Non-religious arguments for being pro-choice?

A friend of mine who’s in med school is looking for some good, credible resources on non-religious arguments for being pro-choice. Obviously the logical move was to ask a feminist atheist blogger, but I’ve failed him since I 1) Live in Blog Land, where good, credible resources are elusive creatures, and 2) Have a horrible memory and suck at recalling good things I have read.
But I know non-religious, humanist arguments for being pro-choice are out there. I could spend a couple hours writing a huge post myself on my own humanist arguments for being pro-choice. Oooooorrrrr I can be lazy since I know I have an intelligent well-read readership who likes to help me out (especially when I suck up to them by saying how intelligent and well-read they are). So what do you recommend? What are some good articles or books that address this subject? And I suppose blog posts are fine if they’re from a more reputable individual.

And if you just want to throw in your own godless 2 cents on the abortion issue, consider this an open thread. I’ll be hiding in the corner behind some bullet proof glass.


  1. NotThatGreg says

    Is that the exact question you mean? I.e. I don’t think you’ll find a lot of religious arguments for being pro-choice, it seems redundant.

  2. says

    The biggest and best reason is that people should have the ability to choose what happens to their body 100% of the time. This is a why a patient has the right to choose their course of treatment or even refuse it. This is an argument on the basis of a patient’s right to autonomy.

  3. Safi says

    Ronald Dworkin’s book Life’s Dominion is a good place to start.¬† It examines questions about the beginning of life and the end of life from medical, legal and moral perspectives.

  4. NotThatGreg says

    The strange idea that pro-life and pro-choice are supposed to be opposites shows the disconnect in the debate. Jen, do you mean: Choosing not to terminate, whilst making the choice yourself? And, doing so for non-religious reasons? Calling that position ‘pro-life’ would confuse it (if only by prior ownership of the phrase) with the very different position that you should not be permitted the choice.

  5. naurae says

    like notthatgreg, i didn’t realize there were a whole lot of religious arguments for being pro-choice out there…

  6. skullturf says

    I was under the impression that most arguments for being pro-choice were not especially religious in nature.Some such arguments come from classical liberal ideas about the bodily autonomy of the individual. It’s similar to how the state can’t force you to donate blood or donate your organs, noble and selfless though it may be.

  7. says

    Maybe I’m missing something, but I don’t get why this is so confusing. I just want explicitly secular arguments for being pro-choice. It has nothing to do what with someone chooses down the line (and the person asking this question is male, so he won’t really be in the position to make a choice himself).I *have* heard religious reasoning as to why abortion is okay – that the soul only enters at a certain time so it’s okay to abort before then, that God forgives, blah blah. I just want some resources to good, secular arguments. That may be 99% of pro-choice arguments, but I still want links!

  8. says

    Doesn’t it basically boil down to ‘why not’? It’s a fairly common principle across multiple subjects, not just abortion, that people ought to be able to make their own choices unless there’s some over-riding reason to take it away from them.

  9. Epistaxis says

    Singer has a chapter on it in Practical Ethics, and all of his reasons for everything are always non-religious… but like the other commenters, I wasn’t aware there were religious arguments in favor of reproductive choice.

  10. techspoon says

    In “The Ethical Brain” by Michael Gazzanig, abortion is addressed from science-y perspective. ¬†The most interesting point he makes is that we declare someone legally dead if they cease to have any brain activity, so we could make a similar argument that before someone’s brain is formed (which is around…22 weeks gestation maybe? ¬†I forget), they are not legally alive. ¬†He goes into the pros/cons of using that as a marker for the start of life.I haven’t read “Freakonomics” but I know that they cover the correlation between legalizing abortion and a drop in crime.Also, there are several books out there about abortion and contraception throughout recorded human history. ¬†For example, “Contraception and Abortion from the Ancient World to the Renaissance.” ¬†I think this shows that no matter what else is happening in society, women are going to get pregnant when they don’t want to. ¬†We can argue all day long about the rights and wrongs of abortion, but if humans exist, they’re going to be gettin freaky. ¬†You can pretend like the world doesn’t work like that, or you can acknowledge reality and do something about it (like sex education, give birth control, and give abortions).

  11. EllieMurasaki says

    Men cannot be compelled to sacrifice any part of their body for any length of time, even to save a life. Therefore, women cannot be compelled to etc.

  12. NotThatGreg says

    OK, clarified. Yeah, there’s still a moral/ethiical issue, at some point it becomes ‘too late’, and there’s certainly room for non-religious debate about where that line is. But I think you no longer have that magic endpoint – from the secular view, at the time of conception and for some time after, it’s just a small bunch of cells which may not successfully develop even if left alone. ¬†So, not ‘if’ but ‘when’. ¬†[But you want links you can use, not the opinion of some random engineer. Stopping now].

  13. NotThatGreg says

    As compelling as that is in this case, it’s an argument from consequences. In general (in general!) if you say “banning X causes badness Y”, then it may be that it’s because you’re doing it wrong; or people may simply not be convinced that it makes it wrong to ban or control X. For example: ¬†Banning alcohol nationwide causes organized crime and massive corruption. Restricting alcohol consumption among airline pilots, schoolteachers, surgeons … not so bad.

  14. Bob says

    It is none of the government’s business. If the government can prohibit you from having an abortion, it can just as easily require you to have one.

  15. says

    This is one of my favourites as well. I highly recommend Bioethics: an anthology By Helga Kuhse, Peter Singer. It was the course textbook for a Bioethics course I took a few years back, and contains some of the most notable philosophical essays on the topic (and on either side).

  16. Bathtub says

    Jen, tangentially related, did you see that Ray Comfort is jumping on the Pro-Life money wagon (the creationist money wagon left without him) and this years 200,000 give away is his new Abortion=Hitler ‘documentary’ 180?…He’s bought himself a Telly Award so he can label it award winning too….

  17. TheDudeDiogenes says

    Are there even non-secular arguments to be pro-choice? If so, I’ve never come across one. From my point of view, unless there is a good reason not to X, then X-ing is acceptable. So I see pro-choice as the default, and will until I am convinced otherwise.

  18. Azkyroth says

    It seems that the logical way to resolve this would be to stipulate that the pregnant woman has the right to have the fetus removed from her body whenever she chooses – but that if it’s actually possible to extract it alive and keep it alive, once it’ s developed the brain structures required for consciousness the attempt should be made.

  19. Azkyroth says

    Although, count me in with the people wondering why you felt the need to specify “non-religious” pro-choice arguments. ¬†I’ve never heard one that was specifically religious that wasn’t blatantly a rationalization to reconcile an emotional attachment to religious beliefs with secular moral convictions.

  20. Amarantha says

    Someone made an excellent blog post about how most anti-choice positions (such as only allowing abortion for pregnancies resulting from rape) are more about punishing women than protecting life. ¬†Sadly, I can’t remember what it was called or what blog it was on, and Google-Fu has failed me. ¬†Anybody know the one I mean?

  21. says

    My argument: everything, by default, should be allowed, unless it can be demonstrated that not prohibiting it would cause more harm than good to sentient beings.¬† Within this context:* There is no scientific plausibility to the idea that a 3 month old fetus is sentient like a child, although religious dualists will make that equivalence.* Prohibiting abortion does not actually reduce the rate of abortion, but it does increase harmful complications of faulty abortions.* Forcing people to bring unwanted pregnancies to term would, on the whole, cause more suffering in the world.¬†¬† All else being equal it is better that fewer people are born into shitty conditions where their parents don’t want them / can’t take care of them.* Mere nonexistence is not a bad thing.¬†¬† Every time a guy masturbates he is killing millions of potential unique future human beings.

  22. Caitlin says

    The rights of the dependent (the fetus and its right to life) are superseded by the rights of the  independent (the mother and her right to choose).

  23. Ryan Schultz says

    Your med school friend should have all the resources needed in the medical embryology and medical ethics textbooks required for purchase/available at the med library.¬† Pubmed also has surprisingly good resources (score!) on medical ethics.Then of course there is George Carlin argument:” Isn’t it funny that the people that go to anti-abortion rallies are the kind of people you wouldn’t want to fuck anyway?”

  24. Epistaxis says

    But an argument from consequences is the most valid kind. I don’t want women being injured and killed in the real world for some abstract principle.

  25. Epistaxis says

    My argument: everything, by default, should be allowed, unless it can be demonstrated that not prohibiting it would cause more harm than good to sentient beings.

    So you’re a vegan?

  26. says

    Exactly. The logical outcome of this would be mandatory living organ donation (i.e. kidneys). This is not allowed, thus abortion cannot be banned for the purpose of “saving a life”.

  27. Quackers says

    Non-secular reason: (also a personal one.) Babies guaranteed to be born with debilitating physical and/or mental defects.¬† I personally couldn’t bring a life into this world if I knew that kid was going to have to live through the hard times, the heartache, the social stigmata, the rejection by many peers.¬† Perhaps it’s the depression in me talking, but I wouldn’t want another person to live with sorrow that they could not control and were not responsible for having.¬† You could look at that in the evolutionary standard as well:¬† Any kind of defect in a being means they are less likely to reproduce successful offspring compared to otherwise healthy individuals.¬† It’s survival of the fittest in a cruel sense. Another separate and more serious reason (and one that isn’t addressed enough in any nation at this time):¬† Instability (mental) brought upon the mother by the changes (in hormones and etc.) of pregnancy. We all know that pregnancy changes some things in a woman. Things that are necessary to change for her ability to carry a child for 9 months.¬† But sometimes these changes affect women in extreme ways.¬†¬† Some women who were “normal” before pregnancy may be tipped over into instability by the changes the body makes.¬† Things like this lead to Post-pardon depression, which is a serious issue for both a baby and a mother, and possibly close relations (the father, baby’s siblings, etc.)¬† If it’s known that a pregnancy could send a certain woman over this “mental ledge,” if should be well within her right to have the choice of fetus vs. mental instability.¬† Then of course there’s the cases of women who already had some sort of mental instability (psychosis, depression, mania, etc.) and become pregnant. While the mental health of the mother may never ever be expressed in the baby, what would the pregnancy and birth do to the mother then? It’s a slippery slope, especially when you factor in what the mother’s assumed medications would do to the fetus.

  28. Azkyroth says

    I would suggest clarifying what you mean by “dependent” and “independent” here because that statement, at face value, practically begs to be dishonestly misconstrued.

  29. says

    I recently posted Abortion ‚Äď some unemotional analysis on my blog, but I’m not convinced it will help much here. However, if indeed 63% of all conceptions are naturally aborted anyway, it makes a god that runs the universe the most prolific abortionist ever.

  30. benjaminsa says

    Great point. I have read several philosophical arguments (Singer etc), but the practical is often forgotten.  There is a movie 4 months 3 weeks and 2 days which explores the consequences of pro-life laws: later term much more dangerous abortions. Katha Pollitt is very good on this, and of course George Carlin

  31. says

    I’m a little concerned that someone can hold an opinion on this subject without already having good arguments for it. You should look at the arguments from all sides first and make an informed decision, rather than picking a side and then looking for arguments to support it.

  32. Amarantha says

    That’s the one; thanks. ¬†Not pro-pro-choice so much as anti-anti-choice, but makes some good points regardless.

  33. Svlad Cjelli says

    Uhh, guy, can I take out my frustration with my ISP on you?Your alcohol+pilots example is also argument from consequences. Not even you think argument from consequences is flawed.

  34. jose says

    “A friend of mine who’s in med school is looking for some good, credible resources on non-religious arguments for being pro-choice.”It’s the post’s first sentence.- It’s for a friend, not for her, so “you should look and make a decision” is completely beside the point.- Good, credible resources are needed. That means she can’t just tell her her own thoughts about it, because those don’t constitute a resource.Now, do you have good, credible resources for abortion to help Jen’s friend?

  35. NotThatGreg says

    Svlad, yup, I should have said ‘from indirect consequences’, hopefully clear from my example. Azkroth, yes. you’re right, and I admit I’ve misapplied the term. Question remains, how strong is that position when you are arguing a moral or ethical position — Many will feel the direct implications have priority. ¬†I’m pretty sure I’ve heard people say, “But if you convince everyone to quit smoking, all those jobs in the tobacco industry will be lost” (P.s. I’m strongly pro-choice, and these ‘indirect consequences’ are a big part of the reason)

  36. daniboi87 says

    Hello, Ihave been reading through the discussion on here and it has been veryinteresting to see everyone’s response. ¬†I am the medical student that Jenhas referenced in her question. ¬†I am an atheist and a new one at that.¬†I had been a Christian up until about a year ago, and I am trying to findsome good discussion on both sides of the issue of abortion. ¬†I am makingevery effort I can to think logically and morally on issues, and the abortionissue brings up interesting viewpoints on both sides in the secular realm onmorality. I know I may still have biased/religious¬†ideas in my mind (theymight be brought to light in my post below), and I am trying my best to thinkmorally about things in a logical manner. ¬†Don’t worry, I am not crazy, andI do have logical and moral opinions on things. ¬†Religion didn’t eff me upthat bad. :)¬†¬†I just need clarification on the abortion issue. ¬†¬†I havestill yet to read everyone’s resources. ¬†I will soon. ¬†I am sure thatsome of the resources provided may answer some of my questions below or lead mein a better direction. ¬†¬†Myquestion was not for a position of pro-choice with a religious stance, but apro-life with a non-religious stance. I was listening to a lecture with a mannamed Christopher Hitchens (an outspoken atheist) and he pretty much seemed tohave a pro-life stance on the issue. ¬†He stated that he believed that thechild (whatever he thinks a child is in the wombs, embryo, fetus, etc.) insidethe womb should have rights. ¬†I never really understood his reasoning forthinking this, but it is how he views the issue. He seems to take the positionof viability, but this doesn’t apply to viable embryos, fetuses, etc. If anyoneelse holds the same beliefs as Christopher Hitchens, I would be very intriguedby an explanation for this viewpoint. ¬†This is just one of the videoswhere he states his viewpoint. ¬†

    ¬†I ampro-choice. ¬†My reasoning is that the woman is a person with rights.¬†Their rights are independent of other’s rights, unless itinvolves¬†suppressing¬†the rights of another person. ¬†I hold thestance that the mother is independent of the “baby”,¬†althoughbiologically attached to the baby.¬†I put baby in quotations because it isused an arbitrary term. I can’t determine for everyone what baby means to them.(Ex: baby = ball of cells, embryo, fetus) ¬†Also, I believe that thegovernment shouldn’t be able to tell anyone what to do with their own bodies.¬†Now, youmight read that and say, “Well what is the problem?” ¬†As I readthe statements one here, I noticed that a lot of people seem regard the babynot as a person (so it doesn’t have rights), or that’s how I am reading it.¬†For the most part I agree with people on that statement, but when doesthe baby become a person? ¬† How did we come to our decisions? Does itbecome a person when it is detached from the umbilical cord and is no longerdependent on the mother and becomes and independent entity? ¬†I guess thisis my current stance on the issue, but I like to discuss my stances with peoplein order to weigh any¬†opposing¬†viewpoints to my stance.¬†¬†It seems that we have to draw an arbitrary line where we decide ababy is a person, and the best logical decision, for me, is when the babybecomes independent from its mother. ¬†¬†My nextquestion regards late-term abortion. How do we decide how long it takes beforeit becomes immoral to have an abortion? If you take the stance that the baby isonly a person when it leaves the womb, would you agree with having an abortiona 3 months, a month, 3 weeks before the baby is due. ¬†I am very hardpressed on this idea. ¬†I am leaning against late term abortion (I know Iam contradicting my previous statement), but if feel free to call me out if youdisagree. ¬†This would then switch the issue to late term abortion, and Iwould also like to get a non-religious response on that issue. ¬†I know itis illegal in any state to have an abortion after 24 weeks unless there arehealth complications with the mother or “baby”. ¬†Then again, howdid they come up with 24 weeks? ¬†How is it determined that an abortionafter 24 weeks is a no-no and an abortion before this time is alright?¬†Inresponse to Ryan Schultz, I know I have resources available in the medicallibrary, but I just wanted to hear other’s viewpoints on the subject.¬†Also, some people may have resources outside the libraryand¬†PubMed¬†that would be just as helpful in the discussion.¬†No matterhow logical or moral you think you are, you can still think illogically andimmorally about issues. ¬† That is why I feel we need to present our ideasto each other in order to make sure we have as many viewpoints as possible (getall the data if I can say) to make a logical and moral stance on an issue.¬†Thank youall for your help. ¬† If you have any questions for me, don’t hesitate toask.

  37. daniboi87 says

    That is the last time I’ll copy and paste anything from Word onto a blog. ¬†Sorry everyone lol

  38. NPYundt says

    This issue can get me very angry. ¬†I often feel that as a man my¬†arguments¬†are dismissed out of hand. ¬†I know that some think this is an issue only for woman, but that is just a different form of sexism.The core of the issue is human rights. ¬†Every person, every man woman and child has the right to existence and the right to their body as it is fundamental to their existence. ¬†(I personally think this should extend to anything¬†self aware, and I am a vegetarian because of it.) ¬†However, these rights can not infringe on the self same rights of another. ¬†A man can not be required to act as a living life¬†support¬†system simply because another’s continued existence would require it, this is why organ donation from a living subject is voluntary only, and blood as well. ¬†(I don’t know that organ donation should be option once¬†deceased¬†but¬†that’s¬†another matter.) ¬†No one would stop to think twice to remove a parasitic¬†life form¬†that demonstrably couldn’t survive without the host, it affects the host and the host has¬†priority¬†simply because the host is the owner of the body in dispute.The mother can survive without the child and has rights to her body. ¬†The child can not survive without the mother early on, the child has the right to existence, but not while that right would violate the mothers right to her body. ¬†If the child can survive without the mother, then it is the mothers choice to remove it from her body, but the child should be given the¬†opportunity¬†to survive. ¬†Killing it at that point would be murder. ¬†If the child can not survive without the mother, it is still the mothers choice to remove it from her body. The child should still be given every¬†opportunity¬†to survive but if it does not it is not the fault of the mother or the doctor involved.The child HAS the right to life BUT NOT while that violates the right of the mother to her body, her health, or her sanity.I hope that wasn’t too much

  39. daniboi87 says

    In Jen’s defense on the subject, I did write that I wanted resources for a pro-choice humanistic¬†argument in my original message, so it was my fault for the original confusion. ¬† I meant ask about the justifications for pro-life position and pro-choice positions from a non-religious stance. ¬†I think I understand most people’s positions of pro-choice w/non-religious stance, but I am still confused about the pro-life w/ non-religious stance. ¬†I know there probably aren’t many people who have a pro-life and non-religious stance, or so it seems, but I just wanted to hear other’s opinions.

  40. Azkyroth says

    Or, in other words, “existing” is on the list of “things you have the right to do, but not to use slave labor to do.”

  41. Greg Tinley says

    As Peter Singer and Jarvis-Thompson are already mentioned, I’d like to add:Are Pregnant Women Fetal Containers? by Laura M. Purdy(This too was featured in Bioethics: An Anthology – Google Books:¬†…¬†)

  42. daniboi87 says

    “The child can not survive without the mother early on, the child has the right to existence, but not while that right would violate the mothers right to her body.”So are saying that the mother’s rights to decision trump the child’s rights to existence? ¬†If you say the child has a right to existence, isn’t the mother’s rights to decision infringing on the child’s right to exist?This is an interesting stance. ¬†Why does the mother’s rights to decision trump the child’s right to exist? ¬†In your second paragraph ¬†you said that a right of existence should extend to anything self-aware. ¬† When do you think the baby becomes self-aware?I am not saying that I disagree with you, but I want to know how you came to these conclusions.

  43. Vcatalysis says

    My 2 cents: The pregnant person is ALWAYS more important that the unborn baby/blob/whatever. Thus, her rights trumph any concerns about the unborn. There is never an instance in which you could convince me to prioritize a person who isn’t a part of this world over someone who’s already here in their own right. Well, ok, evil dangerous people like murderers, rapists and theiving business people who make the world suck for everyone so they can have nice things aren’t people I particularly like to give “human” status to. Doctors don’t go around thinking “who cares about the woman–it’s the baby that counts”. When parasitic twins are born, the parasitic bits are removed, and those aren’t any more alive or independent from the host than a fetus in a woman–so that’s not “pro-life”. Even parastic twins with brain matter and faces are moved, i.e. killed, for the benefit of the host, even when it doesn’t harm the host. That doesn’t seem very “pro-life” to me. Who ever is “most alive”, or at least most independently so, in situations of attachment/pregnancy should get priority.

  44. daniboi87 says

    Thanks. ¬†I’ll¬†be sure to use a plain-text app. next time I copy and past onto a blog. ¬†I am new to blogging. ¬† As you can see :P

  45. Lyme says

    ” Then again, howdid they come up with 24 weeks? ¬†How is it determined that an abortionafter 24 weeks is a no-no and an abortion before this time is alright?”Danny boy, if you don’t understand this, you haven’t been paying attention in class.All the logic is on the non-secular side, the god bags all believe in magic, so this seems like an enormous concern troll.

  46. NPYundt says

    In my thinking, the mother has the original right that was being violated, the child is dependent on the mother not the other way around.  The child has the privilege of the use of the mothers body if the mother so chooses, but not the right to her body.  Just as no living thing can be said to have the right to another living thing, only a right to themselves.

  47. daniboi87 says

    I know 24 weeks has to do with survival rates of the baby, which is still being disputed, but his is leaving out the argument of rights of the baby and the mother.

  48. daniboi87 says

    It’s just an unusual opinion that sparked part of my interest. ¬†I’m not saying that I agree with him. ¬†I even stated that I didn’t understand his position. ¬†¬†¬†Yes, I know he is controversial. ¬†Just because someone is controversial doesn’t mean they can’t make interesting points every once in a while. ¬†Don’t worry, I don’t worship the man or anything. ¬†It was just an opinion that I found confusing. ¬†I never heard a position of being pro-life while being non-religious.

  49. daniboi87 says

    I’m not a troll. ¬†Jen, can attest to this. ¬†I went to college with her at Purdue. ¬†We were lab partners in biology class together. ¬†I am just trying to get people’s opinions on the issue.

  50. daniboi87 says

    I guess when I said, “How is it determined that an abortionafter 24 weeks is a no-no and an abortion before this time is alright?” ¬†I should have used the phrase “How is it morally justified.” ¬†I guess I kind of thought that was assumed. Sorry.

  51. daniboi87 says

    Understood. ¬†I think I agree with you and Azkyroth. ¬†This seems to be a pretty logical¬†argument¬†for the right of the mother to not have to be “dependent” on the ¬†unborn child’s rights.

  52. Lyme says

    No, not a troll, but concern trolling is asking questions “all innocent like”, when the answers are before you, or making arguments for argument sake.¬† But asking questions about postitions that are inherently anti-women on a feminist blog, for example, is a bit trollish, isn’t it?

  53. daniboi87 says

    I would think this would be the best place to get an opinion on the issue. ¬†I find it hard to believe that the discussion was viewed anti-women. Please, believe me, I am not just trying to make arguments for arguments sake. ¬†I just want to hear what people have to say. ¬†As for my first big statement, ¬†I may have done the “blogging sin” of not reading all of the posts before posting my original questions. ¬†So, yes, I can see how you can say that the answers were all before me. ¬†I just wanted to make sure everyone understood my questions.

  54. Lyme says

    No, that is not what I said. This discussion is not anti-women, but the anti-choice position is anti-woman.

  55. daniboi87 says

    What is still disputed is how long it it takes for the baby to be viable and live outside the womb. ¬†There was has been some debate on survival rate of ¬†babies born early than 24 weeks. ¬†Survival rates could even increase due to better technologies in healthcare, but that is beside the point. ¬†Even so, a source I just happen to randomly pull up sited that 23 weeks or earlier doesn’t seem to make a difference in the survival rate. ¬†… was a child who was in the news who had survived at 22 weeks, but it survival rates are apparently only around 10% (according to this article) when they’re born this young.http:// article¬†

  56. daniboi87 says

    I see. ¬†I would agree with you on that one. ¬†I’m sorry for causing concern. ¬†I just really want to hear other’s views, and for them to kind of scrutinize mine so I have a solid stance on the issue.

  57. says

    You say that if the fetus is viable, it should be given every opportunity to survive.  I would like for you to clarify what you mean by every opportunity.  Suppose a woman is 8 months pregnant and learns it would A. be highly medically advisable for her to terminate the pregnancy and B. the safest way for her to terminate the pregnancy is likely to kill the fetus.  Trying for a live delivery could cause her serious complications.  Do you still think it is necessary to give the fetus every opportunity to survive?

  58. daniboi87 says

    As I have stated to¬†NPYundt¬†and¬†Azkyroth. ¬†I support the idea of the woman having the right to make the decision over the baby. ¬†I just wanted to hear others’ justifications for the issue.

  59. daniboi87 says

    Quality of life is a good point to bring up. ¬†That is one issue I haven’t heard discussed too much. ¬†Thanks for the articles. ¬†Ya, with that graph, I would have to agree with 24 weeks or even a little later in order to lower chance of morbidity.

  60. daniboi87 says

    Are you being sarcastic? ¬†I feel I bit of resentment for wanting to get ideas from other people on the issue. ¬†As I said before, I just want to hear others’ viewpoints in order to get a good opinion on the issue. ¬†I don’t mean to push¬†anyone’s¬†buttons.

  61. Regina_Phalange says

    Thank you for this!¬† And a big thank you to Jen for this post!Non-religious for 10 years now, and self identified atheist for 2 or 3, but I could never get past my pro-choice/anti-abortion leanings.¬† It was very frustrating to disagree strongly with virtually everyone in the skeptic and atheist community on such a huge issue.¬† These are people who value logic and critical thinking as highly as I do so I couldn’t figure out how it could seem so clearly wrong to me and so clearly permissible to just about every one else.¬† But, I try very hard not to allow other people’s opinions to determine my own so I’ve stood firm all this time and decided that until I heard a convincing argument or learned new facts that changed the discussion, I was going to continue to stand firm.¬† Most arguments seemed so vague to me, and while I could often somewhat see where they were coming from, I would have objection after objection that would squash the premise in my opinion.¬† Maybe I wasn’t hearing any well worded and properly explained arguments, or maybe my overly religious upbringing somehow set up a roadblock in my brain.¬† Hell, maybe I’m just not as intelligent as I’d like to be.¬† But this…this makes sense.¬† And the responses to the objections make sense.¬† I’ve been turning it over in my head all day (apparently haven’t been too productive at work today) and it STILL makes sense.¬† I completely understand now how someone could say they aren’t celebrating abortion but they 100% support someone’s right to make that decision for themselves.¬† I love it when things make sense!Thank you guys!¬† I love blogs.

  62. Nomajic says

    Daniboi87, Since you are medical student, can you tell me if a physician is ever legally¬†required to administer emergency treatment to a patient?¬† To me, the answer should be consistent with any requirements made on a woman’s body by a fetus that has reached viability.¬† The logic being that the mother is obligated to provide care, because she posseses an ability to do so that is not possesed by the population at large.¬†¬† Such¬†a burden carries with it risks to the provider and cannot be applied to the population as a¬†whole, as say forced blood donation or organ¬†“borrowing” as is used in Peter Singer’s essay.¬† I am honestly not sure of the answer.¬† It would speak to whether abortion on demand is legally consistent within our existing framework.¬†¬†Of course legality is an entirely different issue than morality.

  63. says

    She possesses an ability to do so because of biology she had no control over. She didn’t get to choose to have a uterus, while people do choose to become doctors. That’s like saying people with O- blood must be forced to donate because they’re obligated as the most needed donors.

  64. Regina_Phalange says

    Not to mention the fact that doctors swear an oath.¬† I don’t recall having to swear an oath to become a woman.¬† Although, I don’t really remember much of infancy, so you never know….

  65. Father of three says

    I find the entire abortion issue profoundly dishonest, because it generally pretends the issue stops at live birth. A newborn infant, and indeed a young child, cannot survive independently. It requires an enormous investment of the caregiver’s physical, emotional, and financial resources.  And pregnancy itself is fraught with physical health concerns for both the mother, and the fetus. Women die, and are disabled, in childbirth. Children are born, all too often, with disabilities and other medical problems that can be life-long, which only increase the demands on their caregiver’s resources, and reduces the odds of independent survival. If the woman’s health is in jeopardy, or if the woman is unable, or even unwilling, to commit to the decades-long responsibility of nurturing, protecting, and caring for the potential child, and society is unwilling to assume responsibility for the unwanted child, then the decision belongs to the woman. Only if society was willing to assume responsibility for total care of the woman’s health during, and recovery after pregnancy, and assume responsibility for the care and wellbeing of the child through adulthood, or beyond where necessary, would it be possibly morally acceptable to interfere with the woman’s choice. And even then, I am uncomfortable with forcing a woman to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term. To me, it smacks of slavery.

  66. guest says

    I think the Bible mentions the penalty for causing a miscarriage as a fine, cf. death penalty for murder.

  67. guest says

    I believe that pro-choice equals pro-life. people claiming they are pro-life are in actuality just anti-abortion, which is not pro-life. Often, abortion saves lifes. Legal abortion especially, because it allows for a safe termination instead of back alley-quack-abortions. (wire hanger/falling down the stairs kind of things). Until the fetus is viable outside the mothers body, the mothers health and safety needs to come first. (after that, you have do a c-section and try to safe both). Finally, I think that making abortion illegal means going back 100 years. It implies that women are not moral,smart, educated or objective enough to make the right choice. If that is the case, we should not be allowed to vote. or be scientists. The pregnant woman is the only person who can make the final decision over her body because she will have to live with the consequences. 

  68. says

    If you define sentience as merely the ability to suffer, then plants are sentient, too (it can be argued that they suffer, e.g. when they don’t get enough water or sunlight they start to perish). If you define it as the ability to simply think, then there is nothing that separates sentience from basic thought processes, and you also have to define what level of “thought” you are referring to. The most accepted definition (as far as I know) is the ability to reason and to be self-aware.It all depends on your definition of “sentience”, basically.

  69. guest says

    good post but “a man¬†named Christopher Hitchens (an outspoken atheist)”made me laugh. He is famous (not to mention brilliant). I don’t think he needs introduction on a blog like this ;)Hope you can find an argument that works for you!

  70. Epistaxis says

    The most accepted definition (as far as I know) is the ability to reason and to be self-aware.

    No, that’s sapience.

  71. Svlad Cjelli says

    Well, I suppose that a pro-life position can be argued for pragmatic reasons. E.g. if demand for more hands or man-hours exceeds the supply.

  72. Svlad Cjelli says

    It’s a tricky call. For practical reasons, it’s best to use a consistent limit. The 24 weeks thing is about “viability”, which is more or less a measure of how successful it would be to remove it and keep it alive anyway. Personally, I think that¬†ought to¬†make removal less controversial after that point, but I suppose it would also cost¬† lot¬†more than a simple termination. And the reason that¬†a simple termination is less attractive after that point is that the more costly alternative has become viable.

  73. Svlad Cjelli says

    Indeed. Hollywood life.Having a wedding? Success! You have now won relationship. Enjoy the end credits.Birth? Success! You have now won procreation. Enjoy the end credits.

  74. Imnotspecial says

    We have that basically in Canada. Still, we are decidedly pro-choice regardless. A civilized society will respect the autonomy of women.

  75. Fatpie42 says

    I suppose one way of putting this is to reverse it.For what reasons might we ever deny someone the right to choose, in any situation?1. Well if they were not capable of thinking properly?It would seem very condescending to say that recently pregnant woman should be incapable of rational thought. While some might say that they were adversely influenced by hormones, I think we’d rightly dismiss such arguments as chauvinistic.Still, if someone were to try to commit suicide or were to act in a deluded way due to the effects of drugs, in either of those cases we might see the need to override their choices. As such, while sometimes it can be fair to ignore someone’s choices due to an individual with clouded judgement, it is not clear that this applies to a recently pregnant woman.2. How about if their choice will unfairly infringe upon the rights of another?This is more the typical abortion rhetoric. Pro-lifers would, essentially, equate pro-choice with actively contemplating murder. Their view would be that the foetus is a person with equal rights to life as the mother.Of course, famously Judith Jarvis Thompson decides to take this argument for granted and argues for a woman’s right to an abortion anyway. Naturally her first argument concerns the situation where the abortion threatens the life of the mother. In such a case both the foetus and the mother are in danger of dying and it’s possible that without an abortion they will both die anyway. In such a case, the mother has no obligation to leave the foetus unharmed while their development inside her body kills her.J.J. Thompson actually has some very interesting analogies for her arguments, but I’ll let you check those out for yourself. But another of her arguments concerns viability. The fact that the foetus requires the woman’s body in order to survive is no reason for her to continue to provide it with sustenance. It is infringing on her rights. Pro-lifers will claim that women have a responsibility to the foetus, often ignoring that the father also had a responsibility and that the requirements upon him are rather less than those placed on the mother by this situation. On this point Thompson argues that in other situations, failing to take sufficient precautions against a scenario does not always make someone responsible for the outcome. (In this case her analogy is being burgled after leaving a window open. That does not make you responsible for burglary.)Finally there are the arguments concerning personhood. Is the foetus really a person? While Thompson argues whether the foetus’ rights would trump those of woman to bodily autonomy, does a foetus actually have rights at all? (Wherein the issue of where those rights start comes about. Evangelicals will say conception, but why should it have rights before implantation? Or even before viability – since otherwise it has never existed as an independent entity in its own right?)3. Does a criminal record of some kind make it fair for the state to remove the right to choose in this instance?There are some countries where abortion is illegal, but that is predicated on abortion being murder. Once that idea is pushed aside, it seems clear that the right to bodily autonomy is a basic human right which is irrelevant any criminal history.I think that’s about it really. The argument isn’t about whether you should perform an abortion or not, but whether a woman should have the right to choose. There aren’t many situations in which we would remove someone’s right to choose.

  76. alteredstory says

    Up to a certain level of medical training, you are not held liable if you do not offer treatment. EMTs, I believe, are obligated. When I had my WFR cert, I was obligated to provide treatment in the wilderness iff I offered and it was accepted, but I was not obligated to offer. As Jen mentioned, though, the mother did not get a certification to have a baby. There are some people who maybe SHOULD have to take a pre-natal parenting course, but the ability to HAVE a baby is not something that the mother went through a week or two of training to achieve, with annual reinforcement, let alone the YEARS of training that go into becoming a doctor. If being licensed as a reproducer took that much effort and qualification, THEN maybe they would have an obligation to reproduce, since not many people would be able to do that.

  77. Fatpie42 says

    In the first link it says that pretty much no babies survive before 22 weeks.¬† I first heard this news here:…It was important because the absurd Conservative Nadine Dorries was trying to lower the number of weeks legally allowed for an abortion in the UK. Thankfully she failed, though its notable that at the time she insisted that this discovery must be false. She argued that since we’d spent so much on new technology there must have been some improvement in survival rates (which, considering there hasn’t, is precisely the point). The second link is from a religious source, so I’m not surprised that they pluck unrealistic statistics out of the air. Based on the in-depth study referred to on the BBC and Guardian websites, 10% seems ridiculously high.Unsurprisingly the Daily Fail has a horror story which is supposed to convince us that doctors are deliberately allowing babies before 23 weeks to die. The write, Tamara Cohen, was previously responsible for this article claiming that Christian rights are being trampled on by gays. I think we can reasonably presume she has a religious bias:

  78. Fatpie42 says

    Ah, so you are arguing that placing a limit based on viability is unacceptable and that abortions should actually be allowed later? If so, I think making that point earlier might have made Lyme rather less suspicious. (After all, the pro-life-leaning religious sources can’t have helped.)

  79. Nomajic says

    Sorry for the slow response.¬† I can see how it might come off as that, but I was really trying to point¬†¬†more towards situations where a specific¬†individual finds themself in¬†a unique position to prevent the loss of life.¬† (Type O is rare, but that still leaves millions of us¬†and the ability to¬†transfer blood products¬†over some time and distance)¬†For you or I¬†an equivalent might¬†be standing alone, watching a person drown and not throwing a life perserver.¬†¬†I certainly¬†argue what constitutes a person and what level of risk/inconvenience¬†is reasonable to expect, but the concept is a bit more specific than the classic forced blood donation scenario.¬† As an aside,¬†I have¬†had both a live birth and an abortion. I can tell you that¬†if I had not already thought this issue through prior to both, my emotions would probably be ripe for manipulation and inflation¬†when listening to either side refuse to acknowlege the gray areas at the begining and end of¬† the process of the formation of a human being.¬† I think its extremely important to acknowledge that termination of an otherwise¬†viable fetus at 32 weeks is at best, a¬†gray area for most people and requires a little more information.¬†I think that the¬†key to protecting a woman’s right to control her body begins with not drawing an artificial line in the sand.¬† We lose credibility and very valid arguments about a blastocyst sharing little in common with a person lose some of their force.

  80. Nomajic says

    I can see your point(s) about a physician opening themselves up to that role/responsibilty when they become a physician.¬† Of course the classic retort is that¬†if a woman decides to introduce sperm in the area of her uterus, she is¬†opening herself up to a similar responsibilty.¬†¬†(Yes, I realize that¬†a significant number of pregnancies are from non consentual sex.)¬† I just think it is not a major factor in the issue either way.¬†Example, do you think that¬†we should¬†require a physician¬†to stick¬†an ungloved hand into the chest cavity of a known¬†HIV positive¬†person, because she once took an oath to heal?¬† Socially required self sacrifice in the defense of another’s life has limits.¬†¬†I don’t know what they should be, but we make legal demands in either direction all the time.¬† I’d like an honest discussion so we can have¬†consistency.

  81. daniboi87 says

    I see your point. :)¬†Sorry. The first time I’ve heard of the man was about two weeks ago, and most of the subjects I’ve seen him talk about have pertained to religion. ¬†Ya, most of the readers on here would probably know about him pretty well. :P

  82. Jonathan Abdo says

    Agreed. Medically, the idea is that you can make the choices that affect your body and your life. Economically, sex is a driving force in human nature, and if you cannot support a child at this point in your life, then you have the choice to abort the pregnancy if this is the most fiscally responsible decision. A social/political argument would be people have abortions, regardless of whether there are clinics and doctors available for them, so it would be better to have a support system and legislature to make sure that the people having these abortions are safe.

  83. Wayward son says

    The best, by far, book on the subject is Boonin’s “Defence of Abortion.”I have seen Dworkin’s book mentioned. I like it, but don’t think it makes arguments that effective against most pro-lifers. Boonin’s book takes all the best arguments by pro-lifer’s, grants them their arguments on their own terms and then completely takes those arguments apart. Nothing else I have seen comes close, but be warned, this book is not a simple slog.Thompson’s essay has been mentioned many times. It is a classic and should be read by everyone. As the essay is very prominent, any pro-lifer you meet will have a counter argument to it. Boonin goes over all these counter arguments and improves Thompson’s original argument.

  84. NPYundt says

    To be fair plenty of children are¬†successfully¬†born a month early (some of my friends were¬†according¬†to them).I am not a medical professional, but I would have thought that at such a late stage the mother would have to go through labour or a¬†Cesarean to remove the child,¬†whether¬†or not the child is alive. ¬†I would not think that the survival of the mother would be dependent on the death of the child so¬†much¬†as the removal of the child. ¬†Assuming I understand that correctly, remove the child in what ever way is safest for the mother, and if the child stands any chance of surviving the process, help it in what ever way possible.That being said — as the child is the interloper, the one at fault, in my logic — the mothers life and¬†well-being¬†is paramount.oh and to clarify my logic again; ¬†The mother can not violate the rights of the child until the child exists. ¬†The child can not exist until it violates the rights of the mother. ¬†Therefore, the child violates the rights of the mother first and forfeits its own so long as it continues to do so, and the mother is therefore within her rights to do what is best for herself.

  85. NPYundt says

    I agree with you.Anecdote:I had a¬†high school¬†English¬†teacher who thought it was interesting that in any¬†argument¬†the two (or more) sides would¬†inevitably¬†pick euphemistic phrases to represent themselves. ¬†He thus thought it was useful to reverse the names chosen to see if they really were realistic representations of the argument.Actual point:Are the Pro-Life individuals really anti-choice? ¬†Yes, they want to take the choice away from the potential mothers to be. ¬†Therefore the Pro-Choice side is¬†adequately¬†named.Are the Pro-Choice individuals really anti-life? ¬†No,¬†in fact¬†most statistical evidence strongly¬†suggests¬†that legalized¬†abortion results in reduced loss of life and increased quality of life.¬† ¬†Therefore the so called Pro-Life side is a misnomer, a¬†red herring, a¬†blatant¬†lie.This is an argument of Pro-Choice vs Anti-Choice. ¬†Its a women’s rights issue not a children rights issue.This begs the question; are the Pro-Life individuals really anti-life? ¬†I know they certainly don’t think so, but their goal seems to be.

  86. says

    As a male, I’m firmly pro-choice for a simple reason: I’m not the female.¬† The hardships involved in pregnancy (and as an earlier posting noted, raising the child) default firmly on the woman. We don’t need to list the examples where the father disappears or otherwise chooses not to be involved.¬† While I think the man should have a say, it’s fairly obvious that the woman’s wishes should be paramount.And if I’m not the sperm donor? (I’m trying to avoid “father”/”mother” here, since that implies that there’s a child) Then I’ve got absolutely no right to say anything at all!(Now, I could also stack on the “why would we want to bring an unwanted child into the world”, the “if you want me to have this kid, are you going to pay for it”, and a few other arguments, but the core for me is simply “it’s not my decision to make”)

  87. daniboi87 says

    I think I could agree with placing the limit later than 24 weeks due to morbidity reasons.¬† Again, Lyme made a good point.¬† If the viability of the baby is fine, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re going to be without terrible health problems.¬† Yes, viability is not a good enough reason for me to consider a baby not to be aborted. If you just took the viability stance, “Hey this baby is viable, don’t terminate it because it can still live.”¬† even knowing it had terrible health problems and deformities (still being viable), it would be cruel because 1. You would be allowing the baby to go full term in order to live and suffer and 2. Making the mother give birth to a baby that follows point 1.¬† As the article Lyme cited stated, “Babies born at 25 weeks and less are at high risk of death, a long, tortuous journey through life, and disability. Some babies born at 24 and 25 weeks do, however, seem to be developing normally.” As for Lyme’s suspicion, I understand how she may have thought I was not legit.¬† Ya, I just pulled those sources up in a hurry to show that there was some sort of debate on the issue.¬† I shouldn’t do that anymore.¬† I need to really check to make sure what I’m posting as sources. Sorry. Bad me :(

  88. John H says

    TL;DR.I think the confusion comes from the fact that many of us have never heard a non-religious argument AGAINST pro-choice public policy. We’re starting with the idea that bodily autonomy is a given: the null hypothesis is that people can and should be able to do what they want with their own bodies (even when those bodies are housing parasitic organisms that one day might become actual human beings). We’d need a non-religious argument against the freedom to abort, as we’re defending the null hypothesis. Essentially the argument is the same as for skepticism with respect to any particular formulation of a god or the supernatural: it’s the LIMIT of bodily autonomy that needs justification in the first place. Without any laws on the subject, no one would be able to stop a woman from terminating a pregnancy. It’s not a matter of credible sources or tried and true arguments, because all we’re doing is dismantling bad arguments for stopping women from aborting pregnancies.

  89. John H says

    For example, if the argument is that killing fetuses is wrong because killing human beings is always wrong and fetuses are human beings, I question the assertion that killing human beings is always wrong (the more common tactic is to challenge the idea that fetuses qualify as human beings; I think there is a debate to be had there, but I like to avoid it by calling people out on the fact that killing people isn’t intrinsically wrong in anyone’s mind – it’s always weighed against the consequences of NOT killing people in a given circumstance, self-defense being an obvious but not the only example).I assert that killing a fetus is actually less ethically problematic than forcing it to exist in the first place, as there is no longer a being about whom to be concerned once the fetus is dead, but there is a person who has to deal with an entire lifetime that will inevitably be filled with misery (happiness too; the ratio depends on the specific circumstances of one’s life) when one forces the fetus to exist (without any possibility of input from the person the decision impacts the most i.e. the fetus). The fallacy is the assumption that life is always better than non-life.There are plenty of arguments for things like social good around allowing abortion on-demand, but ultimately I think they’re unnecessary because the anti-abortion stance is premised on fallacious assumptions.

  90. Regina_Phalange says

    I don’t see how it can be considered a similar responsibility.¬† A physician takes an oath promising to do something and then is expected to follow up on that. Participating in an act that *could* result in conception, despite efforts to prevent it, is a completely different thing than years of schooling and thousands of dollars spent on tuition with the *intended* result of having that responsibility, and then actually legally taking on said responsibility with an oath.I have not sworn an oath that if I ever find myself pregnant I will carry it to term.¬† My having sex and my ability to carry a child is not implied consent for another being to grow inside me.¬† If you are CPR certified, you are not legally required to help someone in an emergency, even if your help could save their life.If you want to talk about a moral responsibility, that is a different conversation.¬† This is a conversation about what is and isn’t legally permissible or enforceable.

  91. Nomajic says

    Actually, doctors do not make a pledge to heal/treat anyone who is in need.¬† Here’s a link to the actual oath:…If you read it you will see that it is basically a pledge to¬†do no additional harm and to behave ethically¬†when a physician does choose to practice medicine.¬† It does curiously contain the phrase “I will not give a woman a pessary to cause an abortion.” Fortunately for us, physicians are not required to abide by it under US law.¬†So, I am back to my earlier statement that society makes these types of requests all the time.¬† I think a more reasonable argument would be that the extent of the required sacrifice is extreme or by the very fact that a woman is driven to abort, beyond her capabilities at the time.¬† This would mesh with exclusions to the requirement to provide emergency medical care.¬† (Not to mention the exclusions to the all-male wartime draft)

  92. Nomajic says

    How do you feel about those areas where we have already accepted that individuals do not have control over their own bodies?  (registering for selective service/miltary draft, incarceration for drug use, quarantine, seat belt laws)(BTW, I loved your post!)

  93. Maria says

    That was exactly what I was going to recommend. The points he and his wife make about not only fetal viability, but more importantly, when fetal brain activity takes on human characteristics, is absolutely compelling. As it turns out, the first two trimesters are pretty non-human, and it’s only in the seventh month of gestation that human brain activity starts to emerge.

  94. aa says

    As far as the fetal viability issue goes, it brings to mind medical dilemmas based on cost and resources. Sure, preemies can be supported at earlier and earlier times because of extensive intervention- 24-hour nursing, and all manner of invasive life support for weak hearts, undeveloped lungs, etc. The cost of these interventions are astronomical, and at times the infant does not make it after all, or lives with the effects of deficient neural development or CP. Say the woman was forced to deliver this baby because abortion was unavailable to her. Now she must pay for all this elaborate care? What if she develops a post-or peri-partum heart condition or eclampsia and dies (which happens)? What if she’s permanently incontinent after the birth? What about her experiencing one of the many, many possible, nay, probable life-threatening problems associated with birth and pregnancy?

  95. Azkyroth says

    As far as the man having a say…I think that whether a woman chooses to consult with her partner should be entirely up to her. ¬†Other than that, I would suggest that:1) if a pregnant woman wishes to have an abortion, her partner has located another woman willing to carry the pregnancy as a surrogate, and transferring the pregnancy is medically possible (no clue on this one, but it seems like it might be early on) and won’t entail any additional risk to the currently pregnant woman, he should have the right to insist that the pregnancy be transferred over intact rather than an abortion per se being performed.2) ditto for artificial uteruses if they’re ever invented.That’s…really about it.

  96. katalina says

    In your first section, I wonder about women who really are in a developmentally challenged position. Simply being a woman or a recently impregnated woman doesn’t mean that you aren’t capable of rational and responsible decision-making, but what about when it’s the other way around? What about when it’s a mentally disabled woman who is pregnant, and what if she isn’t capable of “rational” thought due to this disability? I agree with you that rationality doesn’t have to dictate everyone’s decisions, particularly since there is no objective standard of “rationality,” but I think your first point ignores the fact that many, many disadvantaged women become pregnant, and I wonder what you would suggest in that case.

  97. Michael Riggs says

    Ah. I just realized we’re looking for *pro-choice* arguments. This is one of the few¬†respectable¬†secular pro-life arguments I know of. Oh well.

  98. says

    Hi!Regarding late-term abortion, I suggest you look into how often it’s done and why it happens before you decide you’re against it. The Guttmacher Institute is pretty much my go-to source for anything regarding reproductive health and statistics.The reality is that it’s basically never done without a very good reason, and those reasons include things like “fetus has developed without a head” and “hm, the organs seem to be outside the body.” It’s not done lightly.

  99. says

    Interesting stuff. As a lawyer, to me it boils down to the issue of medical and personal privacy. The big-three cases: Pierce v. Society of Sisters, Griswold v. Connecticutt and the infamous Roe v. Wade, each discusses a specific medical or social issue, but all have the same underpinnings, the right to personal privacy.To me, Griswold contains the most compelling non-religious arguments in support of a pro-choice legal framework. To do otherwise would violate a fundamental right to privacy. One of the tougher parts of freedom is supporting others freedom to do things you wouldn’t do yourself. That is the sin of the hysterical Christian right. They want their freedom to believe and act and live as they will, but don’t want others to have that same freedom.Take that away and it opens the gates to other government intrusions on medical procedures and decisions. Do we want a limit on heroic life support because it is too expensive and just unpleasant to keep people alive as potted plants? There are good solid medical and economic grounds to do just that. However, look at our leaders and government. Do you trust them to make that decision for you or would you rather make that choice with your family and your doctor.¬† Until societal wisdom catches up with societal knowledge, trying to legislate “medical morality” is too fraught with temptation.

  100. CryptoGeek says

    A fetus is NOT a person.  This is a legal fact, not an opinion. Therefore abortion is not a question of morals but of specific legal rights. Grant personhood to the fetus and you have a new legal battle, not a moral one.  Privacy is indeed codified in the Constitution by Roe v. Wade,  Griswold vs. Conn, etc.  Take away Roe v. Wade and abortion becomes a state-by-state fight, not gone.  I am pro-choice because i respect privacy.

  101. says

    “A newborn infant, and indeed a young child, cannot survive independently.”

    No, but the care of the child CAN be passed off to other people, via foster care or adoption. You can’t do that with a fetus.

  102. says

    Odd. I’ve always found The Violinist to be one of the weakest pro-choice arguments there is. I like that it tries to grant the pro-life permission that the fetus has a right to life. However, the very personhood and therefore right to life of the violinist (or random person off the street — why complicate it by making it someone famous and talented?), completely trumps my right to control my body. I simply don’t get why it wouldn’t, and no one has given me a reason to think otherwise. The professor who first introduced me to The Violinist didn’t even try. He took it as axiomatic that the right to bodily control would trump the violinist’s right to life, and even said that everyone could agree with that. When I objected, he simply said “I’m sorry you feel that way,” and moved on as if I’d said nothing. Yes, I’m still annoyed by that.

    I’m pro-choice because of a lack of personhood in the fetus. If I were convinced of the fetus’s personhood, I’d likely be pro-life again.

    Feel free to convince me otherwise (I’m serious).

  103. says

    A fetus is NOT a person. This is a legal fact, not an opinion.

    And at one time it was a “legal fact” that blacks were inferior, and women were incapable of properly evaluating candidates in order to vote. But it was not actually a “fact” that this was accurate.

    “Legal fact” does not equal “moral fact.” It’s completely legal for me to lie to my wife about any number of things, including whether I want to have sex with my secretary, or hate that dress, or if I voted for the same candidate she voted for, or damn near anything. That doesn’t mean it’s ethical (or smart, but that’s beside the point). It would be legal to do all sorts of things that are not necessarily moral, and if you grant personhood to a fetus, you have a legal battle AND a moral battle.

    The law is not the arbiter of morality. Ideally, it will reflect at least what is moral for a government to do, but in no case does it get to dictate morality.

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