the constant traffic of foreign objects through this woman's body
August 21, 2014 3:54 PM   Subscribe

"When do women in Ireland get to say 'no'? Today we find out that the answer is 'never', not really – not if a man has other ideas and the state decides to enforce his use of a woman's body." [Warning: may be triggering.] New Statesman, "Violation after violation: why did Ireland force a woman on hunger strike to bear her rapist's child?"

Critical Legal Thinking: "An Island of Saints and Sadists: Abortion in Ireland" by Irish writer William Wall:
People often ask me why I write such dark books.

You’re such a sunny person, they say.

I say: Look around you, what kind of a country do you think you’re living in?

Here is a tale of the island of Saints and Sadists.
A recent abortion rights protest yesterday in the city centre of Dublin drew between 1,500 and 2,000 supporters, including Doctors for Choice Ireland (Twitter / Facebook). The protesters in Dublin were joined by similar coordinated protests held in London, Berlin, and Auckland, New Zealand.

More about the death of Savita Halappanavar and The Eighth Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland.

Hat-tip

Previously: Ireland's Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act 2013
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome (150 comments total) 45 users marked this as a favorite

 
in accordance with the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution Act 1983, the life of the foetus is considered to be a “human life” as much as the pregnant woman’s and accorded equal rights.

No, the fetus is consistently considered to be a more human life - more important, more worthy. Women die because of this consideration. This is a horror. (Thanks for the post; it must have been depressing as hell to make.)
posted by rtha at 4:00 PM on August 21, 2014 [85 favorites]


UGH I read this the other day and waited patiently for the explanation that this happened back in the 50s. But no.

i dislike the rcc and wish upon it great ills.
posted by elizardbits at 4:32 PM on August 21, 2014 [6 favorites]


No, the fetus is consistently considered to be a more human life - more important, more worthy.

It really is amazing. I know it's true -- I accept that it's true, that people feel that way -- but I just can't comprehend it.

Fetus > Woman who has had an actual childhood, and has learned things during that childhood; who graduated to adolescence, and learned things during that adolescence; who graduated to adulthood, and has learned things during that adulthood; who has made mistakes and learned from them; who has committed acts of love and beauty and kindness; who fought like hell to become a real person, to survive in this world, and to contribute to it.

Fetus > All that.

Okay, I'm going to go sit over here and be depressed now.
posted by mudpuppie at 4:52 PM on August 21, 2014 [32 favorites]


There is a concept called body autonomy. Its generally considered a human right. Bodily autonomy means a person has control over who or what uses their body, for what, and for how long. Its why you can’t be forced to donate blood, tissue, or organs. Even if you are dead. Even if you’d save or improve 20 lives. It’s why someone can’t touch you, have sex with you, or use your body in any way without your continuous consent.

A fetus is using someone’s body parts. Therefore under bodily autonomy, it is there by permission, not by right. It needs a persons continuous consent. If they deny and withdraw their consent, the pregnant person has the right to remove them from that moment. A fetus is equal in this regard because if I need someone else’s body parts to live, they can also legally deny me their use.

By saying a fetus has a right to someone’s body parts until it’s born, despite the pregnant person’s wishes, you are doing two things.

1. Granting a fetus more rights to other people’s bodies than any born person.
2. Awarding a pregnant person less rights to their body than a corpse.
- Hannah Goff
posted by heathkit at 4:53 PM on August 21, 2014 [226 favorites]


So stopping someone from committing suicide is a "violation?" Making stretches like that doesn't really help give the article credibility.
posted by brenton at 4:55 PM on August 21, 2014


I love Ireland. I really do. But fuck this shit. This shit makes me so angry.

So here's the thing. If you are a middle-class woman in Ireland, you can get an abortion without any problem. You tell everyone you're going to London for the weekend to do some shopping or whatever, you fly to Stansted, you have your abortion, and you fly back home. Even if you're not middle-class, you can probably find a way to afford it: it's 40 euro round-trip on Ryanair, and the abortion itself is free. It's a perfect Irish solution to an Irish problem: Irish people get to feel good about the fact that no sinful abortions are being performed on their soil, but everyone who matters still has access to abortion. The only people who can't get abortions are people who don't matter anyway: refugees, foreigners, kids in state care, that kind of person. Basically, what this is about is that Irish people are willing to sacrifice the most vulnerable women in their communities so that they can feel pure and virtuous without sacrificing anything themselves. It's vile and it's hypocritical and it makes me incoherent with rage.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 4:55 PM on August 21, 2014 [137 favorites]


Basically, what this is about is that Irish people are willing to sacrifice the most vulnerable women in their communities so that they can feel pure and virtuous without sacrificing anything themselves.

Plus ca change...

(I'm not being lighthearted. This is beyond grotesque. But it's not like treating women as nothing more than baby-making-machines is new in Ireland.)
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 4:58 PM on August 21, 2014


So stopping someone from committing suicide is a "violation?" Making stretches like that doesn't really help give the article credibility.

Damn right it is, if the reason they did it was to continue to force her to incubate a fetal product of rape. After which they had her cut open, also to preserve the fetus.

I can't point too many fingers at Ireland, though. We have plenty of states over here who would love to go that far and further.
posted by delfin at 5:23 PM on August 21, 2014 [11 favorites]


Anna Carey for New Statesman, after the passage of the 2013 Act:
For women confronted with the tragedy of a fatal foetal abnormality, for women who have been raped, for women whose health will be damaged by giving birth, for women who just do not want to have a child, nothing has changed. And nothing will, until yet another referendum manages to repeal the Eighth Amendment, the constitutional change introduced in 1983 which officially gave an Irish woman and her foetus an equal right to life. Until that amendment is removed, there is no chance of liberalising Irish abortion law.
Over a year later, Sarah Ditum for New Statesman (top link in the OP):
This is why Irish women are campaigning to "Repeal the Eighth": because women know that we are human, and none of us should have to live under a law that says otherwise.
Because women know that we are human.

Dear anti-choice folks: If you're wondering why basic reproductive health care, up to and including pregnancy termination, is considered so vital to so many women, there it is. It's intrinsic to the foundation of our personhood and humanity. I can't brook your arguments because they're aimed in direct opposition to my physical boundaries and bodily autonomy. And I cannot overstate this: Abortion access is a human rights issue.

To deny a woman who needs an abortion the opportunity to avail herself of one is to refuse to treat her like a human being, and to instead adjudicate that her identity will be overridden by your insistence that she serve as a carrier and vessel. Forced pregnancy shunts a woman into the role of inconveniently independent incubator that just so happens to surround a man's inalienable territory.

You don't have the right to do this to us. Don't get me wrong, you've certainly passed enough legal decisions to ensnare us. You've certainly demonized us at every turn. You still treat women like stupid children who don't know our own minds, and you're still able to punish us in inconceivable ways, all by dint of law. You still try, every day, to bend women's bodies to your will. But you don't have the right to do it. You're on the wrong side of history. And you'll know that, eventually, because all of your laws and lies and punishments will be whispers of dust in the wind. It'll be a time.

Sisters in Ireland! We hear you. How can we help you?
posted by divined by radio at 5:27 PM on August 21, 2014 [49 favorites]


If you're at all into genealogy you may find, as I did, a number of female relatives who died relatively young. If you investigate further, as I did, you may find that they didn't die from things like TB or farm accidents or war. I don't know that they died from blood loss or septicaemic shock consequent to abortion, or suicide, but it's a very plausible explanation.
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:41 PM on August 21, 2014 [3 favorites]


The problem with abortion is when you talk about abortion.

What I mean by this is that when you make abortion a symbol of choice or life, you versus them, god's will versus a woman's will you sully the field of debate.

What I believe is the only legally possible solution is to allow a woman to choose what happens to her body...period. Until that baby(ies) are born it is her choice.

This is because otherwise you will get bogged down in semantics, when does life start, is it another person, who is responsible, the government, the family, the friends etc...etc...

All those other things don't matter because in the end it's about a person having a right to determine what happens to their body, otherwise you end up in the unenviable position of trying to tell "someone else" (WHO IS NOT YOU) what to do.

Since logically it would be silly beyond belief to assume that one adult can ever know truly if they are in a position to make decisions for another adult in any modern country we would leave it at: you do what you wanna do, and I'm going to do what I wanna do and go fuck right off before you start telling people what to do because that always ends poorly now doesn't it.
posted by Pr0t35t3r at 5:50 PM on August 21, 2014 [7 favorites]


It's not fetus > woman, it's the fact that (barring the unforseen), fetus will get to enjoy the good, bad, and other of human life unless its mother has an abortion. Most women who don't have access to legal abortion won't die. Every fetus who is aborted will die and never experience birth or even the first moments of finding its mother's breast and whatever that experience is that we don't even remember when we get older. They don't get that chance. What other species does this?
posted by fraxil at 6:19 PM on August 21, 2014 [2 favorites]


What other species does this?

Why does this matter in the least?
posted by rtha at 6:28 PM on August 21, 2014 [49 favorites]


Well, yeah, but if you start going that far back, you have to ask, "Why doesn't every egg have a right to be come a fetus, which will in turn get to enjoy the good, bad, and other..."
posted by mochapickle at 6:29 PM on August 21, 2014 [7 favorites]


What other species does this?

Wait, so humans (who have the intelligence to know that parenting involves resources and childbirth has complications/risks) are beneath animals (who don't know any better) that straight-up eat their young? Why does someone have to have a rapist's child?
posted by autoclavicle at 6:29 PM on August 21, 2014 [28 favorites]


I know there are Catholic books on Natural Law but I haven't read them. I'm going from the experience of looking at my child's fetal heartbeat at 20 weeks, his 3d ultrasound which still looks like him, and daily baby pictures for the last 15 months. I just can't see where I can draw the line and say it wasn't my little guy.
posted by fraxil at 6:33 PM on August 21, 2014


What other species does this?

Many of them. Lots of species reabsorb fetuses, for instance; humans (and other primates, I think) have lost the ability to do this. And the animal version of infanticide is also very common, of course.

Not that it matters, there are lots of things humans do that other species don't do, and we don't build the rest of our morality on But What Do The Starfish Do?
posted by jeather at 6:35 PM on August 21, 2014 [51 favorites]


Almost every species will abort the fetus if it's threatening the mother in any way.
posted by bleep at 6:35 PM on August 21, 2014 [23 favorites]


Why interrupt nature? I mean, a lot of female animals are forced to give birth to offspring after being raped! Why should human women be an exception?
posted by Young Kullervo at 6:39 PM on August 21, 2014 [2 favorites]


I'm going from the experience of looking at my child's fetal heartbeat at 20 weeks, his 3d ultrasound which still looks like him, and daily baby pictures for the last 15 months. I just can't see where I can draw the line and say it wasn't my little guy.

Well then, that right there is the choice you made, and I applaud your right to make it. I trust that it was right for you, and that you wouldn't have made that choice otherwise.

Why is YOUR choice so much more sacred than mine, or any other woman's? Why do YOU presume to know what choice is right for me, given my life circumstances? Do you not understand how frustrating and maddening and disrespectful and dehumanizing that is??
posted by mudpuppie at 6:40 PM on August 21, 2014 [55 favorites]


Are we really saying "Why should human women have it better than animals"?
posted by bleep at 6:42 PM on August 21, 2014 [31 favorites]


Why should human women be an exception?

What other species actually considers unwanted sex "rape"? That's our problem, we're thinking too much.

Why is YOUR choice so much more sacred than mine, or any other woman's?

Looks like it was actually his wife's choice.
posted by autoclavicle at 6:42 PM on August 21, 2014


I'm thinking of archiving this thread and showing it to my little guy when he's a few years older. Wonder what he'll make of it.
posted by fraxil at 6:47 PM on August 21, 2014 [1 favorite]


He'll probably either not understand any of it, or find that you come off sounding kind of solipsistic, is my guess, depending on his age.
posted by DoctorFedora at 6:50 PM on August 21, 2014 [19 favorites]


No one is suggesting that every pregnancy should end in abortion. People who want abortion legal want women to decide for themselves where the line is drawn, based on whatever reasons, just not to decide for other people. If you feel your fetus was a person from the moment it was conceived, and you now happily have a child, great, and we are happy for you.
posted by jeather at 6:52 PM on August 21, 2014 [11 favorites]


brenton: “So stopping someone from committing suicide is a ‘violation?’ Making stretches like that doesn't really help give the article credibility.”

I don't think it's weird to call forced feeding a "violation." I understand that generally it's a good idea to stop people from committing suicide, but isn't it clear that forced feeding by inserting a tube into someone's stomach is a violation of someone's bodily integrity, even if one believes that it's a justified violation?
posted by koeselitz at 6:53 PM on August 21, 2014 [4 favorites]


From The Times. A bit more reporting than the linked opinion piece, and sans paywall.
posted by Ideefixe at 6:53 PM on August 21, 2014


I'm thinking of archiving this thread and showing it to my little guy when he's a few years older.

As long as we're archiving Metafilter threads to scare our children... maybe one day in the future, I'll show this thread to my 6-month old daughter. I'll say, "Look here, daughter. There really are people out there, who think you have no right to bodily autonomy. They're wrong."
posted by Coatlicue at 6:55 PM on August 21, 2014 [62 favorites]


Ideefixe, I see a paywall.
posted by jeather at 6:58 PM on August 21, 2014 [1 favorite]


Young Kullervo: “Why interrupt nature? I mean, a lot of female animals are forced to give birth to offspring after being raped! Why should human women be an exception?”

This is actually not true. In most mammals besides humans, the female has complete control over a pregnancy and can terminate it if she wishes.

Cite: "In most mammals, the mother’s blood supply remains safely isolated from the foetus. It passes its nutrients to the foetus through a filter, which the mother controls. The mother is a despot: she provides only what she chooses, which makes her largely invulnerable to paternal manipulation during pregnancy."
posted by koeselitz at 6:58 PM on August 21, 2014 [13 favorites]


What other species actually considers unwanted sex "rape"? That's our problem, we're thinking too much.

Please tell me this is sarcasm, because I can't even. Barely 20 comments in and my sex has been reduced to incubators. Cheese and crackers, animals have more rights than you are availing to women in this thread.
posted by theBigRedKittyPurrs at 7:01 PM on August 21, 2014 [24 favorites]


Look here, daughter. There really are people out there, who think you have no right to bodily autonomy. They're wrong.

A-fucking-men. Don't forget to talk about smug condensation and sanctimony, too when talking about the people who espouse those views--so many things to learn, here!
posted by maxwelton at 7:01 PM on August 21, 2014 [5 favorites]


Why interrupt nature? I mean, a lot of female animals are forced to give birth to offspring after being raped! Why should human women be an exception?

A lot of animals have their liver eaten out of them by wolves while they're still in shock and technically not dead yet. Why should humans have it any better, amirite?
posted by George_Spiggott at 7:02 PM on August 21, 2014 [15 favorites]


[A couple comments removed. fraxil, I don't know what you're trying to accomplish here but this is not a good way to do it.]
posted by cortex at 7:03 PM on August 21, 2014 [11 favorites]


How is this still a thing? Of course life begins at conception, and of course a fetus is a person. Except when it might cost the Catholic Church some money, in which case of course it's not. I mean, obviously.
posted by xedrik at 7:06 PM on August 21, 2014 [10 favorites]


All I have to do is tell my son the story of his birth. He was very wanted, but for a variety of reasons, his birth put me through a physical and emotional meatgrinder* that left permanent physical and mental scars. I seriously doubt he would want any woman he cared about to risk going through that against her will. At least, if I raise him right, he won't.

I chose that risk, and I accepted it when I got pregnant, and stayed pregnant. I do not regret him, because he was wanted and he isn't responsible for how I was treated during his birth and after.

But I would never, ever, force another woman to take that risk, anymore than I would put a gun to her head and make her give my son--or hers, for that matter--a kidney.

*I honestly believe that the stories of abuse I tell and a lot of women tell about birth experiences are a direct result of the same attitudes that Ireland has. We have a weakened form of them here, but they are always there, and the minute a woman is pregnant, she finds the physical indignities of pregnancy may be a smaller problem than the sudden loss of control over who touches and what happens to her body. Especially once her fetus reaches viability. Women in the States have been forced to have c-sections or inductions; women prisoners have been shackled during birth; women have been threatened with having CPS called if they argue with a doctor's orders. We are not so far from Ireland in how we treat them, in many places.
posted by emjaybee at 7:07 PM on August 21, 2014 [26 favorites]


As much as we try to put ourselves in other people's shoes, the only person who can truly know what is going through a woman's head when she contemplates abortion is that woman. Period. That's why I'm pro-choice - because I can ask myself what I would do in someone else's position but I can't know. Only she does. So rather than second-guess a pregnant woman when it comes to what is best for her, I think we should trust her. Because I would want people to trust me. That means some people will make decisions that I wouldn't agree with but I believe we should support people either way. My two cents.
posted by kat518 at 7:11 PM on August 21, 2014 [6 favorites]


What other species does this?

Setting aside the fact that lots of species abort fetuses on a regular basis: The list of things that humans do that no other species on Earth does is pretty fucking long.
posted by Tomorrowful at 7:17 PM on August 21, 2014 [17 favorites]


The article in this fpp from a couple weeks ago should be required reading, especially by people who have romantic and totally inaccurate notions of the reproduction process of other kinds of animals. The human animal, too, for that matter.
posted by rtha at 7:19 PM on August 21, 2014 [3 favorites]


What other species does this?

Hamsters eat their young if they feel threatened.
posted by maryr at 7:22 PM on August 21, 2014 [2 favorites]


Yeah, the "nature" argument doesn't get you very far. A male lion or bear will kill any cub it can, if the cub is not its own. In fact I'm not sure bears even make that last distinction.
posted by George_Spiggott at 7:22 PM on August 21, 2014 [3 favorites]


"What other species does this?"

"I know there are Catholic books on Natural Law but I haven't read them. "


One thing they would tell you is that humans govern themselves differently than animals do because only humans have the God-given power of reason, and are therefore not morally permitted to live like animals. You can't make both arguments.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:23 PM on August 21, 2014 [18 favorites]


> What other species does this?

Probably not the standards we want to aspire to.
posted by benito.strauss at 7:24 PM on August 21, 2014 [2 favorites]


If we're going to talk about how other species reproduce and rear offspring, this is an adorable and somewhat NSFWish review of such.
posted by mikurski at 7:25 PM on August 21, 2014 [3 favorites]


the minute a woman is pregnant, she finds the physical indignities of pregnancy may be a smaller problem than the sudden loss of control over who touches and what happens to her body. Especially once her fetus reaches viability.

I've spoken about this here before to some degree, but I have a genetic health issue that has caused my kidneys and liver to enlarge, making me look visibly pregnant (although I am not pregnant and never will be). It started becoming apparent about six years ago.

It's an odd thing to go through life as a not-pregnant pregnant lady. Complete strangers who would normally never find reason to speak to me freely gaze at my body and ask questions about the due date, about whether I have other children, about my marital status (I am not married). People I met only moments before actually reach for my belly. I have endured crusty looks at restaurants by couples at the next table over if I so much as sip a glass of wine. And perhaps worst of all, I get served DECAF at the coffeeshop by smug, well-meaning baristas who think they are making the world a safer place for fetuses.

None of this happened when I was a normal-looking, unpregnant-looking lady.

People start feeling an ownership when it comes to pregnant women -- about the women themselves, about the fetus they are carrying. They like to think they know better. And I think that just fuels the debate and makes it even hotter: Surely this woman has no idea of the value of this spark she carries. Surely her judgment is clouded by hormones or fear or exhaustion. Surely she's confused. Surely we know better.

But the only one who really knows best is her.
posted by mochapickle at 7:26 PM on August 21, 2014 [51 favorites]


We are not so far from Ireland in how we treat them, in many places.

Not only are we not so far from Ireland, but the concerted effort to pass laws like Ireland's is active, ongoing, relentless and drawing us closer to Ireland.

On paper I had a "normal" pregnancy and relatively smooth birthing experience. In reality I was sick for 7.5 months, depressed for almost three years and I am still paying a physical price due to the pregnancy. I would not force my "normal" pregnancy on any woman who did not want it.

And if you can't see how force-feeding a suicidal woman until you are able to perform major surgery to deliver a fetus barely past the point of questionable viability is an utter violation of that woman's humanity... Ugh.
posted by theBigRedKittyPurrs at 7:26 PM on August 21, 2014 [25 favorites]


I'm thinking of archiving this thread and showing it to my little guy when he's a few years older. Wonder what he'll make of it.

Oh, you should. And I hope that it's part of a conversation about reproductive choices, because let's be real, most of them are still, in this day and age, a woman's burden, which I hope you'll agree is a load of bullshit.

I recently watched the classic film Dirty Dancing with my daughters. I was about the age of my oldest when the movie came out, and I'm pretty sure the abortion subplot went over my head when I saw it in the theater in its original run.

But my daughter saw Penny weeping in the hotel kitchen and she turned to me and said incredulously "Why can't she just get an abortion?".

And a) I've never been so proud as a parent and b) an amazing conversation about the history of reproductive freedom in America took place before we un-paused the movie and went about our Friday night.
posted by padraigin at 7:30 PM on August 21, 2014 [33 favorites]


I guess I won't be wearing a "kiss me, I'm Irish" button next st paddy's day.

Wth, Ireland?!
posted by hal_c_on at 7:31 PM on August 21, 2014


When I was in the hospital for a relatively rare sickness and found out I was pregnant, not only could I not terminate my very much unwanted pregnancy, they gave me a less effective treatment because the effective one was dangerous for the fetus. The fetus that I told them I was going to terminate as soon as I got out of the hospital.
posted by SockMarionette at 7:32 PM on August 21, 2014 [21 favorites]


Since my previous comment was deleted (though archived), and this makes the point I was trying for rather nicely, I will quote for posterity:


But my daughter saw Penny weeping in the hotel kitchen and she turned to me and said incredulously "Why can't she just get an abortion?".

posted by fraxil at 7:37 PM on August 21, 2014 [2 favorites]


I just can't see where I can draw the line and say it wasn't my little guy.

That's because you were looking in the wrong place; it would have been some time after birth.
posted by myitkyina at 7:47 PM on August 21, 2014 [2 favorites]


SockMarionette, what country was this?
posted by orrnyereg at 7:50 PM on August 21, 2014 [1 favorite]


fraxil, I would love to live in a world where everyone has sex in a way such that a surprise pregnancy, should it happen, could be easily worked out between the man and woman involved in a way that makes everyone happy.

But that world isn't this one, yet. Right now, we're still in a place where women bear the brunt of contraception, in many cases they also bear the brunt of whether or not sex even takes place. This is not yet, if it ever will be, an issue of equal opportunity between the genders.

I've always been pro-choice but each pregnancy I've gone through has pushed me even farther into militant territory because the reality is that pregnancy is hard. Hard on the body, hard on day to day life, hard to explain to your employer that you need time off for appointments and that certain aspects of the job may have become impossible. And that's speaking as a privileged women with great health insurance and a committed partner who planned her pregnancies.
posted by padraigin at 7:56 PM on August 21, 2014 [13 favorites]


fraxil: "Since my previous comment was deleted (though archived), and this makes the point I was trying for rather nicely, I will quote for posterity:

But my daughter saw Penny weeping in the hotel kitchen and she turned to me and said incredulously "Why can't she just get an abortion?".


Fraxil, I didn't have the pleasure of reading your earlier, deleted comments, so...what are you getting at here?
posted by notsnot at 8:09 PM on August 21, 2014


Although I am lucky to have only had the experience of having a healthy child, I work with families and children who are born with a variety of disabilities, mostly genetic. They have varying levels of cognitive function. Part of my job is to find something to like about each child and family, regardless of their behavior (parent or child), which often includes aggression and sometimes fecal smearing. These parents have an incredibly hard time and sometimes they just can't (usually can't rather than won't or don't want to) handle raising these children. We have an imperfect social services system here in the US of A but I keep seeing them for as long as I can to advocate for their care. A lot of them improve their functioning over time, some don't. I can't assess their quality of life beyond what I see, but I haven't seen a child yet I don't think wants to be alive. I suspect that many of their parents would have aborted if given the chance, and some have told me so. Pregnancy can be very, very hard, and raising a child is almost always harder. These children are the hardest of the hard and many of them won't go on to live independently, marry, or be able to effectively advocate for themselves. I sympathize with many posters in this thread that it is hard to speak for a woman (or man) who is in the position of having an unexpected or unwanted child, with or without a disability. But I can't sympathize with Peter Singer or people who advocate for his beliefs that these lives are without value, or what seems worse to me, a matter of choice.
posted by fraxil at 8:11 PM on August 21, 2014


I am very pro-choice and I don't think that the lives of people with disabilities are without value. This is not an uncommon pairing.
posted by jeather at 8:17 PM on August 21, 2014 [35 favorites]


But I can't sympathize with Peter Singer or people who advocate for his beliefs that these lives are without value, or what seems worse to me, a matter of choice.

You're the first one to bring this up; no one else here has advocated or even mentioned this.
posted by rtha at 8:18 PM on August 21, 2014 [18 favorites]


I'll bite: have you actually read any of the links, fraxil? Or been following this case at all?
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 8:24 PM on August 21, 2014 [2 favorites]


What other species does this?

Lots of 'em.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:29 PM on August 21, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'll bite: have you actually read any of the links, fraxil? Or been following this case at all?


This is a red herring since the majority of the thread is not related to the specifics of the case (see first 10 posts for example).
posted by fraxil at 8:30 PM on August 21, 2014


You're the first one to bring this up; no one else here has advocated or even mentioned this.

this comment links to a description of Peter Singer's view, and the wording of the comment "it would have been sometime after birth" seems to suggest that choice may extend into the realm of infanticide. I assume fraxil was addressing that comment.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 8:30 PM on August 21, 2014 [1 favorite]


Did you read the links or not?
posted by mochapickle at 8:36 PM on August 21, 2014 [1 favorite]


And fraxil, I'm really not asking this with the purpose of singling you out. The whole question of where personhood begins has been covered at length in this community many times, and from all sides. I don't believe this particular thread will sway your opinion.

But the post is worthy: new information, new perspective.

We may not agree, but at least we can all benefit from a deeper understanding.
posted by mochapickle at 8:46 PM on August 21, 2014 [3 favorites]


I'm thinking of archiving this thread and showing it to my little guy when he's a few years older. Wonder what he'll make of it.

If your child has any empathy whatsoever, one hopes he'll turn to you and say "What the actual fuck is wrong with you?"

Bodily autonomy isn't negotiable. We have the choice, and the inalienable human right, to decide what happens to our bodies. Period.

By 'we' I don't mean men. I mean humans. Humanity, in case it wasn't clear, includes women. So you chose to have a child. That's lovely; you had the ability to choose that in clear conscience.

Not all women do. And until all women, everywhere on the planet, have 100% choice in what they do with their bodies, the stance of everyone in this thread except you is the correct one: women must have the ability to choose whether or not to take a pregnancy to term, and have access to safe and sterile conditions if their choice is not to.

You know why? Because neither you nor I have any right whatsofuckingever to make the choice for them. None. Zero. Nada. Zip. Zilch.

Women get to choose what they do with their bodies. Period. End of discussion.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:47 PM on August 21, 2014 [39 favorites]


I suppose I should note: this is not a man making this decision. This is a man who pays attention to women and what women want, and is supporting what women have told him personally and online what they want: the right to choose. Nobody--not another woman, not a man--has the right to impose choices on her. If you choose to have a baby, mazel tov! I hope your baby is healthy and has a long and happy life. If you choose not to have a baby, that decision may be tragic for any number of reasons, or it may be pragmatic, or both, but in any case, mazel tov! I hope your life is long and happy and healthy.

But it is your decision to make. Not mine. Not anyone else's. Yours.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:53 PM on August 21, 2014 [9 favorites]


One can acknowledge that women's autonomy is valuable without that deciding the abortion issue, if one thought of the fetus as not just a lump of flesh but as a human being.

If one thought that, then one would have weigh a woman's right to bodily autonomy against another human being's right not to be killed. And that's where the question gets dicy.

It's an interesting split on the abortion issue, because it reverses the usual dynamics. Liberals usually don't mind infringing individual autonomy if it means protecting the helpless and voiceless, and what could be more helpless and voiceless than a fetus? Meanwhile, conservatives usually want individual autonomy, damn the consequences, and what could be more worthy of autonomy than the body? In abortion the positions largely reverse.
posted by shivohum at 8:56 PM on August 21, 2014 [8 favorites]


Just so we're clear: this case is not just about bodily autonomy when it comes to access to abortion. The woman here was also force-fed, because her hunger strike could hurt her fetus. She was forced to undergo an involuntary c-section, because according to the Irish Constitution it is permissible to strap her down and slice her open without her consent in order to protect her fetus. This is about whether pregnant women have any right at all to control their own bodies if someone decides that their wishes contradict the best interests of their fetuses.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 8:59 PM on August 21, 2014 [52 favorites]


I'd agree that a child gains moral standing only after birth because humans are born quite "unfinished" relative to other species, but birth makes a convenient dividing line in practice. A fetus has no more moral standing than a sperm obviously.*

Imagine we develop an human-level artificial intelligence. I doubt you'd award it moral standing when the compiler finishes, but before we've even finished installing all the processors. Just ridiculous. In fact, we've many arguing our AI had no moral standing until after childhood amnesia.

* Except : If you damage a pre-human life in a manor that harms the human it develops into, then you've harmed an actual human, even though they did not exist when you committed the act. In particular, polluters who cause developmental disabilities have committed a crime against an actual human.
posted by jeffburdges at 8:59 PM on August 21, 2014 [3 favorites]


With respect to the OP, I found the link to the 8th amendment helpful. The language is clear and elegant. I find the assertion of the rights of the unborn convincing. The relationship between that amendment and the death of Savita Halappanavar is an interesting topic that I would like to hear more about from both sides.
posted by fraxil at 8:59 PM on August 21, 2014


If one thought that, then one would have weigh a woman's right to bodily autonomy against another human being's right not to be killed. And that's where the question gets dicy.

Except that a fetus isn't a human being. So.. yeah. Women get to choose what they do with their bodies, period. It's not 'valuable'; to call it such necessarily invites the idea that sometimes it's not valuable. That is incorrect.

Unless and until women are free of rape, and able and empowered to make birth control decisions that are 100% effective, without any interference from men whatsoever, women must have access to safe and legal abortion. Period.

With respect to the OP, I found the link to the 8th amendment helpful. The language is clear and elegant. I find the assertion of the rights of the unborn convincing.

And what of the rights of the mother to not be force fed? To not undergo forced medical procedures? To have the very simple human right of deciding what happens to and with her body?

You are privileging the 'rights' of a fetus that could end up miscarried over the actual existing rights of a fully autonomous human being.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:02 PM on August 21, 2014 [13 favorites]


this comment links to a description of Peter Singer's view

Ah, totally missed that. Thanks.
posted by rtha at 9:07 PM on August 21, 2014


Not to be obtuse, but ethics (more specifically principlist ethics) entails discussion of when and how we privilege some rights over others. It is part and parcel of the process. So yes, obviously, I am privileging (in many cases) the rights of the fetus to live over the rights of the mother to exercise bodily autonomy. This is not a point of discussion, actually. As someone pointed out, other threads have addressed the issue of fetal personhood. On the one hand, I can see the point of letting the issue rest. One the other, I don't agree that in all threads on the topic of abortion any one definition of personhood should be contested. It is a dilemma for the moderators, I'm sure. Still trying to work out what is appropriate behavior for these forums. If it is going to merely be an echo chamber I don't see the point of participating. Clearly some would prefer that some views not be expressed, but I am still holding out for the alternative.
posted by fraxil at 9:12 PM on August 21, 2014


[Reminder: the edit window is for typos, nothing more significant. If you need to supplement or reframe a thought you've already hit post on, do so in a followup comment.]
posted by cortex at 9:17 PM on August 21, 2014 [2 favorites]


So in other words it actually is fetus > mother unlike what you said earlier, and you were being obtuse dancing around it with prose instead of coming out and expressing your opinion without coming across as an otherwise disinclined observer who was recently Personally Moved.
posted by aydeejones at 9:19 PM on August 21, 2014 [14 favorites]


I am privileging (in many cases) the rights of the fetus to live over the rights of the mother to exercise bodily autonomy. This is not a point of discussion, actually.

You're right, but for the exact opposite of the reasons you think.

You can express your views as much as you like. Won't make them make them worth listening to, though.

Unless the following are true:

1) You are in favour of fact-based sexual health education in schools from puberty onwards, including giving teenagers access to condoms and other forms of birth control;

2) You are in favour of expanding social assistance programs to provide unquestioned lifelong assistance to the women you would force to bring babies to term, and their children, up to and including paying for post-secondary education;

3) You are personally working to ensure that any babies you force women to carry to term will be adopted and not either raised by a mother who doesn't want them or shunted into the hellhole that is the foster care system.

Are you in favour of these things?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:22 PM on August 21, 2014 [16 favorites]


Sometimes that's where the negative response gets amped up, but when it comes to such a fundamental split of opinion I'd say the level of discourse is still pretty high, especially for an "echo chamber" on this particularly divisive issue. In response to shivorum, liberals don't consider things like taxation for food safety or to have things like the CDC or WIC to be "infringing on autonomy" -- conservatives just happen to have some central feeling that It Will All Work Out while they Take Care of Their Own. If you belong to the right communities and churches or families, you don't need "autonomy-infringing things" like taxes or gun control.

I guess fundamentally it is consistent -- like a civil libertarian, because liberals are to varying degrees, we consider your right to be autonomous "overruled" or contravening ours at the point where your fist is in our face or your hands are protecting our uterus. I don't have a uterus but I stand in solidarity with those who do. Liberals might lean increasingly towards defining "infringing on me" for example prohibiting monopolies from forming and ruining our lives c.f. Standard Oil or CitiGroup (whoops)
posted by aydeejones at 9:23 PM on August 21, 2014 [1 favorite]


I don't have a uterus but I stand in solidarity with those who do.

Much better way of saying what I said earlier. Thank you.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:24 PM on August 21, 2014 [1 favorite]


Yes, FFFM, I absolutely would! By the way, foster care isn't always terrible.
posted by fraxil at 9:42 PM on August 21, 2014


Okay, so until those things are realities, your hands off the uteruses of other women, got it? Good.

And foster care may not always be terrible but it is so very fucking often that consigning a child to that particular roulette is abominable. That so few young women have no other choices is disgusting.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:48 PM on August 21, 2014 [2 favorites]


I don't think it should matter what conditions exist for children, when it comes to autonomy. There is no timetable or finish line when basic rights for women don't matter anymore. Because anti-choice is fundamentally anti-women.
posted by krinklyfig at 10:00 PM on August 21, 2014 [15 favorites]


So, I get why people dislike abortion. I like babies, I like the idea of any individual fetus having a shot at life. But put that against a woman's ability to have control of what happens in and to her body, and the idea of the future human loses to the woman who is here, who has a life.

Also, fraxil, quiverfull.com? really? That leads me to believe you are anti-birth control, as well as other forms of reproductive choice.
posted by theora55 at 10:17 PM on August 21, 2014 [15 favorites]


Oh FFS. So this was obviously a lie, then.

Ugggggggggggggggggggggggggh.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:23 PM on August 21, 2014


Oh, wow.
posted by rtha at 10:25 PM on August 21, 2014


That was not there earlier.
posted by mochapickle at 10:31 PM on August 21, 2014


I'm not sure where fraxil made reference to quiverfull. Is this another edit window thing?
posted by kafziel at 10:33 PM on August 21, 2014


Psst... Follow theora's link.
posted by mochapickle at 10:42 PM on August 21, 2014 [3 favorites]


fraxil: Not to be obtuse, but ethics (more specifically principlist ethics) entails discussion of when and how we privilege some rights over others. It is part and parcel of the process. So yes, obviously, I am privileging (in many cases) the rights of the fetus to live over the rights of the mother to exercise bodily autonomy.

The thing is, nobody is requiring you to donate blood or marrow to save the life of anyone. The law can't make you donate marrow to save your dying teenage child's life if you do not want to. This is because you are recognised as a human being with body autonomy and you can't be subjected to invasive medical procedures without your consent.

That you don't recognise women's right to determine what they do with their own body only means that, as said above, you grant them less rights than you'd give a corpse.
posted by sukeban at 10:54 PM on August 21, 2014 [37 favorites]


Oh wow.
posted by kafziel at 10:55 PM on August 21, 2014


One thing that really nauseates me, as a woman and as a mother, is when people draw an equivalence between being in favor of legal access to abortion and being somehow anti-child, or hating babies, or finding people with disabilities worthless, or something.

I've been pregnant six times. Four of those pregnancies I lost to miscarriage, in what was easily and without question the worst period of my life. My two children, I loved watching their ultrasounds -- the two chamber heart developing to the four chamber heart, my son lying on his back at ten weeks waving his limb buds in the air like Yertle the Turtle. (We called him Yertle for the rest of the pregnancy.) Both of them have, not disabilities exactly, but definitely physiologic quirks that make them substantially more complicated than your average child. I love them fiercely and fully; I grew them in my body, nourished them with my body, and my life is currently devoted to furthering their joy and growth. And I am fiercely and proudly pro-choice. Impugn my love for my children on that basis at your peril.
posted by KathrynT at 10:58 PM on August 21, 2014 [38 favorites]


what, for real?
posted by sukeban at 10:58 PM on August 21, 2014


[Hey folks, not really a serious privacy issue in this specific case but please be mindful about pulling stuff from profile pages into conversations in threads.]
posted by cortex at 10:59 PM on August 21, 2014 [2 favorites]


I suggest shunning is better than engaging the duplicitous misogynist.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:01 PM on August 21, 2014 [19 favorites]


Hello from Ireland. Regarding the OP it is not always 'a man', there are plenty of women on the anti-choice bus here too. So please don't generalise like that.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 12:10 AM on August 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


I have always been pro-choice, but currently being in month 7 of a totally wanted, planned pregnancy about which I am really excited, I am more pro-choice now than I have ever been. Even though I have had for all intents and purposes an "easy" pregnancy, it has been so, so hard on my body (and ask me about my current miserable cold I can't take medication for!) and has had an adverse effect on several areas of my life that didn't really need it. The only reason I am okay with putting up with this is because it was my choice to do so. I cannot even begin to comprehend the resentment and anger I would be feeling going through all this against my will. The Ireland laws are absolutely sickening to me.
posted by olinerd at 12:28 AM on August 22, 2014 [28 favorites]


GallonOfAlan, I believe the man referred to there is the rapist: she didn't "get to say 'no' [to being impregnated]" because the rapist "had other ideas" (and then later she didn't get to say 'no' to giving birth because the state forced her to have the baby). But yeah, the wording is a bit confusing.
posted by taz at 1:01 AM on August 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


GallonOfAlan, if you mean the first line of the OP, "not if a man has other ideas and the state decides to enforce his use of a woman’s body", the man in question is the rapist, whose "other idea" is to ignore a woman saying "no" to sex.

(Disclaimer: I reject the gender essentialism of the OP - not everyone unwillingly pregnant identifies as a woman, and not everyone physiologically capable of impregnating someone identifies as male - but it's a pretty big digression.)
posted by gingerest at 1:01 AM on August 22, 2014 [3 favorites]


Here is a pretty heartbreaking interview with the woman. In a way it's even worse than being flat out denied an abortion by the law. As a suicidal pregnant woman (and she made an actual suicide attempt) she was entitled to an abortion under the 2013 law, but it looks like they delayed her case until she was over 24 weeks then forced her to have a caesarian.

Also, here are countrywide figures from last year's Ipsos MRBI poll: people support abortion for risk to life (89%), risk to health (78%), fatal foetal abnormality (83%) and rape and abuse (81%). The government are basically too cowardly to legislate for this, rural TDs are afraid of losing their seats - the minority against all abortion is a very vocal one, and they treat this differently to any other political issue. The NRA in America is the closest parallel I can think of.

Note also that the government's 'lalala I can't hear you' attitude is also in breach of our UN and European Court of Human Rights treaty obligations.
posted by kersplunk at 2:15 AM on August 22, 2014 [9 favorites]


There was a comment made by a member of The Ruling Class that there was "no appetite for another referendum".

I'm not sure if he meant no appetite within government, or no appetite within the voting population.

Either way, he's wrong. Wrong in gauging the public's mood and wrong in having the arrogance to assume the government won't bend to the publics will.

Also, the catholic church is morally bankrupt at this stage. They have more pressing ethical issues to tidy up before they dictate on the sanctity of a bunch of cells. But let's really cut to the chase. This is all about power and control.
posted by Homemade Interossiter at 3:32 AM on August 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


What other species does this?

Many if not most of them. It's just that (as far as we know) other species don't have the ability to intentionally abort before viability and so they opt for killing their young when they're fully gestated and outside of the body. Eating them is optional.
posted by rmd1023 at 4:01 AM on August 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


Ireland's version of The Onion puts it well - Thousands of women flocking to ireland to not have abortions
posted by night_train at 5:13 AM on August 22, 2014 [7 favorites]


What other species does this?

As rtha said way above, this is a question that doesn't matter, but it is also a self-obviously uninformed question as well. It's always ok to be wrong, but willful ignorance is never a good thing.

It's a disgusting case and I feel for the woman. I'm sure similar (or worse) cases have happened in the US, but there's something particular to how Ireland has effectively outsourced its abortion access to England that plays into the ability to ignore public sentiment and not change the laws.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:16 AM on August 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


One of the things that confuses me about this story is the c-section when we are barely at the cusp of viability. She obviously isn't getting an abortion at 25 weeks when she hasn't been able to get one for the 17 previous weeks, so why did they force the c-section instead of continuing to force-feed her until the baby would have actually been something close to okay?

This is a horrible question to be asking, but it sounded like they don't care about the woman's health (a given), but also they don't really care about the baby once it is born, as long as it is born.
posted by jeather at 5:42 AM on August 22, 2014 [8 favorites]


I absolutely loathe it when people justify anti-choice positions with some sort of "but think of all the children with disabilities who wouldn't be born!! Don't you value them?"

I am a 36 year old woman with Cerebral Palsy, who was born when my mother was 27 weeks pregnant, and I am vehemently pro-choice. It drives me bonkers when people use me as an example of why they're anti-choice. My brother has done this a few times on Facebook basically saying "but look at my awesome sister who was born so early and contributes to society and blah blah blah" until I told him to stop doing that.

The first thing is, if my mother had chosen to abort me, I, as a being would not be aware of it, would not be hurt at the life I could have had. I wouldn't *know*.

Secondly, you know what? Life with CP and multiple eye diseases etc isn't a walk in the park, and I have a mild case. I know people want to hear all the "look at what I've overcome, I never let my disability get in the way of life, it doesn't matter, blah blah inspiration porn, blah" but that's bullshit. Sometimes it's really, really hard to not be depressed and lonely and angry.

Every person born does not have a valuable life just because they are, in fact, alive. Quality of life is important too.
posted by aclevername at 5:48 AM on August 22, 2014 [61 favorites]


Abortion Support Network is a charity I have donated to before. They provide funds and accommodation for women from the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, as well as the Isle of Man. Contrary to what was mentioned above, abortions cost Irish women money, between €600 and €2000 (between $800 and $2700). Northern Irish taxpayers pay National Insurance (which funds the NHS), but unlike English, Scottish and Welsh taxpayers (who all have access to abortion services), this does not entitle them to free abortions in England, Scotland or Wales. They would receive free medical treatment for other conditions, I believe.
posted by fanlight at 6:08 AM on August 22, 2014 [6 favorites]


I should also mention, many of the women seeking help from charities find out they are pregnant in the first trimester, but many of them cannot raise the funds or take the time off work until their second trimester, which involves a more expensive procedure. Often they find out once they get to the clinic in England that they need to find an extra few hundred pounds to have the termination, as they are over the number of weeks permitted for a medical abortion, for example.
posted by fanlight at 6:12 AM on August 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


jeather: One of the things that confuses me about this story is the c-section when we are barely at the cusp of viability.

There's a good timeline of the entire case here, the HSE (state health service) seem to have misinterpreted the recently passed legislation and will most likely be subject to legal action.

More broadly let me just add another voice from Ireland here to make it clear that many people here consider what has happened (and will continue to happen) to be outrageous; we are protesting, we are agitating for legal change (which will require a referendum in all likelihood). As kersplunk says above provision of safe, legal abortion services (in at least some circumstances) most likely enjoys much wider support than the body politic seems to acknowledge but it is opposed by a small but extremely vocal and well-funded group of extremists (along with a broader bedrock of support anchored around the Catholic church). It's worth noting that many of these extremist "pro-life" organisations are heavily funded by donations from the US.

One would hope that as a more honest discussion and debate happens on this topic (as it has with so many social issues in the past 20 years in Ireland) we will see a further shift of opinion, and the end of this "Irish solution for an Irish problem". The days of women traveling to England (or being legally or economically denied even that option) to exercise control over their own bodies have got to end.
posted by nfg at 6:34 AM on August 22, 2014 [7 favorites]


I would much prefer to live in an echo chamber when it comes to having to know that people believe real human women deserve less rights than corpses and animals.
posted by bleep at 7:06 AM on August 22, 2014 [19 favorites]


Meanwhile, conservatives usually want individual autonomy, damn the consequences, and what could be more worthy of autonomy than the body?

Missing from this formulation is the fact that we're talking about women's autonomy. Note for example in the not-terribly-clueful comments in the satirical article night_train linked above, which are always "she *does* have a choice, she can abstain". Setting aside the nontrivial problem about "abstaining" from being raped, note the lack of mention of contraception.

We're talking about a kind of conservative who has a rather large blind spot about "individual autonomy and damn the consequences" when it comes to applying it to half the human race.
posted by George_Spiggott at 7:32 AM on August 22, 2014 [3 favorites]


It's not a blind spot. They don't believe in individual autonomy for women at all. Men are in charge and women must do as they're told.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 7:39 AM on August 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


The eighth amendment was passed in 1983, which means the youngest person who could have voted for it would now be 49 years old. Every successive government has ignored or dodged the issue, even when facing EU and UN reprobation from the inevitable fallouts.

The aggravating thing is that because of the hot button nature of the topic, none of the mainstream parties have any clear position on it at all. Aside from a few lonely leftists like Clare Daly or Ivana Bacik (who come with their own problems), there's no-one plausible you can really vote for who will promise to change the status quo.

And because it's in the constitution, the only way to change it is by direct referendum. People who might have died 30 years ago have more control over women's health than our current elected representatives. There's no mechanism to trigger a referendum other than the government deciding to do it -- which, well, see above. It would be odd for a government party to declare a referendum, and then maintain no official position on the outcome. (Referendums on social issues have also become more divisive since the Coughlan Judgment, which mandates equal platforms for both sides, even if one side represents a tiny minority of public opinion).

Of the four referendums on abortion since 1983, the proposals presented to the public were just lame attempts to tie the government's hands even more, and avoid the scenario painted in this alternative history story. (you'd swear politicians don't actually want responsibility in this country sometimes).

So you have legislators who are forbidden by the constitution to legislate, and are not willing, or required, to shoulder the responsibility of changing the system. And there's no real pressure to change because the 4,000 women in need every year can just take the ferry to Liverpool -- except when they can't, due to age, poverty, or visa issues. If there isn't pressure from the public, then nothing will be changed -- which makes the "hey-let's-wait-for-the-facts-before-rushing-to-judgment" stances of the Ministers for Health and Justice seem both sensible and disingenuous.
posted by rollick at 7:50 AM on August 22, 2014 [3 favorites]


The government should not get to decide what medical procedures I should have or not have. And besides all that - I am more important than a lump of cells. That others believe differently is one of the most frightening things in all the world.
posted by agregoli at 7:54 AM on August 22, 2014 [12 favorites]


divined by radio: Sisters in Ireland! We hear you. How can we help you?
Nothing works on these fuckers except ridicule, humiliation and the infliction of real political pain from outside the country. Stop buying Irish stuff and tell people it's because the country's run by medieval hypocrites. Picket Paddy's Day marches with photographs of the women they murdered. Don't for fuck's sake come here on holiday, and write to the tourist office telling them why you skipped us in favour of the UK. Persuade your friends to do the same.

Most of all, if you're in the US, do something to make sure that the organisations here who make this shit happen -- the ones who raise fake armies of letter-writers, the ones who make death threats to members of parliament, the ones who erect posters covered in blood and gore -- stop getting millions of dollars every year from American fucking twats, since your backyard is where ALL the money comes from which makes this happen in Ireland.
posted by genghis at 7:59 AM on August 22, 2014 [16 favorites]


Is there any sort of support organization to help out women in bad financial shape who can't afford the fare to the UK?
posted by George_Spiggott at 8:10 AM on August 22, 2014


Is there any sort of support organization to help out women in bad financial shape who can't afford the fare to the UK?

Per fanlight's excellent comment, Abortion Support Network is the way to go. Here's their donation page.
Abortion Support Network provides financial assistance and accommodation to women* travelling from the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. Funding is available on a case by case basis depending on financial need and availability of funding.

We also provide confidential, non-judgmental information to anyone who contacts us via phone or email who is seeking information about travelling to England for an abortion.

* ASN does not ask gender when communicating with clients, nor does gender identity influence grant eligibility.
posted by divined by radio at 8:41 AM on August 22, 2014 [5 favorites]


The government should not get to decide what medical procedures I should have or not have. And besides all that - I am more important than a lump of cells. That others believe differently is one of the most frightening things in all the world.
posted by agregoli at 7:54 AM on August 22 [2 favorites −] Favorite added! [Flagged]


I love this comment. (flagged = fantastic)
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 9:33 AM on August 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


fraxil: I don't think this is a site where you can expect a nuanced conversation about the pro's and con's of legalized abortion. I'm not sure such a site exists on the internet.

I'm sure there are plenty of other sites that will give you an echo chamber of folks that agree with your position, but this isn't one of them.

Thankfully.
posted by el io at 3:17 PM on August 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


I don't know man, it can get pretty rowdy in the comments section over at First Things.
posted by fraxil at 4:01 PM on August 22, 2014


Per fanlight's excellent comment, Abortion Support Network is the way to go. Here's their donation page.

Hmm... Doesn't seem to allow me to donate from the US, even through PayPal. Anyone know a way around it?

I'm in a very giving mood.
posted by mochapickle at 4:39 PM on August 22, 2014


There is a concept called body autonomy. Its generally considered a human right. Bodily autonomy means a person has control over who or what uses their body, for what, and for how long. Its why you can’t be forced to donate blood, tissue, or organs. Even if you are dead. Even if you’d save or improve 20 lives. It’s why someone can’t touch you, have sex with you, or use your body in any way without your continuous consent.

A fetus is using someone’s body parts. Therefore under bodily autonomy, it is there by permission, not by right. It needs a persons continuous consent. If they deny and withdraw their consent, the pregnant person has the right to remove them from that moment. A fetus is equal in this regard because if I need someone else’s body parts to live, they can also legally deny me their use.

By saying a fetus has a right to someone’s body parts until it’s born, despite the pregnant person’s wishes, you are doing two things.

1. Granting a fetus more rights to other people’s bodies than any born person.
2. Awarding a pregnant person less rights to their body than a corpse.
Taking this argument at face value, it means that women must be granted the unconditional right to abort a pregnancy at any time up until birth, and that to argue otherwise is to violate their human rights. However, none of the other EU states acknowledge this right. That casts doubt on it being "generally considered a human right". Abortion law in almost all EU states is a variation on "legal up to x weeks, thereafter only permitted for medical reasons". Aside from the explicit mention of a time limit, Ireland's 2013 law is not significantly different to other EU states, for example Germany and Italy. Even the uber-progressive Scandanavian states place restrictions on abortion beyond a certain time limit, which is an implicit rejection of the idea that bodily autonomy is an absolute right. Ireland does not even have the most restrictive abortion laws in the EU, that dubious honour belongs to Malta, where abortion is illegal under all circumstances. So why the all the outrage at Ireland but not at Malta?

The example given of organ donation just further weakens the case for bodily autonomy as an absolute right. What exactly is wrong with mandatory organ donation? Why should the rights of a corpse supersede the possible life-saving benefit to multiple living individuals? The arguments against are generally sops to the religious or outright superstition, and the fact that pro-choice absolutists are hitching their wagon to this just shows the weakness of their case. Likewise, there is nothing wrong with the idea of mandatory vaccination, which is another violation of the principle, and is potentially fatal. Personally I'd even support the right of the state to conscript healthy individuals into blood donation in a state of emergency. Of course, demanding that a woman carry a fetus to term is a larger imposition than any of those things, which is why abortion must permitted with restrictions, but the fact remains that bodily autonomy is not an absolute right, and supporting the status quo of "legal up to week x, available but restricted thereafter" does not make you a monster, a hater of women or a denier of their humanity.
posted by L.P. Hatecraft at 1:09 AM on August 23, 2014 [1 favorite]


Interview with the victim, including an updated timeline of events. May be upsetting to read.
posted by rollick at 4:46 AM on August 23, 2014


[A couple of comments deleted; please just link to articles, rather than pasting the entire text here, thanks.]
posted by taz at 5:55 AM on August 23, 2014


There is nothing weak whatsoever about the pro-choice position.

And if you could show me pro-choice people who say that women should be able to abort babies up until birth I will eat my hat. Strawmen aren't useful here. Every pro-choice person I have met, self included, draws the line when a baby is viable, barring the occasional case where either the mother or baby will die.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 7:01 AM on August 23, 2014 [3 favorites]


And if you could show me pro-choice people who say that women should be able to abort babies up until birth I will eat my hat.

I woudn't word it like that, but I certainly don't think that there should be legal restrictions on abortion based on gestational age. The woman with no health problems and a healthy fetus who changes her mind after 8 months is mythical, as is the doctor who would perform this abortion, so it's a moot point. Abortions past about 20 weeks are late because it took the woman too long to get the time and money together, or because of emergent health problems, and I don't think either of these groups is well-served by having to prove that they are legally some kind of exception.
posted by jeather at 7:30 AM on August 23, 2014 [13 favorites]


The woman with no health problems and a healthy fetus who changes her mind after 8 months is mythical, as is the doctor who would perform this abortion, so it's a moot point.

More or less my point. Not being snarky; we are in agreement. (Not that it matters, in a large sense, whether I agree or not; I don't have a uterus therefore I do not get to tell anyone who does what they can do with theirs. The only thing I can do is support the right to choose what other people wish to do with their own bodies.)
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:35 AM on August 23, 2014


And if you could show me pro-choice people who say that women should be able to abort babies up until birth I will eat my hat.

I'll say it: women should be able to abort until birth. In Canada, we have no time limit laws. I strongly disagree with the motions being made to introduce legal limits.

Of course, the only women who are going to succeed in finding a licensed doctor to perform a late-term abortion are those for whom it is a medical emergency.

There is no problem with the situation as it stands. There are no crazy women out there obtaining unnecessary abortions at the eleventh hour.

Control of body autonomy is a right. Provided they can find a licensed doctor to perform it, a consenting adult can have any surgery they desire.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:35 AM on August 23, 2014 [7 favorites]


I suspect we do agree, fffm, but I want to make it clear that I think that women should, legally, be able to abort at any time during their pregnancy (as indeed they are here). Practically it won't happen except for what most people would consider good reasons (though I will point out that I think people should be able get abortions whether or not other people think their reasons are good or bad), because practically it already does not happen. If you don't want a child, you're not going to go through 7 or 8 months of pregnancy for fun.

I think that this is a medical decision which should be made by the pregnant woman and her medical professionals, not in any way restricted by law. Furthermore, I think that abortion should be covered in full by the goverment, just like other health care is.
posted by jeather at 8:48 AM on August 23, 2014 [7 favorites]


Provided they can find a licensed doctor to perform it, a consenting adult can have any surgery they desire.

Well, and not to derail too far, that may be a bit of a stretch. Consenting adults may well be able to find doctors who will perform surgeries they desire due to mental illness--I recall an FPP here sometime in the past few years about voluntary amputees for example. So, I'd agree with you if by 'consenting' you mean informed (as in rational) consent?

And I guess that may be where I draw my personal line. I feel that if someone has carried a fetus to the point where it is externally viable without extraordinary medical measures, and there are no medical concerns outside of the usual pregnancy concerns, they probably should just have it. BUT. In no way ever should that be enshrined in law, nor would I ever push, pressure, or even mention it to any person making such a decision. Personal feeling only. Again, no uterus, so no right to make a decision for someone who has one.

I'm probably explaining myself poorly. Maybe the best tldr version is: I may not think that abortion is okay up to ~40 weeks, but I would never stand in the way of a pregnant person who does, and I would stand in the way of anyone who thinks they can inflict that decision on someone. My personal feelings don't outweigh your bodily autonomy.

Furthermore, I think that abortion should be covered in full by the government, just like other health care is.

Absofuckinglutely.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:55 AM on August 23, 2014 [2 favorites]


Should probably add: no right to make or influence a decision for someone who has a uterus. The only acceptable response, I think, is "Okay. Is there anything I can do to help?"

Is that the right way to respond? Honest question.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:08 AM on August 23, 2014


I like your question, fffm. I think a variation would be: "How do you feel? Is there anything I can do to help?"
posted by mochapickle at 9:34 AM on August 23, 2014




I think the benefits of granting women full personhood and control of their bodies, through all months of pregnancy without exception, far far outweigh the risk of the tiny, infinintesimal number of women who would go through 8.5 months of pregnancy and then demand (and find a doctor to perform) an abortion on a healthy fetus. Such a person may well exist, such a doctor might well exst, in the vast possibilities of human nature, but neither will be anything but an outiler.

Meanwhile, when abortion is banned, women have them anyway. They have them too late, they have them unsafely, they have them in ways that fund criminal activity, they have them in ways that kill themselves along with the fetus. But they have them.

Even if, were women's right to abortion granted without restrictions, a vanishingly few number of women managed to obtain medically unnecessary abortions at 8.5 weeks, the actual number of lives lost would drop dramatically. Even more so if paired with free, easily-accessible birth control.

People restricting abortion think they are saving the lives of babies heartlessly aborted at full term by women crazed by too much freedom; but what they are really doing is ensuring more people die. When they are the same people (and they are always the same people) who oppose access to contraception, they are making even more sure that unwanted fetuses are created who women will seek desperately to abort, even if it might kill them.

That's the grain of sand in the whole "protecting women and babies" conceit of prolife rhetoric, the one gnat that refuses to be swallowed; women will not stop trying for their freedom.

You can shove bloody pictures or cooing words at them, and call them murderers or worship them as mother goddesses, but they stubbornly persist, in their maddening way, in wanting control over the process of gestation and birth, including the right to end it. Unwanted pregnancy is not a miracle; it is a curse and women will go to incredible lengths to escape it.

We want to control our own bodies. We will never stop wanting that. There is no argument or law that will make us stop wanting that. And that includes our bodies in pregnancy. Our bodies belong to us.
posted by emjaybee at 9:02 PM on August 23, 2014 [20 favorites]


After having been told for years that there's no philosophical difference between something like, say, RU486 and having Peter Singer personally strangle at-term babies; that the slippery slope is inescapable and the awesome power of regulation is all that stands between us and legal infanticide; after all these years I am gobsmacked to discover that in fact the slippery slope runs the other way as well, and that there are ostensibly sane human beings who, if they are granted the ability to regulate abortion at all, will see no philosophical difference between the normal scrutiny of medical services and the force-feeding of pregnant women as if they were recalcitrant livestock or laboratory specimens awaiting vivisection. It's as if it turned put that work-for-the-dole schemes were a mere prelude to the literal consumption of unemployed people: you always thought there was a sort of reasonable middle-ground but no, there's the Minister for Employment tucking into a brace of superfluous labourers.
posted by Joe in Australia at 11:23 PM on August 23, 2014 [3 favorites]


Furthermore, I think that abortion should be covered in full by the government, just like other health care is.

Isn't it? Excuse the dumb question, but I know several women who have had abortions and it was covered by OHIP (I'm in Ontario)
posted by aclevername at 12:18 AM on August 24, 2014


I'm not entirely sure I get your drift, Joe, but consider that Canada has literally no laws limiting abortion, yet somehow it all works out exactly the same as countries with legal limits.

If I'm reading you correctly—well, I'm gobsmacked that you'd needlessly invite the involvement of politicians, cops, and judges. That you'd wish to get the likes of Abbott involved when there is clearly nothing to be gained and much that could be lost.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:59 AM on August 24, 2014


Isn't it? Excuse the dumb question, but I know several women who have had abortions and it was covered by OHIP (I'm in Ontario)

In Quebec it is only somewhat recently covered at clinics (instead of hospitals, where it has long been covered). I think it's very difficult to get in the Maritimes -- there are no providers in PEI or Nova Scotia, and travel isn't always covered or approved, and the last clinic in NB closed this summer. I believe it is covered in the territories, though you always need to go south for one.
posted by jeather at 6:00 AM on August 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


FFF, what I mean is, that people opposed to abortion always had one killer argument against the wishy-washy masses (like me) who wish for some sort of middle ground: there is no bright line differentiating between what we wishy-washy sorts think of as "OK" and "not OK" abortions. Consequently, the argument runs, we don't have a moral position, just a squeamish one, and we lack the integrity to fend off the hypothetical hordes of pro-abortion activists who want to chop babies up with pinking shears.

Well, now it turns out that we also don't have a bright line distinguishing between "OK" and "not OK" restrictions on abortions, and that the threat of loony-tune fertility fascists is actually a lot more real and present than the threat of Peter Singer with his scissors come to cut up your kids. So what Ireland has done, in effect, is hand their killer argument over to the other side. Every woman, and everyone who cares about women, can now see that anti-abortion laws lead inexorably to compulsory confinement and forced caeserians.
posted by Joe in Australia at 6:41 AM on August 24, 2014


I'd like to go on record as saying that if I had to point to a bright line crossover from OK to Not OK, it'd be when the water breaks.
posted by kafziel at 1:24 PM on August 24, 2014


Isn't it? Excuse the dumb question, but I know several women who have had abortions and it was covered by OHIP (I'm in Ontario)

This is a good article about issues with regards to travel and rural access - it notes that NB doesn't cover any abortions performed outside of a hospital w/ 2 doctors' written permission letters. A lot of provinces don't cover abortions when the person is outside of their home province - which covers any student who is attending an out-of-province school.

Shamelessly going to point back to a post I made earlier this month about abortion in NB, which is now in a very similar situation to Ireland, IMO.
posted by Lemurrhea at 7:22 PM on August 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


L.P. Hatecraft: I believe the bodily autonomy argument is actually very logically consistent.

Taking this argument at face value, it means that women must be granted the unconditional right to abort a pregnancy at any time up until birth, and that to argue otherwise is to violate their human rights. However, none of the other EU states acknowledge this right. That casts doubt on it being "generally considered a human right".

When we are talking about bodily autonomy we are talking about both the fetus and the mother. The fetus cannot demand that the mother provide life to him, but the mother, once she decides she does not want to be pregnant should not mean that she gets to take life from a viable fetus. She can ask to not be pregnant anymore but at that point, a C-section can be performed instead.

The example given of organ donation just further weakens the case for bodily autonomy as an absolute right. What exactly is wrong with mandatory organ donation? Why should the rights of a corpse supersede the possible life-saving benefit to multiple living individuals?

Although, the comparisons have been made between the rights of a corpse and a woman, the actual analogy is between two live people. Mandatory organ donation between live people is generally not accepted as a positive thing, even if more lives are saved that way.


So let's take the organ donation example. Person A is dependent on Person B and the longer they stay connected, the more independent A gets. It is generally accepted that B can pull out of the arrangement at any time for any reason because B's bodily autonomy is a right. If A is able to be independent but not completely healthy, and B decides they want out, B doesn't get to decide what happens to A, only that A isn't connected anymore. Different procedures are available for disconnection at different stages.

Also, remember that a scenario where the mother and fetus are perfectly healthy and the mother wants/is able to abort at 38 weeks is so incredibly rare.


I had always been not anti-abortion but not rabidly pro-choice until the bodily autonomy argument was presented to me. It is just so logically consistent, it is the backbone of my pro-choice stance now.
posted by LizBoBiz at 10:39 AM on August 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


LizBoBiz, I think your analogy is the same as Judith Jarvis Thomson's "violinist" argument. It didn't really satisfy me when we "did" it at Uni, for a few reasons:
Firstly, there really are adult human beings physically attached to other people, whose lives depend upon them: conjoined twins. At least some of these people could probably survive an operation that would separate them, while killing their twin. I think most of us would be profoundly shocked at the idea of a doctor performing such an operation, all the more so if it were treated as a medical and not a legal procedure.

Secondly (and this is just undergraduate hairsplitting, but we're talking about philosophy) the fact that you can kill a fetus without killing its mother doesn't in itself give the mother a moral right to kill the fetus. If you stipulate (as the violinist argument does) that the fetus may be a person, then there is effectively one body with two people in it. This is why Thomson depends on the claim that the attachment was done involuntarily, but that leads to:

Finally, some of us might very well agree that under some circumstances the person attached to the violinist should be compelled to remain that way. What if it's for one hour? One day? Or one week? Surely there's some point at which we say "Yes, it may be wrong to kidnap you to save someone else's life, but the inconvenience to you is so small and the benefit is so great that I will do it anyway." If you accept this in principle then the violinist argument is no longer one about absolute rights, just a circumstantial question of cost/benefit.

This is why I think that what it really comes down to is whether we think fetuses are people. We accept abortion because almost all of us do not, actually, believe that a blastocyst is a person. People arguing the contrary usually say "Aha! But you cannot point to any clear division between a blastocyst, a fetus, and a child; therefore they all have the same moral worth." But that doesn't change the fact that at some point we are clearly dealing with something that lacks the qualities we think of as being inherent in a person. It's different in retrospect, of course: we can see the child that was in the adult that is, and I suppose mothers can possibly retroject their experience even further. But looking at things in the present tense, almost nobody really thinks a few cells is a human being.
posted by Joe in Australia at 7:19 PM on August 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


The thing is, it's not a thought experiment. These are real people. It's the homeless mentally ill woman who learns she's pregnant at 22 weeks, when she comes in to the ER for a lung infection that will kill her if she doesn't get antibiotics that could do major harm to the fetus. It's the woman desperately, lovingly pregnant with twins, with serious pre-eclampsia that has already killed one baby and is killing the other, whose blood pressure is too high to survive labor and whose platelet count is too low to survive a c-section. It's the woman whose baby has a kidney defect and isn't making amniotic fluid and as a result will never live outside the womb, because the lung function that depends on that fluid can't happen, but who can't terminate the pregnancy because she's too sick to travel to a non-Catholic hospital and the fetus is still technically alive, and will be until she delivers. These are real people, and they really need medical care.
posted by KathrynT at 7:33 PM on August 26, 2014 [10 favorites]


Yes.
posted by Joe in Australia at 7:39 PM on August 26, 2014 [2 favorites]


I had no idea this was even a thing. How can this be a thing?
Indiana woman charged with feticide after unborn child's death
posted by Joe in Australia at 8:08 PM on August 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


Regulatory capture by religious extremists is how.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:10 PM on August 26, 2014 [3 favorites]


I felt the need to revisit this discussion after reading this. KathrynT gave some great examples of how this is not an abstract topic for women. Here's another.

I was thrilled to learn that my sister was pregnant, even more so when I learned she was going to have twins. She very much wanted to be a mother so when she went into early labor at 23 weeks, my family was devastated. 23 weeks stood out to me - a lot of states ban abortion after 20 weeks but some doctors will only offer palliative care and won't resuscitate babies born earlier than 24 weeks, making this awful limbo in between 20-24 weeks.

About 48 hours after she went to the hospital, my sister started to develop a fever, indicating to the doctors that her infection was getting worse and she needed to deliver the twins ASAP. They survived for a few hours. My sister got pregnant again and had a daughter recently. I was overjoyed to meet my niece.

Savita Halappanavar died in an Irish hospital less than two months before my sister's twins were born. It blows my mind that if my sister had gone to a hospital in Ireland in similar circumstances, doctors would have prioritized the lives of the twins, who were incredibly unlikely to survive, above her life. I was devastated to lose my niece and nephew. They were - they are - part of my family. I can't imagine how I would feel if I had also lost my sister.

This topic is not a thought experiment. This isn't Philosophy 101. It's very real. It's life or death. Which is why I wish that amateur ethicists, politicians, clergy, etc. would all find something else to do with their time so doctors can help patients make good decisions.
posted by kat518 at 8:58 PM on August 26, 2014 [11 favorites]




Joe:

Firstly, in the case of conjoined twins, if they share organs, then one does not have the right to the organs more than the other. This would be the case you referred to where separating them would kill one twin while the other lived.

Secondly, the moral right is not to kill the fetus, it is to be separated from the fetus. If it is before the fetus is viable on its own, then sorry fetus, you don't get more right to this person's body more than any other person in the world does. If the fetus is viable, then doctors could try to save it as I would think choosing to be separated would probably be a termination of parental rights.

Finally: some of us might very well agree that under some circumstances the person attached to the violinist should be compelled to remain that way...If you accept this in principle then the violinist argument is no longer one about absolute rights, just a circumstantial question of cost/benefit.

I do not accept this principle. By accepting this principle, one does not believe in bodily autonomy. What does this comment add except to state that some people do not believe the way I believe?


And yes, this is not a philosophy argument. There are very real consequences for the type of laws and beliefs as seen in the articles in the OP.
posted by LizBoBiz at 4:40 PM on August 28, 2014 [3 favorites]


I'm disappointed that womenonweb.org doesn't ship to Ireland given this recommendation. Why can't they just disguise the packaging better?
posted by jeffburdges at 10:25 PM on September 3, 2014


This article implies that they do:
Kale paged through more notes, reading off a list of the places they came from: Costa Rica, Malta, Pakistan, New Zealand, Chile, India, Uganda, Ireland, Brazil, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Poland, Algeria. “So many countries,” he said, with a note of awe.
posted by Joe in Australia at 11:27 PM on September 3, 2014


Indiana woman charged with feticide after unborn child's death

Indiana 'Feticide' Charge Is the Latest Fallout From States' Strict Anti-Abortion Laws
posted by homunculus at 11:56 PM on September 3, 2014


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