Abortion and Women's Rights

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Abortion and Women's Rights

Postby RadicalModerate » Sun Mar 13, 2011 3:20 pm UTC

This is probably a simple question simple answer sort of thing, I hope so, anyway.

I have always heard that abortion is a women's rights issue, and I have never really understood why that is.

It seems to me that if there is a baby in a woman's body, then that baby is NOT the woman's body. Yes, if an abortion happened, or if a woman gives birth, clearly the woman plays a large part.

But considering the fact that the baby is either LIVING or DIEING, and the woman is just basically undergoing a (possibly very painful) medical procedure, it seems like it is more of a "when is the fetus a baby" issue than a supposed "women's rights" issue.

It might be that I am missing something, so I am looking forward to some posts!

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Re: Abortion and Women's Rights

Postby Angua » Sun Mar 13, 2011 3:50 pm UTC

Have a look at this website telling you what you can expect just from being pregnant (without having to give birth).

Also, disorders such as diabetes and eclampsia as well as DYING IN CHILDBIRTH (yes, it's quite rare now, but can still happen).

Not to mention having to take time off work, generally avoid certain things that you might enjoy (eg alcohol), the stigma that can develop from being pregnant when you're not married, etc.

None of these things do men have to go through.

There's also depression associated with pregnancy and post pregnancy (I mention this after the men thing, as I think fathers can also develop post-partum depression at least as part of it is from sleep deprivation and the stress of having to look after a baby, though the hormones that pregnancy and childbirth cause make women more likely to get it).
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Re: Abortion and Women's Rights

Postby RadicalModerate » Sun Mar 13, 2011 3:57 pm UTC

I get that, so maybe I didn't make myself clear.
Women can go through HELL when pregnant.
However, if we collectively decided that a fetus should be considered a baby, and therefore that abortion is murder, I don't think that we would all be questioning whether a woman's right to not have to undergo those things should trump a baby's right to life. I think we would decide that the baby would have to live, because a human's right to life trumps pretty much everything else.
This leads me to think that abortion is fundamentally a question of whether the fetus is a baby or not, and therefore not really a "women's rights issue".
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Re: Abortion and Women's Rights

Postby icanus » Sun Mar 13, 2011 4:01 pm UTC

It's about bodily autonomy - the right of a woman not to have another organism use her body as shelter/source of nourishment against her will. The classic example is the idea that if you wake up one day hooked up to the life-support system of a coma patient and are told that he will die if you unplug yourself, do you have an obligation to stay hooked up to him?

RadicalModerate wrote:But considering the fact that the baby is either LIVING or DIEING, and the woman is just basically undergoing a (possibly very painful) medical procedure, it seems like it is more of a "when is the fetus a baby" issue than a supposed "women's rights" issue.

As Angua has already pointed out, pregnancy and childbirth are a rather more than this. It's nine months of massive hormonal and physical changes, followed by one of the most physically demanding events most humans will ever experience, a decent chance of lasting physical injury, and a non-trivial risk of death.

We wouldn't require someone to go through all of that to save the life of another adult, who is definitely a person - why would we require it to save the life of something that may or may not be a person?

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Re: Abortion and Women's Rights

Postby Mavketl » Sun Mar 13, 2011 4:10 pm UTC

RadicalModerate wrote:However, if we collectively decided that a fetus should be considered a baby, and therefore that abortion is murder, I don't think that we would all be questioning whether a woman's right to not have to undergo those things should trump a baby's right to life.
This is why it's a women's rights issue. Because the question is "do whatever rights this fetus has trump the rights of the woman who is carrying it?" - women's rights are right there on one end of the scale. You could say that it's also an issue of "fetus' rights", but that doesn't make it not a women's rights issue.

On a sidenote, not everyone in the abortion debate agrees that the fetus' rights trump a woman's rights even if they would agree that a fetus is a person/human being/baby/potential person/whatever, so you should probably not present that as some sort of consensus.
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Re: Abortion and Women's Rights

Postby Inny Binny » Sun Mar 13, 2011 4:23 pm UTC

I don't really think it should be a question of women's rights at all. It's everything to do with where the line is drawn for life. If a baby is determined to be living, then its right to life trumps that of the woman's right to choose an easier life (excepting serious cases of health, but that's not so much about right of choice). If it isn't living, it doesn't have human rights.

Defining life an extremely difficult thing to do, especially because it's often so arbitrary. Having an abortion a week before birth would hardly be better than killing a baby two days after birth; similarly, the moment after conception isn't really any different to that just before. Where is the line drawn?

Although I guess you could argue that much of the debate surrounds potential life...does the right to potential life of a 5-week embryo trump that of a woman's right to choice? Here I don't think so at all, the idea of potential life is very fuzzy, and is so arbitrarily defined that it takes only small logical steps to come to the conclusion that rape of twelve year old girls should not be stopped.

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Re: Abortion and Women's Rights

Postby Mavketl » Sun Mar 13, 2011 4:28 pm UTC

How do you write an entire post about which things should trump women's rights and which things shouldn't (which by the way, you are stating some things as if they were widely accepted while they are not), and start it off with "this is not a question of women's rights"? How are women's rights not involved in that?
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Re: Abortion and Women's Rights

Postby RadicalModerate » Sun Mar 13, 2011 4:33 pm UTC

Oh okay maybe there is that problem. I just assumed that "the right to life trumps everything else" was agreed upon. If not, then I guess this could be considered a women's rights issue.

I guess what I have issue with is that people consider abortion a "women's rights issue" above all else, or at the very least whenever you bring up abortion you hear it is a "women's rights issue". If one were to assume that people agreed about what i talked about above, I don't think it is absurd to think that abortion is more a "when does the fetus become a human" issue. Because that isn't the case, I guess I have to concede the point.

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Re: Abortion and Women's Rights

Postby Wnderer » Sun Mar 13, 2011 5:32 pm UTC

The question is not whether women should have the right to choose whether or not to be pregnant, but when do they get to choose? Is parental responsibility inherent in sexual activity? A man and a woman go out, get drunk, have sex and the woman gets pregnant. It's a one night stand. She can have an abortion, put the kid up for adoption, or keep the kid. Her reasons for having an abortion could have nothing to do with her health. She had a fight with her fiance and went and got drunk. Now they patched up their differences and she feels the whole incident is a mistake. Having another man's child would really screw up this relationship. What about the man? He might be in the exact same position and now nine months later this woman shows up and tells him, he is a father. What are his responsibilities? Does he owe financial support? Should he be involved in this child's life? How about custody? Most importantly what is the government role in determining and enforcing parental responsibility? I don't think the government should be determining and enforcing morality. Figuring out and acting on what I feel is right or wrong is fundamental to my pursuit of happiness. Government should only get involved when my action violates someone else's rights. Hence the right to life argument. Sure government can't make you under go a medical procedure to give someone a kidney. But once given, you can't take it back. So should a fetus be given full human rights?

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Re: Abortion and Women's Rights

Postby Aic » Sun Mar 13, 2011 5:48 pm UTC

We wouldn't require someone to go through all of that to save the life of another adult, who is definitely a person - why would we require it to save the life of something that may or may not be a person?


I certainly would require someone to go through all of that to save my life when he/she is the one who put me in such a situation (like being stuck in a woman's uterus), in first place. [Obvious exceptions here.]

I don't think it's a question of women's rights, but each case is a question of that individual person's rights, which coincidentally happens to be a woman...most of the time.

Here they tried to draw the line for abortions at that point where they think the fetus gets conscious (3 Months, and only after short psychological support.) After that, you are only allowed to abort in certain cases (complications, mother going mad and stabbing herself, such things.)
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Re: Abortion and Women's Rights

Postby Izawwlgood » Sun Mar 13, 2011 5:51 pm UTC

With due respect, until you read over even a fraction of the countless threads on abortion that already grace these boards, I'm not sure why we should bother responding to you.

RadicalModerate wrote:However, if we collectively decided that a fetus should be considered a baby, and therefore that abortion is murder

Inny Binny wrote:If a baby is determined to be living, then its right to life trumps that of the woman's right to choose an easier life (excepting serious cases of health, but that's not so much about right of choice). If it isn't living, it doesn't have human rights.

Also, read a book, or watch the news or something, I cannot believe that someone would hold such a wantonly ignorant opinion. You state these opinions as though they were facts.

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Re: Abortion and Women's Rights

Postby TheGrammarBolshevik » Sun Mar 13, 2011 5:51 pm UTC

Wnderer wrote:Sure government can't make you under go a medical procedure to give someone a kidney. But once given, you can't take it back.

Sure, but pregnancy is an ongoing process. Giving someone a month worth of parasitic life support does not entitle them to the next eight. As an adult human would not be entitled to such parasitism, even full human rights for a fetus would be insufficient to entitle it to protection from abortion.

I struggle to see the relevance of your rambling anecdote.


Aic wrote:
We wouldn't require someone to go through all of that to save the life of another adult, who is definitely a person - why would we require it to save the life of something that may or may not be a person?


I certainly would require someone to go through all of that to save my life when he/she is the one who put me in such a situation (like being stuck in a woman's uterus), in first place. [Obvious exceptions here.]

Would you permit me to involuntarily harvest a kidney from someone who had damaged my kidneys?
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Re: Abortion and Women's Rights

Postby Aic » Sun Mar 13, 2011 6:13 pm UTC

Would you permit me to involuntarily harvest a kidney from someone who had damaged my kidneys?


Well, I'm not sure if I find it a morally good thing or a good idea for society in general, but if I could, and there were no other options, I'm pretty sure I would try to steal a kidney from that guy. (If I deliberately or negligently killed someone's kidneys and he/she is about to die, I'd offer to donate one, on the other hand.)
The difference might be that, probably, there are other options for kidney-less people to stay alive, but a fetus, if considered life/human, only has one; not being aborted.
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Re: Abortion and Women's Rights

Postby Wnderer » Sun Mar 13, 2011 6:23 pm UTC

TheGrammarBolshevik wrote:Sure, but pregnancy is an ongoing process. Giving someone a month worth of parasitic life support does not entitle them to the next eight.


What does? When is this contract signed? When she took her panties off in the back seat of the car? after she peed on a stick? after shes finds out the kid will be blind? or after she finds out the sex of the kid? (Forget it. We got three boys already) Are you arguing that abortion should be on going decision through out the pregnancy?

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Re: Abortion and Women's Rights

Postby Izawwlgood » Sun Mar 13, 2011 6:28 pm UTC

Yes. A woman's right to choose supersedes any time line or benchmark of life. How are you still not getting that from the numerous times it's been stated on these boards?
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Re: Abortion and Women's Rights

Postby Wnderer » Sun Mar 13, 2011 6:41 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:Yes. A woman's right to choose supersedes any time line or benchmark of life. How are you still not getting that from the numerous times it's been stated on these boards?


That is not an argument. You make a statement as if it is a fact and appeal to the authority of the 'boards'. If you have worked out such a convincing argument it should not be difficult to restate it here.

Again, is there parental responsibility inherent in sexual activity?

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Re: Abortion and Women's Rights

Postby PAstrychef » Sun Mar 13, 2011 6:42 pm UTC

Since your basic premise is the problem-"let's all decide that a fetus is a human being!" I can see no way to get your head around the basic science that would show how faulty your premise is. A zygote is NOT a human being.
The big questions of what makes a human a person, when does that happen during gestation, when does an already competent adult get to make that decision and so on have been argued for centuries without any kind of consensus. It sound like you haven't been bothered to do any work to discover this information.
Go ask at Planned Parenthood-which, by the way, does NOT provide abortions. Look in a basic book of reproductive science. Read the literature surrounding Roe v. Wade
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Re: Abortion and Women's Rights

Postby (╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻ » Sun Mar 13, 2011 6:54 pm UTC

Wnderer wrote:
TheGrammarBolshevik wrote:Sure, but pregnancy is an ongoing process. Giving someone a month worth of parasitic life support does not entitle them to the next eight.


What does? When is this contract signed? When she took her panties off in the back seat of the car? after she peed on a stick? after shes finds out the kid will be blind? or after she finds out the sex of the kid? (Forget it. We got three boys already) Are you arguing that abortion should be on going decision through out the pregnancy?

It is, actually. Abortion is an ongoing decision through out the pregnancy, you complete tosser.
No, I don't care if this is in SB because I expect to see this thread locked.
What the hell is the problem with you people? Have you never actually met a woman in your entire lives? Are you so ignorant that something growing inside of a woman trumps her right to 'an easier life', oh so what if it's a palm tree? The gross oversimplification of what abortion means to women and what it does for women shows that everyone in this thread who is arguing that this is about fetus' rights (we may as well talk about the rights of my dozen eggs in the fridge) has done absolutely zero research in actually living in the real world.
Go out, meet some people, don't have sex with anybody (cause those stupid women might just kill your babies!) and get a clue about what it really means to plan a pregnancy. Maybe what it means to bring it to term. Try to focus on 'women are people too, and not just ideas'.


Everything you just posted places the onus on the woman to prove that she has some kind of right to make a decision about what goes on in one of her organs.
Hey do me a favor- until you learn to grow that organ yourself, keep your hands off the keyboards, your ass out of the voting booths, and cut your own penis off because clearly you aren't alive enough to make decisions for yourself, let alone another.

at the very least read ONE other thread on abortion on these boards. Pretend like you respect the forumgoers enough for that, please.
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Re: Abortion and Women's Rights

Postby Izawwlgood » Sun Mar 13, 2011 6:57 pm UTC

Wnderer wrote:
Izawwlgood wrote:Yes. A woman's right to choose supersedes any time line or benchmark of life. How are you still not getting that from the numerous times it's been stated on these boards?


That is not an argument. You make a statement as if it is a fact and appeal to the authority of the 'boards'. If you have worked out such a convincing argument it should not be difficult to restate it here.

Again, is there parental responsibility inherent in sexual activity?

Parental responsibility is indeed an inherent risk in sexual activity, which is why it is important to allow people to make the responsible decision to not be parents if they aren't ready/don't want to be.
Since you can't be buggered, and it is unreasonable to state my opinions as givens right after I tell you not to do the same, I'll outline it quickly and simply for you;
A fetus is not a human being, and therefor, the potential to life does not supersede a woman's right to choose what happens to her body or her future. The notion that a fetus has a right to life should place it slightly above the value of a non-vital organ, say a liver lobe. I'd not go around destroying them in other people, but I also wouldn't tell someone that their liver has a right to filter their bodies blood stream and thus is not theirs to choose to donate, remove, or drink into oblivion.

I think, actually, since you are the one suggesting limiting the rights of an individual (removing a woman's rights to choose), that the burden of evidence is on you. Tell me how you justify removing a woman's rights, in favor of a fetus. I don't understand how this decision can be reached from both pragmatic (cost/benefit analysis) or ethical (justice) approaches. The only paradigm that believes this that I can understand is the religious one, and that's rife with interpretation and asshattery anyway.
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Re: Abortion and Women's Rights

Postby Soralin » Sun Mar 13, 2011 7:05 pm UTC

Well say for example that you're hooked up to someone in the hospital, providing a blood transfusion. You can legally choose to simply walk away, to not donate any more blood. Even if there's no one else around that could provide the life support in your place, even if doing so would result in the death the person you're attached to, you're still legally allowed to do it. And there's no question there about the other human being a person. So likewise, even if you (somehow)considered a fetus to be a person, you could use the same legal argument to allow the person to simply refuse to provide life support for it, just as they could with any other person.

Of course, if it's not a sentient being, doesn't have a functional brain (i.e. isn't a person) Then it's not even an issue (or shouldn't be), because there's only 1 person involved.

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Re: Abortion and Women's Rights

Postby greengiant » Sun Mar 13, 2011 7:55 pm UTC

This thread seems to be in danger of going downhill. I think it's a bit unfair to dismiss the OP's question out of hand. Even though it was phrased a little naively, I think there's room for a SB discussion on whether a foetus should be considered a person and if so whether abortion is right/wrong. I'm pro-choice, but I still see that there's room for people to be pro-life.

Maybe we should let the OP to clarify what he/she'd like to discuss. Maybe 'If a foetus is a person, is abortion right/wrong?' or 'Should gender-equality concerns outweigh any concerns about foetal rights' or 'Assuming a foetus is a person, would a woman's right to bodily autonomy trump the foetus's rights'. There's plenty of room for discussion.

On topic a bit more, I think the life-support analogy is intriguing, but not totally convincing. It depends a little on the nature of the life-support. Suppose one of a pair of conjoined twins decides they want separation surgery, but the other does not. Suppose further that the one wanting the surgery is pretty likely to survive it while their sibling is not (maybe because twin B lacks certain organs, I'm assuming this can happen - my knowledge of conjoined twins isn't that extensive). Would twin A be allowed to separate themselves from twin B even though it would kill twin B or would they be forced to keep providing twin B life support? I'd say this is as good an analogy as the life-support one but with a much less clear answer.

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Re: Abortion and Women's Rights

Postby Izawwlgood » Sun Mar 13, 2011 8:01 pm UTC

greengiant wrote: I'm pro-choice, but I still see that there's room for people to be pro-life.

A common misconception about this discussion is that being pro-choice means aborting all fetuses, or that being pro-choice means given the slightest cause for trouble, the fetus is aborted. Being pro-choice means the CHOICE is the woman's. Meaning if she decides an abortion is too much emotional baggage, or that she feels too attached to the fetus, she can CHOOSE to have the child. I find this perfectly reasonable, and think it's completely acceptable for an individual to decide that abortions are something they wouldn't consider.

The problem is when the law removes the CHOICE, or when other people think their personal outlook need to be shared by others. I've got no issue with you saying that you cannot deal with an abortion, and would rather carry the fetus to term and put it up for adoption, I have lots of issue with you saying that because that's what you'd do, everyone needs to as well.

greengiant wrote:SB discussion on whether a foetus should be considered a person

If you want to have that discussion, you need to be very careful with what you define as life. It's such a slippery slope, it's almost not worth having. But in any case, no matter what your benchmark is (and I hate benchmarks), you need to be willing to state, up front, that there's a certain point where you're willing to say "After this, a woman has no right to choose". If you're willing to say that, I don't think, frankly, I want to continue discussing the topic with you, because we fundamentally disagree. There are, and can be points, at which an abortion is significantly more risky, and a doctor can advise against it, but ultimately, a woman's right to bodily autonomy trumps a fetuses right to anything. Period.

EDIT: As for the twin analogy, I think it's an interesting medical ethics question, but ultimately, has no bearing what so ever on pregnancy.
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Re: Abortion and Women's Rights

Postby morriswalters » Sun Mar 13, 2011 8:17 pm UTC

Anyone care to take a whack at defining when a human begins to be human? It seems to be the point where conflict starts. Can someone state a particular metric that they would decide to use? Can anyone present a metric to state at what point the mothers rights trump the fetus's? Can you hold your position when presented with counter examples? Or has everyone decided in advance that everyone who holds a dissenting point of view is a moral pygmy? Is the OP expecting too much to expect reason and rationality(a capacity much vaunted by some here) to hold? My money's on ugly and reason and rationality be damned. However I'm game. I'll come back later and post some ideas that I don't have the time to do now. Assuming this thread isn't locked.:twisted:

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Re: Abortion and Women's Rights

Postby greengiant » Sun Mar 13, 2011 8:35 pm UTC

I don't think I've misunderstood the term pro-choice. I'm just saying that even if I believe one thing, I can see why others would believe otherwise and am happy to have a discussion.

Izawwlgood wrote:But in any case, no matter what your benchmark is (and I hate benchmarks), you need to be willing to state, up front, that there's a certain point where you're willing to say "After this, a woman has no right to choose". If you're willing to say that, I don't think, frankly, I want to continue discussing the topic with you, because we fundamentally disagree.


I'm afraid that I do believe this. If the foetus is definitely viable, I do not believe it should be aborted. If a woman is 39 weeks pregnant, I would not support an abortion. Obviously there's no clear cut place where the line should be drawn and I have neither the expertise nor the inclination to put a figure on it.

Presumably, you disagree with my identifying as pro-choice. However, I do support a woman's right to choose an abortion, just not necessarily right up til birth. I suspect you're the one using the term oddly, not me.

Again, I don't see why we can't still discuss the subject. We do disagree but I don't see why that should stop us. There'd be no point discussing it if we all agreed about everything.

P.S. My point with the conjoined twins was to rebut the life-support analogy other people were using. It seems to be just as good an analogy but without the clear-cut answer.

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Re: Abortion and Women's Rights

Postby lati0s » Sun Mar 13, 2011 8:37 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:, but ultimately, a woman's right to bodily autonomy trumps a fetuses right to anything. Period.

I think that placing the right to autonomy above everything else is a bit short sighted, what if there was a woman for whom it was known that if she had an abortion that a billion people would spontaneously combust, would you really still say that it should still be the womans right to do that. If not, then you admit that there is a point where if an action does enough harm then it should not be allowed, even if this means limiting someone's right to autonomy. This is of course more extreme then anything that will happen in real life but my point is that holding any one right above everything else leads to problems

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Re: Abortion and Women's Rights

Postby Azrael » Sun Mar 13, 2011 10:18 pm UTC

Please note the warning now added to the first post.

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Re: Abortion and Women's Rights

Postby PAstrychef » Sun Mar 13, 2011 10:30 pm UTC

lati0s wrote: what if there was a woman for whom it was known that if she had an abortion that a billion people would spontaneously combust, would you really still say that it should still be the womans right to do that.

Let's not be ridiculous.
At issue here is one woman (at a time) making a choice based on her individual life and its circumstances.
And if people are going to be allowed to disagree about what viability is, about quality of life questions, about the personhood of a fetus, then social rules need to be as flexible as possible, so that those people who have to make the decision have the widest possible latitude for doing so.
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Re: Abortion and Women's Rights

Postby Izawwlgood » Sun Mar 13, 2011 10:37 pm UTC

I maintain that benchmarks are foolish because ultimately, they come down to an arbitrary decision as to when we limit the rights of the woman. Is a beating heart indicative of life? Brainwaves? Second Trimester? 22 weeks? 24? If the mothers belly is beyond her breasts? What about if she's named the fetus?

These all come down fairly arbitrary conditions that have no bearing on the fact that a woman is still in a situation where she should be able to decide what happens with her body. Medically speaking, if it were possible to wave a wand over a woman and make the child vanish, I would be perfectly comfortable with such an occurrence moments up unto the point of delivery. If you cannot fathom a situation in which a woman is unable to get an abortion due to legal or personal issues until it's, as you would have it, 'legally too late', I urge you to go talk to... a human being.

Since such a wand doesn't exist, it's important we make it as safe and accessible as possible for a woman to have an abortion if she wants one. Because it can be a risky procedure, and the more benchmarks and red tape and bullshit you put around abortions by imposing your individual rights violating ethics on other human beings, the more likely you make it that a woman is unable to get a safe abortion, and must seek out an 'unsafe abortion'.

And as for this hypothetical people exploding if woman has an abortion, all I can say is 'Seriously?'. If you can't have a debate without the decency to consider your position in the real world, then I'm not sure we can have one.
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Re: Abortion and Women's Rights

Postby lati0s » Sun Mar 13, 2011 10:49 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:And as for this hypothetical people exploding if woman has an abortion, all I can say is 'Seriously?'. If you can't have a debate without the decency to consider your position in the real world, then I'm not sure we can have one.

I was not trying to make an argument about abortion, I was responding to a portion of your post that seemed to imply that the right to bodily autonomy is more important to be upheld than any other rights no matter what.

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Re: Abortion and Women's Rights

Postby TheGrammarBolshevik » Sun Mar 13, 2011 10:52 pm UTC

That's not what was said, though. As you quoted, Izawwlgood only unconditionally elevated bodily autonomy over the rights of the fetus. That does not include the consideration of a billion combusting innocents.
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Re: Abortion and Women's Rights

Postby podbaydoor » Sun Mar 13, 2011 10:55 pm UTC

Given that historically, women have been given very little bodily autonomy - considered outright property of their husbands and offspring (baby factories and bread makers) - I can't feel too bad about giving more bodily autonomy to us.
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Re: Abortion and Women's Rights

Postby Qaanol » Sun Mar 13, 2011 11:07 pm UTC

Okay. Let’s see if we can start with a fact or two: There exists at least one state in the US where it is currently legal for any pregnant woman to have an abortion at any time before childbirth at her sole discretion. In that same state, it is currently illegal for a mother to murder her children at any time after their birth (with the usual exceptions like self-defense).

This presents a legally defined cutoff point, before which the fetus has no right to life, and after which the fetus has become an infant person with standard human rights.

I propose the discussion in this thread should focus on the consequences that would result from changing where that legal cutoff point is defined. In particular, I think we should not talk about the “ethics” or “morals” of moving the cutoff, nor what is the “right” place to locate it.

Some possibilities include:
1. Leaving the cutoff at birth.
2. Moving the cutoff back 3 months, thus banning abortion in the third trimester.
3. Moving the cutoff back 6 months, thus allowing abortion only in the first trimester.
4. Moving the cutoff back 9 months, thus banning all abortions.
5. Moving the cutoff forward a year, thus effecting A Modest Proposal.
6. Moving the cutoff forward 18 years.

Furthermore, the cutoff need not be sudden. There could be several stages over which the fetus or infant gradually achieves more and more rights. We may discuss that possibility here as well, but should focus on when the right to life is bestowed.

I think we should start by considering options 2 and 5, as they involve the least change to the status quo. So I ask two questions: What would be gained or lost by society if the legal right to life were moved to begin with the third trimester of pregnancy? What would be gained or lost by society if it were moved to begin at the first birthday?
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Re: Abortion and Women's Rights

Postby greengiant » Sun Mar 13, 2011 11:31 pm UTC

Izawwlgood, I agree with you that avoiding backstreet abortions is a very strong argument in favour of there being no limits and of removing red tape in general.

I also agree that any specific limit would be somewhat arbitrary, but I don't think that's as good an argument. It just means the concept is vague (in the Sorites sense of the word). If at one end of the gestation period it's acceptable to have an abortion but at the other end it's not, the fact that there's no definite switch between the two doesn't alter the two extremes.

I wonder if anyone could provide any information about the safety of late-term (as in viable foetus) abortion? Is it riskier for the mother to have the foetus extracted alive rather than dead? I ask out of genuine curiosity about whether it would be preferable to extract a living viable foetus rather than abort it.

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Re: Abortion and Women's Rights

Postby lati0s » Sun Mar 13, 2011 11:56 pm UTC

TheGrammarBolshevik wrote:That's not what was said, though. As you quoted, Izawwlgood only unconditionally elevated bodily autonomy over the rights of the fetus. That does not include the consideration of a billion combusting innocents.

It was the tone of "and this isn't even up for discussion" that made me think that bodily autonomy was being raised above other rights, but if that was not the intended implication I apologize for the misunderstanding.

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Re: Abortion and Women's Rights

Postby morriswalters » Mon Mar 14, 2011 12:55 am UTC

I would ask some questions. What is the responsibility of a women and a man to prevent the the question from having to be asked? It is obvious that it is possible to to not become pregnant in the first place. Is there no moral obligation on their part? By allowing an abortion under these circumstances do we create moral hazard? Do we encourage people to be careless? Before you reply let me make clear that my idea is to examine the various reasons why abortions occur one at a time, rather then to try and find a one size fits all idea.

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Re: Abortion and Women's Rights

Postby Angua » Mon Mar 14, 2011 1:04 am UTC

Find a method of birth control that's 100% effective, doesn't require becoming infertile (eg have tubes tied or vasectomy [both of which can be reversed, but it's not 100%]) and isn't something that probably won't occur without lots and lots of self control (ie abstinence).

I really don't think that just because some people could possibly decide to use abortion as a birth control method (which has its own risks in itself) is at all a justifiable reason for punishing those who have done everything right (or maybe forgot something once or twice) and are just unlucky.
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Re: Abortion and Women's Rights

Postby Xeio » Mon Mar 14, 2011 1:18 am UTC

morriswalters wrote:I would ask some questions. What is the responsibility of a women and a man to prevent the the question from having to be asked? It is obvious that it is possible to to not become pregnant in the first place. Is there no moral obligation on their part? By allowing an abortion under these circumstances do we create moral hazard? Do we encourage people to be careless? Before you reply let me make clear that my idea is to examine the various reasons why abortions occur one at a time, rather then to try and find a one size fits all idea.
No, I don't think there is no obligation other than if the participants are trying to avoid an abortion (and that is an obligation to each other, nothing more). Also, an abortion is not such a trivial thing that it would somehow be incentivized by making them allowed in all circumstances.

Oh, and it is NOT obvious that it is possible to not become pregnant in the first place. Contraception fails. Period.

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Re: Abortion and Women's Rights

Postby Izawwlgood » Mon Mar 14, 2011 1:53 am UTC

greengiant wrote:Is it riskier for the mother to have the foetus extracted alive rather than dead? I ask out of genuine curiosity about whether it would be preferable to extract a living viable foetus rather than abort it.

I don't have any citations to back this up, but I'm under the impression that there is distinctly a point in the gestation period wherein an abortion is significantly more risky to a mother than a reasonably complication-less vaginal birth would be, and even more significantly risky than a C-section would be. I don't know what that point is, but I'd place it around when the finishing touches, so to speak, on lung formation are occurring or concluding.

Qaanol wrote:What would be gained or lost by society if the legal right to life were moved to begin with the third trimester of pregnancy? What would be gained or lost by society if it were moved to begin at the first birthday?

I'm more curious to here what you think about the two.

greengiant wrote:I also agree that any specific limit would be somewhat arbitrary, but I don't think that's as good an argument.

I think it's terribly relevant precisely because it outlines how complex the issue is, and how you can't draw neat little legal boxes around it. In the absence of an ability to clearly and distinctly come up with neat lines drawn over a woman's uterus, perhaps you shouldn't even try, and should leave the issue to her.

morriswalters wrote:What is the responsibility of a women and a man to prevent the the question from having to be asked? It is obvious that it is possible to to not become pregnant in the first place.

The responsibility is on the two of them to do what is best for the two of them. In the face of mistakes or random acts of contraceptive failure, the responsibility is on society to make sure their options don't end there.

podbaydoor wrote:Given that historically, women have been given very little bodily autonomy - considered outright property of their husbands and offspring (baby factories and bread makers) - I can't feel too bad about giving more bodily autonomy to us.

I think this is an important point that needs to be awknowledged. This debate is basically circling around the notion of whether or not women are to be entrusted with managing their own bodies, with making decisions about their own bodies, and also, whether or not they are able to make decisions about the fate of a fetus. If your answer is 'no, they cannot be', then proceed to discuss what legislation and red tape and ethical imperatives you feel are justified in removing their ability to choose, to control. If you really think that you would be better at telling a woman what to do with her body than she would, by all means, continue to discuss what practical limitations we could place on her right to dictate what happens to her own body.
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Re: Abortion and Women's Rights

Postby morriswalters » Mon Mar 14, 2011 2:06 am UTC

If a man and women have no obligation for the outcome of their personal behavior does society have an obligation to make abortions available on demand? For myself, lacking certain knowledge of when a child should have available to him(or her) the civil protection that as is available to the parents, it would seem to be ethically objectionable to end a pregnancy for the single purpose of birth control. While I understand that birth control methods can fail, is there any reliable indicator that a large number of abortions can be attributed to such? Also are there no strategies for increasing the efficacy of those techniques which are available. For instance redundant techniques. Male prophylaxis and birth control pills, followed by a morning after pill. It would seem to present less of a problem then intervention after the fact.

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Re: Abortion and Women's Rights

Postby Izawwlgood » Mon Mar 14, 2011 2:21 am UTC

You've outlined prophylaxis, and included one that terminates a fetus. Tell me why a termination two months after the fact is any worse than a termination a day after the fact? Both result in the destruction of a fetus.

But you make an interesting point; ultimately, I think it's societies obligation to provide abortions because I think it's societies obligation to protect the rights of the individual, including the right to bodily autonomy. The fuzzy area with this comes 'what do we consider autonomy, does society owe me a heart transplant?', and I don't have a ready answer for that. But I do think it is in societies interests, to be callous, to allow women the right to not bring an unwanted child into the world. It's certainly far more economical than trying to have the taxpayer care for that unwanted child.
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