The Religious Right Hates Women

Last month, I wrote about the awful callousness of Catholic hospitals when a woman arrives needing an emergency abortion. As long as there’s a fetal heartbeat, the clergy-run ethics committees of these hospitals often deny doctors permission to operate, even if the woman is hemorrhaging and dying before their eyes. Some doctors end up struggling desperately to keep their patient alive until the fetus dies, so they can operate and save her life. Others send these women to the nearest secular hospital, even if it’s far away, because a long, risky ambulance ride gives them a better chance of survival than they’d have at a Catholic hospital.

But, rereading that post, I realize it gave a false impression which I’d like to correct. I unfairly implied that Catholicism is the only Christian sect which views women’s lives as worthless and disposable. That was wrong of me, and I thank Republican representative and evangelical Christian Joe Pitts for the reminder:

[C]urrently, all hospitals in America that receive Medicare or Medicaid funding are bound by a 1986 law known as EMTALA to provide emergency care to all comers, regardless of their ability to pay or other factors.

…Pitts’ new bill would free hospitals from any abortion requirement under EMTALA, meaning that medical providers who aren’t willing to terminate pregnancies wouldn’t have to – nor would they have to facilitate a transfer.

HR 358, the bill proposed by Pitts, would make any hospital legally free to do what Catholic bishops want all hospitals to do – categorically refuse to perform abortion under any circumstances, even if there’s no other way to save the woman’s life. The bill even frees hospitals from the obligation to transfer a woman to a different hospital that will perform them (section 2.g.1.D). If this bill became law, if a woman dying from complications of pregnancy (such as ectopic pregnancy or placental abruption) came to a hospital, they could legally let her hemorrhage to death on the waiting room floor and face no consequences.

Even by the standards of the religious right, this bill is extraordinary in its open and unconcealed hatred for women. We should be used to their normal level of misogyny – like the Republican-controlled House attempting to shut down all private insurance coverage of abortion, or the release of yet more phony, deceptively-edited videos purporting to show Planned Parenthood clinics aiding sex traffickers (noteworthy because Planned Parenthood actually did contact the proper authorities after these visits, not that this stopped the professional liars behind the videos) – but this one stands out even among those. In the past, the religious right has rarely been willing to so explicitly state its belief that women should die, but for whatever reason, they feel less constrained now in voicing their real position.

We would never countenance any other religious group imposing its cruel will in this way. We would never tolerate a Jehovah’s Witness hospital that refused to perform transfusions on anyone, even people who arrive at the hospital bleeding to death. But because misogyny is deeply embedded into the structure of nearly all religions, and that prejudice has seeped into our moral opinions, society is somehow more accepting of this when women are the targets.

Well, that prejudice has to be turned back, and this story is a good starting point. This needs to be absolutely clear in everyone’s mind: The religious right hates women. When they claim to love women, when they claim to be moral or compassionate, think of this, and remember they firmly believe that women whose lives can be saved should be abandoned to die. They are not loving, they are not compassionate. They think of half their fellow human beings as disposable objects, and behind their smiles and flowery language, there’s a heart beating with poison.

About Adam Lee

Adam Lee is an atheist writer and speaker living in New York City. His new novel, Broken Ring, is available in paperback and e-book. Read his full bio, or follow him on Twitter.

  • L.Long

    Nothing new here as this has been known since the beginning of civilization.
    Almost all religions HATE women!!!! And love to see them hurting and dieing.
    I did say ‘Almost ALL’ so look at your holey books and if there is a g0d law that says in any way phuck women, then you are one of them.
    The part that makes me sad and angry is that the majority of the politicians that are elected by these same hate-filled brain-dead religious folks will try to get the law past.
    Why don’t women wake up and see the hate….But then most have been brainwashed enough to believe they are sinful and should be hated or they are terrified about waking up and become an adult and taking charge of their lives. When they do wake up, remember they do have the vote!

  • Dan

    Add early onset pre-eclampsia to your list of emergency conditions which may require an abortion to save the mother.

  • Fargus

    My fiancee and I were just having ourselves a good laugh over a Christian website we found detailing the respective duties of a husband and wife to each other. The wife’s duties were basically, “Submit, keep looking hot, and keep your damn mouth shut.” The husband’s duties were basically, “Protect her and read the Bible to her.” They had to pad the husband’s list quite a bit to make things look equitable. It’s hard to come away from such a thing with any opinion other than that Christians by and large hate women, and that they hate women more the more faithful they get. There was even a bit where the site instructed the wife that failure to satisfy her husband’s physical desires “crushes his spirit.”

    These types of things are my favorite examples of Christian misogyny, because they’re entirely unvarnished. When you bring abortion into the thing, it lets these people claim that they’re thinking of the babies and that’s all. When you’re publishing instructions that womens’ primary priority in life is to be consideration of their husbands’ reputation, goals and authority, you don’t have a rock to hide behind.

  • http://www.politicalflavors.com/2011/01/26/some-thoughts-on-the-state-of-the-union-address/ MissCherryPi

    I’ve been trying to get the phrase “First Amendment Solutions” to trend on twitter and in general. I didn’t coin the phrase, but I really like it.

    I think what’s important to know about all of the recent attacks on women’s rights from religious and political conservatives is that public outrage did force them to get rid of the language about “forcible rape.” This is important because it means that the public is not as supportive of the right on these issues as they had thought and that they didn’t know this. We should keep pushing our representatives on these issues (and any topic a person finds important) because they should know if they are going to act this radically they do not have the support of their constituents behind them.

  • Larry

    I think this could have very dire consequences for everyone concerned. I know a lot of husbands that, if you deliberately let their wife die, might take that as a personal attack on their family and take appropriate corrective action.

  • Evil Paul

    So basically, if this law passes, pregnant women in need of emergency care are going to have to think twice about going to the ER lest they fall into the care of a doctor who not only will refuse to help them, but can actively block them from getting help somewhere else. Great.

  • Sarah Braasch

    HR 358 is disgusting. Joe Pitts should be impeached.

    This is why we need to ratify CEDAW. So, that the U.S. can be held to account under international law for these egregious and unconscionable violations of women’s human rights.

    This is why we need the Equal Rights Amendment in the U.S. Constitution. So, that women have full access as persons, as human beings under the jurisdiction of the United States federal government, to their constitutional rights under the United States Constitution.

    As Scalia made clear in a couple of recent public speeches, women are not recognized as fully human by the United States Constitution, and as sub-humans, the moral majority is free to treat them as they wish.

    Yet another example of why we should wish to eradicate any notion of morality from our jurisprudence and our legislation. And, why we should wish to eradicate the power of the moral majority to define the humanity of others, including minorities, women, and homosexuals.

    There is no compelling state interest in putting these women to death, in punishing them for having sex.

    There is no rational state interest in putting these women to death, in punishing them for having sex.

    As Ebonmuse so eloquently pointed out, the only interest in putting these women to death, in punishing them for having sex, is moral animus born of religious stupidity.

    And, I love the comparison to a hypothetical Jehovah’s Witness hospital. So apt.

  • Nathaniel

    When these people gain power, the masks tend to slip. Their “concern” for women only extends as far as they are concerned they aren’t barefoot and kitchen bound to a sufficient extent. The price of such transgressions are death.

  • AnonaMiss

    Sarah, could you link to the speeches by Justice Scalia to which you are referring?

    I’d like to read them, but “misogynist scalia” is way too broad a search term, and most of the early results are related to a statement he made in a single interview, which I’m assuming isn’t what you’re referring to (as it isn’t a speech).

  • Sarah Braasch

    Here’s one:

    http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,2020667,00.html

    If you google Scalia women’s rights, they should pop right up.

  • Sarah Braasch

    My favorite quote from the TIME article:

    It is nice to think that legislatures would protect these minorities from oppression by the majority, but we have a very different country when the Constitution guarantees that it is so.

    Read more: http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,2020667,00.html#ixzz1DxdRq0Yh

  • Sarah Braasch

    Here’s the cbsnews coverage of that interview in California Lawyer, to which I believe that you had referred.

    http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503544_162-20027240-503544.html

    But, Scalia’s belief that moral animus should hold sway — it’s all the due process he thinks that the Constitution requires, unless one may claim an explicitly enumerated constitutional guarantee, is nothing new.

    If you want to read him at his most hateful and vitriolic, then read his dissent in Lawrence v. TX.

    This is why, while I love the sentiment in MissCherryPi’s comment, I think we’re better off extirpating the power of the moral majority all together.

    It’s nice to think that, if we can just convince everyone to come over to our team, if we could just get them to see that our morality is so much better than their stupid religious morality, then everything will be ok.

    Nope. Better to have a legal/political system devoid of morality.

    I don’t want to take any chances with my humanity.

  • AnonaMiss

    Yeah, the Times link is also based on the statement he made in the interview. The first five pages of my “scalia women’s rights” search refer to the same interview, as did my “scalia misogynist” search. Not that what he said is insignificant or less than horrifying – I was just hoping for more material.

    An odd thing: most of the search results for that statement are from early January of this year, even though Time clearly picked it up last September. I guess someone rediscovered it.

    I’ll take a look at Lawrence v TX.

  • http://kagerato.net kagerato

    The new Congress has only been in session a little over a month and Republicans are already pulling all the same base-riveting asshattery we’ve come to expect of them. It essentially goes without saying that they don’t want women to have health care, because in their economic scheme only the rich (and their most obedient serfs) get health care.

    When Alan Grayson pointed out on the House floor that tens of thousands of people die every year from lack of care, and that modest changes to the system proposed in a new law would do something to reduce that, the Republican response was to demonize him. Demonization, for speaking the obvious truth. That’s the sort of political environment that’s formed in this country.

    I don’t know if any member of congress has the courage to stand up and give their best Alan Grayson impression regarding HR 358. Let’s hope so.

    In the mean time, there is some solace in the fact that there’s no chance in hell of this bill passing the Senate and being signed by the President.

    Further, I agree with Sarah that this kind of obvious discrimination should be explicitly prohibited by the Constitution. However, even if we finally manage to pass an equal rights amendment, these sorts will ignore it. They don’t care about the Constitution. They care only about authority and power. It’s already fact that Constitutional provisions regarding free speech, the prohibition of a state religion, unreasonable search and seizure, Congress’ powers to regulate commerce, the prohibition of cruel and unusual punishments (torture), birthright citizenship, due process, equal protection, and others are regularly ignored as soon as someone finds it politically convenient to do so.

    It’s completely understandable that many people would be angry with the state the country is in. However, the media — owned by a short list of corporations that seems to grow shorter all the time — has managed to harness this anger into a nonsensical counter-factual movement about nonexistent tax increases. And then another arm of the same media empires mocks the disconnection from reality shown by the protesters, while doing nothing to address real problems. It’s the most amazing smoke and mirrors show on Earth, and so few seem to look twice and notice there’s nothing of substance there.

  • Sarah Braasch

    The TIME link is referring to a speech Scalia made in front of an audience at Hastings College of Law.

    I mean, it doesn’t make much difference to me if it was a speech or an interview in an industry publication.

    But, the TIME article is specifically referring to a speech.

  • Sarah Braasch

    kagerato,

    I think you are absolutely right.

    Not even the Constitution seems to be enough to stop the moral majority from attacking the constitutional and human rights of those whom they regard as sub-human.

    They are turning our secular, liberal, constitutional democracy into a moral majoritarian democracy grounded in religious/moral communitarianism.

    And, no one will suffer more than women and children.

  • AnonaMiss

    My mistake Sarah; I looked at the phrasing of the quotes and didn’t see a difference, rather than looking at the context. I suspect he took his speech notes directly from his interview or vice versa.

  • RipleyP

    What price life. This gets me so hot under the collar it is near impossible to write anything coherent. I feel for the medical personnel who are forced to enforce such policies when they most likely just want to help.

  • Jormungund

    They are not loving, they are not compassionate. They think of half their fellow human beings as disposable objects, and behind their smiles and flowery language, there’s a heart beating with poison.

    I could take this quite a bit more seriously if it was without the silly levels of hyperbole.
    Your blinding hatred for conservatives detracts from your otherwise good message.

  • Mark V

    I just don’t understand why any doctor would delay surgery to save a woman’s life in an emergency situation. Regardless of hospital policy. They are required to provide emergency care under current rules and perform to the standard of care. If they fail to do so, they are setting themselves up for a massive lawsuit and disciplinary action. Either of which could end their career. For purely pragmatic reasons, why would they place themselves in danger for the hospital? The hospital can’t and won’t protect them.

    After all, if this wasn’t a real risk, why would there be a push to change the law?

  • Valhar2000

    Your blinding hatred for conservatives detracts from your otherwise good message.

    Hide the stash, everyone! The Tone Police is here!

  • Nathaniel

    Yes, how dare Ebon get angry at how right wingers are trying to make it legal for hospitals to ignore sick women and let them die in pain! One must always be a passionless robot when discussing such things. Its the only way to be taken seriously.

  • http://www.whyihatejesus.blogspot.com/ OMGF

    I fail to see this as hyperbole. The religious right does seem to hate women. They would see women treated as chattel and baby-making factories and would see that enshrined in law. This is neither loving nor compassionate, and they do see women as less than men and objects. And, I do think this is a poisonous attitude.

    Is it blinding hatred to note that a specific group hates women and wants to subjugate them? To assert so is akin to saying that one is intolerant for standing up to and denouncing the intolerance of other groups – that one would be intolerant for denouncing the intolerance of a group like the KKK (also a Xian group BTW).

  • penn

    Don’t mind Jormungund. He doesn’t actually have an argument, so he’s playing the “Your meanness is hurting your own cause!” card.

  • http://eternalbookshelf.wordpress.com Sharmin

    Thanks for writing this. I have gotten so tired of the religious right claiming to be compassionate while hurting people. They ignore the real consequences of their actions and justify it by pretending there are good things that will happen in the afterlife. It scares me to think that all of the advances humanity has made in equal rights and good medical care are being assaulted and that there are actually people who think that the people hurting others are doing the right thing.

    @Jormungund (comment #19): On one side, there are people dying. On the other side, there are people using strong language to make the point that it’s wrong to let a pregnant woman die due to medical complications. It’s not hyperbole to accuse someone of not being compassionate when they’re letting people die.

  • mikespeir

    How many African Americans do you know of in the KKK? Do I need to point out that many of the most vocal anti-abortionists are women? Do they hate themselves?

    I used to be an Evangelical Christian. I was opposed to abortion. I did not hate women. I know many such Christians now. They do not hate women.

    Hatred of women isn’t the issue. The issue is whether an unborn fetus is the equal of an adult woman in moral worth. These people have a philosophical difference of opinion that affects what they believe to be right and wrong, sometimes with deadly consequences. That’s the actual problem.

    Argue that a fetus isn’t as valuable as a woman. Even argue that sometimes rhetorical hyperbole is justifiable: that to let a woman die rather than provide her an abortion is indistinguishable in effect from what could result of hatred.

    But for goodness’ sake, don’t slander somebody for pointing out the obvious: that it’s hyperbolic to suggest that those who oppose abortion hate women.

  • http://stevebowen58.blogspot.com Steve Bowen

    But for goodness’ sake, don’t slander somebody for pointing out the obvious: that it’s hyperbolic to suggest that those who oppose abortion hate women.

    This would be fair enough if the same people didn’t expound other misogynistic rhetoric. Think “quiverfull”, obedience etc. It may not appear to them as though they hate women, but in order to believe in the principle they must (or fear them?).

  • http://www.whyihatejesus.blogspot.com/ OMGF

    Hatred of women isn’t the issue.

    Yeah, actually it is. What else would you call the dehumanizing attitude that women are worth less than men, unborn fetuses, etc. and their lives can be thrown away at a moment’s notice just to ensure that they don’t have rights to their own bodies and the ability to make their own choices? (Remember, these religious right types automatically assert that the women’s moral worth is lower than all others’ and not just when it comes to abortion.)

    Let’s not fall into the trap of the Xians who claim that they don’t hate gays, all the while obsessing over how gays are hell bound sinners for being who they are. “Hate the sin but love the sinner” is a BS soundbyte that people use to act as if they actually care about the people they are directly attacking, maligning, and hurting, but it’s simply not true.

  • Sarah Braasch

    “The issue is whether an unborn fetus is the equal of an adult woman in moral worth.”

    Thank you for expressing so perfectly why morality has no place in the law.

    Whether someone’s stupid religious morality tells them that an unborn fetus is the equal moral worth of an adult woman human being is not my problem and should not be my problem. (It’s also just plainly stupid.)

    No one has the right to impose their stupid religious morality upon anyone else. This is why there is no democracy, there are no human rights, especially for women, without secularism.

    Not to mention the fact that, as I’ve said before, it doesn’t matter. The entire American legal system is based upon the premise that no one can be forced to come to the assistance of another human being unless they consent to do so. (There are very rare exceptions, but this is predominantly true — ask any lawyer.)

    Forcing women to carry pregnancies to term against their will undermines the entire American legal system.

    And, that’s only if I concede the point that a blastocyst, an embryo, a zygote, or a fetus is a fully human human being with all of the attendant human rights as such, which no international law recognizes, by the way.

    As President Obama so eloquently pointed out, this is a theological issue that has no place in the law.

    If you think abortion is murder, then don’t have one.

    But, you don’t have the right to impose your stupid religious morality, or just your stupid morality, upon anyone else.

    Additionally, since you’re so concerned with balancing moral good and ill, there is abundant evidence that fully accessible abortion is a moral good (IMO — I am making this clear that this is only in my opinion; I am not suggesting that this is or should be a basis for legislation; I am making a rhetorical point — arguing the morality issue, which has been raised), that it significantly improves lives and communities wherever it is available, the lives of real, adult, conscious, fully human human beings, as recognized by international law. And, the lack of access to abortion results in moral evils to real, live, fully human human beings. (IMO)

    So, if you’re so concerned (or whomever it is whom you are seeking to defend) about moral good and evil, if you want to perform an exercise in balancing moral worth, consider that.

    Women who advocate against abortion upon religious moral grounds have been brainwashed to believe that they must submit to sex slavery or lose favor with God.

    I was one of these women.

    The organization and doctrine of Jehovah’s Witnesses is misogynistic to its very core.

    It is premised on the sexual slavery of women and the psychological torture of children.

    Does this mean that every single JW is an evil person who thinks that they hate women?

    Of course not.

    They have been indoctrinated, brainwashed to think it’s loving, better, in the best heavenly, spiritual interests of the woman to watch her and her fetus die together than to save the life of an adult woman at the expense of killing a fetus, which was probably going to die anyway.

    But, I still hold them accountable for supporting an institution that is misogynistic to its very foundations.

    And, I will not allow them to impose their stupid religious morality upon others, not even their own children.

    They do not have this right.

    Especially when it leads to so much unnecessary suffering and death and misery (IMO) for real, live, fully human human beings as recognized by international law.

    Where is your humanity that you can stand silent, motionless in the face of so much unnecessary suffering?

    Or that you would try to defend those who can?

  • Sarah Braasch

    And, the women who advocate against abortion based upon their stupid religious morality do hate women.

    They absolutely do.

    They have been brainwashed into hating women. They have been brainwashed into hating themselves.

    They have self-hatred.

    I sure as hell did when I was a JW.

    I hated my disgusting, sinful lady parts.

    I hated myself, because I was a woman.

    And, this is why my mother was so attracted to the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

    Because she finally found a religion that hated her as much as she hated herself.

    She could finally justify, on Biblical grounds, all of her self-loathing.

  • Katie M

    Have you guys seen this story?

    http://m.motherjones.com/politics/2011/02/south-dakota-hb-1171-legalize-killing-abortion-providers

    “A law under consideration in South Dakota would expand the definition of ‘justifiable homicide’ to include killings that are intended to prevent harm to a fetus—a move that could make it legal to kill doctors who perform abortions.”

    Pro-life, my foot.

  • mikespeir

    Did I say something mildly controversial? ;-)

    Well, there’s already a flood of indignation in response and will be more. I’d live the rest of my life answering it all. I’ll just ask that those who disagree not put words into my mouth, so to speak. Look at what I actually wrote and don’t try to make out like I’m arguing for or against things I’m not.

    No, OMGF, hatred of women is not the issue. I stated the issue.

    And, the women who advocate against abortion based upon their stupid religious morality do hate women.

    No, Sarah, I don’t think so, not as a rule. I can’t imagine a definition of “hatred” that would have made me a woman-hater when I opposed abortion. And, regardless how you personally might have been, I have too much experience with women who oppose abortion to think of them as self-haters. Too many of them are self-confident, often highly professional, don’t hate their “disgusting lady parts,” and are absolutely convinced that abortion is wrong. I suspect that the subject is just so emotionally charged for you that you, like many of those of the other side, tend to imagine your opponents as unspeakably evil. Certainly, great evil can accrue to their position on abortion–and that is the subject of the post as I take it–but they hold a deep conviction as to the rightness of their cause. They’re wrong, we’re sure, but if so, they’re sincerely wrong. Our job is to convince them that they’re wrong, not that they hate themselves. They know they don’t.

    But otherwise I can appreciate a lot of what you said. Unquestionably, religion–any dogmatic ideology that so obviously conflicts with reality–can cause a lot of grief. You do seem to have been very hurt. I hope your self-loathing is abating.

  • Sarah Braasch

    Mikespeir,

    I, personally, made a point of stating that you don’t necessarily hold an anti-abortion stance, but you are defending those who do.

    Regardless of what you think about my points on the moral good or evil of abortion, it is most decidedly not my problem, as far as the law is concerned, to convince religious / moralist anti-abortion advocates that they are wrong. (We should do this anyway, but as far as the law is concerned, and my legal rights are concerned, someone’s moral opinion of abortion is completely irrelevant.)

    Someone’s religious / moral opinion is beside the point and has no place in the law and is completely irrelevant. I shouldn’t even have to think about it. I shouldn’t even have to worry about it. No one has the right to impose his or her stupid morality upon anyone else, religious or otherwise.

    We are losing our secular government; the wall between church and state is severely eroded.

    It is my job to defend it and to build it back up.

  • Sarah Braasch

    Religions are cults that brainwash their adherents.

    There are varying degrees to be sure.

    But, make no mistake.

    Those women, even the professionals, even the successful ones, even the ostensibly self-confident ones, have been brainwashed into holding positions that are contrary to their own interests in support of a patriarchy in which women can, at best, attain sub-human status.

    Sounds like self-hatred to me.

  • Sarah Braasch

    I don’t see religious anti-abortion advocates as unspeakably evil.

    I see them as pathetic and utterly human.

    I see them as the poor dupes of totalitarian religious regimes.

    But, if they try to force their religious stupidities upon me by force of law?

    Yes, then the claws come out — figuratively, not literally.

    I will use every tool at my disposal to stop them from using the force of law to enlist all women as sex slaves, as they have used the force of mind control techniques to enlist the women whom they have indoctrinated.

    And, trying to paint me as a hyperemotional abuse victim who is unable to see clearly isn’t going to stop me one bit.

  • mikespeir

    Sarah:

    To some degree I am defending them. I said they hold their views honestly. That’s a kind-of defense–of them, not of their beliefs. But do you think they don’t?

    Now, to be fair to me (I always like being fair to me ;-) ) I said it was “our” job to convince them. Maybe you don’t include yourself in that number. You said your job was to defend and back up our secular government. Well, you can expect me to fight on your side. The problem is, in our system of government “the people” tend to get the last word over the long haul, one way or another. (You don’t want to establish an oligarchy or some such thing, do you?) That means that in the long run “the people” are going to have to be convinced. I’m suggesting it might be good to get on board with trying to convince the people while we’re defending our secular government. But that’s a little off-topic.

  • http://www.whyihatejesus.blogspot.com/ OMGF

    No, OMGF, hatred of women is not the issue. I stated the issue.

    Oh, well that settles it then. You stated it, so it must be true. Nevermind the fact that the “issue” as you stated it carries implicit and explicit ideas that women are sub-human.

  • mikespeir

    Justify that, OMGF. This is what I said: “The issue is whether an unborn fetus is the equal of an adult woman in moral worth.” Now, how does that imply that women are subhuman?

  • Sarah Braasch

    Don’t you worry, Mike. I’ve got a plan to get rid of the moral majority too.

    Well, their electoral power anyway.

  • Katie M

    “I’ve got a plan to get rid of the moral majority too.

    Well, their electoral power anyway.”

    Do tell :)

    And can I help?

  • mikespeir

    Don’t you worry, Mike. I’ve got a plan to get rid of the moral majority too.

    Well, their electoral power anyway.

    Gonna tell me about it? I’m scared.

  • http://www.punkassblog.com Antigone

    “The issue is whether an unborn fetus is the equal of an adult woman in moral worth.

    Point the first- I don’t believe people in the anti-abortion sincerely believe this. If they did, their actions are completely contradictory to that. (Opposition to birth control, opposition to aid for mothers, et cetera).

    Point the second- This is like saying that a mosquito is the equal of an adult women in moral worth and you don’t understand how that is a woman-hating position?

  • mikespeir

    Point the first: They do believe it. I was one who did. I wasn’t alone.

    Point the second: Read it again, Antigone. I’m not claiming that a fetus and a woman are of equal worth. I’m saying that whether the fetus is the moral equal of a woman is the crux of the matter. The whole dynamic of the discussion turns on that issue. If we think a fetus is fully human, then we have to make a tough decision: which full human will live and which will die? Christians of a certain stripe see things that way. They insist it’s not a decision we have any right to make. God will decide who lives and who dies. We can only know God’s decision by, well, who lives and who dies. For those of us who don’t think that way, the decision is much easier. The full human (the woman) shouldn’t have to give her life to save what is not yet fully human.

  • http://eternalbookshelf.wordpress.com Sharmin

    @mikespeir: Then how do you explain the fact that these same religious people and organizations mistreat women even when the unborn child/fetus/embryo is not in danger? I’m sure that some are sincere in their belief, but that doesn’t change the fact that they hurt women. They disregard women and consider them (and their rights) unimportant compared to following God’s rules. They may not hate women the way the KKK hates African Americans (outright stating their hatred) but their actions have a similar effect.

    I think JT makes a good point in his talk at Skepticon III (http://zerowing21.xanga.com/741217469/break-interupted—video-of-dear-christian/) when he says that, although most people have good intentions, they end up causing harm due to the fact that they took an action based upon false beliefs.

    @Sarah Braasch: I’ve also grown tired of women who help discriminate against other women. It annoys the hell out of me that groups that hate women claim they don’t just because they can find some women to side with them.

    @Antigone: I agree with your point about their opposition to birth control, aid for mothers, etc. If they’re going to claim that they care about women, their actions should reflect that.

  • http://www.WorldOfPrime.com Yahzi

    Sarah said: “Thank you for expressing so perfectly why morality has no place in the law.”

    Are you uneducatable? Have you learned nothing?

    Look, religions use law. There are laws in religion. Bad laws. Yet you do not therefore conclude that law is bad and has no place in human affairs.

    Why are you unable to grasp the fact that the word morality does not mean only what the religious choose it to mean?

    For dog’s sake. Learn something. Prove you are capable of education. Morality is not a synonym for religious doctrine. There is an entire branch of philosophy dedicated to morality and ethics without any reference to religion. The word has other meanings, some of which you agree do belong in the regulation of human affairs.

    “The entire American legal system is based upon the premise that no one can be forced to come to the assistance of another human being unless they consent to do so.”

    You realize that what the Repugs are trying to do is exactly this? They wish to allow certain parties to not be forced to assist. Since you’re citing legal precedent for their actions, you must not be objecting on legal grounds. So what grounds are you objecting on?

  • http://www.WorldOfPrime.com Yahzi

    Mikespier: I can’t imagine a definition of “hatred” that would have made me a woman-hater when I opposed abortion.

    Let me help you out. Do you think a woman should be allowed to control her own body, including when she can have sex, who she has sex with, and what risks she chooses to undergo as a result of sex? Because if you say yes, you’re pro-choice; and if you say no, perhaps you can understand why some people would consider “robbing women of the freedom of their own bodies” to be the same as “hatred.”

    In your defense, hatred is not quite the right term, since the Right does not hate women who are submissive, compliant, and otherwise perform their function as a incubators for male sperm without failure. A more correct term might be “contempt” or “view as less than human.”

    Try to remember that for most of history, “rape” was defined as having sex with a woman without her father’s consent. While that attitude does not quite equal hatred for women, it certainly equals something equally unpleasant.

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org Ebonmuse

    @mikespeir:

    I used to be an Evangelical Christian. I was opposed to abortion. I did not hate women.

    Then perhaps you were less extreme in your beliefs than your evangelical brethren, or perhaps the general climate of evangelicalism has gotten more oppressive since you left. However, I stand by my characterization, and it’s for the following reason:

    I’m saying that whether the fetus is the moral equal of a woman is the crux of the matter. The whole dynamic of the discussion turns on that issue.

    That may be the issue in other debates about abortion, but it’s not the issue here. In the kind of case that this proposed law covers, there is no course of action open to us that would result in the survival of the fetus. The only important choice is whether to perform an abortion and save the woman’s life, or do nothing and permit her to die as well. The Catholic hierarchy, as well as the evangelicals who support HR 358, have demonstrated by their actions that they believe it’s better that the woman should die, even when nothing is gained by that choice, and even when hugely important things stand to be lost, like depriving a husband of his wife or children of their mother.

    This dilemma – save one, or save neither – has no bearing on the moral worth of the fetus, only on the moral worth of the woman. And by their vehement advocacy of the “save neither” option, these evangelicals have demonstrated that they assign no value to the woman’s life. That is the attitude and the outlook that I describe as hatred.

  • mikespeir

    Sharmin:

    What’s to explain? You’ve basically echoed me.

    Yahzi:

    Similarly, you’re not addressing what I said, except that you seem to agree that “hatred” isn’t the right word. I wasn’t talking about choice. Are you, perhaps, suggesting that a woman should have the right to terminate a pregnancy even if we agree that the fetus is as fully human as she is? I’m not accusing you of that, but that’s about as close as I can come to seeing how what you said relates to what I said. If so, I think I’ll pass. I was just talking about the dilemma posed by the OP–a situation where the fetus can’t be saved but the woman might be if the pregnancy is terminated. I wasn’t intending to branch out all over the place with this.

    Ebonmuse:

    Undoubtedly, there are more extreme Evangelicals than I was. We can all name some. But the simple fact that Catholics oppose abortions in this case is due, not to hatred of women, but to what they consider an overriding moral principle. As I’ve pointed out, the upshot can be the same. If I let you die because I hate you or I let you die because I think somebody I love more wants me to, you’ll still be dead.

    I disagree that what I said isn’t the issue. It’s the more fundamental issue. It’s the issue that underlies the whole pro- vs. anti-abortion debate, without which we likely wouldn’t be having this discussion. Regardless, my comment was to argue against ascribing hatred as the anti-abortionists’ motive. Jormungund didn’t deserve the abuse he was receiving for calling “hatred” hyperbole.

  • http://eternalbookshelf.wordpress.com Sharmin

    @mikespeir: I think disregarding equal rights for women (or any group) is hatred. I don’t think hatred is a hyperbole. They hate the idea of women having the ability to make their own decisions about their own lives. They hate any women who don’t agree with their ideas about what women should do.

  • Alex Weaver

    Jormungand:

    I could take this quite a bit more seriously if it was without the silly levels of hyperbole.
    Your blinding hatred for conservatives detracts from your otherwise good message.

    The religious right attempts to push through a bill that will permit hospitals to ALLOW PATIENTS TO NEEDLESSLY DIE IN AGONY due to stupid religious objections to a surgical procedure, and what grabs your attention is your sense that statements to the effect that the parties responsible are morally bankrupt and without concern for their fellow humans are “hyperbole” and “blinding hatred” that detracts from a message, apparently because you dislike being “tarred with the same brush” enough to whine about it, but not enough to, you know, not stand right next to absolute monsters?

    Good to know you have your priorities straight.

    Mikespeir:

    Hatred of women isn’t the issue. The issue is whether an unborn fetus is the equal of an adult woman in moral worth.

    Okay. Explain.

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org Ebonmuse

    On the topic of the pro-life movement and hatred of women, there was a post at Pandagon today that said it better than I possibly could have (and note that the pro-lifer in this case is a woman):

    And of course, there’s the oldie-but-a-goodie of Jill Stanek applauding men beating women to punish them for thinking they can say no to incubating the manly seed. After describing the scene in “Godfather II” where Michael Corleone—a cold-blooded murdering gangster—slaps his wife after she admits an abortion, Stanek said (man, this never gets old):

    That spontaneous slap was the reaction of a real man who a woman had just told she aborted his baby. Compare that to the modern day cowardly male response, “It’s your choice. Whatever you decide, I’ll support you.”

    Straight from the “pro-life” mouth: Real men use violence to control women. Cowards believe women own themselves.

    I can’t possibly say it any better than that.

  • Sarah Braasch

    Yahzi,

    I am shocked by your incivility.

    If you want to have a conversation with me, then you will be civil.

    My comments made it so very clear that I do not regard morality as a synonym for religious doctrine.

    If you are unable to see this, then I can’t help you. When I say that morality has no place in the law, that is exactly what I mean — morality, be it religious or otherwise, has no place in the law. Understand now? You might not agree with that statement, but that’s a different issue.

    And, healthcare providers consent to place themselves in a relationship of care. Hippocratic oath?

    Once you have consented to such a relationship, then, and only then do you have obligations towards the person to whom you are providing care. This is why we have medical malpractice insurance. This is why you can sue a bystander who stops to give you CPR, save your life, etc., and ends up injuring/killing you.

    A doctor, an EMT, etc., have obligations that are often statutorily defined and fall into the exceptions of which I spoke.

    But, if you continue to address me in such an uncivil manner, then I will not respond to you in the future.

  • Sarah Braasch

    To me regarding someone as not fully human, as sub-human, or as less human than you regard yourself, is the same thing as hatred.

    Call me crazy.

  • Alex Weaver

    My comments made it so very clear that I do not regard morality as a synonym for religious doctrine.

    Actually, it’s been exceptionally clear for quite some time that you do in fact use “morality” as a term of art, relative to the bulk of the commenters on this site (though probably not relative to the bulk of Western culture, particularly historically), essentially meaning “personal or shared subjective ideas about what actions of others are ‘good’ or ‘bad’ which are related to subjective feelings rather than to the consequences of actions.”

    Most people here tend to use it such that “moral” and “ethical” are interchangeable. You have failed to make this distinction, for whatever reason, interpreted others’ comments through the lens of your term-of-art usage, and argued quite vehemently with the resulting misreading of the argument you purport to criticize, before, and it IS a little tiresome because it leaves other commenters feeling like their words are being twisted (as I did when I slipped up and used the phrase “morally imperative” a while ago and you laid into me). Yahzi’s comment does appear to reflect that frustration, but other than that I don’t see any special grounds for objection.

    And I must say, you’re one of the last people I would have expected to find tone-trolling. :/

  • Rollingforest

    @Antigone: If we are to defeat the religious right, we have to understand them. No one will believe us if they think we don’t understand the other side’s arguments. First of all, in a sense, I suppose you are right, but not in the way you think. The religious right does think the life of the mother is worth less than the life of the fetus. But they also believe the life of the father is worth less than the life of the fetus. They believe that parents, if necessary, should die to keep their kids alive. And since they view the fetus as a child, they believe it’s rights come first. If, for example, a robber broke in and was going to beat the mother in the stomach until the fetus died, the religious right would expect the father to put himself in harm’s way and die if necessary to protect the fetus.

    In regard to birth control, it is true that Catholics oppose it. The goal isn’t to hurt women, though they do do this with this policy. The goal is to allow God the opportunity to produce a child with every sexual intercourse, because Catholics believe that having children is the only moral reason to have sex. (Strangely, they think natural family planning, where women have sex at the time of the month when they are least fertile, is okay even though this is obviously an attempt to avoid having a child. If they truly think that all sex should be to have children, then why can’t they believe that God would break a condom if he truly wanted a child to be born?)

    In regards to opposing aid to mothers, this is more of a fiscal conservative argument that got tacked on because conservatives need to form alliances in order to win the election. Fiscal conservatives believe that the government shouldn’t be able to take your money, even for good things. They aren’t against aid to mothers, but they feel that all of it should be through charities, not the government (though why a government can draft me and send me to die in a foreign country, but can’t tax me to provide aid to mothers, they haven’t told me.)

    (again, I disagree with most of these arguments, but I’m just reporting what the religious right believes)

    In regard to a mosquito being of equal worth to a woman, I’m sure that there are extreme members of PETA who believe this but they would not say they hated women but rather that they loved all life equally. (again, not saying I agree with this)

    @Sarah, OMFG, Ebon, ect: Well, I think (says the philosopher in me) that it depends how you define “hate.” No, the religious right does not feel rage when they see a woman. They enjoy her company. They believe that they love her. But if you define “hate” as hurting another person, then yes, the religious right hates women. There is a significant percentage of evangelicals who still believe that men are to be the heads of the household and that women should be submissive to his wishes. And the members of the religious right who don’t believe that often still believe that, as Ebon pointed out, that a woman should die rather than abort a fetus which is going to die anyway. And even the members of the religious right who don’t believe that, falsely believe that a fertilized egg is the same as a baby and that women shouldn’t be able to control their own reproduction. Of women who have children while they are teenagers (either willingly or because of lack of abortion options), only 3% have college degrees by age 30 and I think this is a tragedy.

    So, if you read “the religious right hates women” and you think it says “the religious right is disgusted when they see females” and you don’t believe that’s true, then feel free to say “the religious right hurts women” instead. Who can argue with that?

    @Ebon: If you asked a member of the religious right why he supported letting the woman and the fetus die rather than aborting the fetus, he might quote Catholic belief which says that killing is wrong even if the person is going to die anyway and even if it saves another person’s life. The pro-life side is hung up on the fact that abortion is murder. They don’t care if the fetus is going to die anyway or if they could save the mother’s life by killing the fetus. Killing is wrong to them no matter what. I think it is messed up, but it has a twisted logic to it. We can accuse them of being cruel, intentionally or not, but we can’t accuse them of being stupid.

    By the way, I think that the pro-choice side is slowly losing the support of the country. Many people are starting to believe that personhood starts at conception. They see abortion as murder and they don’t believe women should have the choice to murder. If the pro-choice side wants to win, they need to focus less time talking about choice and more time talking about how a fertilized egg is not (yet) a person. Unless we shift the definition of personhood of the fetus to later in the pregnancy I don’t see how the pro-choice side can win long term.

    Also, I’ve noticed on Atheist forums, that people are angrier at Atheist Conservatives than they are at Theists who wander onto the site. Perhaps this is because Conservatives always have a direct effect on our life through national laws while we might be free of Theists if we live in a secular area. Still, when it comes to fighting religion, I’ll work with another atheist no matter what his political views may be.

  • mikespeir

    Back, back, you hounds! ;-)

    Is there really anything left to answer that I haven’t already answered?

    Sharmin, if you want want to redefine “hatred,” I suppose you may. I don’t see any reason why others would be compelled to accept your definition.

    I’m not really sure what needs explaining, Alex. Whenever pro- and anti-abortions duke it out the fight always degenerates at last to a clash over whether a fetus is fully human. The reason is apparent to me: if the fetus is human, then it has equal moral worth with the woman herself, and that complicates everything. Now, Ebon has a point that here we’re talking more about cases where we’re sure the fetus cannot live and the woman can’t either unless the pregnancy is terminated. That renders the thing a bit more black-and-white. Those on the other side will protest that at our current state of medical advancement we can’t really know that for sure, although I think that’s mostly throwing sand on our faces, to set us back on our heels until they can come around with a better punch. Anyway, I still think that except for the issue of whether the fetus is fully human the debate probably wouldn’t happen. There are the religious considerations here, too, but even they involve the same issue. I’d really rather not stray there.

    Ebonmuse: “Real men use violence to control women. Cowards believe women own themselves.”

    Wow! That’s foreign to my experience with these people. No doubt it happens sometimes, but it probably does in any population.

    Okay, I’m going to try to ease out of this. I think I’ve said what I came here to say. There’s not much chance I’ll get the last word anyway.

  • http://www.WorldOfPrime.com Yahzi

    Mikespeir: Are you, perhaps, suggesting that a woman should have the right to terminate a pregnancy even if we agree that the fetus is as fully human as she is?

    Yes. Of course. In exactly the same way you have the right to throw an uninvited bum out of your house, even if it means he’ll freeze to death in the street.

    You are aware that our border security forces routinely deny entry and asylum to full-grown adult people from other countries, right? People who proceed to die because of the conditions in their home country.

    If you are really pro-life, repeal all immigration laws. After you’ve lived with the consequences of that for a while, we can talk about whether or not women should live with the consequences of sex.

    For that matter, you happen to have a spare kidney you don’t need, and right now one of your fellow citizens is dying for one. When you agree that doctors can take your kidney simply because somebody else needs it, then we can talk about whether women should run the risk of pregnancy simply because someone else needs it.

  • http://www.WorldOfPrime.com Yahzi

    Sarah: I am shocked by your incivility.

    And I am shocked at your ideological obsession. Look, it is really simple: morality is not a synonym for religious doctrine. Yet if you review your comments, you repeatedly act as if it were. For example, you use the phrase “stupid religious morality” seven times in this thread. You only use the word morality without the “stupid religious” tag seven times, and that’s in every other context. In a thread about morality. Does that tell you something?

    You clearly equate religious doctrine with morality. And I am trying to tell you that you are factually wrong about what the word means. Why is that so difficult for you to grasp?

    When I say that morality has no place in the law, that is exactly what I mean — morality, be it religious or otherwise, has no place in the law. Understand now? You might not agree with that statement, but that’s a different issue.

    You don’t understand. It is impossible for you to agree with that statement. Law without morality is the purification of evil. You are asserting that Nazi Germany was fine because it was legal. You are asserting that you cannot tell the difference between Nazi Germany and American law, except that one of them gets adhered to more literally (and it’s not American!).

    Law without justice is unjust. By definition. Justice is a moral concept. By definition. If you think you can create a functioning society without addressing the concept of justice, you are insane. Even the Nazis had to pretend to deal with justice.

    I understand and agree with your passionate rejection of religious doctrine. However, you are simply using the English language incorrectly. The other option is that your understanding of these concepts is so muddled, so simple-minded that you actually think that slavery is perfectly fine as long as it’s written in the Constitution – which it was!

  • http://www.WorldOfPrime.com Yahzi

    Sara: Once you have consented to such a relationship, then, and only then do you have obligations towards the person to whom you are providing care.

    Then, by your arguments, it is acceptable for a medical provider to refuse to enter that relationship, which means it is fine for a hospital to refuse to admit a woman after an abortion.

    I would argue that one does (or should, under the reasonable and prudent rubric) have a default obligation to render aid; however, severe limitations are placed on that obligation so as to not create an undue burden. Medical practitioners, by virtue of their license from the state, are presumed capable of meeting that burden, and thus not allowed the exemption.

  • http://www.WorldOfPrime.com Yahzi

    Sarah: One final attempt to make my point.

    I studied philosophy in college. I got a degree in it. And I am here to tell you: all that stupid crap those religious people pushed on you is not morality. It has nothing to do with morality. It is a twisted, sickening corruption of the entire concept of morality, in exactly the same way their concepts of love and sex are twisted and corrupted.

    You don’t have to give up on goodness and light just because some people brew poison.

  • Andrew G.

    Slacktivist has some excellent recent posts which touch on whether some of these anti-abortion beliefs are, in an important sense, “honestly held”. This one especially:

    http://slacktivist.typepad.com/slacktivist/2011/01/only-a-crazy-person-would-take-what-we-say-seriously.html

  • Wednesday

    Mikespir, the abortion debate is not whether a fetus is worth the same as an adult woman. If a fetus is worth the same as any adult human, and you believe forced organ donation is wrong, then banning abortion for the sake of protecting the fetus gives fetuses special rights and value that no born human being has. We don’t legally require parents donate blood to save their biological children’s lives, and blood donation is far less dangerous and troublesome than pregnancy.

    The debate is whether a fetus’s right to life (to whatever degree it may have it) trumps a uterus-having person’s* right to bodily sovereignty (to whatever degree she or he may have it).

    The pro-choice movement comes down saying that a uterus-having person’s legal right is the most important thing in this conflict (whether born people have more moral weight than a fetus, or equal moral weight and forced organ donation is wrong, or some other conclusion about relative rights weights but consider the consequences of banning abortion to create greater harm than letting abortion remain legal). This mean’s it’s possible to be pro-choice and think abortion is morally wrong, or that fetuses and born persons are morally equivalent, but that it would be worse to make abortion illegal.

    The anti-legal-abortion movement comes down saying that the a fetus’s right to life is more important OR the uterus-having person’s legal rights should be less than they are, AND that allowing legal abortion to continue is worse than the consequences of banning abortion. And given the tendency for ordinary self-identified pro-lifers to simultaneously say they support exceptions in the case of rape and incest, and then slut-shame and victim-blame** women who are victims of rape, I don’t think it’s easy to detangle when it’s about wanting to save the fetus and when it’s about devaluing and controlling women.

    *It’s worth noting that not all persons with uteruses are women. Of course, I suspect that most people opposed to legal abortion, and certainly most organizations, distain uterus-having men even more than they do women.

    ** I’ve seen pro-choice individuals engage in victim-blaming as well, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not the pro-choice movement who has been accused of wanting to punish and control women.

  • Fargus

    Wednesday hit the nail on the head. Consider the “problem” that the legislation above is trying to fix, and the actors involved in it.

    Currently, a pregnant woman with a life-threatening condition needs an abortion in order for her life to be saved. The abortion is performed, the woman’s life is saved.

    Under the proposed legislation, the abortion is not performed, the fetus is not preserved, and the woman dies.

    The only difference is that in the second situation, the woman dies. The “problem” that this legislation attempts to fix is making it easier for doctors to let women die. It’s not saving babies, it’s simply there to make it easier to let women die.

    I think “hatred” isn’t a strong enough word.

  • Sarah Braasch

    Yahzi,

    Your arguments against my use of the word morality and my wishing to eradicate any notion of morality from the law follow to a T the natural law theorists arguments against the legal positivists.

    And, I can tell you that I am using the word morality correctly, as do the moral anti-realist philosophers.

    Hart, the Father of modern legal positivism, has a whole section in his seminal work on the separability of law and morality about the comparisons to Nazi Germany and the accusations that genocides/atrocities are perpetrated because morality is severed from law.

    It is exactly at moments in history such as these that it is crucial that one understands that law is severed from morality.

    Maybe if a few more Germans had realized this; had realized that their determinations of a law/legal system’s validity (its morality; its justice; its worthiness; its deserving of being adhered to) is an individual / subjective determination, just as all moral determinations are; that a law is not moral simply by sake of it being a law — then a few less Jews would have died.

    I don’t have a degree in philosophy (yet), but I do have a degree in law. And, your assertions that law is only ever a moral claim motivated by a moral imperative is hardly settled law. Whole branches of both law theory and philosophy disagree with you.

    I don’t mind when people disagree with me.

    I don’t mind when people argue with me.

    I don’t mind when people argue with me passionately, vehemently, vociferously.

    I do mind being told that I’m an idiot (as I interpreted your comment) and to go educate myself over and over again and being told that I am just incapable of being educated in order to understand the right way (your way). (I just don’t agree with you. And, I’m not the only one.)

    That does remind me of something (or lots of things) from my religious past.

    I am happy to argue with you, debate you.

    All I’m asking is that we just keep it civil.

    It gets old after a while being told repeatedly that you’re too stupid for words.

  • Sarah Braasch

    And, I don’t think I should have to go into the difference between calling a morality stupid and calling a person stupid on an atheist website, which is critical of religion.

    I am criticizing ideas, not persons.

    I’m not upset. It’s fine.

    From now on, if I don’t like someone’s “tone”, then I just won’t respond to that person.

    Done. Berate away.

  • http://politicalgames.posterous.com themann1086

    Kinda surprised this hasn’t been brought up (but there was the sidetracking brought about by Sarah’s obsession with morality), but…

    Hatred of women isn’t the issue. The issue is whether an unborn fetus is the equal of an adult woman in moral worth.

    Frankly: anyone who thinks a fetus has the same moral worth as an adult woman, hates women. Or at the very least, has a pretty low opinion of them.

    the fight always degenerates at last to a clash over whether a fetus is fully human. The reason is apparent to me: if the fetus is human, then it has equal moral worth with the woman herself, and that complicates everything.

    Wrong, but probably because you’re using the word “human” instead of “person”. There’s no doubt that a fetus is fully human; so are sperm, ova, cancer, and hair. But those things are not persons, and neither is an undeveloped fetus.

  • http://www.whyihatejesus.blogspot.com/ OMGF

    Justify that, OMGF. This is what I said: “The issue is whether an unborn fetus is the equal of an adult woman in moral worth.” Now, how does that imply that women are subhuman?

    I already did, you missed it…actually, more accurately you simply dismissed it with an “I already said something else, so there.”

    And, others have already said basically the same thing (sometimes better than I would have) so I don’t feel the need to re-create the wheel.

    But the simple fact that Catholics oppose abortions in this case is due, not to hatred of women, but to what they consider an overriding moral principle.

    It’s an overriding “moral” principle that is based on hatred of women and seeing women as chattel and sub-human.

    Rollingforest,

    Killing is wrong to them no matter what.

    What in the world gave you that idea?

  • Sarah Braasch

    If I’m “obsessed” with morality, it’s because I keep having it shoved down my throat by force of law.

    And, that is the crux, the beating heart of the matter:

    Whether it’s ok for someone to do that to you or me or anyone or a dying woman rushed to a hospital for a life-saving abortion.

  • mikespeir

    themann1086:

    Frankly: anyone who thinks a fetus has the same moral worth as an adult woman, hates women. Or at the very least, has a pretty low opinion of them.

    I don’t know why I should agree with that. All you’re saying is that you don’t think a fetus has the same moral worth as an adult woman. That part, I do agree with. But there are those who disagree. If they’re right–and you and I are free to believe they’re not–then such a moral equivalence does not imply that they hate women. To them, they’re not lowering women to the level of non-personhood (fetuses, as we see them), they’re raising fetuses to the level of full-personhood (with women.) The only reason we read it as debasing women is that we don’t accept the personhood of the fetus. We should argue that a fetus is not a person, not that those who believe a fetus is a person hate women.

    Wrong, but probably because you’re using the word “human” instead of “person”.

    “Person” is fine; but I think you understood me.

    There’s no doubt that a fetus is fully human; so are sperm, ova, cancer, and hair. But those things are not persons, and neither is an undeveloped fetus.

    Don’t you understand that you’re as much as making the very point I did? You find it critical to argue that a fetus is no different morally from sperm, ova, cancer, or hair. That’s where the debate always ends up–is the fetus a person or not? That’s pretty much the crux of the matter. What we think about the personhood or non-personhood of fetuses will in crucial part determine where we stand on abortion.

  • http://www.whyihatejesus.blogspot.com/ OMGF

    To them, they’re not lowering women to the level of non-personhood (fetuses, as we see them), they’re raising fetuses to the level of full-personhood (with women.)

    No they are not. They’ve already lowered the status of women and their stance that all fetuses are more important than women is an indication of the debasement. You’re steadfastly refusing to see the why of the situation and arguing devoid of that context.

  • http://www.whyihatejesus.blogspot.com/ OMGF

    Let’s put it another way, in another context. Let’s talk gay marriage. A lot of religious right types claim that they simply believe marriage should be between 1 man and 1 woman, and they are only concerned with protecting marriage, etc. etc. etc. Are we to really believe that it has nothing to do with their homophobia?

    Or, roll the clock back some years and talk about inter-racial marriage, when the same religious right arguments were used to try and protect marriage against the horrible idea of white people marrying black people. I’m sure that was all about marriage and had nothing to do with racism and hatred of blacks. Right? Oh, they didn’t hate black people, they just thought they weren’t good enough for whites, right?

    Let’s stop making apologies for hateful rhetoric simply because it’s dressed up in its Sunday best.

  • http://www.punkassblog.com Antigone

    Rollingforest-

    I do know what they think. I lived it. I was “there in the trenches” to use a phrase. I “saved” people. And I am telling you, flat out, that the anti-abortion sermons are not about the precious little babies as much as they are about the evil women (and evil liberals). They have to be- the Bible doesn’t have much to say about abortion, but it does have some things to say about being a “slut”. The sermons were all about “sin upon sin” and “purity” (which, ironically, there were quite a lot of young women, and some not-so-young mothers, whom got an abortion rather than face the shame in the church). They are lying about caring about young children. They are lying when you examine their words, they are lying when you examine their actions. To say that is “oh, they just care about precious babies and have different MORALS” is to concede rhetorical ground to a lie.

    In regard to birth control, it is true that Catholics oppose it. The goal isn’t to hurt women, though they do do this with this policy. The goal is to allow God the opportunity to produce a child with every sexual intercourse, because Catholics believe that having children is the only moral reason to have sex. (Strangely, they think natural family planning, where women have sex at the time of the month when they are least fertile, is okay even though this is obviously an attempt to avoid having a child. If they truly think that all sex should be to have children, then why can’t they believe that God would break a condom if he truly wanted a child to be born?)

    I can answer that. Some more conservative branches of the Catholic Church oppose even NFP and the pull-out method, but the more moderate branches say that these methods still “allow for the possibility of conception” so they aren’t thwarting god’s will with icky human technology. It’s inconsistent, and it underlies some major anti-science sentiment, and again, it demonstrates hatred of women (especially combined with “wifely duties” bullshit, but just in general it does to. “Don’t have sex if you don’t want to have another child” is a cruel sentiment anyway you slice it.)

    In regards to opposing aid to mothers, this is more of a fiscal conservative argument that got tacked on because conservatives need to form alliances in order to win the election. Fiscal conservatives believe that the government shouldn’t be able to take your money, even for good things. They aren’t against aid to mothers, but they feel that all of it should be through charities, not the government

    So they put fiscal “principles” over aid to living, breathing people. Yep, no hatred here, move along.

    I understand your point, and I understand that you don’t personally believe them. But, the true understanding is that hurts living, breathing, thinking people. If it isn’t active hatred, it’s willful ignorance and indifference. The end is the same, and I can’t say that “willful ignorance and indifference” makes up the semantic difference between the two.

  • Billy Danner

    This is rediculous. I don’t hate women. I hate abortion, because it’s human life. I don’t pretend to know what should be done in each case but I know that you should always consider that it is the life of the child against the life of the mother.

  • Doug kirk

    “it is the life of the child against the life of the mother.”

    And you tacitly support that the life of the mother is always less valid. End of story. If you don’t “hate” her you certainly see her as less than human. Which in my book is hate.

  • http://kagerato.net kagerato

    @mikespeir:

    I think you’ve managed to successfully derail the entire thread with the bizarre concept that hatred, the emotion, is something that has to be consciously and publicly expressed in order to be considered a valid characterization by others.

    That’s not how emotions work. I don’t think there’s even one neuro-scientist, psychologist, or biologist worth their title who would claim that the only emotions which exist are those which the self is aware of and are expressed in a manner which others have verifiable evidence of.

    It is entirely possible to claim not to hate women, to believe one doesn’t hate women, to act as though one doesn’t hate women, and still hate women. This state is called delusion, and it is all too real.

    @Yahzi:

    Even though we hold similar philosophical understandings of what morality and ethics constitute, I find what you wrote to Sarah quite insulting and childish. What good does it do to call her stupid or incapable of learning? Did you somehow think that was an effective manner to convince someone of anything?

    I’d ask that you take such meaningless attacks out elsewhere. You’re making my side look bad.

  • http://www.whyihatejesus.blogspot.com/ OMGF

    I don’t hate women.

    Well, if you are anti-choice, then you just want to take away women’s autonomy, control them, make them into baby incubators, and ensure that they have no privacy or ability to control their own lives. If that’s not hateful, what does one have to believe/advocate/whatever in order to qualify?

  • heliobates

    I don’t hate women.

    Some of your best friends are black…

  • Rollingforest

    @OMGF: Well, when I said that the religious right views killing as wrong no matter what, I should have said they view murder as wrong no matter what. Sorry for not being more clear on that. The religious right does, in many cases, support the death penalty and various wars, especially those protecting Israel. But they don’t view these as murder because they think the person on death row is being given justice and that you are allowed to kill opposing soldiers during war unless they surrender. Now, you can debate whether any of that is good, but I think it is what the religious right believes.

    @everyone: And since we are debating about people’s legal requirement (or lack thereof) to care for others, how about this comparison: If a couple decided they didn’t want their children anymore and they decided to leave them in the woods alone (a la Hansel and Gretel) and the children starved to death, should the parents be punished for this? If you accept that a fetus has achieved personhood at a particular point in the pregnancy, is there any fundamental difference between leaving your children in the woods to starve and cutting your child off from your placenta, the only way they will be able to survive?

  • Sarah Braasch

    Parents, like doctors and EMTs, have consented to enter into relationships of care.

    Once you have consented to enter into a relationship of care for another person, even if you are only a passerby who sees someone choking, etc., and you take it upon yourself to assist this other person, you have consented to enter into that relationship of care and you now have a responsibility to care for that other person as a reasonable person or doctor or etc. would (non-negligibly), and, yes, you not only can, but you probably will be held responsible for any mistreatment, negligent or otherwise, not just civilly, but, also, and quite possibly, criminally as well.

    Once you consent to such a relationship of care for another person, they aren’t so easy to get out of.

    This is why good samaritans get sued.

  • http://www.WorldOfPrime.com Yahzi

    Sara: Maybe if a few more Germans had realized this; had realized that their determinations of a law/legal system’s validity (its morality; its justice; its worthiness; its deserving of being adhered to) is an individual / subjective determination, just as all moral determinations are; that a law is not moral simply by sake of it being a law

    I don’t even understand this. You’re saying that Germans should have evaluated their legal system based not on its legality, but rather on its… what? What yardstick should they have used to evaluate their legal system?

    Because if they use their individual/subjective determination, they would have totally gone for it. Subjectively, discrimination is fine. Objectively – that is, when you imagine it being the law independent of which side you happen to be on – is where it becomes clear it’s not a good idea.

    You seem to be saying that people should not define their morality merely by what is legal. But that is a complete inversion of the idea that people should define legality by what is moral. Nobody but you has even introduced the first concept. The first concept is ludicrous and in fact is what I am arguing against.

    You are stating that there is a sense of right and wrong that transcends mere legal doctrine. What, pray tell, do you call this sense of right and wrong? Because the rest of us call it morality. What the hell do you call it?

    And, I don’t think I should have to go into the difference between calling a morality stupid and calling a person stupid on an atheist website, which is critical of religion.

    ???

    I pointed out that you used the word morality 14 times, and fully half of them were predicated with the phrase “stupid religious.” I did this to show you that you do, in fact, routinely conflate religious doctrine with morality in your own mind, and that conflation appears in your writing.

    And what you got out of it was this?

    ???

    If I’m “obsessed” with morality, it’s because I keep having it shoved down my throat by force of law.

    You know who else says that? Sociopaths and child molesters. Robbers and hedge fund managers. There are whole classes of people who think that being forced to behave according to a minimum moral standard is confining, and we call them criminals.

    No one is sorry to hear that you are upset at being forced not to murder, steal, and torture at will. No one cares that you wish to live in a libertarian paradise where the strong take what they want and the weak get taken. No one cares that you think might makes right is a perfectly wonderful idea.

    Now I realize that you don’t intend to reject these other considerations when you complain about morality, but you are. Because “might doesn’t make right” is a moral consideration. It belongs in the domain of morality. It is a moral topic. It is what the word is commonly understood to mean.

    The simple fact is that you have no understanding of morality other than as religious doctrine; so no matter how many times I explain it, you will never understand. You are not, in fact, educatable, because you don’t understand your own ignorance. Before you can learn something, you have to realize you don’t already know the answer, and the status of “morality = religious doctrine” is so ingrained in your mind that you cannot even question it.

  • http://www.WorldOfPrime.com Yahzi

    Rolling forest: If a couple decided they didn’t want their children anymore and they decided to leave them in the woods alone (a la Hansel and Gretel) and the children starved to death, should the parents be punished for this?

    The parents have already established a duty of care to the children by precedent.

    If you invite a bum into your house, you cannot then throw him out in the middle of the night to freeze to death. He has a reasonable expectation arising from your actions. If you did not invite him into your house, he does not have a reasonable expectation.

    The part you seem to be not getting is that fetuses are uninvited. Merely having sex is not the same thing as saying, “Come on in!” Until you grasp that distinction you will be forever hopelessly confused by abortion rights.

  • http://www.WorldOfPrime.com Yahzi

    kagerato: I think you’ve managed to successfully derail the entire thread

    What, Sarah’s linguistic tic is chopped liver now?

    I’d ask that you take such meaningless attacks out elsewhere.

    I’d ask that you take your tone-trolling and shove it up your ******* ass.

    Oh come on. It was funny.

    More seriously, people like Sarah make our side look bad. Defining morality as merely religious doctrine destroys secularists’ ability to talk about morality seriously. This is ceding an entire battlefield without a shot. It’s as if we wanted to discuss public finances, but conceded that raising taxes could never produce income for the government. That would be ceding an entire battlefield to the Republicans, and it would be stupid to do so, and if we saw anybody doing it we would tell them off.

    Sarah’s linguistic tic is not helping. And the only way to get her to understand is to yell at her, because her indoctrination is too strong and deep for her to hear polite words. Maybe you disagree, and you’re entitled to. Lots of people do. But that doesn’t mean they’re right.

  • Sarah Braasch

    There is, as always, some variation from state to state.

    There is always variation, and there are always exceptions.

    But, this is, generally speaking, true about the American legal system.

    And, regarding the doctors who wish to not consent to performing abortions, regardless of the consequences.

    This is yet another instance of why morality, be it religious or otherwise, has no place in the law.

    This should not even be a consideration.

    You could easily, very easily, argue that the doctors have already consented — my point about these relationships not being so easy to get out of.

    Also, the state has so many compelling government interests in this situation — secular, amoral interests — that it is ludicrous to expect the state to make a religious accommodation.

    Secularism in the US has become that the government has a responsibility to make sure that everyone is free to practice his or her religion however he or she sees fit.

    This is not secularism. This is debauched secularism. This is lapsed secularism.

    Secularism means that the government makes secular laws with no regard for religious doctrine. (This is why the Religious Freedom Restoration Act is so treacherous. And, now, states are producing their own state versions. These acts basically allow anyone to violate any law with impunity, as long as they claim religious exercise. The judiciary had said that the federal version could not be imposed upon the states — the feds cannot compel the states to provide religious exemptions to laws. It is an obvious Establishment Clause violation. So, now, the states are making their own.)

    (I do see secularism as evolving towards meaning that government also makes laws while paying no heed to morality as well. You can actually see this evolution on the page in our latest jurisprudence. Our jurisprudence seems to be evolving — in some cases — while our legislation and our society seem to be devolving back into religious/moral communitarianism.)

    Secularism, like feminism, (and they really go hand in hand) in the US is dead.

    We need to revive them.

    We need to put a stop to religious/moral communitarianism.

  • Sarah Braasch

    Yahzi,

    It’s so funny to me that you think I’ve been indoctrinated.

    The idea that morality has no place in the law is one of the few ideas, which I actually conceived of almost entirely by my lonesome. (I’m not suggesting that I’m the only person who has conceived of this. Far from it.)

    And, it is one of my ideas that people actually harass, harangue, and berate me for more than any of the others.

    What kind of indoctrination is that?

    I think it would be a good idea for you and I, for the purpose of this thread, to just agree to disagree on morality and its place in the law.

    I don’t see this line of discussion going anywhere fruitful at this time.

    Thanks. I appreciate your passion for the subject though.

  • Sarah Braasch

    Yahzi,

    Also, I’ve already answered all of your complaints regarding my position on morality and the law in the thread for my post called, “Morality Has No Place in the Law” (catchy, right?).

    So, we’ll probably just save everyone a lot of time, if I refer you there.

    Thanks again.

  • monkeymind

    Communitarianism seems like a libertarian code word to me, like “socialism” for conservatives.

  • Sarah Braasch

    monkeymind,

    Except that it’s not code.

    I mean something very specific. I know that it’s not a word in common usage in the US, but it should be.

    It is in common usage in France.

    And, it literally means the devolution of our laws into disparate legal communities — usually based upon religion, but this doesn’t have to be the case.

  • Sarah Braasch

    Also, I would never refer to myself as a libertarian.

    I’m going to come up with a word for me (as soon as I figure out what I am). ;)

    I tend to refer to myself as a moral and legal anti-realist.

    Sorry. I apologize. I think I tend to monopolize the abortion threads.

    I just get so riled up about it. I’m going to vacate the premises for a bit. Take care all.

  • monkeymind

    OK, that gives more context. I know people who call themselves communitarian anarchists, and it seems like the net result of what they advocate would fit what you are describing.

    I guess I am most familiar with what the word in the context of Amitai Etzioni (didn’t remember his name at first, and don’t ask me for details about his philosophy!) Google yielded something called the Institute for Communitarian Policy Studies which seems to be affiliated with him. They do use the words “morality” and “moral” a lot.

    That’s kind of off-off-topic, I guess my real question is: without a secular space for ethical/moral discussion, how can you prevent this devolution?

  • monkeymind

    Sorry if the label didn’t fit – may I call you a civil libertarian, at least?

    I guess moral anti-realism is better than moral surrealism, which is what the religious right proffers.

    I did read the “Morality Has No Place in the Law” piece, and I just could not read it as other than “Politics Has No Place in the Law”. Which I don’t think is gonna happen.

  • Sarah Braasch

    monkeymind,

    A girl can dream, can’t she?

  • monkeymind

    Sarah:

    Indeed she can!

  • Nathan N

    While I agree that the conservative right does a bad job of addressing the issue of abortion in cases where the mother’s life is threatened, your argument doesn’t give the anti-abortion right a fair hearing. It is their belief that life starts at conception. So in these extreme cases where a woman’s life is at stake, they also believe that an unborn boy or girl’s life is at stake. How is it anti-women for them to hesitate if this is their belief? Call it simplistic moral reasoning, but not anti-women.

  • mikespeir

    “It is entirely possible to claim not to hate women, to believe one doesn’t hate women, to act as though one doesn’t hate women, and still hate women. This state is called delusion, and it is all too real.”

    There are all kinds of ways of being deluded, kagerato. We tend to think the guy who disagrees with us is exhibiting one. ;-)

    Seriously, though, I’m going now. For real. Watch me walk out the door….

    *slam*

    *open a crack*

    But I’ll probably be back for other threads!

    *slam again*

  • http://stevebowen58.blogspot.com Steve Bowen

    Please stop slamming that door, I’ve got a headache.

  • Wednesday

    So in these extreme cases where a woman’s life is at stake, they also believe that an unborn boy or girl’s life is at stake. How is it anti-women for them to hesitate if this is their belief? Call it simplistic moral reasoning, but not anti-women.

    Nathan – because the only difference between hesitating/refusing to perform a medically necessary abortion and performing it is that the woman will die without the abortion. In the cases we’ve seen, with hospitals refusing to perform medically necessary abortions, the embryo/fetus is doomed no matter what, because it’s always been well before viability.

    If they value an embryo/fetus as equal or nearly equal to a born person, then it’s a triage situation, which calls for saving the one you can save, rather than letting them die because you squandered resources (in this case time) on a lost cause. Medical caregivers who honestly do not know that, eg, an 11-week human embryo cannot survive without a host should have their licenses revoked. They can be sad about the situation, but that’s an entirely different ballpark from denying necessary medical care, which is what’s going on, and what the RR is pushing to legalize.

    It belatedly occurs to me that my analysis of the abortion debate left out one set of motivations for self-identified pro-lifers: wishful thinking and ignorance. This isn’t about anti-legal-abortion activists, but the “lay” pro-lifers, who vote for “pro-life” candidates because they feel sad about the idea of an embryo/fetus dying, and it’s easier for them to support banning abortions rather than examine the situation carefully and educate themselves, at which point I think many of them would realize that banning abortion won’t bring about the state of affairs they really want. And the anti-legal-abortion-activist rhetoric reinforces this, with its frequent erasure of the person whose body the fetus is occupying (except when said person is reduced by rhetoric to whore or virgin victim). Sometimes this ignorance is unthinking, and sometimes it’s willful — I know a self-identified pro-lifer who, the more she learned about the D&X ban and how actually it wasn’t going to save fetuses and would only endanger women, the more strongly she clung to her support of the ban, her arguments boiling down to “this is icky and complicated, but I know that at the end of a D&X abortion the fetus is dead, so I’m going to cling to that.”

    So, probably, these opponents of abortion don’t hate women or disdain women much more than the average member of the population; they’re just coming to an emotional conclusion on the subject without subjecting it to critical analysis because it’s uncomfortable.

  • heliobates

    How is it anti-women for them to hesitate if this is their belief?

    Because they insist on mandatory hesitation, regardless of the risks to the woman. In the previous DA article doctors were given unequivocal instructions to wait until there were no fetal vital signs before they could give the necessary care to the woman, to the point of denying immediate necessary medical attention. That’s not a moral equivalence. As others have pointed out, in these cases (indeed in every aspect of the anti-abortion angle), the fetus is given a priveleged status over the woman.

    From a rational point of view, their self-justifications are irrelevant. If every case of “trying to strike a balance between the rights of the fetus and the rights of the woman” results in the woman having no control over her own body and exposing herself to risks from which she is not allowed to dissent, then the “pro-life” stance is de facto “anti-woman”. And underneath it all is the omnipresent “slut-shaming” that treats any risk or harm as an inevitable consequence of having sex.

  • monkeymind

    I think the anti-woman agenda becomes clearer when you consider that many of these same people oppose preventing pregnancies when the woman’s health is in danger. Think Andrea Yates. Or Michelle Duggar. And both of these cases illustrate that this kind of adherence to dogma or ideology is anti-child as well. Ultimately it’s a blind worship of fertility over life itself.

  • http://kagerato.net kagerato

    Call it simplistic moral reasoning, but not anti-women.

    Nathan, the issue is exactly that it goes well beyond simplistic moral reasoning. It is, rather, dogma and magic substituted for ethics.

    There is nothing, short of said magic, which can explain why one would arbitrarily call a single sperm-egg pair, separated, a mere couple of cells and a zygote a person. They are both equally human. No special properties unique to humanity emerged from the zygote at its formation compared to the prior state.

    The religious endowment of special status is simple authoritarianism at its root. There is no fundamental justification, so they invent a magical one: souls. Everyone has this individual, ethereal, undetectable, incomprehensible, unfalsifiable “soul”. It governs your entire existence, exists after your death, and can even experience harm and punishment despite its apparent inability to actually interact with anything in reality.

    And for some bizarre reason, it arbitrarily enters existence at the precise time the zygote does. This leaves some rather strange questions open about why God causes so many abortions through failure to implant the en-souled zygote in a suitable woman. Of course, it raises even bigger questions about why a woman is involved at all: with this kind of supreme magic, why use such a fragile and overcomplicated system? God can build all the magic baby factories he wants, ultimately — no need for human beings.

    The arbitrary event of ensoulment is even bad theology. Nothing in the Bible talks about zygotes. Naturally; it was written at a time when the discovery of cells and basic biology was still many centuries off. In the rare passages where the Bible talks about life in a concrete defined context, it does so with an understanding that made some sense to people who lived millennia ago. For example, breath is life. God “breathed” life into Adam. That makes sense, from a certain primitive, restricted perspective.

    I suspect the reasons the magical explanations persist have many contributing factors. However, for any such factor to be strong enough to continue for so many centuries, it would have to be self-perpetuating. This is part of the core basis behind how we first reasoned that the magic was actually a system of social control. Later, we studied whether the belief system actually supported a caste system of differential power. Turns out, it does.

    However, another part of the reason for the stubborn perpetuation of magic devices is that many people appear to be, at least initially, susceptible to entertaining simple but false beliefs over true but complicated ones. The philosophical, rational explanation of what makes a person what they are is not at all trivial. There is a great deal of background reading and explanation in the derivation of concepts including emergent systems, consciousness, self-awareness, the origin and nature of thoughts and emotions, intelligence, knowledge, memory … and perhaps even more than that.

    It’s so much easier to simply surrender the endeavor, throw up one’s hands, and say: “it must be magic”. All too easier when many such someones made that decision for you long in the past, and then taught it to as many people as they could reach as though it were certain fact.

  • http://stevebowen58.blogspot.com Steve Bowen

    @Kegerato:
    Perfect

  • Rollingforest

    @Yahzi: Precedent? I know a lot of party hosts that would disagree with you. Just because a party host invites a person into their house for a party does not mean that person can stay until 4 AM. The party host holds the right to kick the person out at any time. Similarly, if a person invites a bum in off the street, that bum doesn’t have the right to stick around for as long as he wants just because a precedent of care has been established. They can kick him out whenever. So if parenthood was really the same as these examples, then it would seem that parents would be allowed to abandon their kids at any age they wanted, whether unborn, age 2, age 4, ect, regardless of whether the child starves to death or not.

    However, this is obviously not the case. We view parenthood as a special relationship that requires the parents to care for the children. We can’t have a policy that says “you can decide whether you want to keep the child or abandon her to die in the woods up until the child reaches the age of 2. But after age 2 you’ve established a precedent with the child and therefore are no longer allowed to abandon her to die.” No, the parent is always a parent and their child is always their child. Once the fetus achieves personhood and becomes a child (in my definition, when they become conscious/have a brain in the second trimester) then that child has a relationship with the parents and they are morally and legally required to care for it. So if you don’t want the child, you’d better have an abortion during the first trimester, before the fetus achieves personhood.

    You say that having sex does not give a child the right to be taken care of. You say that a child, even if it has achieved personhood, can be cut off from the womb, even if it would die, and the parents have no requirement to support it unless precedent has been achieved. But what about the man? The man can have sex, say that he doesn’t want a baby, but the woman can still choose to have a child and force him to pay child support. If a child isn’t allowed to force itself upon a parent just because the parents have sex, then why is the child, under your system, allowed to do just that to the father? I think either both parents are responsible for the child when it reaches personhood during the second trimester or none of them are, not just the father. (my views on this are much more complex, especially recently, but I will only mention this to point out the hypocrisy of the current system).

    (I hesitate to get into this, given the length that these debates usually turn into, but in regard to what Sarah and others have been debating, I think that if you see a person who looks like they are about to die, I think that you should be both morally and legally required to alert the authorities. Seeing someone whose life is in danger and just walking away is irresponsible and it should be punished.)

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org Ebonmuse

    A welcome update: The South Dakota bill (the one granting people the right to kill doctors who perform abortions) has been shelved. Pitts’ bill is still up for consideration, as far as I know.

  • Staceyjw

    This is evil.

    I also want to know who thesse doctors are who STAND THERE while a woman DIES because of a clerical committee? There is no excuse for this, and if every doc refused to do it, this would be moot.

  • Wednesday

    Rollingforest —

    There’s a very very important difference between the genetic father at any time of a embryo/fetus/born child’s existence and the genetic mother during pregnancy: The fetus is not inside the father’s body. It is inside of the mother’s body.

    There’s a very very very important difference between holding parents legally responsible for taking care of their born offspring and requiring someone to carry a pregnancy to term: the born offspring is not inside anyone else’s body.

    A human fetus does not exist in isolation. It is not floating in space like those pictures that anti-choice activists like to use in their propaganda. It is not like a born baby that a parent can set down and walk away from for five minutes. Even if it is a person, it is situated very differently from almost any born person*, because It. Is. In. Someone. Else’s. Body.

    Abortion is not an alternative to parenting. Choosing to terminate a pregnancy can be related to, but ultimately is not, about choosing not to parent. It’s about choosing not to continue a particular pregnancy. It’s completely different from opting out of having a fiscal responsibility towards a born person.

    Child support is about the state ensuring the welfare of a born child. Women can be required to pay child support, too, if after a child is born they decide they don’t want to parent. Most of the time it’s men who are legally required to pay child support because for cultural/biological reasons most of the time in a single-parenting situation, it’s women who wind up being the actual parent. A parent (man or woman) who is paying child support is not required to donate blood, marrow, or organs to the child should they prove medically necessary. They are not legally required to risk their physical and mental health and life for the child, not required to use their body to support its existence.

    Abortion is an issue because a fetus is INSIDE SOMEONE’S BODY.

    * Born conjoined and parasitic twins would be the exception.

  • Sarah Braasch

    Wednesday,

    Beautifully put.

    And, this is exactly why women will never be truly free, truly human until we make babies in factories.

    If someone truly wants to liberate women from sex slavery, make an artificial uterus machine.

    And, now, also, everyone understands the purpose of religion, why it continues in the modern day, these worthless vestiges of ignorant ancient times.

    To control the means of production.

    (I would also just add that the assertions about being able to just throw people out of your homes in any circumstances, after they have been invited in, are just, legally speaking, not accurate. Home owners have a whole slew of responsibilities to invitees, for which they may be held liable. Once you have consented to a relationship of care, they aren’t so easy to escape. But, that’s why you have to consent.)

    And, don’t bother bringing up the example about a landowner not being able to shoot a trespasser.

    Ok. Sure, he can’t shoot him. But, he doesn’t have to give the trespasser his blood, organs, food, shelter, medicine, healthcare, and money either.

    He doesn’t have to shoot himself, if the trespasser so requests it either. Or deed his land to the trespasser and vacate the property himself.

    And, in cases of absolute necessity, “the winter storm and someone breaks into someone’s cabin” hypothetical, the trespasser is responsible for harm caused to the property of another.

    So, are we going to hold these “born children” legally and financially responsible for the harm caused to the women, physical and mental and emotional harm, lost wages, long term medical care for any complications, increased food costs during the pregnancy, medical care during the pregnancy, etc., etc.? When are they going to pay up? Can we take them to court to recompense the women who were forced to carry and deliver them as a matter of necessity? Who is going to make these women whole? The state? Since the state is forcing them to carry these pregnancies, is the state going to compensate them for their time and trouble? Like surrogates?

    So, let’s say that we force women to carry pregnancies, as a case of necessity to another.

    Then, when are they free to induce abortion/birth?

    When is the pregnancy no longer necessary?

    After the point of viability, right?

    The “pro-lifers” are obsessed with the point of viability, the point of viability.

    What they don’t realize is that, legally speaking, they are shooting themselves in the foot.

    So, ok, let’s make it legally possible to force women to carry pregnancies to the point of viability, as cases of necessity.

    Well then, the “pro-lifers” keep wanting to say that the point of viability is earlier and earlier and earlier in the pregnancy.

    So, ok. So, then, the women can only be forced to carry the pregnancies until the point of viability, and then the doctors may induce abortion/birth.

    Then, if the state has such an overwhelming interest in seeing this life come to fruition, the state can take the child.

    Oh, what’s that? That’s not what the “pro-lifers” had in mind.

    Yeah. Didn’t think so.

    They just want to turn women into sex slaves and baby incubators.

    It’s so obvious when you break it down legally.

  • bbk

    @Wednesday: Okay – too much! Been lurking here for a while, astonished how it’s not just me who gets words put in their mouth, their comments misconstrued and their points left un-addressed. But this is just pure, unadulterated sophistry. When you tell me that you feel comfortable to eliminate abortion for all circumstances other than medical necessity (including rape!) and you eliminate all Safe Haven laws, and you take a long hard look at the wildly differing standards for establishing paternity and parental custody and make them all equal, then, and only then, can you claim to be primarily concerned by the special biological circumstances of motherhood and a woman’s body. Because the truth is that unless you eliminate all of those things, you are demonstrating very little real concern for a woman’s body in the strictest sense, but in fact are more concerned with a woman’s wants and financial well-being. Instead, you’re using the emotional appeal of a woman’s subjugated body to justify your utter contempt for the wishes and financial well-being of men when it comes to the same exact circumstances. Your argument for not extending this concern to men is highly specious – men have no choice except to be captive fathers because it’s a woman’s body. It’s a guilt trip, nothing more. It’s hypocrisy. Can you please try to explain that one more time without making appeals to emotion?

  • Sarah Braasch

    bbk,

    The issue of whether or not men can be compelled to enter into relationships of care for children without their consent is an issue of concern for me also.

    I don’t have an easy answer for that one.

    But, I actually do agree that if sex does not imply consent to pregnancy for women, which it most certainly does not, then the same holds for men.

    Men do not consent to be fathers by having sex either.

    I just don’t know at what point they should have an opportunity to consent.

    I do think that it’s fine, if men begin providing financial support (consent), then it’s fine to expect them to continue. This is very much in line with everything I have discussed above.

    But, I agree that there has to be an opportunity for men to consent as well.

    I just don’t know when that should take place.

    But, that is a separable and severable issue.

    That has nothing to do with the woman’s consent or no to pregnancy.

    She has to have her own opportunity to consent to the use of her body, which has nothing to do with the man.

    And, if you have a problem with that –

    start working on that artificial uterus machine.

  • Wednesday

    @bbk

    @Wednesday: Okay – too much! Been lurking here for a while, astonished how it’s not just me who gets words put in their mouth, their comments misconstrued and their points left un-addressed. But this is just pure, unadulterated sophistry. When you tell me that you feel comfortable to eliminate abortion for all circumstances other than medical necessity (including rape!) [...]only then, can you claim to be primarily concerned by the special biological circumstances of motherhood and a woman’s body

    Wait, what? How does that follow? It’s a woman’s right to sovereignty over her own damn body that I’m concerned with, not strictly the welfare of her body. Which yes, does mean it’s about what she _wants_ to do with it. (Also, by the way, I fully support the right of pregnant men to choose to terminate their pregnancies, for exactly the same reasons.)

    As far as I’m concerned, bodily sovereignty means that an adult gets to decide whether or not to donate organs, blood, or marrow, try to get pregnant, try not to get pregnant, terminate a pregnancy, consume alcohol so long as it does not lead them to behave in ways that endanger other persons, accept or refuse medical treatment so long as they correctly understand the risks, have consensual sex with other adults, eat junk food, get piercings and tattoos, and have elective surgery. Many of these things can result in harm to the body of the person donating/drinking/copulating/getting medical care, etc.

    I’m really not clear why you’re going on about “guilt tripping captive fathers” seeing as I said nothing about the inherent rightness or wrongness of the specifics of the US child support system. Just that it’s completely different than forcing someone to share their _body_ with someone or something they don’t want to.

    I actually do think there’s a problem with the current system (as Sarah points out, having sex doesn’t mean you consent to being a parent, regardless of gender or sex), but I’ve not looked into it enough to decide exactly where I feel the conflict of rights and responsibilities should be settled. I’m perfectly open to the argument that forced child support payments are inherently a violation of a person’s rights, but it’s a totally different type of violation than forced pregnancy.

  • bbk

    I don’t have an easy answer for that one.

    Maybe not, but plenty of other people do. Seems like equality is a hard pill to swallow no matter who the swallower is. While I’m glad that you recognize the discrepancy, it doesn’t seem like you’d be willing to take it seriously. One can always set up a perfect world scenario and make it sound like problem is much more complex and intractable than it really is. Just seems like a cop out.

    She has to have her own opportunity to consent to the use of her body, which has nothing to do with the man. And, if you have a problem with that –

    This is an improper transposition. The problem is the fact that no one said that we have to take away women’s right to an abortion. We said that your argument you are using is unprincipled and that you are reluctant to apply it in a consistent manner.

    I think that this is hugely important – not because men are in dire straights – but because pro-choice doesn’t have the sort of solid footing that its proponents often believe that it has. The thing is, it could, and it should. Conservatives have something to teach us on this. They’re not counter-intuitive thinkers and they don’t get their heads wrapped up in pragmatic needs and exceptions to the rule as much as we liberals do. Conservatives have absolutely no regard for the dire consequences so long as their ideologically driven policies are enforced. But, there is something to be said in the way they’re able to build consensus and create a single issue that appeals to their entire base. They define a simple set of principles that manage to roll fiscal conservatism into social conservatism and put it in a religious package.

    We have no clear principles. We just don’t. It would do no harm to build a broader coalition – make abortion part of something that ensures stronger rights for everyone while at the same time lends more support for families and children. Stop relying on a legal technicality about women’s bodies that happened to win Roe vs Wade as the be-all end-all of abortion ethics.

  • Sarah Braasch

    bbk,

    I don’t see myself as being unprincipled or inconsistent at all.

    We have all the legal principles in place that we need.

    I outlined them all above.

    We give everyone an opportunity to consent to enter into relationships of care for other human beings / persons.

    I am merely acknowledging that I’m not sure when that should take place for the man, in a scenario as we’ve been discussing above.

  • bbk

    Wait, what? How does that follow? It’s a woman’s right to sovereignty over her own damn body that I’m concerned with, not strictly the welfare of her body. Which yes, does mean it’s about what she _wants_ to do with it. (Also, by the way, I fully support the right of pregnant men to choose to terminate their pregnancies, for exactly the same reasons.)

    And I fully support your right to do whatever you please with your damn body so long as you give me my sperm back, upon request. And if you don’t give me my sperm back then you pay me for the sperm rather than have me pay for the baby. Fair is fair! Although, just to be nice, I’m willing to consider my sperm a charitable donation under certain circumstances.

    On the other hand if our agreement is to be that I am to financially obligate myself to support your decisions about your body (since you are choosing to be so incredibly vulgar about this), then let’s be consistent about this – if I’m paying for it, it’s just as much my kid as it is yours. Therefore I require that I have equal access to the child and if I decide to be a jobless stay at home dad then you should pay me for the privilege of raising it in my house 50% of the time.

  • Sarah Braasch

    “Stop relying on a legal technicality about women’s bodies that happened to win Roe vs Wade as the be-all end-all of abortion ethics.”

    I don’t even know what this means.

    But, it frightens me to think that you are suggesting that the status of women as autonomous and fully human persons with sovereignty over their own personhood and their own corporeal forms is a “legal technicality about women’s bodies that happened to win Roe vs Wade”.

    I’m afraid that, yes, the status of women as autonomous and fully human persons with sovereignty over their own personhood and their own corporeal forms is the “be-all end-all of abortion ethics.”

    Women’s humanity is not up for debate, it’s not on the bargaining table, it’s not up for discussion, and it’s non-negotiable.

    And, really, do you want to live in a world where your humanity is up for debate?

    Do you want your humanity on the auction block?

  • Sarah Braasch

    bbk,

    You are cracking me up like you don’t even know.

    Dude, if you haven’t seen Legally Blonde, then you should.

    Your sperm is a gift.

    You consent upon ejaculation. (Consent to give your sperm as a gift, I mean.)

  • bbk

    Sarah – you have to recognize that legal principle is not the same thing as a principle in the actual sense. Legal principles pertain to jurisprudence – for example what is admissible evidence, what counts as a corroborated fact, what is the set precedent of prior cases, etc. Aren’t you a lawyer? There are plenty of legal precedents that are flat out wrong – for example the Citizens United ruling. Legal principle calls for consistency in future cases that are similar, versus principle would call for that ruling to be overturned. Legal principle is also the same thing that recently kept a wrongly imprisoned death row inmate from receiving compensation from the state of Texas – because the judge failed to include two little words, “found innocent”, in the document that got him out of jail. That’s legal principle for you.

  • Sarah Braasch

    bbk,

    We aren’t discussing whether or not you like all legal precedent, which has ever been established as case law.

    You accused me of being inconsistent and unprincipled. Aside — I am only discussing legal rights and obligations. I have no interest whatsoever in whatever you might construe as moral or religious principles. (I think if I’ve made anything clear in this thread, I’ve made that clear.)

    I said — far from it. I’ve have laid out my principles, and I think that they should be applied consistently to all persons.

    I was merely acknowledging that I had a question about timing as applies to men.

  • bbk

    I’m afraid that, yes, the status of women as autonomous and fully human persons with sovereignty over their own personhood and their own corporeal forms is the “be-all end-all of abortion ethics.”

    I believe that Roe vs Wade was predicated on the right to privacy. If this is the best thing they could find in the Constitution that establishes women as fully human beings then what a sorry world we live in. That’s my point – the right to privacy is a technicality. It’s a stupid legal principle that has nothing to do with right and wrong when it comes to reproductive rights. I support everyone’s right to their bodies – including abortions in the third trimester. People who do not support this cannot say that they truly view abortion as a right to one’s own body. It’s kind of like having the right to shoot a burglar who broke into your house unless he’s already walking out the door with the TV. I support safe haven laws as well, and sex education, and contraceptives, and the full spectrum of family planning as a human right. The right to one’s own children should be an explicit human right whether the person wants to be a parent or decides against it, whether they are a man or a woman. You balk at the “timeline” for when men should be allowed to refuse a child, but do you support safe haven laws? I also think that this coincides with universal healthcare as a human right. This is the heart of the matter when it comes to abortion, and this whole thing about the right to privacy or the right to one’s own body is just some sort of bullshit that happened to win a case in court once. It’s leading some people to make completely asinine arguments about men getting pregnant and artificial uterus’s, hence my satirical response that I’m glad to know made you laugh.

  • Rollingforest

    @Wednesday: I understand that pregnancy can be unpleasant and that many women get sick while pregnant, not to mention having to deal with the pain of giving birth. However, raising a child can be very difficult as well. You have to work hard to make sure you have money to raise them, time to care for them, be able to get up at any moment of the night to deal with their crying or sickness, make sure they are educated, deal with tantrums and drama, and worry about car crashes, pedophiles, drug pushers, and gangs. At least when you are pregnant you never have to worry about where you child is at any given time. Is being forced to be pregnant (after the fetus achieves personhood) really that much worse than being forced to care for a born child 24/7? We should take a poll, but I don’t think many parents will say that the pregnancy was harder than the child raising. If child raising really is harder, then how can we say that it is wrong to abandon a 2 year old to die, but it is okay to abandon a baby to die by cutting the placenta?

    You said: “Choosing to terminate a pregnancy can be related to, but ultimately is not, about choosing not to parent. It’s about choosing not to continue a particular pregnancy. It’s completely different from opting out of having a fiscal responsibility towards a born person.”

    You could say the same thing about a two year old. You could be choosing not to continue being the parent of that particular child but still want to have children later. And remember, it isn’t about giving up fiscal responsibility toward a child, it is about abandoning the child in such a way that you know the child is going to die, whether that be in the woods or because the placenta is cut before the baby is viable outside the womb (and even if the baby is viable, being born premature often causes major health problems later on, so ejecting them early is a nasty thing to do)

    You said: “[The parents] are not legally required to risk their physical and mental health and life for the child”

    But they are required to make sure, as best they can, that the child doesn’t die while under their supervision. Child negligence is a crime. If they are out at a cabin in the woods and are not able to get to an adoption agency, they are legally required to care for the child until they can get to one. The same should be true for babies in the womb.

    Also, it should be noted that the baby didn’t choose to come into existence either. So why should she have to pay with her life because her parent’s condom broke?

    @Sarah: I’m sure “Brave New World” will come true eventually.

    It should be noted that children aren’t legally required to pay their parents back for the 18 years of food, clothing, and shelter they received as kids.

    While this isn’t my final belief on the question (though it gets closer to what I believe), you could say that men should be required to care for the child at the point in the pregnancy where the woman is no longer allowed to have an abortion. So if you think a woman should be allowed to have an abortion up until the baby is born, then the father should have the opportunity to have a “financial abortion” (giving up all financial obligations as well as parental visitation rights) up until that point. After the child is born, both parents are stuck with it unless they mutually decide to give it up for adoption.

  • Sarah Braasch

    For the vast, vast majority of women, being a woman in the past really, really sucked, and being a woman in the present really, really sucks.

    It is tantamount to living a life of sex slavery, if you’re lucky enough (or unlucky enough, depending on your perspective) to survive.

    So, call me crazy, but I say — bring on the future.

    Only when we sever the means of production from the female body, only then will religion loose its grasp on humanity.

    And, only then will women attain the status of fully human.

  • Wednesday

    @Rollingforest

    First of all, I notice you left out blindness, organ failure, death, and depression as potential consequences of pregnancy and childbirth. I don’t know where you live, but in the US, our maternal fatality rates are frankly obscene for an industrialized country. Also, women in certain types of abusive relationships who become pregnant are at much higher risk for being killed by their partner.

    Take a look at the maternal fatality rate due to unsafe abortion in places where safe, legal abortion is not available. Do you think so many women would be risking injury and death if unwanted pregnancies were merely unpleasant?

    Is being forced to be pregnant (after the fetus achieves personhood) really that much worse than being forced to care for a born child 24/7? We should take a poll, but I don’t think many parents will say that the pregnancy was harder than the child raising.

    To the best of my understanding, parents are not actually forced by law to personally care for their born children. They are forced to care for their children OR see to it that their children are cared for by someone else. It’s both physically and legally possible to have family, friends, or a hired sitter care for your born child. There are also a variety of ways to surrender parental rights and responsibilities. (Perhaps there should be more ways, but as with child support that’s a separate debate and discussion.) And again, they are not forced to donate blood, tissue, or organs against their will.

    If child raising really is harder, then how can we say that it is wrong to abandon a 2 year old to die, but it is okay to abandon a baby to die by cutting the placenta?

    Okay, you phrased this as an if-then statement, so I’ll be generous and grant you the hypothesis. (I think it’s just plain incorrect, and frankly offensive, to judge how heinous it is to force someone to continue a pregnancy against their will based on a survey of parents, the vast majority of whom _chose_ to be and remain parents, even if the child came from an initially unplanned pregnancy.)

    So, anyway, let’s pretend it really is harder to raise a child for two years than to be forced to remain pregnant against your will. And suppose someone with a two-year-old decides they just can’t/don’t want to care for the child any more. The alternatives are not merely “abandon child in woods to die” and “still personally taking care of child”. There’s a third option, which is “giving the child to someone else to care for.”

    In the case of an unwanted pregnancy, there isn’t a third option. We do not yet have the technology allowing us to safely move an embryo or fetus from one person’s uterus to either another person’s uterus, or an artificial uterus. If we did, then the abortion debate would be very very different.

    The fetus is INSIDE SOMEONE ELSE’S BODY. The born child is not. How many times do I need to repeat this? This isn’t just trivia, it’s central to the whole damn debate.

    Also, it should be noted that the baby didn’t choose to come into existence either. So why should she have to pay with her life because her parent’s condom broke?

    Because an embryo or fetus is quite literally a parasite, and we allow killing of born people in self-defense. Why should a fetus or embryo get rights no born person has?

    Because in the case of an unwanted pregnancy, a fetus or embryo’s continued survival depends on forcing someone to share their body with it against their will. We don’t allow forced organ donation to save the lives of born people. Why should a fetus get rights no born person has?

  • Sarah Braasch

    If anyone thinks this statement:

    It should be noted that children aren’t legally required to pay their parents back for the 18 years of food, clothing, and shelter they received as kids.

    is relevant, then I can safely say that that/those person(s) have completely missed the point.

    The issue is CONSENT. (Sorry to use capital letters.)

    You have to consent to enter into a relationship of care for another human being/person.

    Period. This is the very backbone of the American legal system.

    Think about what it would mean if this weren’t the case.

  • http://kagerato.net kagerato

    [bbk]: I believe that Roe vs Wade was predicated on the right to privacy. If this is the best thing they could find in the Constitution that establishes women as fully human beings then what a sorry world we live in.

    The right for a woman to control her own body, including any and all parasitic entities attached to it, is indeed totally independent of any rights to privacy — whatever they happen to be at the current time. That much I don’t think anyone should contest. The scope of the topic surrounding the law here is wider than that, though.

    It’s more than moderately bizarre that people who otherwise tend to take the Constitution literally often do not do so when it has inconvenient implications on their worldly political views. For example, the 14th amendment has a critically important sentence that reads as follows:

    “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

    As in typical in the Constitution, the provisions here make no distinction according to gender. The only flaw in this statement is that it was written to refer to the states only, having its origin in the aftermath of the Civil War. When the federal government’s powers are involved, the Constitution normally uses “Congress” in place of “State”.

    In this citizen’s opinion, the idea that the states have any power to write laws which would apply or affect the rights of individuals differently depending on gender is already blatantly illegal. These state legislators are flaunting the law with each new encroachment they make.

    As a result of some people introducing highly selective context into their interpretation of essential laws, I think it valuable for the Constitution to be less specific than what otherwise may seem necessary. For instance, the 19th amendment reads as follows, with two extremely unfortunate words bolded:

    “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.

    Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.”

    Why are those two words there? They don’t need to be, certainly. Historical accident, and I think a clear mistake. Further, the voting context has changed what is normally “person(s)” or “people” into “citizen”, which is a wholly unnecessary (as well as dangerous) distinction when talking about non-voting rights.

    It is amazing to me how just a few words and selective interpretation of the law can completely change the environment of a nation. It seems that very little value is given to the actual spirit and purposes for which the law exists. Allowing our convenient prejudices to circumvent the just intent of the law is a short-term folly that we commit at our long-term peril.

    [bbk]: I support everyone’s right to their bodies – including abortions in the third trimester. People who do not support this cannot say that they truly view abortion as a right to one’s own body.

    That’s a false understanding of rights as absolutes, which is never the case. The principle of absolute rights is terribly illogical, and many people have pointed this out many times before.

    There is no absolute right to speech; you cannot use it to directly endanger, defame, or otherwise destroy other people. There is no absolute right to property, such a thing would preclude the existence of taxes entirely. There is no absolute right to privacy; on some occasions, it makes great sense to allow the police to search the premises or your person for items which would be directly relevant to a crime.

    Likewise, hardly anyone argues for an absolute right to bodily control. I doubt that, for instance, intentionally infecting oneself with a dangerous pathogen would be considered a legitimate use of one’s body. When there is the potential for harm to others, the powers granted to individuals start to diminish.

    This is why anti-abortionist activists begin with the premise that the fetus has a right to life. They must (incorrectly) introduce a second personal entity in order to create the basis for the pre-determined conclusion of restricting women’s behavior. In the past, it was more common for the religious to simply claim divine law in these sorts of situations, without presenting even the most puerile of explanations, so I suppose in some sense we have made some kind of mild moral progress.

    [Rollingforest]: Is being forced to be pregnant (after the fetus achieves personhood) really that much worse than being forced to care for a born child 24/7?

    Wednesday covered the bases quite well already, but I think it’s worth rebutting silly statements twice.

    Who is forced to care for children 24/7? No one. Parental negligence laws target active neglect, not lack of personal care.

    If anything, this is a substantial argument for government-provided child care, or a guaranteed living stipend. Otherwise, the poor are at a noticeable disadvantage compared to the rich in dealing with the consequences of parenthood.

    [Rollingforest]: And remember, it isn’t about giving up fiscal responsibility toward a child, it is about abandoning the child in such a way that you know the child is going to die, whether that be in the woods or because the placenta is cut before the baby is viable outside the womb (and even if the baby is viable, being born premature often causes major health problems later on, so ejecting them early is a nasty thing to do)

    Abandoning children in the woods is not legal because it’s not meaningfully easier to drop kids in a forest compared to leaving them at a police or fire station. Indeed, the reverse is typically true. No additional cost of any kind is paid by the parent(s) to take the correct action. Further, there is no obvious benefit to the parent(s) in going out of their way to abandon a born child in a way where it is certain to die. This is all a terribly ad-hoc, nonsensical analogy.

    There’s also the part about the child no longer being physically and irremovably attached to another person. Trivial to you, I guess.

    [Rollingforest]: Also, it should be noted that the baby didn’t choose to come into existence either. So why should she have to pay with her life because her parent’s condom broke?

    This is a pernicious idea, that somehow being uninvolved in the decisions behind an event grants one special rights with regards to how that event later unfolds. That reasoning is rarely used elsewhere, and it is never correct.

    Also, note that the use of ‘pay’, as though there was some kind of debt here, is begging the question.

    One more: the use of ‘life’ as though life had inherent value. That is nonsense. Life is predicated on the destruction of other life, and it is extraordinarily difficult to imagine that this situation is likely to ever change. I would rather live in a world with only one other person than one with a trillion forms of plants and bacteria completely unimaginable.

    [Rollingforest]: I’m sure “Brave New World” will come true eventually.

    Your baseless fear-mongering is duly noted.

  • Rollingforest

    @Sarah: I agree that the world’s women, on average, have a worse life than the world’s men. It should be noted though, that the life of a woman compared to the life of a man in Afghanistan, for example, is considerably worse than the life of a woman compared to the life of a man in America. There is still sexism in America, especially in elections, but we shouldn’t forget the feminists’ successes.

    @Wednesday: Remember that under my plan, first trimester abortion, when 90% of abortions happen anyway, would be allowed (a fact that would not be lost on any pro-lifers that I talked with. My debates with pro-lifers focus on proving that a fertilized egg is not a person while my debates with pro-choicers often focus on proving that parents are obligated to protect their child’s life once she achieves personhood at least until some other person is able to protect their life. Same topic, entirely different discussion)

    I think that women in countries where abortion is banned risk injury and death in order to have an abortion because they hope that their chances of injury and death are low enough that they’ll escape it. If, say, half of women died from illegal abortions and this fact was widely known, I don’t think women would have illegal abortions. In reality, the risk in America was much lower. It is estimated that 130,000 women received an illegal abortion in 1972. The number of deaths caused by illegal abortions in 1972 was 39. That’s a 0.03% chance of death. Women had illegal abortions because they viewed the benefits as outweighing the likelihood of death.

    http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/tgr/06/1/gr060108.html

    Yes, parents can give their kids up for adoption or leave them in the care of sitters. But if they put their children in a situation where they have a high chance of dying while under your responsibility, this is seen as criminal. My point was that even if you didn’t have the choice to give your child up for adoption, it would STILL be criminal to abandon your child in a way that would result in almost certain death.

    Also, I see a person’s right not to donate blood as inferior to a child’s right not to be left to die by their parents if no other caregiver is available. It is probably clear by now that I don’t view the question of whether the child is inside vs outside of the body as being as important as you obviously feel it is. Saying that it is obviously more important than everything else is begging the question.

    @Sarah: Typing one word in all caps is fine. I do it all the time when I’m not sure if italics is available. (in fact I just did it a two paragraphs ago)
    “You have to consent to enter into a relationship of care for another human being/person…Think about what it would mean if this weren’t the case.”
    Actually I don’t need to imagine that situation, because it already exists. It is called the draft. By the mere fact that I live in this country and have Y chromosomes, I am required, as congress dictates, to put my life in danger in order to protect this country. And I understand why it needs to be that way (well, except for the chromosomes part). However, it is hard to understand why the government can require me to put my life in danger, but can’t use tax money to help the poor (like Conservatives claim) or can’t require parents to keep their kids alive until they can be adopted (like some pro-choicers claim). If the government has the power to draft, it has the power to do the other two also. You are legally required to keep your child out of harm’s way as best you can until you can find a way to safely give her up for adoption. When it comes to a third trimester pregnancy, that means birth.

    @Kagerato:
    I disagree that abortion law fundamentally treats the genders different. If there was a transsexual man who got pregnant with a womb that he still possessed from being born a woman, the abortion laws would still apply to him.

    The 19th Amendment talked about giving women the right to vote because that was the issue being raised. The amendment giving women full equality is called The Equal Rights Amendment and it didn’t pass (though I think you can argue that the constitution already provides for equal rights for women. Scalia doesn’t agree, but he’s wrong.) (also: when the Equal Rights Amendment is brought up again, write it in such a way so that it doesn’t have a time limit on it. If they hadn’t have put a time limit in it, they wouldn’t need to start all over again like they do now. The 27th amendment was first proposed in 1789, but didn’t have a time limit written into it so the states just picked up where they had left off and passed it in 1992)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twenty-seventh_Amendment_to_the_United_States_Constitution

    It is true that most pro-lifers try to argue in a secular context (more “stop baby killing” than “follow God’s law”). I think they avoid the God talk in order to try to get secular allies, though a person’s view on abortion, or at least first trimester abortion, largely depends on a person’s level of faith.

    You said: “Abandoning children in the woods is not legal because it’s not meaningfully easier to drop kids in a forest compared to leaving them at a police or fire station.”

    Wait, are you trying to say that if it was easier to leave the kids in the woods then it should be legal? My point is that having a third trimester abortion is equivalent to abandoning a child to die in the woods. It doesn’t matter if there are other options or not. If the only way to get rid of a child was to leave them in the woods to die, it would still be illegal. It is unfortunate that there isn’t yet a way for a pregnant woman to eject the baby early and have the baby still live, but the lack of that option does not make it okay to let the baby die.

    As for the inherent value of life, I tend to agree with Peter Singer that the more conscious a being is (for example the more types of pain it can feel, such as physical or emotional pain) the more valuable it is. A human is more valuable than a bacteria not because we are the “chosen species” but because we are more conscious than a bacteria is. You need to invoke some sort of intrinsic value to life or else it is hard to argue against dictators and fascists.

    Actually, I didn’t mean for my reference to “Brave New World” to be seen as fear mongering, though I can certainly understand why someone would think that. I was merely making a reference to the fact that in “Brave New World” the growth of fetuses is handled in factories. I don’t see this as intrinsically a bad thing, though there will certainly should be some discussion on the ramifications.

  • http://www.whyihatejesus.blogspot.com/ OMGF

    kagerato

    God can build all the magic baby factories he wants, ultimately — no need for human beings.

    That’s how religious right folks see women already, as non-human baby factories.

  • Sarah Braasch

    I just wanted to add that I reject the too-oft used phrase “financial abortion” as a complete misnomer.

    I have been giving a great deal of thought to the issue of consent for the man. (Consent to enter into a relationship of care, financial or otherwise, for a child — consent to fatherhood.)

    And, I think I was simply making the timing of the man’s opportunity to consent more complicated than it needs to be.

    It’s simple — at whatever moment he becomes aware of the pregnancy/child, he will have an opportunity to consent.

    His consent has no bearing whatsoever on the woman’s choices. She may still choose to terminate the pregnancy, as is her right.

    Actual genetic paternity is of no consequence.

    Even now, men who consent to care financially for children must continue such care, generally speaking, even if they later discover that they are not the genetic fathers.

    (The only thing I’m still struggling with is what if a woman gives birth and consents to motherhood and she raises the child with a man who also consents to fatherhood, and some number of years later, the genetic father (someone else — a different man) discovers the existence of the child. Does he then have a “right” to the child? Does he still get an opportunity to consent? My initial reaction is to say no. I think we need to move away from this preoccupation with genetics and so-called “rights” of parents to their own biological children. But, I am still struggling with this and like scenarios. Sorry. I am probably digressing here. Just something I have been thinking about. I think we need to redefine our whole notion of family to one not based upon biology and genetics and to one that is far more malleable and flexible. I say — contract everything. I think we should contract our familial relationships just like we contract our business relationships. I think it’s stupid to base our legal obligations towards one another on fleeting romantic notions of love. Who cares? That’s not the government’s nor the judiciary’s business. How much simpler would it be if we just contracted everything. Contract housing and finances and everything. It could be a contract between friends or cousins or siblings to live together as a family and to raise children together for a certain amount of time. Then, if there’s a breach of contract, or any problem whatsoever, the issues can be resolved in court. How’s that for an attack on “traditional” marriage and family?)

  • bbk

    @kagerato, the entire Constitution should be re-written from scratch for a dozen different reasons, but that’s neither here nor there. The point is that Roe vs Wade had to be argued against that document, so the arguments only make sense within that context.

    That’s a false understanding of rights as absolutes, which is never the case.

    Firstly, it’s the only option that sidesteps the entire debate on when “personhood” starts. Neither you nor even Rollingforest put forth a strong enough argument to overcome mikespear’s objections earlier in this thread. You’re ultimately going to get caught up in a sticky debate with pro-lifers about when a biological entity obtains full human rights. I’m simply recognizing the fact that it’s not necessary to know the exact moment when personhood begins in order to have a sensible abortion policy. And I can put forth an alternative: personhood doesn’t begin until birth. So you can’t say that I’m claiming an absolute right – it’s all relative. My alternative is informed by several other observations. One, there are 6.6 billion people on this planet. There is an ethical economy in allowing abortions until the last minute. Two, some women do need more time to get one and these women are probably the least fit to raise a child. My approach also eliminates a 12 week “no man’s land” of being obligated to carry a baby to term just to give it up under safe haven laws or put it up for adoption. It’s better to abort it late than to contribute to an even bigger problem a few weeks later.

  • bbk

    @kagerato, it also occurs to me that your last comment employs an argument to moderation. You’re claiming that you’re right because you have the middle-ground solution and others are wrong because they are absolute. You’re saying that full rights for women are wrong for the same reason that no rights are wrong. Really?

    Here’s another thing. A baby in the womb is not capable of self determination, but a woman is. That is absolute. We have living wills and powers of attorney for situations where people are not capable of self determination, in spite of them being “fully human”. The law does not prevent us from granting a family member the right to decide whether their relative lives or dies. The law only prevents mothers from exercising their inherent powers of attorney over a human on life support who is not capable of self determination. It’s a huge inconsistency in how the law gets applied to similar situations. That’s why the argument that the right to privacy gets overridden by a right-to-live at the third trimester, based on some definition of person-hood, is a complete joke, at least in my humble opinion. The whole question of whether or not a fetus is fully human is irrelevant to a mother’s inherent rights.

  • http://kagerato.net kagerato

    You’ve misunderstood several things, bbk.

    (1) I have no intention nor desire to “sidestep” the debate on the when, why, and how of person-hood. I think that is a very valuable conversation to have, and quite probably one of the most important topics in philosophy generally.

    (2) Sensible sorts don’t think it is feasible to determine the exact moment at which ‘human’ becomes ‘person’. Such a discrete moment doesn’t typically even exist. Rather, it is understood to be a gradual process, whereby a thing becomes more and more person-like, until some threshold at which essentially no one would deny it. This is one of the many reasons why the pro-life position is ridiculous: “look, it’s a zygote! person!”

    (3) I wasn’t trying to declare that you necessarily believed in such a concept as absolute rights. I strongly doubt that, considering that even the most adamant advocates of absolute rights tend to surrender the view when actually questioned about it. Instead, the purpose of that passage was two-fold. Firstly, to look at where your statement would lead to if taken as a foundational principle. Secondly, to make clear that seeing abortion rights through the lens of bodily control does not imply that one has an absolute right to their body.

    (4) As to the arbitrary legal cutoff line of stopping abortions during the third trimester, it doesn’t make much sense. None of my writing was meant to imply or declare that the current status quo was the best legal situation possible. Moving the legal point up to birth is about as tenable, considering the relatively small developmental changes during that time period — as compared to say, between birth and two years. Pragmatically speaking, though, there are very few desired abortions during that late period. The primary reason is nearly always a threat to the woman’s life.

    (5) I don’t assert that any claim is correct merely because it sits between two other untenable or undesirable claims.

    (6) I support full rights for women in essentially every meaningful use of the phrase.

    (7) It’s certainly true that embryos and fetuses are not capable of self-determination, nor self-awareness, nor significant demonstrations of many of the other properties I mentioned before. However, that is also largely to entirely true of most infants. This is what Rollingforest was talking about. I’ll summarize the points I was attempting to make in that conversation as this: the mere fact that an action is not strictly wrong in the moral sense does not make it strictly right. We don’t live in a boolean world.

    (8) I fully agree that whether a fetus is human is irrelevant to the mother’s rights. Indeed, irrelevant to any person’s rights. The concepts of fully human, human DNA, lineage, continuation of the species, and so forth that get brought into this are only tangentially related — when they happen to be related at all — to the meaning of person-hood.

  • Rollingforest

    @sarah:

    You said: “It’s simple — at whatever moment [the father] becomes aware of the pregnancy/child, he will have an opportunity to consent.”

    I could support this system. This would be an initiative for the woman to tell the man about the pregnancy during the time when she had the option of getting an abortion. That way, if the man said no he wasn’t going to consent to a financial/visitational relationship with the child, she would still have an option of having an abortion. The only question I would have is how long after he finds out does he have to make his decision? A woman can decide to have an abortion at any time from when she discovers herself pregnant until a point in the pregnancy where the abortion is no longer allowed legally. How long is that window of time and in what fashion can the man be given a similar window?

    “Even now, men who consent to care financially for children must continue such care, generally speaking, even if they later discover that they are not the genetic fathers.”

    Wait, really? I mean that would certainly be a nice thing for him to do, but shouldn’t the state seek out the biological father? It seems like the first man’s consent was tricked out of him on false pretenses (that the child was biologically his). It doesn’t seem fair that he can be lied to and then bound to a contract that he didn’t have full information for. It is becoming easier to test fetal DNA while it is still in the womb. If this can be done at an early stage, I think that the man should be able to require a DNA sample from the fetus before making his decision about whether to consent to fatherhood or not. This should become standard (it would greatly reduce cheating since any mismatch between the father of the child and who the woman is married to could be released to the relevant parties, alerting both the husband of the pregnant woman and the wife of the man the pregnant woman had an affair with that they had been cheated on)

    I think biological relationships are important for evolutionary purposes. True, evolution is not a “purpose” but it is reasonable to assume that most people want to focus on supporting their biological relatives. It is how they view their allegiance and connections and that is how they want to build the system.

    @bbk: But I don’t think my definition of personhood is arbitrary at all. I can stand firm and say that personhood is connected to consciousness which is connected to the formation of the brain which is connected to the second trimester (or so current science seems to suggest). No pro-lifer could ever make me move that marker unless he could prove that the brain developed in a significant way in the first trimester, which from what I can tell, isn’t true. I don’t see any scientific principle that the pro-lifers could possibly argue that would be more reasonable than consciousness when it comes to defining personhood.

    I agree that overpopulation can be a problem. That is why I support wide access to contraception.

    I think the difference between pregnancy and end of life decisions are based on the course that the person is taking. A person at the end of their life is assumed to near death. They have to be in a situation where their survival is questionable. If an elderly person is merely weak, even if they can’t talk, that doesn’t give their family the right to kill them. The baby, on the other hand, if left alone, would grow and be born and likely live a full life. We would never pull the plug on an elderly person who was getting better and we shouldn’t do it to a baby.

    @Kagerato: I think what you said about personhood forming gradually makes sense. It is similar to what I said about Peter Singer’s philosophy that the more conscious a being is (or the more pain it could potentially feel, whether that be physical or emotional) the more worth it has.

    Now, one could argue that at certain points of development a fetus is no more conscious than a cow. Does that mean that we should be allowed to abort these fetuses since we kill cows…or does it mean that we shouldn’t really be killing cows?

  • bbk

    @Sarah, I agree with you 90%, which is great. I agree that the choice, were it offered, should be made immediately, for the very reasons Rollingforest gave. But I’m not really concerned about having “equal” rights the way you might have expected. I actually think that the choice should only be given to fathers who put forth a good-faith effort to establish paternity (i.e. putative father’s registries). Removing the punitive aspect of father’s registries would mean more men would sign up and women would stand a reasonable chance of identifying the real biological mother the first time they visit a doctor. I also think the choice should only be offered if the woman has ready access to abortion* (i.e. the man has to go into an abortion clinic, just like a woman does). What I actually wish to see is an even further reduction in unwanted babies, with more of the type of social benefits that were seen after Roe vs Wade. I would like it to be a policy primarily geared at lifting people out of poverty (a majority of child support live payers live below the poverty line). If it doesn’t benefit everyone – men, women, and children – then I won’t consider it worthwhile.

    *I will expand on the implications of this in another comment. I think there is something very pertinent to this thread.

    @RollingForest, I think legal and financial consultation should be required, as a sort of Miranda Rights for fathers, but I don’t think equal time is necessary or even fair. The main reason for giving extra time is to give men enough time to think it through and come to a socially desirable decision (i.e. the initial reaction might always be a resounding “No”). At the same time, much of this advice could be given ahead of time. Men’s lack of freedom also means there’s a lack of family planning services geared towards them. I think these services would crop up all over the place, helping men evaluate their suitability for fatherhood upon registering for father’s registries, helping them protect their identities from fraud, etc.

  • bbk

    @Rollingforest, kagerato

    I agree with you that biological distinctions are gradual, etc. Don’t see anything specifically eye opening there. (Kagerato, I’ll take your word for the clarifications you’ve made even though some of it doesn’t seem to line up with what you said before.) But as I said, the status of the baby is irrelevant.

    First, the end-of-life vs beginning-of-life distinction is a completely valid way to look at it, but it’s not where I see the similarities. Both situations involve a financial decision. People in and end-of-life situations often want their last remaining savings to go to a young family member to help them get a better start on life rather than to blow through tens of thousands of dollars for a couple extra weeks on life support. They’re thinking about the best use of their financial resources and the future of their children. Likewise, a pregnant mother is thinking about the best use of her resources and the life she can provide to a child. So it’s the same sort of decision with similar motivating factors. And this leads me to re-evaluate the beginning vs end of life distinction as just a question of degree. It’s about saving an old person a couple days of agony versus saving a baby an entire lifetime of anguish. It’s still the same sort of situation for me because I don’t focus on the biological factors, just the human factors. That’s why I see the huge discrepancy in how the law gets applied.

    Furthermore, I don’t know any woman who goes into an abortion clinic and says “I have this non-human parasite growing in me, remove it!” Most of them come in and say “I can’t possibly raise a child.” It’s a decision that can ultimately be described in financial terms, even if it’s a question about being cut off by a disapproving family. Every woman I have ever met considers it her child, whether it has a fully developed brain or not. That is the standard I’m going by. If someone murders a pregnant mother, for example, I would expect a manslaughter charge for the child even if it’s in the first trimester. So that’s how I look at it – it’s always her child, regardless of level of brain development, and it’s the very fact that she’s the mother of this child that I draw upon to proffer abortion rights to her. I don’t think like this: “well, right now it’s just a parasite (medical condition), so abort away… but later on it becomes a baby and she becomes a mother so that’s a tough call…” To me, that’s not the greatest philosophical question of all time, it’s the greatest sophistry of all time (no offense).

  • Rollingforest

    @bbk: I might agree with you about putative father’s registries and fathers rights. But the problem I see is that the father might not even know the woman is pregnant until later in the pregnancy, or (if she lives far away) not until after the child is born. That’s fine in regard to child support: the father could be given the same amount of time to decide about whether he wants to commit as he would have if he had been told earlier. It would give the woman incentive to tell him earlier so that she could have an abortion if he opted out of child care, a choice she might not have if she waits too long. The problem, however, comes when we consider adoption. What if a woman never told the man she dated and broke up with that she was pregnant, gave birth, and wanted to give the child up for adoption? Adoption rights are not cared for under that system necessarily and it is something that we will need to consider in developing the best system.

    I don’t entirely agree that a father should be required to immediately give an answer when it comes to whether or not to commit to being the legal father of a child. Fatherhood can be both a big burden and a huge (secular) blessing. It is reasonable that even if he has thought hypothetically about fatherhood, being hit with the reality of it could require some thought. I don’t think the fathers would necessarily come to whatever the culture demanded of them if they were given more time. They could, if they felt empowered, make decisions for their own lives.

    It is true that a child born into poverty can have a bad life. But it doesn’t need to be this way. We can lift them out of poverty. I agree that we should try and give people in poverty control over their own reproduction, but this should be done before the personhood of the child is created, for reasons I’ve pointed out in past posts.

    We may just have different definitions of personhood. Despite what Sam Harris may say, values are not always like science. They can’t always be easily proven. I can show you the results of my system, but I can’t make you see them as a good thing if you don’t value it as such.

    As you might guess, if someone killed a woman who was pregnant, I would charge them with murder as well as manslaughter if the baby was in the second or third trimester but no extra charge if the fetus was in the first trimester.

    Also, don’t worry about offending me. If you or anyone else has reasoning to back up their beliefs, I’ll never be mad at them. What I don’t like is the “team” atmosphere that has developed to some degree on this site. It seems groups of people are on certain teams and they always criticize each other but never a person on their own team. But while we may share many beliefs on some issues, we obviously disagree on others. And that’s okay. We shouldn’t have to agree on everything (and I find preaching to the choir to be boring. That’s why I often befriend people I disagree with, so that I can have friendly debates with them. Did I mention my best friend thinks of herself as a fundamentalist Conservative?) I should expect to find things that I agree and disagree with you, Sarah, OMGF, and others.

  • Rollingforest

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/22/magazine/22Paternity-t.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1&adxnnl=1&ref=magazine&adxnnlx=1298905560-Lj1tO48MT8gEYq1sW7iw7w

    An article that is sure to get a response from bbk (which I’m sure Ebon will appreciate haha!)

    In regard to the article: simple solution. Require genetic testing for all births.

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org Ebonmuse

    I think this thread is way off-topic and has been for a while.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X