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Friday, October 10, 2014

Brittany Maynard and the ethics of assisted suicide

Several readers have asked me to discuss the Brittany Maynard story. Your wish is my command.

For those who somehow aren't aware, Brittany Maynard (right) is a young woman, only three years older than me, who has been diagnosed with a very aggressive form of brain cancer. Doctors informed her that she could not be cured, and even if the most advanced treatments available were pursued, death was inevitable in a matter of months. Brittany decided to move to Oregon to take advantage of its assisted suicide law, and plans to take the lethal medication on November 1. In partnership with an advocacy group, she created a video about her decision, which has been covered by media across the nation and the world over the past week. (As just one example, see this Washington Post article.)

Secular Pro-Life does not often write about end-of-life issues. Of course, we recognize that every human life is valuable, including the lives of the disabled, the terminally ill, and people considering suicide. But traditionally, abortion has been our primary focus. So forgive me if this post rambles a bit.

First of all, I would like to express my opinion that Brittany Maynard is brave. This places me in conflict with Christian pro-life commentator Matt Walsh, who writes:
If you are saying that it is dignified and brave for a cancer patient to kill themselves, what are you saying about cancer patients who don’t? What about a woman who fights to the end, survives for as long as she can, and withers away slowly, in agony, until her very last breath escapes her lungs? 
Is that person not brave? Is that person not dignified? I thought we applaud that kind of person. I thought we admire her courage and tenacity. Sorry, you can’t advance two contradictory narratives at once.
But this misses the point. I don't admire Maynard because she plans to end her life. I admire her because she is somehow able to go public about what has to be the most devastating situation she's ever encountered, knowing that she's going to be the topic of internet controversy, knowing that random bloggers she's never met are going to write about her (sorry), and somehow she recorded that video without breaking down into sobs. I definitely would not be able to do that. That takes an incredible amount of self-confidence. If she had instead chosen to fight to the end, and had broadcast that story, I'd be just as impressed.

Assisted suicide raises concerns that are distinct from those of abortion. Abortion always takes the life of someone who cannot consent; that's not true of assisted suicide. I'm willing to entertain the idea that assisted suicide in the terminally ill is not prima facie wrong, which I realize is a highly unorthodox position for a pro-lifer to take. I'm reminded of my recent article about perinatal hospice, in which I wrote that
in situations where the child is bound to die within days, hours, or even minutes of birth, abortion may be viewed not as homicide, but as a mere matter of timing. You can still argue that it's wrong, but at the very least, we must acknowledge that abortion in such cases is ethically murkier than the typical abortion chosen for socioeconomic reasons. 
Maynard makes an analogous point when she states:
I've had the medication for weeks. I am not suicidal. If I were, I would have consumed that medication long ago. I do not want to die. But I am dying. And I want to die on my own terms.
I cannot begin to imagine what she's going through. The only positive I can see here is that she seems to have an incredibly supportive husband, family, and friends.

The problem is, not everyone does.

As I said, abortion and assisted suicide are unique issues, but we certainly can draw upon our experiences with legalized abortion to make some predictions about legalized euthanasia. We know from the abortion context that "choice" (and Maynard uses the language of "choice") can very quickly mutate into coercion.

No man is an island. We are deeply influenced by others, especially family, and especially when we are in a vulnerable state—as when we've been shocked by an unplanned pregnancy or a cancer diagnosis. We've seen women forced into abortions by the fathers of their unborn children. We've seen underage girls coerced by their statutory rapists, and sometimes, sadly, even by their own parents. We've seen mothers of all ages manipulated by abortion "counselors" who refuse to divulge accurate information about what takes place during pregnancy. And above all, we've seen women forced into abortion by economic circumstances. Legal abortion clearly has worsened those problems, not solved them.

How do we prevent similar complications from arising in the context of assisted suicide? How do we make sure that vulnerable people are not unduly influenced by family members, by overly pessimistic doctors, or by the potential financial burden of a longer life? In short: how can we create a law that allows assisted suicide for people like Brittany Maynard, without catching others in its trap?

I'm very skeptical that it's possible. And until someone shows me differently, I have to err on the side of protecting those who want to live every last day.

338 comments:

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secularprolife.org said...

What is a human being, and why are those qualities morally relevant?

Is a human being merely human DNA, according to you?

Very few of us are truly autonomous. Do you grow your own food and make your own clothing?

None of us need to drill into another person's body and use every single organ of theirs to keep ourselves alive, do we?

Those on dialysis, for example, are definitely not "separate" or
"autonomous." The same goes for those on ventilators. They're not truly
alive?



They are not intrinsically unformed and incomplete. The zygote/embryo/fetus, by it's very *nature* is unformed and incomplete, and in fact, may *never* be fully formed and complete. The ZEF is a construction project that may never finish. It is not a homunculus that will simply grow larger if you sprinkle nutrients on it.

secularprolife.org said...

I actually agree with this, and people shouldn't be pressured into accepting unwanted treatment. I think a lot of the way we handle medical care at the end of life is inhumane.

secularprolife.org said...

Cancer is probably going to take my life. I'll be the decider as to when I've had enough. Now, I might 'short-change' myself by a few weeks, or even months; but nothing in life is perfect, is it? Either way I'm dying, so I'll err on the side of what I, personally, am able to tolerate.

All I can tell you is this: Don't write with such certainty upon a subject that you haven't faced yourself. I can promise you it looks much, much different from my vantage point. I sincerely hope you never experience that view.

secularprolife.org said...

Thank you. No time is a good time to lose your mom. It would have been inhumane to put her in a nursing home. She didn't want to be separated from Dad and her family.

secularprolife.org said...

Well, anyone CAN kill themselves if they so desire. Just like people under 18 smoke, people under 21 drink, and people abuse heroin. Laws never stopped ME from drinking underage, smoking marijuana or tobacco. Prohibition doesn't work. It NEVER worked. Now DEAL with that, and let's move on and see what we can do to best deal with these situations. The right answer isn't always more legal intervention, and the right answer isn't always forced medical intervention either.

secularprolife.org said...

We're born with them. On what basis do you see fit to take them away?

secularprolife.org said...

Yep. But let's clarify that a bit. Because it depends upon a *specific person* biologically.

secularprolife.org said...

Why is it morally relevant that the person is "specific" and that the dependence is "biological?" Why are those things of moral importance?

secularprolife.org said...

How are we born with them? What are they?


I'm not taking away any rights.

secularprolife.org said...

Whether or not someone can do something and whether they should do something is the issue of the hour in this line of commentary. Just because someone can do something doesn't mean they should.

I agree that the right intervention isn't always legal or medical. However, there are still instances in which we can say, "You should do this..." or "You shouldn't do that..." That is the essence of ethical inquiry.

secularprolife.org said...

I wasn't speaking of "short changing" only in terms of length of life, but also quality of life.


I believe you that your situation looks much different from your vantage point than from mine. I don't know you at all; nor do I know the woman described in the article. But I do know that personal liberty doesn't trump all other virtues, and that this is a more complicated ethical dilemma than many people make it out to be. I struggle with this now, as a physician, and I suspect I would struggle with it a similar way if I were suffering a terminal illness.

secularprolife.org said...

"Is a human being merely human DNA, according to you?"

I'm not sure why you're asking that. I just wanted to know what you thought constituted being human, and why those qualities that you list are morally relevant. You haven't named them yet. Why not?

"None of us need to drill into another person's body and use every single organ of theirs to keep ourselves alive, do we?"

So why is this of moral relevance while those other forms of dependence, which may potentially rob those upon whom we're dependent of significant resources, are not morally relevant?

"They are not intrinsically unformed and incomplete."



So only children on dialysis are not worthy of moral regard? Nothing magical happens at birth. Humans exist as continuously developing creatures from the moment of conception all the way through adulthood until death. When you say someone is unformed and incomplete, you have to say what reference you're using and why.

secularprolife.org said...

I was speaking of quality of life, as well. That's part and parcel of what I know I can or cannot tolerate in the name of 'life quality.' And to be fair here, at this point you can only suspect At this point, I do know.

I'm not trying to proffer the idea that this isn't a complicated ethical dilemma. What I am saying is that for me it has ceased to be an abstract dilemma, and thus is actually no longer a dilemma at all - which is often the case when one is confronted with a scenario that has only ever been something one has imagined.

I don't think this is something that will ever be 'settled.' So, again, for me and mine, I'll err on the side of what I consider to be dignified and less traumatic. That should be the least that we 'allow' for those who are facing their final journey. I simply will not die based on others' beliefs that I don't understand and most certainly do not share.

secularprolife.org said...

Moral relativism wins the day then?

secularprolife.org said...

I'm not positive but I believe it's possible to try to transfer tubal embryos to the uterus, which is obviously the better option for the baby, but I'm not sure how successful or common such attempts are.


No, at this point it's not possible.

secularprolife.org said...

I believe that it's Brittany Maynard's business. I fail to see where it's mine or yours.

secularprolife.org said...

Until we have further information about Chimera, I can only draw conclusions based on what is known. Based upon what I know of the science, when the zygote divides ONLY for identical twins and that isn't very likely to happen and is unknown of why it does. Fraternal twins are two different zygotes for it was two different eggs that were fertilize. So in the case of fraternal twins yes it is very obvious one died. In the case of identical it isn't as obvious. None the less if split it was another person and died. It doesn't just randomly merge and divide nor is it very common.

http://www.pennmedicine.org/encyclopedia/em_DisplayAnimation.aspx?gcid=000058&ptid=17

There life still began at conception we didn't notice it was two until it hit the stage to divide. There is probably evidence from conception that it would divide at that stage since only a very select few do. We just haven't study enough to know what is the trigger and if it is in the coding.

Also my brain comment if looked in full context only applied to fully developed humans. As I'll quote myself

"I think in general for a fully develop person the brain is the idea of how many people."

Hence why chimeras are one person not two. They are having cells of another twin not the entire person. Like receiving a blood donation gives you cells of another but doesn't make you that person. Also like if you lose blood or other cells they don't' try to form a second you because they are trying to work for a single organism not form it. Understand?

secularprolife.org said...

Actually I was claiming that being unable to maintain homeostasis outside of the womb doesn't disqualify the fetus from being an organism.


But if pregnancy is cannibalism, then so is breastfeeding. If a woman with a newborn baby, for whatever reason, couldn't immediately transfer care of her child to someone else and the only way she could feed the baby was by breastfeeding, then (assuming she was physically capable) she would have an obligation to feed her child with her body, and the child would indeed have certain rights to the mother's body, insofar as it was necessary to get nutrition, warmth, shelter from harm, etc. If a women were, say, snowed into her house with her newborn, and no formula, she obviously couldn't say "my body, my choice, that baby doesn't have a right to cannibalize me" and just let the baby starve to death. That would be negligent homicide. (The very fact that negligent homicide is even a crime shows that parents have bodily (as well as financial) obligations to their children.)

secularprolife.org said...

But the embryo doesn't "need" the mother's brain in at all the same sense that an adult "needs" their own brain.


First of all the mother's brain directing her body to provide oxygen to the baby is an ENTIRELY different thing than the mother's brain actually directing the embryo's own development, movements, etc.


Also, the embryo isn't inherently dependent on the mother's brain/body. If we had the technology to create artificial wombs, an embryo could survive just fine in one of those.


If we had the technology to transfer embryos into other women's wombs, the embryo would be fine in there as well, even though it wouldn't be his/her own mother's brain and body.


In vitro embryos are certainly living organisms, and they are not using the woman's body or brain. Are IFV embryos living organisms, but when they reach the point where they have to be implanted, they stop being individual living things and revert to being a non-organism?


And consider the fact that women who are brain dead can sometimes be kept on life support until their fetuses can reach viability. At the moment I don't think we have the technology to keep women's bodies functioning healthily enough that the baby can survive all the way from the embryo stage to viability, but if we had better technology I don't see why that couldn't be the case. So the mother could actually be brain dead, but as long as the embryo were still getting oxygen, nutrition, etc. it could still function as an individual organism, even if it's own brain were not very developed.

secularprolife.org said...

...If what? If there are twins, and they combine and make a chimera? Chimera generally means an individual with two genetic codes, due to being formed by the combining of two genetically distinct zygotes. If it formed from twins, you probably couldn't distinguish it from any other human. Either way, you could probably argue that both twins died and a new organism was formed. Again, I really don't see what the issue is, and I don't really feel that it poses any challenge to the idea of prenatal rights/personhood. A chimera is a human organism, so I believe it should have human rights.

secularprolife.org said...

If I recall correctly, I think complete moles are pretty much considered non-organisms, so no, not people. Partial moles are likely organisms who have a fatal malformation. Respectfully, so what?


I'm arguing that all human beings have equal human rights, regardless of age or level of development. I don't know of any way to deny prenatal personhood that doesn't undermine any basis for human equality, as well as completely disqualifying certain born individuals who we already recognize as people and/or simply breaking down with a little critical analysis.

secularprolife.org said...

None of that shows or implies that the fetus is not an individual living human organism, or that life (opposed to personhood, ensoulemnt, etc.) is not an entirely biological concept. Even if the Talmud said that it was fine to intentionally get pregnant over and over just for the fun of killing fetuses, that wouldn't mean that the fetus is merely a potential, rather than an actual life. It would just mean that according to the Talmud the fetus didn't have moral value/personhood (but I don't believe it states that).


Anyway, ending a pregnancy that is going to kill the mother and subsequently also a non-viable fetus, isn't the same as ending the pregnancy because the fetus is unwanted or inconvenient. Taking a course of action that causes the loss of one life instead of two, doesn't mean that the life of the one killed is less important than the other's. And in what circumstance would taking the life of the almost born baby somehow save the mother, whether it was a person or not?


What verses do you believe justify abortion or show that the unborn are inferior or just potential lives? In my experience, every verse used to try and justify abortion Biblically is taken massively out of context, misinterpreted, or used to support some kind of non sequitur.

secularprolife.org said...

The WHO isn't some kind of universal moral authority. Countless times governments and non-governmental authorities have stated that various groups of human beings were inferior and that it was therefore a right to kill or enslave or exploits those groups. Just because some authority group declares something to be a right, doesn't mean it is, and just because they declare a certain group to be sub-human, doesn't mean they are.


And while the pre-born might not be considered people now, the overall progress of mankind is towards a more inclusive and accurate definition of equality and personhood. Groups that were once excluded and now included.


I'm not sure where the maternal mortality ranking of 50th is from, but either way maternal mortality in the US is largely unrelated to abortion's legality. But yes, maternal mortality is still something that needs more attention.


The Tuam incident may well have been misrepresented in the media, but regardless what does it have to do with the discussion at hand? Somehow it's my fault? That shows I'm pro-death? Sorry but what are you even talking about or trying to argue here? Are you saying that considering infants people hasn't stopped infanticide? I mean...no, not entirely, but I think the major deterrent is the fact that people realize newborns are babies and killing them is wrong.


Name calling doesn't make you right. I believe abortion unjustly kills human beings, so yes, I oppose it. Just as you would hopefully oppose the killing of newborns, if society decided they were disposable.

secularprolife.org said...

You're the one getting worked up and name calling.

secularprolife.org said...

"You can SAY whatever you want, Joshua. People are always going to do things they shouldn't. "


We should stop making laws then?


Ethical inquiry and discussion is important to arrive at what we believe to be is the right course of action.

secularprolife.org said...

Most sources I looked at didn't mention it or said there wasn't a way to save them, but some others suggested that it was a possible option, so I wasn't sure.

secularprolife.org said...

But I may be obligated to bleed my bank account dry? Or my supply of food in my pantry? If a child is dependent on my finances or my material goods, those must be given up for them? That's quite a restraint on personal liberty.


Furthermore, "opening my artery" would inflict a state of trauma. It's literally a disease state; arteries aren't meant to be opened. Pregnancy, on the other hand, is not a disease state. Pregnancy is something that "should" happen, insofar as the woman's body is designed to gestate a young child and give birth to it. Medicine can make normative claims, and it does so using the language of disease. "Opening arteries" is not normal; pregnancy is normal. I think that has significant moral weight in this discussion, because that means I am not obligated to enter into a disease state for another person, but if I'm existing in a normal state of development (that is, pregnancy), I need a good justification to abandon it if it means the death of someone else.


Let me illustrate the point with a hypothetical example:


A woman travelled to a cabin in the mountains with an infant and a cat. A snowstorm locks them in the cabin, and while the woman has some food to feed herself, the infant can only survive on her breast milk. Exercising her bodily autonomy, she refuses to breastfeed the child and it dies. Was she wrong to do so?


Let's take it a step further: in a true display of personal liberty, she wants to free herself from the burden of caring for the child, so she lets the child starve, but she really likes the cat, so she instead gives her breast milk to the cat in a bowl. Was she wrong to do so? Why?

secularprolife.org said...

Appeal to nature fallacy. Regarding pregnancy, yes it's "natural" and it is a medical condition, not a disease. Being in possession of a uterus doesn't make pregnancy obligatory, any more than possession of legs makes running a marathon obligatory. Regarding nature, we've been thwarting nature for a very long time. Being a physician, you ought to know that better than anyone. And YES, if you have a child, and do not relinquish the child for adoption, you have to provide for the child. You do not have to provide for a fetus. Regarding the woman and the infant in the cabin, let me point out your errors of logic. First, you would need to assume she had been nursing all along, and suddenly decided not to, for some strange reason, and at the cost of great pain and probable infection to herself. That's so ridiculous I'm going to discount it on it's face. That being said, if she hasn't been nursing all along, she isn't lactating anymore. That disappears pretty rapidly if not started quickly and continued regularly. Possession of breasts doesn't equal ability to breastfeed. I'm starting to think maybe you aren't a doctor.

secularprolife.org said...

Yes, we should stop making so many laws. The right course of action isn't "one-size-fits-all." Professional ethical positions are of some value. Personal morality positions are worse than useless.

secularprolife.org said...

But should we get rid of all the laws?


And if law isn't shaped by personal morality, what is it shaped by?

secularprolife.org said...

"Regarding pregnancy, yes it's "natural" and it is a medical condition, not a disease."

This is morally relevant.

"Being in possession of a uterus doesn't make pregnancy obligatory"

I agree.

"And YES, if you have a child, and do not relinquish the child for adoption, you have to provide for the child."

The woman locked in the cabin does not have the option of giving it up for adoption. Is she still obligated to forfeit her bodily autonomy even if adoption isn't an option?

"First, you would need to assume she had been nursing all along, and suddenly decided not to, for some strange reason, and at the cost of great pain and probable infection to herself. That's so ridiculous I'm going to discount it on it's face."

So you're going to sidestep the ethical dilemma posed by the hypothetic situation to avoid addressing the primary question it raises, namely, is it ever right for a woman to choose her bodily autonomy over caring for an infant (particularly when adoption is not an option)? There: I did away with the hypothetical scenario and just asked a general question without any narrative. Is that more helpful?

Regardless of what pain she might face in weaning the child at that moment, does she or does she not have the right to refuse to breast feed it and thus kill it through starvation, particularly since adoption is not an option?

"I'm starting to think maybe you aren't a doctor."



Ad hominem doesn't make your argument any more convincing. You can push any hypothetical ethical dilemma beyond its limits and thus avoid addressing the primary ethical question raised by it. That doesn't mean you've settled the matter.

secularprolife.org said...

I don't know how to answer that question because bodily autonomy is not involved in caring for an infant. Feeding, even by breast, isn't a bodily autonomy argument. I DO know that breast-feeding an infant can't be demanded of anyone, EVER, nor is every woman successful at it. Wet nurse is a very old occupation, so this isn't a modern conundrum. I also am aware that in times of societal stress lots of kids die because their parents are unable to care for them. I don't think ANYONE has a specific right to starve someone to death "just because." However, in pregnancy the embryo drills into the woman's artery to leech oxygen and nutrients from her body. NOBODY is obliged to go along with that, no matter how "natural" you deem it. If nobody can demand that of you, nobody can demand it of me. Being female doesn't erase that.

secularprolife.org said...

Mostly rights. Our Constitution is based upon the Magna Carta and British common law. The Constitution is the supreme law of the land, and all other law springs from it. Do not confuse "law" with "morality." The two have little to do with one another. Generally, I think laws don't accomplish a whole lot. Addiction, for example is a medical issue, not a moral issue, and addiction ought to be treated as a health issue. But when all you have is a hammer, everything becomes a nail.

secularprolife.org said...

"I don't know how to answer that question because bodily autonomy is not involved in caring for an infant.

Sure it is. This woman must give up her own time, her own energy, her own bodily resources (i.e., breast milk) to care for this infant. It's her body, right? She can do what she wants with it, including not breast feed an infant. Right? She has no wet nurse, she has no access to adoption. The ethical dilemma is this, in general terms: if she does not care for this child, no one else will and the child will die. However, caring for the child requires some imposition upon her own bodily autonomy and liberty. Which ethical ideal wins out? The life of the infant, or the bodily autonomy of the woman?

"I DO know that breast-feeding an infant can't be demanded of anyone, EVER"

Well, in qualifying your statement by saying "ever" you would then support the woman in letting the infant die of starvation to preserve her own bodily autonomy. You've indirectly answered the first question. But then you go on to say, "I don't think ANYONE has a specific right to starve someone to death "just because." So I'm not sure if the issue is settled in your own mind. Is it permitted or isn't it for the woman to forsake breast feeding the infant and let the infant die?

secularprolife.org said...

Not every woman can breastfeed. What if she has no breasts? Does that mean she can't have a child? How can you demand that a mastectomy patient breastfeed? You can't. Therefore breastfeeding can't be demanded. If there are no other options, the child is going to die. That's why we attempt to have options! In cases of war or famine, many kids die. That's unfortunate. It's also a fact of life. The entire premise of your argument is fallacious. Caretaking is NOT an infringement on bodily autonomy. Time and resources are not your body.

secularprolife.org said...

You mad, bro?

secularprolife.org said...

It can be argued that breastfeeding is not an extraordinary burden, whereas something residing in your body, drilling into your bloodstream, and wreaking havoc on your health, and threatening you with harm and possibly death, and great pain is in fact an extraordinary burden, and not something that we demand of anyone.

secularprolife.org said...

'The WHO isn't some kind of universal moral authority.'

.............
And neither are YOU. The difference between YOU and the WHO = science, research and facts. You lose. The WHO wins. Well among rational folks anyway. Nothing rational about forced birth cultists like you.

secularprolife.org said...

I need no justification for abortion beyond I AM and I WILL.
When you get that, we can continue our conversation. Until then, you are wasting my time.

secularprolife.org said...

Read it again. How crazy are you? Pretty fooking crazy if you cannot read for content through your biases.

secularprolife.org said...

"Not every woman can breastfeed. What if she has no breasts?"

That's not pertinent to the hypothetical ethical dilemma as posed, because the woman in that scenario has breasts and can breastfeed. But even without the hypothetical scenario, we can still ask the general form of the question. Which ethical ideal wins out? The life of the infant, or the bodily autonomy of the woman?

"In cases of war or famine, many kids die. That's unfortunate."

It is tragic and true, but not pertinent to the aforementioned hypothetical scenario. The woman can choose to save the child from starvation if she so desires.

"Caretaking is NOT an infringement on bodily autonomy. Time and resources are not your body."



Breasts are part of the body, though. In breastfeeding, a woman is using her body to feed an infant. Her body produces the breast milk and expends calories and nutrients to do so. Not only that, but it predisposes the woman to a certain degree of suffering (E.g., mastitis). Breastfeeding is certainly an imposition upon bodily autonomy.


So, again, I ask: should it be permitted for the woman to neglect breastfeeding the infant and let it die or not? Which ethical ideal wins out: the woman's liberty regarding her own body (e.g., her bodily autonomy), or the infant's life?

secularprolife.org said...

"It can be argued that breastfeeding is not an extraordinary burden"


What constitutes an extraordinary burden? Why should one be required to be an "ordinary" burden but not an extraordinary burden?


Have you ever breastfed a child before? All through the night? Perhaps with mastitis? It can be quite burdensome for the breastfeeding mother.

secularprolife.org said...

"Mostly rights."

So our rights come from the Constitution, and the Constitution (which is law) comes from rights?

"Do not confuse "law" with "morality." The two have little to do with one another."



Any language of rights is grounded in a philosophical understanding of morality. They're intimately related. Law is informed by nothing except for systems of ethics/morality.

secularprolife.org said...

Because, intimate occupation of your body, and use of your body parts, and then with the threat of harm, great pain, and death and all of that, is kind of extraordinary, wouldn't you say?

secularprolife.org said...

And it isn't extraordinary for your body to direct calories and nutrients toward the production of a substance that will be produced from your breasts and then fed to another human being? The investment of time, energy and physical resources, while not as great as pregnancy, is surely not "ordinary."

secularprolife.org said...

Not in the way that pregnancy is, no. However, curiously, this law was recently passed in the UAE:

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/feb/07/uae-law-mothers-breastfeed-first-two-years


Do you think that mandatory breastfeeding is a human rights violation?

secularprolife.org said...

Pregnancy, on the other hand, is not a disease state. Pregnancy is
something that "should" happen, insofar as the woman's body is designed
to gestate a young child and give birth to it.



It's not a state of wellness either. Pregnancy is not the default state of women, and too many pregnancies will wear out women's bodies and kill them. Tis the very nature of pregnancy.

secularprolife.org said...

What if, instead of a baby, she finds herself having to care for an elderly quadriplegic man who can only eat liquids, and her breastmilk is the ONLY food around that can nourish him?

secularprolife.org said...

Don't mean to be nitpicky, but water is healthier for cats than milk--which tends to cause diarrhea, and cats can be fed scraps.

secularprolife.org said...

No, if this is a decision I'm making only for me, it's a win for personal liberty and bodily autonomy. Those considerations don't cease to exist just because one is dying.

As I said in my prior comment, I'm not trying to remove the relevance of abstract considerations; I'm saying that faced with the grim reality of traumatic pain and suffering before death, those abstractions can tend to carry less weight for the one who is afflicted.

My position has evolved over the length of my illness, and I've given it a great deal of thought. It may yet evolve further, depending on what treatments are available, how effective they are, how much pain is involved and how well it can be managed and, again, how much of any of that I'm able to tolerate.

With all this in mind, there's more than a whiff of moral relativism in denying my choice to die comfortably rather than in a manner that makes others more comfortable. Is there any awareness or concern that there will be more suffering and pain than is absolutely necessary, if I should be forced to follow their lead? The cost of their morality would not be borne by them, but by me - in asking me to suffer just a little bit more, as if that's a rational or empathetic request.

secularprolife.org said...

I was bottle fed and so were my siblings. My mom attempted to breastfeed with me but it never really worked well for her.

secularprolife.org said...

Me either. One son I wasn't even able to feed any commercial formula. He was allergic to *something* that's in all of them. I had to make his milk the old-fashioned way, with evaporated milk, water and sugar, and added vitamins and iron. That was the only "formula" he could tolerate.

secularprolife.org said...

Okay, so now that we've established that you support infanticide in certain situations, let me broaden the scenario a little bit to clarify your stance.


Letting the infant starve can, of course, take some time, and it might be uncomfortable for the infant. Once the woman has decided that she's not going to breastfeed the child, can she instead kill it by shooting it?

secularprolife.org said...

In what morally significant way does that change the hypothetical scenario?

secularprolife.org said...

You mad, bro?

secularprolife.org said...

Okay, therefore the woman would be permitted to let the infant die rather than have any requirement that imposes on her bodily autonomy. Now that we've established that you support infanticide at least in some scenarios, let's broaden the scenario a bit to clarify your stance.


Letting the infant starve may take some time and might be uncomfortable for the infant. So if the woman is permitted to let it starve, would she be permitted to end its life more quickly and shoot it with a gun? Or use whatever other means at hand to immediately end its life? If not, why?

secularprolife.org said...

Sorry for the double post.

secularprolife.org said...

Were you able to determine what makes a human being?

secularprolife.org said...

I already told you... It has to be able to survive outside the body of its host.

secularprolife.org said...

Excellent post (sorry for the belated comment, but I was traveling over the long weekend)!

secularprolife.org said...

I see you are playing the usual forced gestationer game of pretending to be deliberately obtuse. But we'll just pretend that you're actually that stupid, and explain my points the way we would to a three year old:

The point here is not whether parents 'own' their children. The point is that the mother owns her OWN body, and the 'need; of the embryo for it's 'very life' does not give the embryo a 'right' to the mother's body. If that means killing it, tough. Too bad, so sad.

secularprolife.org said...

Any thoughts on this? I'm truly interested to see what you have to say about it, but if you're unsure or if its brought too many ethical concerns into conflict for you, I'd be interested to know that as well:

Okay, so now that we've established that you support infanticide in certain situations, let me broaden the scenario a little bit to clarify your stance.

Letting the infant starve can, of course, take some time, and it might be uncomfortable for the infant. Once the woman has decided that she's not going to breastfeed the child, can she instead kill it by shooting it?

secularprolife.org said...

Ad hominem doesn't make your argument any more convincing; why are you here? To convince people of your perspective, or to just insult folks? You're the one who used the terminology "owner." In saying that the "need of the embryo for its very life does not give the embryo a right to the mother's body," it's clear that, regardless of the moral status of the embryo, you value the bodily autonomy of the mother over the embryo.


Let me pose to you a hypothetical scenario to draw out a point. A brief caveat about such hypothetical scenarios: they're meant to illustrate a point, and thus they can be pushed beyond their limits. At the end, I'll pose the general form of the question, if that's easier to address than the scenario itself. I hope you'll humor me by continuing to engage in the discussion, and maybe we can learn something about each others' perspectives if insults are kept out of it:


A woman and an infant travel to a mountain cabin together. She's breastfeeding the infant. A huge snowfall locks them in the cabin. While there, the woman wishes to be free of the responsibility that the infant imposes on her bodily autonomy (e.g., requiring breastfeeding, time, energy, physical resources). There are no other options for feeding the infant, and no one else to care for it, so if she stops feeding the infant, it will die. Is the woman permitted to stop feeding the infant and let it die?


The general form of the question: in a forced scenario where a woman must choose between providing breast milk (which is similar, although not as extreme, as pregnancy) or letting an infant die, with no other options to support the child's life, which ethical ideal wins out - the bodily autonomy and personal liberty of the mother, or the life of the infant? Why?

secularprolife.org said...

So a breastfeeding infant would not qualify then? Suppose an infant had no other option except to survive on the breast milk of its mother (no one else to care for it, no other feeding options). Should the mother be permitted to deny it breast milk and let it die?

secularprolife.org said...

Well in the case you mentioned I am assuming the woman wanted the kid because she gave birth to it and kept it...

secularprolife.org said...

I'm not positive but I believe it's possible to try to transfer tubal embryos to the uterus

Nope. http://www.sart.org/Booklet_Ectopic_Pregnancy/

Quote: A commonly asked question from women who have ectopic pregnancies,
particularly if they have been attempting to conceive for a long period
of time, is whether the pregnancy can be removed from the tube and then
transplanted into the uterus where it might grow normally.
Unfortunately, this is not possible with present medical science.

secularprolife.org said...

The question is whether the unborn child warrants moral regard.

I have to ask where your moral regard is for the pregnant woman ...

secularprolife.org said...

Under what circumstances is not breast-feeding "infanticide?" Breast feeding is painful and often not successful, because it's painful. Is a woman required to cut off her leg to feed it to a child? NO.

secularprolife.org said...

So what? And I'm a big believer in palliative care. You may consider suicide "an immoral act." I'm not so sure it's that black and white.

secularprolife.org said...

It's irrelevant how you feel about the way someone plans to enter the final stretch of his life.

secularprolife.org said...

Exactly. And I fully support whatever decision you make for reasons of your own. Joshua can carry the weight of his OWN conscience. You need not carry it.

secularprolife.org said...

You owe them zero justifications for the way you choose to handle your own health issues, whether they ask for justification or not. Don't conflate this with a competency issue. You don't ask someone else to pay the price of your conscience. Pay it yourself.

secularprolife.org said...

I think breast feeding is an extraordinary burden.

secularprolife.org said...

Because she doesn't have to breast feed. She CHOOSES to do that. That "cabin in the woods" story has a number of flaws. It's usually stated as the woman being kidnapped and confined to the cabin. Because if she went there voluntarily, she would take supplies suitable for an infant. Now, being kidnapped and placed there with some random infant (maybe not even her own) and without suitable supplies for caring for an infant. Is she at fault for not breast feeding? NO. It's actually the fault of whoever put her there without adequate supplies for an infant. If you were to claim that she's obligated to use her body parts to sustain the life of random infant, what about three random infants? Suppose someone locks her in a cabin with five random infants? Is she obligated to breast feed all of them? Would she be obligated to provide breast milk for an adult with a PEG tube, given there is no liquid nutrition in the cabin? And would it be "her fault" if she failed in any of these alleged "duties?" Since the ability to lactate cannot be counted upon, I say NO. It's the fault of whoever put her in that situation in the first place.

secularprolife.org said...

I agree. It isn't ordinary, nor can it be demanded of someone.

secularprolife.org said...

I have just read your comments, and I understand better now.


It had occurred to me that I was not properly understanding the physical toll involved.


I also think that this shows how *easy* it is for many people, especially men, to handwave away the physical side effects of pregnancy - to them it's just a chick getting fat then popping out a cute widdle baby. I mean, big deal, right? Back when I was 8 years old, I used to think the same thing, mostly because its 'natural' and 'babies are good' so how can it possibly ever hurt anyone?

secularprolife.org said...

What if the woman can't breastfeed...or if it's a man.


Men can, with appropriate manipulation, from what I have understood, lactate. Should a man force his body to lactate in order to feed the baby? What if he can't? Should he withdraw blood so it at least has something to feed off of? What if it is an older child who can eat solids - cut off toes, fingers so the child can have some nutrition?

secularprolife.org said...

Yes.

secularprolife.org said...

It doesn't change anything. A woman is not obligated to use her breasts to feed anyone. Not a random infant, and not an elderly man with a PEG tube.,

secularprolife.org said...

I find that pro lifers often engage in special pleading for infants and fetuses.

secularprolife.org said...

When my friend's son was born, they lived in an extremely rural part of Africa. No access to formula ( but lots of access to tribal women's breasts...not necessarily a desirable replacement because of the prevalence of AIDS, but one frequently offered). Turned out NY friend loathed breastfeeding. Short of offering her son goat's milk in a syringe, there wasn't another option. Perhaps a legitimate situation where a woman has to breastfeed.

secularprolife.org said...

There isn't any "legitimate situation" where a woman has to breastfeed.

secularprolife.org said...

So no problem, let the baby die or give it to nurse from someone who might have AIDS. No offense intended, honestly, but though it may be legal, that kind of moral depravity is very sad.

secularprolife.org said...

I'm sure that any wet nurse can be tested for HIV and that's very reasonable. So is making your own formula where commercial formula may be difficult to get, or using goat milk or whatever. It is not "morally depraved" to loathe breast-feeding.

secularprolife.org said...

** Is the woman pe rmitted to stop feeding the infant and let it die?**

Is the woman able to give the infant to someone else before going to the cabin? Or do infants SOMETIMES fall from the trees on the way to the cabin, and you feel that the woman should be punished for going to a cabin by being forced to care for such infants.

Also, you're playing the usual forced gestationer game of trying to pretend an embryo is an infant.

secularprolife.org said...

Obviously not. I loathed breastfeeding and pregnancy, for that matter. But I gave a specific (and real) situation which you refused to engage. More realistic by far than the violinist and forces organ donor situations.

secularprolife.org said...

In answering your question, I hope that you can attempt to see things from my perspective.


I have moral regard for pregnant women. I empathize with the plight of unwanted pregnancy. I strongly support pregnancy support services that allow women get adequate obstetric care and other aspects of women's healthcare. I also support improved adoption services.


However, I see both the pregnant woman and the unborn child as whole persons, warranting full dignity and human rights. When rights come into conflict, you need a way of sorting it out. Pregnant women are not being actively killed (i.e., in "pregnancy killing centers," or whatever); unborn children are being actively killed. Now, you may not believe that the unborn child warrants any moral regard, but I do. Therefore, when you ask "where is your moral regard for the pregnant woman," I hope you can at least understand that within the moral paradigm I'm explaining, the right of the unborn child to survive supersedes the desire of the mother to rid herself of the pregnancy and the burdens of being a parent.

secularprolife.org said...

Now she doesn't and it's imposing itself upon her bodily autonomy.


Can she let it die?

secularprolife.org said...

"Under what circumstances is not breast-feeding "infanticide?""

The child needs food. Only this woman (the child's mother) can provide it. It is the mother's choice to feed it or not, but she knows if she doesn't feed it, the child will die. By not feeding the child when she is able, she is effectively killing it.


So since the child will die by starvation because the woman chooses not to breastfeed it, can the woman expedite the child's death by shooting it?

"Is a woman required to cut off her leg to feed it to a child? NO."



Thankfully, breastfeeding does not entail cutting off your leg.

secularprolife.org said...

Are you inferring that I would support her letting the elderly man die, but I would claim that she should feed the infant?

secularprolife.org said...

Well? Should a woman be obligated to feed anyone with her boobs if her milk is the only nutrient that is available?

secularprolife.org said...

The hypothetical scenario stands as is, as I said to illustrate a point: namely, are you going to choose valuing this woman's autonomy over the life of the infant?

"Also, you're playing the usual forced gestationer game of trying to pretend an embryo is an infant."



I'm not pretending an embryo is an infant. I utilize an infant in this scenario because most people are not in favor of infanticide. It's to draw the ethical dilemma to an extreme: the bodily autonomy of a woman in a relatively common task (i.e., breastfeeding) versus the life of a born human being. I find that pro-choice advocates value bodily autonomy above all other values, but this puts bodily autonomy in conflict with another major value, namely the integrity of the life of a born person, something even most pro-choice advocates do not contest.


So, is she within her rights to refuse to feed the infant and let it die?

secularprolife.org said...

I don't get it. You haven't yet answered the hypothetical scenario I posed to the pro-choice advocates here. Why should I provide you with the courtesy of addressing your questions if you cannot address the question I asked first?

secularprolife.org said...

I did answer. You just didn't like it. I said that it was not an extraordinary burden.

But now I am reconsidering.

Are people entitled to your body to sustain their lives?

secularprolife.org said...

I didn't know that answer was meant to imply permissibility or impermissibility of starving the infant in that scenario. So you would say that the woman should not be permitted to defer breastfeeding, and therefore it would be wrong of her let the child die? So bodily autonomy, in this situation, is overruled.


What about breastfeeding isn't extraordinary?

"Are people entitled to your body to sustain their lives?"



It depends on if they require my body's resources because of a disease state, or because of a normal part of human development. It also depends on whether I have any duty to them (e.g., family member). It also depends on whether I'm revoking something that has been present their entire lives, or if I'm simply not offering something that wasn't there to begin with.

secularprolife.org said...

Whether its natural or not is irrelevant.

Does the right to life, as a general principle, entitle you to use the bodies of others as life support?

secularprolife.org said...

"Whether its natural or not is irrelevant."

I don't know to what you're referring.

"Does the right to life, as a general principle, entitle you to use the bodies of others as life support?"



What do you mean by life support? That a person, who was previously healthy, is now dying of a disease and requires the support of their kidneys, lungs, GI tract, etc? Because that is what we typically mean when we use the phrase "life support."

secularprolife.org said...

Sustain their life through the use of your body parts - blood, organs, tissue, and boobmilk.

I am referring to "natural" in regards to your "special relationship, normal development" quip. Either, as myintx says, all humans are equally entitled to use other people's bodies "for their very lives" so that they may "have a productive future" or they are not.

secularprolife.org said...

"Sustain their life through
the use of your body parts - blood, organs, tissue, and boobmilk."


Breastfeeding supports a normative state of development. Human development is not a disease state; anything requiring blood transfusions, organ transplantation or tissue donation always is a disease state.


Disease states are morally relevant because while certain people may have a duty to care for the sick (e.g., physicians, nurses), they do not have a duty to become diseased themselves in caring for the sick.

"I am referring to "natural" in regards to your "special relationship, normal development" quip. Either, as myintx says, all humans are equally entitled to use other people's bodies "for their very lives" so that they may "have a productive future" or they are not."

Circumstances and context matter. Duties matter. Disease and health matter, in a normative understanding of medicine. I do not believe all humans are entitled to the bodies of all other humans "for their very lives."

If I have no duty to care for someone (I'm not their family member, caregiver, physician, etc.) who is suffering from a particular disease state (that is, a non-normative deviation from health), then they do not possess a claim on my body's resources.

Having said that, if I have a particular duty to them, or if they depend on me to maintain a normative state of health that was pre-existing (that is, they began existing in their "normal" state of development), I would say I'm obligated to them in a special way.

However, let's be honest with one another: pregnancy is an entirely unique scenario. There is nothing else like it in life. My breastfeeding-in-the-cabin dilemma attempts to pit bodily autonomy against the right to life of a born person in an attempt to expose a fervent over-dedication to the ideal of personal liberty, but it doesn't say anything specifically about pregnancy, per se.

Therefore, when we're dealing with something as unique as pregnancy, we need to fall back on our understanding of particular ideals. Also, ideally, we should avoid ad hominem and insults, the likes of which are peppered all over this comment section.

secularprolife.org said...

You keep saying she could breastfeed. You don't KNOW THAT. Suppose she's ill? Suppose she has HIV? Suppose she needs medication where breast feeding is contraindicated? Suppose it's just extremely painful? If no options are available, yes, the child may die. Lactation can't be counted upon. It's not "infanticide."

secularprolife.org said...

I believe, under the circumstances, an alternative can be found. They have no freaking MILK, in Africa? Say it ain't so! Formula can be made from milk. I KNOW IT because I've DONE IT. One of my sons was allergic to *something* they put in the commercial formula. I had to make his milk the old fashioned way, with cow's milk, water and sugar. Or she could simply LEAVE AFRICA.

secularprolife.org said...

The point of the hypothetical scenario isn't to realize every possibility in reality, but to illustrate in concrete terms the conflict between two ethical ideals. You keep adding suppositions to avoid the thrust of the dilemma, which pits personal liberty and bodily autonomy against the life of a born person.

"If no options are available, yes, the child may die. ... It's not infanticide."


How is it not infanticide? The child dies as a result of starvation, doesn't it?


Since starvation can be unpleasant and slow, is this woman permitted to speed up the child's (inevitable) death and shoot it? If not, why?

secularprolife.org said...

She needs ALTERNATIVES to nursing the child from her breasts! You can't simply put someone in a bad position, and call it "infanticide" because it didn't work out. That's the part you keep skipping over. Suppose it's a 40 year old man with a PEG tube? Is she obligated to express breast milk for his benefit??? He's a born person. I'll be damned if I would.

secularprolife.org said...

So what you are saying is that the rights of an embryo or fetus supersede the rights of a woman?

secularprolife.org said...

Disease states are morally relevant because while certain people may
have a duty to care for the sick (e.g., physicians, nurses), they do not
have a duty to become diseased themselves in caring for the sick.


How is giving bone marrow, or blood, going to put someone into a 'diseased' state? And does a 'diseased' person not have as much of a right to life as an embryo? Oh yeah, embryos can also be 'diseased' - does that mean that the pregnant person is free to disregard their lives, as, according to you, the sick and the ill, due to their condition, have less of a right to life than someone who is healthy?

Anyway, a poster made an interesting argument regarding 'the right to life' and how it should trump bodily autonomy. He takes it a step further than either you or SPL, however, tell me what you think:

""I thought I'd said that when I first started this. Anyway, I am pro-choice because I do not believe that a fetus is a person. SPL believes fetuses are people. That is where I disagree with SPL. But I do believe that the pro-life position follows from the belief that fetuses are people. I find the idea that bodily autonomy can trump somebodies life far more appalling than anything SPL has ever said, far more appalling than anything any of my pro-life friends have ever said. I would much rather associate with people who recognize the importance of the right to life while incorrectly granting that right to fetuses, than with people who would knowingly kill a person to save themselves a degree of physical invasion much less bad than death. I'm disgusted to find myself on the same side of the issue with people who put bodily autonomy ahead of life. That is why I argue what I do here.

Yes. I'm pro-choice because I don't believe that a fetus is a person. I'm pro forcing organ donation where it is necessary to save one life and does not take another, because I believe life is more important than any other right. Perfectly consistent, and much easier to live with than a position that would force one person to die for another's comfort.

And I think that that is completely irrational too. If violating one person's bodily autonomy in a non-fatal way is the only medically feasible means of saving another persons life, I think it should absolutely be required. The idea that bodily autonomy should ever be able to trump a right to life is grotesque. We can give comparisons meant to draw out intuitions all day, but can you give me any reason why it would be ok to let one person die to spare another some form of temporary unpleasantness?

Actually, all it takes to be a pro-lifer is to believe that a fetus is also a full person. It follows from that belief that the temporary autonomy of pregnant women is trumped by the fetuses right to continue living. There are so many other contexts (prisons, the draft, etc) where it is viewed as perfectly acceptable to restrict a persons control of their body for some greater good, this is no different. Even if you don't believe that a fetus is a full person (and I don't myself), you can't deny that the pro-life position follows logically from that premise. It is complete nonsense to equate being pro-life with being anti-woman or with thinking women are not full people (Monica is, after all, a woman)."" http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2014/10/13/friendly-atheist-podcast-episode-24-monica-snyder-secular-pro-life/#comment-1634357360




----------------


Why should a healthy embryo be granted rights that a dying 5 year old is denied? Do both not have equally valuable futures? And if, as this person says, all rights stem from the 'right to life', then is not at all unreasonable to demand mandatory blood/tissue/organ donation?

secularprolife.org said...

**So, is she within her rights to refuse to feed the infant and let it die? **

Yes. It's not one persons's job to feed another person, no matter how many sad feelies you have about it. There is no special pleading for infants and fetuses.

And, btw, your analogy is absolute crap, since the woman could have given the 'infant' to someone else prior to entering the woods.

secularprolife.org said...

She needn't feed EITHER of them breast milk.

secularprolife.org said...

She needs other options, because lactation cannot be depended on. I'll bet a lot of babies died in the past. because their mother could not nurse them. In the modern world we have options. EVEN if there were no commercial formula, there would still be other options.

secularprolife.org said...

**So since the child will die by starvation because the woman chooses not to breastfeed it, can the woman expedite the child's death by shooting it?**


If that's the only way to get it off her, then go for it.

secularprolife.org said...

**S

secularprolife.org said...

The point of the scenario isn't meant to tell a story or to make an emotional appeal. I appreciate how you've changed the scenario to include a 40 year old man with a PEG tube, but we're still not done discussing the scenario as originally posed, I think.


As I said, it's meant to concretely put two (or more) ethical ideals in direct conflict with one another in a narrative fashion. The woman is in a "bad position" to draw out, in clear detail, the conflict between those ethics that many people in the pro-choice camp refuse to acknowledge. If the woman lets the child starve, it is very clearly infanticide. You cannot redefine that. I don't mean to sound condescending, but if you're having trouble reconciling the ethics involved, then just say so. We don't always have to have all the answers.


But from what you've already said, you believe the woman is under no obligation to breastfeed the child. If so, then the child (her child) will die from starvation. Therefore, can the woman expedite the child's death by shooting it?

secularprolife.org said...

No; all the rights of the embryo do not supersede all the rights of the pregnant woman. I'm saying that the right to life of any person supersedes the right to privacy of any person, or the right to personal liberty.

secularprolife.org said...

"Yes. It's not one persons's job to feed another person,"

So, in fact, even if the woman were not in the mountains, but at home, with as many options for caring for the infant as she wanted (or deferring care to others, e.g., adoption), if no one wanted to feed the child, we could, as a society, let the child die?

And, btw, your analogy is absolute crap, since the woman could have given the 'infant' to someone else prior to entering the woods."


I'm not drawing an analogy. I'm posing an hypothetical ethical dilemma to illustrate a conflict between two ethical ideals (that is, bodily autonomy and personal liberty vs. the life of a born person). It's not meant to accurately portray every detail of reality, or incorporate all possibilities, but instead to pose, in narrative fashion, a question about how one ethical ideal wins out over another. Folks that refuse to "play the game," so to speak, and address the dilemma as posed may realize that they overvalue one particular ideal but do not like where the consequences of the overvaluation lead.


For example, if the woman can choose not to feed the infant, resulting in its death, is she permitted to shoot the infant to expedite its otherwise slow and uncomfortable death? If not, why? How is that different from letting a child, whom you can feed and in fact have a parental duty to, starve?

secularprolife.org said...

I don't know what's not normative about drinking goat's milk; people do it all the time.


I'm not appealing to nature to make normative claims here. I'm drawing a line between disease and health. While sometimes blurry, in the situations we're discussing (e.g., requiring organs, life support, etc), it is not a blurry line.


I think I should also point out that ethics, as a body of philosophy, is about what should and shouldn't be normative; what behaviors we should and shouldn't permit. So I'm not making any radical moves when I said "X should be normative," or "Y is normative," etc.

secularprolife.org said...

Why does she still have it? Why didn't she drop it off at a fire station?

secularprolife.org said...

When rights come into conflict, you need a way of sorting it out.

And your way of 'sorting it out' is to abrogate the rights of the born, sapient, sentient *person* in order to assign rights to an entity that is none of those things. Thank you for admitting. when you say he right of the unborn child to survive supersedes the desire of the mother to rid herself of the pregnancy that you advocate the enslavement of women the moment the stick turns blue.

You do not know a given woman's circumstances and why she might choose not to gestate a pregnancy. Neither do I. Unlike me, though, you have adequate hubris to demand that she do so anyway, because you appear to think you know what is best for someone you've never even met.

It is so easy to be an anti-choice male, isn't it, Joshua? After all, it will never be your life or health put at risk due to gestational complications. All you have to do is wave your hand and demand that others do as you say.

No love, a woman who nearly died due to pregnancy complications

secularprolife.org said...

**So, in fact, even if the woman were not in the mountains, but at home, with as many options for caring for the infant as she wanted (or deferring care to others, e.g., adoption), if no one wanted to feed the child, we could, as a society, let the child die?**

I'm curious here. You are proposing an entire society full of people, none of whom, according to your scenario, actually care about the life of the child, since none of them want to feed it. Yet they are demanding that the woman feed it. Obviously their motivation cannot be the life of the child. So that leaves merely CLAIMING it's the 'life of the child', but their real reason being to impose some sort of punishment on the woman. Yes, I think in such a society, it would be appropriate to let the child die.

**What if, instead of breast milk, the woman had access to formula?**

That's also an interesting question, Joshua. According to the pro-life people here, who want to weasel out of any 'responsibility' for other people's 'very lives' on their own part, the reason they give why someone's body is up for grabs by pregnancy and breastfeeding is that it is 'natural', and the reason why their own bodies aren't up for grabs by dialyis patients is that transplant surgery isn't 'natural'.

The thing is, bottle feeding isn't 'natural'. No animal besides man refines glass and rubber, makes bottles, and uses the milk from other species to feed it's own young. So, by the pro-life 'natural is sacred' claim that they use to wiggle out of their own bodies being up for grabs, would it not be acceptable to them, in the event a woman isn't producing milk, for her to starve the infant to death deliberately, rather than bottle feed it, if that's what she wanted to do?

secularprolife.org said...

ccording to the pro-life people here, who want to weasel out of any
'responsibility' for other people's 'very lives' on their own part, the
reason they give why someone's body is up for grabs by pregnancy and
breastfeeding is that it is 'natural', and the reason why their own
bodies aren't up for grabs by dialyis patients is that transplant
surgery isn't 'natural'.



Which is exactly what he is doing, funnily enough. "Diseased" children don't deserve our bodies, because, you know, they are diseased, and forced donations might 'harm' the donor. But hey, pregnancy is 'normative' so, you know, the unborn human is automatically entitled to the pergnant persons' body, cuz nature.

secularprolife.org said...

No.

secularprolife.org said...

You are appealing to nature, in fact, that is what your entire argument is based on.


"Diseased" humans don't have a right to other people's bodies because they are 'diseased'. Hm, sure sounds awfully like eugenics to me!



But hey, embryos have a right to women's bodies because pregnancy = natural.


Let's play "Spot the Fallacy' for 100, Alex!

secularprolife.org said...

"I'm curious here. You are proposing an entire society full of people, none of whom, according to your scenario, actually care about the life of the child, since none of them want to feed it."


As I said, I'm not creating a narrative or a story; I'm illustrating an ethical dilemma. I can pose it in more general terms, it just doesn't make it as accessible.


For example, the general form of the dilemma is, should bodily autonomy and personal liberty be preserved at any and all costs? Including costs born by those under your sole care? Should a right to bodily autonomy trump the right to life of other people? There. Now we can skip the concerns about the details of the dilemma, which was only ever meant to be illustrative in the first place.


"but their real reason being to impose some sort of punishment on the woman."


Your inference is wrong. I support increased pregnancy support services, women's health care and adoption services. I do not support killing unborn people (including unborn girls). I don't view that as punishment; I view it as preservation of a child's life.


Do you think requiring a parent to care for their toddler is punishment? Adoption aside, someone will be a de facto guardian for a given child, and that person is responsible for the child's well-being. Is that responsibility a punishment?

secularprolife.org said...

"You are appealing to nature, in fact, that is what your entire argument is based on."

I don't think I'm appealing to nature, but to check in with your perspective, on what should we ground our medical ethics?

""Diseased" humans don't have a right to other people's bodies because they are 'diseased'. Hm, sure sounds awfully like eugenics to me!"

Eugenics is a specific system that attempts to "improve" the human race through selective breeding and culling. That is not what my aforementioned ethic is supporting. It rightfully recognizes that other people do not have a duty to harm themselves to help others who themselves are in a state of harm/disease.

"Let's play "Spot the Fallacy' for 100, Alex!"



You may disagree with my argument, but it is not fallacious. Pregnancy is natural, but so is disease. Both things are natural and that is not the basis for my argument. Pregnancy constitutes a "normal" state of affairs, insofar as human development is normal. Disease states are not "normal." That is vastly different than claiming one is natural and one is not.

secularprolife.org said...

So she can starve it, but not shoot it? Why? Both end in the child's death.

secularprolife.org said...

Pregnancy constitutes a "normal" state of affairs, insofar as human development is normal.


Yes, it is a form of naturalistic fallacy, is/ought in fact. Because pregnancy IS natural/normative, it OUGHT to happen, regardless of how the pregnant person feels about it. But, because disease is not a 'normative' state of affairs, no one 'ought' to be required to either permanently or temporarily donate body parts to the diseased individual.


All that you've done, through semantic sleight of hand, is replace 'natural law' with your new catchphrase 'normative development' - and if 'natural law' ie 'normative development' is our guide, well then, we MUST abide by it.


It's not about life for you. Not at all. It's about biology equaling destiny, for women, at any rate.

secularprolife.org said...

For example, the general form of the dilemma is, should bodily autonomy and personal liberty be preserved at any and all costs? Including costs born by those under your sole care? Should a right to bodily autonomy trump the right to life of other people?


Which is a fair question, except you *only* apply this to pregnancy, and only to women, right? Because..'normative' aka natural law rules?

secularprolife.org said...

"And I think that that is completely irrational too. If violating one person's bodily autonomy in a non-fatal way is the only medically feasible means of saving another persons life, I think it should
absolutely be required."

I think this perspective lacks nuance, and creates duties where there often are none.


But that is exactly what you require,but only of women, naturally. It's funny how he says that he admires pro-lifers because they hold the belief that 'right to life' trumps bodily autonomy, yet when I actually speak to pro-lifers, the vast majority oppose any sort of tissue and/or organ donation, because it is 'unnatural', or as you like to say 'not normative'

Diseases are not something that "should" occur.

No, diseases should *not* occur, however, I don't see how that suddenly makes the diseased person's life automatically worth less than that of an embryo - if an embryo through it's 'natural' state is entitled to a woman's body, then I don't see why a sick kid with leukemia can't also be entitled to your bone marrow. We are talking about the sanctity of life here, you know. It just seems awfully cold to me to simply let a child die because his condition is not 'normative'. FFS.

Perhaps all rights are predicated on the right to life - that is, if we cannot secure the safety of someone's life, then all other rights (e.g.,to free speech, to vote, etc) cannot also be protected.

Yes, that is what is meant. Try not to get too wrapped up in semantics, ok?

The argument is that since it is impossible to exercise your rights without the right to life, that all other rights are therefore subservient to the right to life. If this is true in pregnancy, why can't it be true in any other case?

Do you believe we have duties?

Yes, I do believe that we have duties. For example, if a parent chooses to have a child, and to raise a child, they have duties toward that child. A woman doesn't have duties to a zygote simply because a lucky sperm fertilized an egg. And those 'duties' do not, under any circumstance, include full bodily donation - not for born children, not for unborn.

At it's most basic, though, it is a negative right. That means,
regardless of what is positively warranted to people in disease states,
AT MINIMUM, it means we should not kill other innocent people because
the right to life grants that protection.



The right to use another person's bodily organs is a positive right, and such a right can only be gifted, not taken without consent. No human being has this right, nor should they have this right. If you want to give it to fetuses, then you have to give it to everyone else. Equal individual rights, and all that.

secularprolife.org said...

Why should that matter? Millions of us bow to social and financial pressures everyday when we get in our cars and drive to shitty jobs.

secularprolife.org said...

You're basically saying we can continue our conversation on abortion when I change my mind and start agreeing with you about abortion....

secularprolife.org said...

If we were arguing about the rights of blacks, I could just as easily say "Among rational people the Supreme Court wins and you lose, because the Supreme Court = facts and law and reasoning, and they said black people can't be citizens and don't have the right to sue in court."

secularprolife.org said...

I read your comment and explained why I think the analogies are valid, and your objections don't prove that you need to consciously suffer, or be aware that you have a right, in order to be wronged. Since you didn't offer any counter argument and decided to insult me instead, I think maybe you're the one who didn't objectively read my reply.

secularprolife.org said...

Hmm, okay, I didn't do exhaustive research but some sources I looked at mentioned the possibility of embryo transfer and others didn't, so I wasn't sure.

secularprolife.org said...

Nope.

secularprolife.org said...

Pregnancy is not a disease state; it is natural.

So? Does that necessarily mean it's healthy?

Oh, you mean *normative*

Well, which definition of normative are you using?

Normative means relating to an ideal standard or model, or being based on what is considered to be the normal or correct way of doing something.

or

In philosophy, normative statements make claims about how things should or ought to be, how to value them, which things are good or bad, and which actions are right or wrong. Normative claims are usually contrasted with positive (i.e. descriptive, explanatory, or constative) claims when describing types of theories, beliefs, or propositions. Positive statements are (purportedly-) factual statements that attempt to describe reality. In other words, they are 'truth-apt'; capable of being factually correct or incorrect.

For example, "children should eat vegetables", and "those who would sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither" are normative claims. On the other hand, "vegetables contain a relatively high proportion of vitamins", "smoking causes cancer", and "a common consequence of sacrificing liberty for security is a loss of both" are positive claims. Whether or not a statement is normative is logically independent of whether it is verified, verifiable, or popularly held.


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

secularprolife.org said...

"Possibility" and "reality" are not the same thing.

secularprolife.org said...

Are blacks attached to me by umbilical and battening off my substance? Nope. Irrelevant.

secularprolife.org said...

Nope. I am looking for an indication that you understand what I asserted.

secularprolife.org said...

Numbers 5:11-31 is abortion used as a trial by ordeal for a woman accused of adultery. Proof being the aborted fetus. That is the Bible describing enforcing abortion as a means of civil control. Not justifiable. The pregnant woman must choose and she is the only one who has that choice.


And here is the circumstance you asked for:
http://www.upworthy.com/two-abortion-protesters-decided-to-yell-at-this-guys-wife-they-probably-shouldnt



No justification is needed for an abortion beyond I AM and I WILL.

secularprolife.org said...

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