« Limits of evidence | Main | Minimum wages & the left »

May 12, 2008

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d83451cbef69e200e5523581c48834

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference My abortion doubts:

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Chris Williams

People mourn miscarriages, but they also mourn hysterectomies, and other interventions that will stop them having children in the future. I love my kids for what they are, but my love for them is also bound up with what they've done in the past and what they might become in the future.

Anticipation of what's (probably) going to happen can lead to intense sadness when it doesn't: and of all the possible courses of action to embark on, making another person is one of the most complex, absorbing, and long-term.

Losing a fetus in the first weeks can reasonably lead to sadness and grief over what might have been, without any of this implying that the fetus was an actually existing person.

Dan | thesamovar

I think you've missed the point about this one a bit Chris. It's not about whether or not something 'of value' has been lost in an abortion, it's about whether or not abortion should be forbidden. Something 'of value' is lost if I decide to throw my PC out of the window, but I shouldn't be forbidden from doing it. I'd also say that the moral calculus implied - murder as destruction of something of value - is wrong-headed from the start.

Chris

My support for the pro-choice position is one based on ownership of our bodies. Personally I'm anti-abortion, but this is a moral issue on which we should keep the state at arms-length. Giving powerful interests that level of control over womens' bodies is at variants with the liberal and libertarian concept of self-ownership. Of course it's a balance - we shouldn't be able to use our bodies to kill. But when it's the nature of gestation within us, the state (and the church) have no just jurisdiction.

Joe Otten

It is fair enough to hold that abortion, particularly after, say, 12 weeks, is at least a little wrong. But not everything that is wrong should be prohibited, and not every delicate balance of pros and cons should be judged by the state or the courts rather than the person on the spot.

Planeshift

There is also the practical argument that making abortion illegal will simply bring about the back street abortionist and thus cause more harm than good.

Its a little like hard drugs, I'm not interested in taking them and think that addiction destroys lives, but I'd support the legalisation of drugs because that would create a better situation than the current war on drugs does.

Phil

Joe - ITYM "not everything that is wrong should be *criminalised*". (Hands up everyone who thinks that making abortion illegal would result in no abortions taking place.)

Termination of pregnancy is the destruction of a potential future person, and I would be very concerned if I thought that choice was widely being taken lightly or without remorse. But
a) as a matter of fact, I don't believe this is currently happening
and, more importantly,
b) as a matter of principle, I don't think moral education should be entrusted to the police


John A

You also assume that human life has intrinsic value merely by being there and being created, whilst utilitarian and some other conceptions of life-value would prefer to attribute them value according to how they are lived and how much is gained by them.

DRF

Thank you for posting this.

So many people think that those of us who think that abortion should stay legal are horrible baby-killers or else they jump on the slightest wavering as "proof" that they're right. One of the upsides of this bitter issue is the beautiful complexity of the thoughts and feelings that it inspires in people.

We SHOULD look at abortion from many angles. We SHOULD question whether it's right or wrong. Even those of us who know we're better off with it legal should examine the reasoning behind it.

Shuggy

This is refreshing and comes closest to my own position, which - like yours - is somewhat uncertain.

On this...

"want me to join the Coalition for Choice. I’m reluctant to do so"

You're not going to make a *stand*? Good for you. The certain, on the other hand, they're *always* standing. I find it very tiresome - and in this case, frankly pretty nauseating.

Shuggy

"Its a little like hard drugs"

No it isn't - it's nothing like it. Drugs harm the user. Certainly abortion harms the user too but the issue in question is whether it is right to kill the unborn or not.

Brooks

FYI, There is a GREAT analysis & discussion of this topic here: http://swordscrossed.org/node/1736

ad

"(Hands up everyone who thinks that making abortion illegal would result in no abortions taking place.)"

I think that it would result in fewer abortions taking place. Is this not the relevent point, when discussing a ban?

"You don’t, therefore, need to believe in religious mumbo-jumbo to believe that an abortion destroys something of value."

Chris, I think that eating an apple destroys something of value (eg. they look quite nice in a fruit bowl), but I don't want to ban the consunption of fruit on those grounds.

Christina

"There are people alive today who owe their existence to abortions."

My two younger brothers owe their lives to the fact that my older brother died in a freak accident when he was six years old. Does this mean that parents shouldn't try to prevent accidents, since there was a net gain of two children?

When a woman remarries after becoming a widow, any children she has with her new husband owe their lives to the death of the woman's first husband. Does that make the man's untimely death a good thing?

Just because people can have good things in their lives after tragedy doesn't make the tragedy any less horrible, and is hardly an excuse for actually COURTING tragedy.

Sunny

Chris,
this is an interesting discussion but I disagree for various reasons (leaving Shuggy's snidey comments aside).

"I say this because there are two secular arguments for thinking foetuses have value."

I don't think anyone has argued against this.

You end with:
"My problem is, this argument - whilst appealing - is a close neighbour of some very ugly ones. It’s a form of liberal eugenics."

The thing is that you're firstly bringing this all down to a matter of a lifestyle choice. Its not always - what about women who get raped and want to abort on that basis?

My view is simple - what is more illiberal: letting women have the choice over their own bodies or not?

Taking that further, there's no proper reasons for why the 24 week limit should be revised downwards....

Christina

According to then-Planned Parenthood Medical Director Mary Calderone, and prochoice researcher Nancy Howell Lee, 90% of pre-legalization abortions were done by doctors. A further 8% were done by nurses or other people with medical training -- the very people the abortion lobby says should be allowed to do abortions now. And of the 2% done by people with no formal training, many were done by people like the Jane syndicate in Chicago, that had doctors provide equipment, medications, training, and aftercare. The proverbial coathanger abortions were typically seen in women with mental health issues and a history of self-mutilation already. Legalizing abortion could never help that -- but it did mean that these women's issues got brushed aside as a political matter when it is in fact a psychiatric one.

I know of three "back alley butchers" who never had a patient death blamed on them when they were doing criminal abortions, only to go on to kill two women after legalization took away the fear that they'd face murder charges if they killed a patient: Jesse Ketchum, Milan Vuitch, and Benjamin Munson. Legalization didn't do Margaret Smith, Carole Schaner, Wilma Harris, Georgianna English, Linda Padfield, or Yvonne Mesteth any favors. They'd probably have been much safer in these guys' "back alley" practices.

Christina

DRF,I know that there are a lot of prochoice people who really, in all honesty, want what the abortion lobby advertises as their goal -- making abortion SAFE for those few women who, in consultation with their doctors, conclude that abortion is the best thing in their particular case.

Most prochoicers that I've spent any time talking to are (or would be) pretty appalled by what actually goes on -- the five-minute assembly-line abortions, the sales pitches disguised as impartial and honest counseling, the quackery. But they're never appalled enough to try to change things. They leave it up to the prolifers. And we are powerless, because anything we say gets dismissed as "Well, of course YOU say that! You're against abortion!" Without anybody looking to see if the REASON we're against abortion is that the things we say are actually TRUE.

If prochoice citizens stopped trusting the abortion lobby, I'd bet that abortion could quickly be reduced by up to 80%. But instead they take what the abortion lobby says at face value without questioning it, and let the abuse and quackery continue. And it's really frustrating.

Christina

Chris, you said,"My support for the pro-choice position is one based on ownership of our bodies."

Which is also a reason to *oppose* abortion. That's not the woman's body that goes in pieces to the pathology lab. It's *somebody else's body*.

Does ANYBODY have the right to decide that somebody else gets taken apart limb from limb and tossed in the incinerator like so much trash?

Christina

Sunny,you said, "My view is simple - what is more illiberal: letting women have the choice over their own bodies or not?"

Would that it was that simple. My friend Ashli had severe hyperemesis gravidarum -- constant vomiting to the point where she'd lost 20% of her body weight and was so dehydrated that her brain started to malfunction and she was hallucinating.

Doctors refused to help her. They'd just tell her it was all in her head, that maybe she didn't *really* want the baby, or that she just wanted attention. Finally, desperate to get people to realize how dreadfully sick she was, she threatened to get an abortion. They all hopped on THAT bandwagon! It wasn't what Ashli wanted -- it was what they wanted. She got so sick she gave in.

She told them at the abortion clinic that she didn't want an abortion, that she wanted medical care but couldn't find anybody willing to provide it. They just told her, "You can always have another baby."

It wasn't until AFTER her abortion that she learned about the medical options for treating the HG and helping her get through a pregnancy.

It was NOT a matter of letting Ashli choose. It was a matter of everybody around her being too freaking lazy to care.

And Ashli is hardly alone. My friend Debbie's daughter Marla was browbeaten into an unwanted abortion by a social worker. The quack used an antiquated technique, botched it, and managed to kill Marla, too. Allegra Roseberry got pressured into an unwanted abortion -- she was lied to, told that being pregnant would disqualify her from cancer treatment and that the baby was "doomed" anyway. They were lying on both counts. Allegra got an infection from the abortion and died.

I've done litigation support for abortion-injured women. What I've seen would appall anybody who really cared about women. But because I oppose abortion, I get dismissed out of hand as "having an agenda". As if the guy who makes his living selling the abortions has no agenda! As if the professional activists whose livelihoods depend on abortion have no agenda!

If I could get prochoice citizens to really investigate for themselves, to stop trusting NOW and NARAL and NAF and Planned Parenthood to tell them the truth, I'd be dancing in the streets.

Fat chance of that.

Chris Williams

Looks like normal service has been resumed with the arrival of 'Christine'. Still, it was nice for a bit.

Brooks

FOLKS -- the abortion issue is really just about one thing: what is a person.

If you think abortion should be legal in all or some circumstances, and at all or some stages of fetal development, ask yourself if you think a mother should have the right to kill a newborn baby in those circumstances. If the answer is "no", then to be logically consistent, you MUST have as your premise that the fetus is NOT a person. Otherwise you are contradicting yourself.

If you think abortion of even a blastocyte should be illegal because that blastocyte is a person with a right to life, on what basis (other than religious) do you consider that blastocyte a person. What makes a person a person. Obviously it has something to do with the fact that we have thoughts and emotions, which a blastocyte obviously lacks. So what makes it a person.

The "potential person" argument is so weak that it quickly falls apart under scrutiny when faced with even light challenges, so I won't bother with it.

OK, so what matters is "Is it a person" and what makes us "persons" is something involving our thoughts and emotions. Which means the onset of personhood is a function of brain development and cognitive activity. So clearly a blastocyte is not a person and has no "right to life". And if a newborn baby IS a person, a fetus one hour prior to delivery is a person, too. Somewhere in between a non-person organism becomes a person, and at that point that person has a right to life under any circumstances short of (arguably) self-defense, meaning to save the life of the mother.

John Meredith

"Does ANYBODY have the right to decide that somebody else gets taken apart limb from limb and tossed in the incinerator like so much trash?"

No, but equally nobody has the right to use my body for their survival. I may want to extend that right to them (although I am not quite sure what that would look like, perhaps letting a starving man eat my amputated leg?), but they cannot assert it against my wishes. The same is true of pregnant women. They do not 'kill' feotuses (pace Shuggy above) they remove them from their bodies which means that they die. If we do not have ownership of our bodies what other rights can we meaningfully be said to have?

angel

i think that abortion is truely wrong and i want America to see that there killing a life...and that if they didnt want a baby then they shouldnt opened their legs...

my opinion....

angel

i want to start a protest on abortion....who's with me...i maybe young but i can voice my opinion

ad

"They do not 'kill' feotuses (pace Shuggy above) they remove them from their bodies which means that they die."

Really? I was under the impression that the foetus was killed and then extracted. Think of the trouble in the US over "partial birth" abortion.

"No, but equally nobody has the right to use my body for their survival."

You have a right to kill the foetus because it is guilty of theft? Are you willing to extend this right to thieves who have been born? If not, it all comes down to the question of whether you regard the unborn as people. I do not know the answer. But I do know the question.

Brooks

John Meredith,

Re: "nobody has the right to use my body for their survival"

Let me ask you a hypothetical question. It's unrealistic, but please indulge me. Let's say someone somehow, without my consent, shrunk me down and inserted me into your body, and I would be stuck there for one hour, doing no harm to you physically, and after that hour I would somehow automatically leave your body and be un-shrunk and resume my life, UNLESS you chose to have me removed before the end of that hour via a process that would cause my death.

Should the law allow you to do that if there was no physical threat to you, simply based on the absolute principle that no one has the right to use your body for survival?

Kathy P

@ John Meredith,

"No, but equally nobody has the right to use my body for their survival."

You make it sound as if most women who choose abortions just "wake up pregnant" instead of choosing to engage in the activity that makes a baby in the first place. They made their choice to get pregnant; now they need to have the responsibility to accept the results of that action. You also make it sound like pregnancy would destroy a woman. Ridiculous. Just ridiculous.


As far as the previous comment about "when a fetus becomes a person" -- all I have to say on the matter is that it is absolutely absurd and insane. The discussion has to come to this point, because it is biologically and scientifically and medically a fact that life begins at conception, and that at conception, a unique human being is created. So, abortion takes a human life. That's unarguable. So, with some "fancy footwork" it's all the rage to say, "Ok, so life begins at conception, but is that separate, distinct and unique human life a *person*?" Ridiculous! Mind-boggling!

Christina

Yikes! What happened to the discussion!?!?!

Christina

"No, but equally nobody has the right to use my body for their survival."

I've never understood the kind of illogic that holds, as you seem to, that it's the responsibility of a zygote to get permission prior to implantation! What do you want, an rental applications?

Any adult knows that sex produces babies. And they need to take RESPONSIBILITY for the babies they create.

And that's another problem with the way the whole thing gets framed. The word RESPONSIBILITY is conspicuously absent. And adults -- ADULTS, not fetuses -- have responsibilities.

Simon Icke

It is a measure of how far our nation has fallen, that the sanctity of human life, no longer has any value with so many of our 'trendy liberal thinking MPs'. Listening to some of them speak in the House of Commons on Monday, at the second reading of the Human Embryo and Fertilisation Bill, was truly sickening.

As a nation we are only as civilised as we treat the most vulnerable amongst us. No one is more vulnerable and more undervalued in our society than the life of the unborn human child. Have we become so selfish, so callous that we just don't care anymore? Over 97% of the 200,000 plus abortions carried out every year in the UK are for social reasons only. How very very sad.

It's about time the public were made aware of the reality of what really happens in our abortion clinics every day, rather than continuing to believe the myths and misinformation fed to them by the pro-abortionist. Often by people who have a vested interest the continuing success of this vile business. No wonder they spend hundreds of thousands of pounds lobbying MPs to protect their interest. All under the guise of women's rights, which no MP dare question. Well It's not PC is it.!

John Meredith

"It is a measure of how far our nation has fallen, that the sanctity of human life, no longer has any value with so many of our 'trendy liberal thinking MPs'."

Why should it? What does this 'sanctity' reside in?

"I've never understood the kind of illogic that holds, as you seem to, that it's the responsibility of a zygote to get permission prior to implantation! What do you want, an rental applications?"

Christina, you can pitch away at straw men all day but you will only end up hot and bothered and no closer to the truth.

Nobody suggests permission need be sought by a Zygote, that would be silly. But equally once the zygote is implanted, it has no rights over the woman it is implanted in. One individual cannot demand that another individual uses its body to nurture it, because our bodies belong to ourselves and not to others. If a woman wishes to remove anything from her body and she is deemed sane, it is her right to do it, even if that thing is an actual or potential human being.

John Meredith

"All under the guise of women's rights, which no MP dare question. Well It's not PC is it."

Oh, and for the record, it is not about 'women's rights' it is about human rights. I don't know whether you will think that more or less 'PC'.

Shuggy

"They do not 'kill' feotuses (pace Shuggy above) they remove them from their bodies which means that they die"

As has already been pointed out, you don't seem to understand what is involved in a late abortion. In these cases, the fetuses *are killed* - the question is whether this is justified or not. What I am convinced of is that it isn't a right to be celebrated and I'm sorry if Sunny finds my comment 'snidey' but I find the posturing going on over at LC along with a few other blogs on this subject truly sick-making.

John Meredith

"As has already been pointed out, you don't seem to understand what is involved in a late abortion. In these cases, the fetuses *are killed* - the question is whether this is justified or not."

I may be wrong but isn't it the case that the foetuses we are talking about die because they cannot develop separately from the mother? If they can so survive, the moral onus falls on the rest of society to decide if they want to keep them alive or not. The foetus has no more claim on the mother's body than you or I do. If, however, removing the foetus guarantees that it dies, that may or may not be sad, but the moral position is clear if we believe that a woman has the same right of self-ownership as a man does.

And I think that it is a right to be celebrated. It is only through the availability of safe, legal abortion that women have achieved the same fundamental right that men had already taken for granted, that is the right to ownership of your own body. And that is the very foundation of human rights.

Kathy

@ John Meredith --

In regards to "They don't kill fetuses, they remove them from the body, and then they die." Um, yeah, and if I tie you up "personhood" doesn't mean that it doesn't start until 18 months, or birth, or viability, or movement, or heartbeat, or brain-stem function.

Kathy

Argh, what happened to all of my comment??

Kathy

@ John Meredith --

In regards to "They don't kill fetuses, they remove them from the body, and then they die." Um, yeah, and if I tie you up and throw you into the pool, I don't kill you -- I just removed you from an air environment and then you died. Somehow, I don't think that would hold up in any court in the world.

In regards to "using my body for survival," let's not forget that in the overwhelming super-majority of all cases of abortion, the baby got there from consensual sex. Therefore, that makes the baby an invited guest. So, to kill the baby would be like me inviting you over to my house for the night, and then killing you for trespassing.


@ Brooks (and anyone else wishing to comment), I've read it many places that the real issue at stake here isn't when does life begin, because science, medicine, biology, and genetics proves that a unique human life begins at conception; but, "when does that life become a person?" I find that to be desperate reasoning on the part of abortion advocates who cannot find any other reason to justify the taking of human life. It is human life, folks. You (and others) say, "well, obviously, a blastocyst isn't a person..." That's begging the question. I just as easily say, "a human life is obviously a person." And since I have science on my side to say that human life begins at conception, I "win" the argument that a person begins at conception.

The thing that mainly troubles me about the "personhood" argument (aside from its debasement of the preborn baby to non-person status), is that once all human life is no longer considered a "person" just by virtue of existence, then that line becomes murky for everyone else. I was just in a comment-conversation on another blog and this issue came up. One person said that "personhood" doesn't happen until "self-awareness". When I voiced my concern about mentally disabled people at some point in the future being declared "non-persons" and all legal protections on their life being removed, he rejoined that even a baby of 18 months of age is self-aware, so it's unlikely that the mentally disabled would fall below that age. But, then, that puts the status of "personhood" to be 18 months of age, not at birth, nor yet at viability. So then the inevitable outcome of that line of reasoning is that infanticide will become legal up until the age of 18 months, or whenever the "experts" decide that the baby is "self-aware." From that, it's just a small step to the most profoundly mentally disabled, then another small step to the higher-functioning disabled, etc. This is the beginning of the "utilitarian" philosophy of human life -- there is no absolute value, only relative value. And, I hate to break it to you folks, but once this doctrine is embraced (as it already is, in regards to abortion, and believe me more is coming), then no human life will be safe. Your life will only be worth what value society places on it -- which is the attitude that led to the Holocaust. As one of the earliest commenters said, "You also assume that human life has intrinsic value merely by being there and being created, whilst utilitarian and some other conceptions of life-value would prefer to attribute them value according to how they are lived and how much is gained by them." See, I *do* assume that human life has intrinsic value, while people like this man *assume* they don't. It's a philosophical question that can be answered this way: You believe that human life does not have intrinsic value -- I put a gun to your head -- what do you say? "Look at how I've lived my life? See how much the world has gained by my existence?" What if I disagree with the way you've lived your life, or think the world hasn't gained anything by your existence? Do I then have the right to kill you? What if it isn't just me, but all of society -- we make the death penalty for all human organisms of your particular background (whether it's race, ethnicity, language, culture, left-handedness, etc.) -- you have to prove your worth to live, because life just isn't intrinsically valuable. How do you do that if you're 5 years old? Or 5 days old? or at 5 weeks of gestation?

Yes, when does a human life become a person? I say at conception. Prove me wrong. Just because you can't measure certain activities doesn't mean they're not taking place. Just because you haven't invented a "person-ometer" doesn't mean that personhood doesn't start until 18 months, or birth, or viability, or movement, or heartbeat, or brain-stem function.

Shuggy

"I may be wrong but isn't it the case that the foetuses we are talking about die because they cannot develop separately from the mother?"

What the commentator above was referring to was so-called 'partial-birth' abortions. My understanding is that when abortions are performed very late, the unborn child's heart is stopped, then they are cut out of the womb. Human rights wouldn't exist unless the 'right' to do this is considered sacrosanct? Nonsense. I find this idea that the 'right to ownership of one's body' extends to treating the unborn as if they were so much superfluous tissue profoundly disturbing.

Shuggy

"foetuses we are talking about die because they cannot develop separately from the mother?"

P.S. Can we factor in the whole exposing infants thing, very popular in ancient times? I think in these cases the historical record shows that 'developing independently of the mother' in the vast majority of cases proved something of a challenge - Romulus and Remus being amongst the fortunate few.

John Meredith

"Human rights wouldn't exist unless the 'right' to do this is considered sacrosanct? Nonsense. I find this idea that the 'right to ownership of one's body' extends to treating the unborn as if they were so much superfluous tissue profoundly disturbing."

It is the right to ownership of your own body that is sacrosanct. The usual thought experiment concerning this is waking up and finding another human being has been attached to you by some sort of umbilical cord. If that person could only survive from then on by maintaining that attachment would you be entitled to do rupture it? My view is that you would be entitled to, because you own your own body and the homunculous that is now attached to you cannot assert its rights over your own fundamental right. If we believe that a woman's (but not a man's) rights to self-ownership is only partial, by dint of her being a woman, we should fess up and say so. It has ramifications. If the foetus really does have rights that can be asserted over the mother's rights to self-ownership, should smoking and drinking while pregnant be made illegal? Should pregnant women be allowed to eat and do whatever they like even if it endangers the foetus? I know that many people find this emotionally difficult, but feelings are stupid, if powerful.

"P.S. Can we factor in the whole exposing infants thing, very popular in ancient times? "

No, for the simple reason that a child once born has rights as a person. We are not entitled to take away its life because its life belongs to it and not us. That is the fundamental right that we are talking about.

John Meredith

"In regards to "using my body for survival," let's not forget that in the overwhelming super-majority of all cases of abortion, the baby got there from consensual sex. Therefore, that makes the baby an invited guest. So, to kill the baby would be like me inviting you over to my house for the night, and then killing you for trespassing."

Hardly. Unless, once you arrived you insisted on feeding on me in some way, in which case I would feel perfectly entitled to ask you to leave, even if you therefore went hungry or even starved to death.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Why S&M?

Blog powered by Typepad