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Personhood laws for foetuses - risks for all women of child-bearing age

(284 Posts)
DebrisSlide Thu 06-Feb-14 22:36:30

I can't say much about this in text because I am frothing beyond coherence, but given the muted response in FWR, I thought I'd see what the wider MN community thought about this not a DM article

Rational response (imho) here

phoolani Thu 06-Feb-14 22:41:21

You only need to look to America to see where this shit ends.

eurochick Thu 06-Feb-14 22:56:25

I would be stunned if this case were to succeed. The law in this country is pretty clear on rights beginning at birth and not before.

I would expect the judgment to say that a change of the law of this kind could only ever be made by Parliament.

DebrisSlide Thu 06-Feb-14 23:07:58

eurochick - please don't be complacent. The very definitions of men and women were changed in Parliament without anyone even noticing. (not a trans thread, I merely make that point to counter the "that'll never happen" argument)

TheHammaconda Fri 07-Feb-14 12:52:39

This is fucking scary. Most judges in the UK aren't that activist are they?

eurochick Fri 07-Feb-14 22:03:10

It's not a case of complacency. That comment was based on my knowledge of the legal system and how reluctant the judges are in this country to make new law on something that would normally be Parliament's remit. On that basis, I think this legal challenge is highly unlikely to succeed.

Parliament changing the law is an entirely different issue, and I don't doubt that is possible, but I would be surprised if any of the mainstream political parties would wish to pursue such a change in the law that would diminish the rights of 50% of voters.

ReallyTired Fri 07-Feb-14 22:10:29

There is no doult that foetal alcohol syndrome wrecks lives. However I don't think that women who drink heavily realise the damage they are doing to their unborn baby. Some women who drink heavily don't even realise they are pregnant.

DebrisSlide Fri 07-Feb-14 22:26:19

eurochick, but why do have that view when legislation has been already been passed so that men can have a vagina and women can have a penis? A really fundamental change in the law, yet with barely a mutter.

Case law, perhaps, is a slightly different matter, so I accept your point to a degree. However, anyone with any dealings with judges knows that there is no real telling how they will rule. Hence one of the reasons car insurance premiums are so high - perverse judgments that go into case law have made insurers extremely cautious in doing anything but settling 50/50 on anything but the most clear cut cases.

Besides, the prevailing "bad mother" viewpoint doesn't fill me with confidence. Isn't it true that sperm quality is affected by lifestyle choices? Is this going to be investigated and subject to court cases?

mousmous Fri 07-Feb-14 22:30:17

it's scary.
so I'm only a walking womb should it be filled with a few more cells than usual...

HumphreyCobbler Fri 07-Feb-14 22:36:28

I find this frightening too.

ThePigOfHappiness Fri 07-Feb-14 22:43:57

It's pretty much the case in Ireland. If you become pregnant you must remain so, because now you are no longer a person, only a vessel.

mousmous Fri 07-Feb-14 22:47:44

I can't get my head around ireland being able to do that being in the eu and all.

HollyHB Sat 08-Feb-14 16:08:48

Horrible, shocking.

I guess it all started with some judge wanting to award money to some poor damaged kid who undoubtedly needed and deserved to have money for essential medical needs. And wasn't going to get it any other way.

Forgetting that by perverting the law, as they do all the time (that's why they need secret courts), they are destroying society.

HollyHB Sat 08-Feb-14 16:09:57

Did I write "Forgetting"?
Uncaring might be closer to the mark.

CromeYellow Mon 10-Feb-14 13:08:07

Permanently disabling your child is repugnant and should be a crime, whether the abuse happened before or after birth. It makes no difference to the victim whether they are brain damaged (or otherwise harmed) as a result of their mother downing a bottle of vodka a day pre birth or having their head repeatedly slammed into a wall a month post birth, the horrendous consequences are something they will have to suffer for the rest of their life.

It's not a risk to 'women's rights' to hold women accountable for knowingly and willingly causing serious harm to their child pre birth any more than holding them accountable for their post birth actions.

Abuse is abuse and disabling a child is at the most serious end of it. Having a vagina does not excuse or entitle you to destroy an innocent child's life.

ReallyTired Mon 10-Feb-14 13:14:28


Don't you think that the mothers of disabled children feel punished enough? No one knows the cause of a lot of disablities and I feel that blaming the mother for any disablity is a think edge of a very nasty wedge. Would you jail a mother for eating brie or whatever food is on the banned list for pregnant women.

"It's not a risk to 'women's rights' to hold women accountable for knowingly and willingly causing serious harm to their child pre birth any more than holding them accountable for their post birth actions. "

I suppose that phase is easily written by someone in an armchair who has never met a child with FAS or their family. Often women aren't aware of being pregnant in the early stages of pregnancy. Would you honestly jail a woman who got drunk when she was four weeks pregnant?

Think about it!

HollyHB Mon 10-Feb-14 17:57:48

did you not read the guardian article then?

mousmous Mon 10-Feb-14 18:52:34

should men be prosecuted if due to drug consumation the sperm is of inferior quality and therefore leads to disabilities?
thought so.

80sMum Mon 10-Feb-14 19:02:48

It would be safest if all women of child bearing age limited their alcohol consumption to 1 or 2 units a week. That would eliminate the problem and would be better for the women's health as well as their children's.

NiceTabard Mon 10-Feb-14 19:12:38

grin @ last comment.

Really good way of showing up just where this stuff leads in terms of restricting women's freedom (which is actually what a lot of this stuff is about when it comes down to it).

Also bear in mind that for people who believe in FASD, any alcohol whatsoever is considered too high a risk.

Thus no women of child-bearing age should be allowed to have a drink, ever.

Clearly also it should be banned for women of child-bearing age to be treated for many medical conditions, be obese, smoke, undertake any form of risky sport, drive a car, eat soft cheese or rare meat, be stressed etc etc yada.

WooWooOwl Wed 12-Feb-14 17:33:37

I think it's fair enough tbh. I have close experience of FAS, and it has damaged a persons entire life.

I don't think women's rights are so important that society should basically say that it is fine for them to damage their babies and the pieces will be picked up for them.

FAS can be easily avoided, unlike having an lines or getting in a car or getting stressed. You cannot compare drinking too much alcohol to being treated for a medical condition.

pointythings Thu 13-Feb-14 13:14:58

80smum there is a huge gulf between 'limit your alcohol intake if you are actively trying to conceive' and 'never drink more than the tiniest bit because you might just be pregnant'.

The former is common sense, the latter is controlling and dangerous.

NiceTabard Thu 13-Feb-14 22:09:07

WooWoo really?

I see.

What about termination. Which pretty permanently affects a foetus, in a kind of, it's dead kind of way. Murder, right?

What is "an lines"?
Why is being stressed "easily avoided"?
Ditto driving?
What about hobbies that have an element of risk?
What about the "pre-pregnant" situation? If a woman is drinking heavily and does not know she is pregnant, and stops when she finds out, and the child has FAS, should she be imprisoned?
What does that mean for other women drinking who are "pre-pregnant"?
If the foetus has rights not to be damaged, then if a medication will help the mother but damage the baby, how can that be balanced?
Do we want to imprison women for these things? REALLY? How is that in the public interest?
If women who are addicted to a substance, or enjoy a risky hobby, or are too fat, or smoke, know that revealing their pregnancy to HCPs will mean a call to the police for child abuse, how will that impact on the care of those potentially high risk pregnancies in practice?

This is so much more complicated than "Oh well not drinking is a piece of piss"... And if that works then why are AA etc required?

There is also some evidence that older men are more likely to conceive children with various problems, or pregnancies which result in miscarriage (research in earlyish stages). Should older men who impregnate women be arrested for child abuse / domestic violence if the woman miscarries, or the child has any kind of difficulty? Should men who are older be barred from having unprotected sex due to potential pregnancy? As women who are "pre-pregnant" should limit their activities also?

Really it goes on and on.

Can't believe that people in the UK don't get why this is all such a problem.

I suppose this was a clue "I don't think women's rights are so important"... etc etc blah blah. Bodily integrity, not so important, for women, really.

NiceTabard Thu 13-Feb-14 22:11:15

Whoops "easily avoided" should be "not easily avoided".

Quangle Thu 13-Feb-14 22:31:44

Gaaah. This again.

A person's rights must be their rights. They cannot be contingent on another entity. The rights of women at some points become mixed up with the rights of unborn babies (if you believe that the unborn have rights which I don't but let's say you do). If you believe that they at some point might be in conflict then actually the logical, rights-based approach is to always give preference to the woman's rights over the baby. If women are the only route into the world for the human race, which they are, then they must take precedence over the million, billion, trillion unborn, nearly born, never born, never conceived humans and possible humans out there. Otherwise you end up arguing that cells trump actual existing humans and since we don't do that with men we can't do that with women.

Women must not ever be seen as vessels with the same rights but not quite as men. It's a very, very slippery slope.

FAS is an awful thing but so is toxoplasmosis and a thousand other things that I could "cause" to happen to my unborn baby. If you tell me I can't decide what to do with my own life and my own body, I will ask you to get this baby incubated in a test tube. Can't do that? Oh well then, you'll just have to put up with me and my messy, difficult, awkward humanity.

And woowoo I might choose to say that I don't think your rights are so important that society should allow you to do XYZ thing. And you'd probably object to that. Rights are not a thing you can pick up and put down as you fancy. You either have them or you don't.

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