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April 8, 2006 10:59 PM   Subscribe

Pro-Life Nation. What happens when you completely criminalize abortion? Over the last eight years, El Salvador has found out.
posted by dgaicun (256 comments total)

 
Ah, you beat me to it.

Reg-free link.

A radio interview with the author of that article, Jack Hitt.

Center for Reproductive Rights Study: Persecuted: Political Process and Abortion Legislation in El Salvador: A Human Rights Analysis (link to pdf report)
posted by longdaysjourney at 11:10 PM on April 8, 2006


El Salvador, however, has not only a total ban on abortion but also an active law-enforcement apparatus — the police, investigators, medical spies, forensic vagina inspectors and a special division of the prosecutor's office responsible for Crimes Against Minors and Women, a unit charged with capturing, trying and incarcerating an unusual kind of criminal.

*shudders*
posted by scody at 11:17 PM on April 8, 2006


what a job, Forensic Vagina Inspector........
posted by dibblda at 11:20 PM on April 8, 2006


Open up! FVI!
posted by jenovus at 11:25 PM on April 8, 2006 [1 favorite]


coming soon to a formerly free republic near you
posted by hortense at 11:36 PM on April 8, 2006


Should be required reading for any man who feels the desperate need to take away a woman's right to choose. A horrific article - but one that must be read.
posted by rmm at 11:37 PM on April 8, 2006


jenovus, lol.

But seriously, I don't think the US is even close to having this happen.
posted by ParisParamus at 11:38 PM on April 8, 2006


I feel that a relatively short time from now (100 to 200 years) our succesors will look back on our generation with the sort of disgust and venom now reserved for slaveholders. The true shame of this all was that slavery was a base and demeaning sort of life, but it was life. It is my great shame that I will be grouped in with what will surely be looked upon in the future as a generation that were little more than misguided murderers.
posted by BackwardsHatClub at 11:44 PM on April 8, 2006


Don't forget Poland!
posted by skallas at 11:46 PM on April 8, 2006


Backwards, assuming you mean that abortion rights advocates will be reviled... that will only happen if humanity turns away, as a whole, from intelligence, and embraces mindlessness instead.

That appears frighteningly possible, at the moment.
posted by Malor at 11:51 PM on April 8, 2006


Backwards, depending on the details of your outlook, I agree with you, or at least salute you for expressing such a view in these parts.
posted by ParisParamus at 11:54 PM on April 8, 2006


Isn't abortion illegal in the vast majority of the world?

I remember an article in wired talking about how some countries legalize things that most of the world does not. I know abortion is illegal in ireland.
posted by delmoi at 11:54 PM on April 8, 2006


I feel that a relatively short time from now (100 to 200 years) our succesors will look back on our generation with the sort of disgust and venom now reserved for slaveholders. The true shame of this all was that slavery was a base and demeaning sort of life, but it was life. It is my great shame that I will be grouped in with what will surely be looked upon in the future as a generation that were little more than misguided murderers.
.
.
.
Backwards, assuming you mean that abortion rights advocates will be reviled... that will only happen if humanity turns away, as a whole, from intelligence, and embraces mindlessness instead.

Interesting, both abortion and slavery are on the practicalist side of the argument. Abortion is practical, and the moral arguments against abortion are just that: moral arguments that make no sense if you don't share the same moral values.

Similarly, if you do not believe that African-Americans are "human" then really there should be no moral reason to oppose slavery.

Of course, you could make the same claim about prohibition of Alcohol (indeed, many abolitionists were also pro-temperance). In that case, the practicalists clearly won.
posted by delmoi at 11:59 PM on April 8, 2006


Another thing to think about though: as science improved it ought to have been increasingly clear that Africans were obviously as human as Europeans.

On the other hand, from a scientific standpoint, it's clear that embryos and fetuses aren’t really "human", with human experiences until much later in the pregnancy.
posted by delmoi at 12:02 AM on April 9, 2006


delmoi - it depends on how you define "most of the world". If you go by share of the world's population, most of the world has some form of legal, elective abortion. If you go by strict number of countries, most of the world's countries outlaw abortions with varying exceptions for the health of the mother. Good Wikipedia article with a great map
posted by nathan_teske at 12:04 AM on April 9, 2006


ParisParamus: Backwards, depending on the details of your outlook, I agree with you,

I generally agree with El Salvador's law except for the prohibition on abortion when it threatens the life of the mother.

Years ago, I used to believe that abortion should be legal in the case of rape. Then I realized that all life should be protected no matter what it's origins. Is it easy? No. There are many things in life that are tough, but they are right.


Right now we live in the time where the expediency and convience of one person is valued greater than the very life of another. I'm not trying to throw flames but when I think about it, it makes me sick.
posted by BackwardsHatClub at 12:07 AM on April 9, 2006


Plus you can just throw them into jail later after their lives are turned to shit being unwanted and unloved as a burden to the caregivers.
posted by Balisong at 12:09 AM on April 9, 2006


(BTW, I'm not "for" abortion. My wife right now is 7 1/2 months carrying our first child, and she's pro-choice, too.)
posted by Balisong at 12:14 AM on April 9, 2006


Yeah, the exception for rape makes no sense at all. Nor for incest, really (unless you can show the fetus has a degenerative disease). If I were going to come up with an exception, it would be for any type of fetal defect.

Anyway. I just say keep it legal. I'll change my mind when I hear a fetus tell me it understands life and death and wants to stay alive.
posted by delmoi at 12:17 AM on April 9, 2006


Bckwardshatclub.... you value life more than you value freedom.

You may be okay with that, but it makes you a very easy person to enslave.
posted by Malor at 12:18 AM on April 9, 2006


delmoi: Anyway. I just say keep it legal. I'll change my mind when I hear a fetus tell me it understands life and death and wants to stay alive.


Have you heard a lot of 8 month old babies tell you this?
posted by BackwardsHatClub at 12:19 AM on April 9, 2006


Malor: Bckwardshatclub.... you value life more than you value freedom.


Very true, I'm a classical libertarian in most senses. The only thing we value more than freedom is the life and health of others.
posted by BackwardsHatClub at 12:21 AM on April 9, 2006


BackwardsHatClub: At some point you're going to have to realize that women deserve the right to choose their own reproductive future.
posted by bshort at 12:27 AM on April 9, 2006


So all they have to do to chain you, BH, is threaten some people? Our country's founders, I think, would be disappointed in that position.

Giving up your own freedom to preserve someone else's life could easily be a moral, even heroic decision... but forcing someone to give up their freedom to save a third party strikes me as unalterably wrong.
posted by Malor at 12:29 AM on April 9, 2006


papakwanz: I've been a member of this site for quite a long time.

bshort: At some point you're going to have to realize that women deserve the right to choose their own reproductive future.


I would hope that at some point you would realize that all people have a right to life before all other considerations.
posted by BackwardsHatClub at 12:30 AM on April 9, 2006


Someone still thinks that humanity will continue to flourish for centuries...

To be young again.

Anyway, as to the article, I find it incredibly chilling. The woman labeled as a felon... the womb as a "crime scene"... Fear as a weapon to keep doctors and nurses in compliance.

It's rather disgusting.

To think that even one of our Senators would even begin to think that such a condition would be desirable in the United States is distressing.

Freedom is the right to choose. To have or to have not, to do or to do not.

Anything else is the impression of one moral code onto another individual.

The world is a delicious festering panorama of every shade of grey, as no two humans share an identical moral code.

There is at least some small comfort in knowing that new legal medications are being used in lieu of the wire hanger. At least some women who are pushed beyond the brink of desperation will not suffer the horrid fate as so many others have.
posted by PROD_TPSL at 12:34 AM on April 9, 2006


Malor: Giving up your own freedom to preserve someone else's life could easily be a moral, even heroic decision... but forcing someone to give up their freedom to save a third party strikes me as unalterably wrong.

I'm not even sure how to respond to this statement. What sort of society would we have if people weren't forced to give up certain freedoms for the sake of others?


I mean, personally, I don't like zoning laws amongst many other things. But somewhere along the line someone decided that the chance of a pig farmer setting up shop next to their home was too great so they got a law passed that forbade it. The pig farmer is giving up his right to own land wherever he pleases but this is done for the sake of various other third parties who don't want to live next to a pig sty (literally). Now if we are willing to restrict the rights of pig farmers to protect property why aren't we willing to restrict the rights of women to protect life?



Anyway whenever I participate in these threads it kind of become me V. Metafilter. I'm going to sleep, I look forward to your replies tomorrow.
posted by BackwardsHatClub at 12:36 AM on April 9, 2006


Maybe this is too simplistic, but I think that a fetus becomes a unique individual at that point in its development that its brainwaves diverge from that of its mother. Is there a test for this? I dunno, I'm a bartender, not a bio-ethicist. If there is such a test, let's apply it, and solve the abortion problem: no independent brainwaves, abortable; independent brainwaves, birthable.

I have great misgivings about the ethicality of abortion, but I also believe that I don't have the right to tell anyone what they can or cannot do with their body.

I think that it is much more likely that that 100-200 years from now people will be shaking their heads in dusgust at the way we allowed our planet to be polluted and how we allowed massive starvation in third-world countries despite producing more than enough food for everyone.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 12:37 AM on April 9, 2006


I would hope that at some point you would realize that all people have a right to life before all other considerations.
posted by BackwardsHatClub at 12:30 AM PST on April 9
Horseshit. Nobody has a "right to life".

Where and when anyone is born is a confluence of the circumstances surrounding their parents. We don't choose our parents. We don't choose their country of residence. We don't choose the time into which we're born. Etcetera.

All of those choices are made for us. And most of them are random.

To say that anyone has a "right to life" implies something other than totally random fucking chance in the great gametogenic dice game that is human reproduction, and is willful ignorance.
posted by scrump at 12:48 AM on April 9, 2006


You know, any discussion about when a fetus becomes human and should be guaranteed all the rights of another human is moot, because that's not a subject that can be resolved by science. It can't even be resolved by religion, as the Bible says nothing on the matter of abortion, and Jews, as an example, don't believe that a fetus is a human life until th egreater part of its head has emerged from the womb.

Which is why pro-choice people are pro-choice. Because we don't believe that we get to force whatever conclusion we come to regarding the morality of abortion onto other people. We believe that they have the right to come to their own conclusions about the morality of abortion, even if it a conclusion we disagree with, and then choose how to act based on their conclusion.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:51 AM on April 9, 2006


I would hope that at some point you would realize that all people have a right to life before all other considerations.

At what point does a cluster of cells become a person, legally or even philosophically, and thus earn this right of life?

Do you think that a reasonable definition of "person" should at least require a demonstrable intelligence, will, or a brain?
posted by kid ichorous at 12:51 AM on April 9, 2006


I would hope that at some point you would realize that all people have a right to life before all other considerations.

This is just about the least philosophically tenable position I've ever heard articulated on Metafilter.
posted by maxreax at 1:01 AM on April 9, 2006


Recently, I've started considering the prospect of rights from a perspective I hadn't before - that of a selfish, but intelligent and rational individual. I haven't decided whether or not I share that perspective, but it may provide food for discussion...

Why do people, in general, have rights at all? Because it's a lot more pleasant to live in a society where you don't have to worry about strangers tromping into your home, stealing your stuff, and beating you up - and however much fun it is to beat other people up, there are a /lot/ of other people who can do the same to you... so, adding up the plusses and minuses, it's better for yourself if nobody (including yourself) is allowed to beat other people up.

Is a fetus a person, worthy of being accorded the same rights as other persons? What /is/ a person? A dog? A dog uplifted to sapience? An AI? The only criteria I've been able to come up with is anything that I can bargain with - anything that can make a decision whether or not to accept some trade I offer (even if it's just "I'll play with you if you play with me", rather than exchanging goods, money, work-hours, or what-have-you).

A seperate question - even assuming that a fetus is a person with rights, does that right include the right to remain inside another person's uterus against their wishes? If I invite someone into my house, do I not have the right to invite them to leave?

As for the person who mentioned zoning laws - if you live somewhere and want to prevent a pig farmer from moving in and stinking up your own property, there's a much simpler, less arbitrary method to deal with the situation: nuisance laws, which specify that if one person interferes with another's property, they must stop and pay restitution. (Of course, if the pig farmer was there /first/, then anyone who moves in afterwards has no cause for complaint - they came with their eyes (and nose) open.)


(So - how's that for a first post?)
posted by DataPacRat at 1:15 AM on April 9, 2006


I would hope that at some point you would realize that all people have a right to life before all other considerations.

Do you support the death penalty?
posted by fshgrl at 1:15 AM on April 9, 2006


But seriously, I don't think the US is even close to having this happen.

Haven't you paid any fucking attention to the idea of a "tipping point?"
posted by sourwookie at 1:16 AM on April 9, 2006


And, as always, the debate comes down to when and how "life" is defined.

It upsets me that people think their religious beliefs give them some domain over other people's bodies and reproductive systems. Regardless of whether those people share those beliefs.
posted by fenriq at 1:18 AM on April 9, 2006


I would hope that at some point you would realize that all people have a right to life before all other considerations.

Even before other people's right to life? Let's say the mother is diabetic—this increases the chance that she will be even less able to control her blood sugar, and increases the chance that she will not survive the pregnancy. And guess what—the fetus won't either.

El Salvador would kill them both, and be morally equivalent to murdering the mother.

It amazes me how the more vocal abortion opponents care only that the mother gives birth, not that the child has a decent life.
posted by oaf at 1:21 AM on April 9, 2006


There are two issues I'd like to bring up here.

First, I'm certain that life does not begin at conception. Identical twins (conceived as a single zygote) and tetragametic chimaeras (a single person derived from two separately conceived zygotes that fuse at the seveal-cell stage) prove that embryos are not individuals. Human life is defined by the presence of a human mind. Or do you believe that conjoined twins are actually a single person instead of two?

But that's not what's most important for the legality aspect. Here's what is: The government does not, and should not, have the right to commandeer any part of your body. Mandatory lung and kidney donation could save lives. But are you ready to have government agents hunt you down, slice you open, and throw you in jail if you want to keep your spare organs? If you don't donate bone marrow, it wouldn't ever cross my mind to call you a murderer. Likewise, a woman shouldn't be accused of such for disallowing a fetus the continued use of her womb.

I'll admit, under my definition of human life it's unclear when a cluster of nerve cells can be considered a sentient human brain. And most abortion procedures destroy the fetus rather than merely remove it from the womb. But unless the technology exists to sustain the fetus outside the womb, a quick and immediate end is better than a prolonged one. If such technology becomes available, then the one compromise I'd be willing to make is to allow the government to mandate intact removal procedures. That's only if it's completely safe, the woman still has the option to give it up for adoption, and the government pays the bills for the equipment and procedures. But I'll never accept any law that allows the government to seize control of a woman's uterus.
posted by H-Bar at 1:22 AM on April 9, 2006


Rather than add to the pile-on of BackwardsHatClub in what is likely going to be another lengthy abortion thread, I'd rather focus on the situation in El Salvador. I'll simply add that I am pro-choice.

Here's some of the most interesting snippets for me:

"Abortion as it exists in El Salvador today tends to operate on three levels. The well-off retain the "right to choose" that comes of simply having money... Among the very poor, you can still find the back-alley world described by D.C. and the others who turn up in hospitals with damaged or lacerated wombs. Then there are the women in the middle; they often rely on home-brewed cures that are shared on the Internet or on a new underground railroad that has formed to aid them."

"When pressed about the fact that the law she helped pass does treat the woman as a criminal, she said: "Yes, it's part of the law of our country. Because the woman has murdered her baby — and that's why she is sent to jail. But I believe that the woman who is sent to jail remains a victim of the abortion doctor, the abortionist, who knows exactly what he is doing.""

"Doctors in El Salvador now understand that it is their legal duty to report any woman suspected of having had an abortion. Abortion rights advocates point out that Salvadoran law also spells out a conflicting responsibility: the doctor's duty to keep the patient's medical information confidential."
""Many doctors are afraid not to report," says Mira, the obstetrician I spoke to. This fear is heightened for doctors, she explains, by the fact that nurses also have a legal duty to report abortion crimes but are often confused about their obligation of confidentiality. So doctors are afraid that the nurses will report them for not reporting. "The entire system is run on fear," Mira said."

"Consider an ectopic pregnancy, a condition that occurs when a microscopic fertilized egg moves down the fallopian tube... and gets stuck there (or sometimes in the abdomen). Unattended, the stuck fetus grows until the organ containing it ruptures. A simple operation can remove the fetus before the organ bursts.
According to Sara Valdés, the director of the Hospital de Maternidad, women coming to her hospital with ectopic pregnancies cannot be operated on until fetal death or a rupture of the fallopian tube. "That is our policy," Valdés told me. She was plainly in torment about the subject. "That is the law," she said."

""The more years one can send someone away for," I was told by Margarita Sanabria, a magistrate who has handled several abortion cases, "the better it is for the prosecutors." She cited this motivation to account for what she has observed recently: more later-term abortions being reclassified as "aggravated homicide." If an aborted fetus is found to have been viable, the higher charge can be filed. The penalty for abortion can be as low as two years in prison. Aggravated homicide has a minimum sentence of 30 years and a maximum of 50 years."

So at the urging of the church, in a policy designed to save the lives of the unborn, we end up with El Salvador.

Doctors have to violate patient confidentiality in fear of prosecution. Ectopic pregnancies place the life of the mother at risk, as the life of her unviable fetus (it physically cannot be born) is more important than hers under the law. Wealthy and middle class women still manage to get abortions, despite the legal barriers. Poor women go to back street abortionists, or attempt to abort themselves, with great risks to the health, and then can end up in jail for up to 50 years.

By trying to save the lives of the unborn, El Salvador and the Church are destroying the lives of poor women with no other choices, risking many pregnant women's health from untreated complications, and subverting the relationship between doctors, nurses and patients to be one of fear and mistrust.

This is why the separation of Church and State is essential, in my view. The consequences of allowing one group to enforce its moral code on another is destroying lives, not saving them.
posted by ArkhanJG at 1:38 AM on April 9, 2006


I would hope that at some point you would realize that all people have a right to life before all other considerations.
This is just about the least philosophically tenable position I've ever heard articulated on Metafilter.
I don't know that I would say that. Isn't life one of the so-called "inalienable rights", along with liberty and pursuit of happiness? Preservation of life (i.e. survival) is the basis of any rational moral system.
posted by RylandDotNet at 2:13 AM on April 9, 2006


Or rather, the rational basis of any moral system.
posted by RylandDotNet at 2:16 AM on April 9, 2006


in freakonomics, the author talks about a ban in romania. 20 years later, you have a whole generation of children nobody wanted grown up to be adults - murder crime mayhem etc.
posted by Tryptophan-5ht at 2:44 AM on April 9, 2006


If I invite someone into my house, do I not have the right to invite them to leave?

Do you have a right to ask your 18-month-old toddler to leave? I think most reasonable people would say that no, your responsibility to your child is to nurture and love it, and that means you can't put little Timmy out on the street.

Once your child is old enough to fend for himself, then you can more reasonably kick him out, but it seems that some people think that a sufficiently young child can be kicked out too.
posted by The Monkey at 3:07 AM on April 9, 2006


Backwardshatclub: Certain freedoms, sure. Freedom to swing one's fist ends at other people's noses and all that. But the farmer who can't raise pigs close to other people isn't put in danger; he simply has to find another place, or give up on the idea if he can't.

The best analogy I have is that you cannot compel anyone to save another's life at risk to themselves. If someone is drowning, any reasonable person would be expected to do whatever they safely could to save that person. Howeever, that compulsion, whether moral or legal, stops as soon as the rescuer would be in danger. If the only option to save a drowning swimmer is to jump in with them, then I don't think you could argue that they're legally or morally required to do so. They can choose to, but it would be wrong to compel them.

There is a real health risk to having children. It's not _that_ large in developed countries, but it does exist. The FDA recently refused to allow the sale of one of the retroactive birth control pills, citing 'high risk', even though the risk is about one one-thousandth that of actually having a child.

I don't think I can legally force you to save a drowning person, and I don't think you can legally force a woman to have a child.

If you don't see these two situations as exactly alike, then you are most likely in the 'punish the woman for having sex' crowd. As I have said many times, the anti-abortion thing is more about trying to repress sex and punish the 'sinful', than it is about saving lives.
posted by Malor at 3:52 AM on April 9, 2006


Then I realized that all life should be protected no matter what it's origins. Is it easy? No. There are many things in life that are tough, but they are right.

Funny how many have that attitude towards making life tought for others.
posted by spazzm at 3:54 AM on April 9, 2006


everyone has a right to life before all other considerations:

* no one is ever taken off a venilator
* as mentioned above, mandatory organ donations
* socialist/authoritarian/facist rule: all GDP must be spent on health care.
posted by n9 at 3:58 AM on April 9, 2006


I suggest a reasonable criteria for determining when a fetus is a person: when it has independent brain activity.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 4:06 AM on April 9, 2006


I suggest a reasonable criteria for determining when a fetus is a person: when it has independent brain activity.

Good idea - I've always been a proponent of post-natal abortion.
posted by spazzm at 4:09 AM on April 9, 2006


The problem with anti -abortion laws is that those with some education and money manage to find a doctor who will legally give D and C to rid the body of the potential baby; those without, go the back alley and dangerous route.

In those industrialized nations, abortion is generally legal and when it is not, the pregnant often take planes to countries close by where it is permitted. Where the Catholic Church is clearly a majority church, as in many S. Am. nations, abortion is generally illegal. The Church favors lots of births and, coincidentally, seems to favor doing all pooislbe to protect, encourage illegals entering and staying in the US and having lots of babies.

Anyone out there going with a woman, married to one, had a girlfriend, who needed and had an abortion? Why did you and she decide to do it?

Finally, in the US we allow abortion but at the federal level we still try to keep solid sex info from schoolchildren and note that the after morning pill developed and used for years in Europe is still not available in drugstores in the US because the govt has made sure it does not go forward though it has passed all tests thus far for safety.
posted by Postroad at 4:15 AM on April 9, 2006


It amazes me how the more vocal abortion opponents care only that the mother gives birth, not that the child has a decent life.

That's because you can't tell whether or not an unborn child is gay.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 4:17 AM on April 9, 2006


Good idea - I've always been a proponent of post-natal abortion.

Well, obviously abortion should be retroactive to age 18.

That encapsulates my point: there IS a point at which reasoanble people can agree -- when a fetus has an independent brainwave.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 4:23 AM on April 9, 2006


You know, any discussion about when a fetus becomes human and should be guaranteed all the rights of another human is moot, because that's not a subject that can be resolved by science.

This is why I am pro-choice. I don't want a government body to make what are essentially religious decisions. I am morally opposed to abortion, but I think it's enough of a grey area that the last people you want involved is the Government. I think that is a more classically libertarian argument.
posted by cell divide at 4:35 AM on April 9, 2006


Are there any studies which determine whether the number of abortions goes up or down when a pro/anti abortion law is passed?
posted by hoverboards don't work on water at 4:36 AM on April 9, 2006


BitterOldPunk, if there's a bright line for me, it's about week 28, where the fetus' brain is developed enough that it becomes conscious for the first time. It seems to me that just 'brainwaves' isn't enough... even Terri Schiavo, as far as I know, had at least some brainwave activity, and it was very obviously the right thing to let her go. The brainstem emits brainwaves, and it's little more than a timekeeping system to keep everything running in sync.

I think very few people in the pro-choice crowd believe the line to be 'physical birth', but the law is drawn there (at least at the moment) because it's an absolute certainty at that point.

The anti-recreational-sex crowd is probably going to win over the long term, though.... they have more babies.
posted by Malor at 4:38 AM on April 9, 2006


I would like all of those in this country who would like to criminalize abortion to do the following:

At the same time that you are restricting the liberties of the poor women (because that is who will suffer, not the women who can afford illegal/safe abortions) who will be forced to give birth, please enact the following programs: free health care to the pregnant mother and to her children until they are adults, subsidized child care so that the mother can work, mandatory (as in prosecutable by the same jail term that women who seek abortions will get) child support by the impregnating father, mentoring programs for the children in these at-risks families, readily available morning after pill, and free birth control to all women who seek it, along with a strong education program in the schools.

But no, the real issue here is that it's much easier to enslave others to an arbitary moral code whose real agenda is to punish women for sexual freedoms.
posted by Flakypastry at 4:39 AM on April 9, 2006


I'm very uncomfortable with the argument that women are considered to be walking baby factories and that anything that interferes in its production is deemed felonious. Hearkens to the middle ages.
posted by moonbird at 4:53 AM on April 9, 2006


Hoverboards: I'm sure there are endless and numerous examples out there.. but check out occhiblu's comment in a previous thread.

Legal Status and Abortion Rates:

Contrary to the arguments of abortion opponents, making abortion legal does not appear to increase the incidence of abortion — in fact, the opposite seems to happen. A study by the Alan Guttmacher Institute published in 1999 found that abortion rates are no lower overall in areas where abortion is generally restricted by law (and where many abortions are performed under unsafe conditions) than in areas where abortion is legally permitted (Henshaw, 1999). Some of the lowest abortion rates in the world occur in countries where abortion is legal (e.g., Western Europe) and some of the highest abortion rates occur in countries where abortion is illegal (e.g., Latin America) (Marston, 2003). The study concluded that both developed and developing countries can have low abortion rates. Most countries, however, have moderate to high abortion rates, reflecting lower prevalence and effectiveness of contraceptive use. Stringent legal restrictions do not guarantee a low abortion rate (Henshaw, 1999).
posted by provolot at 4:54 AM on April 9, 2006


BitterOldPunk, why stop at 18?
posted by spazzm at 5:04 AM on April 9, 2006


Hoverbords: In addition to provolot's comment, there's also this to consider. The vast majority of anti-abortionists are also anti-contraception, and anti-sex education. Under George W. Bush's "abstinence only" mandate the number of abortions in the US has actually *increased*. I'm not going to say that all anti-abortionists are anti-sex, but their leadership seems to fall firmly into the "women who have sex are sluts and should be punished by forcing them to have babies" camp. If they really wanted to reduce abortions they'd be pushing fact based sex education starting at kindergarten and making contraception easily and freely available.

I do have one question for Paris and BackwardsHatsClub, and its the question I ask all proponents of forced pregnancy: Do you also support laws mandating forced organ donation? If not, why is it that you are willing to force a woman to provide her body for the benefit of a third party, but are not willing to force men to provide their bodies for the benefit of a third party?

Let me expand a bit. There are long waiting lists for organs here in the US, many people die because a compatible organ cannot be found in time to save their lives. A national program which required all Americans to submit to the necessary screening for organ donation would let us build a database so we could instantly match a person needing an organ (kidney, part of a liver, etc) to a compatible donor.

I see no difference between forcing a woman to use her uterus to give life to a fetus (which you tell me is a full human, and therefore a third party) and forcing a man to give one of his kidneys to a third party.

So, if you don't support forced organ donation, I'm curious about your reasoning. Actually, that isn't honest. If you are going to be a hypocrite on the subject of forced organ donation I'll conclude that you too are part of the "punish the sluts" camp.

Also, how do you feel about taxpayer supported contraception? That would reduce abortion significantly, and you tell me that stopping abortion is your top priority. If you oppose taxpayer funded contraception for all, how does that square with your belief that stopping abortions is more important than other considerations?
posted by sotonohito at 5:39 AM on April 9, 2006


And, as always, the debate comes down to when and how "life" is defined.

With "person" implicitely substituted in for "life", and "soul" implicitely substituted in as that which makes a "person". Words never mean what they really mean in the "pro-life" camp.

Here we have a report on the horrific consequences of an authoritarian law criminalising women, but because antichoicers want to present their position as a case of humanitarian interest in protecting the rights of the disadvantaged, they just want to talk about when the soul enters the matter at conception, and so the soul becomes a full legal entity deserving more rights than any actual legal person. Isn't that neat?
posted by funambulist at 5:47 AM on April 9, 2006


So, if you don't support forced organ donation, I'm curious about your reasoning. Actually, that isn't honest. If you are going to be a hypocrite on the subject of forced organ donation I'll conclude that you too are part of the "punish the sluts" camp.


The difference is, presumably, there was no action you could have taken to prevent an organ needy person from coming into this world. That is by your action or inaction you had nothing to do with it.


/organ donor
posted by BackwardsHatClub at 6:15 AM on April 9, 2006


You know, any discussion about when a fetus becomes human and should be guaranteed all the rights of another human is moot, because that's not a subject that can be resolved by science.
[...]
Which is why pro-choice people are pro-choice. Because we don't believe that we get to force whatever conclusion we come to regarding the morality of abortion onto other people.


Sure you do. According to your logic, you may well be "forcing your conclusion" on the fetus, since you're in favor of allowing abortion, despite the fact that you claim you'll never know whether or not it was actually a human and deserving of rights.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 6:39 AM on April 9, 2006


Anyone out there going with a woman, married to one, had a girlfriend, who needed and had an abortion?

Yup.

Why did you and she decide to do it?

The usual reasons. We weren't much more than children ourselves. Having a child would have taken our lives in a direction that we just weren't ready for and wouldn't have wanted even if we were. Whats more we didn't subscribe to the notion that engaging in unprotected sex should result in lifelong punishment, nor did we believe that the cluster of cells that constitutes the early fetus is actually a 'baby' -- it's simply a pre-conscious cluster of cells.

Since then, I've raised three children (the first of which was with the woman who had the abortion, second two to a second wife) and still see no reason to feel guilty about that decision, or to believe it was wrong in any way. I'd argue that my subsequent children have a better quality of life because of the mother's decision to have that abortion.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 6:39 AM on April 9, 2006


The difference is, presumably, there was no action you could have taken to prevent an organ needy person from coming into this world. That is by your action or inaction you had nothing to do with it.

So that's a pretty firm vote for the 'punish the sluts' option then?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 6:41 AM on April 9, 2006


On the other hand, from a scientific standpoint, it's clear that embryos and fetuses aren’t really "human", with human experiences until much later in the pregnancy.

What do you mean a "scientific standpoint"? What scientist defines the offspring of two humans as something other than human?

What pro-choice types usually mean when they say "life" or "human" in these cases is "legal personhood." But they can't use that term to the same effect, because "life" and "human" carry a connotation of some irrefutable fact in nature, when, in reality, legal personhood is arbitrary, decided by other people who have complex political motives.

The hypocrisy of the left regarding abortion is hit upon in delmoi's post above -- the left believes the state has the power and the right to define legal personhood to suit its politicla goals in one case (abortion) but not in another case (slavery, segregation, racism).


It is possible that El Salvador's anti-abortion laws are causing more suffering not because they've outlawed abortion, but because they've ouitlawed abortion without addressing the social ills that put women in the position of wanting abortions in the first place.

And that brings us to the hypocrisy of the right regarding abortion. Do they really care about unborn babies and human rights? Because they seem to stop caring once the children are born, and their econmoic and social policies encourage abortion.
posted by eustacescrubb at 6:44 AM on April 9, 2006 [1 favorite]


I have for some time believed that human life does not fully begin till one begins to pay taxes (exception; the wealthy, who pay none or little and enjoy the benefits of a full life anyway)
posted by Postroad at 6:57 AM on April 9, 2006



The difference is, presumably, there was no action you could have taken to prevent an organ needy person from coming into this world. That is by your action or inaction you had nothing to do with it.


An edge case;

If the woman was raped, she involuntarily become pregnant (due to restrictions on birth control), but is now involuntarily forced to bear to term at risk to her own health; so it's only fair that a man should be required to involuntarily donate his organs for the childs lifetime, regardless of his involvement in the matter, if he's a tissue match.

Lets flip that, and look at the voluntary angle. All fathers of children who need organs. They conceived the child voluntarily, if the mother is required by law to use her womb to bring to term, because she chose to get pregnant, then he should be required by law to donate his organs (living donation if possible) to keep that child alive because he chose to become a father.

Now let's go even further. We will now imprison any father who self-harms himself while he is a potential organ donor for his offspring. Any activity that could harm his organs such as smoking, drinking or risky sports will result in his imprisonment for failure to care for his organs.

Yes, I'm being ludicrous. Yet El Salvador is imprisoning women on the suspicion they harmed themselves with fertiliser in order to terminate. Women are being delayed medical treatment, at serious risk, because the life of their fetus is deemed more important than their own. Women are forced to carry children to term, regardless of whether they voluntarily had sex, wanted the child, or had anything voluntary to do with it. These women are being treated like baby-factories on legs, in the name of God. If that's A-OK, then it should be A-OK for men to be walking organ factories. Funny how it only goes one way, isn't it?
posted by ArkhanJG at 7:01 AM on April 9, 2006


BHC Years ago, I used to believe that abortion should be legal in the case of rape. Then I realized that all life should be protected no matter what it's origins.

Never been raped, have you? It's assault, pure and simple. You feel violated, unsafe, inferior, sometimes guilty because you were not able to fight him off. Experts tell you that the best way to recover, mentally, from an assault is to move on. It's hard to do, in the best of cases.

And then you find out that your rapist impregnated you.

You're going to make that woman remember her assault for her entire pregnancy. And add to her shame, as she's (more than likely) an unwed mother, with little social support.

My questions for those who are pro-life: Are *you* going to raise that child? Are *you* going to pay her rent while she's unable to work due to her pregnancy? Are *you* going to pay for/get her to the prenatal doctor's appointments for a baby she doesn't want? Are *you* going to buy the prenatal vitamins and the balanced diet she needs? Are *you* going to provide maternity clothing? Are *you* going to pay the hospital? No? Shame on you.

FWIW, I think that abortions should be legally available. I also think that sex ed in the schools should cover contraception, and that birth control should be available to anyone. Doing those things should make it less necessary for women to have abortions. I also think that sex ed in schools should cover just how much work it is to care for a baby.

also FWIW, yes, I've been raped. No pregnancy, and not very bad, as those things go, but still. And yes, I had an abortion. We had a condom failure, and the gel failed as well. We were in college (I was working on a MS), absolutely no desire for kids at that point; and really, it wasn't a baby yet. 5 years later, we were ready for kids, and now we have two.
posted by jlkr at 7:13 AM on April 9, 2006


Unless you think an atheist can't commit murder, this doesn't have much to do with religion, ultimately. And the "pro-choice" camp is just hurting its case by assigning/acknowledging no limits to abortion. I" don't want to religious looneys to rule either, but to suggest that a fetus can be aborted whenever his or her/its mother thinks appropriate is just plain Evil.
posted by ParisParamus at 7:36 AM on April 9, 2006


I'm in the pro-choice camp as well, and i'm quite horrified by the description of the situation in El Salvador.

I'm unsure until what point I would allow abortion, personally I'm thinking up to the point when it could survive outside the womb.

It's an incredibly difficult subject to discuss, and it's also one which most people will, once they've settled on a stance, almost never change their views on.

i.e. PP and BHC are both very obviously anti-abortion, and the chance of any pro-choicer saying something to change their beliefs are slim to none. Much as the chances of them changing a pro-choice MeFi member's views are incredibly low.

I almost think topics such as this, Iraq, the death penalty etc aren't worth arguing about as people get incredibly set in their ways about it all.

and that's all I've got to say about that
posted by knapah at 8:09 AM on April 9, 2006


El Salvador is imprisoning women on the suspicion they harmed themselves with fertiliser in order to terminate. Women are being delayed medical treatment, at serious risk, because the life of their fetus is deemed more important than their own. Women are forced to carry children to term, regardless of whether they voluntarily had sex, wanted the child, or had anything voluntary to do with it. These women are being treated like baby-factories on legs, in the name of God.

shhh, ArkhanJG, that's too much the real issue to be at the center of attention! let's go back to talking about when the life of the soul in the body begins...
posted by funambulist at 8:10 AM on April 9, 2006


Sorry BackwardsHatClub, but this:

The difference is, presumably, there was no action you could have taken to prevent an organ needy person from coming into this world. That is by your action or inaction you had nothing to do with it.

does not jibe with this:

I would hope that at some point you would realize that all people have a right to life before all other considerations.



no matter how you cut it.
posted by batou_ at 8:24 AM on April 9, 2006


And the argument that this endangers the ordan donors life is not going to cut it as there is always the risk that the mother dies during childbirth.
posted by batou_ at 8:26 AM on April 9, 2006


I am firmly pro-choice for the first-trimester, and less so thereafter. I believe that that which is being terminated/aborted does not have the same status in Week 1 as in Week 13.

what is being"My questions for those who are pro-life: Are *you* going to raise that child? Are *you* going to pay her rent while she's unable to work due to her pregnancy? Are *you* going to pay for/get her to the prenatal doctor's appointments for a baby she doesn't want? Are *you* going to buy the prenatal vitamins and the balanced diet she needs? Are *you* going to provide maternity clothing? Are *you* going to pay the hospital? No? Shame on you."

This is not an argument for defining when abortion should be allowed. Does the state pay for such things for poor people who want to, and have children? To an extent, yes. So what? If we euthenized the mentally retarded, that would save money, too, but we do not.

You need to stop denying that (1) abortion = a moral decision, and that (2) society shouldn't have a say as to what the mom is allow to do.

As for El Salvador, well, I have little FAITH in the Roman Catholic Church's ability to be arbitor of law and morality. So I do not, in any way, support El Salvador's law.
posted by ParisParamus at 8:27 AM on April 9, 2006


"I almost think topics such as this, Iraq, the death penalty etc aren't worth arguing about as people get incredibly set in their ways about it all."

Well, I supported Al Gore until I discovered what a dick he was, and how underrated President Bush was/is. People do change their minds, just not every day.
posted by ParisParamus at 8:29 AM on April 9, 2006


The difference is, presumably, there was no action you could have taken to prevent an organ needy person from coming into this world. That is by your action or inaction you had nothing to do with it.

PeterMcDermitt beat me to it, but I will ask you for clarification BackwardsHatClub: you are, then, admitting that your support of forced pregnancy falls into the "punishing sluts" category?

Also, I note that you haven't addressed the real issue: LIFE. There are people dying for need of donated organs, you have previously stated that preserving life trumps other considerations. Now, all of a sudden you are getting into weird philosophic positions about action and inaction. What happened to the absolute clarity of position you have when it comes to abortion. You've said, repeatedly, that the issue is LIFE. Well, here too the issue is life.

Secondly, you haven't addressed my second question: do you support, or oppose, fact based sex education, and taxpayer funded contraception? If not, why? Again, since LIFE trumps all other considerations, shouldn't the cause of preventing abortions trump your discomfort at tax money paying so people can have sex for fun? Shouldn't your concern for LIFE trump your discomfort over the idea of schoolkids learning the real facts of human sexuality?

Or are you, again, admitting that the real issue isn't life, but simply that you want to punish sluts? Because, again, its proven that sex education and free contraception reduce abortions. Chose what is more important to you: your fear and hatred of sex, or your desire to prevent abortions.

On that note: Hey, Paris, what's your answer to the question of forced organ donation? Or, by your silence, may we assume that you too just want to punish sluts?
posted by sotonohito at 8:35 AM on April 9, 2006


After posting, and re: Bush/Gore. Paris, do we have to pull out the link to your comment that you'd abandon Bush if there weren't WMD again, or will you drop it?
posted by sotonohito at 8:37 AM on April 9, 2006


we live in the time where the expediency and convience of one person is valued greater than the very life of another

There are lots of women who would explain that pregnancy and childbirth are rather worse than "inconvenient" or "inexpedient" if they hadn't crashed and bled out in the process.

Pregnancy and childbirth are debilitating and life-threatening, and the reason we don't see vast hordes of women dying in childbed now is that we've marshalled an amazing degree of skill and technology to keep death at bay. Even with all of that skill and technology, having a baby is still about as dangerous as serving as a firefighter for a year.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:37 AM on April 9, 2006


in freakonomics, the author talks about a ban in romania. 20 years later, you have a whole generation of children nobody wanted grown up to be adults - murder crime mayhem etc.

In Romania, things went much further than just a ban on abortion - there was a ban on birth control of any kind and children were actively and passively encouraged by Ceausescu in a megalomaniacal nationalistic frenzy. I would say that generation (most of whom know they would have never been born but for state policy) suffers more from ennui and existentialist crises than murder and mayhem.
posted by loquax at 8:38 AM on April 9, 2006


BackwardsHatClub wrote:
It is my great shame that I will be grouped in with what will surely be looked upon in the future as a generation that were little more than misguided murderers.

I'd feel a lot more sympathy about your plight if the "pro-life" people cared as much about people after birth as they do before hand.

If there was a pro-life group that also supported public healthcare, education and a reasonable welfare program, I could view their opinions with a deep respect, even if I disagreed with them.

If you think this means that I don't respect pro-life libertarians, you're correct. Your views about pro and post-birth care contradict each other at a fundamental level.
posted by I Love Tacos at 8:39 AM on April 9, 2006


Unless of course you live in a dimension where babies are able to feed, clothe, shelter, educate and love themselves. In which case a pro-life libertarian is a totally sane view.

Otherwise it's a bad joke.
posted by I Love Tacos at 8:45 AM on April 9, 2006


Me: Which is why pro-choice people are pro-choice. Because we don't believe that we get to force whatever conclusion we come to regarding the morality of abortion onto other people.

You: Sure you do. According to your logic, you may well be "forcing your conclusion" on the fetus, since you're in favor of allowing abortion, despite the fact that you claim you'll never know whether or not it was actually a human and deserving of rights.


No. I'm a man, and will never have an abortion. I'm not forcing my viewpoint on any fetus, because I've never made any decision about any fetus, other than not to produce one.

As to what women decide to do with their own bodies, regarding an issue that is unresolvable, I leave that to them and their own conscience, where the decision belongs.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:50 AM on April 9, 2006


I'm strongly in support of a woman's right to an abortion, birthcontrol, etc, but: A very catholic friend of mine asked me once (during a conversation about abortion):"if you're hunting in the woods, and you see a shadow which might or not be human, do you shoot?".
Still haven't found a good answer to that.
posted by signal at 8:55 AM on April 9, 2006


Why would you shoot? I don't even understand how the question relates to abortion.

Wait, I think I do, and it's idiotic. She's asking because, if you refrained, it's because the shadow might be a human life, and therefor, ipso facto, human life is so special and precious that we instinctually do not kill it.

But, unless the shadow in this scenario might be a fetus, and we're stopping because we know it might be a fetus, the question in no way relates to the issue of abortion. There's no question on the pro-choice side that a baby, once born, is entitled to the fuull protection of the law, and, chances are, the human shadow in this scenario has already emerged from the womb.

Besides, if you're hunting, and you're just randomly shooting at shadows, you probably should have the gun taken away from you. You might just be Dick Cheney.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:03 AM on April 9, 2006


signal: I don't get it.
posted by sotonohito at 9:03 AM on April 9, 2006


Whoops. Shouldn't presume your very Catholic friend is female.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:04 AM on April 9, 2006


A very catholic friend of mine asked me once (during a conversation about abortion):"if you're hunting in the woods, and you see a shadow which might or not be human, do you shoot?".

If I don't shoot, will I be responsible for providing the child with a stable home, health care, education, deep love, and a whole lot more?

If I fail to provide these things, will the shadow despise me? Will the shadow despise the whole world? Will the shadow despise itself?

Your catholic friend's analogy is designed to oversimplify a complex question I find such oversimplications to be especially pathetic when they come from the deeply religious, because they are rooted in dishonesty. It is a vile attempt to win you to their side by deception, instead of using consistent logic.
posted by I Love Tacos at 9:04 AM on April 9, 2006


Signal... the answer to that is easy.

If you hunting humans.... fire away.

Otherwise, the question it total claptrap.

At least we know the vice-presidents' game animal of choice.
posted by PROD_TPSL at 9:04 AM on April 9, 2006


Although I disagree with his views, I think BackwardsHatClub does an excellent job of arguing for them, and many of you pro-choicers have terrible justifications for your stance. If you don't want to force your morality on other people, let's get rid of child and animal abuse laws too.
posted by thirteenkiller at 9:06 AM on April 9, 2006


This is why I don't hunt.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:07 AM on April 9, 2006


I'm strongly in support of a woman's right to an abortion, birthcontrol, etc, but: A very catholic friend of mine asked me once (during a conversation about abortion):"if you're hunting in the woods, and you see a shadow which might or not be human, do you shoot?".

That's shitty a analogy. It's like Plato had Down's Syndrome.

If human life is so precious, why are there 6 billion people? How can anything be comprised of 6 billion units and still be individual and special? You're not special and neither am I. And a fetus is even less special because it isn't aware of its own existence.

The Reagan administration poisoned El Salvadore's well 20 years ago. Something needs to be done to ensire that its ideological descendants don't commit the same atrocity in the present.
posted by Mayor Curley at 9:10 AM on April 9, 2006


I might, suggest, thirteenkiller, that you simply have done a terrible job of understanding out arguments.

It's not about not wanting to force our morality on others. It's about not wanting to make law based entirely on either religion or hunches about when life begins, which, when we're dealing with a fetus, is all we've really got. With a child or an animal, science has done a pretty good job of demonstrating that they're alive.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:10 AM on April 9, 2006


Astrozombie:

"Which is why pro-choice people are pro-choice. Because we don't believe that we get to force whatever conclusion we come to regarding the morality of abortion onto other people."
posted by thirteenkiller at 9:15 AM on April 9, 2006


Don't try your slippery slope witchcraft with me. It's clear from my comment that I was referring to the issue of morality specifically regarding abortion, and not as a general principal.

This doesn't mean that I think it's okay if people molest their children or beat their dogs. Again, I suggest you are just terrible at undertsanding people's arguments, at least in this instance.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:26 AM on April 9, 2006


When future generations look back on us they will be horrified by the way we ignored the true nature of the world around us in favor of ignorant theological posturing based on misinterpretation of 2000 year-old mythology.
posted by BillBishop at 9:30 AM on April 9, 2006


I expect they'll be more fascinated by how often images of elephant's pissing showed up on the Internet. They will suspect that the pissing elephant was our God.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:33 AM on April 9, 2006


If there was a pro-life group that also supported public healthcare, education and a reasonable welfare program,

The Catholic Church used to be that. I disagree more-or-less completely with the vitalist underpinnings of Catholic moral philosophy, yet I do admire its consistency.

It's a very sad thing that the Church has backed off on taking an active role in promoting social justice within civil society; in 2006 Benedict issued an encyclical that effectively fobs off that responsibility onto the laity. Meanwhile the Church fights tooth and nail for issues that are largely symbolic (e.g. abortion and gay marriage).
posted by xthlc at 9:42 AM on April 9, 2006


In the event that the woman's illegal abortion went badly and the doctors have to perform a hysterectomy, then the uterus is sent to the Forensic Institute, where the government's doctors analyze it and retain custody of her uterus as evidence against her.

Umm ... HOLY CRAP! That's the scariest thing I have ever read. This whole article was terrifying - mostly for the reason that many people reading it in this country would think it to be totally reasonable, but that paragraph just made my jaw drop.
posted by thekilgore at 9:44 AM on April 9, 2006


This is a basic fallacy: "I would hope that at some point you would realize that all people have a right to life before all other considerations."

Rights are a human contractual invention. Try quoting the Declaration of Independence to a deadly virus and see what that gets you.

The one natrually inalienable we are born with is the right to strive to survive. That's it; and, it usually means a life of killing and devouring other life...unless you photosynthesize.

Sometimes, abortion is necessary.

That high-toned morality isn't really about protecting life at all. It's about social controls: "...then the uterus is sent to the Forensic Institute, where the government's doctors analyze it and retain custody of her uterus as evidence against her."

Has anyone told Jesus' General about this?
posted by taosbat at 9:46 AM on April 9, 2006


i.e. PP and BHC are both very obviously anti-abortion, and the chance of any pro-choicer saying something to change their beliefs are slim to none. Much as the chances of them changing a pro-choice MeFi member's views are incredibly low.

I almost think topics such as this, Iraq, the death penalty etc aren't worth arguing about as people get incredibly set in their ways about it all.


I've actually found this topic helpful knapah. I was vaguely pro-choice before, on the basis that I knew that illegal abortions happen anyway, and they're dangerous to the mother's health. That I didn't believe an early stage abortion was any more a moral crime than a hysterectomy.

Now I can plainly see what happens in El Salvador when men tell women they can't control their bodies, and the sheer human misery it creates, as well the blatant unfairness and hypocrisy of the pro-life lobby. The mother's life is less important than a small bundle of cells. Once pregnant, her only options in el Salvador are to break the law and seriously risk their health and liberty, or
risk their health bringing the baby to term, regardless of circumstances. That's a terrible choice.

Unless you think an atheist can't commit murder, this doesn't have much to do with religion, ultimately. And the "pro-choice" camp is just hurting its case by assigning/acknowledging no limits to abortion. I" don't want to religious looneys to rule either, but to suggest that a fetus can be aborted whenever his or her/its mother thinks appropriate is just plain Evil.

This I just plain disagree with, PP. The pro-life stance is clearly religiously driven, up to and beyond the point where an impossible to carry fetus cannot be terminated until it dies on its own, even at the cost of the mother's life. Of course atheists can commit murder, as murder is wrong for more reasons than just moral ones. I'm struggling to find any argument that is anti-abortion here though that isn't purely a moral one.

I also think you're putting up a straw-man. Every single serious pro-choice commenter in this thread (I'm excluding the joke 'post-natal abortion up to 18' posts obviously) puts a limit on abortion, either the point at which the baby is self-supporting, or the point of independent conciousness. I too think the latter should be cutoff point, as at that point, you have two independant lives in the balance.

Just because the pro-lifers are absolutist (no abortion under any circumstances) does not mean the pro-choicers are equally as bad. You've made that claim, I'd like you to demonstrate where the pro-choicers here seriously say "a fetus can be aborted whenever his or her/its mother thinks appropriate" as I'm just not seeing it.

If you don't want to force your morality on other people, let's get rid of child and animal abuse laws too.

You realise that some of us think these are bad things, regardless of morality? We can decide that a society where we allow child-beating is not a pleasant or just society, without once invoking 'God said it was bad'. Situations, and attitudes of pro-choicers change once independant conciousness and especially sentience get involved.
posted by ArkhanJG at 9:50 AM on April 9, 2006


I was vaguely pro-choice before... Now I can plainly see what happens in El Salvador when men tell women they can't control their bodies

That's not the rhetoric of someone who "vaguely" held a certain position a few minutes ago.
posted by Kwantsar at 9:52 AM on April 9, 2006


The Roman Catholic Church's position on abortion was one of the major tipping points in my decision to leave the church. I believe that reasonable people can respectfull disagree on things like this, but the church insisted on such a black and white view of a complex issue. I started to feel like I belonged to the church of birth. So I found a church that thinks like I do, and left. This story is chilling to me, because my new church will never be as powerful a presence in D.C. as the RC and the fundamentalists (that sounds like a band!) and what happened in El Salvador could happen here.
posted by Biblio at 10:15 AM on April 9, 2006


Good Wikipedia article with a great map
posted by nathan_teske at 12:04 AM PST on April 9


That's an interesting map. I had incorrectly assumed that in the UK abortion was legal on demand . . . thousands of Irish women go across for abortions annually. They must use the "socioeconomic factors" reason but that's certainly not true in all cases. And I never would have guessed Germany's status either.
posted by jamesonandwater at 10:22 AM on April 9, 2006


First, I think I may be becoming a little too emotionally close to this. Apologies PP and thirteenkiller, I don't think your comments deserved quite such heated rhetoric, though I do stand by my points if you wish to call me on them.

Secondly Kwantsar, it was a few hours ago I become more hardened about it, when I read what was happening in El Salvador. I was pro-choice, but I couldn't coherently put together my reasons for it to myself. Now I can, and I'm horrified about what's happening there - and worse, I'm horrified that it could start happening elsewhere.

"As they do in any investigation, the police collect evidence by interviewing everyone who knows the accused and by seizing her medical records. But they must also visit the scene of the crime, which, following the logic of the law, often means the woman's vagina."

Regarding ectopic pregnancies "the women are sent to the dispensary, where they receive a daily ultrasound to check the fetus. "If it's dead, we can operate," she said. "Before that, we can't." If there is a persistent fetal heartbeat, then they have to wait for the fallopian tube to rupture."

I'm with thekilgore in being jaw-droppingly shocked today.
posted by ArkhanJG at 10:31 AM on April 9, 2006


Shame on the government of El Salvador for the suffering they have inflicted on these poor women. I can think of few things less necessary to the survival of a country then an abortion police state.

And please, when are we going to stop using the vocabulary invented by anti-choicers? Every time I see the phrase "pro-choice," I wince. These people are anti-woman. Anti-woman.
posted by Afroblanco at 10:36 AM on April 9, 2006


(typo - I meant "pro-life" not "pro-choice" this should be obvious, but someone will probably jump on it.)
posted by Afroblanco at 10:37 AM on April 9, 2006


It's also worth pointing out that this just isn't an issue in the UK.

Up to 24 weeks two doctors must decide that the risk to a woman’s physical or mental health or the risk to her child(ren)’s physical or mental health will be greater if she continues with the pregnancy than if she ends it. There is no time limit on abortion where two doctors agree that a woman’s health or life is gravely threatened by continuing with the pregnancy or that the fetus is likely to be born with severe physical or mental abnormalities. In the event that an abortion must be performed as a matter of medical emergency a second doctor’s agreement does not need to be sought. Despite legal time limits 87% of abortions take place within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.

It doesn't get a lot of press time, and it's just not a burning national issue here, and hasn't been for decades. I didn't need to really think about WHY I was pro-choice with limits, as that is just the normal state of affairs here. It's a hell of a shock to see what's happening to women in another democratic country.
posted by ArkhanJG at 10:46 AM on April 9, 2006


Put simply, abortion is murder. (Pro-choice people should admit to that.) But so what? Sometimes, murder is necessary in nature, which like it or not, we are part of. Other species kill their own, sometimes. Nature is messy.

One could also argue that murder is sometimes necessary to maintain civil society, but its level is debatable. (Pro-life people should admit to that.) It's interesting how most of the people who are offended by the killing of fetuses are perfectly happy with the war in Iraq. Most of those killed, living and breathing, never did any harm to us, nor were any threat - but we (at least some of us) still see it as necessary to keep our way of life.
posted by fungible at 10:50 AM on April 9, 2006


There is a world of difference betwen the word "murder" and the word "kill." The former implies immorality. We do not murder another in self-defense, we kill him. We do not murder other soldiers during war (unless you are fundamentally anti-war), we kill them. It's not a subtle distinction either. The Bible forbids murder, but allows for killing -- in one instance, the stoning of a man who collected sticks on the Shabbos.

"Destruction of a fetus" would be the morally nuetral phrase.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:58 AM on April 9, 2006


Yea sorry fungible but some of us do not confuse killing with murder.
posted by filchyboy at 11:20 AM on April 9, 2006


"Destruction of a fetus" would be the morally nuetral phrase.

That's not morally neutral; it's biased to the pro-choice position, because the whole point of contention is over what kind of human the fetus is: one deserving of legal protection or one undeserving of legal protection. The pro-choice position is that fetuses are humans undeserving of legal protection.
posted by eustacescrubb at 11:28 AM on April 9, 2006


I'll certainly be glad when those morally upright American anti-abortionists can get their ducks in a row and start advocating for the execution of women who have abortions. It is the only morally certain position to hold and in my opinion the entire movement is full of moral cowards, here's looking at you BackwardsHatClub, who are simply unwilling to make the hard choices. If abortion is murder then those who commit abortion are murders and we should all get behind the state executing all involved. Kill 'em all, let God sort em out. It's far easier for the cowards among us to simply posit some ideal future in which we can look back upon the sins of today instead of actually doing something about it and saving the babies. Seriously, I ask you, when do the executions start and why is it taking so long?
posted by filchyboy at 11:35 AM on April 9, 2006


BillBishop FTW
posted by benign at 11:42 AM on April 9, 2006


No eustacescrubb, the pro-choice position is that fetuses are human potential undeserving of legal protection. A non-separately viable fetus is not a human. Until an anti-abortion advocate can explain to me why it is human without resorting to metaphysical justifications then I will continue to believe it is not immoral to abort a fetus. Tragic, maybe, but immoral no.
posted by dness2 at 11:46 AM on April 9, 2006


That's not morally neutral; it's biased to the pro-choice position

Not it isn't.

Just because something is not biased to the anti-abortion side does not mean that it is biased to the pro-choice side. Fetus is accurate, destruction is accurate, neither carry any political assumption. If I had said the morally neutral phrase was "justifiable elimination of unformed, non-human, non-living matter," you might have a case.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:48 AM on April 9, 2006


It's also worth pointing out that this just isn't an issue in the UK.

Up to 24 weeks two doctors must decide that the risk to a woman’s physical or mental health or the risk to her child(ren)’s physical or mental health will be greater if she continues with the pregnancy than if she ends it.

And while this isn't legally abortion on demand, in reality and in practice it is. There are enough doctors who support the woman's right to make this decision for access not to be an issue. In some areas you might have to wait a while if you want it performed free on the NHS, but by and large it's available to anyone who wants one.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:01 PM on April 9, 2006


Put simply, abortion is murder

No, it's abortion. That word has a biological meaning so lets stick to it. Humans are by no means the only mammals to abort their young if conditions for raising them are unfavourable or if the mother feels threatened or highly stressed. It appears to be a basic biological imperative to only produce young when you have a reasonable chance of raising them in favourbale conditions.
posted by fshgrl at 12:09 PM on April 9, 2006


The Catholic Church used to be that

You're joking aren't you?

posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:13 PM on April 9, 2006


The entire debate of abortion always reminds me of a few things.
(1)The majority of "pro-life" proponents are believers in God or some sort, and the majority of those believe in some variety of the Christian version of God. Fine and dandy, except I don't. So, a "moral" argument starting with the premise that God thinks this is wrong is as good to me as the atheist ethical argument that choice is right to a Believer. We're never going to agree on the premise when it comes to God.
(2) Many "pro-life" proponents support capital punishment, war, the right to bear arms specifically as a matter of self defense leading to death, and any number of other beliefs and activities in which the end result is loss of life. Many have at least taken up a new crazy mantle and now say they want to protect "innocent lives" instead of simply "life". I am wondering how long before they meme out "pro-innocent life"?
(3) "Pro-life" uses science to "prove" whatever it is they think their point is, yet many of them still would want to see evolution tossed to the street and the most vile forms of the idiocy that is "creation science" taught to every child. (I'm waiting for the Creation Science medical schools to start popping up myself, so that these creationists can start practicing what they preach and not have their lives saved by those evil atheists or any of those evil atheists scientific achievements.)
(4) Many "pro-life" are also (and pretty much moreso than being "pro-life") "anti-sex" believers. If you got pregnant, well hey now guess what you shouldn't have been doing? You certainly shouldn't have had access to birth control information and technology. Because even though science and technology provide us with the "evidence" for our "pro-life" position, science and technology that gives us the knowledge and ability to develop safe and reliable birth control is evil and should not be trusted.
posted by smallerdemon at 12:26 PM on April 9, 2006


A very catholic friend of mine asked me once (during a conversation about abortion):"if you're hunting in the woods, and you see a shadow which might or not be human, do you shoot?".
I would imagine any responsible hunter is going to answer "No" to that one. It seems a pretty damn stupid question, possibly I'm missing some Zen-like nuance.
posted by kaemaril at 12:36 PM on April 9, 2006


""Which is why pro-choice people are pro-choice. Because we don't believe that we get to force whatever conclusion we come to regarding the morality of abortion onto other people.""

Right, and by requiring the government to neither endorse nor establish religion, we're not forcing our conclusions about religion onto other people.

"Unless you think an atheist can't commit murder, this doesn't have much to do with religion, ultimately. "

Religious? Arguably. Metaphysical? Certainly. And since most religions are narrative metaphysics, using "religion" as shorthand works fine, unless someone is going out of their way to be disingenuous. Going out of their way to be disingenuous? Paris Paramus? How funny seeing you here!

""Abortion as it exists in El Salvador today tends to operate on three levels. The well-off retain the "right to choose" that comes of simply having money... Among the very poor, you can still find the back-alley world described by D.C. and the others who turn up in hospitals with damaged or lacerated wombs. Then there are the women in the middle; they often rely on home-brewed cures that are shared on the Internet or on a new underground railroad that has formed to aid them.""

That's the argument behind the 14th Ammendment applying to Roe V. Wade.

"Put simply, abortion is murder. (Pro-choice people should admit to that.) "

Put wrongly, abortion is murder. Even simplistic rhetoriticians should admit that.
(Further, 'destruction of a fetus' is accurate. Complaining that it's a pro-choice bias is like complaining about the anti-Biblical bias of carbon dating).
posted by klangklangston at 12:42 PM on April 9, 2006


"A very catholic friend of mine asked me once (during a conversation about abortion):"if you're hunting in the woods, and you see a shadow which might or not be human, do you shoot?""

Yes. But I shoot people that might or might not be waiting covertly with loaded questions.

Oh, and for the PRO-CHOICE CAMP— hypocrisy from pro-lifers is not an argument in favor of keeping abortion legal. Just wanted to remind you, since the Mutual Affirmation Society meetings can cloud the issue here sometimes.
posted by klangklangston at 12:45 PM on April 9, 2006


hypocrisy from pro-lifers is not an argument in favor of keeping abortion legal

Lest we forget though.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:53 PM on April 9, 2006


So the shadow is the embryo/fetus and the woods is the woman? Interesting analogy. It would actually make sense if babies grew from little buds on trees.
posted by funambulist at 1:49 PM on April 9, 2006


Until an anti-abortion advocate can explain to me why it is human without resorting to metaphysical justifications then I will continue to believe it is not immoral to abort a fetus.

I think you mean "person deserving of legal protection" and not "human" because the offspring of two humans can't be anything but human. To put it another way, we're not talking about whale fetuses or monkey fetuses, we're talking about human fetuses.


If I had said the morally neutral phrase was "justifiable elimination of unformed, non-human, non-living matter," you might have a case.

Meh. Your phrasing carries that connotation -- use of a medical term instead of an everyday term implies that the fetus isn't a human being. Like: I could call any act of murder "elimination of a primate" and be "neutral" because I'm not saying anything innacurrate, but that description would deny the humanity of the subject. Since the humanity of the fetuses is the point of contention between the two sides, then phrasing something to obscure the humanity of the fetuses biases the phrasing to the pro-choice side. But: I'll settle with you for "destruction of a human fetus."

And for the record, I don't consider myself either pro-life or pro-choice, because of the hypocrisy and narrowness and dogmatism of both those camps. Sexism and patriarchy are still serious problems in our culture, but I can't get behind using a violence as a means to get rid of or ameliorate them. Abortion is a singularly partiarchal means of solving one of the many problems of patriarchy. The cold instruments of industrial medicine invade the womb for the purpose of destruction... that's patriarchy working its magic.
On the other hand, the so-called pro-life camp usually endorses social and economic policies that put women in the position of wanting (needing?) abortions in the first place. Abortions were at a record low the year Clinton left office and had shot up by 50,000 within in a year of Bush taking office.

Some days I don't know which hypocrites make me more sick.
posted by eustacescrubb at 1:54 PM on April 9, 2006


I have great misgivings about the ethicality of abortion, but I also believe that I don't have the right to tell anyone what they can or cannot do with their body.

Yeah but apparently some really think it's no longer theirs at all, not one bit, when they get pregnant. It's really the same principle at the basis of laws forcing women to abort after the first child. Funny how that's considered a violation of human rights but this in El Salvador isn't?
posted by funambulist at 2:01 PM on April 9, 2006


use of a medical term instead of an everyday term implies that the fetus isn't a human being.

I think fetus is a pretty safely "everyday" term.

I could call any act of murder "elimination of a primate"

And I suspect you're being disingenuous.

The cold instruments of industrial medicine invade the womb for the purpose of destruction... that's patriarchy working its magic.

Huh? Could you possibly state that in a way that makes sense and isn't totally handwavy?
posted by ludwig_van at 2:07 PM on April 9, 2006


The cold instruments of industrial medicine invade the womb for the purpose of destruction... that's patriarchy working its magic.

The same cold instruments of industrial medicine that allow women who give birth to do so in safer conditions? And allow anyone, man woman and child to survive accidents and illnesses? Oh please.

If computers are patriarchal and I'm using one because I want to, I'm being brainwashed by the patriarchy? Right... but wait, that must mean I'm incapable of making any choice than isn't influenced by the patriarchy because the patriarchy is everywhere so, ultimately, I might as well not be given any choice at all! bingo.

That must be some ubernutty point where radical feminism meets radical patriarchism, or whatever...
posted by funambulist at 2:13 PM on April 9, 2006


I think you mean "person deserving of legal protection" and not "human" because the offspring of two humans can't be anything but human.

eustacescrubb, you're playing word games. In fact, the "offspring" of a man and a woman can indeed be something other than "human"--given a particular definition of "human." You have no basis for imposing your own circular reasoning and tautological definitions on others. To further clarify the point: nobody seriously uses the word "offspring" to describe a cluster of cells.

But: I'll settle with you for "destruction of a human fetus."

Oh, yes, that clarifies everything.

Frankly, I'm amazed that anybody could read the article and not comprehend that this is an extraordinary violation of basic human rights. The state has effectively declared the bodies of half the population to be state property. It's amazing that anybody would defend such a policy, least of all El Salvadoreans.
posted by nixerman at 2:28 PM on April 9, 2006


Backwardshatclub: You seem to have disappeared. Are you willing to admit your stance is really about punishing sex, not saving lives?
posted by Malor at 2:36 PM on April 9, 2006


Abortion is probably the most polarising issue in the world. The decision swings in favour of the Pro-Life if you believe in the Soul, but otherwise it's going to be a grey area.

Personally, I think El Salvador shows an example of the problem with absolutism. Unplanned pregnancies will always happen (mistakes will be made) and there will therefore be people who want abortions. In some cases, the decision to abort would be agreed by the majority (rape? Harm to the mother?) but definitely not in all. So we have a problem, and I'm assuming that there has been good sex education and access to contraceptives.

So who should make that choice? Its clearly not a religious one, as people have all kinds of different religious beliefs. I don't think it should be the government, although you might believe that a law could work. I would question it's ability to cover all circumstances. You might think that a Judge should hear every abortion request. In the absence of any clear choice, I would think the person most affected would be the mother, so why not let her decide? She could get it wrong, but at least she fully understands (and must live with) the consequences, unlike a third party.

There's also the practical aspect - criminalising abortion doesn't stop it happening, it just places the mother at risk from unlicensed clinics.
posted by iso_bars at 2:57 PM on April 9, 2006


From Equivocation: Fallacies of Ambiguity at about.com.

"We can also find an example of equivocation in a common argument against abortion:

2. It is wrong to kill innocent human beings. (premise #1) Fetuses are innocent human beings. (premise #2) Therefore, it is wrong to kill fetuses. (conclusion)

It isn't hard to show that the term innocent human being is being used in more than one sense here. Normally, when the first premise is used, what is meant is a human being who is capable of moral choices, but who has not in fact chosen any immoral acts. But in the second premise, what is meant has to be more along the lines of a human being who is not capable of any moral choices in the first place.

However, if it is argued that the exact same sense is meant in both instances of innocent human being, then the argument is guilty of the fallacy of begging the question, and so it is still invalid. After all, you can't have a valid argument showing that it is wrong to kill a member of class X by simply assuming that it's wrong to kill any member of class X."

And so it goes on and on and on. "Pro-life" believers have an entire system of belief based on begging the question, so why should they (or would they) stop now? If there's one thing that's never stopped them in their tracks before it's logic.

Whoever pointed out that this is the most polarising issue in the world today was probably right, and belief in God follows that right up close.

The problem with belief is that it's just a conclusion you reach when you're tired of thinking about the problem.
posted by smallerdemon at 3:23 PM on April 9, 2006


Frankly, I'm amazed that anybody could read the article and not comprehend that this is an extraordinary violation of basic human rights. The state has effectively declared the bodies of half the population to be state property. It's amazing that anybody would defend such a policy

Oh, I think what they're doing in El Salvador is horrifying, no doubt about it.

And I suspect you're being disingenuous.

How? Obviously the example is absurd, but that's the point of using an absurd example -- to demonstrate the flaw in that logic.

Huh? Could you possibly state that in a way that makes sense and isn't totally handwavy?

Well, it's rhetoric borrowed from second-wave feminism, which tends to be over Marxist and reductive in its analyses; my point was simply that the use of violence to ameliorate the effects of sexism is antithetical to the whole idea of feminism, because violence as a tool is considered by feminists to be partiarchal.

The same cold instruments of industrial medicine that allow women who give birth to do so in safer conditions? And allow anyone, man woman and child to survive accidents and illnesses? Oh please.

The difference is the intent and the outcome. Duh.

eustacescrubb, you're playing word games.

Funny, you say that, and then you follow immediately with this:

In fact, the "offspring" of a man and a woman can indeed be something other than "human"--given a particular definition of "human."

That has been my entire point -- that pro-choice rehtoric relies on equivocation between different definitions of "human" for its power. Scientifically, the offspring of two huimans can be nothing but human, so you're obviously making a social or legal or philosophical argument, which is why I pointed out above that what you really mean is "person deserving legal protection." Of course terms like "human" are contestable if you're using the term in any way other than in a materialist, scientific way. But Once you admit you're doing this, you admit that your own political goals and motives are biasing your definition of the term, which was my whole point to beign with.

smallerdemon --

While you're at it, look up "straw man" because I didn't read any of the pro-life people in this thread making that argument. And I (who refuse to sit with either group) certainly wasn't making that argument.

The problem with belief is that it's just a conclusion you reach when you're tired of thinking about the problem.

Indeed. And that is why I can't stand listening to the spokespeople for the pro-life or pro-choice position. Both positions are mired in thier own ideology and dogmatism to the point that talking to either side is often pointless. It's also why both sides think people like me, who disagree with both of them, to be with their opponenets.
posted by eustacescrubb at 3:50 PM on April 9, 2006 [1 favorite]


Don't know why I considered contributing; my comment was turned into a semantic argument on the definition of the word "murder" vs. "killing." As if there's really a difference, in the case of human beings.

Hey, I'm pro-choice, moonbats. But what all sides have to admit is that sometimes murder (or "killing", for the touchy) is necessary. Abort away.
posted by fungible at 3:57 PM on April 9, 2006


eustace:

I'll explain why it seems disingenuous. You say the phrase "Destruction of a fetus" is biased because it denies the fetus humanity, and you equate it with replacing murder with the phrase "elimination of a primate." This is fallacious. "Elimination of a primate" may not be technically incorrect, but you could just as well be talking about a gorilla as a human. Similarly, "human" could mean man, woman, child, or fetus. There's nothing biased about using the more accurate term.

Also, I can't say I understand your fence-sitting position. You're neither pro-choice nor pro-life? So you don't think abortion should be legal or illegal? I mean, what are you saying here? Honestly, the whole "I'm a moderate, both sides are wrong, I don't have a position" thing gets on my nerves in general. I really don't see where you've pointed out any real hypocrisy in the pro-choice position.
posted by ludwig_van at 4:29 PM on April 9, 2006


Abortion is probably the most polarising issue in the world.

Maybe not.

I'll bet it falls a close second to the more general issue of men ensuring heirship. There are other ways than abusing abortiion to lay claim to a woman's womb, like stoning women who get pregnant illicitly.

Please note, this is what's wrong: that any pregnancy, which is to say any embryo, could ever be considered illicit.
posted by taosbat at 4:43 PM on April 9, 2006


ludwig,

I see your point re: my analogy, but that's due to my construction of a bad analogy, not to my trying to be disingenous.

I really don't see where you've pointed out any real hypocrisy in the pro-choice position.

Of course not, you're pro-choice. That sounds glib, but the issue invites dogmatism and tunnel vision. The hypocrisy is this: Liberals, who would normally find such tactics appalling, are, in the case of abortion, okay with legally defining away the humanity of a class of humans to acheive thier political ends.

As for my "moderate position", it's not so much "moderate" as just thinking both sides have distasteful, hypocritical positions that have not been able to solve the problem without violence.
posted by eustacescrubb at 4:56 PM on April 9, 2006


eustace, my objection is that you seem to be saying that everyone who identifies as pro-choice is hypocritical by association because you apparently perceive hypocrisy in the arguments of some individuals who identify as pro-choice.

Again, it seems to be that there are only two broad positions here; abortion should be legal, or it should be illegal. I think it should be legal, so I identify as pro-choice. I still fail to see how that makes me a hypocrite.
posted by ludwig_van at 5:06 PM on April 9, 2006


...it seems to be that there are only two broad positions here; abortion should be legal, or it should be illegal.

It would be natural for abortion to be an inalienable right. Since male heirship is an unnatural social contract, all perversions follow...
posted by taosbat at 5:15 PM on April 9, 2006


eustacescrubb,

Scientifically, the offspring of two huimans can be nothing but human, so you're obviously making a social or legal or philosophical argument, which is why I pointed out above that what you really mean is "person deserving legal protection."

This statement does not make any sense. You have failed to demonstrate (1) how the word "offspring" applies to a cluster of cells since nobody in their right mind actually uses the word like that (2) what you actually mean by the word "offspring" since this is not a scientific concept (3) what would constitute a scientific "human" (4) how it is that the scientific concept of human can apply empirically to a cluster of cells--more precisely, what is the empirical process that can be described by the function IsHuman(Object) and how is it that IsHuman(baby) == IsHuman(zygote).

Again, you are not making a valid argument. Insisting that when somebody uses the word "human" they actually mean "legal person" only makes sense in a world where there are agreed upon definitions of these terms. But the entire problem here is that nobody agrees on what is what isn't human.

The hypocrisy is this: Liberals, who would normally find such tactics appalling, are, in the case of abortion, okay with legally defining away the humanity of a class of humans to acheive thier political ends.

How can you define away the humanity of a class of humans--that are not actually human? Is this like defining away the humanity of animals? Or fruit? Again, you have simply bypassed the entire argument in your desire to condemn "Liberal hypocrisy." I know of no serious person who holds the position that (1) fetus' are human beings (2) but we will all pretend they're not and kill them anyways (3) profit! This is just nonsense and your comparisons to slavery really are extremely silly and offensive.
posted by nixerman at 5:39 PM on April 9, 2006


I'm finding this thread a bit bizarre. I'm completely pro-choice, but are people seriously saying that they cannot find BackwardsHatClub's position a morally defensible one? I disagree with it entirely, but I certainly understand it. So?
posted by kyrademon at 5:41 PM on April 9, 2006


(Smart, mostly reasoned discussion. I offer my thanks. That is all.)
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:43 PM on April 9, 2006


kyrademon,

I can't understand BHC's position. As I see it, he doesn't really have a position. He simply asserts (1) fetuses are humans (2) killing humans is wrong. There's not much there to begin with and he provides no reason at all why he believes #1 and #2. I suspect that, if pressed, he would simply repeat himself over and over. His position isn't one that's been reasoned out and it's not one that can be reasoned out. Really, it's just a feeling. And when you consider that this is a person who would forbid abortion even in the case of rape, that's when you have to wonder. There's practically a willfull ignorance there to seriously consider the complexities involved in the argument. It's this aspect of his position that's particularly offputting.
posted by nixerman at 7:14 PM on April 9, 2006


ludwig,

eustace, my objection is that you seem to be saying that everyone who identifies as pro-choice is hypocritical by association because you apparently perceive hypocrisy in the arguments of some individuals who identify as pro-choice.

That is a good point; I suppose that when I think of the "pro-choice" position, I'm thinking of the most commonly articulated one, but that needn't be yours.

Again, it seems to be that there are only two broad positions here; abortion should be legal, or it should be illegal. I think it should be legal, so I identify as pro-choice. I still fail to see how that makes me a hypocrite.

Well, it only makes you a hypocrite if you're opposed to singling out a class of human beings, defining away their humanity with the law, and doing violence to them to benefit a differnet class of human beings.

mixerman:

This statement does not make any sense. You have failed to demonstrate (1) how the word "offspring" applies to a cluster of cells since nobody in their right mind actually uses the word like that

You're confusing parts with the whole. My son, who is 2.5, is both a cluster of cells and my offspring. I am a cluster of cells and my parents' offpring.


(2) what you actually mean by the word "offspring" since this is not a scientific concept

Is there a scientific term for the result of sexual reproduction? If so, that will do as well as "offspring".


(3) what would constitute a scientific "human"

That's a whoily different question. What scientifically constitutes a dog? I couldn't tell you. But I'd bet that no scientist would tell you that if two dogs mate and conceive that the resulting animal would be anything other than a dog. They might have a dog with deformities or a stillborn dog, or a dog that isn't fully developed, but it'd be some kind of a dog.
The same applies to humans. Two human mate and concieve, and the result will be human. At any given stage, the human might not be fully developed, but since development in humans occurs mostly outside the womb, I fail to see how differences in development make in utero humans less human than ex utero ones.


(4) how it is that the scientific concept of human can apply empirically to a cluster of cells--more precisely, what is the empirical process that can be described by the function IsHuman(Object) and how is it that IsHuman(baby) == IsHuman(zygote).

In all honestly I don't understand that question.


You're using "cluster of cells" pejoratively, but those cells are still human cells, so far as I can tell. When you ask what defines "human" you're asking a philosophical or legal question -- how do we define the sort of being that deserves legal protection?


Insisting that when somebody uses the word "human" they actually mean "legal person" only makes sense in a world where there are agreed upon definitions of these terms. But the entire problem here is that nobody agrees on what is what isn't human.

No, I'm just looking at how they're using their words, and thinking about what they can't mean. Since there is no scientific way to determine personhoood (scientists don't know where our identities "live" in our brains, for instance), when a pro-choice person says unbron babies aren't "human," they're either thinking sloppily or they're really referring to something besides scientific classification. Usually they're using "human" because it's got more rhetorical power than "person deserving of legal protection" since using "human" obscures the social/political element of it: legal matters are not rooted in nature and may be decided on and are subject to the critique of history.

How can you define away the humanity of a class of humans--that are not actually human?

You're joking, right? We Americans are really good at it. It seems to be the only thing we do with any efficiency.

I know of no serious person who holds the position that (1) fetus' are human beings (2) but we will all pretend they're not and kill them anyways (3) profit

That's a straw man. Quite obviously the pro-choice ideology takes as an a priori that fetuses are not legal persons, but as with any ideology, if one is not enmeshed in it, one can critique its a prioris and even examine their historical context. Since there's no scientific means of determining personhood, it follows that no one was convinced by argument or evidence that fetuses aren't persons; political convenience seems like a likely origin of this particular pro-choice doctrine.

This is just nonsense and your comparisons to slavery really are extremely silly and offensive.

Only because they paint the pro-choice ideology in a bad light. But just because the analogy makes you look bad doesn't make it inaccurate.
posted by eustacescrubb at 7:16 PM on April 9, 2006


Well, it only makes you a hypocrite if you're opposed to singling out a class of human beings, defining away their humanity with the law, and doing violence to them to benefit a differnet class of human beings.

Oh no, I'm all about doing that!

Give me a break. Again, you're being disingenuous. You equate being pro-choice with the above, but yet claim that you aren't pro-life. You've totally derailed this into a semantic debate without actually taking any kind of position - you're just "exposing hypocrisy." I'm not going to use the t-word, but I don't think you're adding much substance here.

If you want to be taken seriously, respond to one of the actual arguments for legal abortion that have been laid out - for example, there's the practical argument that making abortion illegal doesn't tend to lower abortion rates, or the personal sovereignty argument that the state should not order a person to endanger their own life to save the life of another, regardless of any "personhood" canard.
posted by ludwig_van at 7:33 PM on April 9, 2006


And I'll add that you seem to be arguing from the completely mistaken but surprisingly prevalent assumption that being pro-choice means thinking abortion is just dandy. It's not pro-abortion; it's pro-choice. All reasonable people understand that abortion is a sad thing. It's something we all wish didn't have to happen. Being pro-choice means understanding that criminalizing abortion is not the solution to this problem.

So yes, we all agree that abortion is a bad thing, there's no need to keep trying to prove it. Given that, what do you think should be done?
posted by ludwig_van at 7:52 PM on April 9, 2006


You need to stop denying that (1) abortion = a moral decision

"The decision whether or not to terminate a pregnancy is essentially a moral decision and in a free and democratic society, the conscience of the individual must be paramount to that of the state."

-- The Supreme Court of Canada

These people are anti-woman. Anti-woman

That's the long and short of it.
posted by zarah at 8:24 PM on April 9, 2006


I'm finding this thread a bit bizarre. I'm completely pro-choice, but are people seriously saying that they cannot find BackwardsHatClub's position a morally defensible one?

BackwardsHatClub can have whatever opinion he or she wants on the subject, and if the poster disapproves of abortion, he or she would probably be wise to not have an abortion. Being pro-choice doesn't mean that you think people should approve of abortions, just that those who disapprove are entitled to make decisions based on their own conscience, and those who decide abortion is the right option for them are likewise entitled to that decision.

It may seem nonsensical to decide that a fetus is not entitled to the same rights as every other human simply because they are not born yet, but that is the conclusion many reasonable adults have come to, and since neither science nor religion can make that decision with any absolute certainty, the only person who should have the right to make the decision is the pregnant woman, because they are the only conscious decision-maker whose body is directly -- and potentially dangerously -- affected by the pregnancy.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:39 PM on April 9, 2006


The pro-life and pro-choice arguments are philosophical swiss cheese. I'm not going to reiterate many of the arguments already presented here, save sex education.

First, let's get something straight. No one wants an abortion. In other words, no one says to their sperm donor, "Honey, let's get pregnant so we can have an abortion." It's not a choice many want to have to make for themselves or with their partner. No matter your position on the matter, facing the consequences of an unwanted pregnancy is difficult. In this sense, pro-life and pro-choice proponents advocate the same thing: a reduction in the number of abortions performed. From there, two roads diverge.

One advocates a functional understanding of how one becomes pregnant and how to prevent it, along with a host of other useful things like how to minimize the risk of contracting potentially deadly sexually transmitted diseases. The other promotes faith, abstinence, and adamantly opposes any form of sexual education.

Abortion can remain legal and infrequently chosen if pro-life and pro-choice advocates can put aside their moral righteousness and focus on solving the problem. Abortion is a symptom of the problem, not the problem itself. We can reduce the number of abortions, but those who advocate in reducing this number most loudly have, thus far, refused to engage in any proven method of reducing the number of abortions sought.

Pro-life and pro-choice are not mutually exclusive unless you are so blinded by your partisanship that you don't actually care about the issue, just that people vote the right way. By taking sides in this war of opinion and not dedicating your efforts to focusing on the problem of inadequate sexual education, you are perpetuating the number of abortions sought year after year.
posted by sequential at 8:53 PM on April 9, 2006


Can someone pro-choice articulate for me why they think it is that abortion should pose a special societal case that is decided outside of the normal judicial process? I've heard the argument that it is because the woman's body is the site of potential harm but most issues are decided in a universal scope by society regardless of whether it is an individual or society as a whole that is effected. It seems there should be more nuance to the argument to differentiate it from other cases. No individual has the power to decide the judgement of their attacker for instance. Also can someone provide examples of other large moral issues of a similar type to abortion that are decided without the purview of the state.
posted by Endymion at 8:58 PM on April 9, 2006


My son, who is 2.5, is both a cluster of cells and my offspring. I am a cluster of cells and my parents' offpring.

What about a corpse? A corpse is both an offspring and a clusters of cells. Is a corpse human?

We could play this game all day. The question of 'what is X' in an ever changing world is a very deep philosophical question and you simply cannot brush it aside so lightly.


Is there a scientific term for the result of sexual reproduction? If so, that will do as well as "offspring".


Again, you are completely bypassing the question. You make the assertion that 'zygote == offspring == human' and then condemn those who disagree as hypocrites. Hello?

Not only does this argument not make any sense because the word offspring is never, ever, ever used in this manner--especially as a scientific concept--it's also quite silly because you're simply asserting an answer to the very question that is being debated. To repeat: one could make the argument that the result of sexual production is a zygote and that no a zygote is not a human being until it has further developed in the womb for a given amount of time. Or it's not a human being until it speaks. Or it's not a human being until I say it is.

Your entire "liberal hypocrisy" argument seems to be based more on your own desire to invoke hypocrisy than any solid rational basis.

I honestly just find your argument very strange. You seem to believe that the result of human reproduction is a zygote and not, say, a baby. It's obviously a view that was specially constructed in order to elevate the zygote into a "first class" entity. But it's really very strange and I hope someday you can appreciate its strangeness. I suppose it struck me since I've been thinking so much about Dawkins' model lately. If you accept that humans are just survival machines for genes then the the zygote-as-offspring model makes a kind of reductive not-quite-sense.

Quite obviously the pro-choice ideology takes as an a priori that fetuses are not legal persons...

I don't think this is obvious at all. Again, you're just stacking the deck. If the pro-choice ideology holds that fetuses are not humans then the question of legal personhood is secondary and largely irrelevant. It is not an a priori assertion at all. It's the direct result of the assertion that fetus' aren't human beings.

Since there's no scientific means of determining personhood, it follows that no one was convinced by argument or evidence that fetuses aren't persons; political convenience seems like a likely origin of this particular pro-choice doctrine.

Again, you're making enormous assumptions. Why do you insist there's no scientific means for determining personhood? How could you even determine this? What do you even mean by 'personhood'? As for political convenience--it's just stupid. I just cannot fathom what lucrative economic or political profits you imagine are gained from legalized abortion. As for the pro-choice "doctrine", if such a thing it exists, it boils down to simply (1) zygotes are not human (2) an individual has sovereignity over her body. Your assertion that #1 is a political statement derived from ideology is ultimately meaningless. The way you use the term, it's safe to say all such statements are the product of ideology. In this light, the counter-position, that zygotes are human, is equally driven by ideology. I fail to see how its ideological origins have to do with the basic validity of the statement.
posted by nixerman at 9:05 PM on April 9, 2006


We absolutely have the right to decide to accept or reject medical procedures, and the courts do not have the right to dictate those procedures for us, even if recjecting the procedure might kill us (we also have the right to procedures that are dangerous, but, if the risk is too high, doctors will often refuse to do it).

As there is no absolute measure that will allow the law to define abortion as anything other than a medical procedure, it remains the right of the person who chooses the have it.

That being said, the courts have decided. Abortion is legal now because of the decision of the court. If they outlaw it, it will be illegal. Those of us who are pro-choice would see such a decision as a travesty, an essential violation of human rights, and, as the above-linked artical points out, ultimately a futile gesture with horrific results.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:10 PM on April 9, 2006


I should say that there is an exception to this right to accept or refuse medicine when a law is being broken -- for example, the police can forcibly take a blood test, if doing so is specified in a warrent, to prove intoxication or drug use.

If abortion were outlawed in the US, we would see that exception enacted on women's bodied with great frequency, and would enjoy our own version of the Forensic Vagina Inspector.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:14 PM on April 9, 2006



Only because they paint the pro-choice ideology in a bad light. But just because the analogy makes you look bad doesn't make it inaccurate.


No, they really are nonsense. The analogy simply doesn't hold. There was never any serious question about the humanity of slaves. You simply have no real understanding of the mechanism of slavery in America. You seem to be confusing a social effort to "dehumanize" a class of persons with the serious question of whether a class of objects really is a living human being. You keep insisting on the "political convienience" of dehumanizing fetuses and yet you cannot describe what this is, or how it might be identified.
posted by nixerman at 9:18 PM on April 9, 2006


How can you define away the humanity of a class of humans--that are not actually human?


I think there is a really simple test for what a human is. Given a basic level of care and nuture will a fetus/1 year old/7 year old/68 year old continue to live?


A fetus can't sustain itself, but then again neither can a one year old nor many elderly peoples. Unless their lives are terminated through action or inaction these beings will continue to grow and... be human. There are a million semantical games to play with the question to support whatever views you ascribe to but it ultimately boils down very simply.
posted by BackwardsHatClub at 11:42 PM on April 9, 2006


Also as far as I can tell no one who appears to be a pro-life person has so far invoked God, the Bible, or their desire to see birth control restricted.
posted by BackwardsHatClub at 11:43 PM on April 9, 2006


Well, I'm glad the answer is so simple for you. But you recognize that just because you have decided that you've got the answer, it doesn't mean that other's must agree with your answer, yes? Or that they are then bound to act according to the simple set of criteria that you have devoped, when other sets of criteria are equally valid.

Or do you think that your particular test for human life should be broadly applied to everybody, whether they agree with you or not, and therefore you get to decide on the subject of abortion? If so, what gives you this power? Your superior ability to boil things down to a simply yes/no test for human life?

If not, then perhaps we can agree that abortion is not right for you, but others should have the opportunity to come to their own conclusions, and make their decisions based on that?
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:57 PM on April 9, 2006


It doesn't have to be complicated Astro Zombie. It only becomes this huge mess when people refuse to look at the subject with basic logic to justify what I think any person knows is wrong on some level.
posted by BackwardsHatClub at 12:42 AM on April 10, 2006


A fetus can't sustain itself, but then again neither can a one year old nor many elderly peoples. Unless their lives are terminated through action or inaction these beings will continue to grow and... be human.1
You have grossly, possibly intentionally, mangled the definition of viability, which means, in simple terms, "capable of normal growth and development." In the context of a fetus that is, for whatever reason, outside of the womb at any point during pregnancy, it means that post delivery the child can breath and function normally without the need for low success rate medical heroics. The standard by which you judge normal is the success of live births, which is, at least in the developed world, a gold standard. Thus, you are wrong about what will continue to grow and... be human. (Are you William Shatner?)

First trimester pregnancies can not sustain life outside of the womb. In fact, the odds of survival are incredibly low for many second trimester pregnancies, though the odds do increase. Viability is a function of length of the pregnancy, the amount of money available for necessary medical care, and the availability of sufficient medical facilities. Viability approaches, but never equals to, 100% as each of these variables increase.

What if a pregnant woman can't afford the medical care necessary to sustain the life of a significantly premature birth? Should she be legally obliged to go into potentially massive debt that she may never hope to repay to sustain the life of her newborn? Should the tax payer be forced to pick up the tab on the medical expenses to sustain any life? Should drug addicts be imprisoned during pregnancy to ensure the best possible survival rate or to reduce the chance of infant addiction? What about women who work labor intensive jobs where there is an increased risk of injury to her womb? Where do you draw the line on when it's your right to step into some strangers life on behalf of what may potentially be born?

And what of tubal pregnancies? My mother had 8 of them. She also had 8 surgeries to remove the pregnancy because each pregnancy occurred in her fallopian tubes. No one has ever referred to these surgeries as abortions, but that is essentially what they were. Should she have had to suffer the possibility that a fetus might develop in her tubes and kill her, the fetus or both of them, so that the fetus was given the best chance at surviving?
posted by sequential at 12:44 AM on April 10, 2006


The difference is the intent and the outcome. Duh.

eustacescrubb, you were the one using the "cold instruments of industrial medicine" definition, associating it with "patriarchy", thereby already giving a peculiar characterisation to medicine, regardless of its use.

Secondly, you must have missed my "using it because I want to".

Apparently for you it makes no difference if an abortion is forced upon a woman, as in dictatorial state policies for birth control, and if she chooses herself to have an abortion out of her own personal reasons.

Says a lot about your ideas on women and patriarchy really.

But again, using words to mean the opposite of what they mean is not a rare thing in this debate.

Who cares about the women? Once they're pregnant, they become baby tupperware. No longer persons, no longer having the right to control their body and reproduction. While something that isn't yet a person by scientific and legal definitions gets more rights than that pregnant ex-person.

That is the real issue. I support legal abortions not because I think there is no ethical issue at all there, there is the more the pregnancy advances and the fetus develops and approaches viability (I don't have any issues with terminations in the first weeks, because I don't believe in a soul that enters the body, especially when the body is still only a mass of cells with no brain no cognition no neurological system); but the ethical issue of forcing a woman to continue an undesired pregnancy is much more disturbing, because there is no dispute whatsoever that that woman is a full person with full rights. Forcing her one way or the other - imposing an abortion, or denying her that possibility - is a form of rape.


How can someone acknowledge what is happening in El Salvador is a horrifying violation of human rights, and then go on about how there really is no difference between those who support legalised abortion and those who want it banned and they're both disgusting hypocrites?
posted by funambulist at 1:03 AM on April 10, 2006


(4) how it is that the scientific concept of human can apply empirically to a cluster of cells--more precisely, what is the empirical process that can be described by the function IsHuman(Object) and how is it that IsHuman(baby) == IsHuman(zygote).

In all honestly I don't understand that question.

You're using "cluster of cells" pejoratively, but those cells are still human cells, so far as I can tell. When you ask what defines "human" you're asking a philosophical or legal question -- how do we define the sort of being that deserves legal protection?


I'll try and clarify. For myself, a cluster of human cells is not deserving of special protection. We surgically remove clusters of cells all the time; see cancer for example. We even pre-emptively remove or replace cells that are functional for other reasons; for example, a heart-lung transplant is often carried out when only one of them needs replacing. The difference with a 1 week old fetus is that it has the potential to be a concious human being. But then, so do the eggs in a women's ovary, and sperm, and definitely fertilized eggs that are destroyed after in-vitro. We destroy all of these for various reasons.

For me, at least, it's a sliding scale. The fetus starts as a fertilized egg, and is worthy of no more protection under the law than any other small cluster of human cells involved in a medical procedure. At 24 weeks, the unborn baby has independant brain activity, and is worthy of legal protection equal to the mother. Abortions early in the process are no worse than a hysterectomy to me, or destroying unused invitro fertilized eggs. Abortions late in the process should be illegal, as they really are killing a concious being. Almost all abortions take place in the first 12 weeks, when the fetus is still much more a bundle of human cells with potential, than an independant concious human life. When it comes down to it, the life, health and rights of a woman supercede those of a non-concious bundle of cells inside her to me.

You're welcome to disagree, and I wouldn't force anyone to approve of abortion, or have one. That's the difference. Having seen what's happening in El Salvador where the state gets to decide for the women in what should be a medical process, and the impact it's having on womens lives - my opinion is that in El Salvador at least, the pro-life crowd should be called anti-women instead.

I think there is a really simple test for what a human is. Given a basic level of care and nuture will a fetus/1 year old/7 year old/68 year old continue to live?

This test begs the question (i.e. presupposes the answer from the question). The real test is - does it have independant conciousness, and can it survive without the forced use of a human womb?

Unless their lives are terminated through action or inaction these beings will continue to grow and... be human.
The difference is, the 1 year old upwards don't need a womb, and are already concious. This applies from about 24 weeks to a fetus, so from that point onwards, they're worthy of protection. Early in the process, it's not the case, and it's worthy of protection no more than her ovaries.

What I find frustrating is when that choice is made by the State, and the end-result is so much misery and harm. I just cannot find a way to justify forcing a woman to keep an ectopic pregnancy until it ruptures her organs, killing the fetus and seriously risking her life and future fertility. The choice for an early abortion should be hers and her doctors, not ours.
posted by ArkhanJG at 1:08 AM on April 10, 2006


Someone said abortion is the most polarising issue in the world today - I disagree. It is the division between those who have money and power and those who don't, which also impacts the abortion issue, as you can see, even in El Salvador.

The rich and well-connected get in the form of privileges those rights that have been taken away from the less rich.
posted by funambulist at 1:12 AM on April 10, 2006


There are a million semantical games to play

Indeed, meanwhile, real women are being treated like cattle, and this is exactly what would happen if those opposing legal abortion had their way all over the world.

You have moral objections to abortion but don't want it banned with the kind of consequences the article describes happening in El Salvador? Then you are pro-choice, end of story. You don't have to approve of every single choice in that respect because it's not yours, you accept it cannot be imposed by force from the outside. You accept legalisation is the better solution.

What else is there to debate?
posted by funambulist at 1:18 AM on April 10, 2006


eustacescrubb: the pro-choice ideology takes as an a priori that fetuses are not legal persons, but as with any ideology, if one is not enmeshed in it, one can critique its a prioris and even examine their historical context. Since there's no scientific means of determining personhood, it follows that no one was convinced by argument or evidence that fetuses aren't persons; political convenience seems like a likely origin of this particular pro-choice doctrine

You're dead right to bring up historical context. Which historical context do you mean? Obviously not the one where, from the 1600s to the mid-1800s in what we know as America,

"Abortion was not illegal under the common law as long as it was performed before "quickening," the period at about four or five months when the fetus begins to move in the womb.
State legislatures passed laws in the first half of the nineteenth century that adopted the quickening rule, and a few states allowed abortion after quickening to save the life of the mother. Abortions increased markedly in the 1850s and 1860s, especially among middle-class white women.
Religious leaders began to denounce abortion, but the American Medical Association (AMA) proved to be the most successful in ending legalized abortion. The AMA was formed in 1847, and the all-male professional group (women were not allowed to become doctors) made abortion law reform one of its top priorities. The AMA saw abortion reform as a way to increase its influence and to drive out unlicensed practitioners of abortion."


Also, you're projecting twentieth-century respect for twentieth-century ideas of "science" onto centuries when people's ideas of "science" meant specialized learning that encompassed most forms of Classical knowledge that was organized systematically [the abstract's the relevant bit]. Pre-nineteenth century "science" was closely allied to religion aka natural philosophy. Your argument's very muddled there, unless that sentence refers to the late nineteenth/twentieth century.You may want to familiarize yourself with real history before invoking "historical context" to support your positions again.

it follows that no one was convinced by argument or evidence that fetuses aren't persons; political convenience seems like a likely origin of this particular pro-choice doctrine


From what thoroughly-researched studies (ie, proving the facts in my first quote are myths), exactly, are you getting this idea that "abortion is evil" predominated in America from time immemorial, and attitudes that we would now characterize as "pro-choice," such as "not illegal under the common law as long as it was performed before "quickening,"" were shoehorned in recently?
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 1:36 AM on April 10, 2006


sequential: The reason you're confused is because the issue really isn't about abortion. What the conservatives want to do is punish women for having sex.

That's why they both oppose abortion AND oppose providing birth control, or even teaching that such a thing exists. It's not about the child at all.

They are trying to keep women from evading the 'natural consequences' of their 'sinful behavior'. That's why many of them can go in and get an abortion and then be back on the picket lines again. When THEY had sex, it wasn't sinful, you see, even if most other conservatives would disagree.

If it really were about "preventing the death of unborn children", they would be enthusiastic about birth control, and wouldn't use fertility clinics, because so many embryos are destroyed in those facilities.

Their attitudes are exactly opposite that, which should tell you all you need to know.

It's not pro-life, it's anti-sex.
posted by Malor at 2:57 AM on April 10, 2006


Count me among the jaw-droppers at this article - my own triggers were Forensic Vagina Inspectors, vagina as the scene of a crime, and state custody of the (removed) uterus to be used as evidence against the woman.

If the anti-sex crowd really wants to be fair, they should go after the man who caused the unwanted pregnancy, too. Maybe force him to get sterilized or throw him in prison or something. After all, he has to be taught a lesson too.

Perhaps requiring Vaginal Penetration / Insemination Permission Forms beforehand would be a good idea, to help set up the "bitch lied to me!" defense?

"I, ___________ do hereby grant ____________ the legally undisputed right to deposit semen into my vaginal cavity, and declare that any resulting non-ectopic viable conception will be carried to term or as far as is medically prudent."

That way, anyone who doesn't have a permission form (filed with the State of course) can be prosecuted for an unwanted pregnancy.

It takes two to tango. Accessories to a crime should be punished!
posted by beth at 6:34 AM on April 10, 2006


nixerman,
I'm sorry to say that since the meat of your counter-arguments rests on statements like "it's just stupid" or "it's nonsense" without a whole lot of work to demonstrate to me how it's nonsense makes it difficult for me to respond. You say that the analogy to slavery is no good because "the humanity of the slaves was never in question" yet, the humanity of the slaves was in question; legally they were considered subhuman. You say that there is a scientific means of determining personhood, but don't tell me what it is. You keep saying that human fetuses aren't human, but never say what they are instead. You keep saying I'm not defining what I mean by "offpsring" when I have said over and over that I mean "the result of sexual reproduction between humans." I offered for you to privde an alternative term -- one surely exists, and you declined, opting instead for name-calling. I respect your passion, but I am at the point where I'm not sure there's much of a conversation happening.

funambulist:

Who cares about the women? Once they're pregnant, they become baby tupperware. No longer persons, no longer having the right to control their body and reproduction. While something that isn't yet a person by scientific and legal definitions gets more rights than that pregnant ex-person.

Where did this straw man come from? Nowhere have I said I want Roe v Wade struck down, or that I think the solutions offered by the pro-lifers are good solutions. I have repeatedly said that I find the pro-life position hypocritical as well.

Since I believe that violence is never a good solution to social problems, and since I have never found anyone who can explain to me what unborn humans are if they are not humans, I see the use of abortion as a solution to the problems women face that are caused by sexism to be an example of solving on injustice with another injustice. Going back to nixerman's question -- what does the pro-choice side "get" out of abortion -- they get what they want -- a solution to a problem they can't otherwise solve.

In any case, the whole "sovereignty over the body" argument is only succesful if I already agree that it's only the woman's body at stake here, but if one believes that the children also deserve sovereignty over thier bodies, then it creates a conflict. The typical pro-choice repsonse to this is to cry "you hate women! You just want to control them!"
But that's reductive -- since I have never had complete control over my body -- I cannot do with it whatever I wish -- my actionns are limited to doing what does not bring harm to others -- the entire sovereignty argument is begging the question. By that reasoning I hate and want to control everyone who's required by any law to limit their actions.

I wish that there were a good solution that would result in fewer abortions and would increase the rights of women and give them more control over their lives. I haven't found one yet, but I have found, from many conversations on and off-line, that if I could find one, many pro-choice people would not take it. I have been told time and again that women should be able to get abortions for whatever reason, and that solving the problems that make most women want abortions in the first place isn't good enough.


cybercoitus interruptus,

thanks for the links -- it will take a while for me to read and digest them, so I probably can't/won't respond to them in this thread.

To all: I probably can't respond any more. I already feel like I haven't been able to give this thread the attention it deserves -- my answers and ideas are not at clearly-stated as I would have liked, and I probably should think about whether I have the time to commit to a thread like this before jumping in next time. As it is, looking over my contributions, I'm not sure I've done my own ideas justice.
posted by eustacescrubb at 6:38 AM on April 10, 2006


Oh, and lest I forget:

Dear Pro-Life People,

I know you don't like abortion, and I'd like to inform you that historically there *is* a way to trade abortion for something else! Yes, it's true, you can have a society without abortion, by using another strategy to deal with unwanted children.

It's called: INFANTICIDE!

Just look at the glorious history of infanticide throughout history - from the Greeks to those wonderful centuries when respectable people would send their infants to be cared for by wetnurses in the country where they died at astronomical rates. Infanticide has a long and persistent human history, and is even with us today in minor forms like dumpster-babies.

Make abortion illegal and you have much, much more of this to look forward to! Truly the days of sunshine and rainbows will be upon us when abortion is a thing of the past.

Love,

Someone Who Has Read Some Of The More Unsavory Bits of Human History
posted by beth at 6:39 AM on April 10, 2006


You keep saying I'm not defining what I mean by "offpsring" when I have said over and over that I mean "the result of sexual reproduction between humans." I offered for you to privde an alternative term -- one surely exists, and you declined, opting instead for name-calling.

I nominate "products of conception". I have seen this in medical literature, and I believe it even covers things like molar pregnancies.
posted by beth at 6:40 AM on April 10, 2006


Do abortion opponents really believe that abortion is murder, or is their goal to penalize women who have sex?
posted by kirkaracha at 6:41 AM on April 10, 2006


I haven't found one yet, but I have found, from many conversations on and off-line, that if I could find one, many pro-choice people would not take it. I have been told time and again that women should be able to get abortions for whatever reason, and that solving the problems that make most women want abortions in the first place isn't good enough.

Well, birth control sometimes fails, no matter how good it is. And sometimes having a baby is voluntarily chosen at conception time, but conditions change - if the man leaves the woman or dies, and she can't afford to raise the baby herself or something (just one example, there are so many other types of reasons why).

The way you state this though makes me think you might have heard them wrong. I don't know any people anywhere who would rather have an abortion than have good birth control, which is what is suggested by your formulation above. "Don't put on that condom honey, I can just get an abortion later, no worries!"

I've never heard of anyone who thinks an abortion is fun. Regrettable but sometimes necessary is the best sort of characterization I have heard anyone sincerely espouse.
posted by beth at 6:45 AM on April 10, 2006


"Scientifically, the offspring of two huimans can be nothing but human, so you're obviously making a social or legal or philosophical argument, which is why I pointed out above that what you really mean is "person deserving legal protection.""

That's absurd. It's like arguing that the offspring of two chickens can't help but be a chicken (and applying the word "scientifically" doesn't help your case). Except that the offspring of two chickens can be an egg, which is quite different from a chicken. Further, your bullshit about the patriarchy was totally bizarro-world.

As to BackwardsHatClub: "It only becomes this huge mess when people refuse to look at the subject with basic logic to justify what I think any person knows is wrong on some level."

Basic logic? You mean a jumble of question-begging, false assumptions and arbitrary axioms? If you were using "basic" as a pejorative, not a foundational, I might agree with you. But you have the certainty of someone who has never really given the issue any deep thought. First off, why do humans deserve special protection? I'm going out on a limb and assuming you're not a strict vegetarian. What's the sine qua non of human life that makes it worth protecting, when you say you favor protecting ALL life? What's your distinction that eliminates even animals, let alone plants and lichen? That they come from humans would be a tautology.
BASIC LOGIC CANNOT JUSTIFY FLAWED ASSUMPTIONS. (Reading Plato should teach anyone that).
posted by klangklangston at 6:47 AM on April 10, 2006


"Where did this straw man come from? Nowhere have I said I want Roe v Wade struck down, or that I think the solutions offered by the pro-lifers are good solutions. I have repeatedly said that I find the pro-life position hypocritical as well."

Some people are seduced by the illusionary wisdom of the middle path, seeking to see themselves as reasoned moderates. At a certain point though, these people must be denouced as absent the moral principles and clear thinking that is required to come down on one side or another. Those who would condemn both but offer no solution can safely be relegated to the pile of those who have nothing to say, especially if their arguments against both sides are similarly vague and fallacious.
posted by klangklangston at 6:53 AM on April 10, 2006


I haven't seen mentioned on this thread at all the issue of human embryos in fertility treatment centers.

Thousands more of those things get created every day than are ever going to be implanted. The excess are almost all flushed down the drain. (Yes, I heard once of a pro-life group that sought and in some cases got unwanted embryos donated to another couple who implanted them, but the numbers were incredibly tiny - this is very very rare).

Yet I never see the outcry on those as the ones that are inside the woman's womb. Why is that? Those little clumps of cells are just as "human", aren't they? Shouldn't we be seeing Operation Rescue manning barricades around fertility clinics?

Or is it really about controlling the woman's body? Hmmm...
posted by beth at 6:56 AM on April 10, 2006


eustacescrubb,

I'm not insulting you at all. But I do want to make it clear just how absurd and poorly thought out your statements are.

First, the way you use the word "offspring" is strange, if not simply dishonest. You want to imply that "universally, the offspring of X is always another X (and can't be anything but another X)" and then apply this universal to the case of humans. As I've pointed out several times above this assertion isn't true as a matter of common-sense, isn't scientifically or empirically valid, and it's really just a thinly disguised begging of the question.

Second, you keep insisting that liberals use the word "human" to mean "legal personhood" and that this constitutes hypocrisy. This is an interesting claim but it doesn't hold up. The liberal position doesn't claim that zygotes are not deserving of human rights even though they are human. Rather, it makes the stronger claim that zygotes do not deserve rights because they are not human at all.

This is not analagous at all to the case of slavery where it was widely recognized both politically and culturally that slaves were transcendentally human (i.e. they possessed souls) but it was disputed that they were legal persons. To conflate these scenarios is just wrong.

beth,

Actually, I've asked several pro-life academics if they would tolerate abortions if (and only if) the fetus wasn't destroyed and was instead preserved in a "humane manner," say frozen. I'd say about 20% indicated they would tolerate abortion under this condition. This only confirmed my suspicion that the humanity of the fetus is ultimately irrelevant to most pro-lifers. I wouldn't say they want to control a woman's body. Really, it seems they want to preserve the body, keep it pure somehow. The language, with the touch words of "sanctity" and "innocence" and the such, seems to support this and, of course, it's why the vast majority of pro-lifers are against sex-ed and the like. But I've never met a pro-lifer who was willing to put all his cards on the table and come out and admit this.
posted by nixerman at 7:50 AM on April 10, 2006


Where did this straw man come from? Nowhere have I said I want Roe v Wade struck down

eustace, did you realise we're commenting on an article in the NYT about the laws in El Salvador, yes? saying women are reduced to baby containers is not a straw man at all there.

Just because I wrote something after responding to a quote from your comment doesn't mean it was all addressed to you specifically.

The typical pro-choice repsonse to this is to cry "you hate women! You just want to control them!"

Can you explain what is happening in El Salvador under any other terms? Please?

The only two positions with a real pragmatic impact are favouring a ban or favouring legalisation, ie. leaving the choice to each woman, with varying restrictions on terms and such, as already happens in most countries' legislations on the matter. How each person comes to either of those two positions cannot overshadow the real issue is the laws here. Otherwise the debate becomes entirely self-referential, detached from reality. Which laws do you want? That is the only question that matters, in my view. People can have all sorts of moral objections and misgivings about abortion but, like BitterOldPunk, as long as they understand they cannot force women to become unwilling baby machines then they'll know which side they're on in legal terms. That's all I personally care about.

Now you say you don't want a ban; but you also don't like the pro-choice position, ie. legalisation; so? The conclusion is?

If you can't make up your mind as to the legality issue then I don't have much to say.

I'm sick and tired of arguments over the sex of angels and the personhood of embryos, no woman's body is anyone else's territory to legislate on, period. If this sounds like feminist rhetoric to some, it's only because they don't get the reality of it. You'd think reading this article might have enlightened some as to how it's really not rhetoric at all, but even a shocking report is no substitute for real direct experience or at least an understanding of it.
posted by funambulist at 7:55 AM on April 10, 2006


Oh and what klangklangston said.

There may be many other issues on which one can fiddle about in that rarefied air far above real people with real problems, waiting for a miracle solution that's perfect enough to bother coming down and taking a stance on; this is not one of them.
posted by funambulist at 8:05 AM on April 10, 2006


Just want to thank Scrump for a point I hadn't seen before.
posted by Shutter at 10:11 AM on April 10, 2006


Years ago, I used to believe that abortion should be legal in the case of rape. Then I realized that all life should be protected no matter what it's origins. Is it easy? No. There are many things in life that are tough, but they are right.
posted by BackwardsHatClub at 12:07 AM PST on April 9


You have to admit it would be pretty funny if your wife was raped and you had to raise your wife's rapist's child. Drop me an email if that happens and send me pics of the little one. You and konolia can have post-rape-baby playdates. It would be tough . . . but it would be right.

ps i bask in the glow of your smug certainty
posted by Optimus Chyme at 10:29 AM on April 10, 2006


Don't forget to invite the babydaddies to the playdates, too. Because, you know, they might get visitation, right?
posted by beth at 10:39 AM on April 10, 2006


"You have to admit it would be pretty funny if your wife was raped and you had to raise your wife's rapist's child."

What are you saying? His wife doesn't dress like a slut, and we all know that only women who dress like sluts get raped.
posted by klangklangston at 11:11 AM on April 10, 2006


All right, that's just not true. Men who dress like sluts also get raped.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:20 AM on April 10, 2006


I'm not insulting you at all. But I do want to make it clear just how absurd and poorly thought out your statements are.

That's part of the reason I decided to excuse myself from the thread; I was having a difficult time articulating my most important points well, mostly because I didn't have enough time to write them out with the care they needed to be written out with. I can usually explain my ideas with more clarity, even about this topic, but not, it seems, this week.
posted by eustacescrubb at 11:36 AM on April 10, 2006


The anti-abortion arguments in this thread are among the weakest I've ever read. They are consistently illogical, emotionally manipulative, deceptive, and poorly-expressed.

I am hopeful that this indicates that most people have come to their senses, and only those who are incapable of recognizing the reality of El Salvador is the inevitable outcome of anti-abortion legislation: to wit, even the most sickening attempts to force women to bear children — to the point of violating a woman's body to investigate their actions! — will absolutely fail to prevent women from obtaining the medical services they need.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:38 AM on April 10, 2006


Eustacescrubb, let me assist you in clarifying your thinking: should my wife ever be faced with a situation in which you are preventing her from obtaining an abortion, I will put my own life on the line to stop you.

Are you going to put your life on the line for a fetus that may not even end up being viable?
posted by five fresh fish at 11:42 AM on April 10, 2006


five fresh fish,

should my wife ever be faced with a situation in which you are preventing her from obtaining an abortion

Sigh. Did you read the post where I said I wasn't in favor of overturening Roe v Wade? Or where I said I thought the pro-life position and policy to be hypocritical? I don't fit in your little political boxes, but that's no reason to threaten me with violence.
posted by eustacescrubb at 12:18 PM on April 10, 2006


Phrases which are going to be stuck in my head all day:

"baby Tupperware"
"forensic vagina inspector"

Gee, thanks, Metafilter!
posted by bitter-girl.com at 12:23 PM on April 10, 2006


eustacescrubb, you've already admitted your arguments here were muddled shite, so berating people for not getting your belligerent, yet completely unarticulated, position is hardly winning you any friends or arguments.

Just maybe fff was thinking of this retarded chestnut when he made his comment:

Sexism and patriarchy are still serious problems in our culture, but I can't get behind using a violence as a means to get rid of or ameliorate them. Abortion is a singularly partiarchal means of solving one of the many problems of patriarchy. The cold instruments of industrial medicine invade the womb for the purpose of destruction... that's patriarchy working its magic.

In other words abortion is violence, and you can't support it. Shit or get off the pot, or make some sense.

And thank god El Salvador has cast off the chains of Patriarchy and liberated its women. Clearly they are living in a new day of Feminist Utopia. Poking around in the hoo ha for a witch's mark has finally set the sexes on an equal footing not experienced since the peak of the Feudal Enlightenment.
posted by dgaicun at 12:54 PM on April 10, 2006


Whew! I just got done reading this whole thing.

Maybe I missed it, but why haven't I seen any anti-choicers posting: "BRAVO! Good for El Salvador! At least one country has some morals! Keep it up, Salvadorians! Keep protecting the sanctity of life!!!!"

Hmmm. Could it be that they are a bit uncomfortable with the blantant acts of violation on women's bodies, as well as the imprisoning of mothers who, because of abortion, are not allowed to raise their first children? Could the anti-choice men on the board possibly be contemplating what it would be like if the criminalization of abortion went so far (as in some cases in El Salvador) where the father too could be punished for impregnanting a girl who then has an abortion? Could these men possibly be questioning how far this police state can go? Perhaps to the point of treating men as baby making factories too, as in inspecting their underwear and bedsheets for semen, because, you know, wasting semen means wasting possible unborn children?

If I am wrong in this, then I am very curious as to why the anti-choicers are not sounding so excited about this article.

Also, when questioned on the issue, "is this really just punishing sluts?" none seem to deny it. Hmmm.
posted by hellameangirl at 1:20 PM on April 10, 2006


ES: Sigh. Did you even read my post, or just react to it? My sole point is this: if you are unable to reason out your position by logic, reason it out by reality and consequence.

The reality, as demonstrated by the situation in El Salvador, is that abortion will never be eliminated regardless the severity of consequence should one be caught.

The consequence, as demonstrated by my commitment to my wife's best interests, is that ultimately you must be willing to put your own life on the life to defend your position. I am.

The gutless, and I will rudely suggest they number more in the anti- than pro-choice camps, will of course demand that someone else put their life on the line, ie. a cop or soldier, to uphold their desired laws. Talk is cheap when you don't risk anything personally.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:22 PM on April 10, 2006


c/life on the life/life on the line/

doh!
posted by five fresh fish at 1:24 PM on April 10, 2006


Going back to nixerman's question -- what does the pro-choice side "get" out of abortion -- they get what they want -- a solution to a problem they can't otherwise solve.

Another invalid assumption. No one thinks abortion is the solution to anything, but pro-choicers tend to understand that it's the lesser of two evils (the greater evil being what is on display in the linked article). It's also completely counterfactual to suggest that most pro-choicers aren't trying to solve the real problems through other means.
posted by ludwig_van at 1:38 PM on April 10, 2006


LV on FIRE!
posted by klangklangston at 1:50 PM on April 10, 2006


You have to admit it would be pretty funny if your wife was raped and you had to raise your wife's rapist's child. Drop me an email if that happens and send me pics of the little one. You and konolia can have post-rape-baby playdates. It would be tough . . . but it would be right.


You are, of course, assuming that I am a man.
posted by BackwardsHatClub at 2:42 PM on April 10, 2006


Dun dun DUUUUUNNN!

(diminished chords)
posted by ludwig_van at 2:47 PM on April 10, 2006


Gender: Male.

That's from your profile, BackwardsHatClub. It's not such a wild assumption to assume you're male if you say so yourself...
posted by funambulist at 2:56 PM on April 10, 2006


You are, of course, assuming that I am a man.
posted by BackwardsHatClub at 2:42 PM PST on April 10


well then that's even better maybe you can share custody of the child with its loving father good luck with that
posted by Optimus Chyme at 3:00 PM on April 10, 2006


Well well well if you Google for BackwardsHatClub you get about ten profiles on different sites, all for Drew from Ft. Lauderdale, FL, same as on here. Glad to see yet another honest pro-lifer.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 3:03 PM on April 10, 2006


You're right there, I guess I just never look at other peoples profiles so I try to use gender neutral language.
posted by BackwardsHatClub at 3:32 PM on April 10, 2006


Abortion is one issue that isn't exactly gender-neutral, BHC. It's all well and good to be opposed to abortion even in the case of rape when you're a man, but I would expect women might see it a little differently than you.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 3:36 PM on April 10, 2006


Well my sister has the same views as I do if a bit more radical than myself, so I don't buy into that argument very much.
posted by BackwardsHatClub at 4:06 PM on April 10, 2006


Bet she'd change her mind if you raped her.
posted by klangklangston at 4:17 PM on April 10, 2006


And your sister doesn't know whether or not she'd keep her rapist's child until it actually happens. There are plenty of pro-life protestors who have had abortions because it's a lot different when it's your life or health or sanity at stake. Maybe she thinks she'd keep it. Maybe she's really, really sure. But we'll never know until it happens. And it's the pro-choice people who want to leave it up to her to decide, not a bunch of privileged old white men.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 4:17 PM on April 10, 2006


(repeating a comment up-thread):
Backwardshatclub: Are you willing to admit your stance is really about punishing sex, not saving lives?
posted by Malor at 4:19 PM on April 10, 2006


Well my sister has the same views as I do if a bit more radical than myself

Morbid curiosity here: more radical how?
posted by ludwig_van at 4:19 PM on April 10, 2006


A better reason to not "buy into that argument" is that it's completely irrelevant. Knowing a radical woman who's all for forced, painful vagina inspections of rape victims who choose to abort simply has no value when determining what should and should not be legal.

When push comes to shove, almost every one of you anti-choice bastards will choose to abort when your life or wife is threatened by an unwanted pregnancy. You won't be holding your wife as she dies from an ectopic pregnancy forced to the point of abdominal rupture.

Fucking barbaric. I can not express adequate disgust toward those of you who read the El Salvador article and were not convinced of the inhumanity, injustice, and plain evil of a broad ban on abortion. My biggest regret is that I have no means of removing you and your harmful attitudes from our society.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:27 PM on April 10, 2006


Well my sister has the same views as I do if a bit more radical than myself, so I don't buy into that argument very much.
posted by BackwardsHatClub at 7:06 PM EST on April 10 [!]


And my sister has different views than your self-admittedly "radical" views so I guess you'll have to "buy" into that argument now.
posted by juiceCake at 6:55 PM on April 10, 2006


So, Backwardsasshat, can we assume your sister will be moving to El Salvador then? It sounds right up her alley! (so to speak)
posted by hellameangirl at 7:56 PM on April 10, 2006


Doesn't the real dividing line between radical and zealot fall in the first trimester? How many people really oppose abortion--propose banning it in law--at that point? I'm just curious.
posted by ParisParamus at 8:12 PM on April 10, 2006


"Morbid curiosity here: more radical how?"

She can totally pop a fakey McTwist on a half pipe.
posted by klangklangston at 8:35 PM on April 10, 2006


Ha! That was so dorky it made me laugh. I heart pro-choice boys so much! You can always tell when a guy is pro-choice. They are always so smart and funny, and best of all they are the guys who like women. I dont mean just in an orientation way, but they view women to be just as smart and funny as themselves, and when they hear about injustices commited towards women, they see it as injustice period. You boys make me proud to be straight! (backward asshat excluded)
posted by hellameangirl at 9:00 PM on April 10, 2006


When push comes to shove, almost every one of you anti-choice bastards will choose to abort when your life or wife is threatened by an unwanted pregnancy. You won't be holding your wife as she dies from an ectopic pregnancy forced to the point of abdominal rupture.


I wouldn't but like I've already stated earlier in this thread I'm for abortion when the woman's life is at stake.


Malor: I read what you wrote I just don't feel compelled to respond to it. I was trying to have a reasoned discussion with a group of supposedly reasonable and intelligent individuals. My bad.
-Backwards Asshat out
posted by BackwardsHatClub at 10:33 PM on April 10, 2006


Admittedly there are exceptions but, for the most part, abortion is a selfish act.
posted by whatisish at 10:59 PM on April 10, 2006


I'd like to add a comment about the analogy saying outlawing abortion is equivalent to mandatory organ donation. The reason that doesn't work for me (a pro-life-leaning fence-sitter) is that I see a difference between acts of omission and acts of comission.

There's a kid in Africa who will die if I don't go over there and somehow see to it that he gets enough food and proper medical attention. But I'm not gonna do that. And yet no one calls me a murderer (maybe they should--I think Jesus might have). But if I take a gun and shoot the kid next door, that's murder.

The thing with abortion is that it lies somewhere between these two. We wouldn't call a woman a murderer for not donating a kidney to a dying child. We probably would call her a murderer if she paid a doctor to kill her two-year-old. Abortion is kind of like refusing to donate a kidney. But it also involves actively going and having a doctor kill a fetus.

I don't think anti-abortion laws are really "pro-life" any more than laws against homicide are "pro-life". These laws aren't about saving the greatest number of lives or about making sure that the living are happy and healthy. They're about preventing/detering/punishing murder.

But is abortion murder? I don't think many pro-lifers quite believe that. They don't respond to abortion the way they would to a knife-wielding manic loose in the neo-natal wing of the hospital. But it seems to me more like murder than simply refusing to donate an organ. (Or maybe it's justifiable homicide? Killing in self-defence?)

One other note: I am horrified by what's going on in El Salvador, but I don't buy the assumption that this is what laws outlawing abortion would inevitably have to look like. There's lots of countries where the enforcement of laws against theft is brutal and draconian. But the solution is not to legalize theft.
posted by straight at 1:07 AM on April 11, 2006


Uh, in all countries were theft is illegal people getting caught do go to jail. It's a crime! So, yeah, regardless of the silly theft-abortion comparison, what's going on in El Salvador is exactly what laws outlawing abortion outright would look like.
posted by funambulist at 1:38 AM on April 11, 2006


I can not express adequate disgust toward those of you who read the El Salvador article and were not convinced of the inhumanity, injustice, and plain evil of a broad ban on abortion.
posted by funambulist at 1:41 AM on April 11, 2006


" Admittedly there are exceptions but, for the most part, abortion is a selfish act."

It's an individual act. If you argue that it's selfish, then so is believing that people have the right to say what they want, think what they want, publish what they want, be secure in their persons against unreasonable search and seizure (we'd catch and convict a lot more criminals without that), refusal to board soldiers... In fact, that's part of the problem with many individual rights— since they are "selfish," people see little need to defend them when they're not affected. We see that with laws like the Patriot Act, or the detention of people in Guantanamo, or abortion.
(And, frankly, something that hasn't been brought up yet is that the reason abortions are legal is that it's none of your damn business. You may believe that it's murder, but reasonable people can disagree and because of that, you have to let them make their own moral determination.)

"I was trying to have a reasoned discussion with a group of supposedly reasonable and intelligent individuals. My bad."
Sorry Hatman, in order to have a reasoned discussion with intelligent people, you can't fall back on fallacious logic and emotional appeals. It tends to frustrate otherwise reasonable and intelligent people when they see through your bullshit.
posted by klangklangston at 6:29 AM on April 11, 2006


Admittedly there are exceptions but, for the most part, abortion is a selfish act.


I find it perfectly acceptable to be selfish regarding my own body and self.
posted by agregoli at 7:46 AM on April 11, 2006


"Malor: I read what you wrote I just don't feel compelled to respond to it. I was trying to have a reasoned discussion with a group of supposedly reasonable and intelligent individuals. My bad."
Translation: "Of course this is really about punishing women for having recreactional sex, not about saving lives, but I'm just not ready to admit it. Saving lives sounds much more noble."

" Admittedly there are exceptions but, for the most part, abortion is a selfish act."

Yup. Just like its selfish for men and boys who have sex for fun then take off when there is a pregnancy, but apparantly thats perfectly legal and acceptable. Besides, the little slut probably lied to him about being on birth control, probably got preggers on purpose for the welfare, ...lets just throw all the selfish sluts in jail! Whether they have abortions or not! THEN this country would be holy again!
posted by hellameangirl at 10:41 AM on April 11, 2006


Abortion is kind of like refusing to donate a kidney. But it also involves actively going and having a doctor kill a fetus.

No, it does not. Abortion can be accomplished through a variety of methods, many not involving a doctor at all. You can not put a stop to abortion.

Read the El Salvador article, dammit: pregnancy is such a big deal that some women will literally risk their very lives in an attempt to abort sans-doctor.

Legal abortion changes nothing except this: it makes it safer.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:07 PM on April 11, 2006


Uh, in all countries were theft is illegal people getting caught do go to jail. It's a crime!

In some countries the penalty for theft may just be a fine. In others a thief can be caned or have his hand cut off. In some countries the police can barge into your home or read your medical records at any time in search of evidence of a crime. In others they have to convince a judge first that a crime has been committed.

Outlawing abortion wouldn't necessarily entail making a woman a felon or refering to her womb as a crime scene. There could be various Miranda-like rules to prevent enforcement as invasive as that in El Salvador.

I understand folks who are horrified that abortion be criminalized in any way. And maybe it would end up as bad here as it is in El Savador. But actually I think enforcement would vary a whole lot from state to state, and unlikely anywhere be as draconian as what the article describes.
posted by straight at 12:08 PM on April 11, 2006


I wouldn't but like I've already stated earlier in this thread I'm for abortion when the woman's life is at stake.

The maternal death rate in the USA is about 11 dead women for every 100k live births. This is a higher risk than, say, getting an abortion (0.6 dead women for every 100k abortions).

One can make a sound argument that pregnancy puts the woman's life at stake, and that abortion is the safer choice.

Further, the death rate in countries where abortion is illegal is consistently several orders of magnitude greater than where it is legal. The death rate in El Salvador, for instance: 120 dead women for every 100k live births! A significant number of those deaths are due to lack of access to safe abortion procedures.

If you don't want the death of a whole lot of women on your hands, do not support the anti-abortionists. They have absolfuckinglutely no idea just how horrible their utopian ideals deviate from reality.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:25 PM on April 11, 2006


Doesn't the real dividing line between radical and zealot fall in the first trimester? How many people really oppose abortion--propose banning it in law--at that point? I'm just curious.

the vast majority of abortions occur in the first trimester. Why would a woman wait longer than that? a) she doesn't know - unlikely, but in the cases where it happens this is prob due to poor sex ed. b)she doesn't want the child but feels guilty about considering abortion, so is in denial - if this is a factor, people who are pro-1st trimester should encourage a philosophy of "if you're going to have an abortion, please do it as early as possible" - they should advocate the morning after pill, and so forth. c)some medical information changes - she had been planning to have the child but now her life or health is at risk.

Basically, anyone who is pro-choice for the first trimester should consider themselves 'pro-choice' in general, as the number of abortions which occur later is small and generally due to complicated factors (because all pregnancies start in the first trimester - why would the decision not be made in the first 3 months?)

Admittedly there are exceptions but, for the most part, abortion is a selfish act

is this true of any medical procedure?
posted by mdn at 1:28 PM on April 11, 2006


With that line of thinking I suppose we should make in vitro illegal. Isn't it just as selfish to want a baby than to NOT want one? Better yet we should make Viagra illegal. Talk about selfish.
posted by hellameangirl at 2:47 PM on April 11, 2006


Call me crazy, but I think it's "selfish" to put the welfare of a collection of tissue over that of a human woman.

I suppose it's 'selfish' when I pick my nose, by some strange logic, but calling in the Forensic Nasal Inspector and giving me the death penalty for murder is something worse than 'selfish' - it's fucking nuts.
posted by dgaicun at 3:05 PM on April 11, 2006


I understand folks who are horrified that abortion be criminalized in any way. And maybe it would end up as bad here as it is in El Savador. But actually I think enforcement would vary a whole lot from state to state, and unlikely anywhere be as draconian as what the article describes.

You are dead wrong. You ignore, at great peril, the long history of violence against abortion providers in North America.

Seven murders. Seventeen attempted murders. Forty-one bombings, a couple hundred arsons, a hundred corrosive acid attacks, a hundred-fifty assaults, hundreds of death threats, hundreds more bomb threats, a few kidnappings.

There was a period in our recent history when it was really fucking dangerous to provide abortion services. All it takes to return us to that grim time is for some asswipe religionist to start calling for the return of abortion clinic terrorism and we'll be right back there.

There is no happy middle ground when dealing with people who will kill to impose their morality upon others.
posted by five fresh fish at 3:21 PM on April 11, 2006


I understand folks who are horrified that abortion be criminalized in any way.

You say so but I'm not sure you do, cos if you did you wouldn't be talking about "maybe there can be other ways to criminalise it". You don't punish a crime with a fine.

For what purpose, besides? What good does criminalisation do?

see the point five fresh fish makes, which always goes unnoticed in these discussions: Abortion can be accomplished through a variety of methods, many not involving a doctor at all. You can not put a stop to abortion.
posted by funambulist at 3:34 PM on April 11, 2006


I hear lots of talk about the welfare of a woman and all kinds of extenuating circumstances - many of which have valid points. Although I doubt such statistics exist, I'm certain that a large percentage of abortions occur without involving any such circumstances. That's where I take exception.

Criminalizing abortion is not a good idea, but neither is advocating that because a young girl's body is hers, it's acceptable to sleep around, get pregnant, and then get an abortion months down the road - over and over again.

I fall on the pro-choice side of the fence where legislature is involved. My hope is that the choice will be based more on responsibility and reasonableness than on convenience.

Call me crazy, but I think it's "selfish" to put the welfare of a collection of tissue over that of a human woman.

"Collection of tissue"... please. Right, take care of the woman but at some point that collection of tissue is a baby.

This issue is all about personal beliefs. I'm grateful that others don't legislatively impose theirs on me.

Still, it's my belief that abortion is wrong under the circumstances that they are generally performed.
posted by whatisish at 7:20 PM on April 11, 2006


I will say what I've said before; If you are against abortions, then don't have one.

I've faced down the zealots at clinics, walking people in and out during the danger years. And I've spent some time talking to the ones that weren't obviously insane. And ya know, of all the middle class, white, suburban housewives I've seen out there, not a single one of the ones I've ever talked to have adopted a black baby. Or a Hispanic baby. I've only met one who adopted a baby at all. Only one or two were foster parents.

So, none of those people were willing to step forward and say, take responsibility for a new life. They weren't standing outside the clinics saying "We will help you, we will pay your medical bills, we will help you pay your bills during the 9th and 10th month when it's too hard to do your job, we will ferry you around when you can't get behind the wheel of your car, we will take your baby, and give him a good life, a well balanced home, a safe place to grow."

They aren't badgering Senators to provide for a rational national day care plan. They weren't worried about prenatal care being a national health issue. They weren't lobbying for mandatory state paid well baby care, or vaccinations, or milk, or food or formula or diapers. Because, once that zygote becomes a "baby", these people don't give a rat's ass what happens to it.

It scares me to realize that my generation may be the only one that has/will have had rational access to female medical care for my entire reproductive cycle. We were the first ones to come of age after Roe V. Wade became the law, and we'll be passing out of our reproductive years as it gets disassembled in the name of a Vengeful JeeeZus that Hate Women Who Fuck.

Look, if I wanted God involved in plans around my uterus, I would have hung around the desert and prayed a lot. As it stands, my uterus is invitation only, and I'm not handing out flyers to every thundering voice on a mountain top.

I understand the moral trepidation faced by both sides of the argument, but what it comes down to is that unless we agree that the state has the right to commandeer and use any body part from any citizen at any time, for any reason...then we cannot allow the state to commandeer a uterus.
posted by dejah420 at 7:29 PM on April 11, 2006


Criminalizing abortion is not a good idea, but neither is advocating that because a young girl's body is hers, it's acceptable to sleep around, get pregnant, and then get an abortion months down the road - over and over again.
posted by whatisish at 7:20 PM PST on April 11


No one on the planet has ever advocated that, brainiac.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 7:35 PM on April 11, 2006


No one on the planet has ever advocated that, brainiac.

On the contrary, there are plenty who shout loundly that a choice is a choice and live just that way.
posted by whatisish at 7:45 PM on April 11, 2006


There's a difference between accepting the fact that people will have abortions in lieu of birth control - which is unimaginably rare - and advocating such a thing.

Here's a heads-up: this is a fake article.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 7:58 PM on April 11, 2006


I wonder why you think this is unimaginably rare. Teen girls often have unprotected sex knowing that they just might get pregnant - and then choose to have an abortion after the fact.

"Often" is admitedly pretty subjective. Still, it's not "unimaginably rare".
posted by whatisish at 8:47 PM on April 11, 2006


Your concern is indeed a valid one, whatisish. A society in which abortion is so casual as to merit description as "contraceptive" is one in which I do not wish to live.

I am absolutely pro-choice up to whatever week it's just about as easy to C-section and incubate the fetus1, as it is to destroy it.

Yes, that means some women might casually choose to use late-term abortions as a means of birth control.

I believe a woman who could be so casual would have to be a horrible human being, and deserving of the same scorn—and tolerance—as I give to racists and bigots.

We (barely) tolerate these miscreants, because we value our freedom.

I am pro-choice and against the casual use of abortion. Just like you. Which is why I will almost always do my best to destroy the misogynistic, muddle-headed, factually incorrect, and downright evil spew that the pro-life contingent puts forth as their "right" to control others' personal lives.

Let's get them the fuck out of our politics. Vote smarter next time.

1 Such that it thrives: I feel there is a point where quality of life has to be taken into account; let us not turn the fetal development into a lifelong nightmare of suffering.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:28 PM on April 11, 2006


Teen girls often have unprotected sex knowing that they just might get pregnant - and then choose to have an abortion after the fact.

Of course, you have no data on how many women casually use abortion as birth control, and no idea how unpleasant the procedure can be. But that's okay, because making shit up is a staple of the anti-choice contingent.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 9:48 PM on April 11, 2006


Why are you so certain that a large percentage of abortions occur [as a result of] teen girls[having] unprotected sex knowing that they just might get pregnant - and then [choosing] to have an abortion after the fact, and not just once but over and over again (mustn't forget that part).

Anecdotal? Friends of friends? A study based on a how wide a sample, from what section of the country? What?
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 10:12 PM on April 11, 2006


If I had a dollar for every straw man....

Criminalizing abortion is not a good idea, but neither is advocating that because a young girl's body is hers, it's acceptable to sleep around, get pregnant, and then get an abortion months down the road - over and over again.

The point is there's a huge difference between considering something morally and socially inacceptable and making it a legal crime. Your neither/or implies an equivalence that ignores that difference.

Regardless of how many abortions happen in the scenario you describe. Reducing the 'casual contraceptive' recourse to abortion is not achieved by banning it. Reducing any kind of abortion is not achieved by banning it. So, the legal issue is still the same.
posted by funambulist at 1:39 AM on April 12, 2006


agh, sloppy writing, sorry - "legal crime" should be "crime as defined by law" ie. "illegal", "criminalised"; "banning" should be "criminalising"
posted by funambulist at 1:42 AM on April 12, 2006


Of course, you have no data on how many women casually use abortion as birth control, ... But that's okay, because making shit up is a staple of the anti-choice contingent.

Quick research shows that greater than 20% of abortions are performed on girls 19 and younger.

- which is unimaginably rare -

making shit up


Let me make clear the fact that I am against criminalising abortion which, I suppose, is the issue of this particular thread. The orginal El Salvador artice is, indeed, horrible.
posted by whatisish at 5:38 AM on April 12, 2006


If I had a dollar for every straw man

You're right - I'm off topic. That is, of criminalisation rather than the casual nature of some abortions.
posted by whatisish at 6:38 AM on April 12, 2006


Quick research shows that greater than 20% of abortions are performed on girls 19 and younger.

And you have data that indicates a significant fraction of them use abortion casually, in lieu of preventative birth control? Because that's the issue you brought up.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 6:39 AM on April 12, 2006


whatisish, you're being incredibly disingenuous. Here is your original statement, the gist of which you seem to have forgotten in the hours since you made it: "Criminalizing abortion is not a good idea, but neither is advocating that because a young girl's body is hers, it's acceptable to sleep around, get pregnant, and then get an abortion months down the road - over and over again."

The idea that people are actively encouraging young girls to sleep around and get repeated abortions (!!!) is what's being objected to here. No one in their right mind would "advocate" such a thing and to suggest that this is the pro-choice position is preposterous. It sounds like something out of a Jack Chick tract, for crying out loud.

"Quick research shows that greater than 20% of abortions are performed on girls 19 and younger."

Great. Now would you be so kind as to explain how this particular statistic bolsters your claim that wanton teen girls are running off to get abortion after abortion, "over and over again"? How in the world did you come to this conclusion? Have you ever talked with a woman who's had an abortion? Do you have any idea what the procedure is like? How it feels? If your answer is anything other than "no," color me astounded.
posted by purplemonkie at 6:39 AM on April 12, 2006


"Although I doubt such statistics exist, I'm certain that a large percentage of abortions occur without involving any such circumstances. "

Why not just admit you're making shit up?
Here is a comprehensive study regarding reasons for abortion. The overwhelming OVERWHELMING theme is one OF PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY. The simple fact is, and this is borne out by the semi-controversial study that links abortion to decrease in crime rates, that WOMEN ARE THE BEST JUDGE OF THEIR ABILITY TO RAISE A CHILD.

And one more time, we've got an anti-choice respondant with a "punish the sluts" attitude.

Note also that a significant portion— more than the 20% under 19— are married women who already have children.
posted by klangklangston at 6:59 AM on April 12, 2006


No, but, purplemonkie, he's right. I for instance just went and got an abortion between my last comment and this one. I got another one booked right before the holidays, just in case. My favourite clinic even has a very convenient haircut+abortion+brazilian package with a nice discount, they do all in one go so you save time. Recommended +++
posted by funambulist at 7:00 AM on April 12, 2006


Whatisish, you have still provided no evidence that a significant percentage of abortions are done repeatedly, casually, and in lieu of preventative birth control. Please provide such evidence or stop fucking posting; you're embarrassing yourself.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 8:41 AM on April 12, 2006


Recommended +++

*makes note in appointment book, wonders about 'invite-a-friend' special*
posted by purplemonkie at 8:43 AM on April 12, 2006


Yeah let's call our friends and get the 10% group (6 women or more) discount! (20% for the under-19's)
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 9:10 AM on April 12, 2006


I mean, I'm not pregnant or anything, but that's a freakin' sweet deal and I could really use a haircut. Oh what the hell, I'll just ask 'em to suck around in there a little bit to be on the safe side.
posted by purplemonkie at 10:11 AM on April 12, 2006


Whatisish--Thank you for finally saying what all of us know the anti-choicers are thinking. That abortion is for sluts. I dont know the stats, but I do know that the four women I know personally would had abortions were not sluts. One was inpregnated at 15 by a 20 year old, so basically statutory rape, the others were in loving, serious relationships in which when passion is in the air and one is out of condoms or misses a pill, accidents happen. With the 3 women in relationships, all the couples made the decision together that they werent ready to give a child a good life.

I agree that some young girls need to protect themselves better, but that is why I am for early, mandatory and secular-minded sex ed in schools. Please join us in pushing for that, instead of demonizing these girls. Thank you.
posted by hellameangirl at 10:20 AM on April 12, 2006


(correction: "stats" meaning, sluts v. non-sluts who had abortions,..."would had" 'sposed to be "who had")
posted by hellameangirl at 10:31 AM on April 12, 2006


Whatisish: Quick research shows that greater than 20% of abortions are performed on girls 19 and younger.

Does your quick research tell you anything about how these girls got pregnant? How many of them had any sex education beyond "no sex before marriage"? How many of the fathers used a condom? How many of them have access to the Pill? How many of them know how to use a spermicide properly (realise that even used correctly every single time spermicides are only 85% effective). How many of them were raped?

No, they must be getting pregnant because they can always have an abortion later. Just like I did. (TWO contraceptives failed.) Or just like my friend who got raped in the middle of her senior year. She obviously chose to have umprotected sex because she could get an abortion later.

Look, so you don't want an abortion. Don't get one. But don't tell me that I'm nothing more than a baby factory, and that I can't get a safe one because of some horseshit about the 'sanctity of life'. What about MY life? Don't I get a say in it?
posted by jlkr at 11:37 AM on April 12, 2006


And to Whatisish and the rest of the "Women who sleep with men are sluts and deserve to be punished with children" contingent, I reiterate the question I always asked the people barricading the clinic:

How many babies have you adopted?

How hard have you fought for a national health care program? After school programs? Day care programs?

How many kids are you fostering in your home?

Because those answers tell me a lot more about where you really stand on the whole "sanctity of life" argument.
posted by dejah420 at 12:07 PM on April 12, 2006


::deep breath::

Ok, so I suppose an apology is in order. I didn't mean to imply that the majority of abortions are performed on women as an alternative to birth control. I based my statement on my own personal experience in high school where a friend of mine had three abortions prior to graduation. I don't know the specific circumstances of each individual case but do know that she was counseled by those around her (friends and parents) to have them. She did, and struggled. Anyhow, I felt that the collective experience was, for lack of a better term, wrong. Painful, difficult, and yet somehow 'casual' and 'matter of fact'.

My experiences beyond this are limited. I recognize the importance of being able to choose for oneself what is best regarding their health and welfare without government interference. I respect those that make the decision with serious comtemplation first.

After more serious thought, I *think* what bothers me most is my perception that, for some (as it eventually became for my friend), it's the default option. I realize my perception may be entirely inaccurate. You'll tell me, I'm sure.

dejah420, I have an adopted sister. While that doesn't qualify me for anything personally, the experience has made me consider doing the same one day. The end.
posted by whatisish at 1:49 PM on April 12, 2006


"I based my statement on my own personal experience in high school where a friend of mine had three abortions prior to graduation."

The plural of "anecdote" is not "data."
posted by klangklangston at 2:05 PM on April 12, 2006


I *think* what bothers me most is my perception that, for some (as it eventually became for my friend), it's the default option.

You know what? It bothers me as well.

The answer, however, is not to ban abortion, but to provide far better sex education, far better access to contraceptives, and to encourage parents to better raise their children.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:33 PM on April 12, 2006


Whatisish, thanks for acknowledging that an apology was in order.

I'd genuinely like to know about the thought processes that led from "One high school friend had 3 abortions because her parents pressured her into it" to "I'm certain that a large percentage of abortions occur without involving any [extenuating] circumstances, [as a result of people] advocating that because a young girl's body is hers, it's acceptable to sleep around, get pregnant, and then get an abortion months down the road - over and over again."

What made you so “certain” (not merely implying), when you had precisely one(!) case to base your beliefs on, that “...a large percentage” of abortions are done as a casual form of birth control?

I mean, it looks to me like a clear case of “My personal experience is Truth for everybody as well as me, so instead of questioning the validity of my own beliefs, I'll cling to the idea that my beliefs jive with reality unless someone spells out in large block letters, over and over again, how they don't.”
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 9:19 PM on April 12, 2006


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