When It Really Is about Controlling Women

A reader offered the following in a comment on a recent post on abortion:

“What I had really wanted to say is that, except in the case of a rape, the pregnancy had to have resulted from a voluntary decision on the part of the woman, and therefore she should take responsibility for it, and carry the baby to term.”

I’ve been encountering this argument with growing frequency, and it really bothers me. Just last week my awesome husband helped me understand why. Put simply, this argument lays bare the misogyny of the anti-abortion movement, and makes opposition to abortion a blatant attempt to control women. Let me explain.

As I see it, there are two main reasons people oppose abortion:

  • First is the argument that the zygote/fetus is a person with rights. I call this the “save the babies” argument. It is passively anti-woman in that it almost always involves erasing women from the equation and ignoring women’s right to control their own bodies.
  • Second is the argument that women shouldn’t have sex unless they’re willing to be mothers. I call this the “slut shaming” argument. It is actively anti-woman in that it involves shaming women for having had sex and seeking to impose a measure of social control on women.

In the last several decades pro-lifers have been distancing themselves more and more from this second reason and focusing on the first. But the second reason has not disappeared. Growing up in pro-life circles, I thought it was “save the babies” all the way. And I have to admit, I was taken in. I honestly thought abortion was about saving babies, not about controlling women. And I’m not the only one so taken in. As long as they focus on the “save the babies” argument, pro-lifers can claim that they aren’t being anti-woman (even if, by erasing women from the picture, they actually are). But when they start using the “slut shaming” argument, they don’t have any such excuse.

And that, quite simply, is the problem with the comment I quoted above.

If abortion is murder, the argument that women need to “take responsibility” for the “voluntary decision” to have sex by carrying the pregnancy to term is irrelevant. It should not matter. If it’s just about “saving babies,” then abortion is wrong because it’s murder, not because it’s a woman failing to “take responsibility” for having had sex. When someone makes the above argument, then, they make clear that some proportion of the anti-abortion movement is not simply interested in “saving babies,” but rather in depriving women of control of their own reproduction. Some proportion of the anti-abortion movement, then, is actively anti-woman, not simply passively anti-woman. They make opposing abortion about “slut shaming,” about trying to control women who want to have sex but not to have children, not about “saving babies.”

And then they wonder why women get upset. They wonder why they’re called anti-woman. They shouldn’t. It should be obvious.

A Rebuttal

Just because I want to be crystal clear, let me explain the many problems with the “slut shaming” argument. Feel free to leave a comment with additional problems.

1. Having an abortion is taking responsibility. As another reader said in a comment:

Why isn’t having an abortion taking responsibility for her actions? It’s not responsible to create a child if you’re not in a position to give it a decent chance at a certain quality of life so the really irresponsible thing for women to do would be to carry every pregnancy to term.

Exactly. This should be obvious. Having an abortion is one way of taking responsibility for an unwanted pregnancy, just as deciding to go through with the pregnancy and either keep the resulting baby or give it up for adoption are other ways of taking responsibility. We should trust women to make their own decisions, not force them to take the course we personally think they should take. Unless, of course, it really is about punishing women audacious enough to have sex without wanting to be mothers by forcing them to go through pregnancy and have a child.

And if you read the above paragraph and then say “but wait! it’s a baby! abortion is not ‘taking responsibility’ because it’s murder!” then why in the world would you make the “take responsibility” and “deal with the consequences” argument in the first place? If abortion is murder, then why talk about women needing to “take responsibility” for their “voluntary choice” to have sex? Shouldn’t you just be focusing on the whole murder thing, rather than talking about a pregnancy and resulting baby like they’re some sort of “consequences” that a woman choosing to have sex should have to be shouldered with? If abortion isn’t murder, the only reason to oppose it is in an effort to control women’s sexuality. If abortion is murder, than whether or not women should “take responsibility” should not matter. Only inveighing against murder should matter.

2. Women should not have to risk becoming a mother every time they have sex. To quote from a reader once again:

Women can’t live without sex during all periods of their lives in which they aren’t able to care for a child (they should be extremely careful with contraception during these times but accidents do happen).

Women need to “take responsibility” for what, exactly? Since birth control sometimes fails and I doubt this argument includes exceptions for birth control failure, I have to conclude that the argument is that when a woman chooses “voluntarily” to have sex she must “take responsibility” if a pregnancy results. In other words, if a woman chooses to be sexually active, well, she is assenting to motherhood. This used to be true, and was one reason women could not reach parity with men – they faced constant childbearing, with all of the difficulty, invasiveness, and risk it involved. But this isn’t true anymore, and those who want it to be true, whether they realize it or not, are hearkening back to a time when women “stayed in their places.”

And before someone says that women can just abstain from sex if they don’t want to become pregnant, let me point out two things:  a) in the case of premarital sex, this is a free country and you are not allowed to impose your personal views on another and b) in the case of marital sex, remaining celibate is silly, since sex is important to maintaining a healthy marriage (Getting married should not mean becoming a constant baby machine. I’m in my twenties, married, and the other of two children. My husband and I don’t want more at this point in time, or perhaps ever. Should we then be celibate until I reach menopause?).

Unless we women can control when and if to have children, we cannot reach equality. Being able to control our reproduction is, in my opinion, one of the most important advances in women’s rights in the twentieth century. And damned if I’m giving that up.

3. How messed up is it to see children as a form of punishment?!? While the comment discussed here didn’t use the word “punishment,” just the other day on facebook I saw someone talking about how women need to deal with the “consequences” of their actions, aka children. In other words, “oh, you had sex and got pregnant and yet you don’t want to be a mother? too bad! when you had sex you were assenting to motherhood, so you have to take the baby regardless!” This is not okay. We do not punish people by forcing them to raise or bear children! And beyond that, we don’t punish people by forcing them to let a foreign entity grow in their bodies for nine months! That is wrong on so many levels!

In other words, pregnancy and motherhood becomes a consequence that any sexually active woman must bear whether they want to or not. You had sex? Well then deal! This is part of the package! Of course, this completely ignores the fact that it does not have to be part of the package. This is what the sexual revolution was all about. Thanks to birth control and abortion, women can be sexually active without becoming mothers. And that’s the problem, isn’t it? Because at some level, the people talking about how women need to “take responsibility” for “voluntarily choosing” to have sex don’t want women to be able to be sexually active without facing the attendant pregnancies and children. Opposing abortion is a way to control women’s sexuality, and through their sexuality, their lives.


And again, if the person making this argument believes that abortion is murder, they should not be making this argument! If someone wants to make this argument and then read my three points above and say “oh but wait, abortion is really murder,” then why the heck did you make that other argument, the one about “taking responsibility” for having had sex and dealing with the “consequences” in the first place? If it’s just about “saving babies” and not about being anti-woman, none of that other stuff should matter!

I suppose someone could oppose abortion for both reasons – both believing that it’s murder and that women shouldn’t be sexually active unless they are open to pregnancy and motherhood. But also believing that abortion is murder does not make the argument that women must “take responsibility” for “voluntarily choosing” to have sex any less about controlling women. Anyone who makes the “take responsibility” argument, regardless of whether they also believe abortion involves “murdering babies,” opposes abortion at least in part out of a desire to control women and their sexuality. And then the act all confused when people point that out. “It’s all about saving babies!” they say. Really? Then drop the “take responsibility” for your “voluntary choice” to have sex bit. Because you’re not fooling anyone.

Ultimately, this is about betrayal. The argument made in the comment I quoted at the beginning of this post bothers me because it lays bare the reality that there is a blatantly and actively anti-woman aspect in the anti-abortion movement. I grew up ignorant of this. I thought it was all about “saving babies.” I really believed that. And now, every time I see this argument and realize that it is not simply about saving babies, that to many people it is about controlling women, including me, well, I feel betrayed. And angry. My childhood innocence and trust is gone.

Note: Ironically, every politician who makes an exception for rape is doing so based on this argument – the idea that when women “voluntarily” choose to have sex, they have to “take responsibility” for the “consequences” of that, and that rape victims are exempt because they never “voluntarily” chose to have sex. After all, if abortion really is murder (the “save the babies” argument) it doesn’t matter how those babies were conceived or who their fathers are. It’s still murder. In other words, someone who opposes abortion in all circumstances has plausible deniability when it comes to being anti-woman (i.e. they may actually think it’s all about “saving babies” and not realize that they’re erasing women) but someone who allows rape exemptions does not.  Weird, I know.

A Matter of Patriarchy
On Indiana
On Orgies, Bisexuality, James Dobson, and Evangelicals
The Cold, Unforgiving World of Geoffrey Botkin
About Libby Anne

Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the Christian Right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the detrimental effects of the "purity culture," the contradictions of conservative politics, and the importance of feminism.

  • Nea

    I once managed to talk a forced-birth person into seriously considering pro-choice by pointing out that child=punishment isn’t just anti-woman, it’s anti-child. Having been half-primed by the “innocent babies” argument this person was willing to take a second, hard look at the warped idea that those innocent children are “meant” to be where they aren’t wanted, that they are “meant” to be burdens… and what that means to the life of the child. “But the woman will love it when it’s there!” “Really? Do you know the child abuse statistics?” “Adoption is the loving option!” “How many unadopted children are there in foster care RIGHT NOW, do you know?” Nobody, *nobody* pro-forced-birth I’ve challenged, knows either of these statistics. But none of them can deny that such things exist.

    Yes, it erases the woman from the equation yet again. If anyone can find a way to magically convince anti-choicers that women are people too — and not in the “I’m pro-woman because I care about female fetuses too” sense — I’d love to hear it, because it’s been a long life and I haven’t seen any progress in that area. But the “okay, think what happens to that innocent baby, why do you see that innocent baby as a cop or a jailor, is that right for a child?”… sometimes that’s enough of a different angle to break through the thought-stopping conditioning of “voluntary sex=slut; slut=needing punishment.”

    • Steve

      I’m pro-choice all the way. But, I have an interesting take on the debate. The author talks about using a “slut-shaming” argument to force women to carry to term if they have “unprotected sex”, as some form of punishment or forced responsibility. But what about men? Doesn’t society also shame men who don’t “take responsibility” by calling them “Deadbeat Dads” and forcing them to pay child support? Most states have non-support laws where men can have their income and assets seized, lose societal privileges, and even be arrested and imprisoned for failure to pay support. If women should be able to have sex without risking the consequences of procreation, why are men held to the responsibility to pay for the “unplanned child”? Every state has laws forcing more and more men to pay child support for children they didn’t plan to have. There are government agencies which will use government monies to perform paternity tests, track down the “deadbeats” and throw the book at them. There’s always this resounding outcry against the pro-life movement that their ideals interfere with a woman’s right to choose, which I happen to agree with. But, why do accidental fathers have no such rights, or voice, in society while women have such staunch support? Is there some feeling of “Male Guilt” that men owe women reparations for centuries of repression? A woman who has an “unplanned pregnancy” is the ultimate author of the decision as to whether or not that child is born. Shouldn’t it be she who bears the whole responsibility? After all, the accidental father can’t force her to terminate the pregnancy. He becomes a bit of a hapless victim to the woman’s choice. Or do we seriously believe that women should bear no responsibility whatsoever? Mind you, I’m playing devil’s advocate here a bit, but I think the point is made.

      Ultimately, I believe people should take responsibility for their actions. We all know how babies are made, and even when protection is used, there is always the chance for a “successful” procreation event. Whether man or woman, if you are having sex you really, really should be prepared for the eventuality that, yes, you could become a mother/father. What you do with those circumstances shows your character as a human being. And choosing abortion has it’s own consequences, as does any other choice.

      • Niemand

        Steve, as far as I know, men are not required to support women during pregnancy in any state in the US or in any other country. After the baby is born, both men and women are required to support the child unless they give up parental rights through adoption. But men have no responsibilities to a woman or to the fetus during a pregnancy. Why should they have any rights over that pregnancy?

      • Steve

        I didn’t and don’t suggest that men should have any rights over a pregnancy. “After all, the accidental father can’t force her to terminate the pregnancy.” But, should the woman choose to carry the fetus to full term the father would then have a legal obligation to financially support that child. The pregnant woman has three options, two of which excuse her from the financial obligation to the unborn child. Men, on the other hand, have no options. I would suggest that men should have the right to a “paternal abortion”, to terminate his interest in and obligation to the unborn child. On the extreme end of the debate, there are even court cases in California, Kansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Colorado and other states where boys have been forced to pay child support to their statutory rapists. In Missouri there was a case where a 27 year old female babysitter raped a 13 year old boy then filed a paternity suit for support while applying for public assistance in Illinois, which I believe is required by Illinois law. It was only after the suit was filed on her behalf by an Illinois district attorney that prosecutors in Missouri charged the woman with statutory rape. Most state laws have no minimum limit on the age of responsibility for child support obligation, despite having in place laws on the age of consent. If a child is too young to consent to sex, isn’t that child also too young to consent to 21 years of financial obligation to a child’s welfare?
        If a pregnant woman is able to make a conscientious choice as to her fitness to care for a child, shouldn’t an “expecting father” be afforded the same choice?

      • UtahDem

        Steve, I totally agree with you. If we TRULY are pro-choice, then that should include the men’s right to choose. If he doesn’t want the responsibility of being a parent, he should be able to abort his rights and obligations (including financial) to the child. Then if the woman still chooses to have the child, she is responsible for the child. She can choose to give it up for adoption or raise it herself, but she is ultimately responsible and cannot force him to pay. The state also should not be able to force him to pay. Putting men in jail for failure to pay child support is the most unhelpful “solution” to a problem I’ve ever seen. The only thing this does is negatively impact his future ability to make a living and be financially responsible. Stupid.

      • Maara

        As far as I know men have the right to choose. It’s called giving up parental rights. A man can say, “Hey I don’t want that kid or it’s responsibility” and sign away custody. Please let me know if I’m wrong here cause I haven’t looked into this in a while and laws change, but I thought, after that a man can walk away. It’s only when they want visitation or involvement in child-rearing that they are forced to pay.

  • Sarah-Sophia

    What really gets me is when people who call themselves pro-life slut-shame women who are unwed mothers, and then supports budget cuts to schools and programs that help children who have already been born.

    • Jamie

      No kidding. As far as I can tell, the religious conservative right wants to have their cake and eat it too:
      NO comprehensive sex education and NO easy access to birth control and NO abortions and NO allowing same-sex couples to adopt unwanted children and NO extra funding towards childrens’ homes and NO extra help to those slutty single mothers. Not to mention no abortions unless it was legitimate rape, but in that case she was probably asking for it anyway by wearing a skirt or daring to be outside at night after dark.

      • Jean Ford

        I have never seen such well-thought-out comprehensive articles on these subjects and I couldn’t agree more. Except for one thing, I don’t think the anti-abortionists are being hypocritical in allowing abortions in the case of rape. I absolutely believe they would love to ban those as well because as Paul Ryan said “the method of conception doesn’t change the meaning of life” it’s just that they know the overwhelming majority of Americans WOULD NOT STAND FOR THAT! Almost everybody agrees that abortions should be allowed in cases of rape so they are absolutely forced to back down from that position. They are not doing it by choice.

  • Maleekwa

    As a former staunch anti-choice slut shamer, I can tell you that for me ultimately it was about saving babies. However, all the other arguments I just kinda went along with because all my conservative pals agreed with them. I am a male, and I adopted the philosophy that I wouldn’t have sex with a woman unless I wanted children with her. Tough life, but that’s what I thought was right. Then like all good conservatives I thought that it was such a good philosophy that everyone else should adopt it as well. “Dammit, I live this way! You should too!”
    What began to put a chink my “abortion is murder” mindset is this: If abortion is murder then should a woman be charged with first or second degree murder if she has one? My answer was always no, even during my high and mighty conservative years. Which subtly told me that on some level the whole “save the babies” argument was full of shit. It really is an emotionally driven argument used to control the behavior of women.

  • http://TheBereanObserver Bob Wheeler

    Well since it was my comment that occasioned the post, I will respond. I commend Libby Anne for being very perceptive and nailing the issue on the head, and I understand perfectly why she rejected Christianity.
    Quite simply it is a question of values, and we are faced with two basic choices. In philosophical terms it’s a choice between altruism and egoism. In popular cultural terms it’s a choice between Christianity and American consumerism.
    Quite frankly, most Americans are incapable of acting responsibly for exactly the reasons laid out by Libby Anne. We start with ourselves as autonomous individuals, we insist on our individual freedom, and then proceed to ask “What’s in it for me”? What Jesus said, however, if anyone desires to be His disciple, he must take up his cross, deny himself, and follow Him. That is why so few people are genuine Christians — it’s the “deny himself” part that bothers them. Most people simply are willing to do this. Most of us are like the rich young ruler mentioned in the gospels. We count the cost, and walk away.
    Libby Anne says that insisting that a woman take responsibility for her actions is “Anti-Woman.” Not really. It works the same way for men. Suppose I exercise my cherished right to have sex out of wedlock, (because this is a free country) and the woman gets pregnant? Suppose she decides to keep the baby? Do I have any obligation to support her? Not according to Libby Anne’s logic. That would be forcing me to disrupt my life, possibly imposing a heavy financial burden on myself, not to mention the fact that I might already be supporting some other woman. In other words, forcing me to help the child’s mother is “anti-man.” And this, I might add, is exactly why so many marriages fail, why so many men neglect their families, and why so many women are struggling to raise children on their own, often in dire poverty. We are incapable of assuming responsibility for our actions. In our society self comes first; everything else is secondary.
    And of course, it all comes down to the most basic question of all, whether or not God exists. If there is a God in heaven, He expects us to act responsibly and to care for each other. Parenthood is one of the most awesome, and most challenging responsibilities of all. If I get a woman pregnant, we BOTH have a responsibility to care for that child, and our lives will be changed for many years to come. (And no one forced us to get into bed with each other.)
    But if God does not exist, I am not accountable to anyone. Strictly speaking, there is no “duty” or “binding obligation” to do anything I don’t want to. Do you see why atheism is so popular?

    • RMM

      You really have to love it when atheism is made the problem, as though all people who have this view are atheists. It really is a tired argument, that of course atheists are pro-choice because they are self-centered and have no other moral obligations besides to essentially do what they want. *Yawn*

      Actually, in Libby Anne’s logic if a woman decided to allow the fetus to grow to term and then give birth the father would be obligated to support the child… because that is the law. Atheism does not = espousing anarchism. It means that you do not believe that a god or gods exist. Beyond the lack of belief that we share, there is very little that we have in common that you could base an argument that “atheism is so popular” because we don’t have to be accountable and can be selfish on. The fact is, many atheists espouse respectful living and caring for others because it is logical. It makes sense. The problem with YOUR argument in the above post is that you cannot see beyond the idea that we are selfish to understand that we simply find your position immoral in the same way you do ours. Your position absolutely horrifies me, not because I am some selfish person who “doesn’t want to take responsibility” or be accountable but because I AM a person who takes morality very seriously and I find it to be extremely immoral to think the way you do.

      That is the problem: Some people in the majority religious culture (not all) are so passionate about what they believe that they are unable to put themselves in the shoes of others to see that other groups could NOT agree with their morals and values for reasons other than that they are selfish and dislike accountability.

      • Anonymouse

        The bible itself talks about ripping open the bellies of pregnant women, smashing out the brains of suckling children on rocks to kill them, and forcing women to drink a fermented grain concoction that brings on abortion whether the woman wants it or not. Clearly abortion is A-OK in the bible, particularly if it’s against the woman’s will.

        Since conservatives claim that 90% of the USA is Christian, who do they suppose are getting pregnant? Also, isn’t it ironic that just 4 years ago they were screaming approval and applauding a woman who’s underage teenage daughter was pregnant out of wedlock? Now they’re slut-shaming a grown woman who talks about contraception. What a crazy world we live in.

    • Saraquill

      If parenthood is so amazing, why do you speak of going into it involuntarily? Surely it’s much better to go into the process when fully prepared mentally, financially, socially and physically. Foisting it upon others who are not ready or unwilling to be parents or carry a pregnancy to term is rather irresponsible and has great potential to cause harm.
      In terms of being held accountable, in this secular country of hours, we have law, ethics and societal norms to look to.

    • Niemand

      But if God does not exist, I am not accountable to anyone.

      Bob, there is no way for this question not to sound snarky, but I really am interested in your answer: Is fear of God or hell really the only reason you care about other people? I care because I don’t like to see other people be hurt or neglected. Because I believe that each person-heck, each living being-is precious because of their innate complexity and beauty. Because I don’t want to be around a sociopath who would ignore the needs of others. Not because I am accountable to anyone in particular, apart from my own conscience. Doing the right thing because it is the right thing is part of being an adult. It’s not God’s judgement I fear, but my own.

      • http://TheBereanObserver Bob Wheeler

        No. Heaven and hell is not the main reason I believe in helping others. First of all every human being has a conscience (or at least the ones that are not sociopaths) and so, yes, even atheists can be kind and loving in their personal relationships. But beyond that, if a person has a genuine experience of the “new birth,” he acquires a new nature. In other words, his thought and desires come into conformity with God’ s and he wants to do good, because he has the Spirit of God living in him.
        But even this is not enough. Every day we are confronted with ethical choices, and the question becomes how do we know what we ought to do? For the Christian the answer is relatively simple and straighforward — you do what the Bible tells you to do. Admittedly, it can be difficult to interpret at times, but at least we have something concrete with which to begin.
        For the secularist it becomes much more difficult. Some, of course, really are outright hedonists, but probably most are not. Of course they almost all reject the divine command theory, so what do they go by then? Philosophers have constructed a variety of ethical theories. One approach is the pro-choice position: I get to decide for myself what is right for me. Another common approach is to argue that we have evolved a social instinct, and we can reason that our individual happiness is tied in with that of the rest of society. So we create a social contract and form a government. But there are problems with that. If the only reason I am obligated to care for the child I fathered is because the law says so, then what if the law says that abortion is a crime. Is the law still valid? Who says?
        While atheists are capable of being perfectly decent people, the problem they have is that it is virtually impossible for them to posit the existence of an objective moral code, and this leaves little basis for altruism. Enlightened self-interest is still self-interest, and when the tide of events is going the wrong way, who is going to resist it?

      • Carol

        What do we go by? Safe measures rather than coat hangers or poison. Guess that’s what Christians prefer, girls and women who get infections, become sterile or die from coat hanger abortions. I’ll take atheist morality any day.

      • Niemand

        For the Christian the answer is relatively simple and straighforward — you do what the Bible tells you to do.

        The Bible, as was pointed out in a previous thread, can be a rather dangerous book to use to determine your moral choices. For example, I hope you haven’t been trying to gain a wife by raping an unengaged woman and offering 50 Shekels to her father. Or raiding neighboring countries looking for slaves. Both are allowed per the Bible, but frowned upon in modern times.

    • Rosie

      You missed the fact that if a father gives up his legal rights to the child, he also gives up his legal responsibilities. A woman *can’t do this* until the child is born, in any case. In other words, a man’s responsibilities to his fertilized eggs and offspring are ALL transferable to another person; a woman’s are not until after it is born. Therefore what happens before birth is, necessarily, all her choice. And it’s a completely different ballgame from what happens after birth. As was pointed out in the comment thread on the previous post, we speak of a “right to life” only when a person’s care can be provided by any of an interchangeable group of people. When a person is dependent on a specific other human body for life, either in the case of pregnancy or in the case of organ donation, it’s always the donor who gets to choose whether or not to subject their organs to another’s use. Even if said organs will regenerate entirely (as is the case with blood, or liver) in time.

    • Charlesbartley

      Your comment shows zero understanding why she rejected Christianity. She has stated why in plain English in many posts but you choose to typecast her in as choosing to be selfish as “the reason.” this is one of many things about Christianity that I find abhorrent.

      Your comment here shows me that you can only view this from one way: from your narrow Christian perspective. You have a narrow system of how the world works that you think is god given. Everything has to fit in that system. You can’t take her at her word, you have to typecast her into the ‘unwilling to deny yourself’ camp. B.S!

      I get how easy that is to do–spent my first 25+ years that way. Here is the rub… The world doesn’t work according to the silly Christian narratives. I don’t know a single atheist that started from “I want to do my own thing–guess I will have to stop believing in god.” That narrative is another lie that you tell yourself because it will let you feel good about yourself and your godly system without having to face reality. Ask yourself “why do your beliefs require you to believe that someone is lying about their motivations?”

      Speaking for myself: I left Christianity because I found it to be profoundly untrue. The Christian system 1) doesn’t work, 2) doesn’t reflect reality, 3) is immoral (specifically, in how it favors and rewards belief over how people are treated), but most of all because 4) after years of struggle, i came to believe that the God of the Bible *just doesn’t exist.* I tried for the better part of a decade to not let go of my belief in God. That was a decade’s intense effort waisted. Dropping that baggage was true liberation.

      Here is my favorite part: As a non-Christian, I never have to say “I am going to ignore you because I think I already know your best interests.” As a non-Christian I don’t have to follow rules that don’t make sense and that make me unhappy–why should I if the rule giver is a lie? I never once started out “here is what I want to do, how do I get there… Oh, have to stop believing in God. Well, guess its worth it.”

      This is not me choosing selfish hedonism. It is me saying why be miserable because of a lie. I am a much better person since leaving that crappy system behind, and posts like yours remind me why I will never go back. I know it’s hard, but try just once in a while to forget that you know how the world works because of your book and have to fit everything into its narrative… You will find it is a much better and more exciting place.

      • http://TheBereanObserver Bob Wheeler

        So, why was “dropping that baggage” true liberation”?

      • charlesbartley

        Simply put, because reality and people can come first, not trying to figure out how to interpret reality through the lens of Christianity’s broken system.

        My beliefs about the world, people and morality aren’t fixed and I try to always leave room in my arguments for the reality that that I can be wrong. This makes me a much better person than I was when I thought that the bible has the answers. The Christian system just doesn’t work, and I spent far too much time, energy, prayer and study trying to make it work. That time and energy trying to reconcile the world that is, with the world the way Christianity describes was what I was referring to as baggage

        Example: homosexuality. As Libby Ann has written before: everything Christianity taught me about homosexuality was challenged the moment I met real gay people and tried to understand where they were coming from. If god doesn’t like it (and if he is a creator), then he is a prick for “making” them that way. If God doesn’t exist then there is a far better (and easier) way to see them: as normal variation on the spectrum of human sexual attraction. This in turn lets you begin to see them as valuable precious people, not broken sinners.

        Evolution is another example (though I realize that many Christians do reconcile their beliefs with evolution, I never could). Why struggle against that evidence? Why struggle with fitting it in with theology where it isn’t a clean fit. I have the greatest admiration for those in the 1800s who kept struggling with what they saw vs what they “knew” to be true from the bible and came down on the side of what they saw.

        Quite frankly, one of the biggest things about the god of the bible that makes me not believe in him is that (if he really existed) he is just such a lousy designer. If he made our bodies then he did a sucky job at it (hemorrhoids, cancer, junk DNA, optical nerve blind spot, can keep going on and on). If he made it where up to 50% of pregnancies end in miscarriage then he is pretty crappy designer and doesn’t give a flying crap about abortion (disclosure: my wife and I just had a miscarriage). If he made a system with heaven, hell, free-will-vs-predestination, arbitrary things being called abhorently sinful, innocent blood sacrifice, salvation through belief, etc, then he is a crappy designer, barbaric, has pretty poor ethics and I want no part of him.

        Why did he outright endorse slavery in the bible (both new and old testament)? Sounds like a moral midget to me. His answer to Job on the question of suffering was crap–Buddha did much better at that IMHO. (Struggling with theodicy was the start of leaving my Christianity behind).

        If he was so perfect then why are there so many different Christianities each thinking the others are wrong? Seriously? I have heard the sloppy argument “well if you had just had the correct beliefs like me then you would have been ok” more times that I can count. Why is it so hard to find the “correct beliefs?”

        I totally reject that and the “his ways are higher than our ways” and “he has the long view and can tell what is really best for you” arguments. You should too. They are stupid and shallow. They are the ultimate slippery eel of arguments. You can never pin down “truth” because it is always just out of your grasp (but we know that we are right!), and in doing so they allow stupidity and unjust behavior to persist under the guise of “I can’t help it, my God says it is wrong.” You can help it. If your religion asks you to do things that you don’t think are right then you can stop believing in such a god who would ask that of you!

        I am just getting started here. I can’t tell you how much better life is without all of that crap. I liken it to a memory leak or virus on a computer that eats increasingly large amounts of mental capacity to sustain. Killing that task was the best thing I ever did. :D More importantly, it started me on a life of constantly re-evaluating my position to see if I am doing the best that I can be doing.

        Sure I have to think for myself now. Sure I have to weigh what I see and think against the world around me. You do that all too, I am sure. My answers are just not limited by a book that thinks slavery, homophobia and misogyny are right. It is a lot easier *and better* way to live.

      • ArachneS

        I began to no longer believe in a god, when I realized the idea of god was more immoral than modern societies morals. I was expected to believe that God is allowed to cause suffering and death for no reason, and to order death and destruction from his followers, but any human doing so would be wrong. That it’s ok for a god to create a billions of “children” that he knows are going to be aborted, but that it is awful and wrong for a woman to abort a child she knows will be subject to abuse from the father that will be twice as hard for her to get away from because of it.

        I was expected to find some kind of morale in the story of Abraham and Isaac, as if there was anything good you could take from a story where a parent is about to kill their child to prove how obedient to an authority he is.

        I was expected to see obedience(in children especially) as a virtue, at the same time that I was learning the high rate of child molestation and abuse from adult relatives and friends they were supposed to ‘obey and respect’.

        I became an atheist after I had children, and the love and care I have for my children is a big part of what brought me there.

    • Niemand

      Suppose I exercise my cherished right to have sex out of wedlock, (because this is a free country) and the woman gets pregnant? Suppose she decides to keep the baby? Do I have any obligation to support her?

      As far as I know, men are not obligated to support a woman that they have made pregnant. Certainly not in any state in the US, where a largish number of people commenting here likely live. Once the baby is born, both parents have an equal responsibility towards the child. If the woman in this hypothetical came to you after the baby was born and said, “Here, you raise it”, you would have the right to sue her for child support. Equal responsibility to the child. But women have the added responsibility, not reciprocated in any way for men, of gestating the pregnancy. You have no obligations or risks with respect to the pregnancy, so why should you have any rights over it?

      • http://amandajustice.blogspot.com Amanda

        My kingdom for a “like” button. This.

      • http://TheBereanObserver Bob Wheeler

        Well you have all mentioned a dozen or so major issues, and obviously I can’t answer them all here. I have written about science and evolution on my own blog — very briefly put, I think the earth is old but the fossils are young. The other issues I will probably address in the future — my plan is to go through Dan Barker’s book “Godless” and address his objections to scripture one by one.
        I will comment on one point here briefly, however, and that was what Charles said about the “his ways are higher than our ways” and “he has the long view” arguments. The basic problem here is that we are only finite. If we can assume for the sake of the argument that science is our only reliable source of knowledge, then we know practically nothing, for science has just barely scratched the surface of the universe. And because the empirical method is based on physical sense perception, it is totally helpless with anything “spiritual” or non-material. And where has secular philosophy gotten us? Who still reads Hegel anymore? So Christianity is a humble recognition that we don’t know everything and that we are ultimately dependent on divine revelation to help us interpret reality. And as you might expect with issues like the Trinity, the origin of evil, predestination v. free will, etc., the actual truth is beyond our grasp. I will frankly acknowledge that I cannot explain everything in the Bible. — I am conscious of my own limitations.
        I will also mention as an aside, since several of you mentioned knowing homosexuals and appreciating them as human beings, years ago, before I got married, I was accidentally paired up with a homosexual roommate. I got to know him quite well, and can appreciate him as a fellow human being. But from his own description of the gay lifestyle, it is definitely not normal in any sense of the word. At least among male gays it is marked by extreme promiscuity. Why was he gay? I don’t know for sure, but I suspect that it was the result of poor socialization during early childhood. (a distant father and an overly possessive mother.) If homosexuality falls within the normal spectrum of human sexual behavior, it is hard to see how we can define “normal’” which is one of the problems I have with secular psychology. But more about that some other time.

      • Carol

        ” So Christianity is a humble recognition that we don’t know everything and that we are ultimately dependent on divine revelation to help us interpret reality.” Humble my ass. Christianity has knowingly and actively suppressed scientific knowledge throughout the ages. Does the sun or does not the sun revolve around the earth.

        “Why was he gay? I don’t know for sure, but I suspect that it was the result of poor socialization during early childhood. (a distant father and an overly possessive mother.)” REALLY. Did this kid have siblings? Straight or gay? Hmm? *I* have a possessive mother and a distant father, my mother STILL plagues me with her passive aggressive guilt trips and her neediness and my father can barely string 2 words together to have a conversation with me. I can barely converse with either of them and to this day, NEITHER really know anything about me and I’m almost 50. And, guess what. I’ve been married for 18 years! To a man!

      • Niemand

        Why was he gay?

        Why are you (presumably, from your description of yourself) straight? Maybe peer pressure and guilt have kept you from developing your normal full range of sexual expression.

        See how silly that sounds? There’s no evidence that sexual orientation has anything to do with anything apart from genetics and possibly pre-natal exposures. Interestingly, the more older brothers a boy has the more likely he is to be gay. So Catholics are likely to be overrepresented in the gay population. Along with Quiverfuls, etc.

      • Carol

        ” But from his own description of the gay lifestyle, it is definitely not normal in any sense of the word. At least among male gays it is marked by extreme promiscuity. ”

        And then when they want to marry and as tax paying citizens enjoy the rights of all Americans, the most normal things in the world, you STILL don’t approve. Good grief, you people really take the cake.

      • Steve

        Someone has been reading too “ex-gay” junk “science”

    • BabyRaptor

      Why do you keep harping on god? What god says DOES NOT MATTER. Laws CANNOT BE MADE based on what some person’s version of god says. Why do you refuse to understand this? If you’re perfectly willing to ignore this, and limit other peoples’ rights based on your “personal beliefs,” then you have no right to complain when someone else does the same to you. It’s called getting what you deserve.

      Further, your own bible explicitly says that your god is NOT in the “life at conception” camp. Again, see Exodus 21:22. Your god considers babies pre-birth property. He very specifically says not to punish the loss of a pregnancy as the loss of a life.

      And…You know what? Forget it. There’s no arguing with people who simply won’t see facts, and I’m tired of trying to defend my humanity to bigots and assholes.

      • Anonymouse

        “Promiscuity”? In most states, gay people cannot marry; the only option is out-of-wedlock sex–or as you call it, “promiscuity”. You, sir, are trying to have your cake and eat it, too.

    • Rhoda

      The idea that non-Christians are incapable of altuism is a disgusting reprehensible view.
      For a start not-Christian does not equal atheist. There are millions of deeply religious non-Christians throughout the world.
      I am no longer a Christian but I still believe that self-sacrifice is the highest good.
      I have known shallow Christians who chattered about husbands and hair straighteners and mocked people behind their back for dating non-Christians.
      I have known highly principled atheists who care about the environment and raise money for charity and work with disabled people.
      Now that I’m in my late 20′s I don’t notice a scrap of difference in the lives of my Christian and non-Christian friends. That’s why I left the church, after one sermon too many about those hedonistic non-Christians.

      Not having sex before marriage does not make you moral. What makes you a moral person is if you feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit those sick and in prison, help the homeless. If you do not do these things then not only are you not a good person, you have failed at being a good Christian. Your sex life is irrelevent.
      In the end, the point is; it doesn’t matter whether heaven and hell exist, what matters is that you help those who need it.

      I think the real reason Christians fixate on sexual morality is that they cannot deal with the challenge to their faith of realising that non-Christians can be moral.
      Oh, and about abortion. Many women who have abortions already have kids and are having an abortions so that they can better care for the children they already have.

      • Anonymouse

        Sexual morality only as it pertains to WOMEN. Good ol’ Newt Gingrich was cheating on his second wife with his third after he left his cancer-ridden first wife in the hospital, and he’s still considered a good Christian. It’s women’s sexuality that Christianity is obsessed with.

      • Jamie

        Don’t you know that a woman’s moral compass resides between her legs?

    • smrnda

      Bob, please, there are more than two binary choices of how to live life out there. There is ONLY Christianity or American Consumerism? Seriously, over the entire planet, these are the only two choices?

      As a non-Christian, it seems that Christianity is pretty accepting and accommodating of American consumerism. We’ve got Christian media empires over here – do Muslims have American media empires? Do Jews? Do pagans?

      Also, egoism or altruism is a kind of difficult call. At some point, we should all sacrifice so life can be better for all us, but individual rights and social responsibility need to be balanced. If we focus on ‘rights’ too much, you get chaos, but if everybody is sacrificing – for whom of for what? A regime of ‘all sacrifice’ sounds like life under Chairman Mao during the cultural revolution – personal sacrifice is good in and of itself, so everybody is sacrificing their happiness for… what?

      All of your arguments are ones I heard in college from the Christians there – there’s ONLY TWO CHOICES it’s Christianity or comic nihilism of some variety of that. That was about the substance, which to me sounded about as intellectually sound as a guy who can’t imagine life without NASCAR wondering why any has any other reason for living. It’s taking the most simplistic straw man and then running a truck into it.

  • Syl

    Here’s what makes it obvious to me that these arguments are about controlling women:

    It takes two to tango. If men are so convinced that abortion is immoral then they need to step up and take responsibility for preventing unplanned pregnancies. They can abstain from sex, make sure they use reliable contraception or, if neither of those are acceptable, take responsibility for at least half of the time, effort, and expense of bringing a child into the world and successfully raising it to adulthood. Same options for men as are being given to women – goose, gander, same sauce. But of course, that’s not part of the discussion since it’s not strictly about the morality of “life” – it’s largely about the morality of sex as applied to women.

    • Alison

      This. FTW. I have long said that if there’s a “slut-shaming” argument against women having an abortion, then there also needs to be one against men not taking responsibility for any child(ren) that result from them having sex, married or not. I’m so sick of the “boys will be boys” mindset inherent in the “slut-shaming” argument, since it, ironically, dishonors the men by reducing them to their physiological urges without compelling them to step up and be active in the resultant child’s life. Damn the double-standard!

  • Falls Apart

    I also hate it when people talk about pregnancy as a form of “punishment” or “responsibility”. However, I do oppose abortion, and it does bother me when people talk about the “misogyny of the anti-abortion movement”. I mean, first of all, not to nitpick, but it’s not just women who can get pregnant; pre-operative transmen can, too. I’m not saying this changes the nature of the argument, but it’s a bit of a pet peeve of mine when people talk about how it’s only women. It’s not. But anyway…

    I think that the best way to put an end to abortions is widespread availability of birth control, comprehensive sex education, an end to discrimination against single parents, a better education system in general, etc., etc. In short, put a stop to what drives people to get abortions, because those causes would continue even if abortion were illegalized. I’m not sexist–I’d consider myself a feminist—and am tired of being construed as such just because I have been persuaded that, scientifically, a fetus is biologically human. The pro-life platform is not homogenous.

    • Mary

      Well then, your mission is clear, isn’t it? Why not work within the pro-life groups to get them to espouse improved access to birth control, an end to abstinence-only education, etc?

      Until the pro-life movement as a whole can have a rational discussion about abortion prevention that doesn’t just boil down to “those sluts should just keep their legs closed”, when you say you are pro-life, you are allying yourself with sexists and misogynists, whether you share their views or not.

      • Falls Apart

        I do try to persuade the (admittedly few) other pro-lifers I know to more liberal viewpoints on these issues (which many, if not most, of them already have), but I’m not responsible for their views. Your saying this makes no more sense to me than when a conservative pro-lifer I know discouraged me from identifying as a feminist, because the movement is, according to him, closely associated with supporting abortion. I’m not responsible for the views of every feminist; we all just happen to agree that women and men are equal. That’s it. I’m not going to try to change the movement so every feminist agrees with me on everything. By the same token, while some pro-lifers may be sexist or misogynist (again, not in my personal experience, but I do live in a liberal area), I can agree with them on this one, particular issue without being responsible for their worldviews.

    • Pamela

      My view is that it doesn’t MATTER if the fetus is a “person”, as you would argue. And of course it’s human. Heck, it could be an Olymic-medalist-Nobel-Peace-prize-winner-nuclear-physicst human and it would STILL be wrong to force another human being to support it with her own body. If you hit someone with your car, for instance, and they needed a blood trasfusion or a new kidney or whatever and you were the only one who could provide it, no one could force you to donate it if you did not want to. How is forcing a woman to donate her body to a fetus for nine months any different?

      • Falls Apart

        I can understand your objection, and have heard it before, but I don’t want this to turn into a debate about abortion. I’m a recovering from an online debate addiction…

        My point wasn’t to say, “Hey! I’m pro-life, and I’m right! Prove me wrong! Go ahead! Try!!!” I just wanted to say that it is possible to be pro-life and not a misogynist, and I don’t appreciate everyone who disagrees with abortion being lumped together like that.

      • Sarah-Sophia

        Actually a very large majority of abortions are done in the first trimester, during the embryonic stage. I believe the figure is about 90%.

    • shadowspring


    • Niemand

      Excellent point about transmen.

    • http://www.seditiosus.blogspot.com Schaden Freud

      Thanks for mentioning transmen. I don’t very often see transmen mentioned in discussions about abortion and I think it’s important to acknowledge that some men can and do have pregnancies.

  • Attackfish

    Ironically, every politician who makes an exception for rape is doing so based on this argument – the idea that when women “voluntarily” choose to have sex, they have to “take responsibility” for the “consequences” of that, and that rape victims are exempt because they never “voluntarily” chose to have sex.

    I tried explaining this to my very pro-choice grandmother once, about why at least I could believe that some of the “no exceptions” people were (naively and stupidly, perhaps) in it for the “saving babies”, but none of the “exceptions for rape and incest” people ould be without serious cognitive dissonance.

    • Rae

      That’s one thing I don’t understand about the “exceptions for rape and incest” people – If they want to make an exception for rape on the basis that the woman did not consent to the act that made her pregnant, I can follow their logic, but incest? If the incest was not consensual, why does it need to be differentiated from rape? And if the incest was consensual, then why let people abort? Especially if they say “but genetic problems” or “but stigma” – many of these people don’t consider any other genetic or congenital abnormalities, if acquired from a non-incestuous union, OK grounds for aborting. So, what then, are they just repeating a party line? Or do they just not want to think critically about issues of consent.

      • Aurora

        This is something I’ve thought but rarely seen expressed. Why is it always “rape and incest”? I honestly don’t get it. And like you said, the majority of people saying this would be livid if you suggested a woman who was pregnant with a baby who would have (for example) Down’s Syndrome should be allowed to have an abortion, yet “genetic problems” is the basis for allowing it in cases of incest? Not to mention that incest is actually far less problematic than most people think; it’s only repeated incest that significantly increases risk of genetic problems. So one instance of consensual incest is unlikely to have any negative effect, besides the issue of stigma.

  • Niemand

    If members of the “pro-life” movement were really convinced that zygote=baby, their actions would be rather different. For one thing, they wouldn’t concentrate on the occasional murder (abortion) but ignore the massive pandemic (miscarriage, especially early miscarriage.) They’d be raising money for private foundations to research the cause of miscarriage, lobbying for more government funded research, pressuring pharma to work on this problem to the exclusion of developing new drugs for cancer, heart disease, HIV, etc. They aren’t doing any of this. Ergo, it’s not about saving “babies” but about oppressing women.

    • Charlesbartley

      Well said Niemand. Well said.

    • Carol

      Look at our trade policies, look at where our products are made, our imports come from countries that have a very different view of abortion than here. Not. One. Word. Ever. They’re more than happy to outsource to these countries.

      Any time there’s a location where there are high rates of miscarriages downriver, they cover it up and deny.

      It’s totally about control. This is such a great point.

    • RMM

      LOL, they did address the miscarriages… They are trying to make it illegal in some states. Where you can be prosecuted if you are found to not do everything perfect while pregnant.

      • Aurora

        I saw that. Can you imagine how horrendous it would be to WANT to have a baby, have a miscarriage, and then on top of losing your child, have to go to trial to defend yourself for it? It makes me sick that they would even think to put someone through that.

    • http://ripeningreason.com/ Bix

      I think they’re unaware of the high occurrence of early miscarriages (according to the NIH, around half of all fertilized eggs are miscarried), or they willfully ignore it because it doesn’t fit into their narrative, since that would mean admitting that God sees fit to kill a lot of babies.

  • http://bunnystuff.wordpress.com/ Jaimie

    I also grew up with this issue slammed in my face, but unlike so many who bought the “saving babies” line, I just could not wrap my brain around the obvious contradictions. Like how they hated welfare moms and wanted to take away the little given to them. Didn’t they realize they were raising a kid who was not aborted? The child no longer mattered……at all.
    To veer off topic lightly, one thing I have tried and failed to understand all my life is how some people cannot mind their own business. How do they honestly believe they have a say in such personal matters? That belong to someone they don’t know and will never meet?
    Abortion is a pin point issue that tries so hard to be all about social morality. It’s not. It’s all about sexuality and their inability to deal with women having sex. Good sex. I can’t pretend to understand it, but there was a lot of weirdness surrounding sex in the church. Works of art with nudity are pornographic, the word SEX could never be uttered, and some of my friends were not allowed to watch anything other than a G rating. No sex education existed whatsoever.
    There are Christian sex books for married women. You know what they focus on? Getting rid of prudish thoughts and allowing yourself to let go. Because guess what? So many of them have issues, MAJOR ISSUES with sex after marriage. Many of my old friends have horrible or non-existent sex lives.
    I have often wondered if these sexually frustrated people are deeply envious of the “godless liberals” who enjoy sex. That it angers them on a personal level and spills over in schemes like this to try to somehow ruin the whole sex thing for them. Because if you are responsible, like them, you should be just as miserable as them.

  • Sue Blue

    Another aspect of the anti-choice stance is the idea that the only “true” purpose of sex is reproduction. This is true from a strictly biological, evolutionary stance. Most animals just have sex at a certain time of year in order to reproduce. However, some mammals – including humans – have sex for pleasure as well. Sex is a way to bond emotionally as well as physically. By reducing it to a purely reproductive process, religious anti-choicers are oddly espousing an evolutionary, animal-like physiological rationale. From this viewpoint, engaging in a reproductive process without reproducing is “wrong” – warping the supposed purpose of the act. Add a dash of patriarchal misogyny, and there you have it: Women are created by God to be walking wombs, they have no other purpose other than reproduction; therefore, for a woman to have sex for any other reason is sin.
    I wonder if religious anti-choicers realize how “Darwinian” their views appear – they probably wouldn’t like that thought at all.

    • Niemand

      Actually, it’s not true in the biological sense. Not for humans anyway. Sex is a bonding mechanism for humans and in a highly social species where conception is relatively easy but rearing the child is a long and difficult process the bonding may be the more important aspect.

      • Sue Blue

        That’s what I said. Sex evolved as a method to increase genetic diversity and pass them on, but it also serves an important emotional and social role in mammals and some birds. It’s not just about pregnancy, as the anti-choicers would have us believe. They seem to forget about actually raising the child, which is why I said they reduce sex to just an act of impregnation. They rant on about “family values” and the holy sacredness of life – then totally disregard all the emotional and social purposes of sex and reduce it to its most basic biological role. I find that odd – the only explanation I can see is that it also reduces the autonomy of women.

    • Steve

      So true. If humans were “meant” to have sex only for reproduction, women would have an estrus cycle – that is they’d only be horny when they are fertile.

      • Anonymouse

        @SueBlue (“They rant on about “family values” and the holy sacredness of life – then totally disregard all the emotional and social purposes of sex and reduce it to its most basic biological role. “)

        That’s one of the hypocrisies of the Duggars that got to me early on. They blather on and on and on about the bay-beeeze…but once the latest model is born, last year’s model is handed off to the other children to raise.

  • Stephanie

    I too was raised ‘pro-life’, and it may be the single social/political opinion I struggled the most with. Even when I decided to examine all of my views outside the Bible — an exercise I began when I still believed, for argument’s sake — although my anti-gay marriage stance fell away in the face of evidence, I couldn’t quite shake the anti-abortion argument.

    Now I have my own reasons for being pro-choice (ones that I encountered here, I believe, as well as other places): namely, that even if a fetus is a sentient, 100% rights-bearing human being…we would never force another human being to surrender their entire body to keep another human on life support. If someone is dying for lack of a transfusion or kidney or whatever have you, you cannot grab someone from the street and force them to save another person’s life. Should they want to do it anyway? Sure, you can make that argument. But it isn’t illegal!

    But while this argument satisfies me, it seems the issue operates on all different sorts of levels for different people. I guess what I’m trying to get at is…the points you rebutted in your article are very difficult for me to counter in person. Let me give an example.

    If Conservative #1 says God created sex for marriage as his brilliant plan for making sure couples only get pregnant and babies only come into the world when stable families are present – and if people aren’t following this rubric then that’s certainly no excuse to punish the existing child through killing it – it’s hard to argue with that conviction. After all, they say, the woman is the one that gets pregnant simply because females can while males can’t. Law also requires that men pay child support. And there’s always the alternative of adoption!

    I guess the problem is that this views everything as operating in a system of ideals. If you say, “well, adoption doesn’t work”, then they say: “fix that, don’t kill babies.” If you say, “95% of people have premarital sex – isn’t this situation something like divorce, where even though some consider it wrong, it’s legal anyway for practical reasons?” to which they will say “not illegal, but you still have to accept what may happen! Any time you have sex you might conceive another human being. People need to consider and respect that before they casually engage in this act because it’s fun.”

    And so on. I just don’t feel comfortable being loudly pro-choice yet because I’m not entirely sure how to go up against that mindset. It seems like it’s definitely a mix of the two arguments you presented, and, as I understand them, I will reword as they are often presented: 1) Having sex means you might conceive a child, every time, so don’t act wronged when it happens, and 2) We really shouldn’t be destroying human beings for our convenience.

    Sorry if this was a bit rambling. I really appreciate posts like these but I feel like I’m still struggling to say above water.

    • ScottInOH

      Very well said, Stephanie. It’s quite possible for a humanist to realize that the major leaps forward in popular morality have come from recognizing that de-humanized groups are human after all: women; native peoples; minorities; gays and lesbians; etc. What if we someday come to agreement that a newly fertilized egg is a fully fledged human?

      I keep coming back to a few points:

      – The life-support argument.

      – The fact that, not only is the save-the-babies argument against abortion historically new, but the slut-shaming argument is NOT. Christian teachings have historically been anti-woman and anti-sex. Can I trust them when they say that’s not really what they are about?

      – The fact that abortion, and now contraception, get inordinate attention from conservative Christians when compared to the attention given to social welfare issues. Can I trust them when they say they love babies and “life” when virtually everything else they advocate for seems to make life more tenuous for so many people?

  • Minnie

    I hate when MEN start comparing my vagina being used and abused against my will, to their wallet. It is not the same as a man having to pay three hundred dollars a month on child support. It screams the disrespect of pregnancy and childbirth.

    I knew a eighteen year old girl who died of an ectopic pregnancy, she was on her way to the hospital, she had been sexually exploited her whole life by her grandmother and mother. Her father did not want her. She could not make it to the hospital because she lived in rural deep south and was thirty minutes away from a hospital. The creepy man who got her pregnant is happy as can be, “He is still alive” he did not have to die in pain because he had sex.

    Normal or expectable side effects of pregnancy:
    · exhaustion
    · gestational diabetes – can remain permanent as Type II diabetes
    · altered appetite
    · nausea and vomiting
    · heartburn and indigestion
    · constipation
    · weight gain
    · hypothyroidism
    · dizziness and light-headedness
    · bloating, swelling, fluid retention
    · hemorrhoids
    · hematoma (usually on the vulva but can be on the inside of the vagina)
    · abdominal cramps
    · yeast infections
    · congested/bloody nose
    · acne and skin disorders
    · skin discoloration
    · mild to severe backache and strain
    · increased headaches
    · difficulty/discomfort with sleeping
    · increased urination/incontinence
    · gum disease (leading to premature tooth loss)
    · pica
    · breast pain and discharge
    · swelling of joints, leg cramps, joint pain
    · difficulty sitting/standing in later pregnancy
    · inability to take regular medications
    · shortness of breath
    · higher blood pressure
    · hair loss (this is a permanent side effect)
    · anemia
    · inability to participate in some sports and activities
    · high susceptibility to infection (pregnant women have a much lower immunity to illness, infection and disease than non-pregnant women or men because the pregnant woman’s immune system has to literally shut down so her system’s antibodies don’t attack the implanted fertilized ovum)
    · extreme pain during labor and delivery (which can last for several hours to several days)
    · hormonal mood changes, including post-partum depression
    · post-partum psychosis/birth related PTSD (caused by a birth that was traumatic for the woman)
    · extended post-partum recovery period and exhaustion (a difficult vaginal birth or a C-section can take a year or more to fully recover)
    Normal, expectable, and frequent permanent side effects of pregnancy and birth:
    · stretch marks
    · loose skin
    · permanent weight gain or redistribution
    · permanent change to pelvic skeletal and ligament structure — it is not uncommon for a woman’s hips to be 4” wider than normal for the passage of the fetus during birth as her pelvic bone opens and ligaments stretch, and often this change is permanent, leaving many women unable to EVER get back into their pre-pregnancy clothes even if they lose ALL their pregnancy weight (leaving poor women, who are unable to afford to replace all their pre-pregnancy clothes, with absolutely nothing to wear except a couple pairs of oversized sweatpants and maybe one or two donated used maternity outfits)
    · abdominal and vaginal muscle weakness that Kegels won’t necessarily prevent, cure, or fix
    · pelvic organ damage (causing urinary and fecal incontinence and severely diminished quality of life, try re-entering the workforce with a problem like that!)
    · difficulty resuming employment due to lifting restrictions imposed by permanent pelvic floor damage from pregnancy stress and/or childbirth injuries.
    · changes to breasts (saggy and “deflated”)
    · varicose veins
    · disfigurement/scarring from episiotomy or C-section
    · other permanent aesthetic changes to the body (which can be devastating to a woman’s life chances for everything from finding a marriage partner to getting a good job in a culture that emphasizes women’s value on youth, thinness and beauty)
    · hemorrhoids
    · loss of dental or bone calcium (tooth decay/loss and osteoporosis)
    Occasional complications and side effects:
    · invasive Strep-A infection (also known as “childbirth fever”; causes necrosis, leading to limb amputation and sometimes death)
    · domestic violence/murder (pregnant women are more at risk for being murdered by boyfriends and husbands than non-pregnant women)
    · hyperemesis gravidarum (severe morning sickness causing dehydration, malnourishment, and bodily stress that can lead to kidney failure)
    · obstructed labor (caused by fetal malpresentation, large babies, fetal shoulder dystochia resulting in internal pelvic organ tissues to necrotize)
    · permanent injury to back (late pregnancy and delivery)
    · severe lacerations, tissue scarring requiring surgery (especially after additional pregnancies)
    · prolapsed uterus/vagina (risk increases tremendously after additional pregnancies and pelvic floor weaknesses)
    · pre-eclampsia (the most common pregnancy complication — edema and hypertension associated with 10% of all pregnancies, mostly among older pregnant women; a precursor to eclampsia, which is fatal)
    · eclampsia (convulsions, seizures, coma during pregnancy or labor, fatal unless pregnancy is aborted)
    · gestational diabetes — often remains permanent in the form of Adult Type II diabetes resulting in permanent debilitating health condition requiring medication, frequently leading to blindness and limb amputations (aggravated by lack of ability to afford healthy food low in starches and sugars)
    · placenta previa (causes laboring women to bleed to death during delivery)
    · thrombocytopenic purpura (causing women to bleed to death during/immediately after birth)
    · severe cramping
    · embolism (blood clots, air bubbles, amniotic fluid bubbles escaping into circulatory system causing stroke or massive heart attack; usually fatal)
    · medical disability requiring total bed rest
    · diastasis recti (abdominal muscle separation/tears)
    · mitral valve stenosis (causes heart failure, stroke, and pulmonary edema)
    · lack of resistance to highly infectious diseases
    · hormonal imbalance (causes weight problems, depression, and breast and reproductive organ cancer)
    · ectopic pregnancy (fatal unless medically aborted)
    · broken bones (rib cage and lower spine from fetal pressure in late pregnancy and during delivery)
    · hemorrhage
    · refractory gastroesophegal reflux disease
    · aggravation of pre-pregnancy conditions/diseases (epilepsy, diabetes, heart condition, high blood pressure, etc)
    · permanently ruined sex life from injury to the nerves and tissues of the sexual organs (caused by 3rd and 4th degree vaginal tears, episiotomies received by 85-90% of all birthing women, paraurethral tract and parasympathetic nerve trauma, etc. during delivery often accompanied by permanent fecal and/or urinary incontinence)
    · elevated risks for certain cancers
    Serious complications causing permanent problems associated with pregnancy, labor and delivery:
    · peripartum cardiomyopathy (weakened heart)
    · cardiopulmonary arrest (fatal: irreversible brain damage and death occurs within 4 minutes)
    · magnesium toxicity
    · severe hypoxemia/acidosis
    · massive embolism
    · increased inter-cranial pressure, brainstem infarction (An Alzheimer-like forgetfulness from brain matter shrinkage called “mommy brains”)
    · molar pregnancy/ gestational trophoblastic disease (a mass of abnormal/malignant tissue growth from the placenta)
    · malignant arrhythmia ( coronary artery spasms)
    · circulatory collapse
    · obstetric fistula – (tear/hole due to tissue damage from pressure to the area separating the vagina from the rectum or the vagina from the bladder; causing urine and/or feces to pass through the vagina uncontrollably. Fistulas require surgery and are not always able to be repaired 100% even after several subsequent surgeries)
    · colostomy – caused by an irreparable obstetric fistula and trauma to the internal pelvic organ system from pregnancy and giving birth
    More permanent side effects:
    · poverty
    · future infertility
    · autoimmune disease
    · permanent disability
    · death

    • http://exconvert.blogspot.com Kacy

      Very well stated! And even IF (notice big IF), we decided to go ahead and entertain the pocketbook argument, men paying child support simply have nothing on women raising children.
      * Women and children are more likely to live in poverty than men.
      * A woman will have to take time off and risk her job to car for an ill child. This will put her at a disadvantage when it comes to career advancements.

      Simply put, the pocketbook argument does NOTHING to advance the argument of male responsibility. When the responsibility and economical consequences of raising children impact women disproportionately greater than they impact men, the pocketbook argument will get these guys nowhere.


    • advent-gred

      I didn’t read that huge post of yours yet, but when I hear the wallet stuff you first mentioned, I have my own short response which I thought I might use (and I hope I’m right that it makes sense).

      The equation for the men = monetary support of child
      The equation for the mother = monetary support of the child + giving birth + the health risks etc that you mentioned at length + raising the child alone + limits to social and even professional life that comes from being responsible for a child

      We can see they do not add up even close to equally.

    • http://www.seditiosus.blogspot.com Schaden Freud

      Well said!

    • Aurora

      Aside from the fact that your list is terrifying (how long can I go without being reminded how horrible pregnancy is? Is the internet trying to convince me not to have kids?), that is probably one of the biggest reasons to be pro-choice. I mean, yes, I can completely understand the argument that the fetus is a person and abortion is murder. But I can’t imagine forcing a woman to risk all that, against her will, to give birth to an unwanted child. It’s not like life is super great for unwanted children, anyway. In many instances, abortion is saving the kid from a life of abuse, neglect, or being passed between foster homes. And a very large percentage of women having abortions (if not the majority) already HAVE kids. Should they be forced to risk all those potentially debilitating or fatal health issues, thus ruining her ability to care for her existing kids, to have another? Not to mention having to take off work, particularly if she gets put on bed rest, which could make it so she can’t afford to care for her kids, even if she suffers no permanent health problems.

      I don’t think anyone LIKES abortion (except MAYBE the people who make money off it), but it’s so far from a simple black and white issue. It’s not simply a matter of “well the baby’s a life.” The mother is, too, even more so than the future-baby, and it’s at least as much trading off her life for the baby’s for her to have it as it is trading its life for hers for her to have an abortion. Maybe the first one isn’t a guaranteed death, but it’s a serious upheaval in the life of someone who’s ALREADY LIVING, even if she chooses to put the baby up for adoption.

  • Minnie
  • Stephanie

    There is one example which illustrates a difference between a fetus and a born child I think. There are some women who suffer spontaneous abortions, for various reasons their bodies just have difficulties bring a baby to full term. Now let’s say abortions were illegal and we all agreed (for arguments sake) that it is indeed murder. Should we forbid women such as these to have babies at all? After all their bodies are “murdering” children, can it be justified that scores of children are spontaneously aborted and therefore murdered for the sake that maybe one child maybe carried to full term?

    Now if we think that there is no difference between a born child and a fetus, this seems to be the moral choice. But I think we all can see why this does’t make much sense. A spontaneous abortion (or just abortion) is a victimless incidence in the sense that a fetus cannot feel sorry that it happened. So we would not be increasing anyone’s suffering by trying to have a child even when previous attempts ended in failure. Indeed most pregnancies end up in spontaneous abortions before the mother is even aware that she is pregnant. Maybe women should be forced to take pregnancy test every few weeks so that we could spot all this pregnancies that normally no one would even notice are there. After all if we agree every aborted fetus or child is murdered then surely these numerous fetuses deserve some “funeral” as well even when no guilty part was involved in the abortion(except perhaps god)? Or maybe we should consider if there really is some difference between a born child and a fetus?

    • ScottInOH

      This is an interesting thought. Frighteningly, the anti-abortion movement has taken a harder and harder (i.e., more consistent) line in the past decade or so, particularly in ruling out rape exceptions and raising the possibility of putting women who have miscarriages on trial. Pointing out inconsistencies in their position used to make some of them back down; now it seems like it makes them step things up.

      Your example, though, is different. These are “good” women who want to do what they’re “supposed” to do: have babies. If it’s become clear that they are predisposed to miscarry, should getting pregnant again be considered reckless endangerment or something? I wonder what anti-abortionists would say? Have you been able to ask any?

      (Note that the Catholic Church rules out in vitro fertilization because it usually (always?) means some fertilized eggs will not gestate to term. I don’t think they have the same problem with a woman getting pregnant even if she’s at significant risk for miscarriage.)

      • Maree

        Yes, in fact, I do know of an instance of this very case. A very devout Catholic woman was believed to be having repeated miscarriages with no hope of a medical resolution and her bishop (a very conservative one here in the US) advised sterilization.
        (For those who might not be aware, sterilization is usually prohibited by the Catholic church)
        I know of other married (and sexually active) Catholic women who believe that extended periods of abstinence are appropriate for them because of the high risk of miscarriage because they feel so strongly that it would be wrong to knowingly engage in sex when there is such a high risk. But they use natural forms of fertility awareness to accomplish this purpose. It is possible, and people do it, as a matter of personal conscience.

  • http://exconvert.blogspot.com Kacy

    I too feel a bit bamboozled by the anti-choice arguments I heard growing up. I also thought it was about saving the lives of babies. And who wants to be known as a baby-killer?

    As a former Catholic, looking through your arguments against the “consequences of sex,” I can’t help but focus on #2:

    “Women should not have to risk becoming a mother every time they have sex.”

    The Catholic view of sexuality is such that, yes, you do have to risk becoming pregnant every time you have sex because sex MUST be inseparably linked to the possibility of procreation. This is their argument against birth control and any sexual act that thwarts the creation of new human life. (Contraception, oral sex, mutual masturbation, homosexual acts, and withdraw are all put into the same “box” because they all thwart the procreative aspect of sex.)

    Many Catholics will, indeed, argue for the so-called “benefits” of celibacy within marriage. It’s referred to as a Josephite marriage, since Joseph married Mary but never consummated the marriage. I know of at least 2 sainted couples who lived in Josephite marriages, for at least some period of time during their married lives.

    Of course Catholics also believe that raped women should carry the baby to term and that women who make risky medical decisions deserve sainthood (http://exconvert.blogspot.com/2012/08/disturbing-saints-2-gianna-molla.html). At least they’re consistent, right? *rolls eyes*

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism Libby Anne

      Oh. Wow. I had never heard of that saint.

      As to what you say, yes, I thought about that after writing the post. Catholics DO want women to have to risk pregnancy every time they have sex. Protestants usually don’t, though, and even in the case of Catholics, that’s a religious belief. In this country, you’re not supposed to be able to use the law to impose your religious beliefs on others. In other words, you could say: If you believe that you should risk pregnancy every time YOU have sex, fine, but that doesn’t mean that *I* have to follow *your* beliefs.

  • Sarah-Sophia

    Adoption is not an option for most women; not only do you have to put up with nausea and medical bills, but I think the worse part would be dealing with people’s questions: Congratulations! are you and your husband excited? Are you going to marry the father? Who is the father? When is your baby shower? Do you have all your baby supples ready? How can you put your baby up for adoption?

    • ArachneS

      Not to mention when a woman has other children to discuss it with. Or the fact that post-adoptive depression and post-partum depression still must be considered.

      But thinking about the mother isn’t a thing in the pro-life movement, even after the baby is born. It’s more like “Thank goodness we got that baby out of her alive! Now on to the next!”

      • SophieUK

        Yeah, I totally agree with this! I have a friend who found out her husband was cheating on her a week or so after finding out she was pregnant (this was a planned pregnancy). The marriage has now fallen apart and my friend has opted for an abortion which I think was fairly traumatic for her. She will now have the costs of a divorce as well as the increased costs of accommodation and simply does not see herself as being in the position to care for another child. When I told my Christian boyfriend about this (friend is being quite open about abortion – it’s not a secret from anyone) he said “Why can’t she just have it adopted?” Like that’s not going to make her existing children feel slightly insecure?! Hey kids, meet your little sister – I can’t afford to look after her so I’m going to give her away” – “would you give me away if you got even poorer?” – “of course not sweetie, don’t be ridiculous, I’ve had you for longer”

    • http://ripeningreason.com/ Bix

      Or ostracism from a family or community that judges a woman for having a pregnancy outside marriage.

    • Rosie

      It was precisely those questions and attitudes that made adoption out of the question for me. I’d be too severely depressed to be able to stand all that cheerfulness. Well, that and the physical disability of being pregnant. I do a lot of what most people would call “heavy lifting” over the course of the average week, and the inability to do that work for more than a week or two at a time is enough to get me depressed all by itself, never mind the rest of the emotional consequences of being pregnant.

  • Jessica Smith

    Geez louise, it is both! I would say the majority of pro life proponents think that a mom needs to take responsibility BECAUSE there is a living human being growing inside. It is not anti-women! It’s just funny to me that the majority of pro-choicers are also into saving the earth/trees/animals, but have not respect for human life.

    • Carol

      Funny how the anti-choicers prefer to have girls get infections or die from coat hanger abortions, so much for being pro life. Oh wait, it’s only “innocent” life, once they’re born, Christians suddenly stop caring.

      Abortions weren’t suddenly invented in the 70s, they’ve been around forever. But, if your position is that it’s pro-women and preferable that girls and women and mothers get sick and die from coat hangers and poison, that’s your right.

    • http://amandajustice.blogspot.com Amanda

      By that same logic, Jessica, I find it fantastic that the majority of anti-choicers I see are also anti- most programs that benefit women and children after that sacred human life comes to fruition in the form of an actual living, breathing child. Seems to me that in large part they’re only worried about human life while it’s still in utero.

      • http://amandajustice.blogspot.com Amanda

        And by “fantastic” I mean “of the realm of fantasy”, not fabulous or wonderful. Just for the record.

    • L’Ann

      Uh, no. I’m pro-choice, vegetarian, guardian to 4 rescued shelter pets, I use my bike or walk whenever possible (even though I have a fuel efficient car). I recycle, grow organic vegetables, plant trees, help in a community garden, and volunteer at several different educational programs. I donate food, money, and usable products to a range of charities. I don’t do all this just because I like the Earth and animals (which I do), but because I also believe in and respect humans. The next generation should get a healthier planet than the one we have– and nature and intact functioning eco-systems are a part of that. I believe in compassion to unwanted animals and oppose inflicting cruelty upon others. Being pro-choice is in line with my stance. It would be cruel to force a woman to bear a physical burden she doesn’t want. It is cruel to force a child into a family that does not want it.

      Respect for human life is about so much more than every sperm is sacred or every pregnancy a jewel. It is also about ensuring that those people brought into the world grow up in safe, loving homes and communities, have opportunities for education and growth and security, and know their own worth– having grown in supportive environments with a sense of security

      It’s just funny to me that the majority of pro-lifers have such little respect for human life that they work to undercut education, weaken environmental safeguards that protect people, and value outsourcing of jobs to leave millions of people unemployed and impoverished while simultaneously cutting social services that help feed, clothe, and shelter the youngest members of those families and communities torn by massive job loss.

      • shadowspring


    • http://bunnystuff.wordpress.com/ Jaimie

      This argument falls flat. You want to force others to have children they do not want. After the child is born, you actively oppose both mother and child by denying help in the form of food, housing, education, and health insurance. At this time your side is taking very definite measures to make this a reality. They also oppose birth control which very effectively helps to reduce abortions. How does this respect human life?

      • Minnie

        How pro-lifers feel about women after they have given birth and their new babies.

        “House Republicans have been facing a backlash after voting for a plan authored by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) that would dismantle Medicare while cutting taxes for the rich. But that plan also included deep cuts in discretionary spending, the destructiveness of which is becoming more apparent as the budget process moves forward.
        For instance, the Republican budget would implement a 15 percent cut in the agency tasked with policing oil markets, even with energy speculation at an all-time high. That same portion of the budget — which is being

        marked up by the House Appropriations agricultural subcommittee — would also cut $832 million from the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), a program that provides low-income women and children with food, counseling, and health care.”

  • alfaretta

    That Catholic saint was the end of my respect for the Catholic church. As the oldest of 5 Catholic kids born within a 6-year period in the late 50s-early 60s, I remember my mother deciding to stop having kids because she was afraid the next one would kill her and she’d leave us to be raised by our father (who in hindsight should never have had kids in the first place). (I also hasten to add that my dear, loving mother suffered from post-partum psychosis at one point — if you think being aborted is bad, try living with the consequences of THAT for 50-plus years.)

    I think often of Gianna Molla’s children and wonder how they actually felt about what she did, particularly the poor youngest child who must have felt some level of responsibility for her mother’s death.

    • Karen

      This. Read some of their stuff suggesting that modern kids are traumatized by the knowledge that their mothers could have had abortions, but apparently Gianna Molla’s son is completely thrilled by knowing he killed his own mother. Also, one of her daughters was shipped off to convent school at the age of six by her oh so Catholic father where the little girls was neglected to death. (She died of an infection in 1963, long after the invention of antibiotics but before resistant bugs. The nuns simply didn’t think getting a sick little girl medicine was all that important.)

      • alfaretta

        Thanks for this, Karen. I don’t know if you’ll see this since lovejoyfeminism has moved on to other articles, but I tried to research the children based on this info. It’s hard to find a URL that focuses on anything but Gianna Molla’s sainthood.

        I discovered in this process that this is triggering for me — if my own mother had made a similar choice to Gianna Molla’s (merely continuing to have children until it killed her) my dad would undoubtedly have drunk himself to death and my siblings and I would probably have all been dead decades ago.

        Her story must be inspiring to someone since it’s emphasized so much — I wonder how many others are like me and find it to be horrifying (and her daughter dying only a year later makes it much much worse in my eyes).

  • Gregory Stacey

    This is an attempt to explain why people would make both arguments above and their relation from a pro-life perspetive.

    The argument that abortion is murder (a not unreasonable progress from the premise that the fetus deserves the same legal protection as adult humans because of its status as a “human person”), is often thought to be a knock-out victory for the pro-life position (as noted above).

    However, feminists (as with a link cited above) sometimes argue that even if these assertions are in some measure correct, the invasive “occupation” (one might say “attack”) on a woman’s body by a fetus actually justifies such killing as an act of self-defense in attempt to maintain bodily integrity.

    At this point, one response from a pro-lifer is that self-defense is usually supposed to be proportionate, and that since the life of the mother itself is not usually being threatened, taking the life of the fetus is usually a disproportionate act of “self defense”.

    However, this case of “self defense” is clearly not analagous to many common examples (e.g. someone entering my house and attempting to punch me), since the fetus is not morally culpable for its actions (it has made no choice to occupy the mother’s body, but acts from nature). At this point, then, the fact that the mother has chosen to engage in sexual activity with even a small risk of conception is clearly relvant to the obviousness of the extent to which the claim of “proporionate self-defense” fails.

    Considering whether it is reasonable for me to shoot someone entering my house with the intention of punching me several times (though not to the point of death) may appear difficult, but the added information that I had sent an invitation (even one I reasonably thought very unlikely to be accepted) to a mentally ill person with a grudge against me (which if accepted would result in similar agression) to come round for dinner, would clearly seem to make shooting in self-defense less reasonable.

    The aim of the argument may not be, therefore, to shame women but rather to suggest that viewing a child growing up by a natural process caused by the voluntary actions of parents (whether through accident or carelessness) as an agressor who can be legitimately killed is just a little warped. Perhaps, one might say, like the presentation of pro-lifers as misogynists as above.

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism Libby Anne

      I’m unclear on whether you actually read my post. My post does not address whether or not the fetus should be regarded as a person with legal rights or whether, if fetuses are people with legal rights, it is nevertheless justified to terminate a pregnancy. All I was addressing in my post is the argument that women need to “take responsibility” for the “consequences” of their “voluntary choice” to have sex. My argument is that using the “well you had sex, now deal with the consequences” argument is anti-woman, not least because, if abortion is considered murder, this argument should be irrelevant. My point is that whenever this argument is used, the anti-woman slut-shaming aspect of the anti-abortion movement shows itself loud and clear.

      • Gregory Stacey

        Thanks for the response, but I think my post was very relevent to what you had to say.

        You state both in your argument above and in this reply that you consider the “abortion is murder” argument as entirely separate from the “take responsibility” argument as the former has no need of the latter (and is, in fact, mere misogynism).

        As a rebuttal of this claim, I provided above an example of where in the context of a discussion about the former argument, the latter would be relevant to the pro-life case, in that it strenthens intuitions supporting the case for rejecting the killing of the fetus if it has any moral value.

        In fact, it seems easy to see that few sensible people would make the argument that women should take responsibility for the “consequences” of sex if they didn’t think that the “consequences” (i.e. the fetus and its alleged right to develope naturally, presumably) were in some way something to preserve at all costs (which someone who rejects the “save the babies” argument would reject anyway), which further shows a link between the arguments.

        In short, I think that the arguments are likely to be used in conjunction and that the argument you reject as “anti-woman” can be sensibly used as a supporting argument for the other, more fundamental point.

        I might add that the use of the word “slut” to describe the attitudes of pro-lifers to problem pregnancies rather jarrs with the fact that pro-lifers both disapprove of abortion in the case of married women just as much (nay, more) as those who are unmarried and often seek to offer help to young unmarried mothers wanting to give their children up for adoption or raise them themselves.

    • ScottInOH

      I think that is a good statement of how many on the anti-abortion side think, Gregory Stacey, especially the rank and file. Some responses:

      – If we continue the self-defense argument (which is not the one I’ve generally found most convincing):
      Pregnancy is not proportionate to the decision to have sex, even if one thinks sex is something that should have “consequences.”
      Terminating the pregnancy is the only option for removing the “intruder.” There are usually other ways to get someone to leave your house. If not, I think the self-defense argument will probably be accepted. (“Stand your ground” laws, of course, allow deadly force in even more instances.)

      – The more convincing argument to me is the life-support argument. There is simply no case where we mandate someone provide life support for someone else except in the case of a pregnant woman.

      – Libby Anne above and in the “stop erasing women” post (along with many people elsewhere) has shown how many anti-abortion arguments are at least implicitly anti-woman.

      – Many people who want to outlaw abortion are openly misogynistic. That is not imagined.

      • ScottInOH

        Or Libby Anne could speak for herself! (I was typing while your comment was posted, Libby Anne.)

      • Gregory Stacey

        Well, contra the above;
        1. The arguments noted above did not claim that pregnancy was in any way a punishment (or any other thing) for having sex “proportionate” to anything else (perhaps you had in mind the alleged crime of having had sex when not prepared for pregnancy).
        2.a) Yes, killing the “intruder” is in this case the only method of self-defence before viability. But given that the “intruder” is in fact a minor unintentionally pursuing what is necessary for its own survival as part of a natural process, I simply think that the right to self-defense should clearly be waived. b) In any case, such self-defence would obviously NOT be a proportionate even were the violence deliberate (killing people is clear worse than punching them many times). c) I doubt that even “stand your ground” law, ridiculous as it is, would allow for the killing of those unintentionally advancing on someone e.g. a blind and dead person.
        3. Well, we normally expect parents to provide “life support” to their children outside of the womb where other arrangements can’t be found (or until they can). Or perhaps parents may kill there newborn children by exposure?
        4. Opposing the right of women to act thus in self-defence, as abortion fails to fulfil the apporopriate criterea for self-defence is hardly “anti-woman”. Perhaps the lack of wives for millions of young Indian men due to gender-selection through abortion shows that people who want abortions can be just as “anti-woman”- surely a woman’s rights should start in the womb.
        5. See (4) above. I’ve yet to meet one, but I suspect we have definitions of “anti-woman”.

      • Niemand

        Perhaps the lack of wives for millions of young Indian men due to gender-selection through abortion shows that people who want abortions can be just as “anti-woman”- surely a woman’s rights should start in the womb.

        Seriously, the only problem you see with India’s gender imbalance is that men can’t find wives. How is that “pro-woman”? And while we’re at it, do you really see no problem with Indian society with respect to gender except for the use of sex-selective abortion? Female infanticide, starvation of girls, and burning young women to death are not problems, but sex-selective abortion is? Very, ah, pro-woman of you.

      • ScottInOH


        1. You objected that abortion was a “disproportionate act of ‘self-defense’.” You also argued that the woman’s voluntary decision to have sex makes the self-defense even more disproportionate. Proportion seemed important to you, and you seemed to be saying that the woman needed to recognize her culpability in the pregnancy. Even granting you the latter for the sake of argument, I thought it was relevant to point out the gross disproportionality between deciding to have sex and being forced to carry a child for nine months (even granting, again for the sake of argument, the least problematic pregnancy possible and an immediate whisking away of the baby for adoption).

        2.a. You’ve completely erased the woman. You make it sound like a baby has simply entered a house. In that situation, we should just take the baby back to its parents, or at least to an appropriate agency. Of course, that’s impossible with a pregnancy, so nothing can be done. The baby just has to stay in the house/woman.

        2.b&c. Whether relevant to this discussion or not, you are quite wrong about self-defense rules. In the US, anyway, you need not allow someone to pummel you just because you’re pretty sure they won’t actually kill you; using lethal force will frequently be excused. And the “stand your ground” laws do, in fact, allow you to shoot someone because they make you afraid.

        3. The life support I’m talking about is equivalent to requiring someone to donate bone marrow or a kidney or to be strapped to an IV for nine months providing constant blood transfusions. We don’t require that of anyone but pregnant women.

        4. Again, it’s the erasing of women–the failure to see them as independent beings forced to provide something we ask no one else to provide–that is misogynistic.

        5. If you’re telling the truth, you’re not paying attention. You may not hold all these views, but the following are shockingly common among anti-abortion advocates: women’s highest purpose in life is to have children; women and men should not have the same rights; unwanted pregnancy is not that big a deal; women are frequently at fault for getting raped; women are responsible for making sure men don’t want to have sex with them. To me, those beliefs all fall in the category of “anti-woman,” but as you say, we may have different definitions of that term.

      • Judy L.


        I’ll take your #3. even further. It isn’t simply like forcing organ transplant or nine months of constant blood donation. What we’re talking about here is enforced pregnancy, enforced childbirth, all of the physical, emotional, social, familial, and financial effects of that, and then responsibility afterward for caring for a child for 18+ years (and the argument that there would be happy adoptive homes for all the unwanted children is patently inaccurate and untrue). I always want to ask a snarling ‘pro-lifer’ who recognizes the personhood a fetus but not of the woman in whom the fetus is residing, whether he thinks that anyone has the right to live inside another person’s body without their ongoing consent, and if he says yes, I will tell him that I’ll be moving into his body next week and that he should prepare the accommodations.

      • Nicola

        Gregory: You seem to be labouring under the delusion that sex-selective abortion is a consequence of abortion. Of course, it wouldn’t happen if there was no such thing as abortion, but that would simply mean there were higher results of infanticide. Sex-selective abortion is in fact a result of a sexist society in which male children are valued over female children, and thus minimising sex-selective abortion cannot be done through restricting abortion but through altering cultural attitudes so that female children are as valued and celebrated as male ones.

        To address the original post, I’ve encountered quite a few pro-lifers who are both in the “abortion is murder” camp and the “it’s acceptable in the case of rape” group. Their reasoning seems to me to be that abortion is wrong, but it’s also wrong to force a woman to spend nine months or more with a constant reminder of a traumatic event. At first glance this appears to be an attempt to compromise between two opposing moral views by mitigating the number of abortions that occur but also mitigating the suffering caused by unwanted pregnancies.

        However, this is really just as anti-woman as the viewpoint you discussed in your post, because the people with this stance consider themselves to be more capable of deciding whether or not an abortion is “valid” than the woman seeking it.

    • Niemand

      So, Gregory, do you think the court decision in the McFall case was wrong? That people should not have the right to bodily integrity?

      • Gregory Stacey

        Niemand- I was using euphemism to describe the mass killing of women in the womb due to abortion, not commenting on the reason why I think it is evidently undesirable. I’m not sure which case you’re talking about, but the rights of any individual to bodily integrity must clearly be proportionate to the rights of others to enjoy the same.

        1. I agree that it seems odd that such a “small” decision can impose so heavy an obligation, but that’s just the way life is.
        2.a) Well, mostly that seems a cogent analysis of the situation. I didn’t “erase” the woman though (the above clearly shows consideration of her rights before limiting them), and I hope that in a society without abortion women would be supported through difficult pregnancies- I just think that there is no right to kill people in such circumstances as out-lined above.
        b) Then I think that US law is clearly bad law, particularly in the case of agents who are not acting in a deliberately agressive way, are themselves only doing what is absolutely necessary for survival and have been placed in that situation by the ones they are attacking.
        3. I know what you meant, but then I don’t know of any actual cases more parallel than the one I supplied. I’m not aware of any cases precisely like the “violinist” example of J.J. Thompson to which you allude. In any case, I simply disagree the life-support should not be provided by compulsion.
        4. We expect men to give up other rights after childbirth as part of being a parent. If we were like sea-horses and men had to carry children then I’d oppose abortion for them too. The fact that women must bear children is incidental to my position.
        5. I think that most of those views are very silly and wrong. You’ve not provided any evidence that many pro-life people think these things, though. You may be right that they do- and that’s sad, but attempting to maintain that all pro-life arguments are secretly “anti-woman” is hardly likely to change any of that, and I think that believing that this latter point is true is reducing the term “anti-woman” to a meaningless one.

        Finally, Judy L- I’ve not yet met a snarling pro-life person, but perhaps you meant that all pro-lifers were snarling beasts. Why bother insulting people who hold to positions different from yours?

      • Carol

        I would consider anyone standing outside a clinic screaming “baby killer” to be a “snarling pro lifer” particularly when they go inside for their own abortions. According to them, the only moral abortion is their own, the 4 exceptions should be rape, incest, life of the mother and “me”.

      • Niemand

        the rights of any individual to bodily integrity must clearly be proportionate to the rights of others to enjoy the same.

        So you do think it’s ok for the state to force someone to donate their body or body parts to another person under some circumstances. The legal precedent in the US is the other way around, but I think that there are certain historical governments that would agree with you entirely.

        I take it then that you think that a person who is the only potential marrow donor for a person who is ill with a disease that would kill them without said donation should be forced to donate marrow regardless of their will in the matter? Bear in mind that said person will only be known to be a potential donor because they allowed HLA testing to be performed, so they agreed to take the risk of being a donor far more clearly than a woman who had sex agreed to pregnancy. Also, the life saved is clearly that of a living, thinking, independent person.

      • Niemand

        We expect men to give up other rights after childbirth as part of being a parent.

        We expect parents, both men and women, to provide certain support to their children. But, as I said earlier, men are not required to support a woman who is pregnant after having sex with them. They have no obligation whatsoever during the pregnancy and thus should have no rights over the pregnancy or its outcome.

  • mildlymagnificent

    “….insisting that a woman take responsibility for her actions is “Anti-Woman.” Not really. It works the same way for men.”

    Oh really. The same. Just the same? I was really worried when I thought I was pregnant for the fourth time (2 children, 1 miscarriage up to that point). Why?

    Well. One possible option for the consequences of pregnancy not mentioned in the compendium above is that all those mentions of backache and permanent changes to pelvic structure are the result of the actions of hormones – and some of us are quite capable of producing a wild excess of these. Spending many boring weeks in hospital before the birth of my second child I was surrounded by others who were variously on crutches – because “relaxed” hip joints couldn’t support walking, or more like me, bending over in crippling pain because of “relaxed” pubis joints and lower back pain. None of us were given any pain relief at all because it would be, you can guess this one, bad for the baby.

    The big issue here is that we’d been advised by doctors and physios that all of these problems go away after the birth of the baby. Wrong. I had volunteer mothers’ helps come to my house to bathe that second baby for the first 6 months. And 3 years on I was still sucking down painkillers like there was no tomorrow. So thinking I might be pregnant I was looking at the serious possibility of spending much of the rest of my life in a wheelchair. As it happened, I had a very early miscarriage so we were spared the decision to have that pregnancy aborted. 10 years further on, my children were very keen for me to organise myself a disabled parking sticker because they were “fed up” with my slow walking in car parks. Just how well would I have been able to cope with that additional child (and a full time job)? As it was, my husband did most of the childcare and all of the cooking for most of their pre-school and primary years. A full time desk job was much more manageable for me than an hour or two of dealing with children.

    Yah, boo, hiss to anyone who seriously proposes that women should be invariably obliged to continue with pregnancies in those circumstances. Knowing that it wouldn’t kill me is no benefit – there were some days I’d rather never have lived, even without that additional child.

    • Aurora

      I’m sorry you had to go through that. The argument I always use when people say abortion is wrong is that there are any number of circumstances in which it is the far preferable option, more than you can imagine, and only the woman herself can know what her circumstances are. Your experience is one of those circumstances. Had you been forced to carry that pregnancy to term (assuming the miscarriage hadn’t happened), it would have seriously affected the quality of life of not just yourself, but also everyone else in your family, including your kids, including the new baby. Even if they couldn’t care less about your quality of life (and if that’s the case, they’re jerks), shouldn’t they care about the quality of life of your kids, especially the one they want so desperately to make sure you have?

      I swear some people are just incapable of imagining how things could go very wrong. Maybe we should get a whole bunch of women who’ve been adversely affected by pregnancy/childbirth together and have them all explain the concept?

      And I hope this comment doesn’t come across as me taking your experience and exploiting it to prove a point. What I really meant is, your story made me sad and showed me one more circumstance where abortion is the better choice, and that I can’t imagine how people can hear about these sorts of experiences and still look at it as a purely black and white issue.

  • mildlymagnificent

    “… abortion fails to fulfil the apporopriate criterea for self-defence…”

    I didn’t refresh before writing my response above, so I didn’t see this one.

    Relaxin is a necessary hormone for pregnancy, but an overdose is closely akin to a poison for some of us. I’d suggest that someone in my position having an abortion is **exactly** acting in self-defence knowing that a pregnancy will inevitably cause serious, permanent injury.

  • Judy L.

    As I’ve commented before, the fundamental question about abortion, which makes all the arguments about personhood and responsibility and slut-shaming and telling other people how and when to have sex completely moot, is whether anyone or anything has the right to reside inside another person’s body without that person’s ongoing consent.

    The slut-shaming part of this is pure prurient-prudishness. Consenting to having intercourse is NOT signing a contract to have a child. Men are going to complain that denying them the right to force a woman whom they’ve impregnated to have an abortion forces them to commit to potential procreation when they choose to have intercourse (although, for the most part, men are held legally responsible only financially for the children they make), and I’ll grant that it’s unfair, but to that I also say, ‘tough titties’. Until our social and economic and political structures and laws prevent or address the disproportionate negative social and financial impact that pregnancy and childbearing and childrearing has on women’s lives, men are just going to have to deal with the limitations imposed by their biology and try to mitigate their risk by proper and consistent use of condoms. And if they really want more control over their own fertility, men should band together and fund research and development for more effective, non-permanent contraceptive options that involve altering their own bodies, and be willing to put up with hormones or implants or other regimens and a side-effect or two.

    • Sue Blue

      Exactly. I always get a little steamed when men start pontificating about pregnancy and abortion – I mean, come on! What man is ever going to “walk a mile” in the old pregnancy shoes? What man is ever going to experience those feelings, whether physical or emotional? What base of knowledge and experience can they draw on for their opinions? Usually, it just come down to whining about paying child support or some religious morality twaddle. So many men seem to have this need for power that is really rubbed the wrong way by the biological fact that their control over reproduction ends at the tip of their penises. Being no more than sperm contributors, biological bit players in the drama of life and death, really galls them. Men – if you don’t like what women do with your sperm when it’s in their bodies, don’t put it there. That’s really all you can do – keep it in your pants or in a condom.

      • machintelligence

        Quoted without comment:

        This morning, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is holding a hearing titled “Lines Crossed: Separation of Church and State. Has the Obama Administration Trampled on Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Conscience?” The topic, as you might guess, is the recent administration decision to mandate birth control coverage.

        As you might not guess, the first panel of witnesses doesn’t include a single woman. The five-person, all-male panel consists of a Roman Catholic Bishop, a Lutheran Reverend, a rabbi and two professors.


  • http://TheBereanObserver Bob Wheeler

    Since when does the taking of human life become a matter of personal choice?

    • Niemand

      Do you really believe that a single celled organism is a “human life” in any meaningful sense? Once again, if you do, why are you so unconcerned about the pandemic of miscarriages that is killing the majority of “babies” out there?

      • http://cfiottawa.com Eamon Knight

        This is the crux of the first part* of the abortion argument: the correct term to be looking for here is not “human”, but “person”. There’s nothing magic about having human DNA — that’s essentialist thinking. The rational criterion to use is cognitive function, and a fetus doesn’t get much of that until well into the pregnancy.

        * The second part is, even if the fetus is a “person”, does it have a moral or legal right to usurp the woman’s body for life support? (see the Violinist Thought Experiment)

      • Niemand

        I agree. And this brings up another problem with the “pro-life” position: It is too inclusive, considering single celled entities to be people just because they have 46 chromosomes*. But it is also too exclusive. Consider how this fetishism of the sacred human DNA would look to a non-human sentient being: They’d probably think that humans would consider them non-people. And, given human tendencies, they might well be right. Focusing on sentience and cognition as the critical components of when a being has rights at least puts us in the right area theoretically. Whether it will ever become a real life issue, I don’t know.

        *Usually. 45 and 47 can sometimes be viable.

    • http://cfiottawa.com Eamon Knight

      Argh, munged the link tag. Violinist

    • victoria

      I’ve come across three arguments for why a zygote** or embryo could be considered a human being:

      1. The zygote has its own unique DNA, different from all other cells in the parents’ bodies.
      2. The zygote will tend to develop and differentiate if given access to critical resources from the mother.
      3. At the time of fertilization or sometime shortly thereafter, the zygote experiences ensoulment, and the presence of the soul is what makes it a human being.

      Here’s the problem with that: 1 & 2 are completely, totally, 100% applicable to cancerous tumors and stem cells. Am I arguing that tumors and stem cells are human? No, absolutely not — but I don’t agree that zygotes and embryos are human. I am saying that if you do believe that one of those two reasons is *why* an embryo is morally equivalent to a baby, then you must necessarily also argue for the personhood of tumors.

      Which brings us to the third: ensoulment. The science of pregnancy and pregnancy complications actually makes this a problematic concept too (when do identical twins gain a second soul? What happens to the second soul in a fetus in fetu? When does a hydatiform mole lose its soul?), but that’s neither here nor there.***

      The idea of ensoulment is one that’s not well-supported by the Bible. The Catechism of the Catholic Church discusses it in detail, but the idea of ensoulment at or near the time of conception is not present in the Bible; it was not even a mainstream view among conservative Christians until the last 30 years or so. Neither Jews nor Muslims consider an embryo or zygote a human being from a religious perspective. Any argument for embryonic personhood based solely on the presence of the soul must necessarily be a religious argument.

      So my question is, are you in favor of making civil law based solely on religious arguments? Or do you believe that secular law must be justified by secular principles? If the only argument against abortion is religious is it of moral consequence that nations without rates of religiosity have legalized abortion? Should Americans who don’t share your religious beliefs accede to laws that are based on those beliefs? Who makes the call when different Christian denominations disagree?

      ** I use zygote and embryo here intentionally: most ethicists, and indeed most laypeople, seat personhood and personal identity in the brain. (You probably do too, Bob, unless you’re one of the few people who would consider yourself the same person if you were able to somehow receive a whole-brain transplant.) If and when a fetus develops the structures for higher reasoning, memory, and a sense of identity, then there is a much better argument for saying it has some human rights.

      Given that the over 90% of abortions take place in the embryonic period and that almost all the rest are either (1) very early in the fetal period, in the weeks before higher brain functions appear and therefore identical to embryonic abortion from an ethical standpoint or (2) as a result of terminal anomalies in the fetus or life-threatening illness in the mother (in both cases, the main ethical arguments in favor of those abortions do not rely on the embryo or fetus not being a human life), when you argue that abortion is murder you’re arguing in practice for the personhood of embryos and zygotes, not late-stage fetuses, and it is vital not to conflate the two.

      *** Well, it’s neither here nor there for people who are not arguing for ensoulment at or near the time of conception. They are actually fairly serious, albeit Talmudic, philosophical questions for those who would make that argument.

      • Aurora

        I’d never thought of the twin issue before. That’s a fascinating philosophical question.

    • Anat

      When that human life depends on one’s body and nobody else can take over. same as with living organ donations when there is only one possible matching donor. The woman has the right to refuse the continued donation of her body to the fetus and to evict the fetus from her body. If the fetus is viable, it may survive the removal. Once medicine invents methods to transfer a fetus from one womb to an artificial or other living womb that would be an alternative.

      • Kristen Campbell

        Actually, the fetus is usually killed inside the uterus before removing it, so it’s not like it just pops out and if it breathes, the parent has to keep it. The law actually states that the fetus has to be killed before any single part of it is removed from the woman’s body. (That was the big thing with partial birth abortion a while back.) Also, if the fetus is big enough to be viable, they typically have to dis-assemble it inside the uterus before taking it out limb by limb and then re-assemble it outside the womb to make sure all of the tissue has been removed. I am not saying this to be grotesque, but just to point out that your comment doesn’t really make sense, because in an abortion procedure, there’s no way to know if the removed dead fetus would have survived on it’s own if removed alive.

  • Ariel

    My problem with the “taking responsibility” argument, aside from the good points mentioned above, is that its proponents usually only apply it to the pregnant woman and maybe to the man she had sex with–they don’t apply it to themselves.

    If someone has an unplanned pregnancy, thinks through her situation, and decides to have an abortion, but then can’t because Lobbyist X caused the closing of the last abortion clinic in Mississippi–then it is Lobbyist X, not the pregnant woman, who decided whether she would have a child. It is Lobbyist X who caused that baby to be born, and I would argue that it is therefore Lobbyist X’s responsibility to make sure the baby receives proper prenatal care, the mother doesn’t lose her job (and can afford to take a few months off, if pregnancy interferes with her work), and to pay for a hospital birth. (That’s even conceding the “just put it up for adoption” argument for not providing postnatal care.) The pregnant woman shouldn’t be required to handle all of that–she decided to take responsibility by ending the pregnancy, Lobbyist X forced her not to do that! So I pretty much have no respect for pro-life activists who don’t also support subsidized health care, or adopt disabled children, or do something to take responsibility for these lives they are causing to come into existence.

  • http://TheBereanObserver Bob Wheeler

    For the record I am in favor of a single payer national health insurance plan, a kind of Medicare-for-everyone. If our society were guided by Christian values, we would care for the weak and vulnerable.

    • Minnie

      Misogynistic Bob, do I have to quote your happy go lucky baby killing, pro-little-girl-rape, pro-slavery book for you again? You are a LIAR.

      Christians are LIARS their god is in no way pro-life, but he sure does love to torture women and little girls with pregnancy and childbirth. Oh and like pro-lifers he is pro-little-girl RAPE. It is embarrassing to be a liar, there for it is embarrassing to be a pro-lifer Christian. Any one can read your book and see that you are LIARS.

      What the bible says about cannibalism.

      Christian bible god is pro-people eating their children.

      Leviticus 26:29
      “You shall eat the flesh of your sons and of your daughters.”

      Jeremiah 19:3
      “And say, Hear the word of the Lord, O kings of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem. Thus says the Lord of hosts, The God of Israel: Behold, I am going to bring such evil upon this place that the ears of whoever hears of it will tingle.”

      Jeremiah 19:9
      “And I will cause them to eat the flesh of their sons and their daughters, and they shall eat each one the flesh of his neighbor and friend in the siege and in the distress with which their enemies and those who seek their lives distress them.”

      What the bible says about little girl rape.

      Christian bible god saves man, Lot, who offers, NO begs, that a gang of rapist men take his two virgin daughters and gang-rapes them.

      Genesis 19:8
      “Look now, I have two daughters who are virgins; let me, I beg of you, bring them out to you, and you can do as you please with them. But only do nothing to these men, for they have came under the protection of my roof.”

      31: 17 “Now therefore, KILL every male among the little ones, and Kill every woman who is not a virgin.

      31:18 “But all the young girls who have not known man by lying with him keep alive for yourselves.”

      Christian bible god telling soldiers to rape twelve and thirteen year old virgin girls.

      Peter one of Jesus Christ chosen twelve calls Lot, a man who offered up two virgin girls to be gang-raped, righteous. Did Jesus Christ know Peters character before choosing him? Yes he did, and he chose a man, Peter, who called pro-gang-rape of virgin girls “Lot” righteous. Jesus Christ did not pick any sexually abused women as apostles, only rape is irrelevant men.

      2 Peter 2:7
      “And He rescued righteous Lot, greatly worn out distressed by the wanton ways of the ungodly and lawless.”

      Obviously gang rape of virgin girls is very Christian-bible-god, godly.

      The Pro-Rape bible consistently condemns none virgin women and girls. But it does not consistently condemn the men who rape them.

      The Ten Commandments does not say, Do not Rape. Jesus Christ never said, Do not Rape.

      Christian bible god is a happy-go-lucky self proclaimed baby killer.

      Isaiah 13:16
      “Their infants also will be dashed to pieces before their eyes; their houses will be plundered and their wives ravished.”

      Ezekiel 9:6
      “Slay outright the elderly, the young man and the virgin, the infant and the woman; but do not touch or go near anyone whom is the mark. Begin at My sanctuary. So they began with the old men who were in front of the temple [who did not have the Lord's mark on their foreheads].”

      2 Kings 2:23-24
      “He went up from Jericho to Bethel. On the way, young [maturing and accountable] boys came out of the city and mocked him and said to him, Go up [in a whirlwind], you baldhead! Go up, you baldhead!

      And he turned around and looked at them and called a curse down on them in the name of the Lord. And two she-bears came out of the woods and ripped up forty-two of the boys.”

      2 Kings 15:16
      “Then Menahem smote Tiphsah and all who were in it and its territory from tirzah on; he attacked it because they did not open to him. And all the women there who were with child we ripped up.”

      Hosea 13:16
      “Samaria shall bear her guilt and become desolate, for she rebelled against her God; they shall fall by the sword, their infants shall be dashed in pieces, and their pregnant women shall be ripped up.”

      1 Samuel 15:3
      “Now go and smite Amalek and utterly destroy all they have; do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.”

      PSALM 137:9
      “Happy and blessed shall he be who takes and dashes your little ones against the rock!”

      Christian bible god making sure women and little girls know they are crap in his eyes.

      Genesis 3:16
      “I will greatly multiply your grief and your suffering in pregnancy and the pangs of childbearing; with spasms of distress you will bring forth children. Yet your desire and cravings will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.”

      Exodus 21:7
      “If a man sells his daughter to be a maidservant or a bondwoman, she shall not go out [in six years] as menservants do.” Christian bible god pro-female slavery.

      Leviticus 12:1
      “And the Lord said to Moses, Say to the Israelites, if a woman conceives and bears a male child, she shall be unclean seven days, unclean as during her monthly discomfort.”

      Leviticus 12:5 “But if the child she bears is a girl, then she shall be unclean two weeks, as in her periodic impurity, and she shall remain separated sixty-six days to be purified [from her loss] of blood.” Baby girls make their mothers extra dirty.

      Leviticus 27:1-7
      “And The Lord said to Moses,

      2: Say to the Israelites, when a man shall make a special vow of persons to the Lord at your valuation,
      3: Then your valuation of a male from twenty years old to sixty years old shall be fifty shekels of silver, according to the shekel of the sanctuary.
      4: And if the person is female, your valuation shall be thirty shekels.
      5: And if the person is from five years old up to twenty years old, then your valuation shall be for the male twenty shekels and for the female ten shekels.
      6: And if a child is from a month up to five years old, then your valuation shall be for the male five shekels of silver and for the female three shekels.”

      Christian bible god makes sure women and little girls know they are worth less then men and boys. People who teach this extremely hurtful, hateful crap to their little girls are just penis worshipers.

      Christians promote the bible verses that benefit their agendas and flatter their egos, and sweep under the rug like liars the bible verses that don’t.

      Their life manual the bible testifies against them that their life manual, the bible, was written for slave owners, and little girl rapist.

      If these bible verses are not true then the Ten Commandments and the creation story is not true either.

    • http://cfiottawa.com Eamon Knight

      Gosh, Bob said something quite sensible! I mean, for all the grief I give him (or would, if I didn’t have better things to do) for his other views, I though it was worth pointing this out. (Speaking as a Canadian who loves his free healthcare).

      • Judy L.

        Eamon, our health care isn’t FREE, we all contribute to our provincial health insurance plans through taxation and, for those with incomes over a certain amount, annual fees.

  • Fireholder

    On abortion: No person has the right to dictate what another should do with their body. As has been stated, whether the truth of it makes your simple mind uncomfortable or not, just as a man has the right to walk away from a perceived burden, so too does a woman. The only moral obligation, in my opinion, a female has regarding pregnancy, is to inform the male who impregnated her if she wishes to carry the fetus to term – he has the right to know he will be a father.
    If she doesn’t wish to carry to term, the male has no need to know, for what she chooses to do with her body in any regard is nobody’s business but her own.

    On religion: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam have many things in common. At their core, however, is one simple truth; they rely on blackmail.
    “Believe, or be tortured for all of eternity.”
    Clear and precise, a perfect example of blackmail. A threat, either directly stated or implied, in order to coerce another. This definition does not respect whether a threat is empty or not, just that one has been made.

    • victoria

      Judaism doesn’t have a concept of eternal torture for people who don’t believe.

  • Elise

    I wanted to respond to the following portion of your piece:
    “If abortion is murder, then why talk about women needing to “take responsibility” for their “voluntary choice” to have sex? Shouldn’t you just be focusing on the whole murder thing, rather than talking about a pregnancy and resulting baby like they’re some sort of “consequences” that a woman choosing to have sex should have to be shouldered with?”

    It is plausible that the purpose of secondary arguments, such as the “responsibility” argument, are to supplement the “murder” argument. Not because those individuals don’t want to focus on the fact that they feel abortion is murder, but because they’ve run into opposition that simply doesn’t believe a fetus is a person, and thus the “murder” argument is rendered ineffective. That’s not to say effort to sway someone into believing in fetal personhood might be worthwhile from a debate standard (not to say I hold those positions), in order to effectively use the “murder” argument, but there is no guarantee that those arguments would be persuasive and thus leaves open the need for secondary arguments not hinging on the fetus being a separate person.

    However, it is good form to try and attack an issue from more than one angle, even if one may be a linchpin of sorts (which I think for many individuals who oppose abortion the “murder” argument is). Unfortunately, the “responsibility” argument is specious, and based on a moral framework that likely doesn’t span the gap between the two sides of the abortion debate. I do think that the “responsibility” argument fails in that it doesn’t recognize that it is grounded in a moral framework that isn’t universal, and thus alienates by not using a mutual paradigm.

    Long story short, it’s generally good to have more than one supporting argument for a point and this is likely what the “responsibility” argument is: a supplemental argument for the not uncommon case that “abortion is murder” doesn’t resonate with the debater’s audience. Though, I doubt the “responsibility” argument would fare any better, the effort to be thorough is worth merit.

  • Froborr

    Let’s assume for the sake of argument that a fetus is a person. It’s a stupid assumption, but let’s grant it this once.

    In that case, an abortion ban forces one person to undergo hardship for the benefit of another, without pay or compensation of any sort. We have a word for that: slavery. It also forces one person to give access to the most intimate areas of their body to another person. We have a word for that, too: rape.

    So of course it’s about controlling women. It’s always about controlling women, always has been. The so-called “pro-life” faction are really pro-slavery and pro-rape; pretending that a mindless half-formed quasi-human blob is a person is and has always been just a cover.

  • Kristen Campbell

    I don’t necessarily think the personal responsibility argument and the life of the child arguments contradict each other, and her is why. First off, let me state that I am in favor of using contraception (use it myself as a married woman) and had comprehensive sex education as a child, which I think was useful. So I think those two things are great!

    Now back to the question at hand. Let’s assume you are pro-life and believe that abortion is killing. In our society, whether you agree with it or not, we have actually decided that certain motivations for killing are more abhorrent than others. This is why we have different “degrees” of charges for killing someone. A meticulously pre-planned murder is one degree, whereas a spur-of-the-moment impassioned murder is a different degree, and shooting and killing someone for breaking into your house is an entirely different thing altogether. So as a society, we seem to have concluded that killing is generally bad, but what precedes or motivates a killing changes the culpability of the killer. I think what pro-lifers are saying in terms of personal responsibility is that having sex when you have pre-meditated that if you DO get pregnant, you would abort the child, involves a certain degree of culpability in the murder of that child that goes above and beyond just “oops, my body is doing something I don’t want it to do.” It’s not the same as someone surprisingly breaking into your house and you shooting them – it’s more like consciously making a decision that you were aware could potentially result in you murdering a child. (I am not talking about rape or incest here, but about consensual sex.) Obviously, if you do not believe abortion is murder, then the responsibility argument will not be significant or meaningful to you. But when you consider the pro-life stance that sexual decisions may lead someone to commit murder, it also makes logical sense that they would advocate for sexual choices that are least likely to lead to murder and will hold those who choose otherwise to some degree of responsibility. To me, responsibility is also not the same as saying the baby is “punishment.” We have a lot of responsibilities in life, such as caring for our born children, staying faithful to our spouse, etc that are both a joy and a challenge at times. That doesn’t mean they are being viewed as punishment. Of course, I do agree with you that the anti-contraceptive movement is misguided and that we need to provide adequate support for women who DO have babies, both of which prevent abortions. So I think that supports my view of babies as not-punishment. But I am not necessarily incensed as a woman that we are calling for personal sexual responsibility to prevent what pro-lifers see as murder – that actually makes logical sense to me.

    • Rosie

      I dunno. To me it seems like saying the person who chooses to live in a high-crime area (because the housing is cheap, or all his family lives there, or whatever) is more culpable for shooting an intruder than someone who lives in a low-crime area. Because he knew that by choosing to live there his risks of getting robbed were higher.

  • Luke-O

    “It is passively anti-woman in that it almost always involves erasing women from the equation and ignoring women’s right to control their own bodies.”

    Lol! What if the baby is a girl? isn’t that directly anti-woman?

    Can you show logically how the baby is part of the mother’s body? I’m sure it would be amusing to see someone try that!

    Just use logic and/or logic and science to show that a baby is part of the mother’s body. And then maybe show the point and which the baby is NOT part of the mother’s body?

    • machintelligence

      Nice job of totally missing the point (several times). The baby is not part of the mother’s body and it is ignoring her right to bodily autonomy to require her to be an incubator for nine months. The sex if the baby is irrelevant.

  • Little Magpie

    “In other words, “oh, you had sex and got pregnant and yet you don’t want to be a mother? too bad! when you had sex you were assenting to motherhood, so you have to take the baby regardless!” This is not okay. ”

    I commented on the (now epic) “how I lost faith in pro-life” thread about my brother-in-law. But to quickly summarize, another problem with forcing a woman to carry to term and potentially raise a kid to term is: How horrible is that for the child, who is going to grow up psychologically scarred by having a mother who resents that he/she was ever conceived? Because they do pick up on it sooner or later in childhood…

  • Goldblah

    First of all, let me say I’m pro-choice. I’m about to play devil’s advocate because I’ve found the author’s arguments extremely compelling and smart – and I’m hoping she can resolve this issue:

    Let’s start with the fact that pro-lifers believe a fetus is a human being.
    You argue that, even if that’s the case, so is the woman – and, by being a human being, she has a right to control her body. We don’t force people to undergo bone marrow transplants to save the life of another, so we should not force a woman to bear a pregnancy to save the life of a fetus.
    But take this hypothetical. Two men open a small chemical lab, producing something for profit. They are enjoying their riches. But they are also dumping their waste into the ground next to their lab. That waste is leaching into the groundwater. A child living next door to the plant develops bone cancer from that polluted groundwater. The child needs a bone marrow transplant to survive. It turns out that there’s only one person in the world with the right bone marrow for the transplant — and irony of ironies, it’s one of the owners of the chemical lab that had dumped waste into the groundwater. Does the chemical lab owner have an obligation to provide the bone marrow, or is his right to control his own body so absolute that it’s better that the child die rather than violate the owner’s body? I would think that it’s moral and just to require the owner of the lab to donate the bone marrow. He is, after all, responsible for the child’s condition, even if his business partner is also responsible.

    How is pregnancy not like this example, if its the product of consensual sex? The two men entered business, they enjoyed making profits, they dumped their waste, they knew that dumping carried risk. In consensual sex, a man and woman engage in intercourse, they do so for the sheer pleasure of it, they know it carries a risk of pregnancy. The child who lives next to the chemical lab is now entirely dependent, in order to live, on imposing upon the body-rights of one of the perpetrators of the child’s perilous condition. The fetus is also entirely dependent, in order to live, on imposing upon the body-rights of one of the prepetrators of the fetus’s perilous condition.

    Where does my analogy go wrong? Granted, the thing that seems so unfair about it is that it’s always going to be the female half of the intercourse enterprise that has the matching bone-marrow, so there is no need to ever violate the body-rights of the man during pregnancy. But that would just seem to be the luck of the biological draw. It would have always been the owner with the matching bone marrow who would be stuck giving up his body-rights to save the child next door, should that child develop cancer.

    How do you address this?

    • machintelligence

      Does the chemical lab owner have an obligation to provide the bone marrow, or is his right to control his own body so absolute that it’s better that the child die rather than violate the owner’s body? I would think that it’s moral and just to require the owner of the lab to donate the bone marrow. He is, after all, responsible for the child’s condition, even if his business partner is also responsible.

      It may seem moral and ethical, but it is illegal. The law does not allow even death row inmates to be carved up for spare parts, or used as experimental subjects against their will, as appropriate as that might seem.

    • Niemand

      Does the chemical lab owner have an obligation to provide the bone marrow, or is his right to control his own body so absolute that it’s better that the child die rather than violate the owner’s body? I would think that it’s moral and just to require the owner of the lab to donate the bone marrow.

      It’s illegal. There is a precedent which says that a person can not be forced to donate their tissue, regardless of “guilt” or prior implied consent (i.e. the business owner allowed him- or herself to be typed so presumably had some idea that s/he might be willing to donate.) McFall versus Shimp established this precedent.

      It’s also a bad idea. The organ and tissue donation scheme as currently set up is voluntary. If people knew that they might be forced to donate at some point if they agreed to preliminary typing, how many would allow themselves to be typed? Heck, fictional portrayals of forced donation affect people’s willingness to donate-how much more so would actual cases?

    • Rosie

      Your analogy doesn’t go wrong, Goldblah, but as has been pointed out many, many times, there are very good reasons we don’t ever FORCE anyone to donate body parts under any circumstances. You can make an argument for moral obligation, sure, but not for legal obligation. Because the consequences of one person being legally obligated to allow another person access to part or all of their body for any reason are the stuff of dystopian sci-fi novels, and no thought-experiment about it has ever ended even remotely well.

  • tiredofmisogyny

    Someone raised a point earlier about how naked images in art and movies are considered pornography, and I’d like to offer my views. Sorry, but I’m about to rant. Women over the ages have barely been considered people, but more as tools of sexual pleasure/baby farms for men. The reason that the naked female body is too provocative is because a woman’s only function is sex, and men still want the control. Having a woman make him aroused by simply looking at her is a loss of control, and unacceptable. Likewise, the woman is shamed for ‘giving in’ to the man, but nothing is said about the man who’s pursued her. And the worst kind of woman, the one that seeks out men and sexual pleasure…
    I wish these kinds of attitudes didn’t exist, and above is a VERY extreme look at attitudes that might be more subtle. I don’t think all men have this opinion. I think it’s existed throughout western history (and I can give examples) and perhaps remnants of these attitudes still linger, even if in a more subtle fashion. I agree refusing abortion is about controlling women’s sexuality.
    The subtleties of women’s repression still exist. I mean look at the concept of the Friend Zone, where a woman is criticised for seeing a perfectly nice guy as just a friend, even though he should be rewarded with sex for the time he’s put into her.
    These issues need to be confronted so that people can change their motivations – if they’re not recognising it, then how can things be better?

    • Niemand

      There is nothing a woman can do that is “right”. If she doesn’t have sex with men she’s frigid, a tease, “friend zoning” and probably a lesbian (and there is something wrong with that in the eyes of men who make the “accusation”.) If she does have sex, she’s a slut and deserves to become pregnant.

      If she becomes pregnant and has an abortion…you know. If she decides to have the baby and keeps it, she’s an evil single mother who probably did it for the welfare and /or child support. If she marries the father, it’s even worse: she clearly got pregnant to trap him. If she gives the baby up for adoption, she’s an unnatural woman who would abandon her own child.

      There’s a line in an old song, “Freedom’s just another word for ‘nothing left to lose.’” You already lost the respect of the misogynists by being born with two X chromosomes and a vagina. So forget them and do what’s right for you.

  • James Healey

    Why are you distracted by prenatal rights activists’ non sequiturs? You’re right to admit that it’s irrelevant to the the argument that abortion is murder, but you’re not refuting their argument by attacking the non sequitur.

    The point about voluntary choice and responsibility is a point about sexual purity. It’s about making the right choices, voluntarily (not forced as you imply all prenatal rights activists advocate), to avoid having to consider choosing an abortion. If a mistake is made by either not being abstinent, or not using birth control properly or at all, then the responsible thing to do is to care for the child, just like you would if he or she was born.

    I can understand why you think the prenatal rights movement want to control woman’s bodies. I consider myself a believer in prenatal rights and I think women have complete bodily integrity before she conceives. Once she conceives, she still maintains bodily integrity, but she has to maintain her body to maintain herself as she used to and her unborn baby, which will obviously require adaptation to the new situation.

    I like the arguments you give for abortion. They are, in a certain light, convincing, but I don’t think they’re convincing enough, and you seem to get distracted by side-arguments made to argue against the causes of abortion, not abortion itself. I personally think you could argue that bodily integrity requires a different perspective of what constitutes a person with rights and a living human being, but I feel that distinction completely removes the idea that the right to life is a natural right dependent on just being a living human being and dependent on having legal representation, which is another way of saying that rights are completely arbitrary, which, although arguably true, is not an assumption on which I think society should operate on.

    I’ve seen your recent blog post regarding birth control saving the lives of zygotes and I agree with the general prenatal rights activists’ that there’s a difference between killing and letting die. I’m a Randroid on that distinction. I don’t think the government should use its own resources or force individuals to prevent someone from dying, just from being killed. That brings up an interesting situation regarding natural disasters such as Sandy, of which I’m agnostic of.

    I’d like to discuss this more with you, but I can understand that you probably are swamped with a lot of comments on other blogs and the fact that this blog is two months old may no longer be an interest to you. I really enjoy reading your blog.

    • Anat

      The point about voluntary choice and responsibility is a point about sexual purity.

      I don’t believe in sexual purity, and neither do many readers here.

      I consider myself a believer in prenatal rights and I think women have complete bodily integrity before she conceives. Once she conceives, she still maintains bodily integrity, but she has to maintain her body to maintain herself as she used to and her unborn baby, which will obviously require adaptation to the new situation.

      A pregnant woman is not her fetus’ slave. People’s bodies are their own, not there to be used by others without their consent or after they have withdrawn consent. In any other situation we do not use the force of law to obtain the use of the body of an unconsenting person for the benefit of anyone else, including the child of said person. There is no reason why the body of a pregnant woman should follow different rules. A woman may volunteer to carry her fetus to term, just like people may volunteer to put their bodies to all sorts of things, but that is well beyond what is required of them.

      In particular Once she conceives, she still maintains bodily integrity, but she has to maintain her body to maintain herself as she used to and her unborn baby is a vile statement representing a misogynistic viewpoint.

  • clover

    Excellent article. I have come up against this argument many times. It is the exception for rape that highlights the logical inconsistency of it. If the ‘right to life’ of the fetas is based on the circumstances of conception then one is saying that the fetas has no inherent right to life at all. What is the difference between a fetas resulting from rape and a fetas resulting from consensual sex? It exposes the pregnancy as punishment attitude as well as the ‘slut shaming’.

  • rawcc

    I really appreciate your articles – they have enlightened me enormously. I’ve been tentative to form a solid position on abortion for a long time (having grown up as a Christian environment, but also being a bit of a feminist and left leaning personally, I’ve not know where the position that suits me is, or how to back up any position at all!).

    What I have learnt from your articles is that I am now pro-choice when it comes to public policy. But on a personal level, I have not had any strong epiphany that abortion is not murder in some way, and that I would not expect myself to carry a baby to term if I did somehow become pregnant (with my long term boyfriend while using contraception).

    I feel like this is not a responsibility I enforce on myself because of the ‘slut-shaming’ argument. I did take sex very seriously and only began sleeping with my boyfriend when I thought WE would be able to ‘deal with the *potential* consequences’ (cringe). I don’t feel like on an individual level, I am slut-shaming myself because I consider this possible responsibility one my partner shares with me equally. I don’t feel like it’s about controlling women in my individual case because I do feel like I make decisions based on potential consequences, and, more importantly, as long as I am unable to say with 100pc certainty that a fetus is not without a ‘soul’, I don’t know how I can justify not preparing myself for potential pregnancy.

    Am I punishing myself? I want to figure these things out, especially because, as you say, there will be many times later in life as well that it would not be at all desirable to become pregnant, but that accidents may happen…

  • Newbie

    I am also always fascinated by how pro-lifers rarely seek to place any of that “responsibility” or “consequences” on the men who impregnated those women who may choose an abortion. I get that the woman is the one making the choice, which is only logical since she’s the only one who would actually have to endure that pregnancy and child birth, but I cannot recall a single instance when I heard a pro-life argument about passing more strict laws on child support and better enforcement of existing ones so as to “shame” the man – who had as much voluntary sex as the woman he impregnated – into taking responsibility for the future child. Do they assume that every man will automatically beg the woman to carry the pregnancy and become father of the year the moment he looks at that blue stick? I’m sure those arguments are out there, but dwarfed in comparison to the ones seeking to shame the woman.