Questions (and Answers) for Pro-Choice Individuals

This year’s election saw the emergence of top-tier candidates, like Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock, who were willing to be open about the logical consequences of the increasingly standard pro-life position that a fertilized egg is equal to a baby. If a fertilized egg is a baby, then an abortion is murder, full stop. This includes the abortion given to an 11-year-old girl raped by her father. Most people, even those who claim to be “very pro-life,” usually support rape and incest exceptions to their position, because the idea of forcing a violated woman or girl to give birth against her will is too awful to contemplate.

The inherent contradiction is ripe for questioning, though, and pro-life politicians have come under some scrutiny by the press, who want to see how consistent their pro-life positions really are and whether they are willing to look into the camera and throw themselves off the political cliff… as Akin and Mourdock clearly did.

However, in a curious turn of events for liberals, pro-choice candidates are rarely questioned on their position.

When does the baby start?

Generally, pro-choice candidates are allowed to sit back and see their pro-life opponents field questions about sexual assault, jail sentences, and contraception. Christian blogger Trevin Wax thinks this isn’t very fair and has drafted a series of questions for pro-choice candidates.

Several of the questions have merit, and I agree with him that a pro-choice candidate — in fact, pro-choice individuals on the whole — would do well to contemplate their answers.

Let’s give them a shot:

1. You say you support a woman’s right to make her own reproductive choices in regards to abortion and contraception. Are there any restrictions you would approve of?

This is a very difficult question to answer. The extreme test case would be a woman nine months pregnant, from consensual sex, with a perfectly healthy fetus, with its natural birth mere days away. Would you support an abortion in this case? I am comfortable saying I would have moral objections to it. However, one cannot legislate on the basis of red herrings. The vast majority of abortions occur early in pregnancy, and virtually all “late-term” abortions involve tragic situations with the health of either the baby or the mother. I think the best answer for a lay-person would be that though some theoretical situations could doubtlessly be constructed in which an abortion would be morally objectionable, individual situations vary so much that constructing a truly fair legislative solution is almost impossible. In any event, the moral problem of an abortion would have to be measured against the moral problem of submitting a woman or girl to forced childbirth.

2. In 2010, The Economist featured a cover story on “the war on girls” and the growth of “gendercide” in the world — abortion based solely on the sex of the baby. Does this phenomenon pose a problem for you or do you believe in the absolute right of a woman to terminate a pregnancy because the unborn fetus is female?

One can and should absolutely condemn the deplorable sexism that is the basis of sexual selection. However simply banning a given motivation, no matter how deplorable, will accomplish nothing. All it will do is teach pregnant women to lie to their doctors about their motivations. The solution is the much longer and harder path of improving education on the subject.

3. In many states, a teenager can have an abortion without her parents’ consent or knowledge but cannot get an aspirin from the school nurse without parental authorization. Do you support any restrictions or parental notification regarding abortion access for minors?

This comparison is absurd. Schools require parental authorization for medicines to prevent drug use and also as a protective measure against lawsuits. If you deny a teen an aspirin, she will have a headache; if you deny her an abortion, she will either find an illegal, possibly deadly, way to have the abortion, or be forced to carry a baby to term, then have to decide between giving it up for adoption or compromising her future by becoming a teen mother. The fact that parental rights over their children do not necessarily extend to forcing them to have babies against their will is not comparable to controlling their medicine ingestion on school grounds.

4. If you do not believe that human life begins at conception, when do you believe it begins? At what stage of development should an unborn child have human rights?

“Human life” is not a scientifically relevant term. Thus, the definition will depend on many different and often highly subjective factors. When an “unborn child” (which covers everything from a one-celled zygote to an eight-month-old fetus) should have rights is a question I honestly don’t have an answer to. I will say, however, that I do not believe there is a day-before and day-after “personhood.” There is nothing magical in human development. Humans develop from a single cell, through exponential cell division and specialization, eventually leading to the development of a proto-nervous system that gradually becomes more developed and can start to “feel” in some recognizable way, eventually becoming more and more like what we think of as a “person.” Trying to put a date on when the magical “moment” happens is like trying to decide when red becomes blue. Deciding that, since finding this cut-off is impossible, you will put the cut-off at the zygote just to be safe is like deciding that all colors will now be called “color,” since they cannot be objectively distinguished.

5. Currently, when genetic testing reveals an unborn child has Down Syndrome, most women choose to abort. How do you answer the charge that this phenomenon resembles the “eugenics” movement a century ago — the slow, but deliberate “weeding out” of those our society would deem “unfit” to live?

I answer it by saying that I reject the premise that a fetus is the moral equivalent of an adult human and, thus, aborting a fetus is not the moral equivalent of murdering a so-called “defective” adult. Forced sterilization of both men and women for being “defective” (on the basis of a much looser definition than the hard chromosome count) is forcing medical procedures on an individual against their will, which I oppose in the name of individual autonomy. It is the same reason I find forced childbirth objectionable. I wonder, do you find nothing objectionable about forcing childbirth on an unwilling girl?

6. Do you believe an employer should be forced to violate his or her religious conscience by providing access to abortifacient drugs and contraception to employees?

An employer should not have the power to pick and choose what medical procedures their employees get to have. If you have to pay for health insurance, you are not empowered with sudden authority to make medical decisions for someone. What if an employer finds chemotherapy objectionable? What if your employer is a Christian Scientist who believes prayer ought to be a cure for even serious illnesses?

7. Alveda King, niece of Martin Luther King, Jr. has said that “abortion is the white supremacist’s best friend,” pointing to the fact that Black and Latinos represent 25% of our population but account for 59% of all abortions. How do you respond to the charge that the majority of abortion clinics are found in inner-city areas with large numbers of minorities?

I respond by saying that this is the craziest thing I’ve read since the last time I checked the Fox News website. However, the disproportionate number of abortions amongst minority women does seem to reflect various inequalities that they face, so I would wholeheartedly support policies to bring these women out of poverty, provide them with health care, and give them comprehensive sex education that reduces the number of unintended pregnancies. Wouldn’t you support these policies in the name of reducing the number of abortions?

8. You describe abortion as a “tragic choice.” If abortion is not morally objectionable, then why is it tragic? Does this mean there is something about abortion that is different than other standard surgical procedures?

I would only describe some abortions as a “tragic choice,” namely those carried out by women who would much rather have a child than an abortion but who decide to have an abortion for other reasons, be they external or health-related. These are tragic because, in many cases, women have an emotional connection to the idea of a baby, even if that baby does not yet exist or never will. This makes the decision to abort a tragedy for her, and I would not minimize her pain or that of the potential father.

9. Do you believe abortion should be legal once the unborn fetus is viable — able to survive outside the womb?

Though instinctually attractive, viability is not a good cut-off for limitations on abortion, because it is a moving target. Year by year, more and more premature babies are made viable by the power of science and the heroic efforts of doctors and nurses. Some day, it may be possible to have an entire pregnancy extra-utero. Would we then consider the abortion of a zygote murder? This seems absurd. Whatever restrictions we wish to place on abortions, they must be taken mostly independent of technological advances.

10. If a pregnant woman and her unborn child are murdered, do you believe the criminal should face two counts of murder and serve a harsher sentence?

Again, this is an attractive idea, but difficult to justify. If killing a pregnant woman is two murders, is just killing the fetus (forced abortion) one murder? And if that is one murder, why is the woman herself getting an abortion not murder? Of course, this last question is exactly where the pro-lifer wants to take us with this question. The idea of killing a pregnant woman disgusts us because it targets someone vulnerable, the way killing someone elderly, disabled, or very young does. In the case of partnered women, it also causes even more severe emotional distress for the future father, who goes from having a partner and expecting a child to having neither in one go. One can punish this crime more severely for these reasons without falling into the pro-lifer trap.

How would you answer these questions?

(image via Shutterstock)

About Claudia

I'm a lifelong atheist and a molecular biologist with a passion for science and a passionate opposition to its enemies.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    4. If you do not believe that human life begins at conception, when do you believe it begins?

    From a biological perspective, why single out human life? Human exceptionalism is going to ring hollow to anyone with a decent education in biology. Life in general began probably 3-4 billion years ago. With that caveat, human life began about 6 million years ago, when the human and chimpanzee lines split. This is a rather fuzzy dividing point which can only be identified in retrospect.

    • The Other Weirdo

       Wow! The Microsoft of answers. While technically true, it is completely irrelevant to the question at hand.

      • Reginald Selkirk

         Which points out that someone is asking the wrong questions.

  • C Peterson

    Your list of questions is superb… and unlike the questions we typically see presented on the other side, these are truly thoughtful ones. Your answers are also excellent, and very well reasoned.

    The only one I’d tweak a bit would be #4. Clearly, science can inform us about the developmental process of an in-utero human. We can rationally decide at what point we consider a nervous system to be sufficiently developed that we choose- by societal consensus- to consider the fetus to be a “person” and therefore to have at least some rights. And the easiest way to implement this is to have a simple cutoff date for elective abortions- something on the safe side of where this rationally defined “personhood” exists. To a certain extent, there is an arbitrariness to this. But so what? It’s no more arbitrary than the way we define adulthood, or driving age, or many other things. It’s a mechanism we employ for purely practical reasons, and it works. In fact, for the most part, it’s the way we currently operate when it comes to placing limits on late term abortions- something which also works pretty well.

    • Reginald Selkirk

       OK, so you’re working on technican alswers to when a fewtus becomes a “person.” Next you can expend some effort into deciding precisely when a pregnant woman ceases to be a “person.”

      • C Peterson

        Your point escapes me. A fetus and a pregnant woman can both be “persons” at the same time, and making a decision favoring the rights of the fetus over the rights of the woman in no way makes her less of a person.

        Above all, the law is about dealing with the issues that arise when individual rights come into conflict with each other. It is the role of society to find the right balances, and that’s all I’m arguing for- balances arrived at through rational thinking, not emotion.

        • Brian Pansky

          “and making a decision favoring the rights of the fetus over the rights of the woman”

          would you specify if it is the woman making this choice, or is it forced upon her?

          “that’s all I’m arguing for- balances arrived at through rational thinking, not emotion”

          1) emotion informs much rational thought, particularly in social matters
          2)all pro-choice people have actually done this balancing you ask for.  You just don’t like their results.

          • C Peterson

            I don’t understand your first question.

            IMO, emotion never informs rational thought. Emotional and rational thought processes are both important, and both inform our final choices, but they are separate ways of thinking.

            I was arguing specifically for the sort of balance that has come from pro-choice thinking- the idea that it is rational to define a specific point in pregnancy before which the fetus has no rights, and after which it has some.

            • Reginald Selkirk

              IMO, emotion never informs rational thought

              You are entitled to your wrong opinion.

          • brianmacker

            Emotion also informs much irrational thought. Since he argued that your comment was not rational he was implying emotion fueled irrationality (and there are other kinds of irrationality).

            • C Peterson

              You misunderstand me. I did not suggest that Brian’s arguments were irrational, nor did I attribute them to emotion. I simply disagreed with him that emotion informs rational thought. Clearly it does not, since emotional and rational thought processes are completely different- something that is now pretty well understood by cognitive science.

              • Ben C

                You need to review your science. Recent evidence indicates emotion plays a significant role in reason. It only looks like two different parts of cognition. According to Antonio Damasio, emotion is essential to rational thinking. Not well known, because it is a new discovery.

        • http://anarchic-teapot.net/ anarchic teapot

           ”making a decision favoring the rights of the fetus over the rights of the woman in no way makes her less of a person”

          Actually, both legally and socially it *does*, since she – as a fully autonomous, conscious adult -  would have fewer rights than an unborn fetus. We won’t go into the psychological damage of being forced to bear an unwanted child, irrespective of the reason for the child not being wanted.

          • C Peterson

            Nonsense. We constantly evaluate the rights of individuals that come into conflict, and find balances. Somebody who finds their own rights limited in favor of somebody else is not less of a person as a result.

            • http://anarchic-teapot.net/ anarchic teapot

              No, you are talking nonsense. By making a fetus a person and giving it more rights than the human being in whose uterus it happens to be, you are limiting the rights of a person in favour of a non-person.

              You are therefore explicitly reducing women to the role of walking uterus.

              A woman’s body belongs to her, not to anyone else – and that includes the contents of her uterus, wanted or not.

              • C Peterson

                You obviously did not read all that I wrote above.

                The majority of people clearly do believe that there is some point during pregnancy where a fetus has at least some rights. That societal recognition does not make a women less of a person. Restricting anybody’s rights in favor of somebody else’s does not make them less of a person.

                • http://anarchic-teapot.net/ anarchic teapot

                   Actually, I did read it all. Hence reply crossing ‘T’s and dotting ‘I’s.

                  “The majority of people clearly do believe” – Ah, so now it’s “the majority of people” when previously you were presenting the viewpoint as factual & your own? Nice wriggle.

                  As for the rest: you’re simply repeating a claim which is, in fact, demonstrably false. Giving a fetus *at any point* rights that take priority over the woman’s *without that woman’s explicit consent* is implicitly making her less of a person, socially and legally.  In other words, yes you are taking rights from the woman if you would award them systematically to the fetus.

                • C Peterson

                  If you read it, you certainly didn’t understand it, since you radically miss the point.

                • LCforevah

                   Your point needs to be missed.

                • Carla

                  The majority of people believed that slavery was okay, and that a white person had more rights than a black person. You want to look a black person in the eyes and tell them that him being your slave doesn’t make him less of a person?

                • C Peterson

                  Black people at that time were generally defined as half a person. By societal consensus. No problem.

                • Carla

                  Seriously? No problem? If your version of morality is majority societal consensus, then there is no discussion here. People like you don’t bring about change, you accept it when other people’s hard work gets around to giving it to you. I seriously doubt that if a majority of the nation decided to take away your bodily autonomy, you’d be a-okay with that because it came from the “legally defensible” majority. 

                • C Peterson

                  Yes, my version of morality is based on societal consensus. It’s a mainstream view, and while I have no problem with you having a different view, you seem to display so much anger that it interferes with your ability to conduct a rational, civil discussion.

            • Carla

              Point: it’s not a person until it’s no longer inside my person. As long as its life depends on it parasitizing on mine, then it’s not a person. Once it’s out, it gets its own rights. When it’s in, its a parasitic extension of my body. Seems simple enough, yes?

              • C Peterson

                Thank you for your opinion. However, it is legally meaningless if it differs significantly from how our society chooses to define a person. And I see little evidence that even quite liberal people are willing to consider a fetus to have no rights near the end of the term.

                • Carla

                  Explain how majority opinion = legally defensible and where a Constitution that deliberately protects the rights of the minority fits into that idea. Then, offer precedent that proves that the majority opinion is always legally defensible, and that the minority opinion is legally indefensible. Then, explain why legally defensible = moral, and why legally defensible is more important than moral. Then, explain why I should give a flying fuck whether or not something is legally defensible when my whole purpose is to bring about a change in those “defensible” laws.

                • C Peterson

                  I said nothing at all about majority opinions. Whatever you are discussing here, it isn’t what I was talking about at all.

        • LCforevah

           Yes, making a decision in favor of a mass of cells makes the woman less of a person. Coercion is coercion. Forcible pregnancy is just wrong, and your word salad doesn’t make it legitimate.

    • brianmacker

      Those aren’t her questions. You are praising Trevin Wax, the Christian blogger that wrote them in the link.

      • C Peterson

        Thanks for the clarification, but it doesn’t affect my comments. The questions are excellent, because they get at the heart of the major arguments, and Claudia’s responses are excellent, because they effectively dismiss all of them for anybody who favors rational answers to these sorts of questions.

    • Jason Robertson

      I’ve always seen this as a pretty answerable question. There are no persons in wombs. We live in a world where the abortion problem is not nearly as thorny as it might be. Are persons entities which feel pain? Clearly not in our society where we kill fairly cognitively capable organisms for food. And an immediately pre-partum human has no knowledge that they have a mind and none at all that there are other minds.

      If anything of that sort strikes you as being a person, I am alarmed by how low you have set the bar for personhood. We live in a world where a good number of months pass post-partum at a _minimum_ before the developments come far enough to argue for human personhood. Of course, once extra-womb, there is no longer any reason why not to err in favor of the infant, but really.

      There are no persons inside of wombs.

      • C Peterson

        “Persons” are legal constructs, not scientific ones. The only fair definition of “person” is what societal consensus makes it. While I personally don’t think that a fetus is a person, neither do I think a newborn is one. Ethically, I have no problem with infanticide. Obviously, societal consensus sees that differently!

        In the end, the point where a developing human is considered a person- at least in the sense that it is granted some rights- is determined by society, and I expect that point will be sometime before birth, not at or after. And that’s not an irrational thing assuming this is a fairly late point. But we’ll see.

        • Jason Robertson

          I contest your claim that from “legal construct” we can proceed to “only fair definition”. The law has often pushed back directly against  ”societal consensus” to our benefit.

          • C Peterson

            I don’t think the law ever pushes back against societal consensus. It is societal consensus that drives the law. To be clear, I’m talking consensus here, not majority.

            • Jason Robertson

              How do you understand consensus exactly?

              • C Peterson

                Consensus generally means everybody except for the extreme fringe, often considered criminal. For instance, killing a person is considered immoral in most circumstances by consensus. Having sex with children is considered immoral by consensus. Stealing is considered immoral by consensus. These are things the vast majority of people would not engage in even in the absence of laws.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    5. Currently, when genetic testing reveals an unborn child has
    Down Syndrome, most women choose to abort. How do you answer the charge
    that this phenomenon resembles the “eugenics” movement a century ago —
    the slow, but deliberate “weeding out” of those our society would deem
    “unfit” to live?

    One huge distinction which you didn’t mention is that in the modern case of Down’s syndrome, the decision will be made by the pregnant woman, not forced on her by state-sponsored medical authorities. When will anti-choice people realize that the question is about the rights of a woman to control her own body? At what point does a woman cease being a “person” and become merely an incubator?

    • brianmacker

      She covered that with “It is the same reason I find forced childbirth objectionable.”

  • Reginald Selkirk

    6. Do you believe an employer should be forced to violate his or
    her religious conscience by providing access to abortifacient drugs and
    contraception to employees?

    Why is it that employers have so many rights, and employees have so few? This would be one huge advantage of a single payer health care system; the employer would be removed from the loop. I suppose then that conservatives would complain about “their tax dollars” being used for medical procedures to which they object. Conservatives are just not happy if they can’t tell other people how to live their lives.

    • C Peterson

      Conservatives are already dictating public policy in that way, by restricting the use of federal funds for contraception and abortion. They do this on the grounds that nobody should be forced to pay for things they have strong moral objections to… but I don’t see them offering tax breaks for those of us who object to the military, or any number of other things.

      • AxeGrrl

        They do this on the grounds that nobody should be forced to pay for things they have strong moral objections to… but I don’t see them offering tax breaks for those of us who object to the military, or any number of other things.

        Bingo.

        If the argument is made that employer’s shouldn’t have to pay for something that ‘goes against their conscience’, then there should be consistency in this policy and NO ONE should be forced to pay for anything that goes against their beliefs/values.

        I wouldn’t hold my breath on that one :)

    • Blacksheep

      On the rights issue, you’re missing the point – it’s wrong for ANYONE to act against their conscience. The employee is doing something they are comfortable with, while the employer is being forced (in some cases) to go against her beliefs. Nothing to do with one having more rights than the other. As an employer, I can tell you that you have it backwards – employees have many more rights than employers. 

      • AxeGrrl

        it’s wrong for ANYONE to act against their conscience

        Then they can walk away from what they’re doing.  Everyone is free to do that.

        But no one should be able to unilaterally ‘opt out’ of a responsibility that everyone else is demanded/forced to adhere to.

        • Blacksheep

          You mean walk away from running a company? From providing insurance? Not sure what you mean.

          I understand where you’re coming from, but please know that in your version it’s the employer who gives up her rights, for the sake of the employee.

          • Reginald Selkirk

            but please know that in your version it’s the employer who gives up her rights, for the sake of the employee.

            So you really do believe than an employer has a right to control the sex life of their employees.
            Fuck you (and I mean that quite figuratively).

            • Blacksheep

              You can read into what I said all that you want, and be as rude as you want. Someone’s sex life and whether or not one is paying to end a human life are as far apart as east is from the west. Calm down.

              • WoodyTanaka

                First, you assume it’s “ending a human life”  Massive category error.

                Second, the net result of your position is that you are permitting employers, by their mere status as employer, to affect someone’s sex life.  That’s pretty massively fucked up.

              • Reginald Selkirk

                as far apart as east is from the west

                How far apart are east and west? Doesn’t it depend on point of view?

              • PegK

                Employers indirectly fund all the of their employees financial behaviors by paying the employees a wage.  This is true whether or not those behaviors result from the use of their employer provided health care plan or from their salary. Should employers be able to control all of their employees behaviors because those behaviors are being funded through pay provided by said employer?  Insurance is generally regarded by employers as part of a “pay package” which includes such benefits as health care.

                • PegK

                  Correction….”all of their”

              • Deven Kale

                 East and west can be pretty close together, actually. If you have a north-south line that you’ll say is the middle, then put something 1 inch east of that line, and 1 inch west, then east and west are only 2 inches apart. ;)

                I think what you meant to say are that they are as different as east and west, in that they’re opposites of each other. Even that’s not entirely true though, since there is overlap between sex and abortion.

                Maybe you should just stuck with apples and oranges, and try not to get into the (apparently) more complex analogies from now on, mkay?

                • Blacksheep

                  It’s a biblical quote, Deven. Why the pissy attitude? 

                • Deven Kale

                   Did that come across as pissy? It was meant to be more snarky. Sorry if I seemed angry there. ;)

                • Blacksheep

                  …or Kipling, if you like poetry instead of the Bible:

                  “OH, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet…”

                • Deven Kale

                   That’s him saying they’re opposites. It still has nothing to do with how far apart they are. And even then, he’s wrong anyway (unless you and he are flat-earthers). If one person leaves point A heading East, and another heading West, they’ll eventually meet eachother. If they’re traveling at the same speed, it’ll be at a point anti-polar to where they started. ;)

                • Blacksheep

                  Wow, people must love you at parties! ;)

          • C Peterson

            An employer has no rights. Or at least, in a rational society that doesn’t treat corporations as equivalent to people, that would be the case.

      • RobMcCune

        Can a muslim employer not give an employee a lunch break if they use it to buy a ham sandwich at Subway? Can a mormon employer do the same if their employee decides to get a Starbucks coffee? The employer is giving up time so that the employee can use it for something they consider immoral. How is that different than buying health insurance that employees will use at their discretion?

        • Blacksheep

          I think you lost the spirit of my discourse withReginald. he said, “Why is it that employers have so many rights, and employees have so few?” 

          I was pointing out that that is incorrect, that in fact in order for employees to have rights, employers are asked to give up their right – to a clear conscience – and that in fact it is employees and not employers who have more rights.

          • Deven Kale

             Your conscience need only be bothered by actions made by yourself. The fact that you seem to think that allowing others the ability to make their own choices can somehow have any bearing on your own conscience is very telling. It implies that you believe that you have a moral duty to control the actions of others.

            This is a dangerous (and immoral) belief. Assuming some sort of control in the actions of others is removing their own rights to autonomy. It means that they no longer have a right to choose their own actions for themselves, based upon their own conscience. It’s overriding their own conscience in favor of yours.

            In other words, allowing you the right to believe in this moral duty to control others infringes on the rights of others. This is a right that no person has over any other adult (children are a different conversation). So no, it is not removing the right to a clear conscience from anyone simply because they’re an employer. What it actually is, is not giving anyone the right to control others simply because they’re an employer.

        • http://anarchic-teapot.net/ anarchic teapot

           Of for crying out loud. A lunch/coffee break is NOT the employer “giving up time”. I suspect that even in the socially backward parts of the USA, a lunch break is a right, not a privilege.

          • Deven Kale

             You’re right. There are laws which protect a workers right to an unpaid lunch break of at least one half hour in any shift longer than 5 hours (I think it’s five, but I could be wrong). In some states there are even laws which dictate minimum paid break allowances based on the total length of the shift as well.

            • Wren Combs

              Only in some states.  There are states that do not have any laws requiring breaks.

              • Deven Kale

                 Okay wow, it’s actually a lot more complicated than I thought! Thanks for encouraging me to look it up. ;)

                Here’s a pretty good summary of them, from I’ve been able to tell. I verified three of them and they were accurate (Oregon, Washington, and Utah. The states I already knew fairly well):http://www.legalandrew.com/2008/08/06/lunch-labor-laws-federal-and-state/

      • Reginald Selkirk

         As an employer, do you feel that the sex lives of your employees is any of your business?

        • Blacksheep

          Why does that have anything to do with my point about who has more rights, employees or employers?

      • WoodyTanaka

        By choosing to go into business, the employer gives up rights.  If an employer is a bigot and believes that hiring minorities is immoral, he has to give up the right to follow that belief.  This is no different. 

      • http://anarchic-teapot.net/ anarchic teapot

         ” while the employer is being forced (in some cases) to go against her beliefs.”

        Why is this a problem in the USA, but not in other developed countries? If you don’t want to provide health insurance as an employer, that’s your problem. That it may discourage potential employees who prefer to go somewhere more enlightened is also your problem.

        Again, you can’t have your cake and eat it. Either you provide complementary health insurance for all or you provide none.

      • LCforevah

         Insurance is part of a benefits package which is part of salary. This “religious liberty” is a very recent sleazy get-around the fact that an employer has no right to tell an employee what to do with his salary.

    • Russian Alex

      Thank you. My answer to that question would be simply “Yes.” My employer’s religious conscience has nothing to do with my life. I did not sign up for their religion, and they are not my spiritual adviser to have a say in what’s right and what’s wrong for me. They are required by law to employ me without regard to my marital status, even though some may strongly object on religious grounds to an unmarried couple living together, or religion, even though some consider atheists to be an affront to their beliefs. We extend way too much consideration for religious convictions, especially when they start interfering with real lives of others. Reality over fantasy, please.

    • brianmacker

      The only reason the employer is in the loop is because of government tax rules. There is no reason for either the employer or the government to be paying for you insurance. In fact the tax rule incentivize the employer to provide a plan with a close to zero deductible, which hardly counts as true insurance. It’s actually a tax avoidance scheme.

      • C Peterson

        Agreed. The government should simply be paying for the medical care of all its citizens. Problem solved- no need for insurance at all.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    10. If a pregnant woman and her unborn child are murdered, do
    you believe the criminal should face two counts of murder and serve a
    harsher sentence?

    Uh, why? Because the sentence for a single murder is not harsh enough?

    • Superdove

      So if a mother and son are walking down the street and get gunned down, you’re OK with the murderer facing only one charge of murder? You’re being intellectually lazy.

      • RobMcCune

        Based on the analogy you made I think your projecting.

        • Superdove

          The question stands on its own, it’s pretty clear.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=705066677 Desiree Bell-Fowlks

            No it is not.  You are talking about two people.  We are talking about a pregnant woman.  No comparision.

            • Superdove

              Go back and read the thread, you’re shifting the topic.
              Reginald said, “Uh, Why? Because the sentence for a single murder is not harsh enough?” Which implies that the punishment for murdering one person is good enough for murdering two people. Which we of course are, a baby inside of a mother. 1+1 = 2.

              • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=705066677 Desiree Bell-Fowlks

                You assume he considers the fetus is a person.

                • Superdove

                  I simply read his post and took it at face value.

                • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=705066677 Desiree Bell-Fowlks

                  No you made an assumption without clarying his position first.

                • Superdove

                  You are assuming that you are correct, without considering that others feel as justified in their positions as you do.

                • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=705066677 Desiree Bell-Fowlks

                  No I do not.  That is why I am pro-choice.  I understand my views only apply to my body.  Others have views that are different and should only apply to their bodies. 

                • RobMcCune

                  Thinking otherwise would require a little bit of intellectual effort, and a lot less troll effort.

              • The captain

                Your math is wrong let me help you.

                Mother=1
                unborn fetus or “Baby” as you say=0

                So 1+0=1. thus 1 murder has happened.

                • Superdove

                  No, 1+1=2 no matter what. Even in an accidental universe.

                • Deven Kale

                   That’s not true. If you have two sets of one thing, where each set happens to contain the same thing, then adding those two sets of one thing will only give you that one thing.

                  In other words, using set theory, 1+1== 1

      • Reginald Selkirk

        Because I ask a question about one situation means I hold an opinion about another situation? I think I can figure out which one of us is a) intellectually lazy b) logically deficient c) an asshole.Since, from your question, the mother and son are both “walking” and therefore presumably alive and their “personhood” is not in question, a second charge of murder would not be controversial.But even so; let’s imagine that the murderer in that situation faced charges for multiple counts of murder. Would you feel a special glee to see him get multiple life terms in prison, knowing that he won’t actually serve more than one lifetime in prison? (Some background info: when a person with multiple life terms dies in prison, they do not prop the corpse up in the corner for another century or so. They dispose of it the same as if he had served only one life term.)

        • Superdove

          In the real world, a penalty for murder is not always a life sentance. For two murders it might be. 

          • Reginald Selkirk

             Jared Lee Loughner (When you become a serial murderer, you automatically qualify for three name usage) was just sentenced to seven life terms + 140 years. Does that make you gleeful? Or perhaps you are disappointed that the death penalty will not be applied. They could hang him, then shoot the corpse, and then strap it into an electric chair in a gas chamber. That would probably warm your heart.

            • Superdove

              You sound imbalanced.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    8. You describe abortion as a “tragic choice.” If abortion is
    not morally objectionable, then why is it tragic? Does this mean there
    is something about abortion that is different than other standard
    surgical procedures?

    To whom is this addressed? I don’t recall using that phrasing. If these questions are for all pro-choice candidates, how can Trevin Wax be putting words in all of their mouths?.That people are allowed to make choices about their own bodies, regardless of the impact on the life and health of others, is not especially controversial. An example: blood donation saves lives. Should the government mandate blood donation, rather than it up to the generosity and selflessness of the individual? Should we refer to the failure to donate blood as a “tragic choice”? And, unlike with pregnancy, the cost and risk to the donor is minimal. And yet, most people will agree that allowing the individual not to donate blood is a perfectly acceptable price for freedom. Why do conservatives hate freedom?

    • http://twitter.com/TychaBrahe TychaBrahe

      Abortion to me is a tragic choice because it represents failure.  Perhaps it is a personal failure of the parents to properly use birth control.  Perhaps it is a failure of our society that a woman is raped or the victim of incest.  Perhaps it is a failure of education.  Perhaps it is a technical failure of birth control that simply isn’t always effective.  (I know a woman who recently had to have an abortion because neither her doctor nor her pharmacist informed her that the antibiotic she would be taking would interfere with the effectiveness of her birth control pill.)  

      Abortions are medically riskier than birth control.  In an ideal world (without crime, birth defects, lapses of whatever sort) they wouldn’t have to happen.  Unfortunately we don’t live in an ideal world.  We should do everything in our power to reduce their necessity: comprehensive sex education, societal support for responsible sex, research into more and better forms of birth control, and so forth.  And until then, abortion must be an available option for a woman who feels she needs or wants one.

      • C Peterson

        Sure, every abortion represents some sort of failure- social, medical, whatever. But how does that make an abortion a “tragic” choice? Does having to put your car through a complex and expensive repair because you failed to change the oil regularly represent a “tragedy”? Is a root canal procedure “tragic” because it represents a failure to properly brush?

        I’d say abortion is an unfortunate choice (but one that is- so far- fortunately available to most women), but hardly a “tragic” one.

      • Teh Lady

        I really don’t like to use the word “failure” here. I know what you are getting at but the word sounds so condemning. Women have sex, sometimes we get pregnant. We can try to prevent pregnancies in various ways but we are not always successful. Then we will deal with the pregnancies in a way that feels comfortable for each individual woman. For some women, abortion is tragic, for some other women it is a relief.

        As for the OP, I can honestly say that I have never heard a “pro-choice question” that I found hard to answer or that made me rethink my position as a pro-choice person. I didn’t find one now.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=705066677 Desiree Bell-Fowlks

        Pregnancy is medically risker than abortion.  There are many reasons for women wanting an abortion and each is unique to her. In reality abortion will always be an option.  As a society we can reduce the rate with education and more effective birth control.  Women will always want to control their reproduction and that will not change.

      • Tim

        Absolutely agree.  Especially with your statement that WE DO NOT LIVE IN AN IDEAL world. 

        The extremist pro-lifers kid themselves into thinking that if only we followed their god we would live in an ideal world as if that would eliminate sex crime, contraceptive failure and just sheer random bad luck. 

        We will never live in an ideal world but we can live in a better world and provsion of sex ed, birth control, female empowerment, and, where needed, safe abortion can be part of the answer.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    7. How do you respond to the charge that the majority of abortion
    clinics are found in inner-city areas with large numbers of minorities?

    Or  what? Should we put facilities intended to serve people in areas with low population density?

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=705066677 Desiree Bell-Fowlks

      I hate that argument with a passion.  They assume black women are idiots that are brainwashed into having abortions instead of adult women capable of making their own choices.

      • Superdove

        “Minority women constitute only about 13% of the female population (age 15-44) in the United States, but they underwent approximately 36% of the abortions.
        According to the Alan Guttmacher Institute, black women are more than 5 times as likely as white women to have an abortion
        On average, 1,876 black babies are aborted every day in the United States.”

        Nobody is assuming anything, it’s based on horrible facts and statistics.

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=705066677 Desiree Bell-Fowlks

          So what?  Are you saying black women are stupid because they have more abortions than other races?

          • Superdove

            Where the heck do you get “stupid” from? 

            Scroll up and read the thread!! My point is that there are clinics in inner cities because of actual facts and statistics, NOT because anyone assumes that (as you said) “black women are stupid.” I’m saying that you should look at the statistics, not immediately assume racism.

            • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=705066677 Desiree Bell-Fowlks

              There are clinics everywhere.  So what?  Are black women being dragged into the clinics and abortions are being done on them without consent? Nope.  All your facts and statistics say is that there needs to be more funding into comprehensive sexual education for teens and adults.  If they are not stupid then what?

            • Alexrkr7

              I don’t think you get what’s being said here. The original question assumes that black women have more abortions because of racist brainwashing pro-choice policy or even having more access to clinics. Yes, there are more clinics in inner-cities. That’s due to supply and demand. Let’s not mix up cause and effect. Desiree is saying that if there were some sort of racist policy targeting black women that black women wouldn’t fall for it; while the question seems to imply they would.

              There are other factors that we can attribute to the imbalance of abortions among female minorities that make more sense than some sort of racist pro-choice policy

            • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_6OE7LEYELE4MZTVXGZUSVTBFUI julie

              Wow, you need to be a bit more aware of yourself. *You* need to scroll up and read the thread!
              - Desiree hates that people insist Planned Parenthood targets minorities because that implies that black women just decide to get an abortion because there’s a clinic nearby, not because they actually decided to get an abortion.
              - You provide “horrible facts and statistics” showing that black women have more abortions. We already knew that. You added it as a retort, but if you were retorting, that would imply that you disagree with her and you think black women really are just brainwashed into getting abortions.
              - That’s where she got stupid from. Please try to be more aware of the conversation and what you are arguing. 

        • Tria MacLeod

          Have you ever considered that rate is due to the lack of affordable birth control?  To the higher rate of violence prevalent in inner city areas? (rape)  That if poor women, and make  no mistake that is what we are talking about, had access to affordable doctors and contraception that rate wouldn’t drop like a stone.   The fact that the majority of poor women also happen to be part of minorities is a whole different can of worms.

          Not to mention, by your standards, those same poor women, who can’t afford to feed the family they have now (more than half the women who get abortions already have at least one child) you want to force her to have more.  Why?   So they all can starve?   

  • TheG

    My response to #4 usually involves distraction until the person gives up.  Most recently, I was arguing that if life begins at conception, then pregnant women shouldn’t be allowed into casinos.

    • Reginald Selkirk

      Well, at least the fetus would be “accompanied by a parent or guardian” …
       

    • Ibis3

       I think you mean *no women*–how can we tell if any given woman might have a fertilised ovum floating around in her somewhere? Even if you administered pregnancy tests at the door, they aren’t 100% accurate.

  • chris

    This is a great post.  It brings up points I’ve been thinking about for a few years now and haven’t really been able to come up with answers for myself yet.  I am pro-choice, but my commitment to the cause was weakened when I had a miscarriage a few years ago.  I was 10 weeks along and it crushed me.  Sure, it was early in the game, but I loved that baby already.  I had dreamed of what her life would be like.  No, I don’t know she was really a girl, but I still can’t bare to refer to my baby as “it” so I assigned a gender, well, her brothers gave it to her and I went along with it.  It made the grieving process easier.  Anyway, it was hard after that to realize that I saw this baby as a person at such an early stage of development and still remain pro-choice.  I continue to waiver on this issue because of it.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=705066677 Desiree Bell-Fowlks

      I’m sorry for your loss. 

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_6OE7LEYELE4MZTVXGZUSVTBFUI julie

      It’s that old pro-life argument “Why are they called ‘babies’ when they’re wanted and ‘fetuses’ when they’re unwanted?”
      Your excitement about it influences how you see it. You had your hopes set on a specific future and it hurt when that future was taken from you.
      People with unwanted pregnancies do not look upon that future with the same happiness. Someone who is in a bad financial situation or who has just broken up with their boyfriend or has medical problems experiences nothing but dread. At ten weeks, a wanted pregnancy and an unwanted pregnancy look identical, but they are worlds apart to different women.

      • Pedro Lemos

        That´s what I was going to say.
        I feel sorry for your loss, Chris. But your case should just strengthen pro-choice arguments. Your choice was to have the baby, that´s why you were happy making plans and felt crushed with the miscarriage. You didn´t say it, but from what you wrote, I assume having an abortion never crossed your mind.
        What pro-choicers stand up for is that this choice should be made by the mother and father, not society. A woman who´s considering to have an abortion probably won´t feel the same way you felt about your future baby. They won´t love him (it?) like you did, nor make plans for his future.
        It´s not like we encourage women to have abortions. In the ideal world, women would only get pregnant when they felt it was the right time, and they would all have their babies, but it´s not an ideal world. We just want them to have the choice to do what they think is best for them, not what the State or some religion thinks is the best.
        You felt crushed when you lost your baby because you really wanted to have this baby. Imagine what a woman would feel if she really didn´t want to have the baby, but was forced to.

      • Superdove

        Sop you believe it’s only a baby after it’s born, and not before?

        • David McNerney

          That’s not what she said: at 10 weeks whether it’s a fetus or a baby depends on how the woman or mother, respectively, perceives it.  

          At 10 weeks it is really just a fetus without any of the characteristics that a mother will ascribe to it – the personality that exists only does so in the mind of the mother.

        • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_6OE7LEYELE4MZTVXGZUSVTBFUI julie

          It’s a gradual process. I’d definitely consider it a baby for the last two or three months.
          “Baby” is partly an affectionate term, meaning that to a willing mother, it is a baby as soon as she finds out she is pregnant, even though at that point it is only an embryo with no thought or feeling yet.

      • AxeGrrl

        At ten weeks, a wanted pregnancy and an unwanted pregnancy look identical, but they are worlds apart to different women.

        Nicely said, Julie

      • Superdove

        The first question is whether or not abortion is right or wrong. Everything else is secondary. 

        • Deven Kale

           Yes, but that question has a lot of assumptions, conditions, and qualifiers which need to be determined, quantified, and decided upon before it can be answered. If you are unable to see that, then there’s good reason to say that you shouldn’t be a part of the abortion discussion at all.

        • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_6OE7LEYELE4MZTVXGZUSVTBFUI julie

          That’s not what this particular thread is about. Start a separate thread if you like.

    • Tim

      You have my sympathy and understanding.

      My wife had a misscarriage at 8 weeks and aside from the physical pain she suffered, we both were saddened by the loss of a potential child and bothered by grief in a way that we didn’t expect but which if we are honest did not distroy us in the way the loss of a child would do. Never the less it was a level of grief that we didn’t experience when we used the morning after pill to kill a few dozen cells.  We saw the fetus we lost and it was clearly not a child, but it was also clealy more than a clump of cells. It was somewhere in between.

      It did cause me to examine my pro-choice views and it does make me feel uncomfortable when the extreme pro-choice people talk about a fetus as if it has no rights until the second it is born as if it is just an appendix or something.  That to me is as stupid as the believe that you get a whole set of human rights on the moment of fertilization.

      My conclusion is that early abortions are better than late and that we should want to get to a situation where abortion is legal, available, safe BUT as rare as we can make it through sex ed and contraception etc.   

      • AxeGrrl

        My conclusion is that early abortions are better than late and that we should want to get to a situation where abortion is legal, available, safe BUT as rare as we can make it through sex ed and contraception etc. 

        Nicely articulated, Tim.   It touches on something I think we all (or most) can agree on:  namely, that no one likes the idea of abortion and would like to see them be as rare as possible ~ which, as you said, could best be achieved through education and contraception.

        Anyone who claims to have ‘preventing abortions’ as their main cause/goal had also better be hugely pro-contraception…….if they’re not, then preventing abortions clearly ISN’T their top priortiy.

    • AxeGrrl

      Anyway, it was hard after that to realize that I saw this baby as a person at such an early stage of development and still remain pro-choice. I continue to waiver on this issue because of it.

      Thanks for sharing your story, Chris, and my condolences.

      I especially respect the fact that you remain pro-choice despite your personal experience.  The reality is that for some women, their days-old fertilized egg is their ‘baby’ and that is how they relate to it ~ and for others, they don’t view/feel a blastocyst is anything close to being a baby.  How a woman relates to the fertilized egg inside of her is incredibly personal and not something that can be dictated or determined by anyone else.  It’s an extremely interesting issue……

      because what we’re talking about (how a woman views/relates to her ‘potential child) doesn’t only apply to situations in which a woman is actually pregnant, but also to situations in which a woman/couple learns that she/they are infertile  People can sincerely ‘mourn’ the potential children they’ll never be able to have…….even when there isn’t even a fertilized egg in existence.

      What this all comes down to is how emotionally invested someone is in their ‘potential child’.  And as I just alluded to, that potential child doesn’t even need to exist in order to be mourned.

      I’m not sure what my general ‘point’ is here……

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=705066677 Desiree Bell-Fowlks

        I had a miscarriage when I did not even know I was pregnant in the first place.  It looked like a heavy period.  No time after I miscarried did I consider the fetus to be a person.  It had potential, but just that.  The fetus was not the same as an actual person like it’s incubator; me.

        • Tim

          Did you want to be pregnant or not?  I ask because I suspect that that might have had a big influence on your response.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=705066677 Desiree Bell-Fowlks

            No, but that does not change whether the fetus is a person or not.  I understand that if it was a wanted pregnancy I would be excited about the potential future the fetus has.  It still does not change the reality that the fetus is just that, a potential person until the fetus is birthed.

    • Earl G.

      People can have these same feelings long before they are pregnant.  It’s called wanting a child and being excited by the possibility.  It has nothing whatsoever to do with what is actually going on with any embryo.  Also, remember that not every women is as excited about her pregnancy as you were about yours.  

  • Miguel

    I think when talking about viability as a criteria it should be qualified as viability without  the use of “extraodinary” means to support life.

    • Russian Alex

      I agree, and not so much to set another arbitrary point, but for the realistic, even cynical reasons: who is supposed to pay for keeping alive the “viable” fetus? The parents? The government? Or should the doctors simply do it for free? Because, regardless of which one of these you choose, from there the discussion turns really interesting.

      • Tim

        ” who is supposed to pay for keeping alive the “viable” fetus? The parents? The government? Or should the doctors simply do it for free? Because, regardless of which one of these you choose, from there the discussion turns really interesting”

        I disagree.  We decide as a society how we are going to fund medical services and once that is done we just provide them according to need.  The money moves in the background but we don’t see or worry about it.  (maybe I am just thinking as a typical Brit proud to be born into our National Health Service which means that the consumer has no idea or thought about the cost of what they consume)

  • http://twitter.com/TychaBrahe TychaBrahe

    3. In many states, a teenager can have an abortion without her parents’ consent or knowledge but cannot get an aspirin from the school nurse without parental authorization. Do you support any restrictions or parental notification regarding abortion access for minors?

    In all states, if that teenager were to carry her fetus to term, she would be legally responsible for all decisions regarding the child that resulted.  She, not her parents, would have to grant permission for her child to receive medical attention.  She, not her parents, would decide whether or not her child would receive vaccines.  

    It is illogical to suppose that a woman of any age should be able to make decisions regarding a child once it’s born, but not regarding whether or not to continue her pregnancy.

    • brianmacker

      There is another way to fix the discrepancy and make her parents responsible for those things until she is no longer a minor. Which makes way more sense because if she is mature enough to support a newborn she is certainly mature enough to care for an older child like herself.

      • http://anarchic-teapot.net/ anarchic teapot

         That argument makes no sense at all. Basically you are arguing that the parents of a pregnant minor should take full responsibility for any child she may have until *that child* is no longer a minor, should it be born. You can’t have your cake and eat it by saying the parents should be responsible only until the (enforced) mother reaches majority. Plus, what is the definition of majority?

        If, on reaching 18, or 21, or whatever, she was only then legally allowed to state that she doesn’t want the child that was forced on her by someone else, should that child be placed for adoption (permanent psychological damage for all concerned) or terminated at that point… which WOULD be murder?

        No, that paternalistic solution would do way, way more harm than good.

  • http://criticallyskeptic-dckitty.blogspot.com Katherine Lorraine

    The thing about those catchy “what about a woman about to have a baby, should she have an abortion” questions is that they’re just stupid. If the fetus is viable, doctors don’t perform an abortion. They perform a birth.

  • Denis Robert

    The anti-abortion position is not “pro-life”, it’s simply anti-abortion. Most self-styled “pro-lifers” have no problems with the death penalty, or with war, or with extra-judicial executions of the kind done by the US every time a drone drops a bomb. Even for those few that do have issues with those, they don’t tend to value every life equally: poor people are certainly far less valuable than rich people in their eyes. Even the Catholic clergy, which claims to value the poor, only does so in order to enhance their worth in the eyes of their god, or to simply enhance their own wealth; they are tools for their benefit, not valuable individuals.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=509125869 Jay Rodger

      I agree. I refuse to call someone “pro-life” because they oppose abortion. In my eyes they are “anti-choice” and nothing more

    • brianmacker

      Not true, they may be motivated mostly by the issue of life. Your argument could be used to claim that their opponents are “pro-choice” but “pro-abortion”. In fact, it seems as if you want to call them anti-abortion that leaves you with the opposite, which is exactly why the term pro-choice was invented.

      I disagreed with the term anti-woman for the same reason on another thread here, unless you are talking about an actual misogynist.

      • WhiteBirch

        In what circumstance were you disagreeing with the term “anti-woman”? I have NEVER heard it used for something that wasn’t also actually misogynistic.

        If you are, as I suspect, saying someone can be anti-choice/pro-life while also being a gender egalitarian, then I disagree with you entirely. 

        • brianmacker

          The opposite of a gender egalitarian isn’t a misogynist. That is your first mistake. Your second is to assume that being against abortion as birth control is not egalitarian. Men can depend on using an abortion for birth control too. One need not be motivated by misogyny, hatred of women, to be against abortion. It really sounds like your thinking is the product of women’s studies and not rational thought. You need to start by defining your terms properly and not in terms of some ideosupyncratic ideology. Misogyny means woman hatred.

          • WhiteBirch

            I see that you didn’t answer my question. 

            For the record, I have never taken a women’s studies course. My opinion on women’s issues is derived from my experience *being a woman*.

            As for “ideosupyncratic ideology” (huh?), when I refer to misogyny, I’m assuming people are adult enough to recognize that hatred is a broader category than frothing rage, but also refers to impersonal systems that oppress and discriminate. I’m sorry if that’s too “women’s studies” for you, it’s not academic for some of us. 

            • brianmacker

              You don’t have to take a women’s studies course in order to be infected with the ideology. It spreads from there via word of mouth, comments sections, blogs, etc. Many people suffer under ideological notions of which they are not aware. I’ll answer a question I haven’t already answered when you are able to properly formulate one, and are not obviously using non-standard definitions. Since I had already answered your first question in the comment you were responding to I assumed you were being willfully ignorant. My first sentence was already an example of a non-misogynistic reason for opposing abortion. Some people don’t like to see fetuses being killed. Imagine that. Are you willfully ignorant?

              • http://profiles.google.com/sidhe3141 James Yakura

                 And some of those people would rather see the woman carrying the fetus die than see the fetus killed. Would you call them misogynistic?

                • brianmacker

                  Not unless that preference was driven by hatred of women. Some people view natural death different than killing in such circumstances. It’s sort of like that dilemma with the coal car bearing down on five people that you can stop by pushing one fat person of a bridge onto the tracks, except in this case there is a woman on the tracks and baby on the bridge. Remember they view the fetus as a baby. The moral dilemma is complicated by the fact that it is the woman on the tracks pulling the baby down with a rope to save herself. Do you cut the rope to prevent her from doing it? Some religious people refuse all medical care for their children and I doubt that has anything to do with them hating their children. It has to do with a stupid belief about having faith in Gods decisions, or something.

  • The Captian

    1. No.

    2. Yes, the reasons do not matter. 

    3. No… give her the fucking aspirin.

    4. Basically I apply the same standards I do to the end of a “human life” as I do the beginning. So just like I think a family can unplug a brain dead member, so too can a brain dead fetus be aborted (removed of the mothers life support). 

    5. “I reject the premise that a fetus is the moral equivalent of an adult human and, thus, aborting a fetus is not the moral equivalent of murdering a so-called “defective” adult” bingo! right there.

    6. Yes, the same way an employer has to “violate his or her religious conscience” if they think women people should not hold jobs still can not discriminate in hiring, or the Christian Scientist who doesn’t believe ay of it’s employees should see a doctor. Sorry, but your religion does not allow you to skip out on the basic tenets of our society. Also religious freedom is not just for employers, last time I checked it applied to employees too!

    7. I say abortion is providing a great service to those communities by giving them an option to get out of poverty!

    8. I have never described it as “tragic”

    9. Without medical equipment then no, with medical equipment then yes.

    10. No.

    • AxeGrrl

      the same way an employer has to “violate his or her religious conscience” if they think women people should not hold jobs still can not discriminate in hiring, or the Christian Scientist who doesn’t believe ay of it’s employees should see a doctor. Sorry, but your religion does not allow you to skip out on the basic tenets of our society. Also religious freedom is not just for employers, last time I checked it applied to employees too!

      Amen!

  • jose

    1. If a time limit must be established for practical legislative purposes, I think the standard 24 weeks is a good choice because it is time enough for the parents to get informed and arrange an abortion and by that time the fetus isn’t still developed enough to meet the most commonly used criteria (pain, cognition, etc). Ok, 20 weeks if 24 makes people feel uncomfortable. But it is important to give parents enough time to consider the situation and make a decision as well as the necessary arrangements.

    2. First, please don’t equate killing girls and having abortions. Second, the article is about China and India. I don’t know enough about how culture works there to suggest something practical, but it doesn’t affect the abortion debate at home.

    3. I believe teenagers don’t owe their parents explanations about their sex life, so I wouldn’t require them to get parental consent to have an abortion. I don’t think it’s the government’s business to decide how the relationship between parents and kids should be. Besides, a parent may have a different opinion about it, which would effectively take that control teenagers currently have about their own lives. If abortion were as free of religious/moral significance as aspirin, I’d probably support the same rules for both.

    4. Same as question 1. Yes, this poses all sorts of theoretical inconveniences (“what about the day before? 5 minutes before?”), but I’m not concerned about them because this is a real problem down here on planet earth, with practical effects and consequences. Late term abortions are mostly wanted pregnancies and they happen because of health problems. As entertaining as these philosophical musings can be, legislation must stick to reality. With that in mind, legal rights before that time limit would potentially submit the rights of the mother to those of the fetus.

    5. In one case the parents are choosing what to do (they have the power to decide), in the other case the potential parents get sterilized by the government (they’re powerless). I don’t think people should be forced to have babies they don’t want, Down’s Syndrome or not.

    6. His religious conscience would only be violated if he were forced to use things that go against his beliefs himself because religious liberty is a personal, individual right; otherwise, your liberty would invade other people’s liberty. So providing insurance that covers contraception is not a violation of religious liberty. Religious conscience should be about you, not about others.

    7. Minorities are poorer, inner city population is poorer, and the number 1 reason for abortion is potential economic disaster. People can’t afford more babies. The solution to that is to reduce poverty.

    8. Tragic choice is when the parents wanted the baby but there were health complications and she had to have an abortion to save her life or because the fetus died, etc. The average abortion isn’t tragic at all imho.

    9. It should not be a factor because fetal viability depends on technology. We shouldn’t grant legal rights to a frozen zygote for being viable outside a womb.

    10. I would apply the standard of question 1.

  • Sailor

    I think the illustration would be more effective if it was to scale, I am pretty sure it is not.
    One question is: Given that  no one really likes the idea of abortion all that much, what is the best way of minimizing them?

    • Superdove

      Because smaller is less human?

      • Tim

        It isn’t a question of human or not.  My sperm is human.  But a wank into a tissue is hardly genocide.

        • Superdove

          Read Sailors post, that’s what I was responding to.

          If there were an egg waiting in the tissue, and it were fertilized and began dividing, I would consider it human life. Just you and the tissue? Rather not have that image in my mind thank you.

    • Reginald Selkirk
    • Tim

      “One question is: Given that no one really likes the idea of abortion all that much, what is the best way of minimizing them?”

      That is the only question that matters.

      If you are in touch with the real world and reality, the answer is contraception, education and female empowerment (social, economic etc).  All these things are good things we should be providing anyway

      If you are out of touch with the real world the answer is less sex

      If you want to wind-up religious morons the answer to give is “more gay sex” as it is rather hard to get pregnant from that.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/chidy/ chicago dyke, Blonde

    this is probably a blog post’s worth of response, but i’ll just jump in unread and say i disagree with your argument in #1. 

    we don’t jail, torture or condemn men who use a gun to kill “in self defense” or “in the war on terror” fully grown, adult people who stand in the way of their objectives. that’s not even a narrative/argument. our legal system in fact goes out of its way to protect the rights and freedoms of men (and some women) to do just that. using our taxdollars, even. 

    so right there, the idea that there is something ‘worse’ with a pregnant woman choosing to terminate a pregnancy in the 9th month is flawed. and i can think of plenty of reasons why terminating a 9mo fetus is the wisest choice for mother and family. economic reasons. an abusive partner. loss of job, home, health care, etc. bringing a child into this world is not always the most ‘merciful’ choice, no matter how much the anti-choicers have poisoned the discourse and convinced otherwise intelligent feminists that is so.

  • David McNerney

    “The extreme test case would be a woman nine months pregnant, from consensual sex, with a perfectly healthy fetus, with its natural birth mere days away. Would you support an abortion in this case?”

    Should the mother be able to insist on an abortion that ends in the death of the child? I don’t think so.

    Should she be entitled to have the “Child” removed from her support system? Sure, that’s what bodily autonomy should be about.  The child can then be adopted etc.

    So, yes I would support an abortion, in the sense that it ends the pregnancy, in that case.  If the child can survive on its own then it has earned the right to life.

    • Superdove

      You would support removing a fetus that is almost to term and if the child “survives on its own” then it has “earned life”?

      You realize that you are evil, right?

      • http://therovingrockhound.myopenid.com/ Rovin’ Rockhound

        He’s not suggesting leaving the newborn outside in the middle of of the woods in winter surrounded by wolves and coming back later to see if it’s still alive, as you seem to want to believe.

        • Superdove

          No, I took it exactly as he meant it – force a birth before the normal time, and in a hospital setting, see if the baby survives, like a nazi experiment, in the name of convenience.

          • Barb Schaarschmidt

             ”like a nazi experiment, in the name of convenience”? Really? That is not what is suggested here. You are imposing the idea that the woman in question has no possible motivation except her own convenience, which is extremely unlikely.  If a woman simply wanted an abortion she would generally not wait until her eighth month to do it. Someone in this situation would be almost guaranteed to have a motivation other than “convenience”

          • Russian Alex

            “Before normal time” – you do realize that there are many cases of inducing labor at a specific date, purely, as you put it, in the name of convenience? Their children mostly survive with no problems. And in case that they don’t, the parents are not charged with murder or criminal neglect, nor should they. Stop trying to be dramatic.

      • David McNerney

        And what exactly do you think childbirth is?  Ever hear of Caesarian section? Premature delivery? And if the child cannot survive on its own, are you suggesting life support?  For how long?  Or even better if it dies that we would agree that while it doesn’t have life, it has the right to life?

        I don’t know if I’m evil – but you are ridiculous.

        Or is the problem that the intention isn’t the wholesome process that is motherhood?

        • Superdove

          You are implying that you feel it’s OK for a woman to decide to remove a near term fetus before it is ready to be born, because and if it survives, then it has earned the right to live. If I mis understood, I apologize.

          • David McNerney

            Yes, I am suggesting that firstly, a woman is entitled to remove the fetus, or to use an even better term at this stage, baby.  That’s a perfectly normal procedure that happens every day.

            And secondly, that if the baby survives then it’s not reasonable to bash its head in with a rock.

            • http://www.flickr.com/photos/chidy/ chicago dyke, Blonde

              because men like you are going to raise it, pay for its housing, clothing, food and schooling, and give up your careers to make sure it is educated, loved and sheltered.

              oh, wait…

              • Deven Kale

                He’s saying that if the baby survives the abortion, then let it live. Whether the family decides to keep it or put it up for adoption wasn’t part of his argument at all.

              • Tim

                you do realise that there is a surplus of men and women who want to adopt babies.

                • Tria MacLeod

                  You do realize that surplus is looking for healthy, usually white, babies.   There are more then enough children up for adoption and they often languish in the foster care system.

              • David McNerney

                I have 3 children who, with my wife, I have raised, paid for their housing, clothing, food and schooling and I have also chosen a less than stellar career in order to ensure their stability in education, love and shelter.

                So, yes my money is where my mouth is.  Is yours?

                oh, wait…

            • Tria MacLeod

              David is right.  It’s called inducing labor and most women have it done.  I had it done for my first one who was already 2 weeks past her due date.  Most women I know will opt for pitocin or prostaglandin to be given to hurry labor along, we can barely breath and are ribs are bruised from all the kicking.   It’s a very common procedure.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=705066677 Desiree Bell-Fowlks

    1.) No restrictions.  Most women have abortions in the first trimester.  It’s common sense that if a woman wants an abortion the earlier the better.  I trust women to make the choice to have abortion like I trust women to continue a pregnancy.

    2.) The reason for an abortion is none of my business unless the woman asks for my opinion.

    3.) If a teen is old enough to continue a pregnancy, she is old enough to decide to have an abortion.

    4.) It depends on the individual woman. 

    5.) Same as 2.

    6.) Yes.  Employers have no right to dictate what employer does with their pay and their bodies.

    7.) Black women are not idiots.  They can make choices as adults like any other race.  Maybe the stigma of abortion is not as predominate in the black community.

    8.)  Abortion is a choice that a woman will have to deal with the consequences good and bad.  Like any choice a person makes, you have to deal with the aftermath.

    9.) I can’t make that determination for any woman.  Each situation is different and I do not know an individual woman’s specific pregnancy.

    10.) No.  One murder charge is enough to get life.

    • Superdove

      “10.) No.  One murder charge is enough to get life.”
      Wow – so you believe someone can take a persons life away, but not have to pay with their own? You must be a republican, the type who does not believe in basic fairness and equality, that what’s good for you is not good for someone else.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=705066677 Desiree Bell-Fowlks

        I’m not sure you read that right.  If someone kills a pregnant woman they should be charged with murder of course.  I’m for the death penalty, but in this country they execute  black and disabled men in alarming numbers.  So I am against it until there is a better system in place to prevent innocent people from being executed.

      • Tria MacLeod

        I would think #10 would result in ‘aggravating factors’ being added to the murder charge.   They do that for many murders that don’t rise to the required level of proof for hate crimes, but nonetheless know that played an role in why the victim was targeted.

        And lest we forget, most pregnant women who are murdered, die at the hands of their partners.  Not every man wants to be a father and some will go to great lengths to get their way.  Everyone keeps focusing on ‘women terminating pregnancies’  what about the opposite scenario?  What about when the woman chooses to carry to term and the father doesn’t want it, doesn’t want to pay child support, etc.   Where are the pro-life people then?   And don’t say ‘the cops will protect her’ because they won’t and they can’t and they know it.  Just like every other domestic violence case, by the time they get called it is already too late.

  • http://twitter.com/Freemage69 Freemage

    On #4: I would say that question (when the fetus becomes a ‘person’) is irrelevant.  As a hypothetical to explain why: Let us say that a child is brought to full term.  After being born, however, it is discovered that the infant has a debilitating condition which will require bone marrow donations from a compatible donor.  For genetic reasons, the only compatible donor is the father.  The bone marrow process is painful and debilitating, and has a non-zero chance for risk of complications.

    While we would rightfully praise a father who made this choice willingly, and might even feel the father has a moral obligation to donate the marrow, the court rulings on similar cases strongly indicate that we accept, in principle, that the father’s right to bodily autonomy permits him to decline to make the donations.

    If an actual, uncontested, ‘real person’ cannot claim the bodily resources of another, then neither can the hypothetical person of a fetus.

    On #9, my answer to #4 leads to a different answer:

    Assuming the fetus is genuinely viable (meaning: can be expected to survive once born, and not suffering from a condition that would likely kill it within a few painful days or months in any case), AND that labor itself is not any more likely than a surgical abortion to cause the mother injury or death, then (and only then) it would be reasonable to say, as a matter of law, that while the mother cannot abort, she CAN choose to induce labor prematurely.  Furthermore, after doing so, she retains the choice to either keep the child to raise herself, or to immediately surrender her rights to the infant and have said child become a ward of the state (just as a child may be legally abandoned at a “Safe Haven” location in many states).  This retains the ‘personhood’ of both mother and child.

    • Earl G.

      I like your analogy on #4.  I will have to use that sometime.

  • Lagerbaer

    “Some day, it may be possible to have an entire pregnancy extra-utero.”

    And in that case, we could just remove the fertilized egg and put THAT up for adoption. Win-win: No “baby” gets murdered and no woman gets childbirth forced on her.

    • WoodyTanaka

      Who says it’s your decision what a woman chooses to do with her eggs?  What if she doesn’t want to have any offspring?

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_6OE7LEYELE4MZTVXGZUSVTBFUI julie

    #5 bothers me so much. They like to throw in questions about a “defective” fetus because they know how politically incorrect it is to point out disabilities or imply in any way that a disabled baby is less desirable than a completely healthy baby.
    But who gets pregnant and hopes their child has a disability? And depending on the disability, sometimes it can definitely be considered the more moral option to stop their life before consciousness begins.
    I was recently arguing with my mom about abortion and I was pointing out that something without a brain (I was referring to zygotes) cannot possibly think or feel. She brought up Nickolas Coke, a boy who was born with only a brainstem, not the rest of his brain. She linked to an article and said that this boy could laugh and play. The article quoted his mother saying he was laughing and playing in a pumpkin patch. I went to a video and it showed him staring up at the ceiling, every now and then making a brief crying or laughing face (the brainstem controls basic emotional reactions, not the emotions themselves). It was clear that he could not actually think or feel any emotions. I found the picture of him “playing” in the pumpkin patch. He was just laying there, staring.
    I find it horrible that for “pro-life” people, the quality of life means absolutely nothing.

  • Tim

    I have been arguing with pro-life people on Catholic websites (what fun!) and it strikes me that what they really care about is controlling people (especially women) rather than actually preseving life.

    One long post from a not-so-bright-bulb was bemoaning that the USA was going to the dogs because of Obama’s re-election and how this was tragic for America’s unborn.

    Someone replied to agree and said that it was even worse in Canada because abortion is free there.  I argued that if you were really pro-life then Canada was better than the USA because it has a 50% lower abortion rate and if the USA matched Canada’s abortion rate 50,000 lives would be saved. 

    Carried no weight – what mattered wasn’t actually the prevelence of abortion merely that Canadians were free to do evil even if they actually did that “evil” far less than Americans.

    • RobMcCune

      Well catholics don’t like contraception either, which is almost certainly a factor in the lower abortion rate.

      Not to say they’re aren’t also authoritarian popebots.

    • Russian Alex

      Because, obviously, the only way to make people to do something is to force them to do it. Hey, worked for centuries!

    • kaydenpat

      I understand completely that certain people believe abortion is murder and wrong under all circumstances.  Why can’t they keep that to themselves?  Why are they trying to force people who don’t share their beliefs to act out their anti-choice beliefs?  That’s what puzzles me. 

      Kind of like marriage equality.  Supporting the rights of gays to marry doesn’t mean that individuals cannot express their beliefs that same sex marriages are immoral/sinful.  Just means that you cannot force your anti-marriage equality beliefs on those who don’t share your opinion.

      I hate guns.  Can I force my anti-gun beliefs on gun owners? 

      • Earl G.

        I am not one of these people who think it is murder and wrong, but I am baffled by the lack of understanding inherent in the the “keep it to yourself” argument.  This makes clear that you do not in fact “understand completely” that (some) anti-choicers believe that abortion is murder.

        They (the sincere anti-choicers) believe abortion is *murder*.  Murder.
        What do you believe is murder?  Shooting a man in an alley?  Stabbing a teenager in the face?  Drowning a grandmother in a lake?
        Sure.  Now, do you feel you should “keep to yourself” these beliefs?  Do you think that shooting a man in an ally is wrong just *for you*, or should other people, regardless of their perspective, also be barred from shooting men in alleys?  Should people who are okay with shooting men be allowed to do so?  Surely you would not be in favor of keeping your belief “to yourself,” and you would not care that some other people think shooting men in alleys is okay.  You would probably want it illegal, period.

        Well, that’s how the sincere pro-lifers feel about abortion.  That is why they can’t “keep it to themselves.”

        I am not saying that shooting a man and having an abortion are morally equivalent. I am saying that sincere anti-choicers *think* that these are (more or less) equivalent.  Arguing “keep it to yourself” is never going to convince them, just as that argument would never convince you to legalize shooting men in alleys.

        Effective arguments are showing that contraception and legalized abortion actually reduce abortion rates.  Effective arguments are discussing bodily autonomy and forced organ donation, etc.  ”Keep it to yourself” arguments will not win the day.  I find these arguments harmful, because they give the anti-choicers confirmation that we don’t, in fact, understand where their side is coming from at all.  Then it’s all the easier for them to dismiss anything else we say to them.

        • Tria MacLeod

          I’d have more faith in your argument if I actually saw ‘sincere’ pro-life people.   Here, in the USA, what I primarily see is people who insist that ‘their beliefs’ must become everyone’s beliefs.  I see them harass, berate, intimidate and resort to violence.     And I’m not simply referring to clinic bombings, I was punched in the face by a pro-life man when I tried to bring a patient’s daughter in through the back so she could comfort her mother who had just gotten a diagnosis of stage III breast cancer.  

          The majority of the people who raise their voices against women’s choices are the same people who insist on abstinence only education and insist birth control is just as bad as abortion.  Yet studies have proven over and over that  Sex Ed and easy access to affordable birth control are the two biggest preventers of abortion.   When you start seeing things like this over and over and over, you come to realize that it has nothing at all to do with saving ‘unborn’ and everything to do with controlling women by limiting our access to healthcare, education and our own bodies.   

          • Earl G.

            I totally agree.  But I think many of them don’t realize that  sex-phobia and controlling women is what their politics boils down to.  I’ve met at least a handful of pro-lifers who do seem sincere (identifiable due to being pro-contraception, pro- sex ed, etc.)   

            Either way, show them that their efforts are not actually helping the “babies” that they care about so much, and they might come over to our side (as Libby Anne did, as described in a recent blog post).  But I think reaching out like this requires that we truly grasp where they are coming from (or where they think they are coming from).  

  • Baal

    With regard to the second question, it’s entirely reasonable or at least saner to prevent sex determination information being given.  In the US, abortion for sex selection is rare.  I think it is the law in India but that country is somewhat notorious for corruption.

  • ganner918

    This is one of the best defense of the pro-choice position against the common counter-arguments that I have seen. Great post.

  • Angerjane
  • joey

    #1. ” I am comfortable saying I would have moral objections to it.”

    So you wouldn’t mind giving us your reasons as to why you have moral objections to it.

    #2. “One can and should absolutely condemn the deplorable sexism that is the basis of sexual selection.”

    Again, what are your reasons that you feel we should “absolutely condemn” sex selective abortions?

    #4. “I will say, however, that I do not believe there is a day-before and
    day-after “personhood.” There is nothing magical in human development.”

    Then there must also be nothing “magical” about the birth event.  What exactly would be your objections (assuming you have any) to people wanting to legislate that personhood begins at a time after birth (e.g. a few weeks)?

    #5. “I wonder, do you find nothing objectionable about forcing childbirth on an unwilling girl?”

    That is where the personhood (or lack thereof) of the fetus comes into play.  After all,  you’ve already stated that you have moral objections to a girl aborting her 8-month fetus in #1.

    #9. “Though instinctually attractive, viability is not a good cut-off for limitations on abortion, because it is a moving target.”

    Why is viability “instinctually attractive” at all to begin with?  If viability stayed at 24 weeks (or even later), would this cut-off remain “attractive” (or even become more attractive)?

    #10.  “Again, this is an attractive idea, but difficult to justify.”

    Again, why would this be an attractive idea at all unless you presuppose that the fetus actually has some rights.

    • Peggin

       ”So you wouldn’t mind giving us your reasons as to why you have moral objections to it.”

      I can’t speak for the person your comment was directed to, but for me, any moral objection I might have would be something along the same lines as the one I would have if you knew you could save someone’s life by donating a pint of blood, but refused to do so (assuming there were no health related reasons why you couldn’t give blood). I might not think very highly of you for refusing to save that person’s life, I might think your decision was immoral, but I would think it much more immoral if someone tried to pass a law permitting the hospital to take your blood, regardless of your wishes or consent.

      So, yeah, I might consider the decision not to donate blood, or the decision to terminate a late-stage, healthy pregnancy, to not be a moral decision. But I still consider anyone trying to force someone to give that blood, or force a woman to carry the fetus to term, far more immoral.

  • Philbert

    Laws don’t have to be set in stone for all time unless you’re writing a religion. Viability is a “moving target” – which is often used as a pro-life argument against considering it. But I think this is wrong because we have to make ethical decisions and write laws for the world we live in right now. In 100 years time science and technology might be vastly different and the ethical questions might have to be revisited. I’m sure that’s true of many of our laws.

  • Jonas

    Question – “Currently, when genetic testing reveals an unborn child has Down Syndrome, most women choose to abort. How do you answer the charge that this phenomenon resembles the “eugenics” movement a century ago”
    Murdock’s ‘pro-life’ quote on pregnancies from rape being part of God’s plan displayed to me a bad religious principle. – That God gives you challenges He knows you can overcome. – Never gives you more than you can handle. — Trouble is this takes truly random events and assigns them to the plan of an all knowing entity. (Note: this being some Christian versions of God, not necessarily Jewish ones)

    In the same way – the theory that this potential Down’s Syndrome baby is the one God wants you to have is a challenge to a Pro-Lifer. — However to one who believes Human Life / Human Rights are not yet set when this condition is discovered in-Utero, this is not at all eugenics. Eugenics is a form of Racial Genicide. Down’s Syndrome is not a race, any more than curing Polio is bad because we should have more Polio victims. Further aborting this Down’s Syndrome fetus, in favor of a second try continues the ‘race’ thus not eugenics.

    However that is not at all saying any babies, or children with Down’s Syndrome or other condition are lesser people. Any time a family wants to add a child by natural means they are accepting some risk and responsibility. But once a baby results, they accept it with love.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=509125869 Jay Rodger

    In regards to #3, this allowance of abortion without parental consent also exists due to the very real threat of incest rape. If a girl has been or is being abused by her father, with or without the mothers knowledge, it is reasonable to assert that the father (or mother) would not authorize the abortion through fear of being caught out for their crime.

    • kaydenpat

      Good point.

  • brianmacker

    I mostly agree and like your measured tone although I think you have made some mistakes here.

    For 3) you seem to think that an abortion done without parental consent could not result in lawsuit. What would shield the doctor if not some law preventing the lawsuit, and why couldn’t such a law be passed with regards to school nurses and aspirin? The assumption here is that the child is too naive to know if they can have an aspirin but can give consent for a full blown surgical procedure. If they have the maturity to do that then why not to decide whether to become a hooker or not? Why can they consent to sex (with a peer), and an abortion, but cannot give consent to sex with an adult, with this line of thinking? Seems to undermine the reasoning for statutory rape laws.

    Also why the assumption that parental notification is tantamount to forcing the child to have the baby. There are other possibilities, and also other options. The parent is, after all the guardian and provider. Perhaps we have parental notification but if the child wishes the abortion against the parents wishes then they have to get emancipated, or apply for emancipation.

    This is similar to the issue with married women. Should they be allowed abortions without notification of the husband when the husband is required to notify of a vasectomy, and in some places required to get the wife’s permission before he can get it?

    I disagree or see problems with other positions you took, but let’s start with this.

    • brianmacker

      Also in the case of the wife not notifying the husband there are issues of potential fraud to be dealt with if she married with the agreement to have children, which it is reasonable to assume if her she knows her husband would object. In the case of a wife that fears her husband will resort to violence, justified and provable or not, it seems that she should be seeing a judge about a divorce, or he should. So maybe the husband always is notified and a dispute results in immediate grounds for divorce on the part of both parties.

  • brianmacker

    “When an “unborn child” (which covers everything from a one-celled zygote to an eight-month-old fetus) should have rights is a question I honestly don’t have an answer to. ”

    I would actually have gone the other way. The term “unborn child” seems more applicable to one still in the womb after 9.5 months, than a cluster of cells that if born at that moment would not be or even look like a child. “Unborn child” seems to more naturally apply to a viable fetus that requires no extraordinary care to keep alive. Spending more than most people make in a lifetime to keep a premie alive would count as extraordinary in my book. In the extreme case a premie is more akin to a “born fetus” than a “born child”.

  • kaydenpat

    6. Do you believe an employer should be forced to violate his or her religious conscience by providing access to abortifacient drugs and contraception to employees?

    Yes. The employer has no right to force his/her religious “conscience” down his employees’ throats.

    7. Alveda King, niece of Martin Luther King, Jr. has said that “abortion is the white supremacist’s best friend,” pointing to the fact that Black and Latinos represent 25% of our population but account for 59% of all abortions. How do you respond to the charge that the majority of abortion clinics are found in inner-city areas with large numbers of minorities?Even if King is correct, this doesn’t change the fact that Black and Latino women have the right to choose to end their pregnancies without outside interference.  I only wonder if the higher rates of abortion among Black and Latino women signifies demonstrates that they lack access to birth control to avoid pregnancies in the first place.

  • Tria MacLeod

    Due to the preferences/training of doctors and liability insurance, many physician either will not or can not perform an abortion past the 20 week mark, many make their cut off prior to that just to reduce the chances of untowards results.   Anything after that point is sent to a specialist.  

     This doesn’t answer the ‘when should we draw the line” in the slightest, but it does provide an ‘organic’ solution of sorts.   I work in a teaching hospital and there is only one practitioner who routinely performs abortions between 20-24 weeks and those are almost entirely for several abnormalities.   As our testing becomes more reliable and we are able to perform these tests earlier in gestation I see them dropping considerably.  After 24 weeks the only time I’ve ever seen an abortion performed was due to spina bifida, the patient had one child born with it who suffered a very short and painful life and didn’t want to put another child through that.  That is the case with all ‘late term’ abortions that I am aware of.  Severe defects or death of the fetus or imminent death of the Mother.  I don’t know of any physicians who would willingly terminate a healthy pregnancy that far along.  Regardless of the moral/ethical issues, there is the simple fact that so much more can go wrong at that point and no one would want to take that chance.  

  • azoomer

    I’m curious about your answer on question 4. Note that it’s a two part question. Seems to me you only answered the first.

    When would be the time when a human is fully conferred human rights? Even if the point of no return is arbitrary, it should still be decided upon. Just like voting rights.

    So the question stands, in your opinion, at what point should we as a society, confer full human rights to someone?

    As for me, I don’t have an opinion on this question yet.

  • Bystander

    Just posted the following comment on Mr. Wax’s post. It’s currently in moderation.

    ————
    As I don’t see it linked above, I wanted to make sure the folks here saw this set of responses to the questions.

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2012/11/08/questions-and-answers-for-pro-choice-individuals/

    There are written by Claudia, one of the contributors at Friendly Atheist, a blog on Patheos.

  • Bystander

    Just posted the following comment on Mr. Wax’s post. It’s currently in
    moderation.

    ————
    As I don’t see it linked above, I wanted to make sure the folks here saw
    this set of responses to the questions.

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2012/11/08/questions-and-answers-for-pro-choice-individuals/

    There are written by Claudia, one of the contributors at Friendly
    Atheist, a blog on Patheos.

  • gerv

    “Friendly Atheist” seems to be a good name for this blog; I for one appreciate the thoughtful answers to the questions. But, of course, an initial exchange is only the start of the conversation. As is perhaps the idea, certain answers to the questions lead to more questions. So here is some follow-up:

    1) Your short answer to this question is “no”, right? :-) OK. So then would you consider it morally objectionable to suffocate a just-born child if the mother declared him/her “not wanted”? If not (and most people would say not), then why do you feel that the moral status of the foetus/child changes from “not protected from killing” to “protected from killing” by the process of birth? What is it about the birth which triggers such a change in the _child_?

    2) Why do you find abortion on the basis of sex deplorable, but abortion on the basis of the more generic term “wantedness” acceptable? (Actually, I note you don’t use that term, so please forgive me if I’m putting words into your mouth.) Isn’t “the right sex” a subset of “wantedness”? Is there a set of reasons for abortion which are morally right, and some which are morally wrong? If so, who decides, and “who made them king”? Surely the rightness or wrongness of abortion is a function of the status of the child, and whether they are a human person deserving of some sort of protection or not, rather than a function of the mother’s motives?

    3) Your answer here is fascinating because it reveals that different people see different purposes in these laws. I would say, as a parent, that such laws exist because I am responsible for my child and I don’t want them undergoing medical treatment without me knowing about it. From this point of view, you can see why I would think that an abortion would fall under that.

    Even your own answer betrays a little of this. You say that these rules are in place “to avoid lawsuits”. From whom? Presumably the parents. On what basis would the parents have grounds to sue? Because they are responsible for the child, and some harm has come to him/her. But if they are responsible for the child, surely they have a right to know about medical procedures performed on them?

    What is your understanding of the relationship between parents and children, the level of responsibility one has for the other, and the level of autonomy you think a child should have?

    4) You say “‘Human life’ is not a scientifically relevant term.” Surely that means “human rights” is also not scientifically relevant? If someone has human rights, it’s because they are a human (as opposed to, say, a dead thing, or a vegetable, or an inanimate object, or a chimpanzee). Therefore, you need a definition of who or what is human, and who or what is not, to know who has the rights. If you have no such definition, surely “human rights” has no meaning? Do you believe in the concept of “human rights”? If so, how do you decide who gets them?

    You say “When an ‘unborn child’ … should have rights is a question I
    honestly don’t have an answer to.” There are two possible reponses to that. The first is: yes, you do, because your position depends on making a determination that they don’t have any, or don’t have sufficient ones that their right to continue to live is stronger than the mother’s right to not bear an unwanted child. The second is: if you don’t know whether and when an unborn child acquires rights, what are you doing trying to make a contribution to a debate on abortion? :-)

    5) Your question at the end of your answer reminds me of this story:
    http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justintaylor/2012/11/09/a-defining-moment-in-becoming-a-man/
    Do you believe that there are any circumstances in life where people are obliged (by morals, society or other factors) to do things that they would not otherwise wish to do? If you believe there are no such circumstances, then your argument could hold water. But if you believe that there are some circumstances, you have to go further than “but she doesn’t want to bear the child” – it’s not conclusive by itself.

    6) I’m not going to wade into this one; it’s a problem peculiar to America (where I do not live) that healthcare comes with your job, and which leads to these problems. But I would, in passing, deny the Christian Scientist analogy. A Christian Scientist might thing modern medicine is useless, and not use it for themselves or their children, but I’m not sure that they would say that it was against their conscience to be required to pay for a medical insurance program which supplied it to others. But perhaps we should ask a Christian Scientists.

    Incidentally, I agree with you on 9). I think pro-life people who argue for limit reductions on this basis are giving away the farm.

    10) You say “In the case of partnered women, it also causes even more severe
    emotional distress for the future father, who goes from having a partner
    and expecting a child to having neither in one go.”

    Why would that not be true for the future father of a child where the mother decides to abort against his wishes? Perhaps you recognise that it might, but that you don’t think this is sufficiently weighty to affect what happens. But surely, to be consistent with your other positions, you would need to tell that father that, in fact, what has died is not a child at all, and that his emotional attachment to it is sentimentalism?

    Thanks for hosting the discussion :-)

    Gerv

    • Baby_Raptor

      1) Moving the goalposts, much? You can’t argue with the answer he gave, so you have to try and trap him with a new question.

      When the fetus is still in the woman’s body, nobody but she can take care of it. It’s still draining her. It’s still risking her life. After birth, the baby can be cared for by anybody. It’s no longer a threat to the woman. That’s the difference. 

      2) A desire for a specific sex may be a subset of “wantedness,” but it isn’t the sole definition. For example, I don’t want a baby right now because I’m not in a position where I can raise one with any real quality of life. Other women may not want babies because pregnancy is a major risk to their health. Or maybe they don’t want kids because they would prefer to remain childless for whatever reason. All of those are subsets of “wantedness.” 

      3) A parent should not be able to force their child to undergo a pregnancy. Plain and simple. If the girl does not want the baby, her parents should not be able to over-ride that, the fact that they raised her be damned. 

      4)  He’s making a contribution to the debate because he believes that, no matter what your opinion on when a fetus gains rights, he believes those rights don’t trump the woman’s rights to bodily autonomy. Why do you feel you have the right to denigrate his opinion? Your smug asshole attitude about it does you no favours. 

      5) Name one other law that requires people to *give up their own bodies.* Name one other situation where such a law would not be met with screams about freedom and bodily autonomy. 

      Now explain why pregnant women should be the sole exception to this. 

      10) What’s your point? Should only men have their “rights” to sentimentalism protected? Should a woman be forced to carry a fetus to term simply because the sperm donor feels fuzzy about the idea of being a father? 

      The woman is the one who has to do the work. She’s the one who has to undergo the risk. It’s her decision. Do I think women should completely disregard their partner’s opinion? No. I don’t. But it should not carry veto power. 

      • gerv

        Hmm… perhaps everyone here is not so friendly as the author of the post…

        I don’t see what I said as “shifting the goal-posts”; it seems to me that it’s an obvious follow-up question. In discussions such as this one, particular answers often lead to further questions. In this case, if you think that abortion is permitted at any time, but also think that killing born children is wrong, then there must be a shift in moral status at the point of birth. So, that raises the question, what is it about the process of birth which imbues the child with moral worth and value? That seems a fair question to me. And your answer to that itself leads to further questions.

        Your answer is that the foetus/child acquires moral value, and protection from being killed, because he is no longer dependent on the mother _specifically_. (Clearly, he’s still dependent on someone – he can’t fend for himself.) Firstly, that seems a very odd way for deciding what is worthy of protection from killing and what is not. It seems to set the determining factor of someone’s humanity (as in, that they deserve human rights) in something extrinsic to themselves – their relationship with or dependence upon others, or particular others. That seems dangerous to me in terms of where it might logically lead, as well as being very foreign to the way most people construct eligibility for human rights.

        Secondly, Siamese twins are mutually interdependent. Does the fact that one is “draining” (as you put it) the other allow them to kill their twin if they want to? (The fact that this may be, in fact, a counterproductive move is not relevant to the moral question of whether they have a right to do so.) I think most people would say No, and yet the answer based upon your logic of how such things are decided would be Yes.

        On 2), I think you’ve slightly missed the thrust of my follow-up question. But anyway, your response suggests you have no problem with abortion for the purposes of sex selection. That would be a consistent position, so that’s ‘good’. My point was that the original poster is not being consistent in being in favour of abortion as a woman’s right based on whether she wants the child or not, but against abortion for the purposes of sex selection.

        You obviously hold the principle of bodily autonomy in very high regard – such high regard that you say that even if a foetus gains rights (presumably including the relevant right of ‘not being killed’), they can never trump the bodily autonomy right. Can you name any other rights which trump the right of a human not to be killed? That is to say, rights which people should be permitted to exercise even if it leads to the death of another person?

        “Should a woman be forced to carry a fetus to term simply because the sperm donor feels fuzzy about the idea of being a father?”

        Just above, you were asking me where I got the right to “denigrate the author’s opinion”. You are also asking me to have empathy with women who are pregnant and don’t want to be. And yet you feel free to reduce the male emotions connected to fatherhood to a “fuzzy feeling”. I would suggest that there is some hint there of double standards.

  • Py

    The person who wrote this must be a politician. For only a politician would be able to write so many words in answer to a question, and still manage to not say anything of substance.


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