Responding to the Question of Rape with Wisdom and Compassion

This article is an expanded version of a piece I wrote for Life Matters Journal, in which I answered a question from one of LMJ’s readers. This reader asked for help responding to the question of rape:

One of the most common questions I get about being pro-life is “But what if the mother was raped?” I stand for all life, even life that was created through rape or any other difficult situation. How can I explain that to a pro-choicer in such a way that I don’t come across as callous or uncaring about the mother’s situation?

~ Troubled in Tuscaloosa

I love the way this question is worded. You clearly care about showing that you don’t only care about the child, but that you rightly care for the survivor of rape as well. Many pro-life people don’t communicate that very well when they talk about rape. They come across as if they have something we call Fetus Tunnel Vision.” I think the question of rape is the most common example of this. Immediately we say, “The child’s right to life shouldn’t be dependent on how it was conceived!” I agree with that, but who does this skip? The mother.

My friend Steve Wagner at Justice For All has made a huge impact on the way I think about how pro-life people should respond to rape. He says:

When a pro-choice person brings up the issue of rape, they’re not terribly concerned at that point if the unborn is human. They want to find out whether you’re human.

Can you see how horrible rape is? If not, please don’t tell people you’re pro-life. I’ve trained people before who understood the definition of rape, but they didn’t understand what rape is. There are other pro-lifers who cannot hear the word “rape” and let themselves acknowledge how horrible rape is because they feel like they’re losing debate points or time. There’s too much of that out there and it’s hurting our movement.

So, here’s what we should do instead. We should first acknowledge the horror of rape.

Josh Brahm finding common ground with a UC Davis student about how horrible rape is.

Josh Brahm finding common ground with a UC Davis student about how horrible rape is.
Photo credit: Matthew Vaughn.

Please hear me. I’m not telling you to fake compassion. Rather, we should clearly express the genuine compassion we have for survivors of rape. [Tweet that]

I was talking with a pro-choice woman in the Denver airport once, and it wasn’t long before she asked me, “What about rape?” I took a cue from Steve Wagner and said this:

Rape is one of the worst things that I know about. Thinking about rape makes me feel really sad and really angry at the same time. I have friends who have been through that experience. Rape is horrific, and if she becomes pregnant, she’s probably going to make the most difficult decision of her life.

She has three choices. She can either do what’s right, which in my mind is carrying the baby to term, which includes nine months of pregnancy and a painful delivery. She can then keep the child which is a very expensive 18-year commitment; she can choose adoption, which I think is a very heroic and selfless act, but it’s also very emotionally painful for most birthmoms; or she’s going to make the wrong decision and hire a doctor to shred the baby to death.

I think the rapist should be punished for all of that. He has committed multiple moral crimes if the survivor becomes pregnant. He’s not only forced himself on her sexually, but he’s also forced her to become a mother. I don’t think we should force women to become mothers.

Now, this is often where I stop. You see, there are two challenges in front of me when someone brings up the issue of rape: a relational challenge and an intellectual challenge. We at ERI train our students to first address the relational challenge and to only address the intellectual challenge if the other person brings us there. Some people only need to hear the relational part that day. When we talk to people, we are trying to love them, and loving people well is complicated. Sometimes loving people means making a good argument. Sometimes it means just listening to them.

This approach is not an absolute rule; it’s a helpful rule of thumb for many of our students. Most pro-life people are far too quick to respond with an argument. It’s kind of like how if you go to a shooting range and notice that you are trending to the right, you might aim a bit left to try to correct yourself. When we notice a pro-life person is too quick to focus on arguments, we push them to just focus on the relational challenge in order to help them correct themselves. However, if we notice a student is too timid about making arguments, we’ll push them to spend a very small amount of time on the relational challenge with the hope that they’ll become more balanced.

When I talk to people about this issue, they often bring me to the intellectual challenge by saying something like, “Okay, I get it. You don’t like rape. I appreciate that, I really do. We agree that rape is really horrible and since we agree on that, can’t we agree that at least in the case of rape abortion should be legal because rape is so bad?

I’ll tell you the response that has worked the best for me. I used it in a public debate with a leader from Georgians for Choice in front of a packed auditorium of pro-choice students. The issue of rape came up a lot, but it was only when I presented the following scenario that I could see light bulbs come on for some of the students. I said:

Let’s imagine that a woman is raped and becomes pregnant, and she decides not to have an abortion. Some people do decide to not have abortions. Not every pregnant rape survivor has an abortion. So she’s one of those who decides not to have an abortion. She gives birth to a baby boy. She is getting therapy, and the rapist’s butt is in jail where it belongs. It’s not easy, but for the sake of the argument, it’s going as well as it could be. She’s on the slow road to healing. And then, her son turns two, and, for the first time, he looks like her rapist. Her son got his looks from his biological dad, and now it’s causing flashbacks every time she sees him, and she’s having nightmares every night because she’s around her son all the time. It gets to the point where it’s really bad and she’s starting to hate her son, to the point where she wants to kill her son.

I asked the audience, “Should she be allowed to kill her son?”

Everyone in the audience said, “No.”

I said, “Why not?”

Somebody said, “That’s different.”

And I said, “Why is that different?”

And she said, “Because he’s human.”

I said, “Precisely! And IF the unborn is equally valuable as the toddler, then we shouldn’t kill the unborn to solve an emotionally traumatic event.”

We should surround this woman with love and the kinds of resources she needs. I’m not saying we fix it, but we do the best we can. Basically, we should be willing to do just about anything for this woman except kill someone. I won’t cross that line. It doesn’t mean that I don’t care about her. I want things to be instantly better for her. But if people should be given an equal right to life because of the kind of thing they are, then the most rational conclusion I can come to is that we should not kill young people to help someone else feel better about a horrible situation.

In response to this answer I saw a lot of audience members nodding, and when the debate ended the two women sitting in front of my wife turned to each other and said, “We need to stop this abortion thing.”

Jacob Nels responds to the question of rape at the University of Michigan.

Jacob Nels at the University of Michigan.

I often summarize this point for the pro-choice person the way our Outreach Coordinator Jacob Nels explains it: “We both agree that rape is an act of violence that was done against an innocent person, the woman. We shouldn’t try to fix the problem by doing another act of violence toward another innocent person, the child.”

 

Question: How do you respond to the question of rape when pro-choice people ask about it?

Please tweet this article!

  • Tweet: Responding to the Question of Rape with Wisdom and Compassion
  • Tweet: Can you see how horrible rape is? If not, please don’t tell people you’re pro-life.
  • Tweet: “I’ve trained people who understood the definition of rape, but they didn’t understand what rape is.”
  • Tweet: We should clearly express the genuine compassion we have for survivors of rape.

The post “Responding to the Question of Rape with Wisdom and Compassion” originally appeared in Life Matters Journal and later at the Equal Rights Institute blog. Subscribe to our email list with the form below and get a FREE gift. Click here to learn more about our pro-life apologetics course, “Equipped for Life: A Fresh Approach to Conversations About Abortion.”

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Josh Brahm is the President of Equal Rights Institute, an organization that trains pro-life advocates to think clearly, reason honestly and argue persuasively.

Josh uses speaking, writing and campus outreach to emphasize practical dialogue tips, pro-life philosophy, and relational apologetics.

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  • Crystal

    There is one huge problem with your Trot-out-the-toddler argument, Josh. The legal abortion advocates will point out that the situation of a toddler looking like the rapist is different from the unborn person being conceived by a rapist because the only way the unborn person can live is through its attachment to the woman’s body for nine months, and therefore she can evict it from her womb, whereas the toddler can be conceivably handed off to someone else to be looked after. How do you answer this objection?

    • Good question, Crystal. As I told somebody else on Facebook today, “It’s important to note that this “trot out the toddler” tool is not in itself a pro-life argument. It’s simply an attempt to help the pro-choice person see that there is a hidden premise in their argument, that the unborn are not persons. And I want to show them their hidden premise without being obnoxious and accusing them of question begging.”

      It’s possible that their hidden premise is not that the unborn are not persons, but instead that her bodily autonomy trumps the right of the child, even if it IS a person. And if they combine what Trent Horn calls a “right to refuse” argument with the case of rape, you have what we believe is the best argument for legal abortion. You can learn about how we respond to that by listening to the audio at this link: https://blog.equalrightsinstitute.com/dfg/

      Note that there is an important difference in the way I explain the argument in the MP3 vs the paper that we linked to. The MP3 is more recent, and includes what Tim and I now believe is an important addition to the argument, which is emphasizing the nature of direct killing vs unplugging from the violinist and letting him die of his kidney ailment.

      Here’s a way that Tim recently summarized that argument for someone:

      “I don’t think a mother is intrinsically obligated to carry her child up until birth. I know that sounds weird, but stay with me. If we could Star Trek beam the baby into an artificial womb that it could survive in, I’m fine with that. The problem is that the only alternative to her carrying her child until birth is intentionally destroying her child. Given our current technology, she has to carry the child but it’s because of the alternatives. She cannot kill the unborn child. She cannot kill a born child who wants her kidney, though she can deny the kidney. She can unplug from the violinist, she may not take a machete to him.”

      • Crystal

        Thanks for your answer; I found it very helpful in some ways.

        I have a question though: In regards to Tim’s argument, by direct killing she IS unplugging and asserting moral rights to her body! All abortion is, is a severing of attachment to the uterine wall and the unborn person will die within seconds to minutes. The thing is, I don’t know how to answer the premise that direct killing = unplugging and denying life; how can you respond to that argument?

        • I don’t think unplugging from the violinist is direct killing. It’s choosing to not save. Now, philosophers have been debating in what cases that distinction morally matters for centuries, and as you can see, it’s certainly relevant to the abortion debate. It’s often less clear whether or not it’s permissible to let someone die, but it’s far more obvious that it’s impermissible to directly kill someone. I think you can unplug from the violinist, but you can’t chop him up with a machete. The vast majority of (or all, depending on whether or not you think RU-486 is direct or indirect killing) abortions are clear cases of direct killing.

          • Crystal

            Thanks for all the answers, I’ll be sure to reread them.

            How can you unplug from the unborn person without directly killing them?

            Also what is the difference between abortion and rape? In the sense that, I have the right to use whatever lethal force necessary to rid myself of a rapist, so I have the same moral right to do this to the unborn person?

            I believe you said that unplugging, as in Thompson’s analogy, is different from direct killing in that the only way to get away from the violinist is to unplug them from you, and direct killing is not recommended, is this correct? I will have a look but I think Right to Refuse is definitely part of it.

            • “How can you unplug from the unborn person without directly killing them?”

              We’re still thinking about whether we should think of RU-486 as direct or indirect killing. Certainly all of the other abortion procedures are obvious cases of direct killing, and unplugging from the violinist is an obvious case of letting die.

              “Also what is the difference between abortion and rape? In the sense that, I have the right to use whatever lethal force necessary to rid myself of a rapist, so I have the same moral right to do this to the unborn person?”

              Based on the last part of your question, I’m guessing that you meant pregnancy instead of abortion. In other words, what is the difference between pregnancy and rape? Is that correct? If not, can you clarify?

              Your summary doesn’t seem to get at what I was saying, so I’ll try to rephrase for clarity. Unplugging from the violinist is not direct killing. Direct killing is always wrong outside of crazy extreme circumstances like self-defense. Abortion is either always or usually (depending on your view of RU-486) an act of direct killing.

              • Crystal

                I’m not even sure what RU-486 is, but I suppose I should google it!

                I mean, pregnancy and rape, yes.

                “Your summary doesn’t seem to get at what I was saying, so I’ll try to rephrase for clarity.”

                I’ll answer this part later because I think it requires a little thought at least; please try to get back to me tomorrow around the same time as you’ve been commenting today as it seems we’re both *very* busy (I can sympathise with your schedule as I have a hectic one myself).

                • No, I don’t think I’ll be able to come back this week. I’ll try to get back to you next week.

                  • Crystal

                    Okay then.

                    I hope you won’t consider this rude but can you give me a day, like Tuesday for instance, because I want to know exactly when to expect you next if possible and absolutely put your family first!

                    • Unfortunately I can’t predict right now how often and when I can come back. It’ll be a reply so hopefully you’ll get a notification in your Disqus account.

                    • Crystal

                      I don’t have an account due to unusual circumstances but I will watch the Internet like a hawk so I will do well :)

            • Elizabeth Doecke

              Hi Crystal

              Just saw your comment about pregnancy and rape, and lethal force. It’s something that I’ve considered too, because I think it’s a very provocative argument and a reasonable question to ask. I’m not saying that I have a definitive answer on it, but below is a link to the blog posts I’ve written on it (in a as-yet unfinished series, as I still need to write the concluding post).

              https://elizabethprolife.wordpress.com/2015/07/26/unwanted-pregnancy-self-defence-the-rape-comparison-part-i/

              Hope it can be of some use to you.

              PS Just read your story in the comment you linked. Thank you so much for sharing.

              • Crystal

                Hi Elizabeth

                I’m very busy right now but I will certainly read your link when I can. I saw that you disallowed comments on your forum so if we want to talk more about your position would you mind doing it either here or at SPL, as I feel uncomfortable using email at the present time due to very unusual circumstances. When I’ve read it I’ll post my thoughts below your comment.

                As for my story, thank you for appreciating it and I hope it will be useful in helping other people struggling with the same fear.

                Thank you for your kind and helpful comment :)

                • Elizabeth Doecke

                  Hi Crystal

                  I’ll keep an eye on the comments here, as I think it’s less likely to get hijacked than over at SPL :).

                  • Crystal

                    You’re right to assume that your comments won’t be highjacked very much if at all on Josh’s site. He has a very strict commenting policy and he puts up with no nonsense.

                  • Crystal

                    I wanted to start out by saying that I appreciated your writing; I can see you put a lot of thought into your points. I read the article you posted and the two proceeding ones as well. I will find them most helpful when discussing this issue with legal abortion advocates that I respect in the future. Thanks for writing all of those; I have your website in my files for future reading.

                    A few points that I hear objections to are the following:

                    Article 1 – they might shoot back “but its intentions don’t matter! What about if a rapist raped you due to the influence of mind-altering drugs or a computer simulation (see Divergent for latter example where Four tries to attack Tris due to an injection); you would *still* have a right to defend yourself using lethal force; therefore, intentions are irrevelant”

                    Article 2 – Involuntarily by means of biology doesn’t matter; it’s still an intruder and you have a right to eject it; also consider that every single pregnancy is potentially life-threatening because anything can go wrong in a pregnancy at any time

                    Article 3 – Here you said, “In the vast majority of cases,
                    this exceeds any potential injury that the unborn child is likely to cause the pregnant woman.” I have to disagree; here is an extensive list of the damage pregnancy will potentially cause in a woman’s body:

                    http://www.thelizlibrary.org/~liz/liz/004.htm

                    Also the potential pain and complications in childbearing and afterwards, and postpartum depression:

                    http://www.birthtraumaassociation.org.uk/what_is_trauma.htm

                    http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/postpartum-depression/basics/symptoms/con-20029130

                    Based on this multiple evidence I find this sentence erroneous. I am interested in hearing your responses to the points I raised not to pick holes in your writing but rather to strengthen it.

                    I find it interesting that these people like to frame abortion as a preference, and a religious conscience issue. Savita H’s case is a prime example of this; she said that she was Hindu in a Catholic country and they were forcing their religious preferences on her. Should we apply the same
                    logic to the following:

                    Domestic violence

                    All forms of child abuse

                    Refusing medical care for child

                    Animal abuse

                    Child molestation

                    Slavery

                    Nazism

                    Racism in general

                    Sexism

                    Rape culture and rape/incest

                    Homophobia

                    Female circumcision

                    “Honour” killings

                    Torture

                    Human sacrifice

                    All murders including infanticide and forced euthanasia

                    Eugenics

                    I imagine if we did we would have a hellhole on earth!

                    Actually all these issues and many more come under the label of *human rights abuses* and it is our duty as a human society to speak out against these vile practices. Why should we not speak up when an unborn person
                    must face the knife? See, the point is that they are missing it is a human rights issue, and therefore torturing and killing the unborn person is a human rights abuse and should be referred to as such.

                    I look forward to hearing from you; thank you for sharing your hard work!

                    • Elizabeth Doecke

                      Hi Crystal

                      I want to reply when I have the time and head-space to write at least a semi-coherent response. It may be a little while, but I promise that this is on my mind and I will respond when I can.

                    • Elizabeth Doecke

                      Hi Crystal

                      I have been considering the points you raised. Thank you so much for taking the time to read and to question. What I’ve concluded may not be completely satisfying to you,but I’m honestly not sure that there’s a completely satisfying answer to be had in this case.

                      1. Intentions

                      This is the single most difficult issue I struggled with when writing the blog posts on this topic!

                      There are two things to address here. I don’t believe that a person loses the right to defend themselves from rape if the rapist is not acting with the intention to rape. However, one of the overall themes I present in my blog is that unwanted pregnancy is not the same as rape, hence this conclusion in the case of rape doesn’t warrant the same conclusion in the case of unwanted pregnancy. The second thought I had on the topic was that the lack of malicious intent does two things; (a) raise the bar for the ‘harm’ that is responded to, and (b) place a duty upon the defender to inflict as little harm as possible in their defence.

                      A. Raise the bar for ‘harm’: we accept that rape is inherently harmful by its very nature, but the same is not universally accepted for unwanted pregnancy. Hence, that harm that is inflicted through unwanted pregnancy should be shown to reach a standard that justifies the application of lethal force to the unborn child. Unfortunately for the pro-choice position, this puts them in a place where either they need to claim that unwanted pregnancy IS inherently harmful (usually via violation of bodily autonomy, which has its own issues), or they concede that harm needs to be proven, in which case we are placing a burden on the woman in demanding that she justify herself in order to have an abortion – which is a demand most pro-choice opinions I have come across seem to abhor.

                      To place it in the analogy, we might lethally defend against a non-culpable person to protect ourselves from rape, but would the same be justified if we knew the the attack would result in nothing more than a cut on the arm?

                      B. Place a duty upon the defender: as the attacker is non-culpable, the punitive aspect of self-defence no longer applies, and some of the justification is removed. If a person could defend themselves against rape by a non-culpable person by incapacitating them rather than killing them, it seems unquestionable that that is what they ought to do. Admittedly, unwanted pregnancy cannot usually be ended before ex-utero viability except by the death of the unborn child, but given that the harm of the pregnancy seems to mostly relate to post-birth effects (with the exception of tokophobia and other medical conditions), a mitigated response that would defend against most harm would be adoption.

                      2. Intruder
                      I could be reading this wrong, but this seems to relate to the idea of bodily autonomy as akin to property rights? If so, the right to eject an intruder from your property certainly exists, but I am doubtful that it extends to the right to kill them first in order to do it.

                      3. Injury
                      Without trying to minimise what women go through in pregnancy and childbirth (some of which I am acquainted with personally), I stand by what I said. Put bluntly, the chance of dying as a direct result of pregnancy are 0.0083% where I live, whereas the the chance of the unborn child dying in an abortion, by violent and potentially painful means, are 100% (with some rare exceptions).

                      Whatever injury the women receives must always be balanced against the fact that abortion inflicts the greatest injury of all; deprivation of life.

                      I find it heartbreaking that obstetric care is so poor in so many areas that women still frequently die from complications of pregnancy and childbirth. Members of my family have personally worked in developing countries in this area. But I don’t see the the death of the unborn child as a solution to this issue. Rather, we should be support the extension of good medical care into every area of the globe.

                      If someone has a pre-existing condition that would endanger them during pregnancy, than I would say that they do have an obligation not to get pregnant. If a condition occurs during pregnancy, such as eclampsia or ectopic pregnancy, that necessitates an immediate end to the pregnancy in order to protect the life of the mother, than the principle of double effect comes into play.

                      Thank you again. I’m sorry it took me a little while to respond. Between family and study, I have a pretty crazy schedule :).

                      I completely agree with you that it is a human rights issue. I wish more people would realise this.

                  • Crystal

                    I completely understand, thank you.

      • Crystal

        “We should surround this woman with love and the kinds of resources she needs.”

        I have a friend that suffers from depression, and some of the drugs she takes are the best for her condition but would not be safe during pregnancy (BTW some people’s depression is so bad that they sometimes spend half the day in bed); how can such a situation be resolved without resorting to abortion?

        • I’m so sorry to hear about your friend. Depression is a very real, and very ugly illness that many people in our society treat as merely having the temporary blues. It’s far worse than that for many people.

          I believe people who take medication that is unsafe for an unborn child have a moral obligation to not get pregnant. This isn’t that bizarre an idea either. For example, you cannot take Accutane unless you pass a pregnancy test AND are using TWO forms of birth control for 30 days before beginning to use Accutane, and for 30 days after ending the use of Accutane. You even have to be on birth control if you’ve had your tubes tied! (Source: http://www.rxlist.com/accutane-drug/patient-how-to-take.htm) The reason is because Accutane is so dangerous for unborn children. I think this is reasonable.

          • Crystal

            I appreciate your sympathy for depressed people :)

            I agree that they have a moral obligation not to get pregnant, but does that moral obligation equal not having sex at all?

            Also, supposing she only became aware she was pregnant recently and she has to make a choice between taking those helpful drugs and allowing life to the unborn and possibly crashing emotionally, what then?

            I remember asking you once, what about tokophobia? How do you deal with that?

            I hope you don’t mind all the questions but I am trying to find answers so I can answer more constructively.

            • Sorry for the brevity here. I need to get to a few projects, but want to give you some kind of answer, even if it’s not as detailed as I would like right now.

              “I agree that they have a moral obligation not to get pregnant, but does that moral obligation equal not having sex at all?”

              I think she would have to decide which family planning options don’t violate her conscience. That could be using various contraceptive methods or if she is uncomfortable with all of those methods, abstaining from the kind of sexual activity that can result in the creation of a child.

              “Also, supposing she only became aware she was pregnant recently and she has to make a choice between taking those helpful drugs and allowing life to the unborn and possibly crashing emotionally, what then?”

              My first recommendation would be that she asks her doctor for anti-depressants that won’t harm the child, of which there are many. According to the Mayo Clinic, that list would include:

              – Certain selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). SSRIs are generally considered an option during pregnancy, including citalopram (Celexa), fluoxetine (Prozac) and sertraline (Zoloft).
              – Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). SNRIs are also considered an option during pregnancy, including duloxetine (Cymbalta) and venlafaxine (Effexor XR).
              – Bupropion (Wellbutrin). This medication is used for both depression and smoking cessation. Although bupropion isn’t generally considered a first line treatment for depression during pregnancy, it might be an option for women who haven’t responded to other medications or those who want to use it for smoking cessation as well.
              – Tricyclic antidepressants. This class of medications includes amitriptyline and nortriptyline (Pamelor). Although tricyclic antidepressants aren’t generally considered a first line or second line treatment, they might be an option for women who haven’t responded to other medications.

              Source: http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/pregnancy-week-by-week/in-depth/antidepressants/art-20046420

              I’m not sure what the best treatments are for tokophobia. I certainly know tokophobic people who’ve gone through pregnancy and childbirth without aborting their child. I would recommend a tokophobic person to educate themselves on the issue, and make a decision about whether or not they should be using contraceptive methods to prevent pregnancy. If they are unwilling to carry a living child to term without killing it because of their fear of pregnancy or childbirth, I think they also need to be using birth control or abstaining from the kinds of activites that lead to living children.

              • Crystal

                Thanks; I will respond to this comment more properly later. Please get back when you can.

                I am a recovering tokophobic; please read my story and tell me your thoughts on it. I hesitate to share it because it is so personal but here it is:

                http://blog.secularprolife.org/2015/10/i-am-equal-not-same.html#comment-2309219176

                • I read it. Thank you for sharing such a personal part of your story. :)

                  • Crystal

                    It was my pleasure and I’m glad you found it meaningful so thank you for acknowledging it. I hope it helps someone else and I hoped it helped you understand how to help tokophobics better, and why I find these women’s issues related to this topic so very important. Compassion is key!

              • gladys1071

                Yes but if birth control fails, a person should still not be forced to gestate against their will. I have been careful to not get pregnant, but if i did by accident, i would most CERTAINLY abort as soon as i found out i was pregnant. I have no moral qualms to say that i refuse to gestate a pregnancy, and i don’t feel guilty for feeling that way. I have a right to say what grows in my uterus, just because birth control failed or i choose to have sex without protection DOES NOT mean i lose the rights to my body and uterus.

        • Dee

          I find that unusual. I suffered from depression during pregnancy and took many types of anti-depressants, so there are safe alternatives. I have also found non medical treatment that focuses more on changing thinking and the situation someone is in to be very effective when done right.

          • Wholovesorangesoda

            One of my serious concerns are what to do if a woman because physical ly threatening to herself if she is denied an abortion– like attempting suicide or attempting to induce abortions.

            Like do we give em powerful meds? Do we tie em down and maybe force a feeding tube down their throats if they refuse to eat to inducs ( Y case in Ireland, WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT THE Y CASE IN IRELAND).

            It also makes me wonder…how can we say psychologically speaking that her suicidal ideation or psychosis is not caused from the pregnancy itself and rather caused by some way that she is internalizing her situation?

            • Hi, Wholovesorangesoda.

              “One of my serious concerns are what to do if a woman because physically threatening to herself if she is denied an abortion”

              I also have a problem about that, and in a comment above I suggest that she should not always be denied. I’d like to know what you think of that comment.

              “CASE IN IRELAND”

              I haven’t looked deeply into the facts of the case, but I find that the Wikipedia article “Death of Savita Halappanavar” paints the Irish anti-abortion laws prevailing at that time in a much more innocent light than does most mainstream-media coverage of the story.

              (And even if the Irish anti-abortion laws prevailing at that time were to blame for the death, it would not mean that all possible anti-abortion laws would have to be so ham-handed.)

              • Wholovesorangesoda

                Look up the Y case (young Muslim girl who was suicidal). It is a MUST.

                I think we need to talk about the roughest cases that come out. When we do we will build a much stronger base for our beleifs.

                • Thanks. I had thought your “Y” was some computer-generated error and that you were referring to the Savita case. Okay, I’ll look for a chance to look up Y.

            • Dee

              I don’t know. But let me tell you a story.
              A woman is raped by a man. He is charged but he gets away without penalty due to a technicality. The woman threatens to kill herself if he is not thrown in prison. Can we go ahead and throw him in prison just because she threatens suicide? What if she wants him dead? Can we kill him to make her happy? And we’re talking about a rapist, not an innocent and defenseless human being who had no choice in the situation.

              • Wholovesorangesoda

                No, we couldn’t do that to him. This has nothing to do with pregnancy, however.

                In the suicide case of the pregnant woman, she is NOT disconnected from the fetus, and in the most intimate way.

                • Dee

                  No but it still involves violating ones human rights because someone else threatened suicide. Point is suicide threats very rarely get you what you want, especially if what you want is violence.

                  After my first suicide attempt i threatened to kill myself if they kept me in the hospital. I didn’t get what I wanted, i was simply put into lock ward.

                  • Wholovesorangesoda

                    You’ve been suicidal too, huh. Nothing like it is there?

                    But what our we supposed to do when they are trying to self inflict?

                    • Dee

                      Well I guess we do the same thing we do when anyone else tries to kill themselves. Commit them to a mental hospital until they are no longer a risk.

                    • Wholovesorangesoda

                      Have you looked up the Y case in Ireland. She was already in a hospital from my understanding.

                      I’d like to know what we are supposed to do in these kinds of specific situations.

                  • Thanks for sharing your experience.

                    Let’s take the threats as such out of the picture and suppose that the pregnancy is in fact driving her to suicide, and that we can know that. Such a tendency in her may qualify as unbalanced, but suppose it’s simply the reality. Shall society force her to use her own body in a way that drives her to suicide? I ask that just as an ethical and humanitarian question — apart from the fact that if we do drive her to suicide before the baby is viable, we won’t have helped the baby.

                    (Such a scenario could occur without rape also, but would probably be much less likely.)

                    • Dee

                      If we had a way of knowing the pregnancy was directly the cause of her suicidal tendencies and there was no treatment, then it would fall under the threat to life exception, not the rape exception. Still I don’t see how pregnancy could be the direct cause of suicidal tendency.

                    • “it would fall under the threat to life exception, not the rape exception”

                      I agree that the rape as such is not what would justify the exception that I propose. In my first comment on this page, I wrote:

                      “To me, we shouldn’t force a woman who has been raped to carry a pregnancy if it looks like that will cause a mental breakdown in her, underlain by the rape trauma (or even force a woman who hasn’t been raped to carry a pregnancy if it looks like that will cause a mental breakdown underlain by something else, or cause a physical breakdown).”

                      So the rape as such is not the issue. But since I think that a degree of distress less than that involved in committing suicide could also justify the exception, I don’t call it a threat-to-life exception. I once mentioned to you a blog post of mine “Dismantling the Bodily-Rights Argument without Using the Responsibility Argument.” There I used the word “distress exception.”

                      As regards “a way of knowing” what someone’s genuine inner thoughts are, I think that some neuroscientists already say that functional magnetic resonance imaging is more reliable as a lie detector than a polygraph. And in a theoretical future, it might be possible for neuroscience to know a person’s every thought.

                      In the absence of such technology, I think we should first just agree that in principle it’s wrong to force a woman to use her body in way that will cause her to have some kind of breakdown. Then secondly, agree that if we can’t reliably identify the genuine cases, we will have to err either on the side of wronging some pregnant women or wronging some of the unborn. Then thirdly, experiment with allowing a distress exception (thus erring in the latter way, hoping that we won’t err by much), and see how it seems to be working out.

                      Once there is even one unwanted pregnancy, there is rarely going to be any perfectly happy outcome. We have to choose among the evils.

                    • Dee

                      Ok. But if I say bring my aborted baby back or I will kill myself, and you can prove it is causing me genuine distress that could only be resolved by giving me what I want then what would you do?

                      I would hope you would just continue to give me therapy and support because bringing my baby back would be impossible, just like doctors planning to kill a defenseless human being should be.

                    • “doctors planning to kill a defenseless human being should be [impossible].”

                      It seems that your and my moral intuitions about some cases differ a little. Various logical arguments and thought experiments might move you toward a moral intuition more like mine, or might move me toward a moral intuition more like yours, but not reliably, because we don’t know what logic, if any, our moral intuitions are based on in the first place. Our moral intuitions come out of our unconsciouses in some way we cannot understand.

                      Some logic:

                      Various pro-choicers have probably asked you whether you think a person other than a pregnant woman should be forced to let their body organs be taken or used in some way if that is the only way to keep another person alive. You have probably replied no, am I correct? I also reply no to such questions.

                      Well, to qualify it a little regarding how I reply, I say that Shimp, for instance, should not have been dragged to the hospital and his bone marrow removed forcibly, but I say that he should have been sentenced to a lot of community service for refusing to help McFall. But still, I do reply no to the question “Should he have been dragged to the hospital?” I feel that he has bodily rights, and while they are not unlimited, I feel they should not be violated to that extent.

                      I feel that a pregnant woman’s bodily rights should not be violated to the extent of forcing her to let her body be used in a way that will cause great suffering to her.

                      Normally anyone has the right to refuse to let their body be used by anyone else. That is the default position regarding bodily rights. According to my moral intuitions, the value of an unborn child’s life is so great that it should override what would normally be the woman’s bodily rights. But it cannot override those rights if that will cause great suffering for her.

                      There. Did that move you toward a moral intuition more like mine?

                    • Dee

                      But in cases of organ donation that persons entire existence has not been dependent on the other person. They have not through an act of nature, that occurs in every single human being on this planet, been put into that situation. It is more synonymous with conjoined twins than organ donation. And a doctor will not seperate conjoined twins resulting in the certain death of one knowing that in 9 months time they can both live normal seperate lives. Hell a doctor will not deliberately kill any non consentimg human being whose condition is improving daily.

                      Can you give me an example of a dr ever killing a non consenting human being who was improving daily? Or of seperating conjoined twins prematurely when waiting a little longer would mean survival and quality of life for both?

                    • Thanks. I basically agree with everything in your first paragraph.

                      But regarding “seperating conjoined twins prematurely when waiting a little longer would mean survival and quality of life for both,” let’s go back a month ago to when you wrote:

                      “If we had a way of knowing the pregnancy was directly the cause of
                      her suicidal tendencies and there was no treatment, then it would fall
                      under the threat to life exception . . .”

                      We were talking about a situation where waiting will not mean survival and quality of life for both, rather the woman will commit suicide.

                      What I replied, a month ago, was:

                      “. . . I think that a degree of distress less than that involved in committing suicide could also justify the exception . . .”

                      If I understand correctly, our only disagreement is about whether only life-of-the-mother should justify the exception, or some other form of extreme distress should also justify the exception.

                      (There are some who would say that even life-of-the-mother should not justify the exception, if the life is to be lost by suicide rather than by natural death. I think they would argue that it would unfortunately be better for society to let a few people commit suicide, rather than for society to invite many suicide threats that are in fact bluffs. They would say, “We have to call people’s bluffs” — knowing that in a few cases it will not be a bluff and a suicide will really result.)

                    • Dee

                      Just wanted to add people threaten suicide if they don’t get the babies back that they aborted too. I should know. How do we help those women??

          • Hypatia

            Was the non medical treatment cognitive behavioural therapy? I have read it can be really helpful for depression sufferers

            • Dee

              Yes. I also made big life style changes. Moved away from negative influences and found something that i loved doing to occupy me.

              • Hypatia

                Good luck , glad your on the mend . I have had CBT and if definetly helped

                • Crystal

                  Hi, Hypatia; I saw some of your comments on Rawstory, on this article:

                  http://www.rawstory.com/2016/03/christian-blogger-pro-choice-women-need-to-be-reminded-men-are-supposed-to-be-leaders-on-abortion/comments/

                  Firstly I agree that men being leaders on abortion is bizarre! This isn’t their issue to take from us and say “You will do as we tell you!”, although I do think they have the right to express what they believe about abortion just as much as any other topic. For two reasons:

                  1) I believe more often than not guys encourage their girlfriends to abort only; one common phrase is “get rid of it”
                  2) I think that an egalitarian approach to the issue where everyone’s viewpoint matters will solve this issue better, as the input of both father and mother is equally valuable IMO

                  Secondly, I hope this isn’t rude of me but I did see what you said about what happened to one of your friends on LAN. Personally, I advise against your commenting on LAN and sticking to websites that encourage debate in a civil manner; as far as I have observed, it is the PL equivalent of RHRC. Please let me explain.

                  I would not do well on RHRC because as a PL person I would be getting into the sharks and jets mentality and would be eaten alive; I am not prepared to damage myself emotionally at a place like that. It would be similar to LAN for you, although if you wish to comment there I could help offer a few tips to attempt to make your commenting sessions there smoother as I believe I understand their mindset fairly well; would you find such input helpful?

                  Last but not least I appreciate your friendship and if I have offended or overstepped my boundaries in any way I would like to be told, and I humbly apologise in advance.

                  • Hypatia

                    Thanks for the lovely comment Crystal, you have put a smile on my face this morning . You have certainly not overstepped our friendship boundaries I am always interested in constructive opinions .
                    Your right about LAN and RHRC , that’s why I tried to stand up for a prolifer getting attacked in Raw Story it’s not good enough for me to moan when LAN do it and not to also condemn my own side . Thanks for offering tips but I am not a masochist an apart from the very occasional brief comment I won’t be posting on LAN .
                    Regarding what you are saying about men and women both having input into a pregnancy I agree they should both have a say . I can’t agree that the fathers input holds the same weight as the women as she has to go through with the pregnancy .Have you seen this proposal for financial abortions for men in Europe? It won’t happen but it’s interesting http://observer.com/2016/03/equality-or-irresponsibility-liberal-swedes-call-for-legal-abortion-for-men/.

                    Lastly RHRC has not stopped taking comments so I am not sure where people can debate rather than here ( thanks to Josh’s graciousness ) or maybe Secular prolife.
                    On a NZ note I have been watching this silly but fun TV show called iZombie and the lead actress Rose McIver is from NZ. She has to act like a completely different person in each episode , and she is just great .
                    Take care x

                    • Crystal

                      I’m happy to know I cheered you up, Hypatia. I didn’t like what happened on LAN; I was sorry for it because I know you well enough to know you meant no harm. Also thank you for sticking up for a PL person; that shows character on your part and I would act the same if a respectful legal abortion advocate was being swooped down on by PLers. Quite a few legal abortion advocates would have just attacked the PL person without listening to a word they had to say :(

                      I hope I am going to approach the next paragraph as sensitively and gently as possible as I want to be sure this is a constructive opinion, and if what I say is anything but sensitive and respectful I want to know about it: I think I know why they did it, and I am going to explain their reasoning on this one because it’s something you need to know for future discussions with PL people especially as I grew up PL and I believe I have a good understanding of PL belief and ways; although I am by no means defending what
                      happened to you and certainly *not* blaming you for what occurred, and I hope my next paragraph does not read as a defence but rather as an explanation. The article you commented on discussed a very recent miscarriage. In *their* minds, your original comment about baby Noah (I think that’s the little chap’s name) not being a person was insensitive towards a grieving mother and needed to be challenged; hence the outpouring of wrath you received from some of the commenters (although I know you well enough to know you were simply stating your view, and you had no intention of causing offence by your comment so was saddened to see you get attacked). The thing is, to a PL person, a human being is a person from the moment of conception (zygote) and for anyone to say otherwise when a mother has just miscarried is denying the humanity of the child that mother lost; and that will upset some of them because in *their* minds they are siding with the perspective of the mother against anyone questioning the child’s personhood. From my understanding of the way PL people think, I believe the best times to state such an opinion are basically anytime except when people are expressing outrage over an abortion, or a multitude of them, or when people are discussing a miscarriage; philosophy on when human life begins is an excellent place to state your opinion, for instance. I tell you this so that you know for the future; I hope you found this helpful and that I showed sensitivity to your situation as well, as you handled the attacks you did receive very well I thought. I have every intention of expounding the PL mindset to you when it comes to these kinds of situations in the future as well, if you run into problems again (This, I hope, will be a helpful tip for when you comment at LAN).

                      I have spoken to fellow PL people to encourage them on websites that are not friendly to the PL position. I am doing the same for you as I want you to do well, Hypatia.

                      When you comment at LAN, be careful. Some people are just looking for someone to pick on and I think that’s wrong. I advise you to stay away from mean and vitriolic commenters and stick to civil people. If you have problems,
                      don’t hesitate to speak to the moderators: Dannicus Awesomus is a good person to discuss run-ins with although I personally have never said a word to him.

                      Another point – if anyone is rude to you, the best thing to do is to say something like “I would like very much to have a civil discussion with you on this issue, but if you keep making jabs at me like this I am afraid it will be impossible”* and don’t stay around, and don’t respond to rude comments in your inbox; just delete the comments if you can. One of the hardest lessons I had to learn in the past was not to respond to rude people, because replying to cutting comments (especially if you are a people-pleaser and trying to be civil) practically drains the life out of you emotionally.

                      *BTW that is Josh Brahm’s suggestion for rude individuals; I have tried it and it works wonders … in some cases:

                      blog.equalrightsinstitute.com/dont-be-too-nice/

                      Try sticking to civil commenters; like in all other forums, there are reasonable and rude people. For instance, I have spoken to Javelina Harker and I have a high regard for her; she is such a nice person! She will be civil and respectful towards you though she will disagree with quite a bit of what you say. Also, people like Paul and Jed might be good to chat with (they have been kind to me) although I believe Javelina Harker is one of the best people there.

                      I will offer more tips for your occasional times you comment at LAN but I think you are wise to stay off there most of the time. I think it’s a safe space for PL people and if the moderators made that clearer everyone would be much happier.

                      In regards to men and women having a say on abortion I can understand your position, and why you hold it. What do you think about this article Josh Brahm wrote about men stating their opinion on abortions:

                      blog.equalrightsinstitute.com/responding-to-the-astute-observation-that-i-am-a-man/

                      Also I am curious as to why you think the financial abortion proposal is interesting?

                      No, I hadn’t heard of the proposal in Sweden before you showed me, but since I have heard of that now here’s what I think of it. In a way it would be a good thing because the men could be more honest about their responsibilities as parents. On the other hand I think it is a terrible measure – men should financially support the women they get pregnant; it’s their responsibility and duty. Since they don’t carry the child for nine months they shouldn’t get a free pass; I think that is highly unfeminist. 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)

                      Yes, Josh Brahm is a gracious person. You did well to recommend his site and SPL; I think they are the best chances for civil discussion on the matter out there. Also quite a few of the people on TFA (the Friendly Atheist) have been very respectful and understanding to me on this issue despite our passionate disagreements, although a handful of people do not like my views on this or me for it, and I accept either reaction although I am sad about the latter as I feel part of their dislike is my fault (not all of it, on some issues pertaining to this I continue to hold the viewpoint I have with good reason) due to my lack of knowing or coming to the understanding of some of the things I know now about how to approach issues like this, so although my intentions were good I made serious blunders in judgment in some cases :(

                      I will discuss this comment later but you said here, “It’s just thr rudeness on both sides that frustrates me I think you need to try and understand the other sides viewpoints without resorting to ad hominem attacks and slurs . Your one of the few prolife online people I know that can do that!”

                      I can assure you I also find the rudeness frustrating especially when one party is trying to be civil to the other cursing them, regardless of which side they stand on. Thank you for the kind words, and I appreciate that you also don’t resort to ad homs and slurs but care about politeness, like I do. I totally agree with your first sentence;
                      for, if we as PL people are to deal with the problem of abortion we need to properly understand why people hold a different view from us. That doesn’t mean we need to agree but I do think we need to know what we’re talking about rather than making things up about the opposition’s opinions out of thin air.

                      I think we’ve both found that Josh Brahm’s site has the express design of fostering understanding between the two sides so that “prolifers can be more persuasive and less weird” when they communicate. I really appreciate Josh’s work because this is one of the few sites where rudeness is not tolerated in the least and I feel safe here.

                      I have never seen iZombie; thanks for telling me about the lead actress! I’d love to know what it’s about? Also one thing I really enjoy of British culture is the English BBC classics – Pride and Prejudice, Cranford, Daniel Deronda, etc. The British authors and the BBC presentations of those classic works are so meaningful to me.

                      You also take care my friend, X

                    • Hypatia

                      Ki Ora Crystal , thanks for posting such a well thought out response. I know I say this all the time in our friendship but its near bedtime for me and lunchtime for you. I need to think about the clear and honest response you deserve. Thanks for the input about baby Noah, I can see why I have agitated a few people ,but to hurt someone deliberately is anathema to me. I believe one poster said how can pro-choicers not see the foetus as a child so I posted my comment because of my own beliefs . Anyway enjoy you Thursday x

                    • Crystal

                      Thanks, Hypatia.

                      Gentle correction: it’s Kia Ora.

                      “I believe one poster said how can pro-choicers not see the foetus as a child so I posted my comment because of my own beliefs .”

                      I completely understand where you are coming from too, thanks for the explanation of why you did it so I know better. I also knew your purpose was not to agitate or hurt people but simply to state your opinion so it was distressing to see you being piled on like that. Please enjoy your Thursday too, it’s nearly Easter here; have a good one.

                    • Hypatia

                      iPhone fingers ! Not great for spelling ! Happy Easter

                    • Crystal

                      I completely understand about the iPhones.

                    • Crystal

                      Please have a Happy Easter too Hypatia.

                • Crystal

                  Another thing – I hope that I was respectful and sensitive in my long reply to you regarding your Rawstory comments; I didn’t read everything you wrote before posting but what I did read told me you were deeply frustrated. Also I missed that you commented on LAN and your responses were not well-received – I saw that after I’d posted the long comment up and I wanted to say I am sorry about that especially as I read your original responses where you were attacked, and they were not rude and hostile at all.

                  • Hypatia

                    Yep, I do get frustrated ! I have been posting about this issue for about a year and I know I don’t comment that often . It’s just thr rudeness on both sides that frustrates me
                    I think you need to try and understand the other sides viewpoints without resorting to ad hominem attacks and slurs . Your one of the few prolife online people I know that can do that!

                    It’s like yesterday’s terrorist attacks . It’s not good enough to just condemn these terrorists we need to know why they think they are justified and what appeal terrorism has for them . To be honest I think some people in the abortion debate don’t really want to understand or compromise they just want to make the opposite group into others . Reminds me of in-groups and out groups https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ingroups_and_outgroups

  • Dee

    The response i get to killing the toddler is usually “but she can put him up for adoption”. Which is true in most circumstances,;but is also contradictory to another (much weaker) argument from pro choicers that adopted children feel abandoned and are better off dead.

    Also the law requires the child to be left in a safe place. The child cannot be killed just because no safe place is available, and not everyone has access to a safe place to leave their child immediately.

    If a parent is living in isolation or off the grid and it will take weeks or months to hand the child to someone else, it is still morally, and in most nations legally wrong to kill the child simply because they don’t want to exert your energy resources to take care of it. Even if they are directly using resources from their body (breastfeeding) they cannot stop feeding the child just because they don’t want to care for them.

  • A zero-sum situation is one in which if one party gains some utility, the other will lose an equal amount of utility. An unwanted pregnancy which is proposed to be resolved by abortion is one of various examples that arise in human society of a situation where if one party (in this case the mother) wins, the other party will lose bigger. I don’t know the name for that kind of situation, but we can think of various examples in human society.

    In such a situation between two innocent people (neither of whom created the situation), the most obvious moral principle for society to apply would be this principle: the decision should go against the party who will lose the least by a decision against them.

    But do we apply this principle when one of the parties has just died, without signing off as an organ donor, and the other party needs his kidney? No, we don’t.

    I don’t think I really support this social convention (prohibition on such organ harvesting from the dead), but if I understood correctly, Timothy Brahm supported it in the post on PP organ harvesting and the violinist; since it serves as a clear example for the point I’d like to make, let’s suppose that I do support it and everyone supports it.

    So we see that the “obvious” principle, the decision should go against the party who will lose the least, gets drastically derailed by another principle, bodily rights. It doesn’t get completely lost, but it is drastically affected.

    And I don’t think that it is wrong that it should get drastically affected (though the prohibition on organ harvesting from the dead may be a more extreme effect than is necessary). I think bodily rights are important.

    “People have a sense of ownership of their bodies, or rather feel possessive about their bodies. This is hardly a new observation, but it needs to be spelled out here. And due to empathy with that sense, or due to a social contract, society sometimes grants to its citizens body-related rights that are out of proportion to what a rational fairness would seem to demand – even allowing people to refuse to let their body parts be used by their living fellows after the people are dead.

    “Our sense of others’ bodily ownership rights often tips what should perhaps logically be a simple balancing of competing needs – seeing who is likely to suffer greater overall harm – in the direction of the owner of the body whose use is being demanded. That intuitive sense that we have of people’s bodily ownership rights is the whole basis of the concept of bodily rights and thus of the bodily-rights argument.
    We seem to sense that particular kinds of trespass on someone’s bodily boundaries may cause mental harm to that person disproportionate to any bodily harm, because of that person’s sense of ownership. The sense of ownership has a sort of magnifier effect.”

    On this page you have offered two possible arguments for aborting a rape pregnancy, can’t we agree that at least in the case of rape abortion should be legal because rape is so bad?, (i.e., the woman’s emotional suffering, though not as big a loss to her as the loss of the baby’s life would be to it) and (down in the comments) combining a “right to refuse” (bodily-rights) argument with the case of rape [being so bad]. (Implicitly, isn’t your above interlocutors’ can’t we agree that at least in the case of rape abortion should be legal because rape is so bad? also combined with bodily rights, such that these two arguments are really the same?)

    Now we come to your operative conclusion, Basically, we should be willing to do just about anything for this woman except kill someone. I won’t cross that line. . . . if people should be given an equal right to life because of the kind of thing they are . . .

    To me, this seems like a strict application of the decision should go against the party who will lose the least by a decision against them. But what do you think of my “So we see that the ‘obvious’ principle, the decision should go against the party who will lose the least, gets drastically derailed by another principle, bodily rights. . . . And I don’t think that it is wrong that it should get drastically affected . . .” — ?

    To me, we shouldn’t force a woman who has been raped to carry a pregnancy knowing that it will cause a mental breakdown in her underlain by the rape trauma (or even force a woman who hasn’t been raped to carry a pregnancy knowing that it will cause a mental breakdown underlain by something else, or a physical breakdown — let’s ignore for now the difficulty of determining which such cases are genuine and which aren’t). I don’t see it as strictly life versus life; because of the “magnifier effect” of bodily rights — while I don’t agree with those who say that that magnifier is so strong that any woman should be allowed to abort for any reason — for me the line is something like “A woman whose risk of grave loss of well-being is small should not be allowed to kill her unborn child” (whereas, if that risk is high, she should, sadly, have the right to kill if she wishes). There is an interplay between bodily rights and the decision should go against the party who will lose the least.

    Similarly, in the “De Facto Guardian” situation, the idea that we might prosecute a woman, already in a stressful situation, who refuses to nurse the baby when it’s painful to do so, makes me a little squeamish — if at all we go that far, we shouldn’t go further and say that she must seriously risk her life.

    I don’t see the reality of bodily rights at work at all in where you have drawn the line above, or am I wrong?

    Note that my relatively soft line does NOT imply the unborn is of less value than the woman, or has less rights, any more than refusing a dead person’s kidney to a living person who needs it implies that the living person is not fully human, or any more than the McFall v. Shimp judge thought that McFall was not fully human. People are still “given an equal right to life.” This is simply giving due weight to bodily rights.

     

    As indicated, I find “A woman whose risk of grave loss of well-being is small should not be allowed to kill her unborn child” to be a correct moral principle. Ultimately a correct moral principle can only be apprehended by a correct moral intuition. Surely our moral intuitions are determined by a weighing of factors such as I have discussed above, though unconsciously. We can also attempt to weigh such factors in a completely logical or rational, conscious, way. But since our moral intuitions come out of our unconsciouses in some way we cannot understand, we can never know for sure exactly which factors influenced those intuitions to what extent.

    • Wholovesorangesoda

      “There is an interplay between bodily rights and the decision should go against the party who will lose the least”

      Can you spell this interplay out more? I think we need to know what it is specifically.

      • If a woman wishes to abort and society’s decision goes against her, she will lose time and energy and lose something temporarily (hopefully not permanently) in terms of health — and maybe lose in terms of career. Whereas if the decision goes against the baby, it will lose its entire life.

        So according to the simple principle the decision should go against the party who will lose the least by a decision against them, society should almost always decide in favor of the baby.

        But society also values the woman’s bodily rights, so her bodily rights come into play along with that simple principle. Society might decide that though her bodily rights aren’t strong enough to permit her to refuse to lend her body for a relatively smooth pregnancy, she should be permitted to refuse to lend her body for a rough one.

        Above I’ve shown bodily rights and the decision should go against the party who will lose the least as in conflict, so why didn’t I say “conflict” instead of “interplay”?

        Normally the relation between the two is a conflict. But for example, there was a pregnant woman expected to die of cancer, and the doctors said that chemotherapy would kill the baby but would save her. Suppose the prognosis for the baby wasn’t good anyway, then the decision should go against the party who will lose the least might dictate chemotherapy. And bodily rights would also dictate that the woman had the right to kill the baby, whether by the chemotherapy or otherwise. So then there would be an interplay between the two principles that would not be a conflict.

        • Wholovesorangesoda

          I think the theory you are advocating is similar to utilitarianism?

          Losing the least…but how do we judge what is the least?

          For some people, they would rather die than be pregnant. I mean practically speaking, it seems this would allow support for unrestricted abortion as we simply couldn’t tell each case.

          • Here you haven’t disagreed with me that in principle it is wrong, even for the sake of saving a life, to violate a woman’s bodily integrity to the point that it wrecks her. (If the pregnancy will wreck her physically, at least, I might think that she should nevertheless embrace that, but I think it should be up to her.)

            And your comment to Dee about the Y case suggested that you might be in agreement with that principle.

            First, suppose we could tell in each case and act accordingly. Would that satisfy your objection?

            And if we can’t tell in each case, then I think we have to err on the side of wronging some women, or err on the side of wronging some babies. IF women are going to lie on a mass scale so that we end up wronging babies on a mass scale, I don’t think we should choose that option. But I’m not sure that that pattern would be inevitable and irremediable. We might have to just see what happens in practice.

            • Wholovesorangesoda

              I’ll agree with your basic point. Still seems so unclear as to how we get there and what it implies in the real world tho.

              Hey, and to get a little off topic there’s a nice thought project for you (if you havent seen the movie “the fly”, you MUST)

              I find anti abortion absolutism quite challenged by this dilemma. I did a little research and a blog on ethics thats already posted about it. It’s quite fascinating.

              http://ethicsalarms.com/2015/01/04/abortion-the-fly-and-the-ethics-incompleteness-theorem/

              What do you guys think about this. Abortion yay or nay or who knows? (Let me know if u have trouble with the link).

    • uninvolved

      The fact “de facto guardianship” makes you squeamish isn’t an argument against it.

      • “The fact ‘de facto guardianship’ makes you squeamish isn’t an argument against it.”

        First of all, I support and myself use in my discussions the idea of de facto guardianship.* Have you read that thought experiment by Stephen Wagner, the Brahms, et. al.? It proceeds by exploring our moral intuitions stage by stage. I was certainly on board in the early stages: I agree that we should prosecute a woman who has refused to supply an infant with baby formula. I even agree that we should prosecute a woman who has refused to breast-feed if it is painless to her. But I had written: “Similarly, in the ‘De Facto Guardian’ situation, the idea that we might
        prosecute a woman, already in a stressful situation, who refuses to
        nurse the baby when it’s painful to do so,
        makes me a little squeamish . . .” What I was saying was that I started to draw the line at the pain stage.

        * A.k.a. Minimally Decent Samaritanism.

        Secondly, let’s look at the word “squeamish,” which I think is your main focus. I had written, “Similarly . . . the idea . . . makes me a little squeamish . . .” “Similarly” refers to the preceding para, where instead of “squeamish,” I had simply said “we shouldn’t . . .” So what I mean by “squeamish” is not merely an emotion, though emotion is present in me as well, but a sense of “shouldn’t” (i.e., a moral intuition).

        If your whole point is that emotions are not moral arguments, yet you would agree that moral intuitions (senses of “should/shouldn’t,” dictates of conscience, coming out of our unconsciouses in some way we cannot understand) are moral arguments, then I think we’re in perfect agreement. The “De Facto Guardian” article itself uses the term “moral intuition,” and uses moral intuitions as arguments.

        More broadly, do you agree with my “I don’t see the reality of bodily rights at work at all in where you have drawn the line above . . .” — ?

        I just recently updated my rejection of the bodily-rights argument for abortion rights in which I proceed by analyzing the concept of bodily rights. As I write in that essay, “The bodily-rights argument for legal abortion is usually advanced through thought experiments that create analogies with pregnancy – analogies in which our sympathies will be on the side of a right to refuse to let one’s body be used. And those arguments are usually contested by showing the disanalogies between the situations of the thought experiments, and the situation of actual pregnancy. In this essay, however, the approach will be to analyze the concept of bodily rights, rather than to deal with thought experiments that elicit our intuitions about bodily rights.” I say, for instance:

        The only meaningful right that the current concept of bodily rights provides would best be termed a “right to freedom from the mental harm caused by offense to our mental sense of body ownership.”

        http://www.NoTerminationWithoutRepresentation.org/bodily-rights-and-a-better-idea/

        • uninvolved

          I believe that the de facto guardianship argument is a well formulated argument. And I see no reason to draw the line at pain. And you gave no argument to draw the line at pain.

          • “I believe that the de facto guardianship argument is a well formulated argument.”

            I agree it’s well-formulated in the sense that insofar as the argument depends on logic, the logic is valid. But the argument depends very importantly (and explicitly) on moral intuition as well as on logic. Someone could say, “According to my moral intuition, Mary has no obligation toward the child, and in fact she has the right to throw it out in the snow at the outset if she wishes.” And that would effectively undermine the argument to an extent.

            Because the argument depends very importantly on moral intuition, and moral intuitions differ, and there is no way to prove logically that one moral intuition is more correct than another.

            “And you gave no argument to draw the line at pain.”

            I did give evidence: my moral intuition. Perhaps my moral intuition should not technically be called an argument, but it is evidence of the same kind (the moral intuitions of the authors) that the conclusions of “De Facto Guardian” depend on and fail without.

            Have you given any argument for calling the de-facto-guardianship argument a well-formulated argument? No, you haven’t. But if you examine what your argument would be for saying that, I think you would agree with me: “insofar as the argument depends on logic, the logic is valid. But the argument depends very importantly (and explicitly) on moral intuition as well as on logic.”

            By the way, I did not exactly “draw the line at pain.” I first said, “the idea that we might prosecute a woman, already in a stressful situation, who refuses to nurse the baby when it’s painful to do so, makes me a little squeamish — if at all we go that far, we shouldn’t go further and say that she must seriously risk her life.”*

            Then I said, “I started to draw the line at the pain stage” (I didn’t finish drawing it).

            * I have now edited “life” to “health.”

            Do you agree with my “I don’t see the reality of bodily rights at work at all in where you have drawn the line above . . .” — ?

            • uninvolved

              “According to my moral intuition, Mary has no obligation toward the child, and in fact she has the right to throw it out in the snow at the outset if she wishes.” And that would effectively undermine the argument to an extent.

              If someone intuits that to be true they would certainly need an argument for that assertion. It’s not uncontroversial. If their argument for that assertion was valid and based on uncontroversial cases then it would undermine it. Simply stating your intuitions differ is not undermining the argument at all.

              and there is no way to prove logically that one moral intuition is more correct than another.

              If this claim were true then moral deliberation is a fool’s errand.

              Luckily, there is a method. It’s called reflective equilibrium.

              It’s not logical in the sense that it’s a form of modus ponens but it is rational method.

              I did give evidence: my moral intuition. Perhaps my moral intuition should not technically be called an argument, but it is evidence of the same kind (the moral intuitions of the authors) that the conclusions of “De Facto Guardian” depend on and fail without.

              It’s not evidence for anyone but yourself. So simply stating your intuitions doesn’t undermine the argument and it’s not evidence against it for nobody other than yourself.

              But it should worry you if you don’t have an argument that appeals to more basic principles because it’s pretty clear that “it’s permissible to let the child starve cause it hurts to feed it” is not a basic moral principle.

              Have you given any argument for calling the de-facto-guardianship argument a well-formulated argument? No, you haven’t. But if you examine what your argument would be for saying that, I think you would agree with me: “insofar as the argument depends on logic, the logic is valid. But the argument depends very importantly (and explicitly) on moral intuition as well as on logic.”

              I accept the argument. I don’t have any problems with the principles that support it. I think it’s sound.

              By the way, I did not exactly “draw the line at pain.” I first said, “the idea that we might prosecute a woman, already in a stressful situation, who refuses to nurse the baby when it’s painful to do so, makes me a little squeamish — if at all we go that far, we shouldn’t go further and say that she must seriously risk her life.”*

              It doesn’t make me squeamish. Raising children is stressful and soemtimes painful. There is no option to refuse to care for them and the pain or stress levels associated with pregnancy are nowhere near sufficient to justify letting them die. It doesn’t make squeamish at all.

              But I understand that at the point of “pain” is when we really can see a possible move by pro-choicers.

              That’s not squeamishness on my part. That’s being able to spot strategies for the people who disagree might take.

              But squeamish as in I’m unsure that the argument succeeds? Not in the least.

              • First of all, just to get some perspective for the sake of loosening up our thinking and intuiting a little: I know one intelligent pro-choicer who is a fan of reflective equilibrium. He thinks that it leads to the conclusion “Using someone’s body without consent is wrong. One may do anything necessary to prevent or escape another using their body without consent.”

                Specifically, when Timothy Brahm referred to “De Facto Guardian” in his blog post “Four Practical Dialogue Tips from My Conversation with Brent,” that person replied, “I have a copy. I use it as an example of how sadistic you ‘pro-lifers’ are.” (His comment was soon deleted.)

                I’m not an expert on reflective equilibrium, but apparently you think that reflective equilibrium would lead you to this conclusion in “De Facto Guardian”:

                “. . . Mary . . . 30 hours of difficult work shoveling snow with bare hands while clinging to the child. . . . This scenario resembles the severity of burden of a typical pregnancy, but isn’t it obvious that Mary still has a moral and legal obligation to feed the child? Yes.”

                And presumably you consider “Finding herself situated as a parent, she now shoulders the same obligations of a parent or guardian . . .” to be one of the “principles that support [the ‘De Facto Guardian’ argument in general and the above conclusion specifically]” that you “don’t have any problems with.”

                So I think you would make the statement:

                The principle “Finding herself situated as a parent, she now shoulders the same obligations of a parent or guardian . . .” and other elements, working in reflective equilibrium, establish the truth of (even if we don’t say “prove logically”) “Mary still has a moral and legal obligation to feed the child.”

                Am I correct that you would make that statement? (If not, please edit the statement, using as little editing as possible, into a statement that you would in fact make.)

                Now, I think that what more accurately describes your internal process is this (here I will slightly reword something that I wrote to you during the discussion under the “Conversation with Brent” post):

                After being exposed to the principle “Finding herself situated as a parent, she now shoulders the same obligations of a parent or guardian . . .” along with other elements, I newly found within me a pre-logical moral intuition underlying a moral principle “Mary still has a moral and legal obligation to feed the child.” So it seems to me that probably my moral intuition is using that “situated as a parent” logic. But since my moral intuition is itself pre-logical, I don’t know for sure what its provenance is. Ultimately it came out of my unconscious in some way I can’t completely understand.

                Would you agree that that more accurately describes your internal process?

                 

                “It’s not evidence for anyone but yourself.”

                Then are the moral intuitions of the authors of “De Facto Guardian” that their conclusions depend on evidence for anyone but themselves?

                • uninvolved

                  It’s really unhelpful in a normative discussion to constantly move into the domain of meta-ethics. I read your comments and you do that quite a lot.

                  You cultivate counter-productive red herrings. And you blast people with walls of text which lead people down threads that are irrelevant.

                  I won’t indulge it.

                  • Crystal

                    I won’t get into an argument on Josh’s blog but I will say this – Acyutananda wasn’t doing anything wrong at all. It’s just the way his mind works. Perhaps you should accept that before popping off at him about the metaphysical.

                    • uninvolved

                      I didn’t say it was “wrong.” I said it was unhelpful.

                    • Crystal

                      Sure you did, pal. Acyutananda is a brilliant man with a brilliant mind and it’s my pleasure to converse with him whether we agree or not, although you might think otherwise. He’s respectful, gentlemanly, and charitable; and he forgave me for some unintentional insult that I gave him by not asking about one of his arguments before becoming impassioned about it. In short, he is a very nice man; I like him and I like the way he argues. Politeness costs nothing.

                    • uninvolved

                      I’m sure he’s very bright and kind. I never said he wasn’t.

                    • Thanks.

                      When I first saw uninvolved’s “It’s really unhelpful” post, I felt there was nothing I could honestly reply that would not uselessly irritate him, so I just dropped the matter. But now I have decided to reply to him with a one-sentence question. (Please see above.)

                      I didn’t understand uninvolved’s two criticisms of me in his second paragraph, and would have asked him for examples, but as I say, it didn’t seem like the right time for that.

                      Regarding his first paragraph: What he means is that he and I were having a normative discussion (a discussion about shoulds and shouldn’ts), and that I brought up meta-ethics (“meta-ethics” means “How does anyone ever know, in the first place, what should be and what shouldn’t be?”).

                      But it seems to me that almost our entire discussion had already been in the domain of meta-ethics. It seems to me that I had not moved into a new domain, but rather had disagreed with his meta-ethical idea (the idea that it is possible to prove the correctness of a moral intuition through a rational method).

                      By the way, I understand “unhelpful” to mean “doing the opposite of helping,” and that is certainly a kind of wrong.

                    • Crystal

                      That’s okay.

                      I haven’t read all your conversation but personally I find De Facto Guardian barf inducing, period. While I tend to share your view on drawing the line at the pain stage, I also think two things: emotional stress is important, and if a man were stuck in that cabin and didn’t feed with formula, etc, he also should be prosecuted. Fair is fair.

                      I don’t argue that rape babies should not be aborted. What I argue with is forcing women to carry them – see alternative technologies for a solution to this problem and many others like it.

                      The sad part is, it’s a shame we have to make up arguments to traumatise women when rape is bad enough. I’m passionately for saving the lives of rape babies (see Rebecca Kiessling) and I also think that bodily autonomy is important. I don’t think abortion is the answer to that particular bodily autonomy dilemma but I do think something needs to be done to ensure the woman’s bodily autonomy rights are not violated. It’s not fair that pain is of little concern to people making up arguments etc. It makes me angry. It has to stop and we have to change.

                    • “personally I find De Facto Guardian barf inducing”

                      Under the first of the “Brent” articles a while back, Timothy Brahm wrote: “While my views have evolved a bit since we published the paper two and a half years ago, I still think it’s the best pro-life essay currently out there on responding to bodily rights arguments.”

                      I’d like to know how his views have evolved, maybe you would too.

                      “and if a man were stuck in that cabin and didn’t feed with formula, etc, he also should be prosecuted. Fair is fair.”

                      The authors used a woman for their example in order to better make certain points, but that doesn’t mean that they would disagree with you about a man. I’m sure they would agree.

                      This —

                      “What I argue with is forcing women to carry [rape babies] – see alternative
                      technologies for a solution to this problem”

                      — if there are no alternative technologies presently available — seems inconsistent with this —

                      “I’m passionately for saving the lives of
                      rape babies”

                      — and other things I’ve heard you say. If a woman wants to abort a rape baby and there are no alternative technologies presently available, should we try to stop her, or not?

                      ” I do think something needs to be done to ensure the woman’s bodily autonomy rights are not violated.”

                      Her real bodily-autonomy rights, I agree. I think that current bodily-autonomy thinking is defective, but think there is a moral truth underlying such thinking — the truth that we have a psychological sense of body ownership that should be respected. I have thought about this here:

                      http://www.NoTerminationWithoutRepresentation.org/bodily-rights-and-a-better-idea/

                    • Crystal

                      I agree with most of your points. You said something I don’t agree with: that my belief that women should not be forced to carry rape babies is inconsistent with saying that I’m for saving the lives of rape babies. For the present, I would stick with the traditional prolife view on abortion in the case of rape but what I’m trying to say is, can’t we do better than this? Can’t we accept the opposition’s view on bodily autonomy *enough* to ensure that unborn persons are saved *and* women’s right not to carry is respected, all at the same time? That’s what I’m trying to say.

                      I believe the real compromise should be made in bodily autonomy and a supportive society for pregnant women, NOT in abortion; and that is where the PL movement is going wrong. Let’s forget about the justifiable and unjustifiable abortions for a moment and focus on two important bullet points in the debate: the unborn person’s life, and the pregnant person’s autonomy and need for support. If we answer all of those, we can stop talking about “justifiable” abortions except in the rarest of cases, like when the baby has died and a pregnancy would be life-threatening to carry to term.

                      I realise many women don’t abort for bodily autonomy reasons; however the argument for abortion (there really is no argument but you know what I’m trying to say) is greatly weakened by such an invention, especially as more women would have time to think through whether they wanted to be parents or not without the stresses of being pregnant. However we would also have to create a society that supports pregnant women far more than it does now. Would you agree with that?

                      I know I haven’t answered most of your comment properly but I think we will agree somewhat at least on this if we keep discussing this. I’ll be sure to read your thoughts in the link as well and respond to them when I can.

                    • Crystal

                      “I think that current bodily-autonomy thinking is defective, but think there is a moral truth underlying such thinking — the truth that we have a psychological sense of body ownership that should be respected.”

                      Exactly my point; and you couldn’t have said it better. That’s why I think that alternative technologies and a supportive society are the way to go with this.

                      Let me explain why I said I found it barf-inducing – because I believe it is as inherently unjust to use arguments to demean women and make them put their lives under threat as it is inherently unjust to use arguments to demean unborn children and put their lives under threat due to the desires of another. I would like to see the PL movement improve. Women are people, they are important. I’m not saying PL people don’t believe that; they DO. I’m saying that PL people need to think about the implications of their position for the future. Our society will not go back to the days of Little House on the Prairie ever. It just won’t.

                      Would I like to know how the writer’s views evolved? Sure I would. I’m not objecting to using arguments to save unborn children. I’m PRO that. I’m objecting to using an argument that puts a woman down, to do it. Just as much as I object to using an argument that puts an unborn child down and says they are worthy of death, to fight reproductive objectification. We need to make room for a third way – a way that embraces every person and their rights from the moment of conception until natural death, both sexual and otherwise. I hope I’m making myself clearer as I realise I have a problem with waffling on sometimes although I would argue that the last two comments you have received are not in that category. Also, I hope I’ve been respectful and charitable to you and to everyone else I’ve disagreed with, and if I haven’t please let me know.

                    • I’m replying here to both your “I agree with most of your points” post, and your “Exactly my point” post.

                      “You said . . . that my belief that women should not be forced to carry rape babies is inconsistent with saying that I’m for saving the lives of rape babies. For the present, I would stick with the traditional prolife view on abortion in the case of rape but what I’m trying to say is, can’t we do better than this?”

                      So you’re saying that we should prevent rape victims from aborting, but (considering how awful that may be for them) we should do everything possible to find a technological alternative for them. That’s clear.

                      “I believe the real compromise should be made in bodily autonomy and a supportive society for pregnant women, NOT in abortion; and that is where the PL movement is going wrong. Let’s forget about the justifiable and unjustifiable abortions for a moment . . .”

                      Well, I’m talking about justifiable and unjustifiable abortions, but many in the PL movement are not — starting with the above article which seems to feel that abortion (unless medically necessary for the life of the mother) should never be allowed.

                      “[with] such an invention [artificial womb] more women would have time to think through whether they wanted to be parents or not without the stresses of being pregnant. However we would also have to create a society that supports pregnant women far more than it does now. Would you agree with that?”

                      Maybe I haven’t understood. If there are artificial wombs, women can opt not to be pregnant, so why does society have to support pregnant women? Do you mean support them so that women are free to opt either way (artificial womb, or pregnant with support)? Two months ago I helped author an article. In our thinking we did not make the assumption that artificial wombs may be available soon, but we did demand more support for mothers and expectant mothers, which will require that society realign its values. “Next Steps for the Pro-Life Feminist Movement”.

                      “I’ll be sure to read your thoughts in the link as well and respond to them when I can.”

                      Thanks!

                      “you couldn’t have said it better”

                      Thanks. Please share the link with all your fans! ( http://www.NoTerminationWithoutRepresentation.org/bodily-rights-and-a-better-idea/ )

                      “I believe it is . . . inherently unjust to use arguments to demean women and make them put their lives under threat”

                      Well, once there’s an unwanted pregnancy, there’s rarely going to be a perfectly happy solution. We have to find the least of the evils. If society is to save the child of a woman who wants to abort, and we don’t yet have artificial wombs, then there’s no way to do that (save the child), is there, that will not cause her some distress? Of course it’s possible to save the child — causing UNavoidable distress to the woman — without disrespecting her or causing her extra, avoidable, distress. Did you feel that “De Facto Guardian” could have been written in a way that would show more respect or compassion for Mary, without giving her license to let the infant die?

                      “I hope I’ve been respectful and charitable to you and to everyone else I’ve disagreed with, and if I haven’t please let me know.”

                      I may not have seen all your comments to everyone, but for myself I can say that it’s always a pleasure to have you disagree with me, and really humbling when you agree. From whatever I have seen of your comments to others, I would expect them to say the same.

                  • Isn’t “The fact ‘de facto guardianship’ makes you squeamish isn’t an argument against it” in the domain of meta-ethics?

                    • uninvolved

                      Yes. But I said that to goad you into giving something more substantial.

                    • Well, that unavoidably raises a meta-ethical question: “If the correctness of a moral intuition cannot be proved through a rational method, (which apparently is the only method you would call substantial) does that mean that the moral intuition is necessarily incorrect?” And “Does it mean the moral intuition cannot be found within oneself by other means?”

                      The normative question before us was, Should Mary be prosecuted if she doesn’t impose a considerable amount of suffering on herself, for the sake of the child, when she’s already in a stressful situation? (For your possible interest, I would come up with different answers if her situation were more like normal life. That is a limitation, for me, of that thought experiment.) You thought that the answer “Yes” could be proved correct by a rational method. I had no intention of derailing discussion of the normative question; but your “unhelpful . . . to . . . move into the domain” seemed to be saying that the only legitimate way to disagree with you normatively would be to walk through your rational method / reflective equilibrium with you and find some defect on your own terms, that is, in terms of that method. It seemed to me that another legitimate way to disagree with you normatively would be to somehow invalidate the assumption “The correctness of a moral intuition can be proved through a rational method.” My attempt to do that was not “moving into the domain of meta-ethics” (which we were already in), but rather disagreeing with your meta-ethical idea (the idea that it is possible to prove the correctness of a moral intuition through a rational method).

                      If you are willing to continue along this line (whatever name we may use for the line), here is how I would try to show that the correctness of a moral intuition cannot be proved through a rational method. At this link I wrote: “The caring part of our minds [which can say “should” or “shouldn’t”] cannot use logic, and the logical part cannot care.” Please read the paragraph before that, and a few paragraphs after.

                    • uninvolved

                      “If the correctness of a moral intuition cannot be proved through a rational method, (which apparently is the only method you would call substantial) does that mean that the moral intuition is necessarily incorrect?”

                      Reflective equilibrium is a rational method, and our intuitions are justified. But our intuitions are also prone to bias, etc.

                      The argumentative force of a moral intuition, in my view, is inversely related to the basicality of the intuition. This is because the more basic the principle gets the more general it gets. The more general it gets the less reasoning about it can be done.

                      “Does it mean the moral intuition cannot be found within oneself by other means?”

                      An intuition is found within oneself by understanding and introspection. There is no other means to find an intuition.

                      The dialectic force doesn’t sit in the intuition itself; it sits in the coherence of various moral beliefs and intuitions.

                      So you can say it makes you squeamish but that does nothing for me. It’s not squeamish to me. And it doesn’t seem like a basic principle you’re squeamish about so arguments are probably abound for your squeamishness.

                      move into the domain” seemed to be saying that the only legitimate way to disagree with you normatively would be to walk through your rational method / reflective equilibrium with you and find some defect on your own terms

                      You can disagree with me about anything. You don’t even have to do it rationally. You may be rationally disagreeing with me. Maybe it is a very strong intuition you have there. It’s not for me. It’s a strong intuition for me the other way. This where reasoning and argument comes in. If you don’t want to participate in the only rational method for person-to-person moral deliberation then that’s fine. I’m not forcing you to make an argument.

                      (the idea that it is possible to prove the correctness of a moral intuition through a rational method).

                      It’s not possible to prove the correctness of a moral intuition at all. It’s not helpful to constantly talk about the limitations of intuition in matters of normative disputes.

                      Moral intuitions are initial intellectual appearances. You can’t “prove” an intuition is correct. But there is a method by which we can test them and therefore raise our confidence in them. Intuitions are defeasible. How can we defeat them? By reasoning and analogy. The method loses its usefulness the more basic the intuition becomes.

                      A good test for whether an intuition is sufficiently basic enough would be to assess how many references to natural stuff is in it.

                      Bob uses a knife to stab a dog in the gut to release endorphines in his brain.

                      Intuitively this seems wrong. If you imagine this happening you can see it’s wrong. Let’s remove the natural references and get more basic. Well for one to release endorphines in his brain is understood as pleasure. It’s very natural to talk about chemicals in the brain but it’s another thing to talk about pleasure. There is a mental aspect or psychological aspect that cannot be sufficiently described in natural terms (at least I don’t think it can be).

                      Bob is too specific. Any person could be there. The stabbing is causing the dog physical pain and this is harm. Dog is too specific.

                      The more we knock it down we are left with something like:

                      It’s a prima facie wrong for any person to harm a sentient creature for fun in normal conditions.

                      Now if someone intuited different for the more specific claim about Bob then we could deliberate and reason out that the more basic principle above is properly applied to Bob. So what Bob did is wrong.

                      That is what people are doing in moral reasoning.

                      I hope this clarifies why moral deliberation gives us a valid and rational test for the correctness of a moral intuition where “correctness” is understood in terms of how justified we are in believing it is true.

                    • Thanks for making a lot of effort to explain. The concepts are new to me, so I’ll have to see if I understand them before seeing if I agree that they “give us a valid test.” I will ask several questions, but mostly yes or no questions.

                      1. “Reflective equilibrium” doesn’t obviously sound like the name of a method. Is it precise to say “Reflective equilibrium is a rational method,” as you have, or “testing for reflective equilibrium is a rational method” or “a rational method that leads to reflective equilibrium,” or . . . ?

                      2. “our intuitions are justified.” Is “justified” the same as “correct”? Do you mean some intuitions are justified?

                      3. Is the method a method for eliminating?

                      4. If so, can the purpose of the method be stated this way: to eliminate moral principles and their underlying moral intuitions until we arrive (referring to the 2nd paragraph of your own writing) at a moral intuition that is so basic and general that very little reasoning about it can be done? Does “very little reasoning about it can be done” = “much argumentative force” = “proven correct”?

                      (You are trying to rebut my “there is no way to prove logically that one moral intuition is more correct than another.”)

                      5. Does “The method loses its usefulness” = “The method loses its effectiveness”?

                      6. Does the natural-vs.-[opposite of natural] spectrum operate independently of the specific-vs.-basic/general spectrum, such that all of these permutations are possible – natural & specific, natural & basic, [opposite of natural] & specific, [opposite of natural] & basic — ?

                      7. Does everything from “Bob uses a knife” stand on its own without the “Intuitively this seems wrong” paragraph, or is that para necessary in order for the rest to be coherent?

                       

                      I had said, “there is no way to prove logically that one moral intuition is more correct than another,” and you are trying to show that it can be proved through a rational method “it is wrong for Bob to use a knife to stab a dog in the gut to release endorphines in his brain.”

                      Now, without hearing your answers (hopefully yes-no will be possible) to my above questions, I’m getting ahead of myself, but at this point it SEEMS as though you consider “It’s a prima facie wrong for any person to harm a sentient creature for fun in normal conditions” to be convincing (because it’s basic) and therefore consider that it can be used to prove “it is wrong for Bob to use a knife to stab a dog in the gut to release endorphines in his brain.”

                      But for me, the abstract “It’s a prima facie wrong for any person to harm a sentient creature for fun in normal conditions” is convincing only if, when I hear it, I imagine a concrete example such as Bob using a knife to stab a dog in the gut to release endorphines in his brain.

                      So the whole thing seems circular. “It’s a prima facie wrong for any person to harm a sentient creature for fun in normal conditions” is convincing, but only because I imagine Bob using a knife to stab a dog in the gut to release endorphines in his brain. I don’t need “It’s a prima facie wrong for any person to harm a sentient creature for fun in normal conditions” to convince me that it is wrong for Bob to use a knife to stab a dog in the gut to release endorphines in his brain. I suppose I’ve misunderstood something — ?

                    • uninvolved

                      1. Reflective equilibrium is a method. It’s deliberation and adjustment of moral beliefs by thought experiments or whatever.

                      2. The difference between justified and true is not really all that important in the context of this discussion. For a belief to be true is not the same as for a belief to be justified. But there is no sense in worrying about the truth condition here because justification is whether or not it is rational for us to believe it is true. If you worry about the truth condition then you’re just falling in the trap the skeptic about moral epistemology laid down.

                      I’m a moderate foundationalist about epistemology. Which means I think that at the most basic level there are beliefs we have that are not inferred from other beliefs. They are foundational. Even though they are not inferential beliefs they are based on *something*. They’re based on intuition.

                      It’s analogous to visual perception. I believe that there are foundational beliefs we hold that are based on our intuitions about perceptual experiences that are prima facie justified.

                      3. It’s a coherence test. It’s a method for balancing. So it can involve defeating moral beliefs you have or acquiring moral beliefs you might not have. It depends on which region of the map of your belief web is being pressed.

                      4. You can acquire a new moral intuition (or eliminate a previously held intuition) after deliberation and rebuilding of different structures in your belief web.

                      It might be easier to understand by stating it the following way: Before moral reasoning it seemed to you that it is wrong to X, but now it seems to you that it’s permissible to X.

                      It is possible to defeat a basic moral intuition after intense and wide-spread shifting around of a belief web. But it seems to me that it’s easier to change a not-so-basic moral belief. This is because it wouldn’t require such wide-spread revisions to your whole belief web.

                      5. It seems to me that it’s more *difficult* to persuade someone to change their mind the more basic the principle at question is for the reasons I stated in point 4. And obviously the more basic the principle one believes in the more strong the intuition. This is because the more basic it is I guess you could say more possible worlds are opening up where it’s true. So it’s a good candidate for necessary truth in the line up against moral beliefs that are very clearly not basic at all.

                      6. The reason the elimination of all the natural references in the principle is a good rule of thumb for directing yourself to find the more basic principle (which means it’s closer in ‘logical space’ to the foundational belief, the ‘truly’ basic belief) is because views of a moral realist (at least for a rationalist intuitionist like myself) is that moral facts are necessarily true. They are true in every possible world (obviously that includes this one).

                      [This is important because it means any moral belief that references natural properties is discarded as a basic belief. It is an inferential belief based on another belief. This does not necessarily mean that it’s based on an inferential belief which is closer in logical space to the truly basic belief, but it seems to me a good rule of thumb that might help reverse engineer the inference and find the connections in your belief web for finding parallels.]

                      There are other possible worlds where natural facts are different but the moral facts can’t be different. So yes the “less natural stuff”/more generalized/”more basic” the principle is the rule of thumb for determining a rough estimate of relative basicality.

                      7. When virtually all people see someone pour gasoline on a cat or if they imagine it they intuit that it’s wrong. You don’t need my explanation of the rule of thumb of determining basicality to intuit from the natural facts that something is wrong. So it stands on its own as a justified belief based on that intuition (unless there are sufficient countervailing reasons to think otherwise).

                      I had said, “there is no way to prove logically that one moral intuition is more correct than another,” and you are trying to show that it can be proved through a rational method “it is wrong for Bob to use a knife to stab a dog in the gut to release endorphines in his brain.”

                      It depends on what you mean by “prove.” You could go around saying to people “well I know you think you can see objects in space but keep in mind that you cannot really prove logically that one visual perception is more correct than another!”

                      That’s not what’s important. What’s important is that we have justification for those beliefs even if they cannot be known to be as certain as analytic, self-evident truths seem to be like “bachelors are unmarried.”

                      We still have GOOD REASON to believe our perception experiences are true and for the same reasons we are justified in our moral non-inferential beliefs which are based on intuitions.

                      What you have is an intuition, in visual experience, which basic perceptual beliefs are based on. It SEEMS to you that there’s a red roundish object out in the external world (a tomato). At the basic level that’s a non-inferential belief based on an intuition. So it goes for basic moral beliefs. In fact we do reflective equilibrium when we make judgments about whether we might be having a visual hallucination.

                      So in discussions where people already practice reflective equilibrium (it’s the common sense approach), and they’re already making intuitions, etc. Most people just DO this. They don’t have an analysis like this of what they are doing but they do this all the time.

                      So if someone is having a conversation about whether the moon is made of green cheese (let’s imagine it’s more difficult because our visual faculties are more biased or whatever), it is not helpful to pipe up and go “ok guys… c’mon now… we all know we cannot proooove logically that the intuition the moon isn’t made of green cheese is more correct than if it’s not… gee wiz!”

                      “It’s a prima facie wrong for any person to harm a sentient creature for fun in normal conditions” to be convincing (because it’s basic)

                      I accept it because it’s a VERY VERY strong intuition I hold and I think there’s a relation between strength of intuitions and basicality of the belief it is based on.

                      [It needs to be said here that this is a rule of thumb for purposes of finding arguments. I’m not sure if it’s necessarily true that this rule of thumbs works to better help people find the connections in their belief webs but it’s certainly one way to do it and it’s worked for me]

                      [I should mention that I don’t think I’m using the word “basicality” as it’s usually used in the literature. It might be better to understand my use of “basicality” of a belief as meaning that the greater the basicality the more likely it is to help you traverse your belief web to find thought experiments for moral reasoning. It’s the first step in reflective equilibrium in moral deliberation with another person. It’s better than searching your belief web with no test at all. At the very least if it doesn’t help you find the strands it will at least direct you to the rough region in your belief web where all these beliefs justify upward and down and sideways]

                      So I don’t think that claim is true BECAUSE it’s basic. It would take a very very very unlikely shift and swap and change of all sorts of beliefs in my moral web of beliefs that I just don’t see how it’s anywhere near likely to override those. I’m not saying it’s impossible, just unlikely. It could be that actually this particular basic moral intuition is in just the right spot in my belief web that one single thought experiment from the right mind could elicit in me a radical cascade and end up defeating that belief I hold.

                      But for me, the abstract “It’s a prima facie wrong for any person to harm a sentient creature for fun in normal conditions” is convincing only if, when I hear it, I imagine a concrete example such as Bob using a knife to stab a dog in the gut to release endorphines in his brain.

                      This is because moral properties supervene – are fixed by – the natural properties. This is the metaphysical claim here that a lot of moral realists hold.

                      And yeah that’s why thought experiments and analogies are how we usually do moral reasoning.

                      However, when there is a clash of intuitions and the argument needs to get moving, if the principle in question doesn’t seem all the basic, then there is probably room for argument/reasoning. A thought experiment or something.

                      And I don’t find your claim that you are squeamish convincing because it doesn’t make me squeamish. And since it’s not anywhere close to what I would consider a basic moral intuition the rule of thumb suggests there is an argument there somewhere.

                      Then you can get into discussions of who carries the burden here. I don’t particularly care for burden of proof arguments. It seems to me burden of proof is relative. But in terms of argument etiquette my personal opinion is that if someone says “you know it might be OK to kill kids in this situation because it makes me feel squeamish” probably is the one with the burden.

                      So the whole thing seems circular. “It’s a prima facie wrong for any person to harm a sentient creature for fun in normal conditions” is convincing, but only because I imagine Bob using a knife to stab a dog in the gut to release endorphines in his brain. I don’t need “It’s a prima facie wrong for any person to harm a sentient creature for fun in normal conditions” to convince me that it is wrong for Bob to use a knife to stab a dog in the gut to release endorphines in his brain. I suppose I’ve misunderstood something — ?

                      YOU don’t need a more basic intuition to appeal to. But you do “sort of” have a point here. I mean, it’s not necessarily true that you need to appeal to a more basic moral principle. You might be able to conjure a thought experiment that appeals to a, let’s say, roughly equal in basically but something pretty uncontroversial that I can get on board with and try to argue the moral parallels there.

                      But that’s what I’ve been saying here. My point about appealing to a more basic principle was to help you find an argument. It’s more likely that you’ll find an argument if you go a tid bit more basic than the proposition you’re squeamish about and draw parallels, etc.

                      I’m not saying you need to go super basic and give me a super long formal argument. Premise (1) super basic principe -> … -> C. X is wrong

                      That would obviously be asking too much.

                      So I’ve established some very important points about morality here and provided an explanation for the role of intuition in justification.

                      Also, I hope I’ve adequately explained the importance of reflective equilibrium and why it’s not helpful to constantly go around tossing out the skeptic card on the table during a moral discussion.

                      Hope that helps.

                    • Thanks for your further explanations. I’ve been completely tied up since my last reply, and still am, but hope to get back to this soon.

                    • uninvolved

                      Here’s some key words that are worth researching in order to understand this meta-ethical stance.

                      “Rational Intuitionism” (what the view is called)

                      “Phenomenal Conservatism” (an epistemological principle of justification)

                      “Principle of Credulity” (another name for an epistemological principle, similar to PC above)

                      of course, “Reflective Equilibrium” (method of moral reasoning, coherence test justification)

                      “Basic Beliefs” (foundational belief which all other beliefs are inferred from, according to PC based on intuition)

                      “Moderate Foundationalism” or “Foundherentism” (this is the epistemological that reflective equilibrium fits in, Susan Haack talks about ‘foundherentism’)

                    • It seems you’d prefer that I do some homework rather than ask you to clarify some of your points, as I might have done. That is fine, but it may take me a while to find a chance to do that.

                      I’m not sure what you think I’m skeptical about. I believe in the existence of correct moral principles. I may even think I have a few myself! I’m skeptical that their correctness can be proved by a rational method. I wouldn’t have expected a person who is skeptical in that way to be referred to (without elaboration) as a skeptic, but maybe that is in fact conventional in some circles.

                      Do you think it is incorrect to say, “The caring part of our minds [which can say “should” or “shouldn’t”] cannot use logic, and the logical part cannot care” — ?

                    • uninvolved

                      I’d call you a skeptic about justification in moral epistemology.

                      It is a platitude to say that logic is cold and calculating and doesn’t care about feelings or whatever. If we’re talking about methods of justification then yes, it is cold and uncaring. That’s because it’s a method. It’s like calling the rules of scrabble uncaring.

                      It’s just not saying anything of philosophical interest.

                    • Calling the rules of scrabble uncaring says something of philosophical interest. It makes it clear that the rules of scrabble cannot help us to have an initial/original experience of a moral intuition / normative feeling. The same with logic.

                      We can use logic to think about a moral intuition that we have already experienced-no-thanks-to-logic. Or use logic to think about a “belief based on” that moral intuition (to use a phrase of yours) — i.e., a moral principle based on it — and thereby, if that moral intuition was correct and therefore the moral principle was correct, perhaps derive other correct moral principles as well. For instance, if I have a moral intuition underlying a moral principle “What Bob is doing is wrong,” and if both principle and intuition are correct, and if Bob’s knife blade breaks, I may be able to derive the moral principle “It would be wrong to hand him another knife” logically without directly experiencing a moral intuition underlying “It would be wrong to hand him another knife.” But that logical derivation only works if first I intuit “What Bob is doing is wrong.”

                      It seems to me that part and parcel of my moral intuition underlying my moral principle “What Bob is doing is wrong” is a “feeling of knowing”* that the intuition is correct, and that without that feeling of knowing I wouldn’t know. I think that feeling of knowing can be mistaken, but it can also be correct — I think that such feelings of knowing are at least sometimes, in some persons, correct. So as far as knowing whether a moral intuition is correct, that feeling of knowing is our Holy Grail, or at least the best we can do. Without that feeling of knowing I wouldn’t know.

                      * A phrase used by neuroscientist Robert Burton, though I don’t know if he would agree with anything else I’m saying.

                      Now, I think logic might contribute SOMEHOW to my experiencing that feeling of knowing, but then so might the right kind of bump on the head. Various things might start wheels turning in our unconscious.

                      If I believe Mary should not be prosecuted for failing to provide even formula, and you point out “Mary is the only one who can save the baby’s life,” and I very soon thereafter find within me the moral intuition “She should be prosecuted,” I can say “PROBABLY what uninvolved pointed out is a factor in my moral intuition.” But I won’t really know, because that moral intuition, [Edit: which is a form of caring (and is a correct intuition, let’s say),] comes out of my unconscious in some way I can’t understand. Since I don’t know what factors are responsible for my moral intuition, I don’t know whether the logical observation “Mary is the only one who can save the baby’s life” necessarily helps lead to the correct moral intuition underlying “She should be prosecuted.”

                      And if I don’t know whether the logical observation “Mary is the only one who can save the baby’s life” necessarily helps lead to the correct moral intuition underlying “She should be prosecuted,” then the fact that “Mary is the only one who can save the baby’s life” is not a reliable “test” (a word you used) of whether she should be prosecuted, is it? And the same would have to be asked of any logical observation.

                       

                      Earlier I had said —

                      “there is no way to prove logically that one moral intuition is more correct than another”

                      — and you had replied —

                      “If this claim were true then moral deliberation is a fool’s errand.

                      “Luckily, there is a method. It’s called reflective equilibrium.

                      “It’s not logical in the sense that it’s a form of modus ponens but it is rational method”

                      — which I had understood to mean in part that the correctness of a moral intuition can be proved (and I had followed that up).

                      Later you said:

                      “It’s not possible to prove the correctness of a moral intuition at all. It’s not helpful to constantly talk about the limitations of intuition** in matters of normative disputes.

                      ** [Edit: Here did you mean “intuition” or “logic”?]

                      “Moral intuitions are initial intellectual appearances. You can’t “prove” an intuition is correct. But there is a method by which we can test them [edit: the beliefs based on them . . .”

                      If you can reliably test a belief based on a moral intuition, and it fails the test, doesn’t that prove the intuition was incorrect? I’m not clear about the distinction you’re making between “prove” and “test”. Do you simply mean that though it’s not possible to prove, it’s possible to disprove?

                    • uninvolved

                      Calling the rules of scrabble uncaring says something of philosophical interest. It makes it clear that the rules of scrabble cannot help us to have an initial/original experience of a moral intuition / normative feeling. The same with logic.

                      There’s nothing interesting about this. Can logic prove water is h2O? No. Does that say anything interesting about our knowing water is h2o? No really. We know water is h2o. That logic didn’t prove it to us is not important.

                      We can use logic to think about a moral intuition that we have already experienced-no-thanks-to-logic. Or use logic to think about a “belief based on” that moral intuition (to use a phrase of yours) — i.e., a moral principle based on it — and thereby, if that moral intuition was correct and therefore the moral principle was correct, perhaps derive other correct moral principles as well.

                      All you’re saying is that our basic beliefs are based on intuitions. Of course logic cannot prove basic beliefs. That fact doesn’t diminish our justification for having them. W can, however, overturn those basic beliefs by testing whether it coheres with our other moral beliefs. And this is a rational method.

                      which I had understood to mean in part that the correctness of a moral intuition can be proved

                      It can be proved in the only way it can be. It can be “proved” by a coherence test. That’s part of how we justify our moral beliefs. It’s not proved in any deductive sense. Basic moral beliefs are based on intuitions. And goodness is not analytically identical to pleasure or whatever. If it were true that goodness is analytically identical to pleasure then we would have a means to deductively prove what’s good or bad. This is because the major premise “Goodness is what is conducive to pleasure” then the second premise is “X is conducive to pleasure” follows to the conclusion that “X is therefore good.” We are directly acquainted with what brings ourselves pleasure so we can prove logically that X is good deductively that way. But goodness is not reducible in this way even though we do know goodness a priori.

                      So it’s not interesting to say we cannot prove logically that X is good. It’s just not. It’s not interesting to say we cannot prove logically that I’m sending you a message on the internet. We can’t prove that logically either but it makes no difference to the fact we are justified in believing that’s true.

                      And it’s this sort of conversation that derails every thing. If you’re skeptical like this about morality and constantly have to bring up that “logic cannot prove our basic moral beliefs” then are you consistent and also bring up this point in matter of science? When someone mentions a study or a theory do you say “well that’s all well and good but keep in mind that logic cannot prove that we are seeing things in the real, external world.” No, you wouldn’t say that. Because it’s unhelpful, uninteresting, and doesn’t help anything at all.

                      Later you said:

                      “It’s not possible to prove the correctness of a moral intuition at all. It’s not helpful to constantly talk about the limitations of intuition** in matters of normative disputes.

                      It depends on what you mean by “prove.” Earlier I said you cannot prove a moral intuition is correct. I had in mind the only interesting understanding of prove you could mean – which is justification.

                      But now I realize you only care about the completely uninteresting aspect. The trivial truth that you cannot prove in a logical sense a basic belief. Well duh. Duh. But it’s not interesting. You also cannot prove logically that the external world exists. That makes no difference to the fact that we have means to justify that belief. So it goes with basic moral beliefs.

                      If you can reliably test a belief based on a moral intuition, and it fails the test, doesn’t that prove the intuition was incorrect? I’m not clear about the distinction you’re making between “prove” and “test”. Do you simply mean that though it’s not possible to prove, it’s possible to disprove?

                      In epistemology it’s been widely accepted that knowledge is a true, justified belief. Later this was debunked by gettier but that’s not important because the problems gettier brought up are not pertinent to this discussion. So we can stick with knowledge as a true, justified belief.

                      So I can have a belief that’s true but unjustified and it’s not knowledge. I don’t know it.

                      I can have a belief that’s false but justified and it’s not knowledge. I don’t know it.

                      When I say you can “prove” a moral intuition I’m talking about justification. I’m saying you can have a method that justifies taking on a moral belief or letting go a moral belief even if they are basic beliefs.

                      This test is of coherence.

                      Yes. It is true that all my moral beliefs could be false. I cannot “prove” in a logical sense that all my moral beliefs are true. But I also cannot “prove” in a logical sense that the external world exists, or that you exist, etc.

                      But it’s not helpful to say that. You’re not doing anything useful here. Yes, maybe mentioning that is really interesting for people concerned about epistemology in meta-ethics. Maybe you can join the ranks with all the other moral skeptics in epistemology.

                      But in normative disputes that skepticism doesn’t matter. It’s analogous to the fact that in a dispute about a scientific theory that best explains some natural phenomenon it’s not useful to turn to the scientists “well, you know guys, you can’t really prove either of you are right in a strictly logical sense.” What is that supposed to accomplish? The scientists will just ignore you and go about their business. It makes no difference to them or how they conduct science and justify their theories.

                    • “When someone mentions a study or a theory do you say ‘well that’s all
                      well and good but keep in mind that logic cannot prove that we are
                      seeing things in the real, external world.’ ”

                      Scientific knowledge is subjective and moral knowledge is subjective, but the objects of scientific knowledge are not themselves subjective as are the objects of moral knowledge. That’s a difference that I don’t think we can easily dismiss. But it’s very late where I am, I’ll try to explain better in the morning the significance of the difference.

                    • uninvolved

                      The objects of moral knowledge are not subjective either. Moral subjectivists disagree but I think their arguments stink.

                    • Sean Michael Killackey

                      I can’t recall where I heard it, but, while the experience of morality is subjective, what it refers to is objective, just like the external world; but watch out you might get some people who doubt that!

                    • As an example of an object of moral knowledge, I would give the feeling of wrongness you experience when you see Bob stabbing the dog. By what definition of “subjective” is that not subjective? It’s an experience, isn’t it?

                      But now I realize you only care about the completely uninteresting aspect. The trivial truth that you cannot prove in a logical sense a basic belief. . . . You also cannot prove logically that the external world exists.

                      Just checking — you don’t think, do you, that I’m arguing that you cannot prove the existence of a basic belief? I’m not arguing that. I’m arguing that you cannot prove the correctness of a basic belief.

                      And it’s this sort of conversation that derails every thing.

                      Our discussion has been meta-ethical from the start. Each is trying to persuade the other of something about meta-ethics.

                      If you’re skeptical like this about morality and constantly have to bring up that “logic cannot prove our basic moral beliefs”. . . . I cannot “prove” in a logical sense that all my moral beliefs are true. But I also cannot “prove” in a logical sense that the external world exists, or that you exist, etc.

                      The possibility of a solipsistic reality is a constant possibility with clear parameters, for physicists, psychologists, and moral philosophers, so you would be right to say that that possibility would not be worth constantly bringing up. But that’s not what I keep bringing up. Let’s restate the issue, and maybe we could state it better if we avoid both “prove” and “test”. Each is trying to persuade the other of something about meta-ethics. I would say the issue is a proposition from you which I will word as “If two people eschew solipsism and both are honest, then it should be possible, by a rational method, for one person to irrefutably defeat all the arguments of the other about the correctness or incorrectness of a moral intuition.” Isn’t that your proposition?

                      There are two ways we could examine this proposition. 1) I have taken a theoretical approach, saying that the proposition is theoretically impossible. 2) You have offered an example of a method that you say will work. Within that 2nd approach, the burden is on me to try to show that it doesn’t work. But to try to do that, apparently I have to do some research — so we can’t pursue that approach right now.

                      What I think makes the proposition impossible is neither solipsistic nor otherwise trivial, and that can be shown by the fact that if my argument about what makes the proposition impossible is correct, that argument will have consequences for how we investigate and debate moral issues. It will suggest more productive ways to investigate and debate. At this link, please see the section The Practical Implications: More Meaningful Dialogues.

                    • uninvolved

                      As an example of an object of moral knowledge, I would give the feeling of wrongness you experience when you see Bob stabbing the dog.

                      The object of moral knowledge is not the feeling (I would call it “seeming,” because intuition is a faculty of the intellect – not emotion). The seeming, i.e. moral intuition, you have is the means by which you grasp of the object of that moral knowledge. The object is the moral fact.

                      By your description here, you’re reducing moral facts to subjective judgments or feelings. This is moral subjectivism.

                      There are a myriad of problems that result in this view which makes it untenable. The two most prominent would be that your view entails there can never be substantial moral disagreement and that your view entails that every individual is morally infallible.

                      The reason your view results in these absurdities is because you reduce moral claims to subjective feelings. Thus, all basic moral claims are objective fact-stating claims but they are devoid of moral content. For instance, for someone to say “X is wrong” in your view reduces to “I disapprove of X.” So the evaluative claim is reduced to a descriptive claim about the attitudes of the speaker. So Bob says “X is wrong” and Jones says “X is permissible.” They are not disagreeing at the basic level. Bob is making a claim about the attitudes of Bob about X and Jones is making a claim about the attitudes of Jones about X.

                      Jones and Bob, other things being equal, aren’t wrong about their own attitudes in those claims about X. So they’re not disagreeing. Also, provided they are consistently sincere in their acquaintance with their own attitudes about certain issues, they are morally infallible.

                      It would be absurd to hold that everyone is morally infallible and that no one is ever disagreeing about moral issues. Surely people are wrong about some basic moral beliefs and surely people are disagreeing.

                      So, your view is incorrect. But I could be misunderstanding you here. You don’t seem like a moral subjectivist so I think you may have meant something different there.

                      Just checking — you don’t think, do you, that I’m arguing that you cannot prove the existence of a basic belief? I’m not arguing that. I’m arguing that you cannot prove the correctness of a basic belief.

                      I’ve said before. for the purposes of normative disputes, nothing interesting can be said about the fact one cannot “prove” a basic belief is correct. I don’t disagree with the fact you cannot deduce a basic belief. That’s true by definition. Basic beliefs are foundational. They are not inferred from other beliefs.

                      But even in the arena of meta-ethics it’s not interesting that you cannot prove a basic moral belief. That’s trivially true.

                      The only interesting sense of “prove” you could mean is not about not being able to prove the correctness of a basic belief but on how we can justify a basic belief. And I’ve explained the ways we can go about that with coherence tests and a foundationalist epistemology, etc.

                      Our discussion has been meta-ethical from the start. Each is trying to persuade the other of something about meta-ethics.

                      Yes. The conversation has derailed into meta-ethics because you played the skeptic card. Part of my service here is to explain to you why it’s not helpful in normative discussions to constantly bring up the fact people cannot logically “prove” their intuitions are correct.

                      Each is trying to persuade the other of something about meta-ethics. I would say the issue is a proposition from you which I will word as “If two people eschew solipsism and both are honest, then it should be possible, by a rational method, for one person to irrefutably defeat all the arguments of the other about the correctness or incorrectness of a moral intuition.” Isn’t that your proposition?

                      Originally I was trying to engage you about a normative matter. Then you went into meta-ethics. I originally tried to goad you back into a normative discussion, but you insisted we have a meta-ethics discussion. OK, fine.

                      So I am trying to explain to you why my view in meta-ethics more reasonable than yours or at least more thought out. However, I’m also trying to explain to you at the same time why it’s unhelpful to harp on the trivial truth that we cannot “prove” basic beliefs.

                      You bring it up a lot as if it’s supposed to add something of import to a normative dispute. It doesn’t. The people in a normative dispute could have vastly different meta-ethical accounts. Nothing about your position that you cannot “prove” a basic belief is important in that domain. And as I’ve said before your position is essentially a trivial truth. Saying you cannot logically prove a basic belief is akin to saying squares have four sides. It’s not interesting.

                      And you didn’t accurately state my thesis. Justification is, at the bottom, relative. I may not be able to convince you that abortion is wrong in a certain circumstances because of some radically incongruent intuitions that inform basic beliefs. However, there is a method for deliberation.

                      Our basic beliefs inform our more top-level inferential beliefs. And all these beliefs form a belief web. Some of the beliefs are basic and some are not basic, i.e. they are beliefs inferred from other beliefs.

                      I may be able to give an analogy or something like that which presses a certain region of your belief map. It might cause you to rethink something which in turn causes you to re-consider one of your basic beliefs which in turn may change a lot of the inferential beliefs which depend on that basic belief.

                      I’ve taken a look at your link.

                      I think that the process of contemplating their existing intuitions will gradually lead people toward the most correct intuitions that reside with them.

                      That process of contemplating is called reflective equilibrium. That’s what people are doing. I wouldn’t have phrased at it as it leads them toward the most correct intuitions. I would have phrased it that it gives them better reasons for thinking their intuitions are correct.

                      If the representatives of both sides on any issue — say a pro-lifer and a pro-choicer on the abortion issue — can agree that the debate is really a matter of one intuition versus another

                      I don’t think it should be assumed off the bat that the problem is a clash of intuitions (understanding ‘intuition’ to mean ‘basic belief based on intuition’). Some people may be pro-choice because they have reasoned badly from pro-life basic beliefs. Then all it would take is to show them their faulty reasoning from the pro-life basic beliefs to the pro-choice conclusions.

                      Other times it might take a novel analogy to press on their belief web to defeat a basic belief based on an intuition.

                      I referred above to “looking within at their intuitions.” I would like to see a discussion between the parties on both sides of any issue — say between a pro-choicer and a pro-lifer — that begins with each party examining their own intuitions and related feelings (feelings being not exactly the same as intuitions). How does the thought of an unborn child dying in an abortion make me feel? Do I feel the pain in my body? If not, where does that feeling come from? Is it necessarily valid? How do I know it’s valid?

                      You’re overstating the importance of meta-ethics in ethical disputes about the normative domain. Most of the time you don’t have to saying anything at all about the nature of right and wrong in order to get anywhere in a normative dispute.

                      Basically you seem to be saying you want people in the abortion debate to be more empathetic on both sides but you’re trying to prop this up a meta-ethical account. The line from meta-ethics to the “ought” to be more empathetic is very very dubious.

                      I don’t think you’ll get any kind of entailment from a meta-ethical account to oughts about how we should discuss normative matters.

                      You certainly have an agenda. It’s not a bad agenda, in my view. I just don’t think you’re going to find the entailment you are looking for.

                      But all in all, I really don’t think we disagree too much. You’re just using a different sort of language to get it across.

                    • Sorry for my long delay replying to you. All kinds of unavoidable chores descended on me during this time. I hope you can remember a little of our discussion and will be willing to think about those issues again.

                      That discussion with you, and a discussion with a person who more recently read my “Moral Intuition, Logic, and the Abortion Debate,” brought out points of that essay that were likely to be misunderstood. I have now added an Appendix at the end that I think will make things more clear.

                      I would now like to go quickly point by point through the month-old post of yours that I am replying to. But I think that the quickest path to your understanding what I am trying to say would be to first read that appendix, then come back and read the below.

                      “I would call it ‘seeming,’ because intuition is a faculty of the intellect – not emotion”

                      In the Appendix, I state that I am happy with the word “seeming,” but still, because that seeming is at the center of what I am trying to say, it’s important to see if we’re talking about the same thing. In the Appendix I distinguish between moral seeming/intuition on the one hand, and emotion on the other.

                      The seeming, i.e. moral intuition, you have is the means by which you grasp of the object of that moral knowledge. The object is the moral fact.

                      By your description here, you’re reducing moral facts to subjective judgments or feelings. This is moral subjectivism.

                      . . . your view entails that every individual is morally infallible.

                      I’m not sure how you came to your conclusion. “The seeming, i.e. moral intuition, you have is the means by which you grasp of the object of that moral knowledge” is correct, and that seeming is certainly a subjective phenomenon, that is, the seeming exists, so far as we know, only in a person’s inner experience. But I think the seeming is the means by which one grasps an objective moral truth/fact.

                      “your view entails that every individual is morally infallible.”

                      I say that there are correct moral seemings/intuitions and incorrect moral seemings/intuitions, and I’m not sure how you read it otherwise.

                      “But I could be misunderstanding you here. You don’t seem like a moral subjectivist so I think you may have meant something different there.”

                      I’m not sure how you define moral subjectivism, but I’m definitely not a moral relativist. There are correct moral seemings/intuitions and incorrect moral seemings/intuitions. But what I do say is that you cannot demonstrate the correctness of a correct moral seeming/intuition to anyone through a rational method.

                      “However, I’m also trying to explain to you at the same time why it’s unhelpful to harp on the trivial truth that we cannot ‘prove’ basic beliefs.”

                      I think I’ve understood your distinction between proving and justifying. Having understood it, I can say that I never intended to say only that we cannot prove basic beliefs. I think that we cannot justify them through a rational method either.

                      However, if I could better understand what you mean by —

                      “I may be able to give an analogy or something like that which presses a certain region of your belief map. It might cause you to rethink something which in turn causes you to re-consider one of your basic beliefs which in turn may change a lot of the inferential beliefs which depend on that basic belief”

                      — I might agree with it. In the Appendix I give an example in which you convince me, for the first time, that abortion is wrong, by pointing out the unique dependent condition of an unborn child. I continue:

                      Now, I may think “That moral intuition PROBABLY stems from the thing about the unique dependent condition.” But since [here I give my argument], I don’t know for sure what the provenance of that moral intuition was. Ultimately it came out of my unconscious in some way I can’t completely understand. It might actually have resulted from taking LSD or from a bump on the head, not from your logic about dependency.

                      This is a promising area.

                      “That process of contemplating is called reflective equilibrium.”

                      I’m quite sure that what I meant by contemplating is something different.

                      “I wouldn’t have phrased at it as it leads them toward the most correct intuitions. I would have phrased it that it gives them better reasons for thinking their intuitions are correct.”

                      I am talking about a person who did have one moral intuition, but now has a contradictory one.

                      You’re overstating the importance of meta-ethics in ethical disputes about the normative domain. Most of the time you don’t have to saying anything at all about the nature of right and wrong in order to get anywhere in a normative dispute.

                      Basically you seem to be saying you want people in the abortion debate to be more empathetic on both sides but you’re trying to prop this up a meta-ethical account. The line from meta-ethics to the “ought” to be more empathetic is very very dubious.

                      I don’t think you’ll get any kind of entailment from a meta-ethical account to oughts about how we should discuss normative matters.

                      I don’t mean at all to say that my meta-ethical account entails oughts about how we should discuss normative matters. Though I did use the phrase “I would like to see a discussion,” I am not promoting or preaching empathy. What I mean is that the clearest understanding of moral epistemology, or meta-ethics, or whatever we call our present topic — especially of the fact that we don’t really know why we believe what we do — will automatically make people more empathetic. I think that anyone who accepts my arguments will acquire a meta-ethical worldview that will automatically make them more humble and more empathetic, and will make them more desirous of self-awareness.

                      “You certainly have an agenda.”

                      I have two ideas that I think could make a contribution to the pro-life agenda, so within the pro-life agenda, I have my own agenda, which is to win the consideration of other pro-lifers for those ideas. One of those two ideas is my idea that not only can we not prove basic beliefs, bu we cannot justify them through a rational method either. I think that acceptance of this idea would automatically bring about a different form of discourse, and (though I don’t say it in the essay or the Appendix) I think that that form of discourse would work in favor of the pro-life cause more than of the pro-choice cause.

                    • uninvolved

                      Your problem is that you are ignorant of epistemology. You need to read up on reflective equilibrium. I’m not going to explain basic concepts to you anymore.

                    • Crystal

                      I hope you don’t mind if I ask you to please respond to my last two lengthy comments; however if I am being rude by asking this, or in the way I am asking this, I humbly apologise.

                    • It’s certainly not rude. Your comments were very welcome, and I have been thinking about them and will reply. But I’ve been under a lot of time pressure and still am right now. So please give me another day, or at most two.

                    • Crystal

                      Okay :)

                    • Sorry, I will need one day more. Please bear with me.

                    • Crystal

                      I understand, it’s fine :)

  • Wholovesorangesoda

    Glad your bringing this issue up.

    One thing I think you’re missing in the article though, is the specific KIND of pain, suffering, and borderline psychosis a raped woman can experience because the baby is in HER body specifically. A child born from rape may cause other kinds of psychological/ emotional pain for mom but it simply is not the same as having something inside of your body that you want to tear out with your bare hands.

    I remember reading a story of a 14 year old girl in the late 1800’s. She was raped an impregnated by her grandfather. She attempted an abortion on herself with a ten inch knitting needle at 3 months. She was hospitalized in excruciating pain. Several months later she expelled the wounded fetus.

    This is so dark it’s beyond and kind of logic in my opinion. It seems maybe we should speak in terms of psychology and psychiatry specifically when discussing these cases?

  • Philmonomer

    I’m all for civility and compassion in discussions. That said, I don’t think anyone should be surprised if your (the pro-life side’s) civility and compassion isn’t necessarily met with the same, in return.

    No matter how nicely or compassionately you put it, I’d be livid if I were a woman and people were trying to take away my right to abort the zygote/fetus inside me that came about because I was raped.

    • “I’d be livid if I were a woman and people were trying to take away my
      right to abort the zygote/fetus inside me that came about because I was
      raped.”

      If you were a woman you would, but if I were a woman I wouldn’t. There are many women who feel that their and other women’s
      right to abort the zygote/fetus inside them that came about because of
      rape should be taken away. There are pro-life women who get livid when other pro-lifers support a rape exception.

      Since I’m not a moral relativist, I think that someone must be right and someone must be wrong.

      • Crystal

        There are also rape victims that support abortion if a woman wants it that would be livid with the rape exception; see this comment:

        http://www.xojane.com/issues/pro-life-activist-to-pro-choice-christian#comment-2327892385

        From the article:

        http://www.xojane.com/issues/pro-life-activist-to-pro-choice-christian

        I respect her but I cannot support her pro-legal abortion stance.

      • Philmonomer

        If you were a woman you would, but if I were a woman I wouldn’t. There are many women who feel that their and other women’s right to abort the zygote/fetus inside them that came about because of rape should be taken away. There are pro-life women who get livid when other pro-lifers support a rape exception.

        Yup. There’s a lot of emotion all around. And I totally get that if you really think abortion clinics are murdering actual people you may not be kind and compassionate. I don’t actually fault the pro-life movement for that all.

        That said, I can see someone reading this article, talking about how pro-lifers should be kind and compassionate, thinking that such kindness and compassion should be reciprocated, and then encountering the real world of pro-choice people who get very, very angry (for good reason, IMHO).

        This blog post (below) seems related. While it’s talking about gay rights, abortion works well to the ideas being discussed:

        http://www.patheos.com/blogs/slacktivist/2012/06/11/you-cant-deny-people-their-rights-and-be-nice-about-it/

  • No Brown M&Ms

    This is the first time I’ve ever seen a person tell another person

    “We should first acknowledge the horror of rape.”

    Damn, you need to TELL people that they should be horrified at rape? SMH.

    • I don’t think I’m telling most people that they should be horrified by rape. I think I’m telling most people to do a better job of showing the compassion that they already have toward survivors of rape.

      • No Brown M&Ms

        We should first acknowledge
        This doesn’t sound like you’re telling people to do a BETTER job. Rather it sounds like you’re telling them rather robotically that “rape is bad. Act like you think its bad or they’ll think you’re a freak.”

        I’ve trained people before who understood the definition of rape, but they didn’t understand what rape is.

        Quite frankly, I think its difficult to get people who think “rape is bad, but hey, you got knocked up. At least God left you with a gift.” to properly understand what rape is.

        Here is how they should be trained to understand what rape is: hold them down at knife point, strip, and penetrate them with an unlubed watermelon, all the while Snapchatting the violation to their peers, and then blame the rape on them, because they were asking for it by wearing that sexy, plaid shirt.

        Then they’ll understand what rape is. If they go through that training, yet still can go on with the same platitudes given in this article with a straight, sincere face, I’ll perhaps believe you that you’re responding with genuine “wisdom and compassion”.

        This whole notion of needing to “train” people how to feel about a humiliating act of violence strikes me as very odd.

        • “This doesn’t sound like you’re telling people to do a BETTER job. Rather it sounds like you’re telling them rather robotically that ‘rape is bad. Act like you think its bad or they’ll be on to you.'”

          Yeah, so I’m not sure where to take this discussion. I’ve told you that A is what is going on, and you’ve responded that “No, it sounds like B is what’s going on instead,” and the B you offered as an alternative is super uncharitable. It may be true of fringe anti-abortion people, (both sides of any issue have fringe elements) but those people would hate my work anyway, since they would think that I’m too nice to pro-choice people or something.

          I’ve trained thousands of people, and I have very rarely met someone who didn’t seem to actually think that rape is a horrific thing. I have met a bunch of them that fail to communicate that very well in the context of a debate about abortion, and that’s what I want to help them to do.

          I think it’s fair to argue that until people have experienced rape, they can’t fully understand how awful it is to experience. I’m talking about a spectrum of understanding what rape is, with one extreme being someone who is clueless about it and the other end being someone who has experienced it. I want to help people who have NOT experienced it to have a BETTER appreciation for how horrific rape is. Reading the graphic eyewitness testimonies about the Rape of Nanking was an awful experience, but it helped me to BETTER understand how awful rape is. Does that make sense?

  • Pingback: Exceptions: What if the woman was raped? – Students For Life()

  • gladys1071

    I don’t know if you will read this, but if you want to respond to me via email that is fine, since we are already emailing.

    I just have to respond to the rape question you addressed here. I will be honest, the idea that you would consider an abortion done by a rape victim as wrong, is beyond cruel and dehumanizing. That you or any pro-lifer would deny a rape victim an abortion to me is cruel. If I was raped you would NOT be able to talk me out of an abortion, I would not even think twice about having an abortion, I would RUN not walk to the nearest abortion clinic. If anybody tried to talk me out of it or tell me what I am doing is evil, I would simply not speak to that person again.

    I would never try to stop a rape victim from having an abortion. I would support whatever decision she made, that is the loving thing to do, nothing loving or compassionate in forcing a rape victim to gestate and give birth.

    • Ann Morgan

      Here’s what I think. I think the forced birthers are making mere sobs, when they talk about the ‘precious baybee’ in a rape victim, and that her ‘mere inconvenience’ is worth the ‘precious baybee’s very life’. I don’t believe for a second that they think it is really a ‘precious baybee’.

      But how about THIS as a compromise, which will both provide justice, and prove that they mean what they say about the gasping in awe value of the embryo and aren’t just making sobs while they sit fat, happy, safe, and comfortable:

      All heterosexual pro-life men must register in a national ‘lottery’. Lying about your political belief or sexual orientation to avoid registration will be a capital crime. If a woman becomes pregnant via rape, a name will be drawn. Whichever man is drawn must go to the nearest super-max prison every day to be gang-raped from exactly 9:00-10:00 pm by any inmates who want to participate. It will also be filmed, and available for purchase on the internet. The money will be given to the woman.

      He must do this (show up at 9:00) religiously, for all 9 months of the woman’s pregnancy. No excuses. Not ‘sick or hurt’, not ‘in a coma’, not ‘busy at job’, not ‘car broke down’, not ‘alarm didn’t go off’ not ‘weather too bad to get there’.

      A woman doesn’t get to ‘not’ be pregnant during part of the 9 months regardless of what happens, so the man cannot fail. If he is so much as 1 second late, out goes the fetus in pieces, even if the woman is only 1 day away from giving birth. Just to be sure, the man should consider giving up his job and moving into the prison for all 9 months. That is too bad, but some women have to give up their jobs when they are pregnant

      The inmates will be tested for AIDS, but the test is not foolproof. The man might get AIDS. That is too bad, but the woman might die from pregnancy or childbirth. The man might get a different incurable but non-lethal disease. That is too bad, but women can suffer permanent, but non-lethal damage from pregnancy and childbirth.

      How many pro-lifers would agree with this? Or is the fetus only ‘precious’ when someone ELSE is suffering the ‘mere inconvenience’.

      • Guest

        Delete your account.

  • gladys1071

    I also want to add I do NOT consider a 1st trimester embryo as valuable as a newborn. A newborn is by far more valuable than a non-sentient, non-viable, embryo. Not meaning to be callous, but I do get tired of the comparison, being human is not enough to make an embryo valuable, it does not have the same qualities of a newborn which is viability outside the body and being sentient, I consider those qualities that makes someone a full blown person.

  • Serpent

    i’m confused. are you aiming to make abortion illegal or not? i think for many pro-choicers that’s the main issue. i support anything you do to help women (and afab people) who don’t want to have an abortion but feel like they don’t have another choice.
    apart from the legality, the condescending attitudes are offputting. as a modern woman you probably think of it before your first actual period. before you’ve ever had sex. before you seriously realize how much of a risk rape is. we think about it as long as we’re (potentially) fertile. and pro-choicers don’t go around convincing us to have an abortion. they are merely defending our right to choose, and they may be campaigning to have various experiences heard, like that of Caitlyn Moran. even if we already believe a fetus is not a child, we might not immediately accept that it doesn’t have to be a tragic, painful experience.

    meanwhile the pro-life crowd seems to be revelling in the tragic side of it (hmm i guess kinda like as a feminist you’re often accused of deliberately choosing to see sexism). it’s turning a philosophical and ethical debate into a legal one. it speaks in a condescending way, as if assuming we’ve never thought about the issue before, assuming we haven’t considered some obvious arguments. worst of all, especially when religion is involved, pro-lifers speak from a position of authority. another condescending way is to treat us as victims of propaganda and make the argument about the “abortion industry”. (guess what else is an industry? child products of all kinds)

    and we know you won’t stop at birth. some pro-lifers may be anti-vaxxers (at least in specific cases), some even dare to sneer at poor families and even say they have too many babies… and most pro-lifers will be unhappy if the kids grows up an atheist or LGBT+ (especially if we open-mindedly note the signs early and let the kid do simple things like change their name or wear the clothes intended for a different gender). oh speaking of which, pro-lifers deny the very fact that not everyone who gets pregnant or has an abortion identifies as a woman (though the pro-choice side is guilty of that too), and guess what, somehow the pro-choice side is also more comfortable with using the words vaginal birth (as opposed to “natural” or “normal”), which aims to remove the stigma off c-sections.

    wow tbh i didn’t mean to write such a rant. but yeah, there are kinda many other factors apart from rape. is the pro-life side ready to say “we won’t value your unborn child less if they turn out to be LGBT”? that would be a start…