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The stupidest, craziest, most evil pro-life message ever

Timothy Kincaid

November 2nd, 2011

I’m not a fan of abortion. If you are a pregnant woman who wants my opinion (though why would you?), I’d advise against it.

But as a gay man I have so little at stake in the debate that my opinion is of little consequence. So, as I prefer to err on the side of freedom and in recognition that those who seek stricter abortion laws generally want to enact social sanctions on my existence, I fall into the ‘conditionally pro-choice’ category.

There are probably some restrictions on abortion that folks like me are willing to accept. But Mississippi’s proposed amendment is extreme and if they are trying to appeal to people like me, this has to be the least effective pro-life message possible. (AFA)

Ashley Sigrest claims that thirteen years ago she aborted a pregnancy that resulted from rape. Now, “after accepting Jesus as her Savior through a crisis pregnancy center”, she’s made an amazing discovery.

“My rape was nothing compared to what I did to my child,” she stated to the gallery. “What my rapist did to me does not compare to what I chose to do to my baby … out of shame, out of guilt, out of fear because of what a man did to me. Rape is no excuse for abortion.”

Rape is no excuse for abortion? Because pregnant rape victims are looking for an excuse?

The idea of forcing a rape victim to bear the child of her rapist is abhorrent. And the thought that a man could rape a woman and then have the legal right to bring claims against that woman and the resulting child sends chills down my spine. And to spin this as consistent with the demands of God is sickening.

If you nutcases on the right think that rape is just an “excuse”, then you are callous, cold, evil people and I want nothing to do with any deity you serve.

Comments

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homer
November 2nd, 2011 | LINK

The law is so poorly worded I wonder whether women who have miscarriages will be charged with murder.

Marcelle Wyzdyx
November 2nd, 2011 | LINK

Most hormonal forms of birth control prevent the implantation of a fertilized egg onto the uterine wall; therefore the most common forms of birth control will be illegal under laws that define “personhood” as occurring at conception instead of at birth.

Stefano A
November 2nd, 2011 | LINK

@Marcelle

Indeed! And that’s exactly what’s being pushed in Ohio by Personhood USA — ie, personhood to begin at conception, thus ranking abortion as murder. With the caveat that they won’t charge the pregnant woman with murder but the person who performs the abortion. Which begs, the question of what would happen in your scenario with birth control.

Regan DuCasse
November 2nd, 2011 | LINK

The LAPD worked on a case of rape that was part of a drop house problem.
And eleven year old was raped by a transient illegal alien.
Eleven years old!
There is a whole lot more to it than the just the claims a rapist can make on his child.

Unless him not being able to do so is PART of his parole and conviction that’s one thing.

Note that the pro choice crowd are NOT trying to change laws so that rapists cannot benefit whatsoever from their crimes or make claims like that.
No, they are ALWAYS trying to punish the female, diminish HER worth and MAKE her further at risk of a dangerous man.

Let’s also look at the possibility of birth complications in females younger than 17.
It’s something of a trauma to force a LITTLE GIRL to have to bring a baby to term in front of her peers, in front of her community.
WHAT possible benefit is there is her psychological and mental difficulty in that?

Indeed, much of the pro life aspect of interfering in ANY of this, is PRECISELY to try and shame females into doing their bidding. The roots are still in misogynist values of most religious communities. The males, even a friggin’ rapist gets more rights and freedom than the females he’s violated.
SHE no longer matters, just what’s incubating in her womb.
The other issue that the pro life crowd NEVER puts in this, is the risk of domestic violence or murder that a female is a risk of on disclosure of a pregnancy to a husband or boyfriend.
Such men, especially if they do not want to support a child, could well KILL them both.
Claiming FATHER’S rights is a big deal in FL. They don’t care what kind of criminal background or history of violence the man can have. They believe ANY claims on his child are valid.

Seriously, what the pro life crowd really don’t care about the females their activism affects. Nor the lives that are really at risk because of it.

Timothy Kincaid
November 2nd, 2011 | LINK

thanks, Regan

I didn’t even go into what forcing a young girl – whose body is not fully developed but who can conceive – into carrying a pregnancy to term would do not only psychologically but physically to the child.

A reader
November 2nd, 2011 | LINK

If I might guess what the woman meant by her words, the saying, “two wrongs don’t make a right” comes to mind, among others. Or, just because someone does a wrong to me doesn’t make it right for me to do something wrong to someone else, particularly to an “innocent child”. Perhaps that is what the woman meant by “Rape is no excuse for abortion.”

As to Timothy Kincaid’s “forcing the rape victim to bear the child”, that’s a spin on “stopping a deranged baby killer”, or as some might prefer, “preventing a ‘callous, cold, evil nutcase’ from harming herself and others”.

Timothy Kincaid
November 2nd, 2011 | LINK

A reader… well, let’s parse the words shall we:

force: to require something that wouldn’t otherwise occur

the rape victim: if we are talking specifically about women who have been raped, then we kinda have to use this term.

to bear the child: I guess I could have said ‘carry the fetus to term’, but as the following words reference the ability of a rapist to make claims on that child, then this is more accurate phrasing.

So, nope, there was no spin.

Don’t you just hate it, reader, when the most accurate wording possible reveals what you want hidden? Don’t you just hate it when your morality is expose as being filthy rags?

Don’t you just hate being confronted with the fact that if God is as you believe Him to be then he is evil on par with the deity that demanded that Aztecs rip the hearts from their victims or the deity that demanded that children be sacrificed so the Nile would rise?

You worship an evil god, reader. Perhaps its time to consider a different one.

Matt
November 2nd, 2011 | LINK

I’m glad to see that you’re posting pretty frequently once again, Mr. Kincaid! Here’s hoping work doesn’t keep you too busy in the future.

Ian
November 2nd, 2011 | LINK

Oh dear, are they trying to make miscarriages involuntary manslaughter?

And when two wrongs don’t make a right, to keep the baby(result of rape) in this world is like keeping someone alive so you can make inflict pain on them which in short, is torture.

A reader
November 2nd, 2011 | LINK

Timothy, the “most accurate wording possible” in regard to what Ashley Sigrest herself actually said is her own actual words. Not anyone else’s. Perhaps you mean “meaning” rather than “wording”. Then too, as she is the author of her words, she is the authority.

As to “the ability of a rapist to make claims on that child”, his “ability” is plainly demonstrated by the fact of the child. If society wishes to obviate particular legal claims by the rapist, we needn’t throw the baby out with the bath water.

And so to answer your questions, no, I don’t “hate” your opinions and notions. And unless my “morality” is yours, it’s not yours to judge. Whatever notions you may have about “God” are yours. If you “hate” your own notions, that’s you. I’m happy with the truth. I don’t want it “hidden”.

Shofixti
November 3rd, 2011 | LINK

What is evil about the statement that one act of sexual violence is independent from the value of a human life?
If life has no value, or if value is only arbitrarily ascribed at discrete stages, then yes – I guess I could see how it is offensive.

Also (with my Feminist hat on) – the discourse of “the rape victim” can be understood as institutionalising trauma as part of the rape experience in a way that may inflict or make trauma necessary for all those who experience rape. Not every woman is traumatised by every rape – it is best to adopt neutral and receptive language that makes sense of each experience individually.

In the same way prescribing trauma and force to the pregnancies that come out of rape limits the options women have for interpreting… well, life, wholeness, healing and joy.

Lightning Baltimore
November 3rd, 2011 | LINK

“deranged baby killer”
“callous, cold, evil nutcase”

Interesting . . . I thought “rape victim” was the appropriate term. I guess one really can learn something new everyday!

ZRAinSWVA
November 3rd, 2011 | LINK

A Reader.

You have GOT to be kidding. “As to “the ability of a rapist to make claims on that child”, his “ability” is plainly demonstrated by the fact of the child.”

So what you’re saying is, if I chose to rape a woman, any woman, at any time, I then have the right to exert control over her body and ‘my’ baby.

That is, quite frankly, the most sick, deranged, psychotic, horrible…words elude me.

BlackDog
November 3rd, 2011 | LINK

I generally find myself opposed to abortion, however, I find myself equally opposed to the pro-life movement.

How is it, even in their minds, that the kid’s life stops having meaning once it’s born, and the ability of the woman to give birth to the child somehow means she should have no right to do anything else.

I’m sorry, but this particular only child of a working single mom finds the “Pro-life” movement rather creepy in a lot of ways.

If they really were Pro-Life then why not pour all this money into adoption agencies, better standards of living, education, job creation, and social welfare programs so everyone can support themselves and their kids and abortion isn’t going to be thought of as an option except for cases of health problems, or rape most of the time??

No, instead it usually boils down to punishing women for having sex, all sex, any sex, ever, whether they wanted to have it or not, but somehow it’s Okay for men to have as much sex with as many women as they can manage.

Why? What the fuck is the point??

I’m sorry, but that’s punishing people for how the human race gets made, AND a pretty big double standard besides. I tend to enjoy sex with women, and rather think it’s illogical to inflict abuse or punishment based on something that’s both fun and necessary for life to continue on this planet.

Not to mention the people who come up with this crap are mostly men, who don’t much have to live with the consequences of the mentality.

Reader, sit down and shut the fuck up.

Richard Rush
November 3rd, 2011 | LINK

The silver lining in stories like this may be that more relatively rational straight people will finally wake up and realize how callous, cold, evil, sick, deranged, and dangerous the religious right really is. While much of the vile anti-gay crusade flies under the radar of straights, stories like this get noticed more, I think.

For example, I think Rick Santorum destroyed any chance he ever had for holding elective office again with his recent comments condemning contraception, whereas his far-more-frequent anti-gay statements were much less of a deal-killer for many people.

dn
November 3rd, 2011 | LINK

Wow, timothy, I’ve never seen such passion from you! I love how you maintain a healthy level of detachment / impartiality, but I’m also glad to see that some things are beyond the pale to you.

As for Reader & co… a couple of previous comments sum up my feelings on this issue and your stance, so I won’t bother teaching my phone not to autocorrect the word “fick”

A reader
November 3rd, 2011 | LINK

ZRAinSWVA, you wrote, “So what you’re saying is, if I chose to rape a woman, any woman, at any time, I then have the right to exert control over her body and ‘my’ baby. That is, quite frankly, the most sick, deranged, psychotic, horrible…”

No, that’s what you said. It’s your interpretation. I said nothing about the rapist having a “right” to control the woman and child. I spoke of the man’s ABILITY to make a claim. I didn’t say it was a rightful claim. Your post demonstrates that people can have the ability to make claims, even if they’re not valid.

Priya Lynn
November 3rd, 2011 | LINK

Whenever I hear about the religionists wanting to force a rape victim to bear the rapist’s child I think its one of the most ghastly things I have ever heard. The rapits has genes that give him a propensity to rape. If that child is born, he/she will pass on the rape propensity to future generations. Focing a rape victim to bear her rapist’s child will result in even more rapes in the future.

ZRAinSWVA
November 3rd, 2011 | LINK

A reader, I stand corrected on my earlier statement–I missed your comment on society obviating the rights of the rapist to child.

However, your statement “preventing a ‘callous, cold, evil nutcase’ from harming herself and others” seems to indicate that you feel that society has a claim on the fetus/duty to protect the fetus from decisions made by the woman who has been raped. If so, I disagree. Such a stance is not hugely different from having the rapist exert control over that fetus.

A reader
November 3rd, 2011 | LINK

Whenever I hear that “religionists” want to “force a rape victim”, I’m reminded of what a so-called “religionist” had to say about that:

“Some pro-choice advocates claim that the pro-lifer lacks compassion, since the pro-lifer’s position on rape and incest forces a woman to carry her baby against her will. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is the rapist who has already forced this woman to carry a child, not the pro-lifer. The pro-life advocate merely wants to prevent another innocent human being (the unborn entity) from being the victim of a violent and morally reprehensible act (abortion), for two wrongs do not make a right.”

And, “Regardless of whatever genetics the baby may have, the baby has the right to life. The baby is innocent. SHE is not a convicted rapist. We don’t execute innocent children for the alleged crimes of their fathers.”

Priya Lynn
November 3rd, 2011 | LINK

“Some pro-choice advocates claim that the pro-lifer lacks compassion, since the pro-lifer’s position on rape and incest forces a woman to carry her baby against her will. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is the rapist who has already forced this woman to carry a child, not the pro-lifer.”.

False. Without the force of the anti-choice fanatic the woman would have the abortion regardless of what the rapist wants or does. That’s a rather transparent and pathetic attempt to blame someone else for one’s own actions.

Timothy Kincaid
November 3rd, 2011 | LINK

The underlying premise of the pro-life movement in the US is that individuals have no claim on their own lives. Specifically, that the claim a woman might have on her own life is subservient to the claim that a fetus may have on her.

There may be a compelling argument for this in situations in which a woman made choices that could be interpreted to mean that she abdicated her claim, e.g. if she chose to engage in sex without any prophylaxis during a time in which she knew her fertility was at its peak.

That is a reasonable point of debate, and I don’t see either side of that debate as being unreasonable.

However, in a situation of rape, the woman did not abdicate her self determination.

And so the question is: what right has the fetus on the woman? And how did it come to have this claim?

A reader
November 3rd, 2011 | LINK

ZRAinSWVA, “preventing a ‘callous, cold, evil nutcase’ from harming herself and others” reflects a precept of society’s law whereby society may, when the circumstances warrant, intervene to protect people from a dangerous person, including even to protect the person from herself. Indeed, in the extreme, a person might be locked up and strapped down to a table against his/her will. In other situations, Child Protective Services might intervene to protect a child from harm by the parent(s). The father and/or mother do not have absolute rights to do whatever they want to children.

And while it might “seem to indicate” to you my “feelings” as to how such might be extended to pregnant women, the reality is that it was written for another purpose, to combine the “callous, cold, evil nutcase” feelings expressed by Mr. Kincaid with the feelings of many in society who believe that unborn children have the right to life, while raising in the discussion the precept I’ve mentioned.

As to a “rapist exerting control over a fetus”, that’s a bit vague. For example, Scott Peterson was convicted of killing an unborn child. Killing an unborn child is an extreme form of “exerting control” over the child. Toward the other end of the spectrum, a man (note, I do not use the word “rapist” here, even if he was a “rapist” during the act of rape) might serve his time, change his ways and be a positive force in the society thereafter, including in the lives of the child and mother, as however may be appropriate. The mother might even choose to marry him. Anyway, the child is only in the “fetus” stage for a very limited time, and during that time, it might turn out that there really wasn’t a rape at all, or the case might still be undecided, or the accused might be sitting in jail not exerting much control over anything.

Timothy Kincaid
November 3rd, 2011 | LINK

reader,

Let me clean up your language just a bit. Christian Answers (your source) inaccurately portrays the position of pro-choice activists and thus creates a straw-man argument.

You quoted:

“Some pro-choice advocates claim that the pro-lifer lacks compassion, since the pro-lifer’s position on rape and incest forces a woman to carry her baby against her will…”

However, a more truthful statement would be:

“Some pro-choice advocates claim that the pro-lifer lacks compassion, since the pro-lifer’s position on rape and incest forces a woman to carry the rapist’s baby against her will…”

Ah yes, much less deliberately dishonest.

Jo
November 3rd, 2011 | LINK

Human life is precious-so precious it should not be created unless there are loving parents that want a child. Modern science has given us the ability to make that happen. Abortions almost never happen with a planned pregnancy. Why the far right cannot or will not embrace every form of sexual education and contraception available to keep those unwanted pregnancies and possible abortions from happening should be part of this conversation. Why they would even consider forcing an 11 year old to bear the child of a rapist should also be explored at every opportunity. Women are people and necessary to the continuation of our species. If the far right would work with them to help them avoid unwanted pregnancies and better nurture their wanted pregnancies, abortion for the most part would become only a word in the dictionary .

KC Hanson
November 3rd, 2011 | LINK

I happened across this BLOG while trying to research “Ashley Sigrest”. While some on the right hand fringe may find her story compelling, there is a huge, gaping hole in her narrative.

If she indeed had an abortion, that would likely mean she’d either not received appropriate counseling immediately after her rape, or had not followed the advise of such counseling. While I am not trying to blame the victim here, it is typical practice that both medical and law enforcement personal provide a very structured response to rape which includes, on the medical end, a prognosis for the potential of pregnancy. She should have been fully informed that preventing pregnancy would necessitate her being administered morning-after contraceptive.

Whether she didn’t report the rape, authorities didn’t provide appropriate information and morning-after contraception, she refused contraception, I don’t know. (On rare occasions, morning-after contraception does fail.)

Regardless, Sigrest paints a picture as if the Clinic’s counselor twisted her arm hard on the heels of the rape – at the same time admitting that she walked freely into the Clinic, knowing full well it provided abortions.

I have no doubt Sigrest feels guilt her decision, but whether she recognizes it or not, she is trying to mitigate that guilt by blaming the Clinic’s counselor and laws that guarantee a woman’s right to govern her own body.

I am sympathetic to Sigrest’s circumstances, but I am NOT sympathetic to the argument that since SHE feels she made a bad choice, no woman at no time should have any choice.

—–

Right wing activists often note that “pregnancy following rape is uncommon”. This is only so because of morning-after contraceptive measures. Under the Mississippi initiative and it’s clones, the morning-after and other hormonal contraceptives, which prevent implantation, would be outlawed.

ZRAinSWVA
November 3rd, 2011 | LINK

“Regardless of whatever genetics the baby may have, the baby has the right to life.”

Sorry, I don’t buy that. It is the woman’s body. It is not yours, nor societies, nor that of the fetus. She is not a slave to the fetus.

Not to mention the age old question: when does ‘life’ begin. The potential for life begins at conception, but that is no guarantee that it will develop–nor is it unusual for that early dividing cluster of non-self-aware cells to fail to implant, or fail to mature. That cluster of cells has the potential to BECOME a person, but it is NOT a person for quite some time.

A reader
November 3rd, 2011 | LINK

Priya, I don’t know that most voters are “anti-choice fanatics”. Most voters may be somewhere in between on the abortion issue and they cast their votes as they see fit for a wide variety of reasons. Besides, your so-called “anti-choice fanatics” are very much pro-choice, as they want people to make a choice, which is what a vote represents, and to “choose life”, to choose to respect the life of the unborn.

People support the laws against homicide. Are they “anti-choice fanatics” because they don’t think people should be free to go around killing? Why do they suddenly become “anti-choice fanatics” when protecting the unborn?

Shofixti
November 3rd, 2011 | LINK

Priya – your assertion that “rape genes” get passed on to babies is highly contestable.

First – do you expect these rape genes to manifest the same way for boys and for girls?

Second – you appear to be promoting a eugenic argument that people should be exterminated based on the desireability of their genetic make-up (see any problems with that position?).

Third – having just studied problem behaviour in children, the research is pretty clear that it is coercive parenting strategies that are the single greatest contributer to future delinquency and violence. An environment where children do not receive healthy responses for healthy behaviour promotes coercive behaviour just to get by.

Fourth – Feminist research into rape points to many social causes of rape. One of the greatest being that women are a priori represented as vulnerable, passive – almost victims-in-waiting. This has serious repercussions for how sex acts are negotiated.

BlackDog – don’t you think it’s a bit of a tall order to ask that pro-life organisations solve all the world’s problems before engaging in activities that promote the sanctity of human life?

It only boils down to punishing women in your eyes. Every person that I know that is attached to the pro-life movement puts the majority of their energy into caring for women after they’ve given birth. The idea that pro-life concerns end at birth is mere rhetorical illusion.

Timothy – being a human foetus is not about possessing property rights, that is a capitalist distortion of human nature. There are many times where aiding those who do not have rights is the ‘right’ thing to do. I agree that a foetus does not sign a tenancy agreement.

Similarly, when acting outside of your rights, your life is not automatically voided. We cannot drive over people who are standing in the middle of the road, simply because they do not have a right to stand there.

NoxiousNan
November 3rd, 2011 | LINK

I’ll believe that pro-lifers have compassion when they start working on transferring unwanted fetuses into the wombs of women that want them.

Ive never heard a pro-lifer so much as mention the concept. I’m sure it would lead to great controversy over the moral implications and medical abilities of such a transfer, but still nobody touches the subject. Why? If they really care about the women and the fetuses, then why has that topic never been broached? Until it is I’ve no other course than to think of pro-lifers as cruel and mysoginist.

A reader
November 3rd, 2011 | LINK

Timothy, the “pro-life movement” (i.e. members thereof) do not agree that “individuals have no claim on their own lives” and that “the claim a woman might have on her own life is subservient to the claim that a fetus may have on her.” Certainly, a woman who is carrying a child is playing a very important role to the child. But the right to abort, to end that role, when the woman’s life is in very serious danger caused by the child is a widely respected right, even among devout pro-life supporters.

Even in a case of rape, where the mother did not choose to be impregnated and did nothing to invite the pregnancy other than be biologically available to the rapist, pro-life supporters maintain that the mother and child each have a generally equal right to life, and neither has the right to take the life of the other — except as mentioned, for legitimate self-defense.

You ask, “what right has the fetus on the woman?” Pro-life suporters say that the fetus has the right to life, the same right as has the mother.

You ask, “And how did it come to have this claim?” The response is: By its being a human person.

A reader
November 3rd, 2011 | LINK

Timothy, you pretend to correct the statement that “Some pro-choice advocates claim that the pro-lifer lacks compassion, since the pro-lifer’s position on rape and incest forces a woman to carry her baby against her will” by saying it’s the “rapist’s baby” rather than “her baby”, but the baby is very much her baby. She is the mother. Yes, the baby has a biological father as well, but that role is biological father, not “rapist”. That there was a rape does not make it not her baby. Thus, one might say it’s “their” baby, but notably, the question and answer were not addressing whose baby it is so much aa speaking to the issue of the woman carrying the baby, and thus “her baby”. It is not “more truthful” to say “rapist’s baby” than to say “her baby”.

Shofixti
November 3rd, 2011 | LINK

NoxiousNan – does such a procedure even exist or are you debating with science fiction? Off the top of my head I wouldn’t think babies were simply transferrable – there would be issues of tissue rejection, hormonal regulation, blood supply.

Then there are lots of messy consent issues and what-ifs?

A reader
November 3rd, 2011 | LINK

Jo, you ask, “Why the far right cannot or will not embrace every form of sexual education and contraception available to keep those unwanted pregnancies and possible abortions from happening should be part of this conversation.” One reason is that there is a principle of “the end does not justify the means”. For example, many in the “far right” consider it to be immoral for a husband and wife to use contraception, even if it were to result in fewer abortions. And many do not wish their children to be “corrupted” by “every form of sexual education”, which is so broad as to perhaps include just about anything.

You ask, “Why they would even consider forcing an 11 year old to bear the child of a rapist should also be explored at every opportunity.” Would you prefer they “force an 11 year old” without considering?

You suggest, “If the far right would work with them to help them avoid unwanted pregnancies and better nurture their wanted pregnancies, abortion for the most part would become only a word in the dictionary.” The “far right” is made up of individual people, and there are many individual people on the “far right” who do that.

Timothy Kincaid
November 3rd, 2011 | LINK

KC

I happened across this BLOG while trying to research “Ashley Sigrest”. While some on the right hand fringe may find her story compelling, there is a huge, gaping hole in her narrative.

If she indeed had an abortion …

I too find the story a bit, well, convenient. But my “If she indeed” falls in a different place.

I don’t know many rape victims, or at least not that have shared their experiences with me. But I think it is fair to say that few women who have penetrated against their will would ever speak of such an act as “an excuse” for anything. And, as you point out, were such an act reported to the police, there are specific procedures designed to protect her health and to avoid pregnancy.

So the story seems peculiar and perplexing.

But I think a clue might possibly be found in a sentence of the American Family Association’s news article:

In an interview Tuesday with OneNewsNow, Sigrest shared that upon discovering she was pregnant from the rape — which occurred just before her 18th birthday — she went to an abortion clinic for counseling. [emphasis added]

If Sigrest was 17 and was impregnated by a man just a month or so older, it would be, by definition, statutory rape. Even if Sigrest had a long-term sexual relationship with the male, believed herself to be in love, initiated the sexual encounter herself, and enjoyed the instance with exuberance, such an act could be termed “statutory rape”. [sentence added]

I do not know the facts and so I cannot accuse the American Family Association and Ashley Sigrest of intentional distortion of the facts and of insinuating that she was the victim of a sexual assault while, in fact, had engaged in consensual sexual activity. I simply don’t know.

However, I do know that the AFA is better known for their dishonesty than for their integrity.

Blake
November 3rd, 2011 | LINK

And because everyone has an opinion… my 2 cents!

I don’t understand why folks who are opposed to abortion think that outlawing abortion will stop abortion. Personally I don’t care to return to a system where the health of the mother is directly related to her wealth.

Outlawing abortion will prevent exactly 0 abortions.

ZRAinSWVA
November 3rd, 2011 | LINK

A reader: “and did nothing to invite the pregnancy other than be biologically available to the rapist”

My, doesn’t that make it sound, well, almost casual.

No, the person who was raped was forcibly and physically assaulted against her will.

You could yourself be ‘biologically available’ to be raped as well, regardless of your sex. If the person raping you transmitted an infectious disease, would you want treatment, or should you just accept the infection because you were, uhm, biologically available? There is, after all, a corollary between parasitism and pregnancy by strict biological definition.

Timothy Kincaid
November 3rd, 2011 | LINK

I’m amused at the way in which some like to distort language so as to suggest it means the opposite of the shared understanding of it might be. It’s almost as though they believe there to be some magic in the word and that the meaning behind it is irrelevant. And they always present their twist as though us poor ignorant fools are incapable of distinguishing between the words and the meaning.

Take, for example, a reader‘s comment above:

Besides, your so-called “anti-choice fanatics” are very much pro-choice, as they want people to make a choice, which is what a vote represents, and to “choose life”, to choose to respect the life of the unborn.

By repeating “choice” over and over, a reader thinks that he has derailed a position. But even the least educated of folk know that there’s a difference between “you get to choose” and “I’ll choose for you”. That both contain “choose” does not make them equal.

Oh, the anti-abortion people are definitely “pro-choice” if the “choice” is over whether they get to dictate to others what to do. But that is not by any means a suggestion that they support the rights of others to self-determination.

And so it is at this point that we know conclusively that we are not dealing with an honest combatant in a principled debate. No, a reader is merely a troll, presenting pre-packaged nonsense. And ironically, it is just such behavior that propels those of us who are open to principled limitations on abortion to reject their arguments as a whole.

And, as the best way to deal with a troll is to ignore them, I suggest we do just that.

A reader
November 3rd, 2011 | LINK

KC Hanson, you allege that “Sigrest paints a picture as if the Clinic’s counselor twisted her arm hard on the heels of the rape”. That might be the picture you’ve painted in your head, but she doesn’t seem to me to be claiming a hard sell by the clinic worker so much as she was being shuffled through the mill while reportedly not really appreciating what it was all about due to the effects of her rape.

She said, “Who was there to protect me? When I went into my abortion clinic I told them I was raped. I was begging for someone to stop me, to save me, to save my baby, because I knew inside what I was doing was wrong because a mother knows and if you’re a mother you know this but all the lady said to me, my counseling session, was ‘oh ok sign this paper saying you understand your procedure’, even though I didn’t understand my procedure… Who was going to speak to me as an 18 year old girl who didn’t have a family to support her? No one did… It’s about the moms like me who think they’re making a good decision and they’re not… Because when you’re in the moment you make decisions sometimes that aren’t the wisest decisions. And people are too scared.”

You allege she was “admitting that she walked freely into the Clinic, knowing full well it provided abortions,” but she stated that she didn’t understand her procedure, and that she was suffering from guilt, shame and fear at the time because of the effects of the rape. That might be “free” and “knowing full well” in your book, but it’s not clear to me that she wasn’t impaired.

You allege she was “blaming the Clinic’s counselor and laws that guarantee a woman’s right to govern her own body.” No, she seemed to be saying the worker was doing her job, as minimally required by the law, and that laws should protect both the mother and the child.

You say, “I am NOT sympathetic to the argument that since SHE feels she made a bad choice, no woman at no time should have any choice.” She didn’t say that in the video. Whose argument is that? She argued for laws to protect the children and the mother.

You say, “Right wing activists often note that ‘pregnancy following rape is uncommon’. This is only so because of morning-after contraceptive measures.” No, it’s also because normally only a small percentage of sexual acts between a man and a woman result in pregnancy, even when there’s no “morning after” contraceptive involved.

You say, “Under the Mississippi initiative and it’s clones, the morning-after and other hormonal contraceptives, which prevent implantation, would be outlawed.” That’s your opinion, but it’s not an authoritative legal opinion or ruling, and it’s not stated in the ballot initiative itself. The fact is that homicide is already outlawed, and the proposition itself would only extend the group of persons to whom homicide protection would apply. As we all know, even though homicide is illegal, stores still sell and people still continue to use all sorts of things that could be used to kill people, even deliberately. Remember, they say “guns don’t kill people”. Furthermore, many people doubt that the bill would survive a prompt appeal, and perhaps even make it more difficult to overturn Roe v Wade in the future.

Ben In Oakland
November 3rd, 2011 | LINK

Amen, timothy.

Back around 1970, when I was a boy, Hawaii passed its abortion law. My professor was very pro-choice, and asked me to work with her on studies and articles and such.

I didn’t know what abortion was. It never occurred to me that people could or would do such a thing. I wasn’t horrified, I was just very, very naive.

Three things convinced me on the abortion issue.

1) Outlawing abortion meant only that outlaws had abortions– back alley abortions, butcher abortions, self-induced abortions, leading usually to health complications and death.

2) I was beginning to understand how the isues of abortion and homosexuality were lniked, even though I wasn’t out yet.All about control of what other were doing. Self-determination was defi nitely a no-no.

3) I had only to look at the reasoned arguments of the pro-choice side, and the bible-spewing, vicious rhetoric and graphic images of the anti-abortion side, and noted that in Hawaii, the anti-gays and the anti-abortion people were exactly the same people.

In the 40 years since, I have seen exactly the same vicious cynicism play itself out on both the abortion and gay rights issues. 40 years of politicking have not resulted in one less abortion, but it has contributed to the poisoning of the wells of our political discourse.

Millions, if not billions of dollars spent fighting abortion, and apparently, a fraction of that amount going to providing care to mothers who chose not to abort.In other words, rather than trying an altetrnative to abortion, and financing that, they tried to forbid it, which had never worked.

What if they had actually cared enough to put their money where their mouths should have been? They might have some credbility with me. Instead, abortion is the bus the cynics ride in their quest for power and money.

Not surprisingly, I have been listening to the anti-gay forces pull the same “Here’s the most important issue of our time. now give us your money.” When california was debating repealing the sodomy law in 1976, there were the pro-family groups, calling it a “direct attack on the family.”

As they did with the anti-discirmnation laws.

As they did with San Francisco’s very limited 1989 DP law.

As they have done with every advance gay people have made.

So, those who believe abortion is important: I agree. i would like to see no abortions except in the rarest of cases. But until you can show me that this is not about power and money, and that you actually care about something real…

focus on your own damned family and stay the hell out of my life.

A reader
November 3rd, 2011 | LINK

ZRAinSWVA, you wrote, “It is the woman’s body. It is not yours, nor societies, nor that of the fetus. She is not a slave to the fetus.” It’s still the woman’s body even after the child is born. Doesn’t mean the woman has the right to kill the child. Both before and after the child is born, it’s two different persons. Each has the right to life. Even today, by law, a woman is limited in her so-called “right” to kill her unborn baby.

You say “The potential for life begins at conception but that is no guarantee that it will develop”. There’s no guarantee that you’re going to develop. This may be it for you. Doesn’t make it ok for me to kill you. Anyway, the potential for (new) life exists before conception, as for example, when we have a male and a female who are fertile. Also, the pro-life people say life begins at conception. I haven’t seen any convincing argument proving them wrong.

You ask, “If the person raping you transmitted an infectious disease, would you want treatment, or should you just accept the infection because you were, uhm, biologically available?” I might be happy to accept treatment if it didn’t require murdering you.

A reader
November 3rd, 2011 | LINK

NoxiusNan, you wrote, “I’ll believe that pro-lifers have compassion when they start working on transferring unwanted fetuses into the wombs of women that want them.” Who says people aren’t working on it? But realistically, as you’d expect, there are many complicating factors, not the least is the medical science required to accomplish such a thing safely. Meanwhile, they do transfer unwanted embryos into the wombs of women who want them. For example, you might checkout Project Snowflake.

Timothy Kincaid
November 3rd, 2011 | LINK

A REMINDER

The person a reader has proven themselves to be a troll. The best response to a troll is to not feed it and let it wander away.

Blair Martin
November 3rd, 2011 | LINK

A reader: please answer one straight forward question without resorting to semantics.

Would you permit an 11 to 14 yo girl who has been raped and is carrying a developing fetus to carry that fetus to a full term birth?

Supplementary question: why?

A reader
November 3rd, 2011 | LINK

Timothy, you talk of “shared understanding” but claim to be a “combatant”. You talk of “principled debate”, and indeed your website claims: “Our principles… We are compassionate… We are tolerant… We are civil…” and so on. And yet, you’re busy writing, “You nutcases… you are callous, cold, evil people… You worship an evil god…” and such things. You talk of “distinguishing between the words and the meaning”, but “even the least educated of folk” can distinguish between the words and reality. It helps us vote.

Timothy Kincaid
November 3rd, 2011 | LINK

Blair

Please keep in mind that while it can be profitable to have an interchange of ideas with those with whom one may disagree, there is no value to interchange with a troll.

It appears to me that a reader is a troll, baiting us for answers and pretending to be other than he is.

PLEASE DON’T FEED THE TROLL

A reader
November 3rd, 2011 | LINK

Blue Martin, you asked, “Would you permit an 11 to 14 yo girl who has been raped and is carrying a developing fetus to carry that fetus to a full term birth? why?”

Permit? Do I not permit earthquakes and floods? Murders too, they happen everyday. So too, abortions. Millions of them. Now what I don’t permit is what doesn’t happen, and even then, I leave the light on.

But if I might suggest, to consider delivery when viable rather than going full term, if that would be better. And don’t forget, abortion is always wrong.

Erin
November 3rd, 2011 | LINK

Not surprised this issue pulled out the most comments. My take on this whole thing is that yes, there are many good reasons a woman may opt to get an abortion. I am personally uneasy about the idea of a woman being irresponsible and having unprotected sex, then later using abortion as her contraception. That being said, accidents happen even when precautions are taken. Rape happens. Health issues happen. The problem I have with limited abortion availability and exceptions is that a woman should not have to prove she was raped (when often there is not enough evidence in rape cases anyway) in order to be granted an abortion. Many women who are raped are so traumatized or so deep in denial, they never end up reporting their rape. Then they refuse to discuss it ever again because of the pain attached to the memory. Their right to privacy should be protected. A judge or state-hired abortion approver of some kind is not a doctor and should not have the authority to tell a woman whether she may have a medical exemption or not. Also, any restrictions on abortion will be ignored and women will simply go underground or try dangerous home remedies to the situation. Ultimately we have to trust women to make the choice for their own bodies. Yes, there may be situations where the man wants to keep the child and the woman does not. Because such situations can and will arise, there needs to be a default rule to deal with them; You cannot convince me the default decision-maker in that case should not be the woman, who will carry the fetus within her body. There is always some level of risk involved to every pregnancy. Finally, I am pro-choice BECAUSE I care about children. If a child is about to be born into a drug and abuse-infested household with an underage, mentally ill mother(to name a few examples of situations a child can be born into), I’d rather the woman has the choice to terminate that pregnancy while the fetus is simply developing tissue, and not a sentinent being with a conscious memory, feelings, human relationships, and a propensity for pain. That being said, I do think reproduction of human life is pretty amazing, and I still do feel a bit uneasy about the overall idea. But the world we live in is not perfect, and the law should protect women, not force, yes FORCE them to carry a child they are not ready or unable to care for. By the way, the idea that the pro-life movement is actually pro-choice, as in ‘choose what we want you to do,’ is one of the most laughable pro-lifer arguments one can come across. Classic troll stuff.

@Shofixti:
“Also (with my Feminist hat on) – the discourse of “the rape victim” can be understood as institutionalising trauma as part of the rape experience in a way that may inflict or make trauma necessary for all those who experience rape. Not every woman is traumatised by every rape – it is best to adopt neutral and receptive language that makes sense of each experience individually.” I really really truly hope you’re referring to statuatory rape that was consensual sex as the only example of rape that is not traumatic. Otherwise your comment is ridiculous and offensive to anyone who has ever gone through the trauma.

Shofixti
November 3rd, 2011 | LINK

Hi Erin, thanks for picking up on that. I hope you weren’t personally offended. It is not my own research, a girl in my class did a short seminar on this topic:

The impact of rape on women: A closer look at “trauma of rape” discourse and its role in limiting diversity in women’s rape experiences, and ‘othering’ / stigmatising some women and their experiences.

She lists some published sources, which may be of interest – although I’m not certain they are freely available online without the sort of subscription services supplied by universities.

My purpose in providing these references is not to say that I am right. I have never experienced sexual violence. But to show that there are areas of the argument that are often simplified in public discussions.

Yes, I agree that for someone who has been traumatised by sexual violence that my comment probably causes many valid reactions. However, the notion of ‘the rape victim’ has been used in this discussion so emphatically and self-evidently that I just had to open my yap.

Gavey, N., and Schimdt, J. (2011). Trauma of Rape Discourse: A double edged template or everyday understandings of impact of rape. Violence Against Women, 17(433).

Kahn, A. S,, Jackson, J., Kully, C., Badger, K., and Halvorsen, J. (2003). Calling it rape: Differences in experiences of women who do or do not label their sexual assault as rape. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 27, 233-242.

Bourke, J. (2010). Sexual Violation And Trauma in historical perspective. Arbor Ciencia, Pensamiento y cultural, 407-416.

Gavey, N. (2005). Just Sex: Cultural scaffolding of rape. Canada, Routledge- chapter 2 pg.77-136

JohnAGJ
November 3rd, 2011 | LINK

I guess I’ll add my two cents into this as well. I don’t have a problem with the quoted comments from Sigrest. She is giving her opinion on abortion which are obviously influenced by her own experience and religious convictions. I’m generally opposed abortion, finding it to be morally repugnant in most cases and a ‘procedure’ used far too often for selfish reasons. However, this proposed legislation goes too far. Put aside for the moment that SCOTUS will strike this down before the ink is even dry. This proposed law would put women whose physical lives are in danger at severe risk. Take for example a pregnant woman with cancer. Can she undergo chemotherapy? That’s doubtful because this law says that her fetus is now a person with equal rights, meaning that she could be forced to carry it to term (if she even makes it) rather than attempt to eradicate the cancer that’s killing her. I’ve heard stories of women who’ve decided on their own to forgo treatment in order to save their unborn child and they are remarkable, but this is definitely not a power I’m willing to give to the state to decide for her. I hope this proposed law is defeated at the polls, or if not will be quickly struck down by the courts.

JohnAGJ
November 3rd, 2011 | LINK

Priya: “The rapits has genes that give him a propensity to rape. If that child is born, he/she will pass on the rape propensity to future generations. Focing a rape victim to bear her rapist’s child will result in even more rapes in the future.”

Wow. That’s a sick view you have. Why stop there? Let’s immediately execute all living children of convicted rapists. Heck, since there is supposed to be a genetic predisposition to violence let’s execute all children of convicted murderers as well. Let’s do it, you know, for the sake of the children. Puh-leeze. Your argument is just as twisted as Mohler’s was back in 2007 when it came to gays.

Priya Lynn
November 4th, 2011 | LINK

John, there’s a world of difference between a rape victim having an abortion and murdering young children. I’m not saying that the fetus having dangerous genes on its own is justification for abortion, but when added to the fact that the pregnancy was due to rape and the woman has a right to decide what to do with her body the total circumstances make it unthinkable to force a woman to bear that child.

The difference between Mohler’s position and mine is that there is nothing potentially dangerous or undesirable about gay babies.

Priya Lynn
November 4th, 2011 | LINK

“A reader” said “And don’t forget, abortion is always wrong.”.

No one has a right to use a woman’s body against her will, even a fetus. Sometimes abortion is the right thing to do.

Marauder
November 4th, 2011 | LINK

Giving birth to a baby who was conceived through rape is very difficult. I have a lot of sympathy for women who are raped and women who are impregnated through rape, no matter what they decide to do about being pregnant. However, a zygote/blastocyst/embryo/fetus is a human being the same way that an infant, toddler, child, teenager, and adult are human beings. They aren’t responsible for how they were created. They aren’t clones of their biological fathers, and they didn’t commit any crimes.

I don’t particularly care what people do with their own bodies, as long as they don’t hurt anyone else. I don’t care if they want to get piercings, get tattoos, get sexual reassignment surgery, get vasectomies or tubal ligations, whatever. However, while a fetus may be in a woman’s body, he or she is not part of her body. Why am I not you? Because we have different DNA. If someone forcibly grabs me, covers my hand in Superglue, forcibly grabs you, and glues my hand against your arm, I don’t become part of your body. You don’t have the right to cut my hand off in order to get free, no matter how difficult your life is going to be until someone can get us unglued. I don’t have the right to slice off part of your arm to get free, either. I think that when it comes to medically risky pregnancies, doctors should work to allow both a mother and her baby to live.

I don’t think it’s true that you, because you’re a gay man, have an inconsequential opinion about abortion. That’s like someone saying, “As an American who has never left the continent, I have so little at stake in the debate about genocide in Darfur that my opinion is of little consequence.” Human beings should be dedicated to helping other human beings live free, happy, and healthy lives, no matter what age they are, where they’re from, or what they may disagree on.

I don’t think Ashley Sigrest is saying that God wants rapists to have parental rights over the children they conceive with their victims. I think she’s saying that God doesn’t want fetuses to be aborted because of the crimes their fathers committed.

A lot of people say that pro-lifers don’t care about babies and just want to punish women. They’re ignoring organizations like Birthright International, and other crisis pregnancy centers, that are dedicated to helping women and babies. A lot of pro-choicers are willing to ignore signs from pro-lifers that they DO care about children. For example, though there are scores of things to dislike about Michele Bachmann on the GLBT front, she did help to raise 23 foster children. From what I’ve seen, that doesn’t matter to pro-choicers – she doesn’t support abortion, so she hates kids. In my experience – and I hope it’s not representative – pro-choicers don’t generally care that Ronald Reagan had an adopted son, John McCain has an adopted daughter, or the Palin family clearly adores Trig and Tripp. They didn’t/don’t support abortion? Well, they don’t care about born kids, either!

The logic is flawed.

A daughter of a friend of my family’s was raped by a stranger when she was freshly out of college. Her son, who was conceived through that rape, was adopted by her aunt and uncle and is a nice little kid. Everyone in their family loves him and is glad to have him in their lives, though obviously they wish it wasn’t because his biological mom was raped.

I’ve had to leave pro-life websites because people there made unreasonable, over-reaching, unfair claims about GLBT people and refused to even consider that they were painting us with too broad a stereotypical brush. I don’t want to leave this site because people here do the same thing with pro-lifers.

Priya Lynn
November 4th, 2011 | LINK

Maurader said “zygote/blastocyst/embryo/fetus is a human being the same way that an infant, toddler, child, teenager, and adult are human beings.”.

I strongly disagree. A single cell or clump of cells doesn’t have thoughts, feelings, emotions, hopes and dreams, it doesn’t feel pain either, at least not early on. A “zygote/blastocyst/embryo/fetus” doesn’t have any of the living experience we associate with being human. A zygote/blasotcyst is human in the same way my fingernail is, it has human DNA, but has virtually nothing of what we value in others as humans. As the pregnancy progresses the embryo gradually attains more of the qualities we associate with being a person but let’s not forget that early on it certainly doesn’t have the value of an infant, toddler, child, teenager, or adult.

JohnAGJ
November 4th, 2011 | LINK

John, there’s a world of difference between a rape victim having an abortion and murdering young children. I’m not saying that the fetus having dangerous genes on its own is justification for abortion, but when added to the fact that the pregnancy was due to rape and the woman has a right to decide what to do with her body the total circumstances make it unthinkable to force a woman to bear that child.

I would agree with you that a woman who is raped should not be forced to carry it to term. One can make a moral argument that she should but the state should not have the power to compel her to do so. As for the rest, thanks for clarifying your previous comments.

Timothy Kincaid
November 4th, 2011 | LINK

However, a zygote/blastocyst/embryo/fetus is a human being the same way that an infant, toddler, child, teenager, and adult are human beings.

That is an opinion.

So is the view that an unfertilized egg is a human being and entitled to sperm. At least that view can be supported by Scripture.

Yours cannot.

A reader
November 4th, 2011 | LINK

Priya, you wrote, “No one has a right to use a woman’s body against her will, even a fetus.” The fact is that the fetus is 1/2 her doing, whether you call it “against her will” or not. And once the child exists, the child has the right to life, whether it inconveniences the mother or not. And so we will be reminded: Abortion is always wrong in every circumstance and there are no exceptions.

Timothy Kincaid
November 4th, 2011 | LINK

a reader has upped the provocation level, making that truly offensive assertion that a child conceived in rape is “1/2 her doing”.

It is now when it is most tempting to feed the TROLL. Let’s decline that temptation.

A reader
November 4th, 2011 | LINK

She/her body (they are not separate) contributed the egg and has been actively carrying the child for the child’s entire life. That is “her doing”. Some people find facts “offensive”.

TwirlyGirly
November 6th, 2011 | LINK

There is a difference between the “right to life,” and “the right to that which is needed to sustain life.” Even if we grant all humans (including foeti) the “right to life,” we do not grant born humans “the right to that which sustains life.” I do take issue with granting the unborn rights which are not granted to those already born.

If, for example, I needed a kidney transplant to sustain my life, and you just happened to be a match, the law does not require you to give me one of your kidneys, even if taking your kidney is the only way for me to survive. Does my “right to life” include utilizing your bodily resources to continue living? No – they are separate concepts which seem to have been run together by the “pro-life” contingent. While it would be great if you generously decided to donate one of your kidneys to me and allow me to continue living, you are not morally OR legally obliged to do so – even IF I were a child and you were my parent and thus one of the two people responsible for bringing me into this world. We do not consider those who choose not to offer their bodily resources to sustain the life of born persons “murderers.” People die every day for lack of available donor organs, and the law respects the right of born persons (and *dead* persons, for that matter) to CHOOSE whether their bodies, or parts thereof, may be used by another to sustain their life.

A foetus requires the bodily resources of its mother to sustain its life and to enable it to continue to develop to viability. It’s morally reprehensible to me to grant foeti the right to use the bodily resources of another to sustain their life while denying the right of born persons to do the same, even if I were to grant both foeti and born persons an equal “right to life.”

Marauder
November 7th, 2011 | LINK

A separate human individual, with his or her own unique set of DNA, is created once a sperm cell fertilizes an egg cell. That’s science, not an opinion.

Priya, your fingernail is part of your body. It’s not a separate organism. If your concept of being human revolves around someone’s capacity for thought, I think that sends a horrible message about people with mental disabilities. How much capacity for thought does someone have to have for you to consider them a human being?

Being in an earlier stage of development than some other humans does not make a unique human organism less human.

A reader
November 7th, 2011 | LINK

TwirlyGirly, the mother and the fetus are not separated like you and someone from whom you might want a kidney. The mother and the fetus are already biologically connected, much like a person already on life support. Moreover, as mother of the child, the mother has a moral and legal (prescinding from Roe v Wade, etc.) obligation to care for and provide support for the child. To deliberately kill the child would be murder.

As to “grant foeti the right to use the bodily resources of another”, the fetus does not need for you to grant a right that the fetus already morally and naturally has. It is you who is lacking the moral right to murder the child.

Priya Lynn
November 7th, 2011 | LINK

Maurader said ” How much capacity for thought does someone have to have for you to consider them a human being?”.

Any capacity for thought will do.
Versus a zygote or blastocyst which has zero capacity for thought. Early in a pregnancy there is NONE of the features we consider to belong to a person.

Timothy Kincaid
November 7th, 2011 | LINK

What I find fascinating is the absence of any discussion on the morality of termination of pregnancy from Paul, the Christian subset of the Talmud, or from any other Scriptural source. And yet, virtually all of those who are most active on the pro-life side do so out of religious (but not Biblical) conviction.

Oddly, Old Testament doesn’t share the Catholic Church’s belief about personhood or the sanctity of life. In Scripture, children were the property of the father and his to do with as he pleased, including those born. New Testament theology does seem to have a greater sense of personal autonomy (and was in some ways progressive for the time of its writing by seeing women as significantly equal in some areas of faith), but there seems to be little interest in asserting personhood for zygotes even in NT scripture.

Contemporary observations about Jewish beliefs suggest that late term abortions (or perhaps even all abortions) were not allowed. But as much of Christianity was defined by its rebellion against Jewish teaching and tradition (from which it sprang) we cannot assume that Christianity – in its shared beliefs- observed this prohibition as it’s authoritative literature does not speak of a universal Christian belief about life’s sanctity or moment of humanhood.

Even more interesting, there is no Scriptural condemnation of the Roman practice of leaving children to die (or become enslaved) if unwanted. As the epistle to the Church in Rome is not lacking in its lecturing about what was not pleasing to God, this is a somewhat notable omission.

Perhaps this was because the Church had not taken on the role of moral dictator and was instead interested in what its members did or believed. Or, perhaps, because it was not considered immoral or improper.

Know1
November 7th, 2011 | LINK

Catholic teaching on abortion has not been monolithic or unchanging throughout the ages. In fact, the Catholic doctrine of “ensoulment” taught that aborting a fetus at up to 16 1/2 weeks after conception was not murder. 16 1/2 weeks was thought to be the “time of the quickening” – in other words – the point when a human soul entered the foetus and it became human.

If the Catholics are so sure they know God’s mind about abortion, then why has their teaching been all over the map? Has god changed his mind about when a fetus becomes human?

For Catholics, why in one age is abortion a minor transgression, and in our age a non-negotiable grave sin akin to murder?

TwirlyGirly
November 7th, 2011 | LINK

Reader wrote: TwirlyGirly, the mother and the fetus are not separated like you and someone from whom you might want a kidney.(snip)

As Maruder wrote: “A separate human individual, with his or her own unique set of DNA, is created once a sperm cell fertilizes an egg cell. That’s science, not an opinion.”

Either a foetus is a “separate human being” or it is not. If it is a “separate human being,” does it have the right to that which sustains life, or does it not? If it does, why doesn’t every OTHER “separate human being” that has already been born not have that right?

Reader wrote: Moreover, as mother of the child, the mother has a moral and legal (prescinding from Roe v Wade, etc.) obligation to care for and provide support for the child. To deliberately kill the child would be murder.(snip)

Does a BORN child have the right to that which sustains life (in terms of bodiy resources)? Does the law require a parent donate his or her bodily resources (a kidney, bone marrow, blood, or lung) to one of their born chidren should they need it to survive? If not, why not? If denying a foetus the bodily resources it needs to sustain life is “murder,” then why is it not considered “murder” to deny a born child any bodily resources he or she may need to insure his or her survival?

Priya Lynn
November 7th, 2011 | LINK

Way to go, Twirlygirly!

Timothy Kincaid
November 7th, 2011 | LINK

know1

Thanks for the additional info. As for the change, perhaps God is quickening more quickly?

TwirlyGirl

A perhaps-even-closer parallel:

Does a newborn have a right to a mother’s breast milk? If a mother gives a child up for adoption – or just leaves it at a fire station – can the adoptive parents put in a legal claim for her milk?

I don’t believe they can, even if the child has some need that makes breast milk medically desirable.

Would it be “murder” for her to refuse?

Perhaps morally deficient (in the same way that a person with a very rare blood type who refused to donate blood might be considered morally deficient) but not legally.

But as the burden of demand increases, so too does the question of moral imperative. A blood transfusion may be a small demand. Daily milk pumping significantly more intrusive. A bone marrow donation much more so. A kidney is a demand that would only be considered immoral to refuse if the person in need were family or there were other circumstances.

The problem (one of many) with pro-life arguments, is that there is no consideration. A demand for nine months and the impact that it has on a body both at the time and after is not considered. Nor is the impact on family, employers, or others. In pro-life arguments, this decision is treated as though it were no more inconvenient than being asked “hey, will you flip that switch”.

TwirlyGirly
November 8th, 2011 | LINK

Timothy wrote: “A perhaps-even-closer parallel:

Does a newborn have a right to a mother’s breast milk? If a mother gives a child up for adoption – or just leaves it at a fire station – can the adoptive parents put in a legal claim for her milk?

I don’t believe they can, even if the child has some need that makes breast milk medically desirable.

Would it be ‘murder’ for her to refuse?”

I don’t believe an infant has a legal right to its mother’s breast milk. I’ve actually thought of that parallel before; I didn’t use it because I wanted to use one that could possibly place the burden on the men as well as women.

Here’s one of my issues with the “pro-life” contingent – thousands of people die every year in this country waiting for donor organs or bone marrow transplants. If you’re *truly* “pro-life” and not just simply trying to control women, then you should absolutely be an organ donor, *and* on the bone marrow donor registry, *and* be donating blood every chance you get. We know donating saves lives.

As a matter of fact, if we knew where “A Reader” lives, I’ll be willing to bet there is someone needing either a kidney or bone marrow transplant within a couple hour’s drive of their home. What do you think the chances are that if “A Reader” were provided with that information, s/he would be willing to be tested to see if they might be a match, and make the sacrifice and donate either their kidney or bone marrow if they were? Bear in mind the risk of death to someone donating a kidney is one fourth that of the risk of death for pregnancy/childbirth. It’s real easy to pay lip service to the whole “pro-life” idea when you aren’t the one taking the risk, or the one who is making the sacrifices (physical, financial, emotional, etc.) to save that life…..

Shofixti
November 9th, 2011 | LINK

My problem with the breast milk analogy is that it is complicated by the availability of alternatives (yet the unborn has no alternatives).

“Does the newborn have a right to a mother’s breast milk?” might not be the correct question. I ask does a newborn have a right to correct care, care that “impacts” and implicates the bodies, time and energy of whoever is the caregiver?

Let us say that a small town has a meeting and quickly comes to the consensus that all newborns have no right to the sustenance, production and labour of anyone else’s body at all. Can the mother then withold care for her newborn given that it has no alternatives?
If the bus that passes this town is not due for six more days – does anyone bear any responsbility or can everyone say “It’s my body, it’s my choice, I shall not aid this child.”?

In regards to the bone-marrow donor argument, most people – even pscyhopaths can distinguish the difference between a direct harm and an indirect harm – where abortion is the direct application of scalpel, vacuum tube or whatever instrument whereas the person who needs bone marrow is not in any way directly harmed by the actions of another. It is a different tier of argument and moral judgement.

(I mention psychopaths not to insult you, but because they actually can tell this difference – they just don’t care)

Priya Lynn
November 9th, 2011 | LINK

Shofixti said “My problem with the breast milk analogy is that it is complicated by the availability of alternatives (yet the unborn has no alternatives).”.

That’s why I think the original kidney analogy was best.

Timothy Kincaid
November 9th, 2011 | LINK

Let us say that a small town has a meeting and quickly comes to the consensus that all newborns have no right to the sustenance, production and labour of anyone else’s body at all. Can the mother then withold care for her newborn given that it has no alternatives?
If the bus that passes this town is not due for six more days – does anyone bear any responsbility or can everyone say “It’s my body, it’s my choice, I shall not aid this child.”?

Actually, your small town sounds like Rome. There, if a paterfamilia decided that a newborn was not ideal for the family, he could direct that it be left on a certain hill to its own fate. Should another wish to adopt the child, they could. Or it could be taken and raised as a slave. Or it could die.

How we all may have views about the morality of such an act. But we cannot say that such views are Biblical. Neither Paul in his epistle to the church in Rome, nor any other apostle, condemned this well known practice, much less made it the centerpiece of a Culture War.

Shofixti
November 9th, 2011 | LINK

Tim, I’ll take your word for it.

I assume that until very recently the higher rates of infant mortality likely put different pressures on people to match resources, effort and so forth to children (in ways where this Roman practice might have made sense). It doesn’t make it more moral.

I think the Bible licences the rejection of baby murdering, in as much as Herod and Pharoah’s edicts aren’t to be interpreted positively. And the wrongness of these killings is not simply due to the congnitions that adults have. Other than that, I cannot say.

Priya – the kidney and bone/marrow example I also addressed in my post. Other than the direct vs. indirect harm critique:

My consternation about the kidney/bone marrow assertion is that it seems to provoke very negative feelings. It paints foetuses as something that wants to harvest (non-replaceable) organs from people’s bodies. Does humanity really benefit from ascribing such hostile and invasive demands on something that is innocent and vulnerable?

Humans can have twenty children, yet we don’t have 21 kidneys. The analogy doesn’t seem to map 1 to 1 with the way humans are really made. In this gap people might come to conclusions simply because your example generates a sense of threat.

http://moms.today.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/11/08/8684372-20-kids-and-counting-michelle-duggar-announces-shes-pregnant-again

Priya Lynn
November 9th, 2011 | LINK

Shofixti, your criticism of the bone marrow/kidney analogy isn’t valid. To take the analogy further, a fetus living off its mothers’s body would be the equivalent of a child attempting to remove a mother’s kidney or marrow without consent. A mother would have a right to use force to prevent that just as a she has a right to use force to prevent a fetus from using her body.

Timothy Kincaid
November 9th, 2011 | LINK

I have to say I’m impressed. Box Turtlers showed themselves to be strongly opinionated but not victims of Culture War mentality on this, one of the most contentious subjects.

Not only have you treated each other respectfully, all of you refused to allow a troll to incite you into an angry response.

Sometimes folks get upset when we pull a comment. But I hope this can help illustrate how a debate can be interesting and thought-provoking without resorting to what so often turns up on the web. And perhaps the steps to keep it mostly in accordance with the Comments Policy (we do err, we’re human) really do pay off

Shofixti
November 10th, 2011 | LINK

Thanks Priya,

I am one of four sons. As the eldest, if I took one of my mother’s kidneys – she would have one left. My next brother, if he took the other – she’d be dead. But she’s not, and had all four of us. Therefore pregnancy cannot be the same as having your kidney taken out.

“the equivalent of a child attempting to remove”

Intention and direct action are different moral categories than the indirect and unintentional behaviour of a foetus. For example manslaughter is a different crime to first degree murder.

I think the analogy that better represents the darker impressions people shed concerning the average pregnancy, without being hostile, is this:

It’s winter and you drive out to a remote part of a farm to enjoy the scenery and your car breaks down.
In the quiet of the night you see that a lost traveller has fallen into an icy lake.

By the time you pull her out of the lake she has been so frozen she can barely move or speak. With no other alternative, it is the heat produced from your body that can mean the difference between life or death.

She has no strength and no intention to take anything from you, she can only accept your mercy. You have two choices: give her the output of your bodily organs or choose to watch her die.

Priya Lynn
November 10th, 2011 | LINK

Those are tangential criticisms Shofixti, the kidney analogy is still apt all though you can go on all day about how its not exactly the same situation.

Whether a fetus intends to steal from a mother’s body is irrelevant, she has a right to use force to prevent that just as she’d have a right to use force to prevent a child from taking her kidney without permission

Priya Lynn
November 10th, 2011 | LINK

Also, a pregnancy is far more invasive and damaging than taking someone’s body heat, so once again, the kidney analogy is the better one.

Shofixti
November 11th, 2011 | LINK

I hear you, I do.

As a (fledgling) social constructionist I understand that many of the issues of contemporary feminism are to do with unpackaging the legacies of second wave feminism.
2nd wave feminism instituted many essentialist notions about gender, choice, and exploitation.

For example I recently read about sexual violence prevention and some of the political issues that need to be unpackaged are things like a) all men have an innate capacity to rape b) all heterosex is essentially exploitative to women etc. But neither one of those statements is true – they are products of ways of representing gendered difference.

In the same way I am concerned about this discourse of invasive and damaging pregnancy. To me it reinforces essentialist notions that all women are innately vulnerable to sex and all women are innately susceptible to the damage of pregnancy.

But I don’t think this depiction is true – it is simply the product of ways of representing pregnancy. It excludes the possibilty that women can have experiences of pregnancy that are not damanging and not interpreted as invasive and parasitic.

I’m not saying you can’t experience pregnancy as damaging, it is just that speaking about pregnancy as only damaging (as ultimately the same as a malevolent entity trying to intentionally harvest internal organs) silences some women.

Essentialist notions of gender work against feminism, they work against gay rights and they work against transgender understanding also.

Priya Lynn
November 11th, 2011 | LINK

Shofixti, to some women pregnancy is a damaging dangerous thing. To others it is a beautiful time, the best thing that ever happened to them. Leave it up to women to decide.

Shofixti
November 13th, 2011 | LINK

Okay – so really we’re saying the same thing. That experiences of the average pregnancy vary widely.

But we differ on why that is:

You see innate reasons for the damaging aspects of pregnancy to be taken seriously. And as such, allegories of pregnancy-as-organ-harvesting hold, even if they do not apply to all women.

I see experiences of pregnancy and the value of human life as socially constructed and am therefore concerned with how these things are talked about – because how we talk about them will determine the dominant ways women experience their pregnancies.

Priya: “Leave it up to women to decide.”

Truth is not separate from context. So when we use cool clinical categories to break human development down into person-less pieces, this methodology produces what it seems to describe. I do not think people have ability to “freely choose” whether to see their pregnancies as they want to.

Unless you truly believe people are unconstrained agents – the real question isn’t can people make choices (to abort) but why they make the choices they do. To that extent, representations of pregnancy as parasitic contribute to the why, they contribute to new norms of viewing female sexuality as dangerous and rife with vulnerability.

Linking back to the very beginning – this is why I think it is incorrect to construe Sigrest’s comment as evil – because doing so is a type of coercion against women: which may make the pregnancy of a woman who has experienced rape a mandatory horror. This mandatory horror then becomes a reason to silence and reject the those women who experience their abortions as a secondary trauma.

(Although I do see that Timothy is concerned with other issues of policy and paternity)

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