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Contra Mundum: Confessions of an Anti-Choice Fanatic

January 5th, 2010 by Matt

If current media is to be believed opposition to legal abortion comes from misogynist fundamentalist fanatics who want to impose their religious mores onto others. This string of pejorative terms is amusing; however, it does not actually address the more crucial question of whether laws against feticide (the killing of a fetus) are just. I maintain they are and, unlike most media commentators and politicians who pontificate on the topic, I will argue three points for this thesis.

The first is that the typical arguments in favour of abortion succeed only if it is assumed from the outset that feticide is not a form of homicide. A couple of examples will illustrate this. It is frequently asserted that women have a right to do whatever they like with their own bodies. This assertion is false. Women do not have a right to do whatever they like with their bodies; no one has such a right. Women cannot use their bodies to rape or commit homicide or set fires. The right to do as we please is limited by the morality of our actions, thus whether abortion falls into the category of an action we are free to choose depends on whether feticide is homicide. If it is, then this argument fails but as currently used it is just assumed that it is not.

Some might object that such an interpretation is an uncharitable reading of this contention. What is important from this perspective is that all people have a right to control what happens inside or to their own bodies. I have a right to control what happens to mine and you have a right to control what happens to yours. Hence, provided the decision I make does not involve me using your body in a way that you do not consent to then I have a right to do it. However, implicit in this argument is the claim that a fetus, at least until born, is part of a woman’s body, that it is not a separate, bodily-living, human being on its own. However, this claim is erroneous. To suggest that a fetus is part of a woman’s body entails that the mother of a male fetus has two heads, four arms and a penis. Once again this argument is successful only if one assumes a fetus is not a human being from the outset because if the fetus is human then it too has a right to not have its body harmed.

The infamous illegal “back-street” abortion argument fares no better. The allegation that “hundreds” (I put this in scare-quotes because actually the figures show it was significantly a lot less than this) of women died from illegal abortions can justify legalisation only if feticide is not homicide. If it is homicide then this argument reduces to the bizarre assertion that we should kill eighteen thousand children each year in order to prevent “hundreds” of women from harming themselves by breaking the law.

Typical consequentialist arguments also fail. Abortion prevents unwanted children who are likely to be poor, abused or engage in crime. It is hailed as a solution to over-population and the existence of more handicapped people. It prevents adult and teenage women from falling into economic hardship and stress. It enables them to complete their education, pursue their careers. However, all this is equally true of infanticide. Infanticide prevents the existence of unwanted children and their associated social costs, lowers the population, prevents the handicapped existing and saves women and teenagers from the economic and emotional stresses of parenthood. Yet infanticide, as convenient as it is, is condemned because it is homicide. Again, all these arguments assume that the fetus is not human without actually arguing for it.

This is not to say feticide can never be unjustified. Utilising the justification of self-defence, I think a case can be made for feticide where pregnancy constitutes a threat to a woman’s life or perhaps in cases of rape (space prevents me elaborating the casuistry here). Such cases are extremely rare and make up less than 0.5% of all cases (according to figures compiled by the Abortion Supervisory Committee). So, if feticide is homicide, the vast majority of abortions lack justification. To defend permissive abortion laws on these grounds is a bit like allowing people to murder on demand on the grounds that there exist rare cases of justifiable killing in self-defence.

My second point is the claim that feticide is homicide has considerable prima facie plausibility. Consider this scenario. A hunter is in the woods and notices some rustling in the bushes. Looking through his scope he sees a six-foot high, bi-pedal being with brown hair, blue eyes, wearing a swann-dri. He refrains from shooting. Here, the hunter makes the sensible and reasonable judgment that in firing he would risk engaging in homicide. He bases this on what the target looked like. In the absence of reasons for thinking otherwise he has good grounds for this claim. However, “[there is] a general consensus that the fetus is recognisably human after six weeks, and certainly after eight” (D Boonin A Defense of Abortion (2003) 95). This fact, conjoined with the above illustration, entails that, in the absence of good reasons to the contrary, there are good grounds for thinking that feticide is homicide.

My final point is that good reasons to the contrary are not forthcoming. Here I will focus on three common examples starting with the fetus not being viable.

The fact that a fetus cannot survive independently of its mother does not mean it is not a human being. Fetal viability is contingent upon the medical technology of a given culture. A fetus that is not viable in Chad is viable in Los Angeles. If viability is necessary for something to be a human then a woman pregnant with a viable fetus in Los Angeles who flies from Los Angeles to Chad carries a human being when she leaves but this human being ceases to exist when she arrives in India and yet becomes human again when she returns (Peter Singer Writings on an Ethical Life (2000) 148).

Similarly, while the fetus lacks consciousness, lack of consciousness does not make a being non-human. If it did, then a human being ceases to exist when asleep or unconscious and then pops back into existence upon awakening. Shooting someone would cease to be homicide provided we render him or her unconscious first.

Appeals to fetal consciousness face other problems. David Boonin notes that those who attempt to ground humanity in the amount of brain development an organism has undergone face a dilemma. “Any appeal to what a brain can do at various stages of development would seem to have to appeal to what the brain can already do. Or to what the brain has the potential to do in the future.” (David Boonin A Defence of Abortion (2002) 125). Either option leads to problems for a defender of the permissibility of feticide who does not also want to endorse infanticide. This is because “by any plausible measure dogs, and cats, cows and pigs, chickens and ducks are more intellectually developed than a new born infant”.(Boonin, 121)

Suppose, then, that one takes the first horn of the dilemma and appeals to what the brain can already do. However, unless one wishes to affirm that “dogs, and cats, cows and pigs, chickens and ducks” are human beings then “appeals to what the brain can already do” will “be unable to account for the presumed wrongness of killing toddlers or infants.”

Suppose, then, one takes up the second horn and appeals to “what the brain has the potential to do in the future.” Boonin notes that this will entail that feticide is homicide. “If [such an account] allows appeals to what the brain has the potential to do in the future, then it will have to include fetuses as soon as their brains begin to emerge, during the first few weeks of gestation.”(Boonin, 121)

Finally, while it’s true that fetuses are not ‘persons,’ where person is defined as “a thinking, intelligent being that has reason and reflection and can consider itself as itself, the same thinking being, in different times and places,” (J Locke Essay Concerning Human Understanding) neither are newborn infants. In fact, a newborn cow is more person-like than an infant is. The price of a cogent pro-abortion argument is the reduction of newborn infants to the ethical level of cows. It is difficult to understand, on this view, why killing a newborn infant is any more problematic than killing a calf.

In summation, except for a few rare cases, abortion is justified only if feticide is not homicide. However, there are good prima facie grounds for thinking feticide is homicide and these prima facie grounds are not overridden by reasons to the contrary. Jointly, these contentions demonstrate that feticide constitutes unjustified homicide, and, hence, should not be a practice that is tolerated or sanctioned by the state.

I write a monthly column for Investigate Magazine entitled Contra Mundum. This blog post was published in the January 10 issue and is reproduced here with permission. Contra Mundum is Latin for ‘against the world;’ the phrase is usually attributed to Athanasius who was exiled for defending Christian orthodoxy.

Letters to the editor should be sent to: editorial@investigatemagazine.DELETE.com

RELATED POSTS:
Is Abortion Liberal? Part 1
Is Abortion Liberal? Part 2
Sentience Part 1
Sentience Part 2
Viability
Abortion and Child Abuse: Another Response to Farrar
Abortion and Brain Death: A Response to Farrar
Abortion and Capital Punishment: No Contradiction
During, Sherwin & Hutchison on Backstreet Abortion
Imposing Your Beliefs onto Others: A Defence
Boonin’s Defense of the Sentience Criterion: A Critique Part I
Boonin’s Defense of the Sentience Criterion: A Critique Part II

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76 responses so far ↓

  • Yes, abortion is homicide. But abortion on demand is JUSTIFIABLE homicide.

    If something is inside your body, then you’re entitled to have it killed. No exceptions. Even if it’s an “innocent” person. If you were inside my body, then I’d be entitled to kill you, and if I were inside your body, you’d be entitled to kill me. In fact if ALL the people in the WHOLE HUMPING WORLD, including the innocent ones, the pregnant ones, and the unborn ones, were inside your body, then you’d be entitled to holocaust them. That’s part of the meaning of the word “your” in the phrase “your body”.
    .-= My last blog-post ..Gender-selective abortions =-.

  • OperationCounterstrike you support abortion for any reason “no exceptions” and at any stage in pregnancy “if something is inside your body, then you’re entitled to have it killed.”

    If I read you correctly, you would have no issue with someone planning a child and then in the 9th month changing their mind and killing the fetus. This is because if an innocent human being is inside one’s body then one can kill it – right?

    I am interested to know what is it about the location of a human being that gives one the right to kill?

    I am assuming you are not wanting your argument to endorse infanticide. If this is the case, then you cannot simply appeal to “your body” as a newborn makes incredible demands on the body of its mother if it is breastfed. Even if not breastfed, the adult(s) taking care of it also have extremely high demands placed on their body to ensure its health and survival – sleep deprivation, formula making and feeding, nappy changing, financial drains (finances come from work, work requires the use of one’s body), immunisations, doctors visits, increased cleaning and housework and so on. The demands a newborn places on the body of another are higher than the demands a fetus places on the body of its mother; you can measure it scientifically by comparing the calorie intake required by the life-providing adult pre-birth and after-birth (and also by talking to any woman who has been pregnant and then has cared for their own child).

    Now, the reason I do not think you intended to endorse infanticide is because you limited your appeal to “your body” with the addition of the qualification ‘location’ – you stated “If you were inside my body…” What I want to know is what is it about demands made on your body that gives you a right to kill when those demands are made inside your body but not when those demands, arguably greater demands, are made outside your body? It seems rather arbitrary to claim that one’s right to control one’s body has this kind of asymmetry.

    Can you give a non-arbitrary account of the feature of location that enables it to remove the duty to provide and care for children one has brought into the world in one context and renders it into a right to kill in another?

    If you cannot, your argument either fails or it endorses infanticide.
    .-= My last blog-post ..Contra Mundum: Confessions of an Anti-Choice Fanatic =-.

  • Answering Madeline:

    RE: abortion just before childbirth. You ask do I have a problem with this? Yes I do. But even though I have a problem with abortion just before childbirth, my problem does not justify preventing it by force or by law. So yes I have a problem with abortion just before chidbirth, but it should be legal ANYWAY.

    RE:”what is it about the location of a human being that gives one the right to kill?”

    If you don’t agree, then I’ll come locate part of my body–a finger–inside part of yours–an eye-socket–and we’ll see how long it takes you to figure out why my location inside your body gives you the right to expel me, even by killing if necessary.

    RE: Newborns. You’re only entitled to kill it when (a) it’s inside your body, and/or (b) it’s living on stuff it gets from your bloodstream and it’s injecting its metabolic endproducts INTO your bloodstream, and/or (c) it’s getting ready to subject you to major medical/surgical trauma such as childbirth. None of these applies to the newborn. The mother can get rid of the newborn by giving it away for adoption. Before birth, adoption requires her to undergo labor and delivery, which she is entitled to avoid, even by killing. Not so after birth. You say taking care of a newborn makes demands on the mother, but it does not subject her to a one-in-five chance of needing major surgery, it does not cause her hours of extreme pain, and does not require hospital-time. So does not justify homicide.

    I hope this clears things up for you. I invite you to read my blog, I discuss this (and other abortion-questions) in some detail.
    .-= My last blog-post ..Gender-selective abortions =-.

  • The suggestion that you can kill me merely because some part of your body is in mine assumes that any and all intrusions can justify homicide. That is a big assumption and does not seem to be prima facie justifiable either morally or legally (within New Zealand at least. As an aside I am a criminal barrister based in New Zealand, so I have a basic understanding of the legal justifications for homicide within NZ). The obvious basis for such a claim is self defence, which is generally accepted to be limited morally and, within NZ, legally by the requirement of a proportionate response.

    Also, the suggestion that you are entitiled to kill an innocent person (the quotes seem to make little sense there. If they are innocent then the quotes are unnecessary. If the person is not innocent then “innocent” seems to be an incorrect way to describe them) is counter intuitive on the face of it. If a person is innocent then I suggest that is a good place to start an argument against you having a moral justification for killing them. I accept that you may be able to come up with thought experiments that create a moral justification for killing an innocent intruder, but, as you will be aware, the specific does not necessarily create justification for the general.

    I have always struggled with the notion that a vagina (or a C-section) creates a moral difference between infanticide and not-infanticide. There seems to be little or no moral difference between a child immediately before birth and a child immediately after birth. Obviously, it is because my intuition is that the child has reached a state of being human, and therefor the requirement for a moral justification for killing it is necessary, well prior to its’ exit from the womb.

    I accept that there are competing interests between the child and the mother, but I have yet to be convinced that the mothers’ interest automatically override the interests of the child. I accept that there are situations where they can, but have difficulty with the notion of total sovereignty being a blanket and inviolable moral justification for abortion.

    Your argument seems to be based on the idea that until the child exits the mother it has no rights at all, or such rights are sufficiently insignificant that they can be utterly ignored. What is the basis of that argument? I suggest that the argument is about competing moral interests and that the child has significant moral interests that are not automatically superceded by a claim to sovereignty by the mother.

  • Hi James it has been a very long time since I studied with you in Ben Gibb’s class – it is great to have your contribution.

    I think your points are well taken; a person can, in certain circumstances, acquire duties to use their body to further the interests of others i.e when they are parents.

    .-= My last blog-post ..Contra Mundum: Confessions of an Anti-Choice Fanatic =-.

  • Answering James:

    Re “”Innocent””

    An unborn baby inside another person’s body where it is not welcome, is NOT innocent. It may be free of culpable intentions, but as a barrister you surely know that this does not establish innocence. You can be guilty of unintentional violations, and remaining inside another person’s body where you are not welcome is one. That’s why I put “innocent” in scare-quotes.

    If unborn babies were as good and morally-pure as you seem to think, they would not WANT to gestate where they were not welcome. A GOOD fetus would PREFER to be aborted rather than to inflict such an outrageous violation on its mother. If it could talk, it would say, watching the approach of the abortion-doc’s curette, “It is a far, far better thing I do, than I have ever done; it is to a far, far better rest I go, than I have ever known.”

    RE: “proportunate response”. I think if you know someone is gonna cause you hospitalizable injuries, and a one-in-five likelihood of major surgery, then killing them IS proportunate. I’m not a New Zealander but tell me, if someone says (credibly) “I’m gonna rape you for three hours with the wide end of a baseball bat!” are you allowed to kill him? If not, why not? I sure would.
    .-= My last blog-post .."They just want to know" =-.

  • OperationCounterstrike wrote: “RE:”what is it about the location of a human being that gives one the right to kill?”

    If you don’t agree, then I’ll come locate part of my body–a finger–inside part of yours–an eye-socket–and we’ll see how long it takes you to figure out why my location inside your body gives you the right to expel me, even by killing if necessary.

    This is erroneous for several reasons. First, I could not kill you to prevent you poking me in the eye, as the act of killing you would be disproportionate to the threat to my eye. I could only kill you for intruding on me if your intrusion threatened my life or limbs in a series manner.

    Second, and more importantly, even if you were inflicting serious injuries on me, I could not justly use force against you unless the intrusion was an unjust intrusion. For example, if I had just attacked you with a iron bar, you could justifiably intrude upon my body to repel me to defend yourself and I could not justifiably try and prevent you.

    Similarly, if you were going to put me in jail and restrict my liberty for 10 years because I had committed a serious crime then I could not justifiably use force to prevent you from doing so because I have done something that makes your restriction on my body justified.

    The question then is not whether the fetus is intruding upon a mother’s body, it is whether the fetus unjustly intrudes on her body. Has the mother done anything that places a duty on her to provide bodily support to the fetus or that gives the fetus a justified claim upon her body?

    I maintain that in most cases such a duty exists. A parent has a duty to provide the children that their voluntary actions have brought into existence the normal, basic necessities that those children need in order to reach maturity.

    Except in the very rare case of pregnancy from rape or in cases where the pregnancy poses a serious threat to the mother’s life this duty applies. The woman has engaged in voluntary intercourse, has brought the child into existence and bringing the child to term is one of the normal, basic, necessity the child needs to mature. Hence the fetus is not unjustly intruding upon the mother’s body.

    .-= My last blog-post ..Contra Mundum: Confessions of an Anti-Choice Fanatic =-.

  • OperationCounterstrike wrote: “That’s part of the meaning of the word “your” in the phrase “your body”.” if the fact that the word “your” is used to preface the word “body” means that you can destroy anything inside your body. Then parity of reasoning would entail that the fact that something is “your” house would mean you could kill anyone inside your house. You could apparently evict your two your old child at will because after all its your house and the fact its yours means no one has a right to be there.

    No exceptions. Even if it’s an “innocent” person. If you were inside my body, then I’d be entitled to kill you, and if I were inside your body, you’d be entitled to kill me.

    It is not clear that this is correct. Suppose, for example, you were inside my body because I put you there. Could I then kill you because you were inside my body? It is not obvious that this is correct.

    .-= My last blog-post ..Contra Mundum: Confessions of an Anti-Choice Fanatic =-.

  • OperationCounterstrike wrote: ““I’m gonna rape you for three hours with the wide end of a baseball bat!” are you allowed to kill him? If not, why not? I sure would.

    If the relationship between a mother and her child in pregnancy is analogous to rape this would be a valid point but it is not. Suppose you came across a man having sex with a woman while she was unconscious and you knew that she had not consented, would you use force immediately to stop him having sex with her or would you wait until the woman woke up so that you could ask her if she wanted the sex to continue and if she wanted you to intervene on her behalf?

    Obviously the former course of action is the correct one.

    So if pregnancy is analogous to rape then anytime a doctor discovers his patient is pregnant, even if the doctor knows she does not yet know she is pregnant, he should, by your analogy, immediately perform an abortion with or without her consent (say she is unconscious and he discovers her pregnancy mid-surgery). To wait for his clients consent would clearly be wrong, it would be like he is witnessing a rape in progress and so immediate force is justified and required.

    Yet almost no pro-choicer would agree to that and I doubt you would either.

    What does it tell us? That they don’t really think pregnancy is on par with rape.

    I suspect that telling a women who had had an unplanned pregnancy but choose to keep the child that what they did in going through with the pregnancy was on par with a woman who decided to date her rapist after realising he wasn’t so bad would not impress them.

    .-= My last blog-post ..Contra Mundum: Confessions of an Anti-Choice Fanatic =-.

  • This post is the best one I’ve ever read about abortion. Very easy to read (and short), yet covers most main arguments for abortion accompanied with excellent refutations for each.

    May be another point about abortion is that, it is dangerous to the mother (physically and mentally). Unlike abortion, pregnancy and giving birth are natural.

  • Answering Matt:

    RE: “I maintain in most cases she does, a parent has a duty to provide their children, that their voluntary actions have brought into existence, the normal basic necessities that child needs to reach maturity. ”

    I agree. The parent also has a duty to donate a kidney to his/her child if the child needs one. A parent who failed or refused to do this would be a BAD parent! Not the sort of person one would care to know. Nonetheless, we do not force parents to donate kidneys to their kids, and the REASON we don’t is, the kidneys are INSIDE the parent’s body, and therefore off limits even in our effort to make everyone as good a parent as possible. Same with the inside of the uterus. Sure a good parent would grow the poor widdle baby, but we have no authority to force people to be good parents in this regard. Your right to make me be a good parent ends at the boundry defined by my skin and orifices, and does not include forcing me to undergo major medical trauma for my kids. External property yes (if you’re a judge or a tax-collector); inside the body no.

    RE: “if .. the word “your” is used to preface the word “body” means that you can destroy anything inside your body. Then parity of reasoning would entail that the fact that something is “your” house would mean you could kill anyone inside your house.”

    No it wouldn’t, because there is no such thing as “parity of reasoning”. The word “your” means different things in different contexts. The “your” in “your house” is different from in “your liver” and different again from in “your job” and again from in “your philosophy of life” and again from in “your God or gods”. And, in the phrase “your body,” it means you and only you get to decide what happens inside it, and who else gets to live there, and when, AND HOW LONG.

    RE: Baseball bat. I chose that metaphor because it’s more or less equal to the trauma of childbirth. The baby’s head is wider than the wide end of the baseball bat, but the mother’s cervix adjusts and becomes flexible, so the difference in size is more or less cancelled, it’s only AS BAD as a baseball bat, not much worse.
    .-= My last blog-post .."They just want to know" =-.

  • We need to look at abortion from a much wider pespective. It is a continuation of humanity’s struggle against what Camille Paglia describes as the tyranny of nature. By controlling nature and bending it to our will our standard of living and quality of life has never been better. Nature has decided that a woman’s function is to produce babies and women throughout history have insisted on controlling their fertility. In the past a crude form of abortion was used but infanticide was more common. Abortion today, along with contraceptives, now enable women to have what their ancestors dreamed of but did not: complete control of their fertility. Becoming pregnant is now a choice. However it also involves destruction. Everything we do to achieve the civilisation we enjoy today involves destruction. Clear felling a forest means the destruction of trees birds and many other species, the result are farms that produce food that improve our health and welbeing. Mining destroys the land, factories polute the air and water and they produce the vast range of consumer goods we depend on. Put simply we destroy in order to create and we are all the better for it. Abortion is no different. To prohibit abortion because it destroys a life is no different than prohibiting all the other achievements of man because they involve destruction, it is to demand that we return to the “natural” state of our ancestors who lived lives of abject misery totaly controlled by nature.

  • Confessions of an Anti-Choice Fanatic…

    New Zealand based ethicist and theologian, Dr Matthew Flannagan, published an excellent overview highlighting the flaws in the pro-choice position in Investigate Magazine. Dr Flannagan normally publishes on feticide in academic journals but this piece,…

  • OperationCounterstrike wrote: “…I agree. The parent also has a duty to donate a kidney to his/her child if the child needs one. A parent who failed or refused to do this would be a BAD parent! Not the sort of person one would care to know. Nonetheless, we do not force parents to donate kidneys to their kids, and the REASON we don’t is, the kidneys are INSIDE the parent’s body, and therefore off limits even in our effort to make everyone as good a parent as possible.”

    I disagree. There is an obvious difference between pregnancy and a kidney transplant. The former is a normal part of child development, all children pass through a stage where they require bodily life support, without it they cannot attain adulthood; however, requiring a kidney transplant is not a normal or an ordinary part of human development, the majority of children never need such sacrifices in order to survive to adulthood.

    This difference is of crucial significance. Imagine a world where at age five it was normal for every child to experience kidney failure much in the same way all children go through teething, puberty or potty training. Further, suppose that a kidney transplant was their only chance of survival beyond age five. If this were the case I think, our child rearing practices would be different and it is clear that providing a kidney transplant to a child would be something all parents were required to do.

    If providing a kidney would not be required under these circumstances then what would constitute adequate parental care would be insufficient for any child to live to adulthood. A conscientious parent, one who fulfilled all their legal requirements, would be one whose child died of need at age five. The only parents who brought their children up to adulthood would be the ones who went well beyond the call of enforcible duty.

    Now it seems to me that in such a world, the kind of parental duties we currently enforce by law would be pointless. Presumably, the whole goal of parenting is to bring a child up to adulthood. If this is so, then parents must, at the very least, provide those necessities that all children need to reach adulthood. There can be debate about what is required over and above the basics but surely, this is the minimal bottom line.

    RE: “if .. the word “your” is used to preface the word “body” means that you can destroy anything inside your body. Then parity of reasoning would entail that the fact that something is “your” house would mean you could kill anyone inside your house.”

    No it wouldn’t, because there is no such thing as “parity of reasoning” .

    Yes there is, your use of an analogy between pregnancy and kidney transplant actually attempts to apply parity of reasoning

    “And, in the phrase “your body,” it means you and only you get to decide what happens inside it, and who else gets to live there, and when, AND HOW LONG.”

    If we speak of ‘your house’ the word ‘your’ has the same connotations. If someone comes into your house you can ask them to leave and justify this request by saying “this is my house and I said so.” The use of “my” in this context implies that because it is your house, you get to decide what happens inside it, who lives there, for how long, etc – you could evict someone from your house in the middle of the night if you wanted to. If you were dealing with a stranger or an adult no one would dispute your right to do this but if you did it to your 2 year old child it would be a different story.

    The fact that something is “yours” does not give you the absolute rights you think it does, particularly when it comes to providing the basic, normal, necessities of life to your own children. In certain situations you acquire duties of care to others, such as the duty you owe to our children, and in these situations you have to provide what is yours to provide them with basic, normal, necessities of life until they acquire maturity.

    Have you raised children? The incredible stress newborns create in terms of interfering with “your” sleep, requiring the mother to stick “her” breasts in the child’s mouth, requiring you to give up “your” property, the fruits of “your” labours are quite intrusive demands placed on “your body.” In normal circumstances, no one would be required to do these things for another but when it is one’s own child one is required to loan it the use of one’s body as far as that use provides that child with the normal necessities of survival to adult life. The use of a womb for 9 months is a normal necessity of survival, therefore it cannot be denied or withheld.

    .-= My last blog-post ..Contra Mundum: Confessions of an Anti-Choice Fanatic =-.

  • Answering Matt:

    In your long post the only meaningful part was when you wrote: “The fact that something is “yours” does not give you the absolute rights you think it does,”

    Yes it does, if the something is your body.
    .-= My last blog-post .."They just want to know" =-.

  • Asserting “Yes it does, if the something is your body” does not even begin to address Matt’s argument.

    I can only assume that you did not read it or that you cannot answer it.

    Your position has been exposed as a baseless slogan.

    .-= My last blog-post ..Contra Mundum: Confessions of an Anti-Choice Fanatic =-.

  • Answering Madeleine:

    My clipped answer to Matt’s latest post was because it had nothing new in it. He re-asserted the non-idea of “parity in reasoning” (which seems to mean that there should be no using any word in more than one way, ever, but I might be wrong, the phrase is Matt’s invention so he’ll have to explain what it means, if anything). He also said something obviously wrong about kidney transplants–that if everyone needed one, then everyone would be entitled to take it because it would be a “normal” need, that’s just goofy. And, he repeated his wrong idea that your children’s needs overtrump your body-ownership, which is demonstrably wrong, otherwise we would require at very least blood donations to ones children when necessary.

    And then he asked “why” again. You can go on asking “why” forever. If I answer, he’ll ask “Why is that answer true”, and then when I answer that, he’ll ask “and why is THAT answer true?” Sorry but I won’t play that game. The right to control what happens inside your body is so basic, and so obvious, that it is incumbant on YOU to explain why pregnancy should be an exception. YOU are the one asking for special treatment for the unborn, for privileges that already-born people do not enjoy–access to another person’s metabolic functions and bloodstream AGAINST HER WILL. So YOU have to provide the special explanation, not I.

    The post did not contain enough substance to merit any but the shortest answer. If that’s the best you all can do, it’s not good enough to overcome the Body-Ownership/Justifiable-Homicide pro-choice argument.

    Besides being just plain right, the BO/JH argument also explains an apparent paradox in USA abortion-politics. The paradox is, americans say in polls that they believe fetuses are persons, and they support criminal penalties for injuring SOMEONE ELSE’S fetus against her will, but they also support abortion rights. In elections this shows up in the pattern: right-to-lifers win all the elections EXCEPT the ones that matter–on the Presidential level, 1992 and 2008, but it also applies on lower levels in swing states. The fact is, Americans are squeamish and feel sowwy for the poor widdle babies but they absolutely will not tolerate the idea that their government might force a normal woman, someone they know, to grow an unwelcome pregnancy and to give birth to a baby she does not love. Only the idea that abortion should be legal EVEN THOUGH it kills a person explains this otherwise paradoxical pattern, and that idea is the heart of the BO/JH argument.
    .-= My last blog-post .."They just want to know" =-.

  • Mark V,

    When we destroy human beings, we’re not better off. Unless you happen to agree with Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot and their kind … who would tell you their destruction of human beings were meant for a better future for human kind.

    Women can control their fertility without killing the unborn. They can choose when to marry, who to marry, when to have sex, etc.

  • What makes the sovereignty over your body so absolute that you should be entitled to go out of your way to kill another human being, and one you’re particularly responsible for at that, in the name of that sovereignty?

    To establish that case for abortion in particular, I would like to see OperationCounterstrike show, if he can:

    (1) That such absolute bodily sovereignty exists;

    (2) That it is not, in some measure, reduced where a woman has freely engaged in sex, of which pregnancy and childbirth are consequences a reasonable woman would expect, contraception not being completely failsafe;

    (3) That it applies in cases where continuing the pregnancy would not cause a significant risk of death or long-term disability to the mother;

    (4) That the bodily sovereignty of the mother is necessarily a higher moral good than the life of her unborn child.

    So far, by my reading, (1) and (4) have been repeatedly asserted, but never really argued for; and (2) and (3) have merely been assumed.

    The question of whether it would be good public policy to force women to carry unwanted babies to term is a separate one. But even if it might be counterproductive for the Government to crack down on abortions, that doesn’t make abortion itself morally justifiable.

  • OperationCounterstrike wrote: ”My clipped answer to Matt’s latest post was because it had nothing new in it. He re-asserted the non-idea of “parity in reasoning” (which seems to mean that there should be no using any word in more than one way, ever, but I might be wrong, the phrase is Matt’s invention so he’ll have to explain what it means, if anything).”

    Actually I argued that there is such thing as parity of reasoning and I pointed out how you, yourself, actually rely on it in your own argument. Your response here is to simply assert there is no such thing.

    BTW I did not invent the term.

    “He also said something obviously wrong about kidney transplants–that if everyone needed one, then everyone would be entitled to take it because it would be a “normal” need, that’s just goofy.”

    Actually I offered an argument against the kidney transplant analogy. Your response of simply stating that this is “obviously wrong” and then labeling it “goofy” is not a response, just mere assertion.

    “And, he repeated his wrong idea that your children’s needs overtrump your body-ownership, which is demonstrably wrong, otherwise we would require at very least blood donations to ones children when necessary.”

    Actually I offered an argument against that very objection in my previous comment. You called the argument “goofy” asserted it was “obviously wrong” and now you are simply repeat the original claim that I rebutted. Again no argument, simply assertion.

    “The right to control what happens inside your body is so basic, and so obvious, that it is incumbant on YOU to explain why pregnancy should be an exception.”

    I did explain in my previous comments. I noted that a fetus stands in a parent-child relationship to the mother. This is a relationship which means that the parent has a duty to provide the normal and basic necessities of life to the child and so it is different from cases involving strangers. The details were all spelt out in my argument. Again simply deeming a position wrong does not show it is in fact wrong. You need to address the actual argument I made and respond to the premises within it.

    “YOU are the one asking for special treatment for the unborn, for privileges that already-born people do not enjoy–access to another person’s metabolic functions and bloodstream AGAINST HER WILL. So YOU have to provide the special explanation, not I.”

    Actually I argued above that born and unborn children both have a right to the basic, normal, necessities of life from their parent whether the parent wants to provide it or not. I also argued that if, post-birth, it were a normal event for the post-born child to need access to things like kidneys, etc then the parent would have a duty to provide these things. This was, of course, the argument you simply asserted was “goofy” then ignored and responded to by repeating yourself.

    BTW declaring no argument was made is not a response either.

    “The post did not contain enough substance to merit any but the shortest answer. If that’s the best you all can do, it’s not good enough to overcome the Body-Ownership/Justifiable-Homicide pro-choice argument.”

    Sorry, again, simply confidently asserting that your argument is successful does not make it so. To defend it you need to actually address the arguments made against it. Ignoring them and calling them “goofy” and re-asserting your position doesn’t cut it.

    “Only the idea that abortion should be legal EVEN THOUGH it kills a person explains this otherwise paradoxical pattern, and that idea is the heart of the BO/JH argument.”

    A better explanation is that beliefs of most pro-choicers is simply irrational and inconsistent. That is much more plausible than thinking that most Americans have read and understood Eileen McDonagh and others who have developed an implausible argument that tries to reduce the mother-child relationship to the rape victim-rapist relationship.
    .-= My last blog-post ..A Response to The Dunedin School’s “Thinking in Tatters: Moral Relativism and Hidden Objectivist Assumptions” =-.

  • A good argument was ruined because it accepts abortion in cases of rape. The rape was not the baby’s fault.

  • Several of you have hinted at what I call the “invite someone in and then kill him for trespassing” argument. This argument says, since the mother willingly ran the risk of getting pregnant (excepting rape), she is obligated to grow the pregnancy; to abort it would be like inviting someone into your home and then killing him for trespassing.

    Well that’s wrong, for the following reason: when someone accepts your invitation, he GIVES UP something. By entering your property he gives up the rights and protections he was enjoying by being on his own property or on neutral property. You are therefore obligated to restore these things to him by allowing him to leave when you tire of his company, rather than killing him.

    In contrast, the unborn does not give up anything by getting conceived. Before conception, it has nothing TO give up, not even a self. Its short life from conception to abortion is just so much gained for it. So it has no legitimate basis for complaint nor for demands.

    Sorry but just as donating bloood does not obligate me to also donate the next donation the patient might need, similarly, giving you a short life inside my body does NOT obligate me to also give you a longer one.

    Sometimes right-to-lifers put this in what I call the “invitation” form: by consenting to sex, they say, she is ISSUING AN INVITATION to the unborn, which obligates her to grow and deliver it. Well, if I’m the one issuing an invitation, then I get to decide what the invitation SAYS, and when I (if hypothetically I were a woman) have sex, the invitation I issue has the following written on it in large, bright-red letters: “Dear not-yet-conceived unborn-to-be, this invitation is LIMITED and CONDITIONAL. I invite you to form in my body and to remain there JUST AS LONG AS IT TAKES FOR ME TO LEARN I’M PREGNANT, AND GET AN ABORTION. Longer only if I so choose. Take it or leave it. If you can’t deal with the fact that I might decide to abort you, then you are cordially invited to go get yourself conceived ELSEWHERE.”
    .-= My last blog-post .."They just want to know" =-.

  • Matt, you wrote that you “argued above that born and unborn children both have a right to the basic, normal, necessities of life from their parent whether the parent wants to provide it or not. …”

    I would say that care during illness IS one of the “basic normal necessities of life”. That care sometimes includes a transplant.

    You also “…argued that if, post-birth, it were a normal event for the post-born child to need access to things like kidneys, etc then the parent would have a duty to provide these things. ”

    For some children–sick children–this IS a normal event.
    .-= My last blog-post .."They just want to know" =-.

  • Matt, you wrote: “A better explanation [of the strange pro-life but also pro-choice American voting patterns] is that beliefs of most pro-choicers is simply irrational and inconsistent. That is much more plausible than thinking that most Americans have read and understood Eileen McDonagh and others who have developed an implausible argument …”

    You don’t need to read McDanagh (or Judith Jarvis Thompson) to understand that your body belongs to YOU.
    .-= My last blog-post .."They just want to know" =-.

  • A good argument was ruined because it accepts abortion in cases of rape. The rape was not the baby’s fault.

    Not every argument against abortion covers every reason for abortion. However, that does not mean that there are not good arguments against the harder cases such as abortion on the grounds of rape.

    The argument being discussed in the comments thread here relates to the obligations that arise when parents bring a child into the world. In the case of rape, the bringing of the child into the world in involuntary on the part of victim so this type of argument does not catch the argument for abortion on the grounds of rape as easily. Other arguments do.

    .-= My last blog-post ..Thursday’s Auckland Bloggers Drinks – Toast the Whale =-.

  • “You don’t need to read McDonagh (or Judith Jarvis Thompson) to understand that your body belongs to YOU.”

    Your house belongs to you, as does your money and your food, so if the mere fact that something is yours means that you can withhold it from your children then most people should support infant exposure but they do not.

    My explanation also takes into account the statistics you failed to cite. For example you stated that Americans “support abortion rights.” And that “Americans are squeamish and feel sowwy for the poor widdle babies but they absolutely will not tolerate the idea that their government might force a normal woman, someone they know, to grow an unwelcome pregnancy and to give birth to a baby she does not love.”

    The problem is this is false. While 48% of Americans claim to be pro-choice and 52% claim to support the Roe v Wade decision, which allows abortion on demand, when asked, more specific questions are asked, the results are different. For example, 57% of Americans state that abortion should be illegal in some circumstances. Only 21% support the claim you are defending, that it should be legal in all circumstances and only 13% say it should be legal in most circumstances.

    This means that 60% think it should be illegal in all or most circumstances and 71% think partial birth abortion should be illegal.

    So the evidence actually supports the conclusion that a large number of people who claim to be pro-choice and support abortion on demand, in fact, do not. In other words, there is a significant number of pro-choicers who are irrational and hold mutually incompatible positions simultaneously.

    .-= My last blog-post ..Thursday’s Auckland Bloggers Drinks – Toast the Whale =-.

  • “Several of you have hinted at what I call the “invite someone in and then kill him for trespassing” argument…

    Well that’s wrong, for the following reason: when someone accepts your invitation, he GIVES UP something….

    In contrast, the unborn does not give up anything by getting conceived. Before conception, it has nothing TO give up, not even a self. Its short life from conception to abortion is just so much gained for it. So it has no legitimate basis for complaint nor for demands.”

    Wow, so you accept that abortion removed the unborn chance to gain so much.

    And following your way of thinking, if a child is left starving, what right do they have to complain? May be they should work to earn money to eat right from birth?

  • Matt, you wrote: “Your house belongs to you as well, as does your money, your food, so if the mere fact that its yours means you can with hold it from your children most Americans should support infant exposure but they don’t. ”

    There you go again! The word “your” means DIFFERENT THINGS when you talk about “your house” and when you talk about “your body”. If I poke your house with a pin, you don’t feel pain. But if I poke your body, you do. These are two DIFFERENT USES of the word “your” and you will not get any farther by continuing to conflate them. All you prove is that you do not understand the subtleties of the English Language.

    The fact is, body-ownership is a STRONGER FORM OF OWNERSHIP than property-ownership, and I’m tired of telling you so again and again and again.

    From now on, use good-faith arguments only, please.
    .-= My last blog-post ..An unfortunate death. =-.

  • OperationCounterstrike said in response to me You also “…argued that if, post-birth, it were a normal event for the post-born child to need access to things like kidneys, etc then the parent would have a duty to provide these things. ”

    For some children–sick children–this IS a normal event.

    Yes for some sick children it is a normal event but I did not say parents are required to provide what is normal for some children, I said that at minimum they had to provide basic necessities for what is normal for all children.

    I would say that care during illness IS one of the “basic normal necessities of life”. That care sometimes includes a transplant.

    Yes care sometimes includes a transplant. In other words it is unusual or not normal for the care of one’s child to include a kidney transplant.

    My point is nicely illustrated with breast feeding. In a context where there is no infant formula available, all children would need to be breast feed to live. In such a context a mother who refused to put her breast (part of her body) in her child’s mouth (let it starve to death) would be negligent. Yet if a stranger insisted a woman stick her breast in his mouth and made her do so it would be sexual assault. This shows that the claims that a child has on a woman’s body are very different to the claims anyone else has on her body, so arguments that attempt to draw analogies between assault or sexual assault and pregnancy miss the point.

    .-= My last blog-post ..Thursday’s Auckland Bloggers Drinks – Toast the Whale =-.

  • OperationCounterstrike wrote: There you go again! The word “your” means DIFFERENT THINGS when you talk about “your house” and when you talk about “your body”. If I poke your house with a pin, you don’t feel pain. But if I poke your body, you do. These are two DIFFERENT USES of the word “your”

    That simply does not follow. You’re suggesting that because the action of poking your house has different causal effects to the action of poking your body, then the word “your” has different meanings when prefaced to each object.

    This is clearly false.

    The action of kicking a ball into your car door will have a different effect to kicking it into your car window. It does not follow that the word “your” has a different meaning when I say “your car” and “your car window.”

    But in many ways this is tangential, your argument was that “your body belongs to YOU;” hence, for my argument to work all that needs to be the case when the word “your” is prefaced to an object is that it have the implication that the object belongs to you. Regardless of the different nuances in meaning, when a person who has just bought a house is told “that is your house” the implication is clear that the house belongs to them. That’s one of the things calling a house “yours” means in the context.

    Your suggestion is that if something belongs to you then it follows that you can kill anyone who is on it without your consent – your suggestion is pretty evidently false.

    .-= My last blog-post ..Thursday’s Auckland Bloggers Drinks – Toast the Whale =-.

  • OperationCounterstrike wrote: “Well that’s wrong, for the following reason: when someone accepts your invitation, he GIVES UP something. By entering your property he gives up the rights and protections he was enjoying by being on his own property or on neutral property. You are therefore obligated to restore these things to him by allowing him to leave when you tire of his company, rather than killing him.
    In contrast, the unborn does not give up anything by getting conceived. Before conception, it has nothing TO give up, not even a self. Its short life from conception to abortion is just so much gained for it. So it has no legitimate basis for complaint nor for demands.”

    Well, if you conceive a child and it is born and lives in your house then the child does not give up the protections it was enjoying by being on its own property or on neutral property nor does the infant plausibly give up something by being born. So presumably the child has no legitimate basis or demands if the parent decides to kill it.

    Of course in common law it is recognised that the child does have legitimate demands because the parent brought it into existence but as you say, this is flawed, so it has none.

    “Sometimes right-to-lifers put this in what I call the “invitation” form: by consenting to sex, they say, she is ISSUING AN INVITATION to the unborn, which obligates her to grow and deliver it. Well, if I’m the one issuing an invitation, then I get to decide what the invitation SAYS,”

    I would not use the invitation analogy but your response is mistaken because the same thing could be said post-birth. If by having sex and conceiving the child you get to decide the terms of the invitation, then the mother could decide she is not inviting the child to stay on her property (the house for example) three months post-birth. She could then say to the child “Take it or leave it. If you can’t deal with the fact that I might decide to commit infanticide, then you are cordially invited to go ELSEWHERE.”

    Once again, your argument assumes a flawed understanding of parent-child relationships. It assumes the child is like a stranger that the parent has no requirements to provide anything to unless they want to and on terms the parent chooses. The problem is that this is false as laws against child neglect, infanticide and child abuse stipulate. By virtue of bringing the child into existence the parent is required to at least provide the basic, normal, necessities of life to the child. They cannot just give these obligations up until and unless they can find someone else willing to take them on and transfer their obligations to these people.

    “Sorry but just as donating bloood does not obligate me to also donate the next donation the patient might need, similarly, giving you a short life inside my body does NOT obligate me to also give you a longer one.”

    Yes, but if the person in need was your child, and the care provided was the normal care any child needs to grow to maturity, then you would be obligated to provide it. You could not suddenly decide “this is too hard” then withdraw care and let the child die.

    These are precisely the features that are present in the abortion case that are not present in the cases of strangers who need blood transfusions or kidney transplants.

  • OC you fail.

    Matt, save the hammer for someone who understands they are a nail.

    I’d be interested to hear your argument against abortion in the case of rape Matt. Do you argue it on the status of the fetus and it being analogous to the newborn? You know, if it was born and the result of rape the mother could not kill it for that reason or does that hit the wall because by birth the mother has consented to the parental duties whereas at the point of abortion she did not consent viz a viz being a rape victim? Oh hang on, but if she did not know she was pregnant until she was late term the consent thing would not fly.

    Maybe you should write a blog article on the rape argument to add to your collection of resources on the issue.
    .-= My last blog-post ..Tiger Woods to Convert to Islam =-.

  • Matt, I must sadly conclude that you are deliberately being obtuse, pretending not to understand the differences between “your house” and “your body” even though I have explained thedifference five times in five different ways. There is no reason for you to do this, to pretend to be stupider than you are; your stupidity is already very impressive without exaggerating it.

    Well, it’s sad that you are not willing to argue seriously, but it’s no skin off my nose! Go ahead and continue being wrong. Go ahead and continue believing in right-to-lifism in spite of its obvious logical self-contradictions.

    You will watch your position continue becoming less and less popular until eventually it will be regarded as a religious quirk, like the Jewish/Muslim prohibition against pork or the Hindu prohibition against beef, or the Catholic anti-birth-control position which is already driving American Catholics away from their church in huge numbers.

    Keep watching, keep learning.
    .-= My last blog-post ..An unfortunate death. =-.

  • “This is not to say feticide can never be unjustified. Utilising the justification of self-defence, I think a case can be made for feticide where pregnancy constitutes a threat to a woman’s life or perhaps in cases of rape (space prevents me elaborating the casuistry here). ”

    Really? Then it seems that you have failed to understand why McDonald’s argument fails in the first place.
    (hint: It has got nothing to do with Beckwith’s comatose pregnant woman thought-experiment).

  • [...] Matt Flanagan defends the pro-life position at MandM This is a really good post. (H/T [...]

  • OC: “You will watch your position continue becoming less and less popular …”

    Cf. this recent Gallup poll: http://www.gallup.com/poll/118399/More-Americans-Pro-Life-Than-Pro-Choice-First-Time.aspx

  • “feticide”
    LOL, That is classic…..its like reading the ramblings of a Fox News contributor….in fact this whole blog is comical in that way.

    M&M, you can try to justify this and condemn that , or we could talk about how to stop abortions happening.

    I’d suggest that if you vote for the national party, that will create an environment for many “abortion likely people” to be left with little option but abortion. Through lack of support, low wages etc.

    Vlastimil; Who cares what america thinks…….most of them believe the bible is true and that noah put 2 of every animal on the ark (including the Kiwi)

  • “Who cares what america thinks”

    Good bye democracy, hello communism

  • What happens in the case of Siamese twins, where one twin is dependent on the organs or is partly inside the body of the other. Does the first twin have an obligation to not do anything to their body which will harm the second twin, or does she have the right to do whatever she likes including ingesting substances which may kill the second twin?

    OpeationCounterstrike, you keep repeating that if something is inside your body you are entitled to kill it. You haven’t once established why that is the case. It makes sense that in principle you have the right to do as you like with your own body but it’s not obvious to me why this is an absolute right which automatically trumps every other right another person may have. In other words, can you justify your “no exceptions” stance.

  • OperationCounterstrikes argument is utterly ridiculous, bordering on insanity. At least he admits that abortion is homicide. THANK YOU, OC, for at least being honest about it.

    From there he goes off the cliff. Let’s just pick it apart:

    >>
    If something is inside your body, then you’re entitled to have it killed. No exceptions. Even if it’s an “innocent” person.
    >>

    Does this mean that a woman can murder a man that’s making love to her? According to OC’s statement, YES! The man is inside the woman’s body after all, at which point he apparently gives up any legal rights or protections whatsoever. The woman can then treat him like a cancerous tumor and blow him away at any time. The moment he enters the woman, he is fair game, and he better hope that the woman doesn’t have a gun laying next to the bed!

    >>
    In fact if ALL the people in the WHOLE HUMPING WORLD, including the innocent ones, the pregnant ones, and the unborn ones, were inside your body, then you’d be entitled to holocaust them.
    >>

    OC then postulates a bizarre and impossible scenario. If everyone in the entire world were somehow miniaturized and put inside your body you could kill them. This is just stupid as such a scenario can never exist. It’s merely a hypothetical construct conveniently designed to justify the killing of the unborn.

    OC is trying to equivocate an unborn human being with a cancerous tumor or a bad tonsil. You can’t do that. They are completely different things.

    Furthermore, OC has to explain WHY the placement of the unborn human being inside the woman allows the mother carte blanche authority to destroy it at her whim. What is so special about the location? Is it because its an invasion of privacy or is it because its a potential threat to the health of the mother?

    If its because its an invasion of privacy is the woman then allowed to kill anyone who violates her privacy in any other way? Lets say she’s at the gym taking a shower, can she shoot any other person in the locker room? What about a government worker taking a census, or an airport screener?

    If its because its a threat to her health does that mean that its ok for the woman to blow away a guy standing next to her smoking a cigarette? What about a criminal? What about a murderous criminal? Does OC think the death penalty should be mandatory for anyone with potentially murderous intentions? I’m genuinely curious.

    I really hope that OC comes back because his thought processes are so interestingly twisted.

    wgbutler777

  • Regarding Jerry’s comments:

    >>
    LOL, That is classic…..its like reading the ramblings of a Fox News contributor….in fact this whole blog is comical in that way.
    >>

    Seems me like Jerry is a heavy drinker of the liberal koolaid. First thing he does is somehow inject Fox News into the discussion, as though the abortion controversy never existed at all until Fox News came onto the scene…

    >>
    M&M, you can try to justify this and condemn that , or we could talk about how to stop abortions happening.
    >>

    This is code language for saying that he wants the tax payers to pay for the government to pass out free contraceptives to kids, without parental consent.

    >>
    I’d suggest that if you vote for the national party, that will create an environment for many “abortion likely people” to be left with little option but abortion. Through lack of support, low wages etc.
    >>

    Of course, because perish the thought that anyone might be responsible and wait until they were financially situated before starting a family! So because the government can’t be our nanny, ain’t no choice left but to go baby killin’!

    >>
    Vlastimil; Who cares what america thinks…….most of them believe the bible is true and that noah put 2 of every animal on the ark (including the Kiwi)
    >>

    Yeah, I’m thinking “who care’s what Jerry thinks” . He’s probably one of those morons who think that the Universe sprang out of nothing and then one day lightning struck a mud puddle and all life on earth sprang from some primordial goo….

    wgbutler777

  • wgbutler777 – your comments have to be the best and funniest comments of all time!

    I can’t stop laughing. Brilliant comeback and humourful too!

    If you ever want to guest post, drop us a line.
    .-= My last blog-post ..Christian Blog Carnival 309 =-.

  • Your comments are all very interesting, though I dare say that OC has the most comprehensive amongst you all.

    My comments are not going to read like a university thesis.

    What all of you fail to realize is that you are not talking about some abstract concept of a fetus or a newborn – you are talking about lives or possible lives.

    In my humble, opinion, I would rather, if you are so concerned about the fetus, that you put your efforts into making life easier for those who have unplanned, unexpected pregnancies.

    From Matt: “By virtue of bringing the child into existence the parent is required to at least provide the basic, normal, necessities of life to the child. They cannot just give these obligations up until and unless they can find someone else willing to take them on and transfer their obligations to these people.”

    You (Matt) talk about the right of the child to have one’s basic needs met – food, shelter etc.
    If this is so, then why are you not spending more time trying to ensure that those girls/women who DO go on to have their children are looked after?
    What you fail to realize is that many NZ mums are unable to provide these basic needs and as such are already ‘failing’ their children.
    So then, if you cannot provide for the child, do you have the right to abort?

    Apparently not, by your reasoning. If a fetus is afforded these rights by their mother, then who helps afford these rights after delivery? Certainly not NZ society who places children and parents at the lower end of their priorities.

    Who will pay for these children?

    Why is it the expectation that the mother will provide these basic necessities whereby the father in NZ does not have to? If you need further insight into this claim I can provide several examples. A woman who has a child without the support of their partner faces poverty for both her and her child. The same can be proven of divorced parents. The mother and the child/ren suffer. These are facts, and there is no getting around them.

    You say it is the parents (ie. mothers responsibility) to do this for the child or else she is failing to afford basic human rights?
    Well wake up and smell the roses!!
    Many mums literally cannot provide for their children!
    And knowing this, if they choose to abort, who are you to dictate the ethics of this??

    Is it better to terminate a pregnancy at 10 weeks, or is it better to have a child go hungry, to be taken from you, to move from home to home in foster care and be so screwed up emotionally that they either die young or can never become a contributing member of society?

    You say that a parents responsibility is to get their child to adulthood – REALLY? that’s it? I could lock my child in a cupboard, feeding it through a door, taking it for a walk once a day and get it to adulthood. Is this ok? Apparently so by your argument – I’ve done my job and got them to adulthood!

    Madeline – you discuss how post birth is as, if not more, trying on a woman’s body than pregnancy. I cannot understand where you would base this – a pregnant woman shares her blood, her nutrients, her oxygen. Yes, a newborn can be hard, but it does not take away from her basic survival needs. With a newborn, she, in some circumstances may also share the role. A pregnant woman has no opportunity to share her role.

    There are major implications on a girls/woman’s life should she have a child. I feel (oh yes, feel! not a word we like in this blog!) that this is incredibly diminished in your arguments that reduce such a huge experience that involves body, mind and soul to an argument upon a page. I dislike that pregnancy and motherhood is reduced to this.

    I must also ask Matt and Madeleine if you are both vegetarians? Most of your arguments would also fail to afford you the right to consume flesh.

    Finally, in amongst all this academic discussion I beg you to just get real.

    If you look at brain chemistry and basic brain development, you will find a fundamental fact:

    In order to thrive, a child requires physical, comforting love. Without this, a baby will grow up with a number of issues, depending upon the level of neglect.

    Raising a baby goes far beyond ‘your house’ or other such crap. It’s a futile argument that fails to acknowledge that you are talking about people’s lives.

    This is much longer than I expected, and no doubt you’ll bring about some quote from Singer or some other ethicist. Tell me from a human perspective – tell me why solo mums are not supported in this country in the same breath as you tell me that that mother does not have the right to end that potential life.

    Tell me why your energy is not spent on helping and supporting mums in these circumstances?

    Where society does not judge them, nor fail to look after them so that it takes an exceptionally strong person to overcome these issues?

    Ugh! Get in the REAL world people!!!

  • Jerry- Perhaps you can answer me this, suppose a government allowed parents to kill their new born children, in fact suppose they not only allowed it they actually provided free services whereby people could get an employee of the state to “put down” any unwanted babies they had and suppose further they approached teenagers at school and told them how to access these “child termination” services and that it was OK to do so.

    Would you respond by saying, Oh well lets ignore the fact they are doing this, and work towards a better welfare system and more condoms in schools so less parents choose the option?

    I doubt it.
    .-= My last blog-post ..Christian Blog Carnival 309 =-.

  • That you don’t have the means to fulfil your parental duties in the best way does not mean that your duties are nullified…Anyway, that does not mean that you can then kill the person to whom you owe a duty, melodramatic appeals to the plight of parents notwithstanding…Logic 101

  • Madeleine,

    Glad to be of service, and thank you for your kind words. I will try to think of something interesting to write about and let you know when I am ready. In the meantime, I’ll add your blog to the list of blogs I visit on a regular basis.

    wgbutler777

  • Matt – no, you’re ignoring the question – my point is that until we create a society where ALL mothers / and newborns needs are met, then there is going to be termination.

    It’s worth noting that the medical term is termination – an abortion refers to a miscarriage ie. a missed abortion is a ‘missed miscarriage’. Lay people use abortion, medical community uses termination.

    And Mark L. logic 101 all you want – these are the realities of new mums, not some melodramatic appeal. If you want evidence of this, look at the rates of post natal depression or talk to a great number of mums who will tell you the accuracy of what I have said.

    I’m not getting how you differentiate between this information?

    That said, before you start jumping on me, I’m not even advocating termination, I’m just saying that I think there is a whole lot more to consider than these intellectual arguments that fail to acknowledge that you are dealing with people’s lives.

    Matt, I would also be most interested (as I’ve never heard this) that schools promote – or even just give information – regarding termination services? This must be an extremely new, if it happens, and I would dare say that the majority of parents would not agree to this? If you look at all the drama surrounding whether a parent has the right to know if their 14 year old daughter plans to have a termination, for example, I bet these same people would kick up their feet if such a policy was available in schools.

    In my understanding, contraception only is taught.

    Also, another question – does this mean you also disagree with the morning after pill?

  • Anon1: Again, melodrama does not substitute to logic and hence cannot justify an unjust aggression; of course you may bring up your so-called “realism”again and again. So, get on with your courageous “realism” and I will continue to stik with basic justice. That one feels depressed and down does not justify aggression.
    It is precisely because there are real lives out there that are being unjustly killed that I care.

  • “One must satisfy the demand of justice first before one asks for compassion”

  • You do not lose your humanity based upon your location. That is, if you are a human being, you are a human being no matter where you live: Australia, France, the moon, the womb. Your right to life is not location dependent.

    If I, or someone else, chained a child to my bedpost, I could not kill that child as a home invader. That child is simply where I put it. It can be nowhere else. It has committed no crime and is not worthy of death. If I killed that child, then I, not the child chained to the bedpost, would be evil.

    In other words, pregnancy is not an invasion. An invasion is when someone goes where he or she does not belong, and does so with evil intent. That does not at all describe the child in the womb. To call a child in the womb an invader, and to characterize pregnancy as an invasion, is a gross abuse of language. Murdering someone as an invader who is in a place he or she has not chosen, and who can be nowhere else, is a gross abuse of a human being.

    Pregnancy is not an invasion. Pregnancy is when you, or someone else (in the case of rape), put a child someplace it has not chosen, a place it cannot freely leave. Unlike an invader, the pre-natal child is guilty of precisely no wrong doing and no evil intent. It is not an invader and it does not deserve death.

    Put differently, even if the child inside you is conceived by rape, it does not deserve to die simply because its father was a sexual criminal. The criminals themselves, not their children, are the just objects of punishment. In the case of rape, we must punish the rapist, not the child conceived by rape. Children conceived by rape are victims too, just like their mothers. Even the rapist does not deserve death. Rape, while heinous, is not a capital offense. Much less, then, should we kill the victims of rape. Justice is when you punish offenders, not victims. Do not kill the victims of crimes and then fool yourself into thinking you have done justly. You have not. Just as we must not incarcerate the victims of robbery; we must not kill the victims of rape. They are human beings who have done no evil.

  • “Matt – no, you’re ignoring the question – my point is that until we create a society where ALL mothers / and newborns needs are met, then there is going to be termination.”

    In the mean time murder is justified?

  • OperationCounterstrike is using a sophomoric version of Judith Jarvis Thompson’s body-ownership argument. In all reality, that OC offers up is a bastardized, anti-intellectual version of the argument (thus not really qualifying as the argument itself), but once polished he does bring up a popular argument used in academic circles.

    What OC fails to realize is that the argument doesn’t work. No matter how much evidence is presented, he simply won’t budge on this issue (go look at some of his Amazon postings). So I offer this comment as help to others:

    On the logical level, this argument falls under the fallacy of special pleading. Certainly I don’t have a right to do what I want with my body when it comes to second-hand smoking or similar activities. The argument presupposes that I have an autonomous right to my body to begin with (this is never substantiated in the argument, but merely assumed) and also presupposes that this alleged right trumps another’s right to identity. This argument, however, never plays out well in courts or ethical examples. In fact, OC’s argument would be the only place such an argument would be “acceptable,” meaning that the argument is more likely special pleading than anything else.

    Where the argument also falls under special pleading is that it ignores the mental strain raising children can bring. The argument goes that if an organism, even another human person, is reliant upon you for survival and is connected to you, then you have the right to terminate that organism. But the mental stress that children can cause a parent – causing some parents to kill their children – is very much a physical strain caused by the reliance of the child on the parent. Thus, if the mother is justified in killing the fetus due to physical reliance, then she is just as justified in killing the six-year-old because the child is still physically reliant upon the parent, just in a different manner than when the child was a fetus.

    Moving on, Thompson uses the analogy that you’ve awakened to find a world-famous violinist is attached to you and relying on you for his life. He will have to be this way for 9 months. Do you have the ethical right to remove him from yourself knowing that such an action would allow him to die? Trust me, this is an argument OC will bring up (if he already hasn’t, I haven’t read all the comments).

    The inherent problem with such an analogy is that it assumes we must all volunteer for something in order to be ethically accountable for that something. For instance, the argument assumes that because I did not volunteer to have the violinist attached to me, I am not ethically obligated to allow the violinist to live. Likewise, because not all mothers volunteer to become pregnant, they are not ethically obligated to continue the pregnancy. However, this is quite an assumption that lacks quite a bit of ground.

    Such an idea of volunteerism isn’t even supported in the US law. If a man gets a woman pregnant without the intention of impregnating her, he is still liable to pay child support, regardless of his intention. He certainly didn’t volunteer to be a father, yet he is still held accountable for his actions. We see similar cases in manslaughter charges, statutory rape laws, and many other aspects of the law. In almost every case of grievous errors, a person is held accountable regardless of the person’s intentions.

    Thus, as recognized by the legal code and as understood by most ethicists, just because a woman did not volunteer to become pregnant does not mean she is suddenly free from any and all ethical obligations to that child.

    Let us also not forget that there is an assumed ethical obligation of parents to their children. So much so that if such an ethical obligation is violated, the Government can and often does get involved. The parent has the ethical obligation to provide for the child and care for the child while keeping the child from harm. Failure to do so will not only invite scorn from the community, but can bring down the heavy-hand of the law as well. This obligation seems to exist whether someone had a child intentionally or simply became pregnant and never went through with an abortion.

    Considering the above (that not all ethical obligations are voluntary and parents have ethical obligations to their children), it can actually be said that a fetus does have a right to use her mother’s body. Unlike the violinist (and this is where Thompson’s analogy breaks down) the fetus is partaking on a natural course of development and, though it may not be comfortable for the mother, this is how all humans enter the world. The violinist, alternatively, is relying upon an unnatural environment to stay alive.

    To further this point, once the violinist is done with his 9 month treatment, you no longer have an ethical obligation for his well-being. However, a fetus, once outside the womb, is still reliant upon the mother. The mother still has an ethical obligation to that child (unless she has given that obligation to someone else, but even this is done in the interest of the child’s welfare). She must use her body to take care of the child one outside of the womb, just in a different way than before. Though the child is no longer inside her body, the child is still dependent upon the mother’s body (simply in a different manner), thus ruining the idea that the mother’s body is still autonomous.

    There is no reason to really accept this argument. For one, it is logically invalid and subject to problems before we even examine the facts. Secondly, it’s arbitrary in that when applied to similar situations, a different ethical code is used. Finally, the only way to respond to any of what I said is to say, “Well the baby is in the womb!” and making birth the threshold; but this is circular. It uses the standard that is under attack as validation. It is akin to someone saying, “The Bible is true because it says it is.” In this case, someone is saying, “Birth is the threshold because it is.” There’s no real reason for it.

    One more note on the analogy – seeing as how I have no ethical obligation to the violinist, I could withhold treatment. In fact, there are times where withholding treatment is the ethical thing to do. Abortion, however, is the act of killing and has nothing to do with withholding treatment. It is active instead of passive.

    _______________________________

    To deal with what the actual post that Matt put up…

    I think it is a decent article that provides some fly-bys to some common arguments. My biggest contention is toward the end where he says, “Finally, while it’s true that fetuses are not ‘persons,’ where person is defined as “a thinking, intelligent being that has reason and reflection and can consider itself as itself, the same thinking being, in different times and places,” (J Locke Essay Concerning Human Understanding) neither are newborn infants.”

    I take great contention with that because it makes personhood an act instead of a state of being. That is the problem with Locke’s definition of personhood – the same argument provided earlier in the article about sleeping applies to this as well; if I am not currently reflecting on myself as myself (such as if I’m in a coma), am I still a person?

    The best understanding of what a person is comes from the classical writers, for they spent the most time hashing such things out (for all intents and purposes, metaphysics and ontology were dead sciences at the beginning of the Enlightenment, thus all philosophies concerning such studies post-Enlightenment are suspect). The classics (Boethius supplies the most systematic approach) understood a person to be an individual, rational, substance. For a fetus, it breaks down to the following:

    Substance – a fetus has the substance of being human
    Individual – the fetus is truly unique via DNA and other features (the “other features” offer more differentiation in the case of cloning)

    Rational – the fetus has the capacity to be rational, but currently lacks the ability to act on said rationality.

    The last part is the most difficult, but also the most important. A fetus, admittedly, lacks the ability to act on his rationality, but such rationality does exist in his essence. An example of this is that I have the capacity to walk, but I’m currently not walking. If we decided that personhood included “walking,” then I’d still be a person even though I am not currently walking. Likewise, if I had an accident and was paralyzed, I would still have the capacity to walk, but would simply lack the present ability to actualize my capacity.

    It is the same with a fetus or an infant; they have the capacity to be rational, but simply lack the ability to actualize their capacity at that point.

    I give a much deeper explanation of this in a series I wrote on another site (start from the bottom): http://en.wordpress.com/tag/intrinsic-human-value-series/

    Anyway, this post is long enough as it is and most likely won’t be read due to the length. But hey, what else is a bored philosopher going to do at 2 in the morning?

  • Continuing…

    Thus, as recognized by the legal code and as understood by most ethicists, just because a woman did not volunteer to become pregnant does not mean she is suddenly free from any and all ethical obligations to that child.

    Let us also not forget that there is an assumed ethical obligation of parents to their children. So much so that if such an ethical obligation is violated, the Government can and often does get involved. The parent has the ethical obligation to provide for the child and care for the child while keeping the child from harm. Failure to do so will not only invite scorn from the community, but can bring down the heavy-hand of the law as well. This obligation seems to exist whether someone had a child intentionally or simply became pregnant and never went through with an abortion.

    Considering the above (that not all ethical obligations are voluntary and parents have ethical obligations to their children), it can actually be said that a fetus does have a right to use her mother’s body. Unlike the violinist (and this is where Thompson’s analogy breaks down) the fetus is partaking on a natural course of development and, though it may not be comfortable for the mother, this is how all humans enter the world. The violinist, alternatively, is relying upon an unnatural environment to stay alive.

    To further this point, once the violinist is done with his 9 month treatment, you no longer have an ethical obligation for his well-being. However, a fetus, once outside the womb, is still reliant upon the mother. The mother still has an ethical obligation to that child (unless she has given that obligation to someone else, but even this is done in the interest of the child’s welfare). She must use her body to take care of the child one outside of the womb, just in a different way than before. Though the child is no longer inside her body, the child is still dependent upon the mother’s body (simply in a different manner), thus ruining the idea that the mother’s body is still autonomous.
    .-= My last blog-post ..New Approach to Theories on the Origins of the Universe =-.

  • Continuing…

    There is no reason to really accept this argument. For one, it is logically invalid and subject to problems before we even examine the facts. Secondly, it’s arbitrary in that when applied to similar situations, a different ethical code is used. Finally, the only way to respond to any of what I said is to say, “Well the baby is in the womb!” and making birth the threshold; but this is circular. It uses the standard that is under attack as validation. It is akin to someone saying, “The Bible is true because it says it is.” In this case, someone is saying, “Birth is the threshold because it is.” There’s no real reason for it.

    One more note on the analogy – seeing as how I have no ethical obligation to the violinist, I could withhold treatment. In fact, there are times where withholding treatment is the ethical thing to do. Abortion, however, is the act of killing and has nothing to do with withholding treatment. It is active instead of passive.
    .-= My last blog-post ..New Approach to Theories on the Origins of the Universe =-.

  • Concluding:

    To deal with what the actual post that Matt put up…

    I think it is a decent article that provides some fly-bys to some common arguments. My biggest contention is toward the end where he says, “Finally, while it’s true that fetuses are not ‘persons,’ where person is defined as “a thinking, intelligent being that has reason and reflection and can consider itself as itself, the same thinking being, in different times and places,” (J Locke Essay Concerning Human Understanding) neither are newborn infants.”

    I take great contention with that because it makes personhood an act instead of a state of being. That is the problem with Locke’s definition of personhood – the same argument provided earlier in the article about sleeping applies to this as well; if I am not currently reflecting on myself as myself (such as if I’m in a coma), am I still a person?

    The best understanding of what a person is comes from the classical writers, for they spent the most time hashing such things out (for all intents and purposes, metaphysics and ontology were dead sciences at the beginning of the Enlightenment, thus all philosophies concerning such studies post-Enlightenment are suspect). The classics (Boethius supplies the most systematic approach) understood a person to be an individual, rational, substance. For a fetus, it breaks down to the following:

    Substance – a fetus has the substance of being human
    Individual – the fetus is truly unique via DNA and other features (the “other features” offer more differentiation in the case of cloning)

    Rational – the fetus has the capacity to be rational, but currently lacks the ability to act on said rationality.

    The last part is the most difficult, but also the most important. A fetus, admittedly, lacks the ability to act on his rationality, but such rationality does exist in his essence. An example of this is that I have the capacity to walk, but I’m currently not walking. If we decided that personhood included “walking,” then I’d still be a person even though I am not currently walking. Likewise, if I had an accident and was paralyzed, I would still have the capacity to walk, but would simply lack the present ability to actualize my capacity.

    It is the same with a fetus or an infant; they have the capacity to be rational, but simply lack the ability to actualize their capacity at that point.

    I give a much deeper explanation of this in a series I wrote on another site (start from the bottom): http://en.wordpress.com/tag/intrinsic-human-value-series/

    Anyway, this post is long enough as it is and most likely won’t be read due to the length. But hey, what else is a bored philosopher going to do at 2 in the morning?
    .-= My last blog-post ..New Approach to Theories on the Origins of the Universe =-.

  • Hi Joel,

    I’m no philosopher, nor scholar, just someone who can read. I read your post in full. Thanks for taking the time to write it.

    Again OC is pwned.

  • [...] 10, 2010 by Joel The other day I came across this post and found it quite interesting. What was more interesting was one of the comments given by someone [...]

  • [...] other day I came across this post and found it quite interesting. What was more interesting was one of the comments given by someone [...]

  • This is off topic but relates to two comments regarding the mental elements of crime.

    Before I address those comments I note that my claim to expertise in this area arises out of being a criminal barrister in New Zealand. I was admitted to the bar 12 years ago and have been doing criminal law for approximately 11 years and exclusively for about 9 of the 11 years.

    Joel said “We see similar cases in manslaughter charges, statutory rape laws, and many other aspects of the law. In almost every case of grievous errors, a person is held accountable regardless of the person’s intentions”

    While that is arguably strictly true it is probably worth noting that the law takes in to account or, at least, attempts to take in to account the state of mind of a person that is charged with an offence. So, while it is strictly true that you can be convicted of a major offence despite not having an intention to commit the offence the law takes in to account other relevant mental states, such as recklessness.

    An easy example is that if I drive my car in to someone at a reasonable speed only intending to slightly hurt them then I do not have the intent for anything beyond a minor assault. However, some charges allow that if I was reckless then I can be criminally cupable at a higher level. In my example, the fact that I did not intend to cause major harm could be overtaken by the fact that I was aware that major harm could result from me hitting someone with my car but chose to ignore that possibility and thus I was reckless about the possibility of major harm occuring. This could allow me to be found guilty of a far more major form of assault.

    So, while we can be held accountable for grevious errors without having the intent that Joel seems to be talking about, the law generally attempts to take into account our state of mind. Of course, offences of strict liability where your state of mind is not relevant (for example, staying longer than you paid for in a parking space) also exist.

    This should not be seen as a general criticism of Joel’s post, which I found interesting. I do not think that my comment makes any substansial difference to Joel’s arguments and, for the avoidance of confusion, I am not attempting to suggest that my comments show up a flaw in Joel’s reasoning.

    Operation Counterstrike said, “An unborn baby inside another person’s body where it is not welcome, is NOT innocent. It may be free of culpable intentions, but as a barrister you surely know that this does not establish innocence.”

    The reference to me being a barrister here suggests to me that OC was suggesting that lack of culpable intention is insufficient to establish legal innocence. This is patently wrong. If one can establsh a lack of culpablity based on your mental state then you are by definition innocent of a crime that requires that mental state.

    In moral terms lack of culpable intention also, to me at least, suggests prima facie innocence. The reason being that OC specifically used the work “culpable”. If you are not culpable then, by definition, you are not responsible. This suggests moral innocence.

    I am interested in Anon1′s comments. Solo parents are in fact better financially supported by the government than they were 40 years ago when my mother decided to bring me up as a solo parent. I am not suggesting it is easy and I accept that my mother and I were stupendously fortunate because my grandparents supported her decision (despite probably not agreeing with it) and helped her with raising me. However, this government does supply the Domestic Purposes Benefit and while it may not be easy to raise children on it that is still an improvement on the way that it was 40 years ago.

    I do have some problem with Anon1′s assertion that many moms cannot provide for their children. It seems to me that the basic physical needs of children can be met by use of the DPB. Note, that I have been careful about my choice of language and have specified “basic” and “physical needs”. It may be that they are to young or otherwise insuffciently mature to supply emotional needs. I am not sure that is a sufficient argument to support abortion, though I would be interested to hear arguments on that point.

    “Why is it the expectation that the mother will provide these basic necessities whereby the father in NZ does not have to?”

    I suggest that the above comment is not correct. At law a father is required to pay child support. The extent to which individuals do or do not is a separate question. The basic requirement to provide does exist at law. There does seem to be an established bias in the Family Court towards giving mothers custody rather than fathers. The arguments in favour of that seem to be that prima facie women are better caregivers. The extent to which such a bias exists and whether or not it can be supported if it does exist are being argued about.

  • For those about to abort…

    I’ve come across some good quotes from the blogs this morning, so I want to add a few more. … From Contra Mundum: Confessions of an Anti-Choice Fanatic Hat tip: Pro-life blogs….

  • Life versus Death – Confessions of an Anti-Choice Fanatic…

    reposted from, source: http://www.mandm.org.nz/2010/01/contra-mundum-confessions-of-an-anti-choice-fanatic.html The home page of Matt and Madeleine Flannagan is at: http://www.mandm.org.nz

  • Hi Matt.

    I agree with Jerry C. Stanaway’s assessment (Jan 7, 2010 at 2:54 am): ‘A good argument was ruined because it accepts abortion in cases of rape. The rape was not the baby’s fault.’

    Could you spell out how opposition to feticide can accommodate an exception in cases of rape? Thanks.

  • Confessions of an Anti-Choice Fanatic….

    I want to share this pro-life article with you. It’s written by ethicist and theologian Dr Matthew Flanagan. in it he logically confronts the arguments put across by the pro-choice pro-abortionists with some rather interesting viewpoints. It is a rath…

  • Going by OC’s logic, if I shrunk you down Fantastic Voyage-style and shrunk ate you, that would be perfectly moral.

    In addition, if parents get to set “conditions” when they get pregnant, then one of those conditions could be “I grant you life for exactly 34 years, at which point I will hunt you down with a hatchet.
    .-= My last blog-post ..Mambo =-.

  • Hi James,

    I will attempt to explain what you have asked the best I can. Firstly, thanks for your post, it was an interesting, insightful read.

    I am interested in Anon1’s comments. Solo parents are in fact better financially supported by the government than they were 40 years ago when my mother decided to bring me up as a solo parent. I am not suggesting it is easy and I accept that my mother and I were stupendously fortunate because my grandparents supported her decision (despite probably not agreeing with it) and helped her with raising me. However, this government does supply the Domestic Purposes Benefit and while it may not be easy to raise children on it that is still an improvement on the way that it was 40 years ago.”

    We have all read the numbers of the ‘highest paid’ DPB mums. That said, I know a lot of women who are reduced to poverty due to choosing to keep their unborn child. This is also includes women who have been married or who had partners.
    It is fact that when a divorce occurs, or where a woman is on her own to begin with, then she is almost always worse off than the male involved in the situation.
    Legally yes, a male is required to pay his ‘share’ of the bill for a child, but this (I believe) is slanted in the favour of the male – or the non primary care-giver. While the person has full custody may pay for a room, clothing etc. the other parent essentially is required to pay a ‘percentage’ of their income. The primary caregiver has no such choice – their income is shared instantly.
    I am personally aware of many cases whereby men (and one woman) don’t pay the required amount, or they then go on to have another child and instantly the primary care-givers income goes down.

    The primary care-giver also has difficulties in getting employment – their hours generally need to be shorter, they take more time off.
    The recent research at Stanford University’s Clayman Institute for Gender Research calls this the “motherhood penalty”, which I suggest looking into for interest sake, if nothing else.

    Most, if not all women I know and have known on the DPB take on other work on the side in order to make ends meet.

    Have we an improvement? I hope so. But the fact remains that the mother or primary caregiver is very often reduced to poverty.

    JAMES: I do have some problem with Anon1’s assertion that many moms cannot provide for their children. It seems to me that the basic physical needs of children can be met by use of the DPB. Note, that I have been careful about my choice of language and have specified “basic” and “physical needs”. It may be that they are to young or otherwise insuffciently mature to supply emotional needs. I am not sure that is a sufficient argument to support abortion, though I would be interested to hear arguments on that point.

    Agreed, I am not sure that it justifies abortion either. What I do think it does is open up discussion of the realities of raising an unwanted, unplanned child on your own. Do the day-to-day and long term realities justify abortion?
    For many women, motherhood is a sacrifice beyond measure in terms of quality of life. (again, let me know and I’ll point you to the research). Some women who go on to have babe’s will be fine, of course, yet for others it will trigger a path on a downward spiral for decades – financially (logic), emotionally (PND, psychosis, etc), socially (judgment of solo parents, mistrust from other women).
    Does a woman losing these basic things (rights?) in her life justify an abortion?

    If we live in a country whereby abortion is labeled illegal, then that same country must provide for the mother and child. Otherwise, who are you to sentence a women to that?

    Please note – I say these words for women who are not on here. I personally love my children, and had a baby (on my own) at a young age and I found something beyond measure. That said, I’m aware that this is me – I know far too many cases of women who have had these babies, only to not be able to care for them or in other cases CHOOSE not to care for them and I watch while the govt steps in and never really manages to change these children who were screwed from the outset.

    Which actually brings me to another entire topic, that of brain development, which I shall write soon.

    James – in terms of your established bias towards mother’s I couldn’t agree more! I’ve seen great dad’s deprived of their right to be there for their children. That said, it doesn’t deal with those children who have one or other parent walk away.

  • [...] Mundum: “Bigoted Fundamentalist” as Orwellian Double-Speak Contra Mundum: The Flat-Earth Myth Contra Mundum: Confessions of an Anti-Choice Fanatic Contra Mundum: The Judgmental [...]

  • This is certainly an interesting debate and topic.
    There are couple of thoughts i’d like to throw out for consideration, one is similar to something else raised, and the other will possibly be criticised for being hyperbole, but it’s too make a point.

    1. The focus here has been murder or killing, but what if you looked it at instead as death as an inevitable result (there is a subtle difference). To end someone’s life, lets say by shooting them, is considered murder. However it is not considered murder if you refuse to use your life to support theirs, such as by donating blood to someone with a bullet wound who will die of blood loss if they don’t receive a transfusion. So – you are forbidden from using your body to take a life, but you are not required to support a life by using your body. If the choice is made by the mother that she doesn’t consent to the embryo using her body for life support, then although it may die as a result of not having that life support wouldn’t that be just an associated outcome?

    2. The point was raised about pregnancy being part of the natural development of a child – isn’t conception also a natural part of this? How far back do you go? If a woman uses a contraceptive pill or a ‘morning after’ pill, or a condom is used are the parents then guilty of failing to provide the neccesities of life? In both situations you are preventing a possible life from coming into the world.

    As a side note, I echo the comments of others, there is no rational basis for excusing what the author seems to consider murder on the basis of rape. The crime itself is not punishable by death, and punishment in any form is given to the offender not a random family member. If the basis of this loophole is that the mother did not choose to become pregnant, then
    a) the rights and choice of the mother are taken to be above the rights of the embryo, and
    b) any situation then in which the mother could demonstrate that she did not want to be pregnant, such as pill or condom use, would also be excusable if the contraception failed (as it does in a small number of cases), or you could go so far as to include situations in which the mother was drunk at the time of conception and not able to make informed decisions.

  • [...] Mundum: “Bigoted Fundamentalist” as Orwellian Double-Speak Contra Mundum: The Flat-Earth Myth Contra Mundum: Confessions of an Anti-Choice Fanatic Contra Mundum: The Judgmental [...]

  • [...] POSTS: Contra Mundum: Confessions of an Anti-Choice Fanatic The Inconsistent, Condescending, Paternalism of Left-Wing [...]

  • [...] Mundum: “Bigoted Fundamentalist” as Orwellian Double-Speak Contra Mundum: The Flat-Earth Myth Contra Mundum: Confessions of an Anti-Choice Fanatic Contra Mundum: The Judgmental [...]

  • [...] Mundum: “Bigoted Fundamentalist” as Orwellian Double-Speak Contra Mundum: The Flat-Earth Myth Contra Mundum: Confessions of an Anti-Choice Fanatic Contra Mundum: The Judgmental [...]

  • Several people have mentioned variations of Another POV’s statement that “you are not required to support a life by using your body.”

    This is a variation on the “Violinist argument” described here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Violinist_(thought_experiment). It has been around for a while, and as one of the few arguments which allows for fetus’ humanity, it has a lot of force. However, there are many good refutations (just google it), including here http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2009/02/violinist-argument.html and here http://www.l4l.org/library/thomviol.html. The simplest, to me (although maybe not the most convincing to everyone) is that we don’t have the right to kill people because they are dependent on us. In the case of a pregnancy, particularly, the physical dependency has a reliably limited time span, and in most cases, the physical dependency doesn’t incapacitate the mother for long (if at all). A mother caring for a child with profound disabilities usually has much greater physical hardship, with no natural end in sight, and we don’t allow her to kill the child. Rather, she is expected to (at least) keep the child alive until other arrangements can be made for his/her care.

    Speaking of other arrangements, here’s a plug for adoption. :)

    Another POV also mentioned that “If a woman uses a contraceptive pill or a ‘morning after’ pill, or a condom is used are the parents then guilty of failing to provide the neccesities of life? In both situations you are preventing a possible life from coming into the world.”

    The problem with abortion is not that it prevents a possible life from coming into the world, but that it kills a human who is already here.

    I don’t mean to pick on you, Another POV; others have made similar points to yours. I’m just jumping on yours because they’re more recent, and better stated than most. :)

  • Why not just say that if you have an abortion you will get breast cancer?

  • [...] I write a monthly column for Investigate Magazine entitled Contra Mundum. This article was originally published in the January 2010 issue as “Confessions of an Anti-Choice Fanatic” and is cross-posted at MandM. [...]