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January 31, 2002
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We interrupt your war on terror to attack abortion rights...
The Bush administration has declared that a fetus is an unborn child. And why not? Everyone believes in prenatal care. And of course, if the government wanted to extend medical coverage to poor pregnant women under the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIPS), it could have done so directly. But then, what fun is that?
posted by jellybuzz (84 comments total)

 
What an underhanded way to change a law.

"States may classify a developing fetus as an "unborn child" eligible for government health care, the Bush administration said today, giving low-income women access to prenatal care and bolstering the arguments of abortion opponents."

He's doing it for the appearance of helping out low-income women, but there's an obvious reason he'd like fetus to get more rights.
posted by mathowie at 12:11 PM on January 31, 2002


This is just nefarious. If Bush can propose that "children" under the act be redefined to include fetuses, he could also propose that the damn act cover children and fetuses, couldn't he?
posted by nicwolff at 12:23 PM on January 31, 2002


i dont know what's scarier, this, or all the Scientology ads i saw on tv last night.
posted by tsarfan at 12:23 PM on January 31, 2002


Well it says that states can classify fetuses (or feti?) as unborn children, so maybe all states will or won't...
and is the Bush administration declaring that a fetus is an unborn child, or that its kosher for states to declare it?
posted by Keen at 12:25 PM on January 31, 2002


You know what? Except in very rare cases, prenatal care is for the mother. Whether the mother's body is holding up, gaining weight as she should, checking for gestational diabetes, toxemia, etc., etc., etc.. (I am smack in the middle of one of those rare exception pregnancies, my best friend is six weeks ahead of me with a perfectly normal pregnancy. The difference in our care is amazing.)

If Bush wanted to make sure women got prenatal care, he'd make sure they got prenatal care. This is just another end run around Roe v. Wade, wrapped up in a fuzzy, innocuous blanket of prenatal care for low-income women. This after going out of his way to mention pruning low-income people off welfare in his State of the Union address, and his proclamation last week affording dignity to all Americans born and unborn, I think it's pretty plain exactly what he's trying to do here.
posted by headspace at 12:34 PM on January 31, 2002


It would be nice for the fetus to know it has some forms of health coverage. Later on, when born and in need, there won't be much there for the kid, as many are now finding out.
posted by Postroad at 12:36 PM on January 31, 2002


Are they going to buy ads during the Super Bowl proclaiming the Bush administration's oh-so-terrific prenatal care program?

Nah, they will save that for a Repub campaign commercial this summer.
posted by BarneyFifesBullet at 12:41 PM on January 31, 2002


Hrm, how is a fetus not an unborn child? I mean really? I mean baring any external influence or biological error it will grow into a child.
posted by delmoi at 12:45 PM on January 31, 2002


Just add it to the long list of reasons I completely disapprove of Bush. Since 9/11 I feel like the only one and I am labeled a closed-minded liberal jerk for continuing to point out what a moron he is. Just because he only "kind of" sucks, exceeds expectations, and is our national leader during a particulary notorious event in history we are supposed to rally around him. Sorry, this is kind of off topic. Headspace is absolutely right. If he wanted to start a prenatal care program then he would have started a prenatal care program. The problem is that most of America never questions anything and it is so easy just to spin everything you do.
posted by McBain at 12:47 PM on January 31, 2002


a friend of a friend mentioned in passing having heard about somebody who once overheard a guy at a bus stop in some other town saying he wished a retroactive abortion was available for george w.
posted by quonsar at 12:51 PM on January 31, 2002


Delmoi- "fetus" is not technically an "unborn child". Every child that will ever be is an unborn child. A fetus is a mass of cells growing inside a woman that is part of the reproduction process. When you get right down to the details of Roe v. Wade, this is the distinction made, you can't enforce protections on something that may exist at some point in the future, while simultaneosly limiting the rights of an existing person. It has nothing to do with morality or some romantic notion of when a person becomes a person or when some mystical idea of a "soul" is created. There is no arguing those points with anyone.
posted by McBain at 12:52 PM on January 31, 2002


Wouldn't sperm also be considered an unborn child? If so, teenage boys are mass murderers on an epic scale!
posted by owillis at 12:53 PM on January 31, 2002


How's this for scary, tsarfan:

The benefits are for the fetus, so the fetus will have to be officially identified to receive benefits. Since the Social Security Number is the main identification number used by most governments, the mother will have to register for a SSN for the fetus as soon as her OB/GYN -- whose office will probably be required to handle the paperwork -- has determined she's pregnant. The government will then have a registry of pregnant women, along with a necessary record of live births, still births, miscarriages and abortions.

Of course, with those kind of records, there'll be ample chance to determine why a pregnancy terminated and who is to blame...
posted by eptitude at 12:55 PM on January 31, 2002


Wow, that is kind of X-philes.
posted by McBain at 12:57 PM on January 31, 2002


delmoi: because there are too many issues at stake to assume that it will grow into a child. Biological error is the biggest one. As a result, a fetus ONLY becomes a child after birth, and in some places around the globe, after viability after birth (between one hour and one week!

Unborn indicates that normal birth is expected. With all that can go wrong (my wife and I have been plagued with miscarriages) this is an assumption I'm unwilling to make.
posted by dwivian at 12:57 PM on January 31, 2002


(CHIPS)
I am all for choice, and zilch for paying. Does that mean we have to buy them all motorcycles?
posted by thirteen at 1:02 PM on January 31, 2002


I'll be interested to see if the pro-choice movement litigates to prevent states from submitting the "unborn child" certification. It will certainly look ugly if Planned Parent sues New York or California to prevent them from getting federal funding for pre-natal care.
posted by MattD at 1:06 PM on January 31, 2002


It will look ugly, which is the trick and what is so infuriating.
posted by McBain at 1:30 PM on January 31, 2002


There is no arguing those points with anyone.

Thanks for leaving me room to argue with you :)

I don't think that the State should subsidize prenatal care, I think abortion is wrong, and I don't think that it is within the purview of the federal government to legalize or outlaw abortion.

A fetus is a mass of cells growing inside a woman that is part of the reproduction process.

Again, I disagree. This 'mass of cells' is viable outside the womb as early as 23 weeks into gestation. A 'fetus' that can survive outside of the womb is, in my opinion, at that point a 'child.' By the way, brain waves can be detected in that 'mass of cells' after 40 days of pregnancy. Have you ever looked at an ultrasound? Have you ever seen the tiny hands and feet of a severely premature baby? (I have, and it is incredible how small they really are, and even more incredible that they can live) Simply writing off a fetus as a mass of cells is intellectual laziness, in my opinion.
posted by insomnyuk at 1:41 PM on January 31, 2002


I remember rationalizing the theft of the election by thinking, "how much damage can he possibly do?" Every day, I am shown that I could never have imagined how much.
posted by shagoth at 1:42 PM on January 31, 2002


This is the way the GOP plans to undo Roe v. Wade. A little at a time. Last April the GOP-led House "approved a proposal that would make it a federal crime to harm a fetus during an assault on a pregnant woman."

Another method they have used to is to legislate the rules for how clinics are run. Knowing full well that these very understaffed and underfunded clinics would end up having to close their doors if they couldn't comply. Luckily many of these laws have been overturned, but it is only the begining I am sure.
posted by terrapin at 1:44 PM on January 31, 2002


John Ashcroft: "Effective immediately, there will be a ban on all abortion, as we need men to fight the war on terror. Remember, when I say 'terror' - you jump. And no boobies, please don't lemme see no boobies."
posted by owillis at 1:56 PM on January 31, 2002


insomnyuk- You fail to contradict any of my points and then talk about intellectual laziness. All of your descriptions of a fetus are correct but none of them say:

A) Why abortion is "wrong". (This is what I am talking about when I say there is no arguing the morality angle, morality is a social, maleable construct meaning different things to different people. Nothing I say is going to change your view of morality. And if morality is not a social construct then we are getting into the realm of religion's moral authority which has no place in the realm of lawmaking.)

B) A fetus is not a mass of cells inside a woman as part of the reproduction process. (I think this can't be contradicted.)

C) Why a fetus' possible future viability outside a woman makes it a person, and not part of the woman's body and therefore ultimately not her own private domain.

Maybe you have an argument to say these things, but the above post wasn't it. Instead it was a prime example of the fallacies pro-life supporters often fall into. It just "sounds right" for you to say a fetus is a person and killing people is wrong. Lawmaking doesn't work like that.
posted by McBain at 2:05 PM on January 31, 2002


insomnyuk- Just as an amendment. I am not trying to attack you or your beliefs, but it just bothers me that people get ooey gooey about cute little babies and that is how they want to make law. Law is cold and logical and sometimes just not much fun. I know you said that you don't think it should be outlawed, but you listed a lot of the reasons people think it should.
posted by McBain at 2:09 PM on January 31, 2002


> A fetus is a mass of cells growing inside a woman

A child is just a mass of cells growing outside a woman, if you want to see things that way. It isn't carved in stone that that mass of cells must have human rights any more than a fetus must. Infanticide is practiced in any number of cultures. For that matter, the woman herself is just a mass of cells. Plenty of cultures have considered women to be less than fully human and not possessing rights.

It strikes me that intelligent women, considering history, would wish to insist that anything remotely resembling a human being be given the benefit of the doubt, for their own safety's sake. Where one mass of cells can be dehumanized others may be also, and what goes around comes around.
posted by jfuller at 2:12 PM on January 31, 2002


insomnyuk - I don't think that the State should subsidize prenatal care

Insom, I know you're getting attacked on a lot of fronts here, but I have an honest question for you: What do you think governments are for?

You think they shouldn't think pay for prenatal care for anyone? Ever?

That seems like a mighty bad place to live. I'm all for the government subsidizing prenatal care. I'm all for the government paying for prenatal care, and gerontological care, and education and roads and fire trucks and library books and scientific research (both of the 'oh-I-see-the-immediate-benefit-to-society' kind and of the 'gee-let's-put-a-man-on-the-moon' kind as well).

I try to pay my taxes with a smile on my face so when I see something good happen, I can say, 'shit, I sure am glad we all pitched in and paid for that.'
posted by zpousman at 2:28 PM on January 31, 2002


"Every Sperm is sacred" - Monty Python

So if a fetus is an unborn child can the mother sue or press charges if it is an unwanted pregnancy? Can the mother charge womb rent? Maybe a lein against future earnings. It could also be Rape - "Your honour, the little creep was freakin lodged in my uterus!".

BTW just for the record I prefer to think of a fetus as an unborn criminal. That way I can say that female reproductive organs are a breeding ground for crime.

jfuller: "It strikes me that intelligent women, considering history, would wish to insist that anything remotely resembling a human being be given the benefit of the doubt, for their own safety's sake. Where one mass of cells can be dehumanized others may be also, and what goes around comes around."

Isn't it a touch dehumanizing to be used as breeding stock against your will? Even intelligent woman might not want to have a 9 month occupant pressing on her bladder.
posted by srboisvert at 2:31 PM on January 31, 2002


jfuller- Awfully selective about the excerpt. "... as part of the reproductive process." Yes, we are all just masses of cells walking around. Yes, infanticide is practiced in a number of cultures. Both of you continue to ignore the key part of my statement "possible future viability". Persons who may or may not exist in the future have no rights within our social contract, the contract is the whole reason murder is illegal (hint: No one wants to be murdered or have their loved ones murdered). It has nothing to do with morality. If murder is immoral to you, great, I am happy for you. That is not how we govern ourselves in America. We slaughter cattle (masses of cells) everyday, why? Because we need to consume living cells to sustain ourselves. Cows have no place in our social contract. On top of all that, the fetus is inside a person who is a alive (don't quibble with definition, a born person) and wants their freedom to live life as they choose and reproduce as they see fit. I could personally (through my own morality) believe that abortion is the worst kind of murder there is, but am I not just enforcing my beliefs on others by criminalizing it?

This is why drug laws are so crazy. The majority of the country is looking to criminalize anything they deem immoral. There is plenty of room for argument about these points, but I don't think you guys are making them.

Again, just trying to argue a point of view. Don't take me too seriously.

-
posted by McBain at 2:33 PM on January 31, 2002


dna identification and tracking of a fetus would be interesting...if a man causes too many unwanted pregnancies, Snip Snip.

i'm pro-choice and i'm pro-life. I don't think anyone should ever have to go thru the trauma of having an abortion...having a "choice" needs to start a lot earlier than pregancy. Free birth control for teens, better education, better prosecution and harsher sentencing for sex crimes, and guys...stop complaining about wearing a condom. Just be glad you are 'getting some'. Educate your daughters, and help them build real self-esteem.

religous and moral concepts need to stay out of it, it is a horrible cycle--it is a waste of time, people and money, and it is damaging to individuals and society to even have to debate about a problem that shouldn't exist, women shouldn't have to be Pregnant if they don't want to be...and concern over that needs to start far before having to have an abortion. Fix the root of the problem.
posted by th3ph17 at 2:35 PM on January 31, 2002


McBain: Don't worry, I don't take it personally.

Note that I did not bother to get into the 'abortion is wrong' argument, simply because people with different moral outlooks rarely come to an agreement. I agree it often seems pointless to argue about morality, but on the other hand, your subjective moral outlook informs the way you deal with life, and it dictates the premises from which you argue.

B) A fetus is not a mass of cells inside a woman as part of the reproduction process. (I think this can't be contradicted.)

I'm not sure I understand this point. The main thrust of my post was to explain that I feel that a 'mass of cells' is an emotional oversimplification of what a fetus actually is (a developing human).

C) Why a fetus' possible future viability outside a woman makes it a person, and not part of the woman's body and therefore ultimately not her own private domain.

This can be argued as well. The fetus, while perhaps not viable, has it's own genetic code. My argument is not that it could be a person, but that it already is. (I think brainwaves and unique DNA are a decent definition of an individual human. The mother does not own the fetus. Unless you want to talk ownership, because then genetically the man has an equal claim on the fetus. Why does a woman have domain over a fetus? Simply because she has complete power over it. I would like to see your explanation.

Lawmaking doesn't work like that.

I'm no expert on how lawmaking works, but from my experience, most laws are connected to morality (killing, stealing, raping, etc.). All people have some sort of moral code, and this always influences the laws that they create and live under.

If I have appeared emotional, I apologize, because that is not my intention. I assume I am one of a few people on MeFi who thinks abortion is morally wrong, and I do not intend to start a flame war or anything of the like. But a moral objection is not the same as an emotional appeal, please don't confuse the two.
posted by insomnyuk at 2:37 PM on January 31, 2002


Pro-choice, for reasons of practicality. That said...

(a) Remember the old saw: "Never watch sausage and laws being made"? Here's your reason. Lawmaking is an underhanded, backstabbing, moneygrabbing, influence-ridden cesspit. Why should this particular turd of a law be any different? Luckily those that would oppose this law are

(b) Despite that I am pro-choice, I think that abortion is... ugly. Often advisable; safe and effective; economically entrenched; but ugly, and for the most part unnecessary. And the big fight is usually about something else entirely. I've always looked at Sweden as an excellent example of effective family planning - very little abortion, very little teenage pregnancy. Why? The are very good about making sure that teenagers have proper birth control and are educated in its use. In America, neither side of the abortion argument wants to see this as a solution - the pro-lifers are against (and in total denial about) the entire concept of teen/unmarried intercourse, while the pro-choicers would see such a solution as a potential reason to eventually see Roe v. Wade overturned, and an issue (and concomitant base of support) lost. With no fight, why have soldiers, right?

I keep waiting for someone from either side to start looking at practical solutions to the problems that abortion on demand addresses. Still waiting...
posted by UncleFes at 2:37 PM on January 31, 2002


Dare I suggest that there's no magic line which, once crossed, turns a mass of cells into a human being? That the process of gestation is a slow, gradual transformation from something that no reasonable person would claim has human rights -- a sperm and an egg -- into something that no reasonable person would claim doesn't have rights (y'know, a kid.)

Law doesn't like gray areas. Neither do moralists. But pregnancy is a big, messy, probably unsolvable gray area, which is why there are so many reasonable and intelligent people on both sides of the abortion issue.
posted by ook at 2:37 PM on January 31, 2002


Thats...

Luckily those that would oppose this law are well schooled in the same tactics.
posted by UncleFes at 2:38 PM on January 31, 2002


I'm not religious, or anything like that, and I try to come at everything from a 'rational' perspective. Coming a rational perspective, I can't see how a baby two days from being born is any different then an infant that's already been born. Saying that a fetus is "just a clump of cells" is idiotic. So is a newborn infant. So is an adult. Everyone posting on mefi now is a 'clump of cells'; everyone who died in the WTC is a 'clump of cells'. What the fuck is your point?

At some point, a fertilized egg ceases to be nothing more then a 'clump of cells' and becomes human as well. Where is that point? I don't know, but I do believe that anyone who says that it is when the baby comes out of the vagina is either poorly educated, or lying to themselves. (or possibly just intellectually lazy)

Note that I don't think a freshly fertilized egg should really be considered human, I'm just saying that I don't think it's reasonable to assume that a person only becomes a person when they take their first breath. How is that any less 'mystical' then believing it becomes a person when the egg is first fertilized?

Ok, now to go over specific points brought up. First from McBain:

Delmoi- "fetus" is not technically an "unborn child". Every child that will ever be is an unborn child.

Um, interesting semantic game, I guess. While that’s true to a point, we have no way to know every child that will be born for the rest of the future. However, we can look at a fetus and say 'that will probably turn out to be a child. So, avoiding the mystical realm, we can say that in the realm of human knowledge, fetuses will probably turn into children, so they are probably unborn children.

Another way to look at it, and this is what I was intending, was that a fetus that's far enough along is already a child but has yet to be born. It's a child that is currently unborn, or an unborn child.

A fetus is a mass of cells growing inside a woman that is part of the reproduction process.

going back to what I said earlier, how is that different then a mass of cells growing in their parents apartment? Aren’t all humans masses of cells? Why do some masses of cells deserve protection and others don't?

When you get right down to the details of Roe v. Wade, this is the distinction made, you can't enforce protections on something that may exist at some point in the future, while simultaneously limiting the rights of an existing person.

Does the Supreme Court define reality? Anyway, my point is that at some point during pregnancy a baby ceases to be 'just' a clump of cells and also becomes a human. How is requiring the mother to take it to term any different then requiring that the father get a job and pay child support? Both of these actions limit freedom for the sake of others. I don't see a problem with abortions when the baby really is 'just' a clump of cells, like maybe in the first few months or something. I don't care about what 'may' exist. But I'm talking about something that does exist now.

It has nothing to do with morality or some romantic notion of when a person becomes a person or when some mystical idea of a "soul" is created.

Hrm, who's the one with the romantic notion of when a person becomes a person? Are you really going to tell me that a person with oxygen in their lungs is really sooo different then one without?

Okay, now onto dwividan

delmoi: because there are too many issues at stake to assume that it will grow into a child. Biological error is the biggest one. As a result, a fetus ONLY becomes a child after birth, and in some places around the globe, after viability after birth (between one hour and one week!

Well, that's not what I'm saying. Look at this way. I recently lost my drivers license because of too many speeding tickets. When I get behind the wheel, I'm an unlicensed driver. In order to get my license back, I may need to get special 'high risk' insurance. I probably won't be able to afford that, I may die in a horrible car wreak (high risk and all, despite the fact that I never drink and have never been in accident... rrr...). I may never become a licensed driver again. But that doesn’t change the fact that when I get behind the wheel I'm still a driver.

Similarly, a child that has yet to be born is still a child and still alive, it just hasn't come out of the vagina.


Anyway, if you really want to kill your baby, more power to ya, I could care less. But I don't see why people have to make up these obnoxious little lies to make themselves feel better or further their cause or whatever.
posted by delmoi at 2:49 PM on January 31, 2002


Stop complaining about wearing a condom. Just beglad you are 'getting some'

Bow down to the gift of pussy.
posted by hellinskira at 2:51 PM on January 31, 2002


On (B) I wasn't making a point. I was pointing out that nothing you said contradicted anything I said.

The main thrust of my post was to explain that I feel that a 'mass of cells' is an emotional oversimplification of
what a fetus actually is (a developing human).


This makes more sense than what you had said previously. I think reasonable people can disagree on this simply because it is "emotional".

your subjective moral outlook informs the way you deal
with life, and it dictates the premises from which you argue.


Well, I personally don't believe in absolute morals. I am very much a pragmatist, which almost by logical definition is immoral. But that is beside the point. Morals are observably subjective (look at Islam's treatment of women, and every one of those men believe they are morally right).

most laws are connected to morality (killing, stealing, raping, etc.)

I wouldn't be so sure about that. Nobody wants any of those things done to them so we enter into a societal contract not to do those things. If someone complains that you breeched that contract, there are penalties. You can leave morals completely out of the picture and the system works the same.

If I have appeared emotional, I apologize, because that is not my intention. I assume I am one of a few people on MeFi who thinks abortion is morally
wrong, and I do not intend to start a flame war or anything of the like. But a moral objection is not the same as an emotional appeal, please don't
confuse the two.


By all means! I am just like friendly point-counterpoint. Most people think I am overly confrontational and it is admittedly a personality flaw. I firmly believe adversarial debate gets you to meaningful resolution. (I am the son of a lawyer. I know... I know...)
posted by McBain at 2:52 PM on January 31, 2002


Insom, I know you're getting attacked on a lot of fronts here, but I have an honest question for you: What do you think governments are for?

That's a huge question. (Of course, so is this entire debate). I think political power should be as localized as possible, and so the purposes of government varies from level to level. On the federal level, government was created to ensure free trade amongst the states, and to provide them with a unified voice towards other nations. It should, in my opinion, do nothing else. The government was not created to keep people from hurting themselves, and it was not created to function as a charitable organization. It was created to give people a framework in which they can live and work peacefully, and have the opportunity to make a better life for themselves. And if you want to help prenatal mothers, why don't you donate to charity? Even with the massive amounts of money the government takes from us every year, there is still enough floating around in private charities to help take care of needy people.

How do you suppose this country functioned before the New Deal when the idea of welfare was institutionalized? Private charities, religious and non-religious organizations provided hospitals, soup kitchens and schools. Local and national charities are better equipped than the federal government to deal with social ills, because they are closer to the problems, and they are not hindered by bureaucracy (an incurable ill of the government). Why do you trust the government to take care of the poor when you don't trust it to put food on your table?
posted by insomnyuk at 2:56 PM on January 31, 2002


Oh, one other point. McBain, you seem to have some sort of fixation on the law. Since when does having something be legal in a certan place make it right? Since when does having something be illegal make it wrong?

One things for sure. The nations speed laws seriously need to be looked at. It's all just a money grab by police departments and insurance companies!!! At least thats what the little packet that came with my radar detector said. And everyone knows modern cares are much safer then old ones old speed limits are based on.
posted by delmoi at 3:07 PM on January 31, 2002


Saying that a fetus is "just a clump of cells" is idiotic.

No, it is true.

So is a newborn infant. So is an adult. Everyone posting on mefi now is a 'clump of cells'; everyone who died in the WTC is a 'clump of cells'.

Also true.

What the fuck is your point?

The point is that the reverse is not always true. Draw a Venn diagram. The fetus may only become a person in the future.

Um, interesting semantic game, I guess. While that?s true to a point, we have no way to know every child that will be born for the rest of the future. However, we can look at a fetus and say 'that will probably turn out to be a child. So, avoiding the mystical realm, we can say that in the realm of human knowledge, fetuses will probably turn into children, so they are probably unborn children.

Yes, it is semantics. Laws are semantics. Hence the world technically. In a practical sense, yes, it will probably be a child. But the issue at hand is outlawing all abortion anywhere ever and/or calling them the murder of a person when, technically it aint so.

Does the Supreme Court define reality?

What?

How is requiring the mother to take it to term any different then requiring that the father get a job and pay child support?

One pertains to an unborn child, the other to a born child.

Hrm, who's the one with the romantic notion of when a person becomes a person? Are you really going to tell me that a person with oxygen in their lungs is really sooo different then one without?

Um... Yeah. There are a number of differences, chief among them the dependence on the mother's body (I haven't even started on the idea that the fetus' is comparable to her liver or her arm i.e. just another body part). I have no romantic notions about it unless observable diffrences in basic biological function are romantic. Taking that the other way, there is very little biological difference between us and pigs. And I had bacon for breakfast this morning.

The driving analogy is terrible.
posted by McBain at 3:08 PM on January 31, 2002


Since when does having something be legal in a certan place make it right?

It doesn't.

Since when does having something be illegal make it wrong?

It never has (drug laws need to change, IMHO). The issue at hand is whether or not abortion should be made illegal. So, naturally, the law is the issue. Personal moralities can be left with the doorman.
posted by McBain at 3:12 PM on January 31, 2002


Wow, this thread is developing quickly.

McBain: you've gone from "I don't think there can be arguement on this." to "I'm a pragmatist" and "social contracts." If you're a moral relativest, where does your absolute belive that abortion is OK come from? Why arn't 'living children currently inside a womb' considered a part of the social contract?
posted by delmoi at 3:12 PM on January 31, 2002


Here's where I get upset: Bush is supposed to be against more legislation, right? After all, he's a Republican, and they want smaller government, right?

But then he goes and pulls this pile of sh*t. I'm against abortion, I think it's morally wrong, but I also believe there should be NO laws about it. If doctors want to offer the procedure, that's their conscience. If a woman wants to get an abortion, that too is her conscience.
posted by rocketman at 3:14 PM on January 31, 2002


How do you suppose this country functioned before the New Deal when the idea of welfare was institutionalized? Private charities, religious and non-religious organizations provided hospitals, soup kitchens and schools. Local and national charities are better equipped than the federal government to deal with social ills, because they are closer to the problems, and they are not hindered by bureaucracy (an incurable ill of the government). Why do you trust the government to take care of the poor when you don't trust it to put food on your table?

In theory, I agree with all of this. The only problem is the cyclical nature of pure capitalism can be disruptive. A more practical government (ever the pragmatist) is to slightly socialize it and smooth out the rough edges for everyone a bit.
posted by McBain at 3:16 PM on January 31, 2002


> Persons who may or may not exist in the future have no
> rights within our social contract

That entirely avoids the hard question that comes up when we consider a fetus that definitely does exist in the present -- namely, is it already a person? You've clearly answered the question to your own satisfaction but so far nobody has succeeded in answering it satisfactorily for society as a whole, the way other large questions (e.g. "should slavery be legal in any circumstances?" have been answered in a way that everyone can agree on). Therefore you don't have a social contract yet -- you have a couple of extreme models (free abortion on demand, all abortions are illegal) and a double handful of variations (abortion ok in these circumstances but not in those circumstances, with infinite quibbling about the circumstances), all of which are competing to become the agreed-upon social contract on this subject.

If we had a social contract here we wouldn't be having this discussion. It is not at all a settled question, and the whole point of the link that started the thread is to tip the balance of an unsettled question in a direction that self-proclaimed "pro-life" zealots will probably like and self-proclaimed "pro-choice" zealots probably will not.
posted by jfuller at 3:20 PM on January 31, 2002


I like my driving analogy.

As for saying that saying a fetus was just a clump of cells, I didn't say it wasn't true, I said it was idiotic.

Anyway, here is the basic point. What is the difference, the fundamental difference between a child inside the womb and one outside the womb. And don't tell me it's because the baby depends on the mother in one case and doesn't in the other. It isn't true. A baby can live if taken out of the mother at seven or even six months. Similarly, an infant requires a lot of adult care to survive after birth.

Taking that the other way, there is very little biological difference between us and pigs. And I had bacon for breakfast this morning.


Well, that's great. Are you saying that it should be perfectly alright to cut a 3 year old up into little strips and fry and eat them? Basic respect for human life does figure into the law somewhere I think.

Or are you saying that biology doesn't matter at all, and rather something 'else' does, something 'else' defines what is and isn't human and what they are entitled to. I'd love to hear what that 'else' is.

Ok, so two questions for you:

Do humans deserve protection under the law?
What makes something human or not human?
Where does that thing that you use to define humanity or non humanity come from (assuming it isn't biology, as your pig-eating anecdote would seem to suggest)
posted by delmoi at 3:24 PM on January 31, 2002


The political construct that a fetus is a functional human that is deserving of independent healthcare funding is going to mean that in utero surgery is probably going to sky rocket in the future. I'd prefer the money be spent on children that survive childbirth.
posted by Sqwerty at 3:26 PM on January 31, 2002


you've gone from "I don't think there can be arguement on this." to "I'm a pragmatist" and "social contracts."

You are mischaracterizing my remark. I meant that it is pointless to argue with someone's personal moral beliefs. One believes what they choose and I love that we all have the freedom to do so. No matter what you say, some people are simply going to say, "I believe it is morally wrong". How do you argue with that?

If you're a moral relativest, where does your absolute belive that abortion is OK come from?

I never said that. I am making a case that it shouldn't be against the law. That is an important distinction.

Why arn't 'living children currently inside a womb' considered a part of the social
contract?


Because we have never included life forms in the contract that weren't humans living biologically independently. At the same time it could be seen as treading on the priviledges of a life form that meets that description. There are people (not me) who see our eating meat as a holocaust. When you get down to it, as I said, the pigs aren't that different. Small distinctions must be made on technical merits not emotional ones.
posted by McBain at 3:27 PM on January 31, 2002


Thanks for answering my questions.

"we have never included life forms in the contract that weren't humans living biologically independently"

Havn't we? Up untill a couple of decades ago, abortion was illegal and most people agreed with that, ergo fetuses most certanly were a part of the 'social contract'.
posted by delmoi at 3:31 PM on January 31, 2002


That entirely avoids the hard question that comes up when we consider a fetus that definitely does exist in the present -- namely, is it already a
person?


This is the best point anyone has made. I don't know. I think the mother should be the judge. Since reasonable people can disagree, and anyone who believes it is "person" can choose not to abort their child, why make it illegal? Laws should be reserved to protect us, the individual, not so some moral absolutist can sleep at night knowing there is nobody dying in the world. (Again that is opening a new can of worms I know).
posted by McBain at 3:32 PM on January 31, 2002


The political construct that a fetus is a functional human that is deserving of independent healthcare funding is going to mean that in utero surgery is probably going to sky rocket in the future. I'd prefer the money be spent on children that survive childbirth.

?

I guess this means that if you operate in utero, the child does not survive.
posted by insomnyuk at 3:36 PM on January 31, 2002


jfuller- Excellent points in the rest of that post, by the way. Those are tough issues.

This is why I am a pragmatist. People can make similar arguments about slavery (observable differences between us and slaves). What you end up with is a lot of unhappy slaves. It is much more practical for us all to be free to live our lives as we choose. The goal being to make the most people happy. Remember, the pragmatist point of view would have nothing to do with the moral implications of slavery. This is where the gray areas come. I naturally strongly want to say murder and slavery are "wrong" but have trouble finding conclusive evidence in the world around me to support that idea other than what I "feel". So the best course of action is to look at what makes the most people happiest. I love America, I don't think a more practical society has ever existed to make people happy. At the same time it is flawed, and one of the tenets of America is freedom of religion i.e. moral belief of your choosing. Making laws to adhere to someone else's moral beliefs goes against that.
posted by McBain at 3:44 PM on January 31, 2002


I think that abortion is a horrible, violent thing; I think some women use them as birth control and that's reprehensible. And yes, I think it's a death. Before a certain point, it's a death of potential, after viability, just plain death. All abortions should be more rare. Despite that, I still think they should be legal and easily available up to a point. (The much vaunted third trimester abortion everyone likes to scream about makes up about 2% of all abortions, and are pretty much illegal unless the mother is going to die, so I'm not too worried about the rising tide of infanticide.)

Pregnancy is hard. It's not just some extra weight, a little discomfort for nine months, a pregnancy takes over your entire body. It changes everything from your hormones, to the elasticity of your joints, the function of your breasts, to the function of your heart and intestines- and that's just if nothing goes wrong. It's emotionally hard to watch your body act as something completely separate from your mind. It's hard even when you want to be pregnant, let alone when you don't. And then nine months later, you become the guardian of another human being for eighteen years.

One of this administration's first moves in office was to try to remove prescribed birth control from government insurance formularies. They actively oppose sex education (with or without abstinence education) in our schools, they closed down family planning clinics which prescribe low or no cost birth control, provide condoms and sex education in other nations if those clinics even discussed abortion as an option. In the end, these particular folks are against sex outside of marriage, period, and seem to believe that all sex within marriage should at least carry the possibility of procreation.

We shouldn't have as many abortions as we do, but until we accept that teenaged sex happens, unmarried sex happens, even married without the desire to procreate happens, and do our damndest to make sure that we're educated, and protected to the very best of our abilities, outlawing abortion isn't a moral argument, it's a judgment, and a punishment for those who don't toe the party line. What on earth could be moral and good about bringing an unwanted child into an already overpopulated world?
posted by headspace at 3:48 PM on January 31, 2002


Well, that's great. Are you saying that it should be perfectly alright to cut a 3 year old up into little strips and fry and eat them? Basic respect for
human life does figure into the law somewhere I think.


You couldn't have missed the point by a larger distance.

Do humans deserve protection under the law?

We don't deserve anything. We have found that it is best to enter into an agreement as a society to not commit certain acts against each other in the name of everyone's comfort.

What makes something human or not human?

Well, we are all slightly different. It is an eternal question. Imagine if the planet was populated by a vastly different intelligent species in addition to us. We would have to expand the definition to other sentient life. The point is that maybe there isn't really a meaningful answer.

Up untill a couple of decades ago, abortion was illegal and most people agreed with that, ergo fetuses most certanly were a part of the
'social contract'.


At one time the country didn't recognize blacks as human either. Things change. An emphasis on individual rights (including reproduction) has been prevalent in our society recently. It is a tough, tough question.
posted by McBain at 3:56 PM on January 31, 2002


headspace- I couldn't agree more with that entire post.
posted by McBain at 3:58 PM on January 31, 2002


So the best course of action is to look at what makes the most people happiest. I love America, I don't think a more practical society has ever existed to make people happy

I see you havn't really thought this through. If happieness was all that mattered we could just drug everyone into a stupor and leave it at that.

Anyway, as far as I can tell this debate has wondered off into nonsense land.
posted by delmoi at 4:00 PM on January 31, 2002


headspace: what on earth could be moral and good about bringing an unwanted child into an already overpopulated world?

Adoption of the baby into a loving family that wants to care for a child but cannot have one naturally?

The waiting lists are long enough for adoption already, and all the baby murderers (my opinion, and I'm proud to have it, and defend it, too) out there just make it longer. Why not turn what was a "mistake" into something that gives a lifetime of joy to a family in need?

Sex leads to kids. Even the dumbest of teens in America knows that, and I think they see lying that they don't understand as an easy out. Stopping abortion means that at least one half of the required parties to making children learn the hard way that when they have sex unsafely they will have to take a few months off their job/school/whatever. Think of it as a few months "hard time". Its just too bad the men (such as myself) don't have to bear the brunt of some of this -- it is half our fault. People learn a lot quicker when they hurt themselves from their mistakes. Heck, I didn't bother learning how to actually learn things at school until I went to college and got a pile of Fs. Now I've had to spend an extra two years to make up the time I wasted, and I'm happy to say I now know what it means to take the time and study.

Now, I'm not so steadfast on this issue that I won't budge at all. Having a child which would kill the mother during birth is wrong because I consider giving anyone a death sentence wrong as well. I guess you really can have your cake and eat it too if you stick to what you believe in. :)

What I'm surprised about, though, is that Bush wouldn't want sex ed in the class, or would stop family planning clinics. Seems like it would be useful to help stop kids from having kids they can't care for.

Just my 2 cents.
posted by shepd at 4:18 PM on January 31, 2002


[ I am labeled a closed-minded liberal jerk for continuing to point out what a moron he is.]

I don't think so at all. You would be a jerk for calling him a moron when you're obviously intelligent enough to discuss issues instead of namecalling.

I would expect to be called a jerk if I called Daschle a moron instead of debating the intelligence of his stance on issues.
posted by revbrian at 4:36 PM on January 31, 2002


There are a number of differences, chief among them the dependence on the mother's body

While I am also pro-choice, McBain, I think this is a dangerous way to justify legalized abortion, and is the reason I think Roe v Wade to be legally flawed.

1. It's the same reasoning used, in part, to justify slavery. Pro-slavery propagandists pushed the notion that the Africans were too simple and childlike to survive on their own, and that it would be cruel to free them.

2. Medical technology is now at a point where any child can be sustained and grown outside of a woman's body. Justifying abortion in terms of viability won't be a tenable position for much longer.

I think sooner or later we're going to have to realize that the distinction between born and unborn is, yes, completely arbitrary. This doesn't necessarily mean it is wrong.
posted by Ty Webb at 4:51 PM on January 31, 2002


I'm surprised that you're surprised, shepd- and I'm honestly not being facetious. That's pretty much been the conservative and Christian political stance since well before Roe v Wade. At this very moment, conservatives are furiously protesting the condoms being freely distributed to the Olympic athletes. The platform is punitive, and it goes something like this: Don't have sex. If you do have sex, we're not giving you birth control, so don't get pregnant. If you do get pregnant, we're not letting you have an abortion, so get married. If you don't get married, give it up for adoption, don't keep it. If you do keep it, and the other half of the equation conveniently walks away from his responsibilities, tough titty, no government aid for you. You shouldn't have had sex. It's not a moral position, it's a punitive stance.

I have a personal journal, and you would be surprised how very many people come to my site looking for the answer to this question: "Can you get pregnant from pre-cum?" Do educated adults know that having sex, any kind of penetrative sex, without protection-even if you pull out, causes pregnancy? They probably do. Teenagers, however, still don't, because they're not being educated or provided birth control. Even with adoption, you're proposing a nine month punitive sentence for something that isn't a crime, and inequitable distribution of that sentence at that.

You're also ignoring the intricacies of adoption. If the father walks off, there's a fairly lengthy court procedure the mother has to endure just to sever his rights, so she can give the baby away for adoption. Even if she does manage to do that, the father can, at any point, come back and try to make it an issue for the adoptive parents. You're ignoring the fact that many communities are now passing laws that allow grown adoptees access to their records, and to their birth parents. Now you're clapping a lifelong sentence on exactly half of the parties "guilty" of the crime of having unprotected sex, because that truly unwanted child can still come back when it's grown.

Learning things the hard way is certainly effective, but we don't force people to chug Jack Daniels and hit the interstates to find out how stupid and dangerous it is to drive while impaired. I think being a man makes it easier to see this issue in black and white. I don't think it invalidates your opinion, and I respect your pro-life stance, but in the end, you're never going to be the one who has to face a decision like this. Nobody celebrates abortion, I'm pro-choice and I don't celebrate abortion, but I do truly believe it's an absolutely necessary evil.
posted by headspace at 4:52 PM on January 31, 2002


> So the best course of action is to look at what makes the
> most people happiest.

What makes abortion such a vexed issue is that there's such enormous pressure for libralized or unregulated abortion or even state-subsidized abortion, so many good pragmatic arguments for it, while at the same time there's a significantly large group of people who look at those incredible ultrasound images and simply know in their hearts that killing these creatures is the same as killing children -- and that they must interfere, just as they would have to interfere if they saw someone beating a child to death on the street.

The certainty that these creatures are fellow humans is not a pragmatic judgement; but it's also (nobody seems to get this) not a moral judgement either. It's not any kind of judgement. It's an impulse, the same kind of impulse that would make you run into a burning building if you heard people inside screaming. Cost-benefit analysis doesn't apply.
posted by jfuller at 4:56 PM on January 31, 2002


N.b. Wittgenstein did get it:

"My attitude towards him is an attitude towards a soul. I am not of the opinion that he has a soul."

-- Philosophical Investigations:iv (178e)
posted by jfuller at 5:03 PM on January 31, 2002


I see you havn't really thought this through. If happieness was all that mattered we could just drug everyone into a stupor and leave it at that.

That is the dumbest thing I have ever heard. Who is not thinking things through? How many drug users do you know who are happy all the time?

Anyway, as far as I can tell this debate has wondered off into nonsense land.

Subjects such as abortion often lead to other tough philosophical questions. I am sorry you see that as nonsense land.

I guess you really can have your cake and eat it too if you stick to what you believe in. :)

Which is precisely why "belief" should never enter in the equation of law.


It's the same reasoning used, in part, to justify slavery. Pro-slavery propagandists pushed the notion that the Africans were too simple and childlike to survive on their own, and that it would be cruel to free them.


While I concede the larger analogy may be interesting, and even made it myself, the example you give ("simple and childlike") is observably false. Meanwhile the analogous example for a first trimester fetus is observably true. A first trimester fetus would more than likely die without the mother's body. If there were some medical way to make babys without a womb, starting with a fertilized egg, and then even to transport an implanted zygote from a mother and bring the baby to term, we would do it. But right now we can't.

Medical technology is now at a point where any child can be sustained and grown outside of a woman's body.

Um... no.

Justifying abortion in terms of viability won't be a tenable position for much longer.

It won't be tenable because it would be irrelevant. So go ahead and make it illegal, I wonder who will pay for all these zygote transplants.

I think sooner or later we're going to have to realize that the distinction between born and unborn is, yes, completely arbitrary.

No, it isn't, one is born, one is not. Medical technology can only make the "born" stage come sooner.

Jfuller- Again, good points. Tough questions. Though you lose me a bit with the impulse thing. I don't know of a logical decision that doesn't examine "cost-benefit". This is why Ayn Rand and capitalism are so closely linked. I may have an impulse to punch the lights out of someone calling a friend names, but it isn't a good idea.

And I am not a big fan of Ayn Rand really.


posted by McBain at 5:32 PM on January 31, 2002


Headspace, I didn't exactly mean surprised in the sense that their non-education position is unusual -- I meant it in the way that I don't understand the logic behind it.

Your points on adoptees searching for their parents is well taken. I have always wished the laws more clearly defined what could and could not be given out. I think a full medical history of the biological parents should be avaliable, simply because the adopted person has the right to know if they are at risk of serious diseases. But I think the actual identity of the biological parents should remain secret, unless the biological parents choose to make it public.

In turn, it should be the option of the adopted to divulge their identity gained with their new parents.

These ideas are based on the logic of balancing freedom and privacy. Full freedom without privacy is, as far as I see it, no freedom at all. That's what the laws are that are being passed allowing complete disclosure without respecting privacy. It ruins what is a great alternative to abortion.

"If the father walks off, there's a fairly lengthy court procedure the mother has to endure just to sever his rights, so she can give the baby away for adoption."

Another one of the varied possible punishments that partially exists because of legalized abortion. If abortion were abolished, then what option would there be apart from the mother bringing the child up herself? Of course the father could decide he now wants to take care of the child. Good. Just what the baby needs, someone who wants to take care of him. Of course, if the father isn't fit to be, one would hope the courts would respect the right of the child to a proper life, and do what's best for him.

"Learning things the hard way is certainly effective, but we don't force people to chug Jack Daniels and hit the interstates to find out how stupid and dangerous it is to drive while impaired."

How often does having a child risk the mother's life? Besides, I specifically think there should be an exception where the mother would die should they give birth to a child. Its wrong to kill (oh no I'm not going any further on that sentence today!).

Wow, I get to say I participated in the trolliest thread in a long time on Metafilter. Almost beats my just under 800 posts on slashdot. Must... stop... posting... opinions...
posted by shepd at 5:38 PM on January 31, 2002


Trolliest? The discussion was on reasonable. Aren't trolls people who come in a unthinkingly provoke regular participants? Arguing and repeated posting one's point of view in a civilized manner hard seems "troll"-like.
posted by McBain at 5:43 PM on January 31, 2002


I wish you could edit after a post. Oh well, sorry about the bad grammar.
posted by McBain at 5:44 PM on January 31, 2002


This is why I am a pragmatist. People can make similar arguments about slavery (observable differences between us and slaves). What you end up with is a lot of unhappy slaves. It is much more practical for us all to be free to live our lives as we choose. The goal being to make the most people happy. Remember, the pragmatist point of view would have nothing to do with the moral implications of slavery. This is where the gray areas come. I naturally strongly want to say murder and slavery are "wrong" but have trouble finding conclusive evidence in the world around me to support that idea other than what I "feel".

Actually a pragmatist (such as John Dewey) would argue that slavery is wrong because by excluding individuals from full participation in our culture, that culture is limiting its own potential for cultural growth. With pragmatism and ideal society would be one which maximizes the opportunity for internal and external communication of new ideas leading to innovation.

In general:
I am not overly happy with abortion, but I find it interesting that we respect medical and legal powers of attorney at the end of life. It is possible for a person to decline to take extreme medical measures in order to preserve life on behalf of someone else. We would probably respect the choice of a parent to make a decision that a radically invasive and risky surgery with minimal hope for extended quality of life is not worthwhile. And yet the application of that choice to a medical situation that is risky for both people is treated with such extreme debate.

Personally, although I'm not happy with the line being drawn at viability or birth, I am also unhappy with the idea of drawing the line at conception. If we draw the line at conception do we then require a criminal investigation for the large proportion of all pregnancies that end in miscarriage? Do technologies that prevent implantation become a criminal act?

I also find brain waves to be problematic, brain waves just require a minimal amount of gray matter and not consciousness. If something were to happen to me that would result in a permanently vegetative state, I would hope that the decision to terminate life support would be made based not on the possible existence of brain waves, but on whether there is enough there to support my existence without extensive machinery.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 6:17 PM on January 31, 2002


KirkJobSluder- Yes, you are correct re: slavery and pragmatism. Good points on the rest as well.
posted by McBain at 6:34 PM on January 31, 2002


So I guess next Bush will change the drinking age (perhaps to keep his daughters out of jail) by re-classifying teenagers as 'little 21-year-olds.'
posted by troybob at 6:46 PM on January 31, 2002


Headspace, I didn't exactly mean surprised in the sense that their non-education position is unusual -- I meant it in the way that I don't understand the logic behind it

Extreme political position, meet shepd. Shepd, meet American politics. :)
posted by owillis at 7:45 PM on January 31, 2002


I'm afraid that the next major legal issue in this area that goes before the SCOGOP is gonna come from my very own backward state of Nebraska (the fine people who brought you James Exon and whose former Senator Hruska was quoted twice in the book: "The 776 Stupidest Things Ever Said"). I had considered making this a FPP, since no one seemed to be taking any notice on a national level and I was hoping it'd fall locally to partisan bickering in our state's unicameral.

Here's the poop: We have a rabidly Catholic State Senator named Mike Foley (who spends an inordinate amount of time whining about people who take note of that). He's currently exploiting a tragic situation we had back in December where a 8.5-month pregnant mother was brutally murdered. This allowed Foley to resurrect a bill of his from last session to enact a fetal homicide law, which putatively sought to charge anyone (other than the mother) involved in the death of a fetus at any stage of development.

Given Mr. Foley's personal beliefs, the cynical among us quickly concluded that his primary goal was to secure and bestow the full rights of a person upon a fetus, with the implicit goal of gutting Roe v. Wade. LB824 was born and debated in early January. The first order of business was to play word games; swapping out the clinical sounding "fetus" in favor of the warm and fuzzy "unborn child" designation. There was wrangling on both sides, some positive compromising, some entrenched biases ... but this is when another clever Senator exposed the bill's true intent:

Foley and his cronies howled that this bill has nothing to do with undermining abortion rights -- even though the primary goal (for Foley) had been to accord the fetus the status of a separate legal entity (replete with all the rights inherent therein). State Senator Ron Raikes offered an ammendment (supported by the local paper) that provides the EXACT same penalities for the EXACT same actions as in Foley's bill -- but he did it without granting legal status to the fetus. Whereas Foley's version is glutted with loaded language and theological doctrine, Raike's version relies on (easily defended) scientific definitions of pregnancy to achieve the same end.

There is no logical reason not to adopt Raike's ammendment (it's 99% identical!!!) ... UNLESS your intent isn't really to address the problem it pretends to. If your real objective is to bestow personhood on feti so that it can later be used to overturn Roe V. Wade, then the Raike ammendment screws up your scheme.

I don't think I need to tell you that it was voted down today. Expect to hear more of this drivel in the very near future.
posted by RavinDave at 7:51 PM on January 31, 2002


Medical technology is now at a point where any child can be sustained and grown outside of a woman's body. Justifying abortion in terms of viability won't be a tenable position for much longer...

As someone already pointed out, re: that slavery comparison, fetuses are actually unable to survive without mothers while the same claim about slaves is clearly false.

Medical technology is at this point not anywhere near growing people outside the womb. Preemies have a much better survival rate than ever before, but that's at 6 or 7 months, and it's a major ordeal to keep them going. First or second trimester still depend entirely the mom's body.

I know we've discussed this before, and I also have written about this on my site, so I don't mean to thrash deceased equine, but if we got to a point where the mom's body was not necessary to bring a fetus into being, we'd have a different argument. As it is, there are three elements that help create the baby: mom's dna, dad's dna, and mom's body. Mom has the right to choose whether or not she wants to donate her body to the cause. if her body eventually becomes unnecessary, perhaps we'll change our minds about whether anyone has the right to control their dna, but as it is, we don't have that right.
posted by mdn at 7:59 PM on January 31, 2002


The platform is punitive, and it goes something like this: Don't have sex. If you do have sex, we're not giving you birth control, so don't get pregnant.

How about -- don't have sex if you're not responsible enough to provide your own contraceptive? Why should anybody be given anything? Many stores have condoms locked up behind a counter because they're frequently stolen, which leads to the question, if you're not responsible enough to manage to procure contraceptives on your own in a legal manner, are you responsible enough to be having sex, knowing that (even with contraceptives) it can lead to incurable STDs and pregnancy?

If you do get pregnant, we're not letting you have an abortion, so get married. If you don't get married, give it up for adoption, don't keep it. If you do keep it, and the other half of the equation conveniently walks away from his responsibilities, tough titty, no government aid for you. You shouldn't have had sex. It's not a moral position, it's a punitive stance.

Once again, where's personal responsibility in the equation, and how is it punitive to suggest that people take some? I'm not advocating a complete suspension of public aid for people who are truly in need, but at the same time, being irresponsible and getting pregnant shouldn't be an absolute pass to free money.

A lot of women are raising children without the support -- financial or otherwise -- of the fathers having thought that the father would be there, because he was when the child was conceived. It's the risk you take when you decide to have a child, the world isn't perfect, people make hard choices and get on with life and find ways of managing. Suggesting that they do so is suddenly punitive?

You're also ignoring the intricacies of adoption. If the father walks off, there's a fairly lengthy court procedure the mother has to endure just to sever his rights, so she can give the baby away for adoption. Even if she does manage to do that, the father can, at any point, come back and try to make it an issue for the adoptive parents.

If parental rights are severed via the appropriate legal process, all a biological father can do is come back and make noise.

You're ignoring the fact that many communities are now passing laws that allow grown adoptees access to their records, and to their birth parents. Now you're clapping a lifelong sentence on exactly half of the parties "guilty" of the crime of having unprotected sex, because that truly unwanted child can still come back when it's grown.

And do what? If you don't want to hear from the child you've given up for adoption, you don't take their phone calls or allow them into your home if they show up on your doorstep. Any parent who adopts out and any adoptee who goes looking has to be prepared for that eventuality. And what is the alternative? Do away with all adoptions?

This whole "punitive" concept eludes me. Actions have consequences. They are only punishments if the precipitating action was in some way wrong. If you don't consider having sex to be wrong, then what happens following isn't a punishment, it's merely a result.
posted by Dreama at 8:07 PM on January 31, 2002


A first trimester fetus would more than likely die without the mother's body. If there were some medical way to make babys without a womb... we would do it. But right now we can't.

But we soon will, which is why I would suggest finding a justification for abortion other than viability.

one is born, one is not. Medical technology can only make the "born" stage come sooner.

Way to avoid the point. Yes, medical technology can make the "born" stage come sooner (and sooner, and sooner), a fact which will eventually make this legal distinction completely irrelevant.
posted by Ty Webb at 8:10 PM on January 31, 2002


KEEP YOUR POLITICS OUT OF MY SEX.
posted by solistrato at 8:34 PM on January 31, 2002


well, since people are really nothing more than "undead corpses" they actually don't have any rights...
posted by ignu at 9:08 PM on January 31, 2002


KEEP YOUR SEX OUT OF MY POLITICS...

...use birth control
posted by shepd at 9:26 PM on January 31, 2002


i think it is just worth mentioning at least, that this is not really a new concept. many states have already been covering low-income pregnant women under the Medicaid program using this same theory. In Maine, for example a pregnant woman with no one else in the household is counted as a family of 2 for purposes of eligibility, and as a result, the maximum income that she can earn and still qualify for Medicaid is significantly higher than it would be if she was simply considered a family of one. So, right or wrong, this is not some new outrage that Bush is proposing -- it has been policy in a lot of states for a long time in the Medicaid context. Also, CHIP is, for all practical purposes, exactly the same as the Medicaid program.
posted by boltman at 9:54 PM on January 31, 2002


How about -- don't have sex if you're not responsible enough to provide your own contraceptive? Why should anybody be given anything?

Some women have no access to birth control. They don't have health insurance that provides it, or they are in a situation (such as being a teenager) where their access to birth control is limited. As for condoms, well, it would be fantastic if condoms were used wen appropriate. But sex and/or love ( or what you think may be love) makes people do incredibly stupid and thoughtless things. There are people who do this serially, I admit, but there are also people who get caught in the heat of the moment. For that matter, there are people who think they're in committed relationships when the other person is dreaming of someone else, there's people who maipulate others into doing irresponsible acts (you'd do it without a condom if you loved me) and there are people who are forced into having sex. While you may point to these people and call them irresponsible, I don't think that people's actions are as cut and dry as that. Most people don't set out to be irresponsible.

Actually, the thing that makes me angriest about this policy is not the underhanded Roe vs. Wade attack, but that they're attemping to provide healthcare for *women* under a program for children. Good prenatal care is just as important for the woman having the baby as it is for the child. If they were truly conderned about women they would craft a program for women's health care. It almost makes women seem like chattel...they're just vessels for the more important citizen, the baby.
posted by kittyloop at 11:33 PM on January 31, 2002


But we soon will, which is why I would suggest finding a justification for abortion other than viability.

Argh!!! Weren't you listening? As Jules in Pulp Fiction would say, "English, motherfucker! Do you speak it?!"

At that point you don't need justification because you have a medical procedure which renders abortion obsolete. There would be no reason to ever execute another abortion again because, as one MeFi described, you take the woman's body out of the equation.

Way to avoid the point. Yes, medical technology can make the "born" stage come sooner (and sooner, and sooner), a fact which will eventually make this legal distinction completely irrelevant.

I don't know what you are talking about. You said the distinction between "born" and "unborn" is arbitrary when the terms have clearly defined meanings. There is nothing arbitrary about it. And any future technology that would render such concepts meaningless is not pertinent to the here and now. We cross those bridges when we come to them.
posted by McBain at 12:32 AM on February 1, 2002


How about -- don't have sex if you're not responsible enough to provide your own contraceptive?

50% of abortions are performed on women who were using a contraceptive method that failed. Look over at MIT Pro-Choice's fact sheet for a few more facts, and the links to the Alan Guttmacher Institute source pages.

Another argument I didn't see in here - 40% of worldwide abortions occur in countries where abortion is illegal. Making it illegal won't stop it - it's just a great way to kill women. And if that's what you want, then fine, but admit it.

I'd also like to say a big hooray for MA - we just passed a bill mandating companies to cover contraceptives.
posted by phoenix enflamed at 8:35 PM on February 1, 2002


"...people do incredibly stupid and thoughtless things."

At what point do we stop protecting those people from the consequences of their own thoughtlessness or stupidity?
posted by mr_crash_davis at 9:39 PM on February 1, 2002


One thing that bugs me is people who feel a human fetus is MORE of a "person" then say, a cow. Sorry to bring up the anthropocentric angle to all this, I realize I'm just fanning the flames.
posted by Flimsy_Parkins at 11:04 PM on February 1, 2002


Countless unfertile parents are searching, searching, searching, searching, searching, searching, searching, and searching more for a baby to adopt in the United States.
posted by aaronshaf at 6:19 AM on February 12, 2002


They can try IVF first, eggs are available. If that doesn't work, ask them to search in other countries, where more babies are given up for adoption. Alternativly, they can rent me, for say 10000 USD a month to "house" their baby conceived by their choice of sperm and eggs.

Sorry it won't make me change my mind about abortions though. Abortions aren't about baby-less families, they are about the mother to maybe-be.
posted by dabitch at 1:07 PM on February 19, 2002


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