Pro-Life Is About Oppressing Women. That’s All.

Pro-Life Is About Oppressing Women. That’s All. May 25, 2018

Forget the fetus fetishism. Pro-life is a hate group.

For all their talk about when life begins or the humanity of the fetus, pro-life activists aren’t motivated by compassion or love. They’re motivated by misogyny and cynicism. They’ve just been able to focus their rhetoric on the fetus so their contempt for sexually active women isn’t immediately apparent. We need to change that.

The Backlash Against Feminism

Nationwide anti-abortion organization in the USA and Australia formed in the 60s, when feminism and the contraceptive pill were giving women things they had never had before: the promise of autonomy from male dominance and the final say in procreation. The shock waves from this revolution are still echoing in conservative communities, whose adaptation to modernity has always been tentative at best.

Modern technology, however, gave pro-lifers a gift at the same time: intrauterine photography and ultrasound techniques produced images of fetuses that seemed to float in space. These images have become crucial for proponents of the pro-life movement because it allows them to remove the mother from the way we conceptualize the process of pregnancy and childbirth. (Lennart Nilsson’s photographs of fetuses for Time magazine in 1965 were the result of literally removing the woman from the phenomenon of pregnancy; they were faked with discarded fetuses and made to look like viable fetuses in utero.)

As reprehensible as the constant accusations of “baby-killing” are, the erasure of the female is the most sinister aspect of pro-life propaganda. By focusing on details like the fetus’s brainwave activity and chromosome count, articles and debates deliberately de-emphasize the moral agency and bodily autonomy of the woman.  This article about abortion at Catholic Working Mother doesn’t mention the word woman, women, or even mother once.

Moralism and Revenge

In the beginning of the pro-life movement, it was common to hear opponents of reproductive rights claim that abortion must be made illegal “except in cases of rape or incest.” This concession was problematic, but it at least made it seem as if pro-lifers had an inkling of compassion for women whose pregnancies had resulted from assaults. What the concession revealed about pro-life was that it wasn’t about when life begins at all, because the circumstances of conception are irrelevant to the production of a zygote; it’s about punishing sexually active women.

However, these days even that much compassion for women is impossible to find. Articles from pro-lifers regularly recommend that a rape victim be forced to undergo pregnancy and childbirth just to satisfy their piety. A rape victim deserves, by pro-life logic, to be reminded every day of a humiliating and traumatizing assault simply because pro-lifers see a woman as an incidental participant in the process of gestation, invisible next to the all-important fetus.

The most insidious thing about the pro-lifer’s crusade to force women to undergo pregnancy and childbirth against their will is that for an alarmingly high number of American women, pregnancy is a death sentence. The USA has the highest maternal mortality rate in the developed world, and each year several hundred women die in childbirth. If a woman is ready and willing to take that risk, fine. But the pro-lifer’s assertion that childbirth is some sort of walk in the park is just more evidence of how callous and misogynistic the movement is.

Hating the Haters

It’s time we stopped playing the pro-lifers’ games, and allowing them to hide behind phony rhetoric and scientific-sounding arguments. Enough with pictures of glowing fetuses, and debates about fetal brainwave activity and chromosome count. We pro-choicers have to stop writing articles about abortion that only mention the woman in passing, and falling into the trap of erasing women’s rights from the issue. We need to put the woman back into this equation, and advocate for her civil rights.

Pro-Life is about oppressing women. Pro-Life is a hate group.

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  • islandbrewer

    I have never seen any “pro-lifer” in a discussion as rabid, as impervious to discussion, as spittle-flecked “BABY KILLER!” screaming as those who label themselves as “Feminist Pro-life.”* (eg. New Wave Feminists, Feminists For Life)

    When I manage to ask “What about New Wave Feminists is actually feminist? Actually distinguishes them from the run of the mill misogynist pro-life organizations?” Instead of an answer I get either silence, or a stream of vitriol thicker than molasses in winter.

    *Not to be confused with those who happen to merely espouse feminist views AND also be opposed to abortion – those types seem to be distancing themselves from the Pro-Life Movement (eg. Rebecca Bratten Weiss).

  • I agree. I noticed that the former head honcho of Feminist Pro-Lifers, Kristen Walker Hatten, recently revealed her white supremacist views and stirred up controversy in the pro-life community. I don’t know why it surprised anyone that someone so insufferably moralistic and bigoted against sexually active women would also be prejudiced against nonwhites. But I’m sorta clueless like that.

  • I live in a rural relatively conservative farming town with lots of latino immigrants, lots of catholics, lots of protestants, more churches per capita than most cities.

    I took a job cleaning churches.

    The agency asked me if I’d have a problem cleaning churches – that many people will not do it.

    Churches are not hard to clean.

    But apparently the souls of its denizens are.

    If nobody even wants to clean your churches in a town like this, maybe you should start navel gazing some.

    Because everyone can see right through you.

    Forgive them Lord, for they know not what they do.

  • Churches are not hard to clean.

    But apparently the souls of its denizens are.

    Testify!!

  • this job feels so Good Will Hunting.

    maybe i’ll do some guerrilla proselytizing in the belly of the beast. alter the bible study about hating the immigrant or something.

  • Annerdr

    Maybe you can changing “hating the immigrant” to “hosting the immigrant”…

  • i’ll just maybe scribble a reference to Deuteronomy 24:14 underneath too

  • Chuck Johnson

    “For all their talk about when life begins or the humanity of the fetus, pro-life activists aren’t motivated by compassion or love. They’re motivated by misogyny and cynicism. ”

    False dichotomy, Shem.
    Many people are gullible enough to be sincerely, heart-wrenchingly and completely fooled.
    They really do love the innocent little babies who are being murdered en masse.
    People are capable of learning and believing just about anything.

  • Chuck Johnson

    Consider the possibility that you misunderstand the reasons for their reluctance to clean churches.

  • in a city where so many people go to church?

    I asked if they were particularly hard to clean.

    Not if you don’t mind dusting, apparently.

  • Chuck Johnson

    Apparently, it’s not the physical work that puts people off.
    But don’t assume that the religious folk of that town are all disgusted by church hypocrisy and that keeps them out of the cleaning jobs.

  • i’ve exhausted my imagination in terms of other possibilities.

    What do you do when you eliminate all of the other possibilities.

    But the one that stands out – the polls showing decline in membership, and opinions having to do with that?

    Help me out here, neighbor. Why would people actively avoid what seems to be one of the easier commercial cleaning gigs offered by an agency? The other ones are in light food service, like cleaning places where they teach culinary arts, and woodworking places and such.

    Give me reasons? It all pays the same. The schedule is flexible because some of the folks they employ actively avoid taking those jobs.

    we have lots of protestants and catholics, some observant some casual, probably an atheist or two, but what would give people cause here?

    We don’t have muslims or a large population with beliefs around entering holy spaces in particular that aren’t their own, i mean, so what then Chuck?

    What should *any* reasonable person be left to conclude?

  • Chuck Johnson

    Fear, modesty, respect, self-denigration, etc.
    To the faithful, these places must be extra creepy and spooky once the congregation is gone. Then God is focusing all of His attention on little old you.

    But ask them if you get a chance.
    See what a religious person would say about cleaning up the dirt in God’s house.

  • Chuck Johnson

    You seem to be extra un-superstitious.

  • i’m not sure how to respond because i’m not sure what you mean.

  • i would gladly serve as a janitor in any of God’s houses. Maybe it’s a pride issue?

  • Chuck Johnson

    Religious people are typically taught to be afraid of God and His minions.

  • It sounds like you’ve been hanging around the wrong religious people.

  • Chuck Johnson

    You apparently are hanging around religious people who are afraid to clean the church, and then you claim that their attitude is mysterious to you.

  • i suggested a reason. I don’t know of any catholics or protestants that share your superstition. I haven’t taken a workplace poll, admittedly, but if i met any christian that shared your view to my knowledge, at least personally, it would be a first.

  • People are capable of learning and believing just about anything.

    While I agree that it is inappropriate to imply active and conscious malice to the lived positions of many anti-choice people–much like it is a delicate thing making the distinction between racism fueled by malice, and unconscious and/or institutional bias fueled by privilege–you are letting folks who maintain such positions off the hook a bit too easily. They are confronted with the fact that there are plenty of sane people on the opposite side, and they are confronted with the testimonies of those who can say that abortion saved their lives and access to abortion gave them control of their bodies, and so it is a woefully insufficient excuse for such people to simply fall back on what they have been taught and never interrogate it in light of the world throwing evidence at them.

    There is a positive moral duty, I think, to testing one’s own beliefs when someone else informs you that your beliefs fuel harm to their person.

  • Chuck Johnson

    Yes, people need more than just to be taught that they are wrong.
    Many need to be taught that their system of discovering right from wrong is quite defective.

  • lady_black

    Scratch any “pro-lifer” in just the right spot and it always comes down to “she should have kept her legs closed.” I have never failed to elicit this kind of response from any pro-lifer I ever debated, regardless of their initial emoting over cute innocence, human DNA, and proto-hearts beating. That’s misogyny.
    If such a creature exists that is “pro-life” and not a misogynist, I’m looking at it right now in the same light as I view Bigfoot sightings. People claim they exist, but thus far, I have seen no proof that they do.

  • Steve

    Alrighty, I’m a Pro-Lifer who is mosying on through. I’ve been this way since high school when I spent a little time thinking through the Great Pro-Life Syllogism. Here tis:

    Premise 1) It is a universal first principle of human ethics that we don’t do violence (let alone lethal violence) against innocent, living humans for any reason.
    Premise 2) The child-in-utero is an innocent, living human organism. That is, a genetically distinct living member of the species Homo Sapiens.
    Therefore) We cannot commit lethal violence against a child-in-utero for any reason.

    This conclusion seemed ironclad and followed from premises which were either obvious or verifiable. And as I thought through the objections, each one boiled down to one of the following:

    > But can we do lethal violence against an innocent living human under THESE conditions? (To which the answer is: “No”)
    > But here is an arbitrary criterion under which these varifiably living, genetically distinct human organisms don’t count a REAL humans. (Which is basically the justificaiton given by every human rights abuser ever. So… there’s a club I don’t want to join.)
    > I’m going to ignore the Pro-Life Sylogism in its entirety and simply assert the autonomy of the individual. (Which requires willfully not looking at all the facts in an ethical question. Unacceptable).
    > You are mean. And I say its OK. So there.

    As for the charge of oppression… this strikes me as one of those things people in an echo chamber tell each other to solidify group cohesion. Not entirely different from: “Atheists are just mad at their fathers” or “Socialists are just lazy”.

    Look, every human rights abuse has some kind of beneficiary (or else why do it?). And the success of a campaign to eliminate a human rights abuse necessarily means removing those benefits from said beneficiaries. Their lives will become objectively harder as a result of having to respect the rights of others, but this doesn’t mean ipso-facto that opponents of the humans rights abuse hate the beneficiaries.

    And when it involves kids… the fact is, we have real ethical duties to our kids. They impose themselves upon us in every conceivable way. But that’s their perogative as the helpless party brought into existence by adults. Our kids have the right to make demands on us and we have the obligation to care for their children. Call it “forced parenthood” if you like, but it’s more like, “You’re not allowed to simply walk away from parental duties. Much less through violence.”

  • Annerdr

    Okay, so they aren’t actively out to hurt women, but their beliefs, when put into law, still hurt women. Unintentional misogyny isn’t a whole lot better than intentional misogyny.

  • Steve

    OK, I’m a pro-lifer wandering on through. I’ve been this way (mentally) since high school when I spent a little time thinking through the Pro-Life Sylogism. It goes like this:

    Premise 1: It is a universal first principle of human ethics that we don’t do violence (let alone lethal violence) to innocent humans for any reason.
    Premise 2: The child-in-utero is an innocent, genetically distinct, living human organism – a member of our species.
    Therefore: We cannot commit lethal violence against a child-in-utero for any reason.

    The conclusion follows from premises which are either obvious or verifiable and seemed quite unassailable. In fact, all of the objections I’ve ever seen boil down to one of the following:

    >”But can we intentionally target an innocent human for violence under THESE conditions?” (Answer: No. Circumstances cannot justify this.)

    >”But here is an arbitrary criterion under which these variably living, genetically distinct human organisms don’t count as REAL humans. (Which is basically the justification given by every human rights abuser. So… there’s a club I don’t want to join)

    > “I’m going to ignore the Pro-Life Syllogism completely and simply assert the autonomy of the individual. (Which requires willful ignorance.)

    > “You are a bad person. Therefore you are wrong.”

    As for the charge of oppression… this strikes me as one of those things people say within an echo chamber to reinforce group cohesion. Not entirely different from Christians saying, “Atheists are suppressing their knowledge of God because they love sin.” or “Socialists are greedy and hate work.”

    Look, every human rights abuse has some kind of beneficiary. And the success of a campaign to eliminate a human rights abuse necessarily means removing those benefits from said beneficiaries. But that doesn’t mean ipso-facto that the opponents of the humans rights abuse hate the beneficiaries.

    And when it involves kids…. the fact is, we have real ethical duties to our kids. Their needs impose themselves upon us in every conceivable way. But that’s their prerogative as the helpless people created by our actions. Our kids have the right to make demands on us, and parents have the obligation to care for their kids. Call it “forced parenthood” if you like, but its more like, “You’re not allowed to walk away from parental duties. Much less through violence.”

  • Chuck Johnson

    It’s often difficult to distinguish the difference between malice and ignorance, especially when the outcomes are similar.

  • Annerdr

    Steve, I accept both premises and I’m still pro-choice.

  • Annerdr

    Please ask. We’re curious why this is a problem.

  • If I find occasion to ask someone I will, but randomly polling coworkers i hardly see (we each work our own schedules and buildings) on something i understood from a supervisor would be more than a little weird, out of the blue.

    Especially if i made a habit of it.

    If I get a chance to ask someone I will.

  • Steve

    Feel free to elaborate.

  • Annerdr

    Yes, please do not endanger your continued employment just to satisfy my curiosity.

  • Annerdr

    I think that we should not do violence to one another and that a fetus is a developing member of my species.

    In addition, I think that pregnancy is inherently a violent attack on a woman. To survive the fetus pulls nutrition from her system and pulls oxygen from her blood to the detriment of the woman’s health. Unless the woman consents to this ongoing attack on her system, I think that she has the right to stop the attack.

  • Steve

    Okay… a few thoughts:

    First, you actually disagreed with Premise 2. It read: “The child-in-utero is an INNOCENT, genetically distinct, living human organism – a member of our species.” What you’re saying is that the child-in-utero is not innocent, but is actually the perpetrator of a violent attack.

    Second, for most of human history, breastfeeding was the only way for the child to receive nutrients after birth. Wouldn’t that make breastfeeding a form violence? And would it follow therefore that a child who is breastfeeding can rightly be subjected to violence for the crime of… surviving? Doesn’t that strike you as… a bit eccentric and weird?

    Lastly, even if you wanted to assert that a woman’s bodily autonomy allows her to detach from the child at will… you still haven’t justified abortion. Abortion doesn’t just mean detaching the child from his/her only source of nutrients and delivering him/her. It typically involves an intentional violent attack on the child’s body – usually meaning some form of dismemberment or poisoning.

    So even if you want to say detaching at will is justified… (which it isn’t, because it’s a form of child abandonment) … all you’ve done is justify inducing labor and delivering the child intact. You haven’t justified the added step of purposefully killing to child-in-utero.

    Something to think on.

  • Annerdr

    One can attack and be innocent of knowledge. The fetus (which you oddly call a child in utero) obviously does not know of the harm it is causing its mother and could not stop if it did know. That does not lessen the fact that an innocent party is being harmed.

    I’m uncaring about most of human history. The part we know about included such things as wet nurses for women who could not or would not nurse their child. Now, the child can receive formula, which makes the nursing completely unnecessary.

    I do indeed assert that the woman’s bodily autonomy allows her to abort the fetus, although obviously she cannot abort a child. A medication abortion creates what is essentially a miscarriage. So, can I assume you’ll accept this?

    Nonetheless, an intentional violent attack upon someone who is attacking you is allowed in every other situation. If someone breaks into my house, I can shoot them legally. I am more protective of my body than I am my home. If someone tries to rape me or to steal an organ, I have the legal right to fight back.

    I know you are not going to become pro-choice due to an internet conversation like this. I just want you to understand the pro-choice side a bit. Do you know what pro-life people almost never voluntarily mention and you did not mention in your original comment? The pregnant woman. It’s like she disappears as soon as sperm meets egg.

    The other thing that pro-life people never mention is quality of life. Being born to reluctant parents and into poverty, leads to a life of neglect, hunger, and anger. Children deserve to be born to parents who want them and can afford them. If you ban abortion, which is the base of this discussion, then you increase the misery in the world.

    I’m about to be a grandmother for the first time which I am super excited about. My daughter in law has health issues. She has to go off her medication during her pregnancy. If she had chosen to abort, and I’m sure it’s something she considered, I would not have said a word against that decision because I love her. If it was not in her best interests to be pregnant, I wouldn’t want her to take the risk to her health.

    Pro-life slogans of “save the babies” and “a child, not a choice” are a simplistic way of viewing what is frequently a complicated situation. I find the pro-life stance to be authoritarian and heartless, thinking of the fetus but completely denying agency to the woman.

  • Steve

    The reason why the woman doesn’t get mentioned is because the question: “What is the nature of the child in the womb? What is this thing which is growing and moving?” doesn’t require considering anyone other than the child in the womb. Once we have that settled, we can know what the ethical limits of our actions are.

    You failed to answer my second. You said pregnancy is a form of violence because it draws nutrients from the mother. So… is breastfeeding a form of violence which justifies lethal violence against the baby?

    Also you say: “If someone breaks into my house, I can shoot them legally.”

    Ummm… what if it’s a baby? If you came home and found a baby in your living room, would you have the right to shoot the baby? Or what if the child is your daughter? Do you have the right to shoot your daughter? Or better yet, what if its someone you actually invited into your house? Do you have the right to shoot someone in your house when you’re responsible for them being there? Nope.

    So yes, I understand the Pro-Choice position better than just about anyone. It always involves: Ignoring the moral status of the status of the child-in-utero. Imagining pregnancy is a form of violence. Thinking of the child as a parisite. Acting like the child is an intruding stranger, and not your own kid. Or pretending abortion isn’t a violent action.

    These are levels of self-delusion which I ruled out back in high school.

    The rest of your response boiled down to the aformentioned: “But can we intentionally target an innocent human for violence under THESE conditions?”

    Again, the answer: No. Circumstances cannot justify violence against an innocent person. No one has the right to determine that someone else’s life isn’t worth living.

  • Maybe, but there’s still a lot of unexamined contempt for women in there. A lot of “they just don’t realize it’s a baby, somehow,” as if a grown woman with enough agency to seek an abortion is that stupid. A lot of “it’s for their own good, too,” as if grown women can’t decide for themselves.

  • Probably. If they think dusting is beneath them, though, it’s probably better you aren’t one of the congregants.

  • I was very staunchly pro-life until I saw the statistics for life-threatening pregnancy complications, nonlethal complications in childbirth, and just what it means to have a “defect incompatible with life.” I saw statistics about why women get an abortion. I learned that half of all women who have given birth suffer from uterine, rectal, or urethral prolapse and people just shrug it off and treat it like “just part of being a woman/mom” instead of like the LIFE-ALTERING CONDITION it is. You know all those ads for “diapers” for incontinent women? They’re not marketing those to women in their 80s. They’re marketing those to mothers in their 30s and 40s, who can’t pee properly anymore. Because we, as a society, would rather deal with the indignity of forcing half of all mothers to wear a diaper every day for the rest of their lives than admit that yes, this is fucked up, and yes, we need to treat the condition instead of leaving women like this.

    It’s a lot more complicated than the fetus, and when you ignore the mother, you ignore a LOT of the reasons why it’s a complicated issue.

  • Steve

    So let me get this straight: You’re telling me that half of the mothers in the USA need to wear diapers …. (news to me) … and this makes it OK to kill small humans?

  • Annerdr

    “The reason why the woman doesn’t get mentioned is because the question: “What is the nature of the child in the womb? What is this thing which is growing and moving?”… doesn’t require considering anyone other than the child in the womb.”

    Whose womb was that again?

  • Annerdr

    It’s news to you because you never consider the woman any more than you consider the life of the born child. All that you focus on is the fetus being born. This narrow view is a requirement to hold the pro-life stance. Once you consider the family and the pregnant woman, you might have to recognize gray areas where neither you nor government should be making decisions for someone else.

  • Annerdr

    Not to mention the large percentage of women seeking an abortion who already have children. Pretty sure they understand that if they let the pregnancy proceed, they’ll have another baby. Unfortunately, pro-lifers never seem to worry much about life for the family after birth.

  • Steve

    The mother’s womb, obviously. Not some stranger’s womb…. but the mother’s womb. And mothers (and fathers) have obligations to care for the children they bring into the world. The most basic of these duties is to not kill them.

    There is never a good reason to kill or abuse a child.

  • Annerdr

    I agree, no one should kill children, unless of course those children are providing an immediate threat to the safety of others. I mean, I assume that you are in favor of shooting a child who is shooting people in his school.

    But, back to the topic at hand, we were talking aborting a fetus, which is a vastly different topic than murdering a child. “The mother’s womb, obviously.” Is it obvious? I ask only because unless someone calls you out, you seem to completely forget she exists. The woman who is deeply affected by this pregnancy. Considering the lack of awareness of the fetus throughout most of the pregnancy, one could argue that the woman is the more affected than anyone else. Yet she disappears completely from your view. You have great concern for the fetus and none at all for the woman.

  • Premise 1 is simply false. All social arrangements and conditions are predicated upon the regulation of violent force, which is and always has been wielded against the innocent and guilty alike since time immemorial. For but one trivial example, police officers in many societies are granted the ability to use violence, even lethal violence, even though police are not empowered to determine guilt in any sense; their victims are presumed innocent, and violence is done to them all the same. The truth is that justice and restraint are both held in tension against other social values–collective safety, personal autonomy, privacy–which themselves are similarly irreducible and impossible to prioritize in all cases.

    Premise 1 can be rescued by recourse to a minimization protocol; It is a universal first principle of human ethics that we don’t do violence to innocent humans more than is absolutely necessary in pursuit of the realization of other fundamental, irreducible values.

    But then it doesn’t do what you want it to do, which is to categorically prevent abortion.

  • Otto

    > “I’m going to ignore the Pro-Life Syllogism completely and simply assert the autonomy of the individual. (Which requires willful ignorance.)

    There is no ‘simply asserting the autonomy of the individual’. Until you can explain why we can’t force a woman to donate a kidney to her 2 year old, but we can force a woman to donate the use of her body to an embryo, I am not going to believe you have any concept of what bodily autonomy is or why it is important. It is a pretty basic human right protected by law and you need to account for your inconsistency.

    Edit: Also I bet it is real easy for you as a man to disregard a woman’s bodily autonomy knowing it will never affect you personally.

  • Steve

    I know that sounded really complex and philosophical, but all you really just said is: “Sometimes it’s OK to intentionally slay the innocent.”

  • Steve

    “Also I bet it is real easy for you as a man to disregard a woman’s bodily autonomy knowing it will never affect you personally.”

    Ad hominem. Ignored.

    The “autonomy”/ “violinist” argument fails for two reasons:

    1) Suppose some stranger was dying of a rare blood disorder and the only thing which would say him/her would be directly hooking this person up to my circulatory system. Now, I could assert my personal autonomy as a justification to disconnect myself and walk away. But I couldn’t use my personal autonomy as an justification to take out a hatchet and hack the sick person to pieces, or crush his head in a vice. In other worse, it gives me the right to detach from the Other, but not to do violence to the Other.

    Pressing the autonomy argument for abortion would – at best – justify inducing early labor and delivering the child unharmed. It doesn’t justify abortion. It doesn’t justify violently attacking the baby. So if you want to actually justify abortion, you need something more than asserting the autonomy of the mother. You have to explain why lethal violence is justified against the child.

    2) This applies more to the question of womb vs kidney.

    Parenthood imposes obligations upon parents. Among which is the obligation to provide food and shelter. This is the reason why child abandonment laws exist. It’s why I can’t suddenly decide to kick my 1 year old out of the house during a January snowstorm.

    Well… what is pregnancy? Pregnancy is what happens when you bring a child into the world. It is the natural process by which food and shelter is provided to a child until he/she can survive outside in atmosphere. This falls within the scope of the natural obligations of parents to provide food and shelter to their kids. To do otherwise is a form of child abandonment.

    Kidney donation… (something I’ve actually done)…. is different because it is not part of the scope of providing food and shelter. Kidney donation is supra-natural action and is morally praiseworthy without being morally obligatory.

    So – again – autonomy doesn’t justify violence. At most it justifies nonviolent early labor. But the autonomy argument doesn’t justify child abandonment, either.

  • Otto

    Pointing out that you are less concerned about bodily autonomy in a situation you will never experience is not an ad hominem.

    1) I am sure the embryo/fetus can be removed intact, I don’t see how that is going to help.

    2) A parent is only obligated to provide food and shelter after a baby is born. This is why we don’t charge a woman with providing alcohol to a minor if she drinks during pregnancy. Similarly if a pregnant woman starved herself we would not charge her with the neglect of a minor.

    You haven’t shown that being pregnant is morally obligatory, it is in your view but that is strictly your opinion.

    >>>”But the autonomy argument doesn’t justify child abandonment, either.”

    An embryo/fetus is not a child and does not have the same legal protections as a child.

  • Sometimes it is the least bad option, yes.

    I’m sure you can explain, given your absolutism about harm and innocence, why it’s totes OK to eat meat, though.

  • Wow, way to stretch what I said. I don’t endorse infanticide, and while they are obviously human, I consider an embryo to be a potential person, in the same way that an acorn is a potential tree.

    Just to give you an idea, it can take up to a month for an AFAB person to realize they are pregnant. This is what the embryo looks like at that point. It may be human, but you can’t convince me that a thing that doesn’t yet have any of the organs a person will end up with (beyond the mouth and anus), barely even has a HEAD yet, and is not yet aware of the world, is a person. It is a thing that will become a person, IF another human being incubates it in the uterus, and IF it doesn’t develop a deformity incompatible with life.

  • Steve

    This is a reprisal of the argument I mentioned above: “But here is an arbitrary criterion under which these variably living, genetically distinct human organisms don’t count as REAL humans.

    (Which is basically the justification given by every human rights abuser. So… there’s a club I don’t want to join)

  • Steve

    No… that’s an ad homimen. Pretty straightforward.

    1) I suggest you re-read what I said. The autonomy argument – at most – could justify nonviolently detaching the needy party. But it doesn’t justify violence done to the needy parts. Abortion is a form of violence against the needy party. Therefore the autonomy argument doesn’t justify it.

    2) It is impossible to prove ethical/moral obligations because they are no physical properties of matter. They just are what they are. However, if one is going to say that the duties of parenthood only begin after birth, I think one would need to explain why the birth canal is so magical that it traveling through it bestows the baby with the moral status enjoyed by other humans. I don’t see a relavant difference between the baby an hour before birth and an hour after which changes his/her moral status. That is, how in the space of two hours the parents transition from no obligations to the kid to having every obligation to the kid. The baby is their child from the first day of his/her life.

  • Steve

    Wow. So now we’ve graduated from “Sometimes its OK to slay the innocent” to “humans are not morally distinct from pigs, cows, and fish.”

    How I did not see the wisdom of this position back in high school is a mystery to contemplate.

  • Your position is apparently so weak that you have to bluster to avoid actually answering a question posed in good faith. Are you…are you afraid of it? Try again–this time with some intellectual courage and a modicum of effort–or don’t bother responding at all. What is the missing element such that a fetus is deserving of protection but not a cow? A cow has a fully-formed brain more capable of experiencing suffering, and at the moment it is acted upon with violence actually exists as fully formed rather than representing some unrealized potentiality.

    So.

    Once more, with feeling. What’s your unnamed x-factor?

  • Steve

    Nah… I’m content to let your masterpiece sit as it is.

  • So, even though you claim that it is always wrong to harm innocents, you can’t or won’t justify why it’s perfectly fine to do violence to innocents when they are a different species. Why is it wrong to harm innocent undeveloped humans but fine to harm innocent fully developed cows? I suppose that would require you to either spit out something silly about humans having a unique essence (are you a theist?), or more carefully articulate just why in general is it, in your opinion, always wrong to harm innocents, so that it is clear why your principle applies to human fetuses but not adult cows.

    Or continue to dodge and flee. I suppose that’s an option too.

  • Otto

    1) And like I said the embryo/fetus could be removed intact but it wouldn’t make a difference. Non-violence is fine but what a pregnancy does to a female can be quite violent and unwanted as well. If she does not consent to that she is able to protect herself.

    2) I don’t see a relevant difference between the sperm/ egg an hour before fertilization and an hour after fertilization. Obviously person-hood status develops over time and the rights of a one hour baby are different than a one hour embryo. If you would like to read a nuanced approach to this issue you can read one here.

    http://2think.org/abortion.shtml

  • Steve

    Now we’ve descended into utter absurdity:

    “Nonviolence is fine” — Oh, is that all? Not attacking human beings with lethal violence is “fine”? But to each his own?

    “Pregnancy can be quite violent.” — Pregnancy is not a form of violence. It’s a mode of parenthood. There may be times when I don’t want my kids around, but that doesn’t mean I have run over them with a lawnmower.

    “I don’t see a relevant difference between the sperm/ egg an hour before fertilization and an hour after fertilization.” — Then you don’t know anything about biology. Because prior to fertilization you have two human sex cells. After fertilization you have a new, living, genetically distinct, whole human organism. A member of our species.

    I’ll pile these onto the list of absurdities one has to accept to make abortion intelligible … along with the other guy who is saying, “Sometimes its OK to slay the innocent” and “A human child is not morally different from a pig.”

    If that’s nuance, then I can do without nuance.

  • matthew harvey

    Pro -life feminist is an oxymoron.Reactionnary women call themselves feminists.

  • Cake

    That’s because you’re a theist.

  • Steve

    Interesting that you bring that up. Because thus far I’ve only employed the following principles:

    > Moral realism
    > Basic biology
    > Humanism
    > The nonagression principle
    > The idea that parents have obligations to their children

    Now, if you think any of those require belief in God – and are thus unavailable to Atheists – I’d love to hear it.

  • Otto

    >>>”Oh, is that all? Not attacking human beings with lethal violence is “fine”? But to each his own?”

    Sometimes violence is necessary. I don’t see abortion as a violent act anymore than I see the removal of a parasite a violent act. I am sure you will take issue with equating an embryo with a parasite, I don’t care, I don’t see an embryo as a person.

    >>>” Pregnancy is not a form of violence. It’s a mode of parenthood.”

    Oh, just simply a form of parenthood, a form that can kill, harm or maim.

    >>>”After fertilization you have a new, living, genetically distinct, whole human organism. A member of our species.”

    Why? Can it think? Is it conscious? Isn’t being a whole human organism more than just being a distinct set of DNA?

    >>>” along with the other guy who is saying, “Sometimes its OK to slay the innocent” and “A human child is not morally different from a pig.”

    Just an attempt at arguing from emotion.

    >>>”If that’s nuance, then I can do without nuance.”

    I have no doubt you don’t care to see anything other than the black and white dogma that you are serving.

  • Steve

    “Why? Can it think? Is it conscious? Isn’t being a whole human organism more than just being a distinct set of DNA?”

    Yeah… a piece of DNA isn’t an organism. An organism is a living entity which contains a unifying, organized principle of organic development, homeostasis, and metabolism. And guess what a human embryo has? Bet you’ll never guess……

    As GK Chesterton once said: “In truth, there are only two kinds of people; those who accept dogma and know it, and those who accept dogma and don’t know it.”

    Humanism and the nonagression principle may be dogmas, but at least I’m willing to admit it.

  • Otto

    >>>”Yeah… a piece of DNA isn’t an organism.”

    Nice switch you made there from “whole human organism” to “organism”

    >>>”Humanism and the nonagression principle may be dogmas, but at least I’m willing to admit it.”

    That isn’t where you are getting your dogma, what you are spouting is very Catholic and it is obvious.

    The bottom line is you see an embryo as a person and I don’t. But even if I did, the question would still come down to what the woman decides and how she wants to use her body, ultimately it is her body and her decision, it doesn’t matter if I agree with her decision. Fundamentally she owns her body and gets to make the decisions on how it is used.

  • Because your argument has a hidden premise–it doesn’t work without it–that there is something about the status of being human that is morally relevant, intransitive, and unique, such that you can stuff all the special pleading you can muster into your Premise 2 and whistle past any objection that your criteria are actually pulled straight out of a dark orifice. It’s why you ducked out of addressing the adult cow and sentient alien examples; The most obvious candidate for conveying such a moral status on humans at all stages of biological development is the theistic idea of human immortal souls, and so you can’t confront those counterexamples at all without revealing that you believe humans are special only because some deity you pray to said so.

  • amyjane2484

    The inability to control fertility destroys a women’s ability to have control her future. A business can more reasonably not promote a young woman because she may get pregnant. Especially with the added problem that the so-called prolifers are pushing to make contraception more difficult or impossible to get. This is about putting women back in their place.

  • OK. Let me explain this again, using small words so that you can understand.

    Point 1: Minor semantic point

    A zygote is the phase of development immediately after fertilization but before the first cell division.

    An embryo is the phase of development from that first cell division to the point at which rudimentary forms of all major organs have made an appearance.

    A fetus is the phase of development from the end of the embryonic phase to birth.

    A baby is the phase of development from birth to about age 1-2.

    I point this out because you and others have called an embryo or fetus a “baby.” This is as inaccurate as calling it a “teenager,” because it has not yet reached that phase of life.

    ————————————
    Point 2: Potential vs. actual

    I’ll start this point with an analogy. If you set a seed on the table, it will not grow into a tree, because it needs nutrients from the soil to begin germinating. Living things need food energy to grow. Until the seed has grown leaves and can use photosynthesis to make food from the sun, it is totally dependent on the quality of the soil where it is.

    An embryo or fetus, left to itself in a test tube full of amniotic fluid, cannot grow into a baby. Because it will starve to death without a host (the mother) to feed on. Therefore, the mother is an integral part to ALL conversations about pregnancy, childbirth, and abortion.

    Because it is not a baby yet, and because citizenship is conferred at birth, zygotes, embryos, and fetuses have the potential to become citizens, but are not, and cannot be, citizens of any country YET, and are thus “not people” in the purely legal sense. Any attempt to fix this has the horrendous side-effect of criminalizing miscarriages. (There is a reason that the medical term for a miscarriage is a “spontaneous abortion.” From the perspective of the uterus involved, there’s no real difference. The difference is entirely “did an outside force MAKE this happen or not?”)

    ————————————
    Point 3: Level of obligation to others

    Imagine that someone has just suffered kidney failure, and your blood happens to be compatible with theirs. Are you required to hook yourself up to the patient as a sort of living dialysis machine, so that your kidneys can filter out the chemicals from their blood as well as your own? Why or why not?

    Okay, imagine that instead, you are given the option to donate your kidney to this total stranger. It’s not an outpatient surgery–you’ll be in the hospital for a few days. And, of course, you’ll only have one kidney left, so if something happens to it, you’re in real trouble. Are you required to donate your kidney to this stranger, while you’re still alive, so that they can live? Why or why not?

    The uterus is an organ. You are not required to donate or share an organ with another human being, even if not doing so would kill them. And given that the hormonal changes during pregnancy can affect all systems of the body, causing potential side-effects from gestational diabetes to permanent partial hearing loss to high blood pressure, pregnancy is actually more invasive than the scenarios above, at least for the mother. Furthermore, a pregnant woman gains an average of 30 lb. and less than 10 lb. of that is the fetus. (The rest is amniotic fluid and the placenta.) Imagine having to carry an extra 30 lb. of something everywhere you go, for nine months.

    ————————————
    Point 4: Personal-risk assessment

    Different people have different ideas of what level of risk is acceptable to them. Different people, therefore, have a different threshold of “how bad it has to be” before they would consider an abortion.

    I want to make it 100% clear that I have encountered actual examples of every scenario I mention here. These are not hypotheticals that I’m pulling out of my ass; these have all actually happened to REAL PEOPLE.

    Consider the woman who has an extreme phobia of pregnancy. She would view the fetus inside her, not as a wonderful future baby, but more like a big tapeworm, or the chestbursters from the movie Alien. For her to be pregnant would be extremely traumatic and might even drive her to suicide. She is raped and gets pregnant. Should she be required to share her body with the embryo, even though doing so is an extreme psychological trauma for her, in order to keep it alive?

    Consider the woman who’s just discovered that her 2nd-trimester fetus has Tay-Sachs. This is a deadly genetic disorder. Infancy starts out normal, then at age 3-6 months, the baby’s brain and nerve cells start to degenerate, causing pain, paralysis, vision loss, hearing loss, seizures, and eventually death. The odds of this being the milder, survivable form (which can still cause all those other symptoms) are low. She wishes to spare her child that suffering by having a late-term (i.e. second-trimester) abortion.

    Consider the woman who has endometriosis. Pregnancy will kill her and the fetus. Should she be forbidden from having an abortion in the vain hope of a miracle?

    Consider the woman who’s just discovered that she is carrying a molar pregnancy. Instead of a baby, the embryo is growing into a tumor. She can’t get pregnant with a normal baby while this…thing is in her. If it becomes malignant, it can kill her. Should she not have an abortion?

    Consider the woman who has an abusive husband. She is trying to leave him before the abuse escalates to life-threatening levels. She knows that having a baby will make it far more difficult to leave, so she has been taking contraceptives. Her husband has sabotaged her birth control and she has become pregnant. Should we BAN her from having an abortion?

    Consider the woman who has an ectopic pregnancy. The embryo implanted in her Fallopian tube instead of in her uterus. It will kill her early on, thus also killing the embryo, if she does not have an abortion. Once an embryo implants, it is impossible for it to re-implant somewhere else, so in any scenario the embryo will definitely die.

    Each of these women has a different level of risk, which is higher than the usual pregnancy. Each of these women must decide for herself whether the risk of continuing a pregnancy is acceptable. Because the stakes are so high, it is not our job, nor the job of judges who do not have medical experience, to decide for her.

    ————————————
    Point 4: You are not a woman

    My initial comment in this thread was a response to a WOMAN. As a general rule (if we ignore intersex and trans people), uteri belong to WOMEN. Only a cis woman or trans man can get pregnant. You need functioning ovaries and a uterus, or it just can’t happen.

    You, judging entirely by your username, are a man. Statistically, you are probably also cisgendered, and thus do not have ovaries or a uterus. Therefore, you cannot get pregnant. You will never, EVER, have to make the decision whether or not to get an abortion, because an embryo will never take root inside YOUR body. You will never have your quality of life affected in the slightest way by what laws exist in your state regarding abortion.

    There is an unacceptably common custom in modern society of men telling women what opinions to have on issues that primarily affect WOMEN. This is not okay. Stop butting into women’s conversations about women’s health. The conversation isn’t about you. Stop making it about you.

  • “By focusing on details like the fetus’s brainwave activity and
    chromosome count, articles and debates deliberately de-emphasize the
    moral agency and bodily autonomy of the woman.”

    This is tragic considering that we now know that pre-term brains simply do not have the internal organization absolutely necessary for any level of consciousness. Even tiny worms with only 400 neurons must have those neurons connected in an organized manner in order to attain even their base level of consciousness. And no, this does not mean that people with differently developed or damaged brains are sub-human; they are still orders of magnitude more organized than that of a fetus.

    There is neural activity, but it is random. It’s not even until right around birth (and after) that enough pruning takes place to allow any semblance to organized signal patterns. Just prior to that the neurons in the skull comprise of something close to a disorganized mesh of connections akin to every musician in an orchestra pit randomly making noise rather than playing in concert.

    Nearly any body part can be damaged / removed / replaced without changing the person that lives in the head – with the exception of the neural system itself. That is where a “Person” resides; in the complexity of an adequately developed human brain.

    (fetal brain development chart from: https://embryology.med.unsw.edu.au/embryology/index.php/Neural_System_-_Fetal which is a wonderful resource for understanding when & how a fetal brain develops)

    https://embryology.med.unsw.edu.au/embryology/images/0/0b/Neural-development.jpg

  • ” innocent, genetically distinct, living human organism”

    If you take a few stem cells from your finger and grow them on a prepared Petri dish, they also meet that description – at least as much as a fertilized egg or blastocyst.

    So does a body with only enough brain stem tp keep the heart beating & lungs breathing, but nothing higher at all, just a space filled with cerebral fluid. There is no organized neural structure for processing stimulus, holding memories, or initiating intentional action. Thus there is no “Person”.

    Same holds true for a fetus until right around birth.

  • Steve

    “If you take a few stem cells from your finger and grow them on a prepared Petri dish, they also meet that description – at least as much as a fertilized egg or blastocyst.”

    First, there’s no such thing as a “fertilized egg” any more than there is a “married bachelor”. After fertilization you have an embryo.

    Second, and more importantly, a couple stem cells growing in a petri dish isn’t a “organism”. An organism is a living entity which contains a unifying, organized principle of organic development, homeostasis, and metabolism. All of these are possessed by the human embryo, and not a few stem cells in a petri dish.

  • Steve

    Did you really expect me to read a response which began with:

    “using small words so that you can understand” ?

    The words in that response were simply MUCH too big for me.

  • emma

    Then why are so many women pro-life? Do women oppress women?

    Why do so many women who have had abortions, change to pro-life? Does having an abortion cause them to oppress women?

    Since one of the reasons for getting an abortion for some is becuase the baby is female, I wonder if the female babies who have been aborted believe that pro-llife is about oppressing women?

  • ” An organism is a living entity which contains a unifying, organized
    principle of organic development, homeostasis, and metabolism.”

    Stem cells are living cells. Therefore they already display all three traits in a way not dissimilar from single cell organisms.

  • Steve

    /:-|

    Stem cells are undifferentiated cells found within multicelular organisms. A human’s stem cells are not whole organisms. One easy way to know this is that a stem cell will never develop into an adult human, no matter how many nutrients you give it. I can’t believe I’m typing this.

  • Ah, and that’s the fatal flaw to your argument. The potential to become a certain thing is not the same as actually being that certain thing.

    This holds true for a stem cell, a fertilized egg, an embryo, and a fetus.

    Until the developmental stage is reached where it can be shown that the fetus has enough neural complexity for human consciousness, it only has the potential to be a person. Please keep in mind that such a level of complexity does not exist until near birth. Prior to that stage the brain either does not have enough connectivity or paradoxically, it has too much. Not too long a time before birth the brain’s higher levels are so over-interconnected that signals propagate in an uncontrolled fashion; it is very much like a grid. All noise, no organized signal. Slightly closer to birth a massive pruning occurs leaving only the connections needed for the brain to actually function as something capable of consciousness.

    Without that consciousness – however simplistic it may be for a given individual – there is no person living in that brain.

  • Steve

    Gazooks, a fatal flaw?

    My argument was:

    Premise 1: It is a universal first principle of human ethics that we don’t do violence (let alone lethal violence) to innocent humans for any reason.

    Premise 2: The child-in-utero is an innocent, genetically distinct, living human organism – a member of our species.

    Therefore: We cannot commit lethal violence against a child-in-utero for any reason.

    At no point do I reference the notion of “personhood” in my argument. I based it on the status of being an organism which is a living member of our species. So you’ve not discovered a “fatal flaw”. Its just that since the attempt to fudge the meaning of “human organism” didn’t work, now you’re offering an alternative concept of human value based on your understanding of “personhood”.

    But what constitutes a “person” depends entirely on who you ask. Princeton philosopher Peter Singer thinks it doesn’t really kick in until late in the first year AFTER BIRTH. After all, newborns aren’t having complex thoughts or forming permanent memories yet. So he concludes that killing newborns is A-OK because there is no “person” in that little head.

    However, let’s say I took your definition and placed “personhood” at a point “near birth”. Well, I’ve spent some time in a NICU before. And while I was there I saw kids who had been born around 25 weeks gestation. They weren’t anywhere near the time when they should have been born. And yet there they were, alive, moving their tiny limbs. But if your theory is true, one could bash their skulls in with a fire extinguisher and it’d be OK because – again – there’s no person in there.

    At the very least, if cognitive complexity is the hallmark of “personhood” – and this is what makes it wrong to kill… then it would be more wrong to kill an adult raccoon than a newborn human. Because the adult raccoon has a much richer mental life than a newborn.

    Or it would mean it isn’t murder to intentionally kill a person who has been placed into a deep, medically induced coma. The hardware for personhood is there… but none of those person-making activities are currently activated. Therefore it isn’t a person, and is perfectly killable.

    At bottom, the “personhood” argument can be summarized as such: “There are some living humans who don’t count as persons. And we, the REAL persons, get to dispose of them in specialized facilities.” And that’s not a club I don’t want to join.

    Therefore, I reject using the flimy concept of “personhood” as a criterion by which we judge the value of humans. Instead, I say we should not kill innocent, living members of our species. And since the child-in-utero is a living member of our species… that means they shouldn’t be subjected to violence. Least of all by their parents, who have the duty to care for their children.

  • Steve

    Let’s see… a fatal flaw? My argument was:
    Premise 1: It’s wrong to kill innocent, living humans for any reason.
    Premise 2: The child-in-utero is an innocent, living human.
    Therefore: We cannot kill the child-in-utero.

    This argument is based on the subject being an organism which is a living member of our species. You’ve not discovered a “fatal flaw”. It’s just that the attempt to fudge the word “organism” didn’t work so now you’re offering an alternative concept of human value based on your understanding of “personhood”.

    But what constitutes a “person” depends entirely on who you ask. Princeton professor Peter Singer thinks it doesn’t kick in until some time in the first year AFTER BIRTH, since newborns aren’t having complex thoughts or permanent memories yet.

    Let’s say I take your definition of “personhood”. You say it happens near the point of birth. Well, my adult life has put me in the NICU for extended periods of time. And while I was there I saw kids who were born around 25 weeks gestation. They weren’t anywhere near the point where they should have been born. But if you’re correct, I could smash those kids with a hammer and I wouldn’t be a murderer… because there’s no “person” in that little head.

    The “personhood” theory would also mean it is more wrong to kill an adult raccoon than a newborn baby… because the raccoon has a much richer mental life and is closer to “personhood”. Or it means I could kill a person who was placed in a deep medical coma. The hardware for “personhood” is there, but it isn’t activated. Therefore the nonperson in the hospital bed is perfectly killable.

    At bottom, the “personhood” argument can be summarized as such, “There are some humans who don’t count as persons. And we, the REAL persons, can kill them in specialized facilities.” That argument sounds very familiar, and it’s not one I’d want to catch myself making.

    Therefore, I reject the flimsy concept of “personhood” as the criterion by which we judge if a human can be killed. Instead, I say we should not kill innocent, living members of our species. And since the child-in-utero is a living member of our species, they shouldn’t be killed for any reason. Much less by the parents, who have the duty to care for their offspring.

  • You’re the one who deliberately misinterpreted “half of women who have given birth have prolapse, which sometimes causes incontinence and that’s why there are so many ads for diapers” as “half of all moms need the incontinence diapers/pads.”

    Given the obvious Failure To Logic there, I’m just not sure how well you can follow any of this. 😉

    After all, you’re clearly angry, and it’s harder to get through to someone who’s that emotional. 🙂

  • So, a question for you please?

    Imagine a fetus is born with nothing more developed inside its skull than the top of the spine – effectively, just enough of the lowest, hardwired-only layer of the brain to be able to regulate breathing, heart rate & digestion. Absolutely no development of any part of the brain that can feasibly contain the structures capable of learning, stimulus processing and so on. There is literally no consciousness, no “person” living in that body.

    Are you saying the parents, hospital & society are morally obligated to care for that body & keep it alive for decades merely because it is a “human” body?

  • Steve

    Your question presumes the answer in that you call this human being an “it” and a “body”. But I’m reminded of a situation involving a friend’s brother, who is profoundly autistic. Looking at him, one would never know whether anyone was home. Later on I found out there was a profoundly intelligent mind in there – one which simply had no way to communicate (until he was given an iPad).

    I have no experience being a human with only a brain stem, so I have no way of knowing what such an existence is limited to. It isn’t my purview to write off the humanity of such a life.

    But essentially your question is: “Does a child with extreme disabilities still have dignity and value? And do parents still have duties to a severely disabled child? Or can they simply kill or abandon him/her?”

    And the answer to both is: “Yes. Yes. No.”

    Even if it means great hardship, a civilized society shouldn’t accept killing and abandoning its way out of tragic situations.

    If not, I’m left saying the following: “There are some humans who aren’t REAL humans, and we – the REAL humans – can kill them in special facilities. We can also exterminate the severely disabled in those facilities too, so they won’t be a drain on the fatherland.”

    And that’s a club I’d rather not join.

  • “But essentially your question is:”

    I was quite clear that my question involves a fetus born with only a brain stem. It’s not hypothetical, it’s a real thing. There is no upper brain. No perception, no memory, no organized synapse firings, because there is nothing there. The upper level brain structures that hold the sense of Self? Not there. The ones that perceive the body? Not there.

    I was quite clear, so please answer without thoroughly reworking what I asked.

  • Steve
  • Even if we take the Daily Mail’s report at face value, which is always a mistake, we are left with your answer for such tragedies being “hope for a miracle, never mind your current suffering.”

    Best case scenario, all parents of aencepahlitic children should tough it out because your God occasionally makes one talk? What if it destroys their lives, or are we only caring about lives you deem proper to care about?

  • Steve

    Its interesting that you phrase it that way, because destroying lives – killing – is precisely what I’m saying we should never do.
    And when you refer to as “destroying lives” really meant, “A person endures great hardship in the face of tragic and unforeseen circumstances.”
    And then you think because I say people shouldn’t kill and abandon their way out of those tragic circumstances – but rather bear up nobly in the face of hardship – that I don’t care about them? As if the only way to care for a person is to affirm a decision to kill, abandon, and destroy?
    All of this goes back to Premise 1: It is always wrong to kill an innocent human life.
    People can look at that principle, rail against, scream at it for its perceived unfairness, and demand it explain itself for all its cruelty in light of their circumstances… but it doesn’t change the fact. It’s always wrong to kill the innocent. And that’s that.

  • And then you think[…]…that I don’t care about them?

    If caring is measured in action and respecting agency, and not useless sentimental crap, yeah, you don’t care about them. As if the fact that you want to take control of people’s bodies and lives to push your view wasn’t a big enough clue. It’s kinda sad that you would claim to care despite that; self-delusion is never a good time for anyone, especially the people you think you’re “helping”.

  • Did you even read my reply carefully? Do you understand the neural anatomy you are trying to use to bolster your argument? Also, I’d recommend not citing…a paper Wikipedia & others have banned as an, “unreliable source” that has a reputation for “sensationalism”. Peer reviewed journal papers with sufficient cross citation would be best, please.

    I specified NO upper brain layers – the example you gave of holoprosencephaly has an underdeveloped frontal brain (part of the topmost functional layer), which necessarily implies that the consciousness layer exists, along with all layers below. Pretty much the OPPOSITE of what I was asking.

  • Steve

    Why is this so unbelievable to you? I’m say that it is always wrong to kill an innocent living human. No matter what the defect is.

  • It would follow then that you define, “human” not as the unique consciousness but rather as the body itself. In which case removing a person’s brain but keeping the body alive on a machine is morally only inflicting an injury not murder, yes?

  • Steve

    Just a “body” would be … a corpse. You needn’t speculate on how I’d define human because I’ve reiterated it several times.

    Human (n): A living organism of the species homo sapiens.

    As to your question … (you’ve not answered really any of mine, now that I think of it) … it depends on the precise nature of the resulting condition. There’s a difference between brain-death and the situation of a child born with no brain (but functioning life-support organs). But if someone inflects the latter case upon the person, the fella didn’t actually commit murder. Probably an attempted murder though.

    But to circle back to what I was saying before. When I was in the NICU, I saw kids who had been born at 25 weeks. There they were, moving their little arms and legs in the incubator. If I’d gone and smashed one of those kids, I’d be a murderer.

  • Movement does not explicitly equal human consciousness, Steve. That’s part of why I’m bringing up the knowledge we now have regarding fetal brain development & level of organization.

  • Steve

    I don’t -care- if it indicates consciousness or not. It indicates life. A human life. I’ve already addressed the “consciousness” criterion and the absurdities it leads to… but to reiterate:

    If consciousness was the seat of human value, and the aspect which made it impermissible to kill… it wouldn’t be murder to kill a person who has been sedated for surgery. Because that person is not conscious. Similarly, a person who has been placed into a deep medical coma would cease to a “person” and it wouldn’t be murder to kill him/her.

    We can’t rely on consciousness as a criterion for human value, because it would lead to scenarios in which we couldn’t explain why its wrong to kill adults who lack consciousness. That’s why the appropriate definition of murder is: “To intentionally kill an innocent, living member of the human species.”

    And I think you’d instinctively know this if you saw it. If you saw a person slitting the throat of someone in a coma… or smashing a 28 week-old baby in an incubator, you’d instinctively know you’d witnessed a murder. All of this is just trying to detangle rationalizations.

  • I’ve been on holiday, and I didn’t get a chance to see you contributions until now. Thanks for posting.

    I’m afraid I see the kind of kill-murder rhetoric you deliver as an example of assuming what you’re supposed to prove. The idea that a fetus inside a woman’s body is morally indistinguishable from an adult human is so reprehensible and misogynistic that I feel I really have to object.

    You concluded in your original post that “We cannot commit lethal violence against a child-in-utero for any reason.” This makes no sense if we consider the pregnant woman a legitimate moral agent. Any reason? What if the woman’s life is in danger because of the pregnancy?

    Like I said in the OP, pro-lifers like to focus on the humanity of the fetus as measured by chromosome count and brainwave activity, etc. However, they do so to ignore or negate the humanity of the adult woman inside whose body the fetus is gestating. This derives from a moralistic contempt for sexually active females.

  • Steve

    To reprise Luke Skywalker, “Amazing. Every word of what you just said, was wrong.” Let’s go through in detail:

    “I’m afraid I see the kind of kill-murder rhetoric you deliver as an example of assuming what you’re supposed to prove.”

    Is using the word “kill” just a bit of rhetoric? Well, the word “kill” means to “cause the death of a living thing”. Now, it is biologically, scientifically verifiable that the child-in-utero is a living thing. Abortion ends the life of that thing, therefore it is an act of “killing”. Any objections?

    Nor is it “assuming what’s trying to be proved”. Because from there the task is to say, “What is the nature of the thing which is being killed?” Then we Pro-Lifers offer reasoned evidence that the nature of the thing being killed is an innocent, living, human organism. All which can be verified scientifically.

    That means, abortion is the killing of an innocent, living, human organism. In a legal sense that isn’t “murder” because it is currently legal. But in a moral sense it is murder, because it is the intentional ending of an innocent human life. The concept is not dissimilar from the time when lynching was legal in the American south. According to the legal system it wasn’t murder. But the law was wrong. It was still – in any moral evaluation – murder.

    So if you wish to find the circular logic, feel free. Assertions are a dime a dozen.

    “The idea that a fetus inside a woman’s body is morally indistinguishable from an adult human is so reprehensible and misogynistic that I feel I really have to object.”

    Another assertion in need of logical demonstration. The differences between a child-in-utero and an adult are: Size. Degree of dependency. Environment. Level of development. Now, I don’t see how any of those decrease the moral status of a human. Is my 6 year old morally superior to my 4 year old because he’s taller and more developed? Am I morally superior to my 1 year old because I’m less dependent? Do I change moral status as I move from place to place? None of these seem morally relevant.

    So again, if you’re going to say it’s reprehensible and misogynistic to evaluate these small, developing, dependent humans as locuses of moral worth…. you’re going to have to show your work.

    “‘We cannot commit lethal violence against a child-in-utero for any reason.’ This makes no sense if we consider the pregnant woman a legitimate moral agent. ”

    That doesn’t follow. After all, saying a woman cannot kill her newborn doesn’t deny her status as a moral agent. If a woman smashed her newborn with a hammer, we’d absolutely say she’s a moral agent. She’d be a moral agent who chose to do something terrible.

    “Any reason? What if the woman’s life is in danger because of the pregnancy?”

    This is where the field of ethics is able to come to the rescue. It’s always true that we cannot intentionally slay the innocent. But what if a treatment necessary to save a woman’s life inadvertently posed a risk to the child? In such instance, any harm done to the child would be an undesired, unintended side effect of saving the mother’s life. But it wouldn’t be the same as outright stabbing the child to death.

    That’s the general scheme one follows to resolve these situations. You can treat the malady, even if it risks the child. But you cannot target the child for violence.

    “Like I said in the OP, pro-lifers like to focus on the humanity of the fetus as measured by chromosome count and brainwave activity, etc. ”

    Science!

    “However, they do so to ignore or negate the humanity of the adult woman inside whose body the fetus is gestating. ”

    No… we do so because that is the most tangible and provable way of evaluating the nature of child-in-utero. If not, we’re just sitting in a circle sharing our emotions about the matter.

    “This derives from a moralistic contempt for sexually active females.”

    Oh? Who is best equipped to judge what other people’s motivations are? Their fiercest critics – (who seem to love making assertions without showing work) – or the people themselves.

    I’ve no animus against sexually active women – any moreso than I have against gamblers. But when a gambler’s luck runs out and he loses his money, I expect him/her to accept the consequences like an adult who was engaging in an activity with known risks.

    When I was in college I was a sexually active as I could manage. But I knew two things:
    1) I wasn’t ready for a baby. 2) Sex makes babies. So my rule was that whatever I did, it needed to have an absolute zero chance of creating a baby. That ruled certain things out, because even if the chance was 0.001%, that was still a nonzero number. This wasn’t so much for moral reasons as practical ones. I didn’t want to play the odds when other means of gratification were available.

    But other people decide to play the odds. Fair enough. But just as the gambler can’t try to resolve his problems by robbing the casino, folks who get pregnant shouldn’t be able to kill their way out of it. This applies to the males too, who are equally responsible for making the kid.

    But the kid, who did nothing wrong, shouldn’t be killed for any reason.

  • Then we Pro-Lifers offer reasoned evidence that the nature of the thing being killed is an innocent, living, human organism. All which can be verified scientifically.

    Um, no, all you do is rig the terminology until you arrive at the conclusion you want. Scientifically, conception is the generation of a fertilized egg, the first step in the development of a human organism; you’ve merely redefined it as the birth of a human. This leads to the absurd conclusion that what anyone not so influenced by pro-life propaganda would consider preventing a human from being born is in fact murder.

    And there’s nothing that can be “verified scientifically” about guilt and innocence. That’s just another way you insert cheap moralism into the matter and pander to our liberal sympathies, as if the fetus is undergoing oppression by a despotic power rather than developing inside an adult woman’s body.

    Just because you’re infatuated with your obvious rhetorical sleight of hand, doesn’t mean anyone else is obliged to allow you to rig the game so egregiously.

    The differences between a child-in-utero and an adult are: Size. Degree of dependency. Environment. Level of development. Now, I don’t see how any of those decrease the moral status of a human.

    Once again, the pro-lifer demonstrates that the adult woman inside whose body the process of gestation takes place is of no worth or relevance to him whatsoever. Her life circumstances, socioeconomic status, and emotional state aren’t even part of the ethical discussion. You’ve reduced her to a mere environment, a vague and inert location the fetus inhabits until it moves on to other environments like cribs and car seats.

    This is the dictionary definition of dehumanization. I’ll at least admit that I’m more comfortable denying the humanity of a fetus, someone who hasn’t even been born yet, than that of an adult human who has responsibilities, worries, hopes, and life circumstances that we’ve gotten so used to ignoring in these slapfights that we’ve forgotten we were ever supposed to have qualms about doing so.

    I assume you’re just going to keep using scientific-sounding rationalizations to justify your “baby-killer” rhetoric and that you’re never going to acknowledge that the adult female inside whom the fetus develops deserves to be included in the ethical discussion. I’d be pleased if I were wrong about that, but I’m not optimistic.

  • Steve

    You say:

    “Scientifically, conception is the generation of a fertilized egg, the first step in the development of a human organism; you’ve merely redefined it as the birth of a human.”

    First, there’s no such thing as a “fertilized egg”. That’s like saying “married bachelor”. But you correctly identify this as the first step of the development of a human organism. That is – by definition – the birth of a human.

    And in abortion, we’re talking about the act of killing that human.

    “And there’s nothing that can be “verified scientifically” about guilt and innocence. That’s just another way you insert cheap moralism into the matter and pander to our liberal sympathies, as if the fetus is undergoing oppression by a despotic power rather than developing inside an adult woman’s body.”

    OK, so the living human organism part is scientifically verifiable. If you’re going to take issue with the description of innocent… then what has he/she done wrong? Specifically, something which would warrant the punishment of death?

    Because being forced to die – when one has done nothing wrong – is pretty oppressive.

    “Her life circumstances, socioeconomic status, and emotional state aren’t even part of the ethical discussion.”

    Do emotional states and socioeconomic statuses ever justify killing a three-year old? If a man beat his three year-old to death, would we stop and say, “Well… it wasn’t a real murder. After all, they were poor.”

    “You’ve reduced her to a mere environment, a vague and inert location the fetus inhabits until it moves on to other environments like cribs and car seats.”

    This is absurd. Of course the woman is a person. But the change which the baby undergoes while being born is a change of environment. And if you’re going to suggest that the baby magically becomes a human being during the process of birth, its on you to explain how this movement of 8 inches and the severance of an umbilical cord bestows the moral worth of a human.

    “I assume you’re just going to keep using scientific-sounding rationalizations to justify your ‘baby-killer’ rhetoric and that you’re never going to acknowledge that the adult female inside whom the fetus develops deserves to be included in the ethical discussion.”

    Scientific sounding? “The termination of the life of a living human organism.” That’s not scientific sounding. That’s an actually verifiable scientific description.

    Life circumstances and such can be brought into account when addressing someone’s culpability in something which has been done. For instance, Andrew Yates was found less guilty of drowning her kids because she was basically crazy. But that doesn’t change the nature of what was done to her kids. They were drowned. And drowning children is really, really wrong.

    But we don’t say, “Well, they were lower class… so drowning her kids wasn’t actually killing anyone.” Or, “She had long hair… so it was OK for her to drown her kids.”

    First you acknowledge the deed which was done. Then you address the circumstances of the one who did it. In this case, what is done is ending the life of an innocent living human. And no circumstances can ever make that right.

  • OK, so the living human organism part is scientifically verifiable.

    But it isn’t, that’s just the point. You’ve decided that some phenomenon, like a fetal heartbeat or a complete set of chromosomes, automatically confers “humanity” on the fetus. No matter how many times people question this sort of sleight of hand, you use the word science like it magically makes any problems go away. The fetus is still developing inside a woman’s body, but you desperately try to dismiss that fact as irrelevant.

    And if you’re going to suggest that the baby magically becomes a human being during the process of birth, its on you to explain how this movement of 8 inches and the severance of an umbilical cord bestows the moral worth of a human.

    I would suggest no such thing. I’m just a lot less comfortable making facile, arbitrary distinctions than you are. I don’t think it’s even possible to pinpoint exactly when a fetus achieves “humanity,” so I don’t consider that a meaningful question.

    All I’m trying to do with this article is describe the way the pro-lifer’s attention to the fetus is supposed to distract from his moralistic, misogynistic denial that the woman should have some sort of say in whether she brings a pregnancy to term. Her life and circumstances matter. She should be included in this moral discussion, and you pro-lifers won’t allow her to be.

  • Steve

    Maybe this is just a failure to understand your mindset here… but the fact that the “fetus” is developing inside the woman’s uterus doesn’t make him/her not human. Children continue to develop until they are in their 20’s… but they are still humans, members of our species, the whole time.

    So, yes. The the “fetus” is developing inside the mother’s womb. AND the fetal stage is a stage of development of human. The parents are human. They’re progeny isn’t a cat, isn’t an ant, and isn’t a blue whale… its a human organism.

    I don’t know why you’re talking down on things like looking at the genetic makeup of this organism to determine what it is. As if… the DNA is a trick or something.

    This is why folks like me tend to succeed when publicly speaking to young people (which I do). I’m up there saying, “Look at the DNA, look at the cell division. This is the first stage of the life of a human. Here are references to embryology textbooks describing this as the first stage of human life.”

    And you’re up there saying, “Don’t believe this psudoscience! DNA can’t tell you what that thing is! After all, what if it’s growing up in the inner city? What if its in a rural area! You have to take those into account before deciding what it is!”

    … a scientifically literate crowd will side with me.

    “All I’m trying to do with this article is describe the way the pro-lifer’s attention to the fetus is supposed to distract from his moralistic, misogynistic denial that the woman should have some sort of say in whether she brings a pregnancy to term. Her life and circumstances matter. She should be included in this moral discussion, and you pro-lifers won’t allow her to be.”

    Cart before the horse.

    … first you have to understand/define what is entailed in not “bringing a pregnancy to term”. For instance, suppose we decided to let parents decide whether they would “bring their children to the age of 18”. And if they decided not to, we’d let them throw their kids into a woodchipper.

    Well… obviously we wouldn’t grant that freedom to parents – regardless of the circumstances. Someone saying, “But those kids are still developing!” or “They live in poverty!” won’t justify the blood stained woodchipper. Because what’s entailed in that is a brutal killing.

    So that’s the central divide here. Pro-Lifers begin with the question, “What is abortion and what does it do? And what is that thing which is being destroyed?”

    And after concluding that it kills a member of our species, we say, “Well shoot, nothing justifies killing an innocent member of our species. Nothing at all.” And all the appeals to socioeconomics are just vain attempts at justifying killing for the sake of convenience.

    So while you may think it’s callous or ignorant to say circumstances can’t justify it… its just being logically consistent. I wouldn’t let harsh socioeconomic conditions, or someone’s desire to get the corner office justify the slaying of a two year-old or a newborn. So it doesn’t matter the day before birth either.

    If one really believes that abortion ends the life of a human, then socioeconomic conditions are just scenery. If you don’t get that, then you’re better off not trying guess at the motivations of the people you hate.

    I can’t do this all weekend. I’ve said my peace.

  • If one really believes that abortion ends the life of a human, then socioeconomic conditions are just scenery. If you don’t get that, then you’re better off not trying guess at the motivations of the people you hate.

    And if one believes that all the rhetoric about “baby killing” is just a distraction from the pro-lifer’s basic contempt for women, then one find the constant, unwarranted, ludicrous, and insincere harping on “killing a member of our species” and “slaying a newborn” melodramatic, moralistic nonsense and the people pushing it tiresome assholes who can’t abide criticism.

    Screw you and your inability to engage in rational dialogue.

  • Raging Bee

    Premise 1 does not apply to a fetus: it’s not a human person, it’s just human tissue, and it’s inside another full person, physically wired into her and unable to exist outside of that person. It cannot become a person in its own right until it is outside of another person.

  • Steve

    Alright, two things.
    First, you might be persuaded that the child-in-utero doesn’t rise to your standard of a “person”. (Other people have felt similarly about other human beings throughout history.) However, would you ackowledge the biological reality that it’s a living organism? And if so, what species of organism is it?
    Second, the circumstances of my life have led me into a NICU before. And while I was there I saw babies who were delivered at 25 weeks gestation. Did those children – (having been removed from the womb) – count as a true human? And if so, do their counterparts who are still in a womb at 25 weeks not count as true humans by mere reason of residing inside their mothers? (Despite being in biologically identical phases of development)

  • Raging Bee

    Yes, it’s living human tissue, just like its bearer’s skin or liver tissue. None of that in any way diminishes any woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy, or choose whether or not to get pregnant.

  • Steve

    You misunderstood the question: I’m not asking if its living tissue. My kidney is living tissue. But do you acknowledge the biological fact that its an ORGANISM? (and if so, what species does that organism belong to?)
    Awaiting response on the second question(s).

  • Raging Bee

    Yes, it’s an organism, but an organism is not a person.

  • Raging Bee

    Do you acknowledge the biological fact that a fetus cannot be treated as a person with full human rights, without seriously diminishing the personhood, and rights, of its bearer? It’s not even possible in theory, and it’s even worse in practice. When the state gives rights to fetuses, women start dying in larger numbers. That’s what’s happening in Texas recently, and not just there either.

  • Do you consider the woman inside whose body this “organism” exists more than simple living tissue? Do you think calling a fetus an “organism” makes us forget that the woman is involved in the gestation process too?

    As I keep saying, the pro-lifer likes to keep the emphasis entirely on the developing fetus for some reason.

  • Steve

    The idea that a child-in-utero isn’t a “person” isn’t a biological fact, because “personhood” isn’t a biological trait. It’s a philosophical assertion, and an arbitrary one.

    The Princeton philosopher Peter Singer thinks “personhood” doesn’t begin until well after the child is born. And if one defines “personhood” along the lines of mental complexity, permanent memories, and individual personality… then he’d be right. This would also mean it is more wrong to kill an adult raccoon than a newborn human. Likewise, it would mean it isn’t murder to kill someone who has been placed in a coma.

    The basic assertion of the “personhood argument” is this: “There are some humans who don’t count as persons. And we can experiment upon, exploit, and kill these nonpersons them in special facilities.”

    I think the 20th century taught us that is a bad direction to go.

  • Steve

    I think I made my point very clear to you, if you had ears to hear it.

    The woman is a rational human being, a moral agent, and the mother of the child in the womb. We don’t grant parents the ability to end the lives to their day-old newborn children – not even in dire circumstances. We recognize that as something for which there is never an adequate excuse. I see no reason why this changes the day prior.

    You can repeat the words “consider the woman” all the day long – as if its a sort of magic incantation. But no matter how often that incantation is recited, it doesn’t grant a parent the right to end the life of his/her child.

  • tophilacticus

    It is threads like these that bolster my opinion that The Handmaid’s Tale is the dystopian future, of any of the various themes, for USA.

  • And like I keep saying, there’s a very significant difference between ending the life of a child and preventing a child from being born. No matter how many times it’s pointed out to you, you seem absolutely unable to admit that a blastocyst or zygote developing inside a woman’s body isn’t a child.

    You want us to believe that a child has been born at the instant that sperm meets egg, and nobody here is buying it. If a woman doesn’t want to undergo pregnancy and childbirth for whatever reason, she deserves to make that decision without having people like you accuse her of infanticide.

  • tophilacticus

    This doesn’t really address the OP. An important conversation to have, but it changes the subject.

  • So what about the humanity of the adult female you reduce to the status of an “environment” for the fetus? You’re pretty adept at dehumanizing when it suits you.

  • Steve

    If I look at a woman who has a kiddo in a stroller, it doesn’t “dehumanize” the mother to acknowledge that the content of the stroller is also a living human being. Because that’s what he/she is.

    And it doesn’t dehumanize the mother to say, “You have no right to abuse, abandon, or kill the little one in that stroller.” That’s just acknowledging the moral duties of parenthood.

    Same principles applies before birth.

  • Steve

    The original post said the motivation of Pro-Lifers is the hatred of women.

    Well, I’m among that odd breed. And I can tell you I’m pro-life because I recognize the child-in-utero is a living member of our species and shouldn’t be subjected to violence, and that parents have duties to their kids.

    And that’s really all there is to the motivation.

  • Again, you’re assuming what you have yet to prove. A fetus developing inside a woman’s body is different from a toddler in a stroller. Because the woman, unlike the stroller, is a conscious being with rights and responsibilities, and has the right to bodily sovereignty.

    Before birth, the “same principles” don’t apply because the woman —remember the woman?— has to be taken into consideration.

  • Steve

    “And like I keep saying, there’s a very significant difference between ending the life of a child and preventing a child from being born.”

    In the instance of abortion, the child does in-fact get born. It’s just that the child is born dead. And the reason why the child is born dead is because he/she was assaulted with various tools while in the womb. So yes, there is a difference between preventing birth and ending a life. Abortion is the latter.

    “No matter how many times it’s pointed out to you, you seem absolutely unable to admit that a blastocyst or zygote developing inside a woman’s body isn’t a child.”

    One of the definitions of child is: “a son or daughter of human parents”. [Meriam Webster]. The little human in the womb is the progeny of human parents and is thus a “child” of those parents.

    “You want us to believe that a child has been born at the instant that sperm meets egg, and nobody here is buying it. ”

    But for poor, scientifically illiterate reasons. So far about a half dozen folks have acknowledged that a new living member of our species is created. I can’t help it if people don’t want to connect the final dot.

    “If a woman doesn’t want to undergo pregnancy and childbirth for whatever reason, she deserves to make that decision without having people like you accuse her of infanticide.”

    Technically the one who committed infanticide is the one performing the abortion. But if that is an accurate description of what occurs, then I see no reason to water down an uncomfortable truth.

  • Steve

    “A fetus developing inside a woman’s body is different from a toddler in a stroller.”

    It’s not enough to say, “They are different.” Folks have always dehumanized others by saying, “They are different.” The question is whether said differences are morally relevant or can be applied consistently.

    For instance, I have a right to bodily autonomy. But does that mean I can punch my kids and appeal to bodily autonomy as a justification? No. Because the appeal to bodily autonomy doesn’t work when trying to use it to hurt another human being.

    The only difference you’ve posited which would make that not apply to the baby in the womb is consciousness and residing within the mother.

    If consciousness were the key, then it would be OK to kill people who have been placed into comas – or who have been put under for surgery. Because they aren’t conscious.

    If residing in the mother was the key, then you’d have to explain why the act of exiting the mother magically bestows the child with all the value to proper to a human. As I’ve said, I’ve seen babies outside the womb at 25 weeks. As organisms, they are biologically identical to 25 week old children in the womb. Yet one is a human and one isn’t? It makes no sense.

    And simply reciting your magical incantation, “Remember the woman” doesn’t explain that difference. You need an actually logical reason.

  • tophilacticus

    This is still changing the subject. It is the not the motivation, the subject is that the pro-life movement is misogynistic. The one statement that mentioned it is this ….

    As for the charge of oppression… this strikes me as one of those things people say within an echo chamber to reinforce group cohesion. Not entirely different from Christians saying, “Atheists are suppressing their knowledge of God because they love sin.” or “Socialists are greedy and hate work.”

    Such a quick dismissal doesn’t really address the misogyny (perhaps you agree with the OP that it is?) or the numerous other lines of evidence that the actions of pro-life groups, especially legislation that gets proposed and/or passed, brings more harm to women (e.g. not only misogynistic but also impedes any progress to lowering or even coming close to ending abortions). This may seem like semantics, but in the pro-life vs. pro-choice “discussions,” they are fraught with subject changes and talking past another…as shown in the comments in this post. Again, I think what you bring up is important, but if we can’t first talk about the subject addressed in the OP, I am not sure how moving to the next would be helpful.

  • Steve

    The word “misogyny” means “hatred of women”.

    One can propose a course of action which will negatively affect certain people without hating them. For instance, abolishing slavery negatively affected white plantation owners. This doesn’t mean it was motivated by the hatred of white plantation owners.

    Similarly, one might support efforts at increasing workplace diversity. In many businesses, such efforts would negatively effect the prospects of white males. However, the people putting forward these policies are not motivated by the hatred of white males (I think).

    Ending abortion would create hardships for women, as abortion is a very efficient solution to the real problem of unwanted kids. However, this doesn’t mean the movement is suffused with the hatred of women any more than the others I mentioned.

    The motivations are:
    1) The recognition of pre-birth children as part of the human family.
    2) The recognition that parents have duties to those children.
    3) The injustice of doing violence to pre-birth children.

    So unless you can find some surveys, or some explicit statements from large nationwide pro-life organizations which explicitly state, “We are motivated by our animus toward women” … then I’d say the accusation of misogyny is baseless, and amounts to nothing more than saying bad things about the Others to reinforce group cohesion.

    This is especially true from my experience working with Pro-Life student groups – which tend to have mostly female participants. Its demeaning to look at those girls and say, “You secretly hate girls” or “You are clouded by a false consciousness and don’t understand your own motivations.”

  • tophilacticus

    Misogyny is not constrained to hatred (just like racism is not simply hatred, but also includes things like prejudice and inferiority) and manifests itself in a variety of ways. Emphasizing the masculine point of view is an example that could easily be held of anyone regardless of gender identity, but also not necessarily one of hatred. The last couple paragraphs of your comment hinge upon the self-awareness around that, which misogyny does not require (as neither does any prejudice require it).

    Anti-abortion efforts target women through a variety of means (which Shem discusses some of them in the OP), but most revolve around either cutting(or increasing the disparity in access to) health care, or specifically criminalizing women who get abortions after a some denoted period. Unfortunately, these undermine the end goal of pro-life to lessen, or even approach ending, abortions. We have been there before.

  • Steve

    So… in order to disprove the charge of misogyny, one would have to show that banning abortion would reduce the number of them? And then the Pro-Lifer could step forward in confidence that his/her motivations won’t be gainsayed?

  • tophilacticus

    I am not clear how you came to that conclusion (which I assume followed from something I wrote). Would you elaborate please?

  • Steve

    Evidence proposed for “misogyny”:

    “specifically criminalizing women who get abortions after a some denoted period. Unfortunately, these undermine the end goal of pro-life to lessen, or even approach ending, abortions. We have been there before.”

  • tophilacticus

    Specifically it is this….anti-abortion efforts target women (which women’s health care and using the justice system were the examples). From what I have gathered from our conversation, this is perfectly fine in your view. Unfortunately, that also is the misogyny that Shem brought up in the OP.

  • Steve

    Ahh… so in your view, opposing abortion is intrinsically hateful to women -even if the core motivation is the recognition of the humanity of pre-birth children. This is nonsense, but I can’t talk you out of it.

  • tophilacticus

    You are putting words in my mouth and relying upon a false dilemma. I never made this claim.

    There are other ways of approaching this. As there are ways to achieve your ends (which again I assume is to lessen abortions as much as possible) that don’t target women by limiting access to healthcare, sex education, or making abortions illegal. The misogyny is doing just that…targeting women.

  • Steve

    Look, the whole point of the Pro-Life idea is that the pre-born are members of the human family and deserving of protections. It isn’t just about “reducing the number of abortions” – even if that is part of it.

    But the ultimate goal – the “end” – is that we recognize, as a society, that these are real human beings. And it is illegal to kill innocent human beings. There is no Pro-Life cause without the ultimate goal of making abortion illegal, it wouldn’t be able to stand up to its own logic.

    It would be like saying I want to “mitigate the factors which make men feel like they need to beat their wives” … without ever making the obvious step of making it illegal to beat wives.

    So yes, since the goal of the Pro-Life cause is to make it just as illegal to kill a baby before birth as after, then you’ll just have to call it whatever you wish.

  • tophilacticus

    What I take from what you’ve said is you see only one path forward and it involves changing the subject from the OP. Ok. It hasn’t worked for drugs, hasn’t worked for spousal abuse, and didn’t work for abortions. You haven’t even brought up that it is possible to make it a legal issue not focused solely on the women (I know of no women that are pregnant from artificial insemination that later abort) and hence would at least lessen the misogyny of the situation. You’ve repeatedly used the word parent, but it appears as code for woman, without the clarity of actually saying it. If you meant more by parent, you never spelled it out. This is why, I imagine, the OP like this is written, and discussions like these are fruitless.

    I am not quite clear why you weren’t up front and acknowledge that it is misogynistic. You have justified it in various ways, danced around it, but never acknowledged it. That is simply what I was asking to begin with, to stay on topic.

  • Laila Jameson

    Thought you might be interested along with any theists around here https://rewire.news/article/2012/06/03/biblical-abortion-christians-view-1/

  • Laila Jameson

    And this comes in handy also, once in a while.. Especially since none of THEM ever seem to read the book they claim to not only live by, but derive their morals/moral code, obtain a moral compass from.. LOL I don’t think they’d dare say that if they read it once.. rather than having it read out loud to them like they’re five years old on Mommy’s lap.. And they not only pay the know-nothing $3 into a basket, for the privilege, but also pay 10% extra tax, for the E TICKET to get into heaven.. LOL It’s all so ridiculous.. but especially that their “GOD” actually commands abortion, in NO UNCERTAIN terms.. and of course, the killing of children, cutting babies from wombs, and rape of virgins, which equates to legal marriage back in those idiot times..http://www.evilbible.com/evil-bible-home-page/god-is-not-pro-life/ https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/ccb5af5f3369e966b5a9bc205ad72a6e88d6946580bdbccf39ef0c32ac7a5b17.jpg

  • Laila Jameson

    Because they have a “god” like this! https://rewire.news/article/2012/06/03/biblical-abortion-christians-view-1/ who acts like this. So, can we blame the empty heads? Not really, I suppose… Not when they base their moral HIGH ground on what THEIR god does and says… Those sheep wouldn’t know WHICH way to go, or WHAT to think or feel, if they’d ever actually read their so-called “holy” book.. If they want to have fun they should actually read the bible.. There would be some tails between some legs, if they did.. if nothing else.. :/ https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/ccb5af5f3369e966b5a9bc205ad72a6e88d6946580bdbccf39ef0c32ac7a5b17.jpg

  • Steve, I’ve tried repeatedly, to no apparent avail whatsoever, to get you to acknowledge that there’s a difference between a newborn infant and a pregnant woman in whose body a fetus is developing. You seem totally unable to put aside the “baby-killer” rhetoric and acknowledge the complex moral context of a woman choosing to terminate a pregnancy. You’re just repeating your stale equivocations and fallacies, even after I’ve patiently pointed them out to you.

    It doesn’t seem like you’re really here for dialogue. You’re just one of the moralistic, misogynistic blowhards I’m describing in this article. The idea of women as moral subjects seems like something you’re used to admitting, and that makes it very hard for you to approach the ethical complexities of things like abortion and procreation.

  • Teddy K.

    For anyone who doesn’t understand the argument for why human rights begin at birth, this is an excellent overview: https://youtu.be/CNgwsT295G8

  • Teddy, I try to discourage people from posting videos or memes instead of arguments. Make your point in your own words.

  • Teddy K.

    Ok. The “Human Rights are bestowed upon a fetus and become protected legally protected at birth” argument is bullshit.

    If you’re going to make that argument, you need to provide scientific proof for it.

    Please provide said scientific proof.

    Discuss.

  • The “Human Rights are bestowed upon a fetus and become protected legally protected at birth” argument is bullshit.

    If you’re going to make that argument, you need to provide scientific proof for it.

    Please provide said scientific proof.

    Discuss.

    First off, I never made the rather garbled argument you attribute to me. I even told Steve below that I’m just not comfortable making totally arbitrary distinctions about the exact moment when a fetus becomes “human” and therefore acquires human rights that nullify the mother’s bodily sovereignty. “Humanity” and “human rights” aren’t scientific matters, so your insistent requests for scientific proof are neither here nor there.

    When a fetus is developing inside a woman’s body, her rights complicate the matter. If you (like Steve) think there’s no difference between a fertilized zygote gestating in a woman’s uterus and a toddler, then it seems you’ve erased the woman so completely from your moral conception of the matters of pregnancy and childbirth that you’ve forgotten there was ever a time when her being was supposed to be considered significant in any way.

  • Anat

    Real Human Beings TM do not have a right to use bodies of any human being for their survival without the ongoing consent of the human being so used. If you consider ‘being stopped from using another for your survival’ as ‘intentionally targeting for violence’ rather than ‘withdrawal of support’ then I simply disagree with the premise of your syllogism.

  • Anat

    Yes the differences are morally relevant. because a fetus lacks the capacity to value its life or even its very near future. it loses nothing when it dies.

  • Steve

    So the thing which gives value to human existence is the ability to value one’s life? Says who? And when does that change? Prior to birth? At birth? Sometime thereafter? Think on that, and its implications.

    Or suppose someone gets to a point in life where he/she doesn’t value his/her own life anymore… does that person’s life cease to have value as well. If so, why do we have suicide prevention hotlines?

    And he/she certainly loses something when he/she dies. Imagine that fate had befallen me those many years ago… I’d have been deprived of everything which would happen to me since then.

    Any time someone is killed, he/she is being robbed of the future which that person would have had.

    ——-

    “Real Human Beings TM do not have a right to use bodies of any human being for their survival without the ongoing consent of the human being so used.”

    Says who? My kids have the right to support from me – with or without my consent. I’m responsible for them whether I like it or not. And my support for their lives cannot be withdrawn on a whim.

    “If you consider ‘being stopped from using another for your survival’ as ‘intentionally targeting for violence’ rather than ‘withdrawal of support’ then I simply disagree with the premise of your syllogism.”

    Sure, but then it wouldn’t be a good description of what happens. If we were only talking about a doctor inducing early labor and the child being delivered unharmed, your description would fit. But… as we both know… that isn’t what happens.

  • Anat

    If you don’t value the future in even the most rudimentary manner you can’t lose it because you don’t actually have it in the first place. It changes when infants develop an understanding that time flows from past to future, several months after birth. Suicide isn’t about not wanting to live (except in very limited situations), but about not wanting to suffer. That is why people even in the midst of a suicide attempt call the hotlines. They want to live, they just don’t want to live in suffering. Not the same at all. But my grandmother did not want to live for the last 7 years of her life and talked a lot about how she should have died years previously, yet nobody would help her. That was a shame.

    Your kids have aright to your support. they do not have a right to your body if you are not willing to share it with them. They can’t force you to donate your kidney, or even your blood to them. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McFall_v._Shimp

    An abortion is the refusal to continue to let an embryo or fetus use one’s body for its support. In most cases the embryo is sucked out in its entirety. Except for in the cases of fetal abnormalities the goal of abortion is the restoration of the pregnant person’s body to is non-pregnant state, the death of the embryo or fetus is a side effect.

  • Steve

    “It changes when infants develop an understanding that time flows from past to future, several months after birth. ”

    Impressive that you “went there” with so little provocation. But it would seem your theory would mean it isn’t wrong to kill one’s newborn child.

    “An abortion is the refusal to continue to let an embryo or fetus use one’s body for its support. In most cases the embryo is sucked out in its entirety.”
    You need to read up more on when and how this procedure happens. Two third take place after 6 weeks, at which time a destructive dismemberment procedure must take place. This is either done by cutterage or suction aspiration.
    But as I said, these cases would deflate your idea that we’re only talking about merely removing bodily aid. We’re talking about something more.

  • More baby-killer rhetoric. How original.

    I hope it gets through to you that I wrote this post so that we could bring the woman back into the moral equation, since people like you perform a destructive dismemberment on her every time you surgically remove her from the matter of pregnancy and childbirth.

    What about the circumstances of a pregnant woman in crisis, someone who isn’t able for whatever reason to carry a pregnancy to term? In my opinion, you do her a great disservice by making her life circumstances irrelevant to the discussion. You make it sound as if women simply get abortions to punish the developing fetus, or to flaunt their power or something.

    It’s not like pregnancy is a walk in the park. Even in the West, hundreds of women die in childbirth every year and countless women develop health issues resulting from pregnancy. If she’s willing to take that risk, fine. But if she isn’t, why should she if it’s just to satisfy your piety?

    I’m going to close the comments on this thread if you continue dehumanizing women by making it seem like an adult woman’s life and circumstances are less important than the fetus developing inside her body.

  • Raging Bee

    Those cases “deflate” nothing. None of that changes the fact that as long as a fetus is inside a woman, it cannot be considered a person without significantly degrading the woman’s ability to act, function, and make choices as a person. if a fetus is treated as a person, then, ipso facto, the mother effectively becomes a vessel or slave.

  • Raging Bee

    No, the same principles do NOT apply before birth. There’s a huge practical difference between a fetus existing inside the body of another person, and a baby outside of a person.

  • Steve

    I was simply answering what was said to me. ANAT proposed an argument, I answered it precisely on the terms he/she proposed it. And those terms, by his/her own admission, resulted in a newborn having no human value. I was just drawing that conclusion out into the open. I cannot control your reaction to this, and you may feel free to close comments if you wish.

    The woman is a rational human being, of great (infinite) value. But human beings can find themselves doing things which no circumstances can justify. And when we think about this, we can all imagine actions which we believe to be intrinsically unallowable. I’d bet you’d say that dehumanizing women is intrinsically unallowable, for instance. No circumstance would excuse it.

  • Raging Bee

    Because the appeal to bodily autonomy doesn’t work when trying to use it to hurt another human being.

    It DOES work when when a woman is trying to use it to maintain control of her own body.

  • Raging Bee

    The woman is a rational human being, of great (infinite) value. But
    human beings can find themselves doing things which no circumstances can
    justify.

    Yes, but terminating a pregnancy is not one of those things. Just for starters, there are PLENTY of circumstances that justify abortion.

  • Annerdr

    You need to read up on abortion procedures. They vacuum out the ZEF and other tissue. There is no need to tear anything apart. The ZEF is frequently too small to notice, and there’s no reason why it would be “dismembered” when it is removed with the placenta.

    The D&C abortion that you are arguing about is a later term abortion, which are generally done because of a fetal abnormality. It was a safe procedure for women but people like you who feel the need to interfere in other people’s health care decisions have banned it.

    Steve, why not be honest that you value the life of the ZEF over the life of the woman carrying it?

  • And like I’ve said over and over and over, in what I consider plain enough English, the only way you can equate abortion with infanticide is if you’ve already decided that the woman’s physical being is of no consequence whatsoever and we can discuss the matter of procreation as if the woman doesn’t even exist. On this thread, you’ve even dismissed the woman as a mere “location,” as if we needed any more evidence that your pro-life position derives from misogyny.

  • Steve

    In the post which you mention, I described the womb as an “environment”… which it is. This description is not dehumanizing. You could describe my stomach is a highly acidic “environment” without dismissing my humanity. You could even say a tapeworm in my intestines finds itself in a nutrient rich environment, and this doesn’t dismiss my humanity.
    Saying a child undergoes a change of environment during birth is likewise not dismissing anyone’s humanity. It’s just a statement of fact.

  • Well, if you think that the fact that a fetus is developing inside a woman’s body doesn’t complicate the moral context of abortion, then you’re denying that a woman should have any say over what happens in her body. You’re saying that she has to carry that pregnancy to term, whether or not it was the result of a sexual assault, and deliver a child regardless of her physical, emotional, or financial condition. You’re saying that she should have no say in the matters of pregnancy and childbirth, just like in the good old days.

    And in your opinion that’s not dehumanizing her?

  • Human beings are not rational actors, Steve.

    Someone has been feeding you too much Rothbard

  • do you pretend you’re libertarian?

    or are you at least honest enough with yourself about your own views to know better?

  • Some people prefer to treat it like an instruction manual

  • You know how many babies I’ve swallowed?

    Spilling your seed is murder

  • a uterus is not a stroller.

    and a zygote is not a baby.

    words still mean things, Steve.

  • if potential to be a human is the hill you’re going to die on, every time you use birth control or masturbate, it’s mass murder.

    are you sure that’s the hill you want to die on Steve?

    because it makes a mass murderer out of you.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bzVHjg3AqIQ

  • That’s not what ad hominem means, Steve.

    Not even a little bit.

    It’s not just a catch all term for arguments you don’t like.

  • Steve

    I have sympathies toward Libertarians because they make good points about the danger inherent in the government’s coercive force. However, I could never be a Libertarian because I think their philosophy is too reductive.

    Everything comes down to individuals and the contracts between them. I don’t think it can account for things owed to our neighbors in justice on account of human dignity. In other words, there is no room for social justice.

    Any trace of that reductionism disappeared in me the moment I learned of my first kid. I realized, “I have a duty to this kiddo whether I like it or not.”

    Plus, taxation isn’t always theft. If can be, if the government taxes beyond what is reasonable and necessary. But it isn’t always theft.

  • > about the danger inherent in the government’s coercive force.

    seems you enjoy coercive force as long as it’s yours.

  • social justice is a lie, Steve.

  • The Binding of Mike

    You’re a regular Cronos.

  • Steve

    Sperms (and ovums) are not human organisms. There is no environment under which one of those could grow into an adult human. They are human sex cells and don’t have anything approaching the moral character of a human organism. However, when human sex cells combine (which might take as long as a day), the result is a new, genetically distinct organism of the species “homo sapiens.”

    The word “baby” isn’t really a technical term. It’s more of an emotional term. And if someone has a personal preference of when that term applies, that’s fine by me. Nor do I have any issue using the scientific terminology like “zygote” or “fetus”.

    But I tend to avoid saying “the fetus” because people use it as a term of dehumanization. Sorta like, “the undesirables” or “the untermench”. Language is indeed a very important power.

  • oh they’re not, but a zygote is, because goalposts. is that about right?

  • But I tend to avoid saying “the fetus” because people use it as a term of dehumanization. Sorta like, “the undesirables” or “the untermench”. Language is indeed a very important power.

    Sort of like how you avoid saying “the mother” or “the woman,” because people use those as terms of humanization. And maybe language has power, but people like you want to make sure women don’t.

  • *ding ding ding*

    although I’d argue the *mother* does lose something. in most cases.

    i don’t think I’ve ever spoken to a woman who had an abortion who felt okay about it.

    i’d say there’s a moral argument to be made in terms of violating our own hearts, even if it’s through making the best of some bad choices.

    and that’s the impression i get from women who have talked to me about their own choices. It hurts to get an abortion. Emotionally, perhaps spiritually (if your POV allows for it).

    abortion hurts the mother, not the zygote.

    but most every human has had to make hard choices that were going to hurt no matter what.

    and that’s not my business to decide that for others.

    I appreciate you raising the point about the fetus losing nothing.

    Presence of mind, ability to live outside the present, means one can contemplate and anticipate their own suffering.

    It’s why a moral argument can be made about killing animals for food for example, versus killing people for it. The ability to contemplate and anticipate suffering, and ergo, the ability to experience pain, fear, and cruelty is diminished profoundly among the lower orders among us animals.

    I say this, because even if they could put life at the point of conception, and even if we conceded the ridiculous idea that a zygote is aware somehow, that still isn’t a strong moral argument.

    I mean if you can justify killing tuna, but not killing zygotes it makes the argument a non-starter.

    And your statement about loss captures so much of that.

    Sadly, I only have one upvote to offer.

  • Steve

    Well, I don’t know what the good ol’ days were. There may have been a time when society was more consistent about treating pre-birth kiddos as real human beings, but society didn’t afford that recognition to people of color.

    But, you misstate me a little bit when you say: “You’re saying that she has to carry that pregnancy to term, whether or not it was the result of a sexual assault, and deliver a child regardless of her physical, emotional, or financial condition.”

    Say, for instance, the woman (who is a rational human being of infinite value) is suffering complications due to the pregnancy. Would I say she has to carry the baby to term? Term being 40 weeks? Of course not. We can reliably deliver a baby at 25 weeks and – while there are some adverse effects – the life of both is saved. So its not true that the mother (who is a rational human being of infinite value) has to carry the baby to term regardless of physical condition.

    Similarly, suppose she had cancer during the pregnancy and is in mortal danger. Suppose treatment for the cancer will surely result in the loss of the baby. She does nothing wrong by receiving cancer treatment. Absolutely nothing wrong. And its not because the baby isn’t human, its because in life-or-life situations there is proportionality which allows us to accept the loss of one as a side-effect.

    One helpful analogy is that of a conjoined set of twins. They are arranged such that Twin A is reliant on the pancreas of Twin B. Recognizing the humanity of Twin A doesn’t detract from the humanity of Twin B. The two aren’t in intrinsic conflict.

  • Steve, it might help if I gave you an analogy that illustrates how sane people think of this. You don’t have to agree with it by any means, but at least acknowledge that this is how I feel.

    Suppose you had a liver fluke in your gall bladder, and I argued that you aren’t allowed to take drugs to eradicate the worm or have it removed because it would kill the organism. You could ask what basis I have for restricting your bodily sovereignty, and I could claim that the fluke is a living organism with a full complement of DNA. The parasite might well make you ill, but it’s not likely to kill you. If I said, “I’m just saying that there’s two equal moral agents here, the parasite and you,” wouldn’t you be justified in concluding that I’m denigrating you? No matter how many times you assert your rights, I could just scream “Murderer! You’re a murderer!” and expect everyone to think I’m the compassionate and ethical party in the discussion.

    Let me be clear: I’m not comparing a human fetus to a liver fluke. What I’m comparing is the sickening contempt that I’d have to have for you to strip you of your bodily autonomy so completely, and the sickening contempt you have to have for sexually-active women to not only want to make them suffer, but to make it sound like you’re taking the moral high ground in doing so. I think you’re so used to dishing out your nonsense about fetal brainwaves and chromosome counts that you’ve forgotten there was ever a time when you were supposed to have qualms about forcing women to undergo pregnancy and childbirth against their will.

    Do you get that? Nobody here buys your “pre-born children” horseshit. Take it somewhere where people aren’t disgusted by your misogyny and cynicism.

  • Raging Bee

    Well, yeah, “fetus” is a perfectly appropriate term for something that’s not fully human.

  • Steve

    That… might be what you feel….

    An analogy is a comparison. It follows from the word analog and analogous. And in that analogy – (and contrary to what you say) – the child-in-utero just got compared to a liver fluke. All analogies have limitations, so it can be trite to say another person’s analogy is bad. But in this instance it really is. You comparison only works because we’re talking about a parasite, a member of a different species.

    And of COURSE the instance you gave would be dehumanizing to the host human. Because when navigating these ethical situations, we’re employing a principle of “proportionality”. We’re consciously (or unconsciously) evaluating the good effect and bad effect of a thing. In your example the life of a nonhuman parasite is being valued as equal in magnitude to the health of a human being. There is obviously a massive underestimation of the worth of the human being in question.

    But the whole thing changes when two human beings in the balance. That’s why the conjoined twins scenario is more apt. Because now the proportionality involves something which is unarguably a human life.

    As I said before, I’ve no contempt for sexually active women. We all make choices about how to live sexually. However, I also think people own up to consequences of actions which have known risks. One of the known risks of sex is making a new human. That’s why during college I sat myself down on “third base” and wouldn’t go further, because I didn’t want to play the odds. Because as soon as I’ve made a kid, I have obligations to that kid whether I like it or not.

    Look, I think I’ve been fairly polite and have tried to make cogent points this whole time. If you’re so disgusted by the points I’ve made about biology and ethics, then just ban me and be done with it. But I’m going to respond to people who say stuff to me – to answer them on the terms they provide. To do otherwise is rude. So if you want me gone, if you want a safe space, fine by me. I’m not entitled. Ban me and enjoy the harmony of the echo chamber.

  • Steve

    Not really. The term “fetus” describes the stage in a human’s development going from 9 weeks to birth. But that term doesn’t deprive one of humanity any more than the term “newborn” or “infant” or “toddler” or “adolescent”. All of these are just words for stages of human development, but the subject remains human throughout.

  • Raging Bee

    No, because it has no “humanity” to be deprived of, any more than any other clump of human cells inside a human body.

  • You realize that you’re playing this con-man’s game here, right? He’s getting you to talk about fetuses and what constitutes human life, and erasing the woman from the equation entirely.

    Why do you keep letting him dehumanize and erase women from the discussion?

  • I’ve no contempt for sexually active women. We all make choices about how to live sexually. However, I also think people own up to consequences of actions which have known risks. One of the known risks of sex is making a new human.

    Your cheap moralism is once again noted. But what if she didn’t make the choice? What if she’s a victim of sexual abuse? You’d still force her to undergo pregnancy and childbirth to satisfy your monstrous piety, right?

    I’m not an evangelical, and I’ve had discussions on their forums as well. None of the evangelicals have banned me yet.

    I don’t doubt it. Because you’re every bit as misogynistic and unreasonable as the average fundie.

    We’ve explained to you time and time again that the only argument you have is that preventing a child from being born is the same as murdering a child, and you refuse to listen to reason. It’s not because you’re stupid, it’s because acknowledging that the woman is part of the moral equation strips you of your right to revile her as a baby-killer and accuse the rest of us of aiding and abetting infanticide.

    You’ve had your say. It gets tiresome trying to reason with someone who’s just pushing an agenda and has his fingers in his ears.

  • Bravo!

    Playing the Devil’s Advocate can be fun, and sometimes even convincing, but espousing morally correct positions has to be an irrepressible, natural urge. I knew you could not resist it, StP.

    (And to be sure, this subject has been a consistent stance for you).

    I suspect you despise profanity, respecting which has steered me away from commenting on your forum, but fuck the pro-lifers. Fuck ’em right in the eye! With a rusty needle made from falsely advertised “stainless” steel subjected to high tariffs.

  • Not the tariifs!!

  • The argument that pro-life groups are motivated by misogyny is as erroneous as saying pro-choice groups are motivated by infanticide. It demonstrates either a fundamental lack of understanding for your opponents’ positions or a dishonest attempt to distort the conversation through hyperbole.

  • Well, pro-lifers seem unanimous in their opinion that a woman should be forced to undergo pregnancy and childbirth without a thought paid to her well-being or bodily sovereignty. That pretty much qualifies as misogyny, if you ask me.

    It might not be their conscious, stated motivation, but that’s what the entire matter boils down to: forcing women to give birth against their will.

  • Raging Bee

    Actually, our argument is based on three empirically verifiable things: the rhetoric of the forced-birthers, the actual policies they advocate, and the well-known, predictable consequences of those policies.

  • Ok

  • “I oppose abortion so i won’t have one” – not misogyny.

    “I oppose abortion so women can’t have them” – misogyny.

    Vonnegut had nothing nice to say about the authoritarian mind.

    But none of it was false.

  • Steve

    Replace the subject of those sentences with “spousal abuse” and see if it still makes sense.
    “I oppose spousal abuse so I won’t do it.”
    “I oppose spousal abuse so NO ONE can do it.”
    Is the latter statement authoritarian? If no, why?

  • yes the latter statement is authoritarian.

    if you were libertarian you’d be happy to let people work out their own problems for themselves, and only offer aid when it is asked for.

  • Steve

    First, I’m not a Libertarian. I think their ideology makes good observations about the dangers of government restrictions, but they lack the ability to form a concept of social just.
    Second… you really think having laws against spousal abuse is authoritarian. Really? You think spousal abuse is just a form of couples working out their problems?
    And I’m the misogynist?

  • Teddy K.

    Okay, sure.

    The “magical birth canal” theory of human personhood is intellectually lazy and morally corrupt. It is an arbitrary, imaginary line drawn to suit the purposes of those who would prefer not to think about the biological and ethical implications of killing a human being in the womb.

    What is the difference between a fetus 10 minutes before birth and 10 minutes after? What is the biological, scientific, empirically validated evidence that supports the assignment of the ethical designation of “personhood” after the birth event?

    The answer: there is none. And those who support the “magical birth canal” argument know it.

  • Teddy, the “magical birth canal” argument isn’t just a colossal straw man, but it characterizes the pro-choice position as being the exact opposite of what it is. I’ve never heard one pro-choicer argue that a fetus assumes human rights upon being born; the fact of the matter is that people like me are pro-choice precisely because we’re not comfortable making arbitrary pronouncements about what constitutes humanness and the magic point when a developing fetus assumes this property. Just because you’ve decided that the instant of conception is this point doesn’t make it any more arbitrary. The irony completely escapes you that the “magic birth canal” canard describes your thinking better than it does ours?

    The baby-killer rhetoric that’s the first, middle, and last resort of you people is what convinces me that the abortion debate isn’t about fetal brainwaves or chromosome counts at all. It’s about the fear of women having the power over life or death, exerting control over their bodies and the process of procreation, and not just bearing men’s children obediently like in the good old days.

    Anyone who has more human empathy for a blastocyst than for the situation of a real, breathing, suffering woman making a tough decision about pregnancy is a special sort of monster in my book.

  • Raging Bee

    There’s nothing “imaginary” about the distinction between an embryo that’s inside another person and wired into that person’s organ-systems, and a baby that exists outside of its mother’s body.

    Also, there’s a real difference between a clump of cells that has nothing close to human consciousness, and a baby with a full conscious brain.

  • When Loki, norse god of deception and trickery told the dwarves they could have his head, yet denied them the act of cutting it off, he argued that the dwarves could not tell where his head began and his body ended, because they did not own his body.

    The dwarves sewed his lips shut, so they would not hear his deception any further.

  • Teddy K.

    Correct. It’s called “stages of development of a human person.” Like, duh.

  • Teddy K.

    “I’ve never heard one pro-choicer argue that a fetus only becomes human upon being physically born; “

    Um, right:

    2. Prior to personhood, human life has no moral claims on us. I’ve seen this position asserted in countless comment threads by supporters of abortion rights. Giubilini and Minerva add only one further premise to this argument: Personhood doesn’t begin until sometime after birth. Once that premise is added, the newborn, like the fetus, becomes fair game. They explain:

    [I]n order for a harm to occur, it is necessary that someone is in the condition of experiencing that harm. If a potential person, like a fetus and a newborn, does not become an actual person, like you and us, then there is neither an actual nor a future person who can be harmed, which means that there is no harm at all. … In these cases, since non-persons have no moral rights to life, there are no reasons for banning after-birth abortions. … Indeed, however weak the interests of actual people can be, they will always trump the alleged interest of potential people to become actual ones, because this latter interest amounts to zero.

    You may find this statement cold, but where’s the flaw in its logic? If the neurally unformed fetus has no moral claims, why isn’t the same true of the neurally unformed newborn?

    From here: http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/human_nature/2012/03/after_birth_abortion_the_pro_choice_case_for_infanticide_.html

    “The baby-killer rhetoric that’s the first, middle, and last resort of you people is what convinces me that the abortion debate isn’t about fetal brainwaves or chromosome counts at all. It’s about the fear of women having the power over life or death, exerting control over their bodies and the process of procreation, and not just bearing men’s children obediently like in the good old days.”

    That’s quite the logical leap. What if it’s actually about saving the lives of human beings instead? Isn’t that worth some consideration as well?

  • What if it’s actually about saving the lives of human beings instead?

    Oh, I don’t know. If that were the case, you’d probably be doing something to really reduce suffering of living people, like protesting the conditions at the border jails, or fighting against child neglect and malnutrition.

    But you’re just patting yourself on the back for doing nothing more virtuous than calling women baby-killers.

  • Teddy K.

    May I suggest you widen your perspective regarding what people of good will do to help those in need, both at home and abroad.

    You assume much, but know very, very little.

  • Well, what I do know is that you’ve worked the baby-killer rhetoric as assiduously as any other pro-lifer I’ve run across. And that tells me you’re all about cheap moralism and not compassion or empathy.

  • Teddy K.

    You don’t know much at all, really.

  • I’m sorry, but to your way of thinking, calling a woman a “baby killer” demonstrates equanimity and not extremism?

  • Teddy K.

    Help me out here, dude. Where did I call a woman a “baby killer?”

  • Help me out here, dude. Where did I call a woman a “baby killer?”

    Wasn’t it you who said this?

    The “magical birth canal” theory of human personhood is intellectually lazy and morally corrupt. It is an arbitrary, imaginary line drawn to suit the purposes of those who would prefer not to think about the biological and ethical implications of killing a human being in the womb.

    To you, isn’t abortion indistinguishable from baby killing?

    So wouldn’t a woman who terminates a pregnancy be a “baby killer”?

  • Teddy K.

    Abortion isn’t “indistinguishable” from baby killing. It is baby killing.

    But by your own admission, you’re making a logical leap from a statement of fact to a politically and emotionally charged epithet intended to paint me as some kind of woman-hating monster who has no soul, thereby claiming the moral high ground for yourself and effectively discrediting my point of view.

    So let’s restate the question using the language under the surface of your accusation: tell me where I specifically and with intention called out women who have had abortions as baby-killing monsters deserving of abuse, ostracization, and punishment?

    Then, using my own quote, tell me how the part I highlight below doesn’t apply to you?

    “It is an arbitrary, imaginary line drawn to suit the purposes of those who would prefer not to think about the biological and ethical implications of killing a human being in the womb.”

  • Abortion isn’t “indistinguishable” from baby killing. It is baby killing.

    I love how you make it sound like you’re just stating a self-evident fact, and so taking offense at your cheap moralism is somehow denying reality.

    tell me where I specifically and with intention called out women who have had abortions as baby-killing monsters deserving of abuse, ostracization, and punishment?

    That’s not what I claimed. I accused you of using baby-killer rhetoric. Which you did. And continue to do.

  • Raging Bee

    Yes, and the fetal stage is well short of becoming a person. Like, duh.

  • Raging Bee

    …says the guy who calls us baby-killers.

  • Raging Bee

    So let’s restate the question using the language under the surface of
    your accusation: tell me where I specifically and with intention called
    out women who have had abortions as baby-killing monsters deserving of
    abuse, ostracization, and punishment?

    In the very same comment in which that paragraph appears.

  • Teddy K.

    Which brings us back to the central issue: a human being in the womb either is a “person,” thus entitled to the rights, privileges, and protections accorded human beings outside the womb, or it is not.

    ” I accused you of using baby-killer rhetoric.”

    And I accuse you of using inflamed, intentionally divisive language intended to bully and intimidate, regardless of actual facts.

    Welcome to ‘Murica, 2018 edition.

  • Which brings us back to the central issue: a human being in the womb either is a “person,” thus entitled to the rights, privileges, and protections accorded human beings outside the womb, or it is not.

    That’s not the central issue from where I’m standing.

    A much more realistic way to frame this matter is in the context of family planning. You truly want to force women to have children they don’t want? Without even a cursory glance at her family, health history, finances, responsibilities, or support system, you’re adamant that bringing the fertilized egg to term is the ideal in every conceivable case?

    To my way of thinking, the fetus is only one part of this entire matter.

    And I accuse you of using inflamed, intentionally divisive language intended to bully and intimidate, regardless of actual facts.

    :rolleyes:

  • Teddy K.

    Please offer scientific, measurable, and verifiable proof that the assignment of “personhood” rights is accurately tied to stages of human development.

  • Teddy K.

    Your reading comprehension skills leave much to be desired.

  • Teddy K.

    What I’m adamant about is the fact that within that rightly framed context of health, finances, etc, that the essential, fundamental right of the human person is respected. For every human person in the equation, including the one who is still in the womb.

    You do not recognize the essential, fundamental right of the human person in the womb. I do. So yes, the “personhood” of that human being in the womb is very much the central issue.

    ::rolleyes::, indeed.

  • Raging Bee

    I already did, and you know it.

  • You do not recognize the essential, fundamental right of the human person in the womb. I do.

    And you don’t seem to want to acknowledge that what you keep calling the “womb” is a human person. This is what this article is all about: the way pro-lifers dehumanize the woman and erase her from the equation entirely, then pat themselves on the back for their compassion and virtue.
    You’re sick people.

  • Teddy K.

    *sigh*

    Whatever, dude. Whatever.

  • Teddy K.

    “And you don’t seem to want to acknowledge that what you keep calling the “womb” is a human person.”

    Ah, no. That is an incorrect statement. That the mother is a human person is a self-evident fact. it is also a self-evident fact that the child she bears in her womb is also a human person. Both are worthy of respect, compassion, and protection.

    The solution to protecting the dignity of one human person is not to kill another human person. One would hope that would also be a self-evident fact.

    You jump to conclusions and assumptions regarding what people of good will do and do not do for women in crisis pregnancies. You have not opened your eyes to the resources available to women to help them in times of need. One need not look any further than the first line of your article. Pro-lifers are a “hate group?” Really? Do you really believe that?

    I want to find solutions to problems that respect the dignity of every human person, whether they be mother, child, or father. You’re willing to kill, because you’ve convinced yourself that what is quite obviously a person is somehow not.

    So yes, the question of “when is a human person a person” is still, quite urgently, the central issue at hand.

  • I want to find solutions to problems that respect the dignity of every human person, whether they be mother, child, or father.

    As long as that solution involves forcing an unwilling woman to undergo pregnancy and childbirth, that is.
    So much for the dignity of the woman.

    So yes, the question of “when is a human person a person” is still, quite urgently, the central issue at hand.

    And aside from the fact that you keep saying so, there’s absolutely no reason to believe this is true. If you keep asserting this, then I guess you were lying when you said the context of the woman’s life circumstances have any bearing on the matter at all.

    Not that I believed you anyway.

  • Teddy K.

    Ah, of course. I was lying. Of course I was. Because pro-life, amirite?

  • Well, Teddy my friend, if you think that the central issue is the magic moment when humanity begins, then I guess the context of the mother’s life and responsibilities isn’t as important as you agreed it is.

    If you insist that she undergo pregnancy and childbirth regardless of her wishes or circumstances, then I guess the dignity of the woman is of no consequence whatsoever. And if you keep asserting that everyone’s dignity matters, then that makes you a liar, doesn’t it?

  • Teddy K.

    See, the more you keep beating that “liar” drum, the less and less it’s going to mean.

  • It’s not as if you showed me where I was mistaken, Teddy.

    And it doesn’t matter. If you insist that a woman undergo pregnancy and childbirth against her will just to satisfy your twisted piety, then your claim to care about her dignity is null and void.

  • Teddy K.

    May I suggest the following:

    1) Just because two people disagree does not mean that one of them is a “liar, liar, liar!” Reflexively making that charge over and over again says more about the accuser than the accused.

    2) Understanding that pregnancy and childbirth are the natural, normal, and utterly unsurprising result of sex will go a long way to you understanding those with whom you disagree.

  • Teddy, this will make the third post in a row that I’ve asked you to state whether you insist that a pregnant woman undergo childbirth against her will. If you do, that goes a long way toward validating my claim that your support of a woman’s “dignity” is fictitious.

    And if your second point above was meant to imply that women who have sex without intending to get pregnant deserve to be punished by forcing them to give birth against their will, once again, that doesn’t speak volumes about your respect for women’s dignity.

    And it’s irrelevant anyway, because I’ll bet you don’t consider abortion permissible even if a woman gets pregnant as a result of an assault. I’ll think a lot better of you if you contradict me on this point, but I get the feeling you won’t.

  • Teddy K.

    I know you don’t agree, but everything you’re bringing up still revolves around whether or not a human being in the womb is a person or not.

    Life is either worth defending, or it’s not. A mother is not a host, a child is not a parasite. Both deserve protection.

    Your solution to unwanted pregnancy is to kill a human being in the womb. My solution is help the mother AND her child by providing her the resources necessary to see her through a frightening and uncertain experience.

    I’m not big on killing human beings as a solution to a problem. You are.

    The nexus of our disagreement is whether or not the child in the womb is possessed with rights, which includes the right to not be killed against its will. Everything else descends from that determination.

    You see that as “anti-woman,” as though women becoming pregnant was somehow unnatural or surprising. I profoundly disagree.

    Wanting to save the life of a child in the womb AND provide for the mother is not anti-woman, hateful, or oppressive. It’s fundamental to the human experience.

  • I’m not big on killing human beings as a solution to a problem. You are.

    That’s the last time you’re going to peddle your arrogant baby-killer rhetoric here, Teddy. Adiós.

  • Teddy K.

    If you say so.

    But, I’ll try this: what is the difference between a human being 10 minutes before birth, and 10 minutes after? What is the scientifically measurable difference that makes it okay to end that human being’s life 10 minutes before birth, but not 10 minutes after?

  • “My solution is help the mother AND her child by providing her the resources necessary to see her through a frightening and uncertain experience.”

    Could we get some receipts? I mean, words are cheap and all, so I want to see if you really do provide these resources.

  • Teddy K.

    Your cynicism is duly noted.

  • tatortotcassie

    It left out the part where God’s representative summoned forth bears to eat children.