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The Abortion Debate [cont.]

(35 Posts)
Empusa Tue 14-Jun-11 23:24:20

I never got an answer to my question, and I thought it'd be interesting.

Bearing in mind the pro-lifers have been telling us that abortion is murder, I thought it'd be interesting to get their point of view on this. A bill passed in Utah about charging women for illegal abortion or forced miscarriage.

Do you agree with this?

What do you think of this - "In addition to criminalizing an intentional attempt to induce a miscarriage or abortion, the bill also creates a standard that could make women legally responsible for miscarriages caused by "reckless" behavior. "

How does this article sound to you?

"Life can't get much worse for Christine Taylor. Last month, after an upsetting phone conversation with her estranged husband, Ms. Taylor became light-headed and fell down a flight of stairs in her home. Paramedics rushed to the scene and ultimately declared her healthy. However, since she was pregnant with her third child at the time, Taylor thought it would be best to be seen at the local ER to make sure her fetus was unharmed.

That's when things got really bad and really crazy. Alone, distraught, and frightened, Taylor confided in the nurse treating her that she hadn't always been sure she'd wanted this baby, now that she was single and unemployed. She'd considered both adoption and abortion before ultimately deciding to keep the child. The nurse then summoned a doctor, who questioned her further about her thoughts on ending the pregnancy. Next thing Taylor knew, she was being arrested for attempted feticide. Apparently the nurse and doctor thought that Taylor threw herself down the stairs on purpose."

VictorGollancz Wed 15-Jun-11 07:48:59

What's really awful about that is that they've taken a stupid, but understandable, Bill (including the foetus in cases where the mother suffers DV, so for example, a man who killed his partner would be charged with double homicide, not single) and deliberately changed it so that it refers to the pregnant woman, not a third party. It's a disgrace, an utterly disgusting, reprehensible, repressive law, and we should all bear this in mind as the pro-life lobby in this country creep ever closer to their goals.

As for me, a women's body and her rights come first. Male bodily autonomy is entirely assured; unless we have access to safe, medical abortion, women's is not. We cannot attempt to have a fair, equal and just society if this is not the case. And before any of the pro-lifers pile in with their caveats and their extraordinary situations, yes, that means allowing all abortions, at all times, under all circumstances.

Access to abortion is famously difficult in the US. Planned Parenthood is soon to lose its funding. Abortion providers are murdered and harrassed - their places of work bombed and set on fire - in campaigns that would see the pro-lifers branded terrorists in any other context. We can see from this case that medical professionals expect to see women who have harmed themselves in order to end a pregnancy, because access to abortion is so difficult. To then criminalise that behaviour - well, it is a display of heartlessness and cruelty that, if the world was properly attuned to the really important issues, would see Americans rioting in the streets. But, as we learned from the other thread, women aren't actually worth that much...

valiumredhead Wed 15-Jun-11 08:52:55

Access to abortion is famously difficult in the US I had no idea this was the case, that's awful!

Empusa Wed 15-Jun-11 09:59:35

I am so glad to be in the UK rather than the US, I just pray we never ever follow their lead.

Where you get pro-lifers attacking doctors etc it really does make the title they've given themselves more ironic. Once again we are shown that for a fair few of them, it isn't about preserving all life.

slug Wed 15-Jun-11 10:23:15

The situation in the US is becoming dire for women.

this comment amused me. It comes from a blog written by a scientist, who has some interesting things to say about the debate

VictorGollancz Wed 15-Jun-11 10:31:25

valiumredhead American feminist blogs, such as, frequently have posts that reveal the stark reality of abortion access in the US. In some states, a woman under 18 has to have parental permission - it's not hard to see how that's tricky for any woman, let alone one who may be suffering abuse in the family home. Other states make women wait for a stated period to ensure that they're 'really sure' that they want a termination.

Most states don't have any abortion providers that are willing to assist late-term abortion - the murdered Dr. Tiller was based in Kansas and was only one of THREE doctors in the whole of the US who would perform a (perfectly legal) abortion after 21 weeks. The expense of travel must be horrifying. And then of course, the American health system means that abortions themselves cost money even if you don't have to travel; I've seen estimates that put the lowest possible price at $350. Women are put in the position of only having local anaesthetic because it's cheaper.

Feministe frequently refers to Catholic hospitals in which abortions won't be performed - easy to say 'don't go there' but what if it's an emergency and it's the closest one?

I live in the UK and didn't really have any idea about all this until a friend moved there, and it suddenly entered my consciousness that we must fight fight fight to protect the rights we have in this country. When she told me that contraception costs money (and can cost quite a lot of money, even for the pill) in the US it became so clear what an awful system it is, and how easy it could be for US women, particularly vulnerable ones, to become pregnant and then have to remain so. It's inhumane.

valiumredhead Wed 15-Jun-11 10:51:02

My sister is in the US ( I'm in the UK) she moved there about 12 years ago as her dh is American. She often comments on just how different things are there compared to here - and usually not for the good iho.

If you haven't got health insurance /money where do you go for an abortion? Are there free clinics? I am very ignorant about it.

valiumredhead Wed 15-Jun-11 10:53:08

Slug - I have bookmarked that to read later, thanks.

slug Wed 15-Jun-11 11:03:53

You may be interested in this as well. It's true for the US, but there are worrying signs that the Tories are thinking of going down this route as well.

slug Wed 15-Jun-11 11:05:44

This also makes sobering reading.

valiumredhead Wed 15-Jun-11 11:35:01

South Dakota legislators passed the most stringent waiting period law in the country, requiring a woman to wait 72 hours for an abortion and consult with a registered anti-choice pregnancy center before getting her abortion. As no anti-choice centers have signed up yet, the law functionally bans abortion in South Dakota


valiumredhead Wed 15-Jun-11 11:37:27

Sorry OP! In answer to your original question - NO I don't fucking agree with it!

Empusa Wed 15-Jun-11 12:40:43

Holy crap sad
^Bei Bei Shuai, 34, a restaurant owner who moved to the US from China 10 years ago, was pregnant and planning to marry her boyfriend until she learned late last year that he was already married and he would be abandoning her.

A few days later, on 23 December, she went to a hardware store, bought rat poison pellets, went back to her flat in Indianapolis and swallowed some. But she did not die immediately and was persuaded by friends to go to hospital.

She was given treatment to counteract the poison and gave birth on New Year's Eve, but her daughter, Angel, suffered seizures and died after four days.

Shuai then had a second breakdown and spent a month in a psychiatric ward, after which she left to stay with friends and began rebuilding her life.

But in March she was arrested and charged with murder and attempted foeticide. She now faces life imprisonment.^

Empusa Wed 15-Jun-11 12:46:32

Actually, on that note, one of the things mentioned on the previous thread was that it is not the women performing the abortion, but a doctor.

So presumably, on that basis, the poor woman mentioned was ok as she did it herself?

Does also make me wonder, how exactly that person decides their opinion on the MAP?
On the one hand they assure us that it is murder from the moment of conception, on the other they throw back comments about it being a woman's choice by saying things like,
"An abortion is not something YOU do to YOUR body, but something SOMEONE ELSE (a Dr) does to SOMEONE ELSES BODY"

NationalTruss Wed 15-Jun-11 18:22:31

I haven't had time to read the links, sorry.

The US law seems bonkers, unenforceable, and amounts to the thought police.

People in the previous thread seemed to be getting frustrated that their question about women's right over their own body was not being answered.

I do think that women have rights over their own bodies. I do not think that right extends to terminating another body that is growing within them.

Btw, it would be good if people could remember that there are lots of different shades of opinion in the debate and although I identify myself as pro-life, that doesn't mean I agree with every single statement that the other pro-life posters have made (nor they with mine, presumably). So it's a shame that the conspiracy theorists on the other thread seemed to think that all the pro-life posters on the other thread were the same person.

Oh, and another by the way -- I can't think of any pro-lifer I know whose position is in any way determined by the idea of male babies being aborted. In fact, one of the many upsetting aspects of the pro-choice culture (obviously complicated in this case by govt policy) is the number of girl babies being aborted in China simply because of their sex.

Gotta go now, but one more thing. We're all busy and we don't all spend all our time glued to the computer. So that's maybe why we don't always answer questions straight away (or at all, in the case of massive long threads).

VictorGollancz Wed 15-Jun-11 18:50:30

Yes, the US law is bonkers. But it's nothing more than the logical conclusion of pro-life policies, NationalTruss. You may not feel that you, yourself, support such measures - going on what you say, in fact, you don't - but if you deny women access to safe, medical abortion they will take alternative measures. How do you then stop them in a way that is not inconsistent with the laws of the land? In this hypothetical situation, abortion is murder - that's why it's illegal. Therefore these women have murdered. They therefore must be punished in accordance with the law.

When you say 'women have rights over their own bodies. I do not think that right extends to terminating another body that is growing within them', the second statement disqualifies the first. Women don't have rights if they cannot carry out a course of action regarding their own body.

Abortion is a thorny question, a difficult question, one that brings about all manner of responses. But your personal response is not the response of everyone. That's why the decision to abort should be left to the individual woman. Not the law, not lawmakers, not anyone else. Each individual woman's own moral code, circumstances, religion, and the hundred-and-one things that make us 'us' are unique to her. They may change over time - they may change with her circumstances. The law is simply too blunt an instrument to reflect this.

The law as it is in the UK right now does not force any woman to make a decision guided by anything other than herself. Long may it stay that way - the US is a dire example of what can happen if those rights are compromised.

NationalTruss Wed 15-Jun-11 18:59:36

Actually, the question of sanctions for procuring an abortion is a different debate from the rights and wrongs of abortion itself. I would certainly not be in favour of draconian sanctions for a woman in that situation. And just to spell it out, no I do not support the law outlined by the OP.

I do not deny that there have been, and still are, tragic cases of women dying after botched abortions. (Sometimes legal abortions have this terrible outcome, too.) Obviously I do also realise that there are maternal deaths after childbirth too. Only a complete nutter could fail to be moved by those tragic cases.

But in the case of legalised abortion, there is a casualty in every single case -- the embryo/baby/whatever you want to call it. So the net result in terms of human tragedy seems to be much worse in this case.

I do believe that life begins at conception and I can't see any logical, scientific or philosophical argument to convince me otherwise. Any other definition seems completely arbitrary to me.

If my mother had terminated me when I was an embryo, I wouldn't be here. Same for you and your mother. That says it all to me.

DuelingFanjo Wed 15-Jun-11 19:37:40

"In fact, one of the many upsetting aspects of the pro-choice culture (obviously complicated in this case by govt policy) is the number of girl babies being aborted in China simply because of their sex."

doesn't this have more to do with the one child policy and the preference for a male heir? I don't think it's much to do with a 'pro choice culture'. It's not like they think 'oh I can have an abortion so I will abort' but more that they think 'oh I am having a girl - I will abort'. If Abortion wasn't available legally in these kinds of cultures then people would still be seeking abortion illegally and dangerously.

What is happening in America is crazy.

If my mother had had an abortion with me, I woudn't be here to care so what would it matter.

VictorGollancz Wed 15-Jun-11 19:53:35

It certainly is a different debate, NationalTruss. Unfortunately those who hold pro-life views seek to conflate the two. I ask again: you believe abortion is killing, it is ethically wrong. How do you make it legally wrong?

Moreover, those who hold pro-life views aren't content with even acknowledging the fact that their rights and wrongs are not other people's rights and wrongs. There are no absolute rights and wrongs regarding abortion, as with so many issues that surround the body, and I wish you would see that.

And an aborted foetus is not a casualty. Because it's not a person. Because if it was a person, than its rights would conflict with those of the person carrying it. And so it's not a person until it leaves the woman's body. That is the law, and it allows for all sorts of moral convictions.

And if it is a person, then abortion is murder, and we return to my very first point. Pro-life views are always so very inconsistent; and that's why it would suck to have them enshrined in law.

But the thing is, I don't want to convince you that a foetus or an embryo is not a person. I want you to hold whatever beliefs you want. What I want is for those who hold pro-life beliefs to stop trying to push them on others. I don't question, tut at, or disbelieve women who say they want to carry their pregnancy to term: why don't you extend that courtesy to women who feel otherwise?

I notice you didn't address my point regarding women's rights though.

Catitainahatita Wed 15-Jun-11 20:34:46

Sadly the kind of stories pointed to by the OP are all too common in some countries already, Mexico and Nicarauga being cases in point. In Mexico most state legislatures (it is a federal system like the US) have recently ammended their constitutions to define the "right to life" to start from conception. They also regularly prosecute women for "murder" after an abortion or even, in the case of a miscarriage, since this allows them to impose at custodial sentence of 20 plus years, rather than the 5 years allowed for the crime of abortion. In the state in which I live clemency for abortion can be granted to women who hid her pregnancy. They don't tend to prosecute abortion providers nor boyfriends or partners who aid and abet, however.

NationalTruss Wed 15-Jun-11 21:26:34

VictorGollancz, I'm not trying to wriggle out of anything.

I'm not inconsistent. I believe in women having rights on their own body as long as they don't infringe on other people's rights -- in this case, the unborn baby's.

You may assert that the unborn baby/foetus isn't a person. I assert the opposite. Both of us think we can back up our views, I'm sure. But it's no good for you just to repeat your view and expect me just to agree.

Just because the current law of the land implies something, doesn't mean I have to agree with it. I think the privacy laws are boll** and I don't agree with their basis. Similarly, I think the abortion laws suck and I don't agree with their philosophical basis -- such as it is.

Taking your argument to its logical conclusion -- when does the baby become a person? If at birth, why not allow free access to abortion, on any grounds, up to birth?

And if the procedure is such an acceptable one, why not allow pictures and videos of it to be freely available? When someone posted a link to one on the previous thread, it was removed by mn -- presumably because it was so 'offensive'. Why?

Empusa Wed 15-Jun-11 23:52:28

"I do think that women have rights over their own bodies. I do not think that right extends to terminating another body that is growing within them."

So you view the termination as the ending of another's life? Does this not fit the terms for murder? So how can you not support the law in the OP?

If you don't support the law, then why? How can it be murder of another living being and yet not a crime?

Empusa Wed 15-Jun-11 23:54:45

"And if the procedure is such an acceptable one, why not allow pictures and videos of it to be freely available? When someone posted a link to one on the previous thread, it was removed by mn -- presumably because it was so 'offensive'. Why?"

I assume because the manner in which it was posted was offensive. Linking to it as educational is one thing, linking to it in a discussion in which already upset people have been accused of murder is a little different.

Personally I'd have let it stand, but it obviously goes against MNHQ's way of doing things.

VictorGollancz Thu 16-Jun-11 07:52:18

If it's the video I'm thinking of, I believe the video was objected to on the grounds that it is not an accurate representation of a termination - it ran still shots together as video, sped up certain frames, etc. Descriptions of terminations can be found freely on the internet - I'm sure most women are roughly aware of what the procedures entail. Certainly any woman who has had an abortion will be, given that you have to give your informed consent for any medical procedure.

I very much object to pro-life material that depict a late-term abortion as the 'average' one. This is not true, and the government's own statistics are freely available on the internet. So freely available, in fact, that I find the pro-life decision to misrepresent the facts of abortion deeply sinister.

'It's no good for you to repeat your views and expect me to agree'. As I said, NationalTruss, I don't want you to agree with me. Your body, your choice: I don't want to be involved in such a deeply personal decision. But your beliefs are inconsistent. If I have to remain pregnant and give birth against my will, I cannot be said to have rights. And we can't 'back up our views' - that's the whole point. Outside of the law, 'personhood' is deeply subjective and the law allows for a range of beliefs to be expressed with regard. Only one of us supports an ideology to change that law, and it's not me.

And I would allow abortion any time before birth, for any reason. It's not something I relish, but it's the logical conclusion of my views that women have to have unfettered rights over their bodies. I trust women to make those decisions - I truly don't believe that, if abortion was permitted at any time, we would see any great rise in late-term abortions. The late term abortions we have now are made on solid medical grounds. I see no reason for that to change.

Empusa Thu 16-Jun-11 10:40:10

I never actually saw the video, it was gone before I had a chance. But there's also the fact that there are some videos out there which are more emotive than factual, and if you are seeking to educate then it makes sense to link to something factual not emotive.

I agree with Victor that many of the pro-life opinions I have encountered are contradictory.

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