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To think that just because I'm pro-life doesn't mean I hate feminism?

(813 Posts)
TinkerSailerSoldierSpy Sat 18-May-13 12:38:25

Friend and I were having a discussion, I'm 18 weeks pregnant, and it was a bit of an inconvenient surprise, considering I've started a new job just 2 months ago.I mentioned that it wasn't going to look good, me taking maternity leave after not even being there for a year, and she suggested perhaps considering there was no dad on the scene and my new job, I should terminate. I felt a bit uncomfortable but told her that I could never do that as I'm pro life and view it as killing a child. She then proceeded to stare at me like I had an extra head and ask me why in a shocked voice. I explained my reasons and views and we got into an arguement about it, the usual stuff, what about in cases of rape and if the woman's not financially able to support the child, to which I countered but is it right for a woman to get an abortion just because she wants to continue a party lifestyle? And she stormed out the house shouting that I was misogynistic and women have the right to their own bodies. Let me be clear, I certainly would never stop anyone from making their decision about an abortion, I just can't seem to get over the idea of it, it repulses me. But I wouldn't judge a woman who got one. I understand the other viewpoint but I can't agree with it myself, and in all other respects I would say i was very liberal about womans rights. When I mentioned it to other friend she said it was my views but they were quite outdated and misogynistic. Are they? I need advice, should I apologize to friend A?

Chunderella Mon 27-May-13 19:50:32

Eccentrica thanks for clarifying re your suicide link. However, that's not an example of a limit to bodily autonomy, either. The unfortunate people concerned have the absolute legal right to kill themselves, their problem is with not being able to have anyone help them do it. It is therefore not a question of bodily autonomy. And this is different to the legal situation with regards to abortion post 24 weeks, as at the moment it is illegal for a woman to terminate her own pregnancy after this stage as well.

If I saw you trying to chop your own hand off, in all honesty I would probably run away. But I would oppose any attempt to criminalise you doing it. It's your hand after all. In practice, I imagine that if you approached a medical professional asking for help amputating part of yourself, they'd want to do some pretty stringent checks on your mental capacity. Rightly so. But if you were found to have capacity to consent to treatment, then yes I would certainly support your right to engage the services of someone who is willing and able to remove it safely. I might not want to pay for it on the NHS, though. That would depend on whether the treating clinicians thought it was more risky for you to keep the hand than have it safely amputated. Again, this is different to pregnancy because it is virtually always more dangerous to be pregnant than not pregnant. Whereas with people who want to amputate part of themselves, my understanding is that it's a balance between the physical detriment caused by the amputation and the mental detriment caused by having to live with a limb that is making you ill. I can envisage a situation where a person is in more danger by being denied amputation (eg suicide risk) than by being given an amputation.

eccentrica Mon 27-May-13 19:27:25

Chunderella I know Suicide was decriminalised with that Act, I meant to refer to the section further down the page on Diane Pretty and the question mark over 'right to die'. I realise how complicated that is but I think it's another example of how bodily autonomy is not a simple matter. And some of those laws are about protecting vulnerable people.

If you saw me trying to chop my own hand off in front of you, would you try to stop me or would you think that my bodily autonomy comes first?

That's not pulled out of thin air, there are people who feel very deeply that one of their limbs is "wrong" and want to have it amputated - would you support their freedom to make that decision, or would you want them to be stopped? Do you think that respect for their right to a private life should be prioritised over the natural human wish to prevent harm (including self-harm)? What, in practice, would you wish to happen in that case?

Visualise for the final time, I am not saying that I think those women exist. What I'm saying is, given that the law already permits abortion at any stage for the reasons given above, why do you think the law needs to be changed to allow abortion for other reasons?

So why mention 'doing it on a whim'? (Again) where are these mythical women who have late term abortions on a whim?

I think it's pretty well established that no woman decides she wants to have an abortion 'just because', regardless of when she has it. I don't think that there will be women who abort at 12 weeks due to a 'whim'. Regardless of the reason - continuing previous lifestyle, medical, mental health, health of the mother, finical, social - I don't think any abortion is done on a whim.

Chunderella Mon 27-May-13 18:58:01

Those links don't really indicate the current legal position with regards to bodily autonomy, eccentrica. The Suicide Act decriminalised suicide, so in fact it's an example of something that gives us more bodily autonomy. And while R v Brown is still good law (I think!) I remember being told at law school in 2007 that it would probably be decided differently today. I practice human rights law myself but not in a criminal context, but I wonder if you could make a good argument based on Article 8 of the ECHR, right to respect for private life. One of the MN criminal lawyers could tell us better. (For the non-lawyers, the state is allowed to interfere in your private and family life but the interference has to be proportionate and necessary in a democratic society. Sex life comes under private life. Bear in mind we had a sea change in UK human rights legislation in 1998 with the Human Rights Act, which postdates Brown).

So while we have certainly had lots of restrictions on our rights to bodily autonomy in the past, and your links illustrate that, things have moved the other way now. That's why you're having such a lot of trouble finding good examples of restrictions on our bodily autonomy. There are fewer and fewer of them, and the trend seems to be to think of such restrictions as a bad thing that should be avoided where possible. Except, of course, where women's bodies are concerned (shock horror). But certainly, the prohibition on eg selling organs and blood doesn't amount to a restriction on bodily autonomy. For that to be the case, you'd have to be prohibited from and face punishment for removing your own. As you don't, it isn't.

WhatKindofFool Mon 27-May-13 18:19:41

Well said, Eccentrica. There are too many posters on this thread who, for one Reason or another, refuse to absorb and understand the posts.

eccentrica Mon 27-May-13 17:17:54

Hairy they are not all about money. I referred upthread to R v Brown 1990, the Spanner case, where a number of men were convicted and jailed for causing and/or allowing injuries to themselves in sadomasochistic sex games. For more see www.spannertrust.org/documents/spannerhistory.asp

There are many other examples in legal history too. See for example en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suicide_Act_1961
So the analogy does not fail on that basis.

Visualise, seeker, Basil "I love that the women who had late-term abortion's because their child had a severe disability/disorder were doing it on a 'whim'. Do you now think these women have poured over, anguished over what the right decision for them to make?"

No, I don't for a moment think that those women did it on whim. I don't think you've read my post properly. As I said, I think that the current law, which allows abortion in those circumstances, is fit and proper.

What I've been arguing against throughout this thread is that there needs to be a change to the law so that abortions after 24 weeks can be done for reasons other than those currently allowed under law which are:

(b) that the termination of the pregnancy is necessary to prevent grave permanent injury to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman; or
(c) that the continuance of the pregnancy would involve risk to the life of the pregnant woman, greater than if the pregnancy were terminated
(d) that there is a substantial risk that if the child were born it would suffer from such physical or mental abnormalities as to be seriously handicapped.

As I say, abortion is allowed at any gestation for those reasons and I think that's as it should be. No, I don't believe that any woman in her right mind would have a late abortion for 'trivial' reasons - it seems we agree on that, I don't therefore see why you would want to make it possible and legal to do so?

HairyLittleCarrot Mon 27-May-13 15:21:33

eccentrica, your analogy fails in that it is not about bodily autonomy, it is about sales and transactions, exchange of money for bodily products.

you can remove a pint of blood or a kidney if you wish. you are not legally penalised for doing so. you can become a surrogate too. Also not illegal. those scenarios still entail the right to bodily autonomy.

I love that the women who had late-term abortion's because their child had a severe disability/disorder were doing it on a 'whim'. Do you now think these women have poured over, anguished over what the right decision for them to make?
Don't you think many of them feel guilt, grief, hatred for themselves?

Or do you SERIOUSLY think that a woman at 38 weeks just goes 'eh, don't fancy being a mum any more, bring on the abortion!' REALLY?

But still...the autonomy thing you state is true - we do not have complete control over our bodies 100% of the time. But what is it that happens at 24 weeks that suddenly makes it not ok for a woman to have an abortion?

seeker Mon 27-May-13 15:07:33

"Whim?" "Whim?"

Where is your evidence that women ever present for a late abortion- or any abortion for that matter- on a whim?

BasilBabyEater Mon 27-May-13 14:58:18

"A late-pregnancy foetus is not an entity which I feel comfortable saying can just be killed at someone else's whim. "

See, that language is once again buying into the discourse of women as whimsical unreliable arseholes who cannot be trusted to be truly moral agents. Whim? Really? Think about why you're using language like that. What evidence do you have that if it were legal to abort late fetuses on a whim, women would whimsically be lining up to do that?

Actually you make some good arguments re the not having complete autonomy. The difference being that not selling your kidneys or blood, doesn't harm you, whereas pregnancy and birth often does - and that those laws apply to everyone, not just women.

eccentrica Mon 27-May-13 12:15:35

Basil like neunundneun I am also repeating myself so I will try to keep this short and relevant!

I find your post a bit off, to be honest. Specifically I don't have any problem with "owning" anything I've said or anything i believe. The law as it stands says that abortion is allowed after 24 weeks only if it poses a grave and permanent threat to the woman's life or health (physical or mental). That seems reasonable to me. A late-pregnancy foetus is not an entity which I feel comfortable saying can just be killed at someone else's whim. Yeah it's tough giving up your bodily autonomy when you're pregnant (I'm currently pregnant for the third time) but it's inherent in the process. And by 24 weeks there has been enough time to deal with it.

It's your second bit in brackets which I think is wrong and which has been stated repeatedly on this thread with no justification. "(unfortunately once you concede that in one, unique situation, women lose the right to bodily autonomy, it becomes much easier to argue that they also have no right to bodily autonomy in many other, non-unique situations, but that's another thread).

No, I don't think it does necessarily mean that at all. There are many situations (I've posted at length about this earlier) in which autonomy is restricted. Indeed all of us have our autonomy restricted in multiple ways at all times. The idea of complete autonomy is a myth.

'Bodily autonomy' is a complicated concept and we don't have anything like full autonomy at any point. You asked if I would support a law saying someone had to give blood every day to keep someone else alive. Yeah, possibly I would. However, more relevantly, we have laws that tell you what you can and can't do with your own blood. You can't sell it to someone else, even if they are right there waving cash in your face and you are totally happy to sell them a pint or two. That is just one of many many ways in which the state controls your body and in which you do not have complete autonomy. Are you saying you oppose that legislation? What about the legislation that says you can't sell any organs, nor can you be paid for surrogacy (beyond expenses)? Do you think that's unfair state intervention? What about laws against self-injury? What about conjoined twins, do you think one twin should be able to refuse medical treatment that would save the other's life?

It is a total myth to say that by having the choice to abort at any stage of pregnancy, a woman would have total autonomy over her body. We do not have total autonomy over our bodies.

A foetus at 7 months' gestation is not a nothing, just because it's not yet a legal person. And I think it's been established multiple times on this thread that there is NO automatic "slippery slope" between considering that it might be wrong to kill it at 7 months, but not at 7 weeks.

seeker Mon 27-May-13 11:49:41

"Incidentally if I had to give blood every day in order to keep another person alive I'd do it."

So would I. But I would not support legislation to make it illegal for me to refuse.

BasilBabyEater Mon 27-May-13 11:47:59

But would you make a law that said everyone else had to do it?

Thus removing everyone's bodily autonomy and handing it over to the state/ medical profession? There's a perfectly respectable school of thought that would support that.

Pregnancy may be unique, but the concept of bodily autonomy isn't. You can argue that because pregnancy is unique, women must lose their bodily autonomy at some stage in that unique situation. If that's what you're arguing, fine, own it. It's only what has been argued for millenia - that women don't have the right to control their own bodies because they bear children (unfortunately once you concede that in one, unique situation, women lose the right to bodily autonomy, it becomes much easier to argue that they also have no right to bodily autonomy in many other, non-unique situations, but that's another thread).

neunundneunzigluftballons Mon 27-May-13 11:47:30

x post

neunundneunzigluftballons Mon 27-May-13 11:46:50

I am finding myself saying the same things so I am going to bow out before it looks like I am trying to get the last word in smile. I have found this discussion really interesting but it really has not changed my views at all I am still horrified with the notion of allowing abortion to term as the gold standard of promoting women's rights but I understand others have different views. I do think though that because pregnancy is a fairly unique situation that trying to find other similar examples of medical situations is a pointless exercise.

eccentrica Mon 27-May-13 11:30:47

Indeed, Basil, it's almost as if pregnancy is a unique situation creating extremely complex ethical issues, with no obvious parallels in other aspects of life.

Incidentally if I had to give blood every day in order to keep another person alive I'd do it.

BasilBabyEater Mon 27-May-13 10:44:37

You cannot talk about the "right to life" of the foetus, without acknowledging that you no longer support the bodily autonomy of women once they've reached a certain point in pregnancy.

If your right to life as a human being is dependent on lodging in someone else's body, or even using the body parts of them (for example, forcing them to regularly give you blood every day) then by definition your right is being elevated over their's - you are being given leave to use their body with or without their consent in order to stay alive.

In no other medical situation would this right to life at the expense of another person, be countenanced. It's only pregnant women who lose the right to bodily autonomy for the benefit of another person.

eccentrica Mon 27-May-13 07:56:45

framey the reasons that that is not a simple or realistic answer have been discussed at length upthread.

eccentrica Mon 27-May-13 07:55:26

Actually Sgb abortion is legal at any gestation if the mother's life is at risk, and i'm confident that no one on this thread would wish that to change, so no, "squeamishness" about late abortion does not lead to women dying.
Just saying it doesn't make it true.

Recognising that these questions are nuanced and difficult does not make people idiots, and treating them with contempt does not win any debates.

mathanxiety Mon 27-May-13 00:51:59

Very true about the polarisation Neun.

Unfortunately, SGB, abortion being available up to the time of natural birth means viable foetuses dying. I am not sure how this squares with any concept of equality.

neunundneunzigluftballons Sun 26-May-13 22:36:42

Better to ask how the abortion to birth would really practically work i think given that the 3rd option seems to be already in operation in the uk from what others have written here.

seeker Sun 26-May-13 22:20:26

How does the 3rd way work?

neunundneunzigluftballons Sun 26-May-13 21:26:44

No the 3rd way tries to balance the conflicting right to bodily integrity of the woman with the recognised in most countries across the world right to life of the foetus. It is a difficult balancing act to walk since both ends of the spectrum refuse to recognise the others view point making for a highly devisive debate at both ends of the spectrum.

FrameyMcFrame Sun 26-May-13 19:54:58

Seems quite simple to me, abortions should be granted upon request at any point in pregnancy.
If the fetus/baby/products of conception/whatever you prefer, can live independently then every effort should be made to help them to do so.

LineRunner Sun 26-May-13 19:26:02

There isn't a 3rd way with bodily autonomy.

What you are talking about is compromising the bodily autonomy of women with rules, laws and contingent interpretations, and then calling it a 3rd way.

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