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A Miscarriage of Justice
June 24, 2011 5:33 PM   Subscribe

The Guardian looks at how pregnant women who lose their babies or are found to have been taking drugs are facing charges for foetal endangerment.
posted by dunkadunc (129 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
*sigh*

Of course it's coming to this.

Next they'll criminalize becoming pregnant if you are too poor to afford health care and have no insurance.

Of course there will be no offer of state support to help women give birth to a healthy baby. That would be what is laughingly and incorrectly called "socialism" by the same people who would criminalize not having every pregnancy carry to term.

And poor women who give birth to healthy babies also will receive no support to help care for their infant. Although they will be brought up on charges if the financial burden of that child proves greater than their already stretched budget can bear.

What the fuck is going on, anyway? Why does this all feel like William Gibson and Margaret Atwood had a novel together?
posted by hippybear at 5:46 PM on June 24, 2011 [81 favorites]


Why does this all feel like William Gibson and Margaret Atwood had a novel together?

Oh fuck. That pretty much exactly describes how I've been feeling lately.

Thank you for putting it in words.
posted by Netzapper at 5:55 PM on June 24, 2011 [9 favorites]


This makes me wonder: What is (and what should be) the crime if a third-party intentionally kills somebody's fetus, say by slipping them an abortion inducing drug?
posted by blargerz at 5:59 PM on June 24, 2011


Aggravated assault I would imagine.
posted by unSane at 6:00 PM on June 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


What's going on is the logical result of the "fetus as person" philosophy that a lot of the right has embraced to fight abortion. You see, babies are not only things people have, they're symbols. Some people genuinely believe you should be forced to have a baby you don't want to have as a consequence of your actions, such as having sex at all. Or even not of your actions, as in the case of rape (though you were probably asking for it) or incest. And then once you have them, you damn well better raise up a good Christian kid even if you're, say, a poor single teenage girl with no idea how to raise a baby.

Wait, help you? Sounds like you better take some personal responsibility!
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 6:01 PM on June 24, 2011 [5 favorites]


He pointed out that anti-abortion groups were trying to amend the Mississippi constitution by setting up a state referendum, or ballot initiative, that would widen the definition of a person under the state's bill of rights to include a foetus from the day of conception.

I'm just glad that once my fetus has full Constitutional rights from the moment of conception, the U.S. army will no longer be able to use my uterus to quarter its troops.

Wait, what?

"What is (and what should be) the crime if a third-party intentionally kills somebody's fetus, say by slipping them an abortion inducing drug?"

Generally some form of aggravated assault, often with very long sentences. It's totally possible to make "victim was pregnant" or "victim lost a fetus" a massively aggravating factor without having to outlaw abortion, turn loss-of-pregnancy into murder, or whatever else. I think most of us probably DO agree that a loss of a wanted fetus to a criminal assault is a very, very serious harm that the state should take super-seriously, and that intentionally attacking a pregnant woman is especially heinous. And we can do (and historically HAVE done) that, without this sideshow nonsense.

In the medical ethics textbook I teach from, there's actually a case from maybe the 70s? Where the protocol for treating gestational diabetes changed, and a woman using the new protocol -- what is today the gold standard -- was arrested and prosecuted for putting her fetus at risk by not using the generally-accepted old standard. Not only is this kind of stupidity, well, stupid, but it even retards medical progress. Who would dare to try an experimental treatment if you could end up in jail for it?
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:07 PM on June 24, 2011 [6 favorites]


What is (and what should be) the crime if a third-party intentionally kills somebody's fetus, say by slipping them an abortion inducing drug?

"Fetal homicide" is its own crime in many states, and exists alongside a right to abortion.
posted by palliser at 6:08 PM on June 24, 2011


I'm just glad that once my fetus has full Constitutional rights from the moment of conception, the U.S. army will no longer be able to use my uterus to quarter its troops.

A classic Point/Countpoint piece from The Onion: U.S. Out Of My Uterus vs. We Must Deploy Troops To Jessica Linden's Uterus Immediately.
posted by Zozo at 6:10 PM on June 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Forest Allgood, the DA in the Gibbs case, looks to be batshit insane as far as prosecutors go.
posted by Talez at 6:10 PM on June 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think they tried to implement "don't sell alcohol to pregnant women" here to limit incidences of FAS/FAE, but it would be impossible to put into practice. I'd be pretty damn annoyed if I was trying to pick up some wine for dinner or something while pregnant and was turned away because some idiot thinks I'm going to guzzle the bottle on the way out the door. So then what do you do? Make it a judgement call of the cashier's? Around here that would just mean a bunch more institutionalized racism.
posted by ODiV at 6:11 PM on June 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


First off... Truly sublime title, Subby.


blargerz : This makes me wonder: What is (and what should be) the crime if a third-party intentionally kills somebody's fetus, say by slipping them an abortion inducing drug?

BEAUTIFULLY executed! I notice you didn't specify - With, or without, the parents' consent. Getting a den of Liberals to effectively call "abortion" a crime, you deserve some sort of award.


ODiV : I'd be pretty damn annoyed if I was trying to pick up some wine for dinner or something while pregnant and was turned away because some idiot thinks I'm going to guzzle the bottle on the way out the door.

"Why thank you, Doctor, good to know that... So remind me again, where did you get your degree to diagnose medical conditions, a crime in 50 states without a license? Except, lucky you! Just fat, fuckyouverymuch."


(and for the record, I absolutely support the right to have an abortion. I would even support it well into the 4th trimester
posted by pla at 6:21 PM on June 24, 2011


ODiV, this made me laugh: "I think they tried to implement "don't sell alcohol to pregnant women" here to limit incidences of FAS/FAE, but it would be impossible to put into practice."

Because it actually came up in my philosophy class this past semester when I was about 7 months pregnant. My students were just SHOUTING at each other over this, with one student who works as a nurse absolutely adamant that pregnant women should not be allowed to buy alcohol, and another student who works in mental health equally as adamant that they should, and the rest of the students took sides and there was much shouting.

What was particularly amusing was that I always go grocery shopping on my way home from that particular class, and that day I was picking up a bunch of wine (7 months pregnant, recall) for a dinner party where I was serving boeuf bourguinon (wine in the sauce, as well as wine to drink). I came back the next class and I was like, "Guys, I thought of you!"

My anti-buying-alcohol students did admit they couldn't see anything particularly wrong with me buying wine for a party, but they said, "But we KNOW you and we KNOW you wouldn't hurt your fetus ..." And I was like, "Well, does that seem like a good basis for lawmaking or moralizing?" So then we had round two, which was a bit more muted and measured and thoughtful.

I will say these particular forms of insanity around pregnancy regulation give me AWESOME material for my philosophy classes. Usually you have to invent super-extreme insane scenarios.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:23 PM on June 24, 2011 [18 favorites]


pla: Yeah, that was another big problem with it. "Oh, when are you due!?" "...Three months ago."

I don't know how far along they got with it, but I doubt very far at all. It was probably just proposed in the Legislative Assembly and then shot down. I remember people having some pretty strong opinions on it though.
posted by ODiV at 6:29 PM on June 24, 2011


Ack! That reads pretty damn monstrously without the middle clause making it a joke...

"and for the record, I absolutely support the right to have an abortion. I consider myself so pro-choice, I would even support it well into the 4th trimester"

/ Not entirely kidding, but still, that just did not come out right, as posted
posted by pla at 6:30 PM on June 24, 2011


The position in tort in Canada (re: duty of care) and New Zealand (re: whether pregnancy constitutes an injury). It's such an interesting discussion but the Courts are often tempted to fudge the law to suit the prevailing moral imperative.
posted by doublehappy at 6:34 PM on June 24, 2011


Yep. That's it. I'm not having a kid. Ever. You can forget my DNA being passed on, good of the species or no.
posted by strixus at 6:37 PM on June 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


My students were just SHOUTING at each other over this

Considering the real-life discussions I've had with men who think I should lose all my rights if I were to get pregnant, I'm pleasantly surprised it was limited to shouting. I'm so relieved that I'm done with with the possibility of getting pregnant; fetal protection laws terrify me, even though I know that by virtue of my race and SES I'm probably immune from most applications of them.
posted by immlass at 6:43 PM on June 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Stop it, America. My jaw cain't drop no lower.
posted by fleetmouse at 6:46 PM on June 24, 2011 [6 favorites]


Hippybear I think you forgot that George Orwell presided over the ceremony that joined Margaret Atwood & William Gibson in unholy prophecy...
posted by supermedusa at 6:54 PM on June 24, 2011 [5 favorites]


I will be not be surprised when a third class father shoots a bunch of cops trying to arrest his wife after she miscarries, having worked the chemical wasteland that are our fields for too many years.
posted by Slackermagee at 6:55 PM on June 24, 2011


Hey law enforcement! Where should I send my bags of used tampons so you can check them for possible uterine misconduct? They're getting a little ripe sitting out there in the garage in 100 degree heat, though, so let me know soon.
posted by emjaybee at 7:07 PM on June 24, 2011 [8 favorites]


You know what else harms the fetus?

-eating a high fat diet
-too few vegetables
-eating preservatives and artificial substances in foods
-too little exercise
-too much exercise
-emotional distress
-influenza
-toxoplasma
-BEING STRESSED OUT BECAUSE YOU ARE CARRYING A CHILD WITH NO SUPPORT TO ACTUALLY PARENT THE CHILD WELL

Really? Do we want to go this route? I am so glad I found metafilter so that if nothing else I know that I am not alone in seeing how insane these laws are becoming.
posted by xarnop at 8:10 PM on June 24, 2011 [5 favorites]


These anti-abortion laws claim to be about the personhood of the fetus; they are actually about the non-personhood of women. You can't give personhood to fetuses without denying it to women. That's a small and easy step, since women's claim to personhood in human culture is so tenuous and conditional. Everywhere you look, you see evidence that women are considered not quite people. We're accepted as being sort of like people, and we're generally permitted to act like people so long as we make ourselves decorative, useful or invisible. But in any situation where women's full personhood becomes inconvenient, it is expected to yield. Some day this may end, but not soon enough.
posted by Corvid at 8:13 PM on June 24, 2011 [51 favorites]


I'm not up to date on the realities on the likely effects of even a little alcohol during pregnancy. I studied development many years ago and was taught that heavy drinking in the first trimester was teratogenic, but that a single glass off wine, e.g. was not likely to be harmful.
It seems that pregnant women (and those around them) tend to be adamant about abstaining from alcohol. Is this perception of mine correct? If so, is there a degree of moral panic about this new regime?
posted by not_that_epiphanius at 8:17 PM on June 24, 2011


First off... Truly sublime title, Subby.

How is subby formed?
posted by Ratio at 8:21 PM on June 24, 2011


Mauddammit! Get the hell out of my uterus! I'm so damn disgusted with this I could puke.

Of course there will be no offer of state support to help women give birth to a healthy baby. That would be what is laughingly and incorrectly called "socialism" by the same people who would criminalize not having every pregnancy carry to term

We DO NOT value children in this country.

Every child should be wanted. Every child should have the right to a loving home, enough to eat, health care, a good education, and decent clothing. Does THIS happen? Fuck no. Hell, we can't even give moms good prenatal care for that oh-so precious fetus. Rah Rah America, and we're 34th in infant mortality. Look what's happened since 1960. After that kid hits the ground, just who gives a damn then? Just us 'socialists' and bleeding hearts.


"Fetal homicide" is its own crime in many states, and exists alongside a right to abortion.

The "Fetal homicide" definition actually makes sense with regard to the murder of a woman and her unborn infant. In that case, there should be some recognition of the total magnitude of the crime. Using a homicide definition with regard to an unwanted fetus up to the second trimester is rather stretching it thin.
posted by BlueHorse at 8:21 PM on June 24, 2011 [4 favorites]


BEAUTIFULLY executed! I notice you didn't specify - With, or without, the parents' consent. Getting a den of Liberals to effectively call "abortion" a crime, you deserve some sort of award.

No it was actually in good faith, the whole "slipping a drug" thing implied lack of mother's consent.
posted by blargerz at 8:32 PM on June 24, 2011


Corvid: Yes.

They hate us, just plain and simple. The anti-abortion people--yeah, even the women--hate women. They hate us, and we can't forget that. There's no compromising or soft-pedaling. Abortion isn't unfortunate, or something we want to limit or eliminate.

Abortion is awesome. It's a valuable and lifesaving medical option for women, in the literal and figurative sense.

There is no circumstance in which anyone but the pregnant woman should have any authority over what she does with her pregnancy, least of all some misogynistic pig who values a fetus over the real live woman carrying it.
posted by ernielundquist at 9:03 PM on June 24, 2011 [12 favorites]


We keep criminalizing public health problems. We're so fucking dumb.
posted by rtha at 9:05 PM on June 24, 2011 [6 favorites]


"It seems that pregnant women (and those around them) tend to be adamant about abstaining from alcohol. Is this perception of mine correct? If so, is there a degree of moral panic about this new regime?"

My ob/gyn told me, "No alcohol, at all, ever, that's the rule. Now, I myself had half a glass of wine once or twice a week if I felt like it when I was pregnant." She HAS to tell me no alcohol ever or her insurer will pitch fits.

I would say about half the women I know (mostly college-educated, upper-middle-class midwesterners in the U.S.) had a small glass of wine now and then, and about half did not because they didn't feel like it (because some things get weirdly gross when you're pregnant) or weren't comfortable with it (but didn't care if other preggos partook) or weren't drinkers anyway. I only know a couple of people who are all "ALCOHOL KILLS BABBY! IF YOU SMELL IT YOU ARE A BABBY-KILLER!"

But yes, there's a RIDONKULUS level of moral panic for pregnant women. At one point I looked through several lists of "foods to avoid" from various well-respected sources and, if I totaled them all up, the only things I could eat were brown rice and a small selection of very well boiled organic vegetables. (But not root veggies, they could have toxoplasmosis. And not lettuce or spinach because of e. coli.) They tell you not to lie on your back because in less than 5% of pregnant women, the uterus will squish one of the big blood vessels and your legs will go to sleep. And in more than 99% of women that happens to, they will be like, "ow, my legs are asleep" and shift position. But a very tiny number won't feel the "ow" and run a tiny risk of damaging their legs through a lack of circulation. SO NO PREGNANT WOMEN MUST LIE ON THEIR BACKS EVER.

Oh, also? No oral sex. Because there's a tiny chance your (apparently weirdly incompetent) partner might blow into your vagina, and there's an infinitesimal chance you might then get an air embolism AND THEN YOU'D DIE. (Mayo actually says you can have oral sex as long as there are no attempts to use the vagina as a balloon, but lots of places just say NO.)

There's also all kinds of things that could kill you on an everyday basis, but apparently it's only a problem if you're pregnant.

Between protecting against absurdly tiny risks and treating pregnant women as if they are incapable of making reasonable decisions (one often-given reason for not allowing any alcohol is "if she has one drink, she might not stop." Yet one suspects if the alcohol problem is that severe, "don't drink while pregnant" warnings aren't going to work anyway.), it's pretty anxiety-inducing and infantilizing if you actually try to follow all of the rules strictly. And the biggest risks for pregnant women are statistically things more along the lines of "getting in a car" (a big risk for all Americans), or "being in a heterosexual relationship" (what with domestic violence rates), or "having substandard prenatal care." But those are HARD things to handle on a societal level, whereas telling pregnant women that STINKY CHEESE KILLS BABIES is a) easy and b) makes it her own damn fault.

Only a week or so until stinky cheese and me are reunited!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:08 PM on June 24, 2011 [40 favorites]


Oh, also? No oral sex. Because there's a tiny chance your (apparently weirdly incompetent) partner might blow into your vagina, and there's an infinitesimal chance you might then get an air embolism AND THEN YOU'D DIE. (Mayo actually says you can have oral sex as long as there are no attempts to use the vagina as a balloon, but lots of places just say NO.)

Oh my god I laughed so hard reading this.
posted by rtha at 9:34 PM on June 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Honey, I blew up the Kid!
posted by unSane at 9:42 PM on June 24, 2011 [6 favorites]


Thank you so much Eyebrows McGee for the thoughtful and very funny response. Things are at least as bad as I feared.

For my part, I will try not to inflate any vaginas.
posted by not_that_epiphanius at 10:14 PM on June 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


They hate us, just plain and simple. The anti-abortion people--yeah, even the women--hate women. They hate us, and we can't forget that.

As a 12 year veteran of Catholic education, I feel obligated to accurately portray the views of the many kind and earnest people I have known who are actively and passionately against abortion. They deeply and truly believe that life is infinitely miraculous and that an eternal soul begins at the moment of conception, making it sacred and inviolable. Human life is believed to contain a divine spark, and that all humans are created in the image of an all-powerful, all-loving, benevolent God. None of this is considered figuratively, but as fundamental Truth as deeply and unquestioningly believed as the most self-evident scientific and mathematical axioms.

They literally believe that terminating a pregnancy is a conscious and willful act of spitting in the face of the Creator of the Universe. It doesn't get any worse than that.

My point is that the underlying motivations of much of the anti-abortion crowd are much less petty than "they hate women". For them, this a celestial battleground, and I have met several people who would willingly subject themselves to torture and death if it meant that abortion would end.
posted by blargerz at 10:33 PM on June 24, 2011 [8 favorites]


My midwives recommended a glass of wine or a shot of whiskey before bed for third trimester restless legs. When I was in prodromal labor for seven days they encouraged washing down a few benedryl too, so I could sleep through the contractions. When that didn't help, they sent me to get morphine injections. I appreciated being in the care of folks who treated me with some damned sense.
posted by pajamazon at 10:51 PM on June 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm guessing "midwives with some damned sense" is one of those "your mileage may vary" situations.
posted by ShutterBun at 12:32 AM on June 25, 2011


I can see where this will be going. It won't be long now before any woman detected as pregnant (via a mandatory implanted rfid pregnancy test) wil be immediately placed in prenatal care confinement (a fancy term for pregnancy prisons) to make sure the fetus develops properly. Naturally no insurance company will pay for this confinement, so any woman who can't pay will have their baby seized by the state to be raised in combination orphanages and military academies. Within 16 years we'll have a thoroughly trained and indoctrinated crop of child soldiers.
posted by happyroach at 3:32 AM on June 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


They deeply and truly believe that life is infinitely miraculous

Shame they don't value the mother's life so highly.
posted by Summer at 4:18 AM on June 25, 2011 [21 favorites]


As a 12 year veteran of Catholic education, I feel obligated to accurately portray the views of the many kind and earnest people I have known who are actively and passionately against abortion. They deeply and truly believe that life is infinitely miraculous and that an eternal soul begins at the moment of conception, making it sacred and inviolable. Human life is believed to contain a divine spark, and that all humans are created in the image of an all-powerful, all-loving, benevolent God. None of this is considered figuratively, but as fundamental Truth as deeply and unquestioningly believed as the most self-evident scientific and mathematical axioms.
They don't hate women you see, they love them so much that they have to save them from themselves.
posted by T.D. Strange at 4:24 AM on June 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


Summer, I can't favorite your response hard enough.

blargerz, I know you are speaking in good faith. But as a fellow 10 year veteran of Catholic education (missed out on the whole grade school thing, made up for it with a Catholic college), I can equally say that there is a louder, much more vocal, much less compassionate contingent who are merely interested in controlling all aspects of my sexuality from soup to nuts and literally do not have the cognitive ability to accept that something that is infinitely miraculous can also be inherently dangerous.
posted by theBigRedKittyPurrs at 4:27 AM on June 25, 2011


Due to my HMO I delivered in a Catholic hospital. My mom admitted later she was a bit frightened that if anything went wrong they would save the baby first and worry about me later. This did not take place during the Medieval Ages, this took place during the 90's. I'm not saying that was/is their policy but the fact that an educated R.N. would think there was the slightest chance of that occurring is crazy.

Things I gave up during pregnancy: OTC medicine, caffeine, alcohol, sushi, hard exercise. What's the stance on caffeine these days?
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 4:41 AM on June 25, 2011


As a 12 year veteran of Catholic education, I feel obligated to accurately portray the views of the many kind and earnest people I have known who are actively and passionately against abortion. They deeply and truly believe that life is infinitely miraculous and that an eternal soul begins at the moment of conception, making it sacred and inviolable. Human life is believed to contain a divine spark, and that all humans are created in the image of an all-powerful, all-loving, benevolent God. None of this is considered figuratively, but as fundamental Truth as deeply and unquestioningly believed as the most self-evident scientific and mathematical axioms.

They literally believe that terminating a pregnancy is a conscious and willful act of spitting in the face of the Creator of the Universe. It doesn't get any worse than that.

My point is that the underlying motivations of much of the anti-abortion crowd are much less petty than "they hate women". For them, this a celestial battleground, and I have met several people who would willingly subject themselves to torture and death if it meant that abortion would end.


This is true for some people, but unfortunately, not for all of the anti-abortion crowd.

(I say unfortunately only because at least I can understand this viewpoint, and that the alternative viewpoint (control, etc.) is weird and gross.)
posted by gjc at 4:56 AM on June 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is the anger here that the punishment is too strong, or that it *shouldn't* be illegal to endanger a fetus?
posted by gjc at 5:21 AM on June 25, 2011


The argument here is that a woman's body is a woman's body and she gets to say what happens to it.
posted by Summer at 5:26 AM on June 25, 2011 [6 favorites]


"What's the stance on caffeine these days?"

They're just as happy if you give it up, but you're allowed 200 mg/day (in the US guidelines), which is 4 Diet Cokes and change, not that I counted. During my first pregnancy (2 years ago) it was 300 mg/day, which is 6 and a half Diet Cokes.

I only have one, two on a bad day, but I feel better knowing I COULD indulge in four of my bad habit if I wanted to. :) Feels less restrictive.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:33 AM on June 25, 2011


"They deeply and truly believe that life is infinitely miraculous and that an eternal soul begins at the moment of conception, making it sacred and inviolable. Human life is believed to contain a divine spark, and that all humans are created in the image of an all-powerful, all-loving, benevolent God. None of this is considered figuratively, but as fundamental Truth as deeply and unquestioningly believed as the most self-evident scientific and mathematical axioms."

Ten years of catholic school myself. If the Catholic church supported women who were keeping a fetus alive and needed a lot of supported to parent well getting the support she needed---- instead of pressuming it her duty to deliver the child to a financially better off two parent home--- I would understand this view completely (though still believe it should NOT be put into law).

I personally believe that I felt what was happening when I was in the womb. Like that my mother was in so much pain she had no ability to connect with me-- especially knowing she wouldn't get to keep me.

Drug exposed infants really do often face life consequences though thankfully not usually as often horrific as the scares. Brain development can however be affected and liver functioning, organ functioning, future cognitivive and emotional functioning can all be affected.

If this law were being made in good faith, out of compassion--- it would offer drug rehabilitation, financial support, and emotional support to women in pregnancies that are struggling. Despite that I personally believe that a fetus can feel, and that that SHOULD be taken into account, I can imagine scenarios in which a mercifally brief death could still have benefits over a lifetime of suffering and it's up to each woman to decide what she believes about all of it.. Until science becomes something it currently isn't and can tell us exactly how a fetus feels, it's mostly guess work at this point (when sensation develops, how strong such feelings are etc etc).

And of course, to me, using ability to sense as a measure is tricky because, how much do shrimp feel when thrown in a boiling pot? How much do chickens feel when being debeaked and eventually decapitated? How much do fish feel when dangling from a giant hook jammed through their mouths?

Sensation itself matters the most to me--- and is why I would hope people would try to choose abortion as early as possible and with reasons (vs who the fuck cares it's just a blob at any point in the pregnancy can't feel or doesn't matter even if it can feel). And I think people should be able to make their own choices about what they believe about all that just the same as we allow people to decide how to feel about current meat eating practices and animal treatment (also within limits).

the issue of person vs non-person really doesn't matter to me. If it can feel then it matters (and it has human DNA so it's really impossible to be anything other than human, any more than a new born is a human at one stage of development so is an embryo.) I pretty much can't think of any argument anyone has ever given for why eliminating a two week old embryo would cause more suffering than chopping up a carrot (WHICH IS ALIVE AND CAN FEEL SOMETHING I"M CERTAIN!)

I'm sort of unique in that I think chopping up carrots is sad. Which is why law policies shouldn't be made around my personal sentimental thinking. (Or anyones not scientifically validated emotional feelings.)
posted by xarnop at 6:06 AM on June 25, 2011


I love men; I love my partner more than anybody or anything, but it is news like this that makes me see red. I honestly believe that men should have absolutely zero say in the matter of pregnancy. I understand it is their children/future at stake but they should not be able to legislate on matters that will never apply to themselves.

You just cannot make up rules for one half of the population that does not apply to the other half.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 6:09 AM on June 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


I honestly believe that men should have absolutely zero say in the matter of pregnancy.

How would that actually work, practically speaking?
posted by unSane at 6:21 AM on June 25, 2011


unSane: that a woman wouldn't need her husband or the biological donor's permission or otherwise legally binding input to make decisions over whether or not to keep her pregnancy, what type of care she receives, or where she gives birth and how?

regarding the law intervening in pregnancy:
"Data on court-ordered obstetric interventions sug- gest that in almost one third of cases in which court authority was sought for a medical intervention, the medical judgment was wrong in retrospect." cited from Harris, L. (2000) "rethinking maternal-fetal conflict: gender and equality in pernatal ethics" Obstetrics & Gynecology.

the data is from:
Kolder VEB, Gallagher J, Parsons MT. Court-ordered obstetrical interventions. New England Journal of Medicine 1987;316:1192–6.

i'll research more when i continue to procrastinate other projects. ever had those hangovers where you couldn't sleep? ugh.
posted by circle_b at 6:40 AM on June 25, 2011


Eyebrows McGee : Because there's a tiny chance your (apparently weirdly incompetent) partner might blow into your vagina, and there's an infinitesimal chance you might then get an air embolism AND THEN YOU'D DIE.

I'd heard that one, but always taken it as something of an urban legend. Some amount of air can get up there naturally (thus the existence of the word "queef"), and I would expect that normal muscle movements just from waling, moving around, even sex, could force that air into places it aught not go with considerably more force than some moron exhaling.

Not to mention, the whole "air embolism" concept by itself counts as something of a misconception - For a venous air embolism (the only type you could conceivably get by blowing into the vagina), it takes a lot of air, enough to actually deprime the heart (on the order of 60-100ml+), to actually kill someone. Arterially, as low as 1-2ml can cause peripheral tissue damage, but won't cause death (though I suppose if you injected air directly into the carotid artery, you could effectively cause a fatal stroke - Not gonna happen accidentally, in any case).


unSane : How would that actually work, practically speaking?

I could see it as workable, except it would require one pesky little condition that women would scream bloody murder over... Absolve the male side of the equation of any financial responsibility in the matter.

Otherwise, you've started off by specifically violating Gravy's (quite valid, IMO) stated reasoning - "You just cannot make up rules for one half of the population that does not apply to the other half."
posted by pla at 6:43 AM on June 25, 2011


What I was specifically getting at is that unless you feel there should be no, zero, legislation involving pregnancy, how exactly do you enact legislation without men being allowed a vote?
posted by unSane at 6:56 AM on June 25, 2011


unSane: i might have misinterpreted you. like you mean in terms of the fact that men control the legislative system?

and yeah, i do think that legislation involving pregnancy sucks and i don't like it and don't want it.
it's not like we have legislation mandating treatment procedures and acceptable interventions for type II diabetes or congestive heart failure. or could we make some law like make it illegal for krispy kreme to sell to anyone with a medalert bracelet or maybe if someone comes in with diabetes complications we can charge them with felony self-endangerment, since they're trying to put themselves in an early grave. and if they do get pregnant, high blood sugars will have seriously negative impact on the developing fetus .. so we could just anticipate the fetal endangerment.
mm, donuts.

more random links:

the intersection of law and the criminal/penal system for pregnant women:
http://news.change.org/stories/woman-jailed-for-getting-pregnant-dies-from-medical-neglect

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10321/1103874-53.stm

shackling pregnant women is accepted practice for the penal system:
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/03/02/national/02shackles.html
posted by circle_b at 7:06 AM on June 25, 2011


like you mean in terms of the fact that men control the legislative system?

No I mean in terms of the fact that men have a vote.
posted by unSane at 7:12 AM on June 25, 2011


Unless you believe the the foetus/unborn child has no rights whatsoever up to the moment of birth, some kind of legislation is going to be necessary whether you like it or not.
posted by unSane at 7:14 AM on June 25, 2011


Unless you believe the the foetus/unborn child has no rights whatsoever up to the moment of birth

Which rights should a non-independent organism have?
posted by hippybear at 7:16 AM on June 25, 2011 [6 favorites]


My point is that the underlying motivations of much of the anti-abortion crowd are much less petty than "they hate women". For them, this a celestial battleground, and I have met several people who would willingly subject themselves to torture and death if it meant that abortion would end.

I don't doubt their sincerity for a moment. We've had enough anti-abortion terrorists to convince anyone of that.

But ultimately, being anti-abortion is all about controlling what women do with their own bodies, and people who respect and like women don't do that.

I think the exceptions rules frame it well. People who are anti-abortion who support exceptions in the case of rape, incest, and risk to the mother's health put the lie to the argument that abortion is murder. You don't commit murder to prevent someone else from suffering. By endorsing those exceptions, it makes it pretty clear that pregnancy is seen almost as a punishment for women. Those without some moral culpability in their pregnancies are given exceptions, and the punishment of unwanted pregnancies is limited to those who are seen as immoral and deserving of that punishment.

And those who don't support those exceptions would require 12 year old rape victims to continue their pregnancies and give birth to their rapists' offspring, which is just plain untenable.

Abortion is an often lifesaving medical procedure that needs to be available to women who want it, period. Anything less is unacceptable to anyone who believes that women are intelligent human beings with agency.
posted by ernielundquist at 7:17 AM on June 25, 2011 [12 favorites]


I think that's basically the impasse - I don't believe that they have rights up to the moment of birth... I think that sort of basic disagreement/philosophy is one of those things that stalls out a lot of discussions on this.
posted by circle_b at 7:18 AM on June 25, 2011


I could see it as workable, except it would require one pesky little condition that women would scream bloody murder over... Absolve the male side of the equation of any financial responsibility in the matter.


Hmm I don't know, you could maybe solve that apparent contradiction by accepting that pregnancy is the woman's full and exclusive dominion, since well it's happening to her, her body her mind her hormones and her inflatable vagina [good lord thanks so much for that mental image, metafilter!], whereas once a baby is actually born and out there in the world, maybe the interests of the child do come first, since, well, by then child IS actually out there and breathing on her own, yay, a full person in her own right, legally and all! and maybe it'd be better for a child to have 2 parents support her or him, and ideally not just financially, rather than just 1, at least, if 2 parents are around and available. Else 1 will do.

Amazing how that unexpectedly makes sense, no?

You see how that apparent contradiction is not really a contradiction after all?

(Although personally no I wouldn't scream bloody murder, but personally I'm lucky enough I'd be able to get enough support through family & state to raise a child on my own even if the father disappeared from the radar completely, and if it was the kind of father who disappeared voluntarily after knowingly conceiving a child, I wouldn't even want to pursue him for financial help, adios, good riddance, and if it was the kind of father who was an accidental mistake, even more so, but if I were to cast my vote on a law only based on my own personal situation that would not be so fair to the children of other women who are not so lucky to get sufficient state & family support to raise a child on their own. So there).
posted by bitteschoen at 7:20 AM on June 25, 2011 [6 favorites]


Shame they don't value the mother's life so highly.

This is not the Catholic Church's position.

A surgical procedure may be done to save a woman's life, even if it inevitably results in the death of a fetus, so long as life of the fetus isn't "directly" terminated. The Catholic Encyclopedia article on abortion goes into more detail:


Unfortunately some Catholic hospital administrators have misapplied this doctrine with terrible effect.
posted by blargerz at 7:20 AM on June 25, 2011


Catholic Encyclopedia
posted by blargerz at 7:22 AM on June 25, 2011


Which rights should a non-independent organism have?

Good question. My point is, unless your answer is 'none', you need legislation and either men get a vote, or you have to disenfranchise them somehow.

If your answer is none then presumably aborting a child one minute before birth is okay, but you would need to explain how that is different from murdering them a minute after birth.

If by independent you mean 'capable of surviving outside the womb' then you end up having to legislate for pregnant women.

My opinions don't come into this... it's just the logic of it.
posted by unSane at 7:34 AM on June 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Blagerz I can't link easily at the moment but all you have to do is Google Sister Margaret McBride who was excommunicated for allowing a lifesaving abortion at a Catholic hospital to see your few bad apples argument is wrong.
posted by emjaybee at 7:38 AM on June 25, 2011


bitteschoen : You see how that apparent contradiction is not really a contradiction after all?

Not so much.

I absolutely agree with you to the extent of: Her body, and at the end of the day, her choice. But if he doesn't want the kid and she won't abort, why should he have to pay to raise it? With the situations reversed, the woman has (more or less) absolute power to limit her own future burden as a result of reproduction. The man, not so much (and spare me the "don't have sex" line, because short of rape, it takes two to tango).

I unwaveringly support a woman's right to choose for herself. But if she chooses differently than her partner, she should bear the sole responsibility for that decision, including after birth, not just "go away for nine months, dear, then start sending the checks".
posted by pla at 7:42 AM on June 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hasn't all this been sorted out already though? Third trimester abortions are considered extreme measures and generally discouraged or even illegal. Before that the general consensus is that abortion should be available.

I'm not even sure what you mean by "legislate for pregnant women".

I just don't see what the discussion is about at this point. Some people think all abortion is wrong and they're misapplying laws intended to boost up the sentences of third parties who attack women who are pregnant to make the women themselves murderers. The majority of the country doesn't agree and is pretty okay with the "abortion freely available during the first two trimesters, less common in the third" way it's legislated in most places.

There's really no completely logical thread which has to be drawn through these issues. Many people who abhor the torture and killing of pet animals are content not knowing how the beef or eggs they eat all the time get to their table, and don't object to the practices even when they do find out.
posted by hippybear at 7:44 AM on June 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


I absolutely agree with you to the extent of: Her body, and at the end of the day, her choice. But if he doesn't want the kid and she won't abort, why should he have to pay to raise it? With the situations reversed, the woman has (more or less) absolute power to limit her own future burden as a result of reproduction. The man, not so much (and spare me the "don't have sex" line, because short of rape, it takes two to tango).

I unwaveringly support a woman's right to choose for herself. But if she chooses differently than her partner, she should bear the sole responsibility for that decision, including after birth, not just "go away for nine months, dear, then start sending the checks".


And if HE wants the kid and SHE doesn't, should he be allowed to bring her up on murder charges such as those suggested by the article in this FPP?
posted by hippybear at 7:46 AM on June 25, 2011


My ob/gyn told me, "No alcohol, at all, ever, that's the rule. Now, I myself had half a glass of wine once or twice a week if I felt like it when I was pregnant." She HAS to tell me no alcohol ever or her insurer will pitch fits.

Ah gosh. I still can't get my head round the idea of health insurers setting that kind of rules. And on top of that I come from Italy where doctors would be a lot less likely to say "no wine ever" and more like yeah one glass with a meal is no big deal. "Wine in moderation is good for you" is like a mantra among the medical profession in Italy - and in France, surprise surprise. In fact I think if they went round telling pregnant women to avoid wine altogether, they'd get sued for damages by the respective ministries of economy & finance...
Though back in my mother's days they would recommend beer instead (traitors!!) to pregnant women in the last months of the pregnancy, because apparently it promotes lactation. I'm one of those beer kids. My mum also kept smoking, moderately, even while pregnant. Should I sue her now?
posted by bitteschoen at 7:54 AM on June 25, 2011


Fear of child support is an argument for using a fucking condom, not for removing a woman's autonomy. Jesus. If you're so resentful of woman's ability to make decisions about getting pregnant then just do us all a favor and get snipped already.
posted by emjaybee at 7:59 AM on June 25, 2011 [19 favorites]


I could see it as workable, except it would require one pesky little condition that women would scream bloody murder over... Absolve the male side of the equation of any financial responsibility in the matter.

Otherwise, you've started off by specifically violating Gravy's (quite valid, IMO) stated reasoning - "You just cannot make up rules for one half of the population that does not apply to the other half."


Actually, pla, since what I believe Secret Life of Gravy is saying is that there should not be laws restricting the behavior of pregnant people because only 50% of the population can be pregnant, with that clarification I will cede your request that men not be financially responsible for any costs associated with pregnancy (be it termination, prenatal care, etc.).

However, since 100% of the population is capable of being parents, restrictions on child-support need not apply.
posted by philotes at 8:00 AM on June 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


pla- that's a pretty good point. It's really upsetting to me when men use this argument on a woman who is choosing parenting "Well my choice is abortion, so I think morally I have no obligation to the child."

However DO think it's really not humane to discount the fathers perspective entirely. I think it should matter, but again, how do you legislate what should happen when they disagree? I feel like really it should be handled the way child custody is-- IDEALLY the two parties will discuss and listen to each other and create a plan of action they are both ok with----- however when they can't---

....?

The reality is--- the ability to abort HAS lead to men feeling less obligated to be there for children as an act of punishment to the mother for choosing to give birth.

It of course punishes the child as well.

Honestly-- because I don't know many (any?) far right people--- the people I know actually seem more full of animousity for a woman who chooses to give birth in a difficult situation.

I recognize this is the logical result of firmly believing that abortion is nothing more than a surgical procedure and women who give birth when the father doesn't want to parent are in fact morally wrong.

I do wonder how abortion access has actually harmed the willingness to assist women who choose to carry to term: both from fathers and from liberals who otherwise would have wanted to support such mothers.
posted by xarnop at 8:17 AM on June 25, 2011


Blagerz I can't link easily at the moment but all you have to do is Google Sister Margaret McBride who was excommunicated for allowing a lifesaving abortion at a Catholic hospital to see your few bad apples argument is wrong.

In the eyes of the Church, the wrongdoing of Sr. McBride was twofold: she authrorized an abortion, that is, a direct termination of the fetus' life. If instead she had authorized a surgical intact removal of the fetus, allowing it to expire "naturally", her culpability would have decreased substantially. Also, based on the innuendo of the bishop's statement, and a follow-up press release, there was question as to whether all alternatives were exhausted, and if the decision was made prematurely to "do-or-die" time.

Many people don't realize the Catholic Church is run by lawyers, and nuance matters greatly to them.
posted by blargerz at 8:33 AM on June 25, 2011


I doubt abortion access has changed anything fathers' feeling of obligations towards children. It's not like fathers weren't abandoning responsibilities to children in previous eras, after all. I can't get the mindset of someone who decides to prosecute a woman after a miscarriage. Even if a woman has taken risks and caused it, it's still incredibly traumatic for most women. Swooping down on her and adding to that is vicious beyond belief.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 9:03 AM on June 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm familiar with Catholicism; my spouse was raised in the Catholic church and I was married in it, though I refused to convert. I gave it the old college try, too, taking classes in the foundations of the faith--and after hearing all the anti-women policies that are entwined in the very fabric of the faith, I went from respect for the beliefs of others to incredulity that Catholic women accept their second-rate status as a given. Catholic women can become nuns, but they can never officiate ceremonies or marry people; a woman could never become a priest and there could never be a female pope. Women cannot use birth control except the rhythm method (which is not feasible, reliable or effective for most women), and when they inevitably become pregnant, women cannot have abortions (a priest actually said to me that the abortions in America were on the same level of evil as the Holocaust). Women must raise their children in the Catholic church. If a Catholic woman marries a man of another faith in his church, her children are illegitimate in the eyes of the Catholic church. It just goes on and on.

But ultimately, being anti-abortion is all about controlling what women.

QFMFT. If we really wanted healthy young women to have healthy pregnancies, or not become pregnant when they were not ready to have children, we would make birth control and sex education and prenatal care the top priority in the U.S., rather than focusing on legislating 'punishment' once a woman is pregnant and chooses behaviors we may not agree with.

If we taught sex education as an accepted part of the curriculum from an early age; if birth control and sterilization, for men and for women, were covered by a universal health plan; if the best prenatal care was available to women regardless of income, and if women held equal positions in our legislative system, than we would be walking the talk that we are pro 'life', as opposed to anti-women, which is what the 'pro-life' movement really is.
posted by misha at 9:26 AM on June 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


Excommunication of Mary McBride.

In the eyes of the Church, the wrongdoing of Sr. McBride was twofold: she authrorized an abortion, that is, a direct termination of the fetus' life. If instead she had authorized a surgical intact removal of the fetus, allowing it to expire "naturally", her culpability would have decreased substantially. Also, based on the innuendo of the bishop's statement, and a follow-up press release, there was question as to whether all alternatives were exhausted, and if the decision was made prematurely to "do-or-die" time.

What alternatives? The fetus was 11 weeks. There was never any chance of survival.

Abortion is a much lower-complication procedure than c/section, which is what you are suggesting should have been done. I've had a c/section; it's not minor surgery. If I had been already compromised by suffering from pulmonary hypertension, I certainly would have wanted my doctor to take the lowest-risk approach to ending my pregnancy.

What you are in effect saying, as the Church said, is that, forever and always, a fetus is worth more than the woman carrying it; even if it could kill or injure her permanently, even if it could orphan her already-born children and rob her friends and family of her presence, she is still less important than the fetus, even a fetus with no chance of survival.

That is not only a monstrously unethical view, it has no place in the civil laws of a non-theocratic society, or in the allowable medical practices of that society.

And yes; it is misogynistic. Profoundly so. There is no comparable risk or penalty for men to having sex. Which is also why my sympathy for men afraid of child support, and using that fear to argue for restricting women, is nonexistent. Use a condom, get a vasectomy, fight for better male contraception if you're so afraid. Restricting half of humanity to less than equal status instead of taking responsibility for your own role in procreation is not acceptable.
posted by emjaybee at 9:26 AM on June 25, 2011 [13 favorites]


Use a condom, get a vasectomy, fight for better male contraception if you're so afraid.

Another option, of course, is to keep it in your pants. Personal responsibility and all. Women are so used to hearing "keep your legs shut" that it hardly seems strange to hear it - as if we're the only ones making the decision of have sex; as if what's between our legs wields such immense power that men are rendered incapable of reason or self-control. Which, you know, if bullshit. So if men don't want to be at the mercy of some conniving woman who will trap them into paying child support (a great way to get rich, lemme tell you!), snip it or zip it.
posted by rtha at 9:44 AM on June 25, 2011 [6 favorites]


hippybear : And if HE wants the kid and SHE doesn't, should he be allowed to bring her up on murder charges such as those suggested by the article in this FPP?

Though I don't really "feel" good about it, I would have to accept that as a reasonably disparity in the situation. He may want it, but he doesn't have to endure something growing inside him for 3/4ths of a year. So on that one, I would defer to the female's choice without any symmetric concession to the male (though I would certainly listen to anyone who can think of a good way to make that fair to both sides).


philotes : I believe Secret Life of Gravy is saying is that there should not be laws restricting the behavior of pregnant people because only 50% of the population can be pregnant, with that clarification I will cede your request that men not be financially responsible for any costs associated with pregnancy (be it termination, prenatal care, etc.).

Okay, I apparently took it too broadly, then. Limited to the domain of law, I agree. I would, though, allow for the state to seek to recover damages for needing to support a genetically-healthy child damaged by the mother's (or fathers, though I realize that has few applicable circumstances) behavior during the pregnancy.

I wouldn't absolve the father of the termination costs, however... Of any expenses involved, that one I think the guy should have to share.


rtha : So if men don't want to be at the mercy of some conniving woman who will trap them into paying child support

I thought we'd done pretty well, so far, at keeping the specious "misogyny under every rock" crap out of this discussion. Don't spoil that, please.
posted by pla at 9:52 AM on June 25, 2011


So, pla, if a mother concieves a child and brings it into the world-- you think that morally a father shouldn't have any financial or emotional duty to the child? There is one thing the government can never provide a child--- a father.

Do you think the fathers disdain for the womans choice to bear the child justifies his abandonment of his own child? The child should be punished for the mothers decision?
posted by xarnop at 10:05 AM on June 25, 2011


xarnop : Do you think the fathers disdain for the womans choice to bear the child justifies his abandonment of his own child?

Yes. Because in that situation, no "father" exists. You have a sperm donor, and a mother.


The child should be punished for the mothers decision?

As you point out, the government can't provide a father; Forcing someone to pay for the mother's poor decision doesn't change that, it just means the kid gets to start life with at least one person that resents its very existence.
posted by pla at 10:24 AM on June 25, 2011


If hypothetically (and possibly not so hypothetically the way things are going)--- abortion were illegal--- would you see the father as having moral/legal responsability to financially and emotionally support the child?

And how is the child actually more or less worthy of paternal involvement and support in either scenario? You're justifying punishing children based on a maternal decision that really bears no relation to the child deserving it's own father or not.

If children don't really need fathers, then there is no reason to require fathers to ever be involved at all. You're acting like paternal involvement is done FOR THE MOTHER, so therefore can be with-held to punish a mother when in fact it's done, for the child. And inasmuch punishes the child rather than the mother when carried out.

I get being angry at a woman who chooses to give birth when the man wants abortion (so long as it's an emotion and not an action carried out as abuse/violence/rage on another person)-- I don't however get causing suffering to the child as being justified.
posted by xarnop at 10:31 AM on June 25, 2011


Unless you believe the the foetus/unborn child has no rights whatsoever up to the moment of birth

Which rights should a non-independent organism have?
posted by hippybear at 10:16 AM on June 25 [2 favorites +] [!]


Excellent question, but the fact that the fetus is non-independent is not the reason it has no rights. Otherwise, why would non-independent humans outside the womb have rights?
posted by pecanpies at 10:40 AM on June 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also-- how does a man's descision to engage in reproductive coersion (emotionally badgering a woman into sex without a condom) factor into your proposed mentallity? How does sexual exploitation, coersive sex, and emotionally manipulative sex towards a reluctant, hesitant, withdrawn woman who does not want to have sex because she is not on birth control and the guy is refusing to put on a condom, factor into that?

Women don't gain anything from not using a condom. Unless there is an allergy or problem with lubrication (which can be solved by using lube) the woman has nothing to gain from a guy pushing sex without a condom.

If an adult male finds some woman who is clearly exploitable and pushes this kind of sex on her--- does he have any responsability to the offspring his actions were clearly responsible for creating? Sure he can get mad she doesn't want an abortion afterwards-- but why the hell would you be pushing for unprotected sex with someone who you haven't even discussed feelings about abortion with?

And let's say her decision to give birth IS harmful to the child--- he enabled and facilitated a woman who is incapable of making healthy decisions for her child (by his thinking).

If anything his responsability and duty to protect the child from her harmful behavior should INCREASE.
posted by xarnop at 10:42 AM on June 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Women don't gain anything from not using a condom.

What? That's pretty much the opposite of what I've been told and have experienced.
posted by ODiV at 11:28 AM on June 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Abortion is a much lower-complication procedure than c/section, which is what you are suggesting should have been done. I've had a c/section; it's not minor surgery. If I had been already compromised by suffering from pulmonary hypertension, I certainly would have wanted my doctor to take the lowest-risk approach to ending my pregnancy.

"Risk of harm/death" is a serious consideration in the eyes of the Church. Nevertheless, to intentionally cause death to one human is fundamentally more morally serious than to elevate risk of death in another.

And yes; it is misogynistic. Profoundly so. There is no comparable risk or penalty for men to having sex.

The Church's admonition against abortion makes no distinction to the gender of the responsible party(ies). When a Catholic man on an ethics board at a hospital recommends abortion, he is excommunicated; if a man is an abortion doctor, he is excommunicated; if a man kills his wife's unborn child, he is excommunicated. Just because a moral issue happens to always involve at least one woman, does not indicate that the rules governing that issue are borne of institutional hatred of women. It just doesn't follow.
posted by blargerz at 11:30 AM on June 25, 2011


I thought we'd done pretty well, so far, at keeping the specious "misogyny under every rock" crap out of this discussion. Don't spoil that, please.

What? Is "women deceive men [about use of birth control] in order to trap them" some unheard of thing?
posted by rtha at 11:31 AM on June 25, 2011


We're bringing up a lot of hypothetical situations here. For what it's worth, I don't think pla is saying he wants a child to suffer OR that he wants men to be able to coerce women into having abortions /not having abortions.

I think the point he is making is that it is not fair that women can choose, independently of the father, to have a child, and still father is held half responsible, financially and legally, for the outcome: a child to raise.

And that's valid, but it is also a--how do I put this?--an immature or at least naive argument. Biology is not 'fair' or 'unfair'. It just is. Women give birth to children, men do not. Therefore, women control the means for their bodies not to conceive a child, or to abort one, because they control their own anatomy.

Before conception, a man does have some ability to choose not to conceive, also. But his options are fewer at this moment in time. He can pretty much abstain, use a condom, or have a vasectomy. But after conception, biologically, his role is done.

And tthis is no surprise to anyone. A man and woman know this, going in, and they make their choices, including using contraception which is not guaranteed 100%.

So, let's say a man used a condom and a woman became pregnant anyway. Can he feel unhappy, or want her to have an abortion? Of course. Feelings are valid. But bologically, she controls the process from here on out. And if our community values individual rights, as ours purportedly does, the woman has a right to decide what happens to her body.

So maybe she decides to proceed and has a baby. Now, we have a new little person in a community, and, again, if our community values the individual, as ours purportedly does, that new little person has to be taken into account as an individual.

And now societal factors come into play. Because our society takes it as a given that the progeny of two biological parents is the shared responsibility of each (unless one or both of them are deemed unfit), the father is expected to help support that new little person.

The abortion issue really needs to be considered separately from the child support issue not because a man's feelings are unimportant when we discuss abortion, but because he is biologically irrelevant at the point when abortion is even an issue.
posted by misha at 12:11 PM on June 25, 2011 [5 favorites]


xarnop : If hypothetically (and possibly not so hypothetically the way things are going)--- abortion were illegal--- would you see the father as having moral/legal responsability to financially and emotionally support the child?

Yes. Because in that situation, the mother hasn't chosen to keep it despite the father's objections.


And how is the child actually more or less worthy of paternal involvement and support in either scenario?

The child has nothing to do with it until it pops out.


You're acting like paternal involvement is done FOR THE MOTHER

No. Having a father means having a loving, supportive male role-model in the child's life. Most people, of both genders, want to take on that responsibility at some point in their lives. And when both partners want to keep it, I wish them the best.

When, however, one parent outright doesn't want to keep it, and the other has the power to force the decision, I consider that the sole responsibility of the one making the decision to bring another human into the world.

If it helps see my perspective, let's say the father wants to keep it, the mother doesn't, but the mother agrees to carry it to term with the understanding that she'll have nothing to do with the kid after birth; I would repeat my original stance, with the genders reversed - The father should have to pay everything, period, and we should absolve the mother of any financial responsibility whatsoever.


How does sexual exploitation, coersive sex, and emotionally manipulative sex towards a reluctant, hesitant, withdrawn woman who does not want to have sex because she is not on birth control and the guy is refusing to put on a condom, factor into that?

Bringing rape into the picture totally changes everything. I've meant everything I said so far only in the context of consensual sex, and further, consensual sex not explicitly intended for reproductive purposes (so no saying "let's form babby" and then wanting a do-over after the fact, either).



rtha : What? Is "women deceive men [about use of birth control] in order to trap them" some unheard of thing?

My apologies, if you really meant to bring that to the table - I took it as pure sarcasm, mea culpa.


misha : The abortion issue really needs to be considered separately from the child support issue not because a man's feelings are unimportant when we discuss abortion, but because he is biologically irrelevant at the point when abortion is even an issue.

I agree that he has become biologically irrelevant, but I don't think we can separate the two from the perspective of financial responsibility - And I especially don't think we can then bring social expectations back into it nine months later; If you want to go that route, then why shouldn't the father have the right to "force" the woman to carry to term (a position I find personally abhorrent, BTW)? Social expectations say that doin' the deed can lead to a child, that society then "expects" you to raise. Abortion provides a relatively safe, cheap alternative to doing so, but even in the hardest-core pro-choice circles, you don't exactly see people bragging about it, precisely because it violates social expectations.
posted by pla at 12:42 PM on June 25, 2011


When, however, one parent outright doesn't want to keep it, and the other has the power to force the decision, I consider that the sole responsibility of the one making the decision to bring another human into the world.

The obligation is to the child. Neither parent can (or should) be able to waive the other's responsibility in this.
posted by ODiV at 1:08 PM on June 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


There are situations where parents are unfit and if the father or mother or both are incapable or completely opposed to parenting, abortion or adoption are really the only two possibilities around this.

There are situations where I've seen a father take over for an unfit mother, or a mother take over for an unfit father--- but the desireable outcome for the child is that a parent dealing with issues that prevent them from parenting will work on those issues and take over their role if/when possible.

Saying "I don't feel like it" might make someone unfit-- but it's an issue a parent should ideally work through if possible and find a headspace where they can love their child and see the human being in front of them that needs love. Because ultimately children are more important than parents "not feeling like it".

And yes, it is actually possible for people who initially have apprehension about becoming parents to work through their feelings and instead of focusing on their own feelings, focus their attention on loving their child.

Many women feel overwhelmed and disconnected during pregnancy and even after birth despite thinking they "should" automatically be filled with love. Fathers sometimes have to actively develop and cultivate such feelings as well. Sometimes people have to reach inside and spend time creating, cultivating and developing the kind of love kids need.

It can be hard work, but the kids are worth it.
posted by xarnop at 1:25 PM on June 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


ODiV : The obligation is to the child. Neither parent can (or should) be able to waive the other's responsibility in this.
xarnop : It can be hard work, but the kids are worth it.

This entire topic centers around curing the problem of accidental pregnancy. Not "golly, I don't know if I'll make a good parent", but the accidental creation of a potential human that at least one partner really really doesn't want. Whether or not you personally consider it "worth it", while perhaps a noble stance on its own, doesn't really matter here; talking about someone who does not have any interesting in exploring that possibility.

You gave me a hypothetical, and I answered in good faith. So now consider the reality, the non-hypothetical... Given that we currently have abortion as an option, and given two partners who irreconcilably disagree over whether or not to have one, do we consider it acceptable to just defer exclusively to the mother's wishes? And not asking about a three-way vote here, just two people, one with the physical power to force the decision.

I've answered that question as "no, not okay, but I'd accept a compromise". Because as I see it, answering "yes" leads to the entire issue that sparked this discussion, namely, the father (or worse, the state) having some "rights" to force a woman to carry, and to force certain standards of behavior on her while pregnant.

I've already said I consider that last part abhorrent, but it does follow as a realistic consequence of accepting that one side can force the decision on the other.
posted by pla at 1:51 PM on June 25, 2011


No, it doesn't follow. Not remotely. All this shit follows from the exact opposite: the outright refusal to accept that women have the right to do what they want with their bodies.

I don't see how what you're offering is a compromise. As long as men have the option of not supporting their offspring, they won't try to take away your autonomy? Yeah, that sounds fair.

Both parents must support their offspring. A woman has an option that a man doesn't before there is offspring to support because of biology, but that does not change anyone's responsibility once an actual child exists.
posted by ODiV at 2:11 PM on June 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Let me change "worth it" to what I meant: worthy of it.

The kids deserve it. It's really not about whether the parent finds it worth it. Kids needs for parents trump parents feelings of wanting or not wanting to care.

If you have a child that exists, you try to find a way to care. If you miserably fail in a way that could harm the child CPS can come and try to pick up your mess, but the aftermath of that failure on the child is going to be horrific and the parent in questions feelings mean almost nothing compared what the child will feel as a result of that.

If a mother were in a place where abortion was not possible, she would have the same obligation. Even if she was raped and wound up with a living child. If she fails despite trying CPS can try to pick up the mess--- but hard luck stuff happening to a parent does not justify refraining from loving a child or abandoning them.

I DO understand that life can destroy peoples ability to care for their children. When that happens, it's not ones fault and I understand. But being so destroyed you can't care for your child is a very different situation than "having no interest in caring about the well being of your child."
posted by xarnop at 2:26 PM on June 25, 2011


I will add more in line with the original post: The best way to deal with struggling parents is to.... help them.

Punishing struggling people is the most counterintuitive direction to go. Creating ridiculously high parenting standards and punishing all who fail sounds like a great way to make parents AND kids lives miserable.
posted by xarnop at 4:03 PM on June 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


At the root, the "unfairness" of women getting to decide to abort a pregnancy or not, irrespective of the man's wishes, is like putting a penny on one side of the scale; the other side of the scale contains, oh, let's say 20 tons of gold bullion.

Having to pay child support doesn't have the potential to kill you; it certainly never requires you to hook another organism into your vital organs for nine months. It doesn't require you to give birth, which is a non-trivial physical process which again, can sometimes kill you. Or injure you. Would you like to see photos of my c/s scar? Be glad to send those your way if you need convincing.

So no; you don't get a say. Your best bet, as a dude afraid of creating a kid who might need some fraction of your time and/or money, is to abstain from PIV sex, to get a vasectomy, or to grow the fuck up and accept that life is full of risks and if child support (which, unlike death or injury, is not forever) is the biggest risk you face, you are a lucky sonofabitch.
posted by emjaybee at 4:14 PM on June 25, 2011 [6 favorites]


The Church's admonition against abortion makes no distinction to the gender of the responsible party(ies). When a Catholic man on an ethics board at a hospital recommends abortion, he is excommunicated; if a man is an abortion doctor, he is excommunicated; if a man kills his wife's unborn child, he is excommunicated. Just because a moral issue happens to always involve at least one woman, does not indicate that the rules governing that issue are borne of institutional hatred of women. It just doesn't follow.

It's not the excommunication that's deeply anti-woman. It's that the Catholic church doesn't care about the health of the woman. The fact that there is ALWAYS a woman involved who has HER health and life on the line? That is exactly the point. It's not about the gender of the abortion provider. A c-section is major abdominal surgery that requires cutting through your abdominal walls and muscles. It can cripple women for life. If the fetus is going to die either way (and let's be clear, 11 week old fetuses can't survive outside of a uterus) why would you subject the woman to that if you *actually* cared about her health and well being? The fact that a man can be excommunicated for providing abortion is completely aside from the main point.
posted by stoneweaver at 5:09 PM on June 25, 2011


As you point out, the government can't provide a father; Forcing someone to pay for the mother's poor decision doesn't change that, it just means the kid gets to start life with at least one person that resents its very existence.

This may shock the naive, but money is actually a very important part of child-rearing.
posted by palliser at 5:12 PM on June 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


Also I didn't just "go throwing rape into it". Reproductive coersion is highly correlated with unintented pregnancy-- my point being a lot of guys ARE pressuring women into unprotected sex or even sex intentionally without any form of birth control.



"Fifty-three percent of respondents reported physical or sexual partner violence, 19% reported experiencing pregnancy coercion, and 15% reported birth control sabotage. One third of respondents reporting partner violence (35%) also reported reproductive control. Both pregnancy coercion and birth control sabotage were associated with unintended pregnancy (AOR 1.83, 95% CI 1.36, 2.46, and AOR 1.58, 95% CI 1.14, 2.20, respectively). In analyses stratified by partner violence exposure, associations of reproductive control with unintended pregnancy persisted only among women with a history of partner violence."

"Moreover, mounting evidence that unintended pregnancy occurs more commonly in abusive relationships highlights that victimized women face compromised decision-making regarding contraceptive use and family planning, including condom use [17–22]. Forced sex, fear of violence if she refuses sex, and difficulties negotiating contraception and condom use in the context of an abusive relationship all contribute to increased risk for unintended pregnancy and STIs"
posted by xarnop at 5:38 PM on June 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


It's that the Catholic church doesn't care about the health of the woman.

No, it's that the Church thinks "killing someone" (abortion) is worse than causing someone pain and potential complications (C-Section). To take the argument all the way, you are right in the respect that the life of the fetus, insofar as it is able to be protected, trumps the health/pain/well-being of the mother. Only when the mother is going to die and there are no alternatives does the "surgical option" become morally permissible.

There is no debate that the end result of the abortion and the c/s is the same, concerning the life of the fetus. This makes the Church's position vulnerable to criticism and debate. But to say that the Church doesn't care about the health of the woman, while thankfully not as strong as the previous contention that it "hates women", is still lacking nuance. It does care, but not as much as it cares about "not killing". While this undoubtedly is unacceptable to many, remember that in the Judeo-Christian tradition, "Thou Shalt Not Kill" is a central admonition believed to come directly from God; "First, Do No Harm" is not.
posted by blargerz at 6:57 PM on June 25, 2011


"Judeo-Christian" is a term made and used by Christians. Just own it. Don't drag us Jews into it and pretend to speak for us. We are a profoundly different tradition. Really, though. Don't even call it Christian. Call it Catholic, because that's what it is. All Christians are not Catholics and Judaism is a totally different thing.
posted by stoneweaver at 7:23 PM on June 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


Jewish doctrine on abortion: allowable, even required, when the life of the mother is at stake. (emphasis mine)

Seriously, don't even start dragging Jews into your interpretation of this. You really, really don't know what you're talking about.
posted by stoneweaver at 7:28 PM on June 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


Actually, that passage is so short, I'm just gonna go ahead and reproduce it here:
Given that abortion does not equate to murder - in the case of threat to the mother's life, abortion becomes a requirement:

Since the mother is not allowed to choose suicide, abortion in that extreme case becomes mandatory. This is the sense of the fundamental passage in the Talmud bearing on the subject. The Mishna (Oholot 7,6) puts it this way:

"If a woman has [life-threatening] difficulty in childbirth, the embryo within her must be dismembered limb by limb [if necessary], because her life [hayyeha] takes precedence over its life [yayyav]. Once its head (or its greater part) has emerged, it may not be touched, for we may not set aside one life [nefesh] for another."

The justification for abortion then is that before the child emerges we do not yet have a nefesh. The life of the fetus is only potential, and that cannot compete with actual human life. (84-85)
posted by stoneweaver at 7:30 PM on June 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


Fair enough, I didn't consider that term was objectionable. I meant the Bible, which of course is borne of Jewish roots, but interpreted through the lens of centuries of Christian thought.
posted by blargerz at 7:51 PM on June 25, 2011


Well now that you know, I sincerely hope that you will never use it again. It's not just objectionable, it's flat out false and a constant frustration to most Jews that I know. Jews are not Christian Light; we've got a completely different thing going on. Representing anything as "Judeo-Christian" is, at best, vastly misleading.
posted by stoneweaver at 8:55 PM on June 25, 2011


And it needs to be said; I do not care even the tiniest bit about the religious knots anti-abortion types tie themselves into to avoid having to acknowledge the status of the fetus as a contingent being, despite the blunt medical facts staring them in the face. I don't care what nice language they use to themselves, dreaming of saved babies which exist largely (especially in the case of a day-old blastocyst) in fevered imaginations which have not progressed beyond ideas last considered accurate in 1695.

I care about the results of their activism. And the results of their activism is that women die; that they are injured; that they are downgraded to a lower class of citizen, one without full rights over their own bodies; that they are denied necessary medical care because of religious ideas that they do not hold, that should have no bearing in a country built on secular foundations or in ethical medical treatment. It is outrageous that a secular country will hold citizen's lives and health hostage to a fringe religious viewpoint that believes day-old fertilized eggs are people.

In addition, those unwanted children who are born come with the enormous price tag of money, time and physical risk that every child brings with it, and yet at the same time the churches and their allies are demanding the right to put women into this situation, they simultaneously consistently work to undermine and deny her any support in bringing up this child.

And then they offer to adopt out her baby (well, if it's white and non-disabled anyway) thus completing her demotion from person to a mere coerced uterus which fulfills the dreams of those more deserving.

Women already die from illegal abortions; if abortion becomes completely illegal, those death rates will shoot up. So will the illegal market for abortion-causing drugs. So will suicides.

But none of that matters or will matter to those holding close the dream of themselves as heroes saving imaginary tiny babies while steadfastly ignoring the needs of actual living breathing people who already standing in front of them, who have dreams, and souls, and families, and loved ones.

Because those people are only women, so they aren't really people at all.
posted by emjaybee at 9:43 PM on June 25, 2011 [7 favorites]


Well now that you know, I sincerely hope that you will never use it again. It's not just objectionable, it's flat out false and a constant frustration to most Jews that I know. Jews are not Christian Light; we've got a completely different thing going on. Representing anything as "Judeo-Christian" is, at best, vastly misleading.

In the contexts I have seen it used, it is a phrase that serves no other purpose than to acknowledge the deep history of Christianity, not to imply sameness or even similarity in teaching, doctrine, experience or perspective, nor any alignment of interests. Anyone who would use it with that intention would be obviously incorrect, and I am surprised it to be interpreted in that sense among present-day Jews. It indicates a need for more frequent and honest cross-religious communication.
posted by blargerz at 10:13 PM on June 25, 2011


I would submit that although people may be trying to say something about Christianity, they're tying it to Judaism to try to give it more weight. And Christian thought is so radically different from Jewish thought that saying Christianity has deep history in Judaism is vaguely accurate, but very misleading. It has historical roots, but not theological roots, which is the sense in which the word "Judeo-Christian" gets used. Look at how you used it. You used it to claim something about "Judeo-Christian tradition" when you really just meant something about Christian tradition. Jewish tradition has nothing to do with it, and is in fact completely the opposite. You can see how it would be very frustrating to have to constantly say "Well, actually, Jews really don't believe that at all." You know why I have to have that conversation all the time? Because people use the phrase Judeo-Christian and spread the false belief that just because Christians trace their history back to Jews that they understand and believe the same things as Jews. To Christians it may serve to acknowledge some deep history or whatever, but it's a really false belief. Christians believe that they have a shared tradition with Jews. The inverse is not true. Christians took a religious text, completely and totally reinterpreted it until it had very little relationship to the original meaning.

It's not Jews that are misinterpreting the phrase "Judeo-Christian." We're really very clear about the fact that the traditions are not married in the way Christians think they are. It's a way Christians try and legitimize their interpretation of their Bible by dragging Judaism into it. If you're really interested in "cross-religious" communication, I'd start by dropping that phrase from your vocabulary with haste. Judeo Christian is a phrase that's best to avoid.

This is completely off the topic of the FPP, and after this I'm bowing out of the thread. You're welcome to email me, but I don't think we should continue this here.
posted by stoneweaver at 11:32 PM on June 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


ODiV :Both parents must support their offspring.

"Look, this isn't an argument."
"Yes it is."
"No it isn't. It's just contradiction."
"No it isn't."
"It is!"
"It is not. Look, you just contradicted me."
"I did not."

You seem seriously dedicated to ignoring the reality that no, a father does not need to act like a father, and no law can ever make that so. Nor, for that matter, does a mother. At most, we can use the threat of government force to financially ruin the non-compliant partner.

So should I presume from your responses so far that you hold a pro-life stance? I honestly hadn't considered that until now, I just took it as a given that The Blue would have a nearly ubiquitous pro-choice population.


xarnop : The kids deserve it. It's really not about whether the parent finds it worth it.

Et tu, Xarnop?

Look guys, you probably should have disclosed your stance on abortion going into this debate, because I wouldn't have bothered engaging you on this if I had known you flatly reject the premise that abortion exists as an option.


Also I didn't just "go throwing rape into it". Reproductive coersion is highly correlated with unintented pregnancy-- my point being a lot of guys ARE pressuring women into unprotected sex or even sex intentionally without any form of birth control.

And as I said, I consider that an entirely different topic. As soon as we move away from two people deciding, of their own free will, how to proceed, the rules change drastically. In the case of male-on-female rape, I would give the mother the absolute choice and make the father pay for it, every penny and with no rights whatsoever conveyed, either way the woman chooses. I would say the same for female-on-male rape, even though that violates her "autonomy", because she gave that right up in violating his.

As for whether to lump the various levels of coercion under "rape", I'd leave that one to the courts.


emjaybee : Having to pay child support doesn't have the potential to kill you

And bungee-jumping does - Except, choosing to go bungee-jumping doesn't destroy someone else's life.
posted by pla at 7:30 AM on June 26, 2011


It's not fair that a man only gets to decide until conception, and a woman gets to decide until birth. It's also not fair that a man only has to ejaculate, and a woman has to undergo 9 months of intense and risky bodily changes with risks of life long permanent effects.

There's no good way to use law to 'make up' for that unfairness. I can think of lots of not so good ways and plenty of silly ones, but bottom line the best we can do is to protect the individual's right to bodily autonomy: the right to have and not to have sex, the right to use and not to use birth control, and the right to have or not have an abortion.

The paper abortion stuff is senseless, anyway.

What happens if a man signs away his fatherhood, and then one day he changes his mind and wants to see and parent the living child? Should the child's mother/other parent not be allowed to let him? What if by then the child is over eighteen? Should the child itself not be allowed to interact with him? Or never be allowed to know who his 'sperm donor' even was, and vice versa? Should all the man's living relatives be prohibited from any contact with the child and knowing the childn's identity? Should the man instantly be on the hook for 18 years of child support if he so much lays eyes on this child (because with a real abortion, that could never happen?). Or only if he ever speaks to the child? What if he looks him up and gets a thrill of pride at the child's accomplishments, twenty years later? Would you really want to discourage men who change their mind about being involved with their children's lives with the threat of reinstating child support payments?

It's a poorly thought out idea. I've never heard of a sensible way of executing it, even if it weren't silly in and of itself.
posted by Salamandrous at 8:52 AM on June 26, 2011


Pla--- I didn't lable the various forms of coercion as rape. I don't see it as a binary situation. If on one hand a form of coercion is "rape" and the father has to pay a buttload of money etc, and on the other hand a similar form of coercion is "not rape" and he has ZERO responsability then you would think the difference between "rape" and "not rape" would be some huge obvious difference.

The reality is, males are expected to initiate and push women into sex that they don't want. Hence the idea of "scoring". If the guy convinces her to have sex, he wins. It's a battle that among "ethical" people is won by sheer psychological maneuvering. The line between rape and not rape is gray because it's a matter of degree of maneuvering with some degree of maneuvering being expected and some degree being rape.

I am pro-choice since you asked. Being the product of a teenage drug addict who chose to give birth to me, I defend a woman's choice to give birth when she chooses, even if the situation is difficult. But note I say "a woman's choice". I defend a woman's right to choose her prefered outcome: EVEN IF THAT MEANS GIVE BIRTH WHEN THINGS ARE HARD. Something liberals can often be quite judgemental and cruel about. (And even if it's abortion.) My mothers experience of giving birth to me and then losing me was extremely painful, and I think being int he womb of someone in a great deal of pain affected me. I understand why some people would feel the humane thing to do would be abortion. I respect that it's very personal and situational for most people; whether and when abortion is appropriate.

Yes I personally believe a fetus can feel and I actually prefer the outcome of the being getting to live. However life is infinately complex and I don't expect others to share my view and even despite feeling that thereis a life that matters present in the womb-- I still can see how some would find situations where abortion would seem more merciful to the mother and even at times to the "child" in question. This is why each woman has to wiegh her own beliefs about all of these factors and make her own decision about it. I think the potential fathers feelings should be weighed into the equation, but it gets tricky legislating what his involvement should be in a legal sense. As it stands, fathers can block the adoption of their children to another couple even if the mother wants to place the child. This is something that is difficult for fathers to do and their legal rights are often violated in adoption situations.

But basically pla-- you realize that your own position is not actually pro-choice.

It's pro-abortion. You don't want to give women the option of giving birth to the child, because you're willing to punish the child for the mothers decision to give birth. You can't understand why a woman would connect to a being inside her and feel that she wants that being to come into the world even if the timing sucks--- so you're willing to say, "Well fine she can do that stupid thing but that gives the father the right to abandon his own child." If the child gets born, it has a father. If the father abandons the child than he does, but if you're hoping to get some moral support for that behavior you won't find it from me. In the end, the child pays for the fathers selfishness. If you want to say, "But the mother is the one who chose birth so it's all her fault!"

The reality is, the guy facilitated the creation of that being and possibly made a poor choice of mate in choosing someone who would become attached to a fetus and want it to be born. That's his own doing and he is responsable for the way the child is affected by his actions and subsequent abandonment.
posted by xarnop at 8:56 AM on June 26, 2011


Sorry, I sould say instead of "something liberals can be judgemental about" I should say "something that certain people in the pro-choice movement (who are really pro-abortion and not pro-choice) can be very judgemental about."
posted by xarnop at 9:02 AM on June 26, 2011


I can offer an interesting take here: My biological father actually wanted to parent but only if my biological mother would marry him. She wouldn't so he wanted adoption (he was also ok with abortion.)

He came to look at me after I was born. He was allowed to look at me through the glass and the nurse held me up.

He didn't see me again for 18 years. It affected him so deeply that he got another girl pregnant three months after my birth.

I don't understand "guy speak" but according to my past male partners who have met my biological father apparently he's really emotional about it. Apparently in guy speak getting choked up and saying, "Not raising you is something I have always regretted" is a sign of whatever it's a sign of.

My half sister who was also given up for adoption, went to look for her father and found out his name. Typed it into the computer. His obituary came up. He had died one month prior. He was an addict and died of addiction related complications.

They found in his possesions a box with a picture of our mother that he had carried around with him all those years. When my mother told him she was choosing adoption she said he was very sad and just kept saying, "Are you sure that's what you want to do?"

I am sympathetic to fathers who feel powerless about the outcomes of their own children. Deeply sympathetic, to the point of, if there were a way to facilitate greater father voice without removing the mother's automony in the pregnancy (I've no idea how that could be done)-- I'd be open to hearing ideas about it.

sympathetic to the feelings of fathers who don't give a shit about the children they created and blame the child's mother for THEIR decision to abandon their own child? No. Sorry.
posted by xarnop at 9:30 AM on June 26, 2011


xarnop : I didn't lable the various forms of coercion as rape. I don't see it as a binary situation. If on one hand a form of coercion is "rape" and the father has to pay a buttload of money etc, and on the other hand a similar form of coercion is "not rape" and he has ZERO responsability then you would think the difference between "rape" and "not rape" would be some huge obvious difference.

Sorry, I didn't intend to make it sound black or white... I agree that on the coercion-to-rape scale, we have a whole array of shades of grey. And in deciding where the various responsibilities fall, as I said, I'd have to leave that one to the courts to decide (if the parents can't).


so you're willing to say, "Well fine she can do that stupid thing but that gives the father the right to abandon his own child."

Yes. I would agree that I count as pro-abortion, in addition to pro-choice. But as I've repeated several times in this discussion, I also absolutely believe in giving the mother the final choice in carrying or aborting; I just consider it fair that, like all of our choices in life, that particular choice can have consequences. And in this case, where the woman's choice deprives the father of his own, I believe we need some means of balancing that disparity.


The reality is, the guy facilitated the creation of that being and possibly made a poor choice of mate in choosing someone who would become attached to a fetus and want it to be born.

I think part of the problem here comes from the fact that "sex" no longer means "reproduction", and society hasn't adapted to that change.

Three generations ago, having sex meant, within a few months, the woman would most likely get pregnant. That no longer holds true, and I would dare say that the vast majority of people having sex today neither want, nor expect, to get pregnant. They may welcome it when it happens, but I'd call it an extreme rarity to have sex with more than a passing nod to that act's role in human reproduction. And no, I don't have a cite for that last bit. :)

Perhaps we do need people to think about that more, perhaps we need some sort of "precarnal" agreements to enter the mainstream, stating each partner's intent and waving various rights or responsibilities in the off chance something goes wrong.


That's his own doing and he is responsable for the way the child is affected by his actions and subsequent abandonment.

I guess we'll just have to disagree here. You call me "pro-abortion", and I'll accept that; I don't, however, consider it "pro-choice" to give one partner the exclusive right to choose, at the expense of depriving the other partner of the same. If anything, I'd call that "choice-neutral".


sympathetic to the feelings of fathers who don't give a shit about the children they created and blame the child's mother for THEIR decision to abandon their own child? No.

Again, we'll just have to disagree, precisely because that fertilized egg doesn't automatically equal "children".
posted by pla at 9:41 AM on June 26, 2011


If the child get's born--- then yes it's a child. And if it's his child-- and he voluntarily initiated the process-- yes he is responsable for how that child is affected by his choice to abandon his own offspring.
posted by xarnop at 9:46 AM on June 26, 2011


"I believe we need some means of balancing that disparity."

So just fuck over the child involved and that'll fix things being unfair. Obviously the parents feelings are WAY more important than the new human being who resulted from all this.

Good to see where your priorities are. (Your version of "fair" that involves suffering for a child for the sake of a man's convenience strikes me as horrifically unfair, in fact, and to an innocent child at that.)
posted by xarnop at 10:01 AM on June 26, 2011


xarnop : Good to see where your priorities are. (Your version of "fair" that involves suffering for a child for the sake of a man's convenience strikes me as horrifically unfair, in fact, and to an innocent child at that.)

I find it somewhat frustrating how this topic has shifted from the woman's right to choose for herself, to suddenly having the father look like the asshole for not getting to make that same choice.

As I said, we'll have to agree to disagree. I'll absolutely support the right to choose, but damn my eyes if I'll accept that one side should suffer for the other side's choice.

And as for the irrelevant third party in all this, that I have done my best to keep out of this discussion...


So just fuck over the child involved

The one who get the choice gets the credit for that. If she (or he!) couldn't afford (time or money) the kid, knowing in advance that no help would come from the other parent, then I'd consider it a poor choice.
posted by pla at 10:34 AM on June 26, 2011


"As I said, we'll have to agree to disagree. I'll absolutely support the right to choose, but damn my eyes if I'll accept that one side should suffer for the other side's choice."

Right you propose the child should suffer to make it more fair. Yes the dad's who abandon their children with this line of reasoning are assholes. I'm fine with considering the mother an asshole TOO---

But ultimately--- you dont fuck over your own child to serve your own selfishness.

I mean, if you don't want to be seen as a complete an utter asshole.
posted by xarnop at 10:43 AM on June 26, 2011


If your child's other parent makes decisions you don't like-- it does not justify being an asshole to your child.
posted by xarnop at 10:44 AM on June 26, 2011


You seem seriously dedicated to ignoring the reality that no, a father does not need to act like a father, and no law can ever make that so. Nor, for that matter, does a mother. At most, we can use the threat of government force to financially ruin the non-compliant partner.

Of course a father or a mother do not have a literal need to support their offspring. Why would you believe that was what I was saying? "Both parents must support their offspring" is obviously a statement about ethics. If I were to say, "People must not rob liquor stores." how would you take that one? Would you say I was dedicated to ignoring reality there as well?

The one who get the choice gets the credit for that. If she (or he!) couldn't afford (time or money) the kid, knowing in advance that no help would come from the other parent, then I'd consider it a poor choice.

As I've said before, the obligation is to the child. Why do you think any action (or inaction) on the part of either parent should absolve the other of the support to which the child is entitled? The kid doesn't need someone to blame here. The kid needs food, shelter, clothing, etc.
posted by ODiV at 10:49 AM on June 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


ODiV : As I've said before, the obligation is to the child. Why do you think any action (or inaction) on the part of either parent should absolve the other of the support to which the child is entitled?

Because one parent's choice led to a fertilized egg going from a mere nuisance to an actual child.

To repeat myself, absolving the dissenting parent from responsibility counts as the only fair outcome consistent with a pro-choice stance. Once you force the decision on one parent, I see no reason we shouldn't force it on the other.

I don't value your autonomy more than my own. As much as, yes. But not more.
posted by pla at 11:32 AM on June 26, 2011


Well your argument relies on the principle that abortion should be legal because no one should be forced to be a parent no matter their action leading up to being a parent.

That is not a belief that I have. I believe abortion should be legal because there is no consenses scientifically on how to define an embryo or fetus or it's status as protected from being aborted. Which means there is really no way for the law to dictate an impartial stance on the matter.

That's different than saying under no circumstances should a person who has consensual sex be required to care for offspring that result from that consensual sex.

But here's another little dilemma with your proposal being made legal.

With regard to coercion and rape--- how exactly do you propose the court determine what happened?

Either you're proposing that women be able to walk in with the amount of evidence women usually have that coercion/rape occured--- which is her own word-- and the the court uphold that---------- or you're suggesting that women with no video evidence or eye witnesses being denied the support you claim they would deserve.

The first of course opens up a loophole in which women could lie about coercion/rape and get away with it (which is unacceptable) or in which a woman who was coerced/raped to be offered no support because she can not provide proof of the event (also unacceptable.)

Saying "the courts should just figure it out" leaves us exactly where we are. The courts know they CAN'T figure it out so they require men who stick their sperm in a womans vagina to be responsible for offspring that result.
posted by xarnop at 11:48 AM on June 26, 2011


xarnop : your argument relies on the principle that abortion should be legal because no one should be forced to be a parent no matter their action leading up to being a parent.

Pretty much. We have more than enough people on the planet. I see no need to add to that number unless it has parents that actually want it. Whether that means two parents, or one that wants it enough to make due without a partner, I have no objection. But forcing an unwilling person to contribute to raising just-another-unwanted-human? No thanks.

That said, I also consider it a vile proposition to force a woman to carry a child she doesn't want - Or to terminate one she does. Thus my suggested compromise.


That is not a belief that I have.

As I said, we disagree. I respect your position, but do not share it.


Saying "the courts should just figure it out" leaves us exactly where we are. The courts know they CAN'T figure it out so they require men who stick their sperm in a womans vagina to be responsible for offspring that result.

You can't justify the standard with an outlier. Yes, personal relationships can get messy, and if resolving disagreements ends up in court, it comes down to little more than asking a third-party to make the hard decisions for them.

I can't, however, believe that enough reproductive sex involves coercion to consider it in establishing the norm. And if it does, consider me praying for the asteroid now, because we don't deserve to continue as a species if we need to trick each other into having kids.
posted by pla at 12:36 PM on June 26, 2011


Yes it represents a substantial portion of unintended pregnancies. That really shouldn't be surprising. Most women who know they aren't on birth control and don't have mental health/childhood abuse/being drunk of their ass issues don't want to have consensual unprotected sex.

And if a woman has mental health/child sexual abuse/drug addiction problems and you intentionally take advantage of her lack of ability to protect herself from your unprotected sex desires-- than that is just as abusive as "coercing" a woman into sex.
posted by xarnop at 1:23 PM on June 26, 2011


"Since research has shown that victims of violence are more likely to be involved in subsequent risky sexual behaviors, we hypothesized that coercive first intercourse would be associated with unintended first births. Using nationally representative data from the 2002 National Survey of Family Growth, we analyzed female respondents aged 18-44 years who reported a live birth (n = 4,136). Coercion was classified as none/minimal, mild, or significant based on self-report. In 2002, 13.7% of U.S. women aged 18-44 who had at least one live birth experienced mild coercion and 9.8% experienced significant coercion at first intercourse. Compared with women who experienced no coercion, the odds of reporting an unintended first birth was greater for women who experienced mild (OR: 1.9, 95% CI: 1.4-2.6) or significant coercion (OR: 2.3, 95% CI: 1.6-3.4)."

"The high prevalence of intimate partner violence against young women attending adolescent clinics strongly indicates the need to target this population for abuse-related interventions. This need is underlined by the observed association between partner violence and sexual risk involving coercion or deception by male partners. Clinic-based STD and pregnancy prevention efforts should include assessment of sexual risk factors that are beyond the control of young women, particularly for those experiencing abuse."

Outliers DO make a difference in how we handle a lot of these issues. Also consider this, a complication with requiring male consent for abortion:

"Men aged 18 to 35 years (n = 1318) completed assessments of perpetration of intimate partner violence (IPV), abortion involvement, and conflict regarding decisions to seek abortion. IPV was associated with greater involvement by men in pregnancies ending in abortion and greater conflict regarding decisions to seek abortion. IPV should be considered within family planning and abortion services; policies requiring women to notify or obtain consent of partners before seeking an abortion should be reconsidered; they may facilitate endangerment and coercion regarding such decisions."

I'm telling you, when people don't agree the courts do handle it. What you request is in place. When people can't decide amongst themselves, men have to support their offspring.

In fact WOMEN have to support their offspring as well. The only way a couple can abandon a born child is if BOTH agree to make the transfer for adoption to another couple.

A woman who gives birth to a child and does not have permission from the father to place the child for adoption is required to parent the child. They can work something out among them such that whatever obstacles she's facing won't affect the child, but "I don't feel like it" is not acceptable for either a man or a woman. If the parent is struggling to be a good parent, then both men and women deserve help working on their issues to be good parents.

"I am a danger to my child because I don't give a crap about them and plan to emotionally or physically neglect them," will allow removal but it will also get you on the CPS shit list and could affect your ability to work in environments with children and future involvement from CPS if you have kids in the future.

If you are a danger to your child, then you're doing the right thing by self reporting.
posted by xarnop at 2:07 PM on June 26, 2011


(Truly I have nothing but admiration for a parent who can self identify they are unable to love their child and make alternate arrangements. So if you're a dad and want to relinquish--- you need to supply an alternate father willing to take your place.)
posted by xarnop at 2:10 PM on June 26, 2011


I will add something else, there is virtually no punishment to a man for failing to visit his kids. The worst that could happen is that he could lose future visitation due to the potential for the child being harmed by inconsistant visitation.

So no father is being forced to be emotionally available to his kid(s). We're really talking about financial support payments which have proven to improve kids lives.

No one can or IS forcing dad's to love their kids. They're merely requiring that fathers assist with preventing children from experiencing being BOTH emotional abandonment by selfish fathers AND being impoverished on top of that.

And if you played a role in the creation of an impoverished fatherless child-- you damn sure should be part of the solution. There is no reason why society should bear more responsability for the child than the man who purposefully had unprotected sex.

But the fact that men could know that they have children out there hurting because their fathers don't care about them--- and just don't care? Why on earth would you be fighting for the right to hurt a child like that?
posted by xarnop at 2:51 PM on June 26, 2011


pla: "I think part of the problem here comes from the fact that "sex" no longer means "reproduction", and society hasn't adapted to that change.

Three generations ago, having sex meant, within a few months, the woman would most likely get pregnant. That no longer holds true, and I would dare say that the vast majority of people having sex today neither want, nor expect, to get pregnant. They may welcome it when it happens, but I'd call it an extreme rarity to have sex with more than a passing nod to that act's role in human reproduction. And no, I don't have a cite for that last bit. :)

Perhaps we do need people to think about that more, perhaps we need some sort of "precarnal" agreements to enter the mainstream, stating each partner's intent and waving various rights or responsibilities in the off chance something goes wrong.


pla, I think this is where the disconnect happens. You say that "society" hasn't adapted to the change that "sex" no longer means "reproduction". But in reality, you have not adapted to the idea that sex can mean reproduction even when you take precautions against it.

I always took it as a given that whenever I had sex, there was always a chance I could get pregnant. Maybe that's because I'm a woman, and women are the ones who actually get pregnant, but I'm surprised you feel that people don't even consider this. Have you never had a discussion with someone about contraception before having sex?

If you NEVER want sex to equal reproduction, which from your argument it sounds might be your own outlook, I would think you'd be on top of that, and making sure that that you're not with a woman who thinks she might want kids. Because otherwise, you're engaging in magical thinking--I don't have to worry about this, it will never happen!

I hope that's not what you're doing. Because, of course, there's ALWAYS a chance it could, unless we're talking same-sex intercourse or one partner sterilized sex.

But maybe you're just not worried because your thinking is that, even if you never even considered what any woman you've had sex with thinks about contraception/abortion/pregnancy, if that woman gets pregnant, and you tell her to have an abortion, and then she doesn't, it's her fault when you don't support the kid?
posted by misha at 5:24 PM on June 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


To repeat myself, absolving the dissenting parent from responsibility counts as the only fair outcome consistent with a pro-choice stance. Once you force the decision on one parent, I see no reason we shouldn't force it on the other.

I don't value your autonomy more than my own. As much as, yes. But not more.


Ah, going round in circles here. Biology already limits the autonomy of a woman more than that of a man in pregnancy, so biology already creates a disparity there. You've already acknowledged that part, so why do you keep missing ignoring that in your 'argument' about child support?

This has already been addressed above by other commenters so need to repeat this.

You're turning this into some kind of war about who has more power, and as if deciding to carry a pregnancy to term rather than aborting was a matter of 'forcing' that decision on a man when that man is unwilling to be a father - all this keeps ignoring the point which is protection of the child's rights.

Now, there are a million different individual cases, due the infinite variety of human nature and situations and life events. There may be "go away for 9 months then pass the checks please" and there may also be "we lived together as if we were married and he wanted the child as much as I did but then he fucked off right before I gave birth", and the whole spectrum in between. Or both parents could be really horrible people who mistreat the child from the moment it's born. So what? The law has to legislate for everyone! And the law sets the priority as the child, once the child is born. Because the law is based on the concept of legal personhood which starts at birth -- and yeah, too bad the people who want to outlaw abortion and the prosecutors mentioned in the article "forget" about that! but the legal system as a whole sure keeps supporting that concept. And because a child is a minor, and minors are granted special protection from the law because they are not autonomous. That, in a nutshell, is the "argument" for child support.

You're viewing this as a battle of the sexes for their own personal autonomy. What about the child's autonomy?

Please, whatever your personal preconceptions, please take a moment to process that idea, really...
posted by bitteschoen at 9:17 AM on June 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


And yeah, if a man is unwilling to be a father, there are options well before you get to the debate on abortion or child support, and if he changes his mind at any stage, well, too bad -- that is humanly understandable and well it may be even morally justifiable in individual cases but so what? the law is the point, and if the outcome of whatever fucked up relationship between two humans is a child, the law must protect the child first and foremost, because of the 3 people involved, he's the one with the least autonomy of all, simple as that.

NB child. Not embryo, fetus, etc. See under legal person. So, no way the argument about abortion can be conflated with the argument about children's rights, minor's rights, and child support. They are separate, and the law must keep considering them separately.
posted by bitteschoen at 10:00 AM on June 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


bitteschoen : They are separate, and the law must keep considering them separately. [...] What about the child's autonomy?

Uhhh... Huh? Seriously?

I count as the last person in this discussion to conflate the two. I tried to keep this strictly to "abortion", not "children", and every single person still in the discussion, sans me, seems intent on attributing rights-by-proxy from the as-yet-hypothetical "child" (the potential abortee), to the mother.

Yes, we need to keep the two situations separate. I agree 100%, without any equivocation or reservations whatsoever. So please - Do so.
posted by pla at 5:07 PM on June 28, 2011


Sorry, pla, I don't understand, there is no intention whatsoever here to equivocate or attribute to you anything different form what you said, I have seriously no intention to argue or be polemical - but how is your argument -- "absolving the dissenting parent from responsibility counts as the only fair outcome consistent with a pro-choice stance" -- not conflating the issue of abortion and issue of child support?

I don't understand what you mean by "rights-by-proxy" from the child to the mother?

And of course the child is totally hypothetical as long as we're talking pregnancy and the abortion issue, and that's where the rights of the mother are priority for the law (or should be, in my opinion). We all agree on that.

Child is obviously no longer hypothetical once it's born and we're talking financial support, and that's where the rights of the child are a priority for the law (and that's not my opinion it's how even different legal systems do legally justify child support). Is this the part you disagree with? The fact child support is legally enforced as a protection of the rights of the child? I'm genuinely confused now...
posted by bitteschoen at 5:22 AM on June 29, 2011


bitteschoen : how is your argument -- "absolving the dissenting parent from responsibility counts as the only fair outcome consistent with a pro-choice stance" -- not conflating the issue of abortion and issue of child support?

Perhaps I erred in bringing up the conveniently tangible financial issue of child support. I literally mean absolving the dissenting parent of any and all of the attributes of parenthood. No financial burden, no financial rights. No social burden, no social rights. No visitation rights, no expectation of free babysitting. None of it.

I would effectively make one person a complete non-parent, in every sense except the unchangeable genetic one.


I think, though, we've probably reached the point at which we can answer any further questions simply by quoting ourselves back to each other - Pretty much a solid impasse.
posted by pla at 7:19 AM on June 29, 2011


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