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Oct 17 2012

The point of viability

The day job is getting a bit intense right now so I only have time for a quick post. I’d like to address a comment made by NotAnAtheist on yesterday’s post. (The bold text is an excerpt from my post, to which NotAnAtheist is responding.)

The earliest point at which it makes sense to draw a legal line would be viability—the point where the child is formed enough to survive on its own outside the womb. At that point, if the woman wishes to terminate her pregnancy, then she can do so without killing the child, and nobody’s rights need be violated.

Well, that’s only true if the fetus is a “nobody” up until viability then afterwards its now suddenly a person, a “somebody” with rights to be violated. It can’t be both ways. If you say that before a certain point, you are certain that “nobody’s” rights are being violated and afterwards you declare abortion to be wrong, then you are drawing a line at viability.

Just to expand on what my point is here, I’m saying that personhood is a quality that emerges gradually, and thus any line that we draw arbitrarily is going to fall between two states that have few if any obvious differences between them, even if we draw that line at some point during the process of conception. In other words, the artificial line we impose on reality is not going to delineate an actual transition from a “nobody” to a “somebody.” It’s a legal fiction we use to simplify the decision-making process.

What happens at viability, then? It’s not an actual transition from “nobody” to “somebody,” as I’ve just said. “Nobody” vs. “somebody” is not a sharply-defined pair of binary alternatives, but rather they are two ends of a spectrum. Viability, then, is not the beginning of personhood, but merely the point at which the biological development is complete enough that it makes sense to consider treating the pre-person as an independent entity. (I say “point,” but viability, like personhood, is also something that emerges gradually, and varies on a case-by-case basis.)

The reason it makes sense to draw a line at viability is because (a) it’s still early enough to come some time before we reach the state of true personhood and (b) it’s late enough in the process that we can have practical alternatives to consider. Any line we draw at all is going to be wrong because there’s no objective boundary for the line to correspond to. But if we draw a line at viability, we’re as close as we can get to a fair balance between the interests of the woman and the potential interests of what will shortly become an autonomous individual human being.

195 comments

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  1. 1
    sawells

    I disagree and would say the sensible line to draw is at birth, for the simple reason that the pregnant woman is certainly a person, and persons have rights over their own body. The entire debate over “personhood” for the unborn is a smokescreen – it focuses attention on the fetus as an excuse for enslaving the woman. If you had somebody or something else colonising your abdomen and you didn’t want them in there, you would want them out of there, and should have the right to get them out of there, and their “personhood” or “rights” or even the survivability of the process for them is simply not relevant.

    Assigning legal personhood at birth is already assigning it well before real personhood anyway. The idea that the fetus becoming a “person” happens _during_ pregnancy rather than after it is, again, a smokescreen. Engaging with it means ceding ground to the “anti-abortion” side before the debate even begins. That’s dangerous.

    1. 1.1
      Brad

      Induced premature birth is an abortion. Literally. Viability just means the physical procedure changes. Lets also not forget our Macbeth- a c-section is technically an abortion, because the pregnancy isn’t ending in birth.

      The only difference becomes procedural. Why not default to having the post-viability abortion be caesarian/birth and adoption? Pragmatically speaking, letting anti-choicers “have” that one costs us nothing, and it’s not even really a win for them.

      1. No Light

        That’s a pretty awful idea actually.

        People don’t seem to realise that caesarian section is a serious surgery. It involves serious abdominal trauma, and impacts every future birth the patient might have.

        It takes a recovery period that can be months long, and has many potential side effects, some very serious. It isn’t a procedure to take lightly, and you’re shit out of luck if you have a job. You also have visible scarring, which means you’d need to disclose to sexual partners, medical professionals, or anyone who might see you naked.

        Adoption is a solution to unwanted parenting, not unwanted pregnancy. The American adoption system is incredibly unethical, infested with religion, and based on the notion that girls and women are there to produce commodities for the highest bidder, not that the first mother receives any. She’s expected to gain reward solely from the notion that she’s given a “gift” to someone who could not bear their own child.

        So the actual answer is not cutting women open at 32 weeks (earlier would produce very expensive “damaged goods”), in an expensive, risky surgery, then hundreds of thousands of dollars of NICU care for the baby. Who pays? What if the child is disabled due to it’s prematurity, and the potential adopters don’t want it? What happens to it then? What if it’s born the wrong colour, and is rejected because of that? These situations have happened before.

        The solution is comprehensive sexual and relationship education, and building self esteem in girls and young women.

        Free, easy to access birth control, especially LARCs like the Mirena IUS and Nexplanon implant.

        Abortion on demand, with costs covered by insurance, or free of charge for those who can’t afford it. Quick access to medical methods or surgical, in order to ensure that the majority of procedures (like 95%) are done before 8 weeks, and offering instant post-abortion fittings of LARCs.

        Finally, working hard to eliminate poverty, so that girls and women feel able to support a child conceived unexpectedly.

        All of the above will cut accidental pregnancy rates (50% of all US pregnancies) and drive down the abortion rate.

      2. Sercee

        This is, I think, perfect. :)
        At least insofar as I can’t think of any way to make it better.

      3. No Light

        Thank you!

        As you can probably tell, this issue means a lot to me. After reading the story yesterday, about that 14 year old girl in Florida who gave birth in secret and used scissors to pry the baby out of her, I’m even more angry about the US situation

        Ignorance clearly isn’t working.

  2. 2
    brucegee1962

    It makes sense to me that we should define the beginning of life the same way we decide its ending — by brain activity. We accord humans more rights than, say, shrimp because we have more capacity for self awareness.

    However, my proposal isn’t likely to be practical because neither side in the current debate is going to like it.

    1. 2.1
      Forbidden Snowflake

      Your proposal won’t help things, since one side is terribly concerned even with “potential life”, and the other asserts that abortion rights are based in the principle of bodily autonomy, while the question of fetal personhood is secondary.

    2. 2.2
      ibbica

      Seconding Forbidden Snowflake’s comment ;)
      And wanted to add that “brain activity” isn’t as simple as it sounds. Here’s one take on the situation, specifically referencing ‘acceptable age of abortion’:
      http://www.nytimes.com/2005/06/19/books/chapters/0619-1st-gazza.html?pagewanted=all
      Conclusions actually match those from the “viability” argument reasonably well.

  3. 3
    ibbica

    Is this ‘viability’ in the absence of further medical intervention?

    I ask because the ‘viability’ definition of a reasonable time limit has been disputed on the grounds that the date at which a fetus can survive outside the womb, with medical intervention, is being pushed further back all the time.

    Parents have an obligation* to provide medical care to their children, to the best of their ability. Does that obligation only begin when a pregnant woman decides she wants to consider her fetus a ‘baby’?

    Now, I’d say “yes”. I’m having a hard time imagining any circumstance where that would not be appropriate, with the exception of those circumstances where we’d consider the mother incompetent in making any decisions about her own body.

    Has any woman ever insisted that someone kill their viable fetus/infant, rather than (say) offering medical care and adoption without requiring further maternal involvement?

    *Moral obligation, anyway… apparently not always a ‘legal’ one.

  4. 4
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    Personhood and viability are completely and absolutely irrelevant to the question of abortion, because in each scenario there is already a viable person involved: the woman.
    Viability?
    So, the fetus is “viable*”. It usually doesn’t mean that it will survive birth. That’s why premies are most often C-sections.
    Do you want to force a woman to have a c-section because vaginal birth would kill the fetus?
    How much damage to the fetus do you consider acceptable because of early delivery?
    Stop finding scenarios in which you value the fetus higher than the woman.
    *which week do you choose? What percentage of survival do you take?

    1. 4.1
      NotAnAtheist

      So the rights of the woman trump any and all rights the child may have?

      1. Ibis3, Let's burn some bridges

        A foetus has no rights. A woman has rights to bodily autonomy, life, privacy, and security of person. Any other position entails condonation of a kind of slavery. Why is it so hard for people to grasp that it’s never okay to turn women into mere incubating machines or breeding livestock?

      2. NotAnAtheist

        Got it. A fetus has absolutely no rights. Abortion is ok in all times, in all circumstances and for all reasons, as long as we are still talking about a fetus.

        When does this “fetus” actually gain any rights?

      3. Ibis3, Let's burn some bridges

        When it’s not a foetus anymore. That is, when it’s born.

      4. Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

        Yes, you got it.
        See, fully grown people have zero rights to even an ounce of your blood, so there’s no reason why a fetus should have the right to ALL of your bodily functions.

      5. Zme

        When it is completely detached from its mother and is no longer a parasitic growth.

      6. WithinThisMind

        As long as the fetus is inside her, yes. Because it is inside her, using her body.

        If an adult male where to use a woman’s body against her will, we would call that rape.

      7. NotAnAtheist

        True.

        Then again, we don’t kill the rapist. Should we?

      8. Ibis3, Let's burn some bridges

        If a woman (or a third party) uses deadly force to remove a rapist, that’s called self-defence.

      9. NotAnAtheist

        All uses of deadly force to remove a rapist are automatically self defense?

      10. sqlrob

        If they’re in the middle of the rape, yes. Going after him afterwards requires the legal system.

        Removing a trespasser that happens to require deadly force is as well. If they’re not trespassing, it requires the legal system.

      11. WithinThisMind

        Yes. If a woman has the opportunity to kill someone in the act of sexually assaulting her, she should certainly take it if she feels comfortable doing so.

        And nobody should bitch about the rapist’s right to life or call her a murderer should that occur. Nobody should second guess her or punish her for it. And certainly, nobody should ever try to talk her out of it.

      12. pyrobryan

        To play devil’s christian’s advocate here…

        I think it’s fair to say that if an action has a known possible outcome, engaging in that action is to give consent to the outcome. If you sit down at the blackjack table, place a bet and play a hand, you know that one possible outcome is that you will lose. By placing the bet, you consent to losing the money wagered should that be the result.

        A reasonable adult knows that sex makes babies. Such a woman who willfully engages in sex knows that there is the possibility of becoming pregnant. She, in effect, gives the child consent to use her body by consenting to sex in the first place. So the idea that the baby is using her body against her will doesn’t really work.

      13. Zme

        What utter nonsense.

        If I take a pleasurable drive in the country side it is possible that I’ll be involved in an accident with a tractor-trailer and have to spend the next 9 months laid up. Although that is a possible consequence of my pleasure drive I have not given consent for that to happen.

        Same with pregnancy after some pleasurable coupling.

      14. Forbidden Snowflake

        No, that’s bullshit.
        A fertile woman who has hetero sex accepts a risk of becoming pregnant. It does not mean that she waives away her right to mitigate the harm or that she consents to the worst (for her) possible outcome of pregnancy.
        Analogy: a person who rides in a car accepts a certain risk of being killed in an accident. However, if that person is injured in an accident, denying them medical care and skipping directly to organ harvesting, because hey, they “consented” to die, is unacceptable. Even though there are sick people in need of donor organs.
        Once again (I’ve only said in three times in this thread so far): pregnancy is not a contract you sign once, it’s an invasive process which requires ongoing consent.

      15. pyrobryan

        @ZME

        Respectfully, I would argue that you did. If you knew that that was a possible outcome, no matter how small the odds, you took the risk. Of course you didn’t literally say, “I hereby give my consent to be in a wreck.” but you put yourself in the situation where it was a possibility.

      16. pyrobryan

        @snowflake

        Wow, my bad for expecting a little civil conversation. I agree with you for the most part, just putting forth a little dissenting opinion for conversation’s sake, particularly addressing the comment that being pregnant was akin to being constantly raped

        As long as the fetus is inside her, yes. Because it is inside her, using her body.

        If an adult male where to use a woman’s body against her will, we would call that rape.

      17. Nepenthe

        pyrobryan

        You can happily play devil’s advocate around this issue, but some of us have uteri and the outcomes of conversations like these have significant impacts on our lives. Given that, at minimum you should be able to withstand an occasional bullshit without whinging.

      18. pyrobryan

        Nepenthe

        So when I offer a civil and polite response I shouldn’t expect, or at least ask for some civility and respect in return?

      19. Nepenthe

        The statement that if a woman consents to sex, she consents to a full nine months of pregnancy and child-bearing regardless of how she feels about that is not particularly polite, especially when you admit that you’re only tossing it out there for shits and giggles. The fact that you didn’t use any naughty words doesn’t enter into it.

        Just remember, if you piss in the Amazon River, you’re consenting to have a candiru swim up your wang.

      20. Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

        You weren’t civil and polite.
        You argued that women shpuld be denied one of the most basic human rights for nothing else than shits and giggles.
        Your position is inherently impolite and uncivil
        It doesn’t matter if you use nice words.
        Yu can’t argue “nicely” that blacks should not be allowed to vote, you can’t have a “civil discourse” about whether gay people should be castrated and you can’t have a nice and civil conversation about whether women are just walking incubators or not.

      21. Zme

        @pyrobrain:

        In any activity there is a risk of unwanted consequences. What is at issue here is whether or not one is allowed to mitigate those consequences or if one is forced to continue those consequences to their conclusion.

        e.g. After an accident during my pleasure drive, I’d hope to be allowed access to medical care rather than be forced to honour the donor check box on my license.

        There is NO difference between that and removing the unwanted consequence of sexual activity and THAT decision belongs only to the pregnant woman (the means of abortion should be decided between her and her doctor).

        So, it is a matter of withholding consent to the conclusion of the consequences of any behaviour.

        The fact that some people insist that a foetus is a person with rights superseding that of its host is totally irrelevant. Just as I can evict a freeloading squatter from my property during the bitter chill of winter, so can a woman evict any foetus from her body.

      22. Zme

        @Nepenthe:

        “…Candiru swimming up your wang”…Ouch: that had me reflexively crossing my legs.

      23. Forbidden Snowflake

        I agree with you for the most part, just putting forth a little dissenting opinion for conversation’s sake

        So you put forth an argument that you acknowledge is bullshit “for conversation’s sake” and become offended when the argument gets called bullshit?
        And just how is calling an argument bullshit incompatible with civil conversation?

      24. sawells

        You’re discussing a fictional “child”. It’s not a child unless it gets born.

      25. Zme

        Yes.

      26. markr1957

        Unequivocally and undisputably, yes!

        A woman IS a human being with absolute right to bodily autonomy. You have to be seriously and intentionally obtuse to fail to recognize this plain and simple FACT.

        If you can’t see this you deserve to be chained down and used as a life support system for a convicted murderer who would otherwise die before a death sentence can be executed. Are you really this stupid?

  5. 5
    NotAnAtheist

    Just to expand on what my point is here, I’m saying that personhood is a quality that emerges gradually, and thus any line that we draw arbitrarily is going to fall between two states that have few if any obvious differences between them, even if we draw that line at some point during the process of conception.

    Ok. That’s fair.

    The thing is though, as I see it, there are two options:

    1. You can decide that the point at which the rights of the fetus should be considered cannot be based on anything objective, and is merely a point that is decided upon for some legal / logistical / personal / societal convenience. While this is logically valid, it leaves open the question of why not draw the lines other places? We already have articles in medical journals talking about so called “after-birth” abortions, basically saying that the “line” should be pushed back past birth.

    This to me, as far as I can see it, is the pro-choice position. Draw the line for purposes of convenience only, and if there are facts supporting your position, great! If not, no worries, just bluster.

    2. You can decide that if there are lines to be drawn at all, they should be drawn as safely and as conservatively as possible and be based on the best data possible to avoid killing those who are “enough of” a person to have a right to life. Note that this does not mean that we must draw the line at conception. Nor does this absolutely mandate that one must believe that “before time X all abortions are ok and after X they are wrong.” It is the belief that we should act on the side of caution, and not convenience when deciding when the rights of the child should even be considered (note, I said considered, not necessarily honored).

    This, to me is a “nuanced” position, and it is also one that is completely incompatible (as I see it) with the pro choice position.

    1. 5.1
      WithinThisMind

      You’ve forgotten a particular ‘nuance’ in your position.

      There is a person involved.

      The woman.

      Why do you so easily dismiss her from the equation?

      1. NotAnAtheist

        I don’t dismiss her at all.

        Why do you easily dismiss the child?

      2. Nepenthe

        I hardly forget about the fetus, but a being with less sentient awareness than a rat ranks lower than pretty much any concern of a self-aware person. Even though I really like rats I think it’s ethical to, say, use them in biological experiments and biological experimentation is much lower priority, morally speaking, than the bodily autonomy of a person.

      3. NotAnAtheist

        Now we’ve shifted from “personhood” to “sentient awareness”. Is your criteria now that if someone doesn’t have enough “sentient awareness” its ok to kill them?

        You speak of rats being used in biological experiments. First, its worth noting that the morality of that is hardly universally agreed on. Second, even if you think that its ok to use rats in biological experiments, do you think its ok to kill them for reasons of convenience?

      4. Nepenthe

        Now we’ve shifted from “personhood” to “sentient awareness”.

        Self-awareness has always been my criteria for personhood. What’s yours?

        Is your criteria now that if someone doesn’t have enough “sentient awareness” its ok to kill them?

        Not particularly. If an entity does not have self-awareness, it’s interests do not outweigh the interests of an entity that is self-aware and non-sentient entities have no interests at all.

        Second, even if you think that its ok to use rats in biological experiments, do you think its ok to kill them for reasons of convenience?

        What do you think rat traps do exactly?

        I was wondering when you’d bring up “convenience”. Ah, the forced-birther tips his hand. Must punish those slutty sluts who run out and get abortions at 38 weeks because they don’t fit into their favorite skirt.

      5. Nepenthe

        This is a paste of my response to NotAnAtheist at 5.1.1.1, since it got squished to unreadability.

        Now we’ve shifted from “personhood” to “sentient awareness”.

        Self-awareness has always been my criteria for personhood. What’s yours?

        Is your criteria now that if someone doesn’t have enough “sentient awareness” its ok to kill them?

        Not particularly. If an entity does not have self-awareness, it’s interests do not outweigh the interests of an entity that is self-aware and non-sentient entities have no interests at all.

        Second, even if you think that its ok to use rats in biological experiments, do you think its ok to kill them for reasons of convenience?

        What do you think rat traps do exactly?

        I was wondering when you’d bring up “convenience”. Ah, the forced-birther tips his hand. Must punish those slutty sluts who run out and get abortions at 38 weeks because they don’t fit into their favorite skirt.

      6. Nepenthe

        Oh fuck.

      7. NotAnAtheist

        Not particularly. If an entity does not have self-awareness, it’s interests do not outweigh the interests of an entity that is self-aware and non-sentient entities have no interests at all.

        This is just a rephrasing of what I said. If you don’t have self-awareness, then its ok to kill you. Your rights and/or interests don’t outweigh anyone else’s, including your right to life.

        What do you think rat traps do exactly?

        Not all rat traps kill, and not all people set down rat traps for reasons of convenience.

        As for the rest of the post, when you’re read to actually talk to me, I’ll be here. If you just want to make up a stereotype of me, then go ahead and converse with it. I have more important things.

      8. sawells

        You mean “fetus”. Not a child. You keep valuing a fictional child above a real woman, as here:

        http://www.thepaincomics.com/Guide%20to%20Compassion.jpg

      9. NotAnAtheist

        Sawells,

        I am trying to value both. You are only ever concerned about the woman, and I wonder when you ever become concerned about the child at all?

      10. Tracey

        I’ve noticed that about NAA, too. The rights, desires, and hopes of the woman are secondary to a 64-cell clump. NAA also persists in thinking that abortions are routinely carried out in the seconds before birth.

      11. Nepenthe

        I am trying to value both.

        Any examples?

      12. NotAnAtheist

        I love how people here seem absolutely unable to actually read the words I type, and instead persist on attacking whatever convenient strawman of me they happen to like.

      13. Nepenthe

        The fact that you keep dodging direct questions about your opinions may explain why people assume that you hold to the standard forced-birth positions.

      14. sqlrob

        I am trying to value both.

        Your comment in another thread that says the line should be conception shows that for a lie.

      15. WithinThisMind

        She didn’t appear in any of your scenarios.

        And it isn’t a child. It’s a fetus.

        But even if it was a ‘child’, capable of complex emotions, dreams, calculus, ballet, and sky-diving, it STILL wouldn’t have the right to be using a woman’s body against her will.

        9 out of 10 times the fertilized ova doesn’t make it to the ‘born’ stage in viable condition.

        I wrote this on my blog, and it think it’s applicable here.

        I hear the phrase ‘right to life’ tossed about constantly as though it means something.

        So what is this ‘right to life’ we all have? What does this ‘right’ give us?

        If I need a kidney transplant, does my ‘right to life’ mean I get to take a kidney from the first compatible individual I find regardless of how they feel about it? What if it’s bone marrow? A liver? Heart? Blood?

        What if it’s just food and shelter? When then do the folks that beat people over the head with the concept of ‘right to life’ also predominately show a tendency to oppose welfare? Not to mention universal health care?

        As mentioned before, my husband relies on a daily dose of a particular medication for his survival. Does that mean he has a ‘right’ to that medication? It’s a couple hundred bucks a month coming out of our pocket. What about his ‘right to life’?

        And on the flip side, what about the ‘right to life’ of somebody in the process of committing a violent crime? Or committing a crime that a person reasonably suspects is going to involve violence?

        What about enemy combatants? Or even just folks who are ‘collateral damage’? What about their ‘right to life’? We are capable of feeding the world, but a couple hundred children have starved to death since I started writing this post. What about their ‘right to life’? For the cost of the campaign in a single state to strip women of their right of bodily autonomy, we could save a years worth of starving children. That’s over 15 million, btw.

        So please, someone tell me, what exactly is ‘right to life’? Who has a ‘right to life’?

        You, so adamant about protecting the life of the child – how many kids have you adopted? How much of your salary do you donate to programs designed to provide food and water to hungry kids? When did you last donate blood? Bone marrow? Did you get a compatibility test to determine if somebody needed your kidney, and if compatible, when did you donate your kidney?

      16. Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

        Nobody dismisses children.
        Fetus =/= child, baby, kid
        People declare that fetuses don’t get any special rights nobody else gets in societs, namely the right to use somebody’s body for their own benefit against that person’s will.

        Again, the question of personhood is absolutely irrelevant.

      17. Zme

        There is no “child” to dismiss. The only person is the pregnant woman.

    2. 5.2
      Zme

      What arrant nonsense!

      There is only one person’s wishes to consider and those belong to the pregnant woman.

      I don’t care if the foetus is a fully aware concert violinist playing Mozart’s 3rd violin concerto on its tiny Amati, if the woman who is supporting this foetal genius wishes to evict it from her womb, then procedure should be done.

  6. 6
    Nepenthe

    I’m extremely wary of using the limit of viability as a legal brightline, both for the reasons Giliell mentions and the definition of viability itself. Limit of viability is defined as the point at which the survival rate of a preterm infant is greater than 50% with extraordinary medical intervention. It does not take into account prognosis, nor does it take into account cost.

    The costs of a several month stay in a NICU–we’re talking millions of dollars per–for an unwanted infant with only a 25% chance of avoiding severe disability is at least something to take into account. Who pays? The state? The birth mother? The adoptive parents in the unlikely case that they are found?

    1. 6.1
      WithinThisMind

      Everyone identifying and voting pro-life must pay an additional tax that will be used to pay for the ‘extraordinary medical intervention’ as well as any long term care that is needed.

      It’s past time they put up or shut up.

    2. 6.2
      NotAnAtheist

      So if a fetus / infant costs to much, its ok to kill it/them?

      1. Nepenthe

        I don’t believe in providing futile care to any human. Withdrawing non-palliative care is not the same as killing.

      2. NotAnAtheist

        Ok.
        Who decides what care is “futile”?

        You seem to imply that if an infant has to spend months in an NICU with only 25% chance of not being severly disabled, that sort of care is “futile” and so its ok to let them die if that’s the mother’s wish. Note, here we are past all issues of “personhood”, “fetus”, or anything like that. The only issue seems to be cost.

        If it costs to much to keep them alive, let ‘em die. Do I have you right?

      3. WithinThisMind

        You are the one demanding an attempt be made to save them. Ante up.

        Pay for all prenatal care, including a stipend if pregnancy related issues make working and other activities difficult. Pay for all the costs involved with the labor and birth, for all the medical needs of the child through age 18 and for all after care required of the mother. This will include a minimum of 6 weeks of full salary for the mother, but possibly longer as pregnancy complications are commonplace. It will also include food, shelter, clothing, and education for the child.

        You will also need to donate blood as often as possible, as well as bone marrow, and a kidney should someone need yours during the period of pregnancy.

        You think nothing of asking others to take on these responsibilities, so I point out, bluntly, YOU FIRST.

      4. NotAnAtheist

        Within,

        I see. Since you don’t think anyone should have to “take responsibility” you’re for killing the prenatal kids. Got it.

        If its too hard.. just kill them.

        I find it absolutely laughable that I’m the one being accused of being a selfish jackass when I’m trying to at least attempt to care about both women and children, while all the liberals here with their “just kill them if its too difficult” attitude view themselves as models of caring and tolerance.

      5. Bill Openthalt

        Withdrawing non-palliative care is not the same as killing.

        And performing an abortion is not the same as withdrawing non-palliative care.

      6. Zme

        A foetus can be evicted from the womb at the pregant woman’s discretion.

    3. 6.3
      Bill Openthalt

      @Nepenthe:
      You’re being disingenious. The objective is to determine when we consider an unborn child to be a person, even though it depends upon another person (the mother). The idea is not that the child would be removed from the womb and placed in an NICU as an alternative to abortion.

      The fact that keeping a very premature child alive requires considerable resources only comes into play when its parents want to keep it alive and the mother cannot carry it to term.

      My understanding of Deacon Duncan’s argument is that if it is possible to do keep the child alive outside the womb, it should no longer be aborted.

      1. Nepenthe

        The idea is not that the child would be removed from the womb and placed in an NICU as an alternative to abortion.

        Well, the only other option is to force the gravida to carry the fetus to term, making them into a womb on legs. Consider the sort of person who has an abortion at 24 weeks. There are a few options there, someone who’s been stymied in earlier attempts to obtain an abortion by forced-birther’s legal maneuvering, someone who’s discovered that something is wrong with the fetus, or someone for whom 6 months of missed menses doesn’t make them suspicious of pregnancy, like a developmentally disabled person or a young girl or a person in a coma. Are you okay with turning a 12 year old, or a coma patient who’s been raped into an object? Force a person to carry a fetus to term whose only experience of consciousness will be a few hours of agony?

      2. Bill Openthalt

        The cases you describe are complex and thought-provoking, but not representative of the majority of abortus cases. No rule or law can cover all cases, and those confronted with such exceptions have to do a lot of soul-searching and make very difficult decisions.

        Would you agree with Deacon Duncan’s proposal provided exceptional cases are treated on a case-by-case basis?

      3. sawells

        Why don’t you let actual women do their own soul-searching and decision-making.

      4. Nepenthe

        Of course they’re not the majority of abortion cases, since the vast majority occur before the point of viability. If you want to talk about abortions after the point of viability, these “exceptions” are the cases you’re talking about. These are the people forced to carry to term if abortions are banned after the point of viability.

        No, I don’t accept legally dealing with “exceptions” on a case by case basis. When you put that through the legal system, women die. End of story.

      5. Bill Openthalt

        @sawells: Where did I say the women should not be involved? Nepenthe cited the case of a comatose woman, so quite clearly other people than she will have to make the decision…

        @Nepenthe: Where did I say “legal?”

        Both: none of us is truly independent of others. Balancing our needs with those of others is something we all have to do.

        Deciding when an “entity” is human will always be arbitrary. There have been moments in history when children were not considered human, where women were considered less than human, where people with differen skin colour were not seen as human, where people from another religion or tribe were not seen as human, and it was moral (and even virtuous) to kill them.

        Our moral development is not defined by whom we exclude from humanity, but whom we include. As a vegan, I avoid killing living things that can feel pain. I know it is arbitrary, and that killing is an integral part of life. I cannot condemn the killing of shrimp, and be in favour of abortion until the moment of birth (from 37 weeks on a child is deemed “full-term”, and can live without medical assistance).

      6. Tracey

        98% of abortions are done before 12 weeks despite anti-choicers’ best efforts. Calling an embryo a child is extremely disingenuous and very hurtful to anyone who’s miscarried a 12-weeker, a 16-weeker, a 20-weeker, a 26-weeker, and so forth. A zygote/embryo/fetus is a POTENTIAL child, and any number of things can go horribly wrong in even the most wanted, lovingly-cared-for pregnancy. Sperm meeting egg is no guarantee of the birth of a baby–not even close, because 2/3 of all conceptions end in miscarriage.

      7. Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

        The idea is not that the child would be removed from the womb and placed in an NICU as an alternative to abortion.

        ahh, so it’s just the good old question when it’s OK to enslave women.
        Actually, what would be the sense of defining the cutting-off line as “viability outside of the womb” when it’s then not removed from the womb?

      8. Bill Openthalt

        ahh, so it’s just the good old question when it’s OK to enslave women.
        Actually, what would be the sense of defining the cutting-off line as “viability outside of the womb” when it’s then not removed from the womb?

        It has nothing to do with enslavement, but with the support society is prepared to give to women who want to abort. There are a number of cases where pregnancy is the result of violence, and such pregnancies can be terminated early. No-one is arguing the christian viewpoint here.

        The question is which entities that do not have all the characteristics of a “normal” adult, does society recognise as human, and worthy of its protection. There is no obvious answer, because humanity is a spectrum. We consider people with physical deviations from the norm to be fully human. We consider people with very restricted cognitive abilities to be fully human. We consider a newborn (which is totally dependent on help from society for its survival for at least 3 years) as fully human. We consider people with dementia to be fully human, and we even consider psychopaths to be human.

        Quite clearly, lack of self-sufficiency, deficient or divergent faculties, deviant behaviour and abnormal body features are not criteria for humanity. Being in a womb doesn’t stand out as an obvious criterion for non-humanity, especially if the entity could live unassisted (or at least, as unassisted as a new-born) outside of the womb. After all, it’s not like the foetus had any choice in the matter of its conception and location.

        It has been observed that most terminations happen before viability, and it is clear that women whose pregnancy is the result of violence can abort, with full support from society, long before viability. It is also obvious that even a simple change of heart is sufficient cause for termination prior to viability.

        So the issue seems to be whether changing one’s opinion over a pregnancy after viability is sufficient reason to abort, up to the moment of birth. Is actually anyone seriously suggesting this? If so, would they support killing the new-born, within a reasonable period of time, if the parents don’t feel like supporting it?

      9. Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

        So, you’ve written many words to tell us that you, too, don’t understand what “bodily autonomy” means?
        The moment you rule what people can and cannot do to their own body you and decide that other “people” get to use their body for their own good you enslave them.
        This has zero to do with any questions about the point after birth when said entity is no longer using the body of another person.

        Do I say that if a woman has a “change of mind” at 24 weeks she can just have an abortion?
        Hell yes I do!
        Not that this flimsy creature probably exists, because I actually consider women in general to be average people who are capable of making rational decisions taking others needs into account and not the unsteady, flimsy, half-children who need to be told how long they are allowed to stay up are allowed to own their own body, prseumably by people who only know about pregnancy from hear-say.

      10. Bill Openthalt

        @Giliell: I have spent weeks without any bodily autonomy, strapped to medical devices and needing assistance for every function, and fully aware of my position. I am lucky to be alive, and I appreciate it. A lot.

        There is no issue with early abortions. There is no issue with abortions to save the life of woman, whenever. There is an issue with protecting a helpless being that did not ask to be conceived.

        I see you avoid my question, and mention a change of heart at 24 weeks, which is of course not much more than 23 weeks. And 25 weeks isn’t a lot more than 24 weeks, and so forth and so on. But the discussion was not about a couple of weeks more or less than 23 weeks, it was about up to the moment of birth.

        Would you consider giving your opinion on aborting a full-term foetus of, say, 37 weeks? Is this morally different from killing a one-hour old newborn, just because the newborn is no longer in the womb? The only thing I know is that I would consider both acts equally immoral.

      11. Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

        I have spent weeks without any bodily autonomy, strapped to medical devices and needing assistance for every function, and fully aware of my position. I am lucky to be alive, and I appreciate it. A lot.

        OK you don’t understand what bodily autonomy means.
        Tell me, at that time, where you strapped to the devices against your will? Did somebody come in an tell you that “well, we’re sorry you’re uncomfortable, but you know, we need to carry this on because somebody else is strapped to the same devices and receives your blood?”
        If not, no, you had bodily autonomy.

        So, this fictional woman has a change of heart at 37 weeks.* So, what do you think, how would she be able to have an abortion, i.e. end the pregnancy?
        Do you think that they can just magic it out?
        Lets see:
        A) A c-section (with her consent, of course) What you end up with is, tadaaa, a baby!
        B) Induce birth. Because c-section scars are ugly. So, she goes into labour, ends the pregnancy and oops, there’s a baby again!
        You gotta be really dishonest or really ignorant on the basics of human reproduction to pose the question of a “37 weeks abortion”

        *Because we all know how women are. Terribly flimsy creature. She makes it through 37 weeks of pregnancy, has painted a nursery, invested hundreds or thousands into baby-stuff and now it’s really just too much for her feeble ladymind. Those last weeks are annoying as fuck and now she just wants it out, fit into her hot black dress and go to a party on Saturday. No wonder you need to treat them like something a bit better than a farm animal. That’s because she can make sandwiches.

      12. Bill Openthalt

        @Giliell: This is not about my understanding bodily autonomy as per your definition. That being said, I did find myself on life support because I was hit by a car, so it wasn’t by choice. I was operated based on my parent’s approval (I was unconscious when it mattered).

        You are still not answering my question. Given that you feel that a woman’s right to do with her body as she pleases, trumps the right to life of a foetus whatever its age, would you support aborting a full-term foetus? If so, what is the moral distinction between this and killing a one-hour old newborn?

        We already agree on aborting a non-viable foetus for any reason, even a whim. So, supposing the woman originally wanted the baby, but changed her mind after 36 weeks (“I originally like the idea of a child, but I no longer like it”), would “responsibility for one’s actions(*)” not enter into the considerations, or does the right to “bodily autonomy” trump everything? [Please note that I don't believe any woman would actually do this, but some of the strident comments make me doubt, and we're talking principles.]

        (*) Society does, for example, not allow people to breach contracts simply because they had a change of heart. Arguably, deciding to have a baby is a kind of contract between the woman, the man and the human-to-be…

      13. Forbidden Snowflake

        (*) Society does, for example, not allow people to breach contracts simply because they had a change of heart. Arguably, deciding to have a baby is a kind of contract between the woman, the man and the human-to-be…

        Society also does not allow people to sell themselves into slavery. Pregnancy is not a contract sealed with a one-time signature, it’s a process which requires ongoing consent. Why? Because making a human being inside your damn body is a deeply invasive process that is not at all comparable to an obligation to pay a cable provider 50$/month for 3 years.

      14. Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

        Bill Opphalt
        So, if you were a minor your parents made the decission based on their role as legal guardians. If you were an adult and didn’t have made your preferences known, then people had to guess your will. In neither case there was another person who directly profited from using your body (I suppose they didn’t also take out one of your kidneys and donate it) and you were obviously unable to make your will known in that situation.
        Adults can refuse medical intervention, to force them onto them is a violation of bodily autonomy.
        Unless you haven’t noticed so far, women are not unconscious teenagers who have
        A) limited cognitive abilities
        B) can’t talk anyway because, duh, they’re unconscious.

        Also, I answered your question. She can, of course, terminate the pregnancy and she gets the final say as to what is done to her body and what isn’t.
        The thing you seem to be unable to understand is that this doesn’t have to kill the fetus, although it is possible.
        Do you understand that, apart from a few cases they actual goal of an abortion is not to kill, kill, kill, but to become “unpregnant”?
        That’s why adoption is not a solution, even if adoption and foster-systems were 100% perfect.
        At 36 weeks the process of becoming “unpregnant” is called giving birth.
        But let’s say that this involves killing the fetus, just talking about planet Prolifia where fetuses will only survive if they’re delivered at exactly 40 weeks or where OB/Gyns will solve the problem with an in-utero chainsaw:
        What’s the difference between aborting the fetus at 36 weeks and killing it 1 hour after birth?
        Again, the one thing you seem to be incapable of understanding (or simply don’t consider to be important anyway): the woman. This involves her body. She wants to get the alien out she gets it out. The fetus is a guest in her body and I’m damn well allowed to kick out guests whenever I feel like.

      15. Bill Openthalt

        @Giliell: Again, the one thing you seem to be incapable of understanding (or simply don’t consider to be important anyway): the woman. This involves her body. She wants to get the alien out she gets it out. The fetus is a guest in her body and I’m damn well allowed to kick out guests whenever I feel like.
        Not if it would result in their death, or put them in danger. Don’t forget that you invited them (and yes, we have already excluded cases of violence). Many countries have a “duty to rescue” law, and there are good ethical (cf. Peter Singer) reasons to render assistance to people in danger.

        I am fully aware of the right of all humans to bodily autonomy. We are trying to determine whom we consider human, and how best to protect the rights of all.

      16. Forbidden Snowflake

        Not if it would result in their death, or put them in danger.

        Actually, mortal danger does not trump bodily autonomy. That is why people aren’t obliged to donate blood, bone marrow and organs. That’s right, the law values the bodily autonomy of someone who’s already dead higher than the possibility to save someone’s life using the dead person’s organs.

        Don’t forget that you invited them (and yes, we have already excluded cases of violence).

        Irrelevant. This is not a contract; consent has to be ongoing. You’ve already been told this, and failed to address the argument.

      17. Nepenthe

        Don’t forget that you invited them (and yes, we have already excluded cases of violence).

        In the case of birth control failure, the fetus is hardly invited. It’s like saying that if someone manages to pick the lock on your front door, they’re invited to the party you’re having inside.

        And when precisely did we exclude “cases of violence” (nice euphemism, btw). How do you exclude cases of violence, in terms of policy and procedure? Do you need a rape conviction–in which case the point is moot because it’s probably a few years after the rape?

        Also, re: bodily autonomy. Come back and lecture us about how you were deprived of bodily autonomy when you’ve been detained in a hospital against your will. I have. Having life-saving surgery to which you consented is not at all comparable–I’ve done that too.

      18. Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

        Don’t forget that you invited them (and yes, we have already excluded cases of violence).

        Fucking bullshit.
        Number of times I had sex: 4 digit number
        Number of times I “invited” a fetus in: 1 digit number.
        Consent to sex is no more constent to pregnancy than walking down the street is wanting to get run over by a car.

      19. Anonymouse

        “The fact that keeping a very premature child alive requires considerable resources only comes into play when its parents want to keep it alive and the mother cannot carry it to term. ”

        I see. So you couldn’t care less about keeping a born baby alive. The cord is cut, you’re through with it as a weapon to beat the pregnant woman over the head with, are most anti-choicers. So, your objection to abortion is not the precious, precious CHILD. What is your objection to abortion? The typical anti-choice memes are 1) hatred of those slutty mcslut-sluts who are getting sex the anti-choicers WISH they were getting, 2) hatred of women in general coupled with control-freak tendencies against people you’ve never met.

      20. Bill Openthalt

        I merely said that the expense of keeping alive a viable foetus is not relevant when it comes to determining personhood.

        Why do you think I do not care about keeping a born baby alive? Because I mention cost? The cost matters because resources are never infinite. Parents of a very young premature might decide that several months in a NICU and a real risk of neurological damage are not worth the emotional and financial investment. Or they might decide it is worth it, and I would respect their decision either way.

        I have no objection against aborting a non-viable foetus. If at any time the continuation of a pregnancy puts the mother at risk, I would unhesitatingly put the life of the mother first. I would like to say I would respect the wishes of the mother if she would prefer to save the child, but for entirely selfish reasons I could not bear to lose my friend, partner and wife, so I am happy I haven’t had to face this dilemma.

        As Deacon Duncan says, we have to draw the line somewhere. We have to make an arbitrary decision, and to avoid the risks of abuse, I am in favour of including as many entities (for lack of a better word) in our definition of humanity or personhood. Drawing the line at birth reminds me too much of excesses of the (recent and not so recent) past.

        There are no such things as absolute rights. We live in a society, and our actions often do affect others. Fortunately, as a society we’ve moved away from using a sky-fairy to control what we do in our bedrooms and even our private thoughts, but the moment our actions involve others, we have to include their rights in our considerations. Even if you exclude the un-born from personhood, an abortion requires the involvement of medical personnel to kill the foetus in utero (I’m using the NHS definition an abortion is the medical process of ending a pregnancy so that it does not result in the birth of a baby).

        Obviously, if they remove the foetus alive from the uterus, it would be immoral to kill it (it is no longer in the woman’s body and hence is a person), and it would have to be adopted or placed in an orphanage, which means involving society. If the foetus is viable but not full-term, and not wanted by the mother (why else would she want it removed), the responsibility to provide medical care for the premature child would fall on society.

        This means it is no longer a question of bodily autonomy of the woman alone, and that as a society, we have to define personhood so that as as many rights of as many people as possible are respected.

      21. Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

        As Deacon Duncan says, we have to draw the line somewhere.

        Which line?
        The line when we define personhood?
        Or the line where we cut off abortions?
        Because those are two different things.

        We have to make an arbitrary decision,

        No, we don’t. We have one very objective line. It’s called birth. It’s the moment when we speak about two seperate entities. It’s also a point where some extreme qualitative changes happen.
        Laypeople often think that “location” is the main differnce between fetus and neonatal. It ain’t so. Several very important things change at birth, especially considering the level of consciousness and awareness. Fetuses exist in a low-oxygen environment.

        and to avoid the risks of abuse, I am in favour of including as many entities (for lack of a better word) in our definition of humanity or personhood.

        Again, the question of fetal personhood is absolutely irrelevant, because nobody alive today who is a person under the strictest definition of the term has those rights, aka unlimited access to another person’s body, that you want to give a fetus.

      22. Bill Openthalt

        @Gilliel: I am considering your very forceful assertions.

        I have one question:

        I understand your guest analogy correctly, you consider the foetus to be a foreign entity, not a part of the woman’s body.

        If the foetus is merely a part of the body, it is obvious that it does not have more rights than any other part of the body. If it is a guest, then pondering if it has rights makes sense.

      23. Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

        The fetus is, biologically speaking, a parasite.
        I know, that’s not a nice word, but that’s what it is: a foreign entity (yes, of course it is, its DNA is remarkably different from hers and so on) leeching off the host’s body and resources without any consideration for the wellbeing of said host. Fetuses can kill their hosts.

      24. Nepenthe

        /begin parasitologist pedanticism

        Traditionally, parasites must be different species (and eukaryotes and stay in sustained contact with their host and…). It’s a somewhat arbitrary definition, but I doubt that any parasitologist would classify a fetus as a parasite.

        This meme annoys me almost as much as the “blob of cells” meme.

        /end parasitologist pedanticism

      25. Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

        OK, so, speaking from the layperson’s perspective, is there any other thing except the species criterion that is different?
        If not, the definitions sounds like it’s convenietly excluding fetuses for the obvious reasons…

      26. Nepenthe

        *dons biology hat*

        Mainly, a parasite is supposed to be something that decreases fitness. Progeny, pretty much by definition, increase fitness. If you were going to characterize fetuses in terms of symbiosis, you’d call it a mutualism: fetus gets, like, everything, female whatever gets her genes passed on, everybody wins.

        Plus, if you put fetuses into the parasite category, you also allow some more bizarre associations between conspecific organisms to be considered parasitism, even though they’re mutually beneficial. Through the migraine, I can think of dwarf males, which “parasitize” a much, much larger female (see The Oatmeal on how anglerfish do this).

        I dunno, just because a mutualistic relationship can go wrong for one or more of the participants doesn’t mean it’s parasitic, especially for pregnancy, when the “go wrong” can go both ways. (Humans can’t do the resorption of the fetus thing, but a lot of mammals can. I think humans do other anti-fetus sorts of things sometimes. *shrug* Humans have too many legs for me to be much interested in them.)

        *takes off biology hat*

        But, I mean, the terminology doesn’t change anything about the situation or the risks of pregnancy.

      27. Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

        nephente
        Interesting. So, the benefit is solely calculated on basis of procreation. Makes evolutionary sense.
        Shitty deal for the woman whose personal fitness is always decreased. No body is in a better condition after pregnancy than before.

    4. 6.4
      Brad

      It would be part of the social safety net we should have. A safety net that would all but eliminate unwanted pregnancies through education and the proliferation of birth control anyway, so it wouldn’t be a frequent thing.

      The anti-choicers are ironically the main obstacle in the way of statistical zero unwanted pregnancies (in America, anyway) because they also oppose birth control and sex ed. Winning the contraceptive and sex ed thing is, I think, a bigger/better win than getting to fatally* abort later, though I have no idea if viability as the limit is a practical hindrance for women rather than “merely” a philosophic suboptimalism or a potential problem in the time between the development of (say) gestation pods and a way to get the parasite out intact that isn’t more burdensome on the women than contemporaneous regular abortion.

      *differentiating between what we think of as an abortion and the also-aboritons that end with a baby instead.

      1. NotAnAtheist

        It would be part of the social safety net we should have. A safety net that would all but eliminate unwanted pregnancies through education and the proliferation of birth control anyway, so it wouldn’t be a frequent thing.

        That would be great. Though I’m curious. If abortion before… whenever is perfectly ok, why bother to try and minimize it?

        I mean, if abortion was perfectly fine ho hum, no problem (after all… its just a fetus with absolutely no rights or priviledges), we could probably save some money by almost completely gutting the foster care system. Just make sure any time a fetus, if he were to be delivered, would go to foster care, he’s aborted instead.

      2. Forbidden Snowflake

        If abortion before… whenever is perfectly ok, why bother to try and minimize it?

        An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Not getting pregnant in the first place is easier in every way and less risky than getting pregnant, then having an abortion.
        There’s nothing immoral about getting a root canal, but people should still be taught and encouraged to floss.

        Just make sure any time a fetus, if he were to be delivered, would go to foster care, he’s aborted instead.

        How do we “make sure” of that? By forcing at-risk women to abort? You have no clue what “pro-choice” means, do you?

      3. NotAnAtheist

        I think that “pro-choice” means that you believe that all abortions, for any reason, at any time are absolutely and completely acceptable and must not be hindered, restricted, and must be done absolutely without any cost to the woman.. up and until a certain magical point where now suddenly, because the law sez so, its now wrong.

      4. Forbidden Snowflake

        You’ve been explained the principle of bodily autonomy multiple times in all three abortion threads. After that, claiming that “pro-choice” means supporting forced abortions makes you a malevolent liar who doesn’t deserve to be addressed as an honest interlocutor.

      5. NotAnAtheist

        You’ve been explained the principle of bodily autonomy multiple times in all three abortion threads. After that, claiming that “pro-choice” means supporting forced abortions makes you a malevolent liar who doesn’t deserve to be addressed as an honest interlocutor.

        Good thing I’ve never said that then. I told you what I think pro-choice means. I even posted it right above this comment. How you get from what I said, to what you think I said, is beyond me.

      6. Forbidden Snowflake

        You suggested that if there’s nothing wrong with abortions, then

        Just make sure any time a fetus, if he were to be delivered, would go to foster care, he’s aborted instead.

        “Any time”. Including, obviously, cases in which the pregnant person wants to complete the pregnancy.
        I asked you specifically whether you were implying that being pro-choice means supporting forced abortions, and you replied by saying that you think being pro-choice means supporting “all abortions for any reason”, a category which obviously includes forced abortions, about which you were specifically asked.

        So yes, you absolutely did claim that being pro-choice means being in favor of forced abortions. If you didn’t mean to, take it back, but there’s no use to lying that you didn’t say what you clearly said.

      7. Zme

        Why is abortion undesirable? Because it is a medical procedure with its associated dangers and discomforts.

        In order of danger to a woman (highest danger first):
        1) Pregnancy carried to term
        2) Pregnancy aborted
        3) Fucking but not getting pregnant.
        4) Not fucking

        There would be no discussion (or humanity) if item (4) were the choice of every woman, so let’s forget that.

        Item (3) seems to be the way. This requires comprehensive sex ed and easily available, effective conception control. Some non-condom STD control would be good as well (a vaccine against AIDs, Herpes, Syphilis, Gonorrhea, Chlamydia et al would be great).

        Item (2) must be available on demand for when (3) fails or in cases of forced sex.

        Item (1) must be the choice of ONLY the pregnant woman.

      8. Len

        This. Exactly.

  7. 7
    Ibis3, Let's burn some bridges

    Viability, then, is not the beginning of personhood, but merely the point at which the biological development is complete enough that it makes sense to consider treating the pre-person as an independent entity. (I say “point,” but viability, like personhood, is also something that emerges gradually, and varies on a case-by-case basis.)

    Viability does not an “independent entity” make. That point is called “birth”.

    And on another note, yes, it’s possible to rescue babies born prematurely but you know what? They’re not fully developed. Which means they often suffer horribly and not just for the first couple of years of life, if they live so long. If you’re going to force women to give birth anyway, it’s stupid to make them do it before the pregnancy comes to full term. In effect, then, you’re saying that because it’s *possible* that *if* the foetus were a child out here, we *might* be able to keep it alive through radical medical intervention, we’re going to make you maintain your pregnancy and make you give birth against your will. For the sake of an entity that has far less sentience or sapience or consciousness than the pig that was slaughtered without a second thought for the bacon I had for breakfast.

    1. 7.1
      Bill Openthalt

      @Ibis3:

      Viability does not an “independent entity” make. That point is called “birth”.

      The point is indeed to determine when an unborn human is an entity that has far less sentience or sapience or consciousness than the pig that was slaughtered without a second thought for the bacon I had for breakfast. It is certain that sentience and sapience do not magically start at birth, but are present far earlier (as any woman who has had children will confirm).

      1. Nepenthe

        It is certain that sentience and sapience do not magically start at birth, but are present far earlier.

        Really? Do share your evidence, especially for sapience (aka self-awareness).

        You might find this paper interesting.

      2. sawells

        Oh, you and your clearly written well-referenced peer-reviewed scientific evidence! You’re never going to convince HasAnImaginaryFriend like that!

      3. Nepenthe

        Heh. You seem to have confused “amusing myself on a Wednesday morning while having my tea and avoiding homework” with “trying to convince a theist to be ethical”. One’s an entirely futile cause but the other is going quite well.

      4. Bill Openthalt

        Being born doesn’t trigger sentience or sapience (which, dependent on the exact definition, might not arrive before age 3). It’s an ongoing process that starts in the womb.

        In any case, using levels of sentience, sapience or any other characteristic could lead to killing those we, as stronger party, find inconvenient or troublesome, which was the sense of my comment.

      5. sawells

        Making a highly dubious statement with the preface “It is certain that…” earns you no points. Possibly you confused “mobility” with “sentience”?

      6. Bill Openthalt

        Nope. From about the 9th gestational week onward, a human foetus will react to loud sounds, and by the end of the second trimester, its hearing is fairly well developed. The foetus is also building up memories from the sounds in the womb (not a silent place), which is why white noise has a calming effect on infants.

      7. Ibis3, Let's burn some bridges

        From about the 9th gestational week onward, a human foetus will react to loud sounds

        So do goldfish.

      8. Anonymouse

        Link on this extraordinary claim, please? As someone who has been pregnant and has children, I do not believe that something that has no ears, no brain, and no nervous system will react to sounds.

      9. Ibis3, Let's burn some bridges

        Do your research. Not even a human neonate can compete with a pig in terms of cognition and awareness, let alone a premature foetus:

        When put in a pen with a mirror in it, young pigs made movements while apparently looking at their image. After 5 h spent with a mirror, the pigs were shown a familiar food bowl, visible in the mirror but hidden behind a solid barrier. Seven out of eight pigs found the food bowl in a mean of 23 s by going away from the mirror and around the barrier. Naïve pigs shown the same looked behind the mirror. The pigs were not locating the food bowl by odour, did not have a preference for the area where the food bowl was and did not go to that area when the food bowl was visible elsewhere. To use information from a mirror and find a food bowl, each pig must have observed features of its surroundings, remembered these and its own actions, deduced relationships among observed and remembered features and acted accordingly. This ability indicates assessment awareness in pigs.

        -Pigs learn what a mirror image represents and use it to obtain information

        Show me a study that demonstrates that a human neonate has this level of self-awareness and cognitive ability.

        And you have yet to make a case for why this should be “the point” in a discussion of when a woman’s right to autonomy can be stripped.

      10. Bill Openthalt

        Not going there. My point was about the apparently magical moment of birth, not about when humans become more capable mentally than pigs.

      11. Ibis3, Let's burn some bridges

        The “magic” of the moment has nothing to do with cognitive development. (Which is one reason why we don’t accord pigs more rights than human infants, and why infanticide is treated in law as a lesser crime than other forms of homicide.)

        The “magic” has to do with care being transferable. If something is inside me, using my body’s resources to survive, risking my health and my life, it’s my choice whether to continue to consent to that process. Once born, a child can be looked after by other family members, the community, medical technology and personnel, adoptive parents, or the state. Rights as a member of society attach at that point and society takes responsibility for ensuring adequate care. This reciprocal relationship cannot begin prenatally, because the foetus is depending solely on the gravida for everything. The fact that it also has such a low level of cognitive development just makes it all the more pointless to even consider.

    2. 7.2
      Tracey

      Exactly so. 98% of abortions are done before 12 weeks. There is nothing that will allow a 12-week embryo to survive. The anti-choicers’ preferred action is to force the woman to risk her health and even her life to give birth at normal term, then just walk away from the resulting baby. If the baby is white and male and perfect, it might be adopted. If not, it likely faces a lifetime of languishing in foster care, a high risk of physical, mental, and sexual abuse before its cut loose on its 18th birthday to fend for itself. In their minds, that’s far better than terminating an insensate, mindless, unformed zygote.

      1. NotAnAtheist

        If not, it likely faces a lifetime of languishing in foster care, a high risk of physical, mental, and sexual abuse before its cut loose on its 18th birthday to fend for itself.

        If you had to choose between a “high risk” of such abuse and death, which would you choose?

        Also, such a high risk speaks of a need to reform our foster care system. I wonder how many pro-choicers actually care about that?

      2. WithinThisMind

        There was a foster home in the neighborhood I grew up in.

        Three of the kids there, all under age 16, chose death.

        You are one privileged little jackass, aren’t you? It’s so easy for you to sit in judgement and make your precious little proclamations knowing that you’ll never be there and thus will never have to suffer the consequences of your bullshit.

      3. NotAnAtheist

        Three of the kids there, all under age 16, chose death.

        So because 3 kids made the sad choice to kill themselves, killing other kids without giving them the choice is ok?

      4. Anonymouse

        Oh, yes, blind and privileged. Notice NAA has not once shown any kind of humanity toward the woman he expects to risk her health and even her life to bring to term a child that she never wanted? Then he so blithely shrugs off the future of such a child–once the cord is cut, NAA doesn’t give two hoots about the actual (not potential) child.

      5. WithinThisMind

        NAA, if you think that’s a reasonable question, then you will never be able to wrap your fragile little brain around the answer.

        And for someone who bitches about people ‘not reading what you actually write’, you sure do craft a lot of strawmen.

        Come to think of it, I’ve yet to meet a single forced-birther that wasn’t a pathetic hypocrite.

      6. Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

        You meant “death at a time when I have no neural system to be an “I” or even have enough capacity to even feel pain”?
        Death. I would lose nothing.

      7. NotAnAtheist

        So you would choose death, rather than experience some pain in your life. Even given anything else that might happen in your life that may or may not be painful?

      8. Nepenthe

        There is nothing there to make the choice. Your hypothetical requires projecting your current, self-aware, conscious being on your state as a fetus when “you” didn’t exist yet. If the nematodes I killed a few days ago could choose, they’d probably choose not to be killed. But they can’t and that’s the bloody point.

      9. WithinThisMind

        NAA,

        what if your mother has swallowed?

        It’s the exact same question you are asking when you trot out the tired old bullshit of ‘well what if it were you that had been aborted?’

        Would I rather death than a life of pain? Yes.

        Am I aware that there are many people out there who would prefer death over their current living situation? Yes. Are you?

        I remember my great grandmother, in the throes of agony and aware her mind was going, begging to die. Unfortunately for her, we were forced to not honor that request. She died five years later, unable to recognize any of her loved ones and scared because she couldn’t find someone who had been dead for over five decades at that point. Do I regret not aiding her when she had a chance of dying with dignity as herself? Yes.

        As I said earlier, you are one privileged little jackass, aren’t you? It’s so easy for you to sit in judgement and make your precious little proclamations knowing that you’ll never be there and thus will never have to suffer the consequences of your bullshit.

      10. Ibis3, Let's burn some bridges

        killing other kids without giving them the choice

        This position is only consistent if you think that all capable women should be pregnant all the time. Preventing a foetus from being born is no different from preventing it from being conceived/fertilised or from being implanted “without the choice”.

      11. NotAnAtheist


        But they can’t and that’s the bloody point.

        Indeed, they can’t.

        Why are you making that choice for them?

      12. Nepenthe

        Because they’re nematodes. Was I just supposed to wait until they expired naturally on the slide?

        Heh. I can play the game of not following the thread of the conversation just as well as you can.

      13. Anonymouse

        That’s an excellent point. NAA’s next logical step is to go after those selfish, awful women who don’t conceive, and thus deprive the BAYBEEEZE of life. I bet he just hates infertile women with a burning-hot passion–what good are they without a working womb?

      14. Zme

        At that time there is no “I” there to make the choice of death and a potential lifetime of misery.

      15. SallyStrange

        I would prefer not to exist than to be responsible for forcing a woman to give birth against her will.

        In fact, I would not exist were it not for legal abortion. Neither would my brother or sister.

        So? Who cares? What’s the point? None of this has any bearing on whether it’s ethical to force a woman to give birth against her will, which is, like it or not, what we are talking about when we’re talking about abortion and viability and all of that.

        If you have an ethical preference for one or the other, but wouldn’t presume to write your preference into law, thus giving the state the power to enforce your ethical preference on unsuspecting strangers, then you had better own up to being pro-choice.

        If you are interested in empowering the state to enforce your ethical preferences on unsuspecting strangers, I’d be interested to know how you propose doing that. Fines? Prison? For the pregnant person or for the doctor who performs the abortion? Let’s have some details.

  8. 8
    NotAnAtheist

    I’d like to pose a question to the individuals commenting here.

    If it’s ok to kill infants after bith if for some reason taking care of them “costs to much”, when is there a time where killing someone is not ok? The only time I can see that is consistent with all that’s been said here is if that person/fetus/child/infant/whatever is absolutely and completely independent from everyone and everything around it. If there is any dependency at all, it seems that there’s at least one pro-choicer that seems fine with killing the.. whatever.

    1. 8.1
      sqlrob

      The care of the infant can be transferred, so “costs too much” is not an ordinary condition.

      If you mean in terms of medical care, terminating care because it “costs too much” happens all the time, not just infants. And there is no way to prevent that, supplies and time are limited, something has to give somewhere.

    2. 8.2
      Ibis3, Let's burn some bridges

      Before birth: irrelevant because the woman’s right to autonomy trumps all; the foetus has no rights whatsoever.

      After birth: now a person, and has rights to autonomy and life, balanced by the rights of others in society, and subject to whatever circumstances are in play (e.g. likelihood of survival; quality of life; level of brain function; risk to others, availability of resources). We have laws, medical regulations, triage guidelines, living wills etc. to work out when the death of someone is necessary or justifiable.

      Oh, and don’t be so disingenuous to conflate the total dependence of a foetus on its mother*–her body is actually creating it–and that of a person on other humans in society. The first is not transferable.

      *I don’t care for this usage, but English has no word that means “person who is hosting an embryo/foetus in their body and supplying it with everything it needs to develop to the point of prenatal maturity”.

      1. NotAnAtheist

        You didn’t answer the question. You say that “after birth” the rights of the child must be balanced against the rights of others in society, and against circumstances.

        Others here have brought up the idea that if it costs to much to keep a child alive after birth, it should be ok to kill it.

        So while you’ve identified a time where anything goes at all (before birth) you haven’t given me a time where it actually is not ok to kill a child. It might be ok, when “balanced” against your other criteria.

      2. WithinThisMind

        I support an individuals right to die.

      3. NotAnAtheist

        Bully for you.

        Do you support an individual’s right to be killed?

      4. WithinThisMind

        Yep. If an individual wishes to die but is unable to accomplish such as task on their own, I absolutely support their right to request and receive aid in terminating their life functions.

      5. Nepenthe

        Way to strawman, well done. As I said above, not performing extraordinary, non-palliative medical care is not killing unless you think that failure to resuscitate someone is equivalent to murder, in which case we really have larger issues.

        Also, I speak only for myself. There are many pro-choice people who do not subscribe to my ethical system.

      6. NotAnAtheist

        1. I see someone who needs resuscitation and I make a good faith effort, though I end up not succeeding.

        2. I see someone who needs resuscitation and I shrug my shoulders, think “somebody else will get to it, and I don’t want him depending on me for life” and leave.

        Are these the same actions morally?

      7. Nepenthe

        No. Would you like to know why?

        I’m sure you don’t, but I’ll type it out anyway. If you see a person in need of resuscitation, you know that they, being a self-aware human, almost certainly have an interest in their own survival. Your interest in not resuscitating them, whatever it is, it trumped by their presumed interest. If they have signed a DNR order, then your interest in resuscitating them does not outweigh their interest in controlling their own life.

        Why is this different than a fetus? A fetus, being not self-aware, has no interest in continued survival. Its interests, if it’s sentient, are the avoidance of pain and the seeking of pleasure.

        Please, share with us how you define the relative interests of gravida and fetus and precisely how you deal with those interests?

      8. NotAnAtheist

        Why is this different than a fetus?

        Meaningless sidetrack. We weren’t talking about a fetus. We were talking about a child that was born prematurely.

      9. Nepenthe

        And a neonate has approximately the same interests as a fetus, so… yeah.

        And I repeat: Please, share with us how you define the relative interests of gravida and fetus and precisely how you deal with those interests?

      10. NotAnAtheist

        And a neonate has approximately the same interests as a fetus, so… yeah.

        Does a child have the same interests as a neonate?

        When do we get to a point where the.. whatever has a compelling enough interest such that the mother can’t kill it for whatever reason? We’ve past birth, we’ve past direct dependence on the mother for life, we’ve past oxygen saturation (as this is being provided if necessary by the medical equipement). All we have now is a child that has an extremely large indirect dependence on others for its continued survival.

        At what point does the level of dependence drop sufficiently so that you’re willing to say that even if the mother wants to kill it, she can’t automatically do so?

      11. Anonymouse

        And once again, NAA is assuming that a 64-cell blastocyst is a suffering, thinking, feeling PERSON who grieves at its loss.

      12. Ibis3, Let's burn some bridges

        Yes. Of course it might be okay. It also might not be okay. But I would have to be presented with the circumstances and factors that go into that decision.

      13. NotAnAtheist

        And a neonate has approximately the same interests as a fetus, so… yeah.

        Does a child have the same interests as a neonate?

      14. NotAnAtheist

        Oops. Wrong place

      15. Nepenthe

        You’re gonna have to be a bit more specific than that there Sparky. “Child” covers quite a lot of ground. The interests of a non-self-aware 18-month-old are a hell of a lot different than the interests of a nearly adult 16-year-old.

      16. Zme

        Jolly good strawman.

        But I’ll answer seriously, in the same way that hospitals do when parent decide to stop extraordinary measures: palliative care is to be provided and “healing” care is withdrawn until the death of the patient.

        So, yes it is OK to “kill” (by inaction) someone whose care is too expensive or is ultimately futile.

      17. NotAnAtheist

        Oh, and don’t be so disingenuous to conflate the total dependence of a foetus on its mother*–her body is actually creating it–and that of a person on other humans in society. The first is not transferable.

        What if it was? I mean, that’s just a matter of science.

      18. Ibis3, Let's burn some bridges

        Come back to me when we grow babies in vats instead of people.

      19. Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

        You mean when we can just beam them into a vat where we just have to cut the artificial tissue?
        Then you can sign me up for a third kid…

      20. Nepenthe

        What on earth are you talking about Giliell? Pro-choice people never have children. They only have lots and lots of convenient abortions, because pro-choice means only abortion.

        You clearly do not exist. I shall consider everything you say from this point forth foul lies from the pit of hell, like embryology.

      21. WithinThisMind

        NAA:

        My husband requires insulin. Being that you believe so strongly in right to life and that medical care should be provided to everyone, I expect a check from you in the amount of $245 per month every month to cover this expense.

        My mother in law requires considerably more medication and is in an assisted living facility in order to prolong her life. Her monthly expenses amount to $4500. I will be expecting a check in that amount as well.

        I will accept money orders and wire transfers. Paypal however, is unacceptable.

        Put up, or shut up.

      22. Nepenthe

        *I don’t care for this usage, but English has no word that means “person who is hosting an embryo/foetus in their body and supplying it with everything it needs to develop to the point of prenatal maturity”.

        Neither do I. We do have a word though: gravida.

      23. Ibis3, Let's burn some bridges

        I learned something new. I’m not sure I like it though, as it sounds very much like a descriptor for breeding stock. I’ll keep it in my vocab bag though and perhaps I’ll get opportunity to use it. I may end up finding it very useful.

    3. 8.3
      Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

      Well, after it’s been born the same rights, duties and regulations apply that apply to the rest of us, duh.
      Which means that sometimes hard decissions about life and death have to be made. and they have to be made evaluating the individual case.

      The only time I can see that is consistent with all that’s been said here is if that person/fetus/child/infant/whatever is absolutely and completely independent from everyone and everything around it.

      It’s not our fault you’re unable to understand the concept of bodily autonomy. Nobody requires people to be hermits feeding themsleves with moss. It’s about drawing your resiources directly from the body of one person who gets to decide whether she wants that or not.

      Apart from that, the whole debate is another forced-birther intellectual wankery about the joys of enslaving women. Abortions after 20/25 weeks usually actually happen because:
      -Her life is in danger
      -the fetus is severely malformed/not viable anyway.
      In that case there is no goal or possibility of “keeping anything alive”

      1. NotAnAtheist

        It’s about drawing your resiources directly from the body of one person who gets to decide whether she wants that or not.

        Except that we have other pro-choicers here saying that even if a fetus/infant/child/whatever is drawing resources indirectly from the body of a person, its still ok to kill them. Just because a fetus/infant/child/whatever is outside of the mother.. if it costs too much to keep them alive so they can continue to develop.. who cares? Just kill them.

        Apart from that, the whole debate is another forced-birther intellectual wankery about the joys of enslaving women. Abortions after 20/25 weeks usually actually happen because:
        -Her life is in danger
        -the fetus is severely malformed/not viable anyway.
        In that case there is no goal or possibility of “keeping anything alive”

        If that’s the case, what’s wrong with making abortions illegal with the exception of the life of the mother and/or the life (could extend to severe physical deformity ) of the child?

        According to what you said, this won’t make what “usually” happens illegal at all.

      2. Forbidden Snowflake

        If that’s the case, what’s wrong with making abortions illegal with the exception of the life of the mother and/or the life (could extend to severe physical deformity ) of the child?

        I’ll assume that in this passage you meant abortions after 24 weeks, because otherwise what you said makes no sense.
        The problem is that legislation like that is that abortion is a medical decision, that needs to be made between patients and doctors, without considerations such as “is it OK to abort now that her risk of dying is 15%, or should we wait until it rises to 35% so that we don’t get prosecuted?”. Well, that’s one of the problems, anyway.

      3. NotAnAtheist

        I’ll assume that in this passage you meant abortions after 24 weeks, because otherwise what you said makes no sense.

        Safe assumption. I should have said all abortions after 24 weeks.

      4. Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

        No, some people here have said that they support limiting the amount of medical care spent
        Because unfortunately the world is not made of money.
        Which means that the idea to intentionally create very early premies with extremely low chances of an actual life outside of NICU and pretty high chances of only developing enough capacities to actually suffer while spending a lot of resources on the intentional increase of suffering is patently immoral.

        Again, to withhold treatment =/= kill. If somebody stabs you and I let you bleed to death, who killed you?
        And yes, that’s a decission people make all the time: they turn. off, the machines.
        Lucky people can do it / ask for it themselves.
        Responsible people make sure their will is known in writing.

        If that’s the case, what’s wrong with making abortions illegal with the exception of the life of the mother and/or the life (could extend to severe physical deformity ) of the child?

        According to what you said, this won’t make what “usually” happens illegal at all.

        Is English a language you speak with adequate proficiency?
        Because usually doesn’t mean “always”.
        A) There are cases where an abortion is performed for other reasons. Sometimes because forced birthers add so much red tape that a woman can’t get one early when it’s pretty easy and uncomplicated. Sometimes she only finds out late. Sometimes circumstances change dramatically.
        B) Because I’m not willing to discuss actual limits when it’s OK to declare me a slave, walking womb, mindless incubator and strip me of my most basic right to bodily autonomy.
        Tell me, would you support laws that require you to donate a kidney since forced kidney donation isn’t what usually happens?

      5. NotAnAtheist

        Again, to withhold treatment =/= kill. If somebody stabs you and I let you bleed to death, who killed you?

        It depends. Legally, in areas where there are good samaritan laws, you may have committed a crime by not giving a good faith effort when you could have. Is that crime equivalent to the actual murder? Probably not in most places but to act as though doing nothing, when you could do something, is an entirely blameless moral action is ridiculous.


        Is English a language you speak with adequate proficiency?

        It’s at very least a language I read with adequate proficiency, which is more than what I can say for some other people here.


        A) There are cases where an abortion is performed for other reasons. Sometimes because forced birthers add so much red tape that a woman can’t get one early when it’s pretty easy and uncomplicated. Sometimes she only finds out late. Sometimes circumstances change dramatically.

        This may surprise you, but I’m actually against the idea of just adding red tape. If an abortion is going to happen, let’s have it happen as soon as possible.


        Because I’m not willing to discuss actual limits when it’s OK to declare me a slave, walking womb, mindless incubator and strip me of my most basic right to bodily autonomy.

        Is English a language you read with adequate proficiency? I ask because “concern over the lives of children” does not translate to “declaring [you] a slave, walking womb, mindless incubator ” and so on. At least, not in my world.

      6. Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

        Just answer the question:
        If somebody stabs you and I let you bleed to death, who killed you?
        You’re dodging the question.
        Good Samaritan laws have nothing to do with this.
        And I have already explained that the rules about cutting off treatment are already in place.
        Are you actually unaware that this is aleready happening? That parents of loved and wanted children are already making those decissions day after day after day?

      7. Forbidden Snowflake

        I ask because “concern over the lives of children” does not translate to “declaring [you] a slave, walking womb, mindless incubator ” and so on.

        Actually, it does, when forced gestation and childbirth is what is being pushed in the name of “concern for the children”.

      8. NotAnAtheist

        I have never once advocated that women become pregnant. How you think I am for “forced gestation” is beyond me.

      9. Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

        <I ask because “concern over the lives of children” does not translate to “declaring [you] a slave, walking womb, mindless incubator ” and so on. At least, not in my world.

        Which one is that? Alpha Centauri?
        The moment you set a point at which a woman is no longer allowed to decide what happens to her body you automatically enslave her and declare her a not person.
        And still, fetuses aren’t children.

        I have never once advocated that women become pregnant.

        Are you stupid? Abortion is only an issue once women have already become pregnant

        How you think I am for “forced gestation” is beyond me.

        Because you’re in favour of denying women the right to stop gestation. Easy answers to easy questions.

      10. Forbidden Snowflake
        I have never once advocated that women become pregnant.

        Are you stupid? Abortion is only an issue once women have already become pregnant

        Oh, Giliell, don’t you see? NotAnAtheist is serving us the good old “the slut made her choice when she spread her legs” argument.

      11. NotAnAtheist

        I think that both women and men are capable of making wise choices when they are presented with good information and good capabilities.

        You seem to think that women are incapable of not spreading their legs so they must be coddled to protect them from choices they are incapable of not making.

        I am in favor of birth control being as free and as widely distributed as possible, and foster care and adoption being strengthed to so that they become viable, convenient, and good options. Just because I think that at some point before birth (I’ll admit to not knowing where this point is) its wrong for a woman to terminate her child for any reason whatsoever, I get tarred and feathered and called a bigot, and that I support slavery for women, and all sort of other things.

        All by a group of so called open minded, tolerant, intellectuals.

      12. Forbidden Snowflake

        You seem to think that women are incapable of not spreading their legs so they must be coddled to protect them from choices they are incapable of not making.

        More lies from you. Hardly a surprise at this point.

      13. Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

        So, let me ask you, how many times have you been pregnant?
        How many kids are you raising?
        How many poopy diapers have you changed and how many hours at work/ in college have you missed because they got an infectious dissease?
        Let me guess, zero’s the answer to all of these…

        Just because I think that at some point before birth (I’ll admit to not knowing where this point is) its wrong for a woman to terminate her child for any reason whatsoever, I get tarred and feathered and called a bigot, and that I support slavery for women, and all sort of other things.

        Well, that’s because that’s what you’re actually doing.
        I think I said that before: If you say that at a certain point a woman has no more right to decide about her own body you are enslaving her.
        Oh, and for any reason whatsoever?
        I guess I should tell my friend that she should just have sucked it up and died.

        All by a group of so called open minded, tolerant, intellectuals.

        You missunderstood something. Being open-minded doesn’t mean we believe your bullshit without any substantial argument. Because so far you have not made any substantial argument. So far you have wriggled out of questions, have repeated the same thing over and over again and have been basically unable to understand what you were saying yourself.
        Being open minded means we’re open to change our minds with arguments and evidence. Bullshitting doesn’t do the trick.
        And no, tolerance doesn’t mean that I should be nice to somebody who actually denies my humanity.

      14. Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

        Actually, what does “choices one is incapable of not making” mean anyway?

      15. Forbidden Snowflake

        Actually, what does “choices one is incapable of not making” mean anyway?

        According to my Big Phrasebook o’ Dogwhistles, it means “women who have abortions are evil sluts, and people who don’t want women to be punished for having sex are enablers of evil sluts”.

    4. 8.4
      WithinThisMind

      Is an infant still physically attached to a woman in a parasitical relationship?

      No?

      Then it has jack fucking shit to do with anything.

  9. 9
    Nepenthe

    For everyone’s amusement/edification, this is what NotAnAtheist has said about their own position.

    On “When is it ok to legalize murder”, Mark writes:

    Most of my family would describe themselves as pro-life. I don’t think they call abortion murder so they can feel good about punishing women for having sex. They call it murder because they sincerely believe that zygotes are human beings worthy of protection. They believe in the soul, and that it is somehow injected into the zygote the instant it becomes one.

    Now, as far as I am concerned, I am pro-choice. That is, I think it solely the business of the pregnant woman what she does with her own body. But that doesn’t mean the idea of an actual abortion doesn’t make me uneasy. I don’t think it’s murder, but neither to I morally equate it with squashing a bug, either, even if that bug is “more complex” than the zygote/embryo. I don’t know where to put abortion on this spectrum.

    to which NotAnAtheist responds “Oddly enough, I would consider myself pro life for the exact same reasons”. It’s unclear to which part of Mark’s post they are referring, the part about zygotes being human with souls or the part about queasiness.

    In this thread they post:

    You can decide that if there are lines to be drawn at all, they should be drawn as safely and as conservatively as possible and be based on the best data possible to avoid killing those who are “enough of” a person to have a right to life. Note that this does not mean that we must draw the line at conception. Nor does this absolutely mandate that one must believe that “before time X all abortions are ok and after X they are wrong.” It is the belief that we should act on the side of caution, and not convenience when deciding when the rights of the child should even be considered (note, I said considered, not necessarily honored).

    If anyone can determine what NotAnAtheist’s position on abortion is from their statements, please contact James Randi. I think he has a prize for psychics.

  10. 10
    NotAnAtheist

    If being pro choice means something other than:

    you believe that all abortions, for any reason, at any time are absolutely and completely acceptable and must not be hindered, restricted, and must be done absolutely without any cost to the woman.. up and until a certain point.

    Perhaps someone could inform me what being pro-choice means. Also, if someone could inform me when that point is, that might be good, as there’s been no agreement on that by anyone here.

    Also, to address this:


    If somebody stabs you and I let you bleed to death, who killed you?
    You’re dodging the question.

    It’s a meaningless question. A better one, and one more accurate to the scenarios we are discussing is this:

    If I deprive you of food until you die of starvation, what killed you?

    In the stabbing question, there are 3 actors, the attacker, the victim and the bystander. In the case of a child, there are 2, the child and the parent. Acting like not doing something is the same as deliberately doing something morally is foolish.

    1. 10.1
      Ibis3, Let's burn some bridges

      Also, if someone could inform me when that point is, that might be good, as there’s been no agreement on that by anyone here.

      There is agreement. From society’s point of view, the point is birth. From the woman’s point of view, it’s her choice, ideally informed by professional medical advice.

      If I deprive you of food until you die of starvation, what killed you?

      You must be more specific. Under what circumstances is this taking place? How are you depriving me?

      1. NotAnAtheist

        You must be more specific. Under what circumstances is this taking place? How are you depriving me?

        In what circumstance is it ok, since you seem to imply that there is some circumstance where it is.

      2. Ibis3, Let's burn some bridges

        I have to think that you’re pretty unimaginative if you can’t answer your own question. But you still haven’t answered mine. You need to clarify.

      3. WithinThisMind

        My grocery bill is about $300 per month. Are you going to pay it, or are you going to be morally responsible for depriving me of food?

    2. 10.2
      Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

      Perhaps someone could inform me what being pro-choice means.

      That’s very easy and even short:
      Pro choice means that the only person who can make the decission about whether or not to continue a pregnancy is the pregnant woman herself.
      This includes the right to have an abortion as well as the right to continue with a pregnancy.

      It’s a meaningless question.

      It’s most of all one you haven’t answered yet.

      In the stabbing question, there are 3 actors, the attacker, the victim and the bystander. In the case of a child, there are 2, the child and the parent.

      So, not being a top-notch NICU pediatrician with your very own NICU is probably the same as murder now?
      Because duh, I, as a parent, can only provide very limited medical care. I can administer cough syrup and nose drops…

      1. NotAnAtheist


        Pro choice means that the only person who can make the decission about whether or not to continue a pregnancy is the pregnant woman herself.
        This includes the right to have an abortion as well as the right to continue with a pregnancy.

        This isn’t complete.
        Yes, I understand that you believe that the only person who can make the decision is the woman herself. Does that mean that all such decisions she makes in that regard are equal morally?

        So, not being a top-notch NICU pediatrician with your very own NICU is probably the same as murder now?

        No, it is isn’t. Nor have I ever said that.

        Alright, I’m done with this. I have better things to do than argue with people who can’t seem to understand a word that I say. Duncan seems to be able to do this.. so I’m puzzled that nobody else seems to share that ability.

      2. Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

        This isn’t complete.

        Of course it is. There’s nothing more or less to this.

        Yes, I understand that you believe that the only person who can make the decision is the woman herself.

        Yes, and that’s the end of the story.

        Does that mean that all such decisions she makes in that regard are equal morally?

        No. Women can make pretty stupid decisions. Sometimes to get pregnant in the first place is a stupid one, to drink heavily is a stupid one, to have an unassisted breech homebirth is a very stupid one.
        But whether I think that her decision regarding any aspect of her pregnancy is a good one is 100% irrelevant since it’s her decision.
        Unlike you, my life-goal is not to police women’s behaviour.

        . I have better things to do than argue with people who can’t seem to understand a word that I say.

        We understand what you say. We think it’s bullshit.

        Duncan seems to be able to do this.. so I’m puzzled that nobody else seems to share that ability.

        Ouch, that hurt. Now I haz a sad. Can somebody play me a song on a tiny violin?

      3. Ibis3, Let's burn some bridges

        Does that mean that all such decisions she makes in that regard are equal morally?

        I don’t see any decision by a pregnant woman about having an abortion as a moral issue. It’s a practical, medical, personal issue. Furthermore, it’s none of my business.

        The decision to have a child, however, can be a moral issue, but it wouldn’t be something I would consider legislating about, because I don’t condone slavery.

      4. Ibis3, Let's burn some bridges

        Sorry, Giliell, that reply was obviously not directed at you. Bah, nested comments!

      5. Seeing/analyzing

        Don’t forget NAA’s dogwhistles. People have repeatedly written, “Women should be able to determine what happens to their body” and NAA shrieks, “all abortions paid for by other people!”

    3. 10.3
      Zme

      Re: Definition of abortion -

      Agreed with the addition of “choice of the pregnant woman” (so no forced abortions) and up to the point of delivery of the foetus.

      Re: Is deprivation of care murder?

      No. Analogy: I live in a shack in the high north wilderness where I am shut in for 9 months of the year. On the last day of summer, after stocking up with sufficient food and fuel for the winter, someone wanders up to my door and refuses to leave. He raids my food stores, vandalises the cabin, leaves the doors open so I burn more fuel.

      Do I have the right to evict him? (or kill him if he refuses to leave?)

    4. 10.4
      WithinThisMind

      Perhaps someone could inform me what being pro-choice means. Also, if someone could inform me when that point is, that might be good, as there’s been no agreement on that by anyone here.

      I’ll pretend, just for a moment, that you are asking that in good faith.

      Ready?

      Sex is to rape what a wanted pregnancy is to an unwanted pregnancy.

      That’s what being pro-choice is.

      Just as it is absolutely unacceptable to force a person to submit to rape, it is absolutely unacceptable for force a woman to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term. It also means that right up until the ‘act’ is complete, the a person has the absolute right to revoke their consent to what is happening to their body, and as soon as that consent is revoked, the ‘act’ must be terminated. Because it is their body, and nobody has a right to use it without their consent.

      Pro-lifers aka forced-birthers, are ultimately no different than rapists and folks who think rape is okay.

  11. 11
    SallyStrange

    Yes, viability is not a good cut-off point because it is harmful to legislate medical decisions that can affect a woman’s health. The reason outlawing abortions after 24 weeks except in certain cases, however you define those cases, is a bad idea, is that inevitably this legal barrier causes women who SHOULD have abortions to be prevented from getting them because doctors are hesitant to risk prosecution. And this causes both women and fetuses to die.

    The entirely theoretical possibility of saving the lives of a tiny percentage of barely-viable fetuses is not a compelling counterweight to this consequence, which is not at all theoretical.

  12. 12
    embraceyourinnercrone

    The other thing that gets erased in these discussions is how dangerous pregnancy and childbirth can be for the woman. Complications of pregnancy and birth still kill many women today.
    If you are luck enough to live in a first world country AND have access to good medical care (scond part is not a given in the US)
    you will probably be OK, but the decision whether or not to continue a pregnancy should be up to the person who is bearing the physical costs and risks.

    In my extended family alone: My mother had placenta previa with her last pregnancy and hemorrhaged, if we had lived any further away from a hospital she would have died, my first miscarriage I hemorrhaged and went into shock, my sister in law had preeclampsia(pregnancy induced high blood pressure) and then kidney failure, my niece developed gestational diabetes.

    The question of who gets to decide that a women should take these risks is the woman herself, this isn’t a theoretical question for me. Start involving religion and making laws that value the fetus over the women and people die. These are real people:

    http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/120727/dominican-republic-abortion-cancer-chemotherapy-pregnant-catholic

    1. 12.1
      Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

      Absolutely.
      One of the things mothers can write books about is Things that can go wrong very quickly.
      I don’t know how many story I have heard from friends and family where the only reason something didn’t end in the beginning of a Regency novel (poor, poor orphan, poor widower) was modern medicine.
      Only high level obestetrics care saved their lives. And quite often what happened wasn’t in any way forseeable, or controllable.
      And that’s just the big shit we’re talking about.
      That’s not even mentioning the ordinary risks and damage pregnancy does to your body.

    2. 12.2
      Seeing/analyzing

      Absolutely good medical care is not a given in the USA. I went to the emergency room on a Sunday (ob’s office closed, answering service never passed along any of my calls) with all the classic signs of HELLP Syndrome. 34 weeks pregnant, eyes and gums yellow from jaundice, hands, feet, face swollen like beach balls, blood pressure of 180/150…and sent home because obviously all pregnant women are just hysterical hypochondriacs. Four hours later I was in a coma. Spouse called 9-1-1, ambulance brought me to a different hospital where they took the baby as my body went into DIC (platelets crashed, blood unable to clot). Spent 8 weeks in a coma dealing with failed liver & kidneys, lungs filled with fluid with nowhere else to go, throwing strokes in the brain. Had the HELLP come any sooner, the baby would not have survived–and getting the baby out of me was the only thing that allowed me to recover from the HELLP. Had help come any later, neither of us would have survived.

      1. Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

        Oh shit I’m sorry this happened to you. HELLP is a fucking killer.
        I know three women who had to deal with HELLP and the outcomes were the broad spectrum: A premie too early to survive, a “routine premie” and a full-term baby.
        Oh, and yes, the “pregnant women are just overreacting” crowd are fucking assholes.
        I’m glad the two of you made it.

  13. 13
    embraceyourinnercrone

    Yup, my maternal great-grandmother lived too late to be a character in a Regency novel, but that’s what her life sounds like: married at 17, first child at 18 and died at 20 when the birth of her second child went wrong, probably placental abruption. As it was 1911 and she gave birth at home she died pretty quickly. So my grandmother was on orphan at age 2.

    I think free and freely available birth control would help lower the abortion rate in the States but I also think abortion should be much more easily available than it is without requiring doctors to lie to their patients about breast cancer or depression risks and without requiring a waiting period.

    Too many states have very few locations where you can obtain an abortion, South Dakota I believe has one clinic and the doctor flies in from out of state once or twice a month. Many states have waiting periods which mean you have to go to the first appointment to request the procedure and then wait their 24, 48 hour or whatever waiting period , then go back for the abortion. Ummmm if you are a minimum wage person how do they think you are supposed to afford to take that much time off, plus if the clinic is far away from your home you also have to pay for a motel room to stay in during the waiting period. Plus transportation costs(and not every one has a car) and if you have kids who takes care of them? And if you are already poor you may not be able to afford an abortion.

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