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Nov 21 2013

The horrors of home circumcision and why intactivists share the blame

On Sunday BBC radio show 5Live Investigates carried an outstanding report on the issue of home circumcision, fronted by Adrian Goldberg with some brilliant journalism by Nicola Dowling.

Listen here.

The centrepiece of the show is a heartbreaking interview with the mother of Goodluck Caubergs, who died last year in Greater Manchester. The midwife who conducted the operation, on the family kitchen table with a pair of scissors and some olive oil, was later convicted of manslaughter. I wrote about the case here.

The real scandal revealed by Nicola Dowling was about a different case. Dr Muhamad Siddiqui, a hospital surgeon in Sussex, had been running his own little private sideline in home circumcisions. When 23 month-old Najem Braiha was left traumatised and infected after a home circumcision conducted, it is alleged, under unhygienic conditions, his parents complained to the General Medical Council. They imposed conditions on the surgeon’s GMC registration which barred him from conducting the procedure.

As part of the BBC investigation, an actor phoned up Dr Siddiqui and asked him to conduct a home circumcision on their baby. He agreed, in direct contravention of his GMC ban. Since then, and after discovering he had been exposed by the BBC,  Dr Siddiqui has resigned from his NHS job. The astonishing consequence of that resignation is that it now allows him to resume conducting circumcisions, which it appears he fully intends to do.

Yes, you did read that correctly. Circumcisions are completely unregulated in the UK, and anyone – you, me or the local barber – can set up a business cutting off baby boy’s foreskins at a hundred quid a pop.  Any doctor under the employ of the NHS, however, is bound to the regulation of the GMC and the Quality and Care Commission. A circumcision conducted in a hospital, with anaesthetic and surgical implements is carefully controlled and subject to monitoring and audit. A circumcision conducted on a kitchen table or in a community centre is completely unregulated. There are more regulations surrounding the piercing of an ear than the surgical amputation of a foreskin.

Nobody knows how many botched circumcisions happen in the UK each year. Paediatric urologists across the country report seeing cases as a regular part of their caseload. In my own experience as a journalist who covers the issue, virtually every case of a serious complications, infection or tragic fatality has resulted from a home circumcision conducted under non-clinical conditions.  The BBC documentary detailed many such cases, including the terrifying rates of complications found after a ‘circumcision camp’ in Oxford.

In my experience, people who are new to this issue are astonished to learn about the legal position of circumcision practice in the UK. How can it be that this is possible? Whatever one’s feelings on the rights and wrongs of circumcision as a whole, how can it be that nobody has ever got around to laying down some basic health and safety regulations and a requirement for anaesthesia and clinical conditions?

It pains me to say it, but I lay at least some of the blame squarely at the feet of anti-circumcision activists. Legislative progress rarely materialises from the ether or spring from the initiative of politicians’ imaginations. Changes occur through lobbying, campaigning, persuasion and demand. The simple truth is that nobody has been badgering politicians to introduce a law to provide the most basic protection for infant boys at risk.

After the death of Baby Goodluck, I tried taking some initiative myself, I tried to organise petitions, letter-writing campaigns, lobbying through official channels. I approached the UK’s leading anti-circumcision campaigns and they all refused to help, stating that they could not support any policy that could be seen to be endorsing circumcision at all.

When I wrote in the Guardian calling for regulation of circumcision rather than an immediate ban, I received several abusive emails and messages from intactivists calling me a sellout, a traitor, a disgrace and more.

This is infuriating to me.  I too would like to see an absolute end to circumcision but let us be clear – for the foreseeable future, the prospects of enforcing a legal ban without the active co-operation of Jewish and Muslim communities are literally zero. For all kinds of reasons, and whether we like it or not, it is Not. Going. To. Happen. Anyone with the faintest grasp of the realities of politics must recognise that.

If (or when) the day comes that circumcision can be criminalised, it will come at the end of a long process of awareness-raising, education, persuasion and the gradual marginalisation of the tradition within cultural communities. Not before.  A campaign to control and regulate the practice would and could be a significant first step along that route. Those who refuse to countenance regulation remind me of those extreme ultra-leftists who opposed progress on issues like gay rights as a bourgeois distraction that would delay the glorious revolution. It is self-indulgent, self-defeating Narnia politics.

All the while, day after day, real boys little boys with real names, real lives, real futures, continued to be subjected to needless suffering, illness, lifelong scarring and the risk of serious medical complications all the way up to death, because nobody is doing anything to help. That is unconscionable, and simply has to change.

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  1. 1
    summerblues

    If not already, this should be made illegal and the ones performing the procedure and the parents/guardians…basically all involved…should be put in prison. This is like trying to pray away an illness: doesn’t work. Physicians should also be required to inform parents of not only the serious risks involved with this procedure but especially the FACT that this is unneccessary. I agree with you, Ally, that a ban would not work right now. This is unacceptable.

    Midwives?!

  2. 2
    Gjenganger

    I agree with your proposals, though not with your basic philosophy. But unfortunately the following is part of the problem:

    If (or when) the day comes that circumcision can be criminalised, it will come at the end of a long process of awareness-raising, education, persuasion and the gradual marginalisation of the tradition within cultural communities. Not before. A campaign to control and regulate the practice would and could be a significant first step along that route.

    As long as regulation of circumcision is seen as the first step to eventually banning it, people who favour the right to circumcise will not help with regulation. The trouble is that this is a point of principle, not of practical problems, and is extremely polarized – like abortion. The chance of getting a compromise that can hold in the long term is close to zero, seeing that there will be constant, strong pressure to outlaw circumcision altogether. As long as that is the case, the pro-circumcision side has little reaon to compromise.

  3. 3
    Maureen Brian

    summerblues,

    Did you actually read what Ally wrote? Try again – it’s like slavery, it’s like marital rape, it’s like a dozen other bad things. You won’t get it made illegal until there is a critical mass of the people sufficiently informed about how dangerous and how stupid circumcision is. Doesn’t have to be a majority – an informed and articulate minority will do perfectly well.

    People who cry out, “Ban it first and then we’ll discuss it.” – which you came close to doing – actually postpones the day when we will have that critical mass of activists and of knowledge.

    I know a couple of MPs and I’m sure Ally knows a dozen. Any one of them could draft a bill and get it to the floor of the Commons. And what would happen? Armies of rabbis, imams and christian pastors, assorted, would march down Whitehall in full regalia and there wouldn’t be enough parliamentarians or lay people hanging about with the knowledge to gainsay them. So the bill would fail. I think two or three already have though I’m vague on detail.

    We are at the awareness-raising stage and I agree that the absolutists should not be allowed to prevent progress.

  4. 4
    Tamen

    Were there active co-operation from (large parts of) communities in the UK coming from cultures where female genital muilation are/were common when the Female genital Mutilation Act was passed in 2003?

    It seems like the law was passed first and then the Met’s for instance started to work closely with the communities in 2004 with Project Violet.

  5. 5
    D

    Do we need specific legislation to ban the unlicensed circumcision? Surely surgery, performed outside the auspices of the framework of medical licencing, could be prosecuted under existing ABH or GBH legislation? In that case we need the political will to make have the police investigate and follow up such issues. I wonder if that would that be an easier goal to achieve given the existing legal framework of assault and harm

  6. 6
    summerblues

    Maureen @ 3

    Did you even read what I wrote? What part of “doing this at home should be criminalized” do you not understand. The parents/guardians want it done? Fine: doctors office or hospital only. Sterile environment, unless you personally agree that medical procedures should be done at home with a damned kitchen knife.

    If I thought it would really work and not end up killing a lot of infants from these horrid “do it yourself” procedures then YEAH I WOULD MAKE MALE CIRCUMCISION COMPLETELY ILLEGAL. Got it.

  7. 7
    Maria Hughes

    Reply to Tamen [4]

    There is a fundamental difference on legislating FGM and male circumcision, which Ally has already described. The fact is that there is *no* religion which insists upon FGM for its female adherents, but two major religions which *do* insist on male circumcision; therefore, an outright ban/ declaration of illegality is unworkable at this stage – it would be seen as a ban on Judaism or Islam.

    The other issue that complicates matters is that there is sometimes a clinical justification for male circumcision, whereas there is never a clinical justification for FGM, so we do need a health service which can provide male circumcision in safe conditions.

    The UK’s FGM law hasn’t been very successful in terms of convictions, but that doesn’t make it wrong, it just means it’s inadequate on its own. The ‘hearts and minds’ approach is necessary, which would also count for male ritual circumcision, although getting two major, world-wide religions to change this fundamental practice will undoubtedly be a hard struggle.

  8. 8
    Raging Bee

    A campaign to control and regulate the practice would and could be a significant first step along that route.

    Also, a campaign for regulation can serve as a public-education campaign to describe what circumcision really entails. The more we describe how horrible unregulated circumcision can be, the more we make the case that circumcision is, in itself, a pretty dangerous thing to do, and maybe more people will think twice before having it done, in ANY setting, to their own boys.

    As long as regulation of circumcision is seen as the first step to eventually banning it, people who favour the right to circumcise will not help with regulation.

    Tough shit. If they oppose regulation, we can use it against them and show how indifferent they are to the harm done. This will damage the pro-circumcision coalition and unite their opponents.

    Armies of rabbis, imams and christian pastors, assorted, would march down Whitehall in full regalia and there wouldn’t be enough parliamentarians or lay people hanging about with the knowledge to gainsay them.

    That can easily be remedied by anticipating the response and making sure the anti-mutilation activists are armed in advance with the information, counter-arguments and media connections they need. Even if the first bill fails, public awaremess will be increased, and everyone will know that at least someone is standing up to the religious haters.

  9. 9
    Gjenganger

    @Raging 8
    It depends what you want to do. How important is the short-term goal of protecting boys from harm, as against the long-term goal of having a society that reflects your principles?

    If you want to prevent the tragedies of unregulated circumcisions, the quickest solution is to perform circumcisions under safe medical conditions. And the fastest way to get there is to get the religious authorities on board, which will likely require a guarantee that circumcisions will remain legal.

    If you want to ban circumcisions on principle, rather than for practical reasons, you cannot avoid establishing that your principles must trump the principles of jews and muslims. No compromise is possible, and you will be in a long drawn-out culture war. Which will slow down any practical measures you might take to help the boys of today. In return, of course, you will have the continuing of botched circumcisions as a good argument to promote your long-term goals.

    The choice is yours – it is certainly not for me to advise you on strategy – but as always I hope you will be open and honest about the trade-offs you are making.

  10. 10
    lelapaletute

    As usual, informative and completely right. I honestly didn’t know until very recently that just any old body could do this without some kind of medical training or licence – the idea is completely crazy, when as you say, getting minute holes in your ears which can grow back over can’t be done except by certain people in special conditions. The sheer weight of custom utterly blinds people to the completely barmy, dangerous nature of this practice. And yes, in an ideal world it wouldn’t exist, and long may the campaign for its being made illegal continue; but in the meantime, let us ALSO campaign to mitigate the harm being done. Anyone who would resist even regulating the practice demonstrates that the right to do whatever they please matters more to them than the life and safety of a little boy. Their resistance would have the moral authority of a burst balloon.

  11. 11
    Raging Bee

    If you want to prevent the tragedies of unregulated circumcisions, the quickest solution is to perform circumcisions under safe medical conditions. And the fastest way to get there is to get the religious authorities on board, which will likely require a guarantee that circumcisions will remain legal.

    If the “authorities” hold out for such a guarantee — or hold out for any other reason — then they’re opposing reasonable regulations, and we can attack and discredit them for that; which will put them on the defensive. And given the already increasing public opposition to circumcision, the “authorities” may soon find themselves isolated, and thus unable to hold out for any guarantees — they’ll have to accept regulations because that’s where the political tide will be turning. And that will be an important partial victory, because it will reduce a significant fraction of the harm done, even if no further progress is ever made from there.

    And besides, a “guarantee that circumcisions will remain legal” is nothing but brown air anyway — how can you prevent future generations from electing lawmakers who will change a law? By abolishing democracy? If the religius authoritarians try that, that will be a separate issue.

  12. 12
    Lyle Cosmopolite

    Male circumcision should be performed under aseptic conditions, in a clinical setting, by trained operators. To circumcise a baby boy on the kitchen table of its parents, or on the living room rug, should be strictly illegal. I agree that intactivists are invoking the ideal to demonise the mere good. This violates a fundamental fact of life: public policy is an endless compromise between ideals and practicalities.

    However, the kind of regulation that Ally Fogg and I would like to see, will meet fierce opposition, because it would put out of business all mohels who are not doctors. But as long as British law remains silent about this matter, we will continue to see cases like that of Goodluck Caubergs. My conclusion is that Jewish intactivists are the most valuable intactivists of all, because evolution in Jewish thinking about brit milah could have major beneficial consequences for all boys.

    There is no religious reason for performing ritual circumcision without anesthesia. Injecting lidocaine is common in Moslem countries that are not in dire poverty. In the First World, lidocaine can be injected only by a doctor. This is one more reason why the existence of lay mohels is problematic. The brises they can legally perform are necessarily very painful ones.

  13. 13
    Roger Crane

    I partly agree and partly disagree with you.

    Living in the United States, I deal with this type of question with another issue I have strong feelings towards, which I think provides a good parallel: capital punishment. My goal is to see it abolished unconditionally, for all crimes, primarily due to the possibility of executing an innocent person. However, I look at the countries that have accomplished this goal, and overwhelmingly, the trend is that countries generally only achieve this after an extended period of restriction of the death penalty: a moratorium, restriction of the number of capital crimes, reduction in the number of executions or death sentences through increased sensitivity on the part of judges and juries. It is extremely rare to see a country go from executing scores of people one year to abolishing the death penalty for all crimes the next.

    There is the temptation to fall into the mind set from “The Life of David Gale,” the movie where Kevin Spacey’s character games the justice system and sets himself up for capital murder in order to “prove” that the state is in fact capable of executing an innocent person. He forces the system into its worst case scenario. To me, I find this approach unconscionable―we’re supposed to be doing everything we can to protect innocent people, not make sure someone innocent is executed so we can prove a point. But the fear is that if we reduce the risk, we lose the message of “danger” and handicap ourselves in the fight against it.

    It’s a dilemma, but as you suggested in your article, the key is that gradual restriction has a way of curbing the enthusiasm for practices like circumcision and capital punishment among a population. I think it’s far better to do that than to maintain the status quo, so if I were living in a jurisdiction with the death penalty (its legal status in my home state of New York is complicated, but it’s basically been legally suspended, at least at the state level), and I had the option to vote to restrict it, I would absolutely do so. I would do the same thing regarding circumcision.

    I understand that this article was in part making the point about the status quo (i.e. a botched home circumcision), but I felt there was the implication that, by arguing for restriction in the short term, we would be disavowing our long-term intentions of categorical criminalization (or, at the very least, disguising them). I highly disagree with that way of thinking. I make no secret of my full opposition to capital punishment and continue to lobby for total abolition. It’s a matter of principle for me, and it’s also a matter of keeping the sentiment in general alive that the practice is wrong. By portraying this as a “concession” now, we undermine ourselves in the future. My attitude towards people who favor the death penalty is less “let’s make a deal” and more “go ahead, restrict the death penalty so we won’t execute an innocent person, see how you like it.” With circumcision, if religious leaders decide they’re unwilling to support reasonable regulation because we make it clear that it also functions as a gradual step towards a full ban, well, suddenly, it’s no longer the intactivists who look extremist.

  14. 14
    Raging Bee

    By portraying this as a “concession” now, we undermine ourselves in the future.

    I totally agree. It’s not a “concession,” It’s a step in the right direction. And there’s nothing to prevent more steps in the future. Walking halfway to the store makes me MORE likely to get all the way there, not less.

  15. 15
    David Strauss

    It says so much that the broadcast does not even mention the human rights of the boy. It is all about the medical issues and not the socio-political equality ones.

    The BBC do not even discuss why FMCG is rightly outlawed but male circumcision is OK – that is the elephant in the room but the BBC were too scared to address. They were too scared to undermine protected politically correct groups like Jews and Muslims.

  16. 16
    wtfwhateverd00d

    Never quite sure what to make of you Ally, but here you are absolutely right about the best way to eliminate circumcision.

    > awareness-raising, education, persuasion and the gradual marginalisation of the tradition within cultural communities. Not before. A campaign to control and regulate the practice would and could be a significant first step along that route. Those who refuse to countenance regulation remind me of those extreme ultra-leftists who opposed progress on issues like gay rights as a bourgeois distraction that would delay the glorious revolution. It is self-indulgent, self-defeating Narnia politics.

    A few years back in the US, the American Academy of Pediatrics signed on to a policy accepting the ceremonial nicking of a girl in order to prevent harmful genital mutilation, and within days “Narnia” seeking feminist “intactivists” demanded they retract that and so they did. Yay for little girls who will now face genital mutilaion rather than a ceremonial nick.

    When I have suggested boys could also endure a ceremonial nick or prick (no pun intended), like you, I have faced large attacks. And again, very good, instead of offering intelligent people with a long tradition of circumcision a reasonable and face saving alternative that honors their beliefs, let’s just go head to head with them and guarantee ourselves a loss. That will certainly benefit the boys.

    http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/722840

  17. 17
    freja

    I think this post from Avicenna about fighting FGM (in countries where it’s common and accepted) is is pretty relevant (bolded parts mine):

    How to fight it? Two steps. First step sounds counter-productive.

    We medicalise FGM and encourage doctors to substitute the more harmful infibulation with pricking or erstatz FGM procedures which satisfy the community but harm the girls less. This is not ideal but it’s job is to stop infibulation or clitorectomies. Think “pricking the foreskin” vs. “removal of the clitoris and or labia and sutures”, it is infinitely preferable and may be useful to help girls avoid the worst of it.

    This sounds mad, but remember the alternative. The alternative is worse. It’s easy to say STOP but in reality cultural practices take ages to stop. Sati still occurs once in a while in India. And that’s been fought for more than a century. We have to start somewhere and this is how to reduce the damage where possible and stop it where possible.

    The second step is simultaneously try and get people to NOT opt for FGM at all.

    The reason for this is quite sensible. The FGM industry in female run and centred. We must take this out of the hands of the “cutters”. Medicalising it will reduce risks for the lesser procedures and cut the supply of wealth to the cutters and bypass the entire social structure set in place.

    It also gives doctors access to pre-cut girls so as to try and strong arm and cajole parents into not doing it. You can throw around some medical weight here and fight on equal ground.

    Outright bans drive it underground. Jailing parents clearly won’t work. You have to change the entire society and that requires some lateral thinking. In many parts of the world the norm is to be circumcised. How many parents are we going to jail who’s only guilt is following a cultural practice that dates millenia that they themselved did. Remember the women who were cut grow up thinking that is normal and that we are mad.

    This requires local drives and participation. This is a slow process but it is permanent.

    Basically the same argument Ally is making now, and no less true.

  18. 18
    wtfwhateverd00d

    Freja,

    Have you noted this article is about BOYS not GIRLS?

    Do you even give a shit about boys?

    WHAT ABOUT THE GIRLZZZ!!!!!

    Feminism is why the world can’t have nice things.

  19. 19
    freja

    @18, wtfwhateverd00d

    Have you noted this article is about BOYS not GIRLS?

    Yes. Have you noticed that I never disputed that? That I specified in the beginning that it was about FGM (which wouldn’t have been necessary if it was the same topic)? That I said it was basically the same argument (not the same sexes)?

    Sheesh, I didn’t know I was sexist to acknowledge that two situations can have things in common even if one concerns girls and the other boys, or to mention that a current argument about boys have previously been made about girls. And they say women and feminists are the ones who’re always looking for things to get offended over.

    In case it was unclear, I was disagreeing with Gjenganger’s argument that the only way to reach a long term goal is to make absolutist demands and refuse to cooperate about anything until every single one of them is met. I thought the context was pretty clear, given that the issue of working for gradual progress vs. an all-or-nothing approach, which was what Avi’s article was all about, has dominated the comments here. I guess not.

  20. 20
    wtfwhateverd00d

    freja, if a guy did that in some feminists thread, what would feminists cry and whine and pout and tear up and rage and rage and rage about?

    https://www.google.com/search?q=what+about+the+menz

  21. 21
    lelapaletute

    @20 Wtfwhateverd00d:

    Errr, you do know it was you who brought up the FGM comparison before freja did (@16), right? So what, exactly, is your fricking problem? Can we not focus on the issue in hand (the mutilation of children) rather than the evils of feminism (aka petty squabbling), just for one thread, please? Jesus.

  22. 22
    Tamen

    Maria @7

    There is a fundamental difference on legislating FGM and male circumcision, which Ally has already described. The fact is that there is *no* religion which insists upon FGM for its female adherents, but two major religions which *do* insist on male circumcision; therefore, an outright ban/ declaration of illegality is unworkable at this stage – it would be seen as a ban on Judaism or Islam.

    This is an oversimplification. Khitan (circumcision) is not mentioned in the Quran, although it is mentioned in the haddith and there are Muslim communities which does not practice khitan. According to the Wikipedia article on khitan Sunni muslims highly recommends khitan, but doesn’t think it’s compulsory.
    Most Shia muslims consider it obligatory.
    There also exist an Quranist movement who reject the view that circumcision is obligatory due to it’s not being mentioned in the Quran.

    Also whether religions insists upon FGM is somewhat dependent on how one defines religion – is it what it’s adherents believes? This is exemplified by this sentence from the Wikipedia article on Khafḍ:

    It is generally accepted that there is no close link between the practice and religious belief. Despite this, there is a widespread view in several countries, particularly in Mali, Eritrea, Mauritania, Guinea and Egypt, that FGM is a religious requirement.

    It goes on to state:

    Shafi’i and Hanbali schools of Islamic jurisprudence consider circumcision to be obligatory for both males and females, while the Hanafi and Maliki schools of Islamic jurisprudence consider circumcision to be Sunnah (preferred) for both males and females.

    Religious leaders in Malaysia have issued fatwas supporting FGM, including this where The 86th Muzakarah (Conference) of the Fatwa Committee National Council of Islamic Religious Affairs Malaysia decided that female circumcision is obligatory (wajib).

    The other issue that complicates matters is that there is sometimes a clinical justification for male circumcision, whereas there is never a clinical justification for FGM, so we do need a health service which can provide male circumcision in safe conditions.

    One clinical justification for male circumcision is phimosis. Which can’t be diagnosed on an infant since the foreskin at that point is fused to the glans. There is something called clitorial phimosis. According to a study done by Boston University School of Medicine found that 22% of women they treated for sexual dysfunction suffered from clitorial phimosis. Here is a Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine paper from 1985 titled Phimosis of the prepuce of the clitoris: indication for female circumcision.”>.

    And just as there has been papers reporting a correlation between male circumcision and a reduction in risk for HIV infection there has been papers reporting a correlation between FGM and a reduction in risk for HIV infection.

    So I’d argue that the difference between the two along the dimension you mention aren’t fundamental as you claim, but rather a matter of degree.

    The UK’s FGM law hasn’t been very successful in terms of convictions, but that doesn’t make it wrong, it just means it’s inadequate on its own.

    The goal with a ban isn’t convict as many as possible, it’s to reduce/eradicate the act that is banned/outlawed. Has there been a reduction of FGM in the UK since 2003? Has there been an increase in damages/harm done by more botched FGMs due to the practice being forced underground by the FGM act? Those are the important questions, not whether 5, 500 or 5000 have been convicted under the law.

    And yes, I agree that a ban is inadequate on it’s own. That of course equally applies to a ban against male circumcision of children.

  23. 23
    Tamen

    As a first for me I’d like to voice my agreement with Raging Bee’s comment @8, @10 and @14.

  24. 24
    unfamiliar w/ your ways

    wtfwhateverd00d-

    this isn’t the opposite of a feminist thread. stop acting like this is a turf fight. freja is right, the arguments apply across the genders. valid criticisms of fgm could be used to apply against male circumcision, especially since she’s just echoing what everyone else is saying: regulation precedes a ban.

    don’t be That Guy (btw i believe broadside volleys against the whole of feminism/MRA movements is grounds for banning… unless those changes Ally discussed a while back aren’t yet in effect).

  25. 25
    Gjenganger

    @Freja 17, 19
    For the record I agree almost completely with your post 17, so I think you misunderstood me. What probably confused you is that I am not against circumcision, just against the medical risks. And I think you could get much more cooperation if people felt secure that circumcision would remain available to those who would want it. Basically I wanted to encourage people to downplay the long term philosophical goal (which of course I do not share) in the interest of helping boys now.

  26. 26
    Ally Fogg

    Some admirable community policing going on on this thread, which is what I like thanks.

    For the record, I have no problem with Freja’s original post which was a perfectly valid comparison point. The reactions from wtfwhateverd00d were over the top and unwelcome.

    I won’t go back and delete unless people insist on continuing to squabble, in which case I’ll take the ol’ red pencil to the entire thread.

    Cheers folks

  27. 27
    John Austin

    I didn’t realise circumscision is unregulated. I am now wondering in law what the difference is between the practice and the criminal offence of actual bodily harm (“ABH”) under s. 47 Offences Against the Person Act 1861.
    “Whosoever shall be convicted upon an indictment of any assault occasion ing actual bodily harm shall be liable … to be kept in penal servitude”.
    The wording is archaic but it is still in force.
    It comes down to the common law definition of “assault” which requires an actual reus of committing an injury which is more than merely superficial (but not greivous). The mental element or mens rea is the intentional or reckless application of force (R -v- Venna 1976).
    The difference between a medical procedure such as surgery and assault is consent and also the social utility of the procedure. You could perhaps consent to amputation without anaesthesia by a rusty hacksaw but cases on sexual assault / BDSM suggest the law will step in if the practice is extreme.

    So I’m wondering if any circumcision practitioner can be sued by an adult who had circumscision forced on him whilst a baby? I think the answer is “yes”. I’m not at all sure the fact the parents consented at the time would get a mohel off the hook in court, or the parents either if their son decided to sue them for assault.

  28. 28
    Gjenganger

    @John Austin 27
    Sounds unlikely that current law will help you out much. Surely the rule would be the same for circumcision, tonsillectomy and appendectomy? If the procedure is in principle acceptable, parental consent has to be binding – otherwise no one could operate on children at all. And under current law circumcision is clearly seen as an acceptable procedure. Presumably that is what you want to change, but that is what it would be – a change.

  29. 29
    John Austin

    @Gjenganger 27
    The difference is the medical nature of the various procedures and their purpose. I just can’t see how co-opting a baby into a religion can be seen in the same light as surgery carried out by a doctor.
    Consider someone totally medically unqualified carrying out a root canal filling on a child. They’d get 2 years inside at least.

  30. 30
    Gjenganger

    @John Austin 29
    In short you think the law ought to be different. You have a point there. All I am saying is that it is not different yet, and you cannot sue people on the basis of what the law ought to have been.

  31. 31
    summerblues

    Raging Bee @ 8: yes.

    I took a quick look at tonsillectomy (sp?) and appendectomy on Wikipeida. Tonsi* is still done widely on children usually if they have 7 or more throat/tonsil infections, but according to Wiki the benefits are actually limited: fewer infections (3 vs 6 or 7) and the infection rate evens out as the child gets older. Anecdotal evidence and trigger warning for second: I had mine removed at about age 4 and the leftover stubs still get infected; my sister had hers until well into adulthood (late 30′s or early 40′s) and hers were shredded and rotting inside her throat. Appendectomies are only done when the situation is dire. I didn’t verify this but I believe that the appendix actually does have a purpose.

    The information that I had found earlier indicated only three circumstances in which male circumcision was needed for medical reasons and those happened in late childhood to adulthood, not infancy. I didn’t think that there was enough evidence to support the claim that circumcision on male infants really did enough good to prevent getting STDs in adulthood, that condoms were more effective.

    I personally would like to see …men getting together to protest or even file a lawsuit just for show so that we all can know how many, why, what happens, etc. At this point I don’t even know how many baby boys have been damaged, have gotten infections and have even died from this procedure. I would like to know this information both from hospitals and doctors offices (sterillized environments) and at-home procedures.

    Still seems to me that both FGM and MGM are useless procedures done on children simply for the vanity and ego of the adults responsible for them. Both should be illegal on children/teens under the age of 18 unless there is a medical reason for it.

    One more musing: I can personally hold and practice whatever religion I choose but I cannot force it on another, so wouldn’t this apply to my children as well? I mean, that I legally cannot force my religious views on my child?

  32. 32
    Gjenganger

    @Summerblues 31

    One more musing: I can personally hold and practice whatever religion I choose but I cannot force it on another, so wouldn’t this apply to my children as well? I mean, that I legally cannot force my religious views on my child?

    This runs into a problem. Parents both can and have to teach and acculture their children. You could not force an adult to speak english (rather than mandarin or a home-made language), do homework, play the piano, go to bed at a decent time, eat vegetables, celebrate Ramadan, Christmas or neither. tell the truth, compete for first prize, be nice to others, wai their turn in the queue, respect (or despise) people who are different, … With children you have to, since they are not competent to do it by themselves. Religious views is just another part of the culture that we transmit (or not) to our children.

    The problem is not whether parents have the right to transmit views, attitudes, culture to their children. They do and they have to, Children could not grow into humans without it. The problems is whether you think that certain parts of culture are good and should be transmitted (basic ethics, community traditions, a belief in the scientific method) and other parts are bad and should be suppressed (religion). And whether you have the right to impose your views on other people who do not share them.

  33. 33
    lelapaletute

    @Gjenganger: I think the line can safely be drawn at the irreversable. A child, upon attaining the powers of reason, could choose to learn a new language or forswear the one they were raised speaking; to play or not play an instrument; to celebrate Christmas or not. They can reject a disasterous haircut. They can even choose whether to let ear or other piercings grow over (although they shouldn’t have to). They can’t grow their foreskins back. Would you agree that this is a reasonable line to draw?

  34. 34
    Gjenganger

    @Lelapaletute 33
    Not necessarily – because your childhood is irreversible too. You cannot become fully Chinese if you were raised English, confident if you were raised fearful, a top athlete or scientist if you did not start till you were 18, an insider (of whatever religion or group) if you were raised an outsider. All you can really do is play catch-up. Compared to that, a bit of skin is a minor matter.

  35. 35
    lelapaletute

    I disagree, if the bit of skin can have a serious impact on your ability to experience sexual pleasure, or the removal of which could result in the plethora of dangerous side effects Ally has already delineated.

    Up to a point, our childhood is a matter of chance, and a parent is not ‘taking anything away’ from a child to raise them poor, or English, or any of a number of things, if that is their circumstance. Moreover, I disagree with you that your childhood ievitably dictates your outcomes – in many cases yes, people can be enormously limited or advantaged by their upbringing, but it is not perforce irredeemably the case – there are many examples of ‘late bloomers’, passionate amateurs, high-status converts to religions, that disprove your deterministic view.

    However, physically altering your child in an irreparable way, is taking something away from them that is irreducably theirs. I don’t see why it is looked on as any different to cutting off a finger, removing an eye. You don’t NEED ten fingers, or two eyes, any more than you NEED a foreskin; but these things belong to the individual, and taking them away without permission or pressing medical need is a repulsive violation.

  36. 36
    Gjenganger

    @Lelapaletute
    Childhood and culture is not only a matter of chance. Ms Gjenganger and I are an extreme example – we were born in two diferent countries, live in a third and adopted our children from a fourth – but other people choose too, if only to stay put. Then there is school, boarding, comprehensive or selective, social circle, … I am not quite deterministic, but would not every gifted amateur, late convert etc. wonder: “What could I have been, if I had started 15 years earlier?”

    As for comparing it to loosing an eye or finger… Well, I was circumcised myself – in adulthood – for medical reasons – and I honestly cannot see it makes much difference. Same organ, same function, slightly different look. The serious impacts you are talking about surely go with botched-up operations, or FGM. I am sure there are people who feel traumatized by it, but I would say that is a mental thing, not a physical one. And mental things is something we all have. I really think this is a problem in theory much more than in practice.

  37. 37
    Raging Bee

    No, Gjenganger, irreparably destroying “a bit of skin” or any other body-part is not a “minor matter.” If you really think the non-consentual mutilation of an innocent person is no big deal, then you’re not even in the same moral universe as the rest of us.

  38. 38
    Gjenganger

    @Raging 37
    Not being in the same moral universe as you sounds just about bearable. For the rest, I care more about the actual difference it makes for the individual, than whether I can shoehorn it in under the abstract definition of “non-consensual mutilation”.

  39. 39
    Raging Bee

    Well, I was circumcised myself – in adulthood – for medical reasons – and I honestly cannot see it makes much difference.

    That’s a perfectly appropriate decision for you to make — FOR YOURSELF. You are NOT in a position to make that decision for anyone else, especially not for children who have no ability to give or refuse consent.

    Also, there are plenty of other men who were circumcised like yourself, who have very different opinions about it. Their experiences are no less valid than yours.

    I am sure there are people who feel traumatized by it, but I would say that is a mental thing, not a physical one.

    Yeah, that’s all feelings, and we can ignore other people’s feelings because feelings aren’t “real,” right?

  40. 40
    Raging Bee

    So non-consentual mutilation is only an “abstraction” to you? That pretty well places you outside of reality. Is “murder” also a mere abstraction in your bubble-verse?

  41. 41
    lelapaletute

    @Gjenganger

    Though it pains me to say it, I agree with Raging Bee. You made that choice, for yourself. This will, of course, have a HUGE impact on how you experience it. And just because you experience little physical difference, does not mean that is how it is, physically, for every man People’s bodies are different. Some women experience little sensitivity in their nipples, and find any sexual attention paid to them irritating more than anything else; other women claim it is an orgasmic area, and take more pleasure in them than in vaginal intercourse. Would it be legitimate for the non-orgasmically nippled to dismiss the nipple as ‘of little importance’ to everyone as a general rule, and tell a woman who had had her nipples removed in infancy, and thus never been able to find out whether her nipples were important to her sexuality or or not, that she wasn’t missing much and any unhappiness she felt was purely mental (which to you seems to mean, not to be considered)?

  42. 42
    Gjenganger

    @Raging 39, 40
    On the contrary, feelings are very real. Which is why I think we should care about traumatic feelings more than we care about skin removal.

    All words are abstractions. They refer to lots of different individual cases. We should judge the individual cases on their merits. Assisted suicide is technically murder, AFAIAC, but the moral judgement depends on the actual circumstances, not on whether it falls within a particular definition or not. FGM, circumcision and forced haircuts can all be said to fall within the definition of ‘non-consensual mutilation’. I still think we shopuld judge them differently.

  43. 43
    lelapaletute

    And how can you say that what matters to you is the effect on the individual, and then dismiss the effect it has had on every individual who has experienced it differently to yourself?

  44. 44
    Gjenganger

    @Lelapaletute 41
    I am only one person, you cannot generalize from me. But I am not aware of any reliable results that show that a medically successful circumcision generally has significantly bad effects on sexual responses (unlike FGM). And there should be enough circumcised people around to investigate. Can you point me to any data? Usual rules – large, controlled studies, not self-selected bands of activists.

  45. 45
    freja

    (I wont continue the discussion with wtfwhateverd00d unless someone else has a complaint about my post too, in which case I’ll be happy to respond).

    @25, Gjenganger

    For the record I agree almost completely with your post 17, so I think you misunderstood me. What probably confused you is that I am not against circumcision, just against the medical risks.

    Ah, that explains it. Sorry for getting you wrong. I’m not against circumcision either, I’m just against needless body modifications being made without the informed consent of the body’s owner. If an adult man wants to have his foreskin cut off, he’s welcome to it. Adult women too for that matter.

    I think your argument that some things (like language and cultural integration) needs to be taught to children early on has merit, but I don’t believe circumcision is one such thing. The difference is that it is impossible to not end up teaching children something about language and values because they’ll pick up on it anyway, so you have to make the decision of what they learn no matter what. Also, learning tends to increase your opportunities, not reduce them. I don’t need to not have learnt to read to decide to only communicate via speech rather than texts, knowing how to read simply gives me the choice. In the same way, leaving your son’s penis uncut will give him more of a choice later on how he wants his penis to be.

    I don’t think there’s any important physiological reason to make the procedure while boys are still children. I can see the merit in allowing transgendered children to transition physically before puberty permanently alters their body (though the obvious risk may not be worth it) because it can get them closer to the body they feel most comfortable with in the end, but I have seen no study indicating that men who were circumcised as children end up with a different penis than men who were circumcised as adults. Not to mention that, unlike transgendered children, children who are biologically wired to want a circumcised penis don’t seem to exist.

  46. 46
    Gjenganger

    @Freja 45.
    Indeed, there is no medical reason for circumcising boys. No argument there. Whatever benefits are cultural. You are following the words of your scripture, and you are joining the group of people, parents, ancestors, who have been circumcised as boys for centuries and millenia. Keeping your foreskin looses you that benefit. Which is intangible and not desired by everyone, but none the less real for that.

    I saw this joke in a parish magazine once. Parents standing around 18-year-old son, and talking: “We decided not to teach him about religion and wait till he was old enough to decide for himself. And now he is of age he has decided that he wants to have had a Christian upbringing”. Which, of course, is now too late.

  47. 47
    123454321

    Bloody Hell, I’m finding myself agreeing with Raging Bee.

  48. 48
    Raging Bee

    All words are abstractions.

    Not when they describe real things.

    FGM, circumcision and forced haircuts can all be said to fall within the definition of ‘non-consensual mutilation’.

    If you really don’t understand the difference between haircuts and genital mutilation, then, again, you’re really not qualified to argue about ethics. I really don’t have the time or reason to explain something that obvious to someone this ignorant.

    Which is why I think we should care about traumatic feelings more than we care about skin removal.

    In this case, the two go together, so it’s pointless to say you care more about one than the other. And we won’t know how much trauma a given circumcision causes until it’s too late. So the safest thing to do is not do the mutilation unless it proves necessary.

    But I am not aware of any reliable results that show that a medically successful circumcision generally has significantly bad effects on sexual responses (unlike FGM).

    First, anecdotes by circumcised guys are VERY reliable evidence that the procedure has a strong chance of doing more harm than good.

    And second, a “medically successful” circumcision is one that was done for a medical reason, and was successful in accomplishing that medical purpose with no uninended damage. A procedure done for no medical reason cannot, by definition, be considered “medically successful,” because there’s no medical objective for it to succeed at. This is just like talking about a “medically successful” amputation of a perfectly healthy arm.

  49. 49
    Raging Bee

    Give in to your reason, young 123454321, feel the power of the bright side!

  50. 50
    freja

    And if those people no longer saw circumcision as essential to their culture and religion, or perhaps saw it as an important rite of passage to be taken when the boy had become a man, circumcision would now give the same or increased benefits when done as an adult, with the added bonus of being voluntary. This is what a lot of us hope we can work towards.

    Religious people change their minds all the time about which rules and recommendations are worth following and which of them don’t count. There’s nothing wrong with trying to get them to follow the better parts and ignore the worst parts instead of the other way around.

    Furthermore, protecting religious feelings aren’t always worth other people’s freedom or rights. Plenty of people feel that their marriage is less valid when same-sex marriage is allowed, but that fight is still worth fighting. Every religious commandment rigidly followed by a culture/subculture feels valuable to them. It doesn’t make it right.

  51. 51
    freja

    Sorry, the last posty vwas a response to Gjenganger in post 46.

  52. 52
    Gjenganger

    @Freja 50

    And if those people no longer saw circumcision as essential to their culture and religion, or perhaps saw it as an important rite of passage to be taken when the boy had become a man, circumcision would now give the same or increased benefits when done as an adult, with the added bonus of being voluntary.

    It would certainly make life easier for everybody. Actually getting anywhere would probably require giving the impression that you felt there was something there to respect, rather than just a lot of nonsense to discard. But OK, given your post 17 you might well qualify.

  53. 53
    Thil

    @Gjenganger @32

    “The problems is whether you think that certain parts of culture are good and should be transmitted (basic ethics, community traditions, a belief in the scientific method) and other parts are bad and should be suppressed (religion). And whether you have the right to impose your views on other people who do not share them”

    Firstly if you say “no” the only logical conclusion to draw is that you should support the abolition of all laws. Secondly it’s a paradox to say “right and wrong do not exist there for it’s wrong to impose your idea of right and wrong on others”

  54. 54
    Gjenganger

    Right and wrong certainly do exist. The problem is that people often disagree on what they are, and there is no agreed way of deciding. We can do a lot based on generally shared principles, but yes, ultimately it comes down to a dominant group setting a norm for society and other groups being forced to comply. The thing is that one of the general principles we mostly agree about is that it is good to let different groups hold on their different traditions and philosophies, where reasonably possible. That serves as a brake on the natural tendency to think that your personal principles are the only true ones, and that everybody else should live by them.

    The specific question was whether you were allowed to teach religion ot your children. And here it makes a lot of difference whether you claim – wrongly – that this is a matter of a universal principle that you may not impose your views on someone else, or whether you admit that it is just another case of “Other people shold nolt teach things that go against my personal views“. For some views that may still be the right atitude (nazism, say), but you are more cautious about imposing your views when you admit what it is you are doing.

  55. 55
    Lucy

    What kind of health and safety regulations for a home circumcision would suffice?

    The only ones that would be worth having would be ones that required a registered medical professional to carry circumcisions out in clinic. In other words, home or religious circumcision would have to be made illegal and the NHS would have to agree to run day clinics with religious oversight.

  56. 56
    Lucy

    wtfwhateverd00d

    “Freja,

    Have you noted this article is about BOYS not GIRLS?

    Do you even give a shit about boys?

    WHAT ABOUT THE GIRLZZZ!!!!!

    Feminism is why the world can’t have nice things.”

    See how annoying that is? Now imagine it amplified by a thousand, everywhere, all the time. Now imagine why women and feminists complain about it just like you did over one piddly comment (or rather not like you did).

  57. 57
    Gjenganger

    @Lucy 55

    The only ones that would be worth having would be ones that required a registered medical professional to carry circumcisions out in clinic. In other words, home or religious circumcision would have to be made illegal

    There are no doubt good political reasons for that – such as getting the people who now earn money from the practice out of the picture – but surely that policy cannot be justified on purely medical grounds. After all, if home birth can be done in a medcally acceptable manner, it should be possible to cater for home circumcisions as well.

  58. 58
    lelapaletute

    Apples and oranges, Gjenganger. Childbirth = natural process that the body is designed to do. Circumcision = unnecessary surgery.

  59. 59
    Gjenganger

    @58 Lelapaletute
    No quarrel with that, as it stands. All I am saying is that if home birth can be done safely, so can home circumcision. If you think that a preference for home birth is a valid choice that should be respected and a preference for home circumcision is not, that is fine with me. But you should admit that it is not a safety judgement.

  60. 60
    Tamen

    123454321 @47

    Bloody Hell, I’m finding myself agreeing with Raging Bee.

    If it helps you could reframe it to Raging Bee agreeing with you :)

  61. 61
    Thil

    @Gjenganger

    If I didn’t think other people should live by my principles I wouldn’t hold them my self.

    I think that people should be allowed to think whatever they want personally but should be required to teach their children to think critically.

  62. 62
    Gjenganger

    @Thil 61
    Think critically” being code for agreeing with you, presumably. Personally I believe in Jesus Christ as our saviour, but, unlike you, I do not think it should be mandatory to bring up future generations to agree with me. It is called ‘freedom of conscience’ I beieve, and it was developed because the alternative led to too much war and oppression. You should consider it.

  63. 63
    Lucy

    Gjenganger

    “There are no doubt good political reasons for that – such as getting the people who now earn money from the practice out of the picture – but surely that policy cannot be justified on purely medical grounds. After all, if home birth can be done in a medcally acceptable manner, it should be possible to cater for home circumcisions as well.”

    But childbirth isn’t a medical procedure. An adult woman of sound mind can’t be compelled to have a hospital admission or to accept medical treatment so she can give birth at home with no medical supervision if she likes. But the NHS doesn’t have to provide a home-birthing service. If a woman opted to have a planned procedure such as a Caesarian, she’d have to have a medical professional do it, in a hospital.

    Circumcision is surgery, and the GMC can’t license random people to carry out surgery in people’s homes.

  64. 64
    Lucy

    Revised guidance and competencies for minor surgery:

    (http://www.pcc-cic.org.uk/sites/default/files/articles/attachments/revised_guidance_and_competences_for_the_provision_of_services_using_gps_with_special_interests_0.pdf)

    In summary, you have to be a GP with specialist training and competences, comply with national guidelines, operating in a sterile, carpetless, clinical environment, with access to resuscitation equipment, access to NHS databases, providing proper administrative oversight.

  65. 65
    Gjenganger

    @Lucy 63,64
    I do not doubt you, but these are all formal arguments. My contention is that choosing to give birth at home – whether it counts as a medical procedure or not – increases the danger for the baby (and the mother) more than does choosing to have a circumcision at home. Always assuming that you have properly trained people to participate in both cases. Do you dispute that?

  66. 66
    summerblues

    Lucy @ 63,

    “But childbirth isn’t a medical procedure.” No, but it is considered a medical event and pregnancy is considered a medical condition. Both require specialized medical treatment, otherwise we are wasting our time trying to get good prenatal care out to all women even in developed countries.

    ” An adult woman of sound mind can’t be compelled to have a hospital admission or to accept medical treatment so she can give birth at home with no medical supervision if she likes. ” Which would be incredibly foolish on her part since things can and do go very wrong during pregnancy and delivery.

  67. 67
    Maureen Brian

    Sorry, Gjenganger @ 65, but the evidence is against you.

    A search on GoogleScholar will bring you half a million or so papers on the subject. This proves to be another assertion of “fact” which crumples in the face of the reality.

    Very few home births in developed countries happen by accident and the “deliberate” ones are preceded by a pretty good risk analysis in the weeks before due date. If that’s happening then infant mortality and morbidity are no different. In addition there are powerful reasons to opt for a home birth which include the well-being of the mother and the mental health of the entire family.

    So for the majority home birth is the better option, though it does depend upon having competent ante-natal care and monitoring of the development of the foetus. As Lucy says, birth is not a medical procedure. The medics are only a useful adjunct where something goes wrong – as it can do when you cough, blink or eat.

  68. 68
    Maureen Brian

    @ 66,

    This is the precedent quoted in the guidance offered by the UK’s General Medical Council.

    St George’s Healthcare NHS Trust v S; R v Collins and others, ex parte S [1998] 3 All ER 673
    The right of a competent pregnant woman to refuse treatment even if that refusal may result in harm to her or her unborn child/Application of the Mental Health Act 1983.

    S was diagnosed with pre-eclampsia requiring admission to hospital and induction of labour, but refused treatment because she did not agree with medical intervention in pregnancy. Although competent and not suffering from a serious mental illness, S was detained for assessment under the Mental Health Act. A judge made a declaration overriding the need for her consent to treatment, and her baby was delivered by caesarean section.

    The Appeal Court held that S’s right to autonomy had been violated, her detention had been unlawful (since it had been motivated not by her mental state but by the need to treat her pre-eclampsia) and that the judicial authority for the caesarean had been based on false and incomplete information.

    A competent pregnant woman can refuse treatment even if that refusal may result in harm to her or her unborn child.
    Patients cannot lawfully be detained and compulsorily treated for a physical condition under the terms of the Mental Health Act.

    I remember the case well and there had been a few like it around the same time, with an almighty fuss. I’m afraid your long-distance fact-free judgement that a woman you don’t know “might be foolish” counts foe nothing when set against legal precedent and her autonomy.

  69. 69
    summerblues

    This is just nauseating.

    This happened in 1998, it’s 2013. The problem was that they held her for mental health issues and if I’ve found the correct person “MS I do what I want go bodily autonomy” at first rejected her own daughter. clap clap – deadpan. 36 weeks pregnant…high blood pressure…and fucking 1998.

    As a women with functioning equipment to carry a child and bring it into this world I have a responsibility to take care of that little genetically separate human being (even though the little guy is getting his support from me) to do what is best for both of us. This is not a “person” but I am damned sure that I am not going to waste my time and nutrients carrying “it” by ignoring advice and possible needed treatments.

    And stop with the denial that this is a medical procedure/treatment/condition/requires medical supervision bullshit. A midwife (qualified, licensed) also watches the pregnancy to determine if it is high risk, etc. Home births are for healthy pregnancies, not high risk. “This is perfectly natural”…yeah, and it naturally kills us, too. Please get your heads out of crunchy-granola la-la land.

    I also looked up the “oh-so-scary!!” surgical procedure of male circumcision: it appears to be less risky than midwife birthing, so, uh…yeah, the midwife who is qualified can perfom the …er, “ohsoscary” procedure on a male infant. Either at home or in the “clinic” provided she follows the guidelines set forth…either by WHO or here in the States the AMA. Adult male circumcision should still be at the doctor’s office or at a hospital.

    You’re on your own after this, Gjenganger. This is turning my stomach, more than I can handle.

  70. 70
    123454321

    “If it helps you could reframe it to Raging Bee agreeing with you ”

    Yes, I think you’re right because I can be fairly certain that I drew to my conclusions surrounding MGM well whilst Raging Bee was still contemplating what to ask Santa for.

  71. 71
    Gjenganger

    @Summerblues 69
    Thanks, Summerblues. I do not disagree, but let us not get carried away. It does not help the discussion.

    My version would be that childbirth is inherently much more risky than circumcison – is may be natural, but so is dying in childbirth. With proper care and medical attention I am sure that home birth can be done very safely (in fact, I rather like the idea), but surely it would always be a little safer in hospital, in case something goes wrong. That extra risk is something we are willing to allow in order to let the mother (parents?) choose.
    Home circumcision as currently practised is clearly far too risky (as Ally said), but again, I am sure the risk could be brought down lower than home birth, with proper procedures, licensing etc. It would still be a little safer in a clinic, of course.
    My facts might be wrong here, so if you can bring any solid evidence I am willing to listen.

    At this point it becomes interesting to make the comparison. Do women have an absolute right to make any arrangements they feel like, whatever the risk of damage ot the child they are bringing into the world? And do parents have no right to take even the smallest additional risk in how they arrange circumcisions? If we look at this as risk calculations that does not seem reasonable. It makes sense if we think that women have a holy right to decide whatever they want, or that circumcisions are wrong by definition, however low the risk. But at that point we are not making risk assessments any more.

  72. 72
    lelapaletute

    It’s about whose rights to do what to whom, Gjenganger. Yes, a pregnant woman can drink herself blind nightly throughout her pregnancy, have an abortion, choose to have a home birth, refuse a surgical intervention into her labour. She can do all these things, no matter how wicked or inadvisable we might think them, because it is her body; the foetus is entirely dependent on her and her alone to live, and is thus not yet a viable human being in its own right with rights outwith her own, any more than your nose has rights outwith your face.

    Once the baby is BORN, and has the ability to live and thrive without her, she may not bash its head in; allow it to die through violence or negligence; stick it in the dustbin; force-feed it alcohol; cut off its hand; or any of a number of things that constitute assaults or violations of its human rights. She can do any and all of these things to herself, if she so chooses, however wicked or inadvisable we may think them. But she can’t do it to her baby once it is a physically independent human being and thus has human rights.

    Parents cannot have the right to irreparably surgically alter their children without a pressing medical need. I fail to see how you could possibly accord anyone that right over anyone else, as it is completely unethical.

  73. 73
    123454321

    #72 – Lelapaletute

    “Yes, a pregnant woman can drink herself blind nightly throughout her pregnancy, have an abortion, choose to have a home birth, refuse a surgical intervention into her labour. She can do all these things, no matter how wicked or inadvisable…”

    What about the Father’s rights? It might be her body, but the unborn baby has two parents, both of whom should share equally with the risks and decision-making.

    I suppose you’re technically right with your words, though. In this day and age she CAN do all of those things and get away with it without consequence. That doesn’t mean to say it’s right.

  74. 74
    lelapaletute

    Just to clarify, this thread is not about abortion and the moral arguments about bodily autonomy in pregnancy pertaining thereto, and I’d appreciate it if you’d not muddy the waters by making it so. Circumcision is enough of an issue by itself without bringing that in. However, to be clear: the father has no rights over either the pregnant woman’s body by virtue of the matter within her body (clump of cells, foetus, ‘unborn baby’, whatever scientific or emotive term you care to deploy), nor can he have, as to give him these rights gives him unprecedented power over another sentient human being and there is no possible way it can be justified. This is why men cannot veto abortion; because it is not their body, they can’t make that choice. Biology’s a bitch, but that’s the way it is.

    As for whether it is right or not for a woman to do the various things described while pregnant, that’s as may be. But it is certainly less wrong that she do these things than it would be to institutionalise into law that a woman, by virtue of being pregnant, submits her bodily autonomy to third parties. The implications of that are spectacularly dystopian.

    Let’s leave this one where it is, if you don’t mind. It is not pertinent to the issue in hand, except as an illustration of the where the line between the rights and freedoms of one individual and how they stop at the point where they come up against the equivalent rights and freedoms of another.

  75. 75
    123454321

    ” this thread is not about abortion and the moral arguments about bodily autonomy in pregnancy pertaining thereto, and I’d appreciate it if you’d not muddy the waters by making it so.”

    Errm, why did you bring it up then?

    “However, to be clear: the father has no rights over either the pregnant woman’s body by virtue of the matter within her body (clump of cells, foetus, ‘unborn baby’, whatever scientific or emotive term you care to deploy), nor can he have, as to give him these rights gives him unprecedented power over another sentient human being and there is no possible way it can be justified. This is why men cannot veto abortion; because it is not their body, they can’t make that choice. Biology’s a bitch, but that’s the way it is.”

    Bullshit. Half of that baby belongs to the Father, all the way from conception and thereafter. The Father has no rights over the unborn baby my foot! No man should be put in a position of sharing a decision to be a parent and then being expected to relinquish all his rights to have an input into the decision-making for 9 months, particularly when the decisions surround the welfare of a future human being.

    I tell you what, according to your rules let’s circumcise all baby boys in the womb then, shall we? There we are, problem solved!

    With opinions like these it’s no wonder that men are getting so angry!

  76. 76
    Gjenganger

    @Lelapaletute 72
    Well, I was sticking specifically to home birth arrangements, becuse I wanted to talk about choice and medical safety, not the morality of abortion. That discussion is fruitless and bad for your blood pressure. And way off topic. But it sounds like we agree on the point I was trying to make: The arguments for making it illegal to do circumcisions outside of a clinic (but by qualified personnel) are not a matter of medical safety.

  77. 77
    lelapaletute

    Sorry, I guess I went off piste then – wouldn’t be the first time.

    To be clear, if all you are saying is that by choosing home birth, a pregnant woman is putting herself at risk and we allow for that risk under certain conditions, therefore we should allow for similar levels of risk to allow for home circumcisions, then the only logical response I have is that the woman is making that choice, for herself, and it is she who faces the consequences, therefore it is for her to decide what level of risk she is ready to accept. Whereas home circumcision is a risk the parents decide to take, but the child is the one who will bear any consequences. This is what is unacceptable. If a grown adult wants to cut off his foreskin in the bath with a rusty razor blade, or get Bob from the corner shop to come round and do it, that’s his own affair. But if he wants to do that to his child, the child deserves a say in whether that risk is acceptable to them or not. Which obviously they can’t have until they are of an age to form and express such an opinion.

    If, on the other hand, you were suggesting that home birth involves the mother taking a risk the consequences of which may fall on her ‘unborn child’, and we allow her to take that risk therefore we should allow parents to take risks with the health and safety of their children post birth, up to an accepted limit, then you are,I’m afraid, opening the door to all the attendant abortion arguments that pit the right of a woman to bodily autonomy against the putative rights of the foetus as if it were a fully-fledged human being.

  78. 78
    Thil

    @Gjenganger

    how you raise your children shouldn’t be considered an extension of your personal freedom. It should be viewed as a responsibility and a privilege. you shouldn’t be allowed to teach your children what ever you want for the same reason a school teacher shouldn’t

    ““Think critically” being code for agreeing with you, presumably”

    I wouldn’t view the world in that way unless I thought it was correct

    “Personally I believe in Jesus Christ as our saviour, but, unlike you, I do not think it should be mandatory to bring up future generations to agree with me”

    I can’t read your mind but I suspect that’s because you recognise it’s a faith position

    “It is called ‘freedom of conscience’ I believe, and it was developed because the alternative led to too much war and oppression. You should consider it”

    you are not giving children freedom by allowing their parents to raise them however they please, you are simply turning them over to another master.

  79. 79
    Thil

    @72 @lelapaletute

    why do believe the right to life is less important than the right t do whatever you want with your own body?

  80. 80
    Gjenganger

    @78 Thil
    I am not giving my children freedom either by taking the right to decide away from their parents and giving it to you and your friends instead. Like it or not, children are to a large extent formed by the culture people around them transmit. You may think that yours is superior, but you cannot prove that to me, any more than I can prove to you that mine is. We are much better off agreeing that we each transmit our culture to our children, than saying ‘winner decides all’, and giving all the groups the choice between winning and going under.

  81. 81
    Gjenganger

    @Lelapaletute 77

    If, on the other hand, you were suggesting that home birth involves the mother taking a risk the consequences of which may fall on her ‘unborn child’, and we allow her to take that risk therefore we should allow parents to take risks with the health and safety of their children post birth, up to an accepted limit

    I am, of course. And yes, it does open the door a tiny bit to the idea that some behaviour even before birth may give you some responsibility for the life of the child that eventually gets born. Which is of course a point where we disagree – and which I do not think it is worth debating further. I thought I could bring it up without opening the entire can of worms because the purpose of the birth (once you have got that far) is to bring the child into the world, so it seemed reasonable that the way you choose to organize the process does give you some responsibility for the quality of the result. But OK, if your principles require that it is anathema to consider responsibility arising from any action taken before the baby is fully outside the birth canal, then I am happy to leave it at that.

  82. 82
    Thil

    @Gjenganger @80

    “I am not giving my children freedom either by taking the right to decide away from their parents and giving it to you and your friends instead”

    children shouldn’t have freedom, they should have a benevolent guardian.

    “Like it or not, children are to a large extent formed by the culture people around them transmit”

    can we avoid talking about “culture” and stick to terms that aren’t vague to the point of meaninglessness

    “You may think that yours is superior, but you cannot prove that to me, any more than I can prove to you that mine is”

    If you gave me a convincing enough argument in favour of your world I would adopt it.

    “We are much better off agreeing that we each transmit our culture to our children, than saying ‘winner decides all’, and giving all the groups the choice between winning and going under”

    it’s “guy in the right decides all” and no that would not be better

  83. 83
    lelapaletute

    @79 Thi:

    why do believe the right to life is less important than the right to do whatever you want with your own body?

    I don’t. Where did I say that? I just don’t ascribe the same rights to a foetus as I do to a human being. Up until the point it can exist independently of the mother’s body, it is a part of that body and its rights (in so far as it has has any) are subsumed in hers. She can sacrifice her safety for it, if she chooses to ascribe it that value (in the same way she may use her arms to shield her face). But she cannot be compelled to treat it in a certain way, nor can she be forced to act as a life-support system to it against her will.

    @81 Gjenganger
    The point you are missing is, with birth, the mother is deciding what to do about her own body, her own medical care – she is not making a decision to do something to someone else, on behalf of someone who has the right or ability to make that choice themselves (the foetus not having human rights, unlike a child that is already born). Of course, her actions may have an impact on the decision the person the foetus will become would have made had it been in a position to, but that is pure speculation and impossible to account for before the fact. And unlike circumcision, it is not possible to delay birth until the foetus is grown up so it can make its own choice about how and if it should be born (or rather, come to an agreement with its mother as this decision would affect them both). So it is really not remotely comparable. Unless you are according not just full human rights to the foetus (contentious in itself), but in fact a superior set of rights that supercede those of the woman, it is not a valid comparison.

  84. 84
    Gjenganger

    @Lelapaletute 83
    I understand what you are saying, though I continue to disagree with you. It is just that this is getting too far afield and I would like to break off for now. Pleasure to talk to you. Maybe some other time …

  85. 85
    Raging Bee

    Right and wrong certainly do exist. The problem is that people often disagree on what they are, and there is no agreed way of deciding.

    Actually, there is a very reliable way of deciding what’s right and what’s wrong: empirical observation and verification of the benefits and harms resulting from actions. You may not agree with it, but that doesn’t make it invalid — it just makes you incapable of lecturing us about right and wrong.

  86. 86
    Raging Bee

    I am not giving my children freedom either by taking the right to decide away from their parents and giving it to you and your friends instead.

    This isn’t about “giving children freedom,” this is about protecting kids from unnecessary physical harm.

  87. 87
    Raging Bee

    Half of that baby belongs to the Father, all the way from conception and thereafter.

    By what right does any part of a baby “belong” to any man? (And which half of the baby belongs to the father?)

  88. 88
    Phil

    @83

    Firstly that is exactly what you are doing unless you deny the baby is sapient, and unless you define “life” not to include continued consciousness. Secondly I would define the limits of the woman’s body according to either where her DNA ends or where the limits of her nervous system. I see no good reason to define it the way you do, I mean there are lots of people who would die without assistance, they are still considered people under the law

  89. 89
    Raging Bee

    …unless you deny the baby is sapient…

    A fetus in its first trimester (and possibly its second) is most certainly nowhere near “sapient.” It’s nothing but a clump of human tissue, no more a complete human being than any other part of its bearer’s body. It’s not a person, so there’s no point in calling it one — except, of course, to deny personhood to its bearer.

  90. 90
    Thil

    @Raging Bee @89

    firstly lelapaletute was talking about a foetus at any stage before birth. Secondly I think the fact that they would gain sapience eventually in the natural process of things is enough to define them some rights

  91. 91
    lelapaletute

    @88

    I mean there are lots of people who would die without assistance, they are still considered people under the law

    False analogy. There are indeed people who would die without assistance, and they are considered people under the law and their lives do have value. A newborn baby, even a 5 year old child would die without assistance, but this does not make them non-viable. What a foetus needs is not assistance but a HOST – for a specific human being’s biological organs to be put to their use in order to survive. Without that specific person allowing it to inhabit it, the foetus is completely non-viable. Whereas a person on life support can be ‘assisted’ by anyone; and the assistance they require does not impinge in anything like the same way on their carer’s physical and psychological autonomy.

    The actual equivalent (if an otherwise viable human being and an unviable foetus were in any way comparable) would be for someone to have their cardiovascular system hooked up to another individual; to have their digestive systems linked together; and for the person who is having their digestive and cardiovascular systems parasitically utilised by someone else that they must continue in this way for 9 months, and that they will then have to undergo a potentially dangerous and painful process lasting anything from hours to days to have the other person detached from their body, which, if they survive, may irreparably alter their body. And none of this is by choice; they have to do it, and only they CAN do it. I think forcing someone to undergo this if they were unwilling would be a completely unacceptable form of torture, even if we were talking about saving the life of an actual human being. We can’t even legally force people to donate organs after they’re DEAD, to save the lives of sentient, viable humans; so how can we in conscience force women into donating their whole bodies while they’re still alive, for something which doesn’t even have a nervous system?

    Anyhow, as I said – not an abortion thread. I’m done now. But the comparison between a woman’s right to make decisions about her pregnancy and childbirth, and parents’ rights to cut bits they don’t like off their children, is clearly fallacious.

  92. 92
    Thil

    @lelapaletute @88

    firstly with regard to sapience and feeling pain the defining line between a baby and a foetus is totally arbitrary.

    Secondly “the assistance they require does not impinge in anything like the same way on their carer’s physical and psychological autonomy” that’s subjective.

    Thirdly I might support forcing people to give organs if it was a demonstrative scientific fact that no other organism in existence could give the organ.

    fourthly loosing an organ is not natural.

    fifthly why can’t you say the women is an extension of the baby instead of the other way around?

  93. 93
    123454321

    #87 Raging Bee.

    “By what right does any part of a baby “belong” to any man? (And which half of the baby belongs to the father?)”

    It’s really quite simple, Raging Bee. Every child, baby or foetus comes into being via an egg and a sperm coming together (just in case you didn’t know). The sperm ‘belongs’ to the Father, and the egg ‘belongs’ to the Mother. Get it so far? From that, we can conclude that half of the little human in the making ‘belongs’ to the Mother and the other half ‘belongs to the Father. There you go; nice and easy and I wish they were all like that.

    By the way, you can’t split a baby in half so instead we derive a little agreement that Mother and Father are both apportioned with equal parenting rights from the moment they decide to come together and bear fruit.

    Except for the fact that modern cultural values have evolved to do nothing less than totally screw men over.

  94. 94
    123454321

    If a pregnant woman on the way to the clinic to have and abortion was killed by a man, what would be the outcome?

  95. 95
    Thil

    @123454321 :94

    ….he’d go to jail ….quite rightly

  96. 96
    123454321

    For a double murder?

  97. 97
    Lucy

    Summerblues

    ‘“But childbirth isn’t a medical procedure.” No, but it is considered a medical event and pregnancy is considered a medical condition. Both require specialized medical treatment, otherwise we are wasting our time trying to get good prenatal care out to all women even in developed countries.’

    It doesn’t matter, no adult of sound mind can be compelled to have medical oversight or treatment if they don’t want to.


    ‘” An adult woman of sound mind can’t be compelled to have a hospital admission or to accept medical treatment so she can give birth at home with no medical supervision if she likes. ” Which would be incredibly foolish on her part since things can and do go very wrong during pregnancy and delivery.’

    Well foolish or not, some women prefer to have births in places other than hospitals and non-medics to assist.

    But that is different to having a planned procedure. The public isn’t licensed to carry those out, wouldn’t be insurable, wouldn’t be protected by the law if problems occurred, and couldn’t be accountable to any existing health regulatory body which would demand compliance with regulations and a certain level of measurable competence. And I can’t see the government giving the go-ahead for a new regulatory body to oversee amateurs carrying out minor surgery on children, who have no access to medical records, no competence to deal with an emergency, no ability to effectively counsel parents, in unhygienic conditions. The only way this could happen is if it was limited to GPs carrying out the procedure in registered clinics.

  98. 98
    lelapaletute

    @123454321

    This is the only time I will ever respond to you, as I think your contributions actually hinder a sensible debate being had as a general rule, dripping as they are with provocation and hostility. But in this instance, your logic falls down even on its own fundamentally faulty terms.

    First you claim that half of any baby ‘belongs to’ the father, from gestation onwards. Leaving aside the repugnance of the notion that one person can own another like a piece of property (I would never say a woman’s children ‘belong to’ her, as if they were a pair of bloody shoes), your fifty fifty split seems rather aribtrary, given the actual nature of the process of manufacture.

    Consider the foetus as a building project between two partners. Person A owns the land on which the property will be built (womb). Person A and Person B both contribute 50% of the materials and work for laying the foundations of the house (conception, 50% egg and 50% sperm). Person B then goes on an extended holiday, whilst person A buys all the materials and labour required to build the rest of the property, a process that takes 6480 times as long as the time taken to lay the foundations (9 months of gestation and pregnancy versus a single act of coitus – and that is generously assuming a prolonged and effortful shag lasting a whole hour). Do you really think that Person B has a leg to stand on when he wanders up at the point of completion and claims that 50% of the property ‘belongs’ to him?

    As it so happens, I don’t think either parent ‘owns’ a child. The idea is repellent, and thus the comparison above completely invalid. But if you arein the business of carving up a person like a cake, at least do it on a logically equitable basis that takes into account the relative contribution of each party.

  99. 99
    lelapaletute

    @96: Actually, in UK law it has been established that if a pregnant woman is killed then it cannot be considered a double murder as the foetus is not legally a person when unborn. If, however, an attack on the mother results in premature birth, and if, once born living, the baby dies as a consequence of its premature birth and this can be directly ascribed to the attack, the attacker can be prosecuted for manslaughter but not murder of the baby.

    Which all seems perfectly logical to me.

  100. 100
    lelapaletute

    @Thil:

    firstly with regard to sapience and feeling pain the defining line between a baby and a foetus is totally arbitrary.

    For legal purposes a line must be drawn somewhere, preferably somewhere which respects the human rights of all parties. Obviously legislation is derived from semantic and logical lines which will not always fit neatly over the practicalities of every situation, and the ethics will be different from case to case. In the same way we linguistically have to distinguish between a bud and a flower, we legally have to distinguish between a foetus and baby, and not all cases will be the same. I disagree that the current line is ‘totally’ arbitrary, however – it is an issue that has been worked over by medical, philosophical and legal experts for decades if not centuries in an attempt to find a compromise that the majority can live with. It is open to renegotiation, and in the light of medical advances, new philosophical positions and so forth it probably will be. But while the law is what it is, it is what we must work with for practical purposes.

    Secondly “the assistance they require does not impinge in anything like the same way on their carer’s physical and psychological autonomy” that’s subjective.

    Well yes, in a subjective sense it is. Some women find unwanted pregnancy less physically and psychologically inasive and unpleasant than others; some carers might find, say, feeding a patient or loved one who cannot feed themselves horribly intimate and horrific. I believe they should all have the right to choose how much physical and psychological intimacy they are comfortable with. The difference is, anyone who feels unable to offer care can relinquish the task to someone else; a pregnant woman who feels unable to proceed with a pregnancy cannot; this fact, however unfortunate, does not invalidate her right to set her own boundaries.

    Thirdly I might support forcing people to give organs if it was a demonstrative scientific fact that no other organism in existence could give the organ.

    And I might (no, I WOULD) resist that. That’s another ethical argument, but operates on the same principle. I’m all for opt-out post-mortem organ donation, and for the right to choose to be that of the individual and not their next of kin, as a way of increasing donations; but you can’t force someone to give up an organ to save the life of someone else, or you are entering the dystopian world of fascism, where people’s bodies are treated as resources rather than as their integral selves. Have a read of Never Let Me Go if you want an idea of where that sort of thinking goes.

    fourthly losing an organ is not natural.

    Ah, nature. What does your interpretation of the word include and exclude, then? Abortion is natural – the vast majority of pregnancies are not carried to term. I don’t know whether something being natural or not is an argument for or against it.

    fifthly why can’t you say the women is an extension of the baby instead of the other way around?

    Because it is an obvious abuse of language. The woman was there first; the foetus is created from her body, grows in her body, is reliant on her body for everything. She is no more an extension of the foetus than a house is an extension of a cupboard. can you give me an example of anything else where we would call the primary structure the extension of its subordinate and non-essential part? Is a tree an extension of an individual leaf? Is a car an extension of the glovebox? What’s appalling is that this wrong-headed thinking has prevailed for so long – that a woman’s main value, once she has become pregnant, is to act as a life support machine, and that this function subsumes all her other characteristics, abilities and rights.

  101. 101
    JT

    @lelapaletute

    Are you against the military draft? Also, do you think someone who signs up for the military should be required by law to complete their service regardless if they feel it is too dangerous or simply do not want to?

  102. 102
    lelapaletute

    Hi JT, no I don’t – I don’t think there should be a military at all. What;s your point?

  103. 103
    lelapaletute

    oooh, to clarify: I am against the draft. I don’t think someone should be required by law to complete their military service if they change their mind and want to leave. Overall I think we should reduce and ultimately disband the armed forces.

    What’s your point?

  104. 104
    Raging Bee

    firstly with regard to sapience and feeling pain the defining line between a baby and a foetus is totally arbitrary.

    No more arbitrary than the line between unfertilized and fertilized egg cells. Is the latter more “sapient” than the former?

    Secondly “the assistance they require does not impinge in anything like the same way on their carer’s physical and psychological autonomy” that’s subjective.

    There’s nothing “subjective” about what pregnancy entails. And that’s all I have to say to anyone so eager to deny and ignore objective reality.

    The sperm ‘belongs’ to the Father, and the egg ‘belongs’ to the Mother. Get it so far? From that, we can conclude that half of the little human in the making ‘belongs’ to the Mother and the other half ‘belongs to the Father.

    That doesn’t mean shit. All the man does is ejaculate into the right orifice. The woman does more actual work, carries more weight for a longer time, and bears more risk to her health in carrying the child. Therefore the woman has a SUPERIOR right to decide whether or not to carry a child. It’s still HER BODY, regardless ow who puts what into it. Ejaculation does not determine property rights.

    And besides, your rationalization means a rapist gets to control his victim’s choices if he gets her pregnant. It also means that if a woman had sex with more than one man and got pregnant, she would have ZERO choice about who to partner with to raise her child — that would be determined by a paternity test. Any line of reasoning that supports that conclusion is despicable and needs to be kicked to the curb. Take your “half-ownership” crap and shove it back where it came from.

    And let’s face the obvious fact: this “fathers’ rights” talking-point is nothing but another tool in the reich-wing anti-abortion arsenal. That’s all it was ever meant to be. If a woman wanted to carry a child to term, and the man who got her pregnant wanted her to get an abortion, does anyone really believe the “fathers’ rights” crowd would side with the man in such a case?

  105. 105
    Raging Bee

    Are you against the military draft?

    What the fuck does that have to do with anything?

  106. 106
    JT

    My point is many individuals end up doing something they don’t necessarily want to do with their bodies and in some instances it is required by law. I think in some situations a woman who is bearing a foetus/child that was wanted and planned for with their partner should not always have the exclusive right to terminate it.

  107. 107
    lelapaletute

    So you do approve of the draft, then? Can you justify that?

  108. 108
    JT

    The draft, not so much. If you agree to join the military and put your life and body at risk, yes.

  109. 109
    lelapaletute

    So to extrapolate: planned pregnancy and subsequent decision to have an abortion = no dice. Accidental pregnancy and immediate decision to have an abortion = fine?

  110. 110
    Raging Bee

    I think in some situations a woman who is bearing a foetus/child that was wanted and planned for with their partner should not always have the exclusive right to terminate it.

    What you think has no valid moral basis; and comparing pregnancy to military service is just plain ridiculous and doesn’t support any anti-abortion argument at all. (It might win you some gold in Olympic Straw-Grabbing though.)

  111. 111
    JT

    @lelapaletute

    It doesn’t mean no dice but I do believe in certain situations it should not be a clear cut and solitary decision by one individual. In the other instance of course its fine.

    @Bee

    I didn’t say it supports anti-abortion. So in words famously used by you. Shut the fuck up.;)

  112. 112
    Raging Bee

    I didn’t say it supports anti-abortion.

    Yeah, you didn’t really say much of anything.

  113. 113
    JT

    Then don’t engage in my conversations and we will both be better for it. :)

  114. 114
    lelapaletute

    @JT

    It doesn’t mean no dice but I do believe in certain situations it should not be a clear cut and solitary decision by one individual.

    In which situations, what should it be instead if not clear cut, and how would this ambiguity be legislated and regulated in practice?

    If it came right down to brass tacks and a pregnant woman wants the abortion, and the man who impregnated her wants her to have the baby, whose will should carry the day?

    Would the man have to have legitimate claim to being in partnership with the woman to have a say? What would the terms of that claim have to be?

    What if the woman claimed it was an accidental pregnancy, but the man said it had been planned and wanted, but she had now changed her mind?

    What if a couple had planned to be childless, accidentally fallen pregnant, and the woman wants to keep the child but the man wants an abortion? Would he still be entitled to a say, and how much of one?

    If somehow it was agreed a woman did have to proceed with a pregnancy against her will, how do you then prevent her from taking matters into her own hands? Would she have to be held securely until she has given birth?

    If she miscarried under suspicious circumstances (drunk in a hot bath, say) would she be prosecuted, and for what crime?

    You would need to have pretty clear answers to all these questions and more before you could even begin to implement your proposal, or even to argue for it.

  115. 115
    JT

    You would need to have pretty clear answers to all these questions and more before you could even begin to implement your proposal, or even to argue for it.(Lela)

    I agree. Im thinking in many instances there should be contracts. That way there is no ambiguity. As it is, in the western world, certain individuals are certainly left out of any part of the decision making regardless of whether they have a genetic addition to the process or not. I think some of these concerns will become more of an issue because of surrocacy.

  116. 116
    lelapaletute

    @JT

    Your idea of contracts is (to my mind) a non-starter. We have contracts for all sorts of things, from business to employment to marriage, and ultimately, there is always the possibility of default. However, default on contract is generally a civil wrong rather than a criminal one – what kind of compensation would a man be entitled to from his spouse if she fails to deliver the promised baby? Could she be compelled by court order to reimpregnate herself? Or would default on this particular contract be a criminal wrong, and if so what sort of punishment would be appropriate?

    I do think men should be allowed to opt out of fatherhood pre-birth by signing an irrevocable waiver to any and all rights, responsibilities and relations with the child if they favour abortion and the pregnant woman won’t have one. Seems only fair. But I really don’t think it works the other way around…

  117. 117
    JT

    I think you are correct in regards to the criminality aspect of it. I believe that it will become a civil issue in the future and probably will be because of a surrogate not wishing to fulfill their signed upon agreement. More than likely it will boil down to some sort of monetary penalty. I appreciate that you acknowledge the potential for a man to opt out of fatherhood and its obligations it he so desires. Unfortunately, as of this time, the courts do not.

  118. 118
    lelapaletute

    No indeed they don’t, but don’t you think that would be an easier win to campaign on, not to mention of far more practical use, than trying to get contractual obligations attached to every pregnancy?

    But instead, the majority of the campaigning around men’s rights on pregnancies centre around giving men control over the woman and her body, rather than taking control of their own rights and responsibilities.

  119. 119
    JT

    Im sure it would be easier to win on. I dont campaign anything at this moment. I like to discuss and hopefully learn something or share something that will make a difference in our views. In the instances I am referring to I wouldnt regard it as trying to own the rights and bodies of women but of trying to have a say in what happens to our shared potential offspring. There is a big difference in the two.

  120. 120
    Raging Bee

    If it came right down to brass tacks and a pregnant woman wants the abortion, and the man who impregnated her wants her to have the baby, whose will should carry the day?

    The woman’s, because it’s her body and she does pretty much all of the work and bears all of the risk.

    Would the man have to have legitimate claim to being in partnership with the woman to have a say? What would the terms of that claim have to be?

    Even if the two were legally married, the woman’s choice would still be final, because it’s still her body (see above), and because forcing her to carry a child against her will is still a violation of her basic rights (which are “inalienable” and can’t be signed away, remember?).

    What if the woman claimed it was an accidental pregnancy, but the man said it had been planned and wanted, but she had now changed her mind?

    It’s still her body; see above. Her right to control her own body is inalienable; which means she can change her mind about how/whether she exercises her rights. Contracts requiring people to surrender their basic rights are generally not enforceable. Also, a baby is not just a product that you’re entitled to if you sign a contract or plunk down a deposit.

    What if a couple had planned to be childless, accidentally fallen pregnant, and the woman wants to keep the child but the man wants an abortion? Would he still be entitled to a say, and how much of one?

    It’s still her body; see above. He can argue his case and try to convince her to do it his way; and if he’s not satisfied with her decision, he can file for divorce.

  121. 121
    Raging Bee

    In the instances I am referring to I wouldnt regard it as trying to own the rights and bodies of women but of trying to have a say in what happens to our shared potential offspring.

    In the case of pregnancy and childbirth, they’re the same thing. You can’t do the latter without doing the former.

  122. 122
    JT

    You can’t do the latter without doing the former.

    The world is so simple when its black and white.

  123. 123
    Raging Bee

    Sometimes, JT, it IS black-and-white. This is one of those times. Deal with it.

  124. 124
    JT

    lol

  125. 125
    lelapaletute

    JT, unfortunately Raging Bee does have a point. You can’t give a man rights over the contents of a woman’s womb without giving him rights over the body within which the contents are contained. If you can explain how you can, then by all means do so. You can argue that the man’s right to a say in his potential offspring outweighs the woman’s right to bodily autonomy in certain cases, but that is a hugely contentious statement and would need to be clarified and justified, just as arguments based on the foetus’s personhood, and the supremacy of that putatative person’s putative rights over the established rights of an undisputed person (the pregnant woman) have to be clarified and justified.

    What you can’t do is separate out giving a man a right to ‘a say in the fate of his potential offspring’ – this boils down to ‘a right to veto abortion in some cases’ – from giving him rights over the pregnant woman’s body. While the foetus is in her body, and cannot be viable anywhere else, the two rights are inseparable – black-and-white, you say, but nonetheless true for that.

  126. 126
    123454321

    lela,

    “Consider the foetus as a building project between two partners. Person A owns the land on which the property will be built (womb). Person A and Person B both contribute 50% of the materials and work for laying the foundations of the house (conception, 50% egg and 50% sperm). Person B then goes on an extended holiday, whilst person A buys all the materials and labour required to build the rest of the property, a process that takes 6480 times as long as the time taken to lay the foundations (9 months of gestation and pregnancy versus a single act of coitus – and that is generously assuming a prolonged and effortful shag lasting a whole hour). Do you really think that Person B has a leg to stand on when he wanders up at the point of completion and claims that 50% of the property ‘belongs’ to him?”

    Yes I do think he should have a leg to stand on providing the decision to have a baby was a joint agreement. And this “single act of coitus” that you apportion to the man’s part is hardly the end of the line for any prospective Father, as most Fathers would agree, I’m sure. To sweep the Father’s role and responsibilities under the carpet like you just did is typical feminist clap-trap that has given feminism the bad name it has.

    “As it so happens, I don’t think either parent ‘owns’ a child. The idea is repellent, and thus the comparison above completely invalid.”

    Ideas that disbenefit selfish people are often repellent to them. You’re showing your true colours.

    “But if you arein the business of carving up a person like a cake, at least do it on a logically equitable basis that takes into account the relative contribution of each party.”

    Well let’s put aside the 9 months of gestation for a moment, shall we, and consider the next 18 years where many men go out to work in order to pay child support to a kid he is denied access to by an ex who kicked him out, found another man and screws the Government for benefits. And don’t try telling me that many men don’t significantly contribute throughout the 9 months. Most men I know have bent over backwards to do every conceivable thing they can for their partners.

  127. 127
    123454321

    #99

    “Actually, in UK law it has been established that if a pregnant woman is killed then it cannot be considered a double murder as the foetus is not legally a person when unborn.”

    What about America?

  128. 128
    123454321

    Raging Bee,

    “All the man does is ejaculate into the right orifice.”

    Seriously, you’re a fucking dim-wit if you think being a Father is over after ejaculation, in fact, you’re a double, treble, quadruple, add-infinitum fucking dim-wit. You know nothing. And never forget that.

    “The woman does more actual work”

    What type of work, exactly?

    “carries more weight for a longer time, and bears more risk to her health in carrying the child.”

    Thank goodness. At last you’ve managed to string 18 words together that are true.

    “Therefore the woman has a SUPERIOR right to decide whether or not to carry a child.”

    NO SHE DOESN’T HAVE A SUPERIOR RIGHT YOU ILLOGICAL FOOL. Let me remind you that, putting rape aside, BOTH parties were subject to the same risks, had consensual sex and created a baby based on a mutually agreed decision. In actual fact, having said that, the woman has far more contraceptive choices, many of which are not visible to the man in which case she has more power to deceive if she so chooses. Where as his mainstream choice of contraception is completely obvious so there isn’t the same opportunity for him to deceive. There should be no superior right to choosing abortion when one considers the facts. JT is right. There ought to be contracts set up to protect men from such happenings.

    “It’s still HER BODY”

    In which case, women need to be educated to understand that every human being deserves a loving Mother and a loving Father, both of whom have equal rights from conception thereafter, and that when she makes a decision to have sex with a man she must take into account all of the risks and fully understand the consequences, one of which is that the man she chooses to screw will have an equal say when it comes to the welfare of the unborn child. The other consequence is that the baby, due to biological evolution, will have to grow inside HER body for 9 months and that SHE will have to act fucking responsible.

    STOP SHOVELLING THE SHIT IN THE DIRECTION OF MEN ALL OF THE TIME. WHEN IT EXCEEDS A HEAP WITH AN INCLINE OF GREATER THAN 45 DEGREES IT WILL TUMBLE BACK ON TOP OF YOU!

    “And besides, your rationalization means a rapist gets to control his victim’s choices if he gets her pregnant.”

    Show me where I said that? Show me where I even inferred that a criminal act should be granted the same rights.

    ” It also means that if a woman had sex with more than one man and got pregnant, she would have ZERO choice about who to partner with to raise her child — that would be determined by a paternity test.”

    So what’s your point? It means nothing. Apart from the fact that it’s far easier for a Mother to know that she’s the mother than a Father knowing for certain that he’s the Father.

    “Any line of reasoning that supports that conclusion is despicable and needs to be kicked to the curb. Take your “half-ownership” crap and shove it back where it came from.”

    yeah, yeah, yeah, whatever….yawn.

    “And let’s face the obvious fact: this “fathers’ rights” talking-point is nothing but another tool in the reich-wing anti-abortion arsenal. That’s all it was ever meant to be. If a woman wanted to carry a child to term, and the man who got her pregnant wanted her to get an abortion, does anyone really believe the “fathers’ rights” crowd would side with the man in such a case?”

    I’ll give it 50 years before we see contracts. Could be sooner.

  129. 129
    123454321

    “Your idea of contracts is (to my mind) a non-starter.”

    But that’s only because you think it would wipe out some of the freedom, choices and advantages that women already have.

    I can see right through like a sheet of crystal glass.

  130. 130
    123454321

    “But instead, the majority of the campaigning around men’s rights on pregnancies centre around giving men control over the woman and her body,”

    No. Fathers simply want equal rights is the decision-making process. Women KNOW the risks before they have sex. If they don’t then that’s why we need to apply edification to our generation of young women, and also make them face consequences when they make mistakes on matters which, quite frankly, are not trivial.

    “rather than taking control of their own rights and responsibilities.”

    …which are often stripped away from them by modern-day, culturally embedded, feminist agendas which place all of the choices and benefits on the female side of the scales. The male side only gets weighed down with all the unwanted shit.

  131. 131
    John Morales

    123454321 @130:

    If they don’t then that’s why we need to apply edification to our generation of young women, and also make them face consequences when they make mistakes on matters which, quite frankly, are not trivial.

    Even granting your premise arguendo, this smacks of authoritarianism and vindictiveness, since you speak only of the outcome of having sexual congress.

    (So, they took a risk* and failed the saving throw; why then not allow for a fall-back strategy (such as abortion) — is that not part of their rights?)

    * Leaving moot how willingly they did so.

  132. 132
    JT

    @Lela 125

    I guess that is it, it wont be someone taking it from another it will be one willing to give it. Signed on the dotted line so there is no ambiguity. Isnt it amazing that your inalienable rights don’t work when it comes to military service. Hmmm, I wonder if that could be used in a court of law. :)
    .

  133. 133
    lelapaletute

    @123454321: Your aggressive ranting and failure to actually tackle my points proves what I said earlier about your contributions generating far more heat than light. I hope you won’t take it amiss if I ignore them. Indeed, I don’t much care if you do.

    @JT: A woman would be something of a fool to sign such a contract though, wouldn’t she?

    Given that the only rights it would give her over her male partner would be his legal obligation to support any children born to them (something the courts can already enforce if it is deemed appropriate), whereas it would be giving the man the power to subjugate her body upon becoming pregnant. Given that I very much doubt the absence of willingness on the part of most women to sign such a contract will deter the majority of men from partnering with or having sex with these refusenik women, it’s hard to see what’s in it for the women, really.

    It’s not like (voluntary) military service, where economic pressures or even a genuine desire to pursue that career might prompt somone to sign away their rights in the form of a contract; there would be no motive for women to sign voluntary contracts requiring them to give up their right to choose. So actually, you’re talking aboutlegislating these fathers’ rights generally over pregnant women – a kind of reproductive conscription – are you not?

  134. 134
    summerblues

    123454321 @ 130

    “No. Fathers simply want equal rights is the decision-making process. Women KNOW the risks before they have sex. If they don’t then that’s why we need to apply edification to our generation of young women, and also make them face consequences when they make mistakes on matters which, quite frankly, are not trivial.”

    Huh? So ..men don’t know they impregnate women?

  135. 135
    JT

    @Lela

    Well, you pretty much laid out clearly why many men are frustrated by their lack of decision making in regards to having children. Once the process of gestation has commenced they are no longer afforded any concrete ways for their input. Im sure that in the future it wont always be so clearly one sided. Im also sure there are women out there who would sign, it may not be the majority though. Afterall, prenups are not that uncommon.

  136. 136
    Raging Bee

    Well let’s put aside the 9 months of gestation for a moment…

    This debate is about a woman’s right to decide whether or not she gets pregnant, nothing more. Why should we “put aside” the central topic of this debate?

    Let me remind you that, putting rape aside, BOTH parties were subject to the same risks…

    Really? Men get pregnant, and deal with the medical complications of pregnancy, just as often as women? I’d kinda like a cite for that, if you don’t mind.

    Fathers simply want equal rights is the decision-making process.

    The man has a right to decide how his body is used; and the woman has a right to decide how her body is used. Both have the right to use some form of birth control, and either party can choose not to have sex. That’s equal rights, dumbass.

    Women KNOW the risks before they have sex.

    And men don’t?

    If they don’t then that’s why we need to apply edification to our generation of young women, and also make them face consequences when they make mistakes on matters which, quite frankly, are not trivial.

    First you’re certain that women know the risks. Then you say we have to educate a whole GENERATION of young women about the risks. So do women know where babies come from, or do they not? You need to make up your mind on this before you presume to taech anyone else anything.

    In which case, women need to be educated to understand that every human being deserves a loving Mother and a loving Father, both of whom have equal rights from conception thereafter…

    A woman owns her own body, therefore she has to be “educated” that someone else owns part of it if she gets pregnant? This is one of the more ridiculous non-sequiturs I’ve heard from the MRA crowd; and it clearly shows how ignorant, childish, and uncontrollably emotional they are. And these are the people who want to control women’s personal health decisions?

    STOP SHOVELLING THE SHIT IN THE DIRECTION OF MEN ALL OF THE TIME.

    How is it “shovelling shit” to say that women have a right to choose whether or not to get pregnant? Seriously, tantrum-boy, you’re way to emotional to deal sensibly with these issues, and you’re clearly making no sense at all. And no, the CAPSLOCK does NOT make your arguments any BIGGER. Just the LETTERS.

    But then, what more can I expect from someone who doesn’t even have enough sense to choose a decent ‘nym for himself?

  137. 137
    lelapaletute

    @JT

    Once the process of gestation has commenced they are no longer afforded any concrete ways for their input. Im sure that in the future it wont always be so clearly one sided

    But it’s all very well making these rather vague prognostications about what will happen one day; what do you actually think should happen, and how should it be implemented? If you don’t have a contribution on that score which you are willing to defend, then on what basis are you criticising the current situation?

    I can understand why men might be jealous of and frustrated by women’s capacity to gestat, an ability that men do not possess. I am envious of birds’ capacity to fly. But I do not deal with my envy by cutting off birds’ wings, or forcing them to fly when they don’t want to in an enclosure I have built for my convenience. It is not appropriate to assuage men’s envy of women’s gestative capacities by removing women’s right to physical autonomy.

    Im also sure there are women out there who would sign, it may not be the majority though. Afterall, prenups are not that uncommon.

    There is a pretty spectacular difference between someone agreeing that, in the event of a relationship breakdown, they are not entitled to any of the other party’s assets, and someone agreeing that, in the event of a disagreement over whether or not to proceed with a pregnancy, the other party can compel her to give birth or to have an abortion. If you can’t see that difference, you are straying perilously close to the commodification of human beings that we saw further upthread, where it was posited that parents can ‘own’ their children, that men can ‘own’ part of a foetus while it is in a woman’s body, and consequently that his ‘property right’ override her human rights. If this is a position you feel you can defend, I’d be jolly interested to know how.

  138. 138
    summerblues

    lelapaletute, you are a lot nicer and more patient than I am.

    I’m with Raging Bee on this one. All I can think of is “who the hell do you think you are”.

    Where did this come from, this idea that either men or the gov’t or religion or whoever has the right to control women’s reproductive systems like this. And why does it seem so difficult for some to grasp the very correct idea that women ..own? control? our own bodies. These are our bodies. That’s it. I don’t even have the right words to explain it; just seems like a no-brainer. If adults do not have the right to circumcise infant boys because those infant boys’ bodies belong to them….then what’s the difference in adults besides the repro systems. It’s discrimination, it’s disgusting and for the love of Pete how hard is it to keep your sperm, as a man, out of the body of a woman that you don’t want to have children with. We have the same repro rights before a pregnancy takes place: abstinence, contraceptives, sterilization. After a pregnancy takes place the rights are dependent of the reproductive systems. That’s it and tough shit. I’m tired of being treated like something subhuman just because I have a womb. No, gentlemen, you don’t know better than I do whether or not I should carry a pregnancy to term. It’s not women’s fault you weren’t born with the equipment.

  139. 139
    JT

    Envy, jealousy, these are words you are using to describe someones feeling about their wanting a say in the gestational process of their future offspring? Frustrated is the word for being left out of the decision making process. It is not because a woman has the ability to incubate the child. I am not exactly sure how the equalization of this process can and will work. I do believe that surrogacy will probably be the first to address certain concerns. I am not some pro life radical nor am I sexist or wanting to own a womans bodily rights. What I am saying is that there is an imbalance here that needs to be addressed and it will continue to be an issue if all you can say is “my body, my right, dont be so jealous”

    Think of it from this way. A married couple decide together to have a child. As much as possible they are actively involved in this process. They both attend doctors appts. ultra sound. The pregnancy is going smoothly and both are excited for their future baby. At 2.5 months the wife has an affair and realizes she doesnt want the baby. Do you think it would be envy or jealousy that would motivate the father to want his child to be born? In your heart do you think it would be reasonable for him to want to stop an abortion of this future child?

  140. 140
    JT

    Interestingly enough, I dont think it will be a man to be the one to have some kind of law put into place. It will probably be a female egg donor with her surrogate.

  141. 141
    lelapaletute

    @JT:

    Envy, jealousy, these are words you are using to describe someones feeling about their wanting a say in the gestational process of their future offspring? Frustrated is the word for being left out of the decision making process. It is not because a woman has the ability to incubate the child.

    I’m sorry if you find the words I have chosen intemperate or inappropriate. I am sure it must be incredibly frustrating to want to have a child but to be unable to do so without the co-operation of another individual Infertile women no doubt go through something similar. I just don’t see how the situation is to be remedied without abrogating the woman who is ‘incubating’ the foetus’s fundamental right to physical autonomy. Also, ‘incubate’ is a very carefuly chosen word to imply that the entire business of producing the ‘potential offspring’ is done at conception, and all the woman does is contain it (or rather, hold it hostage). This is not the case; beyond the zygote, all the energy and matter that goes into developing the foetus comes from the woman. She is not an ‘incubator’, she is a generator. I say this because language, and what it seeks to establish, is important to this debate.

    I am not exactly sure how the equalization of this process can and will work. I do believe that surrogacy will probably be the first to address certain concerns. I am not some pro life radical nor am I sexist or wanting to own a womans bodily rights. What I am saying is that there is an imbalance here that needs to be addressed and it will continue to be an issue if all you can say is “my body, my right, dont be so jealous”

    I would argue that the imbalance is irredeemable, at least in the definitive legal sense, until the invention of the artificial womb, because of the human rights of the woman carrying the foetus. It IS her body; it IS her right. How do you get around those fundamental rights (assuming she doesn’t sign them away herself, assuming that such a signing away could have any legal validity)?

    Think of it from this way. A married couple decide together to have a child. As much as possible they are actively involved in this process. They both attend doctors appts. ultra sound. The pregnancy is going smoothly and both are excited for their future baby. At 2.5 months the wife has an affair and realizes she doesnt want the baby. Do you think it would be envy or jealousy that would motivate the father to want his child to be born? In your heart do you think it would be reasonable for him to want to stop an abortion of this future child?

    Of course it would not be simply envy; that would be a heartbreaking situation, and I would feel for him terribly, just as I would feel terribly for a woman who lost a wanted pregnancy to miscarriage. Of course he would want to stop the abortion, and would be legitimately entitled to try and further that wish within the limits of the law. But sad though it is, he cannot have the RIGHT to actually STOP the abortion without violating the woman’s human right to bodily autonomy. Forcing someone to continue an unwanted pregnancy would be slavery. There is simply no way around that.

    Interestingly enough, I dont think it will be a man to be the one to have some kind of law put into place. It will probably be a female egg donor with her surrogate.

    More crystal ball gazing, frankly. And it should make no difference. The contribution of an egg does not give you any more rights over another woman’s body than the contribution of some sperm should. Or indeed the contribution of money, time, love and hope. Bodily integrity and autonomy is the most fundamental of rights.

  142. 142
    Raging Bee

    Frustrated is the word for being left out of the decision making process.

    Just because the man doesn’t get what he wants in the end, or doesn’t have absolute control at all times, doesn’t mean he’s been “left out of the decision making process.” A man has PLENTY of input in the decision to create or not create a baby. How can you not know this? Did you get all your “education” in an Aghan madrassa?

    I am not exactly sure how the equalization of this process can and will work.

    It will never work because women get pregnant and men don’t. That’s a fact of life you just have to deal with. The women deal with it, so I’m sure you can too.

    What I am saying is that there is an imbalance here that needs to be addressed and it will continue to be an issue if all you can say is “my body, my right, dont be so jealous”

    It IS her body, and it IS her right to decide how to use it. There’s no good reason for anyone to give up such a basic and real right just to suit your vague, undefined fantasy of “equalization.”

    At 2.5 months the wife has an affair and realizes she doesnt want the baby. Do you think it would be envy or jealousy that would motivate the father to want his child to be born?

    The motive doesn’t matter — the woman still has the right to choose whether or not to be pregnant. (Nice try though, trying to de-legitimize a woman’s rights by throwing an affair into the scenario — but it won’t work. The US Constitution applies to sluts too.)

    In your heart do you think it would be reasonable for him to want to stop an abortion of this future child?

    It would be reasonable to WANT to stop the abortion — but still wrong to actually stop it. The choice is still hers, because it’s still her body.

  143. 143
    JT

    I’m sorry if you find the words I have chosen intemperate or inappropriate.(lela)

    Actually, I find them emotionally based as this is an emotionally charged topic for everyone involved.

    Bodily integrity and autonomy is the most fundamental of rights(Lela)

    As I have pointed out, with military service you can sign away that most fundamental right. If you were to go against that you risk potential imprisonment. I expect that would not be the case in regards to our discussion. I expect the penalty will be monetary.

    More crystal ball gazing, frankly. And it should make no difference.(lela)

    It will though. As the US of A is an extremely litigious society this will definately become an issue in the future and as I stated before, odds are it will be two women going at it.

  144. 144
    Raging Bee

    As I have pointed out, with military service you can sign away that most fundamental right.

    That statement is pure bullshit. You don’t “sign away that most fundamental right” in the military, any more than you do in any other job involving physical danger. Bodily autonomy does not mean freedom from physical danger. Your attempts to deny and erase women’s fundamental rights are disgraceful and pathetic. Who do you think you’re fooling?

  145. 145
    lelapaletute

    @JT

    As I have pointed out, with military service you can sign away that most fundamental right.

    And as I pointed out, that is optional. Would you only expect the father to have rights in situation where the pregnant woman had willingly signed them over?

    I expect that would not be the case in regards to our discussion. I expect the penalty will be monetary.

    And in the tragic situation you hypothesized, do you really think monetary compensation to the man who wanted a child would do anything to assuage his grief? What would be the purpose of the contract if women could default on it? The financial implications of HAVING a child would far outweigh any punitive fine that could be levied for having an abortion in breach of agreement; and no financial penalty, no matter how severe, would make a woman proceed with a pregnancy she flat out couldn’t face continuing. Women did and do risk dying from dangerous backstreet abortionists or DIY jobs in countries with restricted acces in order to end unwanted pregnancies; what’s a fine compared to that?

    odds are it will be two women going at it

    On what do you base these odds?

  146. 146
    Raging Bee

    Also, JT, if a woman “signs away that most fundamental right” (bodily autnomy) when she joins the military, does that mean she no longer has the right to refuse sex?

    You really need to stop with the dishonest rationalizations — you’re simply not good at it.

  147. 147
    JT

    On what do you base these odds?(lela)

    I work in health care. I see on a regular basis women who try desperately to get pregnant. If you think a surrogate suggesting abortion of another women’s egg wont cause problems, well, there is no point mentioning it again.

    @Bee

    There are no jobs(that I know of) where you have to put your life at risk and if you attempt to walk away you can go to jail. In the past, they would have shot you at the front lines. If that isnt losing your most “fundamental right” then color me blind. Also refrain from the Taliban references please. I assume you would not say that to my face. And if you would you do realize the risk that would put you in. ;)

  148. 148
    Adiabat

    JT: As much as I usually agree with you, I think you’re onto a loser with this one.

    While I can sorta see some situations where your position has merit – perhaps where a couple agree to have a baby, but the female partner was lying to remain with the male, and then decides to abort when she forgets the pill she’s been taking in secret (completely hypothetical situation – not claiming it’s anywhere near that common btw). But the remedy isn’t to force her to carry the baby to term, but for him to leave. I may be able to support some sort of civil case where he can get some financial recoup of his losses due to her deception, to make up for the time wasted where he could’ve been building a relationship with someone who actually wanted children.

    As Lela says above, I think there is a much stronger moral case for arguing for legal surrender, paper abortion or whatever you want to call it. Funnily enough the arguments that have been made against your current position could just as easily be used to support legal surrender. After all he does “nothing” to bring the child into the world…

  149. 149
    JT

    @Adiabat

    Its not about winning or losing. That fight will happen with others. I am just pointing out the inevitable, to think that his isnt going to become more of a minefield in the future is naive. I think this has already been attempted in court. Expect much, much more of it in the future. And as I have said, it likely will be a battle between two women.

  150. 150
    lelapaletute

    I was wondering if JT was right, and whether this had already come up in some form. A surrogate wanting to abort against the parents’ wishes doesn’t seem to, but this horrific case did, in which the legal parents wanted the surrogate to abort a disabled foetus and she refused, despite it being in her contract(!) that she would abort in the event of severe abnormalities:

    http://edition.cnn.com/2013/03/04/health/surrogacy-kelley-legal-battle/

    Frankly all three participants sound pretty appalling people, and I am glad the baby that was eventually born has gone to adoptive parents who are neither the biological parents or the surrogate. But I think the idea that these people could SUE a woman to abort, just shows how appalling the situations arising from JT’s proposals/predictions could be. This is exactly why ultimate right to make a decision on abortion or pregnancy has to rest with the woman in question.

  151. 151
    Raging Bee

    I assume you would not say that to my face.

    That’s probably because YOU would never make such asinine and dishonest arguments to my face as you have made here.

  152. 152
    Raging Bee

    Damn, JT, if ADIABAT is calling your argument a loser, it’s way past time to give up.

  153. 153
    JT

    @Bee

    You see things as win/lose, black/white. Im discussing and yes I would say them to your face without insulting you as you have to me. If you would have no problem insulting me to my face then I would assume you would also have no problem with the consequence.

  154. 154
    Gjenganger

    @Lelapaletute.
    Hi again. I think there is a hole in one of your arguments, but the rest is just our different takes on an upleasant problem.

    As you say there is a conflict between womens bodily autonomy, mens influence on their offspring, and respect and protection for human life (foetuses are surely human and life, even if they do not qualify as persons). Normally this is not a good thing to discuss: too many emotions, no decent solutions, and no arguments that hold – it all hangs on what you choose to prioritize. To stay close to familiar concepts, we have to consider foetuses either as something like a person, or something like a wart. The difference is so stark that we need a clear decision, but there is none. Foetuses are really sort of in between: They are not fully persons in all senses of the word, but they are not just warts either. For such a stark decision we also want a clear cut-off, but the only two available are conception and birth, and the change clearly happens somewhere in between. So there can be no clear decision, and we each fight for our favourite alternative. Some (many women) decide that bodily autonomy is the only thiing that matters, choosing (a bit too easily, I say) to ignore the victims of their policy, who will never live to be able to look them in the eye. I choose to be against abortion, ignoring (a bit too easily, you might say), the sufferings of women that, after all, I will never share. I suspect we might agree a fair bit about the problem, but we will never agree about which side should shoulder how much of the pain.

    About the hole in your argument: You say:

    What a foetus needs is not assistance but a HOST – for a specific human being’s biological organs to be put to their use in order to survive. Without that specific person allowing it to inhabit it, the foetus is completely non-viable.

    That may be true for the first two thirds of pregnancy, but for the last couple of months the foetus is perfectly viable – it does not need a host, just food and shelter. So on that argument alone you cannot deny foetuses all protection up until birth (and my original point on home births becomes harder to deny). This is not your only argument, of course. I do not expect to change your mind, but you should recognise that this particular point has its limits.

  155. 155
    Raging Bee

    Normally this is not a good thing to discuss: too many emotions…

    Yeah, people do tend to get all emotional and silly when you try to have a civil discussion about their basic rights and personhood. That just makes it so much harder to tell them what’s good for them, doesn’t it?

    …no decent solutions…

    Roe vs. Wade was a perfectly decent solution — a well-crafted compromise between those who say life begins at birth and those who say it begins at conception. I wouldn’t knock that unless you have a more decent solution in mind.

  156. 156
    JT

    @Gjenganger

    #154

    Well said.

  157. 157
    Gjenganger

    @Raging Bee 155
    Not up on US law, but the general principle seems to be free abortion until viability. The UK has something similar, but both sides seem to be remarkably unhappy with it. Anti-abortion people cannot stomach that you can kill human life on a whim in the first six months of pregnancy, and pro-abortion people cannot stomach that you can interfere with a woman’s right to decide over her own body in the last few months. For illustrations look at the debate when 1) some UK parliamentarians tried to cut the time limit from 24 weeks to 20 (some foetuses can survive before 24 weeks), 2) a judge sentenced a woman to a fairly severe sentence for ‘foeticide’ for trying a well-planned home abortion on a foetus a few days before the due date. Not what I would call a solution, more a stand-off.

  158. 158
    Raging Bee

    No, you’re definitely not up on US law. We’ve never had “free abortion” of any sort.

  159. 159
    lelapaletute

    Gjenganger, though it pains me to turn aside from a good debate, I’m afraid I can’t respond fully to your point at 154.

    This is because, at 84, you did what you often do when we get to debating – in the politest way possible, you withdraw from the debate without responding to the points I have made, reserving the right to say you disagree with them without explaining why or supporting that disagreement with argument. This is of course, entirely your right – comment being free and all that. However, it is then a bit rich, dozens of comments later, to drop in purely to pick up on the one ‘hole’ you perceive in a multi-faceted argument I have been pursuing (I think highly productively) with JT over a couple of days, ignoring all the other points I’ve made in the context of that argument and the points I made to you before you decided to ‘break off’.

    I could, of course, set about responding to your challenge – but what is the point, when I know full well you are highly likely to simply do your usual ‘pat on head/shake of hand’ and wander off when you decide you can’t be bothered to respond to paragraphs of time-consumingly crafted explanation and argument? It would be a total waste of my time and energy. So, with no rudeness intended, I shall not be responding to your further comments on this thread, as I don’t think this method of engagement is entirely cricket – or at least, I find it too irritating for it to be worth my time.

  160. 160
    123454321

    “This debate is about a woman’s right to decide whether or not she gets pregnant, nothing more.”

    And that decision should not be executed without express agreement and careful planning by TWO prospective parents who are potentially about to change their lives forever. You persistently and relentlessly and conveniently and irritatingly keep forgetting about the father.

    “Really? Men get pregnant, and deal with the medical complications of pregnancy, just as often as women? I’d kinda like a cite for that, if you don’t mind.”

    Listen carefully. There are lots of risks exposed as part of the decision to get pregnant and throughout the pregnancy itself. Indeed, the risks extend well into adolescence and beyond. Most experienced parents will understand that. I fully, wholeheartedly recognise that the medical risks are far, far greater for the female, no doubt. But you need to develop your thinking beyond what comes across as nothing less than shallow-mindedness and a shear lack of life experience when it comes to these matters. You only seem to equate risk with the woman and her medical complications during the gestation period. What about emotional and mental risk, financial risk, social risk, and other life changing risks that apply to BOTH parents throughout the pregnancy and way beyond? Ever considered those?

    “The man has a right to decide how his body is used; and the woman has a right to decide how her body is used.”

    I agree. But where she is using his sperm to become pregnant (following a mutual decision) then there should be equal rights surrounding the future welfare of that baby. In your World, you obviously look at men as being nothing more than sperm donors and there to be used as a meal ticket for the Mother if she so wishes.

    “Both have the right to use some form of birth control”

    Yes, but there’s a big difference that I explained before. A woman has more choice of contraception, some of which happen to be discrete and rely solely on her word. on the other hand, the man’s choice is very visible and obvious. This gives the female an obvious advantage and is probably partially responsible for some of the deceitful pregnancies out there.

    “and either party can choose not to have sex. That’s equal rights, dumbass.”

    Equal rights means having an equal say as a prospective parent before, during, and after a pregnancy, regardless of whether you’re the Mother or the Father. You obviously only see men as sperm donors in which case you’re an ill-informed, selfish, bigoted, moron who is self-absorbed by your own writhing cauldron of bilious splutterings.

    “Then you say we have to educate a whole GENERATION of young women about the risks. So do women know where babies come from, or do they not? You need to make up your mind on this before you presume to taech anyone else anything.”

    I’m talking about the risks exposed to men! You know, those risks that affect everyday men but get ignored by people like you and society in general.

    “A woman owns her own body, therefore she has to be “educated” that someone else owns part of it if she gets pregnant?”

    NO. Show me where I said that, fuck-wit? I think you’ll find that I said the foetus has a Mother AND a Father! The unborn baby belongs to a Mother AND a Father. The Mother has a baby that also has a FATHER. The Father has a baby that also has a Mother. The baby has TWO parents. How many ways do you need to hear this before your dumb fucking brain gets the gist?

    And by the way, you need to learn biology because the foetus is its own entity and only connected to the Mother by the placenta which delivers and exchanges nutrients, gasses and wastes. Once the sperm has fertilised the egg the DNA takes care of the replication of cells providing the proteins and nutrients are supplied via the placenta conduit. The foetus is not an extension of the Mother via clump of cells, or whatever ridiculous description you gave!

    “And these are the people who want to control women’s personal health decisions?”

    Where have I said that a woman shouldn’t have the rights to control her OWN health decisions prior to the point before she gets pregnant? She needs to understand that there is more at stake than just grabbing some guys sperm and thinking she can play hell with his life by totally ignoring his input from there on just because the baby is growing inside of her. She knew that could happen before she had sex.

  161. 161
    Gjenganger

    @Lelapaletute 159
    So, am I to understand it that we will never debate again? I would regret that, good opponents are rare. Our debates have been interesting, and I think our talking has actually led both of us to change our minds at one point – that is almost unheard of. But OK, I shall make no comment to you until such a time as you make one to me.

  162. 162
    Jason ordle

    [EDIT: DELETED AT REQUEST OF COMMENTER]

  163. 163
    gjenganger

    @Jason 162
    That is truly horrible. There are doctors like that, hurried, incompetent, greedy, driven by money, and not to be trusted with a scalpel. They should be driven out of the profession, or not allowed in in the first place
    The key is in the regulation and the doctor, though, not in the operation. I had mine done, on a similar diagnosis to you, NHS (equivalent), no rush, proper diagnosis and operation. End result was no further problems with tightening etc., no foreskin, and no change in functioning afterwards. It can work, but that does not help you, of course.
    I am very sorry to hear what happened to you.

  1. 164
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