Matt Dillahunty vs. Kristine Kruszelnicki debate


We’ve been sent a higher quality video of Matt’s debate at the Texas Freethought Convention.  If you haven’t already seen the worse ones, this is a good time to check it out.

Comments

  1. STS says

    Her argument is basically: scientists say that when the sperm hits the egg it is a person.
    At the end PZ stands up and says: no, scientists do not say that

  2. John Kruger says

    I have to agree with PZ’s post. This was totally one sided. Matt made a solid case that was not dependent on person-hood of fetuses, emphasized many times that person-hood had no bearing on his main argument and made little sense in any event, and Kruszelnicki’s argument never strayed far from person-hood arguments, ever. Then an actual embryologist (PZ himself no less) comes up to flush the last vestiges of her questionable credibility down the toilet at the end of the Q&A.

    I guess it would have thrown off her power point presentation to make intelligent responses to what Matt was actually saying. I guess there was also the argument from gross photos, but that kind of thing could also be used as an argument against almost any type of major surgery. Zoom way in on the most gory operations you can find, even if they are the result of rare cases, and you can get an emotional response from just about any medical procedure or condition.

    I have often wondered if there were any decent secular arguments against legalized abortion. I still have not heard any.

  3. says

    I’ll never understand the idea that human cells + unique DNA = person, and that’s all that’s required.

    My personhood definition would cover anything that is a person – meaning that it is intelligent, self aware, thinking and has a personality.

    That would cover computers, potentially elephants, aliens, etc. It would cover my consciousness being transplanted into an artificial body, if that were possible.

    These people apparently would only identify specifically humans as people. And that narrow vision frightens me.

    To say a small lump of flesh with no cognition is a person seems absurd.

  4. nude0007 says

    I think the basic problem of perception is the failure of some to realize that a fetus is basically a parasite. When you realize that, it becomes obvious that no matter if it is intelligent, or a human, it is (unfairly or not) using the woman as a host for its sustenance. The woman should have a right to detach it, just like you would have the right to detach a vampire. Too bad it means death for the fetus. If a fetus is ALLOWED to go to term, then it gains the rights we bestow on humans of personhood. (Yes, I even think late term abortions should be allowed, but why would you if you had carried it that far unless a health problem arose?)

  5. vethtiche says

    I really don’t agree that the debate was as one sided as it seems. I wish Matt didn’t focus so much on the bodily rights argument. It is one of the arguments for pro-choice but not the only one.

    In fact, I heard at least 2 examples of the bodily rights argument being refuted.

    One, where Kristine asked if we should be obligated to rescue a person from a burning building if we had STARTED the fire; two, if we find a baby on our boat out at sea, what are our obligations?

    For the latter, Matt’s response of calling 911 is simply invalid because that’s the equivalent of calling the hospital to take out the fetus and attach it to some life support or surrogate mother. The question should be whether we are allowed to dump a baby overboard if one turns up uninvited.

    For me, the bodily rights argument just collapsed at the fire analogy from Kristine, and worse, since Matt didn’t really respond to it.

    The question of personhood would still be a debatable issue even if Kristine has misquoted science – even Matt acknowledged that Science should not be the one defining that term.

    All said though, Kristine’s arguments should have been easy to counter – just not ONLY with the bodily rights argument.

  6. Hairy Chris, blah blah blah etc says

    Interesting thread. Sounds like they want a game of “winner stays in”….

    IMO if it doesn’t have a nervous system there isn’t an arguement. OK, I’m a fascist who doesn’t understand plant intelligence.

  7. FromHereOn says

    This debate was my first window into a solid case that supports why abortion is tenable in a humanist sense. I’m glad for it, as I found myself siding “against the opposition” rather than actually having a foothold in a vacuum so-to-speak.

    That said, I think the opposition’s appeal to emotion doesn’t seem like it falls far from tactics our less secular counterparts seem to lean on in similar venues . I felt like the little slide show insulted the audience’s intelligence (including mine). Free Thinkers are likely to be able to posit what an aborted fetus looks like. Do we need to watch the acts of conception too?

    I’m interested in seeing further debate if the Secular Pro-Life movement would rather pin their lack of effect on Kristine rather than their stance. I have less respect for their message when I consider the debate and what has followed. I don’t feel it’s any one person’s fault.

  8. says

    One, where Kristine asked if we should be obligated to rescue a person from a burning building if we had STARTED the fire; two, if we find a baby on our boat out at sea, what are our obligations?

    Are those the refutations of the bodily rights argument you’re referring to? Not only are they not refutations, neither hypothetical scenario is even remotely analogous to pregnancy.

  9. F says

    They’ve been pretty bad everywhere else they show up. They always use the same unfounded arguments, fake “facts”, and lots of graphic pictures. They, as far as I’ve seen, are exactly like every other “pro-life” group, just non-religious. (Really, they pretty much have to be. There are no novel arguments to be had.)

  10. Buddylee103 says

    In addition to what Martin said, the implications of her rebuttal are misrepresenting her side of the argument. She is begging the question of whether we should help the individuals out, when her position represents that we should be legally required to help those individuals out. Using the personal rights argument you can refute those two claims by stating that you shouldn’t be legally required, due to the possible risks that could be involved with rescuing them. It’s the rescuer’s decision to determine whether they are capable of saving them and willing to take those risks.

  11. F says

    Nor does fertilized egg or blastocyst or fetus = “baby”. Their the single greatest tactic is to refer to anything potentially developing inside a woman as a baby. The difference between some religious types and the secular sort is whether or not contraception is “killing babies”.

    And who the fuck leaves a baby on a boat? Oh look, it’s Moses!

  12. Ronwise Gamgee says

    I’m currently watching the debate and I have to ask this question: If, according to Kristine, a pregnant woman is automatically a parent and has obligations to her fetus at the expense of her consent, then what’s all the hub-bub about putting up babies and children for adoption?

  13. Muz says

    I’m really struggling to see what point, if any, is made by that burning building analogy.
    Help me out here.

  14. Muz says

    I don’t think they get how a debate works either. There’s a lot of “He focused on his slam dunk argument, instead of all the more emotive areas of the discourse I like better!”.
    But you get that a lot. People always want debates, until they lose and then want a free and open exchange of ideas. (that or just claim victory regardless)

  15. vethtiche says

    I am well aware of the problems of using analogies to support an argument.

    But if as you say the 2 examples are not analogous to pregnancy, then why didn’t Matt point that out? He even responded to the boat analogy with the calling 911 argument.

    Also, the burning building analogy was not proposed by Kristine (can’t remember if it was proposed by Matt), she was simply correcting the context that if pregnancy was to be likened to a burning building then the fire was STARTED by the person in question.

    Am I like the only one who sees the point of the analogy? Which is that one should take responsibility for his/her actions – including accidental pregnancy?

  16. says

    Let’s say you set a building on fire. There are two ways you could have done this: intentionally, or accidentally. If the former, you might be a sociopathic arsonist, and thus not especially inclined to rescue the people inside, as killing them was part of the point. Or you may not be all that sociopathic an arsonist, and are simply starting the fire to collect insurance or something. In that case, you might take great care to ensure the building is empty of people before starting the fire, because what you’re after is arson, not murder.

    On the other hand, if you start the fire accidentally, it’s a safe bet that you’d be highly likely to run through the building screaming “FIRE!” as loudly as you can to aid evacuation.

    Where, in any of those scenarios, one can find a reasonable analogy to pregnancy is utterly baffling.

  17. says

    But “taking responsibility” for an unplanned pregnancy does not automatically equate to “being forced to carry the pregnancy to term against your will.” Abortion is, in fact, one way of taking responsibility. But whether a woman aborts, or has the baby and adopts it, or has it and keeps it, the choice must remain hers. Forcing pregnancies to term isn’t a way of getting an unwilling mother to take responsibility. It’s declaring that she’s unfit to do so, and granting that responsibility to the state.

  18. M, Supreme Anarch of the Queer Illuminati says

    A reasonable analogy isn’t the point of the argument. The point is smuggling in a personhood claim while making it look like it’s settled. Any argument for bodily self-determination, privileging actual over potential humans, etc. can be addressed simply by making an argument that assumes all of what the women’s-body-nationalization movement want to be true.

    It’s basic PR: never argue the point you want accepted, just argue a different point in a way that takes yours for granted.

  19. vethtiche says

    The idea is this:

    Someone (can’t remember who) used the burning building analogy to argue that a Person A can’t be obligated to rushing into a burning building to save Person B. Kristine’s rebut was: what if the fire was started by Person A?

    Obviously the implications are that Person A must be held to account or at least be responsible in some way for the problem he/she caused (though not necessarily in actually trying to rescue the trapped Person B).

    I thought her point here was quite clear and valid and was disappointed Matt did not respond to this.

    If you couple this point with a successful argument of the personhood question, then she really can be considered to have won the debate.

  20. vethtiche says

    You are not wrong. But this is what Matt might have said in response to Kristine’s rebuttal instead of ignoring it.

    However, this is also where you are starting to focus too much on the analogy and not on the idea or point of the analogy.

    I saw Kristine’s point clearly as underlining that a person should be responsible for his/her actions or mistakes.

    To be fair to Matt, he did say that an abortion is an act of taking responsibility. But I also felt this point was at least ambiguous. To pro-choicers, his meaning would be quite clear; but I can’t imagine that pro-lifers would actually understand the point of the argument. Kristine did not query on that point though, which was a bit of a surprise to me.

    That said, Kristine never appeared prepared or composed enough to argue anything outside of her field of knowledge….

  21. jdog says

    I’m sure Matt’s very sorry that in the live discussion, he didn’t follow the exact same train of thought that you did while watching the video (and taking as much time as you needed to consider it). Can you ever forgive him?

    That out of the way, it’s been brought up to you (repeatedly) that this is a very poor analogy. Let’s stop using it. You are adopting as your own Kristine’s argument that a woman who accidentally gets pregnant should be obligated to “take responsibility” for the pregnancy in one only way: by carrying the child to term and winding up with a child she did not want. Why is this the only way?

  22. codemonkey says

    May I ask if you’ve heard the following argument before, and if so why you don’t think it’s convincing?

    No brain, => no mind, => no inherent moral value, => abortions are ok when there is no brain.

    For example, the daily pill has been known to prevent implantation of fertilized eggs, aka “killing” the eggs. Do you count this as abortion? You haven’t heard a good argument in support of the daily pill?

  23. vethtiche says

    @jdog

    Read my post again. I NEVER said that the only way to take responsibility is to take an unwanted pregnancy to term. In fact, I quite implicitly said the opposite via the analogy.

    I only saw two posts by Martin commenting on the analogy – the first having no elaboration whatsoever, and the second was in fact while I was crafting the post u commented on, so I never saw it till I posted.

    So it is wrong to say that it has been put to me repeatedly that the analogy is poor.

    Also fyi, I understood Kristine’s point the moment i heard her utter the words.

  24. michaelbuchheim says

    Matt brought up the Burning Building analogy. But NOT as analogy to pregnancy, rather as analogy for moral actions vs legal actions. His argument was that preforming an action that saves lives while endangering your own can be moral and valued by the society -while not being enforced as a law.
    It was Kristine who took the analogy as a direct analogy to pregnancy. Thus the analogy is especially unsuited.

    Kristine’s analogies divorced the issue of body-rights by separating the fetus analog from the women analog. If she had managed to tackle the subject of body-rights elsewhere this wouldn’t be a problem, but as it is, it looks like another attempt to avoid the main points of Matt’s argument.

  25. says

    If we switched up the analogy to having a child, and that child needing a kidney transplant, we can look at it a different way.

    Technically, it was your actions that brought this person into being. It’s a person – say – 12 years old. It’s still your responsibility as a guardian at that age.

    Let’s say you’re a perfect match for a kidney donation, and no others are available.

    Your child does not have a legal right to your organs. Sure, you might be a dick if you don’t donate it to your child to preserve his/her life, but your body is yours.

    Luckily, we’re talking about a non-person lump of flesh, that wouldn’t care one way or the other, when it comes to the vast majority of pregnancies (very few of which are late-term).

    Nor would I want to live in a society where the government would capture you, tie you down to the operating table and extract organs as needed because of “taking responsibility”. That’s what this is about – what your bodily rights are.

  26. Buddylee103 says

    All the pro-life advocates talk about personal responsibility but, what about social responsibility? We have a future problem of overpopulation so wouldn’t it be wise to grant women the right to have an abortion rather than forcing them to carry an unwanted pregnancy full term?

  27. says

    “Pro-lifers,” especially Christian ones, don’t think overpopulation or global warming or any other doom scenario the earth could face is even a problem. That shit’s just stuff the liberals make up because they hate Jesus and capitalism. The Bible already says how the world will end and it’s none of those things.

    You can never have too many babies! Thing is, where being “pro-life” is concerned, they only think of babies (and their idealized vision of them as cooing bundles of lovable innocence), not of the people those babies will quickly grow up to become.

  28. thebuachaill says

    ““Pro-lifers,” especially Christian ones, don’t think overpopulation or global warming or any other doom scenario the earth could face is even a problem”

    Initially I was going to suggest this statement is a total generalization, but I’ll go further and say it’s a complete misrepresentation.
    Some Christian fundamentalists may not consider these issues a problem, and some Christians may be pro-life, but do I really need to point out the error here of mixing correlation and causation?

    Jasus Martin, next you’ll be telling us all Atheists are Russian dictators!

  29. mamba24 says

    Well it is Martin Wagner we’re talking about. When you get the atheist experience hosts talking about issues that don’t necessarily have anything to do with atheism, it becomes political jargon. Although lots of pro-life Christians do believe this, not ALL of them do.

  30. thebuachaill says

    When I heard on last weeks show about this debate, I was very keen to hear it. Abortion is an issue I don’t have a complete understanding of yet, and I was really looking forward to listening to two secular humanists debate and discuss some of the difficult questions, and perhaps illuminate the key issues; if not confirm the validity of one side or the other.

    I’m really disappointed by how the discussion quickly veered away from an “academic debate” and instead took on a sort of “what’s her problem” tone. I don’t immediately agree with the points she was making, but I think Kristina was at least making the points that many secular anti-abortionists give consideration to when it comes to abortion. Matt clearly knows this stuff well and has given it a log of thought, but rather than simply address Kristina’s points with clear, cogent responses, Matt [as he seems to have a tendency to] introduced attitude, derision and profanity. Admirably he immediately apologized for the inappropriate profanity, but it was around this time the notion of an academic debate was left behind. It was pushed well into the rear-view mirror with the tone of accusation from the lady demanding to know if she was culpable, in Kristine’s eyes, for a rejected pregnancy. And PZ Myers didn’t help when he couldn’t just simply challenge Kristine’s claims to argument from Scientific authority without calling it “full of shit”.

    The same lack of focus has been adopted on this forum. People like Kazim thinking it important to point out that the girl has been shunned by the pro-life secularists, and Martin Wagner suggesting Pro-lifers couldn’t be in favor of birth control.

    Is this what its all about for you guys? You want to emphasize how right you all are, and how stupid everyone else is for not agreeing with you? Is your goal really about the promotion of positive atheism, logic and reasoning, or is it about promoting your side of the playground?
    There was a lot more to be gained and shared from a debate on this topic than simply total victory over Kristine Kruszelnicki!

  31. Blair T says

    As someone who is firmly pro-choice and a fan of Matt, I have to disagree with the pile-on in favour of Matt’s performance. Matt spoke better, but I came away with more sympathy for some of Kristine’s points than Matt’s.

    For me, the abortion issue is simply that personhood doesn’t apply to a fetus. If I thought personhood did apply, I would change my opinion on abortion.

    Matt’s argument that control of your own body for a temporary period of time trumps another person’s permanent right to live is a rather radical libertarian argument. This is similar to those who argue they have the right to shoot people who come onto their property if they have any fear of them. I think neither point of view is supportive of a pro-social, civil society.

  32. says

    Quite frankly, I think Matt did a great job. The only thing I wish is that PZ was actually given a little more time, or at the very least had the mic returned to him when he respond to her…

    I said this on PZ’s post of the higher-quality video…

    She should convert to Christianity. At least then I’d understand her arguments. As an atheist, she makes even less sense than the average pro-life person (who is religious, as far as I know).

    That wouldn’t make her right, but still…

  33. says

    Matt’s argument that control of your own body for a temporary period of time trumps another person’s permanent right to live is a rather radical libertarian argument.

    Is it? If someone needs an organ transplant, and I’m a perfect match, should the law be able to force me to donate that organ simply because the person will die without the transplant?

  34. says

    Forgive me for crediting readers with the intelligence not to need The Obvious spelled out in bright red crayon. I forget that on the internet, if you do not explicitly say “I am not referring to everyone on earth who might fit this category,” people will naturally assume you must be.

    I can only respond to the things I hear Christians in the pro-life camp actually say, be it on the news or in my own hearing. And not only have I never heard one of them suggest that stewardship of the earth — whether it’s watching out for overpopulation, or resource depletion, or peak oil, or what have you — is something to take seriously, I have often heard them mock the very idea with as much derision as they can muster. God Has A Plan, and any prognostications of doom are just left-wing, Chicken Little, Al Gore alarmism. Naturally, I would love to hear from these pro-life Christians who also support stuff like ZPG and renewable energy and living off the grid, but I imagine citing them takes a bit more effort than snarky personal remarks.

  35. Buddylee103 says

    I wouldn’t go as far as Martin and claim that all the Christians think that way but, sadly, many do. Regardless of whether they feel overpopulation is a threat or not, there are still many unaddressed issues that pro-lifers have to consider. For starters, why on Earth would anyone think that if you make something illegal it’s just going to magically disappear? Any woman who feels that she has the right to choose is not going to change her mind, simply because you take away that right. This would increase black market revenues from back-door abortion clinics, put the women’s lives in a much greater risk of injury or death, and increase social spending on law enforcement. The other argument is if the woman decides to keep it legal. Since most abortions occur from women who fall below the federal poverty level, outlawing abortions would also increase social spending for the resulting children. Like Matt said, having an abortion is taking responsibility for your actions. Relying on the government to support a child due to an unwanted pregnancy is not taking full responsibility; it’s still shifting the financial burden onto others.

  36. Buddylee103 says

    Sorry Martin, I made the assumption you were generalizing, as well, after posting this and reading your replies.

  37. Kes says

    The Stowaway analogy made me chuckle. Not all that long ago, it was completely legal to throw stowaways overboard upon discovery. If they drowned as a consequence, so be it.

    I also found her repeated assertion that abortion is done via dismemberment and decapitation to a still-living fetus to be sensationalist drivel right out of the most rabid religious pro-lifer’s playbook. Most abortions are A) completed during the first trimester, and B) medically induced with the use of drugs. D&E or D&C abortions are usually only necessary for abortions that occur after 12 weeks gestation, which is 22% of all abortions in the US. And those that do occur after 12 weeks are largely due to medical complications for the mother or diagnosis of severe fetal abnormality such as mermaid syndrome (legs fused together), Tay Sachs, or other defects.

    As for drawing a bright line between a non-person fetus and a viable pre-born human, I say that while there is no magic date, I feel that brain development dictates the answer entirely. A fetus with a fully-formed or nearly-fully formed brain has all that is needed to be conscious and aware. A fetus without such a brain cannot be said to have a personality or “think” in any meaningful way. Which is why anencephalic fetuses are almost always aborted, no matter what their stage of gestation. In the same way, cutting off life-support for a severely brain damaged person is not morally wrong, in my view. No brain? No person.

    Drawing a line between pregnancies that can be ended and those that have gone on too long to abort is not a new idea by any means. Ancient and medieval sources refer to the “quickening” of the child in the womb, after which the mother can feel movement. In parts of England, for example, attacking a pregnant woman and causing a miscarriage was not homicide prior to quickening, but after the quickening, usually 18 weeks or so, it was.

  38. says

    Well it is Martin Wagner we’re talking about. When you get the atheist experience hosts talking about issues that don’t necessarily have anything to do with atheism, it becomes political jargon.

    Initially I was going to suggest this statement is a total generalization, but I’ll go further and say it’s a complete misrepresentation.

    Do all “Atheist Experience” hosts always make things “political jargon”*(whatever the fuck that’s supposed to mean) when something doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with atheism? Does every one of them do it in every instance?

    (And are you correct in every instance that you judge that something does or doesn’t have to do with atheism? Or is it just “political jargon” and atheism “mission creep” when you hold a shitty, unfounded position and can’t defend it?)

  39. Blair T says

    No. But do you think that is analogous to pregnancy? Organ transplant is doing permanent harm to the donor, and creating an addition life risk from the surgery. There is also no proximate relationship between a random organ donor and potential recipient. If a pregnancy posed a significant injury and risk to the life of the mother – I would still approve of abortion, even if a fetus qualified as a person. But the argument for harm to the woman would have to be made in that case. If the fetus is not a person, no argument need be made – abortions can be performed for any reason.

    Where I live (British Columbia) abortions can be done for any reason up to 14 weeks, and with doctor referral to 20 weeks. After that, I assume it would only be for life risk to the mother. This seems like a sensible balance to me.

    By Matt’s argument, I assume that he believes a woman should be able to get an abortion even within the final weeks of her pregnancy – for any reason. If that is the case – I disagree.

  40. nibor says

    That’s a very good question: Why doesn’t Kristine understand Matt’s bodily rights argument? I just don’t see the problem to understand this basic argument.

    Thanks very much for posting the video!

    Now I’m done.

  41. says

    Organ transplant is doing permanent harm to the donor, and creating an addition life risk from the surgery. There is also no proximate relationship between a random organ donor and potential recipient. If a pregnancy posed a significant injury and risk to the life of the mother

    You don’t think there are permanent changes to the woman during pregnancy? It’s putting a strain on her organs, sapping her body, and permanently wasting a period of her life that she can never get back, while being impaired by sickness, a heavy mass attached to her body, etc.

    That’s not even considering the risk to her life/health.

    Neither use of her organs, permanent harm from time loss/wearing out of body, nor or risk to life/health should be imposed on her against her will.

    A leech or parasite may not do permanent harm either, but I can’t be forced to be a host to one against my will. Not legally, anyway.

  42. silomowbray says

    I was annoyed by the burning building analogy because it seems so clearly NOT parallel. Setting a building on fire is a criminal act. Getting pregnant isn’t.

  43. silomowbray says

    Also, the U.S. clearly needs more white babies, because black and brown people are everywhere. Load up the Quiver, honey!

  44. says

    The issue is whether or not anyone else is entitled to any use of your body, especially if compelled legally. If the parents of a three-year-old child cannot be legally forced to give their own child a life-saving blood transfusion (and we’re talking about being legally compelled here, so the notion that most parents would eagerly do it of their own free will is beside the point), then why should a pregnant woman be under any legal compulsion to let a fetus gestate in her uterus if she doesn’t want one there? We treat pregnant women differently, under the law, than we treat the mother of an infant or toddler, when it comes to their bodily autonomy and to what degree they must surrender any of it for their child’s needs. Why?

    Anyway, yeah, pregnancy is pretty dangerous. Prior to the advent of modern medicine and OB/GYN, dying in childbirth was depressingly common.

  45. silomowbray says

    The law in Canada (as per the Canada Health Act) sets out no time limits for abortions. You can legally have an abortion on demand up to the day prior to birth. Provinces regulate access to abortion services however, including payment through universal health care. Arguably, a pregnant woman who is 30 weeks along in B.C. could demand an abortion, and by law she’d be entitled to one. Whether or not she gets one, without paying beyond what B.C.’s MSP provides for, is another matter.

    I don’t think abortions should be limited as you suggest. Women who suddenly change their minds after several months because the asshole boyfriend or pastor or jesus-freak family members have stopped pressuring her should be allowed to determine how her body is being used…yes, even a day prior to the delivery date.

  46. Blair T says

    Martin,

    I don’t know what the law is on blood transfusion for ones own children, but if there were a case where only a parent’s blood could be used to save the life of their child, I would argue that they have a duty to provide that care. I suspect that a legal argument could also be made for that as well. Whatever the law may be, I would support a court ordering parents to provide their blood for the treatment of their dependent children if it were medically necessary. Would you really object to a court doing that?

    I don’t see this as a black and white issue. The status of zygote to fetus to baby to child to adult is a continuum without clear dividing lines. Also the duty to act and care for others is a continuum. Context matters. If someone is dependent on you, you acquire responsibilities – both ethically and legally, whether you like it or not. The obligation on you depends on context. I don’t think that any legal or moral obligation attaches to a fetus up to a ill-defined point (say 20 weeks?) and after that, limited obligations attach, and after birth, greater obligations attach.

    If you think pregnancy is hard on a mother, you should see the toll taken raising children. As my wife once quipped it’s easier carrying them inside than out.

  47. says

    I would support a court ordering parents to provide their blood for the treatment of their dependent children if it were medically necessary. Would you really object to a court doing that?

    Indeed I would. There could be any number of reasons why you shouldn’t legally compel anyone to do something like donate blood or organs, starting with the possibility of the donor having some undiagnosed awful disease, all the way up to “it’s my freaking blood and the government cannot force me to part with it.” While the vast majority of parents would donate to save their child, the salient fact is that the right of the individual to autonomous choice where their own bodies are concerned even in a parent/child relationship must remain paramount.

    The status of zygote to fetus to baby to child to adult is a continuum without clear dividing lines.

    I would, at the very least, identify “inside uterus”/”no longer inside uterus” as a clear dividing line.

  48. Blair T says

    You are muddling the law here a bit. The Canada Health Act has nothing to do with abortions. Canada used to have a criminal law regulating abortions, but it was struck down by the Supreme Court and Parliament has not been eager to revisit the issue. So, in Canada their is no criminal code provision for abortion. Thus, there is no criminal law applicable to abortion.

    When you state that a woman would be entitled to an abortion at 30 weeks in British Columbia you are not correct. There is no law against abortions at 30 weeks that does not mean someone is entitled to an abortion then. Medical services are regulated by the province, and those rules, I believe, restrict elective abortions to the first two trimesters.

  49. says

    “Let’s have sex before I leave, because there’s a lot of traffic on the road, so I need to use the carpool lane.”

  50. AJ says

    “She didn’t choose to become pregnant; she did choose to risk becoming pregnant. ” Isn’t this a bit “she didn’t choose to get mown down by the drunken driver, but she did choose to use the crosswalk and wait for the green man before stepping off the sidewalk.” blame the victim sorta mentality?

  51. jdog says

    You specifically said in your initial post that you felt that Kristine’s burning building sleight-of-hand adequately refuted the bodily rights argument. Later, you said she had made “a clear and valid point”.

    So if you aren’t supporting the argument that “the woman has a responsibility to ‘save’ the child’s life by carrying the pregnancy to term”, then why did you post in the first place? Because Matt didn’t react in the way you felt he should?

  52. jdog says

    Test-driving an idea I just had while reading these posts, would appreciate critiques and criticisms.

    A near-universal stance by the pro-life/anti-choice crowd is that “life begins at conception”, so let’s take that out of the equation with a thought expiriment. What if human beings reproduced asexually, via fission or budding, with no act of reproduction being needed to initiate the process? Just once a certain level of bodily maturity is reached (for example, at approximately age 18), fission or budding may occur.

    Would taking a pill to prevent dividing or having the budding human surgically removed be against their views?

    If not, why should sexual reproduction be treated differently?

  53. Buddylee103 says

    Another analogy to the” life begins at fertilization” argument is thinking about the process of reproduction to begin with. So it all begins with the thought of sexual intercourse, then the act itself, then the fertilization of the egg, then the implantation of the egg, then the development of the zygote, then the development of the embryo, then the development of the fetus, and last birth of a child. So, therefore the thought of not thinking about having sex could be an abortion because you are denying a child’s existence simply by not having sex…..cue the graphic pictures of men’s semen on towels and rags.

  54. thebuachaill says

    “Forgive me for crediting readers with the intelligence not to need The Obvious spelled out…”

    “I can only respond to the things I hear Christians in the pro-life camp actually say..”

    That’s BS Martin. What’s obvious about your statement is that you’re attributing crazy ideas about the end of the world and positions on population control to pro-lifers. It’s especially silly in the context of this debate between two secular humanists.

    Instead of addressing the question of abortion, you’re besmirching pro-lifers by associating them with positions of fundamentalist Christians. I just think it’s unhelpful as well as being a ridiculous claim to make.

  55. thebuachaill says

    Tone Trolling. I had to look that one up. Is this the new approach Martin? Anyone making a point you don’t like get’s labelled a troll of one sort or the other?
    My point was not simply that I didn’t like the tone of the debate, but that there could have been more important contributions made to the discussion if the focus had not been so much beating the opponent. I thought/hoped the point of the debate was to investigate a contentious issue, not just to provide an hour of entertainment.

    “Spend some time at lifesitenews.com if you have any doubts”

    This is exactly my point Martin. You’re referencing an anti-secular, pro-Christian website as evidence that all pro-lifers take views aligned with Christian dogma. I don’t understand why you’re so unwilling to take the question of abortion as a standalone issue, and quick to stick all sorts of other labels on anti-abortionists. Isn’t it the same as labeling all Atheists as liberals?

  56. says

    My fairly juvenile response to drawing an arbitrary line to personhood:

    What does every single person to have ever lived have that a fetus does not have?

    A birthday.

  57. says

    Is this the new approach Martin? Anyone making a point you don’t like get’s labelled a troll of one sort or the other?

    No, it’s that anyone whose criticisms focus predominately on finding the tone of a discussion offensive to their delicate sensibilities is tone trolling. It’s kind of right there on the tin.

    there could have been more important contributions made to the discussion if the focus had not been so much beating the opponent.

    Then you should consider that the point of a forensic debate is to beat the opponent. But of course, you do it by having a better set of arguments, which Matt did. Now, I personally don’t care much for stage debates for this very purpose: I find them more theater than meaningful discussion, and they tend to be attended by people who’ve already made up their minds on the subject and rarely change their minds even if the person debating their side of the thing gets trashed. But if you’re going to go ahead and do them, there’s no point in not understanding what you’re getting into and acting accordingly, I suppose.

    You’re referencing an anti-secular, pro-Christian website as evidence that all pro-lifers take views aligned with Christian dogma

    This is because the vast majority of people who are anti-choice on abortion are from the religious side of the fence, and very few are from the secular side. And so far, it’s apparent that the ones from the secular side have arguments that are little better than the religious ones. The only difference is their non-inclusion of God. While secular anti-choicers might not take the scorched-earth anti-sex attitude that permeates religious anti-choice thinking, their position on abortion still doesn’t stand up, in the end, to the bodily rights argument, as far as I’ve seen.

  58. says

    Okay, on the question of abortion, I take the view that it needs to be safe and legal at every stage of the pregnancy, and the bodily autonomy of the mother takes precedence over all other considerations. Now if you’ve got an argument to refute that which does not rely, as Kristine’s did, on the same tawdry emotional manipulations used by Christian anti-choicers, I’m all ears.

  59. thebuachaill says

    “No, it’s that anyone whose criticisms focus predominately on finding the tone of a discussion offensive to their delicate sensibilities is tone trolling”

    Right, so you’ve missed the focus of my criticisms despite my clarifying it in the previous post, and assigned me a few delicate sensibilities to justify calling me a troll.

    “…you do it by having a better set of arguments”

    That’s not always the case; and particularly when the focus of the debate is to beat the opponent. Rhetoric, derision, misrepresentation are all tactics used to win debates, and which don’t necessarily have anything to do with the validity of anyone’s arguments.

    “This is because the vast majority of people who are anti-choice on abortion are from the religious side of the fence, and very few are from the secular side”

    But the religious side aren’t represented by anyone in this debate, the secular pro-life people are. You can point out the similarity of both groups regarding their stance on abortion, but it is deceitful to use that one commonality to label the secular pro-life group as awaiting the Rapture and not caring about population growth, etc.

    “…their position on abortion still doesn’t stand up, in the end, to the bodily rights argument, as far as I’ve seen”

    This is a fair and valid criticism. Took you a while to get there.

  60. says

    I agree with you, thebuachaill. The pro-lifes have nothing to do about whether they are theists, agnostics or atheists. It is more a question of sensibitity regarding life and their own life. Saying that pro-lives are on their way to religion belief is like to say that a fundamentalistic christian that kills his dog because he barks too loud is on is way to atheism…

  61. thebuachaill says

    Martin

    I don’t have an argument to refute your position. This is an issue I don’t yet have a particular stance on or a clear understanding of, and I’m participating here mostly to learn and develop a better understanding.

    But I would like to suggest that had I an argument to make, I still couldn’t refute your point, as it seems to me that this whole issue boils down to opinion. Your opinion is that the bodily autonomy of the mother is the primary, and essentially only, issue at hand, whereas the pro-life peoples opinion is that the mother also has a responsibility to protect the life growing inside her. Is it fair to say this is the crux of the argument? [I know there are other related points such as when does biological life become a person].

    Also, as you’re setting up limits to any response I could make, you’d need to be more specific about what you refer to as emotional manipulations. While I understand the importance of a rational approach to this clearly emotionally-charged question, I have to say at this point I’m slow to dismiss entirely the emotional aspect without further consideration.
    Our evolved emotions have the capacity to lead us astray (fear to superstition for example), but they are also part of our wiring and have helped us in the right direction (empathy to cooperation and justice for example). So I would like to hear what emotional points you regard as off-limits and, most importantly, why.

  62. thebuachaill says

    Eric, based on your comments I don’t believe you and I are on the same page at all. And I got a headache trying to figure out your analogy.

  63. says

    @thebuachaill
    Sorry if you find my support to you so esoteric and hermetic that it looks like I wasn’t “on the same page” and kind of against your point.

    There is a second point I agree with you. I will try to be less esoteric this time. I am a bit tired of in those debates people that use vulgarities, swearing and talking loud (screaming almost) to make people laugh and trying to intimidate the opponent just to win an argument instead of calmly and politely exchange ideas to have in the end a better understanding of the problems and what we can do about it in the future. But as Martin I think just said, those debates are only theater (taking seriously by some debaters and for others it is just a “show”). It is sad…

  64. says

    But I would like to suggest that had I an argument to make, I still couldn’t refute your point, as it seems to me that this whole issue boils down to opinion. Your opinion is that the bodily autonomy of the mother is the primary, and essentially only, issue at hand, whereas the pro-life peoples opinion is that the mother also has a responsibility to protect the life growing inside her. Is it fair to say this is the crux of the argument? [I know there are other related points such as when does biological life become a person].

    No, the anti-choice position is that the government has the responsibility to force a woman to “protect” the life growing inside of her–which is to say, to carry a pregnancy to term and give birth to a baby–on pain of civil or criminal penalties. Reasonable people can disagree about whether getting pregnant entails a responsibility to protect a fetus–but that is why the pro-choice side is called pro-CHOICE. We leave it up to the individual whose responsibility it is. The anti-choice side (I refuse to dignify their absurd position with the “pro-life” false advertising moniker) abnegates the woman’s responsibility and puts it into the hands of government officials.

  65. says

    The emotional manipulations I refer to specifically include when anti-choicers (like Kristine) flash photos of mangled dead fetuses at you, a tactic meant only to inspire guilt and disgust and horror, and which handily bypasses any kind of intellectual consideration of the pros and cons of abortion by aiming straight for the limbic system. (A similar tactic is to refer to the fetus at any stage of its development, even when it’s merely a blastocyst, as a “baby.”) This is frequently done by religious anti-choicers, and the fact that Kristine resorted to it as well just served to demonstrate that her secular anti-choice views were no more intellectually rigorous than the religious ones.

  66. N. Nescio says

    You clearly don’t know any women whose pregnancy nearly killed them. I’m sure they’d be comforted to know you would “allow” them to deal with it as they see fit up to a certain time limit you personally prefer. How generous of you.

  67. pureone says

    Yes, by that definition- sperm hitting egg- a molar pregnancy growth would be considered a person.

  68. codemonkey says

    Could you please share a biology text or paper which uses this definition without ambiguity, especially in a context other than abortion?

  69. thebuachaill says

    Thanks for the clarification Sally.
    Not surprisingly the question appears to be framed from two different perspectives depending on which side is doing the framing.

    Pro-choice people frame it around an intrusion on womens basic rights to make decisions about her own health; while Pro-life people frame it around protecting the new life from an intrusive act to end its existence.

    I believe the pro-choice position is that the mothers health is primary, because pregnancy is effectively an intrusion by a new life on the body of the mother.
    The pro-life position then is that health of the new life is primary, because it’s a natural consequence of pregnancy that both lives are temporarily sharing the one body, but whereas the new life had no say in this situation arising, the woman had (rape being an obvious exception).

    Then both sides try to invalidate the opposing position. The pro-lifers assert the pro-choice position can amount to a legal sanctioning of murder. The pro-choicers assert that a new human life prior to birth has no rights to life on a par with the womans, and that the pro-life position is therefore based solely on sentimentality; which is not sufficient cause to impose potentially harmful restrictions on any pregnant woman.

    I know there is a lot more to it, but before getting into more details please confirm if the above is a reasonably accurate summary of the positions on abortion.

  70. thebuachaill says

    @Martin

    Regarding the photos, I agree completely. A friend made the mistake of going to a Catholic-church center run by Nuns offering advice on abortions. The advice amounted to little more than a similar set of photos and videos. I cannot see any other purpose in this, from either secularists or the religious, other than as you say appealing to the limbic system.
    I think the other point of referring to a fetus as a baby *may* however be different. If the purpose is again just to sway the emotions, then sure it’s another manipulating tactic. But, I wouldn’t dismiss it immediately if its purpose is to draw attention to the disagreement about when is a fetus officially considered a baby.
    This, on the face of it at least, appears to me to be a valid question on the pro-life side; though I believe the pro-choice side doesn’t regard it at all, since it doesn’t overturn the primacy of the womans bodily rights.

    Anyway, I’ve tried to stay clear of photos and references to babies in my subsequent comments and questions.

  71. jdog says

    Google “molar pregnancy”. I’m pretty sure pureone isn’t saying that he thinks that position is correct.

  72. Malitia says

    (First: Sorry for the occasionally wonky English. I’m not a native speaker.)

    “It’s human don’t kill it!” like a broken record.

    The whole ‘pro-life’ stance irks me because it focuses on the symptom not the problem. It’s like attempting to cure the fever when someone has a serious infection.

    To ridicculously expand her expanded analogy to fit her stance better (even if it fails on the level that arson is a crime, sex isn’t):

    Two people set fire to a house and then notice that there is someone in there. She wants to make it an additional criminal offense for one of them to not run into the fire to save that person, while only mindly fining the other if he is caught. And this depending on their height / eye color / or something comparably stupid born trait.

    Also I have also a message for the “with great power comes…” thing:

    Dear pro-life debater,
    please come back to me with this after giving birth becomes a power that actually, personally benefits women. Spider-man at least could win big money before he learned that lesson.
    Also being Peter Parker sucks, all his loved ones die, disappear or turn into supervillains, he is constantly wrestling with money problems, and despite being a genius can never fulfill his life, make a carrier etc. because he is a slave to his sense of duty and “power” (also to comicbook status quo but that’s not the point). … Your analogy is better than I thought. :D

  73. says

    For me I agree with both sides I don’t view their points as mutually exclusive. I think that they are answers to two different question. I think that abortion in many cases is selfish and vicious and is wrong, but I firmly believe that the choice should remain safe for those people to make. Just because I disagree with a course of action doesn’t mean that such a thing should be banned out right. People have to be free to choose for themselves. I just dont think that by and large it is the right choice for society.

  74. says

    The thing is that if we managed to nail down a specific point in time that we all agreed upon, during gestation, at which a fetus goes from being “fetus” to “baby,” the question now raised would be “Is this the moment the woman surrenders her personhood and sovereignty over her own body?” I would say the answer is still “No.”

  75. frankstein says

    Martin, could you provide some more details on this? They told her she is no longer welcome to represent them in debates or that she is no longer welcome to be a part of their community?
    I am very surprised at how much the “secular and skeptical pro-life” people are mirroring the religious movement with the same goals.
    I also wanted to hear your opinion on the images that were displayed during the “debate’ (I have a hard time actually calling this a debate after Ms. Kruszelnicki decided to show those images).
    I can look at that as nothing but an attempt at eliciting an emotional response in order to lend credence to her faulty logic.
    Do you think she just (really stupidly) forgot who her audience was or do you think there was something more to that?

  76. Cascadia J says

    I enjoyed watching a wholly secular argument, though matt still crushed it and kristen littered her points with bad analogies. One thing I’d like to see added to the choice side more often is this:
    I am defending my rights to chose appropriate solutions with my doctor. My medical complaint is pregnancy. Abortion is generally the recommended route to resolving the issue of pregnancy set before my doctor. At the point of viability, I’m fine with letting whoever wishes to support that life to do so, but I’m not okay with being forced to remain pregnant to the point of viability.

    As to the question of murder, in no other case could I murder another human being by punching myself in the stomach.
    I hold that this case is not an exception. (likewise I could quite nonviolently fast {to purify myself? -religious exceptionalism sidebar} or just drink a cup of tea from the right sort of local weeds.) The procedure by which the doctor removes unwanted tissue is personally irrelevant to me, I’d just rather do it without potentially bringing greater harm through my ‘ ignorance’ (just prove I’m not just clumsy or prone to being bullied into fights).

    That the basic logic of Roe v. Wade escapes someone not appealing to a soul, escapes me.

  77. jdog says

    You’ve misunderstood the pro-choice postion if you think you’re not on the pro-choice side.

    Pro-choice isn’t “should have an abortion” or “it is morally okay to have an abortion”. It’s “may have an abortion if the woman chooses to”, which is exactly the side you just declared you were on.

    “Pro-life” is “may not choose to have an abortion (under normal circumstances”. Many pro-lifers go further than that by saying that even some or all extreme circumstances aren’t excluded and/or that preventing conception should also not be an allowable choice.

  78. says

    Thanks for the clarification Sally.
    Not surprisingly the question appears to be framed from two different perspectives depending on which side is doing the framing.

    Golly, thanks, Captain Obvious.

    Pro-choice people frame it around an intrusion on womens basic rights to make decisions about her own health; while Pro-life people frame it around protecting the new life from an intrusive act to end its existence.

    ANTI-CHOICE people say one thing but do another. Their actions demonstrate that they are, in reality, more interested in punishing women for having sex than they are with protecting fetuses.

    I believe the pro-choice position is that the mothers health is primary, because pregnancy is effectively an intrusion by a new life on the body of the mother.

    No. The pro-choice position is that pregnant women have the same right to bodily autonomy that all other adults have.

    The pro-life position then is that health of the new life is primary, because it’s a natural consequence of pregnancy that both lives are temporarily sharing the one body, but whereas the new life had no say in this situation arising, the woman had (rape being an obvious exception).

    That’s what they SAY. But then, over and over again, they show, through opposition to easing access to birth control, to welfare that helps parents afford children, to paid parental leave, to equal pay for women, etc., that their true priority is preserving a social order in which women are effectively prevented from achieving equality because they are constantly at the mercy of having their lives disrupted by being forced to care for unwanted children.

    Then both sides try to invalidate the opposing position.

    You need to deal with reality: one side’s framing is, in fact, invalid. It’s clear which side I think is invalid. I am not very impressed with your fence-sitting about my basic human rights.

    The pro-lifers assert the pro-choice position can amount to a legal sanctioning of murder.

    Murder, by definition, cannot be legally sanctioned. Just another illustration of how shallow and absurd their arguments are.

    The pro-choicers assert that a new human life prior to birth has no rights to life on a par with the womans, and that the pro-life position is therefore based solely on sentimentality; which is not sufficient cause to impose potentially harmful restrictions on any pregnant woman.

    Congratulations; you finally said something that didn’t make me grind my teeth.

    I know there is a lot more to it, but before getting into more details please confirm if the above is a reasonably accurate summary of the positions on abortion.

    I have no fucking idea. Think for yourself.

  79. thebuachaill says

    Apologies if my comments and questions on the topic of abortion have caused you to wear down your back teeth; however you imposed yourself on a thread between Martin and myself, and rather than asking you to butt-out, I was happy to engage and learn from your point of view.
    To state the obvious yet again, this is an emotionally charged issue, and you obviously have an emotional investment in it. It’s difficult to tease out from your sarcasm which points are well established among the pro-choice group and which are just you venting. And to be honest, if I wanted to be publicly belittled, I’d just invite the mother-in-law to dinner.

    Nonetheless I appreciate you taking the time to school me on the pro-choice perspective, and will certainly consider some of the anti-choice criticisms you made [in the process of thinking it out for myself].

  80. says

    Now* seems like a good place to insert my catch-phrase: “There’s good eating on a fetus!” And for the most part, I’m investing that fetus with more actual value than the vast majority of “pro-life” folks ever do. After all, calories have value. Caring about a fetus over a woman’s right to body autonomy up until birth, and then once the fetus becomes a real person abandoning it? That’s the “pro-life” position and they can go straight to nonexistent Hell.

    *”Now” being any discussion of any fetus, ever.

  81. says

    Plus, many “pro-life” arguments are really pro-choice arguments in disguise. For instance, if she’s “too young to have an abortion without getting parental consent” then she’s TOO YOUNG TO BE A MOTHER! If she’s a “monstrous human being to consider murdering a human a few weeks after conception” then WHY WOULD YOU LET HER HAVE A BABY?!?!

  82. says

    “You’ve misunderstood the pro-choice postion if you think you’re not on the pro-choice side.”

    I am firmly on the pro-choice side. I am sorry if I was unclear about this.

    All women should be free to make the choice for themselves. I just think that in most cases this is a poor choice.

  83. thebuachaill says

    I see your point.

    I still have some ways to go with this issue, and your insight has given me more to ponder, but here is where I currently am:

    I instinctively have a problem with the idea of a group (and predominantly men) enforcing their will on all women; especially on an issue particular to women and their health. I’ve read some analogies about forced donation of body parts which seems to me to be a valid analogy, and reenforces the pro-choice position that nothing does or should supersede bodily autonomy. Therefore on this alone I am opposed to making abortion illegal.

    The only thing then that gives me pause on abortion, is the idea that there is another human life involved which is both dependent on and innocent of the circumstances. I understand you dismiss this at least partly (if not totally) as sentimentality, but just decoupling this for a moment from the bodily autonomy point, I can’t see past this as being an expression of a positive inherited biological trait (psychopaths excluded) to value and protect human life, and the empathy we have for the innocent and vulnerable. And I find it difficult to support a position that might undermine, erode or numb in some way this instinctive trait [I recognize immediately that I may be guilty of a naturalistic fallacy here and that this is probably where the main bone of contention lies].

    Martin one final question: taking the primacy of bodily autonomy as a given, as someone who is pro-choice what is your attitude towards the human life that is aborted at a late stage? I mean for example, do you think it’s sad, but the lesser of two evils [the greater evil being doing away with the woman’s bodily autonomy]?

  84. Laura Lou says

    I’m not aware of any “vicious” abortions. Women are taking care of themselves, not being malicious murderers. Don’t mischaracterize it.

  85. codemonkey says

    I asked for a biology text or paper that uses that definition of “person” explicitly and unambiguously. I am not going to google through random papers.

  86. says

    Apologies if my comments and questions on the topic of abortion have caused you to wear down your back teeth;

    You’re not really sorry. If you were, you wouldn’t have phrased it as “I’m sorry IF”.

    however you imposed yourself on a thread between Martin and myself,

    That’s funny; I thought this was a public forum. Semi-public, anyway–open to anyone who takes the trouble of registering a username. Is “never interfere in a conversation between Martin and some schmuck” in the terms of use here? If so, I’m sorry I missed it.

    and rather than asking you to butt-out, I was happy to engage and learn from your point of view.

    Wow, you are so generous. I am so ungrateful to not have recognized your amazing magnanimity in refraining from outright rudeness towards me. I am overwhelmed.

    To state the obvious yet again, this is an emotionally charged issue, and you obviously have an emotional investment in it.

    Why yes, Captain Obvious, the prospect of being enslaved does stir my emotions somewhat.

    It’s difficult to tease out from your sarcasm which points are well established among the pro-choice group and which are just you venting.

    Everything I said was true, including the sarcastic parts.

    And to be honest, if I wanted to be publicly belittled, I’d just invite the mother-in-law to dinner.

    This is intended to be a joke, yes? I’d be most appreciative if you could explain the humor here to me.

    Nonetheless I appreciate you taking the time to school me on the pro-choice perspective, and will certainly consider some of the anti-choice criticisms you made [in the process of thinking it out for myself].

    Must be nice to be able to be so detached from the issue.

  87. thebuachaill says

    “Must be nice to be able to be so detached from the issue.”

    I don’t know about it being nice, but it’s certainly helpful when having to deal with people like you ;)

  88. mildlymagnificent says

    as someone who is pro-choice what is your attitude towards the human life that is aborted at a late stage? I mean for example, do you think it’s sad, but the lesser of two evils [the greater evil being doing away with the woman’s bodily autonomy]?

    Completely oblivious to the fact that the greatest proportion of these abortions are genuine tragedies. A woman desperately wants a baby but her foetus is so badly damaged or her own health is so precarious that abortion is the only remedy. (We’ll overlook the witless fools who think that women should carry ‘to term’ an already dead foetus and thus risk death from infection along with infertility and other consequences should she survive.)

    It’s not that the woman primarily has her own ‘bodily autonomy’ in mind. Often it’s doctors and family members who have to persuade her to save herself or to save the foetus from being born to an early death and/or a pain-filled life.

  89. says

    Pro-choice people frame it around an intrusion on womens basic rights to make decisions about her own health; while Pro-life people frame it around protecting the new life from an intrusive act to end its existence.

    And in doing so, they’re explicitly granting the fetus greater rights than the mother. I’m almost getting tired of repeating this every time this subject is raised, but there’s no way around it:
    By “protecting the new life” you’re granting the fetus rights that no other person on the planet has; the right to use another person’s body, against their will, for your personal benefit.

    Likewise, from the other angle, every other person has the right to reject such an imposition on their body; to use whatever force necessary to expel the parasite, person or not. Only a pregnant women is told otherwise. Only a pregnant women is expected to give up the basic right of control over your own body.

    This is not an issue of different opinions or framing. It’s not about two sides with opposing points of view. It’s not even about whether the fetus is a person.

    The question is this: Does a pregnant woman have the full rights of a human being or not?

  90. says

    By Matt’s argument, I assume that he believes a woman should be able to get an abortion even within the final weeks of her pregnancy – for any reason.

    Of course, she should. And of course that doesn’t mean that the fetus is killed. At that point, with a viable fetus, the proper method of abortion is induced birth. Terminating a pregnancy doesn’t necessarily mean that the fetus dies.
    I think that’s a rather important distinction.

  91. says

    I seem to recall the Godless Bitches using that exact analogy. Sure, you accept a risk of pregnancy by having sex, but it in no way follows that you should therefore just suck up whatever the consequences are.

    If we employed that same logic to the traffic accident case, we should refuse to send an ambulance.
    “Well, you accepted the risk of being hit by the truck when you crossed the street and now you want a doctor to remove that piece of metal from your kidney? Forget it! You need to take responsiblity.”

    Once again, pregnant women are considered a special case, with fewer rights than anybody else.

  92. says

    That’s a good counter to the “potential human being” line of argumentation. If a fertilized egg is a “potential human”, and it’s wrong to remove it because of that, then you could reasonably argue that every time you avoid having sex, you’re killing a “potential human”.

  93. says

    @thebuachaill

    There’s a reason this subject is emotionally charged. The reason is that we’re talking about the basic rights of half the population. We’re talking about people who want to use the power of the legal system to reduce the rights of women. We’re talking about people who, in the guise of giving fetuses full human rights, are actually arguing to prevent women from having full human rights.

    As I said above, the question here is not whether the fetus is human, but whether the mother is. The pro-life crowd says no. The pro-life crowd thinks that women shouldn’t get the same rights as everybody else.
    Oddly enough, some people are rather offended by that.

    And when people come along and treat the whole thing as a mildly interesting intellectual exercise, it tends to spark some strong emotions. This is not an academic discussion. It’s not a game.
    This is about real people having their lives ripped apart. It’s about a potential return to the days of back-alley abortions and young women bleeding to death, scared and vilified.

    One last time: This is about whether or not women are human beings. It’s not a subject where we can agree to disagree.

  94. thebuachaill says

    I’m not oblivious to the cases involving precarious health issues for the woman or fetus; but I can rephrase the question to be more specific: I am interested to hear Martins attitude towards the aborted life in the case of late stage unwanted pregnancies, where there is no precarious health concern to the woman or the life developing inside her, and where the decision is made to abort the pregnancy let’s say because it’s not convenient.
    We can agree the decision should be a free and safe one, but I would like to know if the pro-choice people have an opinion or attitude towards the new life and the consequences of the decision [i.e. yes it’s sad, it’s the lesser of two evils, etc] or once the question of choice is resolved, is that as far as the pro-choice are willing to discuss abortion.

  95. thebuachaill says

    This is just a minefield of righteous indignation! So excuse me but how do you all want me to frame my questions and comments to suit you?? Perhaps you can send me a list of questions and I’ll type them out on the forum??

    Earlier I was admonished by one pro-choicer before I even started to not dare bring emotional sentimentality into it, lest it should take from an intellectual examination of the issue. Then you pop up and chastise me for having the audacity not to look at the same issue with emotion, and having the nerve to approach it as an intellectual exercise. And where exactly did you derive that I view this as mildly interesting? I don’t. But apparently you’ve got a whole persona defined for me, and a mildly interested character suits.

    Yes it’s emotionally charged; only the 3rd time I’ve conceded that point! So if my questions or comments bother you, ignore them! Feel free not to respond. I’m not trying to convince anyone to be anti-abortion/pro-life/christian fundamentalist zealot. I’m trying to get a pro-choice perspective.
    I mean, I could go to some other forum with a pro-life bent and ask them what are the perspectives of the pro-choice. But guess what? I’d no doubt get some pro-life version of Sally unleash a barrage of sarcastic venom at my fence-sitting on a basic right to life for the unborn! And after suggesting I’m a uterus-hating schmuck, would most certainly give me a totally biased rights-of-the-unborn perspective of the pro-lifers.

    So yes I got the whole pro-lifers are women hating bastards and no other point matters perspective.

  96. pureone says

    It’s so difficult not to turn on the snark valve. The point was that I was agreeing with STS and biology. You can look up the definition of a molar pregnancy yourself at the NIH, I’m not going to provide you with papers. I was demonstrating that if one were to use the faulty definition of sperm+egg=person used in the debate and by others, that a trophoblastic/cancerous growth would then be considered a person, with it is not and can never be. Granted, (as you by now have looked up “molar pregnancy”) the egg doesn’t have DNA in the complete molar, but it does in a partial.

    I’m not taking the E+S=Person stance.

  97. says

    @thebuachaill
    This turned out very long, so I’ll just start a new post or the indentation will make it unreadable.

    So if my questions or comments bother you, ignore them. Feel free not to respond.

    Why thank you, but I prefer responding. I prefer giving my opinion. If you don’t like that, feel free not to read my comments.

    Furthermore, I was trying to explain why you get such a strong reaction. If you don’t care, then feel free to ignore me. However, if you wonder why Sally and myself and many others respond strongly to this, then it’s simply because the discussion revolves around questioning the basic humanity of women.

    Yes, I’m aware that it’s not explicitly framed in this manner and many pro-choice people probably don’t consciously think of it like that. Nevertheless, if you accept that women are human beings with the same rights as everybody else, then the bodily autonomy argument simply demolishes the pro-life position.

    As such, holding a pro-life position is equivalent to suggesting that a certain segment of the population should not be given full human rights. That’s offensive, period.

    Earlier I was admonished by one pro-choicer before I even started to not dare bring emotional sentimentality into it,…Then you pop up and chastise me for having the audacity not to look at the same issue with emotion

    It’s not about looking at it with emotion. It’s about looking at it with a sense of taking it seriously. We’re taking about stripping women of their rights. We’re talking about the state using force to take control of the internal organs of part of the population.
    It’s kind of a big deal. It’s not an academic discussion. It’s literally life and death.

    What I’m saying is that when you include little smilies and such, you do not give off the impression that you’re taking it seriously. You give the impression hat this is a funny little discussion to have while waiting for your laundry to finish.

    I don’t know who you are or what you think. I can only go by what you write. I’m telling you what kind of impression I get from your writing. If you don’t what to give that impression, then I suggest you adjust your communication accordingly.

    And where exactly did you derive that I view this as mildly interesting?

    I didn’t say that. It’s an implication, sure, but I didn’t say it; I said “people”.
    I bring this up to point out that you too make judgments about me, based on what I write. Judgments that may or may not be correct, but are not actually explicit in the text.

    I’m not trying to convince anyone to be anti-abortion/pro-life/christian fundamentalist zealot. I’m trying to get a pro-choice perspective.

    And you’re getting one. Part of my perspective on this debate is that I’m deeply saddened, angered, offended and worried about the fact that we even need to have it. To me, this is on the level of discussing whether slavery should be reintroduced.
    I feel that this is an issue that should have been settled a long time ago. There’s one right position. It’s pretty obvious which it is. Why do we still have to talk about this?

    So yes I got the whole pro-lifers are women hating bastards and no other point matters perspective.

    I don’t think you do.
    I’m willing to keep a door open for people who simply haven’t heard the arguments, haven’t thought about the subject or have been loaded with misinformation. I’m willing to accept that people can be wrong without necessarily being evil.
    However, as a bare freaking minimum, I expect people to take it seriously when we’re talking about dehumanizing half the population. Approach the subject with a bit of respect, you know.

    I got the impression from you that you were approaching this as an intellectual exercise, not as the highly personal and important matter that it is. I judge from SallyStrange’s response that she probably felt the same way.
    My original reason for writing all this was to help you understand why you got that response. I figured that you probably didn’t get it and wanted to clear it up.

    One more thing, concerning emotions and arguments: I don’t have a problem with people being emotional when they argue. I have a problem with people using emotional appeals instead of arguments.
    I wouldn’t bash a pro-lifer for being emotional. From their perspective, we’re talking about babies being killed. I would expect them to be emotional.
    My problem is that they don’t have anything other than the emotions. Their case is entirely based on emotional appeals and equivocating to solicit emotional responses.

    It’s the difference between making an emotionally based argument to bypass rationality vs. making a rational argument while being emotional. The validity of a position is judged by the merits of the arguments stripped of emotional content, but that doesn’t mean that we have to be Vulcans.

  98. mildlymagnificent says

    Well, those of us who’ve been seven months, and more, pregnant are aware that it’s way more than ‘inconvenient’ to be burdened in that way – even when it’s wanted.

    If a woman feels the need to terminate the pregnancy then, she can discuss options with her doctors. But it’s her decision in the end. It’s her body. Not any other woman’s and certainly not any man’s. Hers and hers alone.

    You want to prevent this sort of thing happening? Promote good sex education so that women are in no doubt about when they first get pregnant. Promote free, preferably longer term contraception so that unwanted pregnancies aren’t there to be terminated in the first place.

  99. thebuachaill says

    “It’s not about looking at it with emotion. It’s about looking at it with a sense of taking it seriously….What I’m saying is that when you include little smilies and such, you do not give off the impression that you’re taking it seriously”

    The one and only smiley inserted in a series of comments was in response to an utterly sarcastic response from someone else. To complain about the sarcasm is to be a Tone Troll. To make little of it with a smiley face is to completely undermine the seriousness of every other comment I made.
    At no point in any of my comments did I attempt to make little of the abortion issue or womens rights. It’s ridiculous accusation. And the only other place I’ve come across such nonsense is from the religious crowd who are more at ease with righteous indignation over simply answering a question.

    Most of the rest of your post is to once again point out why your perspective is the only true perspective. Believe me, I have got it by now that the pro-choice see this as nothing other than a human rights issue for the woman and that any other perspective demonstrates the attitude that women are not human beings. I won’t waste my time or yours mentioning another group of people who see it differently. For the purpose of this forum we can just pretend they don’t exist.

    “And when people come along and treat the whole thing as a mildly interesting intellectual exercise, it tends to spark some strong emotions”

    “I didn’t say that. It’s an implication, sure, but I didn’t say it; I said “people”.”

    You’re not kidding anyone. This was clearly directed at me and the response to my earlier post. More nonsense. It also unfortunately demonstrates you’re unlikely to be someone that can have a reasonable discussion that doesn’t go exactly the way you want it to go.

    “I have a problem with people using emotional appeals instead of arguments”

    “This is about real people having their lives ripped apart. It’s about a potential return to the days of back-alley abortions and young women bleeding to death, scared and vilified. One last time: This is about whether or not women are human beings”

    Right. No emotional appeals there.
    I put it to you Lyke that you are only even aware of emotional appeals when they come from the other side of the debate.

    Unfortunately I don’t think there is much more to be gained by continuing a discussion with you. I appreciate your position and the passion you have for it. I don’t appreciate you, and others, labeling me with attitudes and positions that are not mine, but which suit you to make an argument for your position. If I am polite in my responses, I’m cold and academic. If I’m dismissive of sarcasm, I’m not taking you and your position seriously. Your setting up rules on the fly that suit you. I don’t wish to waste any more time on it with you.

  100. says

    Believe me, I have got it by now that the pro-choice see this as nothing other than a human rights issue for the woman and that any other perspective demonstrates the attitude that women are not human beings

    That’s my position. Other’s may or may not agree. I make no claim about this being a universal opinion.
    More to the point, if you think I’m wrong, there’s an easy way to prove it: just present a pro-life argument that fully respects the rights of women. If you can do that, I’ll rethink my position.

    You’re not kidding anyone. This was clearly directed at me and the response to my earlier post

    Indeed it was, but I didn’t say that explicitly which was the point I was getting at. I even specifically edited out an explicit reference to you because I thought it might become a bit too personal.
    I was talking about how we, based on what people write, make judgments about things they haven’t written. It’s a natural and inevitable result of communication. Hell, it’s downright necessary, unless we want to add a hundred qualifiers into every sentence. I can’t read your mind. All I can do is say how you appeared to me and then you can correct me if necessary.

    Right. No emotional appeals there.

    That’s right. My point is not to make an emotional appeal in absence of a rational argument, but to express my emotions in addition to the argument of bodily rights.
    It’s a simple fact that when pro-lifers talk about the “rights of the fetus” they’re effectively arguing against the rights of women. A ban on abortions is, whether you realize it or not, a vote in favor of women having fewer rights than men. That’s the end result and emotion has nothing to do with that.
    If abortions are banned, there will be back-alley abortions and young, desperate women will die. That’s not emotion, that’s a fact. Do you disagree?

    I express my emotions, yes, but that doesn’t mean that my argument is based in emotion. The argument is quite rational. Once again, since you apparently didn’t read it the first time:

    It’s the difference between making an emotionally based argument to bypass rationality vs. making a rational argument while being emotional.

    Lastly, a point of agreement:

    If I am polite in my responses, I’m cold and academic. If I’m dismissive of sarcasm, I’m not taking you and your position seriously.

    I’ll agree that this can be difficult, especially since different people will have different thresholds. It’s easy to end in a position where you will be pissing off somebody no matter what you say.
    Also, it sounds like I didn’t sufficiently distinguish between my reaction to you and my reaction to the pro-life stance in general. I’m sorry if you caught some flak that wasn’t really aimed at you. I’m happy to concede that you didn’t mean what I read into your posts. My main point, as I said, was to explain why you might get that kind of reaction.

  101. says

    Also, note that there is a fundamental imbalance between a person getting emotional about having HER rights taken away from HER, personally, and someone getting emotional about having the rights of someone else’s theoretical fetus taken away.

    So you inspired some anger. Deal with it. Stop whinging. You’re the one who’s all emotional now.

  102. thebuachaill says

    Got it the first time Sally. You’re right and no other opinion matters.

    I don’t take people like you seriously enough to stir the emotions, other than perhaps mild amusement or exasperation.

    I do however find interesting the similarities between you and religious types who also can’t help themselves but get the last belittling, sarcastic comment in in order to feel good about themselves. So by all means…

  103. says

    So you’re “mildly amused” by a woman being upset over a sizable contingent of the population attempting to pass laws that allow the government to take control of her reproductive organs?

    Stay classy. It’s working for you.

  104. jb says

    if you want to listen to a really good bodily autonomy argument regarding abortion, I suggest you go here and listen to this podcast:

    http://www.spreaker.com/user/smalleyandhyso/dogma_debate_episode_7_1

    #7 – Atheist v. Preacher on Abortion

    Basically, the preacher is put on the spot, and has trouble agreeing that if you can force a woman to ‘save’ the life of the fetus, then why can’t the law force the father to give up organs/blood to save a child?

    The preacher then says that ‘well, the father *should* not be forced to give up his bodily autonomy to save the child, b/c the child getting sick is ‘natural’. The pro-choicers then ask him if a woman should be forced to undergo a c-section that she doesnt want in order to save a baby (at birth) and he says yes! But, what if the baby dying in birth is ‘natural?

    Anayways, they completely demolish him, its a good listen!

  105. sophiareed says

    I took a swig of beer every time she said “Human Being”. ood thing it’s light beer, just sayin. In all seriousness though, Matt rocked the debate. At some points I felt kinda sorry for her.

  106. mildlymagnificent says

    I’m still curious about what makes “If I wanted to be publicly belittled, I’d invite my mother-in-law over” funny.

    Oh, that one’s easy.

    This little discussion in this little corner of the internet is in its own little timewarp … in which Bob Hope and Benny Hill still live on.

  107. Nick Gotts (formerly KG) says

    The status of zygote to fetus to baby to child to adult is a continuum without clear dividing lines. – Blair T.

    What an utterly bizarre claim – though a surprisingly frequent one among forced pregnancy advocates. Nature seldom provides such a clear dividing line as birth. Quite apart from the fact that the fetus is anatomically and physiologically part of the pregnant woman’s body and the infant isn’t, there are radical physiological changes at birth: the lungs start working, excretion begins, the kidneys start filtering the blood, the circulation changes, nutrients are taken by mouth and require digestion rather than arriving as small molecules via the placenta, and oxygen perfusion in the brain rises from levels which are incompatible with consciousness after birth (and hence very probably before).

  108. Nick Gotts (formerly KG) says

    A fetus with a fully-formed or nearly-fully formed brain has all that is needed to be conscious and aware.

    No it doesn’t. Levels of oxygen perfusion in the fetal brain, right up to birth, are below what is compatible with consciousness after birth – and so, very probably, the fetus is not conscious at any time before or during birth.

  109. New here says

    I felt it was well argued from both sides.

    My question to the lady on the pro-life side (i hate that phrasing by the way) is if we follow her logic what punishment should be hashed out to women whom miscarriage? It seems to me that would be a mansluaghter charge.

    Invitro fertilization would need to be outlawed since all the implanted embryos would not make it… that would mean the doctors would also be conspirators in murder.

    Lets go now from a Religouse view. If you do not believe a miscarraig is the mothers fault than whose would it be? certainly not the embryo’s or the fathers. If its just a natural thing outside our control well then thats God territory. That would mean god is murdering children everday for no reason.

    Anyways just some views that may not have been considered.

  110. nakarti says

    I’m posting having not read the comments, assuming what I am about to say has been said…
    We don’t have a clear line that a fetus becomes a viable person (for this case viable = person,) but we do have a clear grey area in which that question is “maybe.” Any time before that grey area: Not a person. During (and in my opinion after) that grey area: Maybe a person. Err on the side of caution, protect the life of the mother and *the future of the child.* If he wasn’t hitting rights vs. rights so hard, I would expect Matt to point that out too.

    The other major argument: the parasite child does not have a right to use the body of its mother. Yes in a few cases the child must be dismembered to revoke that right, but in most cases not. I think with the boat analogy she totally misunderstood choice: With the boat, dumping the child into the body of water to fend for itself is an option. Not a good one, but also not the only one: the boat owner can call 911 or the coast guard to have the child retrieved. The boat owner can return to shore and leave the child at the dock. The boat owner can return to shore, find the child’s parents and have them jailed for abandoning their child on a boat. The boat owner could ration their limited resources, similar to a pregnant mother, to support the child for their nine months at sea.
    A pregnant woman has two choices: Support the fetus-then-child that is parasitically attached to her for nine months, or remove the fetus.
    I’m a prefer-life: if the fetus is a viable child and maintaining it won’t cause significant harm to the mother or the child before, during, or after birth, then it is best to maintain. If maintaining will probably cause significant harm, it is best to terminate. It’s at ‘probably’ and ‘best’ because we can’t be totally sure of either part, only mostly sure.

    I’m also a not-my-decision sort: It’s never going to be my body, therefore it is never going to be my decision. All I can do is make recommendations. I do not have the right to impose that decision, one way or the other.

  111. vradvo says

    I was in the audience for this and wanted to weigh in, but so did half the room. I would first ask Kristine if it was all about the definition as she seemed to imply? I would then want to know if she would change her view if science changed to definition to:
    1) human being is defined at 5 months after conception?
    2) human being is defined as 15 days prior to conception (i.e. still egg and potential sperm donor)? Would this require women to be held liable for the lost potential from not attempting to get a sperm donor?

    I believe that a lot of Kristine’s beliefs are based on emotion. The fact that a fetus looks like a baby at many stages of development plays a big part. She played a disturbing video of aborted fetuses. I would also classify as disturbing a video showing life-like baby dolls being sawed into pieces with fake blood all over them. My mind is transforming an image from something that is somewhat foreign to me into something that is more realistic (i.e. applying to a real life baby). Of course this is going to incite certain strong emotions, but the mind is known to be irrational.

    I think that human beings are full of ego. Many insects have reactions to light or other movement and we don’t mourn over stepping on one by accident (or in many cases, on purpose). As soon as a human fetus has the capability to sense light or respond to sound, now we have to place it on a high pedestal and proclaim its huge significance. The reality is that we are animals and what makes us truly special and potentially worthy of extra privileges is our strong self-awareness. A fetus has no self-awareness and so why is it worth more than a pig that has more self awareness and many people don’t mind eating? It’s human ego.

  112. mike says

    Maybe its just an American thing, and it seems a little dated now, but on U.S. TV like sitcoms and such, there has been a running joke that men do not get along with their mother-in-laws. Prob would have been a lot funnier 40-50 yrs ago

  113. says

    Got it the first time Sally. You’re right and no other opinion matters.

    Well, I do think I’m right. I don’t think that nobody else’s opinion matters, though. Sounds like you’re making things up because you can’t muster a response to the content of what I said.

    I don’t take people like you seriously enough to stir the emotions, other than perhaps mild amusement or exasperation.

    Again… “people like me”? You haven’t clarified what that is, so I’m going to go with my initial assumption, that you can’t take people with uteruses seriously. I believe that makes you a sexist. Feel free to clarify anytime, rather than continuing to complain pathetically about not being treated with kid gloves.

    I do however find interesting the similarities between you and religious types who also can’t help themselves but get the last belittling, sarcastic comment in in order to feel good about themselves. So by all means…

    Yep. I’m sarcastic, and impatient with you, therefore I’m just like “religious types” (specific type left completely un-described, of course). QED. Can’t argue with logic like that!

  114. says

    Given the extent to which overpopulation threatens humanity’s future, I have trouble understanding how bringing additional children into the world, particularly ones who weren’t planned for and weren’t initially wanted, can be characterized as a “good choice for society.”

  115. thebuachaill says

    Classy? Well I tried polite and patient Martin, but that only encouraged the other poster to up her level of sarcasm and abuse. At no point did I attack or try to undermine the important question of abortion and womens rights. But that didn’t stop you, and other posters on the forum from painting your own picture of me as a Troll, too emotional, too academic, mildly interested, anything to create a character that fits your own narrative where anyone so much as questions the issue of the above debate.
    And yes when faced with abusive name-calling and the real classy accusation of being a uterus hater, mild amusement and exasperation is a fair response. I’ve seen you dole out more that your fair share on the show.

    What a surprise though, on a forum of self-described Free Thinkers, that the whole discussion has now been hijacked around an accusation of insensitivity; and wit you now leading the charge. I usually only see this from theists who want to avoid a question.

    You’ve demonstrated a lot of hypocrisy in handling this discussion Martin. I was genuine in my interest to learn about the pro-life side. It appears certain people only want to see participants in the forum who have the same positions as themselves. This has been quite an Atheist Experience.

  116. says

    Does it really come as a surprise to you, thebuachaill, that a woman might:
    • …adopt a point of view as per her own bodily rights (which is that they are hers and hers alone, and not something any church or government has a right to usurp)?
    • …think that her view is the only valid one on the subject?
    • …not be especially receptive, and indeed hostile, to suggestions — even those given as an exercise — that maybe there are other points of view (entailing, to varying degrees, that her bodily rights are only hers some of the time) worthy of equal consideration?

    Reading back over the threads here, I see this: people like myself and LykeX trying to explain things calmly to you, and when SallyStrange expresses her (frankly understandable) disgust that her fundamental rights and personal freedoms are a thing that, in this day and age, some people think are still up for debate, instead of really trying to listen and understand where her anger stems from, you just throw up your defenses and complain about the “minefield of righteous indignation” you’ve stepped into.

    Dude, grow a pair. Even if you’re someone who supports choice on general principles, it’s easy to be snarky and dismissive when anti-choice views aren’t having a profound and direct effect on your life. It’s a lot harder — but it can be done — to be a little bit empathetic and understand that if you were being impacted like this on a regular basis, you’d be a hell of a lot more than righteously indignant, and with full justification.

    Yes, you have stepped into a conversation about an emotionally charged topic. You’re finding out, the hard way, that your handling of your end of it isn’t going well. Try figuring out why that is, rather than petulantly trying to bait us further with comparisons to theists and the like. As a manipulative attempt to control the conversation so that it only goes in a way that provides maximum comfort to your feelings, that’s a bit transparent. And as for whinging that “people only want to hear positions they already agree with,” this is what’s known as “having an argument.”

  117. codemonkey says

    And you’re still not answering my question. Does the NIH unambiguously define “person” with “molar pregnancy”?

  118. Tomasz R. says

    Yes, this “potential” stuff is a double-edged sword. You may say that since the max. amount of children is limited anyway (lack of time due to the need to earn money, lack of money, health issues etc.) then NOT having abortion of a particular pregnancy is “killing” future potential children.

    This would be especially true in cases like a difficult pregnancy, where a single difficult pregnancy may cause loss of potential for N>1 future births (due to the loss of health). Especially those that were already PLANNED, with a high confidence level of being actually made if health issues don’t dissalow making them.

  119. Tomasz R. says

    According to the law corporations are persons. They fullfill your criteria – they are intelligent (more than people!) and self-aware. And you can kill them! Person is just an abstract legal concept (and one is talking about laws if the debate is about legal bans on abortions). There’s no legal right to live for person, there’s no freedom for the person – you can own a corporation. There are material rigts for the person – it can be the owner of stuff. Right to live and freedom is a written into HUMAN rights, not person rights.

  120. Tomasz R. says

    Neither side of the debate adressed social responsibility topic. Both were deriving their arguments from various “rights”. So this aspect that interests you is not present in the debate.

    Perhaps it is becase a debate has predetermined sides, rather than being a forum of free inquiry. Social responsibility leads to different outcomes based on different social conditions – example: overpopulation crisis requires different actions than demographics crisis of too few children, so this is a bad match for a debate-with-predetermined-position-advocates format. Such format requires using arguments that match your predetermined conclusions in an absoulte, rather than conditional way. Free conversation or an interview of 2 sides by an interviewer might be a better format for considerations about this subject.

  121. codemonkey says

    I was in formal policy debate for years. I quit because at least formal policy debate clubs are never about finding truth. The same spills over into non-debate-club formal debates as well. Whenever I see a formal debate, most of the time they’re just talking past one another. I would much prefer to see a conversation, perhaps with a moderator, as they try to work it out. Worse though, when there is a moderator, as Dawkins once said in one of his “fireside chats”, the moderator tends to kill the discussion just when it’s getting interesting, which is exactly what you don’t want. Of course, this kind of format requires intellectual honesty from the participants, which is not something you’ll frequently find with religious people, especially creationists.

  122. Tomasz R. says

    If instead of debating the 2 participant would stard yelling at each other and then immediately go into fist-fight, and you’d criticize such behavior, then Martin would accuse you of “tone trolling” :-)

  123. Tomasz R. says

    When it comes to the number of arguments per debate it may be a question of limited time. It’s not a lawsuit that may last months, which allows you to present both complete, and detailed arguments. There’s a choice of showing a few arguments well, vs. showing a section of all arguments with few words per argument. Perhaps you are right that both debaters were too much into the former, and some rebalancing towards the latter would do the debate good.

    Perhaps a combined mode would work – presenting a list of arguments with a few words overview for each, and after that concentrating on few best ones would work better?

  124. Tomasz R. says

    “a person should be responsible for his/her actions or mistakes”.

    Have you read any end user licence agreement for computer software? There are always clauses about no responsibility and no liability of the producer.

    Example:
    “You agree that Transdata Software, Transdata Software’s Independent Contractors, and Transdata Software’s Staff shall have neither liability nor responsibility to any individual or entity with respect to any loss or damages arising from the Product, or any information contained on the web site of Transdata Software, or from the use of any Transdata Software related information or other Products. The use of any information, recommendations or suggestions issued by Transdata Software or included in its Product and related documentation is entirely at your own risk.”

    Responsibility is not a default norm. Basically you can get some damages money related to someones actions if it can be derived from the writing in the law (doesn’t have to be explicit), that such person should not do such actions.

  125. says

    That would mean god is murdering children everday for no reason.

    Well, it wouldn’t be the first time he murdered children. Nor the second. Or the third, or the fourth, or…

    Seriously, try going through the bible and check how many times god either directly kills children, commands others to kill children or otherwise accepts or endorses people who kill children.

  126. Suns says

    I just wanted to weigh in on the burning building analogy. While I think a case can be made why it is flawed, I think it is actually quite elucidating. Even if you are the one who has set the building on fire, you are still not (nor should you be) legally required to endanger yourself in order to save somebody in that building. If you were to bump into someone on a boat-cruise and that other person would fall overboard as a result – should you be legally required to jump into the water and try to save the other person? Even if you are a bad swimmer?

    In common law, just having caused some situation (especially by accident) does not generally mean you have a legal obligation to prevent all harm this situation causes to other persons without any regard to your own wellbeing and health. So, even if the analogy would stand, I do not see how this would be a good argument for the anti-abortion stance.

  127. thebuachaill says

    Stop whinging, grow a pair! Wow, Michelle Bauchman territory. Don’t you dare come at us with a smiley face to highly insult our cause, but if we label you stupid, sexist, a troll, don’t you dare complain about it or it undermines your manliness! Give me a break Martin.

    “…not be especially receptive, and indeed hostile, to suggestions — even those given as an exercise — that maybe there are other points of view…” (

    Well yes, given that the entire discussion is based on a video debate, with two points of view represented!, yes I am a bit surprised to be accused of sexism for as much as suggesting there is another point of view, in reference to a debate in which there is another point of view.

    “Reading back over the threads here, I see this…”

    So you see just want you want to see; no different to the other people in the discussion with a pro-choice perspective who have added arms and legs to my comments in order to create a narrative where I’m the insensitive/over-emotional/aloof/ sexist.
    You see yourself and LykeX as the calm explainers, missing the fact that I had to persuade you back on-topic while you were busy making baseless accusations about pro-lifers as religious people awaiting the rapture, and LykeX decides to frame the entire question not about rights, but about whether or not women are Human Beings! All rational stuff, no misrepresentation of course!
    You see Sally as the embodiment of the innocent woman whose bodily rights are being infringed, which of course sets the stage so that anything I say to her can be demonized as insensitive and ignorant; but affords her to latitude to make wild claims about me hating her uterus and being sexist, while goading me on to dare and respond. But then I can’t point that out can I? It would negate my having testicles.

    “it’s easy to be snarky and dismissive when anti-choice views aren’t having a profound and direct effect on your life”

    AGAIN, I’ve haven’t been snarky to the important question of abortion or womans rights, I responded to the personal attacks directed at me. Who says abortion has no direct effect on my life? What if I have a loved one currently going through a crisis about having an abortion, and I wanted to learn more about it to be able to help her work through it. Had I stated that at the beginning, would that have afforded me any more civility in this thread; or would it just provide more fodder for someone to rage about how that couldn’t possibly compare to a woman forced to carry a pregnancy to term (not stopping to consider I never suggested it did!)

    “It’s a lot harder — but it can be done — to be a little bit empathetic and understand that if you were being impacted like this on a regular basis, you’d be a hell of a lot more than righteously indignant, and with full justification.”

    So basically I’m just in the wrong place to ask genuine, open questions on this topic.

    “Try figuring out why that is, rather than petulantly trying to bait us further with comparisons to theists and the like.”

    Bait you further? Is that what really what this is about, you think I’m trying to bait someone here? Have you not seen some of the comments directed at me, such as you’re a sexist I dare you to challenge my accusation? Don’t talk to me about baiting Martin. I’m dealing with a group of people who think they can setup the rules of a discussion as they go, to decide what is and isn’t insensitive, what should or shouldn’t be asked, what is or isn’t a valid point. That’s not an argument, that’s setting the guidelines of an argument to demonize a perspective no matter what is said.

  128. jdog says

    What’s wrong with you? He just said they don’t: “I was demonstrating that if one were to use the faulty definition of sperm+egg=person used in the debate“. He doesn’t support the argument that “personhood” begins at conception: “I’m not taking the E+S=Person stance“. He’s been fairly clear on both points.

  129. says

    @thebuachaill

    and LykeX decides to frame the entire question not about rights, but about whether or not women are Human Beings

    Have you been reading any of the stuff you so vigorously disagree with? Was I unclear about this? These are not separate topics.
    Let me spell it for you:

    1. All human beings have full human rights (taken as given)
    2. Among these rights is a right to bodily autonomy (taken as given)
    3. Restricting abortion is, regardless of the possible personhood of the fetus, a violation of the bodily rights of women (compare with the blood donation scenarios, etc. If you want to attack this argument, this is where to do it. Whenever you’re ready)
    4. Therefore, restricting abortion means that women no longer have full human rights (from 2+3)
    5. Therefore, restricting abortion means that women aren’t human (from 1+4)

    Clear?

    Let’s divorce this from the subject of abortion for a second. If I was suggesting that maybe there were some good arguments for why blacks shouldn’t get to vote*, would you be surprised if people called me a racist?

    Would you perhaps think I was being a little bit silly if I yelled and howled about the injustice of that accusation?
    I mean, I wasn’t saying that blacks were inferior, I just said they shouldn’t be allowed to vote. Completely different things, right? No connection at all.

    It’s downright irrational for people to suggest that restricting voting rights based on skin color could even hint at a racist attitude. And if anybody brings up slavery, well that’s just a blatant emotional appeal that shows how I’m the only one thinking clearly about this.

    If a black person takes me to task over this, well I’ll just dismiss them with a snappy comment. There’s no need for me to engage with “people like that”.
    And if anybody even suggest that that was a racist remark, well I won’t even dignify that with an answer. I don’t see how anyone could even think to interpret that in a racist way.

    Am I getting across to you here?

    Now, I realize that it’s very inconvenient when I point out the logical conclusion following from the pro-life position. I understand that you’d much rather forget all about the fact that a ban on abortions will inevitably lead to women dying in the streets from unsafe abortions. I get that you want to have this friendly discussion about whether women should have their reproductive organs appropriated by the state or not.

    I just don’t care. You don’t get to question the basic humanity of other people and then expect them to treat you with kid’s gloves. Your bruised ego is not my main concern here.

    * I hope nobody’s offended by me using this example, but I think it’s a good comparison, since it also deals with restricting the rights of people based on accidents of birth and it’s pretty clear cut what the right side of the issue is.

  130. Tomasz R. says

    A perfectly good reason to burn a building is when someone films a movie that includes a building fire scene. I’m not really sure that the film crew is obliged to sacrifice themselves by going into the fire if a stuntman is somewhat stuck in that fire. They should have some fire-control equipment enough be able to stop the fire if they plan the fire scene.

  131. jb says

    yep. how many drunk drivers are forced to give up their blood/organs to save their victims?
    heck, they rarely even do any time when they *kill* people

    so wtf

  132. Tomasz R. says

    Overpopulation is just the global average, but in some locations and some categories we have a big problem with not enough people of certain genetic qualities in the next generation.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_Germany

    “A study done in the western German State of Nordrhein-Westfalen by the HDZ revealed that childlessness was especially widespread among scientists. It showed that 78% of the female scientists and 71% of the male scientists working in that State were childless.”

  133. lee says

    I am confused by this interchangeable use of the word “person” with the terms “human” or “human being”. I was not aware that these terms were synonymous. For example, pro-lifers often confuse the adjective “human” and the noun “human being,” giving them the same meaning. “Human beings” are much more than our DNA and our chromosomes, those things that make us biologically human as opposed to feline or reptilian. However a “human fetus” does not have the qualities that make us a “human being” or a “person”. Most notably the difference is that a fetus is dependent on a woman’s body, living in a woman’s body. “Human beings” and a “person” must, by definition, be separate individuals. Women are indisputable “human beings” with rights and one of those rights should be to choose what her body is used for.

  134. jb says

    pro-lifers view ‘having human dna’ as meaning ‘full person’

    and they say this all smug like, ‘Well, unlike YOU, I KNOW BIOLOGY’

  135. says

    Not only is the oxygen pressure level below that of sustaining consciousness inside the womb, the fetus is also isolated from environmental stimuli to respond to, and is subject to various chemical neuroinhibitors produced by both the placenta and the fetus itself. A fetus is simply not “aware” in the manner we think of when we rationalize consciousness.

  136. says

    Whether you “like” it or not, you live in a reality where other person’s opinions do in fact matter. So when a person such as whatshisface comes in and at least tries to keep an open mind and asks questions, you should usually respond with at least some level of civility, regardless of how offended you are by “fence sitters.” That one response can make the difference between adding to your cause or alienating a potential ally. Because guess what? You (and really “we”, that vote and protest and push pro-choice) need his help. You might as well come to terms with that reality. Strong emotions are expected in this type of issue, but frankly you don’t have the position to slam those who have inquired into why you feel your position is correct, at least not those who have not judged you personally and genuinely seek your perspective. If you can’t figure out why not coming across as a rabid lunatic (yes you look like one, deal with it) is more beneficial to your cause, then you have greater problems than simply this one social issue. And since this is surely going to get an equally inflamed response as you gave whatshisface, I’ll just go ahead and say get the sand out your vagina.

  137. says

    And since this is surely going to get an equally inflamed response as you gave whatshisface, I’ll just go ahead and say get the sand out your vagina.

    For someone who just wrote a post entirely devoted to the importance of not alienating people, you seem oddly intent on alienating people. Maybe you should take some of your own advice.

  138. Tomasz R says

    There’s also a law meaning of a word “person”. And a debate about abortion ban is a debate about a law.

    Since such debates involve a lot of switching between disciplines or approaches (law, biology, common sense, general morality), and each discipline has it’s own dictionary with some words being in separate dictionaries, but with slightly different meaning, then a good practice might be for a debater to provide regular information in which context he is currently speaking in order not to confuse viewers.

    Eg. use phrases as “right now I’m taling about bilogical aspects”, or “human being as meant in laws”.

  139. jb says

    I did not notice much of an ‘open mind’

    Just an arrogant, sneering attitude.

    Kind of like what you are exhibiting now:P

  140. Tomasz R says

    What the viewers were likely expecting from Kristine was to be provided with new, fresh information about the secular cases on the topic of abortion. I suppose the expectations were that these were in some important way different than what religious people provide. Additionally that they were of HIGHER QUALITY, more thought of, better grounded in reality, and actually derived from reality, encapsulating wider range of the subject, from more points of views – as secular things usually are compared with religious ones. What instead was presented was a copy religious against abortion – and this was dissapointing.

  141. says

    One more thing on this point. It may well be that acting in a more diplomatic and conciliatory manner would win greater support (honey, flies, etc.), however I think it’s important to note that this is not the same as saying that you have a responsiblity to act, or even necessarily that you should act, in such a way.

    There’s something truly ridiculous about the idea that when A wants to take away the human rights of B, then B has to be extra nice and courteous in objecting to this.
    “Excuse me, sir, but if it isn’t too much trouble, would you kindly stop treating me as a subhuman? Thank you ever so much.”

    How would you feel if somebody argued that the state should seize control of your genitals and was backed by strong popular support, including a presidential candidate?
    How about if the pro-life people decided that “every sperm is sacred” and as a result, men should have a chip installed in their brain, preventing them from getting an erection without government authorization?

    How would you feel about that? Really, take a moment to think about it. How does it sit with you? Can you even imagine that kind of imposition? Does it even seem at all realistic to you or does your mind just reject it outright?

    It’s so very easy to be reasonable and calm, “mildly amused” and fucking civil, when it’s somebody else on the line. It’s something else when you’re the one being treating like livestock.

  142. says

    You see Sally as the embodiment of the innocent woman whose bodily rights are being infringed

    That’s how it is.

    Sally, like every woman in America, is facing a powerful, well-funded, and aggressive political effort to legally deprive her of her bodily rights.

    You, on the other hand, are facing people snapping at you in a blog’s comment thread.

    If you think you’re the more oppressed person in this situation, I’d suggest a little perspective is in order.

  143. jb says

    he also made a comment about ‘sand’ in ‘vaginas’ so its pretty obvious that this guy holds women in contempt, or something

  144. jb says

    quote: “and LykeX decides to frame the entire question not about rights, but about whether or not women are Human Beings! ”

    yeah, yet you want to give the fetus rights, which means taking away the womans right to control her body. which means you do not regard women as full human beings with full autonomy. duh!

  145. Blair T says

    Nick Gotts – “What an utterly bizarre claim . . .”
    Nick – all the points you made about physiological changes from birth are true, but those changes can happen at any time over quite an extended range of development. Normal delivery is between 37 and 42 weeks – that is a five week time period when ‘normal’ births happen. That is, that “clear dividing line” of birth you describe can happen or be induced over a very long developmental timeline – for normal births. In addition, viability at the extreme stretches from 26 weeks to 46 weeks – or about 4 months.

  146. FromHereOn says

    I’d mentioned being new to the HUMANIST perspective of pro-choice, not the overall concept. That being said, the model you provided is one I take pretty major issue with:

    “No brain, => no mind, => no inherent moral value, => abortions are ok when there is no brain.”

    A) I don’t agree that there is a distinction between a brain and a mind.
    B) “Inherent moral value” isn’t something that I believe applies to embryological development.
    C) A zygote or a blastocyst can be terminated without hitting the average subjective moral brick-wall, but this concept doesn’t address the scope of this debate. What if there IS a brain? A blanket anti-choice outlook is still problematic when we consider the rights of a pregnant woman.

    I find your response more bizarre the longer I consider it…

  147. Green Jelly says

    This woman is extremely dangerous and must be confronted aggressively. Her “burning building” analogy is ridiculous. Yes, you are not obligated to save a person in a burning building, but you cannot put that person in the building and set it on fire. However, If someone else locked up a person in your house and set it on fire, it is not your obligation to save them. That other person must be charged with murder. So if a woman is pregnant through rape and gets an abortion, then the *rapist* should be charged with murder.

  148. codemonkey says

    I never claimed this is the only argument for abortion. I claimed this is an argument for abortion, a rather ironclad one. I think it is also compatible with humanism. Thus my confusion when you earlier said:

    This debate was my first window into a solid case that supports why abortion is tenable in a humanist sense.

    I am similarly confused by your response. I think you’re assuming I implied far too many things, which I did not.

  149. noodlezoop says

    chrisjohnson:

    Whether you “like” it or not, you live in a reality where other person’s opinions do in fact matter.

    *blinks* Uh.

    SallyStrange:

    Well, I do think I’m right. I don’t think that nobody else’s opinion matters, though. Sounds like you’re making things up because you can’t muster a response to the content of what I said.

    Once more, with relevant emphasis:

    I don’t think that nobody else’s opinion matters, though.

  150. Tomasz R. says

    A “pro-life” stance for banning abortions is critically dependant on government intervention, and government making decisions. What happens when the government is of low quality or outright evil?

    Does promoting ban on abortion mean that the promoters claim that it is appropriate to encourage types like Idi Amin, Saddam Husaim and of course obligatory Stalin and Hitler to decide about other peoples bodies, private lifes, reproduction etc.? It is impoirtant question, as after all most of the world lives under the rule of some dictators.

    Besides evil – there are incompetent governments. Incompetent by definition means they are unable to make good decisions or execute actions properly and efficiently, and make tons of mistakes, errors. So such governments are encouraged by anti-abortion people to make decisions, to take away that power from humans?

    So perhaps the abortion bans should be limited to cases where the government is both trustworthy and competent? What would be the list of such governments? What percentage of people live under them? When it turns out that a trustworthy and competent government from the list is against abortion ban what would that mean?

  151. Blair T says

    You have packed a lot of wrongness into such a short comment, but it seems indicative of the problems with people trying to talk about abortion. The crazy absolutist positioning requires that one demonize their opponent and everything they may say, for fear of giving an inch in the debate. I have merely described the guidelines in my jurisdiction – I didn’t make them, but I think they are sensible. And of course, risk to the mother’s life would be grounds for late term abortion – and it would be a clear trump over fetus personhood rights (if the personhood rights existed – which they don’t).

    But let me return the ad hominen your direction. While I have a fair bit of personal experience with pregnancies, miscarriages, births, c-sections, life threatening conditions, and child rearing, I suspect you have none. This is just a political argument for you.

    The risks in pregnancy increase over time, especially at the time of birth. The risks from abortion also increase later in the pregnancy. So a person who actually was considering the best health policy for women would want abortions performed as soon as possible in the pregnancy.

  152. says

    Stop whinging, grow a pair!

    For the record, I think “grow a pair” is a sexist insult because it equates mental fortitude with having testicles.

    Wow, Michelle Bauchman territory. Don’t you dare come at us with a smiley face to highly insult our cause, but if we label you stupid, sexist, a troll, don’t you dare complain about it or it undermines your manliness! Give me a break Martin.

    It’s funny, because I was the one who was objecting to your stupid smiley face, but you’re talking to Martin about it. And, I’m the one who joked about you being sexist, but you are too stupid to get the joke, and you’re complaining to Martin about it. I’m starting to think you really ARE sexist. Hey! I’m over here! You have problems with what I said to you, take it up with me. Martin doesn’t write my comments for me.

    Let’s review why I called you a sexist in the first place. It started out as a joke. You said something about “people like you” without explaining. I said, What do you mean, “people like me”? People with uteruses? But you never responded. Then you used the phrase again, and again I said that I still didn’t know what you meant by “people like you,” but since you never objected to my interpretation that you meant people with uteruses, I could continue sticking with my initial assumption. I noted that not being able to take people with uteruses seriously is sexism, and invited you to clarify. I thought you meant “people who are too mean” or something like that, and was expecting that you would say something along those lines. But instead of clarifying, you threw a tantrum about being called sexist.

    “…not be especially receptive, and indeed hostile, to suggestions — even those given as an exercise — that maybe there are other points of view…” (

    Well yes, given that the entire discussion is based on a video debate, with two points of view represented!, yes I am a bit surprised to be accused of sexism for as much as suggesting there is another point of view, in reference to a debate in which there is another point of view.

    Firstly, I never actually accused you of sexism, I just noted that being unable to take people with uteruses seriously is sexism. Do you disagree? If so, why did you never deign to clarify what you meant by “people like me”?

    Secondly, the other point of view in this discussion is that pregnant women, and only pregnant women, should have their right to bodily autonomy violated by the government to grant a level of protection to fetuses that is not granted to any other class of humans. It is an inherently sexist point of view, in my opinion. You disagree? Then argue your fucking point, don’t throw a fit about being called a bad name. It’s not even a bad name, it’s a descriptive label. If you don’t like it, then try to act like a not-sexist. Don’t expect to advance sexist points of view without having “sexist” applied to you.

    “Reading back over the threads here, I see this…”

    So you see just want you want to see; no different to the other people in the discussion with a pro-choice perspective who have added arms and legs to my comments in order to create a narrative where I’m the insensitive/over-emotional/aloof/ sexist.

    You have, in fact, been both insensitive and over-emotional. But you’re only over-emotional when YOUR feelings have been hurt. Anyone else’s feelings aren’t worth shit to you.
    And if you think that the anti-choice position is a valid position then you think sexism is valid.

    You see yourself and LykeX as the calm explainers, missing the fact that I had to persuade you back on-topic while you were busy making baseless accusations about pro-lifers as religious people awaiting the rapture, and LykeX decides to frame the entire question not about rights, but about whether or not women are Human Beings! All rational stuff, no misrepresentation of course!

    You never successfully argued that those representations were baseless. You’ve been too busy being butthurt about the labels people apply to you.

    You see Sally as the embodiment of the innocent woman whose bodily rights are being infringed,

    Interesting. You think there’s something less than innocent about me?

    which of course sets the stage so that anything I say to her can be demonized as insensitive and ignorant; but affords her to latitude to make wild claims about me hating her uterus and being sexist, while goading me on to dare and respond. But then I can’t point that out can I? It would negate my having testicles.

    I never made wild claims about you. You’re either stupid or lying. But it is true that your ignorance, whether willful or otherwise, has nothing to do with your having testicles, and I believe it reinforces sexist attitudes to equate the possession of testicles with honesty and courage.

    “it’s easy to be snarky and dismissive when anti-choice views aren’t having a profound and direct effect on your life”

    AGAIN, I’ve haven’t been snarky to the important question of abortion or womans rights, I responded to the personal attacks directed at me. Who says abortion has no direct effect on my life? What if I have a loved one currently going through a crisis about having an abortion, and I wanted to learn more about it to be able to help her work through it. Had I stated that at the beginning, would that have afforded me any more civility in this thread; or would it just provide more fodder for someone to rage about how that couldn’t possibly compare to a woman forced to carry a pregnancy to term (not stopping to consider I never suggested it did!)

    You have totally been snarky. Those unspecified “people like you” references, the “you’re just like religious people” nonsense, which you never backed up, the passive-aggressive smiley faces. The suggestion that the only proper way to discuss this is with 100% lack of emotion, and anyone who involves emotion in any way can’t take part in the conversation, at least not with you. And now, you’re just making shit up about what other people said to you.

    “It’s a lot harder — but it can be done — to be a little bit empathetic and understand that if you were being impacted like this on a regular basis, you’d be a hell of a lot more than righteously indignant, and with full justification.”

    So basically I’m just in the wrong place to ask genuine, open questions on this topic.

    You’re in the wrong place to ask genuine, open questions, and then judge people based on their answers to those questions. You asked, you got answers. You didn’t like the answers, so now you’re complaining. Grow up.

    “Try figuring out why that is, rather than petulantly trying to bait us further with comparisons to theists and the like.”

    Bait you further? Is that what really what this is about, you think I’m trying to bait someone here? Have you not seen some of the comments directed at me, such as you’re a sexist I dare you to challenge my accusation? Don’t talk to me about baiting Martin. I’m dealing with a group of people who think they can setup the rules of a discussion as they go, to decide what is and isn’t insensitive, what should or shouldn’t be asked, what is or isn’t a valid point. That’s not an argument, that’s setting the guidelines of an argument to demonize a perspective no matter what is said.

    More complaining based on either lies or stupidity. Also you apparently refuse to talk to me—the one who implied that you might be sexist , IF my (I was assuming erroneous) assumptions about you were correct. Instead you go complain to a dude about it. Why are you complaining to another guy about a woman calling you sexist (except I didn’t)? Ironic, isn’t it, that your extreme umbrage at having the “sexist” label applied to some of the things you said has done more to reveal your actual prejudices than anything you said thus far.

    Yes, there are some questions that shouldn’t be raised. “Should it be legal to rape your wife?” for instance. Yet people raised this question and answered it in the affirmative well into the 20th century. “Should the government force women to give birth against their will” is another question that really has no place in civilized discourse.

    In conclusion, fuck you.

  153. FromHereOn says

    I am wasting my time refuting your non-sequiturs. I don’t agree with you AT ALL.

    You’re not comprehending what I’ve said from my first sentence, and you haven’t provided anything remotely compelling to make me think differently.

    I’m done speaking with you. Have the last word if you want it.

  154. jdog says

    I’m pro-choice and I’ve found your posts in this thread to be very useful in making a concise and reasonable defense of the position. However, I think you’re missing exactly where the pro-life/anti-choice position would object to your argument and would like to know how you’d respond to the objection below.

    You say #2 (right to bodily autonomy) is a given and that #3 is where they should start to object. However, the opposition says that the right to life should be taken as a given and should trump the right to bodily autonomy.

  155. codemonkey says

    I don’t intend to be thick. To be fair, I think we are both talking past each other. Sorry. Meh.

  156. says

    But they don’t hold to that position consistently. If they did, then they should also support mandatory organ donation and many other things.

    They in fact do not think that the right to life trumps the right to bodily autonomy. They think that the right to life of the fetus trumps the right to bodily autonomy of the woman.

    And that’s my point. They’re giving women fewer rights than men. They would never agree to impose on the rights of men to the degree they do for pregnant women.

    I suppose you could have a pro-lifer who really thought that bodily autonomy was secondary to life, but I think it would be fairly easy to show that this attitude would lead to a truly horrific, totalitarian dystopia.

    Thanks for giving me the chance to clarify. I suspect that many pro-lifers would in fact attempt this very argument.

  157. jdog says

    Thanks for the response. For some reason, the “mandatory organ donation” response had never really been put to me before in a way that made sense.

  158. jdog says

    Well, wait. I think they’d argue right to life of the fetus over right to bodily autonomy of the person carrying the fetus, if it was possible for anyone to become pregnant regardless of gender. It just so happens that women are the only ones with that power/responsibility.

  159. says

    I think they’d argue right to life of the fetus over right to bodily autonomy of the person carrying the fetus

    Can you give me any other example where the right to life of one person trumps the right to bodily autonomy of another?

    This approach still leaves us with the question; why do fetuses get more rights than adults? Why are you obligated to give up your bodily autonomy for a fetus, when you’re not so required after the kid is born?

    If your child needs a bone marrow transplant, you’re the only one who’s a match and the kid will die without it, you do not have a legal obligation to donate. The child’s right to life does not trump the bodily rights of anybody else. Why should this be different for a fetus?

    And if they try the “responsibility” angle, I would point out that even if I stab someone in the kidneys, causing them to be in mortal danger unless they get a kidney transplant, I’m in no way obligated to donate a kidney; not even to save them from a threat I directly and intentionally caused.

  160. jb says

    Yeah. I mean, are scientists the *only* people who can give birth to other scientists? If scientists stop having children will the world run out of scientists!!!

  161. jb says

    This very question was put to a preacher on the podcast dogma debate, and he said that mandatory organ/blood donation (from a father), to living children, should be out of question because “any illness that befalls the born child is just a natural occurrence…”

    This preacher then went on to say that if a baby was dying during childbirth (a natural occurrence), that the woman should be forced, against her will, to undergo a c-section to save the life of the baby.

    So to recap, in the view of pro-lifers

    1) cannot force a father to give up bodily autonomy to save a born child, b/c any illness suffered by that child is just something that ‘naturally occurs’

    2) the woman must give up her bodily autonomy to save the life of a fetus even if it is dying due to *natural occurrence*

    nice double standard eh?

  162. Tomasz R says

    There are various other inconsistencies, like “egg is chicken” spin.

    It starts with something like “human life begins at conception” or “human development begins at fertilization”, “zygote is the beginning of a new human being”.

    Then in the following streams of words some of the inconvinient words go magically missing. Eg. “human life begins at conception” turns into something like “human begins at conception”. Or “human development begins at fertilization” somehow produces something like “human begins at fertilization”. Or “zygote is the beginning of a new human being” magically produces something like “zygote is the new human”.

    It’s obviously wrong, as the object of the sentence is swapped to something different. The object that was “life” is changed to the object that is “human”. But sentences still have a similar look to the observers!

    Why “egg=chicken”? Same technique applied to chickens gives such results (for fertilized eggs only). Chicken life/development begins at fertilization. Using this debating technique life or development words are omitted, so the result of fertilization turns out to be chicken. But from experience we know it’s an egg! So it can only mean that egg=chicken :-)

  163. phillyjimi says

    I have always loved to contrast the difference between a natural abortion and a doctor/human induced abortion. If a person is defined as the moment when the egg and a sperm hookup then this creates all kinds of issues for a natural abortion. Because now the death of a human being has taken place. Even a fertilized egg that doesn’t attach to the womb, that happens naturally not just with birth control. Both cases MUST apply as a death of a human being. Call the police!

    DISCLAIMER: If you or a close member of your family has experience an natural abortion I am not trying to be insensitive. I am just pointing out how if they want to outlaw abortions because it is a person then it creates all kind of silly issues for a natural abortion and birth control.

    While the other side may argue that a natural abortion is a horrible accident or a natural process, the bottom line is there was the death of a US Citizen and it fully needs to be investigated by the authorities. If a tree branch falls and kills a child then we might cut the tree down. We put guard rails up to protect lives. How can we protect the lives of humans if a women has a natural abortion? Maybe that woman should be sterilized so she doesn’t kill anyone again. I mean how many millions of humans have also died via natural abortions? The total numbers dwarf the human induced abortions.

    When you open the door to making a law that a fertilized is a person then it creates other issues.

    If you need to blame someone for the natural abortion and you’re a believer then there only seems to be one person who could be called the worlds biggest abortionist. And since those people never got the chance to be saved, I would seem like they are floating in that lake of fire.

  164. Spmar says

    How about this scenario? A random baby is in your boat along with a container holding 2 human zygotes in test tubes. As you just notice the baby and the zygotes, your boat hits a wake that launches the baby and the container of two zygotes into the water. The baby is drowning and the container is sinking. You can only save one, which would it be? I would save the baby, no doubt in my mind. Kristine might argue I should save the 2 zygotes because they are 2 people vs 1 baby. Let’s say the container had 100 zygotes. Personally, I would still save the baby over the 100 zygotes.

  165. thebuachaill says

    “For the record, I think “grow a pair” is a sexist insult”

    So tell it to the person who made the insult, not the person on the receiving end of it!

    “I’m the one who joked about you being sexist, but you are too stupid to get the joke”

    You can call people sexist, and they’re stupid if they don’t take it as a joke. Totally incapable of seeing past your own point of view while screaming the same accusation against someone else.

    “I’m starting to think you really ARE sexist”

    Should I again take this one as a joke? Or is it yet another natural tendency by you to label a guy as sexist; totally regardless of the basis for that accusation.

    “…but since you never objected to my interpretation that you meant people with uteruses, I could continue sticking with my initial assumption.”

    So first it was initially a joke, now it was initially an assumption. You belie the attempt to portray yourself as the injured party here, when it was now obviously neither a joke nor an assumption.

    “you threw a tantrum about being called sexist”

    I objected to being falsely labelled sexist. You’ve once again tried to characterize me in a manner that suits your argument, by saying “threw a tantrum”. Its base rhetoric. You may have something interesting to share, it’s just so wrapped in FALSE self-righteous bs it does nothing to persuade anyone.

    “Firstly, I never actually accused you of sexism…”

    “…I could continue sticking with my initial assumption

    It was a joke, it was an assumption, absolutely never ever accused you. Anyone else who is a neutral looking in on this discussion should see at this point you’re full of it.

    “It is an inherently sexist point of view, in my opinion. You disagree?”

    Sexism: a set of beliefs claiming that real or alleged differences between women and men establish the superiority of men
    So yes, I disagree. Unless you’re suggesting that all the women on the anti-abortion side are men.

    “Then argue your fucking point”

    I was never arguing against your point, I just wanted to understand it from other peoples point of view. You’ve spent considerable effort labeling me as sexist. Being a man, and obviously having a totally incomplete understanding of this issue compared to a women who’s body is on the line, I would regard as invaluable having a womans perspective explained. All you were interested in doing from your second interjection was insulting. So to you I’m a sexist for attempting to get other peoples views, including a womans. Genius.

    “…if you think that the anti-choice position is a valid position then you think sexism is valid”

    I don’t believe giving pause to consider the morality of abortions as it applies to the foetus is sexist. For people who come to the conclusion that women should be compelled to carry a pregnancy to full term [which is different to someone just trying to get to grips with the whole issue of abortion by the way!] then I’m sure there’s a derogatory term you can apply to them, sexist isn’t it though.

    “Interesting. You think there’s something less than innocent about me?”

    Yea I think you’ve displayed a level of sarcasm, personal insults, baiting and self-contradiction that suggests you’ve been drive by something other than a push-back against the violation of your rights as a woman in this discussion.

    “I never made wild claims about you. You’re either stupid or lying”

    Sure you did. But you’re the liar.

    “Those unspecified “people like you” references”

    To specify: people who resort to sarcastic remarks and name-calling.

    “the passive-aggressive smiley faces”

    There was one smiley face. Jesus Christ!

    “The suggestion that the only proper way to discuss this is with 100% lack of emotion, and anyone who involves emotion in any way can’t take part in the conversation”

    That was the charge laid on me at the start of the discussion by another pro-choicer. So I’m damned if I do and damned if I don’t, is it??

    “You didn’t like the answers”

    Not at all, I was fine with your answers. I just didn’t like that they were wrapped in sarcasm and accusations/jokes/assumptions of being a male who looks down on women.

    “Why are you complaining to another guy about a woman calling you sexist”…

    “In conclusion, fuck you”

    Because this particular woman is apparently foul-mouthed and incapable of rational discussion.

    I was only reminded of this particular discussion when reading this article today: “http://www.independent.ie/national-news/pregnant-woman-died-after-hospital-denied-abortion-3293842.html”. It demonstrates the importance of why abortion should not be a decision taken out of the hands of the woman who’s body is on the line.

    Like it or not, people have an instinctive, emotional, sometimes irrational connection with the life of a baby growing in the womb. In contrast it takes thinking, consideration, effort to even ponder the difference between a fetus and a baby, let alone the basic concept of human bodily rights.
    There are religiously-driven people who fall outside the category of basic common sense. For everyone else who don’t see the full implications of abortion on womens rights, it can be pointed out to them.
    But your particular approach and tone are unhelpful; and I couldn’t careless at this point if I’m called a Tone Troll. None of us are 100% Stoics, and when we’re subjected to name-calling and put-downs it invariably derails or shuts down the conversation. And it’s an important conversation if societies are to be changed in order to avoid the barbaric travesties as in the above link.

    In conclusion: if you specifically are truly and honestly passionate about minds being changed so that women retain the rights to make decisions about their own bodies, then stay the hell out of the conversation. You’re not helping.

  166. thebuachaill says

    “5. Therefore, restricting abortion means that women aren’t human (from 1+4)
    Clear?”

    No it’s not clear, if for no other reason than a woman is by definition a human! This word-play is a minor point, but yours is an appeal to emotion, and you’re now trying to back it up with a logical fallacy; instead of just admitting it’s a foolish mistake.
    Restricting womens rights is wrong, it doesn’t make them something other than human.

    Regarding your analogy with racism and voting, it doesn’t hold water as a comparison.
    There is no question or debate on preventing someone from voting based on their skin color. In contrast there is a debate on a woman’s bodily rights versus the rights of an unborn child. An instance of the debate is published on this forum, in case you missed it!! That is not to say it SHOULD still be a debate issue. But it is to acknowledge the obvious fact that this is still a topic of debate. And people who want to understand the topic so as to come to a conclusion on which side is the right side, ASK QUESTIONS!!!

    “I understand that you’d much rather forget all about the fact that a ban on abortions will inevitably lead to women dying in the streets from unsafe abortions”

    Then you understand nothing. I don’t forget the potential consequences to women having been forced to have unsafe abortion procedures. In my country women who can afford it have to leave the country in order to have an abortion, and those who can’t afford it don’t! It’s not that I want to avoid such questions; they’re just the part of the argument that are so obvious I don’t need to ask about them.
    The point I was making to you reference of women dying in the street, was in response to someone else who said any “anti-abortion” arguments that make emotional appeals are to be off the table, if we’re to have an intellectual discussion on the topic.
    The image of a woman dying on the street is an emotional appeal (otherwise why the need to depict ‘on the street’); while at the same time being a factual consequence of criminalizing abortion. The image of an aborted fetus is an emotional appeal, while at the same time being a factual consequence of legalizing abortions. Each example is seen, genuinely I believe, on the respective side making the argument as emotional and moral knock-out blows for why the other side is totally immoral. And I’m just making the point, its unfair to take emotional appeals off the table from one side only.

  167. jb says

    quote: “Like it or not, people have an instinctive, emotional, sometimes irrational connection with the life of a baby growing in the womb. In contrast it takes thinking, consideration, effort to even ponder the difference between a fetus and a baby, let alone the basic concept of human bodily rights.”

    I suggest you do some research on Terror Management Theory. There is even a documentary on it if you look around…

    http://www.tmt.missouri.edu/
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flight_from_Death

    The people who are most afraid of dying are the same people who tend to be 1) devoutly religious (life after death) 2) vehemenently anti-abortion.

    I think that these people project all of their fears and anxieties about death onto a fertilized egg/blastocyst/zygote etc.

  168. jb says

    I hear racists say this all the time – that the world needs more white babies. Then, when called on it, they refer to the ant-racists as the REAL racists. Its messed up it is.

  169. christophermarczewski says

    Given: Matt claimed the following givens are true even if the unborn are granted status as persons.
    Given: Matt claimed a pregnant woman has the right to refuse access to that which belongs to her.
    Given: Matt claimed the aforementioned right extends to refusal of life sustaining support for the unborn and even if the unborn are granted status as a person.
    It is reason to conclude that:
    …This right extends to each human including non-pregnant women and men.
    … This right applies to refusal of even life sustaining support for born living humans.
    … Therefore, it follows that one should be able to refuse payment of taxes for the purpose of redistribution to support others in general and specifically when that support is to assist with sustaining of life.
    …Still further, it is reasoned to conclude that Matt’s social justice arguments conflict directly with this abortion rights argument.
    This is not to say I agree or disagree with either. I simply wish to point out the clear conflict.

  170. says

    If it weren’t for the fact that payment of taxes is not comparable to being legally forced to allow someone the physical use of your actual body to sustain themselves, the argument might be valid. Taxes are a thing that everyone pays (except people rich enough to hire good accountants and lawyers to find loopholes), that go to many services, and not all of them make taxpayers happy. Some people decry the use of their tax money to sustain life via social programs, while others decry its use to take life via funding of the military. In any event, it’s not a valid comparison to telling women that the government gets to have sovereignty over their bodies’ reproductive organs. Also, not all kinds of “social justice” are equally defensible. It really is an apple and oranges argument when people make the points you listed.

  171. says

    So if bodily rights arguments mean you don’t have to pay your taxes does this mean the reverse? Do arguments for social services and taxation also argue women be used as surrogates for infertile couples without their input on the situation? Cause you’re willing to share your money to help others your wife’s womb is also on the table of ways your household helps people?

    If you think that sounds kind of foolish to you and that money and your body are different things then you understand why this isn’t a great argument.

  172. christophermarczewski says

    That is exactly the point. Individual Sovereignty is not a thing that can be partial. One has it or one does not. So in fact, if one accepts the premise that a group can vote to take any one thing from an individual, then it is logical to conclude that the group can take anything or even everything from an individual. It may be valuable to review the Federalist Papers and the letters of Thomas Jefferson. I do not claim them as the be all and/or end all but they do provide a better set of full arguments regarding these issues than I can summarize briefly herein. Still to address your question directly… “Do arguments for social services and taxation also argue women be used as surrogates for infertile couples without their input on the situation?” Yes that is exactly what can be derived from the arguments for social services and taxation AND the very foolishness to which you alluded regarding what can be derived from those arguments (things like forced surrogates) serves to support the argument that one cannot argue for individual sovereignty on one hand and mandated participation in support of social services on the other. They are in direct conflict with each other.

  173. christophermarczewski says

    It is not apples and oranges. Taxation is an indirect claim on your entire person and your action to sustain yourself. Just as forcing a woman to carry a child for nine months is not a complete control of the woman’s life and body. So too taxes are not a complete control of a persons life and body. But many pay nearly 50% of their entire earnings when all taxes are added up at every level from local to federal. That means 50% of all that person does with their body and/or mind are taken from them. This is why the Constitution required all federal taxes be apportioned. So as to prevent one group, no matter how big or small, from voting themselves control over any other sovereign individuals’. This was among the greatest fears of the founders. It seems we have fallen far from that intent. It is even more interesting that the same people who argue for women to have sovereignty regarding there bodies cannot see how self contradicting they are about denying sovereignty via taxation just be3cause it is an action once removed from the fact. If one can tax you, they might just as well force you to work against your will for part of each day with the entire proceeds being taken for the cause of their choice.

  174. christophermarczewski says

    Your argument betrays itself when the subjects are altered ever so slightly. What if you had said…?

    I think the basic problem of perception is the failure of some to realize that a POOR PERSON is basically a parasite. When you realize that, it becomes obvious that no matter if it is intelligent, or a human, it is (unfairly or not) using the TAXPAYER as a host for its sustenance. The TAXPAYER should have a right to detach from it, just like you would have the right to detach from a vampire. Too bad if it means death for the POOR PERSON. If a POOR PERSON is ALLOWED to GAIN WEALTH, then it gains the rights we bestow on humans as TAXPAYERS. (Yes, I even think starving of POOR A PERSON should be allowed…

    Doesn’t sound so great now does it?

  175. says

    Taxation is an indirect claim on your entire person and your action to sustain yourself.

    No, taxation can be either direct or indirect, progressive, regressive, or proportional. They are fees imposed by governments in order to pay for services provided to citizens by those governments. I get that you’re most likely a rank-and-file anti-tax libertarian and thus consider any form of taxation to be slavery, but even so, the comparison to pregnancy, and what women are allowed to do with their internal organs, is off the mark.

    Now I have heard an argument comparing legally forcing women to bear unwanted children to the military draft, legally forcing young men to go off against their will and fight and die in wars. Wherever you might happen to stand on that issue, if nothing else, it is a far more apt analogy than the one you’ve got.

  176. says

    “Individual Sovereignty is not a thing that can be partial. ”

    Obviously it can be partial as people can currently prevent Dr’s from harvesting their organs without their consent but have to pay taxes. That’s like saying either an individual has a right to all his earned money or the government has the right to take all his income through taxation. There exists reasonable middle ground begging for your acquaintance.

    “So in fact, if one accepts the premise that a group can vote to take any one thing from an individual, then it is logical to conclude that the group can take anything or even everything from an individual.”

    So if you can do one thing you could go further and do something far far worse. Sounds like a slippery slope you’re making. One can in fact decide that a people have a right to control the organs of their bodies but also that we think its ok to take a portion of their earnings to pay for social programs.

    “It may be valuable to review the Federalist Papers and the letters of Thomas Jefferson. I do not claim them as the be all and/or end all but they do provide a better set of full arguments regarding these issues than I can summarize briefly herein.”

    I generally don’t care what dead american politicians thought of about people rights especially when all it amounts to is a name drop.

    “Still …”

    Fine I’ll concede the point you can in fact a determined individual can make such an argument. I just think that argument holds as much water as a shot up canoe. Western society views the body and the material possessions as different things. That’s why repossession services can’t steal your organs to recoup money from you (though the idea does make for a catchy musical). Breaking the lawn ornament on your lawn is not the same as breaking your legs. There is in fact a strong legal tradition and ethical tradition that treats your body as more innately yours then your stuff.

  177. christophermarczewski says

    It is a perfectly analogous based on the given provided by Matt that this issue is as he argued even if the unborn child is granted person-hood for the point of his argument. Each is party to the issue is a human in the analogy. Humans don’t change their rights based on their station in life. Rights are inalienable. So, again, this is perfectly analogous. Your reply did not include any argument of any kind just a simple declaration and is therefore unreasoned.

  178. christophermarczewski says

    RE: “No, taxation can be either direct or indirect, progressive, regressive, or proportional.”

    This is an equivocation. I was not describing the forms of taxation. I was clearly comparing taxation as a means by which one individual lays claim to another individuals being. Your inability to see this or choice to ignore or dodge it is telling.

    RE: “They are fees IMPOSED (emphasis added) by governments in order to pay for services provided to citizens by those governments.”

    This is exactly my point. They are the forcing of one citizen to live at least partially on the behalf of another.

    RE: “I get that you’re most likely a rank-and-file anti-tax libertarian and thus consider any form of taxation to be slavery, but even so, the comparison to pregnancy, and what women are allowed to do with their internal organs, is off the mark.”

    This is an incorrect assumption. I fully support taxation that is apportioned as did the Constitution before it was amended to remove that feature. Apportionment was a foundational tool for protecting the concept of individual sovereignty as described in many writings of our Founding Fathers. Sovereignty is the argument being used by Matt to support abortion rights. And Sovereignty is an all or nothing proposition. One cannot be partially sovereign. Either you are or you are not.

    RE: “Now I have heard an argument comparing legally forcing women to bear unwanted children to the military draft, legally forcing young men to go off against their will and fight and die in wars. Wherever you might happen to stand on that issue, if nothing else, it is a far more apt analogy than the one you’ve got.”

    Use of government / legal power to force an individual to do anything (pay more than an apportioned tax for example or submit to a draft as you noted) require the breach of sovereignty. Taking from one person (their womb, their work, or their property) and giving it to another is a breach of sovereignty.

    Again, sharing in the cost of benefits like courts and defense (only to be applied when absolutely required) equally (via apportionment) actually protects sovereignty. It prevents one party from carrying the cost (or partial cost) of such things for another.

  179. christophermarczewski says

    RE: “Western society views the body and the material possessions as different things … There is in fact a strong legal tradition and ethical tradition that treats your body as more innately yours then your stuff.”

    This is the once removed issue of which I have spoken. In fact, taking control of your property is exactly the same as taking control of your physical body and/or your mind. Tradition or not. It is your mind and body that provide for your capacity to obtain or produce property. If you take control of the product of someone’s labor or thought, you have indirectly taken control of that which produced that product (once removed). Sovereignty and property rights are among the cornerstones of our nation and are arguably the specific concepts which have led to our relative high degree of prosperity compared with those places where Sovereignty and property rights are less respected. That which you produce is as much yours as that which is you. Theft is theft. When ANY thing (body, object, or intellectual property) is taken from you by vote, it is just as much stolen as when it is taken at the point of a gun. The full weight and power of the government is so often less avoidable than outlaws with guns but often just as scary and intrusive. In the battle between poison and food, poison wins. Trying to calculate just how much poison one can stand is the incorrect approach. It is my humble opinion that we must fight to prevent testing the limits of how much poison we can swallow in the form of governance even if it seems to be for what some might think is good cause. Eventually the poison kills you.

  180. says

    Frankly I think the world proves you wrong. North European socialist countries have been highest ranked for quality of life for a while now. Or look at the recent recession where the US lost banks, jobs and took a major hit. Where as here in Canada with our higher taxes and regulation the damage was mostly spill over and we continue to be in better shape.

    To continue your poison analogy, the dose makes the poison. Every drug in every drug store is a possible poison and will kill you in high enough quantities. However if you use them wisely in the proper moderation they not only don’t kill you, but improve the quality and length of life.

    Also cause it bugged me. You don’t have inalienable rights in any meaningful sense of the word (it is nice poetically though). If an alien invasion tomorrow reduced us to slaves to live and die at their whims you effectively have no rights. Rights are only meaningful if you can reasonably use them. If your unstoppable alien overlords decide to kill you all the inalienable rights amount to nothing.

  181. christophermarczewski says

    To be perfectly clear:

    Person A (Unborn “Person”) is to Person B (Pregnant Woman)

    as

    Person A = (Poor Person) is to Person B (Wealthy Person)

    The above is by definition exactly analogous.

  182. christophermarczewski says

    “Rights” are a moral concept—the concept that provides a logical transition from the principles guiding an individual’s actions to the principles guiding his relationship with others—the concept that preserves and protects individual morality in a social context—the link between the moral code of a man and the legal code of a society, between ethics and politics. Individual rights are the means of subordinating society to moral law.

    Every political system is based on some code of ethics. The dominant ethics of mankind’s history were variants of the altruist-collectivist doctrine which subordinated the individual to some higher authority, either mystical or social. Consequently, most political systems were variants of the same statist tyranny, differing only in degree, not in basic principle, limited only by the accidents of tradition, of chaos, of bloody strife and periodic collapse. Under all such systems, morality was a code applicable to the individual, but not to society. Society was placed outside the moral law, as its embodiment or source or exclusive interpreter—and the inculcation of self-sacrificial devotion to social duty was regarded as the main purpose of ethics in man’s earthly existence.

    Since there is no such entity as “society,” since society is only a number of individual men, this meant, in practice, that the rulers of society were exempt from moral law; subject only to traditional rituals, they held total power and exacted blind obedience—on the implicit principle of: “The good is that which is good for society (or for the tribe, the race, the nation), and the ruler’s edicts are its voice on earth.”

    This was true of all statist systems, under all variants of the altruist-collectivist ethics, mystical or social. “The Divine Right of Kings” summarizes the political theory of the first—”Vox populi, vox dei” of the second. As witness: the theocracy of Egypt, with the Pharaoh as an embodied god—the unlimited majority rule or democracy of Athens—the welfare state run by the Emperors of Rome—the Inquisition of the late Middle Ages—the absolute monarchy of France—the welfare state of Bismarck’s Prussia—the gas chambers of Nazi Germany—the slaughterhouse of the Soviet Union.

    All these political systems were expressions of the altruist-collectivist ethics-and their common characteristic is the fact that society stood above the moral law, as an omnipotent, sovereign whim worshiper. Thus, politically, all these systems were variants of an amoral society.

    The most profoundly revolutionary achievement of the United States of America was the subordination of society to moral law.

    The principle of man’s individual rights represented the extension of morality into the social system—as a limitation on the power of the state, as man’s protection against the brute force of the collective, as the subordination of might to right. The United States was the first moral society in history.

    All previous systems had regarded man as a sacrificial means to the ends of others, and society as an end in itself. The United States regarded man as an end in himself, and society as a means to the peaceful, orderly, voluntary coexistence of individuals. All previous systems had held that man’s life belongs to society, that society can dispose of him in any way it pleases, and that any freedom he enjoys is his only by favor, by the permission of society, which may be revoked at any time. The United States held that man’s life is his by right (which means: by moral principle and by his nature), that a right is the property of an individual, that society as such has no rights, and that the only moral purpose of a government is the protection of individual rights.

    A “right” is a moral principle defining and sanctioning a man’s freedom of action in a social context. There is only one fundamental right (all the others are its consequences or corollaries): a man’s right to his own life. Life is a process of self- sustaining and self-generated action; the right to life means the right to engage in self-sustaining and self-generated action-which means: the freedom to take all the actions required by the nature of a rational being for the support, the furtherance, the fulfillment and the enjoyment of his own life. (Such is the meaning of the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.)

  183. jb says

    Pregnancy can kill a woman.

    Pregnancy *must* end in medical intervention. Period.

    Paying taxes will NOT kill you. Yes, I will give that paying taxes *can* kill you if the government decides to take everything and you starve to death (and in that kind of society, I would bet that people are enslaved in many other ways, not just taxes). But, that does not invalidate the earlier point that paying taxes is nowhere near the same as an outside force literally *invading* your body and taking your blood/organs etc.

  184. says

    I wasn’t aware that Poor Persons are created by and within the bodies of Wealthy Persons, and require those bodies to survive.

    Because in order for this to be “by definition exactly analogous,” a Poor Person could not exist until a couple of Wealthy Persons, who love each other very much, choose to make one. And then the Poor Person’s physical existence must be entirely dependent upon at least one of the Wealthy Persons.

    I don’t think “exactly analogous” means what you think it means.

  185. says

    And if you were held in one of those little battery pods from the matrix movie minus the virtual reality so your just plugged in trapped and unable to take any action. The philosophical concept of a right becomes meaningless as the practical actions of enjoying that right is impossible. So in practical sense your rights are not inalienable.

    As to your america wank, at the same time that you were establishing your inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness your country was engaged in some of its most lasting abuses of the very things it claimed to uphold. For ~80 years after those words word written down slavery continued. Once again the words and concepts mean nothing without the practical ability to enjoy them.

  186. says

    I get the impression that christophermarczewski is arguing that a social contract of any kind is by definition invasive and coercive. He also seems to have an understanding of taxation that is mostly libertarian (though he says he’s not libertarian); to wit: taxes are there so that shiftless poor people can coast on the hard work of the rich.

    But the idea that a population can agree to form a country, establish a government to administer that country and its citizens, and agree to kick in part of their wages in taxes (this is not to say everyone will like the taxes that actually get implemented) in order to pay for that administration doesn’t mean that everything said government might do is equally welcome. An individual’s personal liberty vis a vis their government is a thing that is perennially argued over, that wars are sometimes fought over. But in the end, most people in what we like to call a free society will agree that a government’s authority, and the taxes paid to support that authority, is not absolute. I might agree to a fair tax rate that builds roads, schools, supports a police force, provides a safety net in times of economic crisis, and delivers the mail on time. But this doesn’t mean the government gets to tell me what sex I have, who I have it with, and what the consequences of it must be.

    And this is where christophermarczewski is going wrong. He’s basically trying to argue that if you’re supportive of a government doing A, then you must be supportive of it doing B through Z, otherwise you’re being inconsistent. Even if his analogies between pregnancy and taxation were valid, which they’re not, there are meaningful distinctions that he’s just not making in trying to draw his analogies. That’s why his argument isn’t really working.

  187. jb says

    Oh, I am a bit late to the party with this, but there was a ‘secular pro-life’ argument here in Canada that was nothing more than ‘abortion is really gross’. Amazingly, this argument actually made the news. Yahoo news to be exact.

    It boiled down to this: ‘once you see an abortion, you realise how brutal and awful and vicious it really is, which is why abortion is a secular issue and should be banned’

    i shit you not
    this was the crux of the argument

  188. says

    I see inalienable rights as theistic language holdover. Even the Deist who wrote that phrase in the U.S. Declaration of Independence, argued that men (and he meant men not people, non-white adult males were not people so it didn’t apply to them) were “endowed by their Creator” with inalienable rights. If you don’t believe in a Creator, what’s with the inalienable rights belief? So-called rights mean nothing if you are barred from doing what those rights supposedly allow you to do. And no, nature didn’t endow us with anything either. In fact, the concept of nature is another holdover of theistic language.

  189. says

    Wow, I seem to have missed this reply, way back. I can’t really allow it to stand, so I’ll just give a brief response.

    No it’s not clear, if for no other reason than a woman is by definition a human! This word-play is a minor point, but yours is an appeal to emotion, and you’re now trying to back it up with a logical fallacy; instead of just admitting it’s a foolish mistake.

    You don’t seem to understand how syllogisms work, nor the idea of a reductio ad absurdum. Of course women are human beings. My point its that if you accept the premises (and you didn’t question any of them, so they still stand), you come to the conclusion that a restriction of abortion right is the equivalent of denying the humanity of women.
    Since we both agree that women are human, the only rational conclusion is that restricting abortion is completely indefensible.

    Regarding your analogy with racism and voting, it doesn’t hold water as a comparison.

    Why not? As I said, i both cases, we’re talking about limiting quite essential rights to specific demographics, based solely on accidents of birth.

    There is no question or debate on preventing someone from voting based on their skin color

    I’m not sure how this is at all relevant.

    The image of a woman dying on the street is an emotional appeal (otherwise why the need to depict ‘on the street’); while at the same time being a factual consequence of criminalizing abortion.

    And you still don’t seem to get the difference between an emotional appeal and a rational argument made in an emotional way. The difference is this: If you remove the emotion, does the argument still hold? If it does, you’re good.
    It’s not the emotional content that makes the emotional appeal unsound. It’s the fact that there’s nothing but the emotional content. It’s the difference between emotions in addition to rationality vs. emotions overriding rationality.

  190. Max says

    A Canadian that supports “pro-life”? Kristine, please make haste in moving to a Country that condones tunnel vision on liberal ethics. “Most Canadians don’t know this is our dark reality…” Actually;
    “In a poll conducted by the National Post in November 2002, 78% of respondents answered “yes” to the question: “Should women have complete freedom on their decision to have an abortion?”” -Wikipedia
    Sure, having THE CHOICE is a dark reality and hopefully people like yourself can continue your efforts in an attempt to limit said choices. Or perhaps you could stop presuming to speak on behalf of Canadians, because I sure as hell didn’t vote for you, and I know for a fact that my ex-girlfriend who had been raped sure as hell didn’t either.

    Nothing irritates me more than an imbecile spreading misinformation, and when you speak of Canadian laws on abortion and the execution of those laws, you do just that. I don’t understand how an individual can have access to the internet and remain as misinformed as you appear to be in your blogs and debates. If you are ever curious as to why most people don’t take you or your views seriously, this may very well have something to do with it. It sickens me that two of my family members died in wars defending this Country and our freedoms, only to have someone like you ACTUALLY think you are helping people by inhibiting those freedoms, regardless of the magnitude, and worst of all, presuming that you speak for the majority of us.

    Canada is an amazingly wonderful Country that helps countless people from around the world every year (and yes, this includes abortions). So, as a Canadian to a fellow Canadian, I humbly request that you please stop soiling our friendly reputation with your idiotic and unsubstantiated views on abortion. It’s humiliating.

  191. Carlos Cox says

    I just watched the debate and honestly i think Kristine lost but she did surprisingly well, partly because it wasn’t sufficiently pointed out specifically the ways her personhood argument was fallacious. PZ also did almost more damage than good being so hostile.

    She got a lot of sympathy by fumbling with technical issues (which thankfuly and in her favor managed to stop a good portion of that hideous video), as well as by clearly not being the most skilled debater. In my perspective everything went exacly opposite to the way SPL described.

    She managed to win the tug of war between making most of the debate seem to be about personhood instead of bodily rights, not just by refusing to properly address the issue, but also by getting away with just enough equivocations to make that a possibility she exploited with maximum efficiency.

    The argument that a fertilized egg is a human being wasn’t trashed sufficiently or enough, i believe for the sake of holding ground on bodily issues, and that turned out to be a strategic flop since she managed to say with a straight face that even day after pills would be murder.

    She also got away with saying that an 8 cell zygote was only different from a fully fledged person (and could be frozen) simply because it is “younger”. Matt specifically spent time talking about the difficulty in attributing personhood without actually giving examples of how and why non-viable fetuses are defined that way.

    A fetus is human, like any cell or body part is human, but it is not a human “being”, or a person. The stronger you make that distinction, the stronger the argument that a non-viable fetus shouldn’t even have equal rights to viable or born babies. It felt like Matt just thought it was stupid,as he said, something that wouldn’t be so obvious to everyone.

    This “younger” equivocation fallacy was the thing that gave her most strength, and it should have been pointed out that the column of “characteristics” that differ a fetus from a full person was not even remotely close to the column that differentiated children from adults. It is a point that needs to be made to narrow as much as possible the gap of personhood where all their eggs are stored.

    The second thing that gave her strength was the naturallistic fallacy that women for having a uterus which is an organ specifically tailored to reproduction are biologically bound to procreate since it then belongs to the embryo at the very moment it is conceived. This allowed here to make the case that depriving an embryo from the use of the uterus is the action of knowingly killing it.

    There are disgusting cases of poor women being thrown in jail for miscarriages going on right at this moment. Matt allowed her to pick hypothetical choices for the “legal logistics” of considering abortion a crime, when he could have demonstrated all the ways that authorities would intervene in the process, not just with the doctor but with police investigations and being sentenced to decades in prison for something that got out of control.

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