Pregnancy: Health and Human Rights

by: Natasha Chart

Mon Nov 16, 2009 at 11:00


I remember the day in 1997 when I listened to my doctor tell me that I had a very large ovarian cyst, also, that I was likely to have a miscarriage. She said it was good that my body seemed to be taking care of things on its own, because the cyst could rupture and hemorrhage and they couldn't operate if I was pregnant because it was a Catholic hospital.

My doctor wasn't mean about it, she just couldn't give me this operation that she'd told me about a minute previous I needed to avert a threat to my life.

I was lucky that I miscarried. As the hormone-induced changes in the cyst caused pain that made it hard to stand upright in a matter of days, it's a good that I didn't have to go through the trouble of finding another hospital covered under my insurance. I went quickly from the terror of waiting to know if I could get that operation to the grim realities of going through it and recovering.

It turned out all right, but I've always remembered since then that I once sat helpless in a doctor's office watching her eyes slide away from mine to the floor as she refused to say anything when I pressed her to tell me what would happen if there wasn't a natural miscarriage. She just skipped ahead to how someone with my blood test results wasn't going to be pregnant much longer.

Opponents of abortion like to center their arguments around the fetus and talk about whether it's a person. Which basically means to me that they don't think women are people with the basic right to determine the conditions of their lives and what will happen to their bodies, who can be forced to suffer or die because it will make someone else feel better.

Because even without the problems I had, this is what pregnancy can do to a woman's body.  

Natasha Chart :: Pregnancy: Health and Human Rights
Just hitting the highlights, there's the risk of: scarring, trauma to the pelvic floor, permanent damage to pelvic floor muscles, drain on bone density (which can be significantly worsened by nursing), permanent weight gain, broken bones and dislocated ribs, anemia, urinary incontinence, depression (which can't be treated with medication), headaches, loss of future fertility, forced c-sections, susceptibility to infection, incomplete miscarriage, getting kicked constantly in the gut, circulatory disorders (temporary or permanent), induced diabetes, hemorrhage, curtailment of activities or mandatory bed rest, frequent vomiting, debilitating vomiting, exhaustion, pain.

The serious downside to most of those should be obvious, but don't laugh about the inclusion of permanent weight gain in the list of physical risks, either. Only the dishonest and the clueless won't admit that women's economic success, and potential romantic success with new partners, is far more dependent on conforming to a beauty norm that favors slimness than men's is. The existence of men who find women attractive after childbirth or stay with their partners for life, or women who can bounce back to their original physiques, doesn't negate the point. Having a child in bad circumstances, or with a partner whose affection fades later, is a subtle negative pressure in ways large and small working against successful new beginnings.

And, oh yes, the pain. For which no medication can be taken up until it practically doesn't matter anymore. Speaking of which, if you get sick or have a broken bone during pregnancy, you mostly can't take anything for it if you want to continue a healthy pregnancy.

What on earth gives anyone the right to put another human being through all of that? Nothing.

Most women will go ahead and have a child anyway at some time in their lives, which is fine if that's what they want. There are compensations, though that really isn't the point.

The point is that it's a sacrifice, and a serious one that poses an unknowable risk to every pregnant woman of permanent physical damage or degradation of bodily function. Or death.

Pregnancy and childbirth were once routine causes of death for women in the US, as pregnancy and birth still are for women around the world with poor access to medical care, and as they still occasionally can be among women with excellent medical care. Even beyond directly pregnancy or birth-related maternal mortality, the leading cause of death among pregnant women in the US is murder, as pregnancy can be another proximal excuse for abusers to totally lose their sh*t.

Then there are other potential problems beyond these immediate health threats.

Let's start with the economic. Within careers, pregnancy and motherhood both make women permanent targets for workplace discrimination and assumptions of incompetence. So if a woman wants to support that child, she is at a greater economic disadvantage from the moment she starts to show until retirement, greater, that is, than the economic disadvantage she likely already faced just being a woman. Pregnancy and childbirth are also significant risk factors for homelessness, particularly among teens, in which case they are likely to face higher risks of violent attack.

Speaking of abuse, again, pregnancy itself can be a goal of partner abuse. An abuser may withold or sabotage birth control methods or bully his partner into unprotected sex with the aim of making her more compliant and dependent on him. If she tries to leave later, the abuser can use the children as a weapon against her for years and years and years. In situations like these, restrictions on abortion access directly enable domestic abusers.

Were you aware that domestic abuse is extremely costly, both to women and society, in terms of lost lifetime earnings and productivity? The US DoJ estimated in 1996 that it costs $67 billion every year. Do you think the price tag might have gone up in the last decade? Add that to the cognitive impairment associated with domestic abuse (ooh, that's a real winner in the job market), the economic disadvantage that women usually start with, then the economic disadvantages that come with motherhood, and you may begin to get an idea of the gross injustice that it is to enact policies that can reinforce patterns of abuse against women who can't afford to walk away.

One in three women will be abused in her lifetime, as I was, which is about a sixth of the US population. I daresay there's some overlap there with the one in three of us who will decide that she needs to have an abortion in her lifetime.

There's nothing equivalently risky that men can legally be forced to do, or are even likely to be asked to do, aside from being on the front lines of a war zone.  

If a woman's right to decide that she just can't handle this ridiculous level of risk at a given time, or that her body simply can't take anymore, or that she can't outlast the depression it may trigger, is regarded as irrelevant, then no one really has any inalienable rights (via) at all.

If you're a Democrat who doesn't get that all restrictions on abortion are human rights violations, we aren't on the same team.

Update: link added.


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don't agree (4.00 / 1)
I don't agree that all restrictions on abortion are human rights violations. You accuse the prolifers of focusing on the fetus to the exclusion of the woman carrying the baby, but you are simply doing the reverse. There still is a fetus and a society has a right to safeguard the lives of its members.
There is disagreement over what constitutes the life of a member, but lets not pretend that passing through the vagina somehow magically imbues the fetus with personhood. It's very reasonable to restrict abortion at some point before birth.  

usually the test used in arguments of this kind is 'viability' or something like it (4.00 / 2)
not birth.  however, as a man, i've often felt that this decision about the social norms and legality of it should be left up to women entirely.  it's not really my choice to even have an opinion about it really.

there are pro-life women and there are pro-choice women, but the point is that they are perfectly capable of weighing the risks of pregnancy, restrictions on women's freedoms, and the itnerests of the embryo/fetus withotu interference from 'society.'   so i would be happy to concede your point if you would be willing to allow women in society and in congress to be legally empowered to make all decisions concerning abortion rights, access, funding etc. at the federal level henceforth.


[ Parent ]
I was commenting on her statement (0.00 / 1)
That any restriction on abortion was a human rights violation. Clearly that is unreasonable, and the viability test that you mention is one said restriction given in Roe V Wade. Perhaps the author disagrees with Roe V Wade, but I think her statement was unreasonable.

Oh and no, I don't believe that because one is incapable of  carrying a child he is released from this moral issue or excluded from it. That's just silly.


[ Parent ]
There is nothing unreasonable about it, (4.00 / 4)
once you accept the premise that women are human beings. That seems to be your stumbling block.

Montani semper liberi

[ Parent ]
it's not that men COULDN'T do it - they do it all the time (4.00 / 1)
it's just that women are likely to be able to do it a lot better.  A LOT.

people who are directly affected by an issue tend to be the people you want as a core of a decisionmaking body on the issues that affect them.  particularly, in a case like this, where there generally speaking isn't an inherent conflict of interest between women and fetuses and women are just as likely to take into account almost all the considerations that men are, and more, because of greater knowledge.


[ Parent ]
I don't buy it (0.00 / 0)
The same logic applies to barren women, and of course women past their child baring years. Their opinions are somehow diminished on this matter because of their ability to make babies? I don't agree. I don't think that a woman's moral responsibility is somehow abrogated or that her opinions are less worthy based on the condition of uterus.

And again you are forgetting the group who, arguably, is most affected by the decision: the fetus. That's where society has the obligation to safeguard its members. The North didn't dodge its moral responsibility to oppose slavery in the south based on its own inability to own slaves, nor would we accept that their opinions were somehow inferior based on that fact.

The opinions should be weighed on their own merits.  


[ Parent ]
Let me ask you a question: (0.00 / 0)
Is rape wrong? If so, why?

Montani semper liberi

[ Parent ]
Because you seem to value fetuses (0.00 / 0)
above anything else. Rape can result in fetuses. Therefore, rape must be good, right?

Montani semper liberi

[ Parent ]
i'm not forgetting anyone (0.00 / 0)
i'm well aware of what silencing people means ;)  

what i've argued is that a community of women (as a shorthand - you can replace it with whatever group you want provided you offer grounds for doing so that make sense) is not just AS well placed to undersatnd the interests of 'the fetus', but probably even more so than 'society' which routinely engages in or permits massive amounts of violence against children, before and after birth.  as a result, it doesn't diminish attention to the welfare of fetuses by putting the question in the hands of women - the only way you could believe that is if you thought that women collectively didn't give a f"£k what happens to fetuses, which is quite obviously not the case.

what i've been trying to communicate is that when you say 'society' it's not a neutral term.  the example i have given of a process to make policy on abortion and reproductive health may not be your preferred solution, it's incumbent upon you to demonstrate how your solution (society regulating individuals) is going to mitigate society's own gender biases, which I've given ample examples of above, given that the 'individuals' most affected are women.  

until you do that, any solution that argues that 'society' needs to regulate individual women is going to be fatally flawed.  which is usually what you find when you find that people invoke 'society' to defend 'voiceless' individuals or groups from X,Y, or Z.  It's a poor construction of how to make decisions.


[ Parent ]
Perfection is not the standard, but Democracy (0.00 / 0)
I am not uncomfortable or unfamiliar with the proposition that society is flawed. Still, we make decisions as a democracy, a flawed one. We do not exclude groups based on their identity, their education, their class, and so on from participating or at least we shouldn't.

It may or may not be that those who are able to have children are better able to understand the abortion issue. Nearly half of abortions are received by people getting repeat abortions. I hardly credit them with some unique understanding for this deeply contextual and agonizing of decisions. No, in fact, for them I wonder if it is more of an irresponsible method of birth control. Whatever the case may be, we can not duck our moral responsibility on this issue based on our ability to have children, and we cannot expect our ovaries will make our arguments any stronger.


[ Parent ]
Democracy? (4.00 / 1)
Our socirty is a limited democracy.  It is not OK to take away rights if the majority wants to do that.  Why is this one right different?

[ Parent ]
I agree (0.00 / 0)
Society has the right and obligation to protect its members. The criteria the Supreme Court used was viability,which I think is a reasonable standard.

I do not think that society can put all abortion up to a vote or some such, because that would be going outside a reasonable standard to identify those worthy of protection. Using religious standards is not sufficient. So restrictions based on viability, which consider the health and life of the mother do meet the intent to protect lives and can surely be implemented in a democracy.


[ Parent ]
but you refuse to confront the central issue (4.00 / 1)
i've asked you several times - how does 'society' make its decisions on this issue, given that 'society' is highly gender biased by the way you seem to suggest (which is using the existing political legislative and policy processes).  There are a ton of other ways to make policy choices - which organisations, government agencies, and others show us on a daily basis.  

I have not suggested at any point in this thread that a) your concerns are invalid or b) that they should be dismissed without argument.  All I have asked is that you acknowledge the bias in the way that decisions about particular groups of people are made (here, women, and others) and that you put forward a way to actually resolve them.  Otherwise, all you would be doing by articulating your viewpoint is reinforcing and potentially exacerbating gender bias, using 'the fetus' as the defenceless victim to justify it.  You have done the first (acknowledgement), but you have refused to do the second (acceptance and developing alternative views on that basis).

To look at it another way, in India, selective aborting of female fetuses is a huge issue.  The arguments that are used here about individual choice vs. societal obligation would largely fail.  The point being that the common thread is gender bias and inattention to the people who are most disempowered.  

In both cases, if you empower the person who is most directly affected (the pregnant person) to make the choice, without pressure from family, religious people, etc., and engage in preventative work to ensure that gender biases are reduced through a variety of ways, and ensure that whatever economic or other factors are remediated that promote this kind of thing, then you will go a long way in not only reducing abortions (which no one thinks are superfun ;) but also in ensuring that the choices that are made abotu them are reflectve of the interests of the people most affected rather than those least affected.

That is what democracy means to me (which goes as far back at least as 'no taxation without representation)


[ Parent ]
the greater harm? (0.00 / 0)
I accept that society in all of its capacities and in all of its decisions is imperfect, biased, shortsighted. I don't believe its my responsibility to come up with some better form of government than the one we have. Maybe you are saying that it would be a greater harm to have any restriction than the current harm? That does trouble me and concern me. It's a much more persuasive argument than the offensive feminist screed of reducing the fetus to that of a parasite or "bloody mass" and insisting that any concern to the contrary is one based in misogyny.

In the US, there are many ways to reduce abortion that are much more effective than restricting abortion, but that doesn't mean that restriction of abortion isn't allowed and shouldn't be undertook by our government in certain circumstances as I've outlined.

While we are on the subject, the problem I have with the prolife and prochoice camps on the abortion issue is their lack of intellectual honesty on the matter. The prolife camp pursues all sorts of foolish policies like restriction of birth control, abstinence education, poor sexual education, lack of financial and medical support for pregnant mothers and so forth. Further, they pursue restrictive laws that supposedly address a narrow concern, but their intent is the wholesale criminalization of abortion (except in the morally inconsistent cases of rape and incest.) Then on the prochoice side you hear how they want to reduce abortion and want it to be safe legal and rare, but will agree to no restriction whatsoever when you actually test them on their supposed reasonableness. The entire moral argument of what constitutes a member of our society worthy of protection is totally ignored.  Now, If you ask me which camp is the more grievous, I'd answer the Prolife camp.


[ Parent ]
"Maybe you are saying that it would be a greater harm to have any restriction than the current harm?" (0.00 / 0)
What i am saying is that the inmates are running the asylum.

if it were your sister, your mother, your cousin, your daughter - who decided to have an abortion, would you trust them and want them to be able to decide, with the counsel of the people they trusted? or would you want a male-dominated and sexist congress or state legislature?  

This is, in fact, what it boils down to in America.  Whose judgement do you trust more, given what we have today?


[ Parent ]
curious (0.00 / 0)
to hear a liberal arguing for less government by reason of its ineffectiveness or its nefarious intents. The author makes the same claim for why she sees any restriction (even ones she agrees are reasonable) as violations of a human right. I think it is a compelling claim, and I am not sure. I think it is fundamentally a more harm argument and it might be right.

I'm not certain, and I don't trust the one's who are.  


[ Parent ]
marx did not have many nice things to say about the state (0.00 / 0)
so a healthy skepticism about the government is far from the province of the rightwing and libertarianism doesn't have to mean blind adherent to freemarket economics and a textual reading of the constitution.

:)


[ Parent ]
No answer? (0.00 / 0)
Of course not. If rape is wrong forced childbirth cannot be right.

After all, they are both based on the same principle, that male needs override female autonomy.

Montani semper liberi


[ Parent ]
it's not that men wouldn't be able to do it - they already do make policy (0.00 / 0)
it's just that women are likely to be able to do it a lot better.  A LOT.

people who are directly affected by an issue tend to be the people you want as a core of a decisionmaking body on the issues that affect them.  particularly, in a case like this, where there generally speaking isn't an inherent conflict of interest between women and fetuses and women are just as likely to take into account almost all the considerations that men are, and more, because of greater knowledge.


[ Parent ]
No, it isn't. (4.00 / 4)
What gives YOU the right to put a person through pregnancy and childbirth against her will? Seriously, you need to examine that sense of entitlement because it is causing you to fall into a grievous moral error.

Montani semper liberi

[ Parent ]
The question is (0.00 / 1)
What gives society the right, and the answer to that is society has a right and obligation to protect the lives of its members. We may disagree on what qualifies for protection, but that doesn't make any and all restriction unreasonable.

[ Parent ]
Not society, you. (4.00 / 2)
You are not society.

Montani semper liberi

[ Parent ]
Is it ever "reasonable" to withold medical care from a patient? (0.00 / 0)
Especially, medical procedures that they want and require?

Repeating that such is reasonable does not make it so. Please explain how and why it is reasonable to withold needed medical care?



"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


[ Parent ]
all the time (0.00 / 0)
I can think of countless examples where it is best to withold medical care from a patient, but I don't see how this has anything to do with what we are discussing.

[ Parent ]
Women are patients (4.00 / 1)
and abortions are medical care.

Please, cite one or two examples of the "countless" times it is best to withold medical care.  

"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


[ Parent ]
ok, but it really has nothing to do with this discussion (0.00 / 0)
 just for you:

A patient gets in a car wreck and is brought to the hospital. The doctor X-rays the patient and completes an examination (the patient has no numbness, has full movement and so on) and she decides that the patient almost certainly does not suffer from a fracture in her neck or spine. Now the patient requests a CAT scan because the CAT scan can totally rule it out. The problem with the CAT scan is it has radiation which will up this person's chance of getting cancer in the future. In this situation it is better on the whole to deny the patient the requested health care, even though the CAT scan would bring the benefit of greater certainty.

Other examples are surgeries when exercise or physical therapy would work nearly as well, or some cancers that are better to monitor than to aggressively treat and so on.

This really doesn't advance my argument about abortion one iota and it doesn't help yours either, which why I pointed out earlier it was an ineffective line of reasoning on your part.


[ Parent ]
We're starting to get passed your condescension (0.00 / 0)
because now we can begin to see why this line of questioning is relevant. You are correct, it does not advance your argument because it offers no justification for withholding abortion services from your fellow citizens. That was my point, see?

All of the cases you cite are legitimate. Each also has a viable alternative that must be accepted by the patient or if they are incapacitated their legal guardian.  Bottomline: all done with patient approval.

You've not denied, nor can you deny, that abortion is a medical procedure. Therefore, in order to match the examples you cite, an alternative must be offered to the patient. An alternative to which they will agree.

What alternative, other than forced childbirth, do you offer to those fellow citizens who wish to have an abortion?


"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


[ Parent ]
Their wishes do not trump the interest to protect life (0.00 / 0)
Using the standard set forth in ROe V Wade of viability, at some point the fetus is offered protection from the state. Of course the life and health of the mother is taken into account and the viability of the fetus. In certain cases the fetus is and ought to be protected by the state regardless of the wishes of the individual carrying the fetus, because the interest of protecting life trumps the narrower interests of the mother.

The alternative to having an abortion is obviously to carry the child to term, and I need not provide any other. As long as the health and well being of the mother is taken into account, and having the child will not put her at great harm or risk. After all, in the cases where the restriction of abortion is warranted, abortion is always an unnecessary medical procedure. This is where your medical services line of reasoning falls apart at the seams. Really, the only argument you are making is the sovereignty of the woman's body, which is not sovereign over a viable fetus by definition.


[ Parent ]
On what bases? (0.00 / 0)
In certain cases the fetus is and ought to be protected by the state regardless of the wishes of the individual carrying the fetus, because the interest of protecting life trumps the narrower interests of the mother.

After all, in the cases where the restriction of abortion is warranted, abortion is always an unnecessary medical procedure.

Two statements with nothing more than your narrow moral code to back them up.


"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


[ Parent ]
that's false (0.00 / 0)
I've explained over and over that the base is
1) the interest of society to protect its own members
a) the viability of the fetus
b) the consideration for the long term health and life of the mother

#1 is the base
a establishes the members worthy of protection
b) limits a)based on the woman's rights

Obviously the base is sound, I don't think you can argue that a community does not have the right to protect its members.

You can argue that you simply don't accept the viability standard and claim that birth is a better standard. That's fine, but we disagree. I continue to point out, that so too does established law.


[ Parent ]
Not about personhood (0.00 / 0)
of the potential child.

It is about the personhood of the potential mother.

We can argue about 1a, but it would all be beside the point because we'll likely never agree. Depends upon the working definition of "viable". I take it to mean that the fetus/child can survive outside the womb without long term requirement of life sustaining technologies and with some potential of developing into a rational, thinking person. At the same time, I recognize that there is an implicit assumption in that definition. It presupposes that someone will be there to care for the child after it is born. A mother. A family. Someone.

If that someone is not there, is unwilling, or unable to fulfill that responsibility - even as a society, that situation impacts the decision, in my opinion.

On #1 and point b. I may agree on the face of it, but I reject your attempt to impose your moral code on the rest of your fellow citizens when interpreting WHICH citizens to protect and HOW those rights are protected. Your claim that the solutions you propose fulfill point b is directly contradicted by many of the comments here.

Forcing women to bear children violates the rights of the women. By not accepting that premise, you are violating your own assertion that "society must protect its own members".


"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


[ Parent ]
It is front and center (0.00 / 0)
Of course it is about the personhood of the child, the mother's personhood is already established. That is why b) is important and necessary limitation. But the question of whether and when a fetus is a life is most definitely what this issue is about. You go on to admit that you accept the viability standard, and then your objections break down into incoherence. As I've pointed out before, the dependent state of a member of society does not render the member a nonmember. Just as someone must take care of the disabled, incapacitated and so on. You are right that we may not come to agreement, but we ought to be able to come to a clear understanding of what each of us is saying.

In the case of the viable fetus, the most precious right of all is being violated, so some limitation on the freedom of the mother is warranted.

You would be better off arguing that interference by the government on this issue would cause more harm than it would cure; that very few abortions are received after the first trimester anyway, that it is better to limit abortions through birth control, sex education, prenatal care and so on and that is what we should expend our energy on. That would be far more persuasive than pretending that personhood can be tucked under the rug out of view, and that we can simply blithely ignore the ethical problem of abortion of viable fetuses for inconvenient pregnancies.  


[ Parent ]
sorry bub, it's not "reasonable" at all (4.00 / 2)
i'm not going to bother with explaining why as you obviously have an unreasonable attachment to other people's cells and tissues. there are plenty of better things in this world for you to invest your efforts in protecting. lots of totally born, sad little children who could use your help right now, and probably would say they're not interested in sharing the limited resources they get now with even more unwanted children born thru forced pregnancy. why don't you take your reasoned concern and go help them?

and anyway, so let's say the fetus is a citizen, or whatever. you know what? so long at it's in my body, it's made up of me. my body put that thing together, with my own tissues and cells. if i want to flush that mass down the toilet, there's really nothing you have to do with that. do i have some right to tell you what to do with your balls? that every sperm you produce must be preserved in a jar and never spilled on the floor, because my favorite book of religious myths says so? i can hear their tiny screams all the way from here, won't somebody think of the snowflakes?  


[ Parent ]
Swinging at Strawmen (0.00 / 0)
Actually, I haven't even offered my opinion on what constitutes a person worthy of protection and what doesn't and whether I believe it should be regulated and in what way. All I have done is argue that society has an interest and right to restrict abortion in some way.

The statement I disagreed with was that any restriction on abortion is a violation of human rights. I think that statement was clearly wrong, and the author has admitted as much as far as I could follow her, when she says she doesn't have a problem with late term restrictions in the comments.

So I have argued that her concluding statement was wrong and that, in fact, society has the right in certain circumstances to restrict abortion. In fact, really nothing about your post actually addresses me at all. You've won a devastating victory with some religious person who was arguing that sperm were people too, but I'm still here wondering when you might join the conversation and stop swinging at strawmen.


[ Parent ]
society is not gender equitable (4.00 / 3)
i don't mean to pile on - but i think this is a basic mistake you're making.  

if society was fair to women and more broadly to all people on the basis of gender / sexuality, then your argument about weighing collective interests vs. individual interests might make moer sense.  

but it simply isn't the case - economically (pay gap), socially (openly tolerated sexism and homophobia), culturally (stereotypes, bullying, etc.), politically (look at the composition of Congress compared to the composition of the opulation in terms of sex or the amount of moeny spent on the military compared to the amoutn spent on preventing and responding to domestic violence), and in many other ways, 'society' is gendered - and right now, it is masculinist.

as such, to try and say that there is a collective interest that is 'gender neutral' (let alone sympathetic towards women) that can intervene on this issue is right now pretty utopian.


[ Parent ]
society doesn't pay for prenatal care or childcare (4.00 / 1)
for working mothers. When it does, then I might consider that society is sincerely interested in the welfare of children and mothers.

[ Parent ]
I basically agree (0.00 / 0)
But that doesn't change what I wrote earlier.

The author said that any restriction on abortion was a violation of human rights. That is what I am disagreeing with. In fact, Roe V Wade itself is a restriction on abortion via viability. Not only is restricting abortion often not a violation of a human right, in many cases it is a violation of the most basic human right to not restrict abortion.


[ Parent ]
You keep repeating that (4.00 / 1)
but you refuse to make a case.

And where in the world do your get your "most basic human right not to restrict abortion?" Slave days are over, you can't own human beings.

Montani semper liberi


[ Parent ]
What case would you have me make? (0.00 / 0)
I did not write a front page diary arguing for a certain position. It is not up to me to make any case whatsoever. I disagreed with the author's concluding statement and have argued that in some cases, in fact, society has a right to restrict abortion. That most basic right is to one's life and society has the obligation to step in and safeguard the rights of its members. Now the question becomes: how do we determine where personhood begins?

[ Parent ]
If you have an argument (4.00 / 1)
for why you are entitled to use women's bodies for your own purposes, without their consent, please let's hear it.

Because I really don't believe you have one.

You keep trying to hide behind the skirts of "society" but "society" is an abstraction. You are not society and you don't speak for society. No one voted for you.

Montani semper liberi


[ Parent ]
If you are more comfortable (0.00 / 0)
You can replace the word society with "democracy" or "our country". A community has a right and obligation to safeguard its members.

You may disagree that in this case any members are being harmed. After all, you can say the fetus is not  a person at any time during the pregnancy and therefore it is the woman who is being harassed or inconvenienced or coerced by the State. That, I understand is your position. It's a perfectly reasonable and valid position, it just so happens I disagree with its premises.

I believe the fetus at some point during the pregnancy, becomes a person worthy of protection. Roe V Wade even applied some protection. I think viability is a reasonable criteria for determining personhood, and therefore argue that some restrictions are warranted.

No one indeed voted for me. Although, I once ran for Student Council when I realized the majority of our work was to be on homecoming and blood drives I realized politics wasn't for me. :)


[ Parent ]
Still ducking it. (4.00 / 1)
Like I said, no case.

I don't care what you "feel" or "believe." None of that is relevant to the issue at hand and none of it gives you the right to control female bodies that are not your own.

Get that through your head, and you might become a human being.

Montani semper liberi


[ Parent ]
Sigh... (0.00 / 0)
Indeed I do not have the right to prevent any woman from having an abortion. Like I have said all along, society has that right in certain circumstances and each of us have a moral responsibility in our democracy. That's how we make decisions. But you asked my personal opinion and now reprimand me for offering it.

We disagree. We don't have to do so with name calling and questioning one another's humanity.  


[ Parent ]
No, "society" (4.00 / 1)
does not have the right to force women or girls to endure pregnancy and childbirth against their wills.

It just doesn't.

Montani semper liberi


[ Parent ]
Sure it does (0.00 / 0)
Society asks us to sacrifice and be inconvenienced all the time and often times for something a lot less noble than saving a human life.

Everything from a draft to send people off to war to deciding who gets access to a limited vaccine; and all with the intent to protect life.

As long as the state is applying a reasonable standard and its intent is to protect human life, then the state has the right, and I don't see how abortion is somehow different.


[ Parent ]
No. (4.00 / 1)
A draft must be declared by Congress, and it is limited. And there are deferments, conscientious objector status and draft boards to try to make sure the policy is implemented fairly. A draft usually ends when war is over.

Forced childbirth is different. It is the idea that the government owns all female bodies, of any age,  the minute they become pregnant. It never ends and it is not compatible with democracy in any way shape or form.


Montani semper liberi


[ Parent ]
Who are you attacking here? (4.00 / 1)
No one on Open Left, that I know of, is saying that abortion should be illegal "the minute they become pregnant".  The people who support the Stupak amendment might think that way, but I don't see anyone here defending that point of view.

Some people are arguing that there should be some cases where abortion is illegal or restricted.  I don't see how that's any different from the nuances you pointed out that applies to a military draft.


[ Parent ]
Then you're not paying attention. (4.00 / 1)
The state has to PROVE its right to claim male bodies in time of war. And it is only entitled to some of them, and only for a finite time.

But the argument of forced childbirth starts from the opposite position. The state is entitled to ALL pregnant female bodies and can then decide which ones to spare.

I don't care how "generous" some people are with their ideas of which women and girls deserve mercy, and under what conditions. The whole thing is barbarous and decent people want no part of it.

Montani semper liberi


[ Parent ]
It's the same as with the draft (4.00 / 1)
The government does not, as you claim, get to control all pregnant females by default.

The state has to PROVE its right to claim male bodies in time of war. And it is only entitled to some of them, and only for a finite time.

Just as it is with the draft, with pregnant females, the state is "only entitled to some of them" (those in the last trimester of pregnancy, further restrictions under state law notwithstanding) "and only for a finite time" (until the fetus is delivered).  It's the same thing.

And the state is justifying this intervention on the grounds that it has an interest in protecting the life of the (viable) fetus.  You may very well be right that some pro-lifers have an ulterior motive to enslave the female gender, but you can't fairly accuse everyone who doesn't think abortion anytime, anywhere is the right way to go of being soulless misogynist monsters.


[ Parent ]
You can't force anyone to donate an organ (4.00 / 8)
... in other circumstances, why should they be forced to act as a life support system?

Generally, when a pregnancy gets to the third trimester, abortion is only medically advisable when the health or life of the mother is at risk. In Canada, where there are no laws against abortion, somewhere around 90 percent of them are performed in the first trimester when it's safest and easiest. Very few abortions are performed late in the pregnancy, with doctors generally only willing to perform them for health reasons.

I'm actually fine with that, because its a standard of care that's been determined via consensus in the medical profession and with ample consideration made for women's health, autonomy and access to care. Because Canadian women don't have to scrabble for extra money to cover the procedure, because they don't have to take multiple days off to comply with waiting periods or lack of local access to care, they rarely have to wait until even the second trimester.

They have achieved, in fact, a state of equilibrium that seems perfectly acceptable to me and to most people who consider viability the standard, by starting from the premise that this is the business of a woman and her doctor and that women will have full access to this and all other medical treatments she might need.

In the US, where access even to contraception may be spotty for women, where crisis pregnancy centers masquerading as women's health clinics may lie about test results and give women the runaround until it's too late, where the poorest of women may have no choice because of their poverty, I think all our laws against it are unjust in practice and should be repealed.

And based on some of your arguments, state governments have instituted retrograde consent laws, they've imprisoned pregnant women they suspected of behaving in ways that authorities thought might pose a risk to a gestating fetus, women have been denied needed medical care because it might harm a fetus, and have allowed hospitals to secure court orders to force women to have c-sections at the insistence of the doctor alone over what is mainly a convenience issue for the hospital.

My bottom line is that the woman should always be considered a person and should not be forced to undergo what, in any other context, would be a violation of her human rights and bodily integrity if not freely chosen.  


[ Parent ]
the viability standard is a restriction by definition (0.00 / 0)
So clearly we have an exception to your closing statement. What do we take viability to mean? Is it the fetus can survive on its own without any help or aid whatsoever or do we take it to mean that the fetus can survive with the help of modern medicine?

By the standard as I understand it, women are restricted from having abortions in the third trimester. I think that is a reasonable restriction as long as the longterm health of the mother is considered; it's certainly not a violation of a human right. We don't have the right not to be inconvenienced. I think an argument can be made for the second trimester restriction as well under the viability standard.

Your organ analogy falls  a bit flat because it makes a category error between the possible saving of a life and the possible destruction of a life. But, still I think it does a good job at illustrating why the state should not be permitted to force the woman to carry the pregnancy to term if there is danger to the life or long term health of the mother.  


[ Parent ]
In Canada, it's a medical, not an inflexible legal standard (0.00 / 0)
By fluid, mostly agreed on consensus, Canadian society has arrived at this as a general standard of practice. They have done so without passing any law.

My objection is to the legal restrictions, particularly here, under the circumstances US women face right now.

In a country where women often don't have access to contraception, where sex education is grimly lacking in states offering ineffectual abstinence-only training to teenagers, where a third of women are abused, where the leading cause of death in pregnancy is murder, where local governments often put harsh, discriminatory restrictions on reproductive health clinics (clinics that abortion services have been segregated into because they're too 'icky' to provide at regular hospitals), yes, I think all our laws against abortion are discriminatory in practice.

Just because I can see not having a problem with the Canadian system doesn't mean I support discrimination in the law based on essentially religious conceptions surrounding the viability of tissue that is literally sucking the life force of its host. If you want to describe that as an "inconvenience", you can go to hell.


[ Parent ]
That's not what I said (0.00 / 0)
But don't you agree that legal restrictions came with Roe V Wade? I am having difficulty understanding what you mean by restriction. DO you simply mean anything after Roe V Wade or anything interpretive of Roe V Wade?

I agree with everything you wrote in paragraph two. I would even argue that much of the energy to restrict abortion in the US comes from a totalitarian religious view aimed at ending all abortion, rather than the limits they are supposedly arguing for. That doesn't mean laws should not be passed to restrict abortions based on viability.

I was not describing your pregnancy as an inconvenience. I assume that's what you meant when you described "the viability of tissue that is literally sucking the life force of its host" I did not refer to your story at all. I said that the state did not have the right to coerce a woman to have a child if the longterm health or life of the mother was threatened. I clearly said that, so please know that I don't in any way think of whta you went through as a mere inconvenience. I think it's a fucking travesty. I just didn't agree with the concluding point of what you wrote.  


[ Parent ]
You misunderstand (4.00 / 2)
Hardly surprising, but look, every fetus is literally draining its mother's life force. That's fine if that's what she wants, it's not anyone's right to insist on otherwise. It's always, in every single case, a great deal more than an inconvenience.

And let me say this again, just to be crystal clear: I don't support any legal restrictions on abortion.

I don't find that incompatible with my lack of offense at people thinking that viability is the point at which to draw the line. They are as free to follow that standard as a Catholic woman would be to refuse an abortion even if it means her death. They just shouldn't be free to make it a law about it, in my opinion.

Indeed, I have less of a problem with the person who said they absolutely believe abortion is wrong but don't support any laws against it than I do with someone like yourself claiming to be in favor of reproductive rights but holding that the state has an interest in a woman's body as if it were her legal guardian.

The Canadian government decided that this was a decision that could be entrusted to women who had been empowered with a full range of health choices. What they ended up with was a system where by and large, the standard of viability you're holding up as a fig leaf isn't even an issue. Ninety percent of Canadian abortions occur in the first trimester. 90. And there's no legal enshrinement of the government's right to interfere, or any statutory nose-holding over the inherent ickiness of women's healthcare, so they don't have to keep wasting huge amounts of political capital on this bs.

They trusted women, they kept their noses out, and the result is one that could hardly be better if in fact the government had restricted abortion to the first trimester only, barring health, life, rape and incest exceptions.  


[ Parent ]
No it's not (4.00 / 2)
There are even mainstream religous traditons that don't agree.  some religious traditons say that a fetus isn't a person until it's born.


"Incrementalism isn't a different path to the same place, it could be a different path to a different place"
Stoller


[ Parent ]
Human Rights (4.00 / 3)
For me this is the central question:

When should the government have the power to force a woman to remain pregnant against her will?

After a lot of consideration over a number of years, I can't come up with any answer other than "Never."  


[ Parent ]
Really? (0.00 / 0)
SO the moment after the fetus passes through the birth canal it is worthy of protection, but a moment before it is not? Please, explain, by what sorcery was personhood granted by birth?

[ Parent ]
How many abortions are performed the "moment before" birth? (4.00 / 1)
By what sorcery is personhood granted at any time? NONE. Most of us try to run our nation without resorting to sorcery.  

"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


[ Parent ]
back to your question (0.00 / 0)
I'd agree that probably very few abortions are given at the moment before birth. I wasn't trying to suggest that there was a high occurrence. I was pointing out that personhood falls along a spectrum that doesn't begin or end at the birth canal. I think most reasonable people can agree with that and that's why we do restrict abortion. At some point, society has an interest and obligation to protect its members.

[ Parent ]
"society has an obligation to protect its members" (0.00 / 0)
We may agree on this, but you seem to counter what you think is a blindness towards the fetus with blindness toward the women involved. Are they not members of society? Are we not obligated to protect them?

Just as you see a timeline at work determining when in the gestation period a person becomes human, I see a diminution of humanity in your perspective. You cherish and protect the UN-born child, yet start to move away until by the time the baby has matured into a woman capable of becoming pregnant, you no longer feel the need to treat her as a full human being. What sorcery allows you to control the body of another member of your society?

You may tone down your rhetoric by moving away from the example of "moments before birth", but I really think you were using that timeline to get the full effect of indirectly painting the term "baby killer" on those who do not agree with your position. Why not use images that pertain more accurately to the situation when most abortions are performed? "Cell mass", or "blastocyst"?



"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


[ Parent ]
inhumanity (0.00 / 0)
I will point out that you are the third person in these comments to question my humanity. I think that's curious. I think its sad too. We should be able to disagree without accusing each other of lacking humanity. I haven't done that, and you have wrongfully tried to put "baby killer" in my mouth. That's just wrong and its not true.


[ Parent ]
Personhood is a legal construction. (4.00 / 1)
Not a metaphysical one. And it cannot be purchased at the expense of someone else's life or well-being.

If a woman chooses to risk her life to have a baby, it is a noble thing. But there is nothing noble about forcing her to do it against her will. In fact that is about the lowest, most base thing a person can do. It's despicable.

Montani semper liberi


[ Parent ]
Personhood is a legal construct... (0.00 / 0)
Just like "citizenship" or "minority" (in the legal sense, "state of being a minor," not the statistical sense, "being a subset smaller than one half of the whole set")  By what "sorcery," to use your ill-chosen word, does a minor suddenly cease to be a minor and take on most of the rights and responsibilities of citizenship on the eighteenth anniversary of his or her passage through the birth canal, and the rest of those rights and responsibilities on the twenty-first anniversary of said event?

Actually, using birth as the entry point to personhood has considerably more basis than the eighteenth birthday (or any other) as the entry point to citizenship.  It represents a massive, physiological change: the end of life as a physical parasite on one particular host whose role as host is irreplaceable by any other person (we'll leave aside the possibility of surrogate pregnancy, as that option of transferring to a different uterus ends long before anyone but the most extreme pro-lifer would argue for personhood -- I certainly don't see anyone on this thread arguing that the rights of a blastocyst trump those of a pregnant woman).

Once born, a baby ceases to utilize its mother's heart, lungs, blood, digestive tract, etc. directly; it still needs milk and care, but it's now effectively an ecto- (and economic) parasite, not an endoparasite whose presence in the mother's body presents a risk to her life and costs to her health that can be mitigated but never eliminated by medical science.  As such, it can be cared or by any willing and able-bodied adult(s) (though it's best to include at least one lactating female adult among the caregivers) -- it's no longer uniquely dependent on the mother, and she has the ability and the right to give it up for adoption if she so chooses.  At that point, it becomes a member of society, in whose protection society can take a legitimate interest.  Until then, the mother's interest, in both the fetus and her own body, must override all others, and only she can decide how the two should be balanced.

The only exception I can agree to would be the case of a minor girl who wants to continue with a pregnancy that her doctor has found poses an abnormally high risk of serious injury or death.  In that circumstance, I can countenance allowing her parents to compel her to have an abortion for her own safety.  However, that interest works in only one direction: parents may sacrifice a fetus to protect their daughter, but they may not sacrifice their daughter to let the fetus mature into a grandchild for them.

"A fantasy is not even a wish, much less an act.  There is no such thing as a culpable or shameful fantasy."  -----Lady Sally McGee


[ Parent ]
Personhood not Parasite (0.00 / 0)
Actually I am using personhood in the philosophical application of the word. While you may simply be familiar with the use of the word in legal contexts, nevertheless it is used in philosophy all the time as well as Theology. (see Turing Test, P-Zombies, etc).
I am glad, however, you brought up the arbitrariness of citizenship because that was my point precisely. I wanted those who argued for no restriction on abortion to accept how capricious their reasoning is. Why is it morally wrong one second after birth and not one second before? This is why I invoked the well-chosen word sorcery. Either we admit we are being arbitrary or we are using magical thinking. While the Prolife camp is guilty of using magical thinking.

Viability is a much more reasonable standard than birth, and as I continue to point out, one used in Roe V Wade. Of course establishing viability is subject to some arbitrariness and changing technology. Because a potential life is at stake, one should be more conservative in delineating the time when the fetus is granted protection by the state. That's why I think clearly the third trimester and I would argue the second should be restricted.

The rest of your argument boils down to one of autonomy being foundational to our rights. I reject that. Dependence is not parasitical to my way of thinking, but regardless to whatever metaphor you would invoke, I believe that the disabled, children, the incapacitated, as well as viable fetuses ought to be protected by society and their interests ought to be protected.    


[ Parent ]
Parasite indeed, and no conscripting hosts. (0.00 / 0)
> Actually I am using personhood in the philosophical application of the word.

I don't think that matters; it's still an arbitrary construct, a line imposed on the continuum of development for our convenience.

> Why is it morally wrong one second after birth and not one second before?

That's a straw man -- it's not medically feasible "one second before birth," so whether or not it's morally wrong then is irrelevant.  My position is that as long as it's medically possible to do an abortion, and safer for the pregnant woman than a c-section or induced labor would be, abortion may not be restricted by the state, "society," or anything else except the medical judgment of a doctor for whom the pregnant patient's needs, not those of her fetus, are paramount.  That, again, is the current state of affairs in Canada, of which Natasha expressed her approval; I agree with her.

> Viability is a much more reasonable standard than birth

Why?  For what value of "reasonable" would that be the case?  Birth is the sharpest discontinuity along the continuum from conception to death; viability is fuzzy, subject to interpretation and to alteration by technological changes.

Speaking of which, there's a plausible future in which an embryo could be extracted at any stage of pregnancy and placed in what some science fiction writers, notably Lois McMaster Bujold, have referred to as a "uterine replicator;" assuming the operation to do so could be made as just as safe as abortion, and that the society possessing that technology was willing and able to assume the care of all unwanted blastocysts, embryos, fetuses, etc., at that point I would allow as how abortion rights were no longer necessary, as a woman could give up her conceptus for adoption at any point during pregnancy.  In Bujold's novels, the vast majority of women in technologically advanced societies use replicators instead of their own uteri anyway, transferring the embryo early in the first trimester or even having it conceived in vitro in the first place, thus eliminating virtually all mortality, morbidity, disability, and damage to women's bodies associated with reproduction.*

Of course, the world where the replicator was invented, Beta Colony, had also developed infallible, long-term contraception, and made its use mandatory for all sexually mature women in order to control population growth (the planet's surface was essentially uninhabitable for two seasons of the year, and space in the underground cities where everyone lived was at a premium).  You had to go through a rigorous application process for a parenting license before you could have your contraceptive implant removed and start trying to get pregnant.  When the heroine of the first book moves from the highly advance, ultra-egalitarian Beta to technologically backward, militaristic, ultra-patriarchal Barrayar in pursuit of the erstwhile enemy with whom she has fallen madly in love, she regards the freedom to have as many children as she wants as one of the very few compensations for having to put up with those barbaric Barrayarrans.

> one used in Roe V Wade.

Not relevant.  Roe vs. Wade is not the ideal I am pursuing; that ideal is found in a number of countries more civilized (probably because their religious life can be fairly described as post-Christian, whereas we, despite our Enlightenment constitution, are still far more heavily influenced by the authoritarian theology of the Dark Ages) than ours, such as Canada and, IIRC, the Scandinavian nations.

>Because a potential life is at stake, one should be more conservative in delineating the time when the fetus is granted protection by the state.

No.  Because the pregnant woman's actual life is at stake in every single pregnancy, whether there's an exceptional risk or not, one should be absolutely liberal about delineating the time when the woman is granted protection, in the form of the ability to safely terminate her pregnancy.  Women die in labor every day whose pregnancies were perfectly normal and healthy right up to the moment they went into labor -- not all fatal complications arise beforehand.  That's a risk every pregnant woman runs by carrying her pregnancy to term, and one that no woman should ever be compelled to run against her will.  The potential life of the fetus is a feather, weighed against the anvil of the woman's actual life.

I agree that society should protect the interests of the disabled, children, and the incapacitated, at its collective expense.  What it cannot do is protect the interests of a viable fetus at the far greater individual expense of a pregnant woman unwilling to continue carrying said fetus.  We do not draft caregivers for the disabled or parentless children, and we may not draft caregivers for fetuses either, especially when their care involves so much more hardship and risk.  You can argue that parasitism is a poor analogy for the dependence of a baby or a disabled person on other people for care and support, but you cannot argue that a fetus is not an obligate endoparasite whose effects on its host are always debilitating in the short term, often damaging in the long term, and occasionally fatal; that is a biological fact, not a philosophical opinion.

By the way, the analogy of the military draft cuts no ice with me.  I am not a libertarian, generally, but I do agree 100% with the libertarian SF writer Robert A. Heinlein's contention that "there are prices too high to pay to save the United States. Conscription is one of them. Conscription is slavery, and I don't think that any people or nation has a right to save itself at the price of slavery for anyone, no matter what name it is called. We have had the draft for twenty years now; I think this is shameful. If a country can't save itself through the volunteer service of its own free people, then I say: let the damned thing go down the drain!"

* When you think about it, pregnancy and childbirth are one of the best arguments against "intelligent design," at least by a benevolent designer; if the human reproductive process was designed, then the designer was either far from intelligent, or a sadistic monster.  The designer portrayed in the Old Testament is, of course, both an idiot and a sadistic monster, which makes me very glad of all the evidence against the existence of any such entity.

"A fantasy is not even a wish, much less an act.  There is no such thing as a culpable or shameful fantasy."  -----Lady Sally McGee


[ Parent ]
According to Roe v Wade (4.00 / 1)
Harry Blackmun wrote in the majority decision:

the State does have an important and legitimate interest in preserving and protecting the health of the pregnant woman, whether she be a resident of the State or a nonresident who seeks medical consultation and treatment there, and that it has still another important and legitimate interest in protecting the potentiality of human life. These interests are separate and distinct. Each grows in substantiality as the woman approaches term and, at a point during pregnancy, each becomes "compelling."

So, the basic calculus is to establish the value of the needs of a woman with respect to her health.  Then, establish the value of the fetus.  Then, compare the two.

This strikes me as the logical, rational way to approach the issue and yet I feel beset by hostility from strong partisans of both sides when I speak neutrally about the issue.  The pro-choice side is adamant that a fetus has a value of zero and the pro-life side is adamant that a fetus has the 100% equal value of a human being who has already been born and people treat me with contempt when I decline to agree that either stance is so blindingly obvious that it is not worth discussing.

Things You Don't Talk About in Polite Company: Religion, Politics, the Occasional Intersection of Both


[ Parent ]
"Strong partisans on both sides" (0.00 / 0)
Right!

Blackmun doesn't speak for me. And I don't give a damn about your supposed "logical, rational" approach that, in reality, amounts to declaring the bodies of women to be state property.

Is your body state property? If I need a kidney, can the government compel you to give it to me?

Montani semper liberi


[ Parent ]
And I don't give a damn (4.00 / 1)
About your illogical, irrational approach.

Things You Don't Talk About in Polite Company: Religion, Politics, the Occasional Intersection of Both

[ Parent ]
Women always have been (4.00 / 1)
"illogical and irrational," with our silly ideas that we should be people, too. The right to vote, the right to own property, and now we want the right to own our own bodies! Where will it end?

Montani semper liberi

[ Parent ]
You want a middle ground? (4.00 / 1)
The Rude Pundit to the rescue

Tell you what: let's up the fuckin' ante here. What is the number one cause of an unwanted pregnancy? Balls and the jizz contained therein. So how about an amendment that says if a woman gets pregnant and is forced to carry the baby to term no matter what, the dude who knocked her up has to get his nuts cut off. There's your trade-off, and men and women both get to have "consequences" for their actions. The result is more babies in the short term, but a whole lot less in the long term. There's details to be worked out. But castration's in the Bible somewhere, isn't it? Like "And, lo, God did tell Zebechaiah to chop the junk off the fornicator Jake"? If not, it should be. Just say it's a new translation.

Now there's a compromise we can all live with.

Montani semper liberi


[ Parent ]
Forced sterilization? (0.00 / 0)
Are you seriously pitching that idea?  

"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


[ Parent ]
I doubt it... (0.00 / 0)
It sounds to me a lot more as if Sadie and the Rude Pundit she quoted are sarcastically pitching that idea in this case.  Although, since you ask, I think the distantly related idea of requiring chemical or even surgical castration of rapists as a condition of release from prison is worth serious study as a way of reducing recidivism.

"A fantasy is not even a wish, much less an act.  There is no such thing as a culpable or shameful fantasy."  -----Lady Sally McGee

[ Parent ]
Not just rapists (0.00 / 0)
Why stop there?

Human beings (of either gender) that have consistently demonstrated abuse and endangerment of children, especially their biological children, should be subject to sterilization as well.


"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


[ Parent ]
I can get behind that... (4.00 / 1)
The ACLU wouldn't like it, but when it comes to protecting children, my own brand of liberalism is rather closer to that of Andrew Vachss than theirs.

"A fantasy is not even a wish, much less an act.  There is no such thing as a culpable or shameful fantasy."  -----Lady Sally McGee

[ Parent ]
A horrible story (4.00 / 4)
My understanding is that there's been a severe regression over the last 50 years. My father worked as an MD in a Catholic hospital in a heavily Catholic area 1950-1970, and around 1962 he told me that their practice, in cases when the mother's life was threatened, was "to assume that the baby was already dead".

Because of better monitoring and more paranoia, they couldn't do that now. They'd have to let the baby and mother fight for life together, and maybe both lose.


is and ought (4.00 / 3)

Yes, there are conflicting opinions as to whether or not a human fetus is "a person".

But only when we are ready to acknowledge this conflict can never be resolved morally will all sides begin to see the need for moderation, negociation and compromise in prescribing and proscribing a legal agenda.

Personally, I believe abortion is the killing of a human being; and that it must always be a woman's right to choose abortion. How do I reconcile this? I don't. Why? Because I can't. Why? Because no one can.

Instead, this is like so many other highly complex and brutally ambiguous moral quandaries in which Right and Wrong cannot be assigned as a physicist might assign a positive or an negative charge to a subatomic particle.

Instead, this observation from William Barrett [in Irrational Man] makes more sense:

"For the choice in...human [ethical] situations is almost never between a good and an evil, where both are plainly marked as such and the choice therefore made in all the certitude of reason; rather it is between rival goods, where one is bound to do some evil either way, and where the ultimate outcome and even---or most of all---our own motives are unclear to us. The terror of confronting oneself in such a situation is so great that most people panic and try to take cover under any universal rules that will apply, if only to save them from the task of choosing themselves."  


But this conflict CAN be resolved morally. (4.00 / 6)
Women are citizens, not slaves, which means they own their own bodies. It is neither possible nor desirable to compromise with people who cannot accept this.

Montani semper liberi

[ Parent ]
Please pick another argument (0.00 / 0)
I absolutely deny the concept of self-ownership.  This has nothing to do with the abortion debate, but has to do with my on-going arguments against libertarianism, especially that horrific strain of thought known as anarcho-capitalism.  People do not have an absolute right to do whatever they wish with their own property; if they did, then the libertarians are right and taxation is theft.  The ACers use the concept of self-ownership to turn all rights and liberties into a subset of property rights.  I refute their attempt to make the right to property as the foundation of society by denying that self-ownership is an axiomatic concept.

Things You Don't Talk About in Polite Company: Religion, Politics, the Occasional Intersection of Both

[ Parent ]
Of course you deny the concept of self-ownership. (4.00 / 1)
If I women don't own their own bodies, then the government does have the right to commandeer them at will. And we aren't free citizens.

The bodies of men cannot be (legally) seized unless a) they have committed a crime or b) a military draft is declared. But the bodies of innocent women can be?

Bullshit.

Montani semper liberi


[ Parent ]
Interesting that you bring up the draft (0.00 / 0)
since Selective Service registration is currently only required for men.  Seeing as how this is blatant discrimination predicated on a grossly sexist and patriarchal mode of thought, will you join me in calling for Selective Service registration and military draft eligibility extended to able-bodied women?

[ Parent ]
Of course. (0.00 / 0)
Why shouldn't it be so?

Montani semper liberi

[ Parent ]
You can reject AnCap without rejecting self-ownership.... (0.00 / 0)
Just because you have an absolute right (at least as absolute as a "right" can be -- see my digression on the nature of "rights" in my long post toward the end of the thread) to do as you please with your body, it does not follow that you also have an absolute right to do as you please with any other object outside your body.  Money, in particular, is a social construct, its value contingent on the social contract, so the government which maintains that contract can certainly restrict its uses and require the surrender of some of it in order to keep its own functions running.

"A fantasy is not even a wish, much less an act.  There is no such thing as a culpable or shameful fantasy."  -----Lady Sally McGee

[ Parent ]
Well now ... (4.00 / 7)
What on earth gives anyone the right to put another human being through all of that?

The voice of God, whispering the Truth in their ears.

Kudos on this piece. Agreed. 100%.


Except . . . (4.00 / 3)
that's not God, whispering in their ears.

Montani semper liberi

[ Parent ]
How (4.00 / 1)
How do you know that?  Because God whispered something else in your ear?  How can we possibly know that?

Not trying to hijack this thread, but this is why religion has no place in government.


[ Parent ]
Because God does not hate women. (4.00 / 3)
Believe me, I am with you 100% on the separation of church and state. But I am a churchgoer, too.

Montani semper liberi

[ Parent ]
Don't see god stepping up to stop the Stupak amendment (0.00 / 0)
or to smite those that kill abortion docs in his name, so the jury is still out on this one.

"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


[ Parent ]
It's not that simple. (0.00 / 0)
The arc of history is long but it bends towards justice.

Montani semper liberi

[ Parent ]
That may be (0.00 / 0)
but such does not explain why an omnipotent being has to respect the "arc of history" or drag their feet (or whatever passes for "feet" on a mythical being) while human women suffer.  

"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


[ Parent ]
Then your God is too small. (4.00 / 1)


Montani semper liberi

[ Parent ]
I have no god (0.00 / 0)
Small or otherwise upon which to pin my failings and take responsibility for my sins. I am my own savior, thank you very much.

God is a cop-out.

"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


[ Parent ]
Great argument against the monstrosity that is the Dems' helath insurance boondoggle. (0.00 / 0)
This is but one of many reasons to oppose the passage of the bill, to kill it completely, and force the Dems to come up with something better or nothing at all.  They're fine with snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, but we haven't got the time for such luxury.

Single-Payer is the ONLY viable public option.

i disagree (4.00 / 4)
i think this is a good argument for working really hard to create a revitalised feminist movement and figuring out how to get to gender equitable single payer healthcare.

[ Parent ]
so far to go (4.00 / 3)
it's appalling that we not only are still having to have this argument but are losing it. in most cases you can see who is paying for - and profiting from - the horrible policies that our government produces. but who profits from this? is it just fear and stupidity? well. "just". as if that hasn't been enough to kill so many millions in our history.

If you're a Democrat who doesn't get that all restrictions on abortion are human rights violations, we aren't on the same team.

yes. there is no such team. being a "Democrat" only tells you that the person is probably not virulently insane.

not everything worth doing is profitable. not everything profitable is worth doing.


Almost enough (0.00 / 0)
"Democrat" only tells you that the person is probably not virulently insane.

to get me to join up.


"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


[ Parent ]
I don't get it (0.00 / 0)
I'm sorry you had to go through that.  It took courage to post your story.

I don't understand the Catholic hospital's position:

"the cyst could rupture and hemorrhage and they couldn't operate if I was pregnant because it was a Catholic hospital"

Why couldn't they operate?  Because the baby might not survive the operation?  But if you died, the baby would die too, so why not operate?  I don't get it.


To clarify (0.00 / 0)
I phrased my question in the point of view of the hospital in an attempt to follow their line of "reasoning".  Obviously you had a right to the operation if you wanted it.

[ Parent ]
The anesthesia, etc. (4.00 / 2)
It would be extremely inadvisable to subject a fetus to the cocktail of drugs given to a person in surgery if you wanted to continue carrying the pregnancy, if they didn't just cause a miscarriage, right there.

I used to have a job where I read a lot of drug warning briefs. Loads. Criminy. When you're pregnant, there's virtually nothing it's advisable to take, and many, many things that are outright dangerous to continuing a pregnancy.

And don't look for logic. Catholic dogma as has reached its zenith in Guatemala, where women are prosecuted and jailed if it can be proved that they had abortions, and where forensic specialists can get search warrants for women's wombs, not even ectopic pregnancies can be terminated before the fetus dies on its own.

I might have died, but I wasn't guaranteed to die. So to hell with me.

The bans these cretins propose don't even allow exceptions for incomplete miscarriages to be removed by the safest surgical procedures. Which means that they're objectively in favor of forcing women to carry around a dead, inevitably rotting fetus until her body naturally expels it, which can cause (as should be no surprise) serious infections.

I've spent long enough trying to make sense of it, but I just don't care anymore. I was raised believing that all abortion was evil as a child, for the very simple reason that God was supposed to have said so. The justification comes after the fact and is essentially meaningless to engage with.


[ Parent ]
I see (0.00 / 0)
Okay, thanks Natasha.  I don't know what else to say other than, again I'm sorry you had to go through this.

[ Parent ]
Thanks, OL-ers, for continuing to connect Stupak to the Hyde amendment, (4.00 / 4)
because it's quite clear now that Stupak has been a long ways coming. Also, thanks for your candor on your abusive relationship, since I'm also a veteran of that particular war and continue to carry around a lot of shame in relation to it. The one in 3 number is simply unacceptable, and the continued messages of women as property are of course part and parcel to one another. There's no way to separate these issues, despite what anti-choicers want to argue, and you've very forcefully made that case here.

As an aside, it saddens me that I don't see more uncompromisingly feminist diaries at Kos, at least on the rec list. I still read Kos, because it's an incredibly valuable news source. But it depresses the fuck out of me to see misogynist comment after misogynist comment get tipped over there. The bulk of "feminist" diaries that do get written over there almost inevitably seem to offer some form of disclaimer- oh no, I'm not "politically correct." I wouldn't want to be one of THOSE people. Because  why would one sacrifice camaraderie for a little thing like the refutation of systematic reenforcement of social hierarchies? I mean, language is incidental, right, and yet Lakoff's diaries seem to inevitably wind their way to the top of the rec list there? Hmmm...  


thank you (4.00 / 1)
For both your courage of personal disclosure and your statement of morality clarity.

The only thing I might add is: healthcare equality is an issue that impacts us all.

When you, your wife, your daughter, your partner, your neighbor, your co-worker, your friend, or any one else you care about faces a life-threatening health issue, you expect health insurance to cover it. No questions asked.

This isn't just a woman's issue. It is an everyone issue. Unfortunately, woman do bear the brunt of discriminatory policies, yet we should all fight hard to eliminate that.

They call me Clem, Clem Guttata. Come visit wild, wonderful West Virginia Blue


agreed (4.00 / 1)
The right to control the uses to which one's body will be put is fundamental; this is especially so when considering women and reproduction, since it involves such heavy burdens and risks.

It's so fundamental that we recognize almost no circumstances under which someone else is justified in usurping that right. Generally such usurpations are considered heinous crimes.

We uphold this right even in extraordinary circumstances where making use of another's physical person against their will is a matter of life-or-death necessity.

A person who needs a transplant has no right to force an organ donation from anyone, even if donating the needed organ would pose only miniscule health risks to the donor -- and even if, without the transplant, the person is certain to die. We respect even an ideal donor's right to refuse a donation, on the grounds that a person's body is theirs alone to control and put to use as they alone see fit.


Hell, yes! (4.00 / 1)
I'm male, and don't have any kids of my own, but I have a sister, three nieces, and several female cousins of whom I'm very fond, not to mention plenty of female friends.  I would feel the same way toward someone who forced one of them to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term -- regardless of the circumstance under which she got pregnant in the first place -- as I would about someone who raped her: murderous.

I don't actually believe in the concept of "natural rights;" rights, as far as I'm concerned, are an emergent property of societies, not an inherent property of individuals, and any statement of the form "I have the right to..." or "people have the right to..." is either a statement of preference for all societies, or a description of a particular society, never a statement of objective, universal fact.  (I think this is a necessary corollary of atheism and philosophical materialism, though other atheists or materialists may not agree -- we're a contentious lot even among ourselves.  It's fundamental to the reasons I'm a liberal/progressive, not a libertarian, as many other atheists are.)  A human living in some hypothetical state of perfect isolation from other humans -- a Robinson Crusoe, say, or better yet a Sam Magruder -- would neither have rights nor need them, as they are, at least by the definition I recognize, rules governing the relations of humans with other humans.

However, that said, I do think our preferences, and the decisions we make as a society regarding what rights to institute and what to restrict, can and should be informed by a realistic, and as much as possible a scientific, understanding of human nature.  Among other things, that must include an honest appreciation of the risks and costs inherent in pregnancy, and of the psychological need for autonomy.  Based on those facts, one of my own most strongly held preferences is for a right to control one's own body -- meaning freedom from non-consensual sex, non-consensual medical treatment, and of course non-consensual pregnancy and childbirth, among other things.  (And no, for those too dim to follow what I'm saying, consent to sex does not equal consent to pregnancy and childbirth.  If you can't wrap your head around that concept, I'd appreciate if you'd exercise your right to fuck off and die.  Also, control -- or ownership, I'm fine with that word, too -- of one's own body does not equate to the libertarian "taxation is theft" meme; money is not a body part, no matter how much you sweated to earn it.)

One tangent that's not directly related to the Stupak amendment but comes up a lot from those trying to take a "moderate" position on abortion is the issue of parental notification and/or permission for abortion.  The clearest way I can state my position on that is, a daughter is not livestock, and there is no parental right to breed her.  Nobody, including parents, may legally, ethically, or morally compel another person to have sex; by the same token, nobody, including parents, should be able legally, ethically, or morally to compel another person to have a baby.  Parents have no right to prostitute their daughters, or force them into marriage, or force them to carry a pregnancy to term; those are all variants of the same crime against the girl, i.e. rape.

Parents may, for their minor daughter's own good, prevent her from having sex; I could also accept parents requiring a minor daughter to have an abortion when she would prefer not to, if it's necessary to protect her health. It's a violation of her autonomy, but one that's demonstrably for her own good, and thus in line with the parental duty to protect children from their own bad judgement, whereas coerced pregnancy and childbirth, like coerced intercourse, cannot possibly be for the victim's benefit, only that of the parents or the fetus (or the rapist, in the latter case). The root problem with the contrary position is the erroneous belief that having an abortion is or should be a bigger deal than having an unwanted child. As Natasha's post and the links in it make clear, it isn't; the physiological, psychological, and socioeconomic consequences of having an unwanted child are enormously worse than those of having an abortion for the vast majority of cases, and thus it's that decision, not the decision not to have an unwanted child (i.e. to have an abortion instead), that must never be forced on any girl or woman against her will.

My apologies for rambling; these are things I've been stewing on for a long time, and once I started commenting on your post they all spilled out on to the screen.

"A fantasy is not even a wish, much less an act.  There is no such thing as a culpable or shameful fantasy."  -----Lady Sally McGee


I would rec you (0.00 / 0)
ten times if I could. You absolutely get it.

Montani semper liberi

[ Parent ]
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