what the blog post is stating.

lady_black said...

No. I choose to believe he's smarter than that and was attempting to insult my intelligence. If he truly didn't understand my comment, he hasn't said so himself. If he does say he didn't understand, I'll happily apologize,.

Michelle Ewing said...

You took the words right out of my mouth! I discourage abortion in every situation I have seen first hand. my main point being "you made this person and now you want them dead? you don't get to do that". in the case of rape, she didn't make the child.

KB said...

The Lady doth protest, methinks she be trolling. She went to a pro-rape exception article, and a more-or-less in favor of the rape exception comment, and then proceeded to accuse people of forcing raped women to bear those children. If' that's not trolling, it's just being willfully obtuse.

Suba gunawardana said...

If the pro-life stance is based on the concept that "the zef's right to life supersedes the woman's bodily autonomy", then there's no logical reason for a rape exception. Because the "right to life" of an innocent individual (if they have it that right to begin with) should not be diminished/negated based on arbitrary conditions such as someone else's responsibility or lack thereof.

The real point is that a zef cannot have "right to life" to begin with, so all above considerations are redundant. No individual has the right to live at the expense of another person's body without their consent.

KB said...

"If the pro-life stance is based on the concept that "the zef's right to life supersedes the woman's bodily autonomy", then there's no logical reason for a rape exception"

Therein lies your misunderstanding! Pro-lifers do not place priority of the zef over the woman (generally speaking. I'm sure you could dig up some whacko somewhere). Pro-lifers generally submit that the rights of the zef and the woman are equal. The woman has an equal right to life as the zef (hence an overwhelming majority for life of mother exemptions).

I'm glad to have cleared this up for you.

Suba gunawardana said...

When comes to individual freedoms, the mind's intention is far more important than the "body's intention".

Suba gunawardana said...

OK so in your opinion, does the zef's "right to life" trump the woman's bodily autonomy, or not? Yes or no?

Blueberry said...

In fairness though, the newborn and fetus are at more-or-less equal levels of dependency by nature. Whereas the fetus is specifically dependent, and the newborn is generally dependent, just by circumstance. But you could come up with any number of circumstances where the mother could not immediately transfer care of a born child, making it specifically dependent. And conversely there are futuristic scenarios wherein transferring a fetus to an artificial uterus or an adoptive mother's womb may be possible, making the fetus generally dependent.

dudebro said...

The body has no "intention".

We stop mindless biological processes all the time.

And you keep talking about surgery. I guess chemical abortion doesn't bother you? It is simply an induced miscarriage.

DarkCougar555 said...

While it's true that anybody can take care of unadopted babies, anybody can abandon post-born babies in forests, on road or somewhere else. Those babies might have a chance of being found or not, so they can't survive on their own if they aren't be found...

dudebro said...

Of course you can. But there's no reason to. Because dropping the kid off at the fire station is easy peasy.

Blueberry said...

Interesting article, and good for helping pro-lifers to understand each other's viewpoints. It does raise a lot of questions.


If the baby is viable, and the mother no longer wants to be pregnant (maybe she can feel the baby kicking now, or she just discovered her pregnancy), should she be obligated to undergo a c-section or to induce labor rather than have an abortion?


If the baby is almost viable, should she be required to wait a few more weeks before inducing or having a c-section? Does the length of time required affect whether it's an acceptable infringement on her bodily integrity?


What if she is pregnant by rape and plans to carry to term but still wishes to take acutane or thalidomide? Is that justified?


Or what if a woman with her newborn who was conceived in rape, for whatever reason, cannot transfer care? May she abandon it? If the only way to end her responsibility to it is to kill it, may she do so?


Also I think there is a difference between requiring an organ transplant and requiring the provision for a child's basic, natural needs (nutrition, shelter form harm, etc.) It can also be argued that the uterus is unique in that, while all other organs are of the mother for the mother, the uterus is of the mother for the child. It's intrinsic purpose is to house humans beings while we are fetuses, and so we may have a greater natural right to it than to other body parts.


As pointed out elsewhere, there are also practical difficulties with a rape exception....Does the rape have to be proven in order to allow abortion? If not, how do we prevent women from falsely claiming they were raped in order to have abortions? What if it's unclear who fathered the child? What if she was tipsy, but not drunk? What if she was almost 16 and he just turned 18?

dudebro said...

It's intrinsic purpose is to house humans beings while we are fetuses,
and so we may have a greater natural right to it than to other body
parts.


Vaginas evolved to fit penises. Perfectly, in fact. You might say that the penis has an intrinsic right to any vagina it wants to penetrate. Rape ftw!

What if she is pregnant by rape and plans to carry to term but still wishes to take acutane or thalidomide? Is that justified?


What if a woman is pregnant by rape and also suffers from severe depression, is bipolar or schizophrenic. Her medications will harm the fetus - should the rape victim be forced to go 9 months sans medication for the fetus?

Blueberry said...

But it does still require the parent to use their time and bodies in ways they may not wish too. Maybe it's not to the same extent, but it's still an obligation that's required of them. And there could be circumstances where dropping the child off at a fire station is not easy, or perhaps not even possible.

dudebro said...

sure. but it isn't INSIDE the parent, which is a whole different ball of wax


the thing is, the very fact that we are even discussing a rape exception shows that yes, people DO know that there is a difference between having something inside your body if you do not want it there, and changing diapers and feeding formula.

Guest said...

Turnabout is fair play. The very fact that we are even discussing abortion shows that yes, people DO know that there is a difference between pregnancy and donating bone marrow (or being hooked up to the violinist, or sexually assaulted, or hosting a tapeworm, or whatever analogy you want to draw). Even in the case of rape.

dudebro said...

I always enjoy your articles M. You bring up interesting points, and make the debate a lot more fun:)

dudebro said...

Eh, some do. Not all do. Or maybe they do know a difference exists, but they pretend it's nonexistent. That changing diapers is just as a great a violation as birth.

dudebro said...

Because some people ARE in favour of forcing raped women to bear the children? Because that IS part of this discussion? Because it's not one giant circle jerk?

Blueberry said...

I'm not really sure you're seeing my point. A newborn child, for instance, has a natural right to her mother's breasts, not totally, but insofar as they're necessary to provide her with energy and nutrition. (If transferring care of the newborn is possible, then they're not necessary at all, but that doesn't always have to be the case.)


It doesn't follow that a man has a natural right to a woman's vagina; it is not part of his body, nor, like a uterus for the child, is it specifically designed for the sustenance and care of his body. The uterus is not needed by the mother for survival or even for health, but it is needed absolutely by the child. No one would exist if not for being able to reside the first 9 months in the uterus; it is what nature/God designed for our use.


If a woman has consensual sex and conceives, I believe there are certain medications that she should be prohibited from taking. That doesn't necessarily mean she should forgo treatment, but she may have to use other options, even if they aren't her first choice. It depends on the extent of the threat to the woman and the threat to the baby, who will suffer lifelong issues if certain drugs are taken.


If she is raped, then it comes back to the same issue of whether not consenting to the act which created the child means that she has no responsibility towards it at all.


Accutane and thalidomide would cause harm to a person (the child), and are definitely not medically necessary for the mother, although she may desire to take them. The point was, if she has not consented to an act that would make it necessary to change her medical decisions, should she be allowed to take anything she wants, even if it's something non-necessary but very harmful to the baby, like acutane?

dudebro said...

So, your argument in a nutshell is...


"women were made for pregnancy, cuz uterus, therefore they should be forced to gestate"


Right? That about sums it up?

Blueberry said...

Why is it so different? Is there some kind of sliding scale where your right to bodily autonomy is greater for organs closer to the inside of your body? Do I have a greater right to my uterus than my breasts or my hands? Caring for the born baby requires use of the woman's whole body; it's not like she leaves her internal organs behind if she walking back and forth with the little one. Holding the baby uses her muscles, her heart may work harder, she may have all kinds of stress hormones going through her bloodstream, etc. It may require use of her breasts, which are intimate body parts. Besides, caring for a newborn could easily be just as tiresome, exhausting, stressful, or even painful (if not more so) than being pregnant.

dudebro said...

So then why is rape a crime at all? Why is it considered a violation? The rapist using your body, penetrating your body shouldn't matter, should it? I mean, if inside your body is no different from outside, yes?

Guest said...

Is non-penatrative rape a violation, or only legitimate rape?

Guest said...

And what if the victim is male and is the one doing the penetrating? Does that count?

dudebro said...

Envelopment. I believe that, after having gone over this with AVFM at length on another board, that 'penetration' is covered when the woman forces herself onto the man's penis.

Blueberry said...

My argument is that children have a right to their (male and female) parent's bodies, time, and money, insofar as those things are necessary to ensure that the children get adequate food, nutrition, shelter from harm, etc.

The role of consent to the action which created the child is what's being discussed.


I'm pointing out that, if we have a natural right to our bodies because they are ours and our body parts were designed to promote our own survival and health rather than the interests of others, the uterus is only described by the first of those reasons. It's the only organ in the woman's body which is not biologically specified for her own use and survival. Rather it's sole biological purpose and intention is to provide for us when we are unborn babies. So, discussions on consent momentarily aside, it can be argued that the child has a greater natural right to the uterus than to other body parts, as it's sole purpose in existing is to keep her safe and alive.


You can disagree if you want, but if you're going to strawman and imply misogyny where none exists, this discussion isn't really going to go anywhere.

Timothy Griffy said...

It applies more particularly when someone is on life support, where pulling the plug in that case is the proximate cause of death. Failing to save a life, shooting a person in the face, the persons is just as dead either way.

dudebro said...

Because biology is not destiny. Certain intestinal parasites evolved to live inside our guts. They co-evolved with humans, they depend upon us for survival. It could be argued that those worms have a right to our intestines, since nature designed it that way!

Blueberry said...

Um, at most, my argument could imply that penetrative rape is equal to non-penetrative rape or other forms of grievous sexual assault, not that it shouldn't be a crime. Rape is especially horrific because our sexuality is something very personal that we keep safe. If someone beat me into a pulp, I might be less upset than if I were raped, but it doesn't follow that I have less less autonomy over my arms and muscles and other parts injured by the beating, than I do to my vagina. And, although a woman raping a man may constitute penetration, she is not inside him.

dudebro said...

Rape is especially horrific because our sexuality is something very personal that we keep safe.


Rape is just use of a body part though. Without consent.



Why should it matter?

Blueberry said...

Our guts, however, are needed by us for survival, so that's not a fully consistent analogy.


More importantly, regardless of what they naturally require for survival, intestinal worms do not have the same rights as human beings, due to their nature as, well, worms.


If the fetus were morally on par with an intestinal worm, it would be a valid analogy. But that moves the discussion from bodily integrity into personhood and the moral worth and rights of the unborn human.

dudebro said...

Actually, recent studies have shown that intestinal worms can be pretty damn helpful:

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/helminthic-therapy-mucus/

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2396220/


And my point still stands, you can't make the claim 'but this was 'designed' for the baby, therefore it has a right to it' because, not only is it a glaring appeal to nature/naturalistic fallacy, but, in as a general principle, having a body part that can be used for something does not automatically mean that it MUST be used for that something.

Blueberry said...

Respectfully whether intestinal parasites are helpful isn't really relevant and I wasn't contesting it.


How is it naturalistic fallacy? I explained why it makes sense given the context for natural rights to one's body; if those rights hinge on the two things I mentioned, then the uterus being specifically purposed for the baby is relevant in determining whether she has has a natural right to it, in addition to the general rights of children to receive care.

dudebro said...

No, it isn't relevant. As per my other example. Something being 'designed' or having 'co-evolved' to use something else does not give it a 'natural right' to anything.



Biology is not destiny. Period.

Jennifer Starr said...

Either way, it's penetration without consent. The perpetrator doesn't have to be the one doing the penetration.

Blueberry said...

Yes, but respectfully your other example was invalid because it concerned an organism which by nature was not morally on par with the woman...We're discussing two organisms which, for the purposes of discussion at least, have equal moral value.

Suba gunawardana said...

Why isn't a fetus morally on par with an intestinal worm?

They have more similarities than differences, i.e. non-sentient, parasitic on another organism, unable to survive on their own.

dudebro said...

Morally on par or not, no thing - human or non-human, has a *claim* on the body of another, simply because 'evolution/god designed it that way'.

Suba gunawardana said...

How do you define a parent?

Blueberry said...

Rape is an unjust violation of bodily integrity. We can all probably agree that some infringements on bodily integrity are justified, and the right to life does not always trump the right to bodily integrity, and that the right to bodily integrity does not always trump the right to life. The question at hand is whether bodily integrity justifiably permits aborting a child conceived non-consensualy.

dudebro said...

Please explain WHY it is an unjust violation of bodily integrity.

Timothy Griffy said...

Interesting bait and switch. If the woman and the prenate have equal rights, then her right bodily autonomy means the prenate's right to life gives it no claim on the woman's body. To deny this is to say the prenate's right to life supersedes the woman's bodily autonomy. The life of mother exemption does not make up for the fact that you are nullifying her other rights.

Blueberry said...

If that's your position, fine. I'm just pointing two arguments that could be the basis for a natural right to one's body, and saying that clearly one of those reasons applies to the child, and not the mother.

Suba gunawardana said...

Does bodily integrity justifiably permit aborting a fetus conceived consensually? I say yes, but all your prior posts indicate you disagree.

LN said...

"Vaginas evolved to fit penises. Perfectly, in fact. You might say that the penis has an intrinsic right to any vagina it wants to penetrate. Rape ftw!"

THANK YOU! I think that every time someone talks about how the uterus is "made for" the embryo. Freaking appeal to nature bullshit that inadvertently justifies sexual assault.

Blueberry said...

Just as an fyi, some fetuses are sentient, depending on their age.

But consider a newborn and an animal that has comparable mental capabilities. I'm not any kind of expert on animal psychology, but let's just go with....I don't know, a raccoon. Not self-aware, not capable of rational thought. And concerning physical abilities, a raccoon is far more capable and independent than a newborn.

Why aren't they morally on par with each other? Should someone who kills a newborn and someone who kills a raccoon be charged with similar crimes?


What about a 1 month old? I suspect a well-trained and socialized Border Collie can solve puzzles, follow commands, and maybe empathize just as well as a one year old. (Maybe better.)


Do you believe that they are morally on par? Why or why not?

Suba gunawardana said...

Can these "natural rights" to other people's bodies or body parts be exercised WITHOUT the consent of the person whose body is being used?
I would say no. Consent is a pre-requisite.

LN said...

"The uterus is not needed by the mother for survival or even for health, but it is needed absolutely by the child."

And the vagina is not needed by the woman for her health. So. What? Why in the world would you think that an organ's primary function somehow dictates the moral use of that organ? This is classic appeal to nature. It's a logical fallacy.

Suba gunawardana said...

I am asking you. You claim they are not morally on par. Why not?

dudebro said...

Because a right to your own body and a right to the body of another are two entirely different things.

And there really is no such thing as 'natural rights'. It's an invention, so humans can get along without having to worry about getting stabbed in the back .

And, I might add, the uterus is also the place where fertilized ovum go to die. So, as far as 'nature' is concerned, the prenate has no right to 'life' where the uterus is concerned. There is something known as “Rh-factor rejection”, an incompatibility
between the mother’s immune system and the prenate, that almost
always causes a miscarriage, unless modern medical technology is
employed to intervene. Such a thing would never happen if that argument
was completely valid.

Mensturation is actually rare among placental mammals. It has evolved
independently in different species (but not in a large total number of
mammalian species). And scientists studying why menstruation evolved find no support for the notion that the human womb is actually a “welcoming” environment for the unborn.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3528014/

Also, there exists a completely different mechanism by which a mother’s body might kill an unborn human, “fetal resorption”. This phenomenon is fairly common in kangaroos; when the environment is poor in food, a pregnant kangaroo will literally suck out the life –and body– of its womb-inhabitant, until nothing remains. Other mammals can accomplish fetal resorption as well, including humans.

https://www.google.ca/search?q=fetal+resorption&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a&channel=sb&gfe_rd=cr&ei=uiLYU6aQJY_EoATo_oHgCQ

It is perfectly natural for the unborn to be killed if conditions aren’t adequate for supporting it.

Blueberry said...

Well that's the question at hand. Would you say that a person NEVER has any obligation to another person if they did not consent to the action responsible for the other person's need, period? For instance, if a woman is raped and goes through the pregnancy not knowing she is pregnant, and then gives birth (unlikely perhaps, but possible), can she be required to drive the baby to a safe haven location or set up an adoption? Those may not be huge requirements, but they do still infringe on her own liberty.

dudebro said...

Just as an fyi, some fetuses are sentient, depending on their age


The capacity for sentience does not exist until at least 25 weeks along, a point long past which most abortions occur.

Blueberry said...

As I mentioned below....I explained why it makes sense given the context for natural rights to one's body; if those rights hinge on the two things I mentioned, then the uterus being specifically purposed for the baby is relevant in determining whether she has has a natural right to it, in addition to the general rights of children to receive care.



Anyway, I need to go for a while, so I'll try to come back later.

dudebro said...

Agreed.

Blueberry said...

I'm pointing out that your argument would place newborns on the moral level of raccoons (or whatever), and 1 year olds on the level of a Border Collie. Unless you're willing to accept that as a valid argument, your argument doesn't hold weight.


I have to go right now but I'll try to get back to you and explain more fully.

LN said...

I'm not sure I agree that natural rights even exist, or that I'd support them. In your mind what's the difference between a natural right and "this is what happens in nature therefore it's good and we should support it?" I'm not seeing a distinction, hence Appeal to Nature Fallacy.

Suba gunawardana said...

Exceptional situations should be handled on a case-by-case basis.
But as a general rule: yes, a person has no OBLIGATION to another individual if they did not
directly consent to the action responsible for the other person's need, period.

Many people CHOOSE to accommodate others in need at the expense of their bodies or other resources. That should always be a choice and never be forced.

LN said...

Why can't I just say, "Hey the vagina is made to fit the penis. Therefore the man's penis has a NATURAL RIGHT to the vagina!"

You'd probably say, "But the man's penis doesn't need the vagina to live! The embryo needs the uterus to live, thus it has a natural right to use it."

Then I'd say, "Yeah but what about all the people that need my blood donations to live? Why don't they have a natural right to use it? What's the difference here?"

You might say, "Because your blood is not naturally made for another person's use, it's made for your use."

So your claim seems to come down to (1) life-sustaining use and (2) NATURAL use.

But I'm not seeing why something being natural gives it moral weight or rights of any kind. Why does the fact that I was born with a uterus somehow entitle an embryo to go in and use it against my very consent? "That's the way of nature" doesn't really cut it.

Suba gunawardana said...

OK I will await your response :)

Ann said...

Thank you for allowing me to smoke during my pregnancy.

The Nun said...

Thank you LN.

There is nothing more annoying in a discussion than when someone insults you for disagreeing with or misunderstanding them. It shows a lack of respect and of character.

leadingedge said...

Blueberry, your conclusion about the fetus and the womb is right, just not the reasoning you are using to get there.


Society holds the common belief that no one has the right to deliberately deny any other innocent human person the necessities of life (nutrition, hydration, oxygen, etc.)


When human beings are in their feral stage of existence, the womb is a necessity of life - and therefore, the argument is that deliberately denying a fetus access to a womb is an act which denies an innocent human being their right to the necessities of life.


Clearly this means that a fetus can lay a certain claim to the womb (according to this argument), and this claim isn't lessened by the manner of its conception - so rape changes nothing.


Also, this argument would NOT justify rape, because the penetration of a vagina by a penis is clearly not an essential for the existence of an individual human being.

dudebro said...

Once again, needing the body part of another for survival does not automatically mean that anyone or anything is entitled to that body part.

leadingedge said...

Blueberry, your conclusion about the fetus and the womb is right, just not the reasoning you are using to get there.

Society holds the common belief that no one has the right to deliberately deny any other innocent human person the necessities of life (nutrition, hydration, oxygen, etc.)

When human beings are in their fetal stage of existence, the womb is a necessity of life - and therefore, the argument is that deliberately denying a fetus access to a womb is an act which denies an innocent human being their right to the necessities of life.

Clearly this means that a fetus can lay a certain claim to the womb (according to this argument), and this claim isn't lessened by the manner of its conception - so rape wouldn't mean that you are less entitled to the necessities of life.

Also, this argument would NOT justify rape (as others have mentioned in this thread), because the penetration of a vagina by a penis, even though a natural complimentarity exists between these two organs, is clearly not an act or thing that is an essential for the existence of an individual human being.

dudebro said...

So if abortion was carried out whereby the entire uterus was removed with the prenate inside, that'd be ok, right? Since the prenate ONLY has a claim on the uterus, correct?

leadingedge said...

Not at all, because it can be clearly shown that the intention of such an action was still to either end the life of the prenate/deny them the necessities of life.


The only time things would be different is if the removal of the uterus was carried out as a life-saving treatment on the mother, and the unintended and secondary effect was the loss of the prenate in utero.

dudebro said...

If what the prenate needs for all the 'necessities of life' is the uterus, then it shoudln't matter if it is removed from the woman's body. The argument is that the prenate has a claim on the uterus because the uterus was designed by it by god knows what. So, tha's fine, let's go with that. It can have the uterus, but it does NOT have a claim on the rest of the woman's body.

leadingedge said...

You're confusing the argument here.


This argument has NOTHING to do with design, or teleology, this argument is about the biological reality of the fundamental necessities of human existence (whether those fundamentals are designed or not, or end-direted or not, is irrelevant to this argument).


Also, if a uterus is removed, it no longer functions, and so removing it is still an act of denying the necessities of life to an innocent human being.


This would be like denying someone clean water, and instead providing them with only toxic, undrinkable disease-ridden water, while saying 'hey, I'm still providing you your right to the necessities for life'

dudebro said...

This argument has NOTHING to do with design, or teleology, this

I am sorry, but that IS the argument, in a nutshell. The prenate needs the uterus, therefore, it has a claim to it, cuz nature.

Also, if a uterus is removed, it no longer functions, and so removing it
is still an act of denying the necessities of life to an innocent human being.



Even with a functioning uterus separate from the woman the prenate would die. Care to guess why?

lady_black said...

Now why the hell would anyone do that when every state has safe harbor laws and they can legally abandon them anywhere there would be 24 hour personnel available, such as hospitals, fire stations, etc. Unresponsive to my comment. A born child is no longer in NEED of it's mother, PERIOD.

lady_black said...

That's too bad. Uteri are not removed for trivial reasons. No one has a right to the uterus or any part of another person.

lady_black said...

RIGHT ON! Appeal to nature fallacy.

lady_black said...

The uterus doesn't belong to "the child." It belongs to the body wherein it resides. In other words, my uterus belongs to ME and nobody else has any right to it without my permission.

lady_black said...

Raccoons are pretty freaking intelligent. I wouldn't disparage the intelligence of animals.

leadingedge said...

You still seem to be confused about this argument - the argument is definitely NOT:

"The prenate needs the uterus, therefore, it has a claim to it, cuz nature."



That's a complete failure to understand what is actually being argued here.


The argument, in a nutshell, is actually this:


Society operates on the premise that all innocent human beings have a right not to be deliberately denied the essentials for life. A uterus is an essential for life for an innocent human being in their fetal stage of development. Therefore it is a violation of its fundamental human rights to deliberately deny a fetus access to a functioning uterus.


Secondly, I'm not sure what definition you are using for 'functioning', but it clearly needs some explanation if you think that, while carrying out its function of sustaining a human being in utero, a uterus wouldn't actually be able to fulfil that function and instead the prenate would die.

lady_black said...

NOBODY (without exception!) has any right, natural or otherwise, to ANY part of my body. And for your information, the woman's ENTIRE BODY is used by a developing zef. Not merely the uterus.

lady_black said...

What on earth does "innocence" have to do with anything? Is the woman "guilty?" Appeal to emotion.

dudebro said...

I am not confused about anything. You are just trying to dress up a shitty appeal to nature argument.

Society operates on the premise that we do not subject individuals to *unjust killing*. Abortion is not unjust killing - the prenate does NOT have a right to lay claim to the woman's body simply because it's natural environment is the uterus.

a uterus wouldn't actually be able to fulfil that function and instead the prenate would die.


The uterus just holds the prenate, the actual job of keeping it alive is up to the rest of the woman's organs. Keep the uterus as healthy as possible, but impair the functioning of the woman's kidneys, liver and other organs, and you'll have a dead prenate. The women breathes for it, eats for it, and processes wastes for it.

dudebro said...

It's fallacy night at SPL!

leadingedge said...

I never said they were removed for trivial reasons - and if you read what I have actually said here then you'd observe that I have stated that the loss of an unborn human being could be an unintended secondary effect of a removal of a uterus, which is not unethical.


The issue here is not really whether anyone has a 'right to a uterus', it's actually about whether or not anyone has the right to deliberately terminate and expel an innocent human being from a uterus - that's a very different proposition altogether.


No one has the right to be in the middle of the road jaywalking either - but just because they don't a right to be in the middle of the road, that doesn't then mean that I have the right to run them down and kill them with my car if I drive around a corner and find them in the middle of the road while jaywalking.

lady_black said...

My body was clearly attempting to grow cancerous cells on my cervix. That doesn't mean I have to go along with the plan.

leadingedge said...

Yeah, and you two seem to be leading the charge on the fallacies here.

lady_black said...

I believe anyone can do the dropping off. No questions asked. The laws anticipate women who give birth alone. She can call the paramedics and hand the infant over to them, and go to the hospital (or not). That would surely "count" as a safe delivery under the intent of the law.

dudebro said...

Then demonstrate which fallacies, philosophy boy.

leadingedge said...

Innocence is important is because innocence is a qualifier in human ethics.


For example, if a person is attacking you, you have the right to defend yourself with force, but you do NOT have the right to use force on an innocent person.


See the importance of this qualifier now?


Oh, and no, the woman is NOT guilty because the fetus is innocent - the innocence of the fetus has nothing to do with the state of the mother. Two completely different and totally unrelated matters.


Secondly, this is NOT an appeal to emotion - far from it. This is about the culpability of the fetus in the actions being discussed, i.e they are 'innocent' and it would be unjust to deliberately harm an innocent person.

dudebro said...

Why the obsession with 'innocent human being'


Please elaborate.


And no one has the right to be inside your body without consent, and if the ONLY way you can escape results in their death, too bad.

leadingedge said...

Well, that one right there is the ad hominem fallacy, where you attack the person and not the argument, and then there is your continual use of the straw man fallacy when you keep to trying to wrongly claim that this argument is about nature and teleology, when that's not what this argument is based on at all.

lady_black said...

So if am being raped by someone who doesn't comprehend that rape is wrong, I can't use force to stop it? Just watch me!

dudebro said...

but you do NOT have the right to use force on an innocent person.


So if an innocent if cognitively disabled person (there are people with the mind of a newborn, due to oxygen deprivation at birth) attacks you, then I guess you can't act in self-defense because they know not what they do?

lady_black said...

Certainly she does. It's HER uterus. She can do anything she wants with it. She can rent it out if she wants. See surrogacy.

dudebro said...

Actually, ad hominem is when you insult someone without any other argument.



For instance, if I say '2+2=4, moron' that is NOT the ad hominem fallacy. It's a fact alongside an insult.


The ad hominem fallacy is when your ONLY argument is to insult your opponent. If, instead of including 2+2=4 I just called you a moron, that would be an example of the ad hom fallacy.


And no, it isn't a straw man, since you are pretty much saying that because the prenate NEEDS the uterus the prenate has a CLAIM to the uterus, and thus, the woman's body. IE, 'nature' has 'designed' the uterus for the prenate, therefore, the uterus BELONGS to the prenate.

leadingedge said...

Once again, no this is NOT an appeal to nature.


I really can't believe you're still trying to insist of this fallacious claim when I've explained several times that this is not the case at all.


Secondly, a functioning uterus would still act to provide nutrients, expel waste, etc, even if it was separate from a woman's body (obviously this technology does exist as of yet) - the key point is that you referred to a 'functioning' uterus in relation to pregnancy, but then suggested that a healthy human being in utero would still die even if a uterus was functioning.


This is precisely why I had to challenge your definition of 'functioning', because clearly what you have described is a uterus that is NOT actually functioning any longer, thus the death of the human being in utero.

dudebro said...

Secondly, a functioning uterus would still act to provide nutrients,
expel waste, etc, even if it was separate from a woman's body


The uterus doesn't do any of that. The placenta does, all because it has literally drilled into a blood vessel. The woman's blood vessel. The uterus is just a container.

You could theoretically impregnate a man by letting a blastocyst implant on one of his intestines. All it has to do is drill into the blood vessel, and he could potentially breathe eat and shit for it.

leadingedge said...

As I explained, innocent people have a right not to have forced used against them - but this is not true if the person being talked about is an unjust aggressor, in that situation you do have the right to use force against them.


It's also why I am careful to use the word 'deliberate' a lot as well - because there is clearly a different level of moral culpability between deliberately doing something and accidentally doing it, or doing something else that causes that outcome as a secondary and unintended consequence of your actions.


As you see above, I am not trying to argue that a fetus has a right to be inside someone's body - instead I am arguing that they have the right to necessities for life (and a womb is one of these when you are a human being in your fetal stage of development), and also, I am arguing that even if someone doesn't have a right to be in your body, that does not then mean that you have an automatic right to kill them and expel them from your body.


For example, if a doctor was to open you up and operate on you, without consent - because you arrived at the hospital unconscious after a car accident, and he was trying to save you - that doesn't mean that you have the right to kill him if you awake during the surgery and find him inside your body, even if that was the only way to get him out of your body.

dudebro said...

but this is not true if the person being talked about is an unjust
aggressor, in that situation you do have the right to use force against
them.


And pray tell, why isn't an unwanted embyro an unjust aggressor?

instead I am arguing that they have the right to necessities for life

Which does not include the non-consensual use of someone's body and organs.

It's not the woman's fault that the prenate cannot survive without the use of her body.

It's not your fault that the violinist cannot survive without the very necessity of using your kidneys for dialysis, it's not her fault that the prenate cannot survive without using the woman's kidneys for dialysis. Blame nature. The woman didn't purposely create the embryo in such a needy state. Nature did. And we override nature all the time.

I am arguing that even if someone doesn't have a right to be in your
body, that does not then mean that you have an automatic right to kill
them and expel them from your body.


Of course not. But if there is no other means of escape do you just have to sit back and let your body be used as a mere means to an end?

For example, if a doctor was to open you up and operate on you, without consent


Yeah, that's not stupid or anything. The commonly held assumption is that if you are in an accident, that you will receive care, to save your life and/or health. If, however, you sign a DNR, the doctor CANNOT touch you, and must let you die.

Elizabeth Doecke said...

I think when it comes to bodily integrity, there can be a clear distinction drawn between a requirement to violate your bodily integrity to preserve the life of someone who is otherwise dying as the result of bodily malfunction, and a requirement to violate your bodily integrity in order to refrain from terminating the life of someone who will otherwise physiologically survive. It's not about the nature of the violation so much, but more about a difference in the burden required to prove that your action/inaction is justified; the former situation requiring a lesser burden than the latter.

It's also about the relative rights in balance. Not having to donate a kidney = right to bodily integrity trumps right to health. Having to provide a blood or breath sample for drink driving = right to life (for others on the road) trumps right to bodily autonomy. Being quarantined for disease = right to life (for others) trumps right to liberty. Involuntary treatment for mental illness = right to life (others and/or your own) trumps right to bodily integrity. And then abortion = right to bodily integrity trumps right to life.

It's pretty clear that bodily integrity can be justifiably violated. What needs to be argued in abortion is whether or not the life and rights of the prenate provide sufficient weight for that justification to exist.

(If anyone replies, I'm in the middle of studying for exams and don't have much time for debate. So you may have to be quite patient if you want a response.)

leadingedge said...

But that's exactly what I am NOT saying!!!


Design has NOTHING to do with this argument.


The argument is about what are the essentials for biological life to flourish - whether those essentials are designed or not has NOTHING to do with this argument.


Therefore, what you are doing is engaging in a straw man argument when you try to claim that this is what I am saying.


I am astounded that you can't seem to make this distinction - or maybe you can see it, but this is just wilful ignorance in an attempt to avoid responding to the actual argument.

Chris R said...

The problem is that abortion is NOT like refusing to donate blood or bone marrow. In the latter case, you're simply failing to save the person's life, and the person dies from a pre-existing illness; you're no more responsible for the death than someone who drives past an accident victim and fails to stop and help.

Let's say we have two girls, Alex and Bethany. Alex and Bethany are conjoined twins with a shared circulatory system. However, one day Bethany suffers from liver failure. She'll still be able to live, however, because her blood will still be filtered by Alice's functioning liver. However, Alice doesn't like that her liver function has essentially been halved, meaning she sometimes feels queasy and can't drink as much alcohol. If Alice could find a doctor to separate their circulatory systems, should she be allowed to do so?

You mentioned the De Facto Guardian article, but didn't address it. Do you think that the woman in the cabin should be allowed to starve the baby to death, rather than breastfeed?

leadingedge said...

An unborn human being is not an unjust aggressor because they have no intent to cause harm to another person - intent is required on the part of the aggressor.


LOL - if you have consensual sex with another person, and you create a dependant human being from that act, it is absolute nonsense to try and claim that nature created the human being - as opposed to you creating it as a direct result of your actions.


The doctor analogy was used to show that your claim about it being ethically permissible to kill someone just because they are inside your body without consent is clearly not true, otherwise it would be okay to kill the doctor in that situation where you gave no consent to having doing things to your body.


The issue of DNRs is a red herring, as it is a secondary matter that is unrelated to the point being made.

Chris R said...

I think I can explain the "Punish the rapist, not the child!" line. It isn't meant to imply that those who support a rape exception don't want to punish rapists; it's meant as more of an attempt to establish common ground. Many people seem to be of the thought process that if you *don't* support a rape exception, that means you don't think rape is that bad, or that you don't care about rape victims. The line is an attempt to say, in a soundbite, "Look, I understand that rape is a terrible crime, and a traumatic experience to go through. I agree that more needs to be done to prevent rape and bring rapists to justice. We don't disagree on anything about rape; I'm only contending that the child conceived in rape should not die for his father's crime.

Simon Jm said...

That is an example where both twins have the same rights to the body, the rape fetus is attached to a preexisting moral person with sovereignty rights over her own body.

Kiyah Yelton said...

My problem with a rape exception is the ability to enforce it. How exactly would that work? Does a woman need to simply say "I was raped"? Because that would mean that any woman could still get an abortion if they are willing to lie to get one. Which makes it not an exception at all.
Or does a woman have to PROVE she was raped? As your stats said before, only 40% of rapes even get reported. Lets assume a woman is raped and becomes pregnant.Let's also assume that they find the rapist, arrest him, take him to trial, and finally convict. By the time all of this happens, the woman would have given birth to the child anyways.
So my question to those out there who believe in a rape exception, is there something I'm missing? How would this possibly be enforced? In what way could this possibly work?

m17l6s85 said...

Thanks dude...bro. :)

m17l6s85 said...

I know this wasn't your point, but I really object to phrases like "spawn of the rapist." I agree that rapists are the scum of the earth, but that doesn't mean their children are bad or "spawn." Many rape survivors choose to carry their pregnancies and it's really hurtful to them and their children to see society use phrases like this. Just something to consider.

m17l6s85 said...

I think the killing vs. letting die distinction is pretty important, actually, and so I think the method of ending the pregnancy should be an equivalent of "unplugging" no matter how far along the woman is. In later term situations maybe that means C-section or induced labor, and in earlier term situations maybe that means something like RU-486? I'm not sure. But Frank Macguire (I think) had a good comment somewhere else on this thread about how that would look if we are making that distinction between killing vs. letting die.


I don't think thalidomide is justified, no. If she chooses to carry the pregnancy she is choosing to take on parental responsibility, at least for the duration of the pregnancy. To me that includes not harming the fetus.


Likewise she cannot abandon a child. Once the child is born the bodily integrity argument changes drastically, IMO. The child is no longer using her organs or literally taking her nutrients from her. I think she (or anyone else, non-related adults included) would be morally obligated to prevent the child from dying until someone else could take care of the child.


I don't agree with the argument that the uterus is for the child biologically and therefore the child has a right to a uterus morally or philosophically. We don't apply that line of thinking to anything else--bacteria or cancer cells that naturally live in various of our body parts, or the cruder penis-vagina analogy others have mentioned. It's true the z/e/f can only live in a uterus, but I don't see the reasoning that the z/e/f therefore has a right to the uterus that supersedes the woman's right to not have others use her body against her will. Not as a baseline stance, anyway.

lady_black said...

I understand at least half of them do, and my opinion is my own. To those who choose to do so, that is their private decision and no justification is needed. I meant of course, that to ME it would be the spawn of a rapist. Not a "child" but a hateful parasite that I would in no way consider giving birth too. That may be done, but it's only inviting trouble.

Simon Jm said...

Yes that's a good point. But shouldn't there then be an onus on the woman to come forward as soon as it happens? Also there would need to be a change in public perceptions regarding the 'stigma' of rape and other practical problems. But I wonder is the bigger problem women coming forward with false rape claims; but still think it wouldn't be so easy to just say I was raped last night but no evidence at all.

m17l6s85 said...

Thanks for that perspective. That makes a lot more sense to me, although (speaking purely anecdotally/subjectively) that's not the impression I usually get from the attitudes of the people saying the soundbite.

Acyutananda said...

"We don’t have required blood, bone marrow, or organ donations, not even from the dead. . . . It’s hard to find a truly analogous situation. But I find most people agree that you should legally be allowed to unplug from Thomson’s violinist, even though that would allow the violinist to die."

Most people do agree, but if it's not truly analogous . . . ?

"You should be allowed to unplug" is a moral intuition in most people. Since unplugging is somewhat analogous to abortion, we may conclude "you should be allowed to abort." But what do we learn from the fact that the thought experiment works in that way? We learn the primacy of intuition. Now that we have understood that intuition is what counts, why not see what our intuition is about abortion itself? The outcome might be different. If so, the analogy has broken down somewhere. We may not logically understand exactly where, but that does not mean that we should abandon our moral intuition.

I have thought as best I could about this here:

http://www.NoTerminationWithoutRepresentation.org/dismantling-the-bodily-rights-argument-without-using-the-responsibility-argument/

lady_black said...

There is no such thing as "non-penetrative rape."

Chris R said...

First of all, how is that any better than the current law? If all a woman seeking an abortion has to do is check an extra box on the form saying "I was raped.", what exactly have we accomplished by banning abortion?

Secondly, if the pro-life movement succeeds, and the unborn are legally treated as persons with full human rights, a standard of that sort would be MASSIVELY illegal on due process grounds alone. It's not even a "my word against your word" scenario, because the fetus cannot make his own case; it's essentially a death sentence based on one person's word.

Timothy Griffy said...

""You should be allowed to unplug" is a moral intuition in most people.
Since unplugging is somewhat analogous to abortion (in case of rape), we
may conclude "you should be allowed to abort." But what do we learn
from the fact that the thought experiment works in that way? We learn
the primacy of intuition. Now that we have understood that intuition is
what counts, why not see what our intuition is about abortion itself?
The outcome might be different. If so, the analogy has broken down
somewhere. We may not logically understand exactly where, but that does
not mean that we should abandon our moral intuition."


Were going to have a fuller discussion on this topic, so I won't go into much detail here. It isn't just the pinpointing of our intuition that matters in this thought experiment. Thomson also went on to explain why that intuitions work out that way despite the fact we would all acknowledge that a) the violinist is undoubtedly a person who b) undoubtedly has a right to life. Without that explanation, our reaction to the experiment could just be dismissed as an anomaly.

Super_Red said...

Yes, the person is dead, that's true. But our society has a justice system in place that recognizes different types of death and responsibility. Legally, (not to mention morally) there is a HUGE difference if I accidentally run you over with my car or if I choose to kill you and stab you with a knife. There are further distinctions depending on whether or not I was somehow impaired while I was driving. Since the question of "should there be a rape exception in abortion law" is a legal one, it seems only fair that we give it an answer on those terms. Simply saying "the person is just as dead either way" doesn't address any of the potential legal or moral implications of abortion in rape or any other circumstance.



But you seem to really want to address the violinist argument. Frankly I haven't addressed it because I don't think it's a good argument any way you look at it. Quite simply, someones reliance on an unwilling donor, thus interrupting the donors life forever doesn't apply to either a mother or her developing child. First, the mother is not trapped in a room for an indefinite amount of time as the analogy suggests. Second, the violinists natural state of being is to be dying. The natural state of the developing human is to be developing and growing. Without an unwilling donor the violinist will die due to natural causes. Without a nurturing womb the developing human will die due to being killed- there's nothing natural about it. For those reasons(and more, but it's almost three in the morning and I have to be at work in six hours) I find that that particular philosophical exercise is, while interesting, not actually relevant, but instead a distraction from discussing the actual issue: When is it appropriate to actively choose to kill another human being.

Timothy Griffy said...

"An unborn human being is not an unjust aggressor because they have no
intent to cause harm to another person - intent is required on the part
of the aggressor."

Nonsense. Imagine, if you will, a person suffering from PTSD. That person attacks you, thinking for whatever reason that you are "the enemy." That person has no intent to harm you, but even without that intent, that person is an unjust aggressor that can be dealt accordingly.

"LOL - if you have consensual sex with another person, and you create a dependant human being from that act, it is absolute nonsense to try and claim that nature created the human being - as opposed to you creating it as a direct result of your actions."

I find it interesting how you insist on intent in one case but disavow it in this one. Just because you have consensual sex, it does not mean you intend to get pregnant--hence the term *unintended* pregnancy. dudebro is correct--the woman didn't purposely create the prenate.

"The doctor analogy was used to show that your claim about it being
ethically permissible to kill someone just because they are inside your
body without consent is clearly not true, otherwise it would be okay to
kill the doctor in that situation where you gave no consent to having
doing things to your body."


If you awake during the surgery and attacked the doctor in the honest belief it was necessary to use deadly force, a self-defense claim may or may not hold up, depending on the jurisdiction. However, in jurisdictions that recognize the imperfect self-defense doctrine, you could avail yourself of that and it would reduce the charge and/or sentence.

Timothy Griffy said...

"Yes, the person is dead, that's true. But our society has a justice
system in place that recognizes different types of death and
responsibility. Legally, (not to mention morally) there is a HUGE
difference if I accidentally run you over with my car or if I choose to
kill you and stab you with a knife. There are further distinctions
depending on whether or not I was somehow impaired while I was driving."

So far so good. I am by no means saying that refusing to donate is murder, or even that the person refusing to donate should be charged with a crime.


"Since the question of "should there be a rape exception in abortion law"
is a legal one, it seems only fair that we give it an answer on those
terms. Simply saying "the person is just as dead either way" doesn't
address any of the potential legal or moral implications of abortion in
rape or any other circumstance."

Here is where I disagree. Other things being equal, one does have a share of moral responsibility if their action or inaction results in the death of another. In certain circumstances, failure to act is also grounds for legal liability in both criminal and tort actions. Whether it be from action or inaction, the person is just as dead, and you have a share of the blame for that death.

"But you seem to really want to address the violinist argument. Frankly I haven't addressed it because I don't think it's a good argument any way you look at it. Quite simply, someones reliance on an unwilling donor, thus interrupting the donors life forever doesn't apply to either a mother or her developing child."

I don't know how you can make that out. In an unwanted pregnancy, the mother is certainly an unwilling donor, and it would interrupt her life forever.

"First, the mother is not trapped in a room for an indefinite amount of time as the analogy suggests."

Being told she can't abort certainly does trap her for an indefinite amount of time. That she isn't trapped in a physical room doesn't make the burden of an unwanted pregnancy any less burdensome.

"Second, the violinists natural state of being is to be dying. The natural state of the developing human is to be developing and growing. Without an unwilling donor the violinist will die due to natural causes. Without a nurturing womb the developing human will die due to being killed- there's nothing natural about it."

Now you're playing a bit fast and loose with the term nature. After all, it is perfectly natural for a developing human to die without a nurturing womb--after all, it happens to as much as 50% of all fertilized eggs, and much as 20% of all conceptuses that implant. The womb itself is not necessarily a naturally hospitable place for the prenate to be.

Furthermore, all that is required for the analogy to work is that the donor and the mother be unwilling in order for it to move forward.

"I find that that particular philosophical exercise is, while interesting, not actually relevant, but instead a distraction from discussing the actual issue: When is it appropriate to actively choose to kill another human being."


I find it quite relevant to what the real issue is: Do people have a right to control what happens in and to their bodies or not?

leadingedge said...

1. Comparing a person with PSTD to an unborn human being is simply nonsensical.


The person suffering from PTSD still has intent - even if their intent is fuelled by mental instability due to the PTSD.


Their actions are intentionally directed at their victim.


This is nothing like an innocent fetus which takes no action and directs nothing against the mother at all.


2. The primary end of the act of sexual intercourse is the reproduction of our species (i.e. creation of new human lives).


It is the most effective of creating a new human being, and the two bodies of the male and female sexual partners are working to try and achieve this outcome right from the very start of the act - regardless of whether you personally intend that or not.


Consenting to sexual intercourse is consenting to the very act which has the sole biological aim of bring new human lives into existence.


It is simply ludicrous to engage in the act that is designed to create new vulnerable human beings, and then try and claim that you are nor morally culpable for the new vulnerable human beings that you happen to create as a result.


This is precisely why courts rule that wayward fathers have to pay child support to support their biological offspring regardless of whether they intended their sexual acts to produce the child or not - the very fact that their actions led to the existence of that human being makes them accountable for the wellbeing of that human being.


3. I would suggest to you that no sane person would consider it ethically acceptable to kill that doctor and claim that you were just exercising your right to bodily autonomy, and that your actions were perfectly justified.

Timothy Griffy said...

"The problem is that abortion is NOT like refusing to donate blood or
bone marrow. In the latter case, you're simply failing to save the
person's life, and the person dies from a pre-existing illness; you're
no more responsible for the death than someone who drives past an
accident victim and fails to stop and help."

No responsibility whatsoever? How pro-life of you!

Seriously, having an abortion and refusing to donate body parts stem from the same right to bodily autonomy. In both cases, you are refusing to use your body parts to keep another person alive. In both cases, neither the needy person nor the prenate has a claim to your body. In both cases, the refusal to use their bodies to sustain the other's results in death.

"Let's say we have two girls, Alex and Bethany. Alex and Bethany are
conjoined twins with a shared circulatory system. However, one day
Bethany suffers from liver failure. She'll still be able to live,
however, because her blood will still be filtered by Alice's functioning
liver. However, Alice doesn't like that her liver function has
essentially been halved, meaning she sometimes feels queasy and can't
drink as much alcohol. If Alice could find a doctor to separate their
circulatory systems, should she be allowed to do so?"

Simon Jm pointed out an essential difference between conjoined twins and a pregnant woman, but I don't think that difference applies in the particular case you are presenting. It is also a bit unclear what you mean by the twins having a shared circulatory system, so I am going to leave that aside. I would say yes, Alice should be allowed to be separated from her twin (or have their circulatory systems separated--this is where things get kind of fuzzy depending on your meaning). Besides the standard bodily autonomy argument, Bethany's parasitic use very likely poses a significant threat to Alice's life and health, perhaps enough to justify the separation on those grounds alone.

"You mentioned the De Facto Guardian article, but didn't address it. Do
you think that the woman in the cabin should be allowed to starve the
baby to death, rather than breastfeed?"

I don't think the authors made the point they were claiming. And the more I read, the only thing I became convinced of was just how cruel they were.

With specific regard to whether Mary should be forced to breastfeed in that scenario, I would say the answer is no. While a case *could* (and note the emphasis) be made against Mary in the formula version, requiring her to breastfeed crosses the line.

Timothy Griffy said...

1. I wasn't necessarily comparing someone with PTSD to a prenate. I was simply responding to your assertion that intent is required on the part of an aggressor before one could respond to the aggression.

2. Who says "the primary end of the act of sexual intercourse is the reproduction of our species" or that sexual intercourse "has the sole biological aim of bring new human lives into existence"? Or for that matter that sexual intercourse was designed at all? Or that forcing fathers to pay child support for children they didn't want is any more just than prohibiting abortion?

3. I'm not saying that any sane person would. I am saying a sane person would not necessarily convict the patient given the circumstances.

Super_Red said...

Full disclosure that it is 5am where I live and I've been up all night trying to finish a work project. Not that it's an excuse to be inaccurate, but my words tend to be more wobbly when I'm at this stage of exhaustion. And since the internet is all about instant gratification and I desperately need a break from staring at this flyer sheet I'm trying to design, I'm going to attempt a response.

I'm going to only respond to your final question because until we resolve that, everything else will just be talking in circles. You state that the real issie is whether or not people have a right to control what happens in and to their bodies or not.


The answer is yes, but.


For example, I have every right to stand in the middle of a park and swing my arms around. My body, my control. However, my right to my body, my choice, my control, ends at the point that my swinging arms smack into you. It is obviously absurd for someone to justify their rape of another by saying it was their right to control what happened to their body and their body wanted to be on someone else's.

Because, (in what I hope is obvious) your right to choosing what to do with your body is curtailed at the point that it has an impact on someone else's life. So yes, you do have the right to control what happens in and to your body. Does that right mean it's acceptable to pay someone to kill a separate human being who, by nature of their existence, through no fault of their own, is growing inside of you? To answer that question we have to address the point of when human rights begin. Are they magically assigned at the moment of birth? Earlier? At the point that they start existing as a unique individual?


Bodily autonomy doesn't mean you get to kill other human beings, so the question isn't about your right to control your body- it's about your right to control someone else's body.


I'm not going to try and pretend that being pregnant is a walk in the park. Personally, I hope I never have to experience it, but there are many things in my life that I have wished to not have to experience, and none of them have given me the "right" to end someone else's life.


With that, I'm going to sign off and hopefully leave the office so I can sleep for a couple hours before coming back. =p

leadingedge said...

1. I NEVER said that intent was required (on the part of the aggressor) before one can respond, instead I said that a fetus is innocent of unjust aggression because THEY don't have intent. I was explaining why a fetus is innocent, and why they can't be treated with force in the same way that someone who intends to do you harm does (which a PTSD person does - putting them in a different category to a fetus).


2. Who says? Mother nature does. Biology textbooks do. This is science and reality 101. Sex might be pleasurable for us, but it doesn't exist as a pleasure outlet for human beings, but biologically/evolutionarily speaking it exists as a vehicle to achieve human reproduction.


3. I disagree. Unless the patient could prove insanity, I don't think any sane person would consider their killing of the doctor to be an ethically acceptable act.

Timothy Griffy said...

leadingedge has it right in this case. The ad hominem fallacy consists of attacking the person instead of the argument, the implication being that argument itself is wrong because of the person's failing.

An insult is just an insult.

Timothy Griffy said...

Your would still fail because you are demonstrably wrong. A prenate doesn't just need a functioning uterus. It also needs the mother's lungs, digestive system, kidneys and circulatory system (at a minimum). This is what dudebro was getting by suggesting the prenate can have the uterus so long as it left the rest of the woman's body alone.

It is one thing to say one should be provided with clean water. It is another to say that the clean water must come directly from my body.

leadingedge said...

My argument has NOTHING to do with separating a womb from the female - Dudebro was the one who introduced that concept.


My argument has always been that a womb is an essential for life for a human being in their fetal stage of development, therefore it is a violation of their fundamental rights to deliberately deny them an essential for life.


The point is that abortion terminates and then expels the fetus from a very specific part of the female body - the womb, which is why the argument refers to the womb.


But I had NEVER envisaged wombs that are separate from female bodies - that was Dudebro's sidetrack.


Either way, he still introduced this concept by referring to a 'functioning womb' - and in the context of pregnancy that would mean a womb that sustaining the life of the unborn human being.


See?

Timothy Griffy said...

I understand what you mean about writing when you are at the point of exhaustion. I once had to go back and edit a number of posts I wrote when exhausted. For most of them, it was necessary to make clarifications for something that would otherwise be misleading. But in one case I had to come out and say ignore everything after a certain point and admit I didn't know what the hell I was thinking when I wrote it. You've done quite well here, especially given the length of the post.

When it comes to rights, there are no yes-buts. Either you have them or you don't. In saying this, I am not saying rights are completely inviolate or that you can use your rights to infringe upon those of others. But if there limits, those limits need to be consistently applied.

With that in mind, let us move to the heart of the matter. You state, "To answer that question we have to address the point of when human
rights begin. Are they magically assigned at the moment of birth?
Earlier? At the point that they start existing as a unique individual?"

The answer is that, no, we don't have to address the point of when human rights begin. It is irrelevant. Sure, if the prenate doesn't have any human rights, then having an abortion is of no more consequence than pulling a louse from your body.

But if bodily rights mean anything, they mean that no one has the right to use your body for their purposes. You said it yourself--it would be absurd to justify rape on the ground that your body wanted to be on someone else. It also means that no one has the right to your organs, even to keep themselves alive. And "no one" includes prenates, even if they have human rights.

You want to make a distinction on two grounds. First, the difference between letting die and the fact that a third party is involved. Okay, let's run with it then. Here are some questions for you:

1) If a woman could simply consciously expel the fetus from her body under her own power, would it be acceptable if she did so? If not, then how can you justify fighting a rapist trying to use your body?

2) If I happened upon someone raping an unconscious person, am I permitted to intervene? If so, on what grounds do you forbid a third person to remove a prenate from a woman's body?

Timothy Griffy said...

Okay, then let's go ahead and work with this. You say "it is a violation of their fundamental rights to deliberately deny them an essential for life." So where exactly do you stand on forced organ donation?

leadingedge said...

I'm opposed to it, but forced organ donation is NOTHING like abortion.


Abortion is intentional direct killing of an innocent human being, but if I decline to donate my organs to someone and they die, that is an unintentional secondary effect of my actions - which is obviously totally different to abortion.


The person requiring an organ transplant is not killed, they die, and they don't die because I intend it, and they don't die at my hand - their lethal ailment is the thing that ends their life, not another human being.

Ann Morgan said...

Your argument basically proves what the anti-abortionists keep denying, specifically that they want enforced pregnancy to be used as a punishment for sex, and don't really care about the 'innocent babies'.

Ann Morgan said...

Blueberry wrote:

**If the baby is viable, and the mother no longer wants to be pregnant (maybe she can feel the baby kicking now, or she just discovered her pregnancy), should she be obligated to undergo a c-section or to induce labor rather than have an abortion?**



The problem with inducing labor is the elephant in the living room that anti-abortionists want to desperately ignore, which is that you are forcing a very large object (a head) through a very small hole (the birth canal). It's far more painful and dangerous than an abortion. Ditto for a C section, cutting a large hole in the abdomen is much more painful and dangerous to the mother than an abortion.


If you can find a way to remove the baby intact that is not more painful, dangerous, time consuming, or expensive than an abortion, and are willing to pay for the costs of keeping it alive, then you have grounds to talk.

Ann Morgan said...

**As I explained, innocent people have a right not to have forced used against them **


You're handwaving. If some hemophiliac suddenly appears, hooked up to me by transfusion appparatus, violating my bodily integrity is, in fact, a form of force. I have the right to remove the tubing by force, if I want to.. Also, you're classifying the fetus as 'people', which hasn't been proven.

Ann Morgan said...

**An unborn human being is not an unjust aggressor because they have no intent to cause harm to another person - intent is required on the part of the aggressor.**


Sorry, no. If someone is falling (by accident) from a building, and they are headed towards me, and the situation is such that they will die unless I allow them to fall on my body, I am not under an obligation to let them fall on me to save their lives (thus risking harm myself) simply because they didn't 'intend' to fall from the building.

Ann Morgan said...

**Who says? Mother nature does. Biology textbooks do. This is science and reality 101. Sex might be pleasurable for us, but it doesn't exist as a pleasure outlet for human beings, but biologically/evolutionarily speaking it exists as a vehicle to achieve human reproduction.**



That's like saying that your mouth was designed for eating. Sorry, doesn't hold water. Unless you belong to a strict order of monks, you use your mouth for speech, much more than for eating. The mouth has been evolutionarily repurposed in humans. Ditto for sex. Given the number of times people have sex for pleasure, vs the number of times we actually reproduce and the fact that unlike most other animals, we have sex at times other than when we are fertile, it's obvious that sex has been repurposed as well.

Ann Morgan said...

**Innocence is important is because innocence is a qualifier in human ethics.**



Crap argument. A man who visits prostitutes isn't 'innocent', but I don't have the right to go shoot him. And contrawise, if a man doesn't visit prostitutes, but is starving to death, or falling towards my body from a building, I don't have an obligation to feed him or let him fall on me, merely because he is 'innocent' or 'didn't intend' to be in his situation.

leadingedge said...

Once again, you're making the classic mistake of comparing a situation that is nothing like a pregnancy to a pregnancy.

A pregnancy doesn't 'suddenly appear', it is the result of a consensual act that has pregnancy as its primary biological end.

The bond between you and a suddenly appearing haemophiliac is non-existent, but the bond of parenthood exists between us and our offspring, and that bond comes with certain unique obligations - the most important of which is to protect our own progeny from harm.

What you have described here (the suddenly appearing haemophiliac) is an act of violation, but pregnancy is not an act of violation it is a good - if pregnancy is like a suddenly appearing haemophiliac, then every pregnant woman is being violated and the only difference between women who keep their babies and those who have an abortion end their lives is that the women who keep their babies are submitting to the violation, while the other women are resisting it. Clearly this is nonsense, and no sane person considers pregnancy in this way.

Thirdly, removing yourself from the haemophiliac is nothing like an abortion - when you remove yourself from the haemophiliac you are not intending their death, and they do not die as a direct result of your actions. Their death is an unintended secondary effect of your actions - they are killed by their haemophilia, not you.



But abortion is the direct and intentional killing of a human being - which is a totally different act, ethically speaking.


A fetus is a person because it has all of the necessary biological factors to be an individual human being (living, growing, has its own unique DNA, etc.), and it also has all of the exclusively human potentials (potential for rational thought, freewill, etc.) that only human persons can possess within themselves in potency.


If you want to claim that it is not a person, then you need to provide compelling evidence that it is not a person.

Acyutananda said...

This is not a moment when I can get back to Thomson. I will do that when we discuss this on the blog. But at this point, I'm very skeptical that I will find her explanation to be applicable to all situations other than the violinist situation, in such a way that it certifiably overrides our direct intuitions about those situations. I don't remember seeing in Thomson or ever seeing elsewhere an explanation of an intuition that accomplished that.

dudebro said...

The philosophy boy comment???

Simon Jm said...

Agree but if you put another moral person in a state of situational dependency needing the water you have from your body; you have a right of refusal but not from moral obligation causing them to need it from you. If I get time maybe I'll write up our discussions so others can argue over it as well.

Jackie said...

When will the intensive focus on species membership stop? I been debating personhood now for about 3 years into ET and AI's and there is no discussion about it partly because the pro life movement wants to get an easy ban on abortion. Both movements should stop playing games and get in that non human definition of the word ''person'' that should of been in place already. Let's use a hypothetical example to make a point.

Think about the movie E.T. If an extraterrestrial comes down to earth and asks to use the phone, we shouldn’t say, You’re not human, so instead of letting you use the phone, we’re just going to eat you. If we are talking to an alien who has self-awareness, makes choices, has complex emotional experiences, plans future projects, has enduring memories, etc.; we recognize we’re talking to another person. Those traits, or some cluster of them, are the decisive features in personhood and yet they’re not conceptually identical with “humanity.”

Science fiction stories like E.T., Star Wars, or Wall-e may evoke our personhood intuitions simply for the purpose of entertainment, but some books and films use science fiction to explore more serious moral conundrums. The movie District 9 extrapolates South Africa’s apartheid policies and explores questions around dignity and compassion for an alien species stranded on earth. House of the Scorpion explores the identity and rights of a child who is the product of cloning. The now classic movie, Blade Runner, which is laden with religious allusions, explores themes of yearning for life and love in robots who are keenly aware of their own pre-programmed mortality. For example, optimus prime http://wfiles.brothersoft.com/o/optimus-prime_75933-1440x900.jpg and Jenny from my life as a teenage robot can be persons to.

DarkCougar555 said...

Unfortunately, not everyone aware of safe harbor laws... But, I thought you knew?

DarkCougar555 said...

True. But, not everyone is aware of that, sadly.

Ann Morgan said...

I don't recognize 'obligations' and 'responsibilities' that I have not voluntarily and explicitly agreed to. Especially to something without sufficient brain to either desire or enforce such a thing, which is therefore being used as a false flag to disguise slavery to YOU.

**(living, growing, has its own unique DNA, etc.)**

So does cancer. And HELA cells. And my ears.

**it also has all of the exclusively human potentials (potential for rational thought, freewill, etc.)

So does an ova or sperm. By the use of the word 'potential' you admit it does not have those properties NOW. On what basis do you enslave an actual person to a 'potential' one, other than your sad feelies?

**If you want to claim that it is not a person, then you need to provide compelling evidence that it is not a person.**



It doesn't have a functioning brain. There. Proven.

Ann Morgan said...

** fetus is innocent of unjust aggression because THEY don't have intent.**


Intent is irrelevent. It is doing something aggressive, regardless of it's 'intent'. And, btw, it doesn't have 'intent', because it CAN'T have 'intent', because it doesn't have a functioning brain. thus making your pitiful use of the term 'innocent' about as meaningful as if you were to use that term to describe a rock.

Ann Morgan said...

**A born child at 1 week postpartum is just as dependent on her mother as the same child at 34 weeks gestation.**



So, I'm sure you can show me the pictures in medical textbooks of week old infants still obtaining their supply of oxygen and nutrition through umbilical cords. Otherwise, you're just handwaving.

Ann Morgan said...

Thought experiment here. Let us suppose that a billion years in the future, people evolve to reproduce in two different ways. The first way is the same way they reproduce now (through sex or technological equivalent). The other way involves fat cells. When a person of that era puts on fat, once they become sufficiently overweight, say between 100 and 200 lbs overweight, their fat cells develop nuerons and rudimentary mental capabilities. When a person becomes further overweight, say at least 300 lbs overweight, their fat cells become motile, pull themselves off the person's body, and bury themselves in the nearest ground. After a year, the buried fat cells transform into a baby.


Now, despite this mutation to fat cells, causing them to become a 'potential human being' through natural processes, it is still very unhealthy to be overweight. Also, when the fat cells leave the body, it causes a large, painful, and sometimes fatal wound in the legs, abdomen, or buttocks.


Question - should it be illegal for a person with this mutation to improve their looks and health, and prevent the above mentioned wound by dieting or liposuction. Does it make a difference whether their fat cells have gotten to the point where they have developed nuerons or not?

dudebro said...

Yeah, my explanation still stands. Attacking the person as your argument, with no other argument = ad hom fallacy.

Example: "you are wrong because you're an atheist"

But if you make a personal attack whilst also providing other, valid arguments, it is not an AF hom .

I have found that people are fond of accusing their opponent of using the ad hominem fallacy *any* time an insult is used. "You insulted me! Your entire argument is invalid now! Ad hominem fallacy!"

Acyutananda said...

Can you give an example of a justifiable reason for a woman to get an abortion? (Certainly there are justifiable reasons, but to discuss what you have said here, we need one that is justifiable in your eyes.)

lady_black said...

If people aren't aware of them, that is the fault of the government.

Plum Dumpling said...

Have you survived a rape?

Plum Dumpling said...

Sure, i can. i do not want to be pregnant. No other reason needed.

Plum Dumpling said...

'Sex might be pleasurable for us, but it doesn't exist as a pleasure outlet for human beings, but biologically/evolutionarily speaking it exists as a vehicle to achieve human reproduction.'

...............
I have sex to get an orgasm. I never once had sex to get pregnant.

dudebro said...

Sex also exists for social bonding. Which is why humans don't fuck like dogs or cows. If sex amongst humans existed ONLY for procreation, humans would enter heat, have sex, and then forget about it.

In humans, sex exists for social bonding in order to facilitate stronger group ties, and keep people together to raise a resource intensive child.

http://media.uoregon.edu/channel/2013/02/15/darwin-days-whats-love-got-to-do-with-it-sex-for-social-bonding-in-bonobos/

Plum Dumpling said...

This is one of the sickest posts I have ever read. Ewwwwwww.

Plum Dumpling said...

Bingo.

Plum Dumpling said...

A fetus does not meet the definition of human being. Words have meaning.


Scientists have not yet settled the issue of when a fetus becomes a human being.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/4078859


human being - noun
1. any individual of the genus Homo, especially a member of thespecies Homo sapiens.
2. a person, especially as distinguished from other animals or asrepresenting the human species

Collette Johanssen said...

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Acyutananda said...

My question was in relation to Ann Morgan's above post. Do you agree with her "On what basis do you enslave an actual person to a 'potential' one, other than your sad feelies?" -- ?

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