disembodied fetus

[promoted by Liz]

In “Single-Issue Voter”, Roberto Rivera describes growing up in a Democratic Catholic blue-collar household.  He’s progressive on all the issues but, he’s “strongly pro-life” and finds himself politically aligned with people who “if, by some (please God!) miracle, abortion disappeared tomorrow, many of them would probably vote in much the same way they do now”.

Rivera wouldn’t.  He’d return to being a progressive, if “abortion disappeared”.

Roberto doesn’t know how abortion disappears.  Remarkably, his article makes no mention of “woman” or “pregnancy”. Abortion is something that “happens” to a disembodied fetus.

Disembodied 12-week fetus - National Library of Medicine

The illustration was produced with your tax dollars.  Isn’t he cute?  His name is Adam.  God created Adam from dust without the help of a woman.  The Adam above looks like he’s going to wake up and practice Mozart piano sonatas before he goes back to being a fetus.

That’s the image that Rivera wants you to maintain as he alludes to – if not women – to original sin.

A society that enshrines (the word fits particularly well in this context) the right to use private lethal violence against its weakest and most vulnerable members isn’t only unjust in this regard, it’s likely to be unjust pretty much across the board. The right to an abortion is based on a jurisprudence and an underlying worldview that denies the existence of a common good and holds personal autonomy and self-fulfillment as the highest goods.

Mark Earley wrote a similar piece, “No Life, No Justice” for Prison Fellowship Ministries that referenced Rivera’s article.  Earley does mention women, and Planned Parenthood, of course.

Since the passage of Roe vs. Wade in 1973, more than 48 million unborn children have perished—and only 7 percent of the women who had those abortions cited medical concerns, rape, or incest as their reasons. And those who promote abortions—they are flexing their muscle as never before. In Fiscal Year 2006-2007, Planned Parenthood…

According to Earley and Rivera, 93% of the time, women are choosing “personal autonomy and self-fulfillment” over their duty to dear Adam.

The fetus is fertile ground for conspiracy.  Rand Paul ratchet’s up the rhetoric in a very Delgaudioesque fundraising letter (emphasis mine).

 

Dear Concerned American,

It’s a horrifying modern day genocide happening in our own backyards.

Last year alone, Planned Parenthood was responsible for ending the lives of over 320,000 innocent babies….

I believe there is something deeply wrong with an organization that kills babies, and even more so when they are funded through the taxpayer dollars….

Planned Parenthood’s progaganda calls the pro-life movement a war on women.

And believe me, they have their supporters riled up like never before.

Daily emails from Planned Parenthood, NARAL, and Emily’s List are being sent smearing pro-life Americans like you and me as villains.

Maybe the fetus should should be sitting on a slippery slope.  Too bad there is no slope.  Roberto is no liberal.  If he was operating in the reality-based world he’d put down his moral smugness and ask, “what’s the root cause of abortion, unwanted pregnancy, maybe”?  Wouldn’t Rivera sound more rational if he said “if, by some (please God!) miracle, unwanted pregnancy disappeared tomorrow“?  But then he wouldn’t have a straw enemy.  He wouldn’t be able to blame women for using “private violence“.  He would have to take responsibility as a man.  He’d be forced to ask if that 7% (3.5 million) pregnancies terminated for reasons of medical concern, rape or incest “disappeared”, if that would require some degree of violence against societies weak and vulnerable.  He’d have to acknowledge that women actually embody those fetuses and that he’s advocating a Handmaid’s Tale world.

Suzanne Moore wrote personal piece in the Guardian, “It’s the same old game.  Get your rosaries off my ovaries, as we used to say“.  When she was 11, Moore and her mum were booted from a tupperware party.  When talk turned to ‘getting “rid” of things’, Moore’s mum blurted

Christ, you really don’t know what you are talking about. If it wasn’t for abortion I’d have a football team by now.”

Moore’s was writing about British “independent counseling” legislation.  It failed.  The British controversy is like the new clinic rules that are pushing Virginia to the forefront of the abortion debate reported in the Loudoun Times Mirror.  Both regulations intend to make it harder to obtain abortion services.  Moore’s analysis is relevant to Virginia.

We are repeatedly told this is an “emotive” issue. The new vocabulary of the anti-abortion lobby is full of vaguely feminist platitudes – not feminist enough to counsel the men who walk away from pregnancies but still. Underneath, we are fallen women, damaged goods and so terribly stupid that we can be persuaded to have a quick abortion by wicked charities. When we could be what? Wombs to provide babies for “proper couples” or go it alone as the root of all evil: single mothers?

This is nauseating. A vote of conscience? If MPs had one they would say it is not the business of the legislature to control women’s reproduction. They would stop telling us what is “emotive” and ask what actually is. I didn’t want counselling in order to have an abortion. I certainly did after a miscarriage – again an awfully common experience – but none was offered. No, instead let’s bring on an army of “independent” zealots who can tell us that abortion leads to cancer, mental health issues and infertility, and sod the evidence that having a baby is more risky than having an abortion. Anyone who talks about how easy it is and how the reality is glossed over is ignorant. You have a scan. You know and see what you are doing. It’s not a walk in the park but it is a huge relief. The emotive part is the enforced waiting.

Now the tactics are to further that wait. This is nothing short of cruelty dressed up in the language of concern.

Chris Freund of the Virginia Family Foundation explains the rationale for the regulations. “The threat that a health department inspector could visit the clinics at any time also will ensure that clinics operate safely”. When discussing medical procedures, it’s no longer polite to refer to “private lethal violence”.  ”Safety” is a much better talking point.

Moore knows where Freund is coming from.

All fundamentalisms seek to control female sexuality. It’s the same old game. Get your rosaries off my ovaries, as we used to say. You trust me with a child but not with a choice? If MPs want to help women then they can make access to abortion and contraception more efficient. Who has the authority over my body – some geezer in the House of Commons? Or me and my doctor? Like my mother, I feel no shame and I refute this language of “care”. You want a definition of a nanny state? How about one that thinks it’s OK to poke around in your uterus?

 

61 thoughts on “disembodied fetus

  1. Eric the 1/2 troll

    I am starting to believe that blog writers simply pick up things like abortion, gun control, and homosexuality to write about when they want to bump their hit numbers.

    I am fairly pro-choice in my leanings but I would like to ask this question. When does life begin in your opinion?

  2. Eric the 1/2 troll

    Liz, I think that argument falls flat in that it is an apples to oranges comparison. In the case of blood donations or organ donations, there is not a specific act performed by the potential donor which results in not only them being the one and only viable donor available to save the life but also creates the need in the first place. Nor is there an act being performed by the donor to cut off that life – it is not just guilt by omission. Really, there is nothing comparable to the abortion scenario.

    But my question still stands. When does life begin? If the fetus is not really alive, then there is no harm or foul. If it really a living human being, there is a need to honestly examine the issue closer. Any objective person can see it becomes more than just an issue of reproductive rights at that point – as well it should.

  3. Liz Miller

    Talk to me about whether that argument falls flat when it’s your body being legislated. Or when you’re willing to donate house room in your body to the fetus.

    Alternatively, you can talk to me about it when we have 100% effective (and free) birthcontrol; free pre-natal care; free, safe daycare; plentiful cheap and healthy food; really affordable housing; universal full-day kindergarten; full employment; mass transit that is accessible to all; paid parental leave like Sweden’s; and an end to pre-eclampsia and other deadly pregnancy side-effects.

    Oh! And an end to rape.

    Until that time, women will continue to seek abortions for myriad reasons. And if they are denied legal ones, they will get illegal ones, and the illegal ones are much more likely to kill the pregnant woman – who is without question a living human being.

  4. Pariahdog Post author

    Eric,

    I didn’t write this post to bump up the numbers, I wrote it after discussing Roberto Rivera’s “single-issue voter” piece. We’ve been discussing single-issue voters on this blog, and if there were one single-issue that tugs at the emotions of a majority of single-issue voters, abortion would be it.

    David coined the phrase “disembodied fetus”. After reviewing Rivera’s gaping omission – how can you talk about abortion without mentioning women – I thought it important to expose it. Rivera is affiliated with Loudoun’s Prison Fellowship Ministry, and I truly believe that Eugene Delgaudio crafted the Rand Paul fundraising letter.

    The Guardian article and the Loudoun Times article clinched the need for this post.

    As for your question about “when life begins”, I don’t believe that the fetus has an independent life until birth. Prior to birth, the fetus has its own set of DNA but it is not a member of society as Rivera claims. Can anybody honestly claim that a fetus is a member of society?

    I was hoping that the post would be effective at exposing the slippery slope of anti-woman rhetoric and the lies that folks like Rivera will espouse to attempt to demonstrate that he’s somebody who he isn’t.

  5. Epluribusunum

    It doesn’t matter when “life begins,” even if we were to agree on some point during gestation at which a fetus can be said to have personhood. There is no circumstance under which one person has the right to occupy another’s body without their consent. To insist that pregnancy constitutes a special case is to define women as entitled to an inferior liberty. In his very well reasoned argument, Republican, aka Liberal Anthropologist, admitted as much with his use of the term “female liberty.” There can’t be one kind of liberty for men and a lesser kind for women. It’s long past time for people who understand this to stop being so damn timid about saying it.

  6. Eric the 1/2 troll

    Liz,

    I agree with you on all fronts in terms of birth control, and other post-natal social issues you listed. In fact, consider that IF we were (as a country) able to agree on when life begins, we would have no choice but to afford all rights reserved for other human beings to that unborn fetus – including such things as citizenship, child protective services, etc. To do otherwise would violate specific tested terms of our constitution and could easily be challenged on court.

    I have a tough time accepting completely the argument that making some currently legal abortions illegal in the process would lead to women’s death. It might, in fact it may be a indisputable FACT, but IF some fetuses are actually living humans (notice the word IF) then logic tells you that we must stop actively killing and run the risk that a side effect of sidestepping the law might be an unintended death of another.

    Personally, I agree with you on most fronts here – perhaps all. But if we can not even discuss the issue without extreme positions being staked out, it does not bode well for a resolution of any kind.

  7. Liz Miller

    Well, one “extreme” position I hold is that all pregnant persons should be able to have easy access to an affordable abortion if they want one before 16 weeks. No hoops to jump through, no barriers to that access. That, in fact, every county in the nation should have at least one facility that offers an early abortion.

    Another “extreme” position is that late-term abortions should be readily available for women who need them when something goes wrong. Almost all abortions after 20 weeks are because something has gone seriously wrong with either the woman’s health, or with the fetus’s health.

    And my last “extreme” position is that the anti-abortion crowd paints itself as being “pro-life”, but they aren’t. Many are pro-death-penalty. Many are anti-birth-control and anti-sex-education. Which pretty much makes them pro-get-every-woman-pregnant-and-keep-them-that-way. Not the same thing all, and harder to sell. And they are working hard to make their position be the one that wins. They are fighting on multiple fronts, and are rapidly decreasing women’s liberty around the nation. Virginia is one of their major successes.

    As a woman, and a Virginian, that offends me. I apologize if I mistook you for one of them. If you are not one of them, then please fight against them.

  8. Eric the 1/2 troll

    “Well, one “extreme” position I hold is that all pregnant persons should be able to have easy access to an affordable abortion if they want one before 16 weeks. No hoops to jump through, no barriers to that access. That, in fact, every county in the nation should have at least one facility that offers an early abortion.”

    I don’t think that is an “extreme” position. If we can agree that a fetus under 16 weeks is not “alive” which I think can be supported. I don’t know if every County needs such a facility but that is legitimately debatable.

    “Another “extreme” position is that late-term abortions should be readily available for women who need them when something goes wrong. Almost all abortions after 20 weeks are because something has gone seriously wrong with either the woman’s health, or with the fetus’s health.”

    I am at a loss why you are picking certain “weeks” for your division. But if we can agree on what a living human being is, this takes care of itself. I would think that (just like with end of life decisions) there would be some times where this is clear cut (i.e., up to the family and doctor) and some times where it is not and needs some sort of judicial review – especially in those very few late term cases.

    “If you are not one of them, then please fight against them.”

    As to your third point, I really have no comment except to say I disagree with many people and their stances on many issues especially when they are dogmatic and hypocritcal. But this issue needs to stop being a “us” vs. “them” issue if it is ever to be solved. If there is no interest by intelligent parties to discuss the issue openly and without labelling others then it is nothing but a political issue – nothing more.

  9. Eric the 1/2 troll

    “As for your question about “when life begins”, I don’t believe that the fetus has an independent life until birth. Prior to birth, the fetus has its own set of DNA but it is not a member of society as Rivera claims. Can anybody honestly claim that a fetus is a member of society?”

    This is an interesting take, P-dog. But given that many fetuses can and do continue to live after being removed from the mother’s uterus prior to complete gestation, this distinction has become muddied as of late. This is an honest question and I mean no shock out of asking it but why should it be ok for a mother to choose an abortion over the birth of that child at the point where the child COULD survive post-natally? Yes, I know that this is rare and it often has to do with severe birth defects (these issues could legitimately be debated and resolved) but the question still lingers. It would be easier to resolve objectively if we can agree that they are or are not living human beings, correct?

    Furthermore, I really don’t think we should define “life” as only those human beings who are “members of society”. Especially in the case where the only thing separating some human beings from that classification is just the decision of the mother – again rare occurrences I will grant you.

  10. Eric the 1/2 troll

    “It doesn’t matter when “life begins,” even if we were to agree on some point during gestation at which a fetus can be said to have personhood. There is no circumstance under which one person has the right to occupy another’s body without their consent.”

    EP, If one wanted to fight this sort of philosophy, one could argue that consent was granted de facto by the woman when she initiated the process which could lead to the occupation of her body by the person. Neither arguments are very apt nor productive.

    “There can’t be one kind of liberty for men and a lesser kind for women.”

    Since when is there a different kind of liberty for men and a lesser kind for women? We all have reponsibility for our fellow human beings – man or women. If I come home to see an unwanted homeless person asleep in my car when the temperatures are below zero and I throw that person out of the car and into the snow where he later dies from exposure, would I not be held liable under our system for his death? The difference is in the legal definition of “life”. It is not well defined right now and this is giving the anti-abortion crowd the ability to paint the pro-choice crowd as monsters. They are attempting to define life as anything post fertilization. If they are successful in this definition, you can complain about disparity all you want but you will (in society’s mind) always be throwing the homeless person out into the cold.

  11. Liz Miller

    “why should it be ok for a mother to choose an abortion over the birth of that child at the point where the child COULD survive post-natally?”

    Because, Eric, this almost never happens. In almost every case after 20 weeks (the point of an outside chance of viability outside the womb, with enough technology at hand, and not coincidentally, why I separate by weeks), the abortion is sought because either the fetus is already dead, or will not be able to survive after birth, or the mother is gravely ill.

    In other words, it’s a painful decision made about a very wanted pregnancy, often at short notice, and in the ER.

    This is a fact. Look it up.

    While you’re at it, take a peek at Cecily’s blog and Daddy Files to understand a bit about late-term abortions, who gets them, and why.

  12. Eric the 1/2 troll

    Liz, if this is the case, why not simply say since the fetus has an outside chance of viability outside the womb, unless it is already dead (I don’t think that qualifies as an abortion – at least it shouldn’t), the doctor states it will not survive after birth, or the mother is gravely ill (some definition needed here) an abortion is not permitted – perhaps leaving an option for judicial review for exceptions.

    This would set up a standard based on “life” being a point where survival outside the uterus is potentially viable. That would be SOMETHING at least that acknowledges some of the valid issues of the other side while protecting the rights of women for early term abortions. Me, I would place the point based on brain functions we would normally associate with life vs. death at the other end of the spectrum.

    I read the daddy-files and can not help but think a real standard might help aleviate some of th ugliness they faced – but probably not. There are real a-holes out there. Nothing anyone can do about that. What I am trying to discuss has nothing to do with the a-holes though. Can’t get to the link on Cecily’s blog.

  13. Eric the 1/2 troll

    “So are you saying that at the outside edge of viability, an induced birth should be done instead of an abortion?”

    What I am suggesting is that for those cases that do not meet the criteria outlined above, that abortion not be allowed after 20 to 22 weeks and that the pregnancy be continued until viability is assured (isn’t that about 26-28 weeks?) then the birth is induced. I can not hammer out the details but this sort of approach should be considered, imo.

  14. Eric the 1/2 troll

    I looked at the Cecily’s blog link you posted and while this is very sad story, I don’t think even the ugly people would confuse it with abortion issues. If they did they are clearly idiots and should be completely ignored.

  15. Pariahdog Post author

    The point of this post was to discuss Roberto Rivera’s framing. He’s a “liberal” but looks at abortion as something to “disappear”. I’d think that a liberal would be more concerned with root causes; unwanted pregnancy, rape, medical concerns. A liberal man would ask – what can men do?

    Roberto asks and answers that question. Men should unite with the Christianists and the Pope. Women should say no. Men should respect purity, and, if, by chance OOPS!, congratulations honey, you’ve been blessed with a baby, and if you don’t want it, we’ll find a home for your child.

    I don’t see the answer to “when does life begin” to be central to the political question. Maybe it’s because I hold a certain Biblical belief about that.

    And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.
    gen 2:7 KJV

    At church, we say “breath of life” as a recognition of the importance of breathing to life. Before birth, a fetus has DNA and is alive, as a product of the DNA and the nutrients and environment provided by the host mother, but the fetus has not indulged in the breath of life. If the mother is killed, and help is 15 minutes away, the fetus will die. If it were a newborn baby, and could breathe on its own, it would survive. Maybe I’m crazy. You’ll have to excuse me. I’m a man and I don’t have any baby through the cervix personal experience, but I’d think that birth is an indisputable event that separates living as a distinct member of society, from being a fetus inside the uterus of a woman.

  16. Liz

    Did that link not make it clear that to save Cecily’s life, they had to abort the surviving twin? I thought it had the whole story. Including the fact that she was “fortunate” in being at that particular hospital, because they were willing to perform that procedure.

  17. Liz Miller

    More Cecily, finding out she may need to terminate.

    Yet more. Definitely terminating.

    And more. Her husband gives an update.

    Last. Cecily writes herself. Read the comments on this one if you can (there were 130 of them), and see how hateful some of the pro-forced-pregnancy comments are.

    There are many more posts after this on her site, writing about her fear that the procedure that saved her life is becoming more and more difficult to get.

  18. Barbara Munsey

    I’ve driven by a few times to watch this thread, and overall it appears Eric has it about right: for many, it is an issue of politics.

    This comment in particular interests me: “There is no circumstance under which one person has the right to occupy another’s body without their consent.”

    David, first of all, why did you refer to the fetus as a person? I’m not sure it was a total slip, because only a being with sentience, autonomy, and perhaps some sort of weapon could fulfill the rest of your sentence, i.e. “occupy another’s body without their consent”.

    Granted, you could merely have meant the fact that the fetus is not actually disembodied, it OCCUPIES the space it is contained within, so maybe you just meant “occupy” in that sense, and not as if the disembodied fetus on the slippery slope of Jonathan’s (obligatorily) waspish metaphor were somehow not only an unfriendly colonizer, but weaponized.

  19. Epluribusunum

    “Since when is there a different kind of liberty for men and a lesser kind for women?”

    I’m referring here to the term “female liberty” used by LA, presumably to distinguish it from universal liberty. I don’t know if “life” will ever be definitively agreed upon, so that doesn’t make a very good dividing line. I think the difference here is between the occupation of your car and the occupation of your body. In every other circumstance we would probably agree that while we have a responsibility to each other and we admire individuals when they donate blood or bone marrow, or otherwise offer their own bodies as a resource to save the life of someone else, no one is ever legally required or compelled to do so. To compel the use or consumption or occupation of someone else’s body is clearly a violation of that person’s basic human rights. Unless that person is a pregnant woman.

  20. Eric the 1/2 troll

    Lz, It was not clear ti me at least that the procedure they did entailed an abortion. It is now. I still think it is really not germaine to our discussion because her situation squarely falls into the “exception” category and her right to such a procedure is still protected even under legislation that outlaws late term abortions. Her health and life were clearly at risk – that case is fairly clear cut.

    I looked at the comments and only saw one which was not supportive. All I can say is that there are idiots everywhere and they really are not a threat to a reasonable soluttion to the issue. If anything, approaching the problem with less drama and more objectively would only serve to further relegate such freaks to the sidelines.

  21. Eric the 1/2 troll

    PD,

    I recognize you think that life begins at the first breath. Does that mean a person is really dead if they are ever life support and we should be able to legally pull the plug if we want to – even though their prognosis is for a full recovery eventually?

  22. Pariahdog

    Eric,

    A difference between what? Between a member of society who drowns and is pulled out of the water and can be revived with CPR and a fetus? A person who is on a breathing machine with a positive prognosis, but “we should be able to legally pull the plug if we want to”.

    I think you are claiming that the person/member of society too is not disembodied. He/she is “embodied” by “we” and “we” should be able to terminate him/her for not breathing. I’ll leave the analysis to you.

    The Virginia health panel voted yesterday to regulate the clinics. I’m going to write a follow up.

  23. Eric the 1/2 troll

    PD, I don’t know if you are understanding my comparison. I posted a rhetorical question, I did not make a statement that I thought we should be able to terminate a drowning victim because they stopped breathing.

    It is really very simple. If we consider a drowning victim to still be alive even though they are not breathing, why would we not consider a late term fetus to be the same? Same brainwaves, same heartbeat, same everything. In short, we do not define “life” anywhere else because of lung status why would we do so for a fetus?

  24. Liberal Anthropologist

    EPU,

    I don’t recall saying that and certainly would NEVER mean it the way you interpret it. Women should be afforded equal rights to men. That includes pre-born women fetuses.

    Please cut and paste what I said in context. I want to clarify after seeing this. I was Republican on here before, so if that name said it, it was me.

    I can guarantee you I have no different idea of liberty for women. Please clarify.

  25. Liberal Anthropologist

    I am not sure how much you guys care about science, but a fetus is alive from conception. a sperm cell is alive. A skin cell is alive. A fly is alive. An amoeba is alive. Life is not the question. The balance of rights is.

    If you frame it as a life question it gets all silly and illogical. People like Liz want to deny basic human rights to an entity she deems unworthy of those rights. That is a fact. She can be right or wrong. Just like the death penalty people. But that IS what she is doing.

    I would be with her in denying human rights to monkeys. Or carrots. They are all alive, but should not be afforded human rights.

    And to be clear on my position which seems to have become distorted since the last time I checked in here, I am not in favor of abortion UNLESS the mothers life or permanent health is in danger. Or if the baby is going to die anyway and place that mother in danger.

    I value the mother’s life over the baby’s. But I do not value her “choice” or her convenience or other highly common reasons for abortion.

  26. Liberal Anthropologist

    I would have supported this and I am very pro-life. You are just trying to scare people Liz.

  27. Liberal Anthropologist

    Liz,

    Semi random question. Are you ok with legalizing prostitution? Just checking your consistency.

  28. Liberal Anthropologist

    In fact, to show you that I hold the same restrictions and rights for men and women. If any man were to be pregnant by some future technological means or whatever, I would be against him ending the life of another human through abortion too.

  29. Pariahdog

    Eric,

    It cuts both ways. You can’t construct a straw-man argument *and* limit the scope of the straw-man to what you want to talk about. Roberto’s point is that “the fetus is the most vulnerable member of society”, therefore, society “embodies” the fetus. There is no intervening woman. She doesn’t exist.

    If society embodies all well constructed DNA – from fertilized human eggs to babies in the process of being born, to living people, you see where this leads. All living/breathing people are also embodied by society. Society has a responsibility to either sustain, or terminate their lives as discerned by the collective morality. That’s where your straw-man leads.

    btw, How would you summarize the point of this post? I’d like to understand how you interpreted it.

    Liberal Anthropologist says:

    I don’t recall saying that and certainly would NEVER mean it the way you interpret it. Women should be afforded equal rights to men. That includes pre-born women fetuses.

    This reminds me of the stoner arguments used against marriage equality.

    “Gay men have the same rights as straight men. They can marry a woman.”

    Wow man, that was a really great gotcha! Pat yourself on the back.

  30. Eric the 1/2 troll

    “It cuts both ways. You can’t construct a straw-man argument *and* limit the scope of the straw-man to what you want to talk about. Roberto’s point is that “the fetus is the most vulnerable member of society”, therefore, society “embodies” the fetus. There is no intervening woman. She doesn’t exist.”

    I never made this argument so I don’t need to support it. What I am trying to get some to recognize if that there needs to be a balance of rights and that at some point, a fetus probably SHOULD be considered (to use the terms you want to argue) a “member of society”. IF we could agree when that point should be, I posit that nearly ALL the abortion issues would dissolve to nothing – we have ground rules to deal with balancing rights of “members of society” – we pretty much would just have to follow them. In those few cases where we can’t figure it out – judges figure it out for us. In short, Roberto would be able to once again vote based on other issues – abortion would no longer be a political issue.

    You appear to simply want to argue the opposite of what you characterize as Roberto’s position. That the woman exists without mention of the fetus. How is this position any more sane?

  31. Pariahdog

    Eric says (emphasis mine):

    “What I am trying to get some to recognize if that there needs to be a balance of rights and that at some point, a fetus probably SHOULD be considered (to use the terms you want to argue) a “member of society”. IF we could agree when that point should be, I posit that nearly ALL the abortion issues would dissolve to nothing – we have ground rules to deal with balancing rights of “members of society” – we pretty much would just have to follow them. In those few cases where we can’t figure it out – judges figure it out for us. In short, Roberto would be able to once again vote based on other issues – abortion would no longer be a political issue.”

    Actually, Eric, that’s what the SCOTUS Roe v Wade decision did. It established a trimester test. As reported in BBC News:

    Trimester system

    The case created the “trimester” system that:

    gives American women an absolute right to an abortion in the first three months of pregnancy
    allows some government regulation in the second trimester of pregnancy
    declares that states may restrict or ban abortions in the last trimester as the foetus nears the point where it could live outside the womb; in this trimester a woman can obtain an abortion despite any legal ban only if doctors certify it is necessary to save her life or health.

    The report goes on:

    But in the following decades anti-abortion campaigners regained some lost ground. More than 30 states have adopted laws limiting abortion rights.

    Legal challenges to the ban, signed into law by President Bush, continue.

    The result of these restrictions is that many women have to travel further to get an abortion, often across state borders, and pay more for them. According to the pro-choice movement, poor women are penalised most by these restrictions.

    For the sake of your argument, let’s limit this to the first trimester. The SCOTUS has ruled, and state after state is restricting first trimester abortion, in spite of that ruling. VA, thanks to a far-right government, is following suit in trying to shut down clinics that perform primarily first trimester abortions. When Roberto, wishes that abortion would disappear, he’s referring to first trimester as that is when the vast majority of abortions occur.

    If you want to go past the first trimester, my belief is that a fetus is not a member of society. A baby is.

  32. Liberal Anthropologist

    Was that last part directed at me? Don’t understand it. I am in favor of marriage equality. How does that relate to this issue? I think humans in all stages are imbued the same human rights.

  33. Pariahdog

    The “clever” “pre-born women fetuses” phrase is a stoner argument. If you can recognize it in the anti-marriage equality argument, then there is hope that you can recognize it in the women fetuses argument.

  34. Liz Miller

    Look, not every foetus is pre-born. Some die in the womb. Some are reabsorbed. Some are miscarried (which is called “spontaneous abortion”, btw.).

    In all cases, foetuses are gestated in the wombs of WOMEN. Who are indisputably members of society. Did you know that the risk of death in childbirth is much higher for people under the age of 18? Did you know that the risk of death in childbirth is much higher for people who have more than two children already?

    Did you know that those two groups are the people most likely to seek an abortion?

    And you call yourself Pro-Life? You aren’t.

    Forget it. Forget you. You make me too angry. I’m done here.

  35. Eric the 1/2 troll

    “The SCOTUS has ruled, and state after state is restricting first trimester abortion, in spite of that ruling.”

    If the SCOTUS ruled that you have an unrestricted “right” to a first trimester abortion and there are laws that restrict that right on the books, well I would assume they are being challenged in court – where they SHOULD be challenged. Correct?

    If th SCOTUS ruling has since been superceded by other rulings that adjust this “right” to an abortion or balance it against other rights, well then THAT is the current rule/law.

    But I still contend that the basis of the entire tension/confrontation in the issue is we do not CLEARLY understand when human life begins. If we did, the issue would be largely moot.

    “If you want to go past the first trimester, my belief is that a fetus is not a member of society. A baby is.”

    And I think the SCOTUS and most Americans would disagree with this belief. FWIW, I can and do accept that a first trimester (to use a convenient divisional line) fetus is NOT a living human being. I am not as comfortable with this classification in the entire second term and I pretty much reject it in the third term.

  36. Eric the 1/2 troll

    “And you call yourself Pro-Life? You aren’t.”

    Don’t you think most everybody is REALLY Pro-Life? I don’t, however, identify with the “Pro-Life” political organization, however, so please watch your labels. I am pro-life, however, with a small “p” which is one reason I think deemining when life starts is central to this issue.

    Don’t you want to know when life begins before you decide whether to have an abortion or not? Don’t you think that is an important issue to concern yourself with?

    Now you want to use the risk of maternal death during childbirth as a reason to why women (should or do?) seek abortions. With less than 600 deaths per year (a rate of about 12 per 100,000) I do not think this is meaningful motivation for abortions.

    But, frankly, it is neither here nor there. I don’t care why a woman gets an abortion or if she does if it is done prior to the child being a living human being and we ALL should care about it AFTER that point.

    I am sorry this issue and my viewpoint angers you Liz. But I think in the end the discussion is inescapable.

  37. Liberal Anthropologist

    E1/2T.

    “FWIW, I can and do accept that a first trimester (to use a convenient divisional line) fetus is NOT a living human being.”

    I don’t think you believe this as you have worded it. A fetus at 1 second old is:

    Living
    Human
    A thing in Existence – A being

    I think what you mean to say is that it is a living human being that you should not afford any form of human rights to. And thus can be killed at will.

  38. Liberal Anthropologist

    Liz,

    You should not act like a stereotypical liberal and get angry in discussing issues. you get angry because you are being asked to confront the fundamental question that means thinking outside of the mental box you have been comfortable in.

    You can’t conceive of being anything other than pro-choice. Too much of your identity is wrapped up in a righteous belief that you are a defender of rights. When the logic is put before you that you may be defending some rights while attacking others and that it is reasonable to say that you are not a defender of human rights, you get upset. Since you view your opinions as inherently “good” and “just”, the questioning of them shakes you.

    In any case, you really seem having trouble understanding the majority pro-life position, including mine:

    “Did you know that the risk of death in childbirth is much higher for people under the age of 18?”

    No. A 17 year old has less risk than a 42 year old.

    ” Did you know that the risk of death in childbirth is much higher for people who have more than two children already?”

    I don’t know what you mean by much. Both have very low death rates in the modern world.

    “Did you know that those two groups are the people most likely to seek an abortion?”

    In both cases, the motivation is typically economic and convenience motivated, not risk reduction.

    “And you call yourself Pro-Life? You aren’t”

    I am. If that 16 year old faces a life threatening complication (rare) I am OK with her getting an abortion. No matter what age, I am ok with it. So, you are not even acknowledging the pro-life position. If their life is threatened, as you are concerned about, almost no “pro-lifer” would be against the abortion. We are in favor of protecting the life of the mother. When one life or the other must be lost, then the mother should be allowed to make that choice and can choose to live.

    You do nothing for advancing your argument if you will not even understand the position of the other side. I understand your position. Do you understand mine? Clearly not if you think I want these mothers to die.

  39. Eric the 1/2 troll

    “I don’t think you believe this as you have worded it. A fetus at 1 second old is:

    Living
    Human
    A thing in Existence – A being”

    You parse words to make a point, LA. But I take issue with serveral of them. First, overall, the term “living human being” has a vastly different meaning than do adding together the meanings of the word involved in the phrase.

    None the less, I do not believe a 1 second old fetus IS living (as in “alive”). It IS clearly living in the context of a skin cell is a living but NOT as we define “alive” in any other aspect of human life.

    “And thus can be killed at will.”

    And thus if it is not “alive” it can not be “killed”.

    Convince me it is “alive” by comparing it to ANY other definition of “alive” we use today and I may change my mind.

    Hope that clarifies my position.

  40. Liberal Anthropologist

    I am not trying to play with words. I think you make a good point about the aggregate meaning.

    You use the word “alive”. I use the phrase “worthy of human rights”, I believe we are saying the same thing and have the same intent.

    A skin cell is alive and I do not think it deserves individual rights.
    A carrot is alive and I am OK with boiling it to death.
    A sperm cell is alive and I am ok with people… well… you know….

    So I think we agree on the issue. You make an interesting and strong argument that the point for the beginning should be the same as we see the end at the moment… brain activity.

    I disagree – and for one core reason…

    There is a difference between the beginning and the end. In the end, if you wait x months, you will almost entirely have the same situation.

    In the beginning, if you wait x months, you almost always end up with brain activity and a smiling laughing little person.

    Can you see why I make that difference? Doing nothing in the two cases has very different results.

    If I can protect that fetus with no brain activity yet for just a month or so, I will end up with brain activity and eventually a person who gets to live a life. 70+ years of the joys and the sorry of life will follow. It is a different scenario than the end.

  41. Eric the 1/2 troll

    “…brain activity…”

    Not just brain activity but the same KIND of brain activity we use to determine “brain death” at teh other end of life. I am not a doctor but it is clear from what I have read that there is a strict definition there.

    “There is a difference between the beginning and the end. In the end, if you wait x months, you will almost entirely have the same situation.”

    I understadn what you are saying and there IS a difference but that is really not the issue. The two must be separated (i.e., the DEFINITION of life, and the POTENTIAL for life). Remember we are balancing rights here. I have no problem providing the mother the ability to dictate the “potential for life” outcome if her will is not impacting a LIVING human being. In this case, her rights transend the right to potential life in some future outcome since she is the only living human being involved. We might not like her choice, we might be sorry for the lost potential but in the end no living human being was harmed by her decision – she has the right to make that choice.

    It is really when a living human being is involved that the issue gets more difficult – but again, if we agree tht the fetus is living – that is not a hard balance of rights to define.

    Frankly, I think we are fairly close to this point in the US as it currently stands. I think the Pro-choice groups would benefit by embracing a clear definition of when life begins as it will clearly stake out the issue and provide more longterm protection against slippery slope legislation. Furhermore, their concerns about healthcare for unborn and newly born humans would be much more actionable if we clearly define the point of life (and subsequently human rights protection under the Constitution).

  42. Liberal Anthropologist

    You are probably right that current pro-choice activism is hurting their cause through a lack of clear definition of what they won’t accept.

    So to be clear, and I think you know this. I was arguing your logic. In my logic, the entity deserves human rights protection even in the absence of brain activity or even more that 2 cells because that potential that you speak of is worthy of protection from the moment it becomes and individual existence.

    This opinion is not based in religion. It is based out of:

    1] An abundance of caution. The same reason I am against the death penalty. This is the most basic right being taken away. The right to live. It should only be done for extreme and not casual reasons. Liz likes to argue the relatively rare extreme cases. If that is all we had, then I wouldn’t likely make this a big issue. The problem is we have millions dying for not the extreme cases.

    2] A desire to reduce abortions and overall reduce pre-marital sex. If it is illegal to get an abortion except in the extreme cases, then there will simply be less of them. Abortions were far less common in the US before Roe v Wade. I have lived in countries where abortion is illegal today. Not only are there far less (performed illegally), but sexual mores tend to be more conservative. Because of the consequences of pregnancy pre-marital sex is less common. Relationships tend to be stronger in my opinion. Divorce is less common. It all falls out of the big consequences of pregnancy when it is a big deal to deal with it.

    I am sure many will disagree, but that is my thinking.

    Speaking of which, I still haven’t seen what I supposedly said about female rights.

    ESQRT(16)/8T,

    I think you and I disagree but I think we understand each others positions for what they are and not what we imagine them to be. I think Liz needs to really get her head around the pro-life position if she is going to debate it.

  43. Eric the 1/2 troll

    “The right to live.”

    This right only applies to a living human being. It does not apply to a group of cells that have the potential for life in the future. Nor should it.

    The only way I see that would EVER warrant placing the embryo’s protection over the rights of the mother is one where that embryo IS INDEED a living human being at the time. You have not made that case nor can you as far as I can tell – not convincingly enough to warrant restricting the rights of a clearly living human being in the process.

    I would think a Libertarian would understand the principle and support it.

    Be aware, you and I and Liz all likely share the same goals in the end – a desire to reduce abortions. Nobody disputes this desire, I believe.

  44. Liberal Anthropologist

    E2^2/8T,

    I will have to go back to the words then. It is living and human. There is no reason to deny it those rights. How about you explain to me the basis for denying rights.

    We should assume inalienable rights and then argue why they should be taken away. If you cannot argue absolutely why the most basic right – of life, should be removed, then the default position should be to protect it.

    In other words, what is the basis for not applying those basic rights? If you cannot make an absolutely clear argument, then the safest position is to protect them. A a libertarian, I want to protect this individual (you cannot argue the fetus is an individual human creature with unique DNA), so it can exercise its liberty.

    It is a reasonable libertarian position, held by, amongst others, Ron Paul.

  45. Eric the 1/2 troll

    “It is living and human. There is no reason to deny it those rights. How about you explain to me the basis for denying rights”

    As I said, it is NOT a living human being by any definition we use anywhere else in our life cycle (or the mediacal field for that matter). As you said a skin cell is “living” and “human”, you clear do not want to extend rights to all skin cells.

    “We should assume inalienable rights and then argue why they should be taken away.”

    I think I just did above. An embryo is not a living hunman being by any stretch of medical definition.

    “(you cannot argue the fetus is an individual human creature with unique DNA)”

    I don’t have to. Until there is a certain kind of brain activity, it IS simply a indivdiual human creature no different – at that point in time – than a corpse that is hooked up to life support. I know this sounds harsh but YOU are advocating for taking away rights from another living human being to give them to a being that is clearly NOT alive as we currently define “alive”. I do not see how this is keeping with Libertarian ideals – regardless of what Ron Paul thinks or says.

  46. Liberal Anthropologist

    “As I said, it is NOT a living human being by any definition we use anywhere else in our life cycle (or the mediacal field for that matter).”

    There is no definition of living human being in the medical field.

    A human on life support and no brain activity is living and human and exists. As we discussed, this is a legal definition based on societal definitions of what rights we want to give to what. You cannot use medicine to defend your position absolutely, since it is not a scientific question.

    We extend rights to dead humans. Not the right to life of course, but other rights.

    A skin cell does not have a unique DNA sequence independent of the person. A skin cell – left alone – will not become a living breathing human who will live 70+years. The embryo will. They are not comparable.

    “I think I just did above. An embryo is not a living hunman being by any stretch of medical definition.”

    There is no medical definition of living human being. I am repeating myself. If you want to combine those words to mean something about rights, that is outside of medical science. Individually, each word is medically provable. It is a human. It is alive. And it exists.

    You can’t ignore the breakdown of the words in one post and then talk about medical definitions in another.

    “I know this sounds harsh but YOU are advocating for taking away rights from another living human being to give them to a being that is clearly NOT alive as we currently define “alive”.”

    You and I don’t use the same definition of “alive”. Do you see how using the word alive gets you in trouble. Of course the embryo is alive. It has cells multiplying. It has ATP moving around. It is clearly alive. You want to use that word to describe something else. A carrot is alive. But we afford it no rights. An embryo is ALSO alive, and we argue about whether it gets rights.

    That is all this argument is about. You can use medicine or science to help pick points at which you afford rights to something. But you can’t then walk away from the scientific definition of life – which both the carrot and the embryo meet.

    You have to see that this is ONLY a societal argument over who gets which rights and how to balance them. Not scientific at all. I am sure we all agree on the science.

    ” I do not see how this is keeping with Libertarian ideals”

    The right to life trumps all other rights in Libertarian ideals. Meaning, a society has a right to prevent murder from happening. If you think the fetus should be afforded human rights, then society has an obligation to protect them.

    At one point people used to think Black people should be afforded different rights. Were they evil? No. They were just wrong. There are people who still think homosexuals should not be given full rights. Are they evil? No. Just wrong. And there is a shrinking segment of society that thinks pre-born humans should not be afforded rights. They are wrong too.

  47. Eric the 1/2 troll

    “There is no medical definition of living human being”

    But there IS, LA. That is the point. A medical doctor has objective criteria that must be met for a human being to be considered “alive”. Those criteria are EXACTLY why we can pull the plug on a corpse on life support without violating its right to life.

    With that understanding in place, the rest of your argument falls flat because we should not extend the right to life to a human being who is not alive.

  48. Liberal Anthropologist

    E1/2T,

    Your assertion that there is a medical definition of a living human being is not accurate. I would ask you to provide a reference where the medical community has stated that they are in a position to tell society what makes something a living human being.

    They can define Brain Death. Someone who is Brain Dead is alive by the scientific definition of life. Prove to me that medicine has declared the brain dead “not alive”. If they have, how have they differentiated that definition from the scientific definition of life.

    You are mixing very different things. The creature you kill in abortion will – if left alone – develop brain waves. The other one you want to compare to – like the carrot – never will.

    Eventually we may have technology that revives brains that are “dead”. In fact, we are starting to in some cases. There are therapies that bring back some classes of people with no brain activity for several days.

    If you look into the literature on Brain Death it gets quite complicated.

    Let me use YOUR definition. If a doctor had someone on life support that had no brain waves and KNEW that if he simply waited a few months and kept the person alive that the brain activity would resume, would society be OK to remove that person from life support and never let them resume their life?

    I would hope you would say of course not. If we can revive someone in that state after just a few months we would all agree we should wait and not end that life prematurely.

    That is EXACTLY the case with the fetus. Wait a couple months and you are Guaranteed brain activity.

    Hanging your definition on brain activity is weak because it is only dependent on current technological definition. What will you do when the technology shifts?

    So I again refer you to my example. Can we kill the 40 year old father who has no measurable brain activity if we are almost 100% certain they will a few months later be in full health?

  49. Eric the 1/2 troll

    LA,

    Your question is not a valid one simply because we do not have a situation with this scenario. As I have said elsewhere, societal definitions, laws, and morals change with changing times. The fact of the matter is we define “alive” based on subjective medical tests and if a body does not exhibit certain brainwaves it is considered not alive.

    If we are going to open the discussion up to many various hypotheticals, I would submit that the following is far more likely in the not so far future – the ability to clone a human being from any living cell in one’s body. Now I would ask you, does this mean that every cell in the body (should this eventuality occur) should be protected as a living human being? See how hypotheticals muddy the water?

    I am sure if we are able to bring back the dead from a legal brain dead state, the balance of rights will be one of the many dilemmas that will need to be tackled.

    Let’s go back to your question, though (and this is what I think it REALLY is). Do we extend legal human rights to the embryo simply because, if it is given the correct environment, it will eventually develop into a living human being and do we extend those rights to that embryo OVER other competing rights of other living humans (not necessarily JUST the mother’s)?

    Once again, if the “pro-life” camp can successfully get a consensus that life begins at conception (because of the “potential” for life as we now know it), the issues you raise will need to be examined. But so will things like where do we stop when it comes to extending this right (e.g., we would then have millions of US citizens awaiting full expression of their life in test tubes around the country. Would not forcible conscription of uteri be warrented to give them equal rights under the law?) Please don’t say we would have to balance the rights of THOSE women differently than we do pregnant women.

    No I am not saying that this might not be where society and our government don’t eventually end up but we are clearly not there now. Why? Because we do not consider an embryo to be alive and therefore its rights do NOT need to balanced against a women. And we do not consider it to be alive because it does not exhibit any of the subjective criteria we currently use for “alive” as it pertains to humans.

    In general, I think it would be good thing to tie fetus “life” to the definitions used by the medical profession elsewhere in their practice. If we can agree on THAT, let the rest of society catch up to you (or not as it may be).

    But don’t try to do things halfway. If they are alive, they are citizens if they are not, they are not. Again, I come back to the definition of “alive” being all important.

  50. Epluribusunum

    LA, regarding the term “female liberty,” you introduced it here in a discussion not much different from this one. I found it striking. However you intended it to be understood, to coin the term in the first place posits the thing it describes as distinct from “liberty” by definition. I understand the argument you’re making with regard to the balancing of rights, and I don’t take issue with its logic; I just disagree with your conclusion, which I think is inescapably this: A person’s capacity to become pregnant entitles her to an inferior form of liberty, i.e., liberty with a built-in exception.

    For fuller context, your comment is in response to the exchange that begins with my comment, here.

    Here is your comment in part:

    ..I would like to address your question of female liberty. It is inherent that when a life is created that she is in a special position. It is not my desire to limit her liberty, but the desire to protect the liberty of another that is overriding.

    So I am not doing this to deny female liberty. I wish she could have it. The male is bound in my mind as well as much as he can be. Once the life is created both are responsible from that moment forth to protect the liberty (starting with life) of the human which is dependent on them for life..

    On another note, I’m sure you realize that reducing abortion – a goal we all share – means reducing unwanted pregnancies, not reducing “pre-marital sex.” Even assuming that you are not making this argument yourself, you must realize how silly that is, because the need to control conception doesn’t necessarily end for people just because they got married. If the pro-life position ignores this fact…well, it would be just another empirical fact that gets ignored in favor of ideology. See Rick Perry’s idiocy here for further illustration. It doesn’t really matter whether or not this approach to problems is expressly “religious” – it’s anti-empiricism.

  51. Liberal Anthropologist

    E(1^199986545787)/CubeRoot(8)T and EPU,

    I will pick up both of your points and answer them in the comments of a coming post I am working on for Too Conservative.

    To be continued. Two quick comments, Eric, you made an interesting point on your post that nobody has made before to me. EPU, to be clear, I mistated on pre-marital sex. Of course, it is unwanted pregnancies. The rest of my stuff I stand by. You’ll see why in my Too Conservative post. I look forward to continuing it.

  52. Pingback: How to bully a girl into having an abortion, by Keith Deltano – Loudoun Progress

  53. Idiot Hunter

    Adam is not the name of the baby up there. It is the name of the company that created the illustration. They are a medical research and education company. It stands for Animated Dissection of Anatomy for Medicine.

    Dumbass.

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