The black vote is the Maine problem »« States writes

Because Abortion needs to be explained, apparently.

I am irate. Look, I realise that I am in a position of privilege, and I realise that I’m not angry about this all the time because I’m male and that this is something that I have the privilege of simply not-concerning-myself-about for the vast bulk of my life.

I rationalise this as that I pay attention only insofar as harm is brought to my attention. And Ireland has ever-so-slowly been moving towards legalising abortion since 1992. Oh, that’s right, you didn’t know that abortion was illegal in Ireland. My bad. Did you know that it was actually illegal for doctors to tell patients about their abortion options in other countries? And that it was illegal for people to travel to another country for an abortion? No? Well, anyway, we were focused on my privilege, so let’s keep on topic.

This week, a woman died because of this bullshit. And writing this blog post is really the only alternative I have to giving up my Irish citizenship (which hurts me far more than it makes a statement).

While I’m sure that, generally speaking, readers of this blog understand, I want to make this absolutely clear: there are no grounds for denying the right to abortion. There is no bullshit about whether the foetus is a person, or is not a person: that completely misses the point. That is an irrelevant argument, and if you’re arguing that point then please offer your interlocutor some congratulations, as they have effectively derailed you. You have been sidelined into a completely tangential argument that has no relevance to the right to access to abortion.

I am not going to offer you a new argument. I am going to offer you an argument that was made in 1971, by Judith Jarvis Thompson . Up until I read this argument, I thought that a case could be made for either side (not equal, of course, but still valid). Subsequently: no. There is one, and only one, valid conclusion regarding abortion: that it is the choice of the pregnant woman alone to make. How so?

Judith Jarvis Thompson wrote her paper (“A Defense of Abortion”) in 1971. Just so we’re clear: anyone who is arguing about abortion for any other reason is 40 years behind the times. Clear? Good.

In fairness, her argument is a little odd. There are details that seem overly-detailed and, as such, detract from the rhetorical power of her argument. But I think it’s likely that most folk are unaware of her argument. To dive in:

A person is in desperate need of [insert medical attention of choice], which is not available (dialysis is an example that fits the argument). They will die without it. The only solution is to connect them to you, for your body to keep them alive, as you are the only medically compatible person available.

The strongest possible case (i.e. to make disconnection as objectionable as possible) is:  you consented prior to the tubes being connected to being connected. You are going to be connected for 9 months, and you know (and knew, prior to consent) that some health complications are likely to occur. The person you are connected to is a fully autonomous, intelligent, thinking human being, above the age of majority (of whatever age that may be). They are (to make the extreme case) a genius in their line of work, and it would genuinely be a loss to the world for this person to die ‘prematurely’, so to speak.

Are you ethically compelled to maintain a connection throughout the 9 months? It happens to be the case that there are no alternative people to whom this person can be connected: it’s you, or they die (and their death is guaranteed). Do you have an ethical obligation to remain connected?

Ultimately: no, you do not. Your autonomy includes the right to change your mind. While it is certainly unethical to break a contract, autonomy is a gold-standard, it’s foundational: society may punish you regarding your breach of contract (by refusing to offer you contracts in the future), but society cannot prevent you from breaching a contract here and now. (Clearly, “the government” cannot ethically dictate that you may not become pregnant in the future, and this would be a ridiculous extension to make; but it would be well within the rights of a future partner to decline creating a baby with the woman for whatever reason they chose, including “you had an abortion in the past”)

So if I cannot be forced to maintain my (freely entered into) ethical obligations to a fully autonomous, fully grown and mature human being, I (likewise) cannot be forced to maintain the life of a non-autonomous, immature clump of cells.

If rape is on the table? The pregnancy was not ‘freely entered into’? What’s less than “cannot be forced to maintain a pregnancy”? Oh, right, there’s nothing.

So even in the strongest case against abortion, Thompson’s argument blows it out of the water. All other weaker cases necessarily fail.

The end. Thank you and good night.

 

Want to tell your local TDs how you feel on this issue? Not Irish and want to email a TD anyway? The National Women’s Council of Ireland has setup a page where you can easily do so.

Ireland: get it together. Like now.

 

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Comments

  1. jb says

    Well, the pro-lifers just dont get it, or care

    Enjoy this quote, from a prominent Canadian hate site:

    “So…let’s pretend abortion is really about a woman’s body and not about generational genocide?”

    Yeah, how dare we think about the woman! Women just need to shut up and realize that their bodies are public property!

  2. Brian Lynchehaun says

    I’m walking pretty much all of my comments in this thread back (as of, my time, Nov 20th 1am). They were inappropriate, and out of place. My apologies for not getting this sooner.

    “Pro-lifers” are a large and varied group, who all take different approaches to the conversation, their only commonality being that they have reached the wrong conclusion.

    It does a disservice to the conversation to paint them all with this same brush, given that those discussing the ‘genocide’ are a tiny minority within the “Pro-life” group.

    The are, of course, basic grounds to having a conversation with people who mislabel themselves as “pro-life” (as opposed to correctly labeling themselves ‘anti-choice’): putting abortion on a par with genocide does not meet those basic grounds, and I would see my conversation with them as futile, and I wouldn’t waste my time.

    There are, however, plenty of ostensibly “pro-life” people out there with whom I could have a productive conversation. The ‘X case’ in 1992 in Ireland (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Attorney_General_v._X) caused a lot of people in Ireland to assess their self-labels, and change. Savita’s death will also motivate a lot of reflection and change.

    I can appreciate that this is a shitty, shitty situation, but I am not going to indulge in cynicism.

  3. jb says

    Regardless of their motivations, they do not regard women as full human beings. How can they? They merely see women as vessels for the almighty fetus!

  4. mynameischeese says

    I’m so glad you wrote about this because I don’t have enough places on the internet to properly vent my anger. I’ve been whingey-level mad at Ireland’ abortion ban for years and years, but the death of this woman has brought me up to defcon-1-level rage.

    Protest in Dublin Saturday 4PM at the dail if anyone else in Ireland is reading this. Also, someone let me know if there is another protest planned in Cork on Saturday and when/where.

    Before this happened, I assumed that doctors would just quietly grant the woman an abortion and cover it up to get around the law, the same way doctors would give someone suffering a bit of extra morphine. But no. The vatican really does have its dick in the HSE. Ireland can no longer hide the war being waged against women.

    And it really sticks in my craw that women fought for Ireland side-by-side with men, in the trenches (there really were trenches for a few hours during the 1916 rising and the Countess was in them), and then after independence, women were thanked by being relagated to the home (which was constitionally enshrined). And this shit is STILL happening. It’s 2012 for fuck’s sake.

    In conclusion, if anyone gets wind of protests in Cork or Kerry this weekend, let me know.

  5. Brian Lynchehaun says

    I’m walking pretty much all of my comments in this thread back (as of, my time, Nov 20th 1am). They were inappropriate, and out of place. My apologies for not getting this sooner.

    This is not true.

    It is true that some of them do not regard women as full human beings.

    It is also true that others do regard women as full human beings, also regard the foetus as a full human being and do not know how to resolve this clash between the irresistible object (autonomy of Human A) and the immovable object (autonomy of Human B) except by looking at who dies when an abortion is carried out (foetus: 100%, woman: more than 0%, but less than 100%), vs an abortion not being carried out (foetus: more than 0%, but less than 100%, woman: more than 0%, but less than 100%).

    You are free to mischaracterise the whole group by ascribing the more extreme positions to them. This, however, largely has the result that people will double down on their original positions rather than entering into discussion and dialogue, and entertaining the possibility that they are wrong. And here in Canada (and, to some extent, the US) you are largely free to do so, given that the right to access abortion is largely a given, and that the anti-choice side has to make some *serious* noise to change that.

    In Ireland, however, the anti-choice side is pretty large. It too a child rape to move the bar so that abortion was allowed if a woman’s life was a stake by her own hand. These decisions and changed were ratified by referenda, meaning that it wasn’t politicians that decided this, but the electorate.

    When you want change the minds of the majority of the electorate, you do not do so by putting words in their mouth, nor by ignoring their actual position.

  6. mynameischeese says

    Also, I just had to add that John McGahern and Nuala O’Faolain both wrote about that hip-breaking thing and women being denied abortions that could save their lives (John McGahern’s own mother died because she couldn’t get birth control when she had cancer and then she got pregnant and they wouldn’t treat her because she was pregnant, even though the foetus was going to die anyway.

  7. jb says

    They live in a fantasy world.

    The fact is, the loudest and most extreme pro-lifers are the ones who are actively pushing for all out abortion bans, even in cases of rape or the life of the mother. Richard Mourdock believes that rape babies are a gift from God. Joe Walsh believes that abortions are never medically necessary to save the life of the mother.

    In fact, one of the professors at the Galway Hospital where Savita dies was behind a conference in Dublin where it was agreed that an abortion was never necessary to save a womans life! So, regardless of what the moderate pro-lifers think, its the wingnuts who are making all the policy!

    The people passing legislation are the very people with the extreme views!

  8. Brian Lynchehaun says

    I’m walking pretty much all of my comments in this thread back (as of, my time, Nov 20th 1am). They were inappropriate, and out of place. My apologies for not getting this sooner.

    I see that you have a nuanced and well-informed view of this situation.

    I guess we’ll stop there then.

  9. dustinarand says

    That’s an interesting argument, but I see some problems. Under the general common law rule, you have no duty to come to the aid of another. You cannot be punished for not acting, however callous that may seem, if you see a child drowning and sit on your hands. However, if you do undertake a rescue, you are required to see it to completion and to exercise reasonable care in doing so. If you abandon the rescuee, or otherwise flub the rescue attemp through carelessness, you may be held civilly liable for any harm that befalls the victim, including being on the hook to his or her survivors in a wrongful death action. And, if your rescue attempt was grossly negligent, reckless, or you abandoned the rescue in a way that a jury might regard as callous, you could even be held criminally responsible.
    Now your hypothetical is basically this rescue type situation. So we could easily see you being sued or even prosecuted if you let the guy die. So I guess my question is, how much of a “right” do you really have to abandon the rescue? And how much of a right to an abortion would women have if the cops were waiting outside the clinic ready to slap cuffs on the the moment they left?

  10. tychabrahe says

    I disagree on one point. There are many people who are against abortion for a variety of reasons.

    But “pro-life” is a political movement. And it’s goals are not to reduce the number of abortions, but the take sexual control over women.

    If the pro-life movement were about reducing abortion, they would do things that reduce the number of abortions. There are nations all over the world, many of them with societies similar to the US, with varying degrees of access to sex education, birth control, and abortion. And all the statistics say that comprehensive sex education, easily available birth control, and easy accessibility of abortion reduce the number of abortions. They also say that making abortions illegal increases the number of abortions, and increases female mortality as women seek out illegal alternative.

    I don’t have recent statistics, but back in the early 1990s, the Feminist Majority Foundation made a video called Abortion for Survival. Among other things, it compare abortion in the US, where abortion was legal if not always attainable, and in Brazil, where it was illegal. The rate of abortion in Brazil was twice the rate in the US, and the rate of complication was so high that half of all beds in OB/GYN wards in hospitals were women recovering from complications of illegal abortions.

    And yet the pro-life movement not only wants to make abortions illegal, but also to reduce sex education to abstinence only programs, to make contraception difficult or impossible to get, and to reduce access to women’s health care services, for example by defunding Planned Parenthood. It doesn’t matter that abortions at Planned Parenthood is funded by the non-profit Planned Parenthood Foundation, and that removing government funding would force cutbacks to the other 87% of services it provides, like prenatal care, cancer screenings, STD screenings, well woman care, and contraceptives counseling.

    These are not the actions of people who actually oppose abortion. They are the actions of people who want to place sex back under the confines of “holy matrimony,” under the control of husbands. They are kin to those who put women in burkhas and hijabs.

  11. Brian Lynchehaun says

    I’m walking pretty much all of my comments in this thread back (as of, my time, Nov 20th 1am). They were inappropriate, and out of place. My apologies for not getting this sooner.

    Tychabrahe,

    In the context of North America, I completely agree with your sentiments.

    Acting as if what happens in North America is the rule for [pick a country of your choice] is misguided and incorrect.

  12. Brian Lynchehaun says

    Under the general common law rule, you have no duty to come to the aid of another. You cannot be punished for not acting, however callous that may seem, if you see a child drowning and sit on your hands. However, if you do undertake a rescue, you are required to see it to completion and to exercise reasonable care in doing so.

    Could you, perhaps, let me know from which Ethical system you are drawing these assertions from?

    Putting the Ethics to one side (briefly), could you explain why you may be prosecuted for abandoning a rescue part-way?

  13. jb says

    Brian, I am well aware that many people are just naive, or were indoctrinated as children:

    http://mlaxer.blogspot.ca/2012/10/guest-blog-blinded-by-right-my-past-as_17.html

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism/2012/10/how-i-lost-faith-in-the-pro-life-movement.html

    Some were in it for the slut shaming. (Sadly, I cannot provide a link to the article, but an ex-pro-lifer on Rh reality check said that she got a huge ego boost from thinking about how awful all those sluts are)

    Many, and I think this is a big reason, are projecting their anxieties and fears about death onto an embryo. I cannot count the times I have heard pro-lifers say ‘when the sperm met the egg I was formed, a unique and wonderful human being never to be seen on this earth again’

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

    Then you have the wingnuts, like the quote I provided you with, who are concerned about future generations, specifically *white* babies!

    I also think that a lot of people consider themselves to be pro-life and just do not take things to their logical conclusion. They don’t think it through – what all the various ‘bans’ would really mean. They probably do not even realise what they are doing. They might talk about how the world will lose out on the next Einstein if the woman aborts – but they never seem to consider that if a woman dies from lack of an abortion that the world might losing *her* contribution.

    The end result is deeply sexist, whether or not we realise it. Women are primarily valued for their beauty and baby-making skills and people find it *really* hard to separate women from that.

    So in the end, even though many pro-lifers have their heart in the right place, there heads are not, and the end result of their activism = dead women.

    Lastly, I posted that comment and ranted about it because I see crap like that *all* the time. It is deeply insulting to be thought of as nothing more than a walking incubator.

  14. katkinkate says

    Future generations are in no danger of genocide by abortion. As I type babies are popping out of vaginas (and incisions) all round the world at a faster rate than people are popping their cogs. Therefore future generations are coming along just fine.

  15. Brian Lynchehaun says

    I’m walking pretty much all of my comments in this thread back (as of, my time, Nov 20th 1am). They were inappropriate, and out of place. My apologies for not getting this sooner.

    jb:

    I also think that a lot of people consider themselves to be pro-life and just do not take things to their logical conclusion.

    This would be the bulk of the population. Projecting the opinions of the wingnuts onto these people makes these people unreachable.

    Pick your goal: demonisation, or productive discussion. You can’t have both.

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/camelswithhammers/2011/10/im-a-rationalist-not-a-tribalist/

    I would encourage you to read the 10 tips that precede this post.

  16. says

    You’re asking for a granularity that defies cognitive possibility, Brian. “Pro-life” is a political movement with a set of core beliefs. You’re essentially making the same argument that since not every single Christian believes X, Christians should not be regarded as a political entity; a position I’ve seen you refute ably (and in person, no less). The core beliefs of the “pro-life” movement are anti-woman, even if the people who believe that don’t identify as anti-woman. This is true in the same way that people who are for “traditional marriage” have a homophobic position, even if they “totally don’t hate queers”, or that people supporting “voter ID” support a racist policy, even if they don’t accept the truth of that statement.

  17. jb says

    #6 “Tychabrahe,

    In the context of North America, I completely agree with your sentiments.

    Acting as if what happens in North America is the rule for [pick a country of your choice] is misguided and incorrect.”

    One interesting thing though – what happens in America, specifically the USA, affects the rest of the world. Not only do right wingers get their ideas from US religious groups, but US religious groups work really hard to export those ideas around the world.

    Now maybe its just coincidence, and please correct me if I am wrong here – but don’t you find it curious that once the anti-abortion rhetoric in the USA reached an all time high that conservative governments around the world started thinking about and passing their own anti-choice bills? Woodworths motion ring a bell :P Now maybe it is just coincidence, and in tough economic times people a) become more conservative b) want to take attention off the poor economy by waving ‘shiny’ social issues in front of everyone.

    At any rate, I think my earlier point still stands. Its always the extremists who do the most talking. They may not speak for all ‘pro-lifers’ or all ‘muslims’, or all “_______” but their loud mouthed hateful rhetoric serves to silence the moderates.

  18. invivoMark says

    I’m glad Dustin brought this up, because I was about to say the same thing. There are several specific cases where you are required by law to act, including being required to act in ways to save someone’s life.

    The point isn’t that it’s unethical to force someone to save someone else’s life. Our legal system is not based on any one ethical philosophy. Our legal system is based, more or less, on the instinctive moral inclinations of lawmakers. It’s based on feelings.

    And the argument you cite is nothing more than an argument based on feelings. That’s why I don’t think it’s a very strong argument (at least, not as strong as you apparently think it is). The same feelings your hypothetical scenario is based on are also dictating the laws that tell us when and how we must act.

  19. Brian Lynchehaun says

    dustinarand and Crommunist:

    So the idea of someone requiring to follow through on a rescue follows from the consequences of people standing around, seeing that a rescue is underway, and walking off: the consequences of someone starting a rescue means that (if it looks sufficient) other people aren’t going to do so, so when that person stops, the rescue doesn’t happen.

    While we can argue that a rescue situation is roughly analogous to giving birth, the reasoning that justifies social sanctions in the reversal of rescue is not analogous (and thus does not apply) to giving birth/abortion.

    If you argue duty of care, that Person A taking care of Person B has a duty to maintain a standard of care, then you are arguing that women have a duty to maintain their pregnancy to the end.

    This, likewise, does not apply: when it comes to a doctor, the doctor is fungible: the doctor can be replaced by any other doctor, the nurse by any other nurse. Certainly, there is an obligation on the doctor (and the medical institution as a whole, and the medical system as a whole) to ensure that the replacement maintains a certain standard.

    However: with regards to giving birth, women are not fungible.

    Additionally, while you may face social/legal sanctions for failing to provide ‘reasonable care’, at no point is a doctor going to be handcuffed to a patient’s bed and told “you have no choice but to treat this patient. The end”.

    This objection likewise collapses.

  20. Brian Lynchehaun says

    invivoMark:

    The point isn’t that it’s unethical to force someone to save someone else’s life.

    It very much is the point, thank you very much.

    Our legal system is not based on any one ethical philosophy. Our legal system is based, more or less, on the instinctive moral inclinations of lawmakers. It’s based on feelings.

    I fully agree that our various legal systems are massively full of holes due to it’s lack of ethical foundation.

    And the argument you cite is nothing more than an argument based on feelings.

    You are incorrect. Unless, of course, you mistakenly believe that Ethics is nothing more than ‘feelings’?

  21. dustinarand says

    Crommunist is right. It is a common law rule, not an ethical principle. But if I had to guess what its ethical or moral rationale was, I would say it is probably society’s judgment that people ought to exercise caution before engaging in risky behavior that might exacerbate a bad situation, that only people qualified to successfully come to another’s assistance should do so, or something like that.

    I would add to my original comment that I think you don’t really defend the idea of autonomy in the argument. It’s just asserted that autonomy implies the right to breach contracts. But actually this isn’t much of a right since we’ve seen that you can be punished after the fact. The right is apparently limited to engaging in the conduct that constitutes the breach, but does not extend to being free from having to pay damages for it. Effectively, this means you don’t really have a right to breach where the penalty is sufficiently severe.

  22. John Horstman says

    What’s really shocking is that I’ve only seen the bodily-autonomy argument make its way into the mainstream discourse in the last year or two, despite the fact that it is, apparently, at least 40 years old (I knew it was checkmate when I first came across it, too). That said, I’m really glad it’s finally hit the mainstream. The only counter-position rests on the assertion that slavery is sometimes okay (i.e. if enslaving someone is necessary for your survival, have at it!), and that is one hell of a tough sell.

  23. says

    There are, however, plenty of ostensibly “pro-life” people out there with whom I could have a productive conversation.

    Remember when you talk about your own privilege?
    This is it.
    You can have that because it’s not your humanity they are denying. You can write about this with some distance but I, a woman of childbearing age who has experienced living in ireland and miscarriage, though thankfully not at the same time, am near-crying since yesterday. And ever since I read about that hip-breaking thing I’ve been hugging my knees.

    Yes, ultimately they all deny my humanity.
    The premise of “the fetus is a full human person” is deeply flawed, especially since your run-off-the-mill abortion happens when there’s definetly nothing present that we usually cite as defining criteria for being human apart from the DNA.
    And they “resolve” their apparent dilemma by deciding that one of the most basic rights that we have, the right to bodily autonomy can be suspended for the woman. It means that my body doesN’t belong to me anymore, it means that I don’t get to have a say in what happens to me anymore, it means that other people will get together and make decisions about me, my health and my life as if I were a small child or a dumb beast.
    [Serious Trigger warning ahead]
    Those things we’Re discussing here? Been there, done that.
    Much like Savita Halappanavar I was woken up from my dream about a baby by having a miscarriage. Thankfully I was in a different place where compassionate doctors gave me a quick D&E. But still I lay there, my legs fixed in the stirrups, my genitals widely exposed, my arm tied to the armrest and strange people looking at me and touching me. All of this was done with my explicit consent.
    And I went through pregnancy, labour and childbirth. Given everything that can happen, they were perfect pregnancies. The almost non-stop vomiting for 3 months, the pain as if somebody had stabbed me in the womb whenever the fetus was lying in a bad position making me take 45 min for a 10 min walk to work and arriving there in tears, the labour when I begged with my daughter who could neither hear me nor do anything to please, please, please let me breathe for a second, the tear, the stitching, the post-labour contractions, they were all normal. I’m not trying to paint this whole thing in the most negative terms. What happened to me was pretty much standard. Not worth mentioning on my medical record. And those things were OK, I took them as unfortunate side-effects of something I wanted very, very much, i.e. a baby.
    I want to paint you a realistic picture of what a totally wanted pretty uncomplicated healthy pregnancy and birth look like.
    Now imagine this being forced on you. It’s not some bad act that hapens once. It’s someting that happens to you 24 fucking hours a day, 7 fucking days a week. Your power to make medical decisions for yourself has been taken away. Women in the USA had C-sections forced onto them. For the good of the baby! Because they resolved their moral dilemma by strapping a struggling woman onto an operation table and cutting her open against her will.
    If you understand that horror, you might understand why many of us can’t share your “productive conversation, not all alike” approach. We don’t have the luxery to do that. Because no matter how “reasonable” they might look like, in the end it comes down to declaring me a subhuman object that can be used for the benefit of others.

  24. unnullifier says

    A different angle on the same argument is to ask those that are pro-life if they would favor mandatory government enforced organ, blood, and marrow donation; on the basis that it such a program would save possibly millions of lives annually.

    I won’t compare the complication rate from donating a lung, kidney, part of the liver, or bone marrow to that of pregnancy because I don’t have any actual data to refer to, but I know that in both cases there are risks, so if it’s acceptable to force a woman to undergo those risks while ignoring her right to bodily autonomy, surely it’s acceptable to have forced organ donation on the general populace while doing the same?

    And while we’re at it, why not organ donation after death? At least in the U.S. you have a right to refuse to donate organs from your no-longer-living corpse. There’s a lot of life saving potential in a body that you literally no longer have any further control or need of. Why does a dead person have more rights to bodily autonomy in the name of preventing death than a pregnant woman does in life?

  25. dustinarand says

    I definitely think moral behavior is motivated by feelings. They are what keep us from talking ourselves out of being good, or talking ourselves into being bad. We have powerful moral emotions and then we try to build ethical systems based on them, rendering them logically consistent and applying them to novel situations. But that is a fool’s errand. Our moral instincts and the emotions our body uses to motivate appropriate behavior evolved in such a way that the key ontological categories to which moral judgments apply will not necessarily map perfectly onto the objects the modern world presents us with. Abortion is a great example. Murder is unequivocally wrong because the victim clearly fits within the ontological category PERSON and the action of killing clearly maps onto patterns recognized as HARMFUL. Not so with abortion, but you can argue yourself into believing either way, that a fetus is a case of PERSON or isn’t, and that the procedure is a case of HARM or is not, depending on which facts you choose to focus on.

  26. jb says

    quote: “Remember when you talk about your own privilege?
    This is it.”

    Replace a discussion about the rights of a woman to control her own body with re-opening the discussion about the right to own a slave. Thats what it feels like.

    A woman’s bodily autonomy = a discussion point. I think this is what many pro-choicers find so deeply insulting and *scary* to think about.

  27. says

    I was just trying to answer the question as to where that legal argument comes from. I disagree that doctors are as easily replaced as you conjecture here, especially when you are talking about specialists who can perform specific procedures, abortion being among them.

    I don’t think, however, that Person A (the woman) has a duty to Person B (the blastocyst) because Person B isn’t a person under any standard I recognize.

  28. jb says

    John: the anti-choice brigade has turned the slavery thing on its head, and said that women aborting is the *same* as people owning slaves.

    They say that pro-choicers dehumanise a zygote…yes, the poor little zygote, has all its humanity taken away by those nasty uncaring women!

  29. Brian Lynchehaun says

    I’m walking pretty much all of my comments in this thread back (as of, my time, Nov 20th 1am). They were inappropriate, and out of place. My apologies for not getting this sooner.

    Crommunist:

    You’re essentially making the same argument that since not every single Christian believes X, Christians should not be regarded as a political entity; a position I’ve seen you refute ably (and in person, no less).

    I am not making that point.

    I fully, 100% agree, that anyone self-labeling as “pro-life” necessarily holds an anti-woman, anti-choice position. No argument, at all.

    I am arguing that claiming that any particular “pro-lifer” holds the specific and explicit view that ‘women are less than foetuses’ is unjustified in doing so, and is doing nothing more than provoking that “pro-lifer” into walking away.

    I am arguing against “‘pro-lifers’ believe ‘x’”, and in favour of “the necessary consequence of the ‘pro-lifers’ is ‘x’”. I don’t consider this splitting hairs (but I can appreciate that it may seem that way).

    I may have expressed myself poorly above (though I don’t think that I did), but I hope that this clarifies.

    jb:

    One interesting thing though – what happens in America, specifically the USA, affects the rest of the world. Not only do right wingers get their ideas from US religious groups, but US religious groups work really hard to export those ideas around the world.

    I fully agree with this (and the unquoted portion) this comment.

  30. Brian Lynchehaun says

    Crommunist:

    I don’t think, however, that Person A (the woman) has a duty to Person B (the blastocyst) because Person B isn’t a person under any standard I recognize.

    The whole point of the analogy is that even if Person B is a complete, fully defined person under the most rigorous standards, the women still doesn’t have any obligations to them.

    Arguing whether or not a blastocyst is a sideshow that goes nowhere.

  31. jb says

    Here is the thing, do these moderates vote for the wingnuts?

    These moderates may not hold the extreme views, but will they still vote for people like Todd Akin? That is the question.

    It all comes down to the *end result* of their belief – and does that *end* result in womens rights being taken away – even if the moderates do not view women as inferior?

  32. dustinarand says

    Brian I still don’t think you’ve addressed the main issue I raised, which is that if autonomy only gives you the right to engage in the conduct that constitutes the breach of contract, but doesn’t save you from punishment for doing so, then (1) in most instances fear of punishment will compel you not to breach, so your don’t really have much of a right, and (2) given (1), you have to wonder why, if autonomy doesn’t give you the right to escape punishment for an action, then what is the point of saying that it nevertheless gives you freedom to engage in the action? It just seems like autonomy, having turned out to be rather hollow in practice, however important it may seem in theory, has no place at the center of a moral argument for choice.

  33. mythbri says

    Brian, I agreed with your post here. But then I saw this in the comments:

    “Pro-lifers” are a large and varied group, who all take different approaches to the conversation, their only commonality being that they have reached the wrong conclusion.

    It does a disservice to the conversation to paint them all with this same brush, given that those discussing the ‘genocide’ are a tiny minority within the “Pro-life” group.

    The are, of course, basic grounds to having a conversation with people who mislabel themselves as “pro-life” (as opposed to correctly labeling themselves ‘anti-choice’): putting abortion on a par with genocide does not meet those basic grounds, and I would see my conversation with them as futile, and I wouldn’t waste my time.

    There are, however, plenty of ostensibly “pro-life” people out there with whom I could have a productive conversation. The ‘X case’ in 1992 in Ireland (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Attorney_General_v._X) caused a lot of people in Ireland to assess their self-labels, and change. Savita’s death will also motivate a lot of reflection and change.

    I can appreciate that this is a shitty, shitty situation, but I am not going to indulge in cynicism.

    So people who claim to be “pro-life” are not a monolith.

    So. Fucking. What?

    I hear lots of people talk about “pro-lifers” who reject any abortion exceptions for victims of rape and/or incest, saying “Well, at least they’re consistent.”

    No. They don’t get a cookie for being consistent when their position is to force rape victims to bear the children of their rapists against their will. Okay? No cookie for that. Not even leftover crumbs. Not even tiny microscopic crumbs.

    Even if “pro-lifers” don’t consciously hate women, or believe that abortion is genocide, or pull out the tired slut-shaming sex-controlling arguments, they get no cookies from me. Nada. Zip. Zilch. Do you know why? Because respecting another person’s bodily autonomy and human right to make medical decisions for themselves, particularly life-saving medical decisions, is the bare minimum of human decency.

    Crommunist made an excellent point when he referenced your positions on Christians. I’m surprised and disappointed, particularly with the overlap between Christians and “pro-lifers”, that you would make any kind of distinction here.

    Giliell also made an excellent point about you writing from privilege in this case, and though you acknowledged it in your post, your comments belie your awareness in this particular circumstance.

  34. jb says

    quote: “A different angle on the same argument is to ask those that are pro-life if they would favor mandatory government enforced organ, blood, and marrow donation; on the basis that it such a program would save possibly millions of lives annually.”

    I ask this of every pro-lifer. They don’t. A preacher on dogma debate (podcast) said that mandatory organ and blood donations, even to a living child, were not necessary, because a sick child is merely suffering from a ‘natural process’, and we are under no obligation to provide bodily life support to that person.

    He did however say that if a baby is dying mid-birth that a woman *must* be forced to undergo a c-section without her consent in order to save the baby. He conveniently ignored the fact that a baby dying in the birth process = completely natural.

    So when it comes to organ donation, there are different rules for women vs the rest of the population.

  35. invivoMark says

    It very much is the point, thank you very much.

    No, the point of referencing a legal system is not to make a comment on ethics. The issue of abortion and forcing people to act a certain way certainly is a question of ethics, but the “our laws already say such and such” argument is not.

    You are incorrect. Unless, of course, you mistakenly believe that Ethics is nothing more than ‘feelings’?

    Your argument would be based on ethics if you first establish an ethical framework from which to judge actions or laws. The argument doesn’t do that.

    What the argument does is say, “Abortion is taking away women’s autonomy! That’s totally unforgivably bad, right?” The argument leaves it up to the reader to decide whether taking away someone’s autonomy is inherently and universally worse than protecting someone’s life.

    Enter the duty of care laws. If we consider this law ethically valid, then we must maintain that protecting someone’s life is more important than someone’s autonomy under specific circumstances.

    To an uninformed person, both the duty of care laws and Judith Thompson’s argument seem reasonable. Yet, if they accept both, then they are not maintaining a consistent ethical standard. They are basing their morality on their feelings. And that’s why Judith’s argument is based on feelings, not ethics.

  36. says

    Donating blood and bone-marrow is a couple of times safer than pregnancy and childbirth, yet funny enough nobody requires people between 18 and 50 to donate blood once a month and register for bone-marrow donation.
    People aren’t even required to donate their organs when they’re actually dead and have neither use for them nor are actually still people.

  37. Brian Lynchehaun says

    Mythbri:

    So. Fucking. What?

    So that means that some of them are movable. Some of them can be convinced to change their position. Some of them can be convinced to vote a different way at the next election.

    That’s what that means.

    No. They don’t get a cookie for being consistent when their position is to force rape victims to bear the children of their rapists against their will. Okay? No cookie for that. Not even leftover crumbs. Not even tiny microscopic crumbs.

    I 100% agree with you, and have not indicated anywhere that I hold the view that you are arguing against.

  38. Stacy says

    With Jarvis’ argument, I think people could reasonably argue that the most ethical choice the person who willingly entered into the contract could make, would be to see the connection thing through (barring unforeseen complications) –

    – and nevertheless it would be horrific for society to legally compel that person to do so.

    Note: I’m referring to Jarvis’s extreme scenario, where the other person involved is a person, for the sake of pointing out to pro-lifers that even if, for the sake of argument, we grant their premise that a fetus (or blastocyst!) is a “person,” forced pregnancy via denying the right to abortion is still a gross violation of the human right to autonomy.

  39. jb says

    quote: “So that means that some of them are movable. Some of them can be convinced to change their position. Some of them can be convinced to vote a different way at the next election.”

    Shaming them is a good way. Like this entire deal with Savita.

  40. mythbri says

    That was sloppy writing on my part – I in no way intended to imply that I thought you held that kind of view in this case.

    I was attempting to use the case of cookies for “consistent pro-lifers” as an analogy to the “pro-lifers” you feel you could have a conversation with. It wasn’t a very elegant analogy, to be sure, but I felt it was appropriate in this case. Believe me when I say that I don’t see the statement “pro-lifers do not hold monolith views other than the anti-abortion one” as you attempting to defend that kind of viewpoint.

    So that means that some of them are movable. Some of them can be convinced to change their position. Some of them can be convinced to vote a different way at the next election.

    I’m glad that you think that you can have a conversation about it. But the conversation itself offends me. The idea that I have to reason people into respecting my bodily autonomy offends me. The idea that we, as people who respect bodily autonomy, have to reason people into saying that it’s legally acceptable (hell, can we go with legally required?) to save a woman’s life, is offensive to me.

    The fact that you are able to have these conversations, knowing that you’ll never be directly impacted by their legislative outcomes, might make it easier to try to engage.

  41. dustinarand says

    I don’t think its possible to make an airtight logical argument for or against a right to abortion. In fact, I think it is missing the point to try to act like the objects of our moral judgments must always fall clearly into some ontological category or other, and therefore that we must commit to the inferences implied by that assignment. That’s not how people reason. Take the issue of what constitutes a person, and whether a fetus is a case of the category “person.” If you think about this for a while you see that the issue isn’t what empirical data about a thing you need to know, but what you value about that thing and why you value it. For me, a person is something that deserves moral rights not because it has 23 pairs of chromosomes or looks like me or some other clinical data point you can come up with. None of that tells me anything about why it is important to confer moral rights on it.

    Instead, I look to things like the capacity for suffering, sure, but also beyond the individual itself to the broader question of what harm might be entailed by withholding moral rights. Permitting gratuitous violence against animals, for example, if it warps our moral reasoning, could lead to people cultivating a taste for violent behavior against people. Stated more generally, whether a borderline case ought to be placed in my ontological category PERSON depends on whether its inclusion facilitates moral behavior with respect to much easier cases. The same can be said of fact patterns and whether they ought to be considered as instances of HARM. For me, a fetus does not quite qualify, since I see no likelihood that treating it as a person for the purposes of abortion in general in any way makes me more likely to engage in moral behavior vis a vis more obvious cases of persons (like my neighbors or coworkers). But change the facts a little bit and you might get a different answer.

    For example, many pro-choice people like myself are uncomfortable with the idea of sex-selective abortion and reduction (where you abort one twin, say, and leave the other). Or what about a woman who smokes or does drugs while pregnant. By the principle of the greater includes the lesser, if she has the right to terminate the pregnancy, she should also have the right to do any harm less than that as well. Yet that is not how most people feel about it, and I think the reason why is that we are more willing to treat a fetus as an instance of PERSON in these cases because the fact of the mother’s decision to keep the pregnancy suggests that she does too, and we use that as a factor in our decision. Anyway, this is getting way too long, so I’m cutting myself off.

  42. says

    By the principle of the greater includes the lesser, if she has the right to terminate the pregnancy, she should also have the right to do any harm less than that as well. Yet that is not how most people feel about it, and I think the reason why is that we are more willing to treat a fetus as an instance of PERSON in these cases because the fact of the mother’s decision to keep the pregnancy suggests that she does too, and we use that as a factor in our decision. Anyway, this is getting way too long, so I’m cutting myself off.

    Wrong.
    The priciple is bodily autonomy. Which means that she’s the only person who gets to decide what she does with her body. The fetus suffer collateral damage.
    Am I happy with that? Fuck, no. Saying I’m “pro choice” means that I include the very real possibility that people make bad choices (quite often by not having an abortion).
    Also, smoking and drugs will eventually have effects on a real actual person if the pregnancy is carried to term. So I would say that there is a moral duty, just like I would say that there is a moral duty to have a c-section if the fetus is breech. That doesn’t say anything about legal issues.

  43. Tucker says

    Your understanding of ethics is extremely questionable. The idea that, if you cannot be immediately prevented from doing something, there must be no ethical obligation not to do it, even if you may be punished for the action later, is… not to put too fine a point on it, stupid. Unless you seriously intend to assert that it is ethical to behave unethically, or that there is no ethical obligation to behave ethically – which would be two ways of saying the same thing – then acknowledging that breach of contract is unethical leaves you with no escape from the answer that yes, there is an ethical obligation for the person in your exercise to stay connected after contractually binding herself to do so.

    The sophistry about “society cannot prevent you” is complete bullshit; there are many things that society cannot prevent you from doing, certainly not all of them ethical. The things ‘society’ is empowered to prevent are not decided purely by ethics, and may in many cases depend on whether post-facto decision is less potentially dangerous than intervention. Society cannot always prevent you from murdering someone, if, say, you are a police officer acting in the line of duty; the damage that could result from a misinformed intervention is too great. Is there, then, no ethical obligation not to murder an innocent person in the line of duty? Certainly this could be prevented by someone who had perfect knowledge and would thus never make the wrong call, but why couldn’t such a person prevent you from breaching a contract as well, especially if that breach was guaranteed to result in loss of life?

    The assertion that people should not be *legally* obligated to behave ethically is another thing entirely, but you are neither making nor defending that assertion anywhere in your argument, nor is Thompson in hers. If you have a good reason why that should not be the case, by all means, make it – but keep in mind that not everyone agrees that autonomy should even be an unrestricted “gold-standard”, especially since our society already restricts its citizens’ autonomy in many ways when autonomous actions are perceived to infringe on the rights of others, even when the infringement in question doesn’t materially affect the victim’s autonomy (undermining the argument that this ‘foundational’ right can only be restricted in the face of the autonomy of another). For example, even if a person has enough resources that she may lose some without materially affecting her autonomy, the theft of some of those resources is still widely regarded as both unethical and worth legal prevention. Thompson’s argument falls flat because it assumes that the listener will already agree that autonomy cannot be compromised even to prevent loss of life; justifying that premise is an uphill battle in itself.

  44. steve84 says

    There are actually countries where this is a discussion. In the sense of whether people should be automatically classified as organ donors or whether it needs be opt-in. There is a great fear by some people that if they are organ donors, they won’t receive all available care to save their lives. Despite a lack of donor organs, I think public consensus is usually pretty conservative and favors an opt-in approach.

  45. Ysanne says

    You cannot be punished for not acting, however callous that may seem, if you see a child drowning and sit on your hands. However, if you do undertake a rescue, you are required to see it to completion and to exercise reasonable care in doing so.

    Actually this is not true for every place in the world.
    For example, Germany has exactly the opposite situation: If there’s an emergency in which help is needed, and you could provide it — i.e. you have an idea of what to do, are more or less able to actually do it, and it wouldn’t endanger yourself — then you are legally obliged to do so. On the other hand, you cannot be held legally responsible for making mistakes in the process.

    The idea behind this is to ensure that people actually provide First Aid when needed, instead of just watching people die without even trying to interfere (because dead people can’t sue).

  46. Brian Lynchehaun says

    I’m walking pretty much all of my comments in this thread back (as of, my time, Nov 20th 1am). They were inappropriate, and out of place. My apologies for not getting this sooner.


    Here is the thing, do these moderates vote for the wingnuts?

    Depends on what their available options are, depends on what political system they are based in, and depends on whether their actual positions have been accurately and critically scrutinized.

    The wingnuts do not exist (in politics) in Ireland that they do to the same degree in the US. By American standards, no the moderates do not vote for the wingnuts. By Irish standards, yes there are quite a few nuts (or, at least, horrible people) in the Dail.

    It all comes down to the *end result* of their belief – and does that *end* result in womens rights being taken away – even if the moderates do not view women as inferior?

    So in order to get these moderates to change their position, we should attribute to them positions that they do not hold?

    Or actually engage in discussing their actual beliefs?

    (this all presupposes that one is interested in effecting political change)

  47. Brian Lynchehaun says

    I’m glad that you found this useful. :)

    If I hear of anything happening in Munster, I’ll let you know. :)

  48. Stacy says

    I think Brian’s summary of the thought experiment was clumsy, which is why I commented at #10. I don’t recall the “contract” in Thompson’s original thought experiment, but she may have proposed more than one.

    Thompson’s argument falls flat because it assumes that the listener will already agree that autonomy cannot be compromised even to prevent loss of life; justifying that premise is an uphill battle in itself

    Then you need to explain why you think the state should be able to legally compell a person to donate blood or organs to save the life of another.

    You seem to think that would be easy. Have at it.

  49. Brian Lynchehaun says

    Dustinarand:

    Brian I still don’t think you’ve addressed the main issue I raised, which is that if autonomy only gives you the right to engage in the conduct that constitutes the breach of contract, but doesn’t save you from punishment for doing so, then (1) in most instances fear of punishment will compel you not to breach, so your don’t really have much of a right, and (2) given (1), you have to wonder why, if autonomy doesn’t give you the right to escape punishment for an action, then what is the point of saying that it nevertheless gives you freedom to engage in the action? It just seems like autonomy, having turned out to be rather hollow in practice, however important it may seem in theory, has no place at the center of a moral argument for choice.

    1. Women in Ireland have the Universal Human Right of Freedom of Movement.

    2. Legally, this Right is curtailed when they are seeking an abortion.

    3. In order to claim that “A Law is Unjust”, you need to reach beyond the law to the foundation for Law. If you believe that there is no such foundation, then we’re largely done talking. If you believe that there must be some foundation (not ontologically speaking, but merely in terms of rational justification), then what is it? The basis of Law can’t be Law: laws are asserted, they are defined by underlying non-lawful principles. You cannot argue against an entirely internally consistent legal system that allows slavery by citing other laws: there is, definitionally, no contradiction. To assert that slavery is unjust, when faced with this kind of system, one needs to go BEYOND the law, to it’s underpinnings.

    4. Having the Right to do something does not mean that you have the Right To No Repercussions. Having the Right to Freedom of Movement does not mean that you can merrily walk into traffic and expect cars to stop for you.

    Having the Right to Free Speech means that you have the right to declare that the holocaust did not happen. That does NOT mean that other people cannot denounce you, nor choose to no longer associate with you, or ridicule your ignorance/obstinancy.

    A Legal restriction of the Right to Free Speech does not mean that you no longer have that Right: it means that your Right and the Law are in tension, in conflict. The one does not erase the other, but is conflict with the other. Many nations have chosen to “resolve” (and I use this word for lack of a better one) that conflict in a variety of ways.

    In Ireland, women absolutely do have the Right to Freedom of Movement, but this right is curtailed by the law regarding abortion. They are in conflict, and this conflict must be resolved. This will require a referendum and (given the current political climate) I would expect the old restrictions to be removed from the Constitution. That would require the politicians to get in gear, which will hopefully be kicked off by the multiple protests.

    Finally: I have not explained or defined autonomy, or argued in favour of it, because I feel no need to duplicate several centuries worth of argumentation. I linked to an illustrative Wiki article that was relevant to the essay. Feel free to follow the link.

    Not enough? Alright.

    The Standford Encyclopedia of Philosophy has entries on Autonomy in the Political/Moral spheres (http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/autonomy-moral/), and Personal Autonomy (http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/autonomy-moral/). They are a good starting point, and are replete with references. Once you have completely read both feel free to ask me any further questions you may have.

  50. Brian Lynchehaun says

    invivoMark:

    Your argument would be based on ethics if you first establish an ethical framework from which to judge actions or laws. The argument doesn’t do that.

    Wait, wait, wait…

    So to make any ethical argument, on any topic, I need to firstly outline the entire ethical system upon which I base my argument?

    Read what you wrote out loud a few times, then come back and let me know if you’d like to take back the most ridiculous thing I’ve heard today.

    To an uninformed person, both the duty of care laws and Judith Thompson’s argument seem reasonable. Yet, if they accept both, then they are not maintaining a consistent ethical standard. They are basing their morality on their feelings. And that’s why Judith’s argument is based on feelings, not ethics.

    Oh, hang on, I take back what I said above. This one wins.

  51. Brian Lynchehaun says

    Thank you, Ysanne, for pointing out the North America-centric arguments that are consistently and maddeningly being trotted out here.

  52. Brian Lynchehaun says

    I definitely think moral behavior is motivated by feelings

    This is a question of Psychology, not Philosophy.

    Psychology: These are the ways that people actually think.
    Philosophy: These are the ways that people should think.

    (Y’all notice the plural of ‘ways’ up there, right?)

    We have powerful moral emotions and then we try to build ethical systems based on them, rendering them logically consistent and applying them to novel situations.

    Except for some very rare cases, this is not how the study of Ethics has progressed over the last 2000+ years.

    For more information, please feel free to refer to the links I placed in the other comment.

  53. Brian Lynchehaun says

    jb:

    Shaming them is a good way.

    Are you seriously going to argue that ‘shaming people’ is an acceptable way to convince people to your way of thinking?

  54. Brian Lynchehaun says

    Mythbri:

    I’m glad that you think that you can have a conversation about it. But the conversation itself offends me. The idea that I have to reason people into respecting my bodily autonomy offends me. The idea that we, as people who respect bodily autonomy, have to reason people into saying that it’s legally acceptable (hell, can we go with legally required?) to save a woman’s life, is offensive to me.

    The fact that you are able to have these conversations, knowing that you’ll never be directly impacted by their legislative outcomes, might make it easier to try to engage.

    The idea that I’m somehow ignorant of bodily autonomy issues is also offensive to me. You’re making a whole heap of presumptions about my person, and it’s getting close to my level of tolerance.

    Secondly, I’m Irish. It wasn’t all that long ago when the Irish were considered barely above mongrels. When the Irish were convenient scapegoats (in more than one country) for problems, be they economic or explosive. When the Irish were the cheap labour force being exploited internationally. (A portion of these are still in play, this generation. I’ll leave it to you to figure out which)

    Your backhanded compliment/snub is not accepted, thank you very much.

    Whether you find this kind of conversation offensive has no bearing on the fact this conversation needs having in various countries. And sure, I have the option of not having that conversation. As do you, apparently. But I am choosing not to simply engage in my privilege and be offended, and not have the conversation.

    But hey, thanks for the lecture.

    (and no, I’m not doing all that I possibly can. But I’m also not shitting on people who do more than me, or who do things in a different way than me…)

  55. Brian Lynchehaun says

    Tucker:

    Your understanding of ethics is extremely questionable.

    My bad, random_internet_person, please educate me!

    The idea that, if you cannot be immediately prevented from doing something, there must be no ethical obligation not to do it, even if you may be punished for the action later, is… not to put too fine a point on it, stupid.

    I agree.

    Oh, wait, you don’t think that I advanced this position… Do you?

    yes, there is an ethical obligation for the person in your exercise to stay connected after contractually binding herself to do so.

    I completely agree that if one engaged in a contract, there is an ethical obligation to keep ones promise. Now what?

    Because an ethical obligation to keep promises supercedes… what, exactly?

    If one has a family when one engages in this contract, who are provided for by someone else, but 4 months in their financial support disappears, one is required to say “I’m sorry, you have to starve because I have an ethical obligation to keep this promise”?

    While you have an ethical obligation to keep promises, you have no ethical obligations to maintain your ethical obligations: those are higher order, meta-ethical justifications, and those meta-ethical justifications can allow you to prioritise your ethical obligations, which includes ethical obligations to yourself.

    But hey, my understanding of ethics is questionable. I’m sure you can correct my errors here.

    The sophistry about “society cannot prevent you” is complete bullshit

    I completely, 100% agree with you that the claim “if society cannot prevent you from doing something, then you have no ethical obligation to not-do it” is complete bullshit.

    Oh, wait, you think I made this claim? Really? Would you mind dreadfully quoting me, so that it’s clear to the readers that you’re not running off half-cocked and making up bald-faced assertions based on nothing at all?

    but keep in mind that not everyone agrees that autonomy should even be an unrestricted “gold-standard”

    (problem word italicised by me)

    You should totally name the commenter who made that claim. That would be a terrible claim to make, if anyone actually made it.

    For example, even if a person has enough resources that she may lose some without materially affecting her autonomy, the theft of some of those resources is still widely regarded as both unethical and worth legal prevention.

    Wait, wait, wait…

    You mean that autonomy is the sole basis of neither ethics nor law? Holy shit… You’ve completely destroyed an argument that I didn’t make.

  56. Brian Lynchehaun says

    Ouch, Stacy… ;)

    I don’t think that Thompson discussed the issue of a contract either, but it’s been half a decade since I read her paper. My purpose of adding that in was to make the case as strong as possible, to add in additional ethical pressures, and to show that even in the face of that, there can be no justification for the restriction of access to abortion.

  57. says

    SHUT THE FUCK UP.

    Anti-choicers support the right of the government to step in and dictate, whether through civil or criminal penalties, what women do with their reproductive organs.

    If they claim that they support this AND that they regard women as full autonomous human beings, then they are either lying or self-deluded. You cannot think both things at the same time and not be a hypocrite.

  58. jb says

    Sorta kinda related, but I believe that a man with a certain disease needed a bone marrow transplant, and everyone in his family was tested for their suitability as a donor. One family member tested positive, but declined to donate his bone marrow. The sick guy sued…and lost.

    Sorry I can’t offer more details, I vaguely remember reading this on another blog!

  59. mythbri says

    For the record, Brian, when I said this:

    The idea that we, as people who respect bodily autonomy, have to reason people into saying that it’s legally acceptable (hell, can we go with legally required?) to save a woman’s life, is offensive to me.

    I meant me and I also meant you. Remember how I said that I agreed with your post here, and disagreed with one of your subsequent comments? My agreement with the post has not changed. I can see that you are aware of, and respect, issues of bodily autonomy, and the fact that you will not be directly affected by the legislative results of these conversations doesn’t change that. I said that it probably makes it easier for you to engage. It’s NOT personally easy for ME to engage, because I cannot comprehend why I can talk with someone, face-to-face, looking them right in the eyes, and still not convince them that I have the right to make medical decisions about my own body. The conversation that is had with “pro-lifers” to reason them into respecting bodily autonomy is offensive to me because I think it should be completely obvious to everyone – if it’s not your body, you don’t get a say (general, non-specific you). I’m sorry you saw that as some kind of “backhanded compliment/snub”, but short of me trying to improve my communication, there’s absolutely nothing I can do to change your perception there.

    My issue was with what I (and others) saw as a blind spot that could be explained by privilege (even though you acknowledged in your post that you were speaking from privilege, this part of it did not seem to be addressed), and I still think that’s an issue – particularly because you brought up the way that Irish people have historically been maligned, discriminated against, and abused by people in higher social classes – and I have no doubt that there are still residual effects of that history, if not outright prejudice. But this isn’t Oppression Olympics. The fact that Irish people are/were discriminated against as a whole does not have much to do with the fact that Irish women are still being oppressed within their own country, along with any woman unfortunate to have a pregnancy-related crisis while in Ireland. Or is the Catholic church complicit in discrimination against the Irish? If that’s the case, then that might explain why you brought it up.

    If you think I’m shitting on you because you don’t do or say things the way I would, then you’re wrong. I get that you’re annoyed that the conversation here is derailing slightly into the way the abortion conversation is framed in North America, but I just came out of a Presidential election that consisted of months and months of Republican candidates spewing shit out of their mouths about women, rape and abortion. That’s coloring my perception, absolutely. And I am playing catch-up with how things are done/discussed in the EU and Ireland, specifically. So yeah – I don’t fully grasp your perspective on this.

  60. Brian Lynchehaun says

    I’m walking pretty much all of my comments in this thread back (as of, my time, Nov 20th 1am). They were inappropriate, and out of place. My apologies for not getting this sooner.

    SallyStrange:

    SHUT THE FUCK UP.

    You’re right. I shouldn’t be trying to change the political situation at all, or provide arguments for those who want to engage in discussion or debate. I should just… Let the anti-choicers work on, unopposed.

    Anti-choicers support the right of the government to step in and dictate, whether through civil or criminal penalties, what women do with their reproductive organs.

    If they claim that they support this AND that they regard women as full autonomous human beings, then they are either lying or self-deluded. You cannot think both things at the same time and not be a hypocrite.

    I agree with all of this.

    And so I attempt to figure out which of the people that I’m talking to are merely self-deluded, rather than liars, and help the self-deluded see their way to no longer being so (at least on this issue).

    I am not arguing that anyone else needs or should spend their time doing so. It entirely depends on whether someone wants to effectively make change, or not.

  61. says

    Are you seriously going to argue that ‘shaming people’ is an acceptable way to convince people to your way of thinking?

    Not so much to convince them to our way of thinking, but to convince them that their point of view is not going to get any traction outside of their narrow religious community. Which is just as good, from my point of view.

  62. says

    I actually am pretty sure that justifying an end to bodily autonomy, for everyone, would be easy.

    The thing is, people don’t do it. Because they want to restrict the rights of women, not actually help anyone.

  63. says

    Are you seriously going to argue that ‘shaming people’ is an acceptable way to convince people to your way of thinking

    Oh for fucks’ sake. Yes, I am just fine with making people feel bad for being racist, or sexist, or heterosexist, or w/e. They might stop.

    FFS, people, shame is bad when it’s used for bad purposes, eg slut shaming. Not invoking shame, ever, is pointless.

  64. ars5 says

    @mythbri, I agree that it’s offensive that we have to explain to people why abortion is acceptable if it saves the woman’s life, but that’s only part of the discussion. I think the assertion that abortion is acceptable at any time and for any reason deserves some discussion. Thompson’s argument addresses this, and needs to become more mainstream. I find it more effective than all the “woman-hater” accusations.

    @Brian, I can’t tell where you stand on this. You say you’re completely willing to have these conversations, but your original post (even the title) comes across as very condescending. Anyway, yes, abortion does need to be explained, and it needs to be explained precisely with that decades-old argument that somehow got lost in the shuffle, preferably without shaming those who have not heard the full argument.

  65. Brian Lynchehaun says

    Mythbri:

    I’m sorry you saw that as some kind of “backhanded compliment/snub”, but short of me trying to improve my communication, there’s absolutely nothing I can do to change your perception there.

    I appreciate the clarification. Clarifying your position absolutely does change my perception.

    The fact that Irish people are/were discriminated against as a whole does not have much to do with the fact that Irish women are still being oppressed within their own country, along with any woman unfortunate to have a pregnancy-related crisis while in Ireland.

    I fully agree that these two things are not directly related.

    If you could spell out what it is you think that I’m not-seeing, I would greatly appreciate it.

    Or is the Catholic church complicit in discrimination against the Irish? If that’s the case, then that might explain why you brought it up.

    As is almost always the case, it’s more complex than that.

    There have been 800 years of power struggles, of waves of settlement by the English, the Scottish, the new upperclasses of Irish, the monied Church(es). The issues were almost always expressed socioeconomically, where the Irish were relegated to landless labourers, contraception completely denied, the Irish demonised, extra taxes being levied on the Catholics (‘Catholic’ being a synonym for ‘Irish’ at the time, ‘Anglican’ being a synonym for ‘English’, ‘Presbyterian’ being a synonym for ‘Scottish’, and ‘Protestent’ being a synonym for ‘British’), gerry-mandering, and so on. This is not me attempting to belabour any point about oppression, but merely to give the sense that the Irish have always been at bottom for so long that they have internalised this and now (as a society, if not individually) seek to keep ‘the Irish’ down.

    By the 1960s and 70s (my father’s generation, my mother being Canadian and not in Ireland at this time), the three most important people in a Parish (that being how an area was defined in the vernacular for, I think, obvious reasons) were the local policeman, the local teacher, and the local priest. The last two were often the same person.

    So when the local priests denounced the evils of contraception and living in sin, the Irish (seeing this pronouncement coming from a position of authority) took it on board, and used it as a weapon against each other to stop anyone getting ideas above their station.

    Thus in the 1970s, when Roe vs. Wade happened (there’s a link in one of the other comments about ‘The X Case’), the politicians sought to amend the constitution to prevent the politicians from creating a statute that would allow abortion. Being sold the lie that (both political and religious) abortion, under any circumstance that didn’t directly threaten the health of the woman, was evil/wrong (there is no non-religious argument for this, I believe) the electorate sold out the women of Ireland in order to make travel for abortion illegal by constitutional degree, and therefore unamendeable by the Dail. By a large margin. Because the Irish politicians (being Irish) weren’t to be trusted.

    You cannot separate out the religious influences in Irish law, but nor can you just say “this is all the Church’s fault”. It’s a mess that is (likely) going to take several more generations (or, at best, decades) to untangle.

    If you think I’m shitting on you because you don’t do or say things the way I would, then you’re wrong.

    I appreciate you saying that, as that’s the impression I was certainly getting.

  66. Brian Lynchehaun says

    Ars5:

    My apologies for the lack of clarity. I offer two reasons (excuses?):

    1. I was irate and annoyed. When I left Ireland, I (and many, many other Irish people) were under the impression that what happened with Savita was never going to happen. We had been assured, repeatedly, by the government (and by cases that had been taken to court) that [risk to the life of the mother]>>>[the existence of a foetus]. I was thoroughly pissed off, as this whole situation caught me by surprise. And I’m angered that within Ireland, the push by the pro-choice folk is simply to ensure that abortion is available only when the woman’s life is in danger. This, to me, is unacceptable. Primarily because this is where we were supposed to have been in 1973, and things had allegedly advanced since then.

    2. My post here is not intended to be engaging with the anti-choice people. I suspect that people with that leaning do not frequent these particular blogs. My intent with this piece is to provide this knock-down argument to the people here who are pro-choice and who wish to engage in discussion/debate/argument with the anti-choice folk. So it’s a little short-handed (though there’s a link to the original in there for people who want more), brusque, and tinged with contempt. Certainly not for the readers here, but for the fact that this situation occurred.

    In person, I tend to have a lot of patience with someone who is earnestly presenting a point, and zero with someone who is attempting to ‘win’ an argument, and in both cases I do my best to avoid any impression of contempt or impatience.

    I hope that clarifies?

  67. jb says

    I do not debate ‘pro-lifers’ in real life. I only do so online. I have tried all manner of reasonable ‘debate’ with them. Nothing works. They just shriek and shriek two things over and over:

    1) you are killing the babies!!!!! murderer!!! how would you like it if your arms and legs were ripped off!!! (actual quote)

    2) sluts should stop spreading their legs and take responsibility for their actions (an amalgmation of sexist quotes)

    I have come across *some* moderate pro-lifers, and I have only ever seen two of them, and that was on Libby-Anne’s blog.

    I have brought up bodily autonomy – they say ‘well, organ donation is different’

    I have brought up women dying – they say ‘well, if only so many women die its acceptable’

    They have *all* manner of excuses. It also does not help that the pro-life movement outright LIES. I just read a response to libby anne’s post where the person said she went from pro-choice to pro-life because ‘the fetus starts breathing at 8 weeks and has all its arms and legs at 7′. That is an outright lie.

    Truth be told, I do not expect to change anyone’s mind. Now, in regards to the comment about shaming, let me explain further. Other than Libby’s reasoned arguments, I think that the *only* other thing that works is when the moderates see the true UGLY nature of the movement. When they see the Todd “legitimate’ rape Akins, the ‘rape is a gift’ Mourdocks, and the dead women like Savita.

    And lastly, am I allowed to bitch about the more extreme views? Because that is what I was doing in my original post. I apologise for not saying *some* pro-lifers hold this view – I honestly don’t think it was necessary. It is a given that not every pro-lifer is a woman hating misogynist – but its the woman haters who are the *most* visible, the loudest, and those are the ones who KILL women like Savita.

  68. jb says

    They are, but as someone else said, the US presidential elections have pretty much dominated the news and it has been 6+ months of slut shaming and ‘rape is a gift’ rhetoric.

  69. invivoMark says

    So to make any ethical argument, on any topic, I need to firstly outline the entire ethical system upon which I base my argument?

    Sure. What other standard would we use to judge an ethical argument? Our feelings? Because it sounded like you didn’t want your argument’s validity to be based on feelings!

    Now, are you finished being a dick to me and ridiculing my comments? Because I thought this was supposed to be a civil discussion.

  70. jb says

    It’s the white babies they are worried about. I hear over and over again, on every right-wing blog or forum I visit, that “not enough white babies are being born” and that “white people are being overrun by muslims”.

  71. mythbri says

    Thank you, Brian, for the explanation. That is extremely helpful to me. I don’t have a Catholic background, much less an Irish one (and as you said, for a long time they were one and the same), but I do come from a conservative religion-saturated upbringing and community, and I’m doing my best to understand.

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but what I’m seeing from the discussion about Savita’s death and the way Irish law is structured, Ireland has a problem similar to the U.S. in that while it pretends to have a separation of Church and State, the reality does not reflect that. From the writing of other commenters I’ve gathered that the law-makers bow to pressure from the Church that comes in the form of threats of excommunication and social ruin, not to mention the implied threat of Hell for acting against the Church’s stance on abortion. So the law, as it stands, should provide for an exception to save the lives of women, but the legislature has been too cowardly to enact laws specifically stating legal protection for that exception (although I don’t believe that legal concerns were the primary reason that Savita’s doctors let her die in agony).

    From my perspective about how the conversation about abortion is discussed in the U.S., conversation with the “pro-life” movement results ONLY in accommodations, and the slow but sure chipping away at my right to self-determination and right to choose when/if I have children – the “debate” during this last election season even ranged across access to contraception, which to me was mind-boggling.

    With the background that you’ve provided me, I can see that I’m looking at this issue from the wrong direction. Specifically, rather than starting with abortion access affirmed by the right to privacy, and having that access slowly rolled back, in Ireland they’re starting with almost no abortion access and are attempting to roll it forward. It seems obvious to me now, but it required a shift in perspective – so thanks for that. So conversation with fence-sitting “moderate pro-lifers” in Ireland may NOT be a form of accommodation, but rather a way to AT LEAST put in legislation affirming life-saving abortion exceptions. Our respective countries are in different places and heading in opposing directions, so my mind had to do a 180. So, note to the Irish people: once you’ve gotten abortion rights, DO NOT engage in any more conversation with “pro-lifers”. It did NOT work for us here.

    (As an aside, I noted that the what legislation there is currently specifically states that “life” is distinct from “health” in these exceptions, which is completely disgusting.)

    So, while I’m still reticent to engage in conversation with people I have to convince of my bodily autonomy, I can see now that it’s less privilege-blindness on your part and a more effective tactic than it has ever been here in the U.S.

  72. Brian Lynchehaun says

    invivomark:

    What other standard would we use to judge an ethical argument?

    Look, if you don’t know this, then fair enough.

    But declaring that I have to teach you several semesters of Philosophy just so that you won’t presuppose that an argument is based on “feelings”…?

    I’ll stop ridiculing you when you stop being ridiculous.

    Because I thought this was supposed to be a civil discussion.

    You seem to be confused as to what ‘a civil discussion’ entails. Calling a statement ridiculous is not incivil. http://freethoughtblogs.com/crommunist/2010/06/07/i-am-not-my-ideas/

    You have demanded an onerous amount of work from me, and yet you whinge ‘stop being a dick’ when I tell you that your demand is both unreasonable and unnecessary. Arguments are not created from first-principles everytime they are presented. You want to know my general positions?

    Fine.

    Start here: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/11224 (Mill, Utilitarianism)
    Then here: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/autonomy-moral/
    And then here: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/personal-autonomy/

    This would be the basis of my arguments. You could, of course, not read all of that. Which means that I would have been dedicating several hours/days of writing to no end, because your demand was insincere, and merely a means by which to dismiss my position.

    Surprise me: read all of that. Come back with informed questions.

    Or be known as a person who makes disingenuous demands.

    Your call.

  73. mythbri says

    ars5, abortion should be allowed on demand, for any reason, and not restricted to circumstances that involve saving a woman’s life, or in the cases of rape or incest.

    Women (and female-bodied persons who don’t identify as women) have the right to control their own fertility. Every child should be a wanted child – and even during wanted pregnancies (for example, in Savita’s case) things can go terribly, horribly wrong.

    The fundamental misunderstanding here is the perception that women get abortions for frivolous reasons, when that is absolutely not the case. And when women get elective abortions and have access to said abortions, the vast majority of them happen in the first trimester. Canada, for instance, has abortion services available on demand. Do you think that many women go in for an abortion at eight months, strictly on a whim? Why would anyone willingly endure that much pregnancy only to end it, if something were not seriously, catastrophically wrong?

    I’m a woman of child-bearing age. I take hormonal birth control and use condoms. But if, despite those precautions, I become pregnant, I will get an abortion. I have chosen to NOT have children. I have already denied potential fetuses my consent to gestate in my body – an abortion is the act of enforcing that denial. And that’s just from consensual sex. If I were to become pregnant as a result of rape, I definitely would not be carrying that pregnancy to term, either.

    No other human being has the right to compel me to provide them with the use of my body. Even if I were to grant the premise that a fetus can be considered a full human being (which I do not), it cannot compel me to provide it with that use, either.

  74. Brian Lynchehaun says

    Just for the sake of making my position crystal clear:

    I am in complete agreement with Mythbri’s comment here.

  75. says

    My intent with this piece is to provide this knock-down argument to the people here who are pro-choice and who wish to engage in discussion/debate/argument with the anti-choice folk.

    The first time I encountered Judith Jarvis Thompson’s argument was in college. The professor who presented it in class also thought it was a knock-down argument. He said it was knock-down because anyone who heard it would instinctively agree that that you have the right to disconnect yourself, even knowing the person would die as a result. Except, my instinct was the opposite. I instinctively felt that the other person’s life trumped my right to bodily autonomy, and I would be stuck for 9 months. That professor just said “well, I feel sorry for you” when I brought that up, and proceeded as if I had said nothing.

    But maybe you’ll have a better answer? Why can’t I be forced to be an organ donor when it’s for the purpose of saving another person’s life? Why does my right to control my own body trump someone else’s right to live? Because it’s not immediately obvious to me, and seems obvious it should be the other way around.

    I am pro-choice, but I base that more on the issue of personhood (not life), rather than strictly autonomy. So long as the fetus is not a person, then it has no rights that could conflict with the mother’s. Or if it does, they are not of such a level that they could trump the mother’s.

  76. says

    You’re right. I shouldn’t be trying to change the political situation at all, or provide arguments for those who want to engage in discussion or debate. I should just… Let the anti-choicers work on, unopposed.

    Congrats on having to invent words to stick in my mouth rather than respond to what I actually said.

    The self-deluded idiots you think you can convince are the ones who are most susceptible to shaming, anyway. Feel free to exercise your male privilege to try to talk to them, but do not chastise me or any other women for having no patience with your nit-picking about the motives people have for treating me as a subhuman.

  77. jb says

    Think that through Nathan…

    Mandatory organ/blood/bone marrow donation is now the law of the land. Every citizen will now be required, without their consent, to give up blood, organs etc to save lives.

    Tell us, how is that gonna work exactly? Do try to think of the ramifications of such a law…

  78. says

    Think that through Nathan…

    Mandatory organ/blood/bone marrow donation is now the law of the land. Every citizen will now be required, without their consent, to give up blood, organs etc to save lives.

    Tell us, how is that gonna work exactly? Do try to think of the ramifications of such a law…

    Was Brian making an ethical argument, or a legal argument? I’ve always understood it as an ethical one, but if that wasn’t the intent here, my mistake. I was responding under the impression that it was an ethical argument.

    If it is an ethical one, then I would point out that what’s ethical/unethical cannot always be legislated, nor should we try. As an example, I would argue that gendered insults are unethical, but I would not argue for legal restrictions on them.

    On the other hand, if you’re arguing with a pro-lifer who genuinely, truly believes that an embryo has all the moral rights as the woman who carries it, and they look at the argument in the original post and say “no, it’s not obvious that bodily autonomy trumps life, and you know what? we should require that people provide life-saving assistance if needed, even up to donating organs. not sure how to make it happen, but let’s try!” then frankly, I’m kind of stuck. I don’t know of any way to argue that bodily autonomy trumps another’s life. Do you?

  79. invivoMark says

    Oh, I am aware of the philosophy behind valuing autonomy. I am also aware of John Stuart Mill’s version of utilitarianism. I personally prefer Bentham’s version, but either one is better than any deontological philosophy. You won’t win any points with me by dropping references to shit I already know.

    And I will accept that Judith’s argument is definitive if we accept Mill’s utilitarianism.

    But here’s your problem. If we haven’t accepted Mill’s utilitarianism, then the argument isn’t as strong. Just like I said, the argument leaves it up to the reader to figure out how valuable personal autonomy is. This doesn’t make it a bad argument – I never said it was. I agree with the argument’s point, and I would gladly bring it up in a debate. But the argument is not perfect – no argument is perfect – and it isn’t the be-all, end-all argument you are naively pretending it to be. It certainly doesn’t make obsolete any and all other arguments about abortion, like you are pretending it does.

    In fact, multiple examples have been brought up that cast doubt on the definitiveness of the argument. In the US, the duty of care laws, and in Germany, the requirement to help someone if you are capable and it costs you nothing, prove that autonomy isn’t universally held as the paramount ethical value. That means that your argument is not flawless like you think it is, for the exact reason that I have been pointing out to you from the beginning.

    You’re right, calling a statement ridiculous isn’t uncivil. But leaving your post at that is. It means that you think there isn’t anything worth considering in anything I’ve written. You’ve been treating me like an idiot in this entire conversation, and in your most recent post, rather than correcting this behavior, you’ve doubled down on it. I have a very legitimate complaint about your argument, and you’ve been simply refusing to even acknowledge that it exists.

  80. Brian Lynchehaun says

    invivomark

    Oh, I am aware of the philosophy behind valuing autonomy. I am also aware of John Stuart Mill’s version of utilitarianism. I personally prefer Bentham’s version, but either one is better than any deontological philosophy. You won’t win any points with me by dropping references to shit I already know.

    You disingenously (feel free to insert ‘dishonestly’ or ‘ignorantly’ as you prefer) claimed that Thompson’s argument was based on feelings. You disingenuously claimed that unless I had to establish an ethical framework prior to making an argument.

    Because, as you would know as someone who is well read in Philosophy, establishing an ethical framework is basically a Philosopher’s magnum opus.

    So this pearl-clutching is occuring either out of dishonesty, or ignorance.

    But here’s your problem.

    Nope.

    If we haven’t accepted Mill’s utilitarianism, then the argument isn’t as strong.

    That word (“strong”) doesn’t mean what you seem to think it means.

    If a person hasn’t accepted Utilitarianism (or some version of consequentialism), then the argument hasn’t been placed in the appropriate context.

    The fact that someone denies that the earth is 14+ billion years old does not mean that Evolutionary Theory “isn’t as strong”, it means that the person listening is not placing the argument in the appropriate context.

    In the US, the duty of care laws, and in Germany, the requirement to help someone if you are capable and it costs you nothing, prove that autonomy isn’t universally held as the paramount ethical value.

    That word (“prove”) doesn’t mean what you seem to think it means.

    That certain countries place autonomy in greater tension with other values does not mean that Autonomy is not taken as a foundational value (I did not say “paramount”. You have learnt about the Strawman Fallacy at some point, I’m sure?).

    That means that your argument is not flawless like you think it is, for the exact reason that I have been pointing out to you from the beginning.

    Do you understand that the statements that you made at the beginning are still viewable? Right here: http://freethoughtblogs.com/crommunist/2012/11/15/because-abortion-needs-to-be-explained-apparently/#comment-96572

    Your opening claim:

    Our legal system is based, more or less, on the instinctive moral inclinations of lawmakers. It’s based on feelings.

    And the argument you cite is nothing more than an argument based on feelings.

    Are you just not paying attention to what you write? Or do you not understand how you have constantly moved the goalposts?

    It means that you think there isn’t anything worth considering in anything I’ve written.

    You continually change what you say, claim that that is what you ‘said before’, make ridiculous requests, and then act all hurt when called on it.

    There are several posters here who at least appear to be making honest efforts to have a discussion. You are not one of those. There isn’t anything worth considering in anything you’ve written to date. [Note for other posters: this is not a dig at you, this indicates the minimum level that invivomark has not even attempted to reach, imo]

    If you would like to take an honest shot at this, rather than stringing together sentences that don’t support one another and claiming to make an argument, I’m all ears (or eyes).

    I have a very legitimate complaint about your argument, and you’ve been simply refusing to even acknowledge that it exists.

    Your counter is that if we reject the notion of Autonomy, then the argument falls apart.

    That’s nice. Modern societies reject the notion of autonomy in super-specific and extremely narrow circumstances. The onus is on you to:

    1. Explain what the justification for those circumstances are, in the given society;
    2. Explain how those justifications apply to abortion generally, or in specific cases;
    3. Provide a compelling argument to accept those explanations.

    Just pontificating that “Society X doesn’t prioritise Autonomy in super-specific situation Y” does not invalidate Thompson’s argument. That’s just ponitification, and when coupled with ridiculous demands will be dismissed as ravings.

  81. says

    By Irish standards, yes there are quite a few nuts (or, at least, horrible people) in the Dail.

    Yes, they’re all so decent that virtually none of them supports a woman’s right to choose.
    We are discussing this in the wake of a death of a woman. Those “not horrible” people in the Dail have refused to legislate for X for 20 years, something that would have been able to save her life. They are not even discussing rape exceptions. These people are just as horrible as Mourdock and his ilk.
    But you can see them as not horrible because being forced to carry a pregnancy to term is something that will never ever happen to you.
    That’s why Sally told you to STFU.
    So stop doubling down and listen

  82. Brian Lynchehaun says

    Mythbri:

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but what I’m seeing from the discussion about Savita’s death and the way Irish law is structured, Ireland has a problem similar to the U.S. in that while it pretends to have a separation of Church and State, the reality does not reflect that. From the writing of other commenters I’ve gathered that the law-makers bow to pressure from the Church that comes in the form of threats of excommunication and social ruin, not to mention the implied threat of Hell for acting against the Church’s stance on abortion.

    I do not agree with this characterisation. I realise that I’m probably coming across as a picky asshole, but please just bear with me for a moment.

    Within the current generation, the power of the church has almost vanished. If the priest threatens folk, folk laugh. The only power the priest ever had was social in nature (parent: ‘the priest banned you from communion?!? The shame of it! Get over there RIGHT NOW and apologise!’), and that vanished as Ireland’s economy improved.

    That whole ‘threatening with hell’ thing was, frankly, primarily a Protestant thing (i.e. common (to the best of my TV-based knowledge) in the US, not so common in the rest of the Christian world, depending on the flavour of Catholic church you went to).

    20-30 years ago, the closing of the Vatican Embassy would have been unthinkable. Not even on the radar as a possible choice. Yet it happened last year: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/nov/04/ireland-closure-vatican-embassy-catholic

    The church, over the last 30-40 years has lost the bulk of it’s swing in Ireland (even when I was a child in the early 80′s, it wasn’t that big a deal).

    The issue is primarily that these laws stem from that time, before the loss, so they were strongly influenced. No-one wanted to be seen to go against the local priest, so when a public discussion with the local TD happened, enough people made sure that everyone saw them toe the line to convince the TDs that their re-election hinged on creating this referendum, and then the masses (no pun intended) voted accordingly.

    So the law, as it stands, should provide for an exception to save the lives of women, but the legislature has been too cowardly to enact laws specifically stating legal protection for that exception (although I don’t believe that legal concerns were the primary reason that Savita’s doctors let her die in agony).

    Actually, the outrage in Ireland is because that the law does explicitly say that the life of the mother is paramount. That is enshrined in law.

    I have zero explanation as to why the abortion was not performed. Given my understanding of Irish law (I am not a soliciter), this whole talk about ‘but it has a heartbeat’ is bullshit: the woman’s life was in danger = abortion. The end. People are confused, and angry, and heartbroken, and afraid.

    From my perspective about how the conversation about abortion is discussed in the U.S., conversation with the “pro-life” movement results ONLY in accommodations, and the slow but sure chipping away at my right to self-determination and right to choose when/if I have children – the “debate” during this last election season even ranged across access to contraception, which to me was mind-boggling.

    I completely understand, and agree.

    I would certainly never argue that people in the US or Canada ‘have to’ enter into discussion with the anti-choicers here.

    The conversation hasn’t really happened in Ireland, over the last 40 years, however, because it was considered a done deal. The X Case (and another one recently, about a girl who was at no risk, no threat of suicide, but pregnant with a Anencephaly (through, of course, incestuous rape. For fuck’s sake.)) were considered marginal redefinitions, slight broadenings of the law, and they all had to go to the Supreme Court (I think, I’m not checking this right now).

    So the flavour, the tone, of the conversation is very different in Ireland to North America. Context matters.

    Specifically, rather than starting with abortion access affirmed by the right to privacy, and having that access slowly rolled back, in Ireland they’re starting with almost no abortion access and are attempting to roll it forward.

    Exactly.

    It seems obvious to me now, but it required a shift in perspective – so thanks for that.

    I’m glad that we’re not talking past one another now. :)

    So, while I’m still reticent to engage in conversation with people I have to convince of my bodily autonomy, I can see now that it’s less privilege-blindness on your part and a more effective tactic than it has ever been here in the U.S.

    I appreciate the acknowledgement. :)

  83. invivoMark says

    I have been honest and forthright with you from the very start, and if I appear to have changed my position, then I accept that I may have used imprecise language. I’m only human. But don’t you dare accuse me of dishonesty.

    If a person hasn’t accepted Utilitarianism (or some version of consequentialism), then the argument hasn’t been placed in the appropriate context.
    The fact that someone denies that the earth is 14+ billion years old does not mean that Evolutionary Theory “isn’t as strong”, it means that the person listening is not placing the argument in the appropriate context.

    You must realize that this is a ridiculously invalid comparison. I refuse to believe you’re that dumb. One is very obviously a factual dispute, where there is exactly one right answer, and all other answers are wrong – the other is a matter of ethics, and no philosopher I know would claim that they have the only valid ethical framework.

    So I guess that the “appropriate context” for your argument is the context where the other person will already agree that a woman’s autonomy is more important than another person’s life. For the record, Bentham’s utilitarianism would not agree with your position in every case. I guess that’s just not an “appropriate context” to be making your argument.

    There are several posters here who at least appear to be making honest efforts to have a discussion. You are not one of those. There isn’t anything worth considering in anything you’ve written to date. [Note for other posters: this is not a dig at you, this indicates the minimum level that invivomark has not even attempted to reach, imo]

    Even the suggestion that your argument might not be a perfect argument? That isn’t even worth considering? Are you pathologically incapable of accepting that there can be any flaw in your thinking or writing?

    And like hell that isn’t a dig at me. I’ve been honestly trying my best to get through to you on this, and if you say that nothing I’ve written is even worth a momentary thought, that sure as hell is massively insulting. You don’t get to magically wave away your douchiness by saying it isn’t douchiness. What if I said that nothing you had written in your blog post was worth considering? Wouldn’t you find that insulting? Lucky for you, I don’t say that, because I’m not dishonest and I am capable of considering the thoughts of others.

    Modern societies reject the notion of autonomy in super-specific and extremely narrow circumstances. The onus is on you to:
    1. Explain what the justification for those circumstances are, in the given society;
    2. Explain how those justifications apply to abortion generally, or in specific cases;
    3. Provide a compelling argument to accept those explanations.
    Just pontificating that “Society X doesn’t prioritise Autonomy in super-specific situation Y” does not invalidate Thompson’s argument.

    First of all, I never said that Thompson’s argument is invalid. I put extra emphasis on that statement – bold and italics – because you apparently missed it the first time I said it. It is a good argument – this I have never contested. But what it is not is an argument that will convince everyone.

    You’ve actually set me up nicely to demonstrate that. Let’s take the comparison with Germany’s laws that force action to save a person’s life if you are capable of it.

    1. These laws are in place so that people’s lives will be saved.
    2. You yourself advocate abstaining from the personhood argument in the abortion debate. So carrying a pregnancy to term will be saving a person’s life, by your own implied admission.
    3. A fetus will die if a woman gets an abortion. It will not if she carries it to term. By carrying the fetus to term, she is saving a person’s life. Therefore, she ought to be legally required to do so.

    Note that I am not in agreement with what I wrote under point 3. I don’t agree that fetuses are people, and even if I did, I’m a utilitarian and the argument doesn’t sway me. You might also object that carrying a fetus to term is far from a trivial task, so it doesn’t come at minimal cost to the life-saver. But this is a difference of degree, not a qualitative difference. My point is that it is ethically valid to reject your argument in a reasonable system that doesn’t hold autonomy as a fundamental right.

    I’ve got my fingers crossed that you’ll take anything I’ve written here seriously, and refrain from making condescending remarks, but frankly, I’m rapidly losing hope on that front.

  84. says

    Also, I’m sick and tired about the philosophical wankery about my status as a human being and my bodily autonomy.
    It must be the 465129809th time I’ve heard that, dicussing it above my head, reducing me to thought experiments, acting as if anybody except myself could actually judge the situation.
    Hey guys
    Thanks for all the time you spent on this, but really, it’s not appreciated.
    If you want to actually know what women think about their bodies, just listen to us, we’re over here.

  85. Brian Lynchehaun says

    Also, I’m sick and tired about the philosophical wankery about my status as a human being and my bodily autonomy.

    There has been zero “philosophical wankery” about your status as a human being.

    No-one has even raised that as a question. If someone were to raise that under the mistaken belief that it was disputable, I would deal with it as soon as I noticed it.

    You’re not interested in the rest of the conversation? You don’t care that in Ireland this conversation is inescapable? You don’t care that until the Constitution is changed (requiring a majority vote out of the whole damn electorate), no changes to the law regarding abortion can be made?

    That’s fine. No one is requiring you to be involved in those conversations, or this one.

    If you want to actually know what women think about their bodies, just listen to us, we’re over here.

    I have. At length. And that’s why I’m offering this argument to those who are interested in order to try and change things for the better in Ireland.

    Again: you’re not interested? Fine.

    But you don’t appreciate it? It’s clear that others do. You don’t get to shut the conversation down, you don’t get to dismiss a conversation merely because you are not interested.

    If this conversation is not had, by the Irish electorate: then nothing changes. Your call as to whether that is your preferred option or not.

  86. says

    Remember the first rule of holes?
    Oh yes, there has been a considerable amount of philosophical wankery here. About contracts, social punishment for breaching them, the ethics of providing help and so on which all reduce me as a human being to a though experiment.
    All the testing whether it would be moral or ethical to do so in situation X, Y or Z all start with the very premise that there could be a scenario in which it’s OK to deny my bodily autonomy, that there can be a reasonable debate about that.
    And don’t you dare accusing me of not caring, because it pretty much shows that you haven’t read a single word or understood what the women here are telling you.
    And as for “changing the minds of the Irish people”: This is probably one of the least effective places for doing so. Maybe writing it on the walls of a cave that can only be accessed with diving equipment might be a bit less effective. You’re writing in FtB here , where you might get your occasional pro-life troll but they sure aren’t interested in your nice explenations.
    Go out, change the opinions of the Irish, but don’t expect cookies from us whose lives are actually at stake because you explain thigs nicely to an audience that actually already agrees with you.

  87. says

    There has been zero “philosophical wankery” about your status as a human being.

    No-one has even raised that as a question.

    Wait wait wait… I could have SWORN that this was a conversation about why abortion is okay. Presumably that means that there are interlocutors who believe that abortion is not okay in certain circumstances.

    It logically follows then that whether women are full human beings–that is, autonomous adults who can make their own medical decisions without interference from the state or the church–is indeed up for discussion here.

    Granted, most people in the discussion fall on the “women are autonomous adults” side of things, but the fact that we are even having this discussion shows that there are those who don’t quite believe that, not 100%.

  88. Brian Lynchehaun says

    I have been honest and forthright with you from the very start, and if I appear to have changed my position, then I accept that I may have used imprecise language.

    If you can’t even acknowledge the huge shift in your arguments, then we have nothing to discuss.

    Go copy all your posts (each of them) into a word document.

    Pretend they were written by someone else. Take a look at each one in turn, and try to envision some sort of relationship between them.

    If it looks, to you, that they are clearly related: then we have nothing more to discuss. We don’t even have grounds for communication, and we are both going to end up extremely frustrated by the effort.

    I leave it to you to decide whether you “used imprecise language” or ‘radically shifted your position in a sequence of multiple instances of the Fallacy of Moving the Goalposts’. If the former, then you don’t need to reply.

    There are zero (intentionally) condescending remarks in this passage, and I’m taking you seriously. I’d appreciate the same.

  89. Brian Lynchehaun says

    the fact that we are even having this discussion shows that there are those who don’t quite believe that, not 100%.

    There are some Irish voters who do not. I do not know what percentage they make up.

    Even in Canada, in a nation that is as liberal as Ireland is restrictive, only 60% are in favour of unrestriced abortions (http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2012/11/15/matt-gurney-as-debate-heats-up-canadian-support-for-unrestricted-abortions-skyrockets/)

    The people who are involved in the general conversation are not necessarily the people who are posting.

    I am an Irish citizen. I have a vote. I know other Irish citizens. I know people who will need to be having this conversation, with their friends, and families and their friends and families. And they have all been sent this line of reasoning.

    This may be a conversation that people in North America are tired of having, but it’s a conversation that has been ignored and sidelined for 35+ years in Ireland (pretty much since the last referendum on this topic). North American’s are tired of talking about it, so those of us who are not North American, for them whose country that this is a live issue for need to shut up about it?

    Whose privilege are we talking about now, exactly? Or is it only ever mine?

    So I’ve sent this on to people. I’ll be making phone calls about it. I’ll be emailing people about it. And when the Irish Government is finally pressured into providing a referendum on it, I’ll be voting on it.

    And having the gall to tell me to “shut the fuck up”, when it’s my sisters and cousins and aunts who will be negatively affected by my silence?

    Whose privilege are we talking about now?

    You don’t want to talk about it? Fine: don’t.

    I have to.

    But hey, feel free to vilify me for not standing by in silence.

  90. says

    To clarify: nobody here wants you to shut up. That’s an egregious strawman and you should be fucking ashamed for throwing that out there. Yes, I am shaming you for so blatantly abusing that painfully obvious fallacy.

    What I would like is for you to be less wrong. If you say, “let’s talk about abortion and its legality,” and then insist that nobody is putting the basic humanity of women up for discussion, then you’re wrong, full stop. As Savita’s story demonstrates so heartbreakingly.

  91. Brian Lynchehaun says

    To clarify: nobody here wants you to shut up. That’s an egregious strawman and you should be fucking ashamed for throwing that out there. Yes, I am shaming you for so blatantly abusing that painfully obvious fallacy.

    Your first comment on this post started with

    “SHUT THE FUCK UP.”

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/crommunist/2012/11/15/because-abortion-needs-to-be-explained-apparently/#comment-96759

    If that was aimed at someone else, you sure as hell didn’t indicate that.

  92. Jonathan says

    Hi,

    Just want to add my two cents here. First of all as an Irish citizen living and working in Ireland I think Brian’s analysis is spot on for this whole situation. He has been fair and accurate about the reasons behind this debacle. I just want to add a few points.

    1. This is not a religious issue. It is not because Ireland is a catholic country that this tragedy happened. It is simply because of political inaction and the storm that this will kick up. The groundworks for legislation is there and it has been thrown around or ignored for the past 20 years. Remember that during this period we had the please all rock nothing Fianna Fail government who brought in benchmarking, housing crisis and welfare increases for all. They were never going to legislate on something so devisive in this country. There whole raison d’etre was not to rock the boat.
    2. At this point let me just say I’m not a practising Catholic, I put down no religion on the last census so I have no real axe to grind on either side. I’m just ambivalent to it all but the church has no power in this country anymore. My job involves me dealing with the church regularly and falling attendances throughout the country are leading to some shocking situations for the Catholic hierarchy in Ireland. some districts in Dublin record only a 5% weekly attendance to church where before that used to be 60-70% in the 80′s. This is higher in rural areas but I believe the reason for this is more of a social one than in urban areas. My point here is to explain that religion while a factor is not the factor for this case.
    3. Just an aside and for womens right to choose in Ireland, I believe the wind is changing and gradually this will improve. the current cabinet has a number of atheists in it and is non secular generally. Also statistics show that Ireland is the ninth best country in the world to live in regarding womens rights and opportunity for success. If we could just sort out this prochoice situation we’d be threatening the scandinavian countries.
    4. Just a couple of little pointers about the hospital that this situation occured. Dr Tom Monaghan has been working there for the past 27 years where they deliver on average 2200 children a year and this is the first time they have lost somebody to a situation like this. Absolutely tragic and it is certainly one person to many but I think it’s important to show exactly how rare a situation it is like this.
    5. Finally, reading the language that is in the above comments, such as “slut-shaming” and “rape is a gift” was shocking to me. This has never been a feature of Irish abortion discourse on either side. I think that as obscene as it is to not have the laws updated and freedom of choice to have been delivered I’m glad that the argument here hasnt descended into this nonsence.

    Brian keep on fighting the good fight, there are a few of us here doing it from our side. I was at the dail on wednesday night with a couple of my colleagues and it was great to be at a dignified protest. Too often these types of protests are ruined by extremists on either side but the controlled anger sent a very clear message. All four of my representatives from the dail have already communicated back to me on the situation so I believe you will see things going in the right direction

  93. says

    Ah yes, that.

    What I meant by that was this:

    Do not chastise me or any other women for having no patience with your nit-picking about the motives people have for treating me as a subhuman.

    Which I notice you did not respond to.

    Also, your accusations of Gilliel wanting you to shut up are entirely unfounded.

    I appreciate that you’re trying to fight the good fight but for fuck’s sake please stop playing the martyr. Encountering a few women who are pissed off that we’re still second-class citizens does not a victim make.

  94. Brian Lynchehaun says

    No, I did not respond to any other comments that basically came across as trolling.

    Weirdly, I couldn’t read your mind regarding your intent with “SHUT THE FUCK UP”. But hey, that’s all on me, right?

    So given that you’re not actually interested in a discussion here, I’m going to go back to not-responding to you.

  95. says

    This is not a religious issue. It is not because Ireland is a catholic country that this tragedy happened. It is simply because of political inaction and the storm that this will kick up.

    Which has, of course, zero to do with the standing, doings, teaching and influence of the catholic church and its propaganda machine. Duly noted.
    Must have been a different Ireland that I lived in.

    Finally, reading the language that is in the above comments, such as “slut-shaming” and “rape is a gift” was shocking to me. This has never been a feature of Irish abortion discourse on either side.

    No, surely, that’s why Ireland has such ample exceptions for the victims of rape.
    That’s why nobody has ever claimed that all children are gifts from god, that abortion is murder and that if women don’t want to become pregnant they shouldn’t have sex.
    Oh, wait, that’s not true. So it has been a feature of the Irish abortion discourse all the time…

  96. says

    Well, Brian, let me see
    At this moment there are 105 comments to your post in 18 discussions (personal hate for nested comments momentarily suspended)
    The discussion in #1 quickly evolves into you chastizing people in a Stedmanesque way for not differenciating enough between different types of pro-lifers and claiming that sure some of them see women as human being and the philosophical dilemma they have because they see fetuses as full human beings, too.
    You yourself changed the focus from abortion and the needs of women to the fee-fees of prolifers.

    #2 is pretty non-controversial, no further discussion, so is #3

    #4 is intellectual wankery about the duty to help people yadda yadda. In this very lengthy exchange pregnant women and their needs feature exactly once, and I give you credit for being the one who brought them up. Once, in 25 comments (one of which is by me, I admit)
    So, roughly 25% of this thread are about some philosophical stance or legal mumbo-jumbo about whether women kind of do have bodily autonomy or not, trying to find a loophole.
    I’m not saying that you’re the one looking for them, I’m saying that I’m fed up with one kind of guys constantly trying to find that justification that would allow them to treat me like a broodmare and another kind of guys being technically correct but treating it like an interesting ethical and philosophical discussion instead of saying “you’re talking about women as human beings whose lives have a value.”

    #5 Snarky, spot on, no discussion
    #6 Same, less snarky, focussing on the bodily autonomy
    #7 Mine, about the real world reality of pregnancy, and the focus on the woman. Probably too icky (and I even left out all the good parts about shitting yourself..)
    People are trying to show you your blind spot. Kind of ignored by you
    #8 Short discussion about the analogy of organ donation and the inconsistency of the pro life stance
    #9 Again, somebody trying to open your eyes about your weak point and privilege. You get again very flustered by the idea of shaming people for the fact that they want to treat women as life-stock As if that wasn’t something people should be deeply ashamed of.
    And you get mightily offended by people from the marginalized group we’re talking about who tell you that the fact that you’re not going to die from a sepis after a miscarriage might make it easier for you to have those discussions going into a long rant of opression-olympics because Irish used to be a marginalized group, too, making this discussion all about you, you, you, erasing women and their needs.
    #10 Again, relatively uncontroversial
    #11 Short discussion about bodily autonomy
    #12 Mostly philosophical wankery again, about contracts and ethics. Again, to your credit, you try to keep abortion somewhere in the picture, but not that much.
    #13 Yes, shaming is acceptable
    #14 Sally reacting to what I’m now going to call a “temper tantrum” by you above, where you accuse us of wanting to stop you from changing things
    #15 You doing the same with me
    #16 Sally pointing out that there is indeed philosophical wankery in this thread
    #17 More or less the same. It ends with you playing “beleidigte Leberwurst”, i.e. sulking about how Sally doesn’t want to play nice with you by your rules
    #18 Another guy telling us that this has nothing to do with religion

    PS If I were you I’d stop making generalized assumptions about who the people you’re talking to are and where they come from. It makes you look not that intelligent when most of the other people in the discussion know that you’re actually wrong and have just judged somebody’s content based on your perception of their origin

  97. Pen says

    A lot of the debate above makes me want to refer a lot of people to Stephanie Zvan’s article on the current possibilities for helping gays in Uganda. We’re talking about how to change abortion laws and practices in IRELAND. Irish laws, Irish beliefs, everything Irish. What American Evangelicals think, what the GOP said or wanted to do during the recent election is strictly not relevant. Let Irish people tell you what is going on, what the various opposing sides in Ireland are thinking and how you might help. Please?

    (my apologies to anyone not directly concerned by the above)

  98. Pen says

    Sheesh.. I would like to politely ask Brian what he considers to be the main obstacle to change in Ireland at the current time.

  99. briane says

    Brian, I agree with your post.
    I feel a bit wrong asking this, as given the topic of post is so important, my asking is probably diminishing it. I’m not setting up a gotcha, just asking a philosopher something that other philosophers have told me is unsolvable.
    In some of the replies to questions you’ve mentioned a utilitarian moral philosophy, now my understanding of utilitarianism is that it aims at fostering the greatest happiness. Now the greatest happiness (or good however construed) could be achieved by condemning women to die horrible deaths in childbirth or the situation we’re talking about now if it empirically made the rest of that society more happy. Or as presented in ‘The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas’ that we could torture cruelly, but knowingly innocent children if it were for the greater good.
    How do you, if you need to given I may have totally misunderstood your point of view, reply to this? Even if you don’t hold these positions, what’s your point of view?

  100. FurryFingers says

    I read Judith’s 1971 paper in an ethics textbook only a year ago and it really changed my outlook too.
    I felt so much wiser after reading it.
    I didn’t think you’re summary of it was as compelling as it could have been but I shouldn’t make too much of it.
    I got stuck reading almost every comment here and I must give some support to you, Brian, without really justifying it.. I agree with everything you’ve said in every comment.
    Whatever “attitude” you’ve given was always entirely justified, to my mind.
    Can i just say, I wanted to study philosophy recently, but every time I read something that is obviously from someone who has studied philosophy (eg the random-internet-guy above – sorry, cant scroll to check his name now) I come to realize how i don’t want to be a self righteous dickwad like that. Many philosophy students/experts seem to start by snarling about how little their opponent knows about ethics/philosophy.

  101. dustinarand says

    But if autonomy is the only value at issue here, then she owes no duty whatsoever to the fetus. The fetus has no rights unless and until it is born. Or are you saying that under some circumstances it does? If so, what are those circumstances?

  102. dustinarand says

    Brian
    Moral or ethical systems are cognitive artifacts. They are based on how our brains work, and how our brains work has been determined by evolution. That means two things: (1) there is no absolute moral truth, since all morality is contingent on the evolutionary process; and (2) at the bottom of our moral reasoning are basic instincts and the emotions by which those instincts accomplish the generation of adaptive behavior in various circumstances.
    Now the modern world has a lot that is different from the world where our moral instincts evolved, and we should not be surprised if we encounter objects or fact patterns that do not map perfectly onto our moral templates. When they do not, we reason by analogy with closer cases, but since analogies can be more or less elastic, reasonable people can come to different conclusions depending on their different life experiences. In such cases we may not be able to marshall an airtight argument for one side or the other because all sides will be able to point to some deep moral value and argue for why this novel fact pattern is an instance of more familiar fact patterns. In such situations we can only hope to persuade by showing that the other side is being inconsistent, or that their conclusion, if applied to other analogous cases, would yield consequences that even they concede are undesirable.
    If there is still disagreement on this issue, after all these years, it’s probably because neither philosophical inquiry nor practical experience have lessened the intuitive appeal of the views of one side or the other.

  103. johnradke says

    NathanDST -

    See Stacy’s post at #10. The issue at hand is whether anybody has the right to force you to lose your bodily autonomy in favor of another’s life, not whether it’s ethical for you personally to choose to do so.

  104. says

    The Canadian situation is in fact the exact opposite. We have “good Samaritan” laws wherein one is required to come to a person’s aid where reasonably possible. Further, Canadians are protected against lawsuits for harm produced by inept rescue attempts by unqualified rescuers.

    But here, quite by accident, we have no abortion laws, which according to today’s Post, is exactly how 60% of Canadians certainly believe it should be.

  105. invivoMark says

    If you’re going to accuse me of a fallacy, you could at least do the courtesy of pointing out where it is.

  106. jb says

    John, he seems to think that forcing someone is ok, its a life after all!

    “Why can’t I be forced to be an organ donor when it’s for the purpose of saving another person’s life? “

  107. Toggi3 says

    Very interesting argument. Not a lot of people think of the issue on these terms.

    However, there is another way to look at it. You are not obligated really to feed someone and provide them a place to live, yet if you do this with a child, particularly your child it is abuse/neglect/murder if it results in death. And the dialysis argument while interesting, there’s never a case where this happens exactly like this except for pregnancy. Further, an infant is just *born* and cant make any of its own choices, where someone on dialysis can seek new donors, choose alternative treatments, has already lived in the real world to some extent.

    Just some thoughts to ponder on.

  108. jb says

    Well, that’s all they have been doing.

    “women shut up, noone wants to hear your emotional claptrap, please stay on topic, how do we FIX Ireland you silly females’

    Yeah, that is the impression I am getting.

  109. arkady says

    When any article on a subject like this has to begin with a disclaimer (the author acknowledging his own “privilege”) then communication has gotten *harder* not better.

    This is not an improvement over the problem the disclaimer is intended to address.

  110. says

    No, I’m saying taht once you decide to go through with a pregnancy, there will be another person (in most cases) on whom your decisions have consequences and when making those decisions you should take those consequences into account.
    But I trust women to make the right decissions if they’re given accurate information because, believe it or not, when we decide to have children, we actually don’t aim for sick and stupid, but healthy and bright.
    I acknowledge the very real possibility that some women make stupid decissions. I also acknowledge that I’m not every woman and therefore can’t always say what the individual factors in making a decission are. And whatever decissions they make, yes, their bodily autonomy trumps concerns for the person to be.
    This is something different from abortion. With an abortion, there’s only one person concerned, the pregnant woman. With a pregnancy carried to term there are going to be two people.

  111. says

    Three letters for you: CPS
    Or whatever your local equivalent is. Yes, by being a parent, which I consider to be a privilege, I have certain responsibilities. But they don’t include that I compromise my bodily autonomy.
    If I wouldn’t allow my child to touch me under any circumstances that might be cruel, but not illegal.
    And should I decide that I can’t shoulder the responsibility anymore I can go to CPS and tell them “look, this isn’t working anymore, you need to find a solution for that child”. Nothing I can exactly do with a fetus

  112. Brian Lynchehaun says

    invivomark:

    If you’re going to accuse me of a fallacy, you could at least do the courtesy of pointing out where it is.

    I did. Already. But since we’re pretending I didn’t, I’ll briefly outline it again.

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/crommunist/2012/11/15/because-abortion-needs-to-be-explained-apparently/#comment-96572

    In this post, you started off by completely missing the boat and talking about the legalities (of which country, you never specified) of forcing someone to help, and telling me that the ethics weren’t the point (when the original post was only about Ethics). You also claimed that Thompson’s argument was “nothing more than an argument based on feelings”.

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/crommunist/2012/11/15/because-abortion-needs-to-be-explained-apparently/#comment-96605

    Your next post argued that “the point of referencing a legal system is not to make a comment on ethics”. Fallacy of Irrelevance. (There is no ‘fallacy of stating the obvious’, so when you do so, you need to explain how your statement of the obvious is relevant)

    In this same post, you introduced a new requirement for people making ethical arguments, that they must “first establish an ethical framework from which to judge actions or laws”. You started Moving the Goalposts here.

    Finally, you claimed that since people (in general) base their morality on their feelings, then Thompson’s argument “is based on feelings, not ethics”. This is not a fallacy, but it’s an invalid argument: how people (in general) do something tells us nothing about how this specific person’s argument works. They are completely unrelated.

    I am not going to do a blow-by-blow for all your other posts.

    Jumping to: http://freethoughtblogs.com/crommunist/2012/11/15/because-abortion-needs-to-be-explained-apparently/#comment-96883

    So in response to a demand for an Ethical Framework, I provided you with some links to Utilitarianism and Autonomy. You rejected them: ” You won’t win any points with me by dropping references to shit I already know.” This is moving the goalposts: you did not specify that you wanted a completely unique Ethical Framework to work with.

    Here, also, we moved from your original claim ‘if people base their morality on feelings, then Thompson’s argument is based on feelings’, to “If we haven’t accepted Mill’s utilitarianism, then the argument isn’t as strong”. You have completely changed the argument you were making. Yet more Moving the Goalposts.

    I already gave you explicit instructions as to how you could figure this out for yourself, but no: you’ve required that I do the work for you. No further one-sided requests will be entertained.

  113. mynameischeese says

    1. I live in rural Ireland and this is absolutely a religious issue. And the catholic church, even if it is in its death throes (fingers crossed) still has an unhealthy amount of power.

  114. Brian Lynchehaun says

    Thanks Pen. I agree with your general sentiment, though I think Ireland is not the tinderbox that Uganda appears to be.

  115. Brian Lynchehaun says

    Pen:

    I think the biggest obstacle at this point is a lack of informed conversation. Followed by the pro-choice folk asking for too little.

    A national conversation has not been had in Ireland for a long time. The topic (nevermind the people) is stigmatised. Shame has long been a motivating factor in Ireland, and shame has been well-used to shut down conversation. This shame needs to be dispelled, and really the only way to do that is to get people talking about abortion.

    But it has to be *informed* conversation. The language that most Irish have at their disposal is going to be religously-based language. If they start talking about the morality of Abortion, they will have to fall back on Catholic morality. And sure, there are ways to re-re-reinterpret Catholic morality to allow for abortion, but most Irish are not going to be comfortable with the theological gymnastics necessary for that, so they’ll be uncertain and anxious regarding criticism.

    Bodily autonomy has never been part of the mainstream conversation. When I left Ireland, tattoos were still considered a sign of poor upbringing (with certain subcultures (heavy metal fans as only one example) seeing them as positive. Earrings were a clear sign that a man is gay (again, certain subcultures notwithstanding). This was in 2006.

    Generally speaking, passive-aggression is how the Irish deal with situations. (A: “ah, well, you WOULD think that wouldn’t you?”, B: “what’s wrong with that?”, A: “Did I say there was something wrong? Well? DID I? The cheek o’ you, accusin’ me!”)

    That mode of interaction is, I feel, the biggest obstacle. The church has no direct power, whatsoever. The church’s power is social, by shaming people into avoiding these conversations, and by causing people to shut down conversations that they happen across (because they feel ashamed/embarrassed to even be near a conversation like that). A Jonathan (http://freethoughtblogs.com/crommunist/2012/11/15/because-abortion-needs-to-be-explained-apparently/#comment-97010) mentioned above (disclosure: he’s been a friend of mine since Primary (Elementary) school), the church has lost significant influence all over the country. I don’t doubt that it still has pull in the rural areas (as both Jonathan and mynameischeese mentioned), but in terms of votes and political pressure that can be brought to bear (and I’m not speaking about the poison the church introduces into the everyday lives in small parishes): the church is meaningless.

    The only way the church can influence the vote is by convincing the politicians that they will lose their re-election if they push too hard. I’m concerned that that could occur, hence my call for people to contact their local TD, and make it clear what the people actually want.

  116. mynameischeese says

    Ok, so rational, reasoned, non-threatening conversation is one idea. I can see how that worked in regards to the church child abuse scandals, The Late Late, etc.

    However, I was kind of wondering why there isn’t an Irish version of Femen out chopping down crosses or crashing churches? Why aren’t women pissed off enough to fight back against the war on women? Thinking back on Irish history, it seems that this apathetic, sheep mentality where nobody dares stick their neck out goes way back, even when it comes to national autonomy. Most people were too apathetic to care about Independence until the 1916 rising forced the issue (priests even damned the rebels in Sunday services, then changed tack when the church decided to capitalise on independence).

    I’m kind of wondering if the best tactic for the pro-choice crowd would be to get really agressive, Pussy Riot style, and keep going at the church until people decide that taking an anti-choice stance would be sticking their necks out. There really is a genuine fear of having an opinion contrary to the status quo here, unless someone stronger/louder/more confident can be seen to hold the same opinion.

    I’m still getting anti-choice leaflets through my door here. A leaflet about how the church broke women’s hips and denied access to birth control might be an idea.

    Any thoughts?

  117. invivoMark says

    In this post, you started off by completely missing the boat and talking about the legalities (of which country, you never specified) of forcing someone to help

    If this is completely missing the boat, then so is every other post that brought up the legality of forcing someone to help. You haven’t criticized those other posts; in fact, you praised the one where the German laws were brought up.

    However, this is a relevant point. Your argument relies on the reader assuming that autonomy is a fundamental right that should take precedence over someone else’s life – this is a point you have never refuted – and therefore, if it is unreasonable to assume that autonomy will always be valued over someone’s life, then the argument does not automatically win. Do you disagree with this? If so, you have never stated so.

    Bringing up the fact that laws exist (country does not matter) that compel one to action to save someone else’s life demonstrates that autonomy is not always considered more important than someone’s life. Do you disagree with this? If so, you have never stated so.

    and telling me that the ethics weren’t the point (when the original post was only about Ethics).

    Your original post was about ethics. This I clarified (“The issue of abortion and forcing people to act a certain way certainly is a question of ethics, but the “our laws already say such and such” argument is not.”). The fact that laws exist that compel one to action says nothing about the ethics of those laws. But we can use that fact to make inferences as to how some people compare values. This is what I did later in that post.

    You also claimed that Thompson’s argument was “nothing more than an argument based on feelings”.

    Of course, if your argument is framed within certain ethical frameworks, such as Mill’s version of utilitarianism, then your argument probably wins handily every time. This I have never disagreed with. But since we’re talking about an argument that should be considered far more important than the personhood argument, I assumed that it would be used with people who are not familiar with specific moral philosophies, and would not automatically agree with your particular version of it. But if you haven’t agreed on an ethical framework, then what standard do we use to weigh the value of individual autonomy against a person’s life?

    You want your reader to agree that autonomy is a fundamental right, and that it will always outweigh a person’s right to life. And I do honestly think that in most cases, most people would agree. But they don’t agree because it is logically correct to do so. And they don’t agree because they have thoroughly considered competing ethical frameworks and consider yours to be the best. They agree because, instinctively, they just feel like their autonomy is more important than another person’s life. Their agreement will be based on feelings. This is what I have argued in every single post in this thread, and I have never shifted my position on this point.

    Your next post argued that “the point of referencing a legal system is not to make a comment on ethics”. Fallacy of Irrelevance. (There is no ‘fallacy of stating the obvious’, so when you do so, you need to explain how your statement of the obvious is relevant)

    I have already addressed this. I addressed this in the post you quote, but apparently I was not clear enough, and you assumed that I was being dishonest.

    In this same post, you introduced a new requirement for people making ethical arguments, that they must “first establish an ethical framework from which to judge actions or laws”. You started Moving the Goalposts here.

    My initial objection to the argument is that it was based on feelings. Your counter to this was that I was equating feelings with ethics. To me, this implies that you think your argument is based on ethics. But how do we evaluate arguments of ethics without a working ethical framework? If you know of a way, I’m all ears. But until I find another way to evaluate ethical arguments, then the requirement to first establish an ethical framework was there from the beginning. Those goalposts were always there, even if you chose to pretend they weren’t.

    Finally, you claimed that since people (in general) base their morality on their feelings, then Thompson’s argument “is based on feelings, not ethics”.

    You misrepresent my argument. I said that if someone agrees with the argument, they will do so because of their feelings. If the argument is based on an ethical framework that the reader doesn’t already understand and agree with, then that is irrelevant to whether the argument will be convincing. And isn’t the reason we make arguments to be convincing?

    So in response to a demand for an Ethical Framework, I provided you with some links to Utilitarianism and Autonomy. You rejected them: ” You won’t win any points with me by dropping references to shit I already know.” This is moving the goalposts: you did not specify that you wanted a completely unique Ethical Framework to work with.

    Of course I don’t need a unique ethical framework. Your argument works fine under the ethical frameworks you provided. I agreed with that point in multiple instances. However, you made the argument out to be the ultimate argument for abortion, and any other argument is a waste of time. The fact that you have to define an ethical framework in order for your argument to win is demonstrative of the fact that your argument is imperfect. When your reader doesn’t already agree with your ethical framework, other arguments might not be a waste of time.

    Here, also, we moved from your original claim ‘if people base their morality on feelings, then Thompson’s argument is based on feelings’, to “If we haven’t accepted Mill’s utilitarianism, then the argument isn’t as strong”. You have completely changed the argument you were making. Yet more Moving the Goalposts.

    Isn’t an argument based on feelings a weaker argument? I thought that was the agreed implication. If not, why are you so adamant that the argument isn’t supposed to win based on feelings?

    I already gave you explicit instructions as to how you could figure this out for yourself, but no: you’ve required that I do the work for you. No further one-sided requests will be entertained.

    You gave me an ultimatum. Either I admit that I hadn’t been making the same argument all along (which would’ve been a lie), or you’ll take your ball and go home. Since my argument looks to me to have remained static over the entire thread (to reiterate: Thompson’s argument is not The Ultimate Argument for abortion because the reader will accept or reject the argument based on feelings, and it is not implausible that the argument will be rejected on this basis), you left me no choice but to ask you where you thought I was making a different point.

  118. says

    So, a troll is someone who says things they don’t believe in order to get a rise out of people and laugh at them.

    Do you think my anger is insincere? Are you asserting that I don’t really hold the beliefs I’m espousing here? Do you believe my primary goal is getting YOUR hackles up?

    Or was there another insult you were reaching for?

    Look, sorry you got upset that I told you to STFU (about one very specific thing, to wit, chastising me and other women for our lack of patience with the current state of affairs in Ireland, the USA, or Germany). I have since clarified. You are the one who is refusing to discuss.

  119. says

    So given that you’re not actually interested in a discussion here, I’m going to go back to not-responding to you.

    Oh white dudes, always able to just write off justified anger at your expense.

  120. Pen says

    So it’s the traditional religious framework (mostly devoid of religious belief)and the way people deal with conflict in conversations? Hmmm… well thanks for the answer.

  121. Brian Lynchehaun says

    I’m walking pretty much all of my comments in this thread back (as of, my time, Nov 20th 1am). They were inappropriate, and out of place. My apologies for not getting this sooner.

    Giliell:

    Yes, they’re all so decent that virtually none of them supports a woman’s right to choose.

    Where did I claim that?

    Oh right, I didn’t.

    If you could avoid the bullshit, I’ll take you seriously, thanks.

    Until then, you’ll be ignored. But hey, feel free to keep stating the obvious.

    Those “not horrible” people in the Dail have refused to legislate for X for 20 years, something that would have been able to save her life.

    They’re “not horrible”? Really? I believe that I explicitly stated that they are horrible.

    If you’re not going to read what I actually wrote then I’m not going to respond to you.

    But you can see them as not horrible because being forced to carry a pregnancy to term is something that will never ever happen to you.

    Where did I call them “not horrible”?

    Is your response based in just ignorance, or malice?

    Keep making shit up = keep being ignored.

    Your choice.

  122. Brian Lynchehaun says

    Are you asserting that I don’t really hold the beliefs I’m espousing here?

    You are sincere in the belief that “no-one” told me to shut up, while at the same time you told me to shut up?

    If you hold these two beliefs in concert, that is not my problem.

    You can pretend to hold the moral high ground here. Feel free. I have neither the time nor the patience for this kind of bullshit.

    You can pretend that it was in regards to one specific thing (if so, then you really shittily expressed yourself). Apology forthcoming? Not so far…

    You are the one who is refusing to discuss.

    And so long as you continue to act like you have not behaved improperly, I will continue to ignore you. This is my last communication on the topic, short of my complaints being addressed.

    But hey, feel free to pretend that the issue is my gender and/or skin colour. That totally exempts you from examining your own behaviour.

  123. Brian Lynchehaun says

    Invivomark:

    It would appear that you have serious reading comprehension issues.

    I stated

    If it looks, to you, that they are clearly related: then we have nothing more to discuss. We don’t even have grounds for communication, and we are both going to end up extremely frustrated by the effort.

    I leave it to you to decide whether you “used imprecise language” or ‘radically shifted your position in a sequence of multiple instances of the Fallacy of Moving the Goalposts’. If the former, then you don’t need to reply.

    You have responded with confused nonsense.

    We’re done. Enjoy your weekend.

    (for the record: I’m not ‘taking my ball and going home’, I’m simply not responding to someone (i.e. you) who doesn’t understand that different words mean different things. I’m prepared to engage in discussion with people who have radically different stating positions than I (i.e. Mythbri), but not with people who don’t comprehend English)

  124. says

    Brian

    The wingnuts do not exist (in politics) in Ireland that they do to the same degree in the US. By American standards, no the moderates do not vote for the wingnuts. By Irish standards, yes there are quite a few nuts (or, at least, horrible people) in the Dail.

    Here you are explicitly claiming that the wignuts do not exist in Ireland as in the UK and the moderates don’t vote for them, but hey, seems like they still get somehow elected when there’s a broad consensus to keep abortion illegal. I haven’t seen those who would be “not horrible” in your description (because if there are a few, even if quite a few horrible people there, there must be the not horrible ones, too) stand up bravely and loudly and demand for a woman’s right to choose because it’s obviously not as important as all the other stuff. Like their political career. That’s pretty much what I call horrible.
    Stop acting like a spoiled brat. You dismiss woman after woman here without actually ever engaging what we’re telling you, and act all upset when we don’t give you a cookie.

  125. jb says

    Gillel:

    We are irrational and emotional.

    We are being mean to nice moderate pro-lifers by complaining about the misogynists in the movement.

    We are expressing our feelings about how it feels to be treated as a subhuman, even if that is not the intent of the ‘moderate pro-lifers’

    We are also misbehaving by not offering up pro-active ideas to change the laws in Ireland.

    We are also erring by pointing out how pro-life attitudes (around the world) are upsetting. We should have realised that this entire conversation should have been about Ireland only, and how we should kiss moderate-pro-life ass in order to change laws.

    I just wish Bryan had written up a ‘rules’ segment along with his article so that we stupid women would not keep breaking every one with our stupid petty emotional gripes about pro-lifers in general.

    In fact, we have a lot of *gall*.

  126. says

    You are sincere in the belief that “no-one” told me to shut up, while at the same time you told me to shut up?

    If you hold these two beliefs in concert, that is not my problem.

    That was a stupid mistake on my part.

    I hold the two following beliefs in concert:

    1. Neither I nor anybody else you accused of wanting to silence you wants you to shut up in general.

    2. I would like it if you would fucking stuff it next time you feel the urge to tell a woman that she ought to be more considerate and understanding towards those who advocate treating women as breeding chattel.

    Are you still struggling with this? Then I apologize for the manner in which I tried to communicate these two perfectly compatible concepts, but not for the content of them.

    You can pretend to hold the moral high ground here. Feel free. I have neither the time nor the patience for this kind of bullshit.

    You can pretend that it was in regards to one specific thing (if so, then you really shittily expressed yourself). Apology forthcoming? Not so far…

    It’s right there. Are you happy now? And can we talk about how you are STILL WRONG about the whole philosophical wankery thing? What do you require from me before you’ll engage on that very important idea? Can you step back for a minute from this? It seems like you are having trouble dealing with the truth that simply discussing whether abortion should be allowed is the exact same thing as calling women’s humanity into question. Because ever since someone brought up that basic concept, you have been, as Gilliel pointed out, throwing a tantrum. And you have absolutely REFUSED to engage on that point. On one hand, I can understand that you’re upset that I told you to shut up and then claimed that nobody told you to shut up, but on the other hand, I can’t see how that has anything to do with the truth of what I said above. It’s hard not to surmise that this angry flailing of yours is at least partly an attempt to avoid that.

    You are the one who is refusing to discuss.

    And so long as you continue to act like you have not behaved improperly, I will continue to ignore you. This is my last communication on the topic, short of my complaints being addressed.

    “Behaved impoperly.” To me, “proper behavior” denotes anything from using the right fork at a fancy dinner to not swearing to not using birth control because the Catholic church says that only dirty sinful sluts use birth control. Are you talking about the simple fact of me swearing at you, or are you talking about the fact that you’ve resolutely refused to accept that wanting you to shut up when it comes to telling women how to react to those who seek to oppress them is NOT the same thing as wanting you to give up the fight for women’s equality in Ireland, as you suggested several times, without providing any evidence for your belief that those of us criticizing you would prefer that outcome?

    But hey, feel free to pretend that the issue is my gender and/or skin colour. That totally exempts you from examining your own behaviour.

    1. I have examined it and I feel okay with it, aside from the stupid mistakes in communication I made and

    2. Those are some other people, not me, who brought up your race and gender, so maybe you better fucking engage them on that rather than me if you have a problem with it.

  127. jb says

    yep!

    I read Bryans’ conversation with mythbri.

    Why couldn’t he have just come out and said, from the start, that he has some ideas as to how the moderates in Ireland can be reached? (and I would have agreed with him)

    Why the arrogant condescension? Why did he have to attack me and insinuate that I am out to demonize all pro-lifers? Why not just ask me if I meant to demonize them? Why assume that I am a big meanie because something a pro-lifer said upset me…a woman!

    Why get on my case because I was *also* irate over how women are treated by the pro-life movement?

    I notice he has quite the habit of telling people that he doesn’t have time for them and that ‘this conversation is over’. Yeah, he doesn’t have time for them if they dare to disagree, or if they are confused, or if they show some outrage over the subject.

    We all have to toe the line, and if we don’t we are nothing more than silly, trolling women, who won’t stfu and listen to the smartest guy in the room!

  128. says

    But hey, feel free to pretend that the issue is my gender and/or skin colour. That totally exempts you from examining your own behaviour.

    Wow, that’s quite a claim to a woman who is explicitly backtracking where she feels she’s mistaken, and has examined her own behavior.

    Sounds more like Whitey McStraighterson took having his privilege referred to as carte blanche to not examine his own behavior, from where I’m sitting. You’re still fucking whining about shit that’s been retracted, without looking at the way you’ve behaved at any step in this. Because you’re a white dude, and it doesn’t fucking affect you.

  129. says

    Thanks jb.

    Personally, I don’t mind if he wants to reach out and talk to moderates.

    My pointing out that those moderates don’t actually view women as fully human, not in reality, does not prevent him from doing so. My impatience with examining the motives of those who support laws that turn women into second-class citizens does not actually prevent him from examining those people’s motives, if that is what he wants to do. I think it’s a waste of time, but he disagrees. Okay, fine.

    I find it offensive in the extreme that he takes any sort of criticism to mean that we all want him to go home and give up. Talk about sneaky passive-aggressive manipulation! We can’t criticize him, because that means we want him to give up the fight, and we wouldn’t want THAT, would we? Thus criticizing Brian means there’s one less person fighting for equality and it’s therefore our fault if Irish women never get legal access to abortion.

  130. jb says

    Sally: its basically a case of, and I use this as a rough example: white people telling black people to stfu, white person knows more about civil rights struggle and will the victims of said struggle just be quiet if they don’t have anything constructive to offer. whitey knows best!!!!!!!!

  131. jb says

    Crommunist: I apologize. You can remove it if you want. Careless and insensitive on my part. I remember reading it on another FTB blog once when someone was trying to make a point about how systemic racism is.

  132. Brian Lynchehaun says

    Mynameischeese:

    I’m kind of wondering if the best tactic for the pro-choice crowd would be to get really agressive, Pussy Riot style, and keep going at the church until people decide that taking an anti-choice stance would be sticking their necks out. There really is a genuine fear of having an opinion contrary to the status quo here, unless someone stronger/louder/more confident can be seen to hold the same opinion.

    So I’d suggest that it’s important to decide what kind of society you want to live in, what kind of discussion you want to be ‘the norm’ in the future. This also applies to Pussy Riot-style attacks on physical property. I think that there are also pretty big (relevant) differences between Russia and Ireland, such that the people of Russia really don’t have alternative options, whereas the people of Ireland do.

    What you want to do really depends on your comfort levels, and how much energy you want to spend. For me, depending on how well I knew my neighbours, I would start having conversations with them to try and feel out their starting positions, gently and carefully offering criticisms of any anti-abortion/religious statements they made. I think face-to-face conversations, even in small groups, are the most effective methods for changing minds, provided no-one gets outright attacked for their views (because then they simply stop expressing them).

    Leaflets are not a bad idea, but I suggest you think about how you feel about receiving multiple leaflets on the same issue (even if it’s different viewpoints). In my case, I tend to get ticked off with everyone who is sending me crap that I didn’t ask for.

    Speaking to your local TD and asking them to organise a local discussion might also be effective, provided that they firmly stop interruptions (regardless of who is speaking at the time).

    A leaflet about how the church broke women’s hips and denied access to birth control might be an idea.

    While that would certainly be an effective leaflet denouncing the church, it doesn’t make any arguments in favour of allowing abortion. I would also suspect that, given that the national conversation has been “the church sucks, and here’s 50 examples of why”, anyone who still thinks that the church is a force for good is going to be unconvinced by one more leaflet (i.e. they can dismiss it as just a case of a few bad apples).

    I would suggest that it’s important to decide what message you want to send, precisely, and then ensure that the specifics clearly point to that message.

    Pen:

    That’s what I’ve gathered from my time in Ireland, though I’d certainly be open to some sociological research making different claims.

  133. mythbri says

    Jonathan, I would be extremely interested to see the evidence that supports these two claims:

    3. Just an aside and for womens right to choose in Ireland, I believe the wind is changing and gradually this will improve. the current cabinet has a number of atheists in it and is non secular generally. Also statistics show that Ireland is the ninth best country in the world to live in regarding womens rights and opportunity for success. If we could just sort out this prochoice situation we’d be threatening the scandinavian countries.

    4. Just a couple of little pointers about the hospital that this situation occured. Dr Tom Monaghan has been working there for the past 27 years where they deliver on average 2200 children a year and this is the first time they have lost somebody to a situation like this. Absolutely tragic and it is certainly one person to many but I think it’s important to show exactly how rare a situation it is like this.

    Because I believe that Ireland’s statistics on maternal/pregnancy related deaths are not in line with the reality of the situation, particularly when Ireland practically exports its abortion-related statistics to elsewhere in the EU, particularly England.

    http://www.medicalindependent.ie/page.aspx?title=maternal_death_%E2%80%93_into_the_great_unknown

    Also, this:

    Also statistics show that Ireland is the ninth best country in the world to live in regarding womens rights and opportunity for success

    Seems like a laughable assertion for the bare fact that denying women control over their own fertility is denying them full human rights.

  134. says

    They don’t only export their abortion-related statistics (as in women who have a severe risk yet not acutely life-threatening condition who can make the journey but then don’t make it through the abortion either), they also don’t keep propper track of their maternity related deaths either.
    Maternal and neonate death rates are such “prestigious” statistics that many countries simply apply very “generous” criteria (like not counting a 600g premie that lived for 3min as a neonatal death or not counting a woman’s suicide from PPD as maternal death). Experts think that Ireland’s actual number is about 10 times their reported number.

  135. says

    Oh goodness. The US needs that law.

    I haven’t thought it all the way through, I admit, but there are so many cases here where people do nothing, often because they’re afraid of legal liabilities.

  136. says

    I agree with the comments here.

    I like Andrew Ti’s way of talking about this.

    You cannot always persuade people of the immorality of their behavior first, and then expect them to change it after thinking about it. Often, you simply make them feel bad for fucking up; then, if they think about it later, they will perhaps realize where they went wrong. People aren’t rational, and it is useful to think about how their emotions fit with their thinking and arguing patterns.

  137. says

    I like this argument, because it explains to people (cis men, infertile women) what both pregnancy and abortion can feel like. I know not all fertile women do, but when I think about being pregnant, I am likely to imagine the person that fetus could become, and I think of myself as having a connection to them. Which makes the decision to have an abortion really hard. But it is terrifying to imagine that right being taken away from me, just the same.

    I’ve had it up to here with people thinking “law” has anything to do with “morality”. Laws in most countries tend to be extremely unjust, in writing and enforcement.

    Also, I can’t say much about Ireland itself as I’m American, but I was also raised Irish Catholic, and that makes it HARD to talk about any unwanted pregnancy, in a way that took me years to get over. My mom is not really religious, and is feminist in the sense that she takes it for granted that women are full human beings and that she and her husband should negotiate their roles according to their personalities rather than gender norms. But she still could barely talk to me about sex and sexuality at all, beyond making sure I got a protective education. I would bet that a culture more pervaded with Catholic values would have that kind of repression expressed among Catholics and non-Catholics alike.

    So to the other women in this thread: I don’t know what background you have. But you may very well have a lot of privilege relative to Irish women even in these conversations, if you’re raised in any less sexually repressive culture. Internet anonymity helps a lot, but when you’re alone and don’t have a lot of sex-positive models around you, it is hard to do it. Obviously not the kind of privilege cis men have anywhere, but it is worth considering how the conversation in a specifically Irish context may be valuable.

    Brian: thanks for the last link, but I think it would have been helpful to say explicitly that this should be a conversation about Ireland. That would have been a lot clearer if you’d quoted an Irish pro-choice writer (and said so, as I am probably not the only one ignorant of names), instead of an American one.

  138. Brian Lynchehaun says

    Hall_of_rage:

    I’m not sure which ‘last link’ you’re talking about (the link to Thompson’s arguments?).

    Speaking as an Irish person, you just read the position of a pro-choice Irish writer, referencing what is (in my opinion) the best argument in favour of full bodily autonomy (that I have read).

    Given the preponderance of references in the blog post to Ireland, Irish history and Irish law, I do not see how an explicit “and I’m talking about Ireland, readers” would have changed the course of the discussion here.

  139. says

    From Brian on an earlier thread (emphasis removed sorry):

    It is also true that others do regard women as full human beings, also regard the foetus as a full human being and do not know how to resolve this clash between the irresistible object (autonomy of Human A) and the immovable object (autonomy of Human B) except by looking at who dies when an abortion is carried out (foetus: 100%, woman: more than 0%, but less than 100%), vs an abortion not being carried out (foetus: more than 0%, but less than 100%, woman: more than 0%, but less than 100%).

    I find this to be true, absolutely. I also think that most of those people have not really thought through to “women are full human beings with autonomy and the ability to make their own moral decisions independent of yours“. And that includes women who for whatever reason don’t imagine that they might ever need an abortion.

    You are free to mischaracterise the whole group by ascribing the more extreme positions to them. This, however, largely has the result that people will double down on their original positions rather than entering into discussion and dialogue, and entertaining the possibility that they are wrong. And here in Canada (and, to some extent, the US) you are largely free to do so, given that the right to access abortion is largely a given, and that the anti-choice side has to make some *serious* noise to change that.

    This, on the other hand, I find quite unhelpful and somewhat condescending, even though it’s not addressed to me. The threat to me personally of forced pregnancy is slight, but real. I know perfectly well that anti-choicers come in all shapes and sizes, and I know something about how to argue against them. But not every conversation about abortion and bodily autonomy needs to revolve around how to argue with anti-choicers.

    Of course, this whole post is about how to argue with anti-choicers, and is useful on that front. But even so, if every time someone says something in frustration, if we must disqualify a comment because “that won’t work well when trying to convince someone to be pro-choice”, it means we are letting anti-choicers dictate how we have these discussions. And I don’t care to do that.

  140. Brian Lynchehaun says

    But even so, if every time someone says something in frustration, if we must disqualify a comment because “that won’t work well when trying to convince someone to be pro-choice”, it means we are letting anti-choicers dictate how we have these discussions. And I don’t care to do that.

    That’s a fair point, and I apologise (to everyone who responded) for not seeing this earlier.

    I’m going to strike through the offending comments, just to make that clear.

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