Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Begging questions and trotting out toddlers

[Today's guest post by Ben Williamson is part of our paid blogging program.]

It is absolutely critical that the issue dividing the pro-lifers and abortion advocates be clarified and not muddled by irrelevancies. As author Scott Klusendorf points out in The Case for Life: “If you think a particular argument for elective abortion begs the question regarding the status of the unborn, here’s how to clarify things: Ask if this particular justification for abortion also works as a justification for killing toddlers. If not, the argument assumes that the unborn are not fully human.” (The Case for Life, p. 25, para. 1). Since hardly anybody appeals to bodily rights, economic conveniences, or rights to privacy to justify killing infants and toddlers, to appeal to those circumstances in the case of abortion is to assume the unborn are not human persons.

Let me give an illustration that can help clarify this. Bob and Debbie are hanging out over coffee and the topic of abortion comes up in the conversation. Debbie says, “I think the woman should be allowed to have an abortion because what if she can’t raise the child due to her economic situation?” Bob doesn’t think that reason is good enough. “But it’s wrong to have an abortion because you are killing a child. Don’t you think that’s something the woman should consider?” Debbie, however, wasn’t very impressed with Bob’s question. She kept insisting that the woman should not be prevented from having an abortion because it was her body and her rights.

Now, what was Debbie’s underlying assumption when she said that women should be permitted to have an abortion due to financial issues? She was assuming that the unborn was not a human being without giving any argument for it. This is called begging the question. In logic, when one begs the question, he or she is assuming the very thing they are trying to prove or frontloading a hidden assumption without defending it. In philosophical issues, every assumption is open for questioning and no one is exempt.

Here is how that assumption can be exposed. Debbie tells Bob, “It’s not your place to tell women what they can or cannot do with their bodies. It’s a fundamental right to being a woman to have an abortion.” Now suppose Bob were to turn around and say, “All right. Let’s imagine that I have a two-year-old girl who has terrible health issues and has cost us great financial distress. We are considering on killing her in the privacy of our home. It’s nobody’s place to tell us what we can do with our two year old.” Debbie will have to say that she is opposed to that because she generally believes, along with most people, that the toddler is a human being. But what was Bob’s point here? He was exposing her hidden assumption that she was not defending: that the unborn is a not a human being. Since Debbie would not use the same reasons, she gave for abortion, for killing an infant, newborn, or toddler, it follows that the real issue is not the mother’s poverty but what the unborn is.

Or sometimes you might hear someone say to a pro-lifer, "Don't like abortion? Don't have one." The reduction of the issue of abortion to choosing between different preferences has become too common in our culture. People quite readily make the abortion debate a debate over one's own personal and private preferences. What exactly is wrong with the above line? There are at least three problems with it.

First, it does not take into account what the pro-life advocate is actually claiming. Pro-life advocates are not saying that they merely dislike abortion. They are saying that abortion unjustifiably kills an innocent and defenseless human being. So reducing the topic of abortion to a matter of taste is to fail to understand what exactly is being claimed here.

Second, the person saying that also fails to understand the difference between preference and moral claims. Preference claims are simply descriptions of a person's state of what they like or dislike. It has little or nothing to do with what they ought or ought not do. Statements like "I like chocolate ice cream," "Gummy bears taste better than teddy grahams," or "Apple pie is better than lemon pie" are all preference claims. There isn't any demand or obligation that you could infer from any of those statements. Most of us would probably think it would be odd if I were to say "You're wrong for liking chocolate ice cream instead of vanilla ice cream" because we all intuitively realize that the contents in that claim are purely preference-based.

Third, the statement - if meant to be an argument for abortion choice - is a bad argument because it begs the question. The statement is true only if the unborn are not human beings. But that is precisely the topic of the debate! And if the unborn are not human beings, you don't need the argument.

So in conclusion, the central issue in the abortion debate is whether the unborn is a human being or a person. This is supported by the fact that most – if not all – reasons given to support abortion are question begging and do not address the real issue. The purpose of using a toddler as an example is to force the real issue to the forefront.


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Chalkdust said...

Ask if this particular justification for abortion also works as a
justification for killing toddlers. If not, the argument assumes that
the unborn are not fully human.

Wait. What?

Yes, I agree that "does this also imply I may kill my toddler?" is a good clarifying question to ask. I routinely ask, "does this also imply that I may not let my gametes die?" as a clarifying question of pro-life arguments.

But to claim that all "no"s are assuming nonpersonhood of the unborn?

A fetus is totally dependent on the person whose uterus it is using--if she does not supply it with blood and nutrients and take away its wastes, it will die. The bodily rights argument is not based on the fetus being a person or not; it is based on the fetus being uniquely and bodily dependent on a single specific other person. The relevant comparison is not "toddlers", whose care is transferable; it is "people with leukemia who need a bone marrow transplant from a single specific other person". The bodily rights argument does not say that we may kill toddlers--it does imply that the tissue match has the right to say no, not donate, and watch the recipient die as a direct result. And we let tissue donors do exactly that if they so choose. McFall's personhood is not at issue--Shimp's bodily rights were.

myintx said...

In the McFall case, the donation had not been made yet. Had the donation already been made and the donor wanted his organ back the results of the case probably would have been different.
And, the 'bodily autonomy' argument can be transferred to toddlers. What if a woman is taking care of her toddler and he keeps her awake at night - making her tired and 'threatening' her health (there is no one else to help and she cannot afford to pay for help) - can she kill it? Foster care you say? Well, what if a pro-abort told her she'd suffer mental anguish the rest of her life if she put her toddler in the system... Can she kill then, because certainly her 'bodily autonomy' is threatened right (her brain is part of her body and is affected). No - she HAS to do the right thing and care for her child (or get help). A woman who is facing an unwanted pregnancy should get help too. Her unborn child is her responsibility - killing it for convenience should not be a choice.

Chalkdust said...

My point is, the bodily rights argument does not presume the fetus is not a person; it is a debate over whether the pregnant person has the same right of refusal that Shimp had or whether something in their situation grants the fetus rights that the person McHall did not have. The article wants to pretend that *all* pro-choice arguments rely on nonpersonhood of the fetus. This is wrong.

argent said...

Unrelated to the main post, but if you want to answer I'd be curious:

How would you respond to the objection that "not donating and watching the recipient die" is not an accurate description of abortion as it is currently practiced, which involves directly killing the victim?

Elizabeth Doecke said...

If it does not presume that the foetus is not a person, than it ought to be able to stand up to scrutiny if the foetus is assumed to be a person. If it does not, than the personhood of the foetus and its rights as a human being need to be addressed.

Shrimp has the right to refuse the violation of his bodily autonomy to treat McFall. McFall did not get his treatment, but he still retained his right not to be actively harmed by Shrimp.

I've further reasoned (elsewhere) that the right to refuse extends only to treatment of pathological conditions, and not to provision of psychological needs. Hence my comment regarding this above. It might be helpful to the discussion if you were willing to expand on what you mean by the 'right of refusal'.

Chalkdust said...

A fetus is best compared not to a leukemia patient who is asking someone to give them bone marrow, but to a leukemia patient who has walked in and started extracting bone marrow from a potential donor without their consent. In such a situation the donor has the right to use whatever force is necessary to remove the recipient. If a surgical abortion is the best option for removal of an unwanted fetus, then it is morally permissible even though it "directly" kills the fetus.

argent said...

Hmm, I'd say that's one of three reasonable responses to that question, the other two being "actually, I'm only defending abortions which don't violate the kid's bodily autonomy" and "actually, I'm also making a nonpersonhood argument". Thanks for your answer.

I have another question, if you're interested in answering. Would you say that bringing another human being into existence in an inherently needy state without their consent entails a responsibility toward them? For example, would you say that a parent who cannot find anyone willing to adopt their child has a right to abandon them? Or would you say they have a responsibility to either care for the child or pass on that responsibility to someone else?

(An aside to the aside, but I find it fascinating: This is one of my brother's arguments that no omnipotent omnibenevolent creator god exists. Such a god would have to first create us without our consent, and then fail to provide for our needs.)

TooManyJens said...

What you're describing is assault, though. Making someone dependent upon you, even if you didn't intend to do so, isn't at all comparable to them assaulting you.

Ben said...

Hey Argent: The attempt to clarify the issue is really in light of meeting certain people who haven't heard any sophisticated defenses on both sides and so rely on sloganeering.

You rightly point out that the standard line of defense for the bodily rights argument comes from Judith Thomson. Even though her argument has been shown to have significant weaknesses from both sides, the strongest version probably wouldn't come from her essay.

But in general with your common, everyday person, I think this tactic helps to clarify the issue.

Benjamin Williamson said...


I want to make one clarification that can help rid y'all's discussion of any confusion or misunderstanding.

I am NOT claiming that the tactic "Trotting out the toddler" is a parallel response to an argument from bodily rights. I realize that was a mistake I made in this piece and I want to make it CRYSTAL clear that when you see that portion, PLEASE just skip over it.

So I apologize for giving the impression that if someone gives an argument from bodily rights, that they are begging the question.

On the other hand, I do realize that many people at the street level - who haven't read Thomson's essay or a defense of her position by David Boonin - will claim that the unborn isn't a person AND that she has a right to bodily autonomy which entails having an abortion.

Obviously the latter claim will need to be settled a different way than simply trotting out your toddler.


kitler said...

Non viable unborn humans die because they no longer have the woman's body to breathe for them, eat for them, and process wastes for them. The methods used by unborn humans to extract resources from women is what I was describing to you last night in greater detail. All factual. You did not like what you heard so you accused me of being hyperbolic.

kitler said...

The woman owes thr zygote nothing, as it was not victimized simply by being fertilized.

kitler said...

Consent is revokable. If you are having sex with someone, and you ask them to stop, yet they continue, it becomes rape. Consent is not a one time thing.

Chalkdust said...

Would you say that bringing another human being into existence in an
inherently needy state without their consent entails a responsibility
toward them?

(1) I've usually seen this as the responsibility counterargument to the bodily rights argument: a pro-lifer stipulates that a pregnant person who did not consent to sex has the right to remove an unwelcome fetus from her uterus, but claims that if a person with uterus has consensual sex, she has thereby lost that right.

The only analogous situations I can think of are (a) compensation for harms, and (b) child support. To claim that a zygote is entitled to use its parent's body as compensation for being placed in a position of need, you have to claim that the parent has harmed their zygote by conceiving it. I don't think that being brought into existence and then aborted before you can feel pain is worse than simply never existing in the first place, and people with gametes are well within their rights not to bring their potential children into existence.

Regarding (b), the only time when anyone is forced to support a newborn they don't want is when two parents disagree about what should be done with that newborn, and when one parent wants to take on the responsibilities of the custodial parent. Couples in good relationships don't get forced into parenthood; they work out what to do amicably. Forced parenthood is a last resort; it's not a good thing we want to do if we can avoid it. Even in the case of people in bad relationships or after bad breakups, the only way you can be forced to take on the obligations of a parent are if someone else chooses to take on themselves the greater obligations of a custodial parent. Contrast with the standard Republican pro-life position of, "I your legislator will force parental obligations upon you without doing anything at all to help you out". Mandatory child support is in no way comparable to mandatory pregnancy.

(2) I am a lot more willing to assign responsibility to parents after they have knowingly and willingly decided, "Yes, I want to be a parent." A parent of a toddler presumably chose not to put them up for adoption as an infant--and every state in the US has safe haven laws, meaning that all parents can put newborns up for adoption if they don't want to raise them.

I think that the only ethical and practical way for the government to force people to take care of their children when they don't want to--which is the correct analogue to criminalizing abortion--is to say, "If you don't or can't take care of your child, we will take them away and put them in foster care, which is tantamount to taking care of them ourselves." And that's exactly what our government does.

argent said...

Your discussion of child support seems kind of irrelevant to me, because the way our laws work in regard to caring for children whose parents don't want to depends on the fact that other caregivers are available, which is obviously a crucial difference between pregnancy and other scenarios. I'm asking you to imagine a couple living in some remote place, where no other person can be found who is willing to care for the child. Do you believe such parents would have an ethical responsibility to care for their child?

"... you have to claim that the parent has harmed their zygote by conceiving it. I don't think that being brought into existence and then aborted before you can feel pain is worse than simply never existing in the first place ..."

Well, I think we differ there. I think that bringing someone into existence and then killing them is a harm to them. It seems difficult to me to argue that creating-then-killing is not a harm if the person only reaches the zygote stage, but is a harm if the person is allowed to reach, say, the adolescent stage (provided you kill them in their sleep with no warning, so that the fatal act itself is not a harm, only the loss of life).

I'm not so much arguing a responsibility objection so much as I am saying that the sequence of actions of 'causing someone to be physically dependent on you, then revoking consent to use your body' is unethical as a whole, even if you can argue that the second part by itself is not unethical.

myintx said...

So, you're comparing an unborn child to a rapist? Sorry, the comparison doesn't work.

In a pregnancy, the donation was made at fertilization. To revoke the donation via abortion is intentional killing of a human being that is doing nothing wrong - nothing like a rapist.

kitler said...

I am explaining the concept of 'consent' to you.

I am sorry that your reading comprehension is so poor.

myintx said...

Yea, when you consent to taking care of your toddler you cannot simply change your mind, leave the toddler at home alone and go to a party. Better comparison than trying to compare an unborn child to a rapist.

kitler said...

Parents who do not want to parent give up their children all the time:

Simon Jm said...

But what if the owner of the bone marrow cause the leukemia? Sorry if I asked that before but I didn't get a notification of a a reply.Again I'm not saying the owner of the bone marrow HAS to donate the marrow but if Nef's have full moral status as moral persons there is a case for moral responsibility and compensation.

kitler said...

Fertilization is not the equivalent of poisoning someone so that they develop a disease.

DarkCougar555 said...

When does "disease" become human/person? At third term?

Just ask.

kitler said...


Simon Jm said...

"To claim that a zygote is entitled to use its parent's body as compensation for being placed in a position of need, you have to claim that the parent has harmed their zygote by conceiving it. I don't think that being brought into existence and then aborted before
you can feel pain is worse than simply never existing in the first

Very nice that is exactly what David Boonin has argued. I hope you will allow me time to reply to this in a similar way I did to him. I'm endng a 12 hr night shift so will be back after some sleep.

Simon Jm said...

It doesn't need be exactly similar. One only need in principle to initiate and action that results in existential dependency due to actions willingly taken and with full knowledge it would likely place another entity with full moral value in that situation.

Whether it is a drunk driver, mugger, housing toxic waste or IMO consensual sex -leading to pregnancy- all can cause existential dependency that might only be corrected by payment of bodily compensation..

Ofc there must be grounds for moral personhood but that is contested.

kitler said...

Nope. The zygote is not harmed by conception, therefore, the woman is not obligated to 'make it whole'.

To gestate it = unjust enrichment.

Blueberry said...

If for whatever reason a toddler's care is NOT transferable, do the parents have no obligation to use their time, money, and bodies to provide food, shelter from harm, etc.?

Besides, the neediness of the embryo is (usually) caused by the parents' actions, unlike someone who needs bone marrow. AND needing bone marrow is an extraordinary need that requires extraordinary care. The dependent state of a fetus or embryo is simply the natural condition of human beings at that particular age, and what they need is food, oxygen, and shelter, received from the normal functioning of their own and their mother's bodies together. Born children likewise require those things, and need their parents (or someone else, IF care is transferable) to use their bodies to provide basic care.

Blueberry said...

I think trotting out the toddler can still be a response to bodily autonomy, although the argument may be more complex. We acknowledge that parents have a moral and legal obligation to provide for their toddler's basic, natural needs: food, shelter, etc. I think most people would also recognize that if parents can't transfer their toddler's care, responsibility remains with them.

Good article, by the way.

kitler said...

Pregnancy, as is any intimate use of your body or body parts, is an extraordinary burden and is not mere food and shelter.

Anyone can act as a caregiver. Only one person can be pregnant.

Blueberry said...

Pregnancy is highly demanding, but it is still the provision of basic care. Your breasts are intimate body parts, but surely we would require a woman to feed her child (even though breastfeeding can be tiresome and painful) if she were the only one who could do so, and care were not transferable?

The provision of child support could be argued to be higher than the burden of pregnancy as it lasts 18 years and could require the man to use use his body to work long, exhausting, or even dangerous hours. (For instance, if a man is in construction and wants to maintain a certain standard of living, to earn extra money he will have to work longer hours at a physically demanding job.)

Saying "anyone can act as caregiver" is simply dismissing the question. There are any number of possible scenarios where a person might not be able to immediately transfer the care of their born child to another person.

kitler said...

Breathing for someone, eating for someone, having your body sapped of it's calcium and other minerals for someone, performing all of life's metabolic processes for someone, and processing toxic biowastes for someone is NOT BASIC CARE.

If it was, parents would be required, by law to donate blood/tissue/organs to their born children. They are not. Even if the child will die. Because use of body = extraordinary burden. An unborn human is not entitled to the use of a woman's uterus. It's hers, and she decides how it, and the rest of her organs, will be used.

Blueberry said...

Use of body does not automatically equal extraordinary burden. (Extraordinary doesn't mean "huge" in this sense, it means "beyond what is usual, ordinary, regular, or established.") If it did, requiring a man to use his body to work for 18 years would constitute an extraordinary burden, which it is not. It is difficult, yes, but it is still fulfilling basic responsibility to the child.

Donating an organ is a permanent and total loss, and pregnancy is temporary. Transfer of an organ is an artificial medical procedure, and pregnancy is the condition of two bodies functioning normally. The need for an organ is brought on by severe illness or injury, whereas the need to be in the womb for the first few months is simply a necessary part of being a human being.

If a woman has a newborn and is for whatever reason unable to transfer care, she will need to do the following to meet the baby's basic, natural, inherent needs:

She must breastfeed it, and is providing all of the baby's nutrients and minerals, all of which are of course being sapped from her own body. She would also need to at least change it's diapers and clean it's genital area, or the baby could develop an infection . She needs to keep it out of the rain and cold, and of course make sure the baby doesn't suffocate.

The difference is that, instead of using her uterus, she is using her breasts, milk ducts, arms, legs, hands, muscles, her brain to make decisions regarding care, and all of her other inner and outer body parts that either have nutrients leeched out of them or receive fewer nutrients in the first place, in order to make breastmilk and supply the extra energy required to care for another living thing.

I'm not really seeing how that's a relevant distinction. Is the uterus somehow more "yours" than all of your other body parts?

She may loose sleep and be frequently exhausted, her breasts may hurt and swell, her heart may beat harder, she may gain weight from stress, her arms may ache from carrying the baby, and she may feel emotionally unhappy about having to take care of the child.

Does any of that change the fact that, if she allows the baby to starve to death, she ought to be charged with negligent homicide?

kitler said...

Occupying someone's body, temporarily or permanently = extraordinary burden.

And no, your born children are not owed even tenporary use of your blood, lungs or any other body part to sustain their lives. If born children do not have that right, why should an embryo?

PS: pregnancy permanently changes a woman's body, and can in fact lead to permanent disability, injury and death.

Blueberry said...

But your born children ARE temporarily using many of your body parts, both inner and outer ones (hands, milk ducts, muscles, etc.), in order to be sustained. The law currently mandates that they are owed the use of these body parts, insofar as those body parts are required to meet their natural needs for food, nutrition, water, etc.

Do you disagree with the current law? Should parents who cannot immediately transfer care be able to abandon their children to die?

And, if your born children are not owed even temporary use of any of your body parts, why shouldn't parents be able to abandon their children even if they CAN quickly transfer care? Transferring care requires using your body to drive places, fill out paperwork, etc. I mean, maybe you've got important places to be and don't want to bother with all that.

If children have NO rights to their parents' bodies, even temporarily, then we ought to immediately abolish all laws criminalizing any type of neglect.

Caring for a child may permanently change the mother or father's body also, though these effects may not be to the same extent. Stress has effects on your heart, breasts get saggy from breastfeeding, the construction worker father I mentioned may have permanent effects on his body from working hard outdoors so much. He might develop arthritis, for instance. He's even increasing his risk of death by injury or by developing skin cancer.

kitler said...

Born children have no right to literally use your organs, not even temporarily, in order to sustain their lives.

If your born child suffers kidney failure, and the only way to save them is to hook them up to your kidneys so your body can perform dialysis for them, you would be within your rights to refuse.

Blueberry said...

Born children are literally using your organs when you care for them. Your heart works harder, your muscles are working for the child, your breasts and milks ducts are used, nutrients are leached from your whole body. I don't really see any reason why bodily autonomy applies more to my uterus than to all the rest of my body parts that ARE literally being used to care for the born child. Maybe the child is inside instead of out, but that's just location. In many ways childcare can be more burdensome than being pregnant.

Yes, you would be within your rights to refuse. But like I said, kidney donation is permanent (pregnancy can have permanent effects, but breastfeeding and working to provide child support could too. Pregnancy itself is temporary.), and arises from an extraordinary need brought on by severe illness or injury, and is not a natural need automatically possessed by all people at a certain stage of life. When it comes to pregnancy resulting from consensual sex, another difference is that pregnancy can and should be reasonably foreseen as a natural consequence of having sex, and the mother herself is directly responsible both for the child's existence and dependency on her. She is not directly responsible for the child's need for a kidney, and being cut open and having a major organ placed inside someone else cannot be reasonably foreseen as a natural consequence of sex.

kitler said...

So born children are incapable of breathing on their own, is that what you are saying?

Blueberry said...

Although most born and unborn children are similarly needy in terms of being unable to get nutrients, shelter. etc. on their own, children past viability typically can get oxygen without their guardian's help. Although like I said, the mother or father still has a responsibility to make sure the born baby doesn't suffocate, since the baby may not be able to roll over or lift their head out of water or push away something that is smothering them.

If a baby were drowning, wouldn't the parent be obligated to go save them, even if (for whatever reason) using their body to do so were difficult or inconvenient?

Say a born baby stopped breathing, and the mother quickly called an ambulance. The paramedics are on their way, but the baby is already turning blue. The mother can keep the baby's body oxygenated by breathing into the baby's lungs. She has been trained on how to do this, so there is no risk of doing it improperly, harming the baby, etc.

Would it be justified in saying that the baby has no right to use her body to get oxygen, and letting the baby die?

kitler said...

I'm talking about drilling into their parents blood vessels, lungs and kidneys in order to eat, breathe and process wastes.

Should your toddler be able to use your body that way? To drill into your blood vessels and take calcium from your bones to meet its own nutritional needs? To excrete into your bloodstream so you can process biowastes for it.


DarkCougar555 said...

So? I just asked you a question. Calm down. =/

DarkCougar555 said...

If I recall correctly, she still can decide to drink beers, wines, or alcohols while she's pregnant. But, to most prochoice people, a zef is just a parasite because it's a medical condition. Yet, I don’t understand why prochoicers would feel bothered by her choice. It's all her body and her decision to poison her non-person if she wants to.

I just don't get it that they got so mad at her for her choice if zef is not person or can't feel pain. Why should they care?

I don't understand.

myintx said...

So, are you saying the parents in the article should have been allowed to kill their child so that it wouldn't have to go into the system?

Elizabeth Doecke said...

Because of all the discussion about bodily autonomy below, I wanted to open up to feedback something that I reasoned out. The reason why I believe we can require a pregnant woman to allow the foetus the use of her body, but that we cannot require compulsary donation of bone marrow, kidneys etc. is to do with the nature of the competing rights.

Someone who has a pathological condition exercises their right to health when they seek treatment. This right only extends to treatment that is ethically acceptable.

If abortion was illegal, it would be protecting the right of the foetus not to be arbitarily killed, i.e. its right to life.

The right to bodily autonomy is weighted against these respective rights:
Right to bodily autonomy versus right to health.
Right to bodily autonomy versus right not to be arbitarily killed (right to life).

If we say that the right not to be arbitarily killed outweighs the right to bodily autonomy, it does not necessarily follow that the right to health also outweighs the right to bodily autonomy. Hence we can keep rights in balance while criminalising abortion, without a necessary progression to requiring individual's bodily autonomy to be violated in the name of treatment.

kitler said...

Abortion is self defense.

Elizabeth Doecke said...

The suggestion is then that the foetus, by its nonconsenual use of the pregnant woman's body, is committing assault?

Because the problem with this is that any time that consent cannot be immediately obtained, the process must be construed as assault. To use the analogy of sex, if someone willingly engages in foreplay but then loses consciousness before intercourse, and their partner proceeds regardless, assault has taken place.

So what, then, do we do with the unconscious pregnant woman?

kitler said...

Pro choices have babies too you know. And they love them. They have also gone through hell to bring their pregnancies to term.

A friend of mine suffered through this for 9 months:
She nearly died. Her son is 28 now. He too is pro choice.

myintx said...

If parents can give up their children after they are born, they can WAIT until their baby is born and then give it up for adoption. That takes care of the "cannot afford a child" reason that many women give for having an abortion.

Elizabeth Doecke said...

An assertion worth exploring. Could you please be more explicit?

kitler said...

Does anyone have the right to occupy and use your body without consent?

Clinton said...

Good article. The only issue I take with it is a line from the first paragraph. No one appeals to bodily rights to justify killing infants and toddlers because they are no longer in the woman's body. Appealing to bodily rights does not beg the question -- it directly addresses the question of whether or not it is permissible to kill the unborn.

kitler said...

Compensation is only owed if you have done harm. To make the victim whole again. Bodily compensation is never demanded, not even of criminals.

And that imaginary baby does not need to occupy your body to survive. Thus, no intimate bodily violation to care for it.

And furthermore, sex is not remotely comparable to touching a button on a baby making machine. Sex is an integral part of being human, necessary for mental and physical health, and a child need not be born every time.

Clinton said...

If abortion is self-defense, so is infanticide.

Clinton said...

I think you're absolutely right here, and this is the way that I respond. I find that many pro-choice people have a faulty view of what rights are, or have to come to bizarre conclusions (like the right to life doesn't exist) in order to justify their "right" to abortion on demand.

kitler said...

Infants don't occupy anyone's body but their own.

Simon Jm said...

In most cases yes I will grant that. But Boonin uses the toxic waste analogy to help illustrate the principle of bodily compensation being consistent with other existential dependency compensation cases.

The common factor is that a situation of existential dependency has been caused by the offender and the relevance of restorative justice. Sure most cases are caused by harm but that doesn't conceptually prohibit dependency caused by creation and why Boonin used it in the first place.

Creation cases are more like existential dependency duty of care situations; say inviting someone to a house knowing a blizzard is on the way thus creating existential dependency.

Have you harmed the person by inviting them to the house. Ofc not. But if you then attempt to deny duty of care obligations re

DarkCougar555 said...

Yeah, they do. My point is why do you feel bothered by someone if she choose to poison her non-person parasite? That's something I don't understand why.

Sorry to hear that. I hope she gets what she needs, but did she get her treatment?

Simon Jm said...

No the imaginary baby doesn't need your body to survive but we were also talking about acts of creation and what obligations that creates. Why should acts that result in your body being used preclude ANY moral responsibility or in principle obligations?

What if the instead of being kidnapped the woman in the Violinist was the one who arranged for the violinist to be kidnapped and attached to her? Sure you can argue she still cannot be forced to have him remain attached to her, but she is still morally responsible for the existential dependency and compensation. So she is given a choice pay it or face a custodial sentence.

& yes sex can be seen as analogous. There is a physical act in both cases that brings about pleasure but has a chance of creating a being with arguably full moral value that is in a state existential dependency.

& yes pleasurable activities are integral to a fulfilled human existence but it would seem very strange to me that you are saying that pleasure is worth more than a healthy human life. Nor doesn't valuing human life exclude sexual pleasure. There are many ways to enjoy it without risking putting another human life at risk.

Simon Jm said...

kpopfan123 said...

"I've usually seen this as the responsibility counterargument to the bodily rights argument: a pro-lifer stipulates that..." This is ridiculous :))) He was asking you personally. Don't you have a mind of your own? that you have to use what other people say.

kitler said...

If you bring an actual child into the world you, and, since you have *chosen* to bring it to term, you have in essence contracted to care for it until such time as you can give it up. We don't force people to parent. We also don't force people to donate their bodies to save ANYONE.

You can feed that newborn baby formula, but you are not obligated to even give it blood if that would save its life.

No one owes an unborn human anything. Least of all their bodies. Supererogatory burden again.

And I might add, pro lifers want to apply this burden ONLY in the situation of pregnancy. What makes a fetus so special? Why must a 5 year old die for lack of an organ? Are 5 year olds worth less than embryos?

kitler said...

And no. She is not responsible for the violinists existential dependency. She is helping him, and that help can be withdrawn at any time. It is a logical impossibility, and a moral obscenity, to state that someone can essentially *consent* to slavery.

Chalkdust said...

If I decide to carry to term, then one day that non-person parasite will (probably) turn into a person. The goal is to prevent that person from having fetal alcohol syndrome, not to protect an embryo.

Put it this way: Is it ethical to cause genetic damage to sperm or egg cells that are likely to be used? The sperm and eggs are disposable by anyone's definition, but if you know someone's going to conceive soon, it's unethical to damage their gametes in any way that is likely to have adverse effects on their child-to-be.

kitler said...

Because if the fetus is going to become a born child, capable of sentience and sapience, it should not suffer from lack of nurture in thr womb. That lack of nurture in the womb can cause problems ONCE BORN. And that's what I am explaining.

kitler said...

Duty of care does not involve bodily compensation. Unless it will ever be demanded of criminals, it is discrimination to ONLY apply it in pregnancy.

And sex is not a criminal act. Forced bodily compensation IS punishment.

Chalkdust said...

If the parents choose of their own free will, consciously and deliberately, to bring a child into existence, then yes, they have a moral obligation to take care of it. If the child comes into existence by accident, and they really have NO way to transfer its care, then no, I don't think that they are obligated to take care of it.

I always get nervous around questions of, "Do parents have an obligation to...?" coming from pro-lifers, that is, people who think that it is desirable for the government to force parents to carry out those obligations. That is, I don't accept that if parents are morally obligated to care for the children they choose to have, that the government has the right to force them to do so without doing anything to help. (And I certainly don't think it's possible for the government to force parents to care about their children; you can maybe force them to go through some of the motions of care, but really, there are situations where the child is better off put into foster care and I think the government has an obligation to do that in those situations.)

I think that bringing someone into existence and then killing them is a harm to them.

(1) Pro-lifers often tell me that it's not okay to abort a fetus with trisomy-18; that a two-year life is still better than a 20-week life. So if more life is better, how is a one-month life not better than no life at all?

(2) Okay, so you claim that it's worse to be conceived and to die at age 8 weeks than it is to never exist at all. So if someone gets pregnant and has a spontaneous abortion, her embryo is worse off than if she just hadn't gotten pregnant at all. How much worse off? This article (Figure 3 in the results) found that about half of all conceptions result in loss of pregnancy. So when a couple tries to conceive, shouldn't they take into consideration the likely horrible fate of their failures? There are some medical conditions (PCOS, endometriosis, just being in your late 30s or your 40s (for women) or in your 40s or 50s (for men)) that make spontaneous abortion much more likely. If conception and abortion is so horrible, shouldn't pro-lifers be trying to discourage older women/women with endometriosis from trying to conceive?

(If you're curious, (3) no, this does not mean that parents may kill their adolescents. I can't see bringing someone into existence as anything but a minor unsolicited favor (carrying to term and raising a child is a much larger favor). Doing someone a favor without asking does not give you the right to hurt them later. On the other hand, it doesn't give you the obligation to do them more favors later. So having caused someone's existence does not change whether you may end that existence.)

Chalkdust said...

If the owner of the bone marrow took an existing healthy person and put them into an unhealthy state by giving them leukemia, then the leukemia patient is entitled to some sort compensation. (See kitler's posts for a discussion of why bodily compensation is different from financial compensation; I won't go into it here.) If, on the other hand, the owner of the bone marrow did an action that had a net neutral or positive effect on someone that included causing them to develop leukemia, then no compensation would be owed.

(A better analogy would be CPR. Normally, if you deliberately break someone's ribs you must pay for their medical treatment. However, if you perform CPR on someone, even knowing that correctly-done CPR will break their ribs, you are not responsible for their medical treatment, because you have had a net-positive effect on them.)

Conceiving a zygote and then not letting it use my uterus is much closer to saving someone's life with CPR and then not paying to treat their ribs, than it is to finding a healthy person and deliberately breaking their bones.

Chalkdust said...

(1) The fetus IS assaulting the pregnant person. I mean, "walking ball of first-trimester misery"? Does that sound like someone who isn't being assaulted?

(2) See my comment to Simon Jm on why "creating a zygote in a state of dependency" does not invoke the same obligation that "making an existing person dependent on you" does.

kitler said...

Has a woman done harm to a zef if it fails to implant or is miscarried?

Zefs can miscarry for a myriad of reasons. Even healthy ones. They can fail to implant if the woman has low body fat and is amenorrheic. Have amenorrheic women failed in giving the appropriate "duty of care" if the zygote cannot implant? If they knowingly have sex, with the knowledge that their uterine lining won't accept a zygote, are they guilty of child murder? Manslaughter? How about infertile women who keep trying to get pregnant and endlessly miscarry healthy zefs? What about women with the wrong blood type - their body will outright reject the zef. Are all of the above guilty of a criminal act if they have sex, IF an egg just happenshappens to be fertilized?

argent said...

1) So I am correct in saying that you believe the hypothetical couple in the remote region have the right to abandon their toddler, so long as the kid's creation was unintentional?

2) I'm not exactly sure what reasoning you're using to back up your claim that creating-then-killing-8-weeks-later is okay, but creating-then-killing-18-years-later isn't okay. Could you elaborate?

3) I think being-created-then-dying-naturally-after-a-few-hours is a "small benefit" in a way that being-created-then-having-ones-lifespan-intentionally-cut-short-after-8-weeks isn't. I think any human being who exists has a right to live out their natural lifespan free from homicidal intervention. Would you agree?

4) I would actually mostly agree with you that "bringing someone into existence is a minor unsolicited favor" if abortion didn't exist. If bringing someone into existence didn't entail putting them into an inherently needy state which could then be used to justify depriving them of the resources they need, I would say it's a minor favor. Bringing someone into existence in a needy state isn't wrong, nor is denying someone your bodily resources, so it's possibly to make them look justified if you separate them, but taken together, putting someone into a needy state and then taking away what they need is definitely wrong.

5) Related to the 'parents should consider the failure-to-implant rate', I think a lot of the ways conceiving parents think about their children are not okay, and I definitely don't endorse them.

argent said...

Erm ... did you just call me he?

TooManyJens said...

Lots of things that aren't assaults can be miserable. I ran a marathon this spring, and the last 10 miles or so were pretty miserable. I've had the flu, and it was miserable. I've had stress from deadlines, and it was miserable.

TooManyJens said...

Are you trying to argue that you can only have obligations to someone if you have harmed them?

Guest said...

I'm not aware of any pro-life advocate that would legally compel a pregnant woman to donate blood or bone marrow to her unborn child.

Chalkdust said...

No, but the exceptions are:

(1) A responsibility not to harm someone if it can be reasonably avoided (as distinct from a responsibility to help someone).

(2) A responsibility that is knowingly, willingly, and deliberately accepted, with the parameters specified beforehand (as distinct from an accident caused by, say, birth control failure).

(3) A responsibility imposed by someone who is accepting a more burdensome responsibility upon themselves (i.e., a custodial parent imposing child support on a non-custodial parent) in a situation where there is no good solution.

Chalkdust said...

How exactly do you define "assault" versus "not assault"? Why is this a good moral distinction (why are the things you call "not assault" okay to do)?

Chalkdust said...

If it does not presume that the foetus is not a person, than it ought to
be able to stand up to scrutiny if the foetus is assumed to be a

Yes, and I'm convinced that the bodily rights argument does stand up to scrutiny if you make that assumption.

I've further reasoned (elsewhere) that the right to refuse extends only
to treatment of pathological conditions, and not to provision of
physiological needs.


The Americans with Disabilities Act says that a person with non-standard abilities must be given all reasonable accommodations. That is, whether someone is accommodated depends only on how reasonable the accommodation is, not whether that person is "supposed to" need the accommodation or not. If a teacher gave a class of first-graders large-print assignments because they were only learning to read, and refused to give a dyslexic fifth-grader a large-print assignment because fifth-graders are not "supposed" to need large print, that teacher would be fired, and rightly so.

I think that this is the correct standard. As I understand it pregnancy is often much more physiologically stressful than marrow donation. If pregnancy is a reasonable accommodation for a person to be forced to make in order to keep another person alive, then the less-stressful marrow donation is also a reasonable accommodation. To pretend that the marrow donation may be refused because people aren't "supposed to" need other people's bone marrow is deeply ableist.

Cynical_Meliorist said...

Off topic, but love the icon. :)

kitler said...

She's already donating her blood and bone marrow to her 'unborn child' as it is extracting resources from her very bones to build it's own skeleton ffs.

kitler said...

If someone walked up to you, drilled into your blood vessel, and started extracting your bodies' resources into their own, would you consider that to be assault?

almond_bubble_tea said...

1. Perhaps the parents in the article didn't know their child would be severely autistic.

This is why NO ONE should go into parenthood without thinking through all the possible consequences of bringing another person into this world and readying themselves for EVERY possibility of raising a disabled child. Some parents can't handle this.

2. Also, most adoptive couples are looking for healthy (read: NON-DISABLED) babies.

almond_bubble_tea said...

"They are saying that abortion unjustifiably kills an innocent and defenseless human being"

A fetus is neither innocent or guilty. A fetus is unable to think, is not self aware, and is not able to make moral judgements. Now I know the pro-birth folks like to fetishize the fetus as being able to tell Mommy that they want to live, but the truth of matter is, most feti just take nutrients from the mother, sleep and poop in the placenta. That's all a fetus does --eat, sleep, poop, and maybe kick ----they have NO ability to make moral judgements, nor do they have an ability to articulate thoughts.

Anyone who wants to describe a fetus as being "innocent" is giving fetis way too much credit.

myintx said...

1. Those 'consequences' should be thought of before a couple engages in consensual sex. Once pregnant though, another human being is dependent on a woman to keep it alive. The father and the mother should have a responsibility to take care of their children - born and unborn.
2. There are places that specialize in adoption of special needs kids. If those kids were not adoptable, those places would not exist.

Chalkdust said...

(1) I could see an argument that if you are going to abandon your child then you have a moral obligation to do so at the first opportunity. Otherwise, yes. I know that people in cultures with no social safety net do practice infanticide (ancient Greece is a prominent example) and if they have no other meaningful way to avoid becoming parents, I don't think that they are doing anything wrong. Regrettable, tragic, and giving them early abortions or a foster-care system would be better, and birth control better still--but not wrong.

(2) It is morally permissible for me to kill an 8-week-old fetus that is inside my uterus if there is no better way to remove it and if I am not responsible for creating it. It is not morally permissible for me to kill an 18-year-old, whether I am responsible for creating it or not. My claim is that being responsible for creating the 8-week-old or 18-year-old does not change whether these things are morally permissible.

(3) I don't see why being killed is any worse than dying naturally. I don't see why a healthy 10-year-old's right not to die of homicide is any more valid than a sick 10-year-old's right not to die of a refused bone marrow transplant. Now, there are a lot of situations where someone else's rights override the sick child's rights (if the only marrow match does not want to donate, for example), but I don't see how the sick child's death is a less tragic thing than the healthy child's death.

(4) Since I don't see homicide as any worse than any other death, I don't see how creating-then-aborting is worse than just not creating.

(5) If you say, "Abortion is a bad thing and should be illegal", and you say that "IVF is a bad thing but it shouldn't be illegal", then I have to conclude that you think abortion is worse than IVF and my question about the ethics of subjecting dozens of embryos to the creation-and-spontaneous-abortion cycle stands. Do you think IVF should be illegal? What about having sex with PCOS, or at age 45?

Simon Jm said...

I gave you a lot to read so maybe you missed that i said what if SHE KIDNAPPED the violinist and had him attached?

Again unlike PL's I'm NOT saying she should be forced to keep him attached, but what I maintain she owes the violinist compensation for causing the existential dependency. She has a choice to either pay it or a custodial sentence. So your slavery point is moot on both counts.

Simon Jm said...

Why is that so?

You cannot have it both ways. If what gives full moral value is personhood then human babies should be treated no different than other non person animals.I can choose to obtain a kitten and are obligated to treat it humanely and care for it.

But as things stand if I choose to humanely euthanize it because I no longer want it, I can do so.

Why is that different for a baby? Bodily autonomy is irrelevant to this question. If it is supererogatory for zefs it should be the same for babies.

I would note some PC's are now saying this.

For the sake of argument if like a non person baby a Zef has full moral value it is owed the same duty of care obligations that many are more than happy placing on males who didn't want to be a parent or for that matter also took precautions.

Lastly I 100% AGREE most PL's are inconsistent on forcing it for prenatal situations and not for post natal and have argued here many times. I've argued that if PL's are going to force people to save lives by overruling bodily autonomy they must do it in other situations as well including strangers. But like many PC they narrowly apply their reasoning without seeing the bigger picture.


Simon Jm said...

I did see it claimed that 50% of fertilizations lead to miscarriages.

So what should we take away from that? For arguments sake what if all sex was for procreation that would mean unfortunately even with the best intentions ,wanting children is inherently risky. But to continue the human race that is a necessary risk we have to face.

If it was practicable and safer to do IVF ofc that would be preferable.

From the POV of any Zef that is an unavoidable hazard/lottery they must also face.

OFC one would not want to make that risk any worse in a similar vein many people see smoking or taking drugs that would cause a higher rate of miscarriage or birth defects a bad.

Somewhat like saving someone from a burning house the act can endanger the individual and often high risk but is necessary for future existence. But we would still punish a fireman who made the act unnecessarily risky say drunk on the job.

In cases where a woman would automatically miscarriage then yes if we are to be consistent she shouldn't have vaginal sex or only have vaginal sex when it is 100% safe.

Personally I would like world governments or the WHO fund a 100% proof male contraceptive and governments mandate that any sex requires the male to use it or face a custodial sentence if a pregnancy and abortion results. It would also be applicable for cases like 100% miscarriage cases.

Elizabeth Doecke said...

The difference lies not in the need, but in the respective rights being exercised (right to health versus right to life). I've elaborated on this in another comment on this article, so I won't repost it here.

If you're willing to say that the bodily autonomy argument recognises the foetus as a person, are you willing to take the next step and say that it still stands even if foetal personhood carries with it all the rights that we ascribe to born persons?

kitler said...

Kidnapping is a crime. Ovulation is not.

kitler said...

I agree with you.

And no, people just can't randomly euthanize their pets. Babies can have a special protected status while not being persons. Kind of like they do now.

kitler said...

I would not go that far, but a foolproof male contraceptivr would be a good thing. Men need more reproductive control.

Elizabeth Doecke said...

I think this would be better put as: can anyone have a justifiable need to occupy and use your body without consent? To which my answer would be, yes. It's not something that should be enshrined as a right, but it can be recognised as a need.

It could also be rephrased to ask, could it be justifiable for someone to occupy and use your body without consent without being acted against in a way that is severely detrimental to them? Again, my answer would be, yes.

Imagine a circumstance where you are standing on an unrailed balcony, with one person between you and the edge. They begin to overbalance and fall, and grab your arm to save themselves.

Alternatively, you actually push them, knowing that there's a 1 in 6 chance that they will overbalance and fall. They do, and grab your arm to save themselves.

Again, you install a rail around the balcony, then push the person, expecting the rail to stand up to their weight and prevent them from falling. It breaks, however, and they begin to fall, grabbing your arm to save themselves.

Also imagine a situation in which baby formula does not exist, and breast milk is rejected from non-first degree relatives - meaning that the mother is the only one who can feed the baby. The baby will die if the mother refuses to breastfeed it.

I hope to show by these scenarios that justifiable need for violation of bodily autonomy does exist.

kitler said...

Your analogies don't work.

Engaging in sex while female is not equivalent to the criminal assault of pushing someone off a balcony.

And no, we are not required to risk life or limb to save anyone. Even if they are falling from a balcony.

Not all women can breastfeed. What then?

myintx said...

But, they could keep you awake at night and cause you mental anguish if you put them up for adoption... What if a woman thinks her only 'self-defense' from lack of sleep and potential anguish is killing? She HAS to be responsible and put her child's safety first.

Elizabeth Doecke said...

This is the along the lines of the same argument I would make, if I was arguing from your perspective. I would have three responses to it:

1. Does it suppose that anything is permissable as long as it does not impact upon the born child? For example, a women who is 38 weeks pregnant has chemicals injected in the amniotic fluid that will cause the foetus to die a slow and painful death over the next three days. It dies in utero and is stillborn.

2. Is the harm of disability (mental or physical) greater than the harm of death? In other words, is it better to be a disabled person or is it better to be dead (generally speaking). You suggested in another comment that I was coming from an ableist viewpoint, but this perspective is much closer to ableism, if not there completely.

3. I would say that it would be unethical to deliberately damage someone's gametes in a way that would cause them to either not be able to conceive, or to conceive a child with chromosomal defects. And my concern is not for the gametes themselves, but for the potential loss of the parents or the potential disability of the child. Because the gametes are not human beings, are not people. Which comes full circle back to your first statement: "one day that non-person parasite will (probably) turn into a person". If the foetus is a non-person (on which point I disagree), than the point you made is quite valid and reasonable.

Elizabeth Doecke said...

Reading of your responses, it seems like you struggle with analogies. They are not meant to be an exact parallel of the situation or condition they are likened to. Instead they are meant to represent aspects of that condition. For example, in the balcony example:

The fall represents abortion.

The act of deliberately pushing someone off the balcony represents deliberately having sex knowing that there is chance conception will occur.

The railing represents the use of contraceptives.

If you are to object, you need to object to the principle represented. Which you sort of have here: "we are not required to risk life or limb to save anyone" - although that's not the question that I was using the analogies to answer. Because your action here would not be to save the person (they have already accomplished that by grabbing hold of your arm), but it would be to remove them from your arm, and consequently send them falling to their death.

If their act of grabbing your arm would result in your death, than it becomes non-justifiable. Hence the exception to allow abortions when the life of the mother is at stake.

"Not all women can breastfeed. What then?"

You've missed the point of an analogy again. The key word I used at the start is, "imagine". Real-world difficulties don't change the principle that the analogy is trying to address - a principle that you've failed to make comment on. So, now "imagine" that every woman is capable is breastfeeding.

Simon Jm said...

Have you read David Boonin’s work? You use key arguments he

He uses the example of a surgeon saving a guy’s life but the procedure causes the patient to then need his kidney. But I would have thought it obvious that the original cause of the later need for the kidney, isn’t the
fault or responsibility of the surgeon but of the original disease.

Similarly if you injure someone giving CPR and accidentally break
a rib through no fault of your own then no, you aren’t morally or criminally

The main issue in the surgeon case and pregnancy is who originally
caused the existential dependency.

For the surgeon it was the original disease; for none rape pregnancies
it is by the decisions and actions of the woman and the man. Which is made all
too clear with male child support; where the male is considered morally responsible even if he took precautions or didn’t want to have any parental responsibilities.

So no your CPR analogy -like Boonin’s surgery analogy- falls
short. Responsibility, like Boonin’s Toxic waste analogy or my stem cell
machine- press a button to create stems cells with safeguards and no intent to
be a parent, but if the machine goes on to create a baby- you are still morally responsible for the original causal decision and action.

Which again is all too apparent with male child support so why not here?

Simon Jm said...

;) not currently a crime. Say you had a baby making machine, could you push the button and then just walk away with no moral resposnsbility? Don't you think if such a machine existed it would then be a crime to push the machine and walk away to let the baby die?

Simon Jm said...

Why not? Both sides would be made to commit to core values. It doesn't stop sex, stops all abortions and would be reversible.

BTW does this mean you are against male child support? Hard to argue there is no moral responsibility for sex yet only force males to be responsible.

Simon Jm said...

Which thing do you agree with I'm not PL lol?

Pets sure many don't but they have the legal right to do so.

So why morally do babies have this if they aren't persons? Again some PC's think infanticide is OK. Why are they wrong? You cannot rely on personhood and or parental preferences.

kitler said...

That analogy is horrible.

Sexuality is far more complicated than simply pushing a button on a machine.

And gestation is not the equivalent of an instant baby making device.

The sociology, biology and physiology of sex, love, and pregnancy cannot be reduced to a mere mechanical process.

kitler said...


Simon Jm said...

The underlying principles are still there. Sex for many males can be a pure pleasure seeking avenue.

Not all sex is some Tantric transcendental experience. For many females sex is a mere means to an end to seek resources or shelter.

Sex and pleasure within a relationship can exist on a higher level but the reproductive mechanisms is still there and many evolutionary psychologists will say whatever romantic feelings we have about sex and relationships, it's primarily grounded in biology and reproduction, so the analogy is quite relevant.

Any anyway even if you want to maintain this romantic POV any action in the name of romance that seriously impacts another entity with full moral status bares moral responsibility consequences.

Simon Jm said...

BTW I could imagine the PC's who support infanticide using your argument not only to justify abortions due to the importance of sex in relationship; but also using similar arguments for infanticide because babies often inhibit couples having sex or quality time in their relationship.

DarkCougar555 said...

Yes, exactly. Gametes are both not a full human organism. Only two 23 parts.

Apparently, my question is avoided. I do get that their fetuses are wanted, but they are not persons by the law /if/ they are not wanted... so she can do whatever she wants to do with her body. If prochoicers truly believe their unwanted fetuses are not capable of feel pain or think, then there is no reason to be horrified by someone's personal desicion whether it is healthy or dangerous food diet...

PS: I know, I know. Yes, I use a strong degraded language against the preborn. I don’t want to be yelled for treating the preborn like a human instead of "disease". I already dealt with that crap before, and I had enough...

Elizabeth Doecke said...

I use embryo and foetus for the most part because I don't want language to become an issue - and they are accurate terms. My personal preference is 'unborn child', but it all depends on who you're talking to.

Chalkdust said...

I've discussed child support in this comment and other places.

The point about CPR is not whether the broken ribs are "ultimately" due to disease. The point is that the person doing CPR has not, on balance, made the patient worse; they have made them better. We do not force people to provide compensation when they help other people, only when they harm other people. Conception is not a harm and thus no compensation is required.

Chalkdust said...

1. I think that all people should have the right not to be pregnant. I am fine with restrictions for fetal pain (based on correct science and written to be as non-burdensome to people who want abortions as is reasonably practical.) At 38 weeks, a person who doesn't want to be pregnant any more can normally get an induction or C-section; I'm fine with requiring those (and I believe that is the actual standard of care) unless such laws impinge upon the rights of pregnant people who for whatever reason can't deliver normally.

2. If a pregnant woman decides, "I am going to carry this baby to term and keep it," then she has chosen to take on the responsibility for that child, and she thus has a responsibility to do her best to prevent either death or disability to that child. If she decides to put it up for adoption, and she gets help adoptive parents, I think it's pretty reasonable for her to be expected to regard herself as their babysitter and thus responsible to take the best care she can of their child.

I suppose that I have to say, no, a pregnant person should not be *forced* not to drink (and thus cause the disability of fetal alcohol syndrome) any more than she should be *forced* to carry to term. I still don't think there are that many situations where a pregnant person would choose to carry to term where they wouldn't find themselves morally obligated for some other reason to try not to cause disability.

3. I agree completely. This is the answer to DarkCougar555's question, which, if I recall correctly, is, "Some pro-choicers don't think a fetus is a person. Why are they against drinking while pregnant?"

argent said...

1) Why is abandoning a child at the first opportunity any more morally permissible than abandoning a child later in life? Both because of point 2 below, and because it seems to me that taking care of a child while you feel you can shouldn't be taken as implicit consent to continue taking care of them, given that doing one favor for someone shouldn't obligate you to do more favors.

2) I'm still not sure why you think creating-then-killing-after-8-weeks is morally permissible while creating-then-killing-after-18-years is not, regarding the question of whether creation-then-killing is a harm to someone. You say in point 4 that creating-then-aborting is no worse than just not creating; why do you argue that this is true when the lifespan in question is 8 weeks but not when it's 18 years?

3) I mean I see where you're coming from and I agree that natural deaths are in a certain sense just as tragic, I just can't see them as ethically problematic in the same way. To clarify, you would argue that the sick kid has a right not to die of their illness? Would you also say that people have a right not to die of old age?

5) I would have to know a lot more than I know about IVF to say whether it should be illegal (but based on what I know, I speculate that by the time the Overton window has shifted such that banning it is at all feasible, our technological ability to take care of embryos will have advanced to the point where it's no longer ethically problematic). The answer to your last question is a) no, "sex" and PIV sex / potentially-reproductive sex are not synonymous b) but also no, because I don't think natural deaths are ethically problematic in the same way that homicides are.

kpopfan123 said...

my reply was to "Chalkdust"

Chalkdust said...

(2) I. Have. Answered. This.

Elizabeth Doecke said...

The right to life is better seen as a negative right; as I often express it, it is the right not to be arbitarily killed. Hence treatment, such a transplant, falls under the right to health rather than the right to life.

There's some worthwhile reading about the right to health here: One of the important things to consider is where it talks about acceptable treatment.

We let leukaemia patients die because we don't hold the right to health above the right to bodily autonomy. But the right under question in abortion is, of course, the right to life. The leukaemia patient and the foetus have the same rights; neither may be unjustly killed, but neither are entitled to treatment by unethical methods.

Also worth considering is the difference between a leukaemia patient denied a transplant and an aborted foetus. The former dies because of inaction, the latter through an active intervention.

Elizabeth Doecke said...

Firstly, I'd like to thank you for an civil and engaging discussion.

I find your first comment very interesting, and I want to make sure I've understood it properly. You would be okay with a woman who wishes to have an abortion at 38 weeks instead being required to have an induction and deliver a live child?

(For your interest's sake, in Victoria, Australia, there was one abortion carried out at 37+ weeks for 'psychosocial' reasons. So it does happen.)

Regarding your second point, one argument is that that choice is made when agreeing to sex (obviously not applicable to rape).

You might find this an interesting read:

On your third point, yes, it does answer the question about why a pro-choice individual would want the foetus protected against harm. It still doesn't answer the question regarding whether a woman can do as she pleases with the foetus, as long as it is stillborn. Your response about foetal pain is interesting. Could you elaborate further on that?

argent said...

Maybe I can rephrase? Let me make sure I have this straight:

You're arguing that creating someone in a needy state and then revoking their access to the things they need isn't ethically wrong, because creating someone for a while and then killing them isn't a harm. You responded to my "I think that bringing someone into existence and then killing them is a harm" by arguing "if more life is better, how is a one-month life not better than no life at all?"

I'm arguing that putting someone into a needy state and then revoking access to the things they need is unethical, even if the first step is accomplished by creating them. Your rebuttal seems to be that creating-then-killing is "better than no life at all".

To justify the unethicalness of killing adolescents, you then argue that bringing someone into existence is a "small favor" that doesn't give you the right to harm them later on. This would seem to imply that you don't believe creating-then-killing someone is better than no life at all, after all. This is what I want clarification on. And if you've said it already maybe you could rephrase?

Chalkdust said...

According to our legal system (and I think it's right), your interactions with another person are to be evaluated one by one, not based on the net effect of all your interactions.

Creating someone, knowing that they will die within a century, is still probably better for them than not creating them at all. Creating someone and then killing them at 18, similarly, is a positive net effect--but our legal system evaluates the two actions one by one, not based on net effect, and so we still do not allow the killing, because evaluated on its own it is a harm.

myintx said...

An unborn child has certainly done nothing to warrant being killed for.

argent said...

I agree with you that 'your interactions with another person are to be evaluated one by one' in the sense that doing something good for a person doesn't entitle you to harm them later on.

However, putting someone into an inherently needy state and then revoking their access to the things they need are not 'two separate actions' in that sense. The cumulative effect is killing. An analogy would be if you were a pilot and you took some passengers up in the air, and then skydove from the plane mid-flight, leaving the passengers to crash to their deaths. When you stand trial, "bringing people up in a plane is not a harm to them, and skydiving from your own plane is not murder" is not going to be an adequate defense. First you made the passengers dependent on you, then you revoked their access to what they needed from you.

And I agree with you that having created or not created the person doesn't matter: the fact that the 'creation' act and the 'making another person dependent on you' were in fact the same act is irrelevant. I realize that in this conversation I've sometimes been talking about 'creation' when I'm really referring to 'making dependent', but the morality is a lot clearer, I think, if you separate the two effects.

kitler said...

There is no point to infanticide just as there is no point in starving your dog to death.

You can drop the kid off at the nearest shelter/hospital/ems/fire station and you can drop the dog off at a shelter.

In the absence of such social welfare programs, people do in fact kill their dogs and abandon/kill their kids. Pro-life countries, Brazil for example, has had a real problem with abandoned street kids. And in Cambodia, families are so poor that 12 year old girls are sold into prostitution. This is what happens when there is no safety net - people abuse and kill their children (and their animals)

kitler said...

I agree with you regarding your (apparent) Jainist beliefs. At least you are consistent, Simon. I would never hold the anti-abortion beliefs of a Jain in contempt, because they are at least consistent - they respect all life.

Though, Jains most definitely arent' perfect, since they kill plants to eat. And as new research has shown, plants are capable of a lot more than ever thought.

So why morally do babies have this if they aren't persons?

Eagles are protected and they aren't persons. It's also not legal to starve your dog to death.

kitler said...

Your wallet is not your body.

Men don't have to donate their bodies to a pregnancy (not even to save fetal life should something go wrong, what if the woman needs a kidney or the fetus will die??).

Men don't even have to PAY for the pregnancy. They don't have to pay for her lost work, or for any disabilities. What if her hospital bill is 1 million dollars? He doesn't have to split the cost. He doesn't even have to support her for the rest of her life should she become disabled as a result of the pregnancy.

And if the pregnancy kills her, he doesn't even go to jail, does he? I mean, seeing as how he ejaculated inside her, and the product of his ejaculation killed the woman then surely he is guilty of reckless endangerment, yes?

kitler said...

I'm fine.

What you need to understand is that people can hold two seemingly conflicting views and not have a problem with it.

It is entirely possible to view pregnancy as something horrible, yet still want a baby at the end.

it is possible to view a fetus as a *functional* parasite, yet still look forward to having a baby.

The world is not black and white, you know.

kitler said...

The right to life is better seen as a negative right

Using someone's body as life support is a *positive* right. And if a leukemia patient can't use your body as life support, then a fetus shouldn't have that right either.

If you are denying bodily support to the leukemia patient, or to your own toddler, you are discriminating based on AGE and LOCATION, nothing more.

Why must unborn humans have superhuman rights that no human in need has?

it is the right not to be arbitarily killed.

Arbitrary killing is walking up to a random person and shooting them in the head.

if that person is assaulting you, and the ONLY to escape is to use lethal force, then you would be within your rights to do so. Abortion is self-defense in that sense. No one, born or unborn, has the right to 1) occupy another person's body 2) assault that body without consent.

And this is why your previous analogy failed - it presumed that engaging in sex while a fertile female was a harmful act (only if conception occurs) and that it is equivalent to inviting someone onto your balcony and randomly killing them. The analogy is disanalagous and I have heard versions of it time and time again.

kitler said...

For your interest's sake, in Victoria, Australia, there was one abortion
carried out at 37+ weeks for 'psychosocial' reasons in 2011.

Got a citation for that. Post-viability is delivery, not abortion. At 37 weeks it could survive if removed through c-section or induced labour. Induced labour is actually the standard method of late term pregnancy termination, providing it is not too dangerous for the woman's health.

kitler said...

. If prochoicers truly believe their unwanted fetuses are not capable of
feel pain or think, then there is no reason to be horrified by
someone's personal desicion whether it is healthy or dangerous food

They worry about the future child that will be born and suffer, when it is capable of that.

kitler said...

Your analogies do not in fact work because of how you have framed your scenarios.

1) Conception does not cause harm.

2) Abortion is not arbitrary killing.

Some of the analogies that are similar to yours are:

"you invite a person onto your lawn, and then stab them in the kidney"

"you invite a person into your house, and then you shoot them in the head"

"you invite a person onto a boat, and then you randomly throw them overboard so that they drown"


The issue is that sex, which can lead to conception, is not in any way a criminal cat. Conception is also not equivalent to 'inviting' someone into your house. It is a mindless biological process. We do not have full control over sperm and ovum, and even then, when we try, such methods can fail (which is also why IVF exists, women can't simply invite conception in, like you'd invite your friend to the balcony.

If you leave your window open, have you invited a burglar in? If you lock your window, but the lock is faulty, and the burglar gets in anyways, have you STILL invited him in? Should you just sit back and allow your house to be burgled since you 'asked for it' by having, gasp, windows?

The other issue with your analogy is that your balcony is not your body. If you invited your friend up to your balcony, and they stabbed you in the arm, started to extract your blood, and then tried to occupy your body in a most intimate way, you would be within your rights to push them off said balcony in self-defense. You have the right to defend yourself against assault and intimate bodily violation. Consent is ALWAYS revokable.

kitler said...

Yes it has. It assaults it's host to survive.

DarkCougar555 said...

Okay. I'll try again.

Which do you draw the line between non-person and person?

For some reason, I tried to understand why they consider pregnancy as a disease because they believe the zef is a parasite.

kitler said...

Citation needed.

I would like to know how the woman's body willingly GIVES away so much calcium that she develops osteoperosis and loses teeth..

Can you explain that?

kitler said...

Pro choices don't view pregnancy as a disease. They do, however, acknowledge the toll it can take on a woman's body. Pregnancy is not a state of wellness.

DarkCougar555 said...

Okay. If they don't consider zef as a disease, why do they call those "parasites"?

kitler said...

Because it behaves like one.

Dampens her immune system
Extracts resources from her body
Dumps toxic biowastes into her body

All parasitic functions

DarkCougar555 said...

Okay. I think I'll address one point to point.

A.) "Parasite" is defined by one species that draining/feeding off the other species' health. However, in the case of pregnancy, the preborn offspring belongs to the human species as same as the mother. So, it doesn't fit this description.

B.) "Parasite" is characterized by being non-mutual. Yes, there is an organ, the uterus, that is specifically for the purpose of feeding and catering for the zef. But, for explain, there is a specific organ for the purpose of supplying blood and nutrients to worms, then it would not be parasitism. So, no, the pregnancy is not a non-mutual.

C.) Noted, parasites are externally transmitted. That means they are not internally developed within the uterus. Because the sexual intercourse would result in pregnancy, so the sexual activities are not classified as medical transmission of a parasite.

D.) Parasite is not supposed to happen. Any parasite is intrinsically bad, and in principle, it needs to be eliminated. Now, that is the principle of a parasite. However, the reproduction is supposed to happen for biological necessity. By intrinsic principle, zef is not supposed to be killed. Otherwise, it would defeat the principle of reproduction. I meant, what is the point of childbirth if it is so dangerous and very fatal? The data of childbirth would be incorrect. It have to be much more than 6 - 11 out of 100,000 deaths. 70-90 percents of fatal, high risk pregnancy issues and deaths would make more sense. But, it's only 1 percent of deaths and the other percents of high risky pregnancies are small...

E) Pregnancy is obviously not a disease or an infestation because it is not an abnormal condition, nor is it intrinsically harmful, neither. All parasitic infestations are diseases because they are harmful, or else abnormal. So, zefs cannot be considered as a parasite.

Well, if we accept zefs are mere parasites, then we should avoid reproduction and to classify the pregnancy as a illness or physical disability.

That's why I have trouble with understanding of the "pregnancy isn't disease, but zef is a parasite" claim. Which doesn’t make sense to me. Because if you agree that zefs are parasites, then you have to agree that the pregnancy is also a disease for the same thing.

almond_bubble_tea said...

Like kitler, I am more inclined to believe zygotes assaults the host mother to survive.

To blithely assume the womb is a giving, nurturing place obscures and ignores the fact that pregnancy is NOT a state of wellness for many women.

I never had hypertension until I became pregnant, and developed preeclampsia at 29 weeks.

Simon Jm said...

Again one of Boonin's points about being made worse off.

& I've actually dealt with this


Technically acts of creation of entities with full moral value are more like duty of care obligations where care not compensation is owed.

So maybe from now on I will call it thus via use of the creators body. & it is more similar to kinapping the violinist than say a people seed just happening to float in the door. (that analogy in its current form is flawed)

OFC you can argue it doesn't have personhood status but nor does a baby.

PC are on the horns of a dilemma argue lack of personhood and justify infanticide -which some PC now argue for- or grant full moral status and create duty of care obligations via use of their body.

But thanks anyway I see now compensation used in Boonin's Toxic waste analogy can only be used to highlight a similar principle and that rather it is duty of care obligations that are owed via use of the creators body.

Simon Jm said...

Yes. Personally I would promote non vaginal sex alternatives esp anal, oral and tantric practices.

Also do a global r&d push for a 100% proof male contraceptive and require all males of breeding age to use it face potential custodial sentences if that or an abortion results.

& as I've said many times universal health care and greater financial resources for single women and poor families. Maybe make use of that 100% contraceptive necessary for such health benefits.

Simon Jm said...

But pets don't have a right to life and the human species is at no current risk of extinction.

& what does developmental rates have anything to do it with full moral value? Looks like a ad hoc fallacy to me. Don't forget some PC support infanticide so would also see this as arbitrary.

If PC want to jump up and down about personhood you cannot have it both ways.

Elizabeth Doecke said...

I make it a practice to never cite facts or figures which I cannot back up. So here you go:$FILE/Final%20for%20web%2019062014.pdf

Scroll down to page 162, 'Table 6.21b: Perinatal deaths, Victoria 2011, by PSANZ PDC and gestational age'

Induced labour may be the indicated method of late-term abortion, but in order to avoid the 'complication' of a live-born infant, an injection of digoxin or potassium chloride is often given prior to the commencement of labour,

Elizabeth Doecke said...

When I created the balcony scenarios, my intention was never to make an exact parallel of conception and abortion. What it was intended to demonstrate is that there exist circumstances under which your bodily autonomy may be justifiably violated. Restating the idea of self-defense does not disprove this.

The extrapolation to abortion is then this: if there is any circumstance under which bodily autonomy may be justifiably violated, then abortion cannot be condoned solely on the basis that bodily autonomy exists. Instead it must be shown why the use of the body by the foetus is not a justifiable use.

An arbitrary act is one undertaken without sufficient reason or justification. Whether or not abortion is arbitrary is exactly what is at stake and what we are in disagreement on.

Under your window analogy, I could also defend myself against a toddler who climbed in the window and started eating the food from my pantry. But that would hardly be justifiable.

Also, if you do actually see the difference between illegal and legal as important when considering analogies, being conceived is not illegal - breaking into someone's house is.

Elizabeth Doecke said...

As to consent be revocable, please see my comment elsewhere regarding this issue (in reply to one of your own).

Elizabeth Doecke said...

There is no 'right to use another body's as life support.' There is a right to life, as follow:

"“Every human being has the inherent right to life. This right shall be protected by law. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life.”

There is a right to health, as follows:

"Every human being is entitled to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health conducive to living a life in dignity."

"All health facilities, goods and services must be respectful of medical ethics and culturally appropriate."

Within my stance, the leukaemia patient and the foetus have the exact same rights. Neither is being denied rights that the other receives. However, abortion does deny the foetus its right to life, and hence does discriminate based on age and location.

Self-defense must be justified. If another person is poking me in the arm, I do not have the right to defend myself with lethal force, no matter how much they are annoying me. If you kill someone, you must be able to prove to the justice system that the killing was justifiable. To come to your conclusions regarding abortion, it seems like you must apply two blanket rules:

1. Any use of the body without consent constitutes assault.

2. Lethal force is an appropriate response to any assault, regardless of degree.

These, however, are up for debate. You must prove that pregnancy is an 'assault' that justifies the use of lethal force. If you could prove that to me, I would become pro-choice.

kitler said...

A) I said FUNCTIONAL parasite. Not a parasite in the strict biological sense, but it behaves like one.It is genetically programmed, through genomic imprinting to extract resources from the woman, at her expense.

B) Appeal to nature fallacy

C) Still more appeal to nature

D) Evolution is a tinkerer. It just happens, through luck, that more women have survived than died from pregnancy. But just because pregnancy is 'necessary' for reproduction, and just because it is 'natural' and just because it 'evolved' does not make it SAFE or HEALTHY.

E) Many parasites are in fact less invasive and harmful than pregnancy.


And please, for the love of all that is good and unholy, pay attention




kitler said...

Consent is always revocable. Otherwise its slavery.

kitler said...

Assault is illegal.

Occupying someone's body without consent is illegal.

Abortion IS self defense.

And if the toddler started assaulting you, and the ONLY way to escape was through the use of lethal force you would have that right.

kitler said...

Please answer my question.

kitler said...

There is no such thing as an intrinsic right to life.

Developmental rates and birth = an easy, arbitrary line to set for the law

kitler said...

1) there is no intrinsic right to life

2) rape can cause even less damage than pregnancy. Often none (physical at least). So, do you have the right to kill your non violent 'gentle' rapist in self defense if no other avenue of escape exists?

DarkCougar555 said...

Well, then tell me. What's your definition for parasite and disease then?

Suba gunawardana said...

Both those examples do not involve a violation of your body or a need to protect your bodily autonomy. You can easily satisfy their need without sacrificing your body, unlike with the invasion by a zef.

Simon Jm said...

Sure if you want to take that approach but so could a racist or PC who wanted to support infanticide.

At least the personhood approach is a meaningful attempt that tries to coherently justify what grounds why a person is seriously harmed if killed.

Pointing out something like a rock isn't harmed when crushed as opposed to a person with future goals and preferences is far superior than just picking an arbitrary point. That's what I want so there.

Trouble is with brute arbitrariness other can be equally arbitrary especially when dealing with essentially the same entity.

Simon Jm said...

I did I said yes.

Suba gunawardana said...

Unlike what the article states, the central issue in the abortion debate is not "whether the unborn is a human being or a person".

It is whether any individual, human or not, has a right to invade/occupy/use another person's body without their consent. I would say they don't.

Suba gunawardana said...

Any individual loses their innate "right to life" (if they had one) once they invade another person's body. From then on, whether they live is upto the person whose body they occupy.

kitler said...

How many years in prison for an amenorrheic women who has sex knowing that zygotes will not implant?

5 years?



Simon Jm said...

If it was like a people seed of a stranger you would have a case. But it is more like bringing a baby to a house a blizzard sets in and you then want to say you have no duty of care.

kitler said...

The duty of care does not extend to letting the baby violate your body.

Suba gunawardana said...

-Unlike bringing a baby to house, unwanted pregnancy is not an act of commission.

-EVEN IF it was your own actions that led to the situation, it still does not diminish your right to protect your body.

Simon Jm said...

Not sure I would look for precedents for people doing things with say a 5% chance or there abouts of putting another moral person in a state of existential dependency that then goes onto cause death.

Say even if that killed a person in a coma in a hospital I would think there would be some punishment.

What if someone supplying medical supplies did an action that they knew had a 5% chance of leading to a death of a patient.

I think it would be manslaughter but how heavy the penalty would depend on precedent.

kitler said...

I want YOUR opinion.

What kind of prison sentence would YOU like to see?

Simon Jm said...

Really what about the moral responsibility of male child support?

Regardless I've used the woman drugging a man at a bar with party drug that then goes on to cause him to want to rape her. Sure even if she is the original offender she has the right to protect her body. But after if that leads to the victims death she will be punished accordingly.

Elizabeth Doecke said...

Please show me the law that states that the foetus is committing an illegal act by be gestating within a pregnant woman who does not wish to be pregnant.

I can accept that abortion is self-defence. What I question is if it is justifiable self-defence. I would like to hear someone justify killing a toddler who was 'assaulting' them.

You also need to clarify what you mean by escape. Because , to refer back to an example I gave, if someone is poking me and I can't get away from them, am I then justified in using lethal force to stop them? Because they are assaulting me.

Elizabeth Doecke said...

Have you read my other comment? If so, please explain how we should respond to the pregnant woman who is unable to provide consent.

Simon Jm said...

Thats like saying a kidnapping victim violates the duty of care
obligations of the kidnapper or property rights.So hardly violating.

it has be made to need to use her body to survive. Does it give it a
right to do so no.

Nonetheless she owes duty of care obligations and if
it isn't paid should be held criminally responsible.

Just like the woman
if she kidnapped the violinist and had him attached to her but then
detached resulting in his death.

Suba gunawardana said...

No, the kidnapping situation is INTENTIONAL. Abortion is about unintended pregnancy, where you did not active place a zef in your uterus.

Suba gunawardana said...

-What about it?

-Once again you are bringing a situation where the alleged perpetrator did something to the alleged victim DIRECTLY and INTENTIONALLY.
A zef on the other hand, is an unintended unwanted trespasser in your body. One that you did not actively & intentionally place there.

Simon Jm said...

Again it would be entirely dependent of precedent.

What I try to do is use already accepted moral and legal precedents and apply them here.

That's why I started with Boonin's toxic waste analogy because it highlights the consistency of bodily compensation linked to general compensation via restorative justice.

If a offender did something that had a 5% chance of killing a stranger but we couldn't determine who was killed by his actions. But know with reasonable certainty someone did, it could be as little as 5 yrs I just don't know.

Do you think he would get off scot-free because we cannot find a body?

kitler said...

Does not matter if it is legal or not. If it is assault you have a right to self defense.

And pregnancy is an intimate bodily violation that has the potential to maim and kill. Birth itself is a form of torture.

If someone shoved a bowling ball size object up your insides would you consider that to be torture? Or is it just a minor tap?

kitler said...

I missed it. All of my disqus notifications are messed up.

Suba gunawardana said...

A toddler usually does not have enough strength to cause harm to another body by assault, but if they somehow do, the person assaulted would still have a legal right to kill the toddler to protect their body.

A zef invariably assaults the host's body by using her blood & organs, and does cause bodily. Therefore it should be (and is) a legal right to kill a zef to protect your bodily autonomy if you so wish. Most women choose not to use that legal right.

Simon Jm said...

Yes its isn't exactly similar.

The point being the victim didn't place themselves in a state of existential dependency, it was by the actions of the other party.

& this is relevant even if they had not intent. Again why is a male deemed to be held morally responsible for child support with no intent to be a parent or even if he took precautions.

Look your Honor I just put my penis in her vagina and ejaculated I didn't place any baby in her uterus.

Come on!

Suba gunawardana said...

-If you unintentionally hurt someone in a car accident, you are not obligated to give them your organs, or any part of your BODY.

-As to child support: IMO, If a woman got pregnant and carried the pregnancy AGAINST a man's expressly stated wishes, then he should not be held responsible for child support.
However the fact remains that forced child support is NOT a violation of your body, and obviously not comparable to forced pregnancy or forced childbirth.

Elizabeth Doecke said...

Do you see that you've introduced degrees of assault? A toddler is now exempt from being acted against with lethal force because they do not have the strength to 'cause harm'.

I reiterate now what I've said several time; it must be determined if gestating constitutes harm such that lethal force is justified. Simply stating that bodily resources are used by the foetus is not sufficient, as our bodily resources are frequently consumed by activities that serve the needs of others.

I think it's going to be helpful if we try to re-state the basis of this discussion as a logical argument. This would be my assessment:

Premise 1: Nonconsensual pregnancy is assault.

Premise 2: Self-defense with lethal force against assault is acceptable when no other avenue is available.

Conclusion: Therefore self-dense with lethal force is acceptable to end a pregnancy.

I question both premises, but before I go away and do some reading, I would like to know if this is reasoning that I ought to be addressing.

Elizabeth Doecke said...

I'm starting to lose track of mine. There are a lot!

Elizabeth Doecke said...

Actually, I think it does matter if it is legal or not. And I thought you did too, given your emphasis on legality in previous posts. For example, a police officer may use reasonable force to subdue an individual, and that individual does not have the right to self-defense. A doctor may restrain or sedate a patient for a procedure, and they do not have the right to injure the doctor in self-defense. So it matters very much.

"Birth itself is a form of torture."
I enjoyed your hyperbole here ('bowling ball' is also a bit of an exaggeration). There are few who would pretend that birth, for the most part, is a pleasant experience, but declaring it to be torture is going a bit far. However, I do agree that the pain and potential harm of the process of birth is a big part of the factors that need to be considered when talking about criminalising abortions. It hasn't swayed me in my perspective, but I definitely want to give it more thought.

It is worth pointing out that a late-term abortion is a two to three day process that ends with the induction of labour, and hence birth. If the process of birth is your deciding factor, then you have to allow that it's not applicable to abortions terminated by this technique.

Simon Jm said...

Well I think it is pretty clear what the causal and moral responsibility underpinning male child support is.

So unless you are saying you think a male bares no moral or causal responsibility for pregnancy I don't understand your stance.

Regardless offenders CAN and DO bare moral and legal responsibility in cases where there was lack of intent and the result wasn't directly tied to the action.

Which isn't even the case anyway unless you think ejaculating in a woman's vagina has no causal relation to a resulting pregnancy.

Simon Jm said...

My stance is in any situation where you do cause an existential dependency to a moral person- that then requires a organ donation etc- that is is entirely consistent with restorative justice, compensation or duty of care considerations.

But since we aren't commodities I would make this optional; either allow the organ transfer or face a custodial sentence.

As far as child support IMO if a woman gets to opt out of parental resposnsbility so does the male, but purely on equality grounds as things stand.

If on the other hand a Zef has grounds for full moral value it arguably then becomes a duty of care situation due to causal responsibility but unlike property use is optional. But still entails moral and legal responsibility if that duty of care isn't forthcoming.

This is all conceptually consistent with unintended duty of care obligations via direct or highly likely indirect actions, even if it involves the body.

There is nothing that automatically excludes bodily compensation or use as a viable factor in restorative justice or duty of care.

What could be prohibited is being forced to do so. & IMO if it was a everyday event would very much be already be a part of law.

OFC you can argue Zefs dont have moral personhood status but nor technically should babies.

kitler said...

Its not illegal for a guinea worm to take up residence in your body now is it? Therefore, you lack the right to use lethal force to evict the invader.

If Person X behaved like a zef to Person Z it would most definitely constitute assault. Extracting calcium from person z's bones, dumping toxic biowastes into z's kidneys, drilling into a blood vessel and dampening the immune system of person Z would definitely count as assault. So why are these actions suddenly not assault if produced by a zef? If you want to give zefs full personhood status, they should have the same responsibilities as persons, and those include not assaulting and torturing others.

Declaring birth to be torture is not going too far. Labour can last anywhere from 6-72 hours and the pain can be excruciating. Birth itself is a large object being pushed down a tiny hole. If a large penis can hurt, a full sized fetus can hurt more. And I havent even gotten into vaginal tearing and fistulas.

If a person were to induce any of the above side effects of pregnancy on another it would count as an assault. If a government were to inflict the above on its citizens it would be classified as torture according to Article V of the UN Declaration of Human Rights.

So why the special rules for unborn humans?

Ledasmom said...

A) The males in certain species of anglerfish are referred to as parasitic, though they are undoubtedly of the same species as the female.
B) Can you clarify? I find your reasoning here unclear.
C) Not sure what you mean by "externally transmitted". It's not at all uncommon for parasites to be transmitted transplacentally.
D) I object to "supposed", which implies intention. Certainly a species that does not reproduce does not survive, but this imposes no moral obligation upon any member of said species.
E) Even in cases where none of the commonly-referenced bad complications of pregnancy arise, pregnancy is nine months of extra strain of the body; even a normal pregnancy can interfere with one's activities in several life areas. It can fit the usual definition of "disability"; that it isn't considered one is making a special definition for pregnancy that doesn't apply to other conditions. This is not to say that pregnancy is inevitably disabling, only that a "normal" pregnancy without major complications can fit the definition of disability.
But why argue these minor details? Call it a parasite; insist it isn't; if it draws upon the resources of the person carrying it without return, it acts in the same manner as a parasite, which is the crucial point here.

Suba gunawardana said...

No, I never said a toddler was exempt. What I said was: "....... but if they somehow do, the person assaulted
would still have a legal right to kill the toddler to protect their

Who the invader is does not diminish your right to protect your body. All that matters is if they threaten or harm your body in a significant way.

Also, your LIFE doesn't have to be threatened in order to protect your body. Some invasions of your body may not be life-threatening (such as rape, or someone taking your blood or a kidney under aseptic conditions). You still have a legal right to refuse those invasions, and kill the invaders to protect your bodily autonomy.

Nonsconsensual pregnancy is indeed such an assault, and self defense with lethal force is acceptable.

Suba gunawardana said...

I disagree that organ donation should be made mandatory in ANY situation. Absolutely not in cases where the harm to the victim was done accidentally and/or unintentionally. (Arguable in cases of intentional premeditated harm.)

"What could be prohibited is being forced to do so."

I agree, and the same rule should apply to pregnancy & childbirth as well as any other organ donation. Forced pregnancy is unacceptable just as forced organ donation.

Simon Jm said...

Again what I'm saying is that like other duty of care or compensation situations you either provide the care or compensation or face a custodial sentence.

I'm NOT saying FORCE them to do it. If a drunk driver caused the victim to need his kidney it would be an option, not forced.

& like any other case where a host invites or places another moral person in state of existential dependency they have the option of continuing the duty of care or face custodial sentence.

This is consistent with already accepted moral and legal precepts. It is only novel in that bodily compensation or use would now also be an accepted OPTION, but never forced.

I also would grant rape exceptions.

I'm NOT Pro-LIfe.

myintx said...

I see the word "supply" in this description, not "suck". And, would you support killing an unborn child like the one in the picture?

If a woman is paranoid about loosing teeth as a result of being pregnant, she better do everything she can (e.g. surgery) not to become pregnant. Otherwise, unless her health is truly endangered from the pregnancy, the unborn child should have a chance to be born and have teeth of his or her own.

kitler said...

Nope. Not a valid explanation.

Try again.

DarkCougar555 said...

What I tried to address:

A) Different species
B) Non-mutual relationship
C) Transmission
D) Intrinsic principle
E) Pregnancy is not a disease or infestation

I hope that clears.

Okay, if you believe zefs behave like a parasite, then you should have no problem with calling it "parasite". But, what bothers me that people can say zefs are parasites, yet they don't consider pregnancy as infestation or disease. So what is a pregnancy excatly if zef is just a non-person parasitic creature?

myintx said...

I haven't found a single description from a medical or pregnancy web-site that says 'suck'... they all say 'supply' or 'deliver'. (The March of Dimes website says: "delivers nutrients and oxygen to the baby"). Feel free to provide a link to a reputable website that uses the word 'suck' in relationship to the unborn child sucking nutrients from it's mother.

Nice how you evaded the question in my last post too.

Suba gunawardana said...

As I stated before: If a woman got pregnant and carried the pregnancy AGAINST a man's
expressly stated wishes, then he should not be held responsible for
child support.

However the fact remains that forced child support
is not a violation of your BODY, and obviously not comparable to forced
pregnancy or forced childbirth.

Suba gunawardana said...

If the only options are bodily compensation or prison, it is still a violation of a person's bodily autonomy. When the only alternative is prison it is tantamount to forcing.

I am sure this is not consistent with already accepted moral & legal precepts, considering that cruel & unusual punishments are prohibited in addition to violations of bodily autonomy.

Furthermore, the concept of "bodily compensation" is not practical for ANY situation other than forced pregnancy. All the hypothetical examples about organ donation to accident victims are well & good in theory, but not implementable due a variety of medical & practical concerns (such as organ mismatch or rejection).

Forced pregnancy is pretty much the ONLY situation this concept could be practically enforceable. Thus the whole concept seems to be just another indirect attempt to criminalize abortion.

Ledasmom said...

Frankly, the only difference between pregnancy and a disease is that people sometimes willingly undergo pregnancy because they want to reproduce. It would basically be a disease for me now, if I got pregnant again, and one I would treat as soon as possible to avoid the worst effects.
Nine months of one's life is a hell of a lot to give up and labor is no picnic, either. It is not exactly a minor imposition, carrying to term.

Simon Jm said...

& as I've said here if Zefs are worthy of full moral status you are abrogating duty of care obligations that would be forthcoming to other moral persons in other existential dependency situations. Whether the woman or man wants those duty of care obligations should be irrelevant.

& yes forced child support isn't the same as forced body use but I'm not advocating FORCED body use.

Simon Jm said...

If anything is optional it isn't by definition forced. If a criminal is given the option of a lesser charge if he squeals on his fellow criminals he isn't being forced to do so. Sure he is forced to choose but that's not being forced to a single option. OFC the options need be proportionate and any custodial sentence given as a choice would be set on precedent.

& the reason why David Boonin did his toxic waste analogy was to show that bodily compensation -while novel- still aligns with other restorative/compensation cases. & since this applies to compensation there is no reason why in principle it cannot be for duty of care obligations as well.

Lastly even if there are NO other cases of applicable bodily compensation or bodily duty of care that is irrelevant. As long as the principles holds and is consistent with other established moral and legal norms it should be introduced.

Once women and coloured people were arbitrarly excluded from citizenship but the underlying principles meant that even while novel and without precedent they deserved the application of citizenship.

Simon Jm said...

PS an no it isn't criminalizing ALL abortions. Rape and health would still be available and women like in the party drug analogy would still have the option of self defense but since she with the male caused the situation she will then be held accountable.

kitler said...

Youre still wrong.

myintx said...


Suba gunawardana said...

" As long as the principles holds and is consistent with other established moral and legal norms it should be introduced."

My point is that the principle does not hold, and it most certainly is not consistent with established moral & legal norms. It violates the concepts of bodily autonomy, and cruel & unusual punishment.

There is no real life situation where the "duty of care" should involve violation of a person's bodily autonomy.

In response to your post below, if the zef's right to life should be honored at the expense of the host, there's no justification for a rape exception either. Zef is there through no fault of his own, and is not threatening the LIFE of another person. So the rape exception won't hold.

Anyway, no person's duty of care should ever extend to violating their bodily autonomy. And regarding zefs, duty of care is much more than just "life" or just spitting them out. If you are unable/unwilling to care for the future child, the highest care you can provide is immediate termination.

kitler said...

Still wrong you are

myintx said...

In most cases, there was no 'invading', the sperm was INVITED in and the egg was already there. No invading going on. Next lame argument, lol.

myintx said...

We have special rules for newborns too.. we don't give them the right to vote or drive a car. We don't let parents leave them home alone like they would with a teenager. Why the special rules for babies? Oh, because they are different? and more dependent on adults? Unborn children are dependent in a different way. Unless the woman's life is truly endangered from her pregnancy, no one should have a 'right' to kill an unborn child. it's selfish and it's wrong.

Simon Jm said...

“My point is that the principle does not hold, and it most certainly is not
consistent with established moral & legal norms. It violates the concepts
of bodily autonomy, and cruel & unusual punishment.”

The concept of bodily compensation is fundamentally and conceptually consistent
with restorative justice. Even David Boonin who is one of the most respected PC philosophers argued that. & again it
might violate bodily autonomy if it was forced on the individual but in my
account that’s not the case. & it’s not even close to a false choice like death
or organ donation.

Like the woman & party drug analogy the woman shouldn't be able to hide behind her bodily autonomy to avoid moral consequences. It isn't a mica moral get out of jail card.

“There is no real life situation
where the "duty of care" should involve violation of a person's
bodily autonomy.”

Again there is no violation when it’s optional.

“In response to your post below, if the zef's right to life should be
honored at the expense of the host, there's no justification for a rape
exception either. Zef is there through no fault of his own, and is not
threatening the LIFE of another person. So the rape exception won't hold.”

That’s just it you aren’t even thinking things through via precedence or moral
responsibility. It is quite obvious the rape victim didn’t act or choose to be
raped therefore bares NO moral responsibility or duty of care obligations. It might threaten her life but say it didn’t; what it is doing is seriously threatening her bodily autonomy which enables her
–like in other cases- to resort to lethal force or its removal. The fact is we
do allow lethal force against innocent offenders when they threaten someone’s
life or seriously affect someone’s bodily autonomy

So the exception is quite consistent with other moral and legal precepts.

Acyutananda said...

I think that abortion is sometimes self-defense. Now let's see how a self-defense plea works. Someone who has killed appears in a court established by society for such purposes. Both sides of the case are skillfully represented and all the circumstances are carefully examined. Then the jury, representing society, decides whether or not the defendant was seriously at risk of significant bodily harm. I think that abortion cases should be processed in just this way, except that the decision of society should be sought before the killing, and afterwards only as a last resort.

Elizabeth Doecke said...

A guinea worm is not a human being. But you knew that already.

I'm familiar with pregnancy and the birthing process. But your descriptions make me wonder what exactly is your focus when you talk about pregnancy as assault:

Is it the degree of harm?

Is it the issue of consent?

Is it a combination of the two?

Also, where do you see the notion of intent fitting in?

I'm starting to feel like we're just talking past each and going around in circles. I also want to be able to take some time to consider the whole self-defence approach, being as it's not something I have thought about in-depth. At this stage I can't see that I will change my stance, but I do need to do more research on it to ensure that I am properly informed.

Elizabeth Doecke said...

Yes, perhaps I rephrased you incorrectly. I apologise.

Some invasions of your body are legal and you do not have the right to respond with lethal force (e.g. restraint or sedation for a medical scan). The question is not whether or not pregnancy is a violation of bodily autonomy, but whether that violation justifies lethal force. Without addressing justification, you're just going around in circles:

'Pregnancy is assault. Self-defense with lethal force is justified because pregnancy is assault.'

Is pregnancy assault? I am very interested to be looking into this, but it will take me some time and I think the discussion here will likely have died down before I'm considered it to my satisfaction.

Is lethal force proportional to the act of gestation and birth? Intuitively, I say no. However, I want to look into this some more.

Is lethal force the only option? Again, I intuitively say no. Again, I want to look into this some more.

I've been accused of special pleading for foetuses. I don't believe that the case, but I am willing to say that I believe we ought to consider actions on foetuses differently to actions against adults, just as we ought to for actions on infants, toddlers and small children.

For example, if I woke up knowing that every day for the next nine months my toddler, without a choice in the matter, was going to run up to me every hour and kick me on the shins, I would not consider myself justified in physically acting against them. If an adult was to do the same, I would consider myself justified in responding with some force (pushing them to ground, perhaps) to prevent them kicking me.

So definitely, there is a difference in how we ought to respond to the young compared to how we ought to respond to adults. (Pretend in my example that the pain levels are exactly the same).

Acyutananda said...

I think your "I would say they don't" contains a key to understanding the debate that has been going on here and in other venues, and I think that understanding the debate contains a key to clarity about the moral issues.

Two people with different moral intuitions will talk past each other if each does not directly examine his/her own and the other person's intuitions.

Within the abortion debate there is a big spectrum of what we could call ontological intuitions about the being of the unborn, and moral intuitions about the relative importance of bodily rights. Without clarity about the intuitive foundations, logical arguments, though necessary, will always proceed in a chaotic way.

I have tried to address this topic here:

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