fellmama: (absolut)
[personal profile] fellmama
Today is National Blogging for Choice Day. (The anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, for those unaware.)

It's late and I drove a long time today, so I'll keep it snappy.

Being for reproductive justice is about respecting autonomy of women and men alike to have children when and how they choose. In a perfect world, no one would ever have an abortion. But until we have a world free of rape, poverty, and injustice--for starters--we work with what we've got.

Date: 2009-01-23 03:19 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] superquail.livejournal.com
Dude, I have always found it weird how the same people who are all for "smaller government" are the same people who think that the government should be allowed to monitor the relationship between doctor and patient and interfere with the decisions made therein. The only way to legally enforce an anti-abortion law, would be to know what is going on inside of a woman's uterus, and the government doesn't belong there.

That's one of my favorite arguments, but I got a whole stack of 'em right here!

Date: 2009-01-23 06:30 am (UTC)
cheyinka: A sketch of a Metroid (Default)
From: [personal profile] cheyinka
But that one's easy to answer. Government is there to protect the weaker citizens from the stronger. So, ideally, even in a "radically smaller" government, a company knowingly selling poisoned food is punished (and where possible, prevented from selling it in the first place.) A man who abuses his wife and children is kept away from them, and potentially from everyone else, unless and until he is rehabilitated. The unborn are clearly the most defenseless possible members of society, so it's not incongruent for the government to be allowed or encouraged to prevent harm to them.

Date: 2009-01-23 08:05 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] perdita-dream.livejournal.com
I once knew a fundamentalist Christian who thought abortion was a good thing because it sent the fetus's souls straight to heaven. Forgive my ignorance, but I was wondering what the Catholic position is on this? Fetus goes to heaven? Purgatory? What about babies that die in the womb from natural causes?

The girl was kind of crazy though, so I don't think she speaks for the majority of Christians. She thought the poor didn't deserve health care, because if god wanted them to have it, he'd give them the money to get it. That doesn't sound like what the New Testament says!

long answer go!

Date: 2009-01-23 09:24 pm (UTC)
cheyinka: the words 'glory, glory, send your glory' on a golden background (my glorious)
From: [personal profile] cheyinka
The official Catholic position is "we don't know what happens to those under the age of reason who die unbaptized"; that is to say, anyone under the age of 7 and anyone who never reaches a mental age of 7. The older assumption was that they'd go to Limbo, which was a place of perfect natural happiness but not spiritual happiness (or unhappiness, for that matter - it wasn't thought of as a bad place, just not as good as Heaven). The newer assumption is that since God can do anything, he's not restricted to saving someone through baptism, so we can reasonably hope that his mercy make it possible for those who never had the chance to want baptism before they died to be saved anyway, and so they'll be in Heaven, having never committed any sins.

In general it's assumed that anyone who dies under the age of reason is treated roughly the same way, whether it's because of a miscarriage or an induced abortion or falling out of a highchair or getting smushed in a plane crash or whatever.

That said, it's not uncommon for someone who goes into very premature labor to have the newborn baptized immediately if there is any possibility that the child survived birth, because we don't know. (We don't think you can baptize the dead, so if there's no doubt that the child was stillborn, we won't baptize the body.)

Date: 2009-01-24 03:38 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] superquail.livejournal.com
I think you an I are operating under some very different definitions.

First, I consider a woman who is pregnant against her will to be one of the weakest and most vulnerable members of society and that the government is doing its job by protecting her from having to have a pregnancy and a child she doesn't want from those who would force her to do so out of spite or a belief in the need to punish women and keep them subordinate.

Second, I am not of the opinion that the primary function of government is to protect the weak from the strong. I certainly see very little evidence of that. How many tax breaks do corporations get? How about middle class families? (Poor families, of course, don't pay taxes.) The strong are able to take of themselves and are the powerful voices that manipulate the government to their needs.

Third, I don't believe that fetus is a person and therefor it has neither rights nor claims for protection. Spiritually, I am of the belief that the soul enters the body with the first breath, as in Genesis when God transformed Adam from lifeless clay to a human being by breathing in to him. It is breath that defines life, and in Hebrew the word for "breath" and the word for "spirit" are the same.

Date: 2009-01-24 06:52 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fellmama.livejournal.com
Yet the official position of the Libertarian Party, as an example, is that abortion is a private matter between an individual and her doctor.

Libertarianism is fine in theory, but it falls apart at precisely the point Cheyinka describes. The moment one admits--or demands--that government has a responsibility to prohibit certain actions for the good of the citizenry as a whole, that's when the philosophy becomes hollow.

Date: 2009-01-26 02:20 pm (UTC)
cheyinka: A sketch of a Metroid (Default)
From: [personal profile] cheyinka
Yes; while Libertarians for Life exists as an organization they're about as influential as Democrats for Life except there might be Democrats in national office who identify as pro-life, and there aren't any Libertarians in national office who identify as anything.

But the comment was "How can you want smaller government and want the government involved in abortion?" and that's the hallmark of a Republican (usually). (Then again I can imagine a Republican wanting to hand over responsibility for protecting the unborn to FetusTech, Inc., which I guess qualifies as smaller government if you squint, but really seems more like redefining government to include businesses...)

Date: 2009-01-26 03:27 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fellmama.livejournal.com
FetusTech! Handling your technical support issues for over thirty years!

Date: 2009-01-27 03:04 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] superquail.livejournal.com
That is brilliant! And oh-so Republican. "Let the free market solve our problems"!

I had a roommate who had a boyfriend who was one of those extreme hippie types who wanted to donate everything and make the world a better place. When talking to his girlfriend, Jill, about menstruation he asked her "Can you donate menstrual blood?"

At the time I found the question just silly, but if he had said, "Do you think we can sell menstrual blood and make a profit?" I would have been deeply offended. Still, I am sure that if there was any profit to be made from any substance, some dashing young entrepreneur will seek it out, and it will be left to the rest of us to sort out the moral and ethical consequences thereof.

Date: 2009-01-23 06:36 am (UTC)
cheyinka: A sketch of a Metroid (Default)
From: [personal profile] cheyinka
"In a perfect world, no one would ever have an abortion. But until we have a world free of rape, poverty, and injustice--for starters--we work with what we've got." That only works if a human who is not yet born is not worthy of protection. If that's not the case, then the attempted solution to injustice is in fact perpetuating more injustice.

Date: 2009-01-23 05:11 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fellmama.livejournal.com
This is an insoluble intellectual divide. Those who believe abortion is murder in the first degree are of course appalled by it. Those who see the rights of those already born as paramount are generally more inclined to view abortion as a necessary evil. Impossible to change the other side's mind.

As for injustice, perhaps I wasn't clear--I don't consider abortion a mechanism of justice; if anything, its very existence is a reflection of how rampant injustice is in our world. (E.g. forced abortion in China.) Hence the somewhat clumsy "pro-reproductive-justice" rather than "pro-abortion" or even "pro-choice."

Date: 2009-01-24 02:07 am (UTC)
cheyinka: A sketch of a Metroid (Default)
From: [personal profile] cheyinka
Probably impossible, yes; it's happened, but I'd be willing to bet never by argument.

As for it not being a mechanism of justice - if it has to be legal because of injustice, what else is it?

Date: 2009-01-24 03:50 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] superquail.livejournal.com
People on both sides of the debate tell themselves a story about the woman who goes for an abortion. Those who believe that abortion should be legal envision a woman who was raped or who had a shit-head boyfriend who refused to use condoms or a mother with three children already who simply cannot afford to bring another child into the family. In all of these cases, the woman is a victim of circumstances, a powerless pawn in the hands of others, and this is one way she can take control and make a good decision for her life.

People who are opposed to abortion tend to imagine a slutty girl who has sex without thought to the consequences and who needs to learn an important lesson about keeping her legs together and that this can be achieved by making her suffer through the pregnancy that she tried to avoid and go through the dreadful pain and agony of birth.

The abortion debate isn't about justice for the unborn. Maybe it is for you, but on the national scale that is not the discussion that is taking place. This is a debate about women's rights and women's power and the ability of laws and government to limit both and to keep women in their place, as determined by men. One of the greatest frustrations of patriarchy is the men's inability to control reproduction, and as they do not have a uterus themselves they try to control the women who carry them.

Men can have meaningless, casual sex without facing much in the way of consequences. Pregnancy, even today, is a dangerous endeavor that is a risk to the woman's health. Women still die of pregnancy complications and that is a threat no man will ever have to face. It is up to a doctor to determine whether or not a pregnancy is a threat to a woman's life, not a court, not a judge, not a bunch of legislators in congress.

Date: 2009-01-24 06:14 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fellmama.livejournal.com
I think SQ has hit the nail on the head here. As the poster slogan says, "77% of anti-abortion leaders are men. 100% of them will never be pregnant." One of my pet peeves about the whole issue is that anti-choice politicians et al. act as though fetuses exist in a limbo, unconnected to the health, safety, or quality of life of their mothers.

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Date: 2009-01-26 12:19 am (UTC)
cheyinka: A sketch of a Metroid (Default)
From: [personal profile] cheyinka
When I imagine someone who goes to get an abortion, I imagine an adult woman who does not think there is any other option available to her besides ending the life of the fetus she carries. Her carelessness or carefulness honestly isn't part of it for me, though I do know there are legislators for whom it matters. I know of at least two national organizations who think approximately the same way.

I really don't view pregnancy as an unfortunate consequence that the careless must suffer, where allowing them to escape it means they escape a needed lesson. Humans have a right not to be killed. (And yes, I would want abortion to be legal if the mother's life were in danger (not just her health or mental health). Yes, this is somewhat contradictory, but since a human can't (or is very unlikely to) survive outside the womb before 24 weeks, its right to live can potentially threaten its mother's right to live.)

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Date: 2009-01-24 03:42 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] superquail.livejournal.com
The issue of abortion in China is a big one and it is something that I have thought about in great detail. The situation with abortions here is so different from the US. It turns the whole issue on its head. Here people believe that having more than one child is a sin against society because you are leading to the overpopulation of the country and the ultimate starvation and destruction of China. They see terminating an unlicensed pregnancy as a patriotic act.

From a public health and women's health standpoint, I think condom use and birth control pills are better methods of preventing unwanted births than abortion, but for that to happen there has to be a great deal more sex education in China.

Date: 2009-01-24 08:18 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] heresiarch514.livejournal.com
You're assuming that a human that is not yet born is, well, a human. Fundamentally, that's what's under debate here--when does an egg become a person?

Historically, there have been many different answers to that question, ranging from conception to several years after birth. Most abortion-opponents (which I'll tentatively consider you as one of) believe that life--humanity--begins at the moment of conception. From my pov, this seems a bit silly: at conception, we're talking about a single cell. There's nothing recognizably human about it. Sure it's got the DNA to make a full human, but a blueprint is not a house. Potential is not the thing itself, and at this point, potential humanity is all there is.

To believe that at the moment of conception an embryo already contains a human soul, to believe that there is a spirit to the thing which predates its physical form, is an act of faith. There is no physical, verifiable evidence of it--it is an idea which has not been and cannot be proven. It is irrational. And while everyone has the right to believe whatever they want to, why should we pass laws based on beliefs we do not share? Why should we set aside the costs levied upon actual, verifiably human living women in favor of an act of faith?

Date: 2009-01-26 12:25 am (UTC)
cheyinka: A sketch of a Metroid (Default)
From: [personal profile] cheyinka
I'm not assuming anything personhood at all. From the moment of conception there is a human organism separate from both of its parents. No consideration of ensoulment is necessary to determine this; it's true even if no such thing as a soul exists.

The only unambiguous line is conception; viability is dependent on medical technology, breathing unaided is not something every newborn does, and so on. Otherwise, someone's rights are dependent on whether or not someone else thinks they have rights, and that's not a good situation, especially when the right in question is the right to live.

Date: 2009-01-26 05:09 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] superquail.livejournal.com
Tumors are also organisms separate from the host, do they have a right to live? Is it murder to remove a tumor?

Date: 2009-01-26 05:29 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] heresiarch514.livejournal.com
What is it that makes them human? What is it about that one single-celled organism that makes its life more precious than the lives of any other single-celled organism?

What is your definition of human?

Date: 2009-01-26 07:45 am (UTC)
cheyinka: A sketch of a Metroid (Default)
From: [personal profile] cheyinka
Their DNA makes them human; that single-celled organism is more precious than an amoeba or a squirrel zygote because it's a human. It's a particularly small one, but my best friend's nephew has fewer cells than I do, and I have fewer cells than my husband, and all three of us are equally human. Being human is more precious than being a squirrel or an amoeba because we reason and we love, in a way that other organisms don't, but that reason-for-preciousness isn't particularly important to law; from a legal perspective any human is precious because otherwise any unwanted human is in danger.

My definition of human is, uh. A distinct member of Homo sapiens. I'm not very particular. (So, e.g. "There is a dead squirrel under that car; there is a dead human inside that coffin," is a valid sentence.)

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part 1 of 2

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Date: 2009-01-26 06:02 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fellmama.livejournal.com
Be nice, children, or there'll be no TV before bedtime.

I don't think the tumor comparison is a valid one--tumors aren't capable of living on their own outside the host, and they aren't genetically-distinct, ever.

But viability doesn't wash for me, either--most abortions are performed well before 20 weeks, and the vast majority of those performed after are usually done so due to some problem with the fetus that would result in agonizing death before or soon after birth. (The quality of life argument is something else entirely that I don't want to get into here.)

Otherwise, someone's rights are dependent on whether or not someone else thinks they have rights, and that's not a good situation, especially when the right in question is the right to live.

And yet this is the situation in which women across the world find themselves.

Date: 2009-01-26 07:54 am (UTC)
cheyinka: A sketch of a Metroid (Default)
From: [personal profile] cheyinka
And yet this is the situation in which women across the world find themselves.

Yes, and this is bad. This is unquestionably bad. There is nothing good about this.

Most abortions are performed well before 20 weeks

Right, but - if a human born at 32 weeks gestation is almost-certainly going to survive, and a human born at 24 weeks gestation has a reasonable chance of survival, and a human born at 22 weeks gestation isn't automatically a stillbirth, it's possible that in a decade or two decades "viability" could be 20 weeks or 18 weeks or 16 weeks; if we eventually invent artificial uteruses (besides just something that could be transplanted into someone who had a hysterectomy) it could be theoretically possible to laparoscopically remove an embryo after 4 weeks gestation and transplant it into an artificial uterus. That's my point about viability - that it's dependent on technology, which shouldn't be a consideration about whether or not a human organism has rights or not.

(I agree - let's not jump down the quality-of-life rabbit hole. It leads only to no TV before bedtime.)

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Date: 2009-01-26 12:22 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] superquail.livejournal.com
I would like to say that I really appreciate Cheyinka's views because so rarely have I met a person who is willing to discuss this issue with me who doesn't agree with me. It seems that there can be a bit of an echo-chamber effect when you get in a room and talk about something that everyone has the same opinion on. It is important for me to talk to someone who is intelligent, thoughtful, rational, and has come to completely different conclusion than I have.

So, I hope I have not been rude or disrespectful - only curious.

Back to the issue at hand: the abortion issue is primarily an issue of women's rights about what it means to be a woman, the value of a woman in society, and under what circumstances that value is reduced or marginalized. I do not believe there is any way to talk about a fetus that isn't talking about the woman, and what her choices are.

People say if it is a crime to kill a child a week after it is born, why is it not a crime to kill it a week before? Or something along those lines. Yes, it is a crime for a parent to kill a child. It is also a crime for parents to abuse or neglect their children, but crimes against children are extremely difficult to prosecute. In order to monitor a child's health and well-being, the government has to have access to the interior life of the family and that is something that most families are extremely resistant to.

Ask any grade school teacher who has had to deal with parents: people tend to be very touchy when it comes to their parenting "techniques," and abusive parents tend to be the most outspoken in terms of their "right" to raise their child as they see fit.

The United States is not like China, they do not issue pregnancy licenses and require parents to go to meetings with a birth control officer or anything. The US requires nothing very little from parents after the child is born, so how does it have the moral right to demand anything of women during their pregnancy?

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Date: 2009-01-23 09:02 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ravenmanifesto.livejournal.com
Yes! And get some rest.

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