Bodily Rights Arguments Necessitate Extremism

Bodily rights arguments for abortion are always extremist arguments, at least in the way people present them. No bodily rights argument that I have ever seen (or even heard of any pro-choice advocate making) leaves room for abortion exceptions.

Not all pro-choice people are extremists.

A 2013 Gallup poll found that 80% of Americans believe abortion should be illegal in the third trimester. A 2012 Lozier Institute poll found that 77% of their respondents believed sex-selective abortions should be against the law. Most people, even pro-choice people, believe there are circumstances when abortion should not be legal.

But almost all pro-choice people use extremist arguments.

What is an extremist argument?

By “extremist arguments,” I don’t mean “arguments that extremists often use;” I mean arguments that necessarily lead to an extremist position. I am not saying that having an extremist position means you must take extremist or violent action. I am just saying if you make an argument that logically requires an extremist position and you don’t take that extremist position, you’re being inconsistent.

For instance, suppose someone said, “Having dark skin makes you a non-person, but I really like lots of people with dark skin and I think people ought to be nice to them.” They’re advocating for being nice, but “having dark skin makes you a non-person” is an extremist argument. The logical conclusion of that argument is that anyone who has dark skin should not be legally protected, that it is morally justified to enslave or kill such people. It doesn’t matter how kind, compassionate, or well-meaning the person is who says it; the argument is extremist.

People are welcome to try to justify abortion with extremist arguments, but they should expect to be gently challenged to hold a consistent view. If you’re making an extremist argument, you should be consistent and hold the extremist view that comes with it.

Pro-life people can make extremist arguments too. For instance, if a pacifist pro-life person said, “Abortion is wrong because it is always wrong to take any human life,” then that person would be forced to oppose even killing in self-defense or defense of others. That would be an extremist argument because it necessitates an extremist view.

Describing views (and the arguments that necessitate them) as extremist is intended to be descriptive, not pejorative. Consider the pacifist example. I personally know several extremely virtuous people who have advocated for that view and my intent is not to mock them. It’s also, of course, possible that an extremist view could be true. Describing an argument as extremist doesn’t mean it’s false. I just want people to be consistent. If you use an extremist argument, then accept the implications of it, don’t ignore them because they make you uncomfortable.

Many pro-choice people attempt (unsuccessfully) to paint pro-life claims that unborn babies have a right to live as extremist. The key here is whether the premise must lead to the extremist position. For instance, the claim that it is always wrong to kill innocent human beings does not necessarily lead to the conclusion that the death penalty is immoral. Whatever the correct view is on that issue, it should be obvious that it can be logically consistent to oppose the killing of the innocent and be in favor of the killing of people guilty of murder. Similarly, saying that unborn babies have a right to live does not necessarily lead to a conclusion like, “Women should be second-class citizens.” It can be logically consistent to believe one without believing the other.

Move Over Personhood, Bodily Rights Is the Reason People Are Pro-Choice

Sarah Wade dialogues in front of ERI's poll table at Aquinas College.

Sarah Wade dialogues in front of ERI’s poll table at Aquinas College.

Last month ERI had our most recent outreach event at Aquinas College in Michigan. We set up a poll table that asked the question “Should Abortion Remain Legal?” and set out pads of paper for students to sign “Yes,” “No,” or “It Depends.” Here are all of the comments, completely unedited, from the students who signed “Yes” (at least, the ones who left comments):

  1. Reproductive Freedom
  2. My uterus pls.
  3. Bodily autonomy
  4. Freedom [unintelligible]
  5. Every case is different
  6. No one can understand the complexity of another’s
  7. My body, my choice/life
  8. Freedom of women’s health & choice
  9. It’s a choice
  10. Just like people cannot be forced to give blood for their children, they should be forced to give life.
  11. I like that ^
  12. It’s the women’s right to choose
  13. Yes!
  14. Motherhood is a choice, I believe in the agency of the person who’s putting their life at risk
  15. Bodily autonomy
  16. Bodily autonomy + viability beginning at birth!
  17. Ban on abortion disproportionately affects poorer communities
  18. None
  19. Not my right to say
  20. Mother’s choice
  21. My body, my choice
  22. “Choice”
  23. Not your body, my body
  24. My choice
  25. Keep it clean + safe.
  26. Making them illegall won’t stop them, just lead to more deaths. Keep it clean + safe.
  27. Serious women’s health issue women should be able to choose how to use their body
  28. Everyone has a reason, + we are not one to judge bodily autonomy
  29. If it’s not legal, people will do it anyway
  30. It’s a woman’s own body
  31. My vagina my right

For those of you keeping score, that’s fourteen out of thirty-one comments with explicit references to bodily autonomy, six that vaguely point to “choice” or “freedom,” three concerned about illegal abortions, three that don’t think it’s their right to judge another person’s situation, one vague “Yes!”, one vague “None,” one “Motherhood is a choice, I believe in the agency of the person who’s putting their life at risk,” and one “Ban on abortion disproportionately affects poorer communities.” Those last two are different enough that I don’t want to lump them in with the others.

Notice the number of statements about the belief that the unborn is not a human person: zero. Our polls aren’t scientific, but every time we do them the results look just like this. People do justify their views about abortion by arguing against the humanity of the unborn, so we still need to talk about that, but I don’t think it’s the driving force behind why most people are pro-choice. The more I talk with pro-choice students, the more convinced I become that at the end of the day, they are pro-choice because of bodily rights. If you are not prepared to recognize and engage bodily rights arguments in a persuasive way, then you shouldn’t be surprised on the occasions when you don’t change pro-choice minds.

Why Bodily Rights Arguments for Abortion Logically Necessitate Extremism

Bodily rights arguments for abortion are always extremist arguments, at least in the way people present them. No bodily rights argument that I have ever seen (or even heard of any pro-choice advocate making) leaves room for exceptions. But the majority of these people believe there should be times when abortion should be illegal.

Almost all pro-choice people make bodily rights arguments, but most of these people, well-meaning or not, are flagrantly inconsistent.[Tweet that] Usually there’s a stage in pregnancy they’re uncomfortable with, and often there are reasons for abortion that they don’t agree with. I frequently hear, “You shouldn’t be able to have an abortion for sex-selection,” or “There should be a limit on how many abortions someone can get,” or “They shouldn’t be able to use it for birth control.”

This is clearly not a well-thought out position. It’s the position of someone that has some of their moral intuitions intact, like about how awful late-term abortion is, but they haven’t thought beyond the talking point they’re using to justify other abortions.

There is no way to consistently argue that a) first trimester abortions should be legal because “it’s a woman’s right to decide what to do with her body,” AND b) second-trimester abortions should not be legal. If the thing that justifies abortion in the first trimester is women’s bodily autonomy, then abortion continues to be justified in the second and third trimester because the fetus still resides inside her body. The same principle applies to distasteful reasons for abortions. You may not like sex-selective abortions, but you can’t oppose them while simultaneously supporting early abortions with bodily rights arguments.

Between a rock and a hard place

The violinist argument falls into the same problem. If you’re justifying abortion by arguing that women have the right to abort just like you have the right to unplug from a violinist, then you can’t make exceptions. If I want to unplug from the violinist because the violinist is African-American and I’m a racist, I still have the right to unplug. If I want to unplug eight months into the procedure, I still have the right to unplug. Similarly, if someone wants an abortion at eight months, or because of sex-selection or even racism, you can’t deny it to her if you’re justifying the other abortions through bodily autonomy.

The only reasonable way to justify a pro-choice position with exceptions is to argue that the unborn is not a human person early in pregnancy but becomes a person later in pregnancy. I’m not saying that’s a good position, but it can at least be logically consistent. If you become a person when you can feel pain, then it makes sense to oppose abortion after a fetus can feel pain. The problem comes if you are justifying abortion by making a bodily rights argument. As soon as you do that, you have thrown open the door to accepting all abortions, and the only question is whether you’re consistent enough to recognize it.

How to Turn the Tables

In an earlier blog post, I described how powerful it is to turn the tables on pro-choice rhetoric. This is another great example of a time to do that. I don’t have a good example of a specific story where I did this, so what follows is merely an estimation of the type of conversation I’ve had many times. This is just for the sake of illustrating the idea, these are not direct quotations from a specific conversation:

Tim: Why are you pro-choice?

Jane: My body, my choice. It’s nobody else’s business what I do with my own body.

Tim: I’d like to understand your view better. Do you think there are any circumstances when a woman shouldn’t be allowed to get an abortion?

Jane: What do you mean?

Tim: I’ll give you a common example. Most people are pretty uncomfortable with abortions at like, eight months. What do you think?

20-week fetus.

20-week fetus.

Jane: Oh, I’m definitely not for that. I’m only for abortion in the first twenty weeks.

Tim: Really? I’m confused. At twenty-two weeks, isn’t it her body, her choice? How is it anyone else’s business what she does with her own body?

Jane: Well, I get what you mean, but after twenty weeks it’s too late. The baby is too developed.

Tim: I want to understand your view but I’m struggling. Based on what you just said, it seems like you aren’t really justifying abortion with bodily rights. It seems like you’re justifying abortion by claiming that a fetus doesn’t count as a human person until twenty weeks. The bodily rights claim isn’t sufficient by itself to justify abortion because as soon as you think the fetus is human, you don’t think abortion is justified.

Jane: Yeah, I think both at the same time. In the first twenty weeks it isn’t a person, AND women should have the rights over their bodies.

Tim: I actually think you don’t need the bodily rights argument. If the fetus isn’t a person, I think abortion is obviously justified, don’t you?

Jane: Yeah, I guess so. Bodily autonomy just matters a lot to me.

Tim: That makes sense. I think bodily autonomy is really important too. It seems like our main disagreement isn’t about bodily autonomy though, it seems like we need to determine if the fetus is a human person.

Notice how vacuous the pro-choice rhetoric is if they have exceptions. “It’s nobody else’s business what I do with my own body (but only in the circumstances I’m comfortable with)!”

You should also notice that the extremely common arguments about back-alley abortions have the exact same problem. If you’re going to justify first-trimester abortion by arguing that it’s better to keep abortions legal so women don’t seek them illegally, then how can you justify making any abortion illegal? If you make an abortion illegal, a woman might seek it anyway and do it unsafely.

When people make extremist arguments, like bodily rights arguments and back-alley abortion arguments, I’m not recommending that you treat them rudely or call them names. I’m not saying to scream at them that they’re extremists. Please don’t do that. I’m suggesting that you help them to understand the logic of their argument. Help them to see that they only have two options: either 1) embrace the extremist position, or 2) reject the extremist argument.

options-bodily-rights

But What If We Make People Even More Pro-Choice?

There is a clear risk to this strategy. Sometimes they’ll just embrace their extremism and then they’ll walk away even more pro-choice than before! My colleague Jacob Nels shared this story with me of a conversation he had at our other recent outreach day in Michigan, this time at Grand Valley State University.

Jacob Nels speaking to Grand Valley State professor about bodily rights.

Jacob Nels speaking to a Grand Valley State professor.

I engaged a young female professor in a dialogue by asking her:

Jacob: Excuse me, ma’am. Would you take a moment to sign our poll? Should 20-week abortions be legal?

She signed: No.

Jacob: Thanks for signing our poll. Would you mind telling me why you answered no?

Professor: Once it goes that far along, abortions shouldn’t happen.

Jacob: Okay. Would you help me understand where the line is for you and why?

I showed her fetal development pictures in the ERI brochure.

These are the first two pages on the inside of the ERI Outreach Brochure.

These are the first two pages on the inside of the ERI Outreach Brochure.

Jacob: Could you point out when in human development abortion is not okay?

Professor: I’m not really sure.

After a few more minutes of conversation, she said:

Professor: Women should have the right to do what they want with their body.

Jacob: It sounds like you are saying that you believe women should have a right to complete bodily autonomy, and you do still believe the unborn is a human person. So, is it your belief that a woman’s right to bodily autonomy supersedes the life of the fetus?

Professor: Yes.

Jacob: Could you clarify that for me? It seems like your statement that women should have complete bodily autonomy is in direct conflict with your answer to our poll that 20-week abortions should not be legal. Have you ever seen a picture of a 20-week abortion?

Professor: No, I haven’t.

Jacob: I have one here. May I show it to you?

She agreed and looked at the picture. Click here to see the page Jacob showed her from our brochure. Warning: It is extremely graphic.

Professor: Oh, this is really bad!

Jacob: Yeah it is, but in order to be consistent with your belief in bodily autonomy, then this procedure would have to be okay.

Professor: Yeah, I guess you’re right. I have to get going to class, but can I change my vote?

Jacob’s heart sank as he watched her switch her vote from “No” to “Yes – 20-week abortions should be legal.” She left and didn’t come back.

So Jacob reasonably asks, “Isn’t this a dangerous approach? Aren’t we going to help some people become more pro-choice?”

I have run into the same problem when I’ve responded to pro-choice arguments for personhood by pointing out that the other person’s understanding of personhood would either include animals like squirrels or exclude newborn humans. Sometimes they react by abandoning their pro-choice argument but other times they double down and say, “Fine! Then it’s okay to kill newborns,” or “Fine! Then squirrels are people too.”

When people react that way, in one sense it is like they become more pro-choice. But they won’t be more comfortably pro-choice. There is a type of pro-choice view that many pro-choice people hold. It’s a view that feels really moderate, reasonable, and compassionate. They know they’re uncomfortable with late-term abortion, but they also know they want first trimester abortions legal so they just start believing both things. They get comfortable with these beliefs.

My goal is to graciously drive the comfortable pro-choice position into extinction.

It is frustrating to see people bite the bullet on awful, extremist views. I have watched pro-choice students go as far as to say that parents should have the legal right to kill their ten-year-olds, because that was what it took for them to remain pro-choice about abortion. But I actually think that leaves them better off. I would rather they walk away knowing that they had to agree to something truly horrific in order to remain pro-choice. One of the best ways to help someone to change her mind about abortion is to make her experience cognitive dissonance.

If a person’s only options are 1) pro-life or 2) horrifically pro-choice, most people have enough decency to eventually choose the former. I’m cautiously optimistic that many of the college students I have seen agree to awful conclusions will grow up eventually and recognize that squirrels aren’t people, rape is actually wrong (not just distasteful), and that a newborn child has the right to live. Some won’t, but I’m honestly more interested in pulling the moderates to our side than I am worried about helping the most hardcore pro-choice people become even more extreme.

If thousands of comfortable pro-choice people have to choose between the extremism that their arguments demand and the voices of their consciences, then many of them will become pro-life.

 

Please tweet this article!

  • Tweet: Bodily Rights Arguments Necessitate Extremism
  • Tweet: Turning the Tables on “My Body, My Choice”
  • Tweet: Only Extremists Should Make Bodily Rights Arguments
  • Tweet: Move over personhood, bodily rights is the reason people are pro-choice.
  • Tweet: Why bodily rights arguments for abortion logically necessitate extremism.
  • Tweet: Almost all pro-choice people make bodily rights arguments, but most of these people are flagrantly inconsistent.
  • Tweet: My goal is to graciously drive the comfortable pro-choice position into extinction.

The post “Bodily Rights Arguments Necessitate Extremism” originally appeared at the Equal Rights Institute blogClick here to subscribe via email and get exclusive access to a FREE MP3 of Josh Brahm’s speech, “Nine Faulty Pro-Life Arguments and Tactics.”

The preceding post is the property of Timothy Brahm (apart from quotations, which are the property of their respective owners, and works of art as credited; images are often freely available to the public,) and should not be reproduced in part or in whole without the expressed consent of the author. All content on this site is the property of Josh Brahm unless the post was written by a co-blogger or guest, and the content is made available for individual and personal usage. If you cite from these documents, whether for personal or professional purposes, please give appropriate citation with both the name of the author (Timothy Brahm) and a link to the original URL. If you’d like to repost a post, you may do so, provided you show only the first paragraph on your own site and link to the original post for the rest. You must also appropriately cite the post as noted above. This blog is protected by Creative Commons licensing. By viewing any part of this site, you are agreeing to this usage policy.

Director of Training

Timothy Brahm is the Director of Training at Equal Rights Institute. He is interested in helping pro-life and pro-choice people to have better dialogues about abortion through 1) taking care to understand what the other person means, 2) using more carefully-constructed arguments, and 3) treating each other with care and respect. He graduated from Biola University with a B.A. in philosophy and is a perpetual member of the Torrey Honors Institute.

Please note: The goal of the comments section on this blog is simply and unambiguously to promote productive dialogue. We reserve the right to delete comments that are snarky, disrespectful, flagrantly uncharitable, offensive, or off-topic. If in doubt, read our Comments Policy.

  • Crystal

    I’d like to start this by saying I agree with the premise of this article (that if you hold an extremist view but don’t take it to its logical conclusion then we’re being inconsistent); well done, as usual! I wonder, did any of you read The Everlasting Man by G.K.Chesterton? Because he talks about inconsistent thinking in that book too.

    “If thousands of comfortable pro-choice people have to choose between the extremism that their arguments demand and the voices of their consciences, then many of them will become pro-life.”

    I am curious as to how you know this? This strategy IS risky!

    Furthermore, I think the bodily autonomy argument is indeed designed NOT to leave exceptions. The woman has the right to take life – PERIOD.

    Personally, I need to think more about this. Do you think the approach of not touching this due to its being too dicey is wrong? I know something needs to be done but I don’t want to drive people further into extremist viewpoints on this matter (and by extremist I mean pro the practice). Furthermore I appreciate the morality that would lead them to question the practice being done in second-third trimester, that is good that they feel that way but as the old saying goes “the good is the enemy of the best”. Not that their view is good, and you get the point I hope. While it is inconsistent I would rather they believed that than accepted all abortions as morally valid. I am curious as to their standard of judgement though, that dictates that abortion is unacceptable in these standards. They say “it looks like a person” but – sentience and sapience. It’s still in the woman’s body!!!!

    Furthermore, I would like to point out as well that they accuse us of imposing our will on women, but aren’t they doing the same by holding this position, by saying “Not okay after such-and-such a point”? What about these people, are they somehow permitted to do this now? Although I will say, they have a point – vast majority of abortions done in the first trimester.

    The arguments I have seen tend to say, abortion exceptions are acceptable when the unborn person can feel pain and has reasonable brainwaves to determine sentience and sapience; therefore its rights need to be acknowledged at that point, as well as the woman’s. How is this to be answered, if the pro-legal abortion person believes in sentience and sapience as the defining rule for ALL humanity? Also take into account that the woman still is carrying it inside her, and her bodily autonomy is being violated by such a restriction – a restriction, I might add, held as a viewpoint by the vast majority of pro-legal abortion people. In other words, they are pro the “choice” when the child feels nothing, is aware of nothing, and looks like nothing at all.

    “The only reasonable way to justify a pro-choice position with exceptions is to argue that the unborn is not a human person early in pregnancy but becomes a person later in pregnancy. I’m not saying that’s a good position, but it can at least be logically consistent.”

    Indeed, that is correct.

    “Pro-life people can make extremist arguments too. For instance, if a pacifist pro-life person said, “Abortion is wrong because it is always wrong to take any human life,” then that person would be forced to oppose even killing in self-defense or defense of others. That would be an extremist argument because it necessitates an extremist view.”

    Oops, you got me there. I’ve said that myself. Would it be consistent to say, “Abortion is wrong because it is always wrong to take any INNOCENT human life”? Then I might get – but the woman is innocent, let’s define innocence, and the unborn person is an intruder in the woman’s body which needs to be destroyed so hardly innocent (I find this argument as morally problematic as the responsibility argument though I hold more sympathy with certain elements of the responsibility argument than this one!). What is a reasonable alternative to stating the idea that it is wrong to take unborn persons lives without giving ground on self-defence, war, and capital punishment for serial killers including Hitler?

    “Similarly, saying that unborn babies have a right to live does not necessarily lead to a conclusion like, “Women should be second-class citizens.” It can be logically consistent to believe one without believing the other.”

    Unfortunately, it can tend to. Although this is a correct statement I’ve seen quite a bit of “women are objects” thinking floating around the place, in some cases because they’re using PL for the wrong reason (although sometimes it can be an unintentional result of being traditional PL but at the same time I also think you can be traditional PL and not believe this in your heart). They’re not using PL to save the babies but oppress the women and if abortion suited them they would use it too.

    I agree that abortion = bodily autonomy is a serious issue, though not the only one. Recommendation to answer = technology and science. It’s the best way, bodily autonomy shown respect while babies live. Two downsides to that – that alone won’t answer abortion crisis, as we also need a more supportive society of women in general and pregnant women in particular too, to make this work. Also it doesn’t answer the question, if our machines break down and we’re back where we are then what will people believe about abortion?

    Respectful disagreement – I believe squirrels are persons – in a way – BECAUSE I’m prolife. I’ll explain.

    I hold two potential views that I’m tossing around in my mind at the moment on the question, not dogmatic on either one or the other. View One – In this opinion I think that you can’t really separate the persons = humans when it comes to humanity because the unborn are persons. Our personhood is not defined by our ability simply to feel pain and be wise but by our belonging to the races of feeling pain and being wise, as scientifically defined by the Homo sapiens and such like. However when it comes to animals I think that personhood as defining humanity does not apply to them. Personhood as defining the ability to feel pain and be wise does. So I believe there are two types of personhood. (However I can see this view is potentially problematic and I might reject it).

    View Two – But even if I didn’t believe they are persons, I would believe they have rights as living species. Since we are all tied together in the great thread of life and express ourselves as living creatures we do have a right to live. Also take into account that we tend to use animals as a benchmark to treat people, in this sense – if it’s okay to do that to the animals then it’s okay to do that to people (I’m talking of a less advanced understanding here, that permitted people to do horrible things to others because they believed them to be animals). We shouldn’t have that attitude. Although I tend to have issues with view one, including the idea that you have to be perceived as a “person” to be treated with any dignity whatsoever (I don’t think that; I think that the fact you are alive and walking on the earth affords you dignity whether you are a human being or a giant cockroach; it is for this reason I generally reject insecticides except for self-defence, etc).

    I hope you don’t mind the rough sketch here, I’m still developing my opinion on this and I might add more as I shape it. I’m pantheistically inclined, as I believe that God is a person (Christianity) and a life force (alternative spirituality); as Emerson said, we are all part of the universal eye and our lives weave together in an intricate path of unity with nature and animals and plants. The earth is mother, and church; I am her child. So – with that in mind, as a PL person I don’t see how it can be possibly consistent to call yourself prolife and eat meat. If we’re really willing to live up to what we believe then no more steaks, I’m serious.

    Am I less grown-up somehow because I believe this? Most of my life I grew up on a farm, with a lot of animals, death and life in a perpetual cycle. So I know whereof I speak.

    Last but not least, if we call ourselves PROLIFE but we mean it to be anti-abortion aren’t we being inconsistent logically? I mean prolife means FOR ALL LIFE if you examine the suffixes and prefixes carefully. Pro = for, life = life. So, by that simple definition, in order to be logically consistent and intellectually honest about our position, would it not be more truthful to call ourselves anti-abortion?

    Please forgive the meanderings, I have not been on the Internet for a while and am taking a break from it. Also if I think of anything else I’ll be happy to write it up. Thanks for all you do, Josh and Tim.

    • Excuse me for being brief, as my plate is really full today.

      I’m not that interested in coming up with a coherent pacifist position, because I think pacifism is well-meaning yet very morally problematic. I think sometimes we have the moral responsibility to not only defend ourselves AND other innocent people who are being slain but can’t defend themselves.

      I think one of the main problems with your “squirrels are persons” argument is the definition of personhood you’re using. (Beyond the fact that you’re working with two different and contradictory definitions at the same time.) I don’t think (“feeling pain” + “being wise”) is the most coherent definition for personhood. I’m not even sure squirrels would be in if that WAS the right definition, because I doubt that “wisdom” ought to be attributed to squirrels, but that would come down to your definition of wisdom.

      “View Two – But even if I didn’t believe they are persons, I would believe they have rights as living species.”

      I’m assuming you mean natural rights as opposed to rights granted by the government. I think it is morally wrong to torture squirrels. I don’t think that necessarily means that squirrels have natural rights or whether my intrinsic and immediate capacity to understand right from wrong means that I would be doing a great evil by torturing a squirrel.

      “Am I less grown-up somehow because I believe this? Most of my life I grew up on a farm, with a lot of animals, death and life in a perpetual cycle. So I know whereof I speak.”

      I’m not sure what you mean by this, given that it’s right after your argument that pro-lifers cannot be consistent if they eat meat, given that “the earth is mother.” The way it comes across to me is an implication that you grew up on a farm, therefore your view must be right.

      If that’s indeed what you’re trying to say, I would respond that it’s possible that eating meat is wrong and inconsistent with being pro-life. (That’s not currently my view, but I’m open-minded about it.) However I would also say that it’s possible that you grew up on a farm and ended up with incorrect views about ethics and/or metaphysics. Your life experience may help you to make compelling arguments, but it’s not a trump card.

      You’ve always come across to me as a pretty open-minded person though, so I may be interpreting you wrong. My apologies if you meant something completely different. :)

      I do not think that the label “pro-life” must mean “anti-killing of any form of life.” As one example, when I used to record the Life Report podcast, I would have to go into the studio and kill the cockroaches in the room. (That one room happened to be the one that was the most attractive for cockroaches to come in from outside.) So I’d step on them quickly and sweep their bodies into a dustpan and throw them away.

      If your interpretation of “pro-life” is correct then there is a tragic irony to this story, given that this was always the first step to us recording a “pro-life podcast.”

      • Crystal

        “Excuse me for being brief, as my plate is really full today.”

        That’s fine; I’m busy too so my response is equally brief out of necessity. Don’t feel you must apologise; I completely understand.

        “I’m not that interested in coming up with a coherent pacifist position, because I think pacifism is well-meaning yet very morally problematic.”

        I can understand that. I also believe pacifism is problematic, it is a position generally held by rich white people and no one else (my intersectionalist training is coming out, LOL). However, I did NOT ask for this; I asked instead “What is a reasonable alternative to stating the idea that it is wrong to take unborn persons lives *without* giving ground on self-defence, war, and capital punishment for serial killers including Hitler?” If that is asking for a coherent pacifist position then I’m not sure how?

        “I think sometimes we have the moral responsibility to not only defend ourselves AND other innocent people who are being slain but can’t defend themselves.”

        ITA with that. I’m pro self-defence, martial arts, boxing, wrestling, owning a gun etc.

        “I think one of the main problems with your “squirrels are persons” argument is the definition of personhood you’re using. (Beyond the fact that you’re working with two different and contradictory definitions at the same time.)”

        I think so as well.

        “I don’t think (“feeling pain” + “being wise”) is the most coherent
        definition for personhood.”

        I don’t either. But some legal abortion advocates do. Furthermore it used to be used as a definition in olden days to argue against slavery and suppression of women.

        I’m curious to know, how do you define personhood, and why?

        “I’m not even sure squirrels would be in if that WAS the right definition, because I doubt that “wisdom” ought to be attributed to squirrels, but that would come down to your definition of wisdom.”

        Well, animals live by instinct, for one thing. I’m a little unsure of their sapient abilities but they are definitely generally sentient. I suppose I define wisdom, in the case of animals, as following intuition correctly etc. Strangely enough I do believe animals are capable of rational thought although I disagree with Peter Singer’s notion of giving an ape classroom time on the same level as
        a disabled child. I think that’s insulting to both people and animals, TBH. For one thing, animals shouldn’t need to be recognised as creatures with human abilities to be shown any degree of respect; for another, it is demeaning to compare a disabled child to an animal as it is suggesting the child has inferior abilities to other people, and the animal has inferior abilities to a person. Yes, I agree I should think through the first definition more.

        “View Two – But even if I didn’t believe they are persons, I would believe they have rights as living species.”

        “I’m assuming you mean natural rights as opposed to rights granted by the government.”

        I mean God-given rights to respect life independent of the government, yes.

        Aren’t natural rights problematic though? Weren’t they created by the Catholic church to say homosexuality and self-pleasuring were morally degradant? Although I do believe abortion is a crime against nature as no animal would kill their offspring (yes they kill it sometimes, I know) in the barbaric way that abortion is performed.

        “I think it is morally wrong to torture squirrels. I don’t think that necessarily means that squirrels have natural rights or whether my intrinsic and immediate capacity to understand right from wrong means that I would be doing a great evil by torturing a squirrel.”

        I’m glad we agree that it’s morally wrong to torture squirrels. But it’s a given, because your mind isn’t twisted.

        Squirrels do have rights as living beings – to have their habitats treated with respect, to be left free of interference, to be protected from predators, and if it came to it I don’t believe it is wrong to use self-defence against any creature that is out to harm you.

        If someone asked me, I would answer, that you would be doing great evil by torturing a squirrel, for two reasons: how would you like to be treated like that yourself? And what about the fact that we’re tied together in the great cycle of life; it’s like mistreating myself to harm a creature that did me no wrong.

        “Am I less grown-up somehow because I believe this? Most of my life I grew up on a farm, with a lot of animals, death and life in a perpetual cycle. So I know whereof I speak.”

        “I’m not sure what you mean by this, given that it’s right after your argument that pro-lifers cannot be consistent if they eat meat, given that “the earth is mother.” The way it comes across to me is an implication that you grew up on a farm, therefore your view must be right.”

        It’s meant to be an explanation of my viewpoint.

        It’s very natural for us to believe our views are right. I’m trying to work on that; however I do feel strongly about this because how we treat animals today is the way we will treat human beings tomorrow.

        That being said I had no wish to come across as arrogant. I admit I was reacting a little to this statement: “I’m cautiously optimistic that many of the college students I have seen agree to awful conclusions will grow up eventually and recognize that squirrels aren’t people …” Since I’ve received a barrage of discouraging, almost mocking, feedback from fellow PL people over this very
        issue I thought I was being poked at again and I’m sorry for taking it out on you.

        “If that’s indeed what you’re trying to say, I would respond that it’s possible that eating meat is wrong and inconsistent with being pro-life. (That’s not currently my view, but I’m open-minded about it.)”

        And you would be correct. However, I don’t think that it’s as inconsistent to eat meat and call yourself anti-abortion, although I would still question the moral consistency of such a decision.

        “However I would also say that it’s possible that you grew up on a farm and ended up with incorrect views about ethics and/or metaphysics.”

        May I ask how you know for certain that my views *are* incorrect?
        I’m not adverse to admitting they *could be* incorrect but I don’t appreciate being told they *are* incorrect without a thorough examination of said views (not that you were doing this, but again, others have been really rude). What is so incorrect about them anyway?

        “Your life experience may help you to make compelling arguments, but it’s not a trump card.”

        I didn’t intend it that way.

        “You’ve always come across to me as a pretty open-minded person though, so I may be interpreting you wrong. My apologies if you meant something completely different. :)”

        In all honesty, I think you are interpreting me wrong in some ways. Yes, I can be dogmatic on this, and I did not mean my comment about growing up on a farm to be boastful but rather to explain where I was coming from a little so that all the readers could understand my perspective better. And yes, I’m open-minded, to hearing where I’m wrong and right, etc.

        “I do not think that the label “pro-life” must mean “anti-killing of any form of life.””

        I do agree with that, because sometimes you must take one life to
        save many and it is the most PL thing you could do – Hitler being one nasty example of this principle. I can see that I need to work on some of my definitions.

        “As one example, when I used to record the Life Report podcast, I would have to go into the studio and kill the cockroaches in the room. (That one room happened to be the one that was the most attractive for cockroaches to come in from outside.) So I’d step on them quickly and sweep their bodies into a dustpan and throw
        them away.”

        I feel sorry for the poor cockroaches :(

        Why’d you have to kill them anyway, if I might ask?

        “If your interpretation of “pro-life” is correct then there is a tragic irony to this story, given that this was always the first step to us recording a “pro-life podcast.””

        I think the tragic irony comes from not defining our terms. When we say prolife it means something to people, hence the examples of capital punishment, faith healing, etc, that are brought up against us. I think what I’m trying to drive at here is that it’s been politicised to mean one specific form of life – unborn humans. That being said, in a way I can understand this, because it is from within the womb that human life begins.

        Thanks for humouring me. I think I should go through the viewpoints I espoused and critically examine them when I get
        time.

        I hope we can discuss this more as I do want to weed out inconsistencies in my thinking. Also I appreciate your being
        respectful and I am more than happy to keep talking about this and any incorrect thinking I might have if you would kindly oblige me.

    • Guest

      There’s nothing wrong with the term “anti-abortion”. However, I think “pro-life” is a better one because the pro-life movement as a whole generally opposes destructive embryo research, euthanasia, and infanticide of handicapped newborns (a big controversy in the 1980s) in addition to abortion. Words ultimately mean what they’re commonly understood to mean, and language evolves over time. “Gay” once meant “happy”, but now it’s considered a synonym for “homosexual”. The dictionary has pro-life as a synonym for anti-abortion:

      http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pro–life

      The dictionary definition, along with the priorities of pro-life organizations, are a much better indicator of what it actually means to be pro-life. We all saw how stupid Donald Trump looked when he did the prefix analysis thing to explain what it means to be a conservative.

      • Crystal

        “There’s nothing wrong with the term “anti-abortion”. However, I
        think “pro-life” is a better one because the pro-life movement as a
        whole generally opposes destructive embryo research, euthanasia, and infanticide of handicapped newborns (a big controversy in the 1980s) in addition to abortion.”

        Oh right, okay. It’s just that anti-abortion seems to be a big part of the mainstream PL movement’s work, more so than anything
        else. That being said I will try to remember this for the future. I think that the PL beliefs push their biggest efforts in these areas because no one else is talking about them, would that be correct?

        “Words ultimately mean what they’re commonly understood to mean, and language evolves over time.”

        If language evolves over time, then what will happen if the PL movement starts opposing insecticides and hunting for sport, for
        starters? Will it still be seen as prolife?

        “The dictionary definition, along with the priorities of pro-life
        organizations, are a much better indicator of what it actually means to be pro-life.”

        Yes it is, but at the same time, prolife needs to become more inclusive of all kinds of people and situations while continuing to
        embrace the ones it already holds fast to. We need to stop allowing parents to faith-heal their children without proper medical care. We need to stop advocating for people in poverty to live that way. We need to GROW, in other words.

        “We all saw how stupid Donald Trump looked when he did the prefix analysis thing to explain what it means to be a conservative.”

        I haven’t seen that, so … please explain.

        • Guest

          Oh right, okay. It’s just that anti-abortion seems to be a big part of the mainstream PL movement’s work, more so than anything
          else.

          I’d agree, which is why I said there’s nothing wrong with the term “anti-abortion”.

          That being said I will try to remember this for the future. I think
          that the PL beliefs push their biggest efforts in these areas because no
          one else is talking about them, would that be correct?

          That’s probably a big part of it. Also, many of the arguments against abortion are easily applicable to some of these other issues as well.

          If language evolves over time, then what will happen if the PL movement starts opposing insecticides and hunting for sport, for
          starters? Will it still be seen as prolife?

          Probably. I think that would be very likely if the pro-life movement became opposed to insecticides and hunting for sport in the first place.

          Yes
          it is, but at the same time, prolife needs to become more inclusive of
          all kinds of people and situations while continuing to
          embrace the
          ones it already holds fast to. We need to stop allowing parents to
          faith-heal their children without proper medical care. We need to stop
          advocating for people in poverty to live that way. We need to GROW, in
          other words.

          I’m not aware of any pro-life groups that openly favour either of those things. Pro-lifers disagree on what the best solutions to poverty are, but it’s quite a stretch to say that they advocate for people in poverty to live that way.

          I haven’t seen that, so … please explain.

          I think the video speaks for itself:

    • Cynthia

      Hi Crystal!

      I’m posting here as you suggested, instead of on LJF.

      I agree with the position of the Supreme Court of Canada, that laws outlawing abortion or allowing “fetal protection” violate the rights of women to bodily autonomy. Brahm might call this an “extreme position”. I believe that it is consistent. More importantly, though, I don’t believe that laws are an effective means of protecting fetuses at all, and I also believe that the focus on laws actually prevents more effective means from being used.

      An essential flaw of the argument above (which is extremely common) is that it regards the pregnant woman and the fetus as two totally separate things. The reality, of course, is that the fetus grows inside the pregnant woman, is sustained by her body, and places demands on her body as a result. I assume that we can agree that’s the case?

      So, you can’t really “protect” a fetus without considering the pregnant woman in which it lives 24/7. That’s why fetal protection laws simply don’t work, and why they cause harm. You need to get away from simple theoretical arguments, and see how pregnancy issues work out in real life.

      Consider this:

      1. Abortion laws don’t really work.

      http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/12/world/12abortion.html?_r=0

      As well, Canada has absolutely no abortion law at all – but the overall abortion rate is LOWER than it is in the United States, and late-term abortion remains rare.

      Therefore, preventing abortion and passing laws to prevent abortion are two entirely different things.

      2. Pregnant women don’t generally make casual decisions to have late term abortions.

      Only around 1% of abortions take place past 20 weeks. It’s usually associated with maternal medical problems or severe problems with the fetus. These are situations that are difficult, often heart-breaking, where there simply is no magical happily ever after alternative.

      Here’s one such case: https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/why-i-had-an-abortion-after-20-weeks/2015/09/20/174495cc-5e2f-11e5-8e9e-dce8a2a2a679_story.html

      In cases of severe hydrocephalia, fluid replaces brain matter, and the size of the head swells. This can make vaginal birth impossible. In some tragic cases, there is no possibility that the baby would be able to survive outside of the womb for any significant length of time, since there is almost no brain matter. The two choices may be the so-called partial-birth abortion, or c-section delivery. A c-section carried a higher risk for the mother, with no real change in outcome for the baby, who will die in either scenario.

      There are also situations where the mother cannot carry to term without serious risk to her own life. What happens if an aggressive cancer is diagnosed when a woman is pregnant? Or if her heart cannot tolerate pregnancy? Or if the medications that she needs to take to prevent a potentially fatal outcome would harm the fetus? What happens when a pregnant woman’s water breaks at 21 or 22 weeks? Inducing labor means fetal demise, because it’s prior to the point of viability, but not doing so means that there is a very high risk of infection, which can be fatal to the mother. My SIL actually had to deal with the last situation. They had desperately wanted the baby, she had been in hospital on strict bedrest to try to save it, but once the water broke, there was simply no safe way to do so.

      3. “Fetal Protection Laws” harm women, especially if they are not white and at least middle class, but are counter-productive when it comes to actually preventing harm.

      The idea that a pregnant woman would be so careless that she’d do drugs and harm her baby is horrific to many people, and there is an urge to pass laws to prevent this.

      Those laws, however, don’t work: http://www.acog.org/Resources-And-Publications/Committee-Opinions/Committee-on-Health-Care-for-Underserved-Women/Substance-Abuse-Reporting-and-Pregnancy-The-Role-of-the-Obstetrician-Gynecologist

      The only way to prevent a pregnant woman from harming her fetus through substance abuse would be to lock her up 24/7 – and that’s a REALLY bad idea. Prisons are not known for good prenatal care. In fact, I had a case where a woman who was pregnant with twins ended up in jail on cocaine-related charges. She went into premature labor, and the twins died at birth. I read a report arguing that this showed why fetal protection laws were needed, but it actually showed the opposite. You see, there was no indication that her past cocaine use had anything to do with the premature labor. It’s actually a common risk in twin pregnancies. There was, however, some indication that the prison itself didn’t respond to well to pregnant prisoners complaining that they don’t feel well or feel cramps, so instead of being put on bedrest as soon as she sensed a problem, her needs were ignored until it was too late.

      Women have been sent to jail for losing babies, even when there is absolutely no evidence that their drug use had anything to do with fetal demise. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/oct/07/alabama-chemical-endangerment-pregnancy-amanda-kimbrough

      Do these prosecutions discourage other pregnant women from substance abuse? Actually, they may prevent them from seeking any out any prenatal care or help for their substance abuse.

      Furthermore, while illegal drugs are demonized, other substances that can long-lasting fetal harm are not. Alcohol can actually cause more long-term damage than cocaine, through fetal alcohol syndrome. Alcohol, however, is legal and readily available. In addition, while a bartender may not serve a woman who is 8 months pregnant, it is alcohol use earlier in the pregnancy that is most damaging because that is when the basic structures are developing. In other words – the most damage is caused at a point that some women will not even realize that they are pregnant, and when outsiders would not know that they are pregnant. https://embryo.asu.edu/pages/developmental-timeline-alcohol-induced-birth-defects

      There are other things that are known to be associated with serious fetal harm that aren’t illegal or policed in any way. Changing cat litter runs the risk of toxoplasmosis. Failure to get enough folic acid in the first few weeks is associate with neural tube defects. In short – there is a mismatch between moral outrage and things that actually cause harm.

      • Guest

        Hi Cynthia. I can’t speak for Crystal, but you do raise many interesting points and I think you deserve a proper response.

        Just a minor clarification – the Supreme Court of Canada never ruled that anti-abortion laws in general unjustly violate a woman’s right to bodily autonomy or that a woman has an unlimited right to abortion. In fact, only one justice (Bertha Wilson) wrote that a woman has a right to abortion at all, and she held that parliament could still restrict it after a certain stage of pregnancy (probably sometime in the second trimester). The other four justices in the majority held that one specific abortion law unjustly violated the right to security of person because the procedural requirements (a three doctor committee at a hospital had to determine that the abortion was medically necessary) were too arbitrary and resulted in widespread inequality. For example, some cities had hospitals with pro-choice doctors that would rubberstamp practically any abortion. Others did not have the committees at all, meaning that even women with life-threatening pregnancies could not have abortions. However, all of these justices said that it would be up to parliament to pass a better law. Having no abortion law at all was supposed to be temporary, not the long-term plan for Canada’s future. Furthermore, none of the seven opinions received more than two signatures so none is considered binding precedent. This is a very common misconception – even the prime minister incorrectly said that the Supreme Court affirmed a woman’s right to abortion. There’s good material here:

        http://www.morgentalerdecision.ca/charter-right-to-abortion/

        I’d agree that, because the unborn live inside and rely on a woman’s body for sustenance, giving them legal protection creates unique and difficult challenges. Threats to maternal health and the problem of substance abuse during pregnancy are good examples. And pro-life advocates often do appear to gloss over these issues. But it’s a massive leap to conclude that a pregnant woman should be able to hire a doctor to destroy her unborn child when there’s no medical need at all (as in the vast majority of abortions – the most common reason given is “having a baby would change my life”, not “my heart cannot tolerate pregnancy”).

        Regarding your first point, that New York Times article isn’t the trump card that a lot of people think it is. It shows that making abortion illegal doesn’t prevent all abortions, and that the legality of abortion is not the only factor that affects the abortion rate (perhaps not even the most important one). I don’t know of any pro-life person that’s ever tried to dispute these facts. What it does not show is that abortion laws don’t really work. The most obvious problem is that most countries where abortion is illegal are located in Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East. These regions tend to have widespread poverty and other social problems – poor access to modern medicine, lack of education (especially for women), despotism, government corruption, drug trafficking, high violent crime rates, rape culture and yes, unmet demand for reliable contraception (more on that later). It’s very likely that all of these factors have a profound impact on the abortion rate.

        There aren’t many good studies that directly analyze the impact of abortion restrictions. Most studies on the subject are like the one above – they simply compare the averages from countries where abortion is legal to countries where it’s not. When you look at who is conducting much of this research (the Guttmacher Institute, which is dedicated to advancing “reproductive rights”) and providing the funding (ie the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the World Health Organization) it isn’t hard to see why. The purpose of this kind of study is not to determine whether or not abortion laws actually work – it’s to promote an ideological agenda.

        Besides the issues with interpretation of the data, there are open questions about the methodology of the studies used to estimate the number of illegal abortions:

        https://www.dovepress.com/articles.php?article_id=11688
        http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/dec/27/planned-parenthood-think-tank-inflates-abortion-nu/
        http://thefederalist.com/2016/05/26/new-report-wildly-inflates-global-abortion-numbers/

        With that being said, there are a few studies that take a more rigorous approach. One study from Eastern Europe, following the fall of the Soviet Union, found that restrictive abortion laws corresponded with a 25% decline in abortions:

        https://www.dartmouth.edu/~dstaiger/Papers/2004/LevineStaiger%20JLE%202004.pdf

        Furthermore, even the Guttmacher Institute is willing to admit that ending public subsidies for abortion can reduce it by up to 35% among eligible women:

        https://www.guttmacher.org/about/gpr/2007/03/heart-matter-public-funding-abortion-poor-women-united-states

        Other (pro-life) researchers estimate that the Hyde Amendment prevented over two million abortions:

        https://lozierinstitute.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/OP_hyde_9.28.3.pdf

        Clearly, making abortion more difficult to get means that not as many women will have abortions.

        I wouldn’t make too much of the comparison between Canada and the U.S. The most recent data (2011) puts the abortion rate at 16.9 per 1000 women for the U.S:

        https://www.guttmacher.org/fact-sheet/induced-abortion-united-states

        The Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada (which supports abortion on demand, in case you couldn’t tell from the name) estimates the 2014 abortion rate to be 14.7 abortions per 1000 women.

        http://www.arcc-cdac.ca/backrounders/statistics-abortion-in-canada.pdf

        To arrive at this figure, they had to make a fair number of assumptions since several clinics in Ontario and one in British Columbia did not provide data. The true figure could be higher, or it could be lower. We also don’t know much about how many late-term abortions are performed, or why women have them. Of course, the American data has its own problems too. Pro-life advocates in both Canada and the United States are campaigning for better data collection, which should be something people on all sides of the issue should support. Unfortunately, abortion advocates don’t seem to be on the same page.

        https://lozierinstitute.org/abortion-reporting-toward-a-better-national-standard-summary/
        http://news.nationalpost.com/full-comment/natalie-hudson-sonnen-canada-hides-from-its-embarrassing-abortion-statistics
        http://run-with-life.blogspot.ca/2013/01/the-hidden-cost-of-abortion-in-ontario.html
        http://run-with-life.blogspot.ca/2015/11/a-pro-abortions-many-factual.html
        http://run-with-life.blogspot.ca/2016/08/how-can-we-discuss-abortion-when-we_20.html

        But even if we take Canada’s abortion rate at face value, we don’t really have much to be proud of. 14.7 is a little lower than 16.9, but the latter figure is three years older. Given that abortion clinics in the U.S. are rapidly closing and abortion rates are steadily declining, its abortion rate may well be lower than Canada’s in 2016. There is also evidence that sex-selective abortions are taking place in Canada, and there may even be cases where babies are born alive and left to die after an abortion.

        http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/health-and-fitness/health/some-couples-in-canada-practising-prenatal-sex-selection-in-favour-of-male-fetuses-studies-show/article29583670/
        http://news.nationalpost.com/news/canada/born-alive-dead-in-moments-grey-zone-of-live-birth-abortions-a-deep-divide-between-mps-and-physicians

        Lastly, although Canada has no abortion law at all and it’s funded by the government in most provinces, that doesn’t necessarily mean women have unlimited access to abortion. Recall that, up until very recently, the province of Prince Edward Island had no abortion at all. RU-486 also wasn’t approved until last July, so nearly all abortions were done surgically. Abortion advocates are also aggressively pushing the narrative that it’s so difficult to get an abortion that we need to force pro-life medical professionals to give abortion clinics free advertising (or even perform elective abortions themselves in some cases) – a prospect I find terrifying. So it’s hard to know when we’re supposed to believe them – does Canada have a low abortion rate even though they’re really easy to obtain, or is it too hard to get an abortion? They can’t have it both ways.

        Now, let’s turn to the United States. Recall that America is not just a monolithic country. Rather, it spans a landmass of 9.15 million square kilometres and has a population of 324 million. So instead of looking only at the bottom line (overall abortion rate), we would do well to dig a little deeper. Most of the interesting policies happen at the state level. Each of the 50 states has different laws regarding healthcare, abortion restrictions, birth control access, sex education, and social safety net. So as you might expect, abortion rates vary considerably between states. There are many different ways to distinguish among state policies, but perhaps the simplest is to look at the kinds of politicians they elect. “Blue” states tend to vote Democratic candidates for the presidency (and to govern at the state level), while “red” states elect Republicans. Democrats tend to favour abortion on demand, expanding birth control coverage, comprehensive sex education, and a more generous welfare state. Republicans tend to support low taxes, more limits on abortion, and are less enthusiastic about sex-ed and free birth control (though nobody is actually trying to ban contraception, contrary to what you might hear). Obama’s five best states (from the 2012 election) were D.C, Hawaii, Vermont, New York, and Rhode Island. His worst five were Utah, Wyoming, Oklahoma, Idaho, and West Virginia. If you average the abortion rates for Obama’s best five states, you’ll get a number that’s over four times as high as the average for his worst five states:

        https://data.guttmacher.org/states/table?topics=65+68&dataset=data&state=US+DC+HI+VT+NY+RI+WV+ID+OK+WY+UT

        Notice, also, that all of the five reddest states have abortion rates below the national average (some of them well below the national average). All but one of the blue states, on the other hand, have above average abortion rates. The link isn’t quite as strong if you look at state of residence (that is, if you account for women that travel out of state to have an abortion), but it’s still there. There are other ways of slicing the data (percentage of adults that are pro-life, state rankings from pro-life or pro-choice advocacy groups), but I think you’ll still get the same results. At least at first glance, it looks like the red states are doing something right. Now, differences in government policies aren’t the only differences between these states and correlation isn’t causation. But we would expect Rhode Island to have a lot more in common with Idaho than either state would have with Norway or Iceland. And the blue states are certainly more similar to the red states than El Salvador is to Belgium.

        Last but not least, let’s look at Ireland – the only country in the developed world that doesn’t allow elective abortion under any circumstances. Critics of Ireland’s pro-life law love to point out that Irish women travel to England to have abortions. But despite the media hysteria, this number is relatively small and steadily declining:

        http://www.johnstonsarchive.net/policy/abortion/ab-ireland.html
        http://www.hse.ie/eng/services/news/media/pressrel/newsarchive/archive15/jun15/UKabortionfigures.html

        Of course, even one abortion is too many. But how could anyone say with a straight face that this law doesn’t work? Ireland’s abortion rate is lower than the UK’s (by a factor of four) and well below the average for Western Europe. It even compares favourably to the Netherlands, which is often touted as the gold standard for “safe, legal, and rare”.

        https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/433437/2014_Commentary__5_.pdf
        http://www.johnstonsarchive.net/policy/abortion/ab-netherlands.html

        And when they have a story that’s heart wrenching enough, people campaigning to repeal pro-life laws sometimes admit that they do indeed prevent abortions:

        http://www.lifenews.com/2016/08/29/abortion-supporters-mom-tried-to-abort-her-it-would-have-been-better-for-my-mom-if-she-had/

        “Making abortion illegal doesn’t stop women from having them” is a very clever slogan, and it generally goes unchallenged in the mass media. It bypasses the hard questions (ie “should we allow this questionable practice?”) and instead casts the issue as a matter of whether or not abortion should be safe for the woman (which would be a pretty easy one for a pro-choice person to win, if that’s really all there is to it). But the evidence does not support it, and a more careful look at the data suggests that the law can in fact have a major effect on the number of women that have abortions.

        Only 1% of abortions are done after 20 weeks, but that doesn’t mean late-term abortion is rare. All it shows is that there are a lot of early abortions. Given that there are over a million abortions in the U.S. every year, that adds up to 10000+ late-term abortions. This is comparable to the number of deaths from gun violence, which is an epidemic (or so I’ve been told). Most women don’t have late-term abortions for frivolous reasons, but a few come pretty close. See this story from Australia, where a woman had an abortion at 28 weeks because her child would have been missing fingers on his left hand. Abortion proponents responded by basically complaining that she wasn’t able to abort at 23 weeks instead:

        http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/i-felt-i-had-been-abandoned-inconsistency-and-fear-surrounds-lateterm-abortion-20141121-11r83k

        But whether women make “casual decisions” to have abortions has never been the benchmark for whether or not abortion is acceptable. The benchmark is whether or not their circumstances would justify killing a human being. We would not tolerate killing a toddler (for example) because raising them would be too expensive, so likewise we should not tolerate killing an unborn child for socioeconomic reasons. While the data on why women have late-term abortions is limited (a problem pro-life activists are trying to correct, as discussed above), the evidence we do have suggests that most are not done for medical reasons or for fetal abnormalities:

        http://www.factcheck.org/2015/09/clinton-off-on-late-term-abortions/

        I haven’t personally been unfortunate enough to have a doctor tell me that my unborn child has a fatal defect. But I know that, for any new parents, finding out that their baby isn’t going to be okay is their greatest fear. That being said, I tend to be skeptical of people who use terrible stories like that to defend abortion. Very often, they end up being too good to be true. Here is one example:

        http://www.dallasnews.com/news/politics/2016/04/05/viral-story-blamed-texas-20-week-abortion-ban-for-couples-ordeal-but-the-law-didnt-apply

        Sometimes though, even babies thought to have absolutely no chance of long-term survival end up beating the odds when given the chance to live. Here is one such case of a boy born with hydrocephaly, who still faces many challenges but looks to be on track to have a normal life:

        http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/boy-battling-spina-bifida-stuns-6698107

        So while this is a difficult issue, letting some viable children be killed doesn’t seem like a fair price to pay for sparing women with non-viable children from having to undergo Caesarean sections. And there are probably more than we think – the threat of frivolous lawsuits gives doctors a pretty strong incentive to encourage or even pressure women to have abortions. 25 states currently allow wrongful birth lawsuits, which sometimes have eight figure payouts. But even if we somehow knew (with absolute certainty) that a given unborn child had no chance of long-term survival, “they were going to die anyway” shouldn’t mean that they have less of a right to not be killed. If we extended that reasoning, it would mean that a terminally ill person could be killed if caring for them would be too expensive. After all, the outcome wouldn’t be any different either way. That doesn’t seem right. Whether a person should have the right to live shouldn’t depend on how long they’re expected to live.

        I’m not sure why people still insist on using “so-called” and other such innuendo to refer to partial-birth abortion. The term is well defined in U.S. federal law, and there is nothing inaccurate about it. The baby is partially birthed (breech), then the head is punctured with surgical scissors and the brain is vacuumed out. When it was legal, most were performed on healthy mothers with healthy babies:

        http://www.nrlc.org/archive/abortion/pba/Haskellinstructional.pdf
        http://www.nytimes.com/1997/02/26/us/an-abortion-rights-advocate-says-he-lied-about-procedure.html

        I think the life of the mother case is a non-starter here. No late-term abortion ban, in any state, applies to a woman whose life is endangered from pregnancy (much less medical treatment that can indirectly harm the unborn child). The federal partial-birth abortion ban also has an exception for life of the mother. Even Ireland doesn’t stop doctors from doing whatever is necessary to save a pregnant woman’s life.

        You can definitely find cases where the criminal justice system has been heavy-handed in enforcing fetal protection laws, sometimes creating situations that put both mother and child at risk of greater harm. But this is not unique to laws protecting unborn children. We’ve seen parents charged with child endangerment for letting their kids climb a tree or walk to the playground. While the situations have some differences, we still see that the poor are affected disproportionately and that there’s a mismatch between level of outrage and actual risk of harm. This is certainly a problem, but no serious person would say that the solution is just to get rid of Child Protective Services and not have any laws protecting children.

        https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-watch/wp/2014/07/14/and-now-the-criminalization-of-parenthood/
        https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-watch/wp/2014/07/30/the-criminalization-of-parenthood-continued/
        https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-watch/wp/2015/10/02/child-protective-services-and-the-criminalization-of-parenthood/

        What we don’t have is evidence that fetal protection laws, in general, are harmful or counterproductive. Recall that forty different states have some type of law protecting unborn children from violence, yet pregnant women going to jail for drug abuse is not a widespread problem. Rather, the data suggests that it’s mainly clustered around a few hospitals (mostly in southern states):

        http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/337884/rhrealitycheck-pregnancy-study-fails-deliver-michael-j-new

        I don’t think Jeff Durham, who was essentially told by the courts that the murder of his daughter Molly didn’t matter because she wouldn’t be born for another 10 weeks, would agree that not having a fetal protection law works.

        While I think abortion rates would be higher if there was no birth control at all (as in Communist Romania), diminishing returns come into play. If most women lack access to birth control, you could probably reduce the number of abortions by making it easier to obtain. But if it’s already easy to get birth control, making it easier to get won’t do much (if anything). As for the Colorado study, it’s not really the gamechanger that it’s hyped up to be:

        https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2015-08-07/free-contraception-can-t-end-the-abortion-debate
        http://www.nationalreview.com/agenda/385884/no-one-program-did-not-reduce-colorados-teen-pregnancy-rate-40-percent-callie-gable

        Similarly, comprehensive sex education also gets mixed results (at best):

        http://www.hhs.gov/ash/oah/oah-initiatives/evaluation/grantee-led-evaluation/summary-ebps.pdf
        http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1180262/Most-teenage-pregnancies-end-abortion.html

        (it’s lower now, but that seems to be because teenagers are busy taking selfies rather than getting drunk and having sex – not because of sex education programs)

        http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/news/12189376/How-teenage-pregnancy-collapsed-after-birth-of-social-media.html

        More importantly though, even if we could greatly reduce the number of abortions by throwing lots of condoms and IUDs at the problem, that’s not enough. As long as abortion is legal, the law gives no protection to an unborn child if their mother wants to hire a doctor to kill them. This is a fundamentally unjust system regardless of how many women actually have abortions. To draw an analogy, female genital cutting is widely practiced in several countries. It would be absurd to say that we should deal with the underlying causes but keep the practice legal. We should definitely look at and try to address the root causes, but it’s a grotesque human rights abuse that should not be sanctioned by the law even if it’s only done once per year.

        Regarding your story about pregnancy counselling, that unfortunately seems to say a lot more about abortion clinics than it does about crisis pregnancy centres. Crisis pregnancy centres have undergone a lot of criticism lately, particularly regarding scare tactics and lying to women. Pro-lifers say that this is overblown. The truth is probably somewhere in between. But we at least know this: no crisis pregnancy centre has ever performed an irreversible surgical procedure, one that sometimes comes with a lifetime of grief and misery, on a woman who desperately didn’t want it done but wasn’t presented with any other options. That one is completely on the abortion clinic. As for the Israeli organizations, apparently abortion advocates don’t like them either. Go figure.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Efrat_(organization)

        • Cynthia

          Thanks for the response. It’s long, so I’ll deal with it in bits as time permits.

          Re the Supreme Court of Canada – I wasn’t referring to just the Mortgentaler decision. Several cases following it have dealt with the issue of fetal rights. There’s a comprehensive overview of the law in this case: http://www.canlii.org/en/ca/scc/doc/1997/1997canlii336/1997canlii336.html That case affirmed that fetal rights cannot be protected under common law or parens patriae, and it also reviewed the view that rights are acquired at birth, as it is impossible for the state to protect fetal rights without significant intrusion on the mother. While s. 7 of the Charter wasn’t specifically considered as there was no need to do so, and while the decision theoretically leaves the door open to a narrowly drafted law, the line of reasoning makes it clear that drafting a law that didn’t violate s. 7 would be extremely difficult.

        • Cynthia

          Took a quick look at the data on Canadian abortions. For Ontario, there clearly is data on both the total number of abortions and the number of late-term abortions. There are no clinics that perform abortions after 20 weeks, so the number reported by hospitals is the total number. Furthermore, the Ministry of Health has the statistics on the total number of abortions, because the doctor’s fee is covered under OHIP even in non-reporting clinics, and the figures were released as a result of a freedom of information request. That’s detailed in the report. Abortions past 20 weeks are less than 1% of the total.

          We know that Ontario law doesn’t prohibit late-term abortion, or any specific abortion method. Despite that, the rate is late-term abortion is not higher than it is in the United States.

          • Guest

            It seems that there is at least one independent abortion clinic in Toronto that performs abortions past 20 weeks:

            http://www.cabbagetownwomensclinic.com/abortion-services/

            Just to be clear, I personally doubt that late-term abortions represent a large fraction of the total. But there are a lot of holes in the data, and we can’t really be sure. I’d be especially interested in seeing the figures for Québec – the second-biggest province and the one with the highest abortion rate.

            • Cynthia

              I stand corrected on that. I should have said non-funded clinic. The Cabbagetown clinic, however, is an independent health facility that does report its statistics to CIHI,

      • Crystal

        Dear Cynthia,

        Thank you for taking the time and effort to come down to ERI; I really appreciate it and some of your comments have made me think. That being said, I thought it was only fair to let you know that I will be busy and therefore unable to respond to your queries on this page for a while. Please know I’ve really enjoyed our chats.

        Respectfully,
        Crystal

    • Cynthia

      Sorry, forgot my point on how focusing on law and aggressive “counseling” can actually prevent work that would reduce abortions.

      There are two ways of reducing the abortion rates that have actually been shown to be effective. You can reduce the rate of unwanted pregnancies, and research had shown that offering free access to long-term reversible methods (like Mirena IUD or birth control implants) helps, as does comprehensive sex education. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/06/science/colorados-push-against-teenage-pregnancies-is-a-startling-success.html and http://www.pbs.org/newshour/updates/spring-fever/

      You can also offer support to those who are pregnant, so that they will be more willing to continue the pregnancy. I know of two Israeli organizations that do this, and they have thousands of success stories. These organizations don’t lobby for changes to laws, and they don’t picket or “counsel” women in front of clinics. They simply get referrals from social workers who deal with women seeking abortions. If a woman’s reasons for seeking an abortion are largely practical (financial, physical difficulties), they will arrange for baby gear, financial support, vocational training, and I even saw a case where they had volunteers provide care for a woman and her toddler when she was put on bedrest. http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/151950 and http://www.jta.org/2014/02/25/news-opinion/politics/in-israels-abortion-debate-pro-choice-seems-to-be-the-only-choice

      Those programs work because there is trust and cooperation with social workers who help women seeking abortions. In the United States, I know of women who volunteered in abortion clinics who felt horrible when patients said that they felt financial pressure to abort, but there is no trust that a Crisis Pregnancy Centre won’t use extreme tactics or that they will actually deliver promised help.

      • Crystal

        Hi Cynthia, I appreciate that you came here to discuss this with me. I’m going to try to respond to at least some of your comments, as time allows.

        You said, “Crystal – the problem is that activists who loudly claim to defend
        fertilized eggs tend to believe that IUDs “kill” fertilized eggs. Mirena IUDs work fine, and are highly effective. They likely prevent conception, by thickening cervical mucus and inhibiting sperm, but they also thin the lining of the uterus. To some people, thinning the lining of a uterus so that any potential fertilized egg doesn’t have a place to implant = murdering a child. Of course, thinning lining of uterus also = no more heavy periods leading to anemia without the need for surgery.”

        My response:

        Yes, I can see the dilemma there. But if they do prevent implantation as prolifers claim (and are intentionally designed to do such) then I’d like to see Christian Religious Right prolifers put their money where their mouths are and see if they can do a better job. I’ve mentioned this issue of replacement (meaning if you take something away from someone you replace it with something better – it is a philosophy I strongly hold to) many times and I can’t understand why the PL movement hasn’t adopted it as a strategy wholesale *especially* if they believe what they claim about the newly conceived lives.

        You mentioned the IUDs also decrease heavy periods that lead to anemia, which is a good thing. People really need to weigh the pros and cons of these issues, separate the truth from the lies, and campaign for improvements if they are needed (I tend to think they are).

        While I believe in not taking things that prevent implantation (yes I believe life begins at conception), I’m also willing to consider the intentions behind anything preventing implantation (like decreasing menstrual problems) and have a discussion on it, because I think it’s important to think through these issues.

        • Cynthia

          Thinning the lining of the uterus is a feature, not a bug, with the Mirena. Any attempt to legally ban Mirena or pills that contain progesterone will mean that the best and safest treatments for some significant medical conditions are no longer available. Other treatments also frequently make someone permanently infertile.

          If someone has issues with fertilized eggs not having a place to implant – well, the answer would be for that person to take additional steps to ensure that there are no fertilized eggs. The Mirena itself works in several ways, and some of those ways prevent fertilization. If sperm can’t get through thicker cervical mucous, then it doesn’t matter if the uterine lining is too thin to permit implantation. If someone is still concerned, they could use condoms and/or spermicide during sex.

          • Crystal

            Well, I appreciate the information on the Mirena. I’ll be sure to look more into it. Also taking additional steps to ensure there are no fertilised eggs is something I’d like to think more about.

            When I say, improvements, I’m thinking of a lot of things including making the drugs more woman-friendy; I think there was a conversation on LJF a short while back about men getting sick on contraceptive drugs and someone mentioned that some of the drugs women used weren’t nearly as woman-friendly as they should be:

            http://www.patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism/2016/11/lesbian-duplex-93-an-open-thread.html (if you scroll down, you’ll find it toward the top as long as you stay on the “Best” button)

            Another point that I think people miss that is many prolifers claim to be pro-contraception, then some who claim this (not all) want to ban the more controversial types. Why aren’t these types trying to invent better ones instead (I mean ones that don’t prevent implantation, are more woman-friendly and are far more effective in preventing fertilisation than the previous ones)? That’s my question; I’d really like to hear your opinion on that point.

            • Cynthia

              I’m not really sure what you’re asking.

              Yes, continuing to improve hormonal contraception is good. Different combinations of hormones have different effects on different people. I was told that if I were to use hormones to control my adenomyosis (which causes my heavy bleeding), progesterone in an IUD would be better than the Pill because of my age (mid-40s). I have one daughter who takes one type of Pill due to extreme cramping and heavy flow, the other daughter takes a different one which improves acne. In other words – there’s no magic formula that works for everyone, but there are different combinations of hormones that can be used for several different purposes, and each has its own potential benefits and side effects.

              Side effects also vary from person to person. I’m a bit leery of the Mirena for myself because of a weird allergy (dermagraphism) that can be triggered by progesterone, but it’s still a good choice for people without my allergy.

              Birth control pills that contain estrogen DO prevent fertilization, because they prevent ovulation.

              The bottom line is that I am absolutely opposed to any effort that would ban hormonal birth control options on the basis of protecting fertilized eggs. The existing options work well for many women, and they have uses that go beyond birth control. These are decisions for women to make, together with their doctors. A legal ban would mean that the only ways to treat heavy periods would be ablation (burning off uterine lining – which just makes the uterus permanently inhospitable) or hysterectomy (major surgery, permanent loss of fertility). It would mean that my daughter would have to deal with intense pain and blood loss so severe that she has blacked out – deprived of needed medical treatment for absolutely no good reason, because she’s not even sexually active.

            • Cynthia

              Here’s something else to consider, if you really want to see failure of a fertilized egg to implant as the same thing as killing a child: breastfeeding.

              In some ways, breastfeeding is a natural form of hormonal birth control. It suppresses ovulation, but fertility can return in stages, so it’s possible to have ovulation return prior to progesterone levels returning to normal and maintaining the uterine lining during pregnancy. Therefore, it is possible for breastfeeding to stop a fertilized egg from implanting.

              Would you suggest that it’s wrong to breastfeed because of this?

              • Crystal

                While I admit I was not exactly speaking of what I personally believed (although I do tend to stay away from anything that purposely prevents implantation for the reasons I stated = intention to take life being a huge one), I also think this is a very interesting point that I never considered. Could I ponder what you’ve said and message you on it later?

          • Crystal

            When I say “I mean ones that don’t prevent implantation” I’m talking about the beliefs of those who wish to ban contraception, not necessarily my own.

  • Thanks.

    As you say, an extremist argument isn’t necessarily invalid, and in fact pro-lifers would be in a weak position if they complained about bodily-rights extremism, because (as pro-choicers like to point out — in fact this is their main argument for bodily-rights extremism) pro-lifers are as extremist as pro-choicers about bodily rights except for pro-lifers’ one, seemingly-inconsistent, departure in the case of abortion. Many pro-lifers will join many pro-choicers in saying that no one should be compelled to donate blood for any reason (though it is a harmless procedure), and that no one’s body parts should be used even after they are dead if they have not given advance permission.

    So your strong argument is not, per se, that the bodily-rights position leads to extremism, but the fact that in the case of abortion, such extremism leads pro-choicers — leads all of us, rather, because we all believe in bodily rights — to conflicts with our moral intuitions.

    I think that if we could identify exactly the valid reason that people should have bodily rights in the first place, it would become clear why that reason is not a justification for abortion. I have thought about this here: http://www.NoTerminationWithoutRepresentation.org/bodily-rights-and-a-better-idea/

    • uninvolved

      Many pro-lifers will join many pro-choicers in saying that no one should be compelled to donate blood for any reason (though it is a harmless procedure), and that no one’s body parts should be used even after they are dead (though that would also be a harmless procedure) if they have not given advance permission.

      That wouldn’t be extreme positions. Pro-lifers share these beliefs with pro-choicers but the difference is that pro-choicers think these thing are morally parallel to abortion.

      If an extremist argument were defined as an argument that conflicts with correct moral intuitions, then an extremist argument would necessarily be false/invalid.

      No. That doesn’t follow at all. You’re conflating the truth of the matter with how we come to know the truth of the matter. You’re conflating truth and knowledge.

      If an argument appeals to an extreme intuition (an intuition most people do not hold), then it doesn’t follow that it’s false and it certain doesn’t follow that it’s invalid. It’s just not a very useful argument to make. If you and a small group of people are the only people that have the intuition which the argument appeals to then it’s a useless argument. However, you may be right. You and that small group of people may be the only people constituted such that you can see the truth of this moral fact.

      It’s like if someone were born with some sixth sense and can see a fact about the world we cannot see. It would be useless for them to appeal to their observations using that sixth sense to justify the existence of whatever it is they perceive with that sixth sense. It would only serve as a justification for their own belief because only they are directly acquainted. However, the fact they are the only people that can see this fact about nature may serve as reason to doubt if that thing they perceive is actually a fact about the world.

      • Thanks.

        I wrote —

        “If an extremist argument were defined as an argument that
        conflicts with correct moral intuitions, then an extremist argument
        would necessarily be false/invalid”

        — and you replied in part —

        “If an argument appeals to an extreme intuition (an
        intuition most people do not hold), then it doesn’t follow that it’s
        false and it certain doesn’t follow that it’s invalid.”

        I agree. My above sentence did not say otherwise, and in fact the first sentence of my whole post had been “. . . an extremist argument isn’t necessarily invalid . . .” (And by the way, the only point of my above sentence was to eliminate one possible meaning of “extremist” from among the possible meanings Timothy Brahm might have intended.)

        It’s very late where I am, and I will try to understand your other points in the morning. But if the above clarification changes how you would have written anything else in your post, of course it would help if you would make your changes in the meantime.

        And I still sincerely intend to get back to our previous discussion, but recently it’s been just one thing after another for me.

        Did you check out “Bodily Rights and a Better Idea” (the link)?

        • uninvolved

          I misread you then. I didn’t see the “correct intuition” part.

      • Thanks for bringing to light a problem in my comment. I have now edited the comment. Please see the edits and see if the comment is now coherent, and whether you agree with it.

        • uninvolved

          Yes. I’m pretty sure “extreme” meant by Tim is that it’s a position not very many people would hold, i.e. out of the norm.

  • Jim in St Louis

    It is worth noting that Justice Blackmun explicitly rejected bodily autonomy in Roe:

    “….. it is not clear to us that the claim asserted by some amici
    that one has an unlimited right to do with one’s body as one pleases
    bears a close relationship to the right of privacy previously
    articulated in the Court’s decisions. The Court has refused to
    recognize an unlimited right of this kind in the past.”

    • It is worth noting. But if pro-choicers would reply that the US Constitution doesn’t necessarily represent the last word in moral sensitivity, I would say they have a point.

  • . . . other times they double down and say, “Fine! Then it’s okay to kill newborns,” or “Fine! Then squirrels are people too.”. . . I’m cautiously optimistic that many of
    the college students I have seen agree to awful conclusions will grow up
    eventually and recognize that squirrels aren’t people, rape is actually
    wrong (not just distasteful), and that a newborn child has the right to
    live.

    It seems that at some points in some discussions, you expect a student’s moral intuitions to tell them the right thing, and if their moral intuitions don’t tell them the right thing, there’s not much you can do about it. Presumably if you had rational arguments on certain points that you found irrefutable, you would try them on the students as well, so (I hope I’m not being too presumptuous here) it appears that you have moral convictions that you have arrived at for yourself without any logic or rational method that even you consider irrefutable. In that case you would have to say, “It was PROBABLY such-and-such logic or rational method that brought me to the correct moral intuition, but ultimately that moral intuition came out of my unconscious in some way I cannot understand.” Would you say that?

  • Guest

    Can’t critics of the pro-life position turn around and make the same charge? Pro-life arguments necessitate banning abortion in the case of rape, placing more restrictions on IVF, punishing women that have abortions in at least some cases, and banning some forms of birth control (which ones are problematic is still an open debate). The vast majority of people oppose these positions. A more honest graphic than the one above would have “allow abortion in the case of rape” on the left. I think most people could still be persuaded to push the button on the right (and reject the one on the left), but we should at least acknowledge that bodily rights arguments are not the only ones that lead to an “extremist position”.

    • We admitted as much in the paragraph towards the beginning that starts with “Pro-life people can make extremist arguments too.”

      The question would be are the statements you listed all necessary to be consistent with the pro-life view. I would argue that at least several of them are not. But it’s certainly the kind of point a pro-choice person should bring up if they want to better understand the pro-life position and whether or not it actually holds water.

      • Guest

        There are a few examples in the first paragraph, but all of them (conveniently) appear to be views you don’t actually hold. This seems a bit disingenuous to me.

        Regarding my examples, are there any you don’t agree with? They all seem to be positions you have endorsed in other articles on this blog, and other mainstream pro-life organizations support them as well. Please clarify if I’ve misrepresented your views.

        Pro-choice people already do bring up these points. This is most evident when you look at the way the mass media (which is clearly partial to the pro-choice side, to put it mildly) covers the political aspect of the issue. As Marco Rubio noted, pro-life candidates are constantly asked the hard questions while pro-choice candidates essentially get a free ride. Nobody ever questions Hillary Clinton’s presence at the March for Partial-birth Abortion or points out that support for Roe v. Wade is code for abortion on demand through all nine months. I definitely agree that we need to do a better job demonstrating that the most common pro-choice arguments and statements lead to extreme conclusions.

        • Crystal

          “As Marco Rubio noted, pro-life candidates are constantly
          asked the hard questions while pro-choice candidates essentially get a free ride.”

          Sadly, this is true. Although I’ve always said that we should never be afraid to answer the tough questions, I think sometimes those tough questions are thrown at us to show problems with the prolife position while seeking to clear the opposing side of all moral blame, and to make them look good and us bad. It’s time we doubled down and asked a few tough questions ourselves. As for THAT WOMAN she and all others like her ought to be challenged severely on their roles in the pro-legal abortion sphere.

  • Pingback: Bodily Rights Arguments for Abortion are Always Extremist Arguments With No Compromise | LifeNews.com()

  • Crystal

    @Ameribear,

    “That’s true. Sex has both unitive and procreative purposes and they cannot be
    separated.”

    If sex has unitive purposes as well as procreative, why did you focus primarily on
    the procreative purposes?

    “I agree and one of the most effective ways to help women is to tell them the truth
    about contraception.”

    What do you recommend contraception be replaced with? Also, what *truth* are you
    referring to?

    “Unexpected pregnancies result from women who have fallen for the lie that because of
    contraception you can be sexually active and never have to face the consequences of it.”

    Why do you refer to pregnancy as a *consequence*? Also, what about couples who are
    married? Is it a consequence for them? Please let me ask a clarification question – are you saying that women don’t fear an unwanted pregnancy as much with prolific contraception as without? If not, what are you saying?

    “Couples who engage in the act with that mindset don’t plan for pregnancies because they believe they’re not at any appreciable risk for getting pregnant when in fact
    they are.”

    What do you mean, plan for pregnancies? Are you referring to a backup plan as to
    what should happen if the woman becomes pregnant? Or are you referring to automatically preparing for motherhood and marriage because of it?

    “That’s all well and good but it’s supposed the be the job of the parents not
    communities to educate and raise their own kids.”

    That might be so, but many women who reject abortion are solo mothers. If it’s their
    job, where’s the father? Also why shouldn’t the community step in in these cases and assist the mother through day-care and other such facilities?

    “Changing attitudes certainly needs to be done but it is going to be a staggering uphill fight because our sex-soaked culture has the deck stacked overwhelmingly against it.”

    While I agree that we need to change attitudes, what sort of attitude changes are
    *you personally* referring to? Because I think they are quite different from the ones I had in mind. I agree that our culture is sexually saturated in a vulgar, pornographic way, and I believe in strong reform in this area. At the same time, such reform won’t come if we’re afraid to admit that women bleed (menstruate) and enjoy sex. These things need to be discussed. Do you agree or disagree, and why?

    • Ameribear

      If sex has unitive purposes as well as procreative, why did you focus primarily on the procreative purposes?

      Since there are two coequal purposes of sex then neither one can be emphasized over the other. The procreative purpose brings a new, unique, distinct whole human organism into existence and the unitive purpose helps ensure the most stable and favorable environment is in place for that new human to grow and thrive. Both purposes must be ordered to the greater good of the human race and they can’t if we keep separating them.

      What do you recommend contraception be replaced with?

      Contraception first must be replaced with a reestablishing of a firm understanding of the meaning and purpose of the sex act. What it’s ends are. The actual means by which couples can legitimately avoid conceiving children or spacing children can be achieved thru natural family planning.

      Also, what *truth* are you referring to?

      Hormonal contraception poses serious health threats and it isn’t as effective as it’s we’re being led to believe. It also facilitates the objectification of women. Men only see women as a means to an end.

      Why do you refer to pregnancy as a *consequence*?

      It’s the natural ends or consequences of the sex act., it still happens. Sperm and egg have a habit of doing exactly what they are intended to do in spite of all the available means to prevent it.

      Also, what about couples who are married? Is it a consequence for
      them?

      It is a consequence that any fertile heterosexual couple who engages in the sex act assumes the risk of occuring.

      Please let me ask a clarification question – are you saying that women don’t fear an unwanted pregnancy as much with prolific contraception as without? If not, what are you saying?

      I am saying that couples believe the risk of conception is far lower than it really is with the wide spread use of contraception. If they don’t think the risk is that high they will engage in the act without believing they need to be prepared if the contraception fails.

      What do you mean, plan for pregnancies?

      They will not see the need to ensure the most favorable environment is already in place for the well being of a child that they are risking bringing into existence.

      Are you referring to a backup plan as to what should happen if the woman becomes pregnant? Or are you referring to automatically preparing for motherhood and marriage because of it?

      I am referring to ensuring that any child they are risking bringing into existence will have the best possible environment in place to grow into healthy, well-adjusted adults. If the couple isn’t ready or committed to providing that, then they shouldn’t be having sex until they are.

      That might be so, but many women who reject abortion are solo mothers. If it’s their job, where’s the father?

      That is an excellent question that almost never gets asked. The men who are fathering these kids and abandoning them to be raised by their mothers share the blame and should be held accountable. I think once paternity is proven, there should be mandatory child support payments garnished from their wages or they should be forced to sign away their parental rights so the child can be adopted.

      Also why shouldn’t the community step in in these cases and assist the mother through day-care and other such facilities?

      This is not the most favorable environment but it is better than nothing. The main danger of it is the entitlement mentality it tends to foster. If no sense of responsibility is instilled in potential parents up front, they’ll see it as a way of abdicating it to someone else.

      While I agree that we need to change attitudes, what sort of attitude changes are *you personally* referring to?

      The attitude that frequent, instant sexual gratification is the greatest good and that it’s permissible to use anyone or any means to achieve it for ones self.

      Because I think they are quite different from the ones I had in mind. I agree that our culture is sexually saturated in a vulgar, pornographic way, and I believe in strong reform in this area. At the same time, such reform won’t come if we’re afraid to admit that women bleed (menstruate) and enjoy sex. These things need to be discussed. Do you agree or disagree, and why?

      Women should enjoy sex, there’s nothing wrong with that unless they aren’t willing to assume everything else that’s supposed to go along with that. Sexual intimacy enhances and strengthens couples only if they are willing to enjoy it in it’s proper context of a lifelong, married, committed, union that is open to the transmission of new life. Women should be seen as living, breathing works of art whose worth goes way beyond being a means to the ends of male sexual gratification.

      • Cynthia

        I realize that your views are likely based on religious teachings, and if you aren’t willing to think about them critically for that reason, I understand.

        That said, since this blog is about engaging in discussion with others, I have to say that as someone who doesn’t share those particular religious beliefs, your argument doesn’t sound remotely logical.

        I’m married with children. After my third child was born, it was pretty clear that there was a great deal of scar tissue and my uterus would not have been able to tolerate another pregnancy that quickly. I was 32, and not at a point where hysterectomy (a major surgery) would have been appropriate, nor was I 100% sure that my childbearing was done. According to you, should my husband and I have remained celibate for the past 12 years? If so, why on earth would we choose to do that?

        While I agree that sex has both a unitive and procreative function, I see both functions as potentially positive. You’ve stated that both need to be present any time that a couple has sex, but you haven’t explained or defended that assertion. You argue that the unitive function helps to create the most stable environment for the new life created by the procreative function to thrive. Well, if my husband and I had been forced to remain celibate for the past 12 years, how exactly would that have worked? We have 3 children. Those children need and deserve parents who have a strong relationship. Having a physically intimate relationship (with sexual gratification for both of us) is one of the things that helps us to be the best spouses, and by extension the best parents, that we can be.

        We are already married, committed, and providing an ideal environment for children. I simply have a uterus that is quite scarred from 3 c-sections, and a condition called adenomyosis. Hormonal birth control has a number of effects. For me, my Mirena IUD was actually the best treatment for excessive bleeding due to the adenomyosis that was causing serious anemia. My only other options were burning off the uterine lining – painful and prone for failure for patients with adenomyosis – or a hysterectomy (major abdominal surgery with all the associated risks, long recovery period and risk of vaginal vault prolapse). Do you oppose the use of Mirena IUD to control excess bleeding for someone like me? If so, why? What alternative would you propose? More importantly – would you take any steps to prevent women like me from being able to access treatment like this?

        • Ameribear

          According to you, should my husband and I have remained celibate for the past 12 years? If so, why on earth would we choose to do that?

          That’s entirely up to you. No one should know the risks involved better than you, your spouse and your doctor. Get the best advice possible in order to make the most informed decision you can.

          You’ve stated that both need to be present any time that a couple has sex, but you haven’t explained or defended that assertion.

          I want to make certain that you understand that I’m saying the sex act must be open to the transmission of new life but that every sex act does not have to result in conception. The reason for it is because willfully and artificially blocking the transmission of new life for no valid reason is objectifying another person and using them for nothing more than a means to and end. Your saying in essence that I accept everything about you except your fertility.

          Well, if my husband and I had been forced to remain celibate for the past 12 years, how exactly would that have worked? We have 3 children. Those children need and deserve parents who have a strong relationship. Having a physically intimate relationship (with sexual gratification for both of us) is one of the things that helps us to be the best spouses, and by extension the best parents, that we can be.

          Marriage and the sexual intimacy that goes along with it are supposed to be ordered to the good of the couple but in order for them to achieve those ends they have to be accepted as a package deal. The entire process of having children from beginning to end is supposed to change both parents over time by increasing their capacity to love. It’s supposed to teach the couple the meaning of authentic love which is sacrificial, that is desiring the best for someone else without expecting anything in return. You’re right about the importance of the role that physical intimacy plays in a marriage but it’s not the only means available to us to become the best spouses and parents. Ultimately it’s going to be the cumulative effect of everything you do as parents and spouses over the time you spend raising your kids that’s going to bring out your best selves and your children’s best selves.

          Do you oppose the use of Mirena IUD to control excess bleeding for someone like me? If so, why? What alternative would you propose? More importantly – would you take any steps to prevent women like me from being able to access treatment like this?

          I favor everyone having access to the best possible treatment for helping the human body function as it’s intended to. If you have done your research and you and your doctor have decided that this is indeed the best possible treatment for you, then I sincerely hope and pray that you are quickly restored to the best possible health.

          What I object to is the intentional use of artificial contraception between couples who willfully refuse to accept the responsibilities of having and raising children. That mindset reflects a deeply rooted selfishness and feeds a me first attitude in the relationship which is the antithesis of what an authentic marital relationship is supposed to be.

          Congratulations and the very best to you and your husband for your generosity in having and raising fantastic children. Having raised five of our own with my wife I can certainly identify with your circumstances.

          • Cynthia

            You are correct that the decision is entirely up to me.

            Do you agree that the government has no business limiting access to birth control?

            You are still repeating the part about how sex needs to be a “package deal”, without explaining in any persuasive way why this would be the case. Again, it’s possible that the answer for you might be “because the Church says so”, but that’s not the case for us. It’s also not remotely persuasive to somehow suggest that my marriage isn’t about authentic, sacrificial love. There was plenty of that during the years that I had my 3 children and 3 miscarriages, and there was also lots of that when he accepted that I would not be having more children. Also, we haven’t refused the responsibilities of children. Our kids are all under 18, and we haven’t tossed them out. We are actively being their parents every day.

            I fail to see how contraception would be objectifying me, when I’m the one who is saying that my body cannot handle another pregnancy. Sex isn’t just for his benefit.

            • Ameribear

              Do you agree that the government has no business
              limiting access to birth control?

              What the government should be doing with birth control is the same thing it does with substances like alcohol and tobacco. It should be warning the public more clearly about the health risks associated with it’s use and about the fact that it isn’t as effective as it’s being marketed. I think this would be a better approach.

              You are still repeating the part about how sex needs to be a “package deal”, without explaining in any persuasive way why this would be the case. Again, it’s possible that the answer for you might be “because the Church says so”, but that’s not the case for us.

              I just stated quite clearly that the institution of marriage and of the sexual intimacy that goes along with it are supposed to be ordered to the proper formation and bonding of the couple and the children they’re going to have. Nowhere in my reasoning did I mention anything about religion.

              It’s also not remotely persuasive to somehow suggest that my marriage isn’t about authentic, sacrificial love. There was plenty of that during the years that I had my 3 children and 3 miscarriages, and there was also lots of that when he accepted that I would not be having more children. Also, we haven’t refused the responsibilities of children. Our kids are all under 18, and we haven’t tossed them out. We are actively being their parents every day.

              My answers were intended to contrast two different understandings of what love is. In making them I was in no way suggesting that you and your husband were somehow inferior parents and I’m very sorry that you took them the wrong way. You sound to me like wonderfully devoted spouses and parents who understand what authentic love is.

              I fail to see how contraception would be objectifying me, when I’m the one who is saying that my body cannot handle another pregnancy. Sex isn’t just for his benefit.

              You seem to have a very good reason to for needing to use contraception. If you are seeking to avoid getting pregnant again for very legitimate reasons and you and your doctor have decided that this is the best means available to you then you aren’t being objectified. It’s not the use of birth control that’s the problem, it’s the reasons for using it.

      • Crystal

        Before anything else – please excuse my plain question, but are you a Roman Catholic? I’m asking so I can better understand where you are coming from here. Also, what’s your avatar about? It looks a little like something from the Byzantine era.

        “Since there are two coequal purposes of sex then neither one can be emphasized over the other. The procreative purpose brings a new, unique, distinct whole human organism into existence and the unitive purpose helps ensure the most stable and favorable environment is in place for that new human to grow and thrive. Both purposes must be ordered to the greater good of the human race and they can’t if we keep separating them.”

        While I agree with this paragraph, I notice (no offence intended) that the Catholic Church tends to do just this – emphasise one purpose of sexual intimacy over the other. I also observed that you seemed to be doing it as well, hence my initial reply to your original comment back on LJF.

        “Contraception first must be replaced with a reestablishing of a firm understanding of the meaning and purpose of the sex act. What it’s ends are. The actual means by which couples can legitimately avoid conceiving children or spacing children can be achieved thru natural family planning.”

        Do you think it’s possible that people can do both? I mean, have contraception while preparing people for the very real possibility that it might fail? That being said, while I don’t doubt that some forms of NFP are excellent, I don’t think they are, or should be, the only method out there for sexually active women to use.

        Also, if contraception is so wrong, isn’t NFP a form of contraception (albeit a natural one)? If it is a form of birth control what is the difference between using it and using some other form of contraception? In short, why do you believe this way about the NFP/other BC topic?

        “Hormonal contraception poses serious health threats and it isn’t as effective as it’s we’re being led to believe.”

        While I disagree on the effectiveness (and require proof for this assertion) of the contraceptive properties, I agree that hormonal contraception can cause health problems for the women taking this and this is an issue of great concern to me. I simply believe in improving the drugs and devices so that the women taking them can use them to greater effect without feeling nauseated all the time.

        I also know some of these more controversial drugs and devices contain progestin, which is artificial progesterone and overall not the best thing you want for your menstrual health due to its mimicking genuine progesterone, thus allowing menstrual cramps and other menstrual illnesses to continue (even while having the effect of decreasing them in some cases) rather than eliminating the
        problems as they should. One major improvement I would make is replace the progestin with a different type of progesterone which would *really* deal with the cramps and other illnesses so that women could truly live productive lives while going through their cycles.

        I am also curious as to what health threats you say it poses?

        “It also facilitates the objectification of women. Men only see women as a means to an end.”

        In a sense, I agree with this because women shouldn’t be ill all the time so that men can be gratified by their temporary loss of their ability to conceive. I do perceive this as a form of mastery by the man, to subjugate the woman and punish her for daring to delight in sex, plus what you said. However, some women are hardly ill on the drugs but that doesn’t mean we should overlook the plight of those who are. At the same time, women can use them for other purposes besides contraception – like, for their periods – and on that level their lives have improved substantially (that sounds like a contradiction to what I said earlier, but my current position is that if it works for someone they should take it. Also, I do express concerns to make these drugs and
        devices better rather than to drive them out of existence). Furthermore, it’s not wrong for a woman not to want a child at that time, so using contraception makes her feel more secure (but you seem to think this is a false sense of security – not being rude, just making an observation) and less fearful of pregnancy. Therefore, I agree and disagree with this point you raised on contraception, because I perceive a society that cares little for women’s health for the sake of men’s sexual gratification to be as dangerous as a society that refuses to provide women an alternative if they don’t wish to be, and I quote, “barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen,” or bent double with crippling pain whilst on their periods. My fellow commenter, Cynthia, who I deeply respect because she has always treated me well even when we’ve disagreed, has also made excellent points on the pros of contraception, below.

        “It’s the natural ends or consequences of the sex act., it still happens. Sperm and egg have a habit of doing exactly what they are intended to do in spite of all the available means to prevent it.”

        I’m not arguing with that. At the same time, God also gave us the ability to decide – it’s called free will. If we’re not trusting God for the outcome by refusing to have children, then we’re not trusting God for the outcome every time we lock our doors to prevent theft (not on the same level I know, but I’m trying to use it as an example). The idea that the womb needs to be continually open to life is not only fatalistic but also can lead to serious health risks for the mother, which is not prolife at all. Contraception is not naughty, nor is it a sign of disobedience to God. It’s simply an assertion of my free will and either choice is morally neutral, in and of itself.

        “It is a consequence that any fertile heterosexual couple who engages in the sex act assumes the risk of occuring.”

        I agree, but isn’t this what family planning is for, to prevent this from
        happening? Shouldn’t people plan out what will happen if they get pregnant so they know and they can rest secure in the knowledge that this pregnancy doesn’t necessarily have to change their lives? I think part of the reason abortion is so prevalent in our society is that women tend to be taken by surprise when they get pregnant, ironically enough even when they *haven’t* used contraceptives. If it *is* a consequence we should be *reducing* said consequence as much as possible through contraceptives and sex education; after all, married people have sex too!

        I find it interesting that you refer to pregnancy as a “consequence” for another reason. If you are Catholic – and I don’t know that – I will say that Catholics have a negative view of sex (or at least it seems so to me) referring to it as “dirty” and such like. I really recommend (with caution on the abortion topic) that any serious Catholic-minded person start reading the Our Bodies, Ourselves website to see sex is not dirty. Also sex is a natural creation of God and as God created sex (not just for procreation but for us to enjoy), how can it be right for us to call it unclean? What about the children that result from it; I thought children were a gift from God not a consequence! Sadly, people can abuse it
        through acts like rape and incest, but sex itself, when done between consenting adults, is not dirty and wrong at all. You might like to read Samantha Field’s blog to learn more about healthy sex too; it certainly informed my understanding in a few areas.

        “I am saying that couples believe the risk of contraception is far lower than it really is with the wide spread use of contraception. If they don’t think the risk is that high they will engage in the act without believing they need to be prepared if the contraception fails.”

        While I disagree with your first sentence (again, I would like some evidence to substantiate this claim) I think your second one is very sound. No more needs to be said.

        “They will not see the need to ensure the most favorable environment is already in place for the well being of a child that they are risking bringing into existence.”

        While I agree with the principle of preparing for pregnancy when you engage in sex, it’s a shame that women can’t just enjoy intimacy without having to think of this all the time. They shouldn’t be bound to this, every hour of every day, especially when they have careers and lives ahead of them; and they shouldn’t feel like they should have to abstain either because of it.

        “I am referring to ensuring that any child they are risking bringing into existence will have the best possible environment in place to grow into healthy, well-adjusted adults. If the couple isn’t ready or committed to providing that, then they shouldn’t be having sex until they are.”

        I agree with your first sentence, entirely. Couples should plan ahead so any potential children they conceive will be looked after even if they adopt out. That being said I agree and disagree with your second sentence. I agree in the sense that couples should look out for the well being of the future generations, but I disagree in the sense that couples don’t have to become a traditional unit and raise the child together. Sometimes this is NOT a good idea! Did you know that psychopathic men exist?

        “That is an excellent question that almost never gets asked. The men who are fathering these kids and abandoning them to be raised by their mothers share the blame and should be held accountable. I think once paternity is proven, there should be mandatory child support payments garnished from their wages or they should be forced to sign away their parental rights so the child can be adopted.”

        I do agree with your philosophy at this juncture. Many early feminists thought the same way, Mary Wollstonecraft, the Mother of Modern Feminism who all second-wave feminists adored and worshiped, among them.

        Here are a couple of quotes from Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Women, discussing men and financial support:

        p. 176

        “I mean, therefore, to infer that the society is not properly organized
        which does not compel men and women to discharge their respective duties, by making it the only way to acquire that countenance from their fellow-creatures, which every human being wishes some way to attain.” (This isn’t exactly talking about child support but if someone wanted to apply it they could)

        p. 91

        “The necessity of polygamy, therefore, does not appear; yet when a man seduces a woman, it should, I think, be termed a *left-handed* marriage, and the man should be *legally* obligated to maintain the woman and her children, unless adultery, a natural divorcement, abrogated the law. And this law should remain in force as long as the weakness of women caused the word seduction to be used
        as an excuse for their frailty and want of principle; nay, while they depend on man for a subsistence, instead of earning it by the exertion of their own hands or heads. But these women should not, in the full meaning of the relationship, be termed wives, or the very purpose of marriage would be subverted, and all those endearing charities that flow from personal fidelity, and give a sanctity to the tie, where neither love nor friendship unites the hearts, would melt into selfishness. The woman who is faithful to the father of her children demands respect, and should not be treated like a prostitute; though I readily grant that if it be necessary for a man and woman to live together in order to
        bring up their offspring, nature never intended that a man should have more than one wife.” (In a sense, her words might not apply on the level of careers and breadwinning because women can do that, but they STILL apply a lot on the “she asked to be raped” business plus other areas) (also note I use asterisks* in place of italics)

        Even Andrea Dworkin, pro-legal abortion second-wave feminist, points out that men love abortion because it stops them from having to be responsible fathers. So many feminists have picked up on this as well so you are in good company there.

        Those are good suggestions you raise but the culture you are suggesting *encourages* fathers to hide, which is counterproductive to your intentions. Abortion became legal in part because women were tired of being blamed for their biology; we must attempt to change the culture to accommodate women and their biology, rather than change the biology, which is impossible.

        “This is not the most favorable environment but it is better than nothing. The main danger of it is the entitlement mentality it tends to foster. If no sense of responsibility is instilled in potential parents up front, they’ll see it as a way of abdicating it to someone else.”

        Why do you say, entitlement; I really am curious now? That’s a puzzling comment coming from a prolifer, I have to admit. We need to get rid of the old philosophy that says that raising children is only a woman’s job; that’s – again – part of the reason abortion is so rife in this country because women feel they get to decide to kill, but the moment they choose not to they suffer a serious disadvantage – that of having the child palmed off into her hands. One leaf I will take from the Cuban government’s book – they shouldn’t have made it law but it was a good idea – was that fathers spend part of the day with their children, and mothers spend the other part of the day with their children. That way it gets all shared out, without complaints from anyone!!

        I can see the danger of people abusing it, especially if it is a government handout; I know of women who have gotten pregnant on purpose to receive benefits from the government and this is a serious abuse of a benefit for solo mothers we have in my country.

        Are you against adoption? I am against handing children off willy-nilly myself, but not the principle of adoption per se!

        “The attitude that frequent, instant sexual gratification is the greatest good and that it’s permissible to use anyone or any means to achieve it for ones self.”

        Well, I agree and disagree. Josh Brahm covered this in his article:

        blog.equalrightsinstitute.com/is-abortion-justified-by-an-inalienable-right-to-sex/

        It really is worth the read. I am not for an inalienable right to sex, but I do think we have a right to have sex if that’s what we want – within reason of course. Why some people view sex as so important that they will kill their children for it is emotionally beyond me; at the same time I share their concern when they say that women need equality. I simply disagree that we need abortion to be equal, and I feel that we could do better than this as a society. We need to accommodate both the sexual liberation of women and any children that arise from that liberation because both are equally important, and to downplay the rights of one party is to treat said party as property.

        I would have thought that we needed to change the attitude that childbearing and childrearing was the woman’s work alone, and started to become a less selfish, more empathetic society that looked out for one another a lot more than we do. The city is generally cold and impersonal and people tend to be so caught up with their own concerns they never look out for others, and I find that really sad. If prolifism is taken to its logical conclusions it could shake the world into looking out for the needy and desperate ones within its midst so people will feel more inclined to look after one another than they do now. People tend
        to think “Your problems are your responsibility” rather than realising we’re all tied together on the great wheel of life so it is our duty to help those less fortunate than ourselves. As Jesus said, “As you did it for one of the least of these, so you have done it for me.”

        Sex is healthy, and I would love to have it. I simply plan to be careful in case I get pregnant, that’s all. And I’m against the idea that women must live with the fear of pregnancy hanging over their heads at all times. I agree completely with your sentence but I don’t agree with the excesses some prolifers might take this sentiment to – to basically force women never, never to have sex unless they are willing to become mothers and this is *not* okay; we are not living in the 1950s and we never will again. What we need to do *instead* is to alter our attitudes toward sex and pregnancy so that women won’t feel trapped by it but will know that they don’t have to be alone whether they adopt out or keep the baby. You see, legal abortion advocates and conservative prolifers have one thing in common – they believe that raising children is “women’s work”
        and that the world will never change to accommodate the ideal of “it takes a village to raise a child”; women are left out in the cold, alone and struggling. I agree, fathers need to pay their bills but all women got when abortion got legalised was a nice little out to kill their children. Nothing important got changed – nothing! I want to see the world’s attitude change on this so we start loving and caring for the least of these rather than say “oh that’s your problem”; it’s uncaring and out of character for who we are as prolifers. Now I am not accusing you of anything; please clarify if I’ve misrepresented your views.

        “Women should enjoy sex, there’s nothing wrong with that unless they aren’t willing to assume everything else that’s supposed to go along with that.”

        You could have stopped after saying “Women should enjoy sex, there’s nothing wrong with that.” What about changing the attitudes towards sex and pregnancy so that women can more willingly assume everything else that’s supposed to go along with intimacy?According to what you seem to be suggesting, women must give up their careers and dreams and desires if they want sex. I disagree completely with this belief
        and I think it’s part of what’s holding us back rather than propelling us
        forward:

        http://blog.secularprolife.org/2016/11/kill-your-baby-or-kill-your-career-is.html

        Mothers deserve self-care, and all the help they can get (hence my suggestions favouring maternity leave and daycare centers). Raising children is no picnic, and it’s easy for people to say that it is when they will never be faced with doing what a woman does, because a woman’s tasks are never done. I’ve watched my mother for years; she is one of the most hardworking people I know, working from sunup to sundown, without a break. I mean this seriously, should every woman’s life be one of constant hard, unpaid toil? Sure, they say there are rewards for it, but I would find motherhood to be an imprisonment (and I really mean that).

        Personal motivation for my disagreement: I’m single, and a virgin, but I know I’d like sex if I had it. I don’t want children; I struggle with tokophobia and valid fears of losing my own personhood, and don’t feel ready for marriage. Does that mean I shouldn’t enjoy intimacy? I disagree; what about the men who relish sexual encounters with the fair sex? Hardly any consequences for them I see. I realise that you personally don’t mean it this way, but more often than not, that is the way it works out if women don’t have the tools to sexually empower themselves. I don’t think it’s wrong to like being intimate with a man and not want children; that’s what the principle of birth control is all about.

        “Sexual intimacy enhances and strengthens couples only if they are willing to enjoy it in it’s proper context of a lifelong, married, committed, union that is open to the transmission of new life.”

        What about “child-free” couples (don’t really like that word but can’t find anything else to accurately describe couples who choose not to have children)? Or couples who wanted children but couldn’t have them? I want to ask, are their lifelong, married, committed unions of any less value because they *don’t* have children, or are all marriages equal before God?

        “Women should be seen as living, breathing works of art whose worth goes way beyond being a means to the ends of male sexual gratification.”

        That is a beautiful explanation of why I believe in menstrual rights – because menstruation shows that women are exactly as you described them, and they didn’t need children to be that. By this I am referring to one of the spiritual purposes of menstruation = independence. This independence signifies a release or a temporary freeing from society’s rules for her, and it ties into intuition and creativity, allowing her to create or write things she might not have been able to do otherwise. That being said – women can still create and write and do amazing things, without menstruation and without being wives and mothers. I
        believe you mean well by your sentence, but women need to be seen as *people* before anything else, just like men are, with unique purposes to their lives, just as men are. I’m single, young, and feel as if I have a different purpose from being a wife and mother, and my life and contributions count for no less than the homemaker’s.

        I want to make it clear I have really enjoyed this conversation and I hope you have too; you have forced me to think a few times and I will probably continue to think about the things you’ve written after I’ve posted this up. That being said, I realise I came across as passionate, but I hope I haven’t come across as hostile or accusatory and scared you away from talking to me due to my earnestness on these topics, and yes, I find you fun to converse with, in part because we disagree so much. I will be taking a vacation from online life for a while but
        I do hope that you will stick around, because I would love to chat with you more if we see each other again.

  • Law Wad

    “You may not like sex-selective abortions, but you can’t oppose them while simultaneously supporting early abortions with bodily rights arguments.”

    “The violinist argument falls into the same problem. If I want to unplug from the violinist because the violinist is African-American and I’m a racist, I still have the right to unplug.”

    No. Someone’s answer to The Violinist may very well deny the right to unplug an African-American if that decision is made purely on racist grounds.

  • Val

    I would like the readers opinion on whether this ‘bodily autonomy’ argument would make a good example for pro-lifers to use.
    http://ms-jd.org/blog/article/natural-rights-objection-reply-judith-jarvis-thomson039s-quota-defense-abortionquot
    Below is a quote from the article:
    ‘Suppose a woman gave birth to a baby in an environment in which there was no replacement available for her breast milk; the baby either breastfed, or starved to death. After all, people do not have the right to artificially obtain bodily fluids from others for their own survival. Would the baby have a right to breastfeed?
    If the mother were to refuse to allow the baby to breastfeed, she would be committing infanticide – maternal infanticide. The situation of pregnancy is similar to this. Therefore, abortion is no different from maternal infanticide. The bottom line is, people do have a right to use each others bodies as a means of their own survival if it’s a part of the natural mother/child relationship (and no replacements are available, e.g. artificial wombs, wet nurses, or formula)’.

    • gladys1071

      Val,

      breastfeeding is not the same as gestation. Gestation is a gross violation of bodily autonomy for a woman is forced to endure childbirth possible surgery, incontinence, and other complications due to gestation, some that can be permanent. Breastfeeding is a minor/trivial, though I don’t really know if the baby has a RIGHT to breastfeed, that is a good question? I mean a NEED does not create a right, not even to breastmilk in my opinion. Maternal infanticide is killing of an infant, an abortion is aborting an embryo/fetus NOT in infant. An infant lives outside the body and is not inside the uterus, does not require gestation or an umbilical cord. Stop equating infants to non-viable, non-sentient, embryos.

      Being compelled to breastfeed and developing sore breasts does not compare to childbirth and gestation type of bodily autonomy violation.

      • Ann Morgan

        Gladys, nobody has a right to anything (object or service), against the will of whoever is to provide it. However, if a particular ‘need’ is something that can be provided by numerous different people, odds are that someone, somewhere, will be willing to provide is. VS the case on only ONE person being able to provide it. The odds of not being able to get it are far greater. This is basic math. Let’s say that the odds of any given person not wanting to provide a particular ‘need’ of a baby is 10%. If only one person in the world can provide said ‘need’, then the odds are 10% that any possible provider (being only that one person) won’t want to provide it. On the other hand, if there are 10 people who could provide what was needed, then the odds that all 10 of them would not want to provide it, would be only 1%.

      • Val

        I have both been pregnant AND have lactated for long periods, and I totally think the two ARE comparable.
        But I really would like a fellow pro-lifer’s opinion.
        Thanks.

  • Sj

    From what Im gathering…Your a man…and shouldn’t be making decisions about womens reproductive health issues. You’ve never experienced pregnancy, and can never understand what women go through

  • Serpent

    hmm thanks for helping me clarify my position. i’m pro-choice and much like in your example, i value bodily autonomy highly. i’m also a former christian (though i’ve never considered myself a prolifer). i’m not sure i’ve completely let go the idea that the fetus is a human, i just think it doesn’t matter.
    i guess you’re simplifying the pro-choice position a bit. the whole point is that if you view abortion as a choice, then not having abortion is also a choice, so from this point of view arbitrary cutoff dates are logically and morally consistent.
    but being a specialist in computational linguistics, i value information highly. i think any new information should be able to affect the choice. in the rare example where a woman (or especially a young girl) finds out pretty late that she’s pregnant, for example due to irregular periods and gynecological problems – in this case i think she should have the option to be relieved of her burden within 1-2 weeks – by means of abortion or c-section depending on the term and development. (if the fetus is barely viable, she should not have to pay for its treatment) most of all i believe that abortion should be an informed decision. i also consider it morally wrong to wait deliberately if you’re hesitant, especially to wait until you know the sex of the fetus/baby, but i don’t believe this should be illegal.