Fetus is a person?
April 26, 2001 12:54 PM   Subscribe

Fetus is a person? The bill's supporters, predominantly Republicans during the debate, denied the measure is anti-abortion, and instead is aimed at punishing criminals who attack pregnant women. It exempts abortions performed with the woman's consent. Is that all it is or is there a set up for further laws, going into abortion and such?
posted by tiaka (38 comments total)
your title says it all. chipping away at abortion by now claiming foetus is a human life while within the body of the mother...next step-------
posted by Postroad at 1:43 PM on April 26, 2001

this is a good example about what offends me the most about the pro life movement. they don't see women as people, but as baby incubators.
this bill does nothing to help prevent violence against women.
posted by saralovering at 1:51 PM on April 26, 2001

I sort of disagree, sara. The implications of the bill are stunningly anti-abortion, but the more literal intention was to provide extra fodder against wife beaters and the like by adding the crime of assault against the fetus on top of assault against the woman.

To me this is very much the thin edge of the wedge. It won't be difficult at all to extrapolate rights of fetuses as people from this to other circumstances, even with the protective language about abortions. I was somewhat astonished to hear a pro-life person actually speaking in favor of this bill on NPR this morning.
posted by briank at 1:57 PM on April 26, 2001

I'm so mad. And I don't even consider myself much of a pro-choice-ist.

I'm pissed because those Republican good ol' boys smile their frat boy smiles and vow their changing the tone and reaching across the aisle. Then the first chance they get, they shove their right-wing agenda down our throats. They're not protecting pregnant women from violence -- they're using them as an excuse to pass their legislation to outlaw abortion!!

I am reminded of a Washington Post article: "George W. Bush and I had a deal. In exchange for me accepting him as president of the United States, he would conduct himself in a moderate, distinctly down-the-middle fashion...."

Compassionate Conservatism, my ass.
posted by jennak at 2:01 PM on April 26, 2001

This bill just passed. Of course it is designed to undermine abortion rights. If a fetus is a person, abortion is murder. If a fetus is part of your body, it isn't.

An alternative measure--which would have protected pregnant victims of crime without the fetal definition--was defeated on a razor-thin party line vote muscled through by Republican white boys.

This is a philosophical, or if you like, religious question. It's not a medical or biological one. For my money a fetus is a potential person, just as a sperm cell is. I don't regard a used condom as evidence of mass murder.
posted by steve_high at 2:03 PM on April 26, 2001

The next step, of course, is to outlaw masturbation. Teenage boys across the land are now declared mass murderers.
posted by owillis at 2:10 PM on April 26, 2001

Whoops. WP article outdated. Here's another URL for article.
posted by jennak at 2:17 PM on April 26, 2001

Jeez guys. If a fetus isn't a person, what is it? An appendage? A tumor?

I realize you have to put up a fight because of the abortion implications, but this is a bit ridiculuous. If you want to keep abortion legal, fine. But don't go trying to tell me that the little person growing inside a woman's womb isn't just that - a little person.
posted by schlyer at 2:33 PM on April 26, 2001

An appendage? A tumor?

silly rhetoric. it's a fetus!
posted by jpoulos at 3:00 PM on April 26, 2001

I could be wrong, but the last time I took a Biology class, a sperm cell wasn't a potential person.
posted by Julia2100 at 3:01 PM on April 26, 2001

This was covered on a small scale on Edgecase not long ago. I thought the comments were interesting (as I made most of them), and might be worth the time of those reading this thread.

My thoughts are cinnamon flavored.
posted by thirteen at 3:08 PM on April 26, 2001

This is exactly the kind of shit that I worry about. Everyone always says, "oh, they won't make abortion illegal." No, they won't do it outright. They'll do it slowly, under the guise of "protection," and they'll wittle away a woman's right to control her body.
posted by megnut at 4:25 PM on April 26, 2001

this topic is discussed extensively in Jean Schroedel's book - is a fetus a person: a comparison of policies across 50 states. in the course of her research she found (among other things) that

(1) statutes like this are often used against the pregnant women themselves (e.g. criminal penalties for drug use while pregnant) rather than against 3rd-party attackers, such as abusive spouses; and

(2) that the same states that have statutes that treat fetuses as persons are the states that provide the least protection and/or services for women and children (such as funding for education, etc.)

this is about controlling women, not protecting them.
posted by ira at 4:44 PM on April 26, 2001

I had an egg for breakfast.Was this a "potential chicken"? {Possibly. But it wasn't a chicken.
posted by Postroad at 6:15 PM on April 26, 2001

owillis: The next step, of course, is to outlaw masturbation.

Sing along…
posted by rodii at 6:32 PM on April 26, 2001

Hey, Julia? I got yer Biology class, swingin'.

This is not about Biology. It's about Philosophy and the right for you and I to have different ones about what potential life is.

My philosophy is, if you don't want to have an abortion, I won't make you.
posted by steve_high at 6:43 PM on April 26, 2001

An auspicious debut.

Here's an experiment. Take your "swingin'", generate some sperm cells and see how many of them develop into human beings by themselves.

Alternatively, and more in your philosophy line, try a sequitur next time.
posted by rodii at 7:18 PM on April 26, 2001

I think "Fetus is a person!" is a phrase that deserves a catchy tune to be sung to, like "Lobster sticks to magnet!" or "Monkey vs. Robot!"
posted by kindall at 7:55 PM on April 26, 2001

Kindall: Sing it to the tune, "Dude looks like a lady".

I don't think there's a problem in saying an embryo isn't a person; I do think there's a problem saying an embryo isn't a human - though not a fully "gestated" one.

We povide a different set of rights for human young to human adults. Why not provide a third set for unborn humans? The bugbear in the closet (or whatever the phrase is) for pro-choicers is that, undeniably, a human fetus will grow up to be a human child (unlike sperm or egg by themselves). There is no way of avoiding that issue. It has to be talked about, not dismissed as "rhetoric".

I fully agree that women should have control over their bodies. I think there are huge moral ramifications over abortion that pro-choicers tend to ignore. There isn't a clear distinction of where the woman's body ends and the baby's body starts. There isn't a clear distinction when a fetus becomes a baby. There are so many views and sides of this debate that, for the most part, discussion usually decides nothing.

Psychologically, a woman in an situation where abortion is an option *needs* to psychologically detach themselves from thinking about the fetus as a child, otherwise bringing themselves to have the abortion becomes exceedingly difficult, both morally and physically. Having been in the situation where abortion was an option (caveat: not taken) I can tell you that thinking about the fetus as a "fetus" helps to take the emotion out of the decision. Ultimately, though, the decision is an emotive one, and one you can only make from the perspective of the "now".

Much talk about fetuses (or little-humans or whatever) tends to reside in the possiblities. What *may* happen, for instance: Will the baby have Down's Syndrome, will it be fatal to give birth, will I be able to afford it, will the baby become president of the free world... sometimes it is hard to think about the present: does the fetus have the capability for thought *right now*.

I don't you'll find a Government that will EVER make abortion illegal once it has become legal. They may make tighter regulations on when and where and why, though. Some of it might even turn out to be quite sensible. After all, the Government has set up a whole bunch of rules about what you can and can't do to yourself and others (suicide, drugs, rape, murder). There is always a lot of outcry when "The Government" tries to legislate anything, be it ultimately good or bad.

Of course, as a cynical bastard I believe the Government rarely has the interests of anyone other than money making at heart, so...
posted by Neale at 8:17 PM on April 26, 2001

The best part about all of this would be taxing fetuses.
posted by shagoth at 8:19 PM on April 26, 2001

Or suing them.
posted by Neale at 8:23 PM on April 26, 2001

I think it's important to note that some democrats in the house did vote for this.
posted by Doug at 8:57 PM on April 26, 2001

>>Jeez guys. If a fetus isn't a person, what is it? An appendage? A tumor?

A tumor would be the best analogy. And the best methods of preventing this illness are vasectomy and tubal ligation. Short of that, however, abortion is also a great technique (and is, at any rate, far preferable to childbirth).
posted by johnb at 9:20 PM on April 26, 2001

I think it's important to note that some democrats in the house did vote for this.

These are commonly referred to as "spineless wussies".
posted by owillis at 9:54 PM on April 26, 2001

Owillis, I think we're going to have to agree to agree.
posted by Doug at 10:18 PM on April 26, 2001

"I think it's important to note that some democrats in the house did vote for this."

True. Also some Republican crossover.

Neither the final vote nor the first vote on the Lofgren substitute amendment was quite as partisan as it appeared from the numbers.
posted by steve_high at 10:29 PM on April 26, 2001

A fetus is nothing more than a parasite if you look at it role..
posted by ellis at 10:34 PM on April 26, 2001

true. but tumors don't pop out of you and start dancing around (and/or living), cool as that would be.

sorry, devil's advocating. i think this is absolutely despicable. they're using someone else's pain to accomplish their goal and cause more pain for more women. revolting. well, how long before the abortion bills start coming down the pipes, do you think?
posted by pikachulolita at 10:49 PM on April 26, 2001

What I love is the fact that all these Republicans who decry the "imperial federal government interjecting itself into every aspects of our lives and passing laws that are the pervue of local or state governments" jumped on this baby like Al Gore at a breakfast buffet.

Hypocrisy, thy name is G.O.P.
posted by darren at 5:48 AM on April 27, 2001

Someone please tell me I'm not the only one who suddenly started thinking of Margaret Atwood's A Handmaid's Tale while scrolling down this thread. CREEPY.

(OT, but darren, should that have been "Bill Clinton or Ted Kennedy at a breakfast buffet?" I can't think of any instance where I've ever read Gore referred to as a glutton or gourmand or even tubby, so him + buffet don't really mean anything to me)
posted by lia at 6:58 AM on April 27, 2001

Foetus is a person
posted by talos at 7:26 AM on April 27, 2001

lia: Apparently, ALGORE2000 has put on some noticable body mass since the election. Whether he's decided to let himself go since (hopefully) leaving politics for good, or his replicant biology is starting to break down, I couldn't tell you.
posted by harmful at 7:30 AM on April 27, 2001

Lia, Gore has put on an estimated 40 pounds since the election, a cause for great hilarity for this Okie sleasebag.

In classic tank job style, the writer points out that Gore worked for the federal government most of his life (like that's a bad thing). He neglects to mention that two of those years were spent as an enlisted man in the Army including five months volunteered duty in the mud.

I guess he should have lived off his parents like Bush. God forbid anybody should work for the government.

Gore's weight gain indicates to me that he's probably not running for anything and who the hell can blame him?
posted by steve_high at 7:48 AM on April 27, 2001

Gore's weight gain indicates he's not running period. ;)

well, how long before the abortion bills start coming down the pipes, do you think?

Well RU-486 had just been approved by the FDA when Bush came into office, and he's ordered a review of it, you know, to make sure it's not dangerous to women and all that junk. So God only knows when, if ever, we'll see it legally and easily available.
posted by megnut at 8:55 AM on April 27, 2001

I don't you'll find a Government that will EVER make abortion illegal once it has become legal. They may make tighter regulations on when and where and why, though. Some of it might even turn out to be quite sensible.

It doesn't matter if it's nor per se illeagal. They can make it so restrictive and regulated that the effect is the same. This has already happened in several Western states where all the doctors have been regulated, harrased, and intimidated to the point where there are no abortion services for the women living there. The same thing in states requiring parental consent. Many women under 18 are effectively barred from getting an abortion.
posted by sixdifferentways at 11:17 AM on April 27, 2001

It does so matter if it's illegal.

This is a frontal attack on abortion rights, since there is no right to commit homicide.

If a fetus is a person, then you can't kill him or her.

The chickenshit harrassment that has shut down abortion access in places like North Dakota is nothing compared to what this country will be like when zygotes get the vote.

My advice? Start working NOW on electing a pro-choice Congress in 2002.
posted by steve_high at 11:32 AM on April 27, 2001

they don't see women as people, but as baby incubators.

Or maybe they just see fetuses as people, rather than just an annoyance. I mean, what's the difference between a late-second-trimester fetus (totally dependent on the mother for every aspect of living) that could probably survive outside the womb given proper medical attention and a three-month-old baby who still totally depends on its mother for food and on its parents for every other aspect of its care (but which could probably survive without its parents given proper medical attention)? If abortion is an acceptable action to take in the first case, is infanticide an acceptable action to take in the latter case? At the very least, infanticide is much safer for the mother (assuming childbirth posed no extraordinary risks).

As for this bill, you have to agree that if a person is anti-abortion because he/she believes that a fetus is a distinct human life, then it would be inconsistent not to support a law such as this that creates criminal penalties for harming such a person.

It's too bad they're spinning it as a way to prevent violence against women, though, because that's definitely not what's intended. It is, however, a good method for intimidating weak-willed Democrats into voting for it. (Picture this campaign ad next year: "Representative Smith may say he's concerned about women's issues, but last year he voted against a bill to stiffen penalties for perpertrators of violence against women. Is that the type of representative you want in your Congress?")

This probably sounds like a pro-life argument, but really, I'm in the middle on this issue (which is probably a worse place to be... I get sick of both sides of the argument). The overwhelming sentiment in this thread seems to be pro-choice, so I feel an obligation to play devil's advocate.... sorry.

Neale, that was a great comment. <applause>
posted by daveadams at 11:55 AM on April 27, 2001

Thanks. It took me ages to think up "Or suing them." but I think the timing made it work.
posted by Neale at 5:24 PM on April 27, 2001

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