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"Pro-life advocates claim they want the fetus to be treated as if it were a born person. Well, even if the fetus were a person, and even if the fetus had a right to life, the fetus has no right of access to a woman's body or liberty, because no born person has such a right.

* Once born, for example, no child has a right to even a pint of blood from a parent-- much less to more invasive donations, such as bone marrow. Thus, although parents have a duty to care for their children, this duty does not extend to the requirement that parents donate parts of their body to their children, even if the lives of their children are dependent upon those donations.

* What is more, if someone coercively took a pint of blood from a parent to give to the child, the government would protect the parent from such nonconsensual bodily intrusion, not the child. If we were to treat the fetus as if it were a born person, therefore, the government would protect the woman, not the fetus, when the fetus intrudes without consent upon a woman's body and liberty.

Consent added to choice, therefore, strengthens abortion rights. Even if a woman consents to sex, she retains her right to bodily integrity and liberty. This means she retains the right to consent to the condition of pregnancy resulting from the fetus. If a woman does not consent to pregnancy, she is similarly situated with others who are the victims of non-consensual intrusion of their bodies and liberty."



( 16 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 8th, 2007 08:27 pm (UTC)
Spirit + Body = Soul
Dear Jen, I think that you misunderstand those of us who are Pro-Life. It is not that we want the unborn child treated as if it were born, it's that we want it treated as if it were a child.

Is it a child? Is it NOT a child? If we as a society do not know, isn't it better to error on the side of caution and give it the benefit of the doubt?

No one is asking for you to give an organ or blood to a child that is born. What we are asking is that you recognize that you made a choice that created a life, and now you need to deal with the reality that there are now two entities with rights to be considered--not just you.

In the vast majority of cases, the child is inside of you because of you. Now, we have to ethically deal with that situation.

It is messy. It is complicated. I think we all wish that we didn't have to deal with it, but we do.

For some, the way out of the problem is to define the unborn child as being something less than human or less than "fully human." For them, the killing of that life form within the womb, whatever it may be, is no big deal. They don't lose any sleep over it.

I'm sorry, but I do not fall into that category.

Now, on that note, I have wanted to give a long stirring discourse on the religious issues you raised, but I have been extremely busy. Please forgive me. I will eventually post post something before long. In the mean time, I would like to share the following points for you to consider:

(1) Science is what tells us that an embryo or fetus is alive. It is also what tells us that it is human life. There is no scientific debate there. It is simple biology. The issue of a soul does not factor into the equation for a scientist.

(2) Ethics is what tells us whether or when we should protect a life. One's ethics can be informed by religion, but acting ethically is not dependent upon one having a religious orientation. People who have very different beliefs about religion can still subscribe to the same ethical standard.

(3) Most religions tend to focus more upon encouraging adherents to be ethical, than in teaching them when something called "ensoulment" occurs.

(4) My Church, for example, has not taken a position on that question. I am not even sure that concept applies to my theology. In Mormonism a soul is not something that is added to a body. Rather, a body is added to a pre-existent spirit, and they together constitute a soul. (Spirit + Body = Soul.)

Anyway, my friend, once I have more time I will try to explain even more of my feelings on this topic. Take care, and God bless you!


Alienated Wannabe

P.S. I really appreciate the great posts by Allie, Cameron, and the others. That really helps cover holes in our respective arguments, and helps the discussion progress. Well done!
Feb. 9th, 2007 12:10 am (UTC)
Re: Spirit + Body = Soul
Alienated Wannabe wrote: No one is asking for you to give an organ or blood to a child that is born. What we are asking is that you recognize that you made a choice that created a life, and now you need to deal with the reality that there are now two entities with rights to be considered--not just you.

Then you are in favor of abortion and/or emergency contraception in the case of incest/rape?
Feb. 9th, 2007 01:14 am (UTC)
Re: Spirit + Body = Soul
Dear Deadbeatwriter,

That is a very good question--and a fair one. If I was a woman who became pregnant due to rape or incest, I believe that I would choose to see the pregnancy through to term. Upon birth, I would then allow a relative who was physically unable to have children with her spouse to raise the baby as her own. Once the child became an adult, I would allow my relative to tell the child the circumstances surrounding its birth. And, if the child wanted to know the identity of its biological mother, I would allow it to be known. In fact, in the case where my life was threatened, I believe that I would also choose to lay down my life to give birth to my child.

But, that is me. Those are my values, and that is how I think. In the extreme situation where a pregnancy results from rape or incest, or the mother's life is in danger, I do not feel comfortable imposing my values upon someone else. (Please give Jen some smelling salts, and help her up off the floor.) I hope that women in these difficult situations would choose life, where possible, but I do not feel that I can compel them to do so.

However, most abortions do not fall into these categories. Most pregnancies result from a freely made choice to be sexually active. In those cases, I do feel comfortable holding the mother accountable for the decision she made. She doesn't have to keep the baby, she may give it to loving adoptive parents, but she should be required to take responsibility for her actions and see the pregnancy through to birth. I think that is both fair and ethical.

Please see my correspondence with Senate Candidate Pete Ashdown on this subject at: http://alienatedwannabe.blogspot.com/2006/11/my-reply-to-pete-ashdown-regarding.html#links

Thanks, Deadbeatwriter, please stay engaged in the discussion.

Alienated Wannabe
Feb. 9th, 2007 03:50 am (UTC)
Re: Spirit + Body = Soul
Alienated Wannabe wrote: In the extreme situation where a pregnancy results from rape or incest, or the mother's life is in danger, I do not feel comfortable imposing my values upon someone else. (Please give Jen some smelling salts, and help her up off the floor.) I hope that women in these difficult situations would choose life, where possible, but I do not feel that I can compel them to do so.

You describe my policy preference. I know that an overwhelming number of women who have abortions have them for financial reasons, have abortions because they feel they’re too young to be mothers and are overwhelmed, don’t know if they can go through with the pregnancy only to give up their babies in adoption (and change their minds at the last minute even though they aren’t financially capable of raising a child, putting themselves and the would-be adoptive parents through hell in the process), etc., etc. My policy preference also includes allowing women who look forward to being mothers but conceive fetuses with fatal genetic diseases access to elective abortion as well.

However, I know that my preference is not logically consistent. To be logically consistent I can’t place extraneous conditions like rape on personhood. Fetuses are either endowed with inalienable rights or they aren’t. The circumstances surrounding their conception don’t change this. How can I condone the “murder” of one innocent but not another, after all?

In this regard I respect absolutist pro-lifers even though I find their views extremist, intolerable, and incompatible with a free society.
Feb. 9th, 2007 07:46 am (UTC)
Re: Spirit + Body = Soul
Dear Deadbeatwriter,

The trouble with abortion is that it involves the rights of more that one person. How do we go about deciding which person's rights take precedent over the other?

It is complicated, difficult, and messy. But, we have to do the best we can. The formula I have been using, and I believe consistently so, is the following:

(1) In most cases, the pregnancy results from a freely made choice by the mother. Thus, it is both reasonable and ethical to expect her to take responsibility for her choice.

(2) In weighing the consequences of an abortion upon the unborn child verses the consequence of a pregnancy upon most mothers, the pregnancy is the least consequential. Thus, that is the most ethical course because it does the least damage to the two parties.

(3) In the case of rape and incest, however, it is not reasonable or ethical to hold the mother accountable for that outcome, because she did not participate willingly in the activity that produced the pregnancy. She was coerced, or dominated in such a way, that we was not acting as a free agent.

(4) And, in the situation where the mother's life is in danger, the consequence of the pregnancy has suddenly been elevated to the same level as that of the consequence of an abortion upon the unborn child. Thus, there is no least damaging course that can be identified.

I am interesting to being as compassionate and as life affirming to the largest number of people possible. While my formula may not be perfect, it is still the ethical and the most consistent one I have found. If you can identify one that is superior, I sincerely would love to hear it.

Alienated Wannabe
Feb. 9th, 2007 04:07 am (UTC)
Re: Spirit + Body = Soul
"No one is asking for you to give an organ or blood to a child that is born. What we are asking is that you recognize that you made a choice that created a life, and now you need to deal with the reality that there are now two entities with rights to be considered--not just you."

So being a life support system for a child you created only applies before the child is born? Why doesn't it apply after? If we are to apply law consistently in the event of eliminated legal abortion, then all parents should be forced to give blood, kidney, bone marrow or what have you to the child in the event he/she needs one to survive. Right now they are not forced to, as women are not forced to have their bodies used as life-support systems for a fetus if she chooses not to.

If you don't agree with making it consistent, what changed to make the child less important after birth than before?
Feb. 9th, 2007 07:17 am (UTC)
Re: Spirit + Body = Soul
Dear Jen,

I believe I am being consistent. After your baby is born, there are many of us on the outside who are willing to give our blood and our kidneys to keep your baby alive--if you do not want to do so yourself.

And, though I certainly would be willing to bear your child for you in order to keep it alive, the science just has not progressed to that point yet. Thus, you will unfortunately have to take responsibility for your choice and do your part until your baby is in a position to where the rest of us can help you. At that point, you are off the hook.

Does that make sense?

Alienated Wannabe

Feb. 9th, 2007 08:11 pm (UTC)
Re: Spirit + Body = Soul
Is there a raging epidemic of dying children in need of bone marrow with parents unwilling to give? When that epidemic reaches upwards of 45 million children, perhaps we could discuss some legislative action.

But in a more realistic sense, yes, our laws are currently designed to force parents to care for their children. If the parents do not want the child, they may give her to someone else to raise. If the parents are neglectful of their duties, our laws authorize the state to forcibly take the child away and give her to someone else.

Feb. 9th, 2007 11:14 pm (UTC)
Re: Spirit + Body = Soul
The point is that the government does not force any parent to act as a life support system after they are born, when they can feel pain and process the fear of death. It is therefore inconsistent to demand that any parent act as a life-support system against their will before the nervous system, fully functioning brain and (for religious folks) before "ensoulment" occurs -- in other words before they are a fully formed human.

Feb. 9th, 2007 11:23 pm (UTC)
Re: Spirit + Body = Soul

You have probably received the brunt of my frustration as you are the umpteenth person to use the same arguments against choice that I've heard ad nauseum, which I have had to argue as to why you have no right to dictate laws about by body. I'm getting very tired of the debate.

I'm getting very tired of being told that I shouldn't have sex unless I'm married and fully prepared to raise a child for 20 years in exchange for the 20 minutes or so of fun. I'm tired of being told that I'm selfish because I don't fit some outdated idealized version of womanhood circa 1950.

You picture a sweet little baby being murdered, I picture women's and children's lives destroyed, poverty and long-term suffering. Our life experiences have given us completely different ways to view the same thing.

(to be continued)
Feb. 9th, 2007 11:18 pm (UTC)
Re: Spirit + Body = Soul
I'm not sure why you want to continue this debate -- you are so very sure that life begins at conception; I'm very sure that I won't cede my rights over my body and life to religious/superstitious beliefs that I don't share. Neither of us will convince the other.

Your comments on The World According to me:

"But let's be clear as to what the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints stance is on abortion:

Human life is a sacred gift from God. Elective abortion for personal or social convenience is contrary to the will and the commandments of God. Church members who submit to, perform, encourage, pay for, or arrange for such abortions may lose their membership in the Church.

In today's society, abortion has become a common practice, defended by deceptive arguments. Latter-day prophets have denounced abortion, referring to the Lord's declaration, "Thou shalt not . . . kill, nor do anything like unto it" (D&C 59:6). Their counsel on the matter is clear: Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints must not submit to, perform, encourage, pay for, or arrange for an abortion. Church members who encourage an abortion in any way may be subject to Church discipline. "

Having spent the first 19 years of my life as an active Mormon, I'm well aware how difficult it is to convince them of anything different than what the "church" says. They drill into your head every week that you belong to the only true church (and several times on fast Sunday). If you belong to the only true church, then the logic follows that anything said by the leaders of the only true church is the ultimate truth of the Universe. I don't have the debating skills to compete with your certainty based on this -- which having had it once myself, I've come to realize takes a lot of different life experiences to wake you up.

Since your religion believes that gender is an eternal experience and that the ultimate destiny for women who make it to the top of the Celestial Kingdom and the production of spirit babies, it would come as no surprise that one who follows your religion would believe that women who don't want "God's plan" for them would be unnatural and "selfish". This would further be confirmed if most of the women you know really enjoyed their roles as mothers, as many -- but far from all -- women do. And how many would dare "come out of the not-wanting-to-center-life-around-children closet" if they don't with such beliefs?

When I try to view what I've said about abortion from my 19 year-old active-Mormon perspective, I'm aware that I'm wasting my time in arguing. And while you are not me at 19, you probably see it close enough to that perspective to make all this considerable time I'm spending on this one subject a waste.

So lets agree to disagree, shall we?

(okay, I'm done now)
Feb. 8th, 2007 08:37 pm (UTC)
blaming the fetus
It's true that a child doesn't have a "right" to take an organ or even blood from its parent.

But a fetus wouldn't be a fetus if a woman hadn't chosen (in most cases) to have sex. I think most women know how babies are made, so we can't play ignorant. It doesn't seem right to blame the fetus for existing when our actions are what caused it to exist in the first place.

Abortion is a way of relieving ourselves of responsibility for something that we chose to create.

Feb. 8th, 2007 08:44 pm (UTC)
Re: blaming the fetus
If women could fully comprehend the enormity of the next 20+ every time she got a bit randy, the human race would have died out a long time ago. Heck, it's hard to contmplate that reality even after the kid is born.

That's probably why God makes all the blood rush to the opposite part of the body when we get the hormonal rush - no blood in brain = human race continues to multiply and replenish the earth.
Feb. 9th, 2007 01:44 am (UTC)
emergency contraception
Emergency contraception shouldn't be viewed at the same way abortion is. It isn't terminating a pregnancy, it's preventing one. I'm all for emergency contraception, although I've heard it makes you kind of sick- all the hormones.... Better to be prepared ahead of time, but it's good that it's there for "oopses".

And I don't think we need to worry about responsible sexuality causing the human race to die out (although it's funny to think about). Most everyone I know of who has children, had them on purpose.

Feb. 9th, 2007 11:31 pm (UTC)
I don't think anyone really can (or should be) telling another adult to not have sex unless they want to have children.

How many different types of the Pill are available? Condoms, spermicide, IUD's, etc..

There are lots of options. If we know that having sex leads to pregnancy before we have sex, then we should do what we can to prevent pregnancy if we don't want that for ourselves.

(Of course, now this gets back into education and access for women)

It just sounds like you are arguing that women should be free to have sex without thought to the consequences, and based on the things we agree on, I can't imagine you would mean that.

I have really enjoyed this discussion, and I'm sorry you are getting frustrated by it.
Feb. 9th, 2007 11:44 pm (UTC)
Re: Responsibility
"It just sounds like you are arguing that women should be free to have sex without thought to the consequences"

I'm not arguing that at all -- but perhaps my writing skills are lacking. Here's from the FAQ at Imnotsorry.net -- they express it far better than I do:

"So you just encourage women to sleep around and run down to the abortion clinic to rid themselves of the “inconvenience,” rather than taking responsibility for their actions, right?"

Wrong. We encourage people simply to think before having sex, because a lot of nasty complications, both physical and emotional, would be avoided. But accidents do happen, and mistakes are made. Having children should not be used as “punishment” for a birth control failure or an error in judgment. Women who have had mental illnesses or problems with drugs or alcohol are often confronted with unwanted pregnancies, but we would much rather hear about a drug addict that had four abortions than a drug addict who had four children she neglected. But you know what would really reduce abortion rates? If parents taught their children to love themselves first and not depend on another person for their happiness. We need to teach kids that masturbation is a healthy sexual expression, that it’s not for “losers that can’t get any” or a sin, and is 100% guaranteed not to cause pregnancy or disease. We need to let them know that sex should never be taken lightly, that it is the most intimate thing that two human beings can do, and neither a man nor a woman should ever use it as a weapon or a trap.

(emphasis mine)
( 16 comments — Leave a comment )


Sunflower A
Jennifer Killpack-Knutsen
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