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Pregnant women on death row.
July 26, 2000 7:52 AM   Subscribe

Pregnant women on death row. I don't understand why this is an issue. I'm not commenting on capital punishment here, a problem in itself, but what's the rush? Why not just wait until the child is born?
posted by evilmaryellen (70 comments total)

 
Then again, maybe I am commenting on the death penalty when I say that pregnant women shouldn't be executed. It's just wrong to separate mother and child.
posted by evilmaryellen at 8:04 AM on July 26, 2000


Why is this even being discussed? I cannot imagine any pregnant woman has ever been executed by the government in this country. Women are rarely executed at all. And with all the appeals, even a women conceiving the day she is sentenced, should naturally end up giving birth before her execution date arrives.
posted by thirteen at 8:30 AM on July 26, 2000


Bush says the choice "was easy to make". Well, duh. Hypothetical situations are always easy. I have it on good authority that next week the GOP will introduce a bill to lay out guidelines for foreign relations with Martians, should they ever be discovered.
posted by dhartung at 8:47 AM on July 26, 2000


But, this creates an easy loop-hole, say you've killed someone, just get pregnant, and before the 9 months go out, turn yourself in. heh.
posted by tiaka at 9:54 AM on July 26, 2000


I think it's also important, in this election year, that I bring this issue into the public arena: The Execution of Woman with Giant Bat Wings. It's something that I've been thinking about for a while, ya know, and I really think that it would be barbaric to kill a woman with giant bat wings. It's the next big issue, I think, now that we've put a moritorium on executing Canadians Werewolves, and Infants with Exceptional Math Ability.
posted by Doug at 10:15 AM on July 26, 2000


But isn't it a contradiction for anti-life advocates to state that the unborn isn't a life when talking about abortions but say that it is a living being when talking about mothers on death row?
posted by gyc at 11:01 AM on July 26, 2000


I think it brings the whole pro-life/pro-choice thing into focus, down the nitty gritty: it's okay for her to choose to end the pregnancy, but not okay for the state to make that decision.


Makes sense to me (I'm pro-choice, myself). Just keep the state out of decisions about the contents of a woman's uterus.
posted by beth at 11:05 AM on July 26, 2000



You hear a lot of great emotionally charged buzzwords being thrown around in an abortion debate, but "anti-life advocates" takes the cake. My compliments.
posted by rcade at 11:08 AM on July 26, 2000


That's right, rcade! Sign me up for "anti-life"! More death now!!
posted by EssenDreck at 11:14 AM on July 26, 2000


tiaka - just making sure...
being pregnant doesn't exempt you from being sentenced to capital punishment, it just exempts you from having that sentence carried out while you're pregnant. birth or abortion, and you're toast.

hmm. anti-life, eh? it actually took me a second there to figure out gyc was talking about pro-choice. that's a vicious one.
posted by syn at 11:21 AM on July 26, 2000


The pro-lifers are still angry at being call anti-abortion. They're trying to change the terms of the debate. And that goes double for Catholics, who have made a point of linking abortion and capital punishment, causing one of the stickier issues problems facing the Republican party.
posted by dhartung at 11:29 AM on July 26, 2000


Erm, how about not executing anyone at all? Anyone ever thought of that? The possibility of the state taking an innocent life is always there and it should only be a matter of time before such a case surfaces.
Now wouldn't that be a wake up call...
posted by geir at 11:56 AM on July 26, 2000


Hey dhartung, pro-choicers get called "pro-choice", but pro-lifers get called "anti-abortion" (usually) or "anti-choice" (occasionally). It seems fair for a group to be able to define its own position, don't you think? Sure, it's reactionary and silly to call pro-choicers "anti-life", but it's probably less silly than calling pro-lifers "anti-choice".
posted by pixelpony at 12:24 PM on July 26, 2000


I wish people would adhere to a abortion term standard. Refer to your position, and your opponents position with the same prefix. Pro-choice/Pro-life or Anti-life/Anti-choice. Or with the same term Pro-Abortion/Anti-Abortion. Personally, I would go with the pros', I think it would get more people to tune in to the discussion.
posted by thirteen at 12:42 PM on July 26, 2000


pixelpony: says you :>
posted by Sapphireblue at 12:49 PM on July 26, 2000


I have yet to meet a single person who is "pro-abortion."

If the "pro-lifers"/"anti-abortioners"/"anti-choicers"/"baby-rescuers"/(whatever they're calling themselves this week) are so against abortion, why aren't they handing out free birth control at every opportunity?
posted by EssenDreck at 1:02 PM on July 26, 2000


thirteen: Being pro-choice does not exclude one from being pro-life. Hence the pro/anti combination. I've always used pro-choice/anti-choice, since to me that's the real issue at hand: whether a woman has the choice to decide what happens to her body. Why anti-life would apply to me for supporting Roe v. Wade, but not George W. Bush for advocating capital punishment, I have no idea.
posted by megnut at 1:28 PM on July 26, 2000


Pro-abortion is as loaded a term as Anti-choice
I'm Pro-Choice/Pro-Death Penalty. Any other way seems weird to me. How is it so many people have been able to stretch these issues so far apart when they both are basically about personal responsibitlity and freedom. I also think everyone should buy their own damn birth control I always had to. I have no interest in anyone reproductive needs other than my own. Anybody who gets pregnant when they don't not wanna be is clueless/abused/ or a lottery winner, none of these things are or should be illegal.
posted by thirteen at 1:34 PM on July 26, 2000


If the "pro-choicers"/"pro-abortioners"/"anti-lifers"/"baby-killers"/(whatever they're calling themselves this week) are so against children living, why aren't they smart enough to use birth control at every opportunity?

Responsibility is a lost art.
posted by Spankypoo at 1:37 PM on July 26, 2000


Megnut: pro-choice/anti-choice would have been a better example than the abortion suffixed one I provided. My weak point, was that propaganda leaves me cold. Using neutral terms, or more specific terms like the ones you used, allows me to listen to the points raised without immediately thinking that you are trying to sway me with emotion rather than your argument.
posted by thirteen at 1:46 PM on July 26, 2000


megnut - how about "pro-choice"/"anti-abortion"? This seems the fairest breakdown to me -- you're not in favor of abortion per se, just that women have that choice. Similarly, I don't think anti-abortion activists are protesting choice per se, just any abortion at all. They'd be equally pissed off if the government were ordering women to have abortions against their will.
Thoughts?
posted by lbergstr at 1:55 PM on July 26, 2000


lbergstr: Nice combo, something for everyone, you can dance to it. I give it a 10.
posted by thirteen at 2:06 PM on July 26, 2000


Spankypoo: Let me reiterate. I have yet to meet a single person who is "pro-abortion." I think that would also mean being "so against children living."

There's plenty of children, already born, right here in this here U S of A, who need to be adopted - and they will probably grow up bouncing throughout the foster care system, undoubtedly growing up crippled by neglect, so they can die of poverty or violence.

Now tell me who's more "against children living" - a woman (possibly a child herself) who, knowing that she is in no position to bear a child, is faced with a choice that is likely to haunt her for the rest of her life; or a system that turns away in apathy?
posted by EssenDreck at 2:08 PM on July 26, 2000


lbergstr: Anti-abortion is a tricky term because, as EssenDreck says above, no one is pro-abortion. And a part of me is anti-abortion. I'm not sure if I were faced with an unexpected pregnancy, that the decision I'd make would be to abort. But what matters to me is that *I* make the choice. I prefer the label "anti-choice" because I feel the anti-choicers are trying to make that decision for me.

Also, sometimes I get the sneaking suspicion that some of the "pro-lifers" care less about life, and more about controlling women.
posted by megnut at 2:13 PM on July 26, 2000


Anti-choice, pro-life...blah blah...wouldn't the term Fascist Moron suffice? Just kidding. Pro-lifers aren't necessarily morons.


posted by Doug at 2:47 PM on July 26, 2000


EssenDreck: Those who claim that a pro-abortion stance isn't against children dying is not owning up to their beliefs. While the autonomist in me believes that it SHOULD be the mother's choice, the moralist in me understands that murder is murder, even if the victim is too young to complain. And that overcomes any autonomous feelings about leaving it up to the mother.

Parents have a responsibility to raise the child (or put it in the best possible position to be raised by someone else). The mother does NOT have ownership of that child's life. It's every bit as inhumane for a mother to shake her baby to death two days after it's born as it is for a mother to have her baby killed at (or before) birth. The only difference? Two days, and the clinical detachment of paying a doctor to perform the proceedure. It's the same life being ended by someone who doesn't have a right to end it - another person.

People seem to be increasingly unable to be responsible for their actions, and if someone isn't in a position to responsibly raise a child they shouldn't be having sex, especially unprotected sex. Period. Morals completely aside, it's very cause and effect. If you're unprepared for the effect, don't engage in the cause.
posted by Spankypoo at 2:52 PM on July 26, 2000


megnut - what I get from your comment is that "anti-choice" is the appropriate term for you to use because it captures not just their stated position but how you feel about them in general.
I was trying to come up with emotionally neutral language that captured each side's position accurately. Now it occurs to me that not only may the "emotionally neutral" part be impossible, but for some people (maybe you, maybe not, megnut, I don't know you well enough) this is a war, and rhetoric is a weapon. Long way around to an obvious conclusion, I guess.
posted by lbergstr at 2:54 PM on July 26, 2000


Actually, I would argue that there are plenty of people who are pro-abortion, in that it is a scientific way to deal with population control, and basically the only one that works post-conception. If you're purely scientifically minded, and are convinced that 1st trimester abortion isn't the taking of life, then you're pro-abortion. I've always thought that the issue was enough of a grey area that it should be left up to religion or science, or whatever you subscribe to, and not the government.
posted by chaz at 2:55 PM on July 26, 2000


Indeed, pro-lifers are rarely morons, just as pro-choicers are rarely morons. Nice to get that part straight.

As for being pro-life and pro-death penalty all at once, there is not necessarily an inherent contradiction if you are willing to recognise that there is a great difference between the life of an innocent party, taken at the will of someone else, and the life of a guilty party ended due to their own criminal choices. A position which equates a defenseless, crimeless foetus and murderer who acted of their own volition makes no sense whatsoever to a great number of people of conscience.
posted by Dreama at 2:58 PM on July 26, 2000


Megnut: You wrote, "But what matters to me is that *I* make the choice." If that were applied to almost anything else, where you live, what you believe, who you are, then that's lovely.

But that statement is entirely too self-centered for a situation of which *you* are not the center. It's someone *else* who suffers the consequences, not you. Your life will be incredibly modified either way; of course. But to believe that ithe quality of your life is what's being decided is all to rose-colored a perspective.
posted by Spankypoo at 3:06 PM on July 26, 2000


Megnut - "and more about controlling women." I couldn't agree more. Unfortunately, I feel that a lot of that stems from people's religious bias. In so many religions, women are to be subserviant to the man who is the spiritual leader of the house.

Spankypoo - I am trying to say this as nicely as possible, I think that there is a lot of the world you still need to see. It's not as easy as cause and effect. It's not.

I am a single parent, became a parent at 19. I was on welfare for a time to get by, to eat, to afford medical care. I've seen some of the worst of the worst. I've been on the other end too. I aborted a child rather than go back into a physically abusive relationship with the father when I could barely make ends meet. In a situation like that, how do you tell one child that you're going to give the other one away if you do adoption? How do you have two children when you can only feed your son and you are barely eating one meal a day? How do you put yourself back into a dangerous relationship to make the financial ends meet?

I've worked hard and come a long way and am very successful. But don't tell me it's as easy as cause and effect. It's never that easy, there are always a ton, a TON, of other factors. There is never an easy solution and a lot of times it wasn't as easy to begin with to just abstain.

How can you make a decision for someone else? How can you make a decision that will affect someone's life? Do you want to make a decision FOR someone like that?

I couldn't for someone else. And for this reason, I will always, strongly be pro-choice.
posted by thinkdink at 3:15 PM on July 26, 2000


Spankypoo: I don't think any woman who has had to have an abortion has been "clinically detached." And I think you know that the "two days before birth" concept is a fiction - there is a point in the pregnancy well before that beyond which abortion is no longer an option.

My point about birth control was that if you don't want abortions to happen (and I don't think anybody does), then keep the pregnancies from happening. And no matter what your pope or priest or rabbi or guru or hairdresser says or wants, PEOPLE ARE GOING TO HAVE SEX. Don't you think paying for birth control would be cheaper than blockading women's health clinics?

If you are so big on people taking responsibility for themselves, then why do you want to step in on them in just this case? Letting someone take responsibility for themselves means that invariably they will do something that you don't like.

Megnut has nailed the real issue in the abortion debate: fear of women. And as is usually the case, this real issue is buried beneath others that have been employed to justify the original stance.
posted by EssenDreck at 3:40 PM on July 26, 2000


Thinkdink: "How can you make a decision for someone else? How can you make a decision that will affect someone's life? Do you want to make a decision FOR someone like that?"

Then what's abortion? A decision on a boxing match? Methinks a decision for someone else and their life is more than present here...

How do you tell your child that you're giving the other child away? Probably in a similar fashion to how you'd tell your child you're going to take his younger sibling and "abort" him. (It sounds so nice and clinical.)

I understand there are a huge number of factors present, however to believe that your only decisions were to go back to the abusive relationship or abort the child is an *awfully* narrow view of things. I have a friend in a very similar situation, and she put the child up for adoption. Intensely painful? Yes, of course. But, the child has a shot at life now that it wouldn't have had otherwise.

Megnut: Who's more controlling? The person who decides the fate of the child who they, though their actions and decisions, brought into this world, or the person who's trying to prevent that from happening? The coercion rests firmly in the former.
posted by Spankypoo at 3:47 PM on July 26, 2000


Essen: "If you are so big on people taking responsibility for themselves, then why do you want to step in on them in just this case?"

Your argument is of incredibly limited scope. I'm a fan of self-government, yes. Humans are inherently flawed, yes. Thus, self-government is not a complete answer. When people are unable to govern themselves, their actions against others must be punished by the government they are subject to. Abortion is *quite* obviously not the only area in which I feel government should step in.

If you'd care to discuss this with our heads above the mud, I'd be happy to - but this sort of tactics is a tad boring.
posted by Spankypoo at 3:55 PM on July 26, 2000


Heads above the mud?

If the... "baby-killers" ... are so against children living...
posted by nikzhowz at 4:09 PM on July 26, 2000


Let me guess, Spankypoo: In cases where pregnancy results from rape or incest, you join Dick Cheney in believing that the mother should be compelled to give birth to the child.
posted by rcade at 4:15 PM on July 26, 2000


nikz - If you read it *in* context, you'll notice it's the exact opposite of Essen's prior post.

rcade - You guessed wrong; I don't.
posted by Spankypoo at 4:23 PM on July 26, 2000


I would be curious to know then, Spanky, if you would agree with the statement that a little seedling of would-be human life, no older say than eight weeks of gestation (which is the range in which most abortions take place) is necessarily of greater inherent value than a grown woman, an individual adult person, with a life of her own, a family of her own, choices and circumstances about which you and I know *nothing*, mind you... any woman, anywhere, can be in a moment automatically relegated to secondary humanity, to a life support system for her tadpole invader. Is that approximately your position?

to hell with that. if pro-life is right, i'm happy being wrong.
posted by Sapphireblue at 4:25 PM on July 26, 2000


Sapphire: This isn't about our abilities to decide the comparative value of life. However, to entertain your question, I'll consider the scenario of the mother's life being endangered by a pending birth. In that scenario, I think it's of greater value to her family to preserve her life at the sacrifice of the baby's. I DO support abortion in that case.

I agree that women can in a moment be relegated to second-class citizens - it's incredibly wrong that that happens.

But to think that at eight weeks a baby is "a little seedling of would-be human life" and doesn't equate to actual human life is cruelly turning your eyes away from the reality of the situation: it IS life, however young it may be.
posted by Spankypoo at 4:35 PM on July 26, 2000


Essen: To say that "there's plenty of children, already born, right here in this here U S of A, who need to be adopted" is to treat it like a market. A surplus of children does NOT drive their value down.
posted by Spankypoo at 4:40 PM on July 26, 2000


!hitlerhitlerhitler!@%

Oh yes, it's foolhardy to try to boil all the complexities of the shit down to one (compound) word. The difficulty is that it's neither 'about choice' or 'about life' or about blabh
posted by EngineBeak at 4:45 PM on July 26, 2000


> Who's more controlling?

Um, how about the politicians who continue to pursue their "anti-choice" agenda when the majority (65%) of Americans believe "the government should not interfere with a woman's access to abortion." (source: NBC News/Wall Street Journal Poll, June 16-19, 1999)
posted by megnut at 4:46 PM on July 26, 2000


Meg: In a democracy, there's absolutely nothing controlling about having an agenda that goes contrary to popular belief - that's why we *vote* on these things.

I'm still curious as to your choice between the two options I provided.
posted by Spankypoo at 4:52 PM on July 26, 2000


Spanky (can I call you Spanky?): regarding adoption, you've totally missed my point, which is: If you truly care about children (which, if you do, I think is wonderful and more than the larger part of American culture can claim), then go adopt a few! (I would, but I can barely take care of myself....) I just thought that one might be a little more concerned about actual children who need help right now than about a possible child-to-be. I also find it, uh, interesting that many of the most vocal opponents of abortion rights are also opponents of welfare and child-care programs - and no, Spanky, I'm not saying that automatically applies to you....(he said, cleaning the mud from his nose)....
posted by EssenDreck at 4:53 PM on July 26, 2000


Essen - If I can call you Essen, you can call me Spanky. :)

You're correct in stating that there are actual children who need help right now - that shouldn't prevent us from trying to protect all the "to-be's" out there, nor does it negate the moral concerns present in the situation. The fact that one may be blind doesn't make deafness any easier to bear, nor does a serial bank-robber make the teenage shoplifter's actions any less of an issue.

Since you mentioned it (tee-hee!), I'm also opposed to welfare, for the simple reason that it doesn't work. I grew up next to a city that had a welfare rate of 40%. Forty, yes. I'm quite familiar with what it does to those who are on it. Welfare, as it stands, requires almost nothing from those who receive it, and that model simply does not work on the whole.

If our society's moral veracity hadn't gone downhill in WWII, we'd still have mothers in the home, and child care would be almost entirely unnecessary - but I fear that's an entire can of worms I've just opened. :)
posted by Spankypoo at 5:05 PM on July 26, 2000


Essen - To add (briefly) to that, the reason (I believe) you'll find that someone who opposes abortion also opposes welfare and child-care programs probably has something to do with the fact that they're conservative. ;)

In all seriousness, you can't cure social neglect through legislation. It sounds wonderful on the surface, but it never works for long. Taking care of children (logistically, fiscally and physically) and providing for a family is something that cannot be done by government, nor is it government's place to do so. We shouldn't look to government to allow us to shirk these responsibilities.
posted by Spankypoo at 5:09 PM on July 26, 2000


no, it doesn't equate. i'm sorry and it's painful but it's true.

when you're down and desperate and forced into a corner, you do what you have to do. in a situation with no good options, it's pretty cruel too to turn your eyes away from the realities lived by women around the world, the ones that motivate them to do such a thing as have an abortion, itself an extremely unpleasant reality. your abstracted cause-and-effect reality is a lovely concept but is not real life. I know because I lived it. Speaking of cruelty: it was fucking brutal. But having an abortion gave me a second chance at building a good life; I took it and I would never, ever give it back.

for a woman who did not want to be pregnant, being *forced* to be pregnant would be more invasive than rape. I'm sorry if you find that offensive or inflammatory. I don't mean to seem disdainful of life; I'm not---the thought of Chinese women being forced into sterilization and abortions is just as distressing as the thought of my being forced into motherhood. What *about* the Chinese one-baby limit? They're doing it in the name of abstracted reality too. For our future. For the planet. There are too many Chinese, too many *humans*, it's true, but is the abstracted vision of the future of the earth worth the forcible destruction of the dreams of a woman who *did* want to have a child? I don't think so, and I don't think the abstracted vision of personhood in a six-week fetus is worth forcing a woman off the course of her life and into motherhood, either.

no one ever got converted during one of these conversations. i still try, though, because my god, i can't see how people can't see...

i guess they wonder the same about me. it's why the fight over abortion will never end.
posted by Sapphireblue at 5:19 PM on July 26, 2000


I'm trying not to take the bait here, but - moral veracity went downhill in WWII?? Meaning that no women had abortions and children didn't starve to death before then?? The one thing I will say is that at that time you heard less about women having abortions because a lot of the ones who did died before they could tell their stories.
posted by EssenDreck at 5:30 PM on July 26, 2000


Sapphire: Being forced into anything, whether it's rape, forced fertilization, forced sterilization, abortions, anything - it's terrible, and I don't think it's an economy with an exchange rate. They're all intensely inhumane, and to compare their relative values of evil only misses the point.

I don't want to come across as dismissive of your situation - I know so little about your history that it's not my place to evaluate it - but I take issue with what you've said.

From your (albeit much closer) perspective, it's given you the chance to build a "good" life. But at what cost? Someone else's life. That baby never had the chance to have any form of life, good or bad. If parenthood were about not having children until they wouldn't compromise your own life, nobody would ever have children.

I don't believe that a six-week fetus is an abstracted vision. That's denying responsibility for the baby at a stage in which you are *completely* responsible. Conceiving that child forces a woman off her standard course and onto motherhood - at what other point would you draw the line? At birth? Somewhere in the middle where you feel good about it? That's far too late to be evaluating whether or not this is something that's wanted.

When you drop something, the moment it's left your hand it's committed to fall. It's not decided mid-fall, just as parenthood isn't decided after the child has been created.

Yes, we'll both wonder why we can't convince the other, and the fight will never end - and I'll never compromise my ethics to suit my quality of life (however good or bad it may be).
posted by Spankypoo at 5:40 PM on July 26, 2000


Essen: No, I didn't mean that at all, nor was I baiting you. :)

My intended meaning was that WWII sparked the decline of the family, due to the mothers that were pulled out of the home and into work, hence the Rosie Riveter comment. Raise a generation without proper parenting, and the effect is exponential, and we're dealing with it today.
posted by Spankypoo at 5:44 PM on July 26, 2000


You know, the whole "MetaFilter - as addictive as crack" slogan rings true...we've got to get this wrapped up tonight so I can get some work done tomorrow! ;)
posted by Spankypoo at 5:48 PM on July 26, 2000


Spanky: Why are you willing to support abortion in cases of rape and incest? Isn't the situation still "life being ended by someone who doesn't have a right to end it"? Don't all your other points apply? Borrowing one of your more strident ones: A mother of a rapist's baby can't strangle the kid after birth. Why can a doctor abort the fetus two days before it?

If you are willing to accept the right to abortion in cases of rape and incest, you are on the same slope with the rest of us. You define life at conception, but are willing to ignore that definition in at least two instances. Others define life at the first trimester. Others at the point the fetus could survive out of the womb.

I don't know where it begins. You are positive that at eight weeks a fetus qualifies as a life. My wife just miscarried at eight weeks, and I got a close look at that "life", because I watched the ultrasound technician looking in vain for a heartbeat. The largest dimension of this "life" was 2.75 centimeters. Am I supposed to mourn a child, which it occasionally feels like I am doing? It's far from a certainty that a fetus at eight weeks makes it to birth. Eight weeks isn't much time at all from the point at which that fetus consisted of nothing but a sperm and an egg. If I can attach the definition of life to a 2.75-centimeter fetus because it has the potential to be a living human, why does sperm get left out of this sanctity-of-life thing? It's a potential creator of life, but I don't even think twice about those guys when they're gone, no matter how they departed this existence.

I find abortion an intensely difficult and emotional issue, but I support a woman's right to choose. I don't think it makes me "anti-life" or "pro-abortion." I am simply not certain that something smaller than a thumbnail equates to a 9-lb. baby on its birthday, and in that uncertainty, I am unwilling to force all women to carry every conception to term.
posted by rcade at 6:05 PM on July 26, 2000


I'd like to see some of the men who are so worried about the decline of the family offering to stay home and raise the kids themselves.

But that would require action, not just finger-pointing.
posted by Georgina at 6:35 PM on July 26, 2000


Is abortion wrong?

I don't have the answer to that question. If you think you do, you're wrong. It's not your job to judge. It's not your place to dictate.

We're skirting around the issue here. I've read all fifty plus posts carefully. Everyone has their opinion. Everyone has their own belief structure, and we're not going to get this wrapped up tonight. The Supreme Court wrapped it up decades ago, yet the war of rhetoric is still waging.

"Pro-life" anti-abortion activists in this country, like all americans, have the right to free speech, and they can try to persuade pregnant women not to do it, but the inalienable right of that young woman to life, liberty and the pursuit of her happiness cannot be overturned. It is unconstitutional to dictate what a woman does to her body, or anything inside of her body. The Supreme Court has already spoken on that.

Does an unborn child have a right to life? Yes. Does a woman have a right to what happens to her own body? Yes. Does she have the right to decide the existence of anything that happens to be in her body? Yes. Does anyone other than that woman have the right to decide what happens to her body? No.

Lemme say that again: No one has the right to dictate without consent what any other person does to anything inside their own body. THIS is what is paramount; the inalienable right to life that already exists and is living. Not the right of a being that is still incapable of self-sufficience. In the entire nine months of pregnancy, the fetus is a symbiant to its host. As harsh and terrible as it is to realize, its life right is comparable to that of a tapeworm, and does not and should not ever override the rights and priviledges of its host.

The pregnant woman is the protector or destroyer of that life. NOT the Christian Coalition. and NOT YOU.

Is abortion wrong?

When that woman faces Judgement Day or what she personally believes to be its equivalent, it's between her and her God. Let no man OR woman stand between any of Allah/Yahweh/Jehovah's subjects. I do not mean to leave out other faiths, but am unfamiliar with pagan theories of World's End. And aetheists, if they're right, have nothing to worry about.

Vengeance is mine saith the Lord. Stop trying to do His job for Him.
posted by ZachsMind at 6:53 PM on July 26, 2000


The Supreme Court has already spoken on that.

This fight is still going on, Zach. The Supreme Court is more than capable of overturning a landmark ruling, as opponents of capital punishment learned in 1976. All it takes is a few more stridently anti-abortion jurists appointed by an anti-abortion president.

Justice Harry Blackmun in his comments on 1992's Planned Parenthood v. Casey stressed how close Roe v. Wade has been to reversal:

"Three years ago, in Webster v. Reproductive Health Services (1989), four Members of this Court appeared poised to "cas[t] into darkness the hopes and visions of every woman in this country" who had come to believe that the Constitution guaranteed her the right to reproductive choice. All that remained between the promise of Roe and the darkness of the plurality was a single, flickering flame. Decisions since Webster gave little reason to hope that this flame would cast much light.

"But now, just when so many expected the darkness to fall, the flame has grown bright.

"I do not underestimate the significance of today's joint opinion. Yet I remain steadfast in my belief that the right to reproductive choice is entitled to the full protection afforded by this Court before Webster. And I fear for the darkness as four Justices anxiously await the single vote necessary to extinguish the light."
posted by rcade at 7:12 PM on July 26, 2000


rcade -- Given that you don't know when life begins, I would find it interesting to know why you're open to taking the chance that it doesn't begin at conception, or implantation, or at 17 days when there is a measurable heartbeat, or slightly later in the first trimester when there is measurable brain activity. . .

And as for equating a 2.5 cm foetus with a 9 pound full term baby, well, you can't. They are two different things. That doesn't make the first any less alive, any less human, and less worthy of protection.

posted by Dreama at 7:22 PM on July 26, 2000


rcade: In cases where pregnancy results from rape or incest, you join Dick Cheney in believing that the mother should be compelled to give birth to the child.

At the same time former congressman Cheney cast that vote in Congress, a congressman from Tennessee named Al Gore said the following:

"It is my deep personal conviction that abortion is wrong,” Gore wrote to a constituent in 1984 when he was representing Tennessee in the House. “Let me assure you that I share your belief that innocent human life must be protected, and I have an open mind about how to further this goal.”

When asked whether he still believed what he wrote in a separate 1987 letter to a constituent, that abortion is “the taking of a human life,” Gore responded, “I didn’t write that. I used the word ‘arguably’” before the words “the taking of a human life,” he said. “ I would not use that phrasing today,” he added.

Gore is half right. In another letter from 1984, Gore indeed said abortion was “arguably the taking of a human life.” But Gore continued, “It is my deep personal belief that abortion is wrong. I hope some day we will see the. outrageously large number of abortions drop sharply.”

Source: Boston Globe, p. A30 Jan 30, 2000
posted by netbros at 7:25 PM on July 26, 2000


This is nothing. You want an abortion argument? Try this:

The problem with abortion is that it gives women full unquestionable rights about whether or not to bring the fetus to term, while granting the (potential) father no say at all. Which is probably fine as far as it goes as long as the fetus is in the mother's body. But once the birth occurs, by the choice of the mother and nobody else, the father is compelled to financially support that child for the next 18 years. And if he tries to exercise the "right" to say "I don't want this baby," tough noogies. The government will go all out to track him down, garnish his wages, maybe even throw him in jail. So, in effect, the woman has special rights, the man has zero rights.

Chew on that for a while. :)
posted by aaron at 8:26 PM on July 26, 2000



Given that you don't know when life begins, I would find it interesting to know why you're open to taking the chance that it doesn't begin at conception, or implantation, or at 17 days when there is a measurable heartbeat, or slightly later in the first trimester when there is measurable brain activity. . .

Aside from the no-exceptions absolutists, we're all on a slope here, trying to make the best judgment on a very difficult subject. You said yourself that a 2.5-cm fetus and a 9-pound baby are not the same thing (though you contradict yourself by claiming that neither one is "any less human."). I agree with you -- they aren't -- and as a result support political candidates who do not want to overturn Roe v. Wade.
posted by rcade at 8:40 PM on July 26, 2000


The argument is still going but the fight is over. Even if it gets overturned. It has already been decided. The judicial decision can be overturned, but it will forever be on the books. It has been decreed. It's a constitutional right. In fact, it's a God-given right. Other judges in the future can be politically placed to appease a vocal minority. That doesn't change the truth.

I am not arguing opinion here. I'm stating facts.

It's hard to have convictions when you have to try to please everybody. It's why I make so many enemies. It's why I wouldn't last a nanosecond in politics. It's why our political system isn't working. Al Gore is actually struggling from a similar position to what I'm trying to communicate. In his personal opinion, it's murder. I ain't saying I agree with his opinion. That's irrelevant. Opinion alone does not make law.

The answer is not to punish the woman. The answer is to try to prevent unwanted pregnancy in the first place. Gore has in the past been a supporter of sex education, and contraception, though I haven't heard him talk about that stuff in awhile. Why? Cuz he wants to please everybody. And you CAN'T.

The same people arguing against abortion also argue for abstinence, and let me tell you abstinence is not a solution. I tried it until the age of 25. IT'S STUPID! I should have and could have lost my virginity when I was 17. I didn't for a number of reasons, but chief among them was because at the time I'd been taught it was wrong. Boy what a fool I was!

Telling a young adult not to explore sexuality is like making a kid not learn to walk. Or eat. Or defend himself. Sex is a natural and inevitable part of most all human lives. The older I get the more offended I get at anyone who tries to sweep sex under the rug and make it dirty. Public displays of affection should be encouraged in our society. Instead we insist it be done behind closed doors so we can all pretend we're not animals.

No wonder why we have these problems in this society. We don't properly educate our children. On certain matters we ignore it or put it off until it's too late, and our children are not armed with the knowledge to make the right decisions, because we're too ashamed to face the truth.

I'll put the argument of when life begins to rest right here. This isn't opinion. This is fact. The life of a human being begins before conception. The egg, even before fertilized, is still a living thing. So are the sperm. Splicing hairs over when a fetus is living tissue is irrelevant. Yet another of many things thrown into this discussion to make it more complex: to muddy facts with opinion.

The fetus inside a woman's womb is life from start to finish. Make no mistake. Just like the heart and lungs and kidneys in a woman are living tissue. The only difference is, in a nine month period give or take, the living tissue in question will eventually want out of the woman's body and attempt to follow its own destiny.

Prior to the moment of birth, it is 100% dependent on the mother for survival. It feeds off the mother via the umbilical cord, just as any other living tissue inside that woman gathers nutrients from the physiological system.

I am not arguing whether it's murder. That's for God to decide. My point is the woman has an inalienable right to decide what happens to that living tissue, because it is living inside her. She chooses whether she's going to feed it nutritious food or malnourishing crack. Every action a woman makes while pregnant has direct or indirect repercussions on what happens to her baby. Everything from getting out of bed to going to sleep at night.

It is a masterful burden. It is an incomprehensible responsibility. Whether her actions are wrong or right, it's HER decision. Even her husband, who is half responsible for the fetus' existence, does not have half the responsibility during pregnancy. Why? It's NOT inside him. He has no concept of how painful or cumbersome or glorious it all is. At best he can sympathize, but that's it.

If something I didn't want was growing inside me, I wouldn't want to have to have a court order or a congressional hearing to get to decide what I do with it. Believe me, if MEN were the ones to get pregnant, we wouldn't even be arguing this issue, and that's wholly unfair.

NOW..

One more point I'd like to make. The original purpose of this thread was in reference to whether or not pregnant women could theoretically be considered for the death penalty. After over fifty posts, which I purposefully chose not to participate in until now, it has deteriorated and drifted into a wordwar over abortion in general: a constitutionally defended right.

And I think it's wonderful! THERE'S topic drift for you! HAH!
posted by ZachsMind at 9:20 PM on July 26, 2000


The reasons behind why anyone wants/needs to have an abortion do not matter, decisions regarding ones body are not open to debate. This has to be a basic right or we cannot move forward. My mother was 16 when she became pregnant with me, abortion was not a legal option, and from what I can tell, it would not have been her choice. she being pretty damn Catholic and all. Life sucked when I was little, and I know she would have been much better off without me. At this point, I do not feel bad about anything, my mother made her own mistakes, and paid for them herself. My mother is very proud, never took anything from anybody, she worked very hard and has come a long way. The way I grew up made me the way I am, and I am grateful for the experience. The choice to abort me not being available to her, I cannot really speculate what she would have done if they had been. If she had aborted me, I would not blame her. I don't think the world would be much different without me. I would have been a bit of trimmed flesh, no better or worse than a pulled tooth. Myself, I rejected Catholism when I was 8 years old. From my perspective, aborting children unable to live outside the mother is like a leaf falling from a tree. I think it is sadder when viable children are killed, but I still think it is the mothers right. If she can live with it, I certainly can. I know there is a strong emotional component here, but our emotions, like our personal freedoms do not extend very far from our bodies. If you find the loss of life distressing, mourn in private. I in turn will not cry when your cat dies. I will cry like crazy when my own cat dies. It works out so neat that way.

Without the belief in the soul, there is no problem realizing that life does not kick in until you are self aware. Eliminating these unborn children is about as evil as having your tonsils taken out. It is a sad proceedure, but the experience is not your to share. One more time, the concord crashes, you nod your head and frown. Your cat dies, you wail. It seems so simple, why do we have to fight.
My real question is why do people have such uneven thinking. How can people take this stand for personal freedom, and then turn around and fight to take away someone elses right to own an object (gun), or fail to adaquetly punish someone for the ultimate afront to personal freedom (murder/death penalty). If you can tell someone how to spend their money, they can tell you what to do with your body. If we pursued independence from each others tyrany, there would be no need for this debate.
posted by thirteen at 9:23 PM on July 26, 2000


The argument is still going but the fight is over. Even if it gets overturned. It has already been decided. The judicial decision can be overturned, but it will forever be on the books. It has been decreed. It's a constitutional right. In fact, it's a God-given right. Other judges in the future can be politically placed to appease a vocal minority. That doesn't change the truth.

If this were how things worked, then it would still be a constitutional right to own slaves, a constitutional right for states to to prevent interracial marriage, a constitutional right for states to provide "separate but equal" schools, and so on and so on. In fact, by that line of thinking, the states would still have the constitutional right to prohibit all abortions within their borders if such was their wont. But that's not how things work.

The court is made up of fallible and erring human beings. The decisions of the court may be black letter law for a time, even for a century or longer. But they aren't unchangable, they aren't the absolute authority for eternity, and they certainly aren't channeling the words of God. Wise, yes. Latter day Moses and Isaiahs, no.

This shouldn't even have to be said. Can we attempt to stay within the bounds of reality, please?
posted by Dreama at 6:38 AM on July 27, 2000


why does sperm get left out of this sanctity-of-life thing?

Actually it doesn't. If you're Catholic, using birth control is also a sin because (as Monty Python says) "every sperm is sacred." Since it has the potential for creating life, you are not to "waste" it.

Not that I or most anyone else (even most Catholics) agree with that idea.

a being that is still incapable of self-sufficience. In the entire nine months of pregnancy, the fetus is a symbiant to its host.

Zach, the flaw (it seems to me) in this argument is that neither is a newborn baby capable of self-sufficience. Indeed, for at least two or three years, some adult must provide for the child. Now, it's true that the child is no longer inside the body of someone, but it's still, effectively, a "parasite," to use your analogy of a tapeworm, if not your exact wording.

All of this is not to say I'm for or against abortion. I wanted to bring up some points that jumped out at me as I read the arguments so far. In fact, I haven't personally decided what my stance on the issue will be. However, as I analyze it, it seems to me that the real argument comes down to a couple of things (really, they're both the same question, but phrased differently to take into account the arguments I've read):

1) Does a human fetus, within a woman's body, at any stage of its development have the same rights as a newborn child? If so, what stage? When it could likely survive outside the uterus?

2) At what stage are a sperm and egg considered a life that is worthy of protection? Before conception (the Catholic idea)? Immediately at conception? When there's a heartbeat? When there's brain function? When the fetus could survive outside the uterus? At birth? When it can walk? Talk? Find food on its own and stay relatively clean? Drive? College degree?

Reading some of the arguments so far, I can see why an abortion might be appealing to someone in a bad situation who would rather not add another child to this crowded world, who couldn't support said child, or whatever. I totally sympathize with that. But what about after a child is born? If, when your baby is three months old, you come into a situation (or realize your situation) where you aren't going to be able to support the child? Where your quality of life, or its, will be diminished by its continued life? Can you "abort" this child? Is a three-month old, a human that can't contribute anything to society, cannot create value, and in fact, is a helpless parasite, as valuable as an adult or an adult's quality of life? Are they more valuable than a fetus that's eight-months along? Or three? Besides the fact that they aren't within a woman's body, is there really any difference? Maybe that's the most important difference? And if so, is there anything wrong with aborting a fetus at 8 months? 9 months? When labor has started? What's so significant about the birth process?

I'm not going to attempt to answer any of these questions, but they are the ones that come to my mind when I think about the issue.

But wait, there's more. Obviously, outlawing abortion does not stop it. Much like doing drugs or downloading illegal MP3s, there's no way to stop it completely. Obviously today's abortion clinics are much safer for the woman and the unborn fetus than the stereotypical back-alley abortion of pre-Roe v. Wade days. I mean, even if you think abortion is wrong, do you think its better to have that kind of situation? Maybe it would be like prohibition, where the "solution" actually makes things worse?

I don't know the answers to any of these questions, but I'd be interested in what you guys think about it. I swear I'm not trying to push an agenda or anything, I hope my post doesn't sound like that. I honestly don't know what to think about it all.
posted by daveadams at 9:04 AM on July 27, 2000


Having joined this thread a bit late, I'd just like to point out one thing. I've read a lot about innocent, newborn life and how "that [aborted] baby never had the chance to have any form of life, good or bad." That's a very noble, chivalrous way of looking at it, and I respect that, but it's also a completely western, Judeo-Christian way of looking at it. Some schools of eastern thought, specifically those that believe in reincarnation, would believe that a newborn child still carries the weight of all the soul's actions from all its previous incarnations. This will sound really harsh, but from the point of view of reincarnationalist thought, maybe that unborn child that gets aborted had it coming. (I'm trying to refrain from saying "Maybe the unborn child was Hitler" just because it would bring Hitler into it. Egads.) Like daveadams, I don't know for sure, either, but it's something to think about.
posted by jason at 11:03 AM on July 27, 2000


Having joined this thread a bit late, I'd just like to point out one thing. I've read a lot about innocent, newborn life and how "that [aborted] baby never had the chance to have any form of life, good or bad." That's a very noble, chivalrous way of looking at it, and I respect that, but it's also a completely western, Judeo-Christian way of looking at it. Some schools of eastern thought, specifically those that believe in reincarnation, would believe that a newborn child still carries the weight of all the soul's actions from all its previous incarnations. This will sound really harsh, but from the point of view of reincarnationalist thought, maybe that unborn child that gets aborted had it coming. (I'm trying to refrain from saying "Maybe the unborn child was Hitler" just because it would bring Hitler into it. Egads.) Like daveadams, I don't know for sure, either, but it's something to think about.
posted by jason at 11:03 AM on July 27, 2000


Jason: My disclaimer: I completely disagree with the concept of reincarnation of the same spirit into different bodies.

That said, here are my thoughts: If that *is* the case, then it's not up to us to decide whether or not that person was carrying enough weight with them to justify killing them. If you believe it's predestined to happen, then I take issue with that, as we've lost our entire purpose in this life, which is to act by our own free will.

I view the "maybe they had it coming" theory as yet another attempt to escape responsibility - that same theory could be applied to people who are murdered at 83, children molested at eight, and innocent families who are hit by drunk drivers - kinda silly, no?
posted by Spankypoo at 12:46 PM on July 27, 2000


Spanky: The idea of karma is not the same as predestination. "Karma" is a Sanskrit word that just means "action," and the concept allows for everyone to make their own choices, but still be held responsible for their actions. Which goes back to what you've said, "then it's not up to us to decide whether or not that person was carrying enough weight with them to justify killing them." Indeed; I never said that the decision to abort doesn't carry karmic repercussions of its own.

"I view the "maybe they had it coming" theory as yet another attempt to escape responsibility - that same theory could be applied to people who are murdered at 83, children molested at eight, and innocent families who are hit by drunk drivers - kinda silly, no?" Well, no it isn't all that silly. Not if karma and reincarnation are a reality. The octogenarian could have could have committed numerous murders in a past life (or this life, for all we know!); the 8-year-old could have done the same to their younger sibling (atrocious, but possible), and who knows how innocent a family really is? And, if karma were a truth, it wouldn't absolve the perpetrators of violent acts if their intentions weren't good. However, it goes deeper than that, and now we're arguing spirituality and religion, which wasn't my intention. I'm not religious, and I'm not qualified to fully defend one system of beliefs over another as more correct. All my talk above about karma could be absolute rubbish for all I know. I was merely trying to provide other ways to view the argument.
posted by jason at 1:22 PM on July 27, 2000


If the fetus has developed a brain and has independent brain waves, then it should not be killed. But if it has no independent thought, it's just part of the mother's body and it's her choice what to do with the tissue.
posted by PaperCut at 8:57 PM on July 27, 2000


Her choice, or the state, if she's on death row.
posted by PaperCut at 8:59 PM on July 27, 2000


How do these threads go from being red hot, to dead so fast?
posted by thirteen at 4:21 PM on July 29, 2000


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