Tuesday, July 29, 2008

On abortion, part trois

This will be a post about abortion and rape, although not in the way most people relate the issues.

I promise.

In my last abortion post, I said a fetus cannot survive without the willing cooperation of the mother. It is simply not a viable organism on its own. I claimed that I have never heard a viable moral argument that would substantiate the anti-abortion position that a fetus is guaranteed the support of an unwilling mother. I realize that I was giving this specific line of thought not enough attention. Very few people outside of academic Ethics have heard of Judith Thompson's "right to life" thought experiment which I have quoted here:

The fetus is an innocent person with a right to life. Abortion results in the death of a fetus. Therefore, abortion is morally wrong. In her thought experiment we are asked to imagine a famous violinist falling into a coma. The society of music lovers determines from medical records that you and you alone can save the violinist's life by being hooked up to him for nine months. The music lovers break into your home while you are asleep and hook the unconscious (and unknowing, hence innocent) violinist to you. You may want to unhook him, but you are then faced with this argument put forward by the music lovers: The violinist is an innocent person with a right to life. Unhooking him will result in his death. Therefore, unhooking him is morally wrong.

However, the argument does not seem convincing in this case. You would be very generous to remain attached and in bed for nine months, but you are not morally obliged to do so. The parallel with the abortion case is evident. The thought experiment is effective in distinguishing two concepts that had previously been run together: “right to life” and “right to what is needed to sustain life.” The fetus and the violinist may each have the former, but it is not evident that either has the latter. The upshot is that even if the fetus has a right to life (which Thompson does not believe but allows for the sake of the argument), it may still be morally permissible to abort.

For those too lazy to read the above, Judith Thompson's thought experiment quite eloquently shows that even if we assume that a fetus has a right to life (which I do not think it does, but is allowed for the sake of argument), it may not have the right to the means to support life, especially from an unwilling mother.

Ah, but then we run into complications. Mainly, the usual sexist line used by anti-abortionists when they are pushed up against a wall: "you knew the potential consequences for your sex act when you engaged in it, therefore, take responsibility for your actions you irresponsible whore". Okay, so they usually do not call anyone a whore. That epithet is heavily implied by the statement itself, however, so I have no trouble raising my brows to the obvious anti-woman sentiments. It takes two to tango, and to reproduce, and so it should go without saying that the idea that the woman is the only named irresponsible party if she gets pregnant is incredibly misogynist. A large proportion of people that fornicate use birth control. Furthermore, I very highly doubt that the majority of people who have sex and then seek an abortion if fertilization occurs ever knowingly said to themselves, "gee, let's go fuck and if we have a baby, oh well". Usually, because those same people are using birth control. Notice that I explicitly use the plural we in that sentence. Boys and girls have different parts, and without them, babies are not made. This is hardly rocket science people! To assume that the women is the most responsible party for preventing reproduction, or dealing with the consequences if they occur, is so mind-boggling stupid, and sexist, that I really do not know quite where to begin. Of course, I have found quite a bit of anti-abortionist "liberals" who also rage against she-witches that steal poor menz hard-earned monies with the gun-enforced horrors of child support. Those people, if it wasn't obvious, are MRAs, even if they do not yet know it. There is a very large and obvious hypocrisy in anyone's logic if they think that I cannot see the double standard that is being anti-abortion because women have to be responsible for their actions and being anti-child-support because men don't have to be responsible for their actions. And, if it wasn't clear above, having sex with birth control is not consenting to pregnancy. How hard is that concept? I accept the risk every day that I might die by getting in my car and driving to work, but that hardly means that a court could excuse a drunk driver that hit and killed me by claiming that I consented to someone killing me. I hate that I have to state this, but accepting the minimal risk of something bad is not allowing that something bad to happen to you on the assumption that if it does, it is your fault. That's called victim-blaming. Please knock that shit off.

Well all of this is well and good. What about women who thought they might want to get pregnant, and now find themselves in dire straights? Or women that forgot a condom and find themselves up the duff as the result of a little consensual hanky-panky? Here I bring in the topic of rape. Not to trivialize the issue, but there is an understanding in rape awareness circles that consenting to one sex act does not mean that you consent to another. Meaning that if I am engaged in some fun with my current partner, but I have quite clearly stated before that there will be absolutely no anal sex, and he hold me down and fucks me in the ass anyway, that's rape. Even if I said okay to vaginal sex, it's still rape. Vaginal sex is not equivalent to anal sex. Getting pregnant is not equivalent to becoming a mother. Is this concept really so bizarre? Just because a mother consents to pregnancy, or actively seeks it, does not mean that she consents to carrying the thing to term.

Furthermore, as in the case with rape, consent can be withdrawn at any time. If I consent to sex with someone, I I change my mind in the midst of foreplay, that doesn't mean that he can just carry on and it's not rape. I apply this same principle to pregnancy: just because I consent to have a child, and change my mind in the middle of the pregnancy, does not mean that I have the obligation to continue to term.

The really great thing is, all of the above arguments still hold true if we assume that a fetus is alive, human, and even has a right to life. Anti-abortionists, philosophically, do not have a leg to stand on. I feel quite foolish pointing this out, because it should be blindingly obvious.

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

To assume that the women is the most responsible party for preventing reproduction, or dealing with the consequences if they occur, is so mind-boggling stupid, and sexist, that I really do not know quite where to begin.

You brought that on yourself. By stressing that only the woman has a right to reproductive agency and freedom, and only the woman can make the choice of having a child or not, you placed all the responsibility on her.

Besides which, preventing ovulation is a MUCH easier task than preventing the release of sperm.

In a world where a man who gets a vasectomy without telling his girlfriend/wife is an evil bastard, and a woman who gets an abortion without telling her boyfriend/husband is a champion of feminism, you can't expect men to be considered equally responsible anymore.

Buggle said...

Preventing ovulation is an easier task than preventing the RELEASE of sperm? Are you sure about that?

Nine Deuce said...

Christ. If a dude went out and got a vasectomy without telling me, I'd give him a twelve-pack as a thank you gift because it would mean I didn't have to deal with birth control. And anyway, it's his sperm delivery system to decide what to do with.

If I had an abortion and didn't tell the father, I don't know that I'd expect a trophy from the feminist Illuminati, but I certainly don't need anyone telling me I can't do so. Remember whose body it is?

Preventing ovulation means I have to take harmful hormones that disrupt my life and the way my body works. Preventing the release of sperm requires keeping your dick in your pants.

This guy is one of those jagoffs I referred to in my little post about men having a myopic view of what equality means. They think if one of them suffers, ever, that women have to shut up because life sucks for everyone. What they don't see is that, while individual men may see harm in individual situations, ALL women are oppressed in almost every arena of life. Having one bean does not mean you've got a burrito.

Anonymous said...

Preventing ovulation is an easier task than preventing the RELEASE of sperm? Are you sure about that?

Oh, you know what I mean.

That's why there's no male birth control pill yet.

Preventing ovulation is a fairly simple task, achieved through a small amount of hormones. It's not nearly as simple to do the equivalent with males, via medication.

but I certainly don't need anyone telling me I can't do so. Remember whose body it is?

That's cool. If you ever see a woman fighting a man for child support, remind her that it was her body, her choice, and he had nothing to do with it, and therefore isn't responsible for paying for it.

Preventing ovulation means I have to take harmful hormones that disrupt my life and the way my body works. Preventing the release of sperm requires keeping your dick in your pants.

They aren't harmful. Find me credible, peer-review statistics that say they are. Please, I'll wait.

Also, be careful. If people can't tell women to "keep their legs closed", you CERTAINLY cannot tell a man to "keep his dick in his pants".

That's fucking offensive as hell.

Jen said...

Anonymous: I assume that you are the same anonymous that left nasty replies on other posts. I deleted them because they violated my comment policy. I will keep this one because it does not and because I do wish to discuss some of your contentions.

Firstly, I never stressed that only the woman has a right to reproductive agency. A woman, and only a woman, has the right to agency over her own body. Pregnancy takes place and continues solely with willing incubation of the mother's uterus. While a man has a hand in fertilization, for nine months his biological input is nill because the fetus grows within the mother's body. If I were to say that a man should have equal say over the determination of what a woman ought to do with her own body, that would be violating a very clear precedent of body sovereignty. Until there is a time in which we can medically implant a fetus in a man who wishes to carry it to term in lue of a mother who will not, the mother will absolutely have more say in what happens to and in her own body.

Preventing ovulation, like Nine Deuce said above, is not a much easier task than preventing the release of sperm. All male-based forms of birth control (namely, condoms or vasectomies) are non-hormonal with very little risk of side affects. Women die from botched tubal litigations all the time, and even successful ones can result in painful and deadly tubal pregnancies. Any operation that deals with a woman's reproductive system is invasive and a major surgery, whereas sniping something in a man's testicles is an out-patient procedure with little to no risk of complications, easy recovery, lower cost, and more easily reversible. Not to mention that if the couple decides later that they want to have children, a vasectomy will not prevent the successful implantation of stored sperm, whereas a tubal litigation will. Furthermore, the pill form of birth control for women is probably the most commonly used drug that has serious side affects. Some women's hormones go so haywire that they commit suicide. Others gain a lot of weight, become depressed, and go through a "second puberty". Not to mention that the pill is not as successful as a vasectomy or a condom, and unlike a condom, both partners are still at risk for STDs if the woman is on the pill.

To prevent ovulation you have to mess with a woman's hormones or undergo a serious and potentially dangerous invasive surgery with a painful recovery period. To prevent the release of sperm into the vagina, a doctor has to make a very small incision in a man's testicles, or he has to slip on a condom costing less than a dollar that impacts his inner body in no way. Medically, the birth control options available to men are much much cheaper, easier, and safer. And why wouldn't they be? Unlike women, men have their sexual organs outside their body cavity.

Also, I have never heard of anyone calling a man an "evil bastard" for making the choice to get a vasectomy. I would be thrilled to be able to pork my lover without the risk of pregnancy, even if I discovered the condom we used last night was a year expired. A man taking control of his own reproductive material is highly responsible. In my honest opinion, more men should do it. Especially those men who rage against women for making the choices they go with their own bodies. My thoughts are that if men truly do not want women deciding what to do with a fetus growing in their bodies that was put there by an action involving both parties, then they should take some personal responsibility, dammit, and get their tubes tied. If there was a viable female version of a vasectomy that wasn't painful, dangerous, and expensive as hell, I would have had one years ago.

rageagainstthemanchine.com said...

There's no male birth control pill yet because men won't take one.

Your child support argument blows. First off, two people decide to use their bodies in a way that will lead to conception. A dude who doesn't want to pay child support should think about that. Once a conception has taken place, the woman has the choice to decide whether to support the life for 9 months. Any other scenario equals a limit being placed on her rights.

I don't need to provide you with evidence that hormonal birth control harms women. Check out the packet the pharmaceutical company includes with the fucking pill for the evidence.

I am simply stating the logical flaw in your argument by saying men can prevent the release of sperm by keeping their dicks to themselves. Women, on the other hand, ovulate whatever position their legs are in, and so need to mess with their own internal workings to prevent such.

Poor MRAs. Such flowers. I didn't mean to hurt your wittle feewings.

Jen said...

As per your second comment, anonymous: careful, you are treading on offensive ground. If your posts continue to use shoddy logic and escalate to character attacks, I will delete them.

The biggest risk women suffer on birth control is depression. Also, they can suffer everything from a loss of fertility after the pill to uncontrollable weight gain to disproportionate breast growth causing back pain. If you know of no side affects to hormonal birth control, you have either been living in a box (seriously, I hear about them in everything from mass media news outlets to high school Sex Ed) or you haven't looked very hard.

While preventing the emission of sperm into the vagina with medication is not yet medically possible via medication, it is via vasectomies and old fashioned condoms. If you wish me to believe that both of these options are more troublesome than expensive hormonal birth control and invasive tubal litigations, you're going to have to provide me with some data. Everything that I uncover within a minute or two of google searches says otherwise.

And while I will not shame men into "keeping their dick in their pants", abstinence is a sure-fire way to make sure that no women get pregnant with your child. Regardless, abstinence-only, or abstinence-mainly, birth control is highly ineffective for both parties. Nevertheless, what I think Nine Deuce was getting at is that the pressure for women to "keep their legs closed" is much more pressing than that for men to "keep it in their pants".

Regardless, credible peer-reviewed statistics about the side effects of birth control are hardly hidden. The blasted commercials for every single type of hormonal birth control clearly list every single potential side-effect, even death, alongside their cheesy images of women in white dresses running through fields of daises.

Buggle said...

Oh my lord! Yeah, birth control is SO safe! I've never known anyone to have a stroke while on it, or to lose all of their hair, or go into a suicidal depression. Oh wait, yes I have!

This guy is a fuckwit of the worst kind. What a fucking idiot. Yeah dude, if you are SO worried about some woman having a baby and expecting you to pay for it- then don't fuck anyone without a condom,you fucking idiot. Good lord.

Anonymous said...
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rageagainstthemanchine.com said...

I won't tell anyone how to spend their time or how to conduct their discussions, but this guy's a hopeless MRA. He actually believes that women control reproduction. The end.

Jen said...

I reached the same conclusion you did there, Nine Deuce, at about the same time. People who won't read what I write and take the time to attempt to stick within my comment policy guidelines get the ban hammer.

Good lord, it's like the years of reproductive slavery, in which marriage rendered a woman the property of her husband, never occurred to these people. If basic historic knowledge and rationality is beyond the scope of a comment, and it is accompanied by straw-men and character attacks, into the trash bin it goes.

D said...
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D said...
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D said...
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D said...

Essure, a sterilization procedure for women that is more safe, more effective, less invasive, easier to perform, and overall better than a vasectomy.

You pointed out that vasectomies are less invasive than any sterilization procedure for women, and you continually remove this information that says otherwise.

When you ask someone to provide you with a response, why not actually ALLOW THEM TO RESPOND?

I respond, as requested, and you sit back and delete all my responses to your statements.

What's the point in even HAVING comments if this is what you do with them?

People who won't read what I write and take the time to attempt to stick within my comment policy guidelines get the ban hammer.

I read what you wrote, and offered information about something you weren't aware of. I did so within your comment policy.

Jen said...

D -

You finally leave a post that doesn't sound superior and insulting! Notice how now that I will respond to it.

Essure is permanent. It also carries the risks of:
- Perforation, expulsion, or other unsatisfactory location of the micro-insert
- Pregnancy and increased risk of ectopic pregnancy
- Pain, cramping, vaginal bleeding, menstrual pattern changes
- Nausea/vomiting, or fainting
- Vasovagal response
- Allergic reaction to the materials

Some of these risks, like ectopic pregnancy, are fatal. Vasectomies are still a better option, therefore, than Essure because they are reversible and require no insertion or removal of materials into the body cavity. Also, insertion of things into the cervix is extremely painful. I have no idea how painful a vasectomy is, but I doubt that it involves a dilation of an internal orifice that is supposed to be closed in a painful manner to insert a foreign body that permanently sterilizes the woman. Also, even if I assume that vasectomies are not reversible (and they are), the man could still store his sperm and the couple could use those samples to have a baby, which is genetically theirs, at a later date. Meaning that fresh sperm is not necessarily needed for conception. Of course, you can't get pregnant with Essure. Unless you have eggs stored beforehand (much more painful and expensive than storing sperm), you'll never have a child that again that is genetically yours. Even then, you'll have to find someone willing to carry your child to term in their uterus.

And thank you for finding the time to uncover a birth control method for women. I deleted your comments because they were offensive, not because they "disproved my point". My point still stands: vasectomies and condoms are still the best ways to prevent pregnancy in a simple, reversible way. And that is because, as I stated before, men have their sexual organs outside of their body and release genetic material into the open air instead of into an organ that will incubate the resulting zygote.

D said...

Essure is permanent. It also carries the risks of:

I fail to see the problem here. If we're comparing to something like a tubal ligation, they're both permanent, only this one takes all of 10-15 minutes to perform, is non-surgical, much safer, far less risk of complication, and more effective.

Besides, if you would be willing to ask a potentially permanent solution on your partner, well, you know the saying: "I wouldn't ask you to do something I wouldn't do myself".

As for your list of risks, I could easily point out similar risks with vasectomy, including pregnancy, however, the risk of pregnancy with Essure is even lower than with vasectomy.

Also such risks as diminished sexual desire, permanent feeling of pain (post-vasectomy pain syndrome).

The rest, especially the pain, cramping, etcetera, are the immediate recovery risks. The temporary ones. Unless you'd like me to list "must place ice pack on ball sack for a few days afterwards" as a risk for vasectomy.

Vasectomies are still a better option, therefore, than Essure because they are reversible and require no insertion or removal of materials into the body cavity.

What? Vasectomies are performed via sealing the vas deferens with stitches, heat, metal clamps, or a combination of the above. Those sound like foreign substances to me.

Also, the doctor performing it will immediately dispel the shaky truth of "easily reversible". Only about 50% of vasectomies are reversible and result in pregnancy in the man's partner. It's also very costly, upwards of 7000 US dollars to perform.

The "reversal" is also highly dependent on how long it's been since the surgery, and most vasectomy reversals are not permanent, and blockage of the vas recurring after 1-2 years. Meaning, the man is, for all intents and purposes, being rendered permanently sterile.

It also will never restore sperm counts to pre-vasectomy levels, and can cause damaged sperm, and higher rates of birth defects due to this.

I wouldn't ask a partner to do something like that to their body, why would you?

Simply, before saying how "easily reversible" they are, you should study up on the fact that in reality, they really aren't.