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Oct 30 2012

Screw those women and neuroscientists, we should let Kant make abortion decisions!

William Egginton has an op-ed in the NYT in which he suggests that neuroscience might challenge Roe v. Wade. It’s long — about 1900 words — and it’s revealing that in all the ambiguous fudging about whether a fetus is conscious, there is no consideration at all for the woman wrapped around it. In fact, she isn’t even mentioned…not once. Yes, it’s another man pontificating on the rights and privileges of the fetus as if the pregnant woman were not there. It’s astonishing how completely women vanish when they get pregnant — it’s as if some people can only see women as an incubator for the Holy and Sacred Child.

It starts out promisingly, discussing an Idaho law called the “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act”, which tries to outlaw abortions by claiming that fetuses can feel pain. This is a neuroscientific claim. So Egginton asks,

So why not call an actual neuroscientist as an expert witness instead of a scholar of the humanities?

And I thought for a moment that Egginton, who I hadn’t heard of before, was perhaps a neuroscientist offering up his expertise. Alas, at the end I discover that he’s the “Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities at the Johns Hopkins University”. He’s not making an informed contribution on the science, apparently his goal is to “criticize the hubris of scientific claims to knowledge that exceeds the boundaries of what the sciences in fact demonstrate.” So that was actually a rhetorical question which is answered by the fact that he thinks neuroscientists aren’t actually good witnesses on subjects of neuroscience. OK.

Reminder: it still isn’t an argument in which the rights of the pregnant woman are considered.

Fortunately, he dismisses fetal pain as a criterion for prohibiting abortion — not because they don’t experience pain, but because awareness of pain is not a basis for legal prohibitions. Animals feel pain, for instance, and we don’t outlaw farming and hunting. I would suggest that pain awareness is a general feature, like having a heartbeat or two eyes, that isn’t particularly indicative of a special status that demands protection (that doesn’t stop Pro-Life Across America from putting up billboards with pictures of smiling babies saying, “My heart started beating at 28 days!” — it’s an emotional appeal).

Unfortunately, Egginton then arbitrarily replaces “pain” with another amorphous concept, “personhood”.

Those wishing to abolish abortion believe that “the fetus is a ‘person’ within the language and meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment.” If, as Justice Harry A. Blackmun continues in his opinion in 1973, “this suggestion of personhood is established, the appellant’s case, of course, collapses, for the fetus’ right to life would then be guaranteed specifically by the Amendment.” If a fetus is a person, in other words, then it is not a potential human life at all, but is a fully human life deserving of full legal protection, and abortion must be murder and punishable as such. The intent of current fetal pain statutes is, clearly, to infer from the ability to feel pain on the part of a human fetus — if it can be established by neuroscience — a claim for actual human life or full personhood.

Reminder: it still isn’t an argument in which the rights of the pregnant woman are considered.

But then, in an interesting twist, Egginton uses the idea of defining personhood as a bat to pound on anti-choice activists. It would be a big mistake, he suggests, to let scientists define what a person is, because, basically, scientists are reductionist jerks, and science “can tell us nothing about the existence of God, the immortality of the soul, or the origin of human freedom”. He’s wrong. There is no god (and those humanist types can’t even freakin’ define this entity, let alone provide evidence for it), the soul is a ridiculous concept, and freedom is an interesting cognitive illusion and a political idea. He can cite Kant at me all he wants, but science has made great progress in explaining the nature of the universe and ourselves to the point where we definitely don’t know all the answers, but we know enough to constrain the wide range of possible answers to something that precludes the primitive guesses of uninformed old philosophers and theologians.

So Egginton isn’t really making an anti-abortion rant: he’s making an anti-science argument. Interesting.

When science becomes the sole or even primary arbiter of such basic notions as personhood, it ceases to be mankind’s most useful servant and threatens, instead, to become its dictator. Science does not and should not have the power to absolve individuals and communities of the responsibility to choose. This emphatically does not mean that science should be left out of such personal and political debates. The more we know about the world the better positioned we are to make the best possible choices. But when science is used to replace thinking instead of complement it; when we claim to see in its results the reduction of all the complexity that constitutes the emergence of a human life or the choices and responsibilities of the person it may develop into; we relinquish something that Kant showed more than 200 years ago was essential to the very idea of a human being: our freedom.

Well, I was trained as a neuroscientist (I’ve since drifted towards developmental biology), and if I were made dictator of the world, I can tell you what I’d say: “personhood” is not discrete and absolute, so no scientist will be able to declare a black & white switch from non-personhood to personhood (although the reverse is easier: we call it “death”). I would also say that even if we could measure it, “personhood” is a matter of degree and also is a criterion like “pain”: it’s not something we can use as a logical bludgeon to deny abortions. Even the one neuroscientist Egginton cites in his article, Antonio Damasio, talks about degrees of consciousness in animals. So much for the demonization of scientists. We are aware of the limits of our knowledge; it’s unfortunate that professors of the humanities don’t seem to be similarly aware of the boundaries of their domain.

Oh, and if I were the dictator of the world, I’d look into the eyes of the teenager who faces the sacrifice of her dreams if she bears that child, the eyes of the woman whose fetus carries a birth defect, the eyes of the victim of rape, and I’d say…”Your choice — do what is best for your life. It’s your life that matters.” That overrides all other considerations.

I’m a little surprised to learn that humanities professors don’t pay much attention to that sort of thing. Maybe we should exclude them from future deliberations on these matters.

289 comments

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  1. 1
    Zinc Avenger (Sarcasm Tags 3.0 Compliant)

    Science may one day answer the question as to whether or not a pregnant woman is a person, at what point she becomes a person, and whether or not she is capable of feeling pain.

    Not in my lifetime, I think.

  2. 2
    tbp1

    Even if, for the sake of argument, we stipulate that a fertilized egg is fully human from the moment of conception (which I do NOT admit), I would still be pro choice on the grounds that one human being doesn’t get to occupy another human being’s body without permission. All other considerations are secondary to this.

    I’m hardly the first one to point this out, but we don’t see any move to require people to donate kidneys, even though lives could be saved. As far as I know, people with rare blood types aren’t legally required to donate it. I’m sure there are other examples that people with more scientific/medical knowledge could come up with.

  3. 3
    brysonbrown

    I’m surprised to see a humanist in a named chair writing about abortion and personhood without noting an important paper on the subject that’s included in many anthologies, easily found all over the web, regularly used in classes on bioethics, and makes a crucial point about the issue. Judith Jarvis Thomson’s “A Defense of Abortion” (1971) argues that even if the fetus is a person, a woman’s right to control her body includes the right to refuse that person the use of her body for its own needs. As PZ says here, if you have no response to that line of argument, you really don’t have much to say about abortion rights, and you’re on the edge (at least) of disregarding women as persons.

  4. 4
    Gregory in Seattle

    Many types of tumors have nerve endings. And limbs, even those that are poisonously gangrene or shattered beyond all possibility of repair. Therefore….

  5. 5
    BubbaRich

    I disagree that it doesn’t consider the rights of pregnant women; from their perspective, it’s an overwhelming consideration in the balance between the rights of the fetus and the rights of the mother. For them, the argument is analogous to discussing whether you have the right to speed past every unloading school bus you see; your right to travel unimpeded and to arrive at your destination a little earlier is overwhelmed by the rights of the schoolchildren to continue living.

    This is much more a philosophical question than a neuroscientific question, although neuroscience should inform our ethics. When do we DECIDE that a fetus has any rights at all to be defended by society, even against the mother? When do we DECIDE that a fetus has any rights to be considered by the mother in her personal decision making? In my opinion, this is still an open question for late-term fetuses, even the first question. I can’t quite morally differentiate between the right of a mother to go to a nursery in the hospital and kill her baby, and the right of a mother to kill that same baby 5 minutes before, because the umbilical cord hasn’t been cut. Fortunately, this particular ethical problem is nearly completely hypothetical; real-world late term abortions almost always involve risks to the life and health of the mother, or of the fetus itself, or both, which risks overwhelm other considerations from the state’s perspective.

  6. 6
    Portia (aka Smokey the Advocate)

    you’re on the edge (at least) of totally disregarding women as persons.

    As PZ says, the author’s failure to address the glaring gap in their reasoning is indicative of how he feels about women. It’s difficult to believe it is anything but an intentional omission.

  7. 7
    Portia (aka Smokey the Advocate)

    Also, screw Kant and his question-begging crap philosophy.

  8. 8
    Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought

    And that’s why I very much like the position that abortion is a bodily autonomy issue that has nothing to do with the personhood of a zygote or fetus.

  9. 9
    timmyson

    Well, that’s what they want to do: let “can’t” guide the decision on abortion.

    [rimshot]

  10. 10
    Matt Penfold

    Well if a fetus is a person, then since the woman own’s her uterus she is quite at liberty to evict the fetus.

    Republicans are very keen on property rights, so if a woman wants the fetus out, surely Republicans should support her. And if the fetus is unable to survive outside the uterus, well, it should have taken out insurance!

  11. 11
    mythbri

    I can’t quite morally differentiate between the right of a mother to go to a nursery in the hospital and kill her baby, and the right of a mother to kill that same baby 5 minutes before, because the umbilical cord hasn’t been cut. Fortunately, this particular ethical problem is nearly completely hypothetical; real-world late term abortions almost always involve risks to the life and health of the mother, or of the fetus itself, or both, which risks overwhelm other considerations from the state’s perspective.

    BubbaRich, this IS completely hypothetical. In all of the philosophical hand-wringing I’ve seen about abortion, I have never once seen anyone provide evidence of this kind of thing happening. Not once.

    Can’t we philosophize about the rights of some other group for a while? Because I’m really tired of people philosophizing about mine.

    In one of the last abortion threads, someone proposed giving every male a vasectomy when they reached puberty, and only allowing its reversal if they can produce a signed and notarized affidavit from the women who has granted them permission to attempt to impregnate her.

    That seems fair to me. Let’s put the rights of young boys up for debate.

  12. 12
    Pteryxx

    In my opinion, this is still an open question for late-term fetuses, even the first question. I can’t quite morally differentiate between the right of a mother to go to a nursery in the hospital and kill her baby, and the right of a mother to kill that same baby 5 minutes before, because the umbilical cord hasn’t been cut.

    Here we go again. *checks watch* ‘Nother 100-200 comments of ‘but exactly when…’ elision until possible clue.

    Hint: It’s called birth. ‘Baby’ inside woman = imposing on her body and threatening her health. Baby outside woman = not interfering with her body.

  13. 13
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    I can’t quite morally differentiate between the right of a mother to go to a nursery in the hospital and kill her baby, and the right of a mother to kill that same baby 5 minutes before, because the umbilical cord hasn’t been cut.

    So, you admit you can’t understand the nuance of separation, breathing on its own, feeding on its own? Gee, I feel sorry for your lack of cognative abilities.

  14. 14
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    Good god. Enough. Stop with the philosophizing about insane, reductio ad absurdum hypotheticals. You do this at the cost of REAL WOMEN AND THEIR SUFFERING RIGHT NOW IN THE REAL WORLD. Stop it. For the love of Pete, stop it.

  15. 15
    Becca Stareyes

    Heck, couldn’t one use the ability to feel pain as an argument for abortion in cases when the fetus is inviable outside the womb? I mean, if abortion is less or equally painful than dying shortly after birth from congenital defects, and has the same general outcome (in that you do not have a living baby) — never mind that abortion is less painful physically for the owner of said womb than childbirth — then shouldn’t we allow it?

    Pain alone is a inadequate reason to make decisions, but minimizing suffering when other factors are equal seems like a good goal*. It’s just that legislating solely on whether the fetus feels pain, never mind the woman whose organs are currently being hijacked, is missing at least half of the picture. After all, believe it or not, women also feel pain.

    * IIRC, it’s why there’s regulations on slaughterhouses and labs.

  16. 16
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    It’s so telling that Egginton doesn’t mention women at all in his considerations of the “right to life” of the unborn. I guess in his world, a woman isn’t a person, so they don’t have rights-except as a baby incubator. I wonder if he knows what bodily autonomy is…

  17. 17
    Portia (aka Smokey the Advocate)

    Pain alone is a inadequate reason to make decisions, but minimizing suffering when other factors are equal seems like a good goal*

    This particular argument also fails because a little thing called anesthesia. Boom, problem solved, suffering reduced. These anti-choice people are just fractally wrong.

  18. 18
    BubbaRich

    Yes, Becca, that’s important to consider. It’s also important to consider what we mean by “feels pain,” which is a fully philosophical question.

    Yes, Nerd and others, I know most of you use the vague “bright” line of birth to recognize social rights of children. But there are problems with that bright line, and they also need to be considered.

    In fact, intelligent consideration of what that means would help with dismissing these concerns that these idiots want to raise about early fetuses “feeling pain.” I understand many of you don’t want to consider this, but in the real world, it’s an important issue ethically, and it’s an important issue to use in a dialogue with people who disagree with you.

  19. 19
    Nepenthe

    @Zinc Avenger

    Science may one day answer the question as to whether or not a pregnant woman is a person, at what point she becomes a person, and whether or not she is capable of feeling pain.

    Pfft, that’s easy. The answers, respectively, are no, never, and yes, but it’s good because women are supposed to feel pain in childbirth on accounta original sin.

    There. Now we don’t need to worry our pretty little heads about it.

    @BubbaRich

    I disagree that it doesn’t consider the rights of pregnant women

    When a 1900 word essay on abortion mentions pregnant women exactly zero times, I don’t know how else to characterize it. To bring something into consideration, one must at least mention it. Even an “oh, by the way, the embryo/fetus isn’t floating in space, it’s inside a human being, not that it matters” would be an improvement.

    For them, the argument is analogous to discussing whether you have the right to speed past every unloading school bus you see; your right to travel unimpeded and to arrive at your destination a little earlier is overwhelmed by the rights of the schoolchildren to continue living.

    And this is why talking about pregnant women is important. If they discussed them, they might come to the stunning realization that carrying a pregnancy to term is a bit more inconveniencing than being slightly late. For one thing, being late is very, very rarely fatal, nor can it leave one permanently incontinent. (Although being late could result in one-time incontinence.)

    I can’t quite morally differentiate between the right of a mother to go to a nursery in the hospital and kill her baby, and the right of a mother to kill that same baby 5 minutes before, because the umbilical cord hasn’t been cut.

    I have literally never heard anyone but a forced birther bring up this, for the lack of a better term, argument. Once the fetus is out, it’s born. The objections to forced birth no longer come into play.

  20. 20
    JAL: Snark, Sarcasm & Bitterness

    I had a whole comment written out the went *poof* and I don’t want to re-write it because I’m tired of having this fucking conversation.

    The thing is, the anti-choicers are winning. They have made it nearly impossible for women to get an abortion, even early ones, even the day after pill. They get offices shut down to where there’s one or no provider of abortions in the states, and they make up hoops to jump through like waiting periods, ultrasounds, and lectures on fetal pain. They push it to make it harder because they don’t want women to make their own choices. They want to push it so that the pregnant end up in the late term, because that’s where people like you, squirmy, unrealistic, I don’t like it when it’s late with rise up and say well, no now you don’t have control of your body and have to have a child no matter that you’ve been trying for an abortion for 6 months.

    Women don’t up and change their minds to a late term abortion, unless they’ve been trying the entire time to exercise their right.

    And so what if some women need 6 months to raise the funds or didn’t realize they were pregnant or found out about a birth defect. They have every right to abort the fetus at 6 months as they do at 3 months because IT’S THEIR BODY!

  21. 21
    Portia (aka Smokey the Advocate)

    I understand many of you don’t want to consider this, but in the real world, it’s an important issue ethically, and it’s an important issue to use in a dialogue with people who disagree with you.

    BubbaRich, see Josh’s #14. You want to talk about what’s an important issue ethically? How about the tens of thousands of women who die every year because of unsafe abortions? How about the thousands upon thousands of women who don’t have access to affordable reproductive health services because state legislatures have no respect for their constitutional rights and the courts won’t fucking protect them? There’s your “important ethical issue.”
     
    Now tell me why you’re focusing on hypotheticals that don’t fucking happen.

  22. 22
    No One

    Somehow all I got from Egginton was that sluts shouldn’t have sex. I can’t think of one instance where ready access to birth control is advocated as the proper method for reducing unwanted pregnancies and abortions(by the pro-lifers). Anything else they say from that point on is pretty much white noise to my ears.

  23. 23
    Matt Penfold

    Yes, Nerd and others, I know most of you use the vague “bright” line of birth to recognize social rights of children. But there are problems with that bright line, and they also need to be considered.

    Why do we need to consider hypothetical scenarios ?

    The simple fact is that when there is access to affordable (read free at the point of use) access to birth control and abortion there number of late term abortions is small. Well under 2% in the UK for example. For very late term abortions the number done for reasons that do not involve severe abnormality in the fetus or serious risk to the mother is zero.

    So what exactly are you wanting to discuss ?

  24. 24
    Ibis3, Let's burn some bridges

    Hey! No fair tarring all humanities professors with the same brush. Just look at this guy: http://www.amazon.com/Brain-Wars-Scientific-Battle-Existence/dp/0062071564

  25. 25
    Ze Madmax

    BubbaRich @ #5

    When do we DECIDE that a fetus has any rights at all to be defended by society, even against the mother?

    That one is easy: as soon as defending the fetus’ rights no longer means taking away rights from the mother. That is the basic principle of bodily autonomy: People are entitled to full control of their bodies and are protected against others trying to force themselves violate said autonomy

    When do we DECIDE that a fetus has any rights to be considered by the mother in her personal decision making?

    Again, as soon as birth occurs (at which point the fetus becomes a baby, and stops infringing on the bodily autonomy of the mother).

    In my opinion, this is still an open question for late-term fetuses, even the first question.

    While it may be an open question rhetorically, the facts are that the VAST majority of abortions are performed way before viability, unless a) you live in a place that puts excessive restrictions on a woman’s ability to have an abortion or b) there are medical reasons that require termination. If you look at data from Canada (where there is, AFAIK, no limit on how late abortions can be performed) the bulk (~70%) of abortions are performed by the 12th week of gestation, with only 11.5% being performed afterwards (and the further along the pregnancy is, the lower the % of performed abortions)*

    I can’t quite morally differentiate between the right of a mother to go to a nursery in the hospital and kill her baby, and the right of a mother to kill that same baby 5 minutes before, because the umbilical cord hasn’t been cut.

    I’m gonna try to be nice: This is a stupid statement. A red herring. Intellectual masturbation. While I’m sure hypotheticals that sit light-years away from reality are fan to come up with, the reality is that bringing up these far-fetched hypotheticals into an abortion discussion serve no purpose other than to muddy up the waters and provide weak excuses for people to chip away at a woman’s bodily autonomy simply because they feel queasy about the idea of abortion (thank you, Evangelism-soaked zeitgeist!)

    Fortunately, this particular ethical problem is nearly completely hypothetical; real-world late term abortions almost always involve risks to the life and health of the mother, or of the fetus itself, or both, which risks overwhelm other considerations from the state’s perspective.

    And because they are hypothetical, it’s probably best to avoid them altogether (see above).


    *Data shows 17.8% “unknown” gestational age. Source: http://www.cihi.ca/CIHI-ext-portal/pdf/internet/TA_10_ALLDATATABLES20120417_EN

  26. 26
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    But there are problems with that bright line, and they also need to be considered.

    No. You know what needs to be considered? Real women with real issues right now in the real world. Your priorities are fucked.

  27. 27
    Zinc Avenger (Sarcasm Tags 3.0 Compliant)

    @mythbri, #11:

    someone proposed giving every male a vasectomy when they reached puberty, and only allowing its reversal if they can produce a signed and notarized affidavit from the women who has granted them permission to attempt to impregnate her.

    How dare you even think about mutilating the mighty PENIS. Interfering with a man’s God-given right to having a perfect PENIS is some sort of concept beyond blasphemy and heresy, which I shall henceforth call blasphesy. Also, PENIS.

  28. 28
    Matt Penfold

    If you look at data from Canada (where there is, AFAIK, no limit on how late abortions can be performed) the bulk (~70%) of abortions are performed by the 12th week of gestation, with only 11.5% being performed afterwards (and the further along the pregnancy is, the lower the % of performed abortions)*

    In the UK, about 87% of all terminations take place before the 12th week, with only about 1.6% taking place after the 20th week.

    Bubba is getting all concerned over something that does not happen except in the minds of the anti-abortionists.

  29. 29
    JAL: Snark, Sarcasm & Bitterness

    Yes, Nerd and others, I know most of you use the vague “bright” line of birth to recognize social rights of children. But there are problems with that bright line, and they also need to be considered.

    “Vague”? Clearly, you’ve never given birth because that’s anything but fucking vague. You also clearly aren’t a doctor because, as dianne said in the last thread, there’s a fucking list of things different about a infant and fetus.

    So dear, dumb, fuckwit what exactly are the “problems” with birth as the dividing line?

    Be it is more philosophical bullshit.

    In fact, intelligent consideration of what that means would help with dismissing these concerns that these idiots want to raise about early fetuses “feeling pain.” I understand many of you don’t want to consider this, but in the real world, it’s an important issue ethically, and it’s an important issue to use in a dialogue with people who disagree with you.

    In the real world, it’s a fucking smoke screen used to get the squirmish to take away a woman’s rights. Just like the right-wing used the “sex between gay men is icky” feeling. All they use is “See it makes you uncomfortable, because deep down you know it’s wrong” and emotional appeals which is nothing but bullshit. The emotional appeals from women about back alley abortions get shrugged off as “Those are nasty sluts and what about the poor, innocent fetus?”

    I’m tired of “Waaah what about teh fetus?” and “Waaah what about teh menz?”

    It’s bullshit. Pure and simple. The woman’s body is the one being taken hostage and it’s her decision. End of story.

  30. 30
    Zinc Avenger (Sarcasm Tags 3.0 Compliant)

    @Matt Penfold, #28:

    Bubba is getting all concerned over something that does not happen except in the minds of the anti-abortionists.

    Yes, but if you look hard enough at unlikely enough cases, with totally contrived assumptions (The baby would grow up to be the next Einstein, and we just invented an artificial womb, and the woman is HITLER!), sooner or later they hope to find a fringe case that justifies removing the woman’s rights.

  31. 31
    rrede

    it ceases to be mankind’s most useful servant and threatens, instead, to become its dictator. .

    More proof for my theory that anybody today who uses “mankind” instead of “humanity” is in fact sexist–no women exist in his world, just individuals, persons, MANkind. Yup.

    Signed, a humanities professor (but one is named herself unofficial chair of official committee to celebrate Women’s History: Women in STEM for March 2013 because of so much out of date thinking and sexism in my rural Texas university).

  32. 32
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    But there are problems with that bright line, and they also need to be considered.

    Then why aren’t you discussing why the legal, medical, and factual definition of birth solves a lot the “moral fuckwittery” of the anti-choice position? No, you just claim vague problems, like any liar and bullshitter. Makes you sound demented, not intelligent and thoughtful.

  33. 33
    mythbri

    @BubbaRich

    Yes, Nerd and others, I know most of you use the vague “bright” line of birth to recognize social rights of children. But there are problems with that bright line, and they also need to be considered.

    If you think the line between “born” and “not-born” is vague, then I hope that you’ll understand if women prefer doctors to help with delivery instead of philosophers.

  34. 34
    Avicenna

    I will point out one thing. Medically speaking the foetus has a chance of survival considered “acceptable” (AKA no sequelae) at 24th to the 26th week.

    We have a cultural understanding that brains and hearts are important for life.

    The lungs begin to develop at around the 20th week, they are functional around the 24th week. How long can you hold your breath? Most of us couldn’t hold it for a minute…

    The mortality rate at 20th week is 96 to 97%. The morbidity is 96%. The “miracles” you hear about are the exception… Most just die or are forever damaged.

    The mortality rate at the 24th week is 6%. It’s one of the reasons for that cut off. Personhood is by viability and viability is reliant on your lungs…

    Hopefully that helped some of the medical rationale for the 24 week mark for abortions (and post 24 week for late term).

  35. 35
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    The mortality rate at the 24th week is 6%. It’s one of the reasons for that cut off. Personhood is by viability and viability is reliant on your lungs…

    And where is the woman in this fetus oriented analysis? She never stops being a person with bodily autonomy. The above doesn’t address that, and until it is included, is a meaning bit of factoids.

  36. 36
    Ibis3, Let's burn some bridges

    But there are problems with that bright line, and they also need to be considered.

    What problems? Sorry, forget I asked that. Why? Because I don’t fucking give a shit. Enough with the “intellectual” exercise when real, breathing, living people with names and friends and contributions to their communities are suffering and dying.

    Besides, you do know you’re free to do all the consideration you feel is necessary when you’re the one deciding whether to carry a pregnancy to term or not, right?

  37. 37
    firetree

    As a biologist, I see merit in hanging the abortion argument on a different hook. Everyone knows to kill is wrong because it violates the basic biological premise, which is that self preservation is the strongest of all senses. What is the one reason one human being can justify killing another human being? The answer is to preserve ones own life . . . justifiable homicide. In this format, there is no room for discussion of pain and suffering or tear jerking talk induced by calling a zygote a baby. Most people can justify killing the baby to save the life of the mother; this is justifiable homicide. Substitute “quality of life” for “life”. A baby without a head as one of any number of other developmental anomalous conditions has zero expectation for quality of life. Do priests and politicians decide to make the mother suffer through six more months of pregnancy? Lets argue about these things at the survival of the fittest or biological level, which is never kind and gentle, while keeping our hard earned humanization in mind.

  38. 38
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    The mortality rate at the 24th week is 6%. It’s one of the reasons for that cut off. Personhood is by viability and viability is reliant on your lungs…

    Hopefully that helped some of the medical rationale for the 24 week mark for abortions (and post 24 week for late term).

    Approaches microphone nervously and says in a timid, deferential voice: Um, excuse me. I’m. . I’m sorry to interrupt, but are women’s interests allowed to be considered in this civil discussion? Oh. Inappropriate. Yes, I’m very sorry.

  39. 39
    timgueguen

    “Science does not and should not have the power to absolve individuals and communities of the responsibility to choose”

    I’d love to know how science saying that a fetus is not a person, or declining to say it is or isn’t, absolves anyone of a responsibility to choose.

  40. 40
    No Light

    without noting an important paper on the subject [...] Judith Jarvis Thomson’s “A Defense of Abortion” (1971)

    Why would they read something published by one of those incubator thingummies? It was almost certainly published as a dare, so they could laugh at the walking uterus, and say “Aww look, she thinks she’s people!”

    @BubbaRich – dude, just go and reread the abortion threads from the past week. I guarantee you are neither thinking, nor saying, anything novel or profound.

  41. 41
    misterjeff

    Perhaps I’ve just misread Egginton completely – but he’s being called as an expert witness in support of a suit AGAINST such laws as the Idaho and Nebraska ones.

    That is, in his position as a humanities scholar, he’s being called to testify that the use of neuroscientific arguments to try to make abortions more difficult to obtain is a bad idea. He’s saying that pain is not a good thing to look at, because, fundamentally what we care about is when (if ever) a foetus deserves protection under the law, which is not dependent on its ability to respond to nociceptive stimuli – but rather when we “decide” we have an interest in protecting “the potentiality of human life” (this is the language of Roe v. Wade).

    I agree with him on his point regarding pain, it’s not an appropriate metric. All he says in the rest is that attempts to threshold personhood by pain/consciousness instead of “viability” would also be moot. Consciousness as a metric, he argues, would make even later abortions more permissible, precisely because the foetus can only occupy some very shady area on the consciousness spectrum for a very long time (including after birth, I believe).

    So, I’ve either got Egginton completely wrong, in which case I hope the good people here will formalise his argument in some way that I can understand… or the criticism here is against a rather sensible position that in fact argues AGAINST restricting abortion with “sciencey” defences.

  42. 42
    No Light

    @Josh – you’re one of those uppity minorities, like the bipedal uteruses. So sorry, you may not speak about their rights, you’re too biased.

    Cisstraight white men only, thankyouverymuch. Form an orderly queue gents.

  43. 43
    Amphiox

    Avicenna, 24 weeks is viable only with extreme medical intervention. Without a NICU and a team of specialists trained in preemie care, survival at this point is not 6%, it is zero.

    Furthermore, even with maximum intervention, about 50% of these children will have significant permanent physical and cognitive disabilities.

    And the cost of this care? A middle class two income family without insurance would risk bankruptcy in maybe one year. If there are indeed lifelong disability, the child will probably hit his or her lifetime cap even if insured by age 5 to 10.

    “Viability” is a more complicated assessment than you think.

  44. 44
    Ze Madmax

    misterjeff @ #41:

    So, I’ve either got Egginton completely wrong, in which case I hope the good people here will formalise his argument in some way that I can understand… or the criticism here is against a rather sensible position that in fact argues AGAINST restricting abortion with “sciencey” defences.

    The criticism here is the fact that when talking about abortion, Egginton (willfully or not) ignored the most important component of the issue: THE WOMAN

    And it’s not just him. This merely reflects a broader pattern of completely ignoring the woman the minute there’s a pregnancy because apparently when that egg is fertilized/implanted/develops nerves/lungs (or whatever other arbitrary mark is picked), the woman magically loses her right to bodily autonomy, becoming instead a mix between slave and incubator.

    So again: ABORTION SHOULD BE ALLOWED BECAUSE OTHERWISE THE LIFE AND RIGHTS OF A POTENTIAL HUMAN BEING IS GIVEN PRECEDENCE OVER THE LIFE AND RIGHTS OF A REAL, FULLY DEVELOPED HUMAN BEING

  45. 45
    PZ Myers

    But there are problems with that bright line, and they also need to be considered.

    Nope.

    Is there currently a pressing concern that women go into labor and then request an abortion?

    How about women who are fully dilated, crowning, and then the baby’s head emerges and they announce, “no way, that kid is ugly, abort it”?

    Are there any doctors out there who would heed such a request? Or would they simply say at that point, “OK, we’ll give you a c section and contact child services so you can put the baby up for adoption.”

    Reality trumps philosophy. Only stupid philosophers think their artificial scenarios have anything to say about the real world.

  46. 46
    M can help you with that.

    It’s also important to consider what we mean by “feels pain,” which is a fully philosophical question.

    How would you suppose that we address the phenomenon (or class of phenomena?) “pain” without referring, at the very least, to neuroscience and psychology? Unless you’re going to take dualism/supernaturalism as a presupposition, excluding the physical basis of the subjective phenomenon sounds like the worst sort of armchair pseudophilosophy. Sure, bring a philosophical perspective — but claiming that any existing phenomenon can only be effectively addressed by abstraction and separation from context is unrealistic at best.

  47. 47
    Amphiox

    The lungs of a 24 week preemie are not, in fact, fully developed and ready for function outside of the womb. The production of pulmonary surfactant is not sufficient. It does not reach sufficient levels until after 28-32 weeks.

    Past 32 weeks, of course, is the point where a fully normal, healthy pregnancy can be just as or more safely terminated by induced birth rather than abortion, and where abortion of a healthy fetus is almost unheard of, and done almost exclusively due to nonviable fetal defects or imminent threat to the woman’s life.

  48. 48
    glendon

    Amphiox:
    Surely viability in this case is about the ability of the fetus to survive without the mother. Not whether the mother should be expected to care for the child. In other words, could there not exist a point when the mother would have to chose between immediate birth or pregnancy rather than between abortion or pregnancy?

  49. 49
    Nepenthe

    Furthermore, even with maximum intervention, about 50% of these children will have significant permanent physical and cognitive disabilities.

    To expand upon this point, another 25% will have more “minor” disabilities (it’s unclear what the difference here is) and there is evidence to suggest that the remainder still experience cognitive deficits that don’t rise to the level of disability, but do seriously impact quality of life. (These deficits are primarily in executive functions, the sort of thing that enable a person to hold down a job and make reasonable decisions, which makes sense because these are the last parts of the brain to develop.)

    At 24 weeks, the fetus isn’t “done” even if it can survive. Cookie dough is delicious; uncooked human beings are not such a blessing.

    A middle class two income family without insurance would risk bankruptcy in maybe one year.

    Indeed. A friend of mine was born after his mother was ostensibly sterilized. She had it done after his older sister’s neonatal care put the family into debt to the tune of a million dollars. Any guesses on how much he was loved as a child?

  50. 50
    feedmybrain

    @Matt Penfold

    In the UK, about 87% of all terminations take place before the 12th week, with only about 1.6% taking place after the 20th week.

    Bubba is getting all concerned over something that does not happen except in the minds of the anti-abortionists.

    Bubba and the other anti-abortionists are being dishonest when they use this argument, it’s the old wedge strategy as demonstrated here http://liberalconspiracy.org/2012/10/25/nadine-dorries-granted-debate-on-abortion-limit

    The opposition is ideological and it would save a lot of time if they would just admit that.

  51. 51
    Matt Penfold

    Nerd said:

    And where is the woman in this fetus oriented analysis? She never stops being a person with bodily autonomy. The above doesn’t address that, and until it is included, is a meaning bit of factoids.

    We know that post 24 weeks abortions that the reason abortions are carried out is either that there is a serious abnormality with the fetus or the mother’s life is at risk(*). In addition, it is overwhelmingly the case where the women’s life is at risk she also wants the baby. Thus it becomes an issue of balancing the risk to the mother with the risk to the fetus.

    * Where properly funded healthcare exists.

    Amphiox said:

    And the cost of this care? A middle class two income family without insurance would risk bankruptcy in maybe one year. If there are indeed lifelong disability, the child will probably hit his or her lifetime cap even if insured by age 5 to 10.

    There are many reason to argue in favour of legal abortion, but the crappy way the US funds healthcare is not one of them.

  52. 52
    Portia (aka Smokey the Advocate)

    There are many reason to argue in favour of legal abortion, but the crappy way the US funds healthcare is not one of them.

    I think it is important, though, to hold the fuckheads accountable. The same people who claim to be pro-life and say it’s better for a child to live with debilitating conditions like that also vote to cut social services and make healthcare a bankrupting expense. I’m not sure if that’s how it was meant, but it’s worth noting as part of the discussion. Especially when twits people like Bubba want to have a “real world” discussion.

  53. 53
    Matt Penfold

    In other words, could there not exist a point when the mother would have to chose between immediate birth or pregnancy rather than between abortion or pregnancy?

    There is, and that is how it tends to work in practice.

  54. 54
    mythbri

    @glendon

    Surely viability in this case is about the ability of the fetus to survive without the mother. Not whether the mother should be expected to care for the child. In other words, could there not exist a point when the mother would have to chose between immediate birth or pregnancy rather than between abortion or pregnancy?

    It’s not as cut-and-dried as that, but you’re closer, at least. Abortion is the termination of a pregnancy. One way to terminate pregnancy is to induce labor. You could technically say that my sister-in-law terminated her pregnancy early on the last day of her insurance coverage so that my niece wouldn’t be born to a family drowning in the medical bills that wouldn’t have been covered.

    However, there are circumstances, even after the “point of potential viability” that would require a termination procedure that would result in the death of the fetus instead of the birth of a live baby. In those circumstances, the pregnancy was almost always wanted and planned for – there are complicating factors that broad strokes painted with philosophical paintbrushes don’t address.

  55. 55
    Gregory Greenwood

    BubbaRich @ 5;

    I disagree that it doesn’t consider the rights of pregnant women; from their perspective, it’s an overwhelming consideration in the balance between the rights of the fetus and the rights of the mother. For them, the argument is analogous to discussing whether you have the right to speed past every unloading school bus you see; your right to travel unimpeded and to arrive at your destination a little earlier is overwhelmed by the rights of the schoolchildren to continue living.

    Which completely ignores the critical point of bodily autonomy – no one can claim rights in another’s flesh, as is evidenced by the lack of manditory organ donation. Why should foetuses be granted greater rights than unambiguously conscious adults capable of independent existence?

    This is much more a philosophical question than a neuroscientific question, although neuroscience should inform our ethics. When do we DECIDE that a fetus has any rights at all to be defended by society, even against the mother? When do we DECIDE that a fetus has any rights to be considered by the mother in her personal decision making?

    At birth, when the foetus no longer presents a threat to the woman’s health, life or bodily autonomy.

    I can’t quite morally differentiate between the right of a mother to go to a nursery in the hospital and kill her baby, and the right of a mother to kill that same baby 5 minutes before, because the umbilical cord hasn’t been cut.

    Care to provide actual examples of women simply aborting foetuses on a whim so late in gestation, when there is no medical need due to threats to the woman’s health or a lack of foetal viability? Other commenters have provided statsitics for rates of late term abortion in countries like Canada and the UK, and instances of such ultra-late term abortions with no medical reason behind them simply don’t happen.

    I mean, if we are going to deal in silly hypotheticals that don’t come within the neighbourhood of reality, then what if the foetus is like the ‘pre-born’ from Frank Herbert’s Dune Saga, already possessing full adult cognitive facilities while still in vitro in defiance of all scientific understanding? What if the foetus is the Kwisatz Haderach, the prophesised genetic superhuman messiah destined to lead humanity into a new golden age? How will we defeat the Padishah Emperor Shaddam IV of House Corrino then? Who will foil the insidious machinations of the megalomanic Baron Vladimir Harkonnen? Who, I ask you, who!11!!1

    Such ludicrous hypotheticals aren’t merely unhelpful, they are actively harmful, since they play into the hands of anti-choicers who will seize on any scenario – however laughably unlikely – to try to create a wedge strategy where they can find a situation (thoroughly divorced from reality) where some people might grant that abortion is ethically ambiguous, and then use that to try to attack the availability of abortion in all cases using every dirty trick in the book.

    @ 18;

    Yes, Nerd and others, I know most of you use the vague “bright” line of birth to recognize social rights of children. But there are problems with that bright line, and they also need to be considered.

    Birth is the obvious dividing line. I fail to see what is so problematic about extending the right of bodily autonomy – already granted to everyone else – to pregnant women. Once the foetus is born, then it no longer impinges upon the woman’s bodily autonomy. Until that happens, it is dependent upon the woman’s body, and as such is a parasite, and one that the woman can have removed if she so chooses. The only other alternative is to deny pregnant women their bodily autonomy and institute a de facto system of procreative slavery. That outcome should be unconsionable to anyone who views women as actual people rather than ambulatory incubators.

    In fact, intelligent consideration of what that means would help with dismissing these concerns that these idiots want to raise about early fetuses “feeling pain.” I understand many of you don’t want to consider this, but in the real world, it’s an important issue ethically, and it’s an important issue to use in a dialogue with people who disagree with you.

    In the real world, real women are really dying because of a lack of proper access to abortion services, your idle pontificating and ridiculous hypotheticals notwithstanding. Our priority is to preserve the lives and bodily autonomy of these women, because we consider pregnant women to still be human beings with a right to bodily autonomy and self determination. What is your priority and why does it seem to differ so much? Do you contest the humanity of pregnant women? Do you deny their equality with men, and thus their right to bodily autonomy? Why are you so invested in finding some scenario, any scenario, in which it is acceptable to deny women control of their own bodies?

  56. 56
    Rey Fox

    Science has made great progress in explaining the nature of the universe and ourselves to the point where we definitely don’t know all the answers, but we know enough to constrain the wide range of possible answers to something that precludes the primitive guesses of uninformed old philosophers and theologians.

    YES. This isn’t hard, people.

    While I’m sure hypotheticals that sit light-years away from reality are fan to come up with, the reality is that bringing up these far-fetched hypotheticals into an abortion discussion serve no purpose other than to muddy up the waters and provide weak excuses for people to chip away at a woman’s bodily autonomy simply because they feel queasy about the idea of abortion (thank you, Evangelism-soaked zeitgeist!)

    Again, YES. What the hemmers and hawers fail to realize is that if you give the anti-choicers an inch, they’ll take a mile. They’re not going to stop with late term abortions, they’ll go after abortion access, and birth control. Oh wait, THEY’VE ALREADY DONE THAT.

  57. 57
    Matt Penfold

    I think it is important, though, to hold the fuckheads accountable. The same people who claim to be pro-life and say it’s better for a child to live with debilitating conditions like that also vote to cut social services and make healthcare a bankrupting expense. I’m not sure if that’s how it was meant, but it’s worth noting as part of the discussion. Especially when twits people like Bubba want to have a “real world” discussion.

    I don’t disagree with you there, and of course healthcare in the broader context involves issues of social welfare.

  58. 58
    sponor

    IMHO, it’s a bit unfair to blame good-old Kant for strange reasoning in this “debate” (I’m from Western Europe, btw, and sometimes really glad about this):

    You (or Kant) could argue that a fetus is not a being “endowed with reason” and is therefore not a subject that
    “must be treated never as a mere means but as the supreme limiting condition in the use of all means, i.e., as an end at the same time”.
    (While there is no doubt in regard to the pregnant woman — as a “rational being”, which “must serve in every maxim as the condition restricting all merely relative and arbitrary ends”, she is “the basis of all maxims of action”. ;-) )

    Kant would probably think that abortion without a good reason would be a “weakness of character” and thus should be avoided (same as inflicting pain on animals, for example).

    And please keep in mind that he was a child of his times — I’d bet quite a fortune that Kant today would be an atheistic, free-thinking guy.

  59. 59
    anteprepro

    Misterjeff may have a point. Also, look at this key phrase (bolded):

    As Mr. Hearn explained, his suit challenges the government’s use of results from the natural sciences, including neuroscience, as a basis for expanding or contracting the rights of its citizens. In this case, neuroscience is being used to expand the rights of fetuses by contracting the rights of women to choose whether to continue or terminate their pregnancies. In other words, a biological fact about women is being used by the state to force women to accept one societal role rather than another.

    He didn’t use the word “pregnant” but that is clearly alluding to the pregnant woman and it is clearly lamenting the fact that she would lose rights under this law.

    He mentions that the law would either be unconstitutional or overturn Roe v. Wade, that pain alone is an insufficient basis for a law and that one must establish personhood, that these people are attempting to use capacity for pain as an indication of personhood. And he finally argues that any attempt to use consciousness as the bar for when abortions are no longer permissable will be making more abortions legal, not less (undermining the law’s attempt to set an earlier time limit on abortion on the basis of sensing pain):

    Therefore, implicit recourse to the concept fails as a basis for replacing viability as the line dividing the permissibility of abortion from its prohibition. For a fetus to be conscious in a sense that would establish it as a fully actualized human life, according both to current neuroscientific standards and to the philosophical tradition from which the concept stems, it would have to be capable of self-perception as well as simple perception of stimuli.

    Really, the only failing of this article is the anti-science rant towards the end. The actual argument against the law is pro-choice and does consider the rights of the woman (however briefly).

  60. 60
    mhph

    At first I was annoyed that, again, some random person’s foolishness was being used as a weapon against a full third of the liberal arts, by someone who would never, for example, rail against “science” on the grounds of something written by Michael Behe.

    Then I read the article and realized that, of course, he was saying something entirely sensible and that this response is insane. Look, the entire article argues:
    (1) These people tried to bring in a neuroscientist to testify that a fetus can feel pain, and is thereby a person
    (2) But “personhood” is not a matter of being able to feel pain or not (the neuroscience regarding this particular question is irrelevant)
    (3) And “personhood” is also just not a neuroscientific concept in the first place: it is not something neuroscientists deal with or have particular expertise in. (What they deal with or have particular expertise in is… the nervous system and brain. They do not, on the other hand, have particular experience in what sorts of things have moral rights, and what moral rights they have.)
    (4) So this whole tactic is deceptive and irrelevant: it’s a sort of trickery on the part of anti-choice loons.

    In other words, what he is doing here is pointing out, and objecting to, this:
    (5) “In this case, neuroscience is being used to expand the rights of fetuses by contracting the rights of women to choose whether to continue or terminate their pregnancies. In other words, a biological fact about women is being used by the state to force women to accept one societal role rather than another.”

  61. 61
    anteprepro

    Then I read the article and realized that, of course, he was saying something entirely sensible and that this response is insane.

    Agree with you that PZ’s response is off-base, but you have to admit that this is ironic:

    At first I was annoyed that, again, some random person’s foolishness was being used as a weapon against a full third of the liberal arts, by someone who would never, for example, rail against “science” on the grounds of something written by Michael Behe.

    Did you notice that the last few paragraphs of the article was basically arguing that “science can’t answer THE BIG QUESTIONS because Sam Harris and Idaho legislators don’t know what they are talking about! (Also, because Kant said so)”. He basically argues that science shouldn’t inform law and politics, and I think that is plainly wrong-headed and far more dismissive towards science than PZ was towards the humanities.

  62. 62
    mythbri

    @sponor

    Kant would probably think that abortion without a good reason would be a “weakness of character” and thus should be avoided

    But unless good ol’ Kant were the one who was pregnant, he still wouldn’t be justified in judging whether or not anyone else made that choice for a “good reason.” ;)

    @mhph

    This response isn’t insane. Arguing about the “rights” or “personhood” of a fetus alone completely disappears the pregnant person from the equation, when in fact the pregnant person is the only argument that matters.

  63. 63
    raven

    (1) These people tried to bring in a neuroscientist to testify that a fetus can feel pain, and is thereby a person.

    A reptile can feel pain.

    Does that mean we can enroll our pet snakes for social security and medicare?

  64. 64
    Sastra

    Well, to bring in a philosophical argument regarding personhood, it might not be a bad idea to consider evaluating the beginning of personhood using the ‘common sense’ criteria we use on evaluating the end of personhood.

    If someone has been in an accident or had some other trauma which has permanently reduced that person’s brain to that of a fetus — the sense and reasoning power of a one month, four months, nine months fetus — then it’s rather obvious that that person is “gone.” A family which pulls the plug would be regarded sympathetically by virtually everyone but the extremely religious. A family which did NOT pull threw plug would be regarded as self-deluded and, perhaps, selfish. They want to bring in the neurologist, he agrees. If there is no hope of recovery, then the mental activity of a fetus would, in an adult, be considered on par with ‘brain death.’ Beloved Aunt Edna is no more. It doesn’t matter if the heart still beats or her body moves when you poke it or she can put her thumb in her mouth. There is no there, there.

    Be consistent. Use the same heuristics on abortion.

    Of course, anyone who tries to break the analogy by bringing in the potential for “improvement” on the part of the fetus — as opposed to fetal-brained Aunt Edna — is now hit with the rebuttals against considering Potential as a characteristic. At the time of the abortion, one would pull the plug on an adult or child in a similar state without hesitation.

    I’m not disagreeing with those who insist the focus should be on the mother’s right to self-determination. I’m just pointing out that common sense doesn’t support the ‘personhood’ argument from neurology. That neurologist would tell you Aunt Edna is not worth keeping around.

  65. 65
    LykeX

    When do we DECIDE that a fetus has any rights at all to be defended by society, even against the mother

    When the fetus can survive on its own. That’s the dividing line.
    See, the purpose of an abortion is not to kill the fetus, it’s to end the pregnancy. A woman always has the right to end her pregnancy, since it’s her body.
    I’ll say that again: A woman ALWAYS has the right to end her pregnancy, since it’s HER BODY.

    If the abortion has the effect of killing the fetus, then so be it. Tough luck, but it can’t be helped. If the pregnancy can be ended in such a way that the fetus lives (and so becomes a baby), then that should be preferred. However, at no point can the rights of the fetus (assuming it has any) overrule the rights of the woman.

    To say it one more time for the hard of hearing:
    We wouldn’t allow an adult human being to use the body of another person against their will in the way that a fetus does. Banning abortions effectively gives the fetus more rights than an adult human being.

  66. 66
    Matt Penfold

    I am not at all sure what Egginton is on about when he starts of by mentioning mifepristone and misoprostol, saying they are called RU-486. Only the former is RU-486. They are used together to induce abortion, but only in about the first month of pregnancy.

    Quite what either drug has to do with issues of fetal viability escapes me.

  67. 67
    mhph

    @raven

    Well, yes. Which is what he says. And why he says that that view of personhood is dumb.

    @anteprepro
    He basically argues that science shouldn’t inform law and politics, and I think that is plainly wrong-headed and far more dismissive towards science than PZ was towards the humanities.

    Except that he doesn’t actually say that. What he does say is that neuroscience is not actually something that can tell us what moral rights things have, or what societal roles women should be required to fill. If you disagree, and think that it can and should do this, then maybe you do disagree with him. But he doesn’t say that it isn’t relevant, or important information: in fact he explicitly says that it is both of those things, but not in the way that it’s being used by anti-choice activists.

    while neuroscience may or may not be able to tell us something about the development of fetal nociceptive capacity, it has nothing to say about the fundamental question of what counts as a full-fledged person deserving of the rights afforded by a society.

    And

    This emphatically does not mean that science should be left out of such personal and political debates. The more we know about the world the better positioned we are to make the best possible choices

  68. 68
    glendon

    “…In fact, she isn’t even mentioned…not once…”

    Did you link to the right article? I counted four separate occasions when the author presents the rights of the woman to make decisions about her own body as a real entity.

  69. 69
    clastum3

    With politics looking so polarised and vituperative nowadays, it’s refreshing to see that so many people round here share important common ground with Romney&Co. : you all want to overturn Roe v. Wade.

    And do I detect a little inconsistency above? We are assured time-and-time again that late-term abortions are purely hypothetical, but that nonetheless a woman must have the right to dispose over the unborn child till the very last moment. Upsetting the RoeWade applecart just to enable something which is not going to happen anyway looks like taking unnecessary risks.

    But I appreciate that dogma and the party-line must come first, and sloganizing about “woman’s absolute autonomy….etc.etc” will certainly ingratiate you with the Rebecca Watsons.

  70. 70
    Amphiox

    Re @48;

    This has been discussed at length in previous threads. That point already exists. That point is the point when the woman’s doctor determines that induced birth is a superior therapeutic option (safer for the woman) than abortion. At that point it is the physician who takes abortion off the table (it is no longer indicated) as a superior alternative now exists for terminating the pregnancy. This is already standard medical practice everywhere and therefore requires absolutely no new regulation or laws to bring about. And the specific time of this cutoff is decided on a case by case basic by the patient and her doctor.

  71. 71
    anteprepro

    raven:

    A reptile can feel pain.

    You are better than this. READ.

    The other points ARGUE AGAINST THE RELEVANCE of the one point you quoted.

    mythbri:

    Arguing about the “rights” or “personhood” of a fetus alone completely disappears the pregnant person from the equation, when in fact the pregnant person is the only argument that matters.

    In fairness, mhph didn’t mention this. But the article ACTUALLY DID bring up the rights of pregnant women. The focus of the article is an argumentum ad absurdum against the idea that pain is sufficient to consider a fetus as a person, sure. But it clearly mentions that they use this to consider the rights of the fetus above the rights of the pregnant woman, and brings it up as a bad thing .

    mhph:

    What he does say is that neuroscience is not actually something that can tell us what moral rights things have,

    Yeah, he says that science shouldn’t have anything to say about morals, rights, personhood. Apparently those are the only limitations (?).

    And he does so with such choice anti-science lines as “should not be dependent on the changing opinions of science” and “when we claim to see in its results the reduction of all the complexity that constitutes the emergence of a human life”. His actual argument should be against people MISUSING science by not being aware of the nuances of its findings, but instead he gets a few potshots in about science as a method. But, maybe I’m misreading him, because this seems to be a summary of his objection:

    Science does not and should not have the power to absolve individuals and communities of the responsibility to choose.

    And I have no idea what the fuck that is even supposed to mean, or why it should be an important general principle.

    I will admit that he isn’t that anti-science. But reaching conclusions about the limitations of science based upon the failure of Idaho law-makers to use it correctly seems a bit gratuitous, doesn’t it?

  72. 72
    thalamay

    @mythbri

    But unless good ol’ Kant were the one who was pregnant, he still wouldn’t be justified in judging whether or not anyone else made that choice for a “good reason.” ;)

    Wow, this is a terrible argument. It’s like saying: “Unless you have experienced Allah, you’re not justified in judging whether or not the 911 terrorists had good reasons for their actions.”

    The beauty about “reason” is that it doesn’t necessitate experience, it works independent of it.

  73. 73
    anteprepro

    We are assured time-and-time again that late-term abortions are purely hypothetical, but that nonetheless a woman must have the right to dispose over the unborn child till the very last moment.

    “People rarely ever write shitfuckshitfuckfuckshitfuck, but you want to reserve the right for people to write it? YOU MUST BE LYING AND PEOPLE ARE REALLY WRITING THAT ALL OF THE TIME”

    You’re still a dumbass clastrum. Fuck off.

  74. 74
    Amphiox

    Re #69;

    There is a difference between “extending” and “overturning”.

    That is why our ancestors, when inventing the English language, created two different words to express those two different concepts.

    It is also rather pathetic to observe how obsessed you are about Rebecca Watson that you would go through such ridiculous contortions just so you can type her name into a snarky phrase.

  75. 75
    Dr Marcus Hill Ph.D. (arguing from his own authority)

    I know a couple of people who have had fetuses die very late in pregnancy. These women had labour induced – they went through all of the same pain, and risked all of the same complications as women giving birth to live babies naturally just to remove from their bodies fetuses already known to be dead. It’s a hideous, soul destroying process, but clearly thought to be the one with the best potential outcome for the women involved. I can’t therefore see any reason why any physician would choose any method but induced delivery or c-section to remove an unwanted late term fetus, even if he or she were one of these radical types who care about the incubator’s wellbeing. After the event, the medical staff can then use a real world test to see if the fetus was really viable – namely trying to keep it alive. In short, all the philosophising about “late term abortions” is just bullshit.

    In a completely unrelated thought, it still horrifies me to see the shit that the bizarre healthcare system in the US causes. Inducing a birth because insurance is running out? Being bankrupted by medical bills? You people need socialised medicine.

  76. 76
    Matt Penfold

    Upsetting the RoeWade applecart just to enable something which is not going to happen anyway looks like taking unnecessary risks.

    Roe vs Wade only applies in the US. Can you explain your rather nationalistic assumption that we all live in the US ?

  77. 77
    Amphiox

    re 72;

    Kant might be justified in judging, but he wouldn’t be justified in forcing that judgment onto the woman.

  78. 78
    mythbri

    @thalamay

    Wow, this is a terrible argument. It’s like saying: “Unless you have experienced Allah, you’re not justified in judging whether or not the 911 terrorists had good reasons for their actions.”

    I’m sorry – are you comparing having an abortion to the murder of thousands of people in a terrorist attack? Seriously? You do realize that abortion is a legal medical procedure, right?

    What I was trying to say is that no one gets to judge any person’s reasons for getting an abortion. You are not that person, you haven’t lived their life, you will never truly know their circumstances. Therefore your moral judgment is irrelevant to theirs. Abortion is a medical procedure. It is morally neutral, and therefore the only person who decides how moral it is, is the pregnant person in question.

  79. 79
    glendon

    #70.
    Yes, I understand that, but that only considers the rights of the woman. The point was that if the foetus is sufficiently developed to deserve ethical consideration AND is capable of independent existence, then the point at which abortion (rather than birth) was withdrawn would consider the interests of the foetus also.

  80. 80
    Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought

    I’m not really seeing that the author of the article is against abortion. He does seem to have a problem with science.

  81. 81
    barfy

    I want abortion to be legal because I want to live in a world where I have control over every decision made about my body.
    That’s all there is to it.

    Should a fetus/person/unborn human have rights? I guess, according to PZ, this isn’t worth discussing because reality trumps philosophy. I disagree.

    I want to live in a world governed by rules/laws that come from general philosophical principles. Nobody – not even the great PZ – can argue much of anything without philosophy. Even his statement that “reality trumps philosophy” is simply a thinly veiled “might makes right.”

    It’s OK to argue that a fetus/person/unborn human should qualify for rights. The difference is that we define rights as human-made – as opposed to ordained from god. We also argue that rights are limited and alienable.

  82. 82
    joey

    Gregory Greenwood:

    Which completely ignores the critical point of bodily autonomy – no one can claim rights in another’s flesh, as is evidenced by the lack of manditory organ donation.

    What about mandatory vaccinations?

  83. 83
    mythbri

    @Marcus Hill

    Inducing a birth because insurance is running out?

    Yes, that’s why my sister-in-law induced, because otherwise it wouldn’t have been covered by insurance and she and my brother would have had to pay the full costs. Now, this was of course sanctioned by her doctor, since my niece’s due date was within a week and my sister-in-law was thoroughly tired of being pregnant.

    But yes to the improved healthcare system. Yes yes yes.

  84. 84
    mhph

    I’m not sure I see the problem, anteprepro.

    If you think there are ways to use science correctly, and ways to use it incorrectly then you’re basically granting his point. If neuroscience is used incorrectly when used to say what has and hasn’t got moral rights, then that’s because the science is limited in some way (specifically, in that it cannot tell us about moral rights, directly, or in this particular way).

    His argument just is against people misusing scientific information: to make that argument, you have to say that using scientific information is some way is misusing it. And saying that just is saying that that information can only be legitimately used in some other way – that it’s legitimate uses are limited.

    Whether you think this is somehow a vile attack on neuroscience or not would have to depend on whether you think it should be able to do that, or be used to do that. Otherwise he’s just pointing out (as people have had to repeatedly do in the past) that science is a great way of getting certain sorts of answers about certain sorts of questions. But since it is an abstract term picking out a variety of methods of inquiry and vast quantities of information gained in those ways, and not a term picking out a small metal box with a heating coil in it, one of the limitations of science is that it can’t make you toast in the morning.

  85. 85
    Matt Penfold

    Yes, I understand that, but that only considers the rights of the woman. The point was that if the foetus is sufficiently developed to deserve ethical consideration AND is capable of independent existence, then the point at which abortion (rather than birth) was withdrawn would consider the interests of the foetus also.

    Who are these women who just decide late on in pregnancy that they want an abortion ? You seem to think they exist, as does Bubba, but the evidence says they don’t.

    So unless and until you can show your hypothetical scenario represents reality you must be considered to be talking out of your backside.

  86. 86
    Amphiox

    re @75;

    Minor correction. It isn’t “socialized” medicine that America needs, it’s civilized medicine.

    (It is access that matters, not how it is funded, so if someone can invent a universal access system that is privately funded, more power to them)

  87. 87
    Matt Penfold

    What about mandatory vaccinations?

    No one is forced to be vaccinated. If you refuse to be vaccinated no one is going to stick a needle in your arm against your will.

  88. 88
    LykeX

    abortion (rather than birth)

    These are not necessarily opposites. In a situation where the fetus is near to term, the only way to abort the pregnancy will be to induce birth. I.e. sometimes a birth is an abortion.
    It gets a bit confused because usually abortions take place long before this point, and so this issue never comes up.

    My point is that terminating a pregnancy and delivering a viable fetus are not mutually exclusive.

  89. 89
    Amphiox

    re @82;

    Ah, here’s the gooey with yet another useless hypothetical.

    Mandatory universal vaccinations aren’t done. Vaccination is, always has been, and always should be, voluntary for the general public. The only exception I can think of is the event of a disaster like a pandemic, and even there a voluntary program with strong encouragement would be tried first.

  90. 90
    Dr Marcus Hill Ph.D. (arguing from his own authority)

    mythbri @83: I didn’t mean to imply that it was an irresponsible decision, just that “insurance running out” shouldn’t have been a factor that needed consideration.

    ampiox @86: True, the US neds a medical system that is free to all that need it at the point of delivery. Civilised medicine.

  91. 91
    glendon

    Who are these women who just decide late on in pregnancy that they want an abortion ? You seem to think they exist, as does Bubba, but the evidence says they don’t.

    Well, a woman was put in prison just a couple of weeks ago not far from me for just that, so they do exist even if rare.

    Would she be in prison if she had had the option to give birth immediately and give up the child? I don’t know, but it certainly wouldn’t have hurt if we had given some thought to it now, would it?

  92. 92
    carlie

    What about mandatory vaccinations?

    We don’t have them. So what’s your point?

  93. 93
    Amphiox

    When it comes to late term abortions, the interests of the fetus ARE considered already. By the woman. In her capacity as parental guardian and substitute medical decision maker for an individual incapable of making its own informed choices. That’s why late term abortions are almost universally done in the case of non-viable or barely viable but severely disabled fetuses – it’s a decision to minimize the suffering of the potential child.

    And in the case of the woman’s life being threatened the fetus is doomed anyways, and a quick abortion results is less fetal suffering than the slow, agonizing death by nutrient starvation and slow poisoning that would occur if the woman died with the fetus still alive inside her.

    These are highly personal, agonizing decisions for the women in question. They should be trusted to make these decisions on their own, with minimal outside interference, just as every other adult human is trusted to make such personal and difficult decisions on their own, in every other situation not involving lady parts in a supposedly free society.

  94. 94
    Matt Penfold

    Would she be in prison if she had had the option to give birth immediately and give up the child? I don’t know, but it certainly wouldn’t have hurt if we had given some thought to it now, would it?

    We have.

  95. 95
    mythbri

    @Marcus Hill

    I didn’t think you were implying that, and I agree that it’s a ridiculous thing that shouldn’t be a consideration on top of all the stress related to bringing a new person into the world. They’re fortunate that everything was timed as it was – I’m not sure what they would do if they had to contend with a ~$9,0000 bill.

  96. 96
    Matt Penfold

    And in the case of the woman’s life being threatened the fetus is doomed anyways, and a quick abortion results is less fetal suffering than the slow, agonizing death by nutrient starvation and slow poisoning that would occur if the woman died with the fetus still alive inside her.

    And in many cases where the woman’s life is at risk doctors will work with her to get her to a stage where the fetus can be delivered with an excellent chance of thriving.

  97. 97
    glendon

    #93
    No, parents are not given complete dominion over their children by any society that can call itself civilised.

    If you consider that foetuses have rights, then society has a role to play in their protection IF the parents do not make decisions in its interest. Just because most do, does not mean that there is no need for legal protection too.

  98. 98
    Amphiox

    And the interests of a late term viable fetus are also already considered by the doctor, whose medical oath requires that he or she take them into consideration if viability is likely. It is standard teaching in obstetrics that in the late term the doctor has two patients to think about, not just one. That is why induced birth is done instead of abortion in these cases.

  99. 99
    anteprepro

    Even his statement that “reality trumps philosophy” is simply a thinly veiled “might makes right.”

    lolwut? I think that you are the most anti-philosophy person on the blog right now. You’re the only one who has claimed that reality beats up on and overpowers philosophy. I mean, from “reality trumps philosophy” I assumed that it meant “when observable facts are inconsistent with philosophy, the facts beat the philosophy”. Which is something that most students of philosophy would agree with. An argument is only as good as its premises, an argument is only sound if its premises are true, and a good philosopher doesn’t bank on unsound arguments. But apparently reality is just a bully, picking on philosophy, and its sheer power doesn’t necessarily make it correct. Even philosophy that is oppressed by mean old facts can be right! And if you believe otherwise, you are basically a tyrant.

    f neuroscience is used incorrectly when used to say what has and hasn’t got moral rights, then that’s because the science is limited in some way

    Here, I’ll clarify it for you: The Idaho legislators were jumping from the fact that the existence of pain was sufficient basis to ban abortion. This is jumping to conclusions based on science. It isn’t really bad science though as much as it is bad logic and bad philosophy. There is nothing inherent to science that prevents it from having a say on morality or rights or personhood. It is all based on how it is actually used, based on the actual arguments. Neuroscience CAN inform rights, but you need to actually have a fuller and more complete picture than “possible fetal pain, ergo fetus is a person”.

    Otherwise he’s just pointing out (as people have had to repeatedly do in the past) that science is a great way of getting certain sorts of answers about certain sorts of questions.

    And I disagree. The questions that science can’t at very least weigh in on, indirectly or otherwise, are few and far between. It is limited only by our current knowledge base, our current techniques, our current tools, and our imagination. Morality can be weighed in on by science. Rights can be informed by science. Gun violence statistics here and abroad should inform our right to bear arms. Statistics regarding the plights of minority groups should inform our society’s treatments of those groups to get them out of that plight. Rights and the concept of personhood should be scientifically informed if personhood is to mean anything and if rights are to actually be useful to individuals and/or society.

  100. 100
    Matt Penfold

    If you consider that foetuses have rights, then society has a role to play in their protection IF the parents do not make decisions in its interest. Just because most do, does not mean that there is no need for legal protection too.

    I think it is time you started providing specifics as to how far you will go.

  101. 101
    dianne

    Myelination of the corticospinal tracts doesn’t even start until the third trimester. Therefore, pain can not be transmitted to the fetal brain before this time. Can we then absolutely rule out the risk of the fetus experiencing pain at age <24 weeks? In fact, there isn't good myelination until about 36+ weeks, so really does one have to worry about fetal pain free month 9 at all? (If any actual neurologists want to correct my statements, please do so. I'm working off a couple of random references in Google Scholar which could be atypical of consensus.)

  102. 102
    Matt Penfold

    Well, a woman was put in prison just a couple of weeks ago not far from me for just that, so they do exist even if rare.

    So one example, of which you are unable to offer any details ?

    And you think that is a reasonable basis on which to decide the law ?

  103. 103
    Amphiox

    @97;

    Who said anything about “no” protection? There already is plenty of such protection. That is why physicians who perform abortions when induced birth should have been done instead are liable for malpractice. That is why women who abort when induced birth should have been done instead can be sent to jail.

    And that is why the vast majority of women who want to terminate a viable, healthy pregnancy on the cusp of viability will actually choose to wait a few weeks until viability is reached and then undergo an induced birth and why the vast majority of ethical physicians caring for such women would recommend such a course of action.

    Because women aren’t infantile entities with zero impulse control.

  104. 104
    glendon

    #
    Well, if it’s any help, my point is not that foetuses don’t have sufficient legal protection. As it stands, I believe that their rights are given too much precedence over those of the woman.

    All I am saying, is that I don’t believe their rights begin only at birth and the any amendment to the law (in favour of female bodily autonomy) should reflect that also.

  105. 105
    glendon

    @#102
    Google Sarah Catt if you want details.

    No, I don’t believe the law should be based on one case, but I think that it’s possible that the law could have served her better.

  106. 106
    Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle

    What’s extra chilling to me is that fact that the only time the comments mention the women is to slut shame her. if she didn’t want a baby, she shouldn’t have had sex.

    because women don’t get to have the same freedom as men. men should be allowed to walk away from a pregnancy they created because expecting him to pay child support is slavery! but a bitch should be saddled for the rest of her life with a kid if she ever has sex. Because birth control is abortion too . . . somehow . . .

    yeah, no misogyny in the anti-choice camp at all.

  107. 107
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    The point was that if the foetus is sufficiently developed to deserve ethical consideration AND is capable of independent existence,

    Irrelevant until it IS LIVING INDEPENDENTLY.

  108. 108
    Amphiox

    Suppose that we accept that women aborting viable late term pregnancies, when induced birth can and should be done instead, even though a very rare occurrence, is nevertheless a problem that we want to address. What are the most common causes of this problem and what is the best way to address them?

    1. The woman wanted an abortion from the beginning but could not get access until the late term. We fix this by increasing access and eliminating barriers to early term abortions.

    2. The woman did not know that induced birth was an option and did not have access to proper medical advice about it. We fix this by increased public education and reforming the health system to ensure universal access.

    3. The physician who performed the abortion did so despite induced birth being the proper option. This is medical malpractice and existing laws already address this.

  109. 109
    Amphiox

    Myelination and connectivity in the frontal lobes isn’t completed until the mid-20′s for that matter. That’s why teenagers tend to have poorer impulse control than adults.

  110. 110
    mhph

    anteprepro:

    And I disagree…

    You say this, and yet everything you suggested afterwards, that scientific information is directly relevant to lots of questions, and indirectly relevant (to some extent) to lots of other ones is completely consistent with everything that I said. Saying that our answer to some question should be “informed by science” is not even remotely like saying that science can answer that particular question. Mostly it just means that if your answer to that question is inconsistent with other things we know about the world then it’s likely to be a very bad answer indeed.

    My answer to the question: “What shall I have for lunch?” had better be informed by science (in some relatively indirect sense – informed at least by empirical facts and observations, as well as things known about nutrition and biology and so on). But it’s not going to be a question answered by say, facts about biology, since that’s not the sort of question that biology deals with.

    And, of course, saying that our views should be informed by science is precisely (again) what the author of that article also says, after criticizing attempts to simplistically use scientific facts to directly answer questions they can’t themselves answer:

    This emphatically does not mean that science should be left out of such personal and political debates. The more we know about the world the better positioned we are to make the best possible choices.

  111. 111
    glendon

    #108

    Or…

    4. Induced birth was not an option.

    Perhaps the laws are different where you come from, but over here (UK) a doctor is not allowed to induce labour on request (prior to 40wks) without a valid medical reason. Actually, I’m not sure whether this is a legal or a regulatory restriction, but the end result is very much the same.

  112. 112
    anteprepro

    Saying that our answer to some question should be “informed by science” is not even remotely like saying that science can answer that particular question.

    Yes, actually, it is. Saying that an answer to a question can be informed by facts is more or less equivalent to saying that it can be answered by facts. It is just that questions that involve what a person should do can’t entirely be answered as a fact, because it is a result of weighing facts . It is dependent upon how analyze those facts. “Who should I vote for” is something that should be informed by facts, and whose answer isn’t itself a fact. But to say that there is significant difference in the amount that facts matter to that question in comparison to “Who is the most harmful candidate” is a tad much. So, in regards to science, because science cannot be used as a straight, direct answer to vague questions about rights and personhood, the author concludes that science should not be used in that particular domain, even if he admits that it can be used elsewhere in politics. If he, like you, believes that science can be used to effectively inform those answers, even without being able to technically be the exact answer to them, he has communicated fairly poorly.

  113. 113
    Gregory Greenwood

    joey @ 82;

    What about mandatory vaccinations?

    As observed by Matt Penfold @ 87 and carlie @ 92, we don’t actually have manditory vaccination programmes. If you refuse to be vaccinated, no one is going to call a balaclava-clad snatch squad that will burst into your house at three in the morning, put a black bag over your head, and hold you down while you are forcibly injected.

    You know, in my experience, arguments work so much better when they are grounded in reality, rather than a conspiracy theorist’s fevered imaginings.

    Next you are going to tell us that all the reports of alien abductions are actually the work of little green interstellar abortionists…

  114. 114
    anteprepro

    he has communicated fairly poorly.

    Yes, I’m aware that this is hypocritical from me, but I’m not getting paid.

  115. 115
    Avicenna

    Sigh… sorry I was busy…

    There will always be abuses of the system… And to the person who suspected I was White Cis and Male… Two out of Three… I am not white. I work in India but I am british.

    AND I pointed out the MEDICAL Rationale for the current cut off between abortion and LATE term abortion. I never mentioned anything about the mother because the cut off dates for abortion are a political stance not a medical one. A good example of the insanity of politics is seen here. The reasons for abortion don’t matter in the west because “stupid reasons” are the exception rather than the norm.

    In the USA premature babies born before 24 weeks are considered ALIVE because of legislation where hearts and brains are considered the symbol of life. In the UK lungs are required too.

    EVEN in India where medical care isn’t as universal as in the USA or UK. Nearly 85% of abortions occur before 12 weeks. The reason for this delay is that many women here are undernourished and so have irregular menses. It often takes 2 months to realise that someone is pregnant. In the west around 85% occur before the 8th week of pregnancy. It’s a medical abortion at that point (not in the idea that you are familiar with) because the foetus is expelled using medication rather than surgical methods. Above 9 weeks you verge on the surgical methodology. In the west because of our excellent medical care and access to cheap, self use pregnancy kits… Our abortion rate prior to 12 weeks is NEARLY 80 to 90%. The numbers vary with locality but they are generally good…

    We then see a “little” spike from 20 to the 24th week. The reason for that is that at the 20th week you have an ultrasound where many congenital anomalies are detected. Above that it’s late term. The medical reason for that is that there are different procedures involved and we CAN offer the mother the option of a delivery and adoption after the 24th week with “reasonable” success. That and the nature of abortion during the later term is a bit more traumatic so a genuine decision exists where the mother of a “healthy foetus” can decide whether to carry for a furthe 4 to 6 weeks then deliver and then place the child for adoption RATHER than immediately going through the procedure. If we remove the control on late term abortions then we actually gain this option too and I am pretty sure most people who aren’t under a medical need for abortion would go for this.

    I don’t think there should be any restriction on abortions except with local issues. For instance in India the restriction on gender based abortion is something necessary (For every 4 girls there are 5 boys… That’s a massive problem demography wise.) But in the west there should be absolutely no restriction to any abortion. The restrictions I have are so that society doesn’t implode hard in the future but for you guys in the west there are no such problems.

    We don’t need the restriction. I think since 99% of our terminations occur before the cut off we can safely say that even if we remove the cut off we wouldn’t have a massive influx of people having terminations late unless its for actual medical reasons.

    There will always be idiots who abuse medicine. There is nothing you can do but field them individually. I know women who have had 15 to 20 abortions. Why? Probably Munchausens… India has poor psychiatric care. They refuse contraceptive measures (FREE) but go for the abortions. Nothing can be done, there is no psychiatric option for us to use. We just keep doing it.

    I understand a lot of readers are used to arguing from a purely western standpoint but bear in mind that comments may not necessarily come from a western standpoint or a standpoint of philosophy.

    Pure hard sciencewise? The stats back the complete abolition of the boundary of late term abortion as a political control. (It still needs to be a medical term because there are differences in techniques and not all obs/gynae may qualify in it).

  116. 116
    anteprepro

    You know, in my experience, arguments work so much better when they are grounded in reality, rather than a conspiracy theorist’s fevered imaginings.

    Nah, if an argument doesn’t have a vast, unrealistic conspiracy, then what’s the point? So boring and banal. At least add some explosions or a double agent to your argument to spice it up a bit. Jeez.

  117. 117
    dianne

    For instance in India the restriction on gender based abortion is something necessary (For every 4 girls there are 5 boys… That’s a massive problem demography wise.)

    Or maybe if people in India valued girls as much as boys the sex selective abortions would disappear on their own. Taking a choice away from women ultimately will only make things worse because it makes it even more clear that the society considers women to be worth less than men and to be less competent to make their own decisions. If you want a society where women are out and out slaves, keep restricting reproductive choice.

  118. 118
    dianne

    we CAN offer the mother the option of a delivery and adoption after the 24th week with “reasonable” success.

    Do you counsel the women in this situation on the risks of adoption? For example, that they will almost certainly undergo a deep and long lasting depression and possibly ill effects to their physical health? (Even assuming they don’t die of an amniotic fluid embolus in that “easy” delivery you seem to be promising.) Do you inform them that adoptees and children with disabilities-as a premature infant is very likely to be-are at high risk of abuse? If not, you’re failing to give informed consent and, IMHO, ought to be liable for malpractice when these outcomes occur. Note I said “when” not “if”: psychiatric sequelae are almost universal in women who have given a child up for adoption.

  119. 119
    clastum3

    Matt Penfold #76

    Roe vs Wade only applies in the US. Can you explain your rather nationalistic assumption that we all live in the US ?

    I don’t live there either, but the debate is taking place in an American context.

    In Europe, or at least in the UK and Germany the subject is not half as contentious. I’m no expert on UK or German law, but I think it’s correct to say that neither of them recognises an absolute “right to life” on the one hand or “absolute bodily autonomy of the woman” on the other, but use principles such as balance-of-interest, which effectively allow full discretion to the woman until late in the pregnancy.

    As you seem to indicate, this works pretty well, and without any dogma or sloganising.

  120. 120
    Gregory Greenwood

    anteprepro @ 116;

    Nah, if an argument doesn’t have a vast, unrealistic conspiracy, then what’s the point? So boring and banal. At least add some explosions or a double agent to your argument to spice it up a bit. Jeez.

    My apologies – I’m just not trying, am I? Afterall, if Joey can come up with the fascist vaccination secret police out of whole cloth, the least I can do is add in a car chase or something…

  121. 121
    mythbri

    Seconding dianne’s comment at #117. The answer is not to restrict choice – the answer is to give women full value as human beings.

    I once had a discussion about abortion with someone who claimed to be “pro-life” because he was born prematurely, just after 20 weeks. He claimed that in some states he isn’t considered a person because of this.

    I asked him if the IRS considered him to be a person, and he didn’t want to talk anymore after that.

  122. 122
    joey

    Gregory Greenwood:

    As observed by Matt Penfold @ 87 and carlie @ 92, we don’t actually have manditory vaccination programmes.

    Do all three of you live in the UK? Well, here in the states, immunization laws exist for each state.

    If you refuse to be vaccinated, no one is going to call a balaclava-clad snatch squad that will burst into your house at three in the morning, put a black bag over your head, and hold you down while you are forcibly injected.

    No, but in many states your child can be denied an education if he/she isn’t adequately vaccinated. That seems pretty mandatory to me.

    I’m curious as to what you feel about these immunization laws. Also, laws that prohibit the consumption of certain drugs.

  123. 123
    Gregory Greenwood

    clastum3 @ 119;

    As you seem to indicate, this works pretty well, and without any dogma or sloganising.

    And insisting on the actual humanity of women is such awful dogmatic sloganising. If we were just reasonable enough to compromise on this whole ‘women are people too’ fundamentalism, and accept that pregnant women actually are subhuman living incubators past a certain point in the pregnancy, then there wouldn’t be a problem, and we could all just get along.

    Because that is what matters to you, isn’t it clastum3? That everyone should just nod along and agree, and so long as the pile of women needlessly dead due to a lack of abortion access caused by anti-choice groups fiddling the system is kept out of sight and thus out of mind, it’s all good…

    Unfortunately, I cannot be so reasonable as you. I can’t seem to get past this idea that pregnant women are still human beings, and that as such they must have a right to bodily autonomy if we don’t want to live in a society that endorses procreative slavery.

    How very absolutist of me. It must be a flaw in my character…

  124. 124
    Avicenna

    117. There are people working on that. I however have to deal with the abortion problem. Consider that in 300 million people in the USA a sizeable chunk believe that evolution isn’t real… Consider the problem in India where there are 1.2 BILLION people and not even a tenth of the resources. The education takes time, that India doesn’t have because it requires resources that India doesn’t have. This is a stop gap measure.

    To put it into perspective? I only have power for 22 hours a day. I am not too bad, I know places with power for 16 hours and some for just 6 hours a day.

    Do you think women are terminating girls or do you think men are forcing women to terminate girls?

    118. In the west. In India this is not an option…

    In India the IMR is so high that in the UK a 24 week old foetus has a HIGHER rate of survival than a term birth in India. Out of 1000 children born, 60 will die at term. In the UK that’s the mortality rate for 24 week premies. The maternal mortality in India is also much higher. Comparatively in the west you have SAFE deliveries.

    Oh and Amnio embolus is rare. My Dewhursts gives the incidence as roughly 1 per 100,000 in western nations. The maternal mortality rate where I work is 212 per 100,000.

    It’s an option that SHOULD be available to mothers ALONGSIDE late term abortion. I was clear on that bit.

    As for the psychiatric issue? Highly contentious. Many of the researchers quote cohorts of 20 people. There are no double blinded studies. This may be true but honestly? You just didn’t read the part where I said…

    ” …a genuine decision exists where the mother of a “healthy foetus” can decide whether to carry for a furthe 4 to 6 weeks then deliver and then place the child for adoption RATHER than immediately going through the procedure. If we remove the control on late term abortions then we actually gain this option too and I am pretty sure most people who aren’t under a medical need for abortion would go for this. ”

    I never said “NO ABORTION! ADOPTION!” I said “It’s an option”.

  125. 125
    Ze Madmax

    joey @ #122

    No, but in many states your child can be denied an education if he/she isn’t adequately vaccinated. That seems pretty mandatory to me.

    That sounds rather harsh. Particularly when you consider that they’re not being denied an education, but merely access to school facilities (i.e., they can receive their education in some other way). So no, that is still not mandatory vaccination, much as being quarantined due to an infectious disease doesn’t represent extra-judicial imprisonment.

    But hey, I guess if the “crazy women murdering babies before umbilical cord is cut”* gamble doesn’t work, you may as well go for the “MANDATORY VACCINATIONS THEREFORE TOTALITARIANISM” gamble.


    * That was joey, right? Or am I getting my abortion-is-the-best-topic-for-philosophical-masturbation trolls mixed up again?

  126. 126
    Gregory Greenwood

    joey @ 122;

    Do all three of you live in the UK? Well, here in the states, immunization laws exist for each state.

    And how many of thoise laws mandate violating the bodily autonomy of a person who refuses vaccination by forcibly injecting them?

    Take your time…

    No, but in many states your child can be denied an education if he/she isn’t adequately vaccinated. That seems pretty mandatory to me.

    And this is a violation of bodily autonomy how, again? Limiting possible exposure of people who are yet to be vaccinated to those who refuse to be, or whose parents refuse to let them be, is merely prudent public health policy.

    I’m curious as to what you feel about these immunization laws. Also, laws that prohibit the consumption of certain drugs.

    What makes you think I endorse the failed ‘war on drugs’ policy? What makes you think I agree with these anti-drug laws? I would favour a system of education about the risks and age limits on the use of narcotics. Not that your analogy here relates back to the bodily autonomy of pregnant women at all.

    Stop trying to move the goalposts.

  127. 127
    anteprepro

    No, but in many states your child can be denied an education if he/she isn’t adequately vaccinated. That seems pretty mandatory to me.

    Your child can be denied PUBLIC EDUCATION if they refuse vaccination WITHOUT CLAIMING RELIGIOUS EXEMPTIONS AND UNLESS THEY HAVE MEDICAL ISSUES THAT WOULD ARISE DUE TO VACCINATION.

    I really don’t understand how this is supposed to be analogous to banning abortion/mandating birth.

  128. 128
    anteprepro

    I mean, obviously mandatory vaccinations aren’t that mandatory, because non-religious woo-woo anti-vaxxers take pride in talking about how they haven’t gotten vaccinations for their children. It’s not so much mandatory as much as “we would really really really prefer if you did this.”

  129. 129
    JAL: Snark, Sarcasm & Bitterness

    Well, here in the states, immunization laws exist for each state.
    No, but in many states your child can be denied an education if he/she isn’t adequately vaccinated. That seems pretty mandatory to me.

    I’m curious as to what you feel about these immunization laws. Also, laws that prohibit the consumption of certain drugs.

    Start naming states and bringing up specific laws.

    I have a child in school and she was in daycare before that. If you don’t vaccinate, you fill out an exception form. The school sends a warning about outbreaks and your child stays home from school for as long as that happens or they have a doctors note saying they recovered.

    I don’t buy this forced immunization crap at all, because outbreaks of diseases we haven’t had to deal with in a long time and coming back due to the idiocy of anti-vaxx. IF we had forced immunization, this wouldn’t be happening. These UN-vaccinated children are in schools, and daycare centers putting everyone at risk. They are destroying our heard immunity and putting innocent people at risk of terrible diseases, life long effects and possibly death.

    All because we respect people’s right to make their own decisions for their own children and their own bodies.

    Funny, how that doesn’t get put into effect for women while their pregnant.

  130. 130
    dianne

    Do you think women are terminating girls or do you think men are forcing women to terminate girls?

    I think it depends on the individual. I can certainly see not wanting to bear a girl in India for reasons ranging from not wanting to put her through what you went through as a woman to wanting the presents that go with delivering a boy but not a girl. OTOH, I expect a large number of men force or coerce their wives into aborting female fetuses.

    What I don’t see is how restricting abortion helps either situation: Either you’ve restricted a woman’s choice, further indicating to her that you don’t think she’s worth crap, or you’ve forced her to bear a child that will probably be abused by its father and made it very likely that she will be abused as well.

    Counseling that probes the motives of the woman seeking abortion might be useful-if you are able to back it up. If you find that she wants to have an abortion because the fetus is a female and her husband strangled the last baby girl she bore and broke her arm for having a girl, can and will you help her get away from him? Or are you just going to sternly lecture her on the evils of “letting” herself be abused and tell her she should leave?

  131. 131
    mhph

    anteprepro

    If he, like you, believes that science can be used to effectively inform those answers, even without being able to technically be the exact answer to them, he has communicated fairly poorly.

    Ok look come on, I quoted him saying these things. I’m not really sure what else he has to do to communicate them – telepathy?

    Science gives us useful information, often information relevant to answering these questions. But that doesn’t mean that that information is itself the answer to those questions. And it also doesn’t mean that the question of whether these scientific facts are relevant to these moral questions is itself a scientific question, or one answerable by scientific facts (hint: it never is). And it especially doesn’t mean it when the additional bit that has to be added (“pain=personhood”) is transparently bonkers.

    At that point people are just trying to glom onto the prestige of science, and pretend that particular bits of it can decide issues that they simply can’t decide. It reflects either a fundemental dishonesty (if they realize what exactly they’re up to), or a sort of hubris (if they don’t, and are simply caught up in a wave of sciencewillsolveallproblems!!!1!, like Sam Harris, for example).

    I’m really not sure what the unclarity in what he’s arguing actually is – he says basically all of these things, only at greater length and in greater detail.

  132. 132
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    BubbaRich

    For them, the argument is analogous to discussing whether you have the right to speed past every> unloading school bus you see; your right to travel unimpeded and to arrive at your destination a little earlier is overwhelmed by the rights of the schoolchildren to continue living.

    Yes, that makes total sense. Arriving 5 minutes late is exactly the same as being in pain and danger for 9 months plus permanent damage to one’s body. Best analogy ever!

    *marks two squares on the abortion bingo*

    I know most of you use the vague “bright” line of birth to recognize social rights of children. But there are problems with that bright line, and they also need to be considered.

    Vague? I tell you, if you’d ever pushed them out of your vagina, you’d understand that there’s nothing “vague” about birth.
    Or, since that’s impossible, if you understood shit about biology.

    *’nother square*

    I understand many of you don’t want to consider this, but in the real world, it’s an important issue ethically, and it’s an important issue to use in a dialogue with people who disagree with you.

    Wrong. We have considered it and dismissed it. Bring up a real argument instead of your squirmishness and content-empty language.

    mythbri

    If you think the line between “born” and “not-born” is vague, then I hope that you’ll understand if women prefer doctors to help with delivery instead of philosophers.

    And here’s a shiny new internet for you!

    Avicenna

    The mortality rate at the 24th week is 6%. It’s one of the reasons for that cut off. Personhood is by viability and viability is reliant on your lungs…

    Absolutely irrelevant. Firstly, that viability is with heavy medical care (usually, if it can be forseen with the help of medication that gets the lungs ready), secondly what’s the argument? That now it’s potentially viable outside of the womb it has the right to stay inside of it? Apart, of course, from the fact that such late abortions are usually done with the explicit goal to terminate a heavily damaged fetus…

    I don’t think there should be any restriction on abortions except with local issues. For instance in India the restriction on gender based abortion is something necessary (For every 4 girls there are 5 boys… That’s a massive problem demography wise.)

    NO.
    There can never be utalitarian justifications why women should be forced to give birth. People in western Europe could argue that we need to deny abortions because of aging societies and shrinking populations. Women have to breed for the good of society.
    The problem of misogyny in India is not going to be solved by treating women as incubators and endangering their lives, since very often there is real violence against them if they give birth.
    And I don’t care if 1 out of 5 Indian guys isn’t getting his dick wet in the future.

    I know women who have had 15 to 20 abortions. Why? Probably Munchausens… India has poor psychiatric care.

    I know people who had 15- 20 tatoos and piercings. Or who never brush their teeth… What’s the point?

    Do you think women are terminating girls or do you think men are forcing women to terminate girls?

    Both. Still, forced abortion is a violation of her autonomy as well. Law should give her protection on that instead of saying that women need to be prevented from making their own decisions.

    The maternal mortality in India is also much higher. Comparatively in the west you have SAFE deliveries.

    You do understand that just because it’S worse elsewhere life isn’t unicorn-poops. Especially since “low mortality” often means “saved by emergency care”

    Firetree

    Lets argue about these things at the survival of the fittest or biological level, which is never kind and gentle, while keeping our hard earned humanization in mind

    Bullshit as well. We don’t deny women who want to carry the fetus medical care on that principle either.

    sponsor

    While there is no doubt in regard to the pregnant woman — as a “rational being”, which “must serve in every maxim as the condition restricting all merely relative and arbitrary ends”, she is “the basis of all maxims of action”.

    Just leaves the little problem that Kant surely didn’t see women as rational beings

    clastum

    But I appreciate that dogma and the party-line must come first, and sloganizing about “woman’s absolute autonomy….etc.etc” will certainly ingratiate you with the Rebecca Watsons.

    Did I mention that you get a free square on the bingo when somebody mentions Rebecca?
    Yeah, that stupid dogma of “women are people”

    I’m no expert on UK or German law, but I think it’s correct to say that neither of them recognises an absolute “right to life” on the one hand or “absolute bodily autonomy of the woman” on the other, but use principles such as balance-of-interest, which effectively allow full discretion to the woman until late in the pregnancy.

    No, clearly you’re not an expert. Completely clueless is more adequate.

    joey

    No, but in many states your child can be denied an education if he/she isn’t adequately vaccinated. That seems pretty mandatory to me.

    Wrong. Your child is not allowed to endanger other people. It’s your job to give them education.

    thalamay

    The beauty about “reason” is that it doesn’t necessitate experience, it works independent of it.

    please contact me next time you’re planning to have any medical care, for example toothache. I’ll be happy to reason whether you’re allowed to have the care or not, because, hey, reason! Also my reasoning is clearly superior than yours because yours is subjectivey tainted.

    barfy

    It’s OK to argue that a fetus/person/unborn human should qualify for rights.

    Yeah, I would put the right to healthcare high on the list. Oh, wait, somehow that’s never discussed.
    As for the rest of it, yes, the philosophical bullshittery is useless because in this little thing called reality the fetus is inside a woman whose status and rights are clearly defined and trump that of the lil’ parasite. Unless, of course, you want to argue the philosophical justifications of slavery

    If you consider that foetuses have rights, then society has a role to play in their protection IF the parents do not make decisions in its interest. Just because most do, does not mean that there is no need for legal protection too.

    So, what decision could parents make that are not in the interest of the fetus that do not directly impact the woman’s bodily autonomy?

  133. 133
    dianne

    As far as the “contentious” nature of the data on the psychiatric harm done by adoption, it’s true that there are few studies on the issue and that most of them are small and uncontrolled. Almost as if society has made the decision that women who give up a child for adoption aren’t worth considering. But the data is pretty consistent: I haven’t yet seen a study that shows anything but severe psychiatric damage. Very consistent data, even if any individual data point isn’t very convincing, starts to add up to a “bulk of the evidence” recommendation.

    A review for reference: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1552-6909.1999.tb02008.x/abstract

    Some women may chose to continue the pregnancy and place the child for adoption. If she does so knowing the risks, fine. But if she’s told only that this will “save” the baby and how little time and effort on her part is needed, etc then she has not received proper counseling and the person who made the recommendation should be liable.

  134. 134
    skeptifem

    Judith Jarvis Thomson’s “A Defense of Abortion” (1971) argues that even if the fetus is a person, a woman’s right to control her body includes the right to refuse that person the use of her body for its own needs. As PZ says here, if you have no response to that line of argument, you really don’t have much to say about abortion rights, and you’re on the edge (at least) of disregarding women as persons.

    that paper only argues against abortion in cases of rape.

  135. 135
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    But if she’s told only that this will “save” the baby and how little time and effort on her part is needed, etc then she has not received proper counseling and the person who made the recommendation should be liable.

    Word!
    As if our mental health were just a stupid bogus concept.

  136. 136
    Avicenna

    130. My fault. I failed to mention how we stop gender related abortions. We just don’t tell people the gender of their child.

    It’s always a surprise.

    Yes, women are injured and even killed by people because they keep birthing female babies. Yes infanticide is present (but it has gone down a lot more), but honestly speaking?

    It’s a step forwards. Many families change their tunes. Some of the schemes on rural jobs affect ONLY women so the value of women goes up. Like the Anganwadi schemes (rural care workers. Basically a woman who is taken to the city and given training in basic medicine and midwifery and given medicine kits to act as a midwife.) or rural nurse schemes.

    It’s actually pretty smart. Most villages had huge mortality rates of infants. The training of an anganwadi to use a few modern techniques cuts infant mortality sharply. Instant Respect because she is doing something considered impossible. A drop of mortality from 6 per 1000 to 4 per 1000 is very hard. A drop from 120 to 60 is not because the things that drop it are easy to do. Like washing your hands and instruments and using sterile fields or using ORS or Iron Tablets. Its creating women in positions of village authority.

  137. 137
    anteprepro

    I quoted him saying these things. I’m not really sure what else he has to do to communicate them – telepathy?

    And the rest of what he was saying seemed to undermine that statement. I may just be reading him wrong so I’m not going to worry about it further.

    At that point people are just trying to glom onto the prestige of science, and pretend that particular bits of it can decide issues that they simply can’t decide. It reflects either a fundemental dishonesty (if they realize what exactly they’re up to), or a sort of hubris (if they don’t, and are simply caught up in a wave of sciencewillsolveallproblems!!!1!, like Sam Harris, for example).

    I agree that this does happen and it does happen far too often. And it pretty much gives the people who want to do the same thing, but do it right, a bad name.

  138. 138
    mhph

    skeptifem

    that paper only argues against abortion in cases of rape.

    No – it does not argue that at all. She certainly does argue that cases of rape provide a very good example of cases where abortion is clearly permissible (even assuming fetal personhood), but she then goes on to argue quite extensively that a lot of other cases (including unintended pregnancy) are also, usually, permissible.

    First she establishes that if the mother does not consent to the fetus’ use of her body then the fetus has no justice claim on the use of the mother’s body (rape being the obvious claim here). Right after that she argues that a woman consenting to sex does not entail consenting to the (possible) fetus’ use of her body – so that abortion is permissible in cases of unintended pregnancy (barring the mother separately, in some sense, consenting to this use of her body by the fetus).

  139. 139
    anteprepro

    that paper only argues against abortion in cases of rape.

    But the violinist thought experiment can easily be used for pregnancy due to consensual sex, simply because consenting to sex isn’t consenting to pregnancy. I think I’ve found that the work-around for this is just to not mention kidnapping.

  140. 140
    anteprepro

    She certainly does argue that cases of rape provide a very good example of cases where abortion is clearly permissible (even assuming fetal personhood), but she then goes on to argue quite extensively that a lot of other cases (including unintended pregnancy) are also, usually, permissible.

    Also that.

    (I’m beginning to think that I might be your sock-puppet)

  141. 141
    joey

    Gregory Greenwood:

    And this is a violation of bodily autonomy how, again?

    Forcibly restricting your child’s access to a public education unless he/she is subjected to the required vaccinations. Yes, this could definitely be considered as violation of bodily autonomy. Unless you don’t think access to public education is a right.

    Limiting possible exposure of people who are yet to be vaccinated to those who refuse to be, or whose parents refuse to let them be, is merely prudent public health policy.

    I agree.

    What makes you think I endorse the failed ‘war on drugs’ policy? What makes you think I agree with these anti-drug laws?

    I’m not suggesting that you do. I sincerely wanted to know your feelings on such laws, which is why I asked the question.

    Not that your analogy here relates back to the bodily autonomy of pregnant women at all.

    My point is that the right to bodily autonomy isn’t universally regarded as absolute, even among many atheist circles. I found this thread where some atheists (A+ forum) argue in favor of coerced immunization programs. So if there is some “give” in the bodily autonomy of persons for utilitarian reasons, then in regards to the abortion debate the personhood status of the fetus becomes absolutely relevant.

  142. 142
    JAL: Snark, Sarcasm & Bitterness

    My fault. I failed to mention how we stop gender related abortions. We just don’t tell people the gender of their child.

    It’s always a surprise.

    NO. NO. NO.

    Do you realize there’s a similar law on the books in AZ, where I live?

    Only it’s being pregnant is a totally surprise. Doctors can straight lie to patients faces if the doctors thing the woman with abort if she’s pregnant or if there’s a medical issue with the fetus, they can lie for fear of the woman aborting as well.

    Fuck this shit. Fuck that shit. Fuck your shit.

    Lying and hiding the truth from women regarding the facts does no one any good, except the anti-choicers.

    Don’t fight to treat women like infants who can’t make their own decisions. Fight to make women full people under the law and in society will gain far more, while ending the epidemic of aborting female fetuses. If the odd couple or hundred, don’t want a girl that’s not a crime. The epidemic, the society wide abortion of female fetuses comes from sexism.

  143. 143
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Yes, this could definitely be considered as violation of bodily autonomy. Unless you don’t think access to public education is a right.

    Only in Joey World, not the real world.My point is that the right to bodily autonomy isn’t universally regarded as absolute,An your example was where another PERSON WITH A BIRTH CERTIFICATE MIGHT BE ENDANGERED. That is not relevant to any abortion discussion, except in Joey World, not the real world.

  144. 144
    JAL: Snark, Sarcasm & Bitterness

    I found this thread where some atheists (A+ forum) argue in favor of coerced immunization programs. So if there is some “give” in the bodily autonomy of persons for utilitarian reasons, then in regards to the abortion debate the personhood status of the fetus becomes absolutely relevant.

    Let’s see, one second shot in the arm that has little side-effects, like irritation compared to 9 months of organ moving, hemorrhoids, swelling feet, headaches, nausea, sometimes diabetes, then you go through painful, terrible labor or get cut open in surgery. Or you sometimes get infertility and death. I’m sure I’m missing a bunch of other things here for the side effects of pregnancy and birth.

    Yeah, I can totally see the similarity there buddy boy.

    Prove forced organ donation or no dice. That’s more comparable, but only just so.

  145. 145
    dianne

    We just don’t tell people the gender of their child.

    It’s always a surprise.

    No paternalism there, nope, not a bit. Also, you’re putting your patients in harms way by not revealing that they might have a condition that could lead to their being abused.

  146. 146
    hymanrosen

    I don’t understand why apparently rational scientists treat freedom (free will) as a concept that has been proven not to exist, or as an illusion. (Who is being fooled?) Free will was certainly a problem when physics was Newtonian, because those laws implied that the entire future of the universe was a calculable consequent of its current state. But miraculously (sic :-) it turns out that Newtonian physics was wrong, the universe does not have a definite current state, and the future is indeterminate because the laws of physics only give probabilities of random events. So the problem of determinancy being antithetical to free will is settled; determinancy doesn’t exist. (And quantum indeterminancy easily leaks into the macro world – simply place a mildly radioactive source near a Geiger counter and realize that each click you hear completely alters everything about you.)

    Now, in the absence of determinancy, what sense does it make to say that we do not freely choose our actions? Certainly there is no external force which is directing us. Instead, our minds, which are an emergent property of the actions of our brains and bodies, choose actions based on remembered state and current inputs. Now, not all of the decision structures of the mind are available to it in an introspective way, so that we cannot in general describe all the factors that go into making a decision, but that doesn’t mean that we aren’t deciding. Reductionism isn’t of any use here either – even though one may say that it’s all just a bunch of molecules moving around (an argument which applies to everything, after all) the high-level structure of those molecules is of a mind making decisions.

    I find it even more odd that people who don’t believe in free will go around trying to *convince* other people that they’re correct. What does convincing even mean in the absence of freedom? Odder yet is when they argue that we should not punish criminals. If they think it’s possible to change the minds of those who mete out punishment, why don’t they try to change the minds of those who would commit crimes?

    I really don’t get it.

  147. 147
    Amphiox

    No, having access to public education facilities at times when other people are put at risk restricted is NOT mandatory vaccination. It is NOT a violation of personal autonomy. Alternate methods of education are available, and public resources can be used to facilitate those alternate methods, making it STILL PUBLIC EDUCATION.

    gooey the pathetic tyrant slavemaster lying yet again.

    If there are atheists (or anyone else) advocating for mandatory vaccinations for the general public, those people are wrong. Mandatory vaccination is the violation of a person’s bodily integrity with a foreign object. It is no different from assault or rape.

  148. 148
    Amphiox

    Let’s not forget that vaccination directly benefits the person being vaccinated, and the primary goal of vaccination is to help the individual being vaccinated (herd immunity is only secondary goal), while forcing a woman to continue a pregnancy does only harm to her and no benefit whatsoever.

  149. 149
    Esteleth, [an error occurred while processing this directive]

    With regards to the situation in India with sex-selective abortions and infanticide, there is no clear, simple solution. All of the possible short to medium-term solutions to the problem are TERRIBLE. Only the long-term solution (a systematic raising of the status of women and a thorough smashing of son preference) will work, but that will take decades, if not generations. The Indian government is tasked with finding the least bad option.

  150. 150
    mythbri

    @Avicenna

    Yes, women are injured and even killed by people because they keep birthing female babies.

    Actually, the Y-chromosome that determines whether or not the fetus will be born male comes from the father, not the mother. I know that you already know this, but I just wanted to highlight the absurdity of punishing women for a “defect” whose fault actually lies with the men in this equation.

    Not that I’m suggesting men should be injured or killed for failing to father sons.

  151. 151
    Esteleth, [an error occurred while processing this directive]

    I mean, shit. Yes, denying a woman the knowledge of the sex of her fetus for fear that she’ll abort it if it is female is paternalistic. Of course it is. It is ugly, paternalistic, and disgusting. But when weighed against the systematic elimination of girls…

    Ugh. The entire situation stinks. There is no good, or even not-horrific, short-term option.

    The problem is the patriarchal devaluation of women, which is the proximate cause of sex-specific abortion, female infanticide, dowries, violence against women, and a crapton of other issues.

  152. 152
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    Avicenna

    . I failed to mention how we stop gender related abortions. We just don’t tell people the gender of their child.

    It’s always a surprise.

    Yes, women are injured and even killed by people because they keep birthing female babies.

    So, you type this and don’t realize that you (generic) literally deny women life-saving information?
    And yes, I’m waiting for a clear justificatin for this.
    The “demographic development” seems a bit bogus to me in a country with 1.2 billion people. It’s not looking like you’re in immediate danger to die out.
    No, this whole thing and its bad effects for women now (like bride trafficking) is about the literal entitlement of men to have access to women’s bodies and get their dick wet.

  153. 153
    Esteleth, [an error occurred while processing this directive]

    The imbalanced sex ratio is directly contributing to bride trafficking – there is an excess of men, men who want (and “deserve”) brides, so they’re bought from other areas.

  154. 154
    JAL: Snark, Sarcasm & Bitterness

    Actually, the Y-chromosome that determines whether or not the fetus will be born male comes from the father, not the mother. I know that you already know this, but I just wanted to highlight the absurdity of punishing women for a “defect” whose fault actually lies with the men in this equation.

    Not that I’m suggesting men should be injured or killed for failing to father sons.

    I remember learning this fact in school, while learning about a certain king. It tickled my teacher while we, the students, were still trying to comprehend cutting off women’s head for not given birth to boys. It became a very surreal experience when a Catholic kid spoke up saying that he could understand that – better death than stuck with that woman for life. Funny, how that kid didn’t call it murder…

    *shudder*

    Ah, the joy of realizing something now you didn’t realize as a child.

  155. 155
    daniellavine

    @joey:

    Forcibly restricting your child’s access to a public education unless he/she is subjected to the required vaccinations. Yes, this could definitely be considered as violation of bodily autonomy. Unless you don’t think access to public education is a right.

    Schools are a public good provided through tax money by the whole community. That community is permitted to place reasonable conditions on use of school facilities for the sake of public health.

    This is in no way a violation of bodily autonomy. It’s more like a school uniform requirement. If your child “cannot attend a school” because you refuse to allow your child to wear a uniform it is not a violation of your child’s bodily autonomy. It’s a “violation” of your dislike for school uniforms. Similarly, vaccination policies are a “violation” of your distaste for vaccinations.

    You could probably argue that public education is or at least should be a human right but in the US it is not a legal right.

  156. 156
    Bronze Dog

    hymanrosen @146: Thanks for the derail. Since I have a hard time resisting:

    Define “free will” and “choice” as you’re using them. I see no problem with saying that humans make choices despite being bound by the mixture of fixed laws of physics, properties of our components, and the seeming randomness of certain quantum events going on in our brains. It’s just describing the same thing in terms of higher level abstractions, so it strikes me as purely a language/description issue.

  157. 157
    Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle

    It’s interesting, though not at all surprising, that discussion of repro rights go exactly like discussions of rape – dudes desperately searching for any reason – however ridiculous, nonsensical or dishonest – to place all the blame, responsibility, punishment and shame on women. Coupled, of course, with ways to restrict women’s choices, decisions, rights and freedoms in ways they would consider intensely unfair, unethical and immoral to do to men.

    And, of course, somehow that’s Rebecca Watson’s fault.

    So the question is, are anti-choice dudes the same people as rape-apologist dudes, or do they just happen to be similarly misogynistic?

  158. 158
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    Forcibly restricting your child’s access to a public education unless he/she is subjected to the required vaccinations. Yes, this could definitely be considered as violation of bodily autonomy. Unless you don’t think access to public education is a right.

    Duh, would you believe that they deny my kids access to preschool after scarlet fever or diarreha unless I subject them to an examination by their pediatrician? Elebenty!!!!

  159. 159
    daniellavine

    @hymanrosen:

    Your argument leaves a lot to be desired.

    The universe is not deterministic. Therefore free will exists.

    That doesn’t actually follow and there are myriad reasons besides determinism to believe that “free will” as commonly understood is philosophically incoherent. Personally, I take Dennett’s view that “there is such a thing as free will…but it’s not what you think it is.”

    To make your argument stick, here’s what you need to do:
    1. Define “free will” in a way that isn’t circular, question-begging, or incoherent.
    2. Demonstrate that your definition is consistent with what we actually know about human neurophysiology. For example, if you’re using quantum effects to rebut the determinism arguments, you need to actually demonstrate that quantum effects are relevant in cognition.

    In terms, of “punishing criminals,” you have almost answered your own question by asking it. You assume the purpose of criminal justice is to “punish” criminals. That is not necessarily the case. See here. If you believe that the purpose of the criminal justice system is rehabilitation then punishment is only appropriate if punishment leads to rehabilitation (it doesn’t seem to). If you believe the purpose of the criminal justice system is to provide a deterrent then there is no reason to make the “punishment” proportional to the crime. Death penalty for everything would provide the greatest deterrent. The last possibility is essentially “vengeance”…if you do bad things you deserve to have bad things happen to you. It’s the least high-minded but probably most accurate view of the purpose of criminal justice.

    I don’t think “free will” is actually all that relevant to questions of criminal justice.

  160. 160
    Amphiox

    Unless you don’t think access to public education is a right.

    Access to education is a right. Access to public education however, is not. Public education is just one method out of many of delivering the right to education. There are others.

  161. 161
    No Light

    @mythbri -

    I once had a discussion about abortion with someone who claimed to be “pro-life” because he was born prematurely, just after 20 weeks.

    Oh dear… If his name was James Gill, and by “just after” he meant “a fortnight”, I might not write him off as yet another lying pro-liar.

    I’ve talked with dozens of anti-choice twonks you claim they were born at 20 weeks. They’ll stoop to anything, won’t they?

    21w6d is the youngest surviving premature birth.

    The alleged 21w5d birth was fudged, because the fertilised embryo was implanted, and the gestation based on that date, not the woman’s LMP. That particular baby therefore had an extra two weeks of development under her baby belt, compared to James Gill.

    22 weeks is the absolute limit on foetal viability, and even then, the chance of surviving isn’t great, and requires massive intervention. Chance of surviving without negative sequelae? About 1%

  162. 162
    No Light

    Argh, sorry,
    Should be:

    e talked with dozens of anti-choice twonks WHO claim they were born at 20 weeks.

  163. 163
    unclefrogy

    PZ said,
    “Reality trumps philosophy. Only stupid philosophers think their artificial scenarios have anything to say about the real world.”

    that is the final and complete argument to all of religions and philosophies. It matters not a whit what you think or feel or believe is real that will have absolutely no effect upon the true nature of reality what so ever. It can only have any effect at all on what you chose to do in response to what ever you perceive as real. What you perceive as real can be in error very easily.
    the only real important question to ask is what is real, what is verifiable as real not what I believe.
    These questions all of them starting with the one here abortion are an argument about belief over reality nothing more or why does Bubba sound so nuts.
    Why else would all the arguments against ignore the woman in the abortion question?
    The woman is absolutely real and part of the whole question without a woman being involved there is no problem at all there is no pregnancy.
    fuck!

    uncle frogy

  164. 164
    hymanrosen

    @Bronze Dog, if you see no problem, why do I need to define anything? Anyway, choice is the process by which the mind considers memories and inputs to pick an action. It sounds like a circular definition, but it’s not – if you could follow the structures as a decision was made, you would see low-level structures combining to form higher-level ones, translating molecular activity into meaningful and recognizable concepts – this is scary, this is soft, this is sharp, this makes me happy. Some of the decision structures will not be available for conscious introspection, so the conscious part of the mind will sometimes think of itself as acting inexplicably. The choice is free because there isn’t any outside force which is compelling it, and because it’s not (absolutely) predictable.

    As for derailing, arguing about abortion is silly. The universe is the universe. It doesn’t care about people and the definitions they make and the moralities they conceive. It’s perfectly possible for there to be no morally acceptable choice for a person who must make one, either for that person or for other people. When we live together in societies we come up with rules that work tolerably well for those who can enforce them, but it’s foolish to expect that those rules will act in every situation to make everyone happy and then to get all whiny when they don’t.

    It’s also silly for people who don’t believe in free will to be pro-choice :-)

  165. 165
    Amphiox

    Only the long-term solution (a systematic raising of the status of women and a thorough smashing of son preference) will work, but that will take decades, if not generations.

    The problem will actually solve itself if left alone, though not in a way that anyone would really want.

    As sex-selective abortions and other ways of reducing female birth rates continue, the male:female ratio will get progressively skewed. Adult women will become comparatively scarcer and when it is time to find mates and partners, there will be a surplus of men and a “demand” for women. This will lead to a gradual raising of the value of women in the society and eventually lead to the improvement of their status and therefore preference for daughters.

    However, there will likely be a interim period wherein women’s value is raised but not their status – which means there will be impetus to treat them even more as possessions, which will likely mean a period with an even greater degree of female oppression.

    Alternately, the surplus of sons will have to be “spent”. Historically this has always meant foreign adventurism and wars – send your excess male population out of country where they will either die or put down roots and stay. Simultaneously there is usually an increase in domestic tension and violent crime and other sources of male-skewed mortality which bleeds away more excess males.

    So yeah, the problem tends to solve itself in ways no one would actually want.

  166. 166
    Amphiox

    As for derailing, arguing about abortion is silly.

    Right. An issue fundamental to the bodily autonomy and freedom of 51% of the human population is silly.

    And you think it appropriate to derail, and proudly admit to derailing, because YOU think the topic is “silly”.

    No care whatsoever what anyone else might think.

    The only one whose opinion counts is yours.

    You could have gone to the Lounge of Thunderdome (wherein there has been a long running and intermittent discussion on Free Will now for months), but no, you choose to post here.

    If you thought the topic was “silly” you could have simply chosen not to post.

    The universe is the universe.

    And WE are people. Most of us anyways. Not so sure about YOU.

    It doesn’t care

    And we could care less what the universe does or does not care about. We care about what PEOPLE care about.

    about people and the definitions they make and the moralities they conceive.

    We are people and we care about these things. Perhaps you, who might not be a person, do not. You are fully free to shut up and go away, or go comment on another thread where the topic actually has relevance.

  167. 167
    daniellavine

    @hymanrosen:

    Don’t be a dick. Take your rant about free will to some venue where free will is being discussed.

    Incidentally, your arguments really are terrible. Let’s suppose quantum events do allow for indeterminism. How do we get free will from that? We can’t because quantum events are stochastic. Stochasticity doesn’t provide any more basis for free will than does determinism.

  168. 168
    Bronze Dog

    If you believe the purpose of the criminal justice system is to provide a deterrent then there is no reason to make the “punishment” proportional to the crime. Death penalty for everything would provide the greatest deterrent.

    There’s a bit of a snafu involved in that worth mentioning. If littering is punishable by death, it motivates litterbugs to threaten/kill witnesses to avoid conviction, thus uniform death penalties can paradoxically increase crime in some circumstances.

    Quibble aside, I agree that the concept of free will doesn’t affect the utility or purpose of criminal justice systems. I only see it as changing the description methods available.

  169. 169
    kevs

    BBC report EU fine for Poland for not providing abortion to 14 year old rape victim. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-20143558

  170. 170
    Amphiox

    It’s also silly for people who don’t believe in free will to be pro-choice

    No more silly than it was for NASA scientists to use Newton, and not Einstein, to send Curiosity to Mars and Cassini to Saturn.

    If you cannot see how that analogy applies to the question of free will specifically in the context of the question of abortion access, then you do not understand enough about free will to be talking about it on a thread concerning abortion access.

  171. 171
    madscientist

    I wonder what Andrew Mellon would have thought of Egginton if he were still alive. There seems to be no shortage of self-important philosophers.

  172. 172
    Bronze Dog

    hymanrosen, the problem is that you’re apparently insisting there’s a problem. I fail to see how “choice,” as the term is commonly used by the people I know, conflicts with determinist, stochastic, and/or reductionist models of reality. It’s a high level abstraction: Something that goes on in the human mind. It’s still a useful term for describing human behavior, and a lot more linguistically convenient than listing the properties of all the particles in a human. It’s less accurate than a particle map, but accurate enough to be useful in conversation.

    I ask you to define the terms as you use them because I suspect the problem you’re vaguely talking about is ultimately rooted in outdated, meaningless, or self-conflicting definitions for those terms.

  173. 173
    daniellavine

    @Bronze Dog:

    Good point. I certainly wasn’t endorsing such a system, just pointing out that to assume the purpose of criminal justice is “punishment” is begging the question before you even get to the concept of “free will”.

  174. 174
    Rutee Katreya

    If you believe the purpose of the criminal justice system is to provide a deterrent then there is no reason to make the “punishment” proportional to the crime. Death penalty for everything would provide the greatest deterrent.

    Which is why noted death penalty adherent USA has less crime than Switzerland. Or Norway.

    And do I detect a little inconsistency above? We are assured time-and-time again that late-term abortions are purely hypothetical, but that nonetheless a woman must have the right to dispose over the unborn child till the very last moment. Upsetting the RoeWade applecart just to enable something which is not going to happen anyway looks like taking unnecessary risks.

    Tsk tsk. Do I have to write your arguments for you, misogynist fools? Continuing to stand on principle isn’t hypocrisy, and it’s not really ‘wanting to overturn roe v. wade like Mittens’ if you want to increase, not decrease, abortion access.

    But I appreciate that dogma and the party-line must come first, and sloganizing about “woman’s absolute autonomy….etc.etc” will certainly ingratiate you with the Rebecca Watsons.

    Yeah, that’s entirely our concern here. *Eyeroll*

    Rebecca Watson is the final boss of feminism to fool-skeptics, just as Marcotte is to MRAs, isn’t she?

  175. 175
    nms

    As for derailing, arguing about abortion is silly. The universe is the universe. It doesn’t care about people and the definitions they make and the moralities they conceive.

    deep man

  176. 176
    Bronze Dog

    @173: Yeah, I realized, and tried carefully wording that comment to avoid giving the impression that you did or that I mistakenly thought you did. Of course, many arguments I see about criminal justice boil down to the purpose of the system. I favor a mix of deterrence (prevention of bad behaviors) and rehabilitation (correction of bad behaviors when it does happen).

    Anyway, I think I’ll let the thread get back on the tracks, now.

  177. 177
    daniellavine

    @174:

    Which is why noted death penalty adherent USA has less crime than Switzerland. Or Norway.

    I didn’t say it was a good idea, I was just pointing out that someone was begging the question of why we “punish” criminals in the first place. My personal opinion is that deterrence pretty much never works because the vast majority of people who commit crimes either assume they won’t get caught or don’t even consider the possibility of getting caught. Or maybe a better way to say it is that crime is caused by social pathology rather than a utilitarian calculation of whether one can “get away with it”.

  178. 178
    Avicenna

    Gilel

    Do you know anything about the situation in India or are you trying to tell me what I am experiencing and doing here is incorrect based on your vast grasp of documentaries?

    Because you completely ignored all the bits where I pointed out that the scheme is two fold. Women are given higher levels of care due to a variety of government and NGO schemes and indeed job and therefore value creation for women. The prior reason for infanticide is simple.

    Women were considered liabilities because they were. You had to

    1. Pay a Dowry
    2. Lose a Farm Worker after marriage
    3. Lose money to keep the girl alive that you often didn’t have that would just effectively be feeding another farmer’s farm worker.

    If you had a boy you

    1. Got a Dowry
    2. Gained an extra farm worker for free.

    Now this is an important thing many people don’t know. When you have 5 people but enough food for 4 then 5 people starve. Indians would make the calculus of cost and decide that it’s better the person who is “only going to leave the house” dies. You have had millenia of this kind of thinking to destroy. It doesn’t vanish in a day…

    Now what we are doing is stamping out on Dowries and creating other forms of work in farms because India cannot maintain the serf grade farming that was the norm. They are encouraging farmers to have smaller families by showing them the benefits of smaller families. They changed the law by allowing daughters to legally inherit the property thus stopping the habit of killing daughters till you get a son. They started training doctors and policemen to detect infanticide and punishing those who did it. A lot of things are going on alongside this to push women into an equal status.

    The anganwadi scheme fights against female infanticide. It creates jobs for women by example and by displaying schemes where cottage industry and collective industry is set up in villages. It also fights infanticide, child marriage and spousal abuse.

    But for it to work you have to have female children to reap the benefits and change the way people think or else people will just not bother. The change has to be forced, in the same way that the first world nations of the world had to be forced to wear seatbelts.

    This may sound abhorrent to your sensibilities but this is what is required. Your attitude is “Men Are the Baddest” but your problem is you are applying your luxury as someone in a developed nation to people who only see that kind of luxury in movies. You may as well be a hobbit for the fantasy world you live in compared to these people.

    What would you do instead? Send answers to the Indian Government…

    The determination of gender by ultrasound and amnio is illegal in India with jail terms of 3 to 7 years. Now I would like to finish my rotations and qualify to work in the UK but that’s probably my fear of “Third world jails” talking and my people’s inherent love of following rules.

  179. 179
    Gregory Greenwood

    joey @ 141;

    Forcibly restricting your child’s access to a public education unless he/she is subjected to the required vaccinations.

    As has been noted by other commenters, what is restricted is access to public educational facilities in order to prevent public health risks. This is not a denial of education, because other forms of education are available.

    Yes, this could definitely be considered as violation of bodily autonomy.

    You obviously don’t know what ‘bodily autonomy’ means. Here’s a hint; it has the word bodily in it. Now consider, which scenario is the one that effects a person’s body directly – being denied access to a particular educational facility, or being forced to bear a child and give birth against one’s will?

    Words and phrases have meanings. You don’t get to arbitrarily redefine them to suit your own position.

    Unless you don’t think access to public education is a right.

    It is a conditional right of access to a service paid for out of taxpayer money for the good of the community. Unvaccinated children present a threat to the health of the student body at large, and so in such cases the conditional right of access to public educational facilities can be rescinded. Also, as noted above, public education is not the only form of education.

    I’m not suggesting that you do. I sincerely wanted to know your feelings on such laws, which is why I asked the question.

    I have answered you. I don’t approve of such laws, and don’t see how anti-drug laws can be used as a justification for denying women bodily autonomy in any case. Anti-drug laws stop people from possessing illegal drugs (possessing notice, not injecting) what you are advocating would force women to go through with a pregnancy against their will. I fail to see the relationship.

    My point is that the right to bodily autonomy isn’t universally regarded as absolute, even among many atheist circles. I found this thread where some atheists (A+ forum) argue in favor of coerced immunization programs. So if there is some “give” in the bodily autonomy of persons for utilitarian reasons, then in regards to the abortion debate the personhood status of the fetus becomes absolutely relevant.

    Anyone, atheist or otherwise, who would deny bodily autonomy for the purposes of forced pregnancy or forced vaccination is clearly in the wrong. Bodily autonomy is non-negotiable in any functional system of ethics, and vaccination against a person’s will is an unambiguous case of assault and battery.

  180. 180
    Amphiox

    You obviously don’t know what ‘bodily autonomy’ means. Here’s a hint; it has the word bodily in it.

    Really just more of the same from the gooey.

    He has been stretching, twisting and distorting the meaning of “bodily” like taffy from the beginning to make it fit into whatever dishonest argument-du-jour he’s been trying to pedal, pretty much from day one.

  181. 181
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    Avicenna

    Because you completely ignored all the bits where I pointed out that the scheme is two fold

    No, I simply didn’t respond to them because I agree with them. Raising the status of women is good.

    But for it to work you have to have female children to reap the benefits and change the way people think or else people will just not bother. The change has to be forced, in the same way that the first world nations of the world had to be forced to wear seatbelts.

    Here’s the problem I have with that: You’re forcing it again on the back of the women. You are deciding that they have to make the sacrifice for the benefit of their future daughters.
    You admit yourself that women are still killed for giving birth to daughters but that’s apparently a sacrifice you’re willing to make.
    And seriously, even with a rate as much off as 4 to 5, girls aren’t exactly disappearing…

    Your attitude is “Men Are the Baddest” but your problem is you are applying your luxury as someone in a developed nation to people who only see that kind of luxury in movies. You may as well be a hobbit for the fantasy world you live in compared to these people.

    ROFL
    Yeah, you got me, I’m one of those evil misandrist radical political lesbian radfems. A room of my own.
    No, I’m applying the fundamental standard that only the woman in question is the one who is able to make the decision to oh those poor women in the third world, because I consider them capable creatures able to do so.

    What would you do instead? Send answers to the Indian Government…

    I told you I think that I think many of the programs to be good ways. I simply disagree with the idea that we should force women to give birth against their will “for their own good”.

    The determination of gender by ultrasound and amnio is illegal in India with jail terms of 3 to 7 years. Now I would like to finish my rotations and qualify to work in the UK but that’s probably my fear of “Third world jails” talking and my people’s inherent love of following rules.

    Yeah, because actually anybody here claimed you should just go and break the law. I guess I could quote at least 20 people who said that. Oh, wait…
    Criticising a bad law isn’t the same as saying that a whole country is barbaric or that its people are just spineless idiots. Just for your information, I live in a country where I can’t have a legal abortion at all except for some very narrowly defined exception. Now you’Re allowed to hurl some nonsense in my direction based on my national character.

  182. 182
    consciousness razor

    Waaaaaay off-topic…. This should move to the Thunderdome if it continues.

    hymanrosen:

    The choice is free because there isn’t any outside force which is compelling it, and because it’s not (absolutely) predictable.

    Nope. That’s not sufficient. Our bodies work entirely according to physical laws, so even in some extremely contrived situation in which nothing outside your body is determining what choices you make, physical forces inside your body still are, which is why you don’t have free will: because physical forces you can’t control at will are determining what your will is.

    As for your second reason, freedom isn’t the same as unpredictability, and it isn’t entailed by unpredictability. That’s a good example of why you need to define your terms. The only conflict along those lines is that you can’t have free will and an omniscient god at the same time, because if a god must know what choice you make, you can’t have been free to make any other choice. (If you were, then it must not know.)

    If you weren’t free to make choices other than the ones you did — note that you haven’t explained how that could happen, how it’s even possible — then in what sense (if any) would you be free? Isn’t that how you should define your terms, and shouldn’t you explain how it’s supposed to work?

  183. 183
    daniellavine

    There’s probably no real purpose to trying to engage hymanrosan. I conclude that on the basis of the following statement:

    if you see no problem, why do I need to define anything?

    This doesn’t convey the sense that hymanrosan is interested in a serious discussion to me.

  184. 184
    sgailebeairt

    actually the call to dismember 5 mins before birth was a very common one in the days before C-sections were possible to do wo killing the mother, here’s a link to a 19th c obstetrician’s kit & if you have a strong stomach you can look up the procedures they were used for (unless you know veterinary science and already recognize them bc this is still a thing & a heathy cow or mare is worth far more than this years calf/foal)

    http://www.fcgapultoscollection.com/midcorn.html

    this is part of the ‘good old days’ that prolifers pretend never happened, the only reason its not still common is that we have antibiotics & blood transfusion….back when ‘partial birth abortion’ of healthy fetus was common nobody talked about it outside the medical establishment let alone protested it.!!

  185. 185
    Jadehawk

    For instance in India the restriction on gender based abortion is something necessary (For every 4 girls there are 5 boys… That’s a massive problem demography wise.)

    oh, is that so.

    Many feminists here [in india] have (and are) campaigning to revert the Prohibition of Sex-Selective Abortion Act, not because they would love more female fetuses dead, but because this Act hasn’t reduced sex-selective abortions, in fact increased infections and forced sterilisations as people still continue to go have abortions even when there are hygiene and health hazards and/or violations. Some senior feminists have formed collectives in a few places in South India where they stand in as the relative who supports the [person] who wants an abortion, so practitioners cannot bully or threaten them (as it does happen to most unwed, non-feminine identifying people). Some feminists enlist the help of the CPI(M) to reach wives and daughters of Worker’s Unions, aiding them to be fully aware of their sexual rights and options, many tribal feminists argue (and reasonably so) that this skirmish around “killing a life” only makes sense if the State goes by the Hindu doctrine that every “life” or “cell” has a right, [...] some [Indian feminists] go around (or ally with existing women’s movements in the region) performing illegal abortions to militarised areas of North and North-East India, aiding people who live under direct military rule and are raped by the armed forces there.

    source

    I’ll take Indian feminists’ words for whether abortion restrictions are good or necessary over yours.

  186. 186
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    Jadehawk
    Clearly you just hate men!

  187. 187
    susan

    I’d say…”Your choice — do what is best for your life. It’s your life that matters.” That overrides all other considerations.

    Thanks, PZ. This morning I read a great, brave, heartrending letter from a woman who made just such a choice, directed at Paul Ryan, letting him know that policies he supports lead to more abortions. He’ll never see it–or understand it if he did, unfortunately.

  188. 188
    Jadehawk

    Because you completely ignored all the bits where I pointed out that the scheme is two fold.

    that’s because it’s irrelevant. that you’re doing something positive in addition to something negative doesn’t make the negative shit any better. IOW, according to many Indian feminist activists, your approach shouldn’t be twofold. it should only have the education part, not the forced birthing and denying women vital knowledge part.

    I see no good reason why I should disagree with these activists on this.

  189. 189
    Rutee Katreya

    Your attitude is “Men Are the Baddest”

    Spectacular. Another fool who thinks throwing this old saw will get him somewhere with feminists, and that he can dictate to women what they need when the women in his country clearly disagree.

  190. 190
    Jadehawk

    Clearly you just hate men!

    not only do I hate men, I’ve clearly watched too many documentaries about India; they’ve made me irrational enough to listen to the local women’s groups and local feminists about what they think is the right solution to their own problems (or even define for themselves what their problems are). St00pid documentaries, making me think such silly things.

  191. 191
    Rutee Katreya

    Not that there aren’t a lot of problems with white people in dominant countries thinking they can just tell everyone else what to do or nothing, but… some of us looked at what those women were saying.

  192. 192
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    Not that there aren’t a lot of problems with white people in dominant countries thinking they can just tell everyone else what to do

    Only that, apart of course from the fact that we have looked behind the simple answers, this wouldn’t even be the case. The position is that the pregnant woman is the only one who can choose and make the right decision for herself. That hardly counts as telling people what to do

  193. 193
    Jadehawk

    pretty sure Rutee’s point was that generally it’s not wrong to criticize non-Indians for trying to run other people’s business for them; it happens entirely too much. This specific conversation however is an exception based exactly on the fact that in this case, the western women are saying “let the women themselves decide” and it’s the non-western dude saying “no, we can’t let them decide because then they’ll just go do horrible things I don’t approve of”

  194. 194
    alwayscurious

    No more silly than it was for NASA scientists to use Newton, and not Einstein, to send Curiosity to Mars and Cassini to Saturn.

    Great line, but that’s a negative. The Curiosity rover is powered by a radioisotope thermoelectric generator (previous rovers were solar powered). I think Einstein did make a few contributions to the field of physics regarding the interconversion of radioactive decay, light, and electricity. And what good would it do to send Curiosity if it didn’t have a power source to collect & distribute data? At a distance that is subject to some communication limits due to limits on the speed of light.

    But to me, hymanrosen appears to be infected with postmodernism. It’s overkill to suggest that quantum mechanics are required to add chance to the world: rolling a dice isn’t a quantum event but the outcome is random. So why further waste words further words? To hymanrosen, words are but air, and who really knows what words & air are? Or mean?

  195. 195
    Jack Krebs

    Skipping over 194 comments, I’d like to say that was an excellent post by PZ.

  196. 196
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    Jadehawk
    Agreed.
    I didn’t want to contradict Rutee but to elaborate on the fact that we’re talking about a pretty big exception.

  197. 197
    Amphiox

    Great line, but that’s a negative. The Curiosity rover is powered by a radioisotope thermoelectric generator (previous rovers were solar powered). I think Einstein did make a few contributions to the field of physics regarding the interconversion of radioactive decay, light, and electricity. And what good would it do to send Curiosity if it didn’t have a power source to collect & distribute data? At a distance that is subject to some communication limits due to limits on the speed of light.

    We can replace Einstein with Relativity, since Einstein’s contributions to radioactive decay and such are not part of Relativity theory, if you want.

    And besides, I did say “send”. Having it work once it gets there is a different issue!

  198. 198
    Jadehawk

    I know women who have had 15 to 20 abortions.

    *shrug*
    I indirectly know a few women who had a “large” number of abortions, too. why? because they’re from Poland. Poland had legal abortion for decades before there was a pill, and for years after the pill was available abortions were still seen as the better, less harmful (fewer side effects), less intrusive (dealing with the problem only when it actually presents itself, rather than for your entire life) solution to unwanted pregnancies. Add to that the very special flavor of Catholicism in Poland, and you still have attitudes that consider taking the pill “premeditated sinning”, while an abortion is just a moment of weakness.

    And there is nothing mentally wrong with any of the women who thought or think that way. So, you know…. maybe there really just isn’t anything mentally wrong with women who prefer abortions to contraceptives

  199. 199
    Jadehawk

    But to me, hymanrosen appears to be infected with postmodernism.

    postmodernism != nihilism. try again.

  200. 200
    Rutee Katreya

    Only that, apart of course from the fact that we have looked behind the simple answers, this wouldn’t even be the case

    Er, yes, it is in fact a major problem of the western world at large, but one that didn’t factor into this case; the western feminists agree with the Indian feminists. Which surprises me, but pleasantly…

    Indian feminists don’t agree with banning abortion because WARGHBLE*, I see no reason why I should. But there are times when western feminists refuse to listen to the local ones.

    *Cynically, I worry that the crux of the matter really is ‘dudes won’t get their dicks wet’. A shrinking population** does present some problems, but it’s not like you don’t have advance warning.

    **Or at least, slowing population growth.

  201. 201
    kayden

    The cynic in me assumes that all this talk about “pro-life” this and “pro-life” that simply means that Republicans want to control women — particularly to increase the birth of White babies. With the changing demographics, Republicans have figured out that they need more White babies to compete with the Blacks and Browns.

    They love the fetus but have little to say about helping the baby after it leaves the womb. In fact they appear to be quite hostile to single mothers (with the exception of Bristol Palin).

    Abotion is a political issue. I’m sure you can get scientists to support the anti-choice and the pro-choice sides. The only person who matters is the pregnant woman.

  202. 202
    Bill Openthalt

    Let’s see, one second shot in the arm that has little side-effects, like irritation compared to 9 months of organ moving, hemorrhoids, swelling feet, headaches, nausea, sometimes diabetes, then you go through painful, terrible labor or get cut open in surgery. Or you sometimes get infertility and death. I’m sure I’m missing a bunch of other things here for the side effects of pregnancy and birth.

    That’s not the universal experience of pregnancy. Many women actually enjoy being pregnant, and freely choose to have a number of children.

    Then again, for many it is indeed sheer agony, but it’s not wise to generalise based on one’s personal experience, or even worse, based on one’s convictions.

  203. 203
    JAL: Snark, Sarcasm & Bitterness

    That’s not the universal experience of pregnancy. Many women actually enjoy being pregnant, and freely choose to have a number of children.

    Then again, for many it is indeed sheer agony, but it’s not wise to generalize based on one’s personal experience, or even worse, based on one’s convictions.

    Well, no shit. And some people don’t mind shots and get more side effects. I was talking the worse case scenario of shots and the worst case scenario of pregnancy since it’s all about the risks to the woman’s health and how it’s ridiculous to compare it to shots.

    You’d think that would be obvious since it was the worst possible way for pregnancy to end, death, was listed.

  204. 204
    JAL: Snark, Sarcasm & Bitterness

    Me, #233 correction

    and some people don’t mind shots and get more no side effects

  205. 205
    Bill Openthalt

    I read the article, and it’s not at all like PZ interpreted it. Surely, it doesn’t espouse the one and only correct position :), but it’s not another man pontificating on the rights and privileges of the fetus as if the pregnant woman were not there..

    What amazes me is that people advocating a highly individualistic position (only the wishes of the pregnant woman matter) segue into stereotyping humans, their feelings, thoughts and experiences with extremist gusto.

  206. 206
    Bill Openthalt

    @203: If you talk worst case, you must include all the possible side effects of vaccinations, including disability and death. Granted, these are very uncommon, but they can, and do occur.

  207. 207
    Bill Openthalt

    @198: It would seem that Poland has regressed quite a lot since the demise of Communism:

    Poland’s abortion law is among the strictest in Europe.

    Terminations are only permitted in cases of rape, incest or when the life of the mother or foetus is in danger.

    ( From http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-20143558 ).

    Anyway, nice to see the European Court of Justice kicked the Poles in the nuts, so to speak.

  208. 208
    Bill Openthalt

    @207. Sorry, I goofed. It was the European Court of Human Rights that did the kicking.

  209. 209
    Ze Madmax

    Bill Openthalt @ #205

    (only the wishes of the pregnant woman matter)

    Um. The woman is the one whose bodily autonomy is being infringed. That’s the issue. Forcing a woman to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term instead of terminating it* means that you’re taking away an individual’s right to bodily autonomy for the sake of the fetus.

    And doing so makes no sense whatsoever. Most people wouldn’t be in favor of similar breaches of bodily autonomy for the sake of other people’s health (e.g., mandatory organ/bone marrow transplants) because there is an obvious infringement of rights there.

    But apparently, pregnant women are less than fully human when it comes to these same rights?

  210. 210
    Ze Madmax

    That * had a purpose: Terminating a pregnancy may involve (depending on the circumstances) inducing birth. Just in case somebody else wants to bring the ZOMG MURDER FULLY WORKING BABY WHILE STILL ATTACHED TO MOTHER canard up.

  211. 211
    JAL: Snark, Sarcasm & Bitterness

    If you talk worst case, you must include all the possible side effects of vaccinations, including disability and death. Granted, these are very uncommon, but they can, and do occur.

    Very uncommon? I’d say more like rare. Honestly, never heard of it til I looked it up a minute ago. And most cases of death being brought up were anti-vaxxers and then the actual really low numbers scientist found.

    A one second shot to protect oneself from diseases, which side-effects are usually irritation and very rarely death. Vs. Pregnancy with all it’s terrible side effects.

    Hell best case scenario works the same way. One second shot to protect oneself from disease VS 9 months of body changing pregnancy

    Yeah, still call it a shit comparison. There, more clarified and complete for you?

    If they want to argue against bodily autonomy as a right, you’d have to be on forced organ donation before it even gets close to pregnancy. That was my entire point. I’m not for forced vaccinations but even granted that premise it doesn’t lead to taking away the right to abortion. We went through every angle to discredit that shitty forced vaccinations = no bodily autonomy = no abortions. That was my point and it hasn’t changed. I never said the worse case scenario was the universal experience of pregnancy and I know some women enjoy it.

  212. 212
    Koshka
    Let’s see, one second shot in the arm that has little side-effects, like irritation compared to 9 months of organ moving, hemorrhoids, swelling feet, headaches, nausea, sometimes diabetes, then you go through painful, terrible labor or get cut open in surgery. Or you sometimes get infertility and death. I’m sure I’m missing a bunch of other things here for the side effects of pregnancy and birth.

    That’s not the universal experience of pregnancy. Many women actually enjoy being pregnant, and freely choose to have a number of children.

    Then again, for many it is indeed sheer agony, but it’s not wise to generalise based on one’s personal experience, or even worse, based on one’s convictions.

    I have never met a woman who enjoyed being pregnant for the sake of being pregnant. I presume you are just making shit up.

  213. 213
    Julien Rousseau

    Well if a fetus is a person, then since the woman own’s her uterus she is quite at liberty to evict the fetus.

    Republicans are very keen on property rights, so if a woman wants the fetus out, surely Republicans should support her. And if the fetus is unable to survive outside the uterus, well, it should have taken out insurance!

    That.

    Think of abortions as prenatal eviction notices.

  214. 214
    kristinc, now with added ventilation

    I *loved* being pregnant and the reason I don’t want to be pregnant again isn’t that I don’t want to be pregnant, it’s that I don’t want to raise another kid.

    And I’m still as staunchly pro-choice as you can get, partly because I personally understand the viewpoint of not wanting another child to raise, but mostly because I’m not so goddamn self centered and silly that I can’t understand that NOT ALL WOMEN FEEL THE SAME WAY I DO ABOUT PREGNANCY. Duh.

  215. 215
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    Bill:

    Many women actually enjoy being pregnant, and freely choose to have a number of children.

    I’d be interested in some further information about this. Do you have any evidence of this? I can understand women enjoying the idea of having a child, or being excited at carrying a baby within them, but to enjoy the *actual* pregnancy?
    Moreover, I wonder how many women would “freely choose” to have multiple children if they were not socialized by their community or religious institution to think that having babies is an honor from god.

    Each year, according to the WHO, ill-health as a result of pregnancy is experienced (sometimes permanently) by more than 20 million women around the world. Furthermore, the “lives of eight million women are threatened, and more than 500,000 women are estimated to have died in 1995 as a result of causes related to pregnancy and childbirth.”
    Pregnancy poses varying levels of health risk for women, depending on their medical profile before pregnancy.
    The following are some of the complaints that may occur during and/or after pregnancy due to the many changes which pregnancy causes in a woman’s body:
    Pregnancy induced hypertension
    Anemia
    Back pain. A particularly common complaint in the third trimester when the patient’s center of gravity has shifted.
    Carpal tunnel syndrome in between an estimated 21% to 62% of cases, possibly due to edema.
    Constipation. A complaint that is caused by decreased bowel mobility secondary to elevated progesterone (normal in pregnancy), which can lead to greater absorption of water.
    Braxton Hicks contractions. Occasional, irregular, and often painless contractions that occur several times per day.
    Edema (swelling). Common complaint in advancing pregnancy. Caused by compression of the inferior vena cava (IVC) and pelvic veins by the uterus leads to increased hydrostatic pressure in lower extremities.
    Regurgitation, heartburn, and nausea. Common complaints that may be caused by Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD); this is determined by relaxation of the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) and increased transit time in the stomach (normal in pregnancy), as well as by increased intraabdominal pressure, caused by the enlarging uterus.
    Haemorrhoids. Complaint that is often noted in advancing pregnancy. Caused by increased venous stasis and IVC compression leading to congestion in venous system, along with increased abdominal pressure secondary to the pregnant space-occupying uterus and constipation.
    Pelvic girdle pain. PGP disorder is complex and multi-factorial and likely to be represented by a series of sub-groups with different underlying pain drivers from peripheral or central nervous system, altered laxity/stiffness of muscles, laxity to injury of tendinous/ligamentous structures to ‘mal-adaptive’ body mechanics. Musculo-Skeletal Mechanics involved in gait and weightbearing activities can be mild to grossly impaired. PGP can begin peri or postpartum. There is pain, instability or dysfunction in the symphysis pubis and/or sacroiliac joints.
    Postpartum depression
    Postpartum psychosis
    Round Ligament Pain. Pain experienced when the ligaments positioned under the uterus stretch and expand to support the woman’s growing uterus
    Thromboembolic disorders. The leading cause of death in pregnant women in the USA.[98]
    Increased urinary frequency. A common complaint referred by the gravida, caused by increased intravascular volume, elevated GFR (glomerular filtration rate), and compression of the bladder by the expanding uterus.
    Urinary tract infection
    Varicose veins. Common complaint caused by relaxation of the venous smooth muscle and increased intravascular pressure.
    PUPPP skin disease that develop around the 32nd week. (Pruritic Urticarial Papules and Plaques of Pregnancy), red plaques, papules, itchiness around the belly button that spread all over the body except for the inside of hands and face.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pregnancy_symptoms#Physiological_changes

    Pregnancy is not a walk in the park. It’s not a trivial affair that doesn’t affect a woman much. It’s a serious, life changing condition that-from what I’ve been told by pregnant women-is NOT pleasant. The successful birth of a child resulting from the pregnancy can be a joy, but the actual condition…?

  216. 216
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    Given the physiological changes women undergo during pregnancy, I can believe the condition is not pleasant for a *lot* of women.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pregnancy_symptoms#Physiological_changes

  217. 217
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    ? Two posts in a row eaten up by the evil Pharyngula Deity…!

  218. 218
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    Women undergo many physiological changes during pregnancy; many of which are not enjoyable. I can imagine that countless women do *not* like being pregnant (even if they look forward to having a child).
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pregnancy_symptoms#Physiological_changes

  219. 219
    nnutella

    People who say “abortion must be murder and punishable as such” never think through the consequences of that oh-so-principled stand. Not only must they arrest and prosecute women who get abortions for murdering a human who happens to be a fetus, but they must arrest and prosecute the killer when a human who happens to be a woman dies in childbirth. Yes, they’ll need to institute capital punishment for babies. This is what all their pious logic leads to. They will, of course, never think of that because to them the woman is not human. She’s just a meat container for the human fetus.

  220. 220
    alwayscurious

    We can replace Einstein with Relativity, since Einstein’s contributions to radioactive decay and such are not part of Relativity theory, if you want.

    And besides, I did say “send”. Having it work once it gets there is a different issue!

    Fair enough. Just trying to keep you on point ;)

  221. 221
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    Bill @202:

    Many women actually enjoy being pregnant, and freely choose to have a number of children.

    That doesn’t mean there aren’t a good number of undesirable side effects that can last for a while.

  222. 222
    kristinc, now with added ventilation

    Good point, Tony. Did I enjoy being pregnant, yes. Did it fuck up my thyroid, also yes.

  223. 223
    Amphiox

    That’s not the universal experience of pregnancy. Many women actually enjoy being pregnant, and freely choose to have a number of children.

    And how much of that enjoyment is predicated on the anticipation of a wanted child?

    And how many of those women would enjoy being pregnant if the pregnancy were an unwanted one?

    And how exactly do you, Bill, know this?

  224. 224
    alwayscurious

    Avicenna, you are amazingly patient and I am pleased you took the time to share as much as you did. Would you entertain a more friendly line of questioning?

    In India, has most of your experience been in rural or urban settings? And, has your work been generally well received by the locals or is it met with animosity or is the reception more complicated than that? Is the regulation of birth control, abortion, and adoption regulated most heavily by the federal government or is it predominantly regional? I’m genuinely interested, but would understand if you don’t wish to answer.

  225. 225
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    I think that the arguments about sex-selective abortions resemble mostly those about the abortion of fetuses with disabilities and are equally flawed.
    First of all we’re not talking about people, but fetuses.
    Second, no person with condition X’s life will be improved by the factor that there is an additional baby on this planet with condition X.
    On the other hand there are many, many things we can do that actually improve the life of person with condition X and none of them depends on the existence of the additional baby with condition X.

  226. 226
    LykeX

    @222

    Plus, we don’t let adults with condition X make claims on other people’s bodies. We don’t let grown women use the organs of other people against their will.

    Once again, even if we accept the personhood of the fetus and grant it the same, full rights as any other human being, the pregnant woman would still have the right to terminate the pregnancy for whatever reason she personally finds sufficient.

  227. 227
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    LykeX
    What bothers me a lot is that it’s actually often people who don’t have condition X but who claim to be “advocates” who make those statements. Because clearly there must be a certain number of children with Down-Syndrome born every year or else they probably have to look for something else to do.

  228. 228
    Bill Openthalt

    @211 JAL: I was simply pointing out that your argumentation wasn’t honest. I am not arguing the risks of pregnancy, nor comparing them with the risks of vaccination.

    @212 Koshka: I have never met a woman who enjoyed being pregnant for the sake of being pregnant. I presume you are just making shit up. I don’t know why you mention “for the sake of being pregnant”, as I never argued this. I know it’s anecdotal, but my wife, who suffered from very irregular, very painful menses with protracted heavy bleeding, never felt better than when pregnant (and yes, we did seek medical help, but the problem was only solved by menopause). She’s not sqeamish (has all her fillings done without anesthesia) and assures me that for her labour wasn’t nearly as painful as her menstrual cramps.

    @218 Tony:I never argued a wanted pregnancy enjoyed by the woman does not have side effects. I was simply pointing out that the comparison between vaccination and pregnancy was not honest.

    @209 Ze Madmax: You haven’t read my comment, or if you read it, you only saw my reference to the “wishes of the woman”, and jumped to the conclusion I was arguing against bodily autonomy. I was not. PZ did exactly the same when he read the article – picking keywords and inferring conclusions based on his beliefs.

    I see fallacies like communal reinforcement, personal abuse, impugning motives, unwarranted generalisations and poisoning the well coming from people who claim to be rational free thinkers, and are wont to accuse their opponents of fallacious reasoning. If it wasn’t so sad it would be funny.

  229. 229
    No Light

    Oh look, it’s Bill “pregnancy is a contract with the foetus , and you can’t break a contract” Openthalt!

    Decided to try your “Women will abort at 38 weeks if we let them” schtick, again?

    Stop pretending to care about bodily autonomy of women.

  230. 230
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    poisoning the well coming from people who claim to be rational free thinkers,

    Spoken like a true hypocrite with presuppositions they are pushing. They take “freethinker” to mean any bullshit they present must be swallowed. Instead of the correct meaning of presuming you are spewing bullshit that should be treated skeptically.

  231. 231
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    Oh look, it’s Bill “pregnancy is a contract with the foetus , and you can’t break a contract” Openthalt!

    Don’t forget that “since a safe abortion requires a doctor everybody gets a say in it”. Because that’s exactly how we regulate all medical procedures.

  232. 232
    Alexandra (née Audley)

    Not fully caught up:

    What bout mandatory vaccinations?

    Laughable. While at the hospital last week, I was told that to be discharged, I was required to have the tdap booster. I told the nurse who was in charge of my care that I wasn’t and couldn’t be innoculated against whooping cough, I never signed the consent form, and they didn’t pin me down and jab me anyway.

    So, yeah. Even “mandatory” vaccinations are never done against a patient’s will. Try again, joey.

  233. 233
    Amphiox

    Well, Bill the other wannabe tyrant slavemaster of women and doctors is right about one thing. The comparison between vaccination and pregnancy is indeed dishonest. Bill seems to have forgotten that it was his ideological ally gooey who brought it up, and the rest of us have commented on it only to demonstrate how dishonest and irrelevant it is.

    And you know what is equally dishonest and irrelevant? Billy’s ridiculous “but some women enjoy being pregnant” argument.

    As for communal reinforcement, poisoning the well, unwarranted generalizations, and fallacious reasoning, it’s pretty clear that Bill either has absolutely no clue as to what those collections of letters actually mean, or he is the type of dishonest hypocrite who thinks it is on to lie about them.

  234. 234
    vaiyt

    Openthalt, I’ll be happy to oblige.

    What amazes me is that people advocating a highly individualistic position (only the wishes of the pregnant woman matter)

    Won’t you think of the fetus babby? The woman should, of course, be forced by law to sacrifice her humanity for the babby! Because altruism!

    It’s not individualism, genius, it’s all about letting pregnant women have the same rights we give everyone else, and likewise not giving the fetus extraordinary rights nobody else has.

  235. 235
    Forelle

    JAL at 29:

    as dianne said in the last thread, there’s a fucking list of things different about a infant and fetus.

    She wrote something like that a few years ago, and though I tried to find those posts later I failed. I’m checking last week’s thread, “Bad argument #3″, where Dianne provides excellent information and insights, as usual, but not exactly about those distinctions. So forgive the slight off-topic: could somebody give me a link to that list?

  236. 236
    No Light

    @Gill – I don’t know about you, but I have real trouble deciding which one of Bill’s profound and unique statements has been more effective on my mushy ladybrain.

    I want to be a happy Foetus Freak like him, but his novel arguments are so manly and sciencey, it’s confusing me!

    We should vote on it.

    1)

    [35+ week abortion] does not “erase” the pregnancy. Unlike being forced to donate organs (which has a life long effect on the donor), pregnancy has a natural end.

    2.

    a woman cannot safely terminate a late pregnancy by herself (other than by waiting for the foetus to be born), and needs medical assistance for an early termination. Thus, society has the right to be involved in determining under which conditions this assistance will be made available.

    3.

    terminating a pregnancy close to the moment of birth [snip] looks very much like not taking responsibility for one’s actions. I do not think bodily autonomy means “let’s pretend pregnancy does not exist until the moment of birth”.

    Could it be that the real issue is not the right to bodily autonomy, but the right to refuse responsibility for a developing human? One thing is certain, having a child changes the life of a woman forever (it’s the same for most men :-D), and there are moments when one would rather be rid of the consequences. But isn’t adulthood about taking responsibility for one’s actions?

    Come on Pharyngulites, vote now for your favourite game-changing, world-beating argument from Professor Bill “bitchez ain’t shit” Openthalt.

  237. 237
    No Light

    Ugh. That should’ve been @Gilliel.

    Sodding autocorrect.

  238. 238
    Ichthyic

    @212 Koshka: I have never met a woman who enjoyed being pregnant for the sake of being pregnant. I presume you are just making shit up. I don’t know why you mention “for the sake of being pregnant”, as I never argued this. I know it’s anecdotal, but my wife, who suffered from very irregular, very painful menses with protracted heavy bleeding, never felt better than when pregnant (and yes, we did seek medical help, but the problem was only solved by menopause). She’s not sqeamish (has all her fillings done without anesthesia) and assures me that for her labour wasn’t nearly as painful as her menstrual cramps.

    wow. what a completely useless and irrelevant anecdote.

    conga rats to you, billy.

  239. 239
    Ichthyic

    I’m not for forced vaccinations

    as in, tie you down and inject you?
    agree.

    as in, make it a legal issue?
    It has to be one way or the other.

    immunization is one of those things that doesn’t just affect the person being immunized. It’s like drunk driving; sure you could run your car into a tree and off yourself, shit happens, but you could also run over an entire family, cause a major wreck involving many people, etc. We don’t force people not to drink and drive (well, not yet anyway), but the penalties for doing so get stiffer every year, and some have been convicted of involuntary manslaughter.

    so, if you want to remove the laws that try to force compliance, I would at least suggest creating the ability to sue someone in civil court for HUGE dollars if it turns out they bear responsibility for refusing to vaccinate and that results in injury or death of others.

    because it’s happened, many times. I bore witness to that here in NZ with an outbreak of whooping cough that started from a family of antivaxxers that took a visit to Thailand and brought it back with them. hundreds have been hospitalized so far, and after 2 years, we’re at best breaking even trying to contain it.

    again, another reason vaccination is NOT comparable with pregnancy.

    I can’t recall any pregnancy ever that terminated or not, risked the life of someone OTHER than the mother.

    Ok, well, maybe the fetus in “It’s Alive”, but other than that…

  240. 240
    hymanrosen

    I’m finding it even stranger that some people here seem to be getting angry at the notion that free will exists (and with me, by extension). I hardly think it’s such a settled question that anger is justified. It’s also not off-topic, since PZ says in the article that “freedom is an … illusion”.

    My definition of free will is that (I believe) if you could examine the operation of the brain in detail, you would discover structures that correspond to the high-level concepts of making decisions based on memory and input. Furthermore, it is impossible, even in principle, to predict the exact future behavior of any person (or similar sufficiently complex decision-making system, or lump of uranium for that matter). For me, unpredictability plus complex decision making equals free will. I have no requirement that quantum indeterminancy affects cognition as such (although it probably does, in whether molecules that pass each other closely interact or not), merely that quantum indeterminancy leaks so easily into the macro world that prediction of future action can be made impossible over essentially any time scale. I don’t believe this is a circular definition or that it begs the question.

    I also don’t have any intention of arguing about the nature of criminal justice in general. But I have seen arguments that lack of free will should preclude punishment, and I find that nonsensical – how is trying to convince people without free will not to punish criminals different from trying to convince people without free will not to commit crimes?

    @consciousness razor, it is not useful to say that the human mind works by physical laws. Everything works by physical law. But the notion that there is only one possible action that a mind could take under some circumstance is wrong; that implies a predictability that the universe does not have. You say “The only conflict along those lines is that you can’t have free will and an omniscient god at the same time” but you don’t need an omniscient god – Newtonian physics is just as good, because under those rules the future is completely determined by the present regardless of whether a being exists to know it.

    @alwayscurious, in the absence of quantum physics rolling a die is an event with a completely deterministic outcome, depending purely on the state of the die, the forces applied to it, and the materials it comes in contact with as it lands. It is only quantum physics that provides the universe with true randomness. This isn’t post-modernism, spirituality, or any other kind of squishiness, just physics.

    And for those of you who don’t find me convincing, what does not having free will mean? PZ and many other people here (myself included) are pro-choice. What does that mean absent free will?

  241. 241
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    And for those of you who don’t find me convincing [a boring mental masturbater]

    FIFY

  242. 242
    JAL: Snark, Sarcasm & Bitterness

    I’m not for forced vaccinations

    as in, tie you down and inject you?
    agree.

    If this was my statement you picked out, then yes that’s what I was talking about.

    I’m absolutely for huge consequences on those that don’t get vaccinated willingly. Unless obviously they can’t get vaccinated for health reasons. I’m sure at least one or two commenters here have brought up having to rely on heard immunity because they can’t get vaccinated. Of course, it mean vaccines need to be readily available to everyone.

  243. 243
    Ichthyic

    Unless obviously they can’t get vaccinated for health reasons. I’m sure at least one or two commenters here have brought up having to rely on heard immunity because they can’t get vaccinated.

    yup, and when you can’t get vaccinated for obvious health reasons, most people are smart enough NOT to go running off to a hotbed of infectious disease that they haven’t been vaccinated against. It still leaves room to add legal repercussions people to take responsibility for putting others at risk.

    It seems odd to me that I can’t recall a single civil case ever, even though there have been many instances of injury and even death resulting from antivaxxer irresponsibility.

    If you ever hear of one, post it?

    I’m definitely interested in hearing the legal arguments presented.

  244. 244
    vaiyt

    Could it be that the real issue is not the right to bodily autonomy, but the right to refuse responsibility for a developing human? One thing is certain, having a child changes the life of a woman forever (it’s the same for most men :-D), and there are moments when one would rather be rid of the consequences. But isn’t adulthood about taking responsibility for one’s actions?

    Either you approve of strapping the father down and forcing him to “take responsibility” as well, or you’re another fucking hypocrite who only wants to use babies as a cudgel to beat women with.

    a woman cannot safely terminate a late pregnancy by herself (other than by waiting for the foetus to be born), and needs medical assistance for an early termination. Thus, society has the right to be involved in determining under which conditions this assistance will be made available.

    People can’t get rid of cancer on their own, so we’ll let society decide who deserves cancer treatment?

  245. 245
    JAL: Snark, Sarcasm & Bitterness

    It seems odd to me that I can’t recall a single civil case ever, even though there have been many instances of injury and even death resulting from antivaxxer irresponsibility.

    If you ever hear of one, post it?

    I’m definitely interested in hearing the legal arguments presented.

    I can’t think of one either but I if I find one, I will certainly share. I wonder why there hasn’t been one? Hmm.

  246. 246
    Ichthyic

    consciousness razor, it is not useful to say that the human mind works by physical laws. Everything works by physical law. But the notion that there is only one possible action that a mind could take under some circumstance is wrong

    that’s not what the failure of the traditional concept of free will actually implies.

    this ain’t the thread to debate it though.

    try thunderdome, or one of Jerry Coyne’s many threads on the subject.

  247. 247
    Alexandra (née Audley)

    JAL:
    I’m one of those people who can’t be fully vaccinated and, believe me, the whooping cough outbreaks that have happened around here scare the ever-lovin’ shit out of me.

    Bill:
    Over the past few years, I’ve noticed that it is always and without fail men who claim labor and delivery wasn’t so bad on their partners. Funny how moms never chime in and tell everyone how awesome pushing a bowling ball out of their snatch feels, innit?

    You want another anecdote? Let’s talk about my labor– I had an epidural, so I spared myself the worst of the pain, but believe me when I tell you that enduring 48 hours of contractions (5 minutes apart for 30 of those hours, mind) and back labor before the hospital would even admit me was quite possibly the worst pain event of my life. So, yeah. Pregnancy (even an easy one like mine) sucks and labor is definitely no picnic, even in the best of circumstances. And even if it was? Still no excuse to use that to wank on about abortion rights.

  248. 248
    Goodbye Enemy Janine

    But Audley, the rational menfolk has to make sure that you do nothing irrational like aborting that fetus after 48 hours of labor.

    Methinks your brain is still full of hormones, being just a few days after giving birth.

  249. 249
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    Bill:
    @ 202 you said:

    Many women actually enjoy being pregnant, and freely choose to have a number of children.

    Then @225, you say:

    I never argued a wanted pregnancy enjoyed by the woman does not have side effects. I was simply pointing out that the comparison between vaccination and pregnancy was not honest.

    I took @202 to mean that you think there are women who enjoy being pregnant. I question whether or not that’s true. There are many, many side effects (and I’m only talking about the non life threatening ones) of being pregnant that are undesirable. Over the course of a woman’s pregnancy, I’m fairly certain that some of these side effects will be felt and NOT liked, which would result in them NOT enjoying being pregnant. Your statement doesn’t make sense in the context of these side effects.
    I also question whether these women enjoy being pregnant on their own, or because of social and religious communities pushing the idea that it’s desirable, important even, for women to have babies. Likewise, given the pervasive nature of religion, I wonder how many women choose to have “a number of children” of their own will, without religious indoctrination.

  250. 250
    JAL: Snark, Sarcasm & Bitterness

    I’m one of those people who can’t be fully vaccinated and, believe me, the whooping cough outbreaks that have happened around here scare the ever-lovin’ shit out of me.

    Oh,man. I fucking bet. That must be terrifying, especially with the new DarkInfant. They’ve started putting out commercials for adults to get vaccinated or booster shots for whooping cough. If I’m remember correctly, regarding the booster shots. There’s booster shots, right? Last time I went to the doc I got booster shots but I can’t remember for what, it was months ago.

    Damn, now I gotta go rumble through dusty documents or place a call to a doctor. Curse my poor memory.

  251. 251
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    Janine:

    Methinks your brain is still full of hormones, being just a few days after giving birth.

    It’s not the hormones. It’s because Audley is a female and dontchaknow they’re overly sensitive to these things?

  252. 252
    Goodbye Enemy Janine

    Tony, even without pregnancy, the female subset of humans are all irrational’n’shit because of the hormones. Just that there is more hormones and irrationality when pregnancy sets in.

  253. 253
    Alexandra (née Audley)

    JAL:
    The whopping cough booster is coupled with the tetanus booster, so you probably received it.

    Janine,
    Hormones and fluffy pink laydee brainz? Goddamn, it’s surprising anyone even trusts me to decide what to have for lunch, let alone raise a child.

  254. 254
    LykeX

    Could it be that the real issue is not the right to bodily autonomy, but the right to refuse responsibility for a developing human?

    Why is that a problem? Even with a born child, a parent has the right to refuse responsibility at any point.

    It keeps coming down to this: Why should pregnant women get fewer rights than everybody else? Why should a fetus get a right that no child has?

  255. 255
    LykeX

    Incidentally, is that quote from another thread? I can’t find it here before No Light quotes it.

  256. 256
    Alexandra (née Audley)

    Tony,
    I like your point about religion convincing women to have a number of children. IIRC, more secular countries have lower birth rates and while I’m sure this due to a number of reasons, not having religion breathing down your neck prolly factors into the decision of if/when/how many kids to have. If nothing else, it prolly makes it hella easier to get reliable birth control.

  257. 257
    Nepenthe

    @LykeX

    It’s probably from one of the recent threads at Alethian Worldview, where No Light, Giliell and others who I cannot immediately call to mind argued valiently with Bill.

  258. 258
    Jadehawk

    But isn’t adulthood about taking responsibility for one’s actions?

    one way of being responsible for one’s actions is to know one’s limits, which includes not becoming a parent if that’s not something you’re going to be able to do well. that means not insisting on retaining guardianship of a child you’re not capable of raising, and it means not insisting on finishing a pregnancy if you won’t be able to raise the child well.

    abortion is being responsible. no amount of puritanical whining or existential wangsting is going to change that

  259. 259
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    LykeX
    Yes, those comment’s are Bill’s collected works, more or less.

  260. 260
    LykeX

    Yep, it’s from this thread. I understood that there had been a previous run-in, but I just wanted to keep it straight. Thanks.

  261. 261
    JAL: Snark, Sarcasm & Bitterness

    She wrote something like that a few years ago, and though I tried to find those posts later I failed. I’m checking last week’s thread, “Bad argument #3″, where Dianne provides excellent information and insights, as usual, but not exactly about those distinctions. So forgive the slight off-topic: could somebody give me a link to that list?

    Sorry, I just saw this. She mentions the differences but doesn’t actually list them that time.

    So I went a searching using google for dianne’s post since this sites search engine sucks. The couple of links I found were from this year and one scienceblogs link that didn’t have what we’re looking for. Nothing from a couple of years go unfortunetly, though it’s possible I suck at searching. I might have to found a few things on this thread, Irrational Humans.

    # 312 .

    Not entirely. Physiologically, babies are different from fetuses, even babies who were conceived the same number of days ago as the relevant fetus.

    Babies are, obviously, born. They are no longer dependent on a specific person to provide them with oxygen, glucose, and other necessities of life. So they are not obligate parasites the way fetuses are.

    In addition to that huge issues, fetuses are physiologically different. Their circulatory systems are different. Their hearts are different. A baby with a large PDA is often in trouble, a fetus without a PDA definitely is. Blood pumps through the umbilical vessels in a fetus, but not in a newborn. Most significantly, a fetus exists in a low oxygen environment. We know that adults and children in a low oxygen environment lose consciousness rapidly. There is no particular reason to believe that fetuses are more able to maintain consciousness in a low oxygen environment than people. Therefore, it is extremely likely that a fetus is not conscious, but a newborn may be.

    If an adult were to become brain damaged to the point that they would never recover consciousness, few people (apart from the occasional “pro-lifer”) would object to “pulling the plug”, i.e. to allowing that person to die. Why, then, should we be all that concerned with the death of a fetus that has never experienced consciousness? It will suffer no more than if it had never been conceived. A baby, on the other hand, has experienced at least some level of awareness (though it is true that babies can’t pass the mirror test at birth or indeed until about 15-18 months) and killing it is a much more morally questionable act, even leaving aside the issue of the trauma killing an infant would do to related people.

    Therefore, I would argue that the bright line of birth is not arbitrary but is, in fact, sensible.

    Same thread Page 2, Comment 43

    The difference between a 40 week fetus and a newborn isn’t development, it’s access to resources. A fetus has an oxygen saturation of about 70%, a newborn about 99%. The cerebral cortex is really sensitive to hypoxia. It’s like the difference between a computer that’s in sleep mode versus one that’s running: both may have the same processing speed and memory and both are maintaining essential functions, but you can only blog on the one that’s running.

    I found a couple other threads that came up in my search but can’t get them to load to see for sure. I’ll list them, maybe you can get them to work.
    A Compendium of the Dumbest Anti-Choice Arguments Ever

    Please Do Not Use Science to Justify Your Superstitious Magical Views.

    When searching for the information just in the wide web, I found the Wikipage most relevant and helpful. A lot of woo and anti-choice options came up when I searched, though you might have better luck. A new list put on the pharngula wiki would be an awesome resource. Maybe dianna could do a post of this information if we ask nicely and give plenty of time?

  262. 262
    No Light

    Yeah, that’s just one£/I> of Bill’s comments this week at AW.

    But, like any other pro-liar, he runs away when asked who would abort at full term, and why.

    WRT vaccination – I can’t have most of the important ones. I’m currently confined to my house, haven’t left it in eight months (at all).

    I have to take several drugs that suppress immune response, in order to try and control some autoimmune issues.

    The current situation here in the UK is terrifying. Thanks to Wakefield’s idiocy, vaccine preventable diseases have roared back into the population. The pertussis situation is so bad (ten dead babies) that the department of health are advising pregnant women to be vaccinated in their final trimester.

    My partner works in a large call centre, and every time a co-worker or one of their kids are ill, she is terrified she’s going to bring it home to me. Even a cold can be life-threatening to me, so the thought of anything more serious is appalling.

    But the message I hear from anti-vax types is basically “Meh. Survival of the fittest. Why should I take risks for someone like you? It’s not my problem”

    Not gonna lie, that hurts.

  263. 263
    JAL: Snark, Sarcasm & Bitterness

    Correcting myself again

    Maybe diannadianne could do a post of this information if we ask nicely and give plenty of time?

  264. 264
    Amphiox

    Could it be that the real issue is not the right to bodily autonomy, but the right to refuse responsibility for a developing human?

    No.

    This could only possibly be true if humans laid eggs. Humans don’t, so it isn’t.

    But isn’t adulthood about taking responsibility for one’s actions?

    And that is exactly what choosing an abortion, the voluntary act of submitting to an invasive medical procedure with a non-zero mortality risk in order to address the consequences of a prior decision, is.

    a woman cannot safely terminate a late pregnancy by herself (other than by waiting for the foetus to be born), and needs medical assistance for an early termination. Thus, society has the right to be involved in determining under which conditions this assistance will be made available.

    Society already has this right and already exercises it. Society creates medical review boards and obstetrical professional oversight agencies, sets standards for obstetrical training, tightly regulates through licensure who is entitled to practice obstetrics, and enforces laws on medical malpractice.

    And that is all the “right” that society requires, or should be entitled to.

  265. 265
    Amphiox

    It’s not individualism, genius, it’s all about letting pregnant women have the same rights we give everyone else, and likewise not giving the fetus extraordinary rights nobody else has.

    It’s also about trusting women to be adult moral agents fully capable of making their own complex ethical decisions, and not requiring their every move to be regulated for them by the pappy-state.

  266. 266
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    Society already has this right and already exercises it. Society creates medical review boards and obstetrical professional oversight agencies, sets standards for obstetrical training, tightly regulates through licensure who is entitled to practice obstetrics, and enforces laws on medical malpractice.

    Which is identical for any medical procedure (insert another specialty in lieu of obstetrics/obstetrical). But no politician has ever stuck his nose into whether or not my 12th knee surgery was necessary. Thus showing, once again, that pro-forced-birthers are not only anti-woman, but also hypocrites.

  267. 267
    Ichthyic

    But no politician has ever stuck his nose into whether or not my 12th knee surgery was necessary.

    hmm, not so sure about that, with the way the feds are handling medical insurance, seems to me that they might indeed be sticking their noses into that, or similar.

    In countries with socialized medicine, like here in Hobbitton, those exact kinds of decisions are made by medical review boards under the auspices of the socialized medicine program itself.

    they can indeed decide your 12th knee surgery would require you to pay out of pocket for the thing, which for most would mean not doing it at all.

    what I really hate is that they somewhere along the line decided that dentistry was not a medical procedure and is not covered at all under the national health care system.

    It costs a grand to get a complex filing here, 2K for a crown.

  268. 268
    Ichthyic

    pro-forced-birthers are not only anti-woman, but also hypocrites.

    that goes without saying.

    hell, I bet you will find that the same people wanting to use the federal government to make abortions illegal (a medical procedure), also want to repeal “Obamacare” because it’s federally…controlled… healthcare…

    it’s a wonder their heads don’t assplode.

  269. 269
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    they can indeed decide your 12th knee surgery would require you to pay out of pocket for the thing, which for most would mean not doing it at all.

    While that’s true and a completely different kettle of fish it still doesn’t mean that you’re not allowed to have it. Nobody’s saying that you can’t have the 12th surgery because, duh, you should have been more responsible with your knee, what about those parts of your knee that will be cut and it’s also not in the Bible

  270. 270
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    Ichthyic:

    Actually, it has been socialized medicine all the way to the bottom: service-connected disability through the VA.

    that goes without saying.

    But I’m still gonna say it and write it.

    Nobody’s saying that you can’t have the 12th surgery because, duh, you should have been more responsible with your knee, what about those parts of your knee that will be cut and it’s also not in the Bible

    Exactly.

  271. 271
    Orange Utan

    @ Ichthyic

    It costs a grand to get a complex filing here, 2K for a crown.

    It certainly helps if you live in a city with the country’s only dental school. Under NZ$500 for a root canal and gold cap. Removal of wisdom teeth worked out at $50/tooth.

  272. 272
    vaiyt

    it’s a wonder their heads don’t assplode.

    No, it’s no wonder. For them, “less federal government” always meant “less federal government for things I don’t like”. Hence why they see no problem in paying their asses off in taxes to sustain a bloated military or to police what other people do in their bedrooms.

  273. 273
    Koshka

    You want another anecdote? Let’s talk about my labor– I had an epidural, so I spared myself the worst of the pain, but believe me when I tell you that enduring 48 hours of contractions (5 minutes apart for 30 of those hours, mind) and back labor before the hospital would even admit me was quite possibly the worst pain event of my life. So, yeah. Pregnancy (even an easy one like mine) sucks and labor is definitely no picnic, even in the best of circumstances. And even if it was? Still no excuse to use that to wank on about abortion rights.

    Also the pain may not end at birth. My partner could not sit down without pain for 2 months after giving birth due to tearing. Some fucking intelligent design that.

  274. 274
    Goodbye Enemy Janine

    They desire a government that is small enough to stuff in a woman’s vagina.

  275. 275
    Forelle

    Thank you so much, JAL. It’s very kind of you. I’ll read your links and quotes carefully. Maybe the scienceblogs link you found was this one, also full of good comments.

    Maybe dianne could do a post of this information if we ask nicely and give plenty of time?

    Heh, you’re right. It was an old comment; I’d say it appeared long before the above link, but my memory is hazy. It was almost poetical in the direct, forceful way it described the shock of getting oxygen through air — I imagined the whole body, well, startled, lungs “unfurling”, a thousand processes unleashed, the very cells surprised. I was very much interested in her point as regards abortion (and am still), but I also felt the description at that moment as a thing of beauty.

    Thanks again.

  276. 276
    Ichthyic

    It certainly helps if you live in a city with the country’s only dental school. Under NZ$500 for a root canal and gold cap. Removal of wisdom teeth worked out at $50/tooth.

    not bad at all. would be worth the trip just to save the cash!

    I bet there is a huge waiting list?

  277. 277
    Orange Utan

    @Ichthyic

    I bet there is a huge waiting list?

    Not particularly although it was over several visits over several months. As long as you’re comfortable with a 4/5 year student doing the work.

    They do run walk-in clinics during the day. Simple fillings etc are done there by 3rd years from memory. If more advanced work is required (root canal, cap, extraction) you get referred up the line as it were to more senior students and/or staff.

    Similar sort of clinics are available for physiotherapy and there’s a student health setup for university students as well.

  278. 278
    ruthrivera

    I am getting really, really, really fucking tired of the parsing between induced labor and abortion. Induced labor is, in fact, a method of abortion. It is the method that Dr. George Tiller used and the forced-birther lunatics had no problem calling him an abortionist and even assassinating him for it. It is the abortion method the Santorums chose and, because of the ridiculous, ignorant parsing that even pro-choicers do, they were able to get away with not calling the abortion of that doomed pregnancy and abortion.

    So, once again: INDUCED LABOR = A METHOD OF ABORTION. Full fucking stop.

  279. 279
    dianne

    Maybe dianne could do a post of this information if we ask nicely and give plenty of time?

    Sure…Um, actually, what am I volunteering for exactly?

  280. 280
    LykeX

    Never mind that. Just hold this pineapple and if anybody comes up the driveway, whistle “Santa Claus is Coming to town.”

    I’ll explain later.

    Seriously, though, the conversation is a bit disjointed, but it goes: #29, #232, #258.

  281. 281
    JAL: Snark, Sarcasm & Bitterness

    Sure…Um, actually, what am I volunteering for exactly?

    A handy dandy list* of the differences between a fetus and a newborn we can put on the wiki or bookmark it so when the fuckwits bring up how similar they are we can go “you’re wrong! here’s a citation!”.

    *I say list but obviously you can write it anyway you want.

  282. 282
    Forelle

    Dianne: The comment I didn’t save long ago was a simple, clear description of the physiological changes that a newborn undergoes. I suppose it was related to some musings about conciousness in the mythical-fetus-about-to-be-aborted five minutes before birth.

    I know that I could google this, but what can I say — it would take me a long time to unravel the information and the trustworthy sites — and, well, I like reading you.

  283. 283
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    I know that I could google this, but what can I say — it would take me a long time to unravel the information and the trustworthy sites — and, well, I like reading you.

    I google “fetal changes during birth, and found this, this, and this on the first page.

  284. 284
    Forelle

    Thank you very much, Nerd. These texts seem accessible for me. I’ll do some reading tomorrow (it’s past midnight here and I’m tired).

  285. 285
    Amphiox

    re: 275

    No. Absolutely and completely wrong.

    Induced labor does not equate to abortion.

    It is a category error. Induced labor is a technique, not a procedure, (just like D and C, actually).

    When used to remove a nonviable late term fetus, it is a technique that is part of an abortion procedure.

    When used to remove a viable fetus, it is a technique that is part of a BIRTH procedure.

    Context is everything.

    That is why when talking about late term viable and normal pregnancies we use the term induced BIRTH and not induced labor. Induced BIRTH is a procedure (and is short for BIRTH by induced labor). Induced labor is a technique that is part of the procedure, and can be used as a part of a variety of other procedures.

  286. 286
    im

    “you’re on the edge (at least) of totally disregarding women as persons.

    As PZ says, the author’s failure to address the glaring gap in their reasoning is indicative of how he feels about women. It’s difficult to believe it is anything but an intentional omission.”

    I AGREE that in the ONE SPECIFIC INSTANCE and that in a horrifically LARGE NUMBER OF SIMILAR INSTANCES that they seem to be completely ignoring the woman.

    However I find it very bothersome that PZ and his allies seem to think that if you assign any rights or utility or whatever to the fetus, you must not care about the woman at all. Bodily autonomy, it seems to me, is pretty important but when it is OPPOSED BY ANOTHER (hypothetical, not IMO actual) bodily autonomy (that of the hypothetical fetus)

    As long as we shout down any attempt at dealing with counterfactuals and Least Convenient Possible Worlds, we will be coming to the right conclusion for the wrong reasons, and the anti-abortionists will *notice* that.

  287. 287
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    As long as we shout down any attempt at dealing with counterfactuals

    What? We acknowledge the fetus exists. Just that at no point in development does the fetus equal the woman. We don’t ignore the fetus, but unlike the anti-choice groups we focus on the woman.

  288. 288
    Ichthyic

    As long as we shout down any attempt at dealing with counterfactuals

    but you haven’t presented any counterfactuals.

    just counter-hypotheticals.

    that you so easily confuse one with the other says volumes.

  289. 289
    strange gods before me ॐ

    joey was confined to TZT months ago.

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