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Prenatal care for all, or a Roe v. Wade endrun?

By imrdkl in News
Thu Jan 31, 2002 at 09:34:02 PM EST
Tags: News (all tags)
News

The Health and Human Services department announced today that a new policy has been proposed which will establish a fetus as an unborn child.


The reasoning behind this policy shift appears to be based on financial need, and the administration's desire to have automatic inclusion of all (qualifying) women in a prenatal care program. The program, called Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), as sponsored by the States (SCHIP), does not cover pregnant women automatically today.

Naturally, there remain strong differences of opinion on the underlying issues beneath this decision. Laurie Rubiner of the National Partnership for Women and Families is reported in an CNN article as saying, that the plan "sets legal precedent on it's head". This is likely due to the ramifications that the decision may have upon Abortion Rights.

States in fact may already cover pregnant women under SCHIP, using waivers, but the Health and Human Services secretary, Tommy Thompson, states that "This means resources can be available to states immediately to provide expanded prenatal care".

The new policy will not take effect before the department receives and analyzes public comments and publishes the final regulation, which could be complete by Spring.

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Prenatal care for all, or a Roe v. Wade endrun? | 79 comments (75 topical, 4 editorial, 0 hidden)
Abortion debate... (2.37 / 16) (#1)
by Signal 11 on Thu Jan 31, 2002 at 06:25:44 PM EST

The day our legal system allows a man to not have to worry about turning into a wallet because of impregnating a woman, that is when I think the abortion debate will begin in ernest.


--
Society needs therapy. It's having
trouble accepting itself.
Oh boy (4.25 / 4) (#2)
by jabber on Thu Jan 31, 2002 at 06:27:17 PM EST

Pay now or pay later, right?? Personally, I think legalized prostitution would take a big bite out of the debate..

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"
[ Parent ]

re: Oh Boy (2.50 / 2) (#9)
by baronben on Thu Jan 31, 2002 at 07:03:24 PM EST

because prostitues will never get pregenet, and on the off chance they do, they'll never track you down right? Just because they have sex for money doesn't mean they give up legal protection.
Ben Spigel sic transit gloria
[ Parent ]
Exactly (4.50 / 4) (#14)
by jabber on Thu Jan 31, 2002 at 07:31:29 PM EST

Because by selling sex, they assume responsibility for its consequences. They get to dictate terms of sex, but they make the sex more convenient for their customers.. So, for $300, and no glove == no love, you are sure to score..

Conversely, in a romantic relationship, the protocol is a lot more vaporous... Emotions get in the way of sexual gratification for its own sake. Protocol such as condoms, a copy of your recent blood-work and so forth, tend to imply a lack of trust, which then escalates into a lackof sex.

That is the general rule, especially among the younger and less experienced segments, resulting in teen pregnancy. This all can, and has been, argued ad nauseum.

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"
[ Parent ]

You can stop worrying. (3.85 / 7) (#6)
by ucblockhead on Thu Jan 31, 2002 at 06:41:08 PM EST

It is called "birth control", and it allows you to stop worrying right now.
-----------------------
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]
Birth control and "a woman's right" (2.61 / 13) (#8)
by Signal 11 on Thu Jan 31, 2002 at 07:01:53 PM EST

Firstly, I'm writing this comment to keep myself distracted (long story)...

Birth control... if she says she's taking it, and doesn't, you're still responsible. Condoms break. Mistakes happen. You're responsible, even if you tried your best...

... Is that fair? To be a slave for the next 18 years because you wanted to relieve some sexual tension? To make love to someone? Men are afraid of committment... and so they should... with all the feminists out there, and so many gold-diggers and disengenious women who hide behind their I-am-a-woman shield of innocence...

I wouldn't risk my heart... or my future. No sane person would. But that's what we have to do, because otherwise life isn't worth living. It's really the Final Trial of being a man... to be able to accept that life is not fair. To love in spite of all the dangers of doing so. To rise above it all, and dare to bare your soul... knowing it could so easily destroy you.

Them's the breaks... I just wish society was more fair, because then maybe men wouldn't be so afraid, and wouldn't need to kill themselves so often. Men who are divorced or lose custody stand a very good chance of committing suicide... for different reasons I'm facing the same problem right this minute... and I can totally relate to why they feel that way: They feel alone.

And in this society... they are alone. I am a sensitive man... and I know that that is a terrible vulnerability - men and women alike exploit it when they discover it. I've been hurt enough to know. I wouldn't wish emotional sensitivity on any man in this society: It is too cruel to those who have it.

There are few support groups for men, few resources for us to cope with our feelings. Most of us manage to get rid of them and live in comfortable numbness. Some of us are stupid and fall in love... and suffer terribly when we make a bad choice in a matter of love. For those who, by quirk of nature or chance can't turn a blind eye to their feelings, I feel for you!! We are humans, not wallets, people not machines, and we are capable of as much love and caring as any. We're born equal in our capacity to love... but that must be cut away with the scalpel of maturity because society has no use for sensitive men.

To any woman... think carefully about what opinions you voice for in doing so, you may be taking away someone else's choice. And maybe even their life.




--
Society needs therapy. It's having
trouble accepting itself.
[ Parent ]

My god... (4.25 / 8) (#10)
by ragabr on Thu Jan 31, 2002 at 07:17:47 PM EST

You're so full of yourself. Of course, women left single and pregnant are just thinking of the father as a wallet, it couldn't be that the incredible limits placed on someone stuck with the responsibility of raising a child greatly reduce their economic viability.

For such a "sensitive" man your empathy is shit, automatically attaching an extreme scenario of reasoning on the social system. Of course, it's because everyone in the world is out to get the young white man, it couldn't be that they just want an individual to take responsibility for what they've wrought.

No matter how many ways you look at it, you are responsible for what happens as a result of your actions. But you're in luck, there's a way to relieve sexual tension without any worry of disease or unwanted children, it's called masturbation. Maybe you could let go of your self pity for long enough to try it.

-------
And my tongue would be made of chocolate. Mmmmm. Chocolate.
-rusty
[ Parent ]
What about feminism (4.00 / 1) (#39)
by velex on Fri Feb 01, 2002 at 10:09:24 AM EST

Well then what's all this feminist bullshit about? I thought that women were supposed to be stong. They've got the power of the goddess, right? Give me a break. If the woman didn't want kids, she wouldn't have had sex. So far, no one has talked about the woman's choice to have sex. She knows what the consequences are, and she's got to take responsibility too.

You can't have your cake and eat it. Usually what happens is the courts force the guy to pay and prevent him from ever seing the kid again.



[ Parent ]
What the hell are you talking about... (4.00 / 3) (#42)
by ragabr on Fri Feb 01, 2002 at 10:49:51 AM EST

you mention *one fucking single group* of feminists and imply that they're all like that, that that's what the women's movement about. That's like saying Siggy is a good representation of all middle-class white males. It just ain't so. And the woman is generally stuck with the physical side of the responsibility so there's her responsibility. You also need to look up the actual numbers of how many men are denied visitation rights and why they were denied.

(Off-topic)
This is just one more statement among many that make me think you're more confused about your sexuality than definitely transgendered. It's like you don't understand females at all, you just see yourself fitting into what you picture as female.

-------
And my tongue would be made of chocolate. Mmmmm. Chocolate.
-rusty
[ Parent ]
[offtopic, troll, etc.] (none / 0) (#78)
by velex on Mon Feb 04, 2002 at 07:41:27 PM EST

No, I doubt I'll ever understand womyn-born-womyn. Then again, most womyn-born-womyn don't get thrown around by gym teachers and such. Oh well. I guess I must really not be a girl.



[ Parent ]
Lykis 101 (1.66 / 3) (#11)
by drivers on Thu Jan 31, 2002 at 07:22:33 PM EST

You wouldn't happen to be a Lykis listener would you? You are exactly right. There is no such thing as an accidental pregnancy: women who get pregnant want to get pregnant; They have the control over the effective parts of birth control (the pill, abortion). The condom is a backup, the least effective method and the only point when men have any choice in the matter.

[ Parent ]
Choice (4.50 / 2) (#33)
by heph on Fri Feb 01, 2002 at 06:44:51 AM EST

And this of course :

http://www.vasectomy.com/index.html

Its a very simple operation and could save you from ever having to take responsibility for anything.



[ Parent ]
Except for STDs... [nt] (4.00 / 1) (#52)
by skunk on Fri Feb 01, 2002 at 02:31:07 PM EST


--SS
[ Parent ]
Waah, I have NO CONTROL over where I put my dick! (none / 0) (#73)
by webwench on Fri Feb 01, 2002 at 07:41:08 PM EST

Waah, I have NO CONTROL over where I put my dick! Waah! The women have all the good birth control methods, and all I have is this stupid condom! Waah! You know all those methods or foolproof, too, and free or easily available over the counter, despite the fact that I'm too much of a luser to assist with the purchase of the Depo shots or the pills or the doctor visits! Waah! I could masturbate instead, or buy a 'marital aid', but it's not nearly so much fun as taking the risk of actual sex! Waah!

[ Parent ]
trust and risk (4.70 / 10) (#13)
by ucblockhead on Thu Jan 31, 2002 at 07:27:52 PM EST

If you don't trust her with birth control, or don't want to take the risk of failed birth control, then there is an easy solution: DON'T FUCK HER. You need "sexual release"? Then jack off.

Simple biology means that the risks to her are far higher than the risks to you. So stop being a selfish prick.

Being a man means TAKING RESPONSIBILITY

If you try that a bit, you'll also find that it is the real road to happiness.


-----------------------
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]

oh, stop it, my panties are melting (4.50 / 4) (#15)
by eLuddite on Thu Jan 31, 2002 at 07:35:30 PM EST

You're responsible, even if you tried your best.

No you didnt try your best. Had you tried your best, you wouldnt have had sex.

You kids... in my day, you wouldnt be reaching for your wallet, I'd be reaching for the shotgun.

---
God hates human rights.
[ Parent ]

Shotgun (5.00 / 4) (#19)
by wiredog on Thu Jan 31, 2002 at 08:50:55 PM EST

When I was in high school I went to a girl's house to take her out to dinner. When I went inside there was Dad, in the livingroom, cleaning his shotgun. "You'll have her home by 10, right?" "Yes sir!"

Peoples Front To Reunite Gondwanaland: "Stop the Laurasian Separatist Movement!"
[ Parent ]
So, in short... (4.50 / 8) (#22)
by dasunt on Thu Jan 31, 2002 at 09:28:31 PM EST

Because, you both wanted sex, and by mistake, she became pregnant, since her life is ruined, she shouldn't drag you down with her?

Biology might have decided that you were ready for parenthood, but I think that you're still a child that needs to grow up. Sex carries the possibility of pregnancy. You have to learn to accept that. If you can't deal with the idea you might become a parent, then I'd suggest celibacy.

We all have the possibility of taking on some unwanted burdens in our lifetimes. What makes us responsible human beings is the way we deal with them. You don't decide if your wife will get cancer or if your kids will be crippled in an automotive accident. But if it happens, you don't walk out on them, you stick around.

Don't like that? Then don't get married or have children. Its possible to be celibate.

Oh, and if you aren't going to heed my advice, then I'd suggest getting in very good shape. Track, especially. Because the possible mother of your children might have some rather big male friends or family that might assault you if you choose to cut and run. I'm not sure if you had no sisters, or if you just don't care about them, but a lot of people don't feel the same way you do, and are willing to inflict physical pain upon you to try to change your point of view.

Just my $.02



[ Parent ]
Excellent, thank you. (5.00 / 1) (#74)
by webwench on Fri Feb 01, 2002 at 07:45:24 PM EST

Excellent, thank you.

I've been there myself, oddly enough, had an unplanned pregnancy after the pill failed (yep, guys, it is possible for that to happen, don't delude yourselves), and my BF and I decided to go ahead and have the child. It really isn't the end of the world. Shit happens; the good part of this is, it turns out not to be shit after all, it can actually turn out pretty well and be worth it.

A shame that his main concern is his damned wallet. Maybe next time he'll pick a girl who has her own wallet, and they can, like, take care of whatever they need to take care of together, like adults.



[ Parent ]

It takes two (5.00 / 2) (#72)
by webwench on Fri Feb 01, 2002 at 07:26:57 PM EST

Oh, waah. Cripes.

(1) Even if you're both using birth control, ANY form of BC short of sterilization has failure rates. Upshot: If you want to avoid having a child, don't have sex until you and she are both ready. (This goes for her too.) God forbid, you should think about it and talk about it before some situation comes up. This goes doubly if you or she are pro-life and abortion isn't an option. *Keep your dick in your pants*!

(2) If you insist on continuing to labor under the convenient illusion that you just *can't* live without sex, then seek to get your relief another way -- oral, anal, hand job, 'adult accessories', whatever. I mean, come on. We are all adults here? We can enforce on ourselves a modicum of self-control when it is important to us to do so?

"To any woman... think carefully about what opinions you voice for in doing so, you may be taking away someone else's choice..."? Puh-leeze. Why don't you just come out and say openly what you're upset about here, instead of veiling it in sobby-story submissions and whatnot. Did your GF dump you? Did she become pregnant? Is she extorting support? Did she cheat on you?

This is life, and these are the risks you take when you don't (1) know what you're doing, (2) know who you're doing it with, (3) have the self control to avoid doing things you don't want to do with someone you don't want to be with, etc etc.

I'm sorry I'm not being more compassionate. If you're having a legitimately hard time, you should get help. Depression runs in my family and I have struggled with it as well, so I know it can be hard. With that said, I have a suspicion that you're alluding to things in an attempt to get sympathy. Maybe you should keep this inside your circle of friends who can understand you and your circumstances better, and keep the dirty laundry off the boards, or else put it all out here if you really want community input.



[ Parent ]

Dumb excuse or what? (4.07 / 13) (#3)
by notafurry on Thu Jan 31, 2002 at 06:32:16 PM EST

They want to declare a fetus to be an unborn child to "make it possible to provide prenatal care"? Excuse me? Maybe the DEA needs to stop checking for drug use in our schools and look into the government agencies.

Here's a thought. They want to mandate prenatal care for any pregnant woman, right? Well, gee, why not just do that? "Mandate prenatal care for pregnant women". Period. No weakening of Roe v. Wade, no debate, just a plain and simple health care initiative.

Kinda makes it tough to believe them on the whole "we don't have any hidden agenda" thing, doesn't it?

Extremely dumb (2.00 / 7) (#17)
by truth versus death on Thu Jan 31, 2002 at 07:56:10 PM EST

I don't know what the Health and Human Services political organization is thinking, but the law is very clear on this. A fetus is a fetus and an "unborn" child does not exist. And Bush's Administration and its women-killing policies can go fuck themselves.

"any erection implies consent"-fae
[ Trim your Bush ]
[ Parent ]
What is prenatal care? (3.50 / 2) (#36)
by cyberbuffalo on Fri Feb 01, 2002 at 09:20:43 AM EST

What is being cared for and why?

[ Parent ]
Answer (4.50 / 2) (#43)
by catseye on Fri Feb 01, 2002 at 10:52:21 AM EST

If that was an honest question, here's the answer. Prenatal care includes regular checkups by an ob/gyn while pregnant to listen to fetal heatbeat and check the general health of the mother, counseling with a nutritionist to make sure the mother knows what type of food to eat and how much, at least 2 ultrasounds to determine the number of babies and their apparent health/size/shape/position, various blood tests to determine if the mother has any diseases that will pass on to the baby/has an incompatible blood type with the child/has any genetic issues, and more advanced testing if the mother at high risk to have a child with Downs Syndrome or other abnormalities.

Prenatal care is very important, especially for teenage mothers, older women, and first-time mothers. It's necessary for the health and well being of the unborn child and the mother equally.

----------
How can we fight Islamic Fundamentalism abroad if we do not fight Christian Fundamentalism at home?
[ Parent ]
This is utterly moronic... (4.50 / 14) (#5)
by Danse on Thu Jan 31, 2002 at 06:39:04 PM EST

If they weren't just trying to end-run the courts and Congress, they would simply modify the SCHIP program to cover pregnant women. Problem solved. This is just another way of accomplishing the same thing that just happens to pave the way to outlawing abortion. I would like to ask them, face to face, why they don't just modify the program instead. I would love to hear that answer.






An honest debate between Bush and Kerry
I think.... (none / 0) (#12)
by Bill Barth on Thu Jan 31, 2002 at 07:25:29 PM EST

I think that modifing CHIP to handle this would take an Act of Congress as well as, perhaps, acts of state legislatures. And you know what they say about Acts of Congress. I'd like to think that this is something that has been kicking around at CMS (aka HFCA) for some time now.

In fact, some digging around at their site makes it pretty clear that many state legislatures would in fact have to act in order for this waiver to take effect.

This is, in some sense, a double (forward-reverse) end-run. It seems that, in spirit, the law (and therefore CHIP program) provides health care for children. But currently the federal regulations do not specify that prenatal care must be provided. It does allow the states to individually waive the "birth requirement" and provide such care. So the program head has made a policy change to explicitly require such care. Making an end-run around what Congress set out in law in order to provide health care to those who have decided to keep their unborn children. On the other hand, as you point out, this may set some precedent for the future.
Yes...I am a rocket scientist.
[ Parent ]

So.. (5.00 / 3) (#16)
by Danse on Thu Jan 31, 2002 at 07:45:10 PM EST

So changing the program requires an act of Congress, but overturning Roe v. Wade, and outlawing abortion doesn't? Why is this not making sense to me?






An honest debate between Bush and Kerry
[ Parent ]
The Supreme Court..... (none / 0) (#24)
by Bill Barth on Thu Jan 31, 2002 at 11:27:09 PM EST

That's right. Abortion is Constitutionally protected. Changing this program to include pregnant women is an outcome that everyone wants to see happen. There is in fact a bi-partisan bill in Congress right now to ammend this program to include pregnant women outright. This seems to be a stop-gap measure and/or, possibly, a rather lame and pointless end-run.

Please note, I don't think that this is a really great idea on the part of HHS, but I don't think that this is as big a disaster that NOW and everyone here seems to think that it is. As I said above, the Constitution provides protection for women and doctors involved. The DHHS saying that a fetus is an unborn child doesn't change a damn thing. The police aren't suddenly gong to start arresting women and doctors for murder.


Yes...I am a rocket scientist.
[ Parent ]

I've been saying it all along... (4.41 / 12) (#7)
by DesiredUsername on Thu Jan 31, 2002 at 06:56:10 PM EST

I haven't picked a side in the abortion debate. However, I do agree with the pro-life side's fundamental point: This is an issue of definition. The pro-abortionists want to cast it as a "women's rights" issue which is ridiculous--the issue here is, is a fetus an "unborn child" with all of the rights that implies?.

I'm glad abortion is being brought up again (in public, not on K5) in the context of definitions, but from what I've seen here it is going to once again devolve into a "you are trying to take away my rights" vs "God Shall Smite The Sinners" (neither of which is relevant) non-debate.

Play 囲碁

Is a fetus a person? (3.87 / 8) (#23)
by m3000 on Thu Jan 31, 2002 at 10:52:43 PM EST

Yes! Someone else gets it! I myself am strongly pro-life, but that is because I believe a fetus is a person, and that an abortion is the muder of an innocent human. It has nothing to do with "women's rights" or God (I'm athiest). It's all on the definition of what a fetus is. It amazes me how few people understand that crucial point.

[ Parent ]
A bit off... (4.62 / 8) (#26)
by DarkZero on Thu Jan 31, 2002 at 11:52:51 PM EST

Actually, the women's rights issue IS a rather large and valid part of the abortion debate. The debate, as always, is simple. Abortion infringes on the right of what may or may not be a life in order to sustain the right that women have to the sovereignty of their own bodies. Banning abortion infringes upon the rights of women to have to the sovereignty of their own bodies in order to sustain the right of what may or may not be a life to continue "living".

You can't sum this up as simply a matter of defining whether or not a fetus is alive. Even if that were somehow finally defined and accepted by the populace, we'd still have the matter of whether the fetus's rights trump the woman's rights or the woman's rights trump the fetus's rights. In a country like the US, whose basic principles are based solely around the right to do as you please with minimal interference from the government, that still remains a very large issue, even if the fetus is defined as being alive.

It's a big issue. You can't just cram this into a single paragraph, ignore every other aspect of it, and then say that it's simple. Defining whether or not a fetus is a human being is just one hurdle among many on the road to getting some sort of resolution to this issue. If it were simple a matter of whether or not the fetus is alive, we could just defer to our morals regarding the genetic cleansing of the retarded, the crippled, and the "below average". However, we do not simply defer to our beliefs about eugenics because the right that a woman has over her own body is involved. That's why this debate has out-lasted eugenics and genetic/racial "cleansing".

[ Parent ]
Women's rights.... (4.33 / 3) (#40)
by Bill Barth on Fri Feb 01, 2002 at 10:15:16 AM EST

The thing that I don't understand about this debate and never hear discussed is why this is about sovereignty of bodies. In some sense the sex act (excluding rape) is a abdication of sovereignty with a well known possible outcome in pregnancy. A women has given up her sovereignty when she allows a man to put his sperm inside her. Reasonable people may take reasonable steps to prevent the sperm from getting there or doing its job, but this comes with well known risks. The abortion debate is really about the denial of responsibility and the weighing of the fetus's rights (if it has any) against the circumstances of the mother.

Which brings me to another point. Why aren't the father's rights ever addressed? There must be some number of abortions every year that go against the wishes of the biological father. Should he be allowed to sue to force the mother to carry the fetus to term, or is this a totally ridiculous idea?


Yes...I am a rocket scientist.
[ Parent ]

Abdication of sovereignty (none / 0) (#50)
by skunk on Fri Feb 01, 2002 at 02:24:08 PM EST

In some sense the sex act (excluding rape) is a abdication of sovereignty with a well known possible outcome in pregnancy ... this comes with well known risks

The same can be said for the act of taking poison, but that's no basis for legally proscribing medical intervention!

I understand your point, and some time ago held it myself---that "abortion as a choice" was a moot idea, because when a woman is pregnant, the choice has already been made.

But that holds true only if truly effective, convenient contraception were available, to the point that a woman could really make that choice prior to the sex act---or if the sex act, in humans, were strictly for the purpose of procreation.

As of now, we have a variety of different, imperfect contraceptives available, all with different tradeoffs. Few of them come close to a 100% prevention rate, and those that do have other marks against them. And sex is definitely something humans do for recreation. Sometimes, things go wrong---despire desires and efforts to the contrary.

And abortion can be thought of as an avoidance of responsibility, but it can just as well be deemed a preemption of a difficult future situation. Not unlike putting out a kitchen fire before it burns down the entire house. (The question remains, of course---at what point is putting out the fire no longer an option?)



--SS
[ Parent ]
Choices.... (none / 0) (#53)
by Bill Barth on Fri Feb 01, 2002 at 02:42:35 PM EST

My biggest problem is that the same people that cry out "a man must take responsibility" when he and his female sex partner get pregnant (ans she wants to keep it), are the same that declare that she must have the right (with no input from him) to terminate the pregnancy if she so desires. This seems incongruous to me. I'm not personally pro-life, but I don't think I could be party to an abortion either.


Yes...I am a rocket scientist.
[ Parent ]

Responsibility (none / 0) (#60)
by skunk on Fri Feb 01, 2002 at 04:17:19 PM EST

Now that's a good point. So what if a woman gets pregnant, and she wants the baby, and the father-to-be doesn't?

I would think that this situation could arise only if the woman somehow deceived the man as to her intentions---otherwise, they would be of one mind and neither of them would want the baby. So, for the man to be drawn into a moral and legal responsibility for a child that was never agreed to in the first place would be questionable. Like being held to a contract with a hidden provision negating its overall intent. Perhaps it's an oversight of modern society that there is no way for a man to disavow legal fathership of a child, while abortion is still an option?



--SS
[ Parent ]
Also (none / 0) (#65)
by Bill Barth on Fri Feb 01, 2002 at 04:38:52 PM EST

Imagine a case where a man and a woman agree that they will use birth control and if that fails, she will have an abortion. Suppose they put this in writing. Now suppose she gets pregnant by accident and changes her mind about the abortion. Far-fetched? Maybe, maybe not. Life circumstances change. Hormones can do strange things to people.

I think the real point is that modern society isn't as enlightened and equitable as we would like to say that it is. (As, more or less, you noted in your post.)


Yes...I am a rocket scientist.
[ Parent ]

Re: (none / 0) (#69)
by skunk on Fri Feb 01, 2002 at 05:36:42 PM EST

Imagine a case where a man and a woman agree that they will use birth control and if that fails, she will have an abortion. Suppose they put this in writing. Now suppose she gets pregnant by accident and changes her mind about the abortion. Far-fetched? Maybe, maybe not. Life circumstances change. Hormones can do strange things to people.

It sounds plausible; certainly a woman may think differently about a pregnancy once she's actually there. So there's another cause for unlike-minded parents-to-be---a change of heart. Allowing the man to peremptorily decide his responsibility for the kid still makes for an equitable solution, yes?

And yeah, modern society may have its potholes, but that doesn't mean they can't be patched up :-)



--SS
[ Parent ]
It Makes Sense (4.09 / 11) (#25)
by Robert Uhl on Thu Jan 31, 2002 at 11:49:26 PM EST

It makes sense, you know. Unlike a sperm--which is simply a single, rather odd, cell--or an oocyte--which is an even odder, in some ways, cell--an embryo or fœtus is its own thing. It is a human being. `No!' you say, `it's not; it's just a lump, or an incoveniently child-shaped thing, until it's born.' This is an odd perspective to take--an almost magical one. Somehow, passing through a vagina makes one a person, and one's destruction murder? An odd idea, that.

No, think back over your life. A minute ago, were you you? A year? Five years? Ten years? And so on. You were different, yes, but you were still you. Work back even further, back past the point you remember. Were you a human being at the age of 2? At 1? At 6 months? A 1 month? At five minutes? At a minute before birth? A month before birth?

The thing is, there is one clear-cut change in our lives: fertilisation. From then on, it's slow, gradual and undefined. There's no instant at which one ceases to be a child and becomes an adolescent, or an adolescent and a man. Likewise, there's no real instant at which the embryo becomes a fœtus, or a fœtus viable. But there is that one great divide, the divide between life and the lack thereof. On one side, a sperm and an oocyte; on the other, an embryo, a human being in all its potentiality, one which--if nurtured and cared for--will grow, and grow, and grow, and one day be born, and one day be married, and one day have children of his or her own.

So this decision makes eminent sense. If we are to be a socialist society--which I strongly disagree with--then we should extend benefits and protection to all persons. The preborn child is no less a person than an infant is less a person than a man of 65 years. Thus the preborn child deserves to have health care extended to him, if health care in general is a benefit extended to persons.

More on a libertarian opposition to infanticide is to be found at Libertarians for Life. Their arguments are irrefutable, their conclusions sound. Abortion is homicide. Anything else is illogical, irrational and wrong.

Woo Hoo! (3.33 / 3) (#27)
by Bill Barth on Fri Feb 01, 2002 at 12:00:42 AM EST

I was just about to write the same damn thing! I draw different conclusions from you, but I agree in principle. If you think about it, there are a number of morally ambiguous homicides (capital punishment, assisted suicide, abortion, etc.) that society must grapple with.


Yes...I am a rocket scientist.
[ Parent ]

the problem... (4.40 / 5) (#29)
by rhyax on Fri Feb 01, 2002 at 12:17:32 AM EST

asking the question, "is it alive at point x" assumes things that obscure the truth and don't allow people to come to an otherwise normal decision. Is a baby alive? of course. A fetus? also clearly yes. A sperm? just as clearly yes. We did not become alive at any point. Life by definition is continual, we have always been alive since the beginning.

So, since we kill animals and plants to eat the criteria for whether or not we abort a baby cannot be whether it is alive. So what other criteria should we use to tell us whom not to kill? We should look at why we shouldn't kill in the first place. Because it inflicts one person's will over another free agent's will. We do not kill people because they might not want to die.

So, self-awareness, and sentience must exist, or have had existed in the past, for killing to be wrong. fetuses are not self-aware.

[ Parent ]

Neither are newborn infants..... (4.25 / 4) (#37)
by Bill Barth on Fri Feb 01, 2002 at 09:44:13 AM EST

If self-awareness is the test then there's nothing morally objectionable about killing a baby for several months, at least, after birth. Agree or disagree?


Yes...I am a rocket scientist.
[ Parent ]

well... (none / 0) (#70)
by rhyax on Fri Feb 01, 2002 at 06:00:47 PM EST

i would say nothing morally objectionable, but i think it would cause a lot of pain for the people involved. so for other reasons i would say that it probably isn't a good idea.

[ Parent ]
Sentience not a Good Criterion (none / 0) (#54)
by Robert Uhl on Fri Feb 01, 2002 at 02:43:14 PM EST

The reasons the self-awareness or sentience are not good criterions is that they fail to apply to far too many others than preborn children. A newborn infant is not sentient. A retarded adult may not be self-aware. Can we butcher them and use 'em for meat? Most definitely not.

The point is that an embryo is alive in a very different way than a sperm or an oocyte is. The sperm is alive in the sense that a cell is; the embryo is alive in the sense that you and I are. It is a complete and independent being, unlike any to come before. The sperm or oocyte, OTOH, is one of many, and is simply a thrown-off piece of the parent. The embryo is a person in its potentiality; the sperm is a thing.

[ Parent ]

Why not? (none / 0) (#63)
by dice on Fri Feb 01, 2002 at 04:26:09 PM EST

Can we butcher them and use 'em for meat? Most definitely not.

Now, I love arguments by assertion that lead to trivial defense of an argument as much as the next guy, but why not?



[ Parent ]
life is the same (none / 0) (#71)
by rhyax on Fri Feb 01, 2002 at 06:10:23 PM EST

The point is that an embryo is alive in a very different way than a sperm or an oocyte is.

I disagree

The sperm is alive in the sense that a cell is; the embryo is alive in the sense that you and I are.

we are made of cells and are both alive in the same way.

It is a complete and independent being, unlike any to come before. The sperm or oocyte, OTOH, is one of many, and is simply a thrown-off piece of the parent.

embryos can be thought of as complete, but certainly not independant. and i don't just mean it's dependance on the parents, but its dependance on the rest of the ecosystem. sperm and oocytes are also complete and not independant. no life is independant. also uniqueness is not valid, sperm is also unique, and babies are "one of many." all sperm made from a man is not the same by any means... just because there are a lot of sperm in the same place one can't think they are all the same.

[ Parent ]

I don't think so... (3.33 / 3) (#30)
by notafurry on Fri Feb 01, 2002 at 01:37:33 AM EST

Illogical? When the world is full of too many people, when unwanted children live lives of neglect and mistreatment, when children given up for adoption are sadly mistreated as well? This is not the 1950s. June Cleaver is not available to raise our children. We have to do the best we can with what we have. "Illogical" is holding a position without defending it and stating all other positions are wrong.

Irrational? Perhaps. It's certainly an emotional decision. But a lot goes into it. Are you ready to be a parent? Even if you're emotionally ready, are you financially ready? Can you support your child in a lifestyle that's suitable? The argument that anyone who isn't ready shouldn't put themselves into that position is short-sighted and foolish; as long as we're still human, it will happen. The logical course of action is to make sure that such a mistake does not lead to lifelong punishment.

Wrong? By whose measure? To you, abortion is wrong and (more than likely, given your position) a sin. Fine. Don't commit it. But it is impossible to reconcile the position of pro-life with being libertarian; if you're not going to tell other people what to do and how to live, then you can not tell them what to do with their bodies. You may defend the rights of children; once they are a sustainable individual, you can defend their rights without compromising your claimed position as a libertarian. Not before.

Incidently, you're not stating a valid argument. You've taken the position that abortion is homicide, without giving any evidence to back that up. You state that any other position is illogical, rational, and wrong, which is really ironic considering that you haven't stated a rational argument or position. You refer to someone else's arguments, but you don't leave room for the possibility you might be wrong - something else that's an untenable position for a reasonable person.

Oh, and by the way - moderation is not for registering disagreement. It's for marking an argument as valid or invalid, a post as well-written or poorly-written. I've marked up posts written to support positions I strongly diagreed with - that were well done. I've marked down posts I've strongly agreed with that were poorly done. I try (although I occaisionally fail) to be fair and open-minded. Try it sometime.

[ Parent ]

Some libertarians finish their logic (4.33 / 3) (#45)
by Robert Hutchinson on Fri Feb 01, 2002 at 12:52:34 PM EST

But it is impossible to reconcile the position of pro-life with being libertarian; if you're not going to tell other people what to do and how to live, then you can not tell them what to do with their bodies.
It must then also be impossible to condemn murder, or theft, or arson, if one is libertarian. Of course, it's not impossible--these things are wrong because what one person is doing with his body and property is infringing on what others can do with their bodies and property. Which brings one back, yet again, to the only important question: who counts as a person?

Robert Hutchinson
No bomb-throwing required.

[ Parent ]

Easy (1.00 / 1) (#49)
by notafurry on Fri Feb 01, 2002 at 02:07:20 PM EST

A libertarian believes that individuals should be free to determine their own actions and way of life. A libertarian would not infringe on another's rights - as you say, a libertarian should not (let's not pretend we're all perfect, OK) commit murder, theft, or arson - that would be infringing upon the rights of another individual.

So, then, it follows that we need a definition of an individual for the purposes of determining who's rights need to be protected. And it's not difficult to do so - and individual is someone who can act on their own behalf in exercising their rights. A child is somewhat in this category; they can think, speak, move, and act. At the same time, a child needs guidance, for they do not yet have the judgement or ability to be fully independent, and protection, for they do not yet have the ability to protect their own rights. Therefore we have (and should have) laws defending children from exploitation, abuse, or harm, until such time as they can effectively live independent lives.

A fetus, on the other hand, is in no way shape or form independent or able to act on their own behalf. They can not express thought, move independently, or in any way claim to have their own body or property. They are contained within another body, a subset of that person until such time as they have the ability to live outside of it.

So, a fetus is a potential. It is not an individual until the moment of birth, or at most, until the point where it could survive outside the host body. Until that point, the only person who can effectively judge what is best for herself and for this bundle of unknown potentials is the host individual. As you say, no one else should be able to claim or control her body or property without her consent.

[ Parent ]

See above..... (4.00 / 2) (#51)
by Bill Barth on Fri Feb 01, 2002 at 02:27:02 PM EST

Newborn infants are also not
independent or able to act on their own behalf
so until they are, can we choose to eliminate them? I think this line of argumentation is not very appealing. The time-to-viability (TTV?) is a moving target. My sister was born (and survives quite well to this day) 2 days after my mother's beginning of third trimester check-up by C-section, and that was almost twenty years ago. Medical science must have advanced some considerable distance since then. Someday we'll have artifical wombs for "growing" fetuses independent of their human parents (after the egg/sperm donation), certainly these embryos are viable outside of the mother's womb from conception on. If you're really interested in a rational foundation for a pro-choice philosophy I suggest you look elsewhere.

BTW, at the point in time at which we do have the capability to "grow" a full-term baby in an artificial womb, will it become common place to forgo the messy, body-damaging process of carrying a baby to full-term? My M.D. friends are already telling me of elective C-sections for full-term babies in women who don't want to ruin their pelvic floor muscles, damage their birth canals and vaginas, etc. The recovery time is supposed to be shorter as well. Any thoughts?


Yes...I am a rocket scientist.
[ Parent ]

On the contrary (none / 0) (#56)
by notafurry on Fri Feb 01, 2002 at 03:52:03 PM EST

Newborn infants can indicate discomfort, seek out food (not well, but they do), and interact with their environment. You're ignoring what I said about children - they're in the border area. They have *some* ability to be independent, even though they are not yet truly independent individuals. Totally different from an embryo, which is in no way shape or form independent and cannot survive outside of another's body. They cannot be considered an individual. There is a "moving target" of viability outside the womb, and most abortion laws allow for that - limiting abortion to the early stages of pregnancy, well before the time a fetus could be considered "viable".

Regarding artificial wombs, what of it? They will almost certainly forever remain an elective, expensive option for wealthy women. They will not be used to *replace* pregnancy or childbirth, but rather to allow *those who chose to become parents* to have an option other than natural childbirth.

Besides which, *all* of this is irrelevent. Roe vs. Wade is the law of the land in this country; the Supreme Court ruled on the issue over twenty years ago. Abortion is legal. The point of the original article is that the government - specifically Health & Human Services as run by a friend of the chief of the Executive Branch - is trying to sneak around the law of the land. Regardless of what the issue addresses, this is a serious problem.

[ Parent ]

And you.... (none / 0) (#61)
by Bill Barth on Fri Feb 01, 2002 at 04:19:44 PM EST

...don't know the law. RvW limits the ability of the state to do anything at all during the first three months and only allows regulation during the second three months as it pertains to the mother's health. The second trimester is not early in my book.

As to RvW as it stands:

You are absolutely right that RvW is the law of the land. But you ignore this in your last sentances. What exactly are they trying to "sneak around" ? RvW will continue to control unless we pass an amendment otherwise. This regulation change will not suddenly allow the police to arrest abortion seekers as murders. It only allows poor mothers access to prenatal care, which I hope we can agree is a necessary thing. Also note, there is a bipartisan bill in Congress right now that will explicitly provide for this sort of prenatal care access, so this measure is at best stop-gap.


Yes...I am a rocket scientist.
[ Parent ]

Ah, but (4.00 / 1) (#67)
by notafurry on Fri Feb 01, 2002 at 05:12:37 PM EST

that's exactly what I said. The law as it currently stands does not necessarily allow for abortion during the time frame that a fetus could be considered a viable individual; it prohibits outlawing abortion during the first trimester, during which the fetus cannot by any standard be considered a viable individual. The second trimester is a bit of a grey area; as a matter of personal preference, I would say that a five month fetus (20-22 weeks) would be considered an individual, viable person, but I can also see where others would hold a different opinion - in both directions. The third trimester, I don't see any argument that the fetus is a viable individual, and I don't know of any state which permits abortion during the third trimester. (I might be wrong, as I do not closely follow the issue.)

So what are we arguing about?

As for what they're trying to "sneak around", it's pretty clear, I think. By declaring any fetus to be an "unborn child", they're trying to weaken the standard. I don't say it will be successful, but they're making the attempt; no other explanation is reasonable. As I said, if their true goal was to provide prenatal care to all expectant mothers (a category which excludes pregnant women planning or seeking an abortion, since they don't expect to be mothers at that point) then they should do so. Instead, they're playing around with the definition of a fetus. As you yourself say, there's a measure in Congress now to do exactly that. So why are they pulling this? The official explanation does not hold water.

[ Parent ]

Interacting with environment (5.00 / 1) (#64)
by catseye on Fri Feb 01, 2002 at 04:35:34 PM EST

RE: "Newborn infants can indicate discomfort, seek out food (not well, but they do), and interact with their environment."

A fetus can indicate discomfort... During an ultrasound, if the baby is not in the proper position, the technician can poke at the pregnant woman's belly until the baby moves into a better position. Also, speaking from experience, if an unborn baby doesn't like the way you're lying down, it will let you know by kicking and stretching, trying to make itself more comfortable. Mine would occasionally go through fits of kicking, twisting, and turning around and would calm down when I rubbed my belly... to me, that indicates interaction.

They also suck their thumbs.

Also, using "seek out food" is a bad comparison since food is provided to the fetus via umbilical cord. It has no need to seek out that which is already there.

----------
How can we fight Islamic Fundamentalism abroad if we do not fight Christian Fundamentalism at home?
[ Parent ]
A newborn (none / 0) (#66)
by notafurry on Fri Feb 01, 2002 at 05:01:08 PM EST

can interact with their environment in such a way that they can survive on their own, to the extent at least that someone other than the mother can care for them - in other words, any individual can choose to provide the support the infant needs, rather than an individual being forced to provide of their own "body and property", as was declared for this standard. A fetus cannot, and in fact cannot do most of the things you list as examples until such time as it is viable or nearly viable outside the womb - which as I already stated, is a reasonable bounds for declaring them an individual.

[ Parent ]
You Really Don't Understand, Do You? (3.00 / 2) (#55)
by Robert Uhl on Fri Feb 01, 2002 at 03:05:54 PM EST

Illogical? When the world is full of too many people, when unwanted children live lives of neglect and mistreatment, when children given up for adoption are sadly mistreated as well?

So you propose to kill them, in order to alleviate their suffering? Do you also propose euthanasia for the poor?

The argument that anyone who isn't ready shouldn't put themselves into that position is short-sighted and foolish; as long as we're still human, it will happen.

We must take responsibility for our actions. Don't want children? It is amazingly easy not to have them. Later you write, `The logical course of action is to make sure that such a mistake does not lead to lifelong punishment.' I don't see why not. If a man is foolish enough to lose his temper and kill another, he goes to jail. If he's foolish enough to drive too fast, he must pay the price. If a child is born, its parents must take care of it. You cannot kill it a month in, having found out that midnight feedings and diaper changings are a chore. Why then can you kill it legally a few months into its life?

Wrong? By whose measure? To you, abortion is wrong and (more than likely, given your position) a sin. Fine. Don't commit it. But it is impossible to reconcile the position of pro-life with being libertarian; if you're not going to tell other people what to do and how to live, then you can not tell them what to do with their bodies.

And now you begin to slowly lose coherence. If abortion is homicide, it should be illegal; there's no argument. If not, it should be legal, again, without any argument. I have argued that it is, in fact, homicide. And you have not refuted it; nor do I believe you can. Moral issues don't even enter into the discussion. I'm not concerned (here) with when the soul enters the body, or whether or not abortion is sinful. I'm concerned with homicide.

You may defend the rights of children; once they are a sustainable individual[sic], you can defend their rights without compromising your claimed position as a libertarian. Not before.

Hint: children aren't sustainable individuals. They die without care. An embryo or fœtus is no different--without care, it dies. One may not legally or ethically take one's newborn child and leave it out on a window-ledge to die of exposure. Nor can one slit its throat if its screams wake one. Why, then, can one rip an infant from its mother's womb, leaving it to die, or even worse, tear it limb from limb? Is there some magic to passing through the birth canal which endows the creature with personhood?

As a libertarian, I presume one thing regarding what people can and cannot do with their bodies: they cannot initiate harm (the principle of non-agression). The parents create the child; its existence (and the inconveniences caused thereby) are therefor their fault, not its. Thus they must take care of it and raise it until it is able to take care of itself.

Incidently, you're not stating a valid argument. You've taken the position that abortion is homicide, without giving any evidence to back that up.

Did you read the entire bit I wrote, about how one's existence goes back in a continuous and unbroken line from the present time to conception? Did you note the bit where I remark that one is always oneself through time? Did you, perhaps, investigate the link I attached, which contains much better written defenses than I could produce? Did you, in short, read my argument?

Oh, and by the way--moderation is not for registering disagreement.

It is for disagreement when the other's argument is lacking. That is why you get a 1; you are illogical and, apparently, are unable to read English, or at least to recognise an argument when it stares you in the face.

[ Parent ]

Libertarians for Life? Heh. (3.25 / 4) (#31)
by DarkZero on Fri Feb 01, 2002 at 03:28:57 AM EST

Whether or not you're a "libertarian" as in the Libertarian Party, I think their position best sums up the correct connection between libertarianism and abortion. It's a murky issue that potentially infringes on the rights of a human being no matter which way you decide, so, in typical libertarian fashion, they vote for legalized abortion so that people have the freedom to choose their own stance on the issue instead of having it forced down their throats. The logic is simple: If abortion is legal, you have the freedom to choose whether or not you want to abort your child. If abortion is illegal, someone else's murky and potentially fallacious moral reasoning has taken your freedom to choose away from you and forced you to participate solely in their view of the world.

"Libertarians for Life" also loses some points for following the way of grandiose wording and constant fear-mongering, instead of simply telling the truth from their perspective and telling it bluntly. "Libertarians for Life" is a feel-good, fruity title that says nothing about the group's actual goal, much like the entire "pro-life" title. If they could stand up on their merits alone, they would. Instead, they resort to the common and incredibly sappy pro-life political tricks. The candle, the "for Life" title, referring to fetuses as "the innocent"... give me a break. If these people had anything in common with blunt, anti-bullshit attitude that have come to typify libertarians, they would call themselves simply "Libertarians Against Abortion" and wouldn't need the usual "pro-life" propaganda to prop up their fallacious reasoning.

As for your post specifically... well, you're just ignorant. The sentence "Anything else is illogical, irrational, and wrong" alone screams out ignorance. Any reasonably intelligent person would be more than willing to listen to the other side while they speak instead of openly stating that they will listen to nothing but the sound of their own egotistical voice. A reasonably intelligent person would also back up their reasoning with more than simply "change = life", which is not only a measure of life that is just as arbitrary as "birth = life", but it also fallacious in its reasoning. If change equals the beginning of life, then why doesn't it start with puberty? Puberty is a period of rapid development during which the body's appearance and inner processes radically change. If a large and quick change equals the beginning of life, puberty is just as valid as a starting point for life. But regardless, the idea that change equals life is just an arbitrary measure, much like the other people that would argue that the third trimester begins life, birth begins life, or the age at which we can understand calculus begins life. There's really no logical basis behind it.

Personally, I don't have much of a stance on the issue, but I think the Christians, however nutty they may be in some areas, have the closest approximation of what begins life. They don't believe in masturbation, because they believe that those sperm are potential lives, and that those lives are being wasted through masturbation. If we were to set a beginning for a human life, this would probably be correct. The sperm and egg cell which will eventually join together, despite being seperate, could be the beginning of life because they are that life's basic parts, much like a fetus is the basic parts of an adult human being. However, this is still slightly arbitrary, as all aspects of the debate are, because your stance on abortion really depends on YOUR MORALS. That's why I'm with the LP on this one.

[ Parent ]
Life begins at fourty. (2.00 / 1) (#44)
by priestess on Fri Feb 01, 2002 at 11:01:51 AM EST

Least that's what they've always told me.

Pre..........

----
My Mobile Phone Comic-books business
Robots!
[ Parent ]
True logic is so rare (4.00 / 1) (#47)
by Robert Hutchinson on Fri Feb 01, 2002 at 01:05:35 PM EST

Whether or not you're a "libertarian" as in the Libertarian Party, I think their position best sums up the correct connection between libertarianism and abortion. It's a murky issue that potentially infringes on the rights of a human being no matter which way you decide, so, in typical libertarian fashion, they vote for legalized abortion so that people have the freedom to choose their own stance on the issue instead of having it forced down their throats. The logic is simple: If abortion is legal, you have the freedom to choose whether or not you want to abort your child. If abortion is illegal, someone else's murky and potentially fallacious moral reasoning has taken your freedom to choose away from you and forced you to participate solely in their view of the world.
The logic is simple: If murder is legal, you have the freedom to choose whether or not you want to kill someone. If murder is illegal, someone else's murky and potentially fallacious moral reasoning has taken your freedom to choose away from you and forced you to participate solely in their view of the world.

(Note that this is not an anti-abortion argument, but merely an illustration of how terribly faulty the logic of the preceding argument is.)

Robert Hutchinson
No bomb-throwing required.

[ Parent ]

Your Comments Apply to Murder (none / 0) (#58)
by Robert Uhl on Fri Feb 01, 2002 at 04:00:24 PM EST

As another posted, your comments could just as easily apply to murder. If only one person is involved, then there is no conflict and there is no problem. The key is to determine at what point there are two persons. From what I can tell, the point at which the one person is joined by another is at conception.

Did you read any of the actual materials of Libertarians for Life (founded, incidentally, by an atheist)? Do you realise that, if one accepts that an embryo is a human being, then it is an innocent and its destruction is homicide?

Either I miswrote, or you misread. It's not change qua change I was looing for; I was looking for a point at which one is not a human being. Puberty, incidentally, doesn't count because it's not a point, but rather a process. So too is maturation and growth. So too is intrauterine development. But conception is different: on one side mere cells, on the other a new individual, a new person.

Your rudeness loses you points.

[ Parent ]

Inflection point of "humanness" (3.33 / 3) (#32)
by skunk on Fri Feb 01, 2002 at 04:20:49 AM EST

It is a human being. `No!' you say, `it's not; it's just a lump, or an incoveniently child-shaped thing, until it's born.' This is an odd perspective to take--an almost magical one. Somehow, passing through a vagina makes one a person, and one's destruction murder? An odd idea, that.

Yes, and that's why abortion laws define a cutoff date (either by the second or third trimester) beyond which the procedure is proscribed except for emergency cases.

The reasoning is that while the destruction of a newly-fertilized zygote is legally meaningless ("It's just a cell!"), the destruction of an almost-fully-developed baby is not. So you have to draw the line somewhere---generally well in advance of some ontologically important system like the brain/nerves beginning to work---before which abortion is legal, because it destroys something considered to be not yet developed enough to legally be a human deserving of human rights.

The debate can continue, however, on whether an embryo---or even a zygote---should be accorded full human rights....



--SS
[ Parent ]
Just for the record..... (4.00 / 3) (#38)
by Bill Barth on Fri Feb 01, 2002 at 09:59:33 AM EST

The trimester system doesn't correspond to viability in any form whatsoever. I realize that you didn't explicity use the idea of viability, but our ideas are related. Medical science being what it is, the possibility of survival for a fetus removed from the womb at an early date is continually increasing with the time required in the womb steadily decreasing.

My best recollection is that the third trimester is the arbitrary cutoff put in place by the Court (check me on this one), and that fetuses born surgically before this date have survived. My sister was born two days after my mother's beginning of third trimester check-up by C-section almost 20 years ago, so earlier survivable births must be possible. My question to you, is whether you believe that the law should track with medicine? And, do you believe that viability is a valid measure of worth?


Yes...I am a rocket scientist.
[ Parent ]

Law and viability (1.50 / 2) (#46)
by skunk on Fri Feb 01, 2002 at 12:53:25 PM EST

My question to you, is whether you believe that the law should track with medicine? And, do you believe that viability is a valid measure of worth?

It makes sense for law to be informed by what we know about medicine. But external viability doesn't follow (to me) as a measure to decide whether a fetus/embryo should be treated as an autonomous human being. (Is that the basis of current abortion laws, incidentally?)

Because if so, as you say, technological progress would push the viability cutoff date further and further back---eventually to the point that you can fertilize an egg cell in a test tube and grow it to term in an artificial womb, no human required. Giving human rights to a zygote/embryo on this basis seems a bit silly; it's still just a tiny bunch of cells.

(The criteria, I think, should consider what is being destroyed in the abortion, and whether is it okay to destroy that. Thus, killing a fetus in the second/third trimester would be questionable because of the fetus's similarity to a full-grown baby. The presence of a brain/nerves/heart/etc. give a reasonable chance that the fetus can perceive its own destruction, and also the presence of hands/feet/eyes/etc. may lend a fetus an unanthropomorphized human beauty that society might be worse off not protecting. If an abortion is to be done, by all means I think everything should be geared to it happening as early in the pregnancy as possible)



--SS
[ Parent ]
You might be interested in this..... (4.00 / 3) (#48)
by Bill Barth on Fri Feb 01, 2002 at 01:14:01 PM EST

Have a look at the Visembryo site. Especially if you want to talk about removing a fetus based on is apparent similarity to a full grown baby. :)

By the way, look here for all the legal refs on abortion you could every want. R v. W set out a definte ban on government bans on abortion before the end of the second trimester. This is a wholly arbitrary time determined by the court and has no real basis in medice since it is based on an arbitrary determination of viability.


Yes...I am a rocket scientist.
[ Parent ]

But the Lines are Meaningless (4.00 / 1) (#57)
by Robert Uhl on Fri Feb 01, 2002 at 03:53:41 PM EST

The reasoning is that while the destruction of a newly-fertilized zygote is legally meaningless ("It's just a cell!"), the destruction of an almost-fully-developed baby is not. So you have to draw the line somewhere---generally well in advance of some ontologically important system like the brain/nerves beginning to work---before which abortion is legal, because it destroys something considered to be not yet developed enough to legally be a human deserving of human rights.

The problem is that no line which can be drawn has meaning--that is what I'd tried to express. No thing ever becomes other than what it always was: the acorn does not grow a rose, nor do embryos become grapefruits. Rather, the acorn becomes a sprout, which becomes a seedling, which becomes a sapling, which becomes a tree. Likewise, the embryo becomes a blastocyst and eventually a fœtus.

There's one well-defined line, on one side of which is nothing, and on the other side of which is an individual, unlike any to come before. That point in time is conception. That's why no libertarian cares about contraceptives. But after that, it is all fuzzy. There's no other instant before which the thing is `the mother's tissue' or after which it is a `thinking creature.' Newborns aren't self-aware, aren't thinking, aren't capable of live or art. All they can do is perceive pain, light and want. And yet, moving forward, one can see no point at which an infant is suddenly intelligent.

Granted, we have such things as ages of maturity--but one still cannot kill a child. We have drinking ages, but one cannot starve a child. We have driving ages, but one cannot leave a child to die of exposure.

Note, notafurry, that I have this fellow a 2 (which is considered by the moderation guidelines to be a normal post). He tried to make a point, wrote intelligently and thus deserves it.

[ Parent ]

Fuzzy logic (none / 0) (#68)
by skunk on Fri Feb 01, 2002 at 05:17:31 PM EST

The problem is that no line which can be drawn has meaning--that is what I'd tried to express

Yes, and you have expressed it well. But I fail to see how the point is relevant, in the way that you describe.

Taking a page from the subject of "fuzzy logic," there is a philosophical question asking, "At what point does a pile of sand become a mountain?" A pile of sand six inches tall is definitely not a mountain. A pile of sand one thousand feet tall definitely is a mountain. You can grow the pile from six inches to a thousand feet gradually, and not be able to tell for certain exactly at what point it becomes a mountain---but you still know that it isn't one at 6", and is one at 1000'.

By the logic you describe, a single fertilized egg---a zygote---should be treated as the moral equivalent of a full human being, because we cannot define the exact moment at which it does become a full human being. This doesn't make any sense to me---it loses sight of the fact that the zygote is still just a cell. Are we going to go to the extreme of saying that to kill a single cell is murder?

There are anti-abortion arguments on the basis that a fetus already has many of the same facilities that give rise to our "me-ness," our ability to feel pain, our recognition of the value of our own alive-ness---the very things that cause murder to be morally proscribed. And those are reasonable. But to suggest that a single cell may be capable of that seems disingenuous to me. A zygote is, I think, too small, too simple, too slight to be considered as anything approaching a legally-protected individual---in the same way that an amoeba has no hope of attaining similar status. Certainly, the zygote will grow to become more than that, but in the here and now it is still just that.

I argue this as a wedge point; if one accepts that a zygote may be killed, and that an almost-born baby may not, then it follows that there must be a point in the pregnancy beyond which this killing is no longer a legally conscionable option. Now, the question of how far into the pregnancy this point should be is another debate, but I say here that such a point does exist to be debated.



--SS
[ Parent ]
instants (3.00 / 9) (#34)
by streetlawyer on Fri Feb 01, 2002 at 07:22:33 AM EST

The thing is, there is one clear-cut change in our lives: fertilisation. From then on, it's slow, gradual and undefined. There's no instant at which one ceases to be a child and becomes an adolescent, or an adolescent and a man. Likewise, there's no real instant at which the embryo becomes a foetus, or a foetus viable. But there is that one great divide, the divide between life and the lack thereof.

So what? The existence or otherwise of a clear-cut change has much less moral significance than you impute to it. Theodor Adorno noted the inability of the authoritarian personality to cope with ambiguity in the 1940s, and this sort of reasoning only reinforces my belief that "libertarians" are closeted authoritarians.

Compare with this similar chain of reasoning:

When you boil the kettle to make a cup of tea, there is one clear-cut change; the instant you switch the kettle on. From then on, it's slow, gradula and undefined. There is no one instant at which the water ceases to be not-boiling and starts to be boiling. Therefore, we must treat the water in the kettle as if it were boiling from the instant the kettle is switched on.

Must be shit tea round your house.

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]

You Miss the Point (3.00 / 2) (#59)
by Robert Uhl on Fri Feb 01, 2002 at 04:11:31 PM EST

You miss the point entirely. Let me go through the argument again.
  1. We do not exist forever--there was a point in time when I did not exist.
  2. Before I existed, no harm could be done to me.
  3. If no harm is done to anyone, or if it is self-inflicted, then it should be legal.
  4. Likewise, if someone is unwillingly harmed, the law should punish that act.
  5. Therefor, if abortion harms a person, then it must be illegal; if it does not, then it must be legal.
  6. Therefor, one must ask when one exists in order to determine when abortion is legal, and when it is not.
  7. A newborn baby exists.
  8. There is no substantive difference between the baby-as-newborn and ten minutes before birth.
  9. Nor between ten minutes before birth and ten minutes before that.
  10. And so on extended back through time.
  11. Thus it appears that change is gradual, and that there is no point-of-no-return anywhere along the way.
  12. But there is: conception. Before that point there's an oocyte and a great number of sperm; after that, an embryo. And that embryo gradually grows and slowly changes bit-by-bit, to eventually become a man or woman. Some of this change in the womb, and much more outside.
  13. Therefor before conception there is no person. Afterwards there is, since that which is produced will never again change in a marked fashion, but only gradually. Is the man of forty the same person as the child of ten? Yes--he is he--and no--every atom of his body has changed; even his shape is different. Likewise the embryo.
  14. Therefor abortion prior to conception must be legal, and abortion after conception must be illegal.
  15. But abortion must take place after conception.
  16. Therefore abortion must be illegal.


[ Parent ]
Let's see if I got the point (1.50 / 2) (#75)
by quartz on Fri Feb 01, 2002 at 08:03:53 PM EST

8. There is no substantive difference between the baby-as-newborn and ten minutes before birth.
9. Nor between ten minutes before birth and ten minutes before that.

No shit? Of course there's a difference. A location difference.

Let me ask you this: if a strange person decides to settle in your house without permission, would you throw him out? I bet you would. He does not harm anyone by making himself at home in your bedroom, it's just that your bedroom is your property and you'd most likely want him out of there ASAP. How about if a person decides to settle inside your body without permission? Why shouldn't you have the right to throw that person out? Last time I checked, your body was still your property. And you said it yourself that a fetus should not be treated any different that any other person, regardless of age.



--
Fuck 'em if they can't take a joke, and fuck 'em even if they can.
[ Parent ]
I got the point perfectly (none / 0) (#77)
by streetlawyer on Sat Feb 02, 2002 at 09:50:41 PM EST

And my answer refers exactly to that point. You have added no arguments except me repetition, which leads me to believe that the population of those who have missed the point has you as a member and not me.

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]
How about this (none / 0) (#62)
by bugmaster on Fri Feb 01, 2002 at 04:23:59 PM EST

How about this: consider the fetus to be a child as long as there is a high chance it will survive, and develop into a healthy human being, outside the womb.

This division is somewhat less arbitrary than the "life begins at conception" definition, IMHO. I am not saying that my version is the One Universal Truth or anything, I am just saying it's more practical.
>|<*:=
[ Parent ]

Politics... (4.12 / 8) (#28)
by DarkZero on Fri Feb 01, 2002 at 12:07:49 AM EST

Ah, American politics in the 20th and 21st centuries, where it all comes back to a god damn fetus at some point, no matter what people are trying to accomplish.

I'm not trying to get a pro- or anti-abortion statement out here. I'm just wondering if anyone else is really, really pissed off about all of these stupid fetus debates invading ANYTHING that ANYONE wants to do politically. Every health care issue is bogged down by fetal debates, often regardless of whether or not the subject even deals with pregnant women or human beings under the age of eighteen. Every election is bogged down by fetal debates, often regardless of whether or not the election is just some guy running for town councilman that will never, at any time in his life, have any power to shape abortion laws. Foreign aid decisions are now based on whether or not the country being given aid endorses abortion and whether or not even a single dollar out of five hundred million dollars worth of foreign aid is going to be used toward an abortion. This entire thing is getting out of control.

I'm sick of a bunch of fanatical feminists and Bible Belt Christians dragging their little war into every single aspect of Western politics. Can't these idiots stop throwing their ideology into so many other aspects of politics? Did some asshole really have to define a fetus as a human being just to give women some improved prenatal care? Does it really matter if John Whoever that's running for mayor of Small Town, Iowa (population: 300) is for or against abortion? Does it REALLY FUCKING MATTER if a poor African country where millions are starving and dying allows women to abort their fetuses under rare circumstances? Should we really deprive them of aid money for THAT?

The world has gone insane.

Important things (4.00 / 3) (#41)
by davidduncanscott on Fri Feb 01, 2002 at 10:32:13 AM EST

Look, I don't quite see it this way, but if I did view each abortion as a murder, than yes, 1,210,883 people being killed in single year would rank very high on my list of issues. That's not very far off Holocaust rates. If your town councilman thought that Buchenwald was "an internal German issue", much less that, "Hitler had the right idea about the Jews", would you consider that irrelevant, even though he's not in a position to influence German policy?

[ Parent ]
The issue is motherhood. (3.50 / 2) (#35)
by cyberbuffalo on Fri Feb 01, 2002 at 09:15:42 AM EST

Saying that the fetus is a child recognized a certain fact, that human offspring don't just magically appear at birth. To accept this is to say that a pregnant woman is a mother. Whatever stage of development the fetus is in has no bearing, it is a child and by definition developmentally immature. A woman procurring an abortion is first and foremost being a bad mother. It is child abuse pure and simple. You can say it should be legal and justify it anyway you want, but it is child abuse, of the most final kind.

By offering prenatal care, it focuses attention on those who don't care at all for the prenatal child. And they don't want attention or even discussion, because it weakens their position tremendously.

My argument, stated well by someone else... (none / 0) (#76)
by webwench on Sat Feb 02, 2002 at 11:27:35 AM EST

I wanted to reproduce this argument, which was posted by LorianneW at intellectualoutcastscafe.com, because I think she does an excellent job of portraying my opinion on the matter of abortion:

... why did she not demand that he use birth control...

This is, once again, the same as saying the female is ultimately responsible for contraceptives and ... at the end of the day... the male simply is not. That is ALL this comment says. You either believe the man is responsible to prevent conception or you don't. Sinc you don't want me to read your mind, pick one and let me know.

... the choice to carry a conception to term is totally the woman's by court ruling...

Yes but. I have been discussing from the point of view (and of Mr. Bush et al) no abortion. If there is to be no abortion, if that is the goal, then there are only a few other choices. Prevention, birth and both parents obligated to suport the child, adoption. That is it.

To bring up the fact that a woman can (at this time) legally abort, as an excuse for the male to ultimatley say he has ZERO responsibility to prevent conception, is a fallacy. All the more so in a discussin about illiminating/reducing abortion.

We are up to 1/3 of all births happening with this sort of scenario.

What is the 1/3 figure?

The question is, why is this so?

Because there is only one 100% assurance of no conception. That is no sex. Everything else which includes sex are calculated risks. None of those calculation include 0% chance of conception. Even if one partner has been surgically sterilized are deemed medically infertile, there is still a risk of conception. People pretend this is not the case but it is. People pretend all sorts of things. People take risks and believe they are not taking them. People believe what they want to believe.

I think something much more serious than simple irresponsibility is behind this. When one considers that this didn't used to happen I wonder what has changed that it is happening now.

You'll have to spell out for me what you are implying here. I'm not convinced it didn't happen a lot in past times. People just got married in a hurry and we had a lot of preemies.

I personally think people put too much faith on one method of contraception. I think the failure rate is higher than that advertised with the Pill. Also with the Pill it can become less effective when the woman is under stress, ill or is taking some other medications. This is not widely publicised. If people were to double up on methods, consistently, there would be fewer "accidents". Dual partner use would also cut down on the possibility of deceipt by either party.

I personally think deceipt is a smokescreen. Another one of those predictibel debate items which never fails to materialize (And BTW, what a perfect example of males making use of the "victim" card). Even if deceipt did occur, it cannot be easily proven. It's a classic he said/ she said scenario. And you cannot discount false claim deciept as well, where she says that he said he wanted a baby, and vis versa. Or double deceipt. He says that she said she was on the Pill but lied, when she never said she was. Or he she says that he said he had a vasectomy, when he never claimed that he did. It is just too messy to contemplate and would be thrown out of any court of law. In the end, it boils down to individual responsibility of each partner. Protect yourself and you won't have to wonder what the other person is up to.

Which brings me back full circle to my point about men. They are 50% part of the biological instigation of conception. Immutable fact. Nothing can change that. Why are there so few who take the responsiblity to use contraceptives and why haven't we seen men demanding better methods of birth control? I believe this come directly from the attitude of men not believing (again suspending disbelief) that they have risks or responsibilities in sex. Women are to blame too. Many prefer to gatekeep everything in the sexual/reproductive realm.

Still doesn't change the facts of life for me. Now that everyone is on the same page .... we all know for sure that conception takes 50% participation from each sex, there is no point in elaborate pretense to the contrary.

Since there is no 100% assurance of no conception in sex, no 100% zero-risk method of contraception (even if sterilized) we all know where our responsibilites are. It then becomes a simply a matter of risk assessment and risk mitigation.

Each person must ask themselves "How risk averse are you?" If you drive, you can put on your seat belt and that's it. Or you can do that and drive a white car with air bags, keep your headlights on, wear a helmet, drive cautiously, ride only with trusted drivers, don't go on expressways, avoid known dangerous intersections... etc. Each layer of protection indicates your risk aversion quotient. But as long as you drive (or ride in) a car, you can never reduce your risk to 0%. Never. That's life.

In sex that applies to both parties as well. If your conception risk aversion quotient is 100%, don't have sex.



I can just imagine R v W supporters quivering... (none / 0) (#79)
by Kasreyn on Thu Feb 14, 2002 at 11:47:42 AM EST

...in fear that all the babies that have been killed will suddenly be acknowledged legally as having been babies all along. I wonder what Clinton-esque word games they'll employ to try to avoid facing facts, this time?

<sigh> The sheer lengths of self-delusion we humans go to in order to get what we want and avoid our consciences (such as they are) are appalling. I sure hope Earth is never visited by aliens; they'd probably exterminate us in moral outrage.


-Kasreyn


"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
Prenatal care for all, or a Roe v. Wade endrun? | 79 comments (75 topical, 4 editorial, 0 hidden)
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