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Jul 19 2013

I don’t ♥ Texas

Texas legislators are doing it again, abusing the law to force-feed religious ideology on the public and specifically, to opress women. They’re pushing a ridiculous new law, following a lead set by North Dakota (seriously, if you’re looking for model legislation, don’t look to North Dakota).

On Thursday, three Texas Republicans filed a measure that would criminalize abortion services after a fetal heartbeat can be detected — which typically occurs around six weeks of pregnancy, before many women even know they’re pregnant.

I ask, what’s so special about a heart beat? I have killed cats in the lab by slicing out the bulk of their brain, and their hearts still beat. I have seen the beating hearts of monkeys, goats, dogs, cats, rabbits, rats, mice, grasshoppers, fish, daphnia, cockroaches — I’ve held the larger ones in my hand and felt them throb. You can take them apart, dissociate the cells, and put them in a dish, and they still beat.

They’re wonderful and beautiful, but no more so than any muscle, or any cell for that matter. A myocardial twitch is not the magic marker for ensoulment that you’re looking for, it’s simply a mechanical property of certain kinds of cells, a consequence of an entirely natural appearance of specific ion channels on the cell membrane and an orderly array of molecules in the cytoplasm. This is an arbitrary, emotional decision based entirely on folk wisdom that the heart is the center of life.

But you might just as well pick any arbitrary differentiation decision. Hey, stupid Texans, did you know that gastrulation is probably the most important embryonic decision in development? Maybe you should start testing for the expression of Brachyury in the embryo before allowing an abortion. That would let you set the cutoff point for an abortion at two weeks after fertilization! (I probably shouldn’t give them ideas, should I…)

But lets make no mistake and assume they’re looking for scientific, legitimate reasons to limit abortion. They really want to ban it altogether with no consideration for evidence or reality, for that matter, and in particular they don’t give a damn about the women they’re forcing their tribal wisdom upon.

So-called “heartbeat” bills are so radical that they divide the anti-choice community. In addition to criminalizing the vast majority of abortions, they also mandate invasive ultrasound procedures for women seeking abortions. In order to detect a fetal heartbeat so early in a pregnancy, doctors typically have to use a transvaginal probe.

That’s the bottom line: it’s Texas conservatives exercising their god-given right to decide what gets put into women’s vaginas.

61 comments

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  1. 1
    Gregory in Seattle

    It was my understanding that the US Supreme Court, in Roe v. Wade, made viability the hard line that could not be crossed: states could ban abortion after it was possible for a fetus to survive independently from its mother, but not before. Defining “viable” as having a better than 50/50 chance of living places the line around 24 weeks, with modern technology.

    How do these idiots think the court will let a ban like this survive?

  2. 2
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    Gregory:

    Since when have Red States payed any attention at all to federal court cases with which they disagree? Remember, to Texas, this is not about abortion (well, it is, but not to the legislators), this is not about women’s rights (well, it is, but not to the legislators), this is about States Rights and facing down the Evil Federal Government which is telling them how to treat slaves blacks women in Texas!

  3. 3
    sezit

    None of these distinctions should make any difference as to the legality of abortion. Let anyone argue for what is right or wrong – use every argument, including this one. Influence behavior by persuasion. But! when the right to legal abortion is taken away, the fetus has been given rights that requires stripping away rights from the pregnant woman.

    It is impossible to give rights to a fetus without taking rights from the pregnant woman. Since no fetus can act for itself, those “rights” now are overseen by the state. Talk about Big Brother! In our new USA, we now have separate and unequal laws for pregnant women.

  4. 4
    donny5

    Women should form their own laws in Texas that prevent white Christian men from ever having sex again. Those men don’t need to have sex, they’ve got their raging hate of the rest of the world to console them.

  5. 5
    badgersdaughter

    In before the inevitable Texas-bashing… No, many Texans don’t like this either, but some of us feel we are losing the battle to religious radicalism. “Why don’t we just leave?” Part of the answer is “model decent behavior” and part of the rest is “thanks, who exactly is funding this huge exodus?”.

  6. 6
    kevinalexander

    When someone says ‘A foetus has a beating heart!’ The correct response is, ‘So did the chicken you had for lunch.’
    Someone is using romantic bafflegab to keep you from thinking clearly.

    P.S.
    PZ, if you’re going to chop up cats, best to keep it to yourself. Mentioning it on the Internet just makes a lot of the non religious hate you as well.

  7. 7
    Gregory in Seattle

    @donny5 #4 – I don’t think the Texas legislators are having sex anyway. I mean, what else can explain laws like this?

  8. 8
    Gregory in Seattle

    @badgersdaughter #5 – I was taught from an early age, “Be the change you want in the world.”

    Texas is being lost to religious radicalism. Many of us despair. Help lift our spirits by sharing stories of the brave fight against religious radicalism. We never hear those stories, and to most of us outside the state it looks like Texans are gleefully running full charge into a Talibangelical wet dream.

  9. 9
    patterson

    Perhaps this new law has some theological basis in that Jesus resides in the heart of the “saved” or “reborn”. Perhaps as the fetus has not yet been born, and has not yet taken on “original sin”, Jesus actually resides in the fetal heart. The onset of the heartbeat being the signal that Jesus has set up home.

    Of course once born Jesus flees or is forced from the cardio-seat by the imposition of sin, the needs and rights of the child can be safely ignored.

  10. 10
    twas brillig (stevem)

    re Ogvorbis @2:

    Since when have Red States payed any attention at all to federal court cases with which they disagree? Remember, to Texas, this is not about abortion (well, it is, but not to the legislators), this is not about women’s rights (well, it is, but not to the legislators), this is about States Rights and facing down the Evil Federal Government which is telling them how to treat slaves blacks women in Texas!

    But, no, you got it wrong. It’s not States rights vs “evil Federal Gov”. AIUI [As I Understand It] in Texas they will say they are trying to protect the fetus’ “right to life”; The primary right recognized by the FoundingFathers, even before the Constitution. I’ve seen that argument too may times; “Doesn’t the baby have a Right to Life as much as you do?” “Do pregnant women have a right to *murder* their *baby* while it is still a fetus?” “We are just ensuring EVERYONE(even those not yet born) has EQUAL rights”.
    Texas is just saying that no one has the right to stop another’s heart; as a way to protect the right-to-life of that poor little unborn *baby*.
    Talk about “unsurprising”; what else to expect from Texas? {Texas and Florida; where all the crazies go /snark}

  11. 11
    Cat's Staff

    I’m getting more convinced that we are soon going to see a situation like we had before Roe vs. Wade…some states will have abortion available and some states won’t, even though it’s technically legal everywhere. They are, in effect, overturning Roe vs. Wade, if not in actuality.

  12. 12
    badgersdaughter

    @Gregory in Seattle #8:

    I’m not a radical. I have issues of my own. I try to be caring and a good listener and a help, as best I can, to people who are suffering because of the awful policies. I have been through an unwanted pregnancy and I’m not unfeeling.I can’t help thinking if all the rational and decent ordinary people left Texas, the state would be well and truly fucked. My presence here as a voter and a voice may be small but I think it’s important. If I had a teenage daughter I would probably be seriously considering moving anyway.

  13. 13
    gmacs

    Hell, I’ve used the beating heart to pump fixatives through an already dead rat. It’s a standard procedure for many projects. If dead things didn’t have beating hearts, we couldn’t do perfusions.

  14. 14
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    stevern:

    Sorry.

    Apparently my writing is bad. I was responding directly to the comment #1 discussion of this being overturned in federal court. My bad.

  15. 15
    Randomfactor

    How do these idiots think the court will let a ban like this survive?

    The mortality of Supreme Court justices and the short memory of presidential and senatorial election voters.

  16. 16
    coragyps

    It is just this simple: due to the actions of the thugs in our legislature, the “good old days” are coming back. Though it’s a bit hard to apply “good” to coathanger abortions in dirty kitchens.

  17. 17
    WharGarbl

    @coragyps
    #16
    It’s “good” for the necro-cons, who apparently have a fetish for women dying horribly in the kitchen with coat-hangar sticking out their dirty place.

  18. 18
    Sven

    This is exactly the kind of legislation that killed Savita Halappanavar.

  19. 19
    robertbaden

    Apparently you can already get “abortion pills” under the table at flea markets here in Texas.

  20. 20
    Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened

    @robertbaden

    I am now distinctly concerned as to what these “abortion pills” contain.

  21. 21
    moarscienceplz

    If only they had picked brain function as the dividing line. That way, we could have aborted most of the Texas Legislature.

  22. 22
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    Wow, I live in a country that doesn’t actually have legal abortion and it’s not as bad as this.

  23. 23
    PZ Myers

    #13: I’ve done the same with fish and with cats (shh…don’t tell anyone about the latter, or they’ll hate me.)

  24. 24
    ChristineRose

    I actually don’t think it’s Jesus in the heart for this one. Jesus only comes into your heart when your brain develops enough so that you can invite him in. (Then your chest cavity explodes and Jesus climbs out. Sorry. I always loathed that particular metaphor.)

    I think the basis of this one is that heartbeats are pretty confusing and hearing one inside one’s abdomen is shocking. Then there’s the vitalism idea that blood is an “energy” that “flows” throughout the body, causing life. This is of course true on the 10th century level–sort of a second level approximation to biology.

    The bible though does not teach this. The bible teaches that breath is life and flesh is the equivalent to clay. It’s the first level approximation. Fetuses do not and cannot respirate independently until much later. As pointed out, it’s the cutoff point for when they can survive outside of the uterus.

  25. 25
    Andy Groves

    How do these idiots think the court will let a ban like this survive?

    It’s a feature, not a bug. The pro-lifers in the states proposing these laws are salivating at the prospect of their laws getting challenged up to the Supreme Court.

  26. 26
    minnik

    I’m not at all surprised; appeals to emotion is pretty much all they’ve got in the absence of an argument. And it also shields them from a lot of consequences of their actions: “No, I’m not a sexist trying to disadvantage women by any means possible-I just care so much about the tiny cute thing, so you can’t be mean to me!”

  27. 27
    Inaji

    Oh, this heartbeat nonsense. You’d think, given the century we are living in, that people would have finally figured out that the heart is nothing more than a pump, and it’s not the magickal repository of emotions or souls.

  28. 28
    Goodbye Enemy Janine

    Oh, this heartbeat nonsense. You’d think, given the century we are living in, that people would have finally figured out that the heart is nothing more than a pump, and it’s not the magickal repository of emotions or souls.

    Which is why we hardly even hear about “knowing something in my heart” and never “think with our heart” instead of our brain.

  29. 29
    HappiestSadist, Repellent Little Martyr

    Thumper: As I understand, a lot of these pills are Cytotec. However, there’s likely a lot of who the fuck knows what claiming to be Cytotec. But again, the cons are all about women dying terribly, so it’s a feature to their plan, not a bug. And they can always take their family out of state if they need an abortion (which is of course different from all of those sluts’ abortions…).

    To the progressive people who happen to be in Texas: I am so sorry. I’m not in the US, and am not exactly able to help, but I worry about you all.

  30. 30
    Rumtopf

    And in response to Texas abortion bill, the editor-n-chief of redstate.com, Erick Erickson, tweeted a link to an online store selling coat hangers, telling liberals to go bookmark the site. After receiving criticism he defended himself with the old “you feminists can’t take a joke!” line, because back-alley abortions are freaking hilarious, right. What an absolute scumbag.

  31. 31
    Gregory Greenwood

    So-called “heartbeat” bills are so radical that they divide the anti-choice community. In addition to criminalizing the vast majority of abortions, they also mandate invasive ultrasound procedures for women seeking abortions. In order to detect a fetal heartbeat so early in a pregnancy, doctors typically have to use a transvaginal probe.

    And once again I find myself despising vast swathes of my own species. Mandatory transvaginal ultrasounds before being allowed to have a termination = state sanctioned medical punishment rape of women who have sex and still want to assert their bodily autonomy. That is something to bring a warm glow to the black, probably beating (but I am not making any definitive pronouncements on that) hearts of misogynistic neocons everywhere.

    Which does make the fact that this bit divides anti-choicers a little surprising – most of that rancid bunch seem to be all in favour of anything that puts notional ‘sluts’ in their ‘proper place’. When anti-abortion measures reach the point where they are a bridge too far even for some of that brigade of women-hating arseholes, then you know that the situation must be dire indeed.

  32. 32
    sireccles

    So one assumes the need for abortions just magically disappears once you ban them right? All those fetuses with genetic abnormalities are cured, the split condoms re-seal, the missed pill jumps into the woman’s mouth etc etc and everything is fine and dandy?

  33. 33
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    sireccles:

    I don’t think they view it that way. I think their viewpoint is that if abortions and contraception are not available, all those sluts will stop having sex for fun and wait until they are married so that they will submit to their husbands in a biblically married way without having fun and those sluts who do sleep around and get pregnant will just have to bear god’s great gift as a punishment and if some of them die in the process, well, that’s a chance all those conservative men are willing to take.

  34. 34
    A. R

    I have cut out the beating heart of a pithed rat and watched it pump RNAlater in a 50 mL Falcon tube. I’m pretty sure that the Falcon tube wasn’t alive, even though it did contain a beating heart.

  35. 35
    twas brillig (stevem)

    re Ogvorbis @33:

    aiy, aiy; Along the lines of what “they” had said 20 years ago (before they got so “rancid”). “Just take responsibility for your ‘fun’, that’s what pregnancy is; the consequence of your actions”, they’d say. Totally disregarding that one should ‘love’ a child (i.e. *want* a baby), child is just a “responsibility” (i.e. a “punishment for that “naughty” behavior). This was not just anti-abortion rhetoric, but also anti-any-contraception, including condoms. But even then, the admonition was only directed at women, not men (because men don’t get pregnant, donchanoe). But even 20 years is not long enough for these “people” to “grow-up” and really “think” about anything. It’s all, “He says it is so, so it must be so”. ‘Thinking’ is too hard to do *all* the time. No thinking necessary.

  36. 36
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    This was not just anti-abortion rhetoric, but also anti-any-contraception, including condoms.

    Which I thought I wrote.

  37. 37
    Jerry

    It looks like Arizona beats Texas for the stupidest anti-abortion law. Arizona lawmakers have proposed a law blocking abortions after 20 weeks, counting from the last menstrual cycle. Yes, they are counting “pregnancy” 2 weeks before it was possible for the woman to ovulate and get pregnant, so the limit is actually 18 weeks. This bill is not only unconstitutional, it goes against medicine, against the very definition of pregnancy, against common sense, but these conserv-idiots just don’t care.
    See:
    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/04/03/1080333/-Holy-moly-Virgins-can-get-pregnant-if-Arizona-s-retroactive-conception-provision-turns-into-law

  38. 38
    Alexandra (née Audley)

    I had a medically necessary transvaginal ultrasound 7 weeks into my pregnancy (to diagnose severe abdominal cramping). Even though I knew it was necessary to figure out what the hell was wrong with me and I had a great doctor and technician, it still was an uncomfortable and unpleasant experience. To have to go through one for no fucking reason whatsoever… *shudder*

    I have got to wonder if these geniuses in Texas and North Dakota have ever seen a 6 or 7 week old fetus. It may have a detectable heartbeat, but it sure as shit doesn’t look like a person. It’s a blob on the screen with almost no discernible features. You can’t really play the “BUT WHAT ABOUT TEH BAYBEES??” card with something that doesn’t look or act (or is) a baby.

    I guess I’m saying that their ploy to tug at the heartstrings of the voters and demonize the pro-choice, they’re failing miserably†. They could at least do us a solid and stop being condescending assholes and tell us what their real motivations are.

    †If I’m not mistaken, the majority of Texas voters do not want more restrictions on abortion services.

  39. 39
    barfy

    I live in the most conservative part of Texas and actually know my legislators – all of whom actively supported this law, as well as that monstrosity ultrasound law passed prior to this one.
    I am deeply saddened by the real harm to innocent women that this law will cause. I will actively campaign against all of them, and not because I’m a one-issue voter, but because this issue is also indicative of a narrow mindset whose privilege excludes rational conversation.
    But,
    I have conservative friends very much in the political realm who find, at least, parts of these laws as distasteful as I do, and who feel them a governmental overreach. In other words, even they think the legislature has gone too far. I’m hoping that if I can engage them and others in a dialog that resonates, there may be a functional pushback.
    Sometimes Texas sucks.

  40. 40
    unclefrogy

    the anti abortion advocates do not think unwanted pregnancy will be reduced only abortion will be reduced. then the only choice if you survive and have a live birth will be to keep the baby or give it up for adoption. Although to give it up will show a great weakness on the mothers part. If they could pass a law to mandate all mothers should love and care for all their children regardless of the their ability and regardless of the condition of the child they would. because if the woman fails they will go to hell for ever and ever any way .
    OK I can understand their point of view, I was educated to understand that type of “thinking”. I do not agree at all and think they worse then fools but I do not understand why a law is needed.It makes no sense given a belief in an immortal soul and salvation and all. How is passing a law that really does not impact weather they will ever commit such a sin or not nor would it impact their “salvation”. I think they are not being honest in the least about why they are pushing these laws nor it would appear their faith in god to deal with them.
    uncle frogy

  41. 41
    MadHatter

    Personally I don’t believe it is ever truly religiously motivated. I think religious arguments are used to mask a deep distrust of women. Which is why those slutty women who have abortions need to be punished by having a child (and what a great reason to have a child huh?). It’s clearly not the children they care about after all.

  42. 42
    jacks098

    re Jerry @#37

    “Yes, they are counting “pregnancy” 2 weeks before it was possible for the woman to ovulate and get pregnant, so the limit is actually 18 weeks.”

    Believe it or not, that is how all pregnancies are dated in US medicine. By standard obstetrics definition, the gestational age does not indicate weeks since fertilization. It indicates weeks since LMP. So all the bills mean the same thing by “20 weeks.”

  43. 43
    Colin Soder

    After watching the great documentary Lake of Fire, I have come to largely agree with Chomsky that until we put all our efforts that we can into improving childhood death rates around the world (and much progress has already been made), then all the efforts to reduce abortions here in the US are morally compromised.
    But, that does leave the practical question of at what age is it wrong to stop the development of a fetus (or baby)? Does everyone including you PZ agree with roe v wade that it is at viability? Or is it morally right to stop the development right up to natural birth?

  44. 44
    Gen, Uppity Ingrate and Ilk

    But, that does leave the practical question of at what age is it wrong to stop the development of a fetus (or baby)? Does everyone including you PZ agree with roe v wade that it is at viability? Or is it morally right to stop the development right up to natural birth?

    Jesus. Fucking. Christ.

    Really? Again?

  45. 45
    Gen, Uppity Ingrate and Ilk

    Here’s a tip for you, Colin.

    What is abortion?

    It is the termination of a pregnancy.

    When this process (the termination of a pregnancy) occurs at a very late stage of the pregnancy, the fetus can survive if it is viable and suffers no conditions that are hostile to life.

    This is called “induction of labour” or even “elective pre-term labour”. In the case where the pregnancy has already progressed this far, one must assume that it’s progressed so far because a.) it’s a wanted pregnancy OR b.) an earlier abortion wasn’t available. In these cases, where fetal death is the outcome rather than termination of pregnancy, it’s because there is something TERRIBLE wrong with the fetus/mother and it’s a heartbreaking situation all around.

    Any more questions?

  46. 46
    Colin Soder

    No, no more questions, thank you for your help. I appreciate you taking the time to clarify the issue for me. I hope you have a good day, and thanks again!

  47. 47
    Colin Soder

    But getting back to the Texas bill, which is about criminalizing abortions after a certain point in development, I would like to delve deeper into this issue. And, I want to remain civil in our discussion, as I am still working out my understanding of the abortion issue.
    I appreciate your sentiments that it is a heartbreaking situation all around when a fetal death occurs after the induction of labor in a late stage pregnancy. Would you say the same thing about a fetal death in the second trimester or the first trimester? I am not trying to frustrate you or defend right to lifers, i am just trying to understand your position.

  48. 48
    Colin Soder

    Oh, by the way, just let me say that I don’t think abortion should ever be criminalized. As difficult of a moral issue as it is, I don’t believe it is ever a crime that society should punish.

  49. 49
    Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought

    Would you say the same thing about a fetal death in the second trimester or the first trimester?

    I’m not sure I understand the question. If a woman wanted to have that child, then fetal death is heartbreaking whenever it happens.

  50. 50
    Jeffrey Kraus-Yao

    Limiting abortion to fetal viability is too soon as though the fetus is human it is not a person. When a human becomes a person is not until after birth. Some defects are not detected before birth but would have resulted in an abortion if they had been detected. See http://jme.bmj.com/content/early/2012/03/01/medethics-2011-100411.full

    A person is defined as an individual with certain attributes such as self-awareness and language and not arbitrary group membership such as species. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speciesism

    If we want to only include humans as persons and exclude all other animals then a human would not be a person until they develop language. This usually happens at 3 years old but some never develop language and never become persons.

  51. 51
    eddarrell

    It’s quite creepy, really.

    You gotta wonder what these people think of heart transplants. Will they go after transplants next, and try to stop them, or require them? Which one makes the most sense?

    Which one makes the least sense? Is that how they choose to write laws in Austin these days?

    I wonder what would happen if the Texas Lege ever learned about brain waves?

    God, and dog, and Thor and Isis, I miss Molly Ivins. She’d be able to make us laugh, even if she couldn’t make sense of it.

  52. 52
    What a Maroon, el papa ateo

    If we want to only include humans as persons and exclude all other animals then a human would not be a person until they develop language. This usually happens at 3 years old but some never develop language and never become persons.

    That’s a very narrow definition of a person. First, because it’s not clear that language is an inherent trait of humans (as opposed to a cultural trait), the likes of Chomsky and Pinker notwithstanding. Second because you don’t define what you mean by “develop[ing] language”; you could even argue that the process begins before birth. Third because some people never develop language, either because they aren’t exposed to it (e.g., deaf people who are never exposed to sign language) or because of some condition which prevents them from developing language (e.g., certain people on the autistic spectrum). Do you really want to say that they aren’t people?

    Any attempt to define person is going to fail, because there’s no magical moment in the development of a human where the transition is made from non-person to person. And trying to define such a moment merely plays into the hands of the anti-abortion crowd, because you can always make a case that whatever criteria you choose starts to happen before birth. The reason that birth changes things is that at that point the former fetus is no longer living in the body of the mother and leeching off her, and so has rights independent of the mother.

  53. 53
    vaiyt

    But getting back to the Texas bill, which is about criminalizing abortions after a certain point in development,

    It’s not.

    It’s about making a precedent for women giving up their personhood during pregnancy.

    From there, the “certain point” can be pushed back until all abortions are outlawed and control of women’s own bodies is handed over to others.

  54. 54
    vaiyt

    I have come to largely agree with Chomsky that until we put all our efforts that we can into improving childhood death rates around the world (and much progress has already been made), then all the efforts to reduce abortions here in the US are morally compromised.

    Thanks for reminding me of why I hate Chomsky so much. No, the US don’t need to act as nanny of the world any more than they need to act as our police, thank you very much.

  55. 55
    Tony! The Fucking Queer Shoop!

    Colin @47:
    Going by what you have said, it seems you are trying to understand the issues surrounding the abortion debate. That is a bigger step than many are willing to make.
    Now what?

    If I may make a suggestion…many commenters here have regularly dealt with anti-choice advocates, or people who claim to be pro-choice, but are really interested in discussing hypotheticals. For many, it has become tiresome rehashing the basics of the debate. There are also commenters often willing to steer people in the right direction, but I do not think you should rely on that. No one is obligated to answer your questions or explain what an abortion is for the 79,000th time. Given that, you may want to learn many of the basics on your own, i.e. do your research, then come and join the conversation.
    There are of course many avenues open for you to learn about this subject. Multiple bloggers here at FtB have written about abortion.

    Stephanie has blogged about abortion many times

    Zinnia Jones blog posts dealing with abortion

    Outside of FtB, you can check out abortion statistics in the United States.

    A look at abortion that attempts to present the views on both sides of the debate can be found
    here.

    and also one of the most important concepts related to the abortion debate:the right to bodily integrity/autonomy:

    Bodily integrity is the inviolability of the physical body and emphasises the importance of personal autonomy and the self-determination of human beings over their own bodies. It considers the violation of bodily integrity as an unethical infringement, intrusive, and possibly criminal
    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bodily_integrity

    I recommend reading up on bodily integrity first. Doing so may lead to better understanding of one other important thing:
    You may find resistance to your call for civility. While you are just now learning about this in depth, many of the people commenting here have had an abortion and others have been vocal ProChoice supporters for decades. To them, this is not an abstract philosophical discussion. This is part of their lived experiences. Civility may have its place, but not in discussions about fundamental rights that are being eroded.

    (Gah! Preview is acting up. I hope everything comes out ok.)

  56. 56
    Dr Pepper

    The old medieval christian definition of “person” was “that which has a mind and a will”. That’s one religious position i can support.

  57. 57
    Gen, Uppity Ingrate and Ilk

    Funny thing is it’s not as if I was being uncivil.

    Okay Colin, I’ll try again.

    But, that does leave the practical question of at what age is it wrong to stop the development of a fetus (or baby)? Does everyone including you PZ agree with roe v wade that it is at viability? Or is it morally right to stop the development right up to natural birth?

    What is your position on mandatory blood donation? Mandatory kidney donation? Heart/lung donation?

    And with “mandatory”, I mean that if the person who needs your organs is deemed valuable enough, you have no say in whether they take your organs/blood to give it to this person.

    So, should an 80 year old genius who’s on the brink of discovering cancer but is dying from heart failure have the unilateral right to use your organs, to attach herself to you via a machine (at risk to yourself) to keep living? Okay, so what if she wasn’t 80. What if she was 20? What if she is 20 AND you have 3 kids who depend on you? (Remember, this is something that entails risks to YOUR survival). Should you have some kind of say? What if you initially said yes, but now you’re getting ill?

    No living person has the right to co opt someone else’s body for their own survival. That includes the right to refuse a procedure that will affect your body up until the point of the procedure being carried out. Even if someone else will die if you refuse. So why should a fetus have this right that no one else does?

    Thus, the short answer to your question: when that development is contingent upon the unilateral coopting of another organism’s body, the other organism (whose body is being coopted) may terminate said development at any time they withdraw consent. This does not mean the coopting organism *must* die, simply that the coopting of the other organism’s body is severed.

  58. 58
    vaiyt

    The old medieval christian definition of “person” was “that which has a mind and a will”. That’s one religious position i can support.

    You’ll find out some here consider “mind” and “will” to be hopelessly vague concepts.

  59. 59
    Tony! The Fucking Queer Shoop!

    Gen, Uppity Ingrate:
    Sorry.
    I did not mean to imply that your response to Colin was uncivil. I just wanted to get across that civility is not a big virtue round here, especially when dealing with anti-choicers who want to rob women of their bodily integrity (that, and preempt a possible future response complaining about lack of civility)

  60. 60
    David Marjanović

    Then your chest cavity explodes and Jesus climbs out.

    Day saved.

    The old medieval christian definition of “person” was “that which has a mind and a will”. That’s one religious position i can support.

    LOL. Define “mind” and “will”. Surely the average chimpanzee has both? What about a baboon? A crow? A cow?

  61. 61
    Gen, Uppity Ingrate and Ilk

    LOL. Define “mind” and “will”. Surely the average chimpanzee has both? What about a baboon? A crow? A cow?

    Or a cat. They are nothing BUT “will” and “mind”.

    This person obviously never had a cat. Or a dog. Or a rat. Or any kind of close relationship with any animal.

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