• The atheist case against abortion – UPDATEDX3

    – It’s hard to kill a creature once it lets you see its consciousness.  Carl Sagan

    It appears the fact that, yes, there are pro-life, anti-abortion atheists out there has surprised a number of people. Of course some people are being deliberately, and willfully obtuse as part of their ongoing quest to make science and reason the chastened handmaidens of US left liberalism, but there are people who are genuinely surprised.  I used to be far more pro-abortion than I am now, and this is how I came to modify my own views on the matter.

    (Incidentally, I am using the terms pro- and anti-abortion, just to avoid euphemism from either side).

    The case for abortion

    “I’d like to express my indignation at the idea of confusing a living human being with an embryo, which is only some undeveloped cells.  (Abortion at the last minute – when a baby is formed – is a different issue.)  The right to abortion is the right to get rid of some cells in your body, which you can’t afford to support if it grows into a child.  The idea of some bitches – and I don’t apologize for that – trying to prescribe to all other women what they should do with their lives is disgusting.  And they call it a right to life!  The basic principles here are: never sacrifice the living to the nonliving, and never confuse an actuality with a potentiality.  An “unborn child,” before it’s formed, is not a human, it’s not a living entity, it has no rights.  The woman has rights.”  – Ayn Rand.

    I hope that the reader will grant that I am not taking this issue lightly.  I am a proud Objectivist, and my stance here pits me against at least some of what Miss Rand wrote.  However, everyone has to do their own thinking, to be first-handed, and I think that she was missing some facts essential to this argument.

    The personhood question is everything

    I am going to assume that no one reading this would agree with killing a three hour old baby, though certain abortion defenders do indeed go that far.  Everything hinges on this question, because if the unborn is a human being, with rights, then abortion becomes a choice between the temporary, partial abrogation of some of the rights of the woman with the total, permanent and irreversible abrogation of all  the rights of the unborn, the ultimate violation of consigning someone to physical annihilation. And if the unborn is not a human being with rights, then prohibition of abortion becomes a monstrous violation.


    Reread Rand’s quote, and pay careful attention to the following lines:

    Abortion at the last minute – when a baby is formed – is a different issue […] never confuse an actuality with a potentiality

      So, if the newborn child has rights, where do they start?  Please remember that we are quite capable of keeping pre-term babies alive these days, so the birth-as-dividing-line is completely useless.

    So, we start out with an undifferentiated mass of cells and end with a human being with full rights.  Where does the change occur?  When do those cells stop just being cells and unite to form a human being?

    The idea of there being a sharp, dividing line that radically changes the nature of something is quite well supported in science.  Ever watched water freeze?  No one would claim that there was no way to distinguish between liquid water and ice, nor that the transition isn’t pretty clear.

      There’s a stupid argument advanced by certain people that’s going around to the effect that “Science can’t define what a person is, and therefore you cannot say the unborn is a person!”  That gets you nowhere, because by the standard it demands, any murder would be okay.  Are you horrified by the Rwandan genocide or the Holodomor?  Why when you cannot prove that the dead were persons?  

    In point of fact, if you assume that basic medicine is science, then science can indeed tell us quite a bit about when a person exists or not.  We do it all the time at the other end.  It is called ‘brain death’ – when there is no brain activity present, you are not dealing with a person but just a bunch of cells.

    Notice how well this tracks the discussion we’re having about when the unborn is a person and when it is just a bunch of cells.

    Do we know when you can detect brain waves in the human embryo?  It is often pegged at 40 days, though this is sometimes disputed suggesting that all is being observed is electrical activity.  I don’t think much of this objection, given that it rests on measurements you cannot actually do on a foetus within a woman (the objections are based on measurements of neonatal babies), but from what I can read in the literature, eight weeks appears the minimum when the brain cells have assembled and taken control.  This is also when motion and touch sensation appears.

    “The fetal human possesses an active central nervous system from at least the eighth week of development”  -Here, for those who want the peer reviewed comments.

    Here is a reasonable overview of foetal development.  Here is a gallery of pictures of aborted children – warning, it is not for the faint of heart.  People sometime complain that this is bullying, but I maintain that a sure giveaway is when people are not willing to confront what they advocate.

    So, if we take brain activity as the register of human life, and we do, and if brain activity starts at the eight week mark, and it does, then we are stuck with the following conclusion: abortion beyond the eighth week is not a regrettable medical procedure, but the deliberate destruction of human life.

    The conclusions that I come to is that, despite Miss Rand’s formidable intellect, she didn’t have all the facts about foetal development, about when the unborn stops being a mass of undeveloped cells and becomes a developed child, when the potentiality becomes an actuality.  The cut off is far earlier, at the eight week mark.

    What this means in practical terms is a bit more complex, given the occasional difficulty in determining the point of conception and the age of the unborn.  I’ll leave it to others to discuss how good our methods for determining the age are.  My conclusion from all this is that I am absolutely opposed to surgical abortion, though the medical abortion option (use of pills) should still be available, subject to testing etc. The one exception here is the case where the woman’s life is at risk (a hideous situation where no exact moral judgement can be made).

    I’m happy to defend provision of contraception, morning after medication and anything that reduces and prevents such a problem.  I am not willing to sanction something that the facts tell me is the deliberate destruction of a human life.

    Eight weeks is way too early; we can’t even test for birth defects then!

    Believe it or not, this argument does get made.  We know perfectly well what regime is most associated with the killing off of ‘defectives’.

    What about those who murder abortion doctors?

    People like me are often accused of spurring on the people who kill abortion doctors.  I’m not going to deny that; I’ll own that.  But pro-abortion types have to own all the Dr Kermit Gosnells, and yes there are more of those than you think.

    But in actual fact, it is a lot worse than that.   The kind of argument you hear a lot about aborted foetuses, “they look human but aren’t human” is an argument with a very nasty history.  It’s been applied to Jews, indigenous people, blacks in America, Tutsis in Rwanda etc.

    Here is a good breakdown of when abortions are performed, in terms of time. Note that some of those are at an age it is impossible to deny that you are dealing with living human beings.

    To discuss anything on this scale, we need some form of a unit for mass death.  In this case, I am choosing the unit of the Sobibor, the Nazi extermination camp that murdered two hundred thousand people.  The Nazis remain our standard when it comes to mass death after all.

    There have been 50 million induced abortions in the United States since abortion was legalized in 1973.  If we assume the cut off that even pro-abortion types indicate consists of human life, namely 20 weeks (full scale EEG bursts), then we are talking a total of three Sobibors in the United States alone.

    If we take 16 weeks as the cut-off point for the emergence of consciousness, then we are looking at twelve and a half half Sobibors

    If the cut off is earlier still, at 13 weeks (note that this is the case in France, Norway and Denmark, some of the most secular states in the world) then we are talking a twenty seven and a half Sobibors.

    And if I am right, if the facts I have presented here are correct, then we are talking about nearly ninety two Sobibors since 1973, or over three times the number of Jews murdered in the Holocaust.

    But I’m a nice, normal person who supports abortion!  I’m kind to my wife, good to my kids, haven’t ever done so much as park in a disabled spot! Are you really saying that someone like me could support something on that level?

    Yes I am.  Here’s a book that should be read by everyone: Machete Season.  It is quite simple, interviews with people who took part in the slaughter of their neighbours, schoolmates, even those who were part of the same football team.  What is truly unsettling about this book is how normal the interviewers are.  Discussions about telling the wife they’re going off to ‘work’, the kids begging to come along and take part… that kind of thing.  These were not psychopaths or sociopaths, no Buffalo Bills or Hannibal Lecters.  These were just average, normal people.

    Terry Pratchett brilliantly summarized the need to believe that people who do and sanction horrible things are some sort of absolute Other:

    It was much better to imagine men in some smokey room somewhere, made mad and cynical by privilege and power, plotting over brandy.  You had to cling to this sort of image, because if you didn’t then you might have to face the fact that bad things happened because ordinary people, the kind who brushed the dog and told the children bed time stories, were capable of then going out and doing horrible things to other ordinary people.  It was so much easier to blame it on Them.  It was bleakly depressing to think that They were Us.  If it was Them, then nothing was  anyone’s fault.  If it was Us, then what did that make Me?  After all, I’m one of Us.  I must be.  I’ve certainly never thought of myself as one of Them.  No one ever thinks of themselves as one of THem.  We’re always one of Us.  It’s Them that do the bad things.  – Terry Pratchett, Jingo

    So, yes.  This is the worst part of learning about history and understanding that man is an evolved animal.  It means realizing that the people who staffed concentration camps, and swarmed to arenas to watch people being ripped apart by wild beasts, and cheered over beheading contests, and thought a lynching was a good day out for the family are really not that different from what we see in the mirror.

    On that note about lynching, Sam Harris gets it right:

    Racism was about as intractable a social problem as we have ever had in this country. We are talking about deeply held convictions. I’m sure you have all seen the photos of lynchings in the first half of the 20th century—where seemingly whole towns in the South, thousands of men, women and children—bankers, lawyers, doctors, teachers, church elders, newspaper editors, policemen, even the occasional Senator and Congressman—turned out as though for a carnival to watch some young man or woman be tortured to death and then strung up on a tree or lamppost for all to see.

    Seeing the pictures of these people in their Sunday best, having arranged themselves for a postcard photo under a dangling, and lacerated, and often partially cremated person, is one thing, but realize that these genteel people, who were otherwise quite normal, we must presume—though unfailing religious—often took souvenirs of the body home to show their friends—teeth, ears, fingers, knee caps, internal organs—and sometimes displayed them at their places of business.


    People are capable of being nice and morally normal to some people and then utterly without conscience towards others, as long as they don’t think of those others are really human.  So, once again this is an argument that requires immense care.  It is why I am suspicious of anyone who thinks, not that they have chosen the right side, but that any position they hold must be somewhat right because they have chosen it.


    UPDATE:  I stand accused of avoiding the body autonomy argument.  I didn’t think I had, but I’ll try to address it more explicitly here.

    As I pointed out, if and when the unborn is not a human being, then a prohibition on abortion is obviously monstrous for that reason.  However, if the unborn is a human being, a human life, then the choice is between the temporary, partial abrogation of some rights of the woman, versus the absolute and permanent abrogation of all rights of the unborn.

    This is such a troublesome situation because it remains one of the few where there is a genuine conflict of rights.  Most discussions about ‘conflicts of rights’ are bogus, but this is one of the few where it is real.

    There’s another way this argument is made that goes like this ‘It doesn’t matter whether or not the unborn is a human life, all I am insisting on is separating it.  If it cannot survive on its own, outside my body, that’s not my fault.’  First of all, this standard would still leave you with the three Sobibors (something to think about), but really, that strikes me as casuistry at best.  If someone abandons an infant, we don’t say “well it is not the adults business that the child couldn’t provide food, water and shelter for itself and so died”.  There’s a reason we have such concepts as criminal neglect.

    In actual fact, things are harsher than that, because we are dealing with the difference between sins of commission and omission.  Criminal neglect is less of a crime than infanticide. (Yes, the parallel holds –  just for starters, look at what partial-birth abortion entails.)

    I’m also asked whether a parent is obliged to donate a kidney to save a child’s life.  First of all, I know either of my parents would, and any child of mine could rely on the same.  Could that be made into a legal principle – that is, could the principle that parents are expected to take care of their children be extended that far?  It’s an interesting questions, one I leave to others – because, again, we come to the distinction between commission and omission here.  Failing to donate a kidney is nothing like deliberately choosing to destroy a life.

    I’m also told that bodily autonomy can’t be violated even if you are directly, and criminally responsibly for my crippling.  Here I can be more direct – that’s bollocks.  If you poison me in a way that destroys my kidneys, and I am going to die for want of spare parts, and your kidneys are compatible, then I think it is absolutely okay to take them.  If you are directly and criminally responsible (this runs into the questions of perfectibility and what the law can and cannot do, subjects for another time, but I wanted to outline the general moral principle).

    –  Just to clarify my point, vis a viz Miss Rand’s comments, I do agree with them; I simply think that the exception she pointed out, “when the child is fully formed”, occurs much earlier than thought.  Science moves on


    Some further questions:

    –  Isn’t this a slippery slope?  Doesn’t the partial, temporary abrogation of some rights of women place on a very slippery ride to Iranian or Afghanistan levels of the treatment of women?  Abortion is the lynchpin of women’s rights.

    The above question is actually less hyperbolic and ridiculous than the one put to me (the implication that the logical end point of being anti-abortion is the establishment of ‘breeding camps’ – yes, this is the level of argument).

    My response:


    (shamelessly lifted from SlateStarCodex)

      Does a willingness to be pro-abortion go along with a defence of women’s emancipation?  Conversely does being anti-abortion necessarily lead to misogyny?  I know there are people who would like to think so, as part of a particularly lousy argument that I will do a follow up post on, but does it hold true?

    First of all, there is quite a substantial movement of pro-life feminists.  Please skip the ‘No True Scotsman’ argument; there are more than enough anti-abortion movements out there that do not care for feminism, so there really is little incentive to be dissimulating on that.  Further, there were plenty of historical anti-abortion feminists, according to my google-fu: Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton etc.  And lookie here, courtesy of BlackGenocide, it turns out that a lot of the defenders of abortion had a very specific end in mind (yes, I know – genetic fallacy – but the argument I’m responding to isn’t even genetic).

    What about the flip side of this?  Are pro-abortion types more likely to defend women’s rights?

    My own experience argues to the contrary.  I’ve generally found that the kind of feminist who is all fire and fury for abortion is less than worthless when it comes to defending women’s rights elsewhere.  The most obvious example here would be Islamic misogyny.  It’s pretty much an open secret that Western feminists are not particularly good at standing up to Islamic misogyny, and feminists who actually do do so are attacked quite viciously by the rest.  Vide Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Wafa Sultan, Nonie Darwish etc.  If you read Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s books – and, remember, she comes from a culture where ‘having your body autonomy taken away’ really means something – you will not find much discussion of abortion, and you will learn a lot about the utter uselessness, the active betrayal, on the subject of the rights of women who are not middle-to-upper class, university educated, Western women.

    For example, let’s take FtB.  I know looking for petty, spiteful, small-minded bullshit from FtB is like panning for salt in the dead sea, but why make things hard?  Anne Marie Waters is at the forefront of trying to roll back Sharia and prevent honour killings, FGM etc., and just look at the reception she gets from this crowd (incidentally, do read her response; it is excellent).

      Or let’s take President Obama, a man so committed to being pro-Abortion that he voted against saving the lives of babies who survived the procedure, and has made exactly one speech on the subject of women’s rights under Islam, about the right to wear a hijab.  Very brave.

    Conversely, it is right wingers like myself, often right-wingers who are quite anti-abortion who are making a fuss about Islam’s gender jihad and sticking up for people like Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

    But there is more.  Oddly enough, abortion isn’t always something that benefits women.  There are unscrupulous men who can and do take advantage of that (Hills like White Elephants, anyone?).  And abortion is liked a great deal by societies where women are considered second class and second rate.

      Sex-selective abortion is at such a widespread phenomenon in China and India, that even feminists gung-ho for abortion have noticed that it is mass killing, apparently believing that you can be for abortion in general, and against ‘gendercide’ in particular.  The massive imbalance in sexes is fueling spikes in rape, abduction and sex-slavery.  More generally, the phenomenon is leading to what Phillip Longman calls ‘The Return of Patriarchy‘.  And this isn’t any wimpso ‘patriarchy’ as defined by loud boring people yelling from the heights of pelf and privilege, this is the real thing.  You asked for it.

    So, does being pro-abortion =  pro-women’s emancipation? The evidence is the other way.

    – Can one legally prescribe that a pregnant woman take supplements etc, given the responsibilities to the child?

      No, I don’t believe so.  Parents have responsibilities for their children, but the flip side of that is having authority.  I don’t support the state being able to tell parents how to feed their children, and, yes, I know that that does mean that some kids get a bad diet.  But I cannot see any legal fix there, without causing worse abuses of governmental power.  The same principle applies here.

      Where is the line drawn?  I am not sure.  But in the same way that we are unsure as to when the state should step in to protect kids from abuse, but are sure that it should definitely prevent infanticide, I am unsure about the line here, but am sure that abortion should not happen beyond the eight week cutoff.

    – Anti-abortion types invest the unborn not with equal rights, but with extra-rights, because they insist that the foetus’s right to life trumps the rights of the woman over her body.  No person has the right to crawl into another person’s body and live there parasitically for a few months.

      Try the following on for size: “No person has the right to invade another person’s home, live off their work, expect food, shelter, security and education without paying for it – for years on end.   Therefore: if parents decide to abandon their newborn in the snow, or not feed him, that is perfectly fine.”

    Children do not enjoy full rights for a very good reason, and they do enjoy extra protections for an equally good reason.  Just because a child is unborn does not change that fact.

    – Atheist anti-abortion types are just like religious anti-abortion types.  The religious anti-abortionist has an irrational faith that God considers all life sacred, the atheist anti-abortionist has an irrational faith in the sanctity of all life.  They are both equally irrational. 


      I swear, this argument is being made with a straight face.

      “Martin Luther King used religious arguments to defend the equality of the races, but I’m an atheist and therefore I don’t believe in anything that irrational!  Solzhenitsyn used religious arguments to indict the Soviet Union, but I’m an atheist, so therefore praise Stalin!”

      Yes, that is quite enough of that.  And the first argument is indeed being made by genuine racialists.

      For those who want an absolute, objective basis for the value of life, please read Atlas Shrugged.


     Shadow of a Doubt has a good post on the utter refusal to engage in rational discussion of this subject by the SJW/Feminist crowd.  He links to this prime example of ‘Shut up,’ she explained,the ‘Secular Woman Community’ demanding that this is not be discussed, addressed, in any way, shape, or form in the secular community.  Whatever happened to Nullius in Verba?

    Do give Shadow a read; I confess, I’m happy for the other side to abandon the field here, but his post is good.

    Category: ScienceSkepticismWomen's Rights

    Article by: The Prussian

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    • Shadow of a Doubt

      I do not agree with a whole lot of what Rand had to say, but I think your arguement is mostly sound, barring one thing:

      If you take things with respect to autonomy of the woman in question, then the cutoff point instead becomes the point at which the fetus is viable without the mother’s assistance, at which point it would have to be c-sectioned and removed alive. If you accept that the woman can be inconvenienced for the sake of the child, you would also have to accept that the mother would have to give up a kidney for a child who would die otherwise after they are born, since once again it is an inconvenience to the parent in exchange for the life of a child. Unless there is a magical point at which we decide the child is “on it’s own”. I’d be curious to hear your thoughts on that.

      • Exactly. The pro-life position does not merely insist a fetus has rights; it seeks to grant it *extra* rights. This does not fly.

        • ThePrussian

          See above

          • King Rat

            Try the following on for size: “No person has the right to invade another person’s home, live off their work, expect food, shelter, security and education without paying for it – for years on end. Therefore: if parents decide to abandon their newborn in the snow, or not feed him, that is perfectly fine.”

            Children do not enjoy full rights for a very good reason, and they do enjoy extra protections for an equally good reason. Just because a child is unborn does not change that fact.

            Apples to oranges.

            Parents are not legally obligated to donate their blood/tissue/bone marrow/organs to save the life of a born child. If your kid will die because you are the only bone marrow match, the law cannot violate your bodily autonomy to save your kid’s life. In saying that unborn humans have extra rights, we are pointing out that pro-lifers want to grant the unborn, and ONLY the unborn the right to use another person’s body without consent.

            Furthermore, parents are allowed to abandon their children – at a hospital or fire station etc. If you can’t feed your kid, or are simply not up to the task, you can give it up for adoption. The reason that people are punished so harshly for say, throwing their baby out in the snow is because *alternatives* exist. And, feeding your baby/changing your diapers is not at all analogous to having it live inside your body. One is an ordinary burden, the other is an extraordinary burden (which is why parents are not legally obligated to donate their tissue to save their children’s lives)

            But you might say “ah! but if you are in the middle of nowhere, you still can’t force the kid out in the snow, you must protect it until help arrives”

            ^And you would be correct. Because feeding/diapers is not an extraordinary burden. However, you would be within your rights to refuse that baby, out in the woods, use of your blood/tissue/organs to maintain it’s life. And, if it really came down to it, and there weren’t enough resources for the both of you to survive, you would have to let it die – which is actually quite common during times of famine and so on.

      • Beaker

        “but I think your arguement is mostly sound, barring one thing:”
        Could you explain to me why you think his argument is sound, rather than a giant appeal to emotion? Because that is basically all I see in his post. Appeal to emotion devolving into some sort of Godwin’s law.

        I will also note that on top of the bodily autonomy question, the question of à priori risk to the mother seems to be conveniently left out of the discussion. We are not just rejecting the bodily autonomy of the woman, with the only cost being 9 months with a minor inconvenience. We are talking about something that even in Western countries has a considerable risk to the mother, even leading to death in approximately 20 out of 100,000 pregnancies.

        “Here is a good breakdown of when abortions are performed, in terms of time.
        Note that some of those are at an age it is impossible to deny that you
        are dealing with living human beings”
        I feel this is more than a bit disingenuous. When talking about third trimester abortions, these are almost always performed due to medical reasons, since in many countries they are not allowed otherwise. If you compare third trimester abortion rates in countries that allow them for medical reasons only (such as the US) and those that allow them for all reasons (such as Canada), rates are very similar, which would lead me to conclude that these abortions for other reasons than medical ones are rare even if allowed.
        Regarding second trimester abortions, many of these seem to be due to delays, either due to the woman not recognizing the pregnancy, the woman needing time to make a decision, or due to logistical problems. Some of these can be solved (better access, better education, which would lead to quicker actions and hence fewer second and more first trimester abortions). But many of these second trimester abortions are due to the woman needing time to decide on a course of action. By advocating against these abortions, you are basically advocating against women making a good, informed decision and forcing them to make a less reasoned decision.

        I would also note that abortions are most often performed due to the woman being single, not capable of taking care for the child financially, or both. Disallowing abortions is a measure that effectively harms poor people (often women) most, and forces them (and their other children if they have them) to remain in conditions of poverty.

        • Shadow of a Doubt

          Things I Agree with:

          1) “An “unborn child,” before it’s formed, is not a human, it’s not a living entity, it has no rights. The woman has rights. ”

          2) I am going to assume that no one reading this would agree with killing a three hour old baby, though certain abortion defenders do indeed go that far. Everything hinges on this question, because if the unborn is a human being, with rights, then abortion becomes a choice between the temporary, partial abrogation of some of the rights of the woman with the total, permanent and irreversible abrogation of all the rights of the unborn, the ultimate violation of consigning someone to physical annihilation. And if the unborn is not a human being with rights, then prohibition of abortion becomes a monstrous violation.

          3) There’s a stupid argument advanced by certain people that’s going around to the effect that “Science can’t define what a person is, and therefore you cannot say the unborn is a person!” That gets you nowhere, because by the standard it demands, any murder would be okay. Are you horrified by the Rwandan genocide or the Holodomor? Why when you cannot prove that the dead were persons?

          4)People are capable of being nice and morally normal to some people and then utterly without conscience towards others, as long as they don’t think of those others are really human. So, once again this is an argument that requires immense care. It is why I am suspicious of anyone who thinks, not that they have chosen the right side, but that any position they hold must be somewhat right because they have chosen it.

          These are all points on which I agree with the Prussian, and are as sound s can be in my opinion. Let’s draw our attention to point 2, which is where the contention may lie. If you ascribe to the autonomy argument (as I do, and it appears you do too.) Then you are stating that the rights of the mother trump the rights of the fetus, meaning that whether it is a person or not, then it does not have the right to put the mother at risk and drain the resources of her body. I agree with this, however there is an implication you must accept with that. If the fetus is a person, and you believe that the mother’s rights trump it, this means you agree that it is ok for the mother to murder her child as an exercise of her rights. Unless of course the fetus is not a person, in which case it’s simply flushing out some undeveloped cells.

          This is why the argument isn’t clear cut, because even if you ascribe to autonomy, it also means you ascribe to murder, if the personhood argument isn’t answered.

          • Beaker

            1) While I agree with 1, it does not appear to be what the Prussian ascribes too.
            2) While I would agree with 2, it just sets up a premise for an argument against abortion. What should follow is an actual argument. I don’t see it.
            3) I think this is not a valid argument. Even if we cannot precisely define personhood, we do have some general idea to delineate clear cases. We do not assign personhood to an ovum or a sperm, nor to a blastocyst. The Prussian doesn’t either in this post. We do assign personhood to living persons. While we cannot prove that the people massacred “had personhood”, given that this is an attribute we generally agree adults and children have, we can assume that these people possessed this trait as well. We cannot assume that for an embryo or even a fetus.
            EDITED TO ADD: I will give you that this is at least an attempt at a rational argument. So not a complete appeal to emotion.
            4) Is basically his interlude toward a massive Godwin. It has nothing to do with making a valid secular argument for abortion.

            As far as I can see, you basically agree with the statements that the Prussian made that would support abortion, or go either way. The fourth statement is at the very least leading up to an appeal to emotion, it does not lead to support abortion one way or the other. Leaves us with 3, which I personally think is an invalid argument.

            Perhaps this is my problem here. While I agree with the premises 1) and 2), they do not support or negate abortion as moral or immoral. I would then expect some kind of argument in favor of abortion to follow. I see none. And quite frankly, from your post it doesn’t seem that you see one either.

            • Shadow of a Doubt

              My argument for abortion is based solely on the concept of autonomy of the woman, she is not obligated to provide for the fetus nor be placed under any of the risks it entails. I believe we both agree on this.

              However my point is thus: If you believe that the women is free to abort as she sees fit, regardless of whether the fetus is a person or not, then you must also believe that she has the right to murder the fetus for her own autonomy, since she is exercising her right to end the life of a “person”. If you believe the fetus is not a person, then you do not have to justify murder in the name of autonomy.

            • Beaker

              No, because murder has a very specific definition, in that it is an unlawful killing. We also do not consider killing in self-defense a murder. From what you write, you consider that a woman is justified in to terminate a pregnancy if she wishes to do so. This means that according to your own view the resulting death of the fetus would not be murder, or should not be termed as such.

            • Shadow of a Doubt

              In that case our opinions here differ only as a matter of semantics, replace murder with “commit homicide” in my previous statement to make it linguistically correct.

            • Ann

              That’s correct, but it is a sneaky tactic to obfuscate by using language that is doomed to be misinterpreted.

              “Committing homicide” is far from murder.
              In innumerable cases, homicide is excused, justified, and even purchased by their fellow citizens to be done in their behalf. People are even COMPELLED by the their fellow citizens to commit homicide.

              So I’d like to watch you tell a soldier returning from Iraq that she committed homicide.

              But at least it has made you agree that abortion is not murder.

            • Shadow of a Doubt

              I said I wouldn’t, but just to add a point with definitions, if you take “murder” to mean “illegal homicide” or “illegal killing” than it is indeed murder in many countries and jurisdictions, including in america under certain circumstances.

              And it’s not sneaky in any way, homicide means to kill a person, and it is meant in exactly that way.

            • Ann

              If your motives were clean, you would refer to an abortion as “an abortion” – not “homicide” or “murder.”

              Here are other cases where the intent is not transparent communication of ideas, but rather propaganda:

            • Ann

              An abortion is not analogous to murder.
              My declining to give Samaritan assistance to an injured person is not murder either.
              My refusal to give my twin one of my kidneys is not murder either.
              My refusal to donate one of my kidneys EVEN IF I INJURED HER is not
              murder either.
              (The original injury might be, but usually isn’t if the injury is not a clear and present cause of the death.)

              I have an absolute right to decline to give over some portion of my body to any other person for any reason.
              Any other system would be unthinkable — a science fiction dystopia of the greatest horror.

            • ThePrussian

              You have already admitted that it is the deliberate destruction of human life.

            • King Rat

              The right to life does not include the positive right to use another person’s body as life support.

              That goes for anything inside or outside your body.

            • Ann

              I am willing to give you the benefit of the doubt, but I don’t know which circumstance benefits you the most.

              1) Do you think that every case of “deliberate destruction of human life” is murder? You don’t, do you? Do you?
              2) Do you think that ANY case of refusing to support human life is murder?

              I recognize that you don’t realize it, but you sound exactly like the people who say “But it is just a theory” and “It violates the Third Law of Thermodynamics.”
              They are quoting slogans that impressed them on YouTube, so they think that others will be impressed too.

              In your case, I am referring to “250 Sobibors” and “the deliberate destruction of human life” (which afterwards is sneakily morphed into “murder.”)

        • ThePrussian

          Just because doing the right thing is hard is no reason not to do it. If you read, you will note that I specifically said that the big exception to all this is the case where the mother’s life is at risk. And you have not addressed the all important matter of when we are dealing with a human life, with personhood.

      • ThePrussian

        See update. Thanks for bringing that argument here.

    • You very conveniently failed to address the issue of bodily autonomy, which I will presume you are well aware of considering your in-depth familiarity with other common arguments.

      • ThePrussian

        I thought I had – but see the update above.

    • Ann

      It’s a mistake to think that the issue is one of “personhood.”

      The fact is that no PERSON, no human being, of any age can claim a right to crawl inside my body and live off of my body against my will. That is not what my body is for, and my body cannot be commandeered for that purpose no matter what.

      Even if I were solely and criminally responsible for the disability that will cause you to die unless you can attach yourself to my circulatory system (even externally — never mind internally), you still cannot force me to turn my body over to you for that reason.

      Even if a fertilized egg is defined as a human being and a citizen of the United States, it still has no right to live at the cost of hooking itself up to my body. The same is true for any citizen and human — fertilized egg or investment broker or US Senator or third grade teacher — no person can demand that of another against the other person’s will.

      Now reason and balance do lessen the force of this declaration when the woman tolerates the situation for 7 or 8 or 8 1/2 months, and then suddenly decides she is not a biological supply source for someone else — especially because at that point, the embryo is indistinguishable from a human baby.

      The law acknowledges this by making early abortions a matter of the woman’s right to the exclusive ownership of her own body, but looking with increasing disfavor on abortion as it becomes closer to birth.

      The point of an abortion is not the death of the embryo — it is only to be free of a biologically-attached US citizen. So as soon as it is technologically possible, male anti-abortion protestors should be selected by lottery to have the aborted fetus forcibly implanted into their bodies, where after a full-term pregnancy and excruciating childbirth, they will become socially, emotionally, morally, legally, and financially responsible for the unwanted child for the rest of their lives.

      This is a solution that satisfies everyone.

      But wait … How is that fair?

      It just won’t do to solve the problem by making the unwanted US citizen the problem of someone who objects to abortion as a solution. That is because the underlying motive for anti-abortion sentiment is not the desire to save the embryo’s life. It is the desire to control women’s sexual behavior and to punish their sexual misbehavior.

      • Shadow of a Doubt

        “It just won’t do to solve the problem by making the unwanted US citizen the problem of someone who objects to abortion as a solution. That is because the underlying motive for anti-abortion sentiment is not the desire to save the embryo’s life. It is the desire to control women’s sexual behavior and to punish their sexual misbehavior.”

        This is largely incorrect, as i it were true, there would be no young women protesting abortion, nor would there be any sort of support for it fro those without power. While there are no doubt pastors and congressmen who do not wish to give up what power they have over reproductive rights, you may notice that a lot of, if not the majority of protesters at abortion clinics are young women and men, none of whom have any power to relinquish. They’re not out protesting because of power, they’re out protesting because they believe that it is murder, and those who actually want the power take advantage of this, but they are likely extremely few compared to the people who vote for them and attend their congregations who come at it from the murder angle.

        • Beaker

          Young women can be just as able to want to punish other women’s sexual behavior as other people can. Especially among young Christian women I have noticed exactly those ideas. Now, this is purely my own experience, but the idea that casual sex is sinful is strong among fundamentalist Christians. And in my experience it generally permeates many if not all of their arguments as soon as you dig a bit below the surface. Regardless of their age or sex.

          • Shadow of a Doubt

            While you do occasionally see protesters with “abortion/fornication is a sin” on them, a great deal more say “abortion is murder”. Politicians and even a great deal of preachers speak on that same angle because, regardless of their beliefs, it is a lot easier to rile up a crowd with the idea of saving a life than controlling their ovaries. This is not to say it’s exclusively in that domain, but among the general populace, both my experience and research online indicate that the vast majority believe they are preventing murder and protest accordingly.

            • Ann

              Are you sure that what they say is exactly congruent with what they believe?

              Is the transplant of the fetus (and all the consequences forever after of that pregnancy, childbirth, and parenthood) into the protester an acceptable solution?

              It should be — if saving the fetus’s life really were the motive.
              As it is, we can’t even get volunteers who will merely ADOPT some woman’s unwanted fetus if that would make her bring it to term.

              I think a brief contemplation of the history of the world would show that throughout time, in all places, most societies have thrown a lot more energy into controlling the sexual conduct of women than they have ever thrown into the well-being of embryos, neonates, and children — and their mothers.

              I’m kind of surprised that you think that modern America has experienced some kind of basic morality sea-change, departing from the nearly-universal priority of almost all other societies so that now certain groups object to letting women off the hook for their unapproved sexual behavior — but Oh really, it is because they are so so so concerned about the well-being of the fetus. Really. No, really.

              Except they would not actually DO what it takes to save its life — if that let the Bad Woman get away with it.

              Why should they suffer for life stuck with some kid they don’t even LIKE, never mind WANT? It’s HER fault — let HER suffer.

            • Shadow of a Doubt

              By that logic, everyone who wants to shelter the homeless has some ulterior motive, since they aren’t giving up the free space in their home. Everyone who wants to feed the hungry is full of crap since they aren’t giving up all their spare food and money to the cause and hey, everyone who wants to reduce carbon is secretly plotting something else because thy aren’t living in a powerless shack and farming their own food.

              Does that sound plausible to you? Or do you think that maybe, just maybe, people like to protest the moral high ground without actually doing what it takes to solve the problem?

              I’m not denying that there are people who believe that “putting a woman in her place” is that moral high ground, but those people are typically relegated to religious nutjobs.

              You see to think that even if your solution (which is not technologically possible by the way, transplantation of a fetus even to another female has to be done at a very very early stage.) weere possible people would do it, they wouldn’t. Not because they don’t have conviction, but there conviction isn’t that strong. Consider how often people walk past a murder or robbery in progress and do nothing. Are you suggesting these people are pro-murder an robbery? Of course not, they’re simply unwilling to take the actual steps needed to do something about it.

              Since neither of us can actually see inside the heads of these people, I’m going to take their objections at face value and argue those until I actually see some proof otherwise, occam’s razor and all that.

              And, occam’s razor aside, the hypothesis which does not involve a massive conspiracy is usually the correct one, whether it fits your narrative or not.

            • Ann

              It is MY point that even if it were technologically possible (which I pointed out that it is not) — that “save the fetus’s life” anti-abortion protesters would not accept a transplant — even if this were the only way to save its life.

              This is also your point, so we are apparently very close.

              My reason for making this point is to demonstrate that protesters are not really motivated by the desire to save its life. If they were, they would do what is necessary.

              There is no need to infer a “massive conspiracy” — a massive conspiracy to do what?

              My hypothesis is about covert attitudes — unshared even among the protesters. I don’t picture them in planning sessions saying, “Now we all agree that those bad women should pay and pay for having unapproved sex. But be sure to pretend that we are actually dreadfully pained by the death of the fetus.”

              I think they are concerned about the fetus at the top of their minds, and shallowly. I think that their real motive is the desire to punish sexual misconduct.

              I think I can show that my analysis is correct:
              I think challenging them to save the fetus’s life by picking up the burden they want its mother to bear — and then watching them refuse to solve the problem that way — exposes their shallow hypocrisy and reveals their true motives.

              (The anti-abortion group is not analogous to people who refuse to give everything they own to a hungry person. For one thing, their protests are not aimed at helping the pregnant woman. Rather they are aimed at forcing her to accept a permanent miserable condition in behalf of someone else’s principles and with sacrifices demanded of one person, but which they themselves will bear no sacrifices to uphold. This is a “put up or shut up” situation.)

            • Shadow of a Doubt

              You completely missed my point then, my point is that most protesters, regardless of cause, do -NOT- do what is necessary even when it is available to them.

              “I think I can show that my analysis is correct:I think challenging them to save the fetus’s life by picking up the burden they want its mother to bear — and then watching them refuse to solve the problem that way — exposes their shallow hypocrisy and reveals their true motives.”

              First of all you have shown nothing, you have presented a hypothetical situation, which is as of this moment not possible, secondly even if your thought experiment was correct, it does not prove your hypothesis in any way.

              All you would prove here is that people are too lazy to actually solve a problem when it entails work on their end, which is not new data. Since this is already true in many other cases such as environmentalism, the poor, the homeless, income inequality and so on, where people actually could bear the burden of fixing the problem, and don’t, I see no reason to assume your hypothetical as yet impossible situation would be any different.

              I will not, especially without any supporting data, ascribe to malice that which can adequately be explained by sheer laziness, especially in America.

              However I will admit, that since as of not this is untestable, we can simply agree to disagree.

            • Ann

              I don’t think it is “malice,” exactly to say that inappropriate sexual conduct should have consequences. I just think it is an error in judgment.

              Please notice that he people who could solve the problem of, for example, income inequality, are not out protesting with the 99%. The executives of BP are not out protesting their own oil rig shortcomings.

              The anti-abortion protesters are far from lazy. They throw a LOT of energy into insisting that others pay a price that they are not willing to pay.

              Anyway, it is remarkably weird to say, “Look, I’m a little too lazy to solve this problem I’m having with your behavior, so I’m out here protesting you today so that YOU’ll solve the problem that *I* am too lazy to solve. Thanks for your cooperation.”

              Pregnant Woman: I need an abortion.
              Abortion Protester: Oh please please don’t do that. Spare that little fetus’s life! Wait! I know what we can do! Let’s you bear the entire burden of the pregnancy and life-long parenthood! Yes!
              PW: Let’s ME bear the burden? Why me? Why not “Let’s YOU bear the burden,” if you love this fetus so much.
              AP: Me?!?! Why should *I* have to shoulder the costs of your mistakes?
              PW: It’s good enough for ME to solve the problem that way, but it isn’t good enough for YOU? This abortion lets me avoid the costs of this pregnancy and parenthood, so why, when I don’t have to, should it be ME who suffers for YOUR principles? Why not YOU?
              AP: The reason it should be YOU who suffers is ______
              (Fill in ALL POSSIBLE responses)

              Any response whatsoever by abortion protesters exposes their real motive — any response, that is, except “You’re right. Why should you.
              *I* am the one who wants the fetus to stay alive, so *I* should be the one to bear the costs of that decision.”
              But for some mysterious reason, that’s the response you never hear.

              The analogies between anti-abortion protests and “good causes” like environmentalism are inappropriate. The conditions are not a match.
              Anti-abortion protests are more like the pacifism of some Quakers — except the protesting Quakers actually do refuse to pay their taxes and actually do often go to jail as a result.

              This willingness to put their money where their mouth is at least demonstrates the Quakers’ sincerity. This is not the case for the anti-abortion claim that the life of the fetus is their only concern. Their actual behavior demonstrates their insincerity.

              I don’t even see them saying to pregnant women, “Look, here’s a couple of hundred bucks to buy clothes for the infant.” — never mind actually solving the problems that are causing the need for an abortion in the first place.

              Why, it’s enough to make me think they have some REAL (but covert) motive, since they are so uninterested in solving their stated motive…

            • Shadow of a Doubt

              I won’t go back to the covert motive thing, as neither of us can prove that one way or the other suffice to say that you have done nothing to convince me otherwise, but on some other points, consider looking them up before setting them out.

              “Please notice that he people who could solve the problem of, for example, income inequality, are not out protesting with the 99%. The executives of BP are not out protesting their own oil rig shortcomings.”

              Do the names Bill Gates, Warren Buffett or Li Ka-shing ring a bell? If they don’t here is a hint, they all would fit on the top of lists entitled “richest people alive” and “worlds biggest philanthropists” equally well.

              The Quakers example is pure nonsense as since the religious, not infrequently, find themselves compelled to commit suicide via bombing and mass slaughter, it’s unsurprising some would be willing to suffer jail for those principals.

              Anyhow Ann, I appreciate you being a sounding board for some of my own ideas, but I am afraid I will not be responding to future posts here as I do not wish to clutter our host’s page with our conversation, especially since there sees to have been a breakdown in communication to where it’s going nowhere, except perhaps into a veritable terra cotta army-esque legion of strawmen.


            • ThePrussian

              Shadow, thanks for this.

            • King Rat

              Pro life women are not lining up to gestate the hundred thousand plus abandoned IVF embryos. Embryos that will be incinerated.

            • Ann

              Nor any other unwanted embryos either.
              In fact, in many cases they have been caught aborting their OWN unwanted embryos, or assisting their daughters to do so.

              I am at a loss to see why transplanting an unwanted embryo into a person who wants to save its life is not the perfect solution.
              1) The woman who doesn’t want it gets rid of it
              2) The one who wants it to live gets his or her wish — at his or her expense, which is only fair.

              Why should the biological mother bear that child? She doesn’t even want it. How would that be fair?

              Let the anti-abortion protester carry it inside their bodies during pregnancy and then carry it around their necks for the rest of their lives.
              That is the only solution that is fair and just for everyone.

            • ThePrussian

              IVF’s abandoned embryos are blastocysts which I specifically noted are pre-human, pre-conscious. So your argument doesn’t even reach the level of fatuous.

            • King Rat

              Way to miss the point. I was talking to Ann about how, if pro-life women were really really concerned about saving as many lives as possible, they would be wiling to gestate snowflake babies.

              After all, they always say that pregnancy is a minor inconvenience.

            • Ann



              So in all fairness, they should adopt all the unwanted babies, and as soon as we know how, they should accept the unwanted fetuses as transplants.

              That really is the only fair and right thing to do, and will give every stakeholder exactly what they want.
              A perfect win-win solution.

              And a solution that I can’t WAIT to apply to male protesters.
              Hahaha! Watch them shut up then!

              You know that old joke:
              If men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament.

            • Ann

              In what sense is a blastocyst prehuman?

              For one thing, if it exists at the time of its father’s death — even as no more than a blastocyst — it inherits equally with the man’s other children.

              Sounds like it has the legal rights of a human anyway — whether you think it’s “pre-human” or not.

              And how can a human zygote even BE “pre-human”?
              What does that expression even mean?
              When does it magically become “human”?

              It is not “naming” it to merely “characterize” it as “pre-human”
              What was it before it became human, while it was a “pre-human?
              What was the name of its species?
              Do you think it was an Australopithecus?

            • King Rat

              FYI, a popular pro-life claim is that every zygote is like a polaroid – all of the information is there, you just can’t see it yet, but it’s there.

              Also, the primitive brainwaves and organs at your 8wk cutoff date really don’t mean much. The fetus is not in fact capable of sentience until at least the 24th week, when the brainwaves that show the presence of the capacity for ‘thought’ are present. Until then, the brain structures that give rise to sentience simply do not exist.

              And the majority of abortions are well before the 24th week – over 65% before 9 weeks, and over 90% before 13 weeks. Abortions past the 20th week are, in the majority of cases, for severe fetal anomaly and life/health of mother.

              Those brainwaves you speak of at 8wks are merely primitive beta and alpha waves, and they originate from the brainstem. The brainstem is the first part of the brain to form, and an anencephalic fetus (never develops a cortex and is thus incapable of sentience) can have those same brainwaves. Terri Schiavo had a brainstem, but the rest of her brain was essentially viscous goo – she was incapable of consciousness, but she had the same brainwave patterns as a pre-viability embryo and a beating heart cadaver (which is what she was, essentially).

            • lady_black

              If you are not doing *anything* (not necessarily *everything*) to protest from the moral high-ground, other than, well… spouting a lot of balloon juice, then you are co-opting the moral high-ground without having a valid claim to stand upon it. Your problem is that people who believe in feeding the hungry, housing the homeless, sheltering victims of domestic violence, etc. DO give of themselves in time and money to support those causes. They don’t stand there and cry about the “rights” of the homeless and then insist that YOU shelter the homeless. This is the conundrum of the anti-choicer. There is basically little they *can* do about abortion, and what they can do, many refuse to do. They could support free access to contraception, comprehensive sex education taught by medical experts, easy and free access to prenatal care for those of little means, and robust social support for parents. Countries where all this is done have very low abortion rates, so we know it works. Here, a pregnancy is always someone else’s problem, and once out of the womb, the resulting baby remains “someone else’s problem.” So my answer to you is that you are *pretending* to stand on the moral high ground. You don’t actually have it, or we would live in a far different country than we do. You are a hypocrite.

            • lady_black

              That you actually believe that says a lot about your intellectual curiosity. Scratch the surface of any anti-choicer deeply enough, and the misogynist primer will show through. This usually comes out in the sentiment that she “should have thought about that before she opened her legs” or some similar statement. Once that is said, you can pretty much disregard any play-acting the person engages in about how abortion is murder, and an embryo is “a real person for sure.” And being female is not a disqualification for being a misogynist.

        • Ann

          I didn’t understand your point about “power,” so if you had a chance to draw it out a little, I would be grateful.

          Meanwhile, I would like to respond to your point that the true motives of the anti-abortion protesters is just to save the fetus’s life/

          I think that as many women as men would think that it is an unfair solution to force them to carry someone else’s unwanted fetus to term, and then be saddled with it for life.

          Anti-abortion female:
          “Hey! Why should *I* be the one to shoulder that burden? After all, I’m not the one who had the unwise sex. Why should *I* be the one to suffer the physical, mental, social, economic, marital, and psychological burdens of a unwanted pregnancy? Why should *I* have to accept the moral, social, psychological, emotional, legal, and financial responsibility for someone else’s child for the rest of my life? Let *her* do it — she’s the one who ran around getting pregnant in the first place.”

          I used “males” as my example because I think it makes the point more sharply, but of course I never intended to exclude females from those who think that “saving the fetus” is secondary to “punishing the right person.”

          Naturally the covert motive is not the expressed motive. The sloganeering can hardly say “Let’s have some Slut Blaming! Punish those whores with unwanted kids!”

          I think my suggestion (that anti-abortion protesters save the fetus’s life by absorbing the pregnancy and its consequences) uncovers the covert motive.

          It should be a solution that would provide the greatest possible satisfaction for everyone, The pregnant woman and the embryo would jump at the chance. And the abortion protester would too — right? You know, they want to avert a murder, right? And that would be the way to do it — so what’s the problem?

          Its rejection shows up the anti-abortion crowd’s true colors.

          • NEIL C. REINHARDT

            HI ANN,



            • Ann

              Hi, Neil ~

              I did see your posts, and thanks for your support.

      • ThePrussian

        I disagree (see above). And I will thank you not to invent motives for other people, because dealing with their real motives and ideas is just too inconvenient.

        • Ann

          Well, naturally I would be gratified to be thanked by you.

          But even so, when people start demonstrating their moral loftiness by demanding *I* perform a self-punishing act that they wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot pole — it’s hard to avoid concluding that everything is not what it is claimed to be.

          It just makes me downright suspicious that the REAL motive may not really be the well-being of the fetus, since the only solution the fetus’s well-wisher will accept is MY suffering.

          At least when environmentalists try to save trees, they chain THEMSELVES to the trees, not the machine operators. At least when doctors try to alleviate suffering in Africa, they go there THEMSELVES.

          Why is it necessary to save the fetus’s life only with the sacrifice of MINE? Why not THEIRS if they are so worried about it?

          Why is it CALLED “concern for the fetus,” but it necessarily ENTAILS “punishing the woman”?

          At least any protesters who are not willing to adopt one (or more) of the unwanted babies have pretty much lost any legitimacy for their claim of “caring about the child (not wanting to punish the mother)”, and can safely be ignored as hypocrites and liars.

          What kind of morality is it that says, “My moral standards require YOU to do something that *I* am too precious to do myself actually. So you hurry all up now and go do something that *I* wouldn’t do on a bet.”

    • Beaker

      By the way, “brain dead” does not mean that all electrical activity in the brain has seized. There can still be detectable brain patterns, just not brain patterns that we consider “alive”. So that part of the post is just plain wrong.

      Similarly, people in persistent vegetative state will still have electrical brain activity. Any activity they show is purely reflexive though. How harsh this may seem, these humans do not have personhood anymore. Everything we associate with personhood, such as consciousness or personality, is not there anymore.

      So activity of the nervous system is not a priori evidence of human life in the first place, and it definitely is not evidence of personhood.

    • Ann

      Forgive me if I am misreading this, but it looks like you are saying that you can forcibly remove a criminal’s kidneys if she has fatally damaged yours.
      “I’m also told that bodily autonomy can’t be violated even if you are directly, and criminally responsibly for my crippling.
      Here I can be more direct – that’s bollocks. If you poison me in a way that destroys my kidneys, and I am going to die for want of spare parts, and your kidneys are compatible, then I think it is absolutely okay to take them. If you are directly and criminally responsible (this runs into the questions of perfectibility and what the law can and cannot do, subjects for another time, but I wanted to outline the general moral principle). ”

      I’m actually shocked.

      There is no Court anywhere in the civilized world that would ever agree with you.

      I suppose this idea of yours goes along with your taste for that creepy, jumped-up, grasping opportunist Rand — as silly and shallow and whacky an exploiter as has not been seen since Madame Blavatsky.
      And their obvious mental illnesses are no excuse. For them OR for you.

      Here is a question for you:
      My mother said that during the Women’s Movement, men’s opinions were not invited and not considered. Friend or foe, their ideas were irrelevant, since they were no more than the Peanut Gallery making catcalls at the real stakeholders,

      Don’t you think the same applies for men’s opinions on abortion?

      The decisions the society and the individual make can NEVER matter as much to men as they do to women. And for that matter, they can never matter as much to other women as they do to the pregnant woman.

      I have a few other questions.
      1) Can a pregnant woman be forced to take vitamins to prevent (among other things) spina bifida?
      2) Can a pregnant woman be compelled not to smoke or drink?
      3) Can a pregnant Rh negative woman who has given birth to one Rh + child be forced to submit to the treatments that would prevent injury to a second Rh + child?
      4) Can a pregnant woman be forced to carry a deformed fetus? One that will die soon after birth?
      5) Or a rapist’s innocent child? Or her father’s innocent child? (Assume the mother is 12 years old)
      7) Can a pregnant woman be forced to eat a healthy diet? Who would be in charge of supervising this? The same people who monitor her for sneaking a cigarette?
      8) Can a pregnant woman be prevented from committing suicide? How would that prevention be done?
      9) Should women be allowed to breed with men who are known to transmit serious or fatal birth defects? What if it’s the woman who has, for example, sickle cell anemia or juvenile diabetes? Should they be allowed to breed? Should genetically superior women be allowed to refuse to breed?

      10) Do you think it might be simpler — and solve all these problems at once — just to corral all females into guarded compounds? Then they could be selected for controlled breeding, and once pregnant, led out to healthy pasture for exercise before being served a healthy diet in their stalls. And NO SMOKING!!

      I urge you to take extreme care before you surrender control of the body of some of the citizens to the Body and Mind Police. You may think you can confine the evil to just the Bad people, or the weak and helpless people, but these things have a terrible way of swelling out of their containers and biting their advocates in the ass.

      It is the absolute essence of tyranny and totalitarianism to convert what is rightfully “private” into the business of the public, and to convert what is rightfully “personal” into something “political.”
      You can see it any day you like by looking at some Islamic religious totalitarian states.
      Think twice before hoping to bring this down on yourself.

      Very little could possibly be more private and personal than the contents of someone’s uterus.

      • ThePrussian

        “There is no Court in the civilized world that would ever agree that the Negro is the equivalent of the White Man!” Ann’s equivalent, two hundred years ago.

        Having applied your method of argumentation to yourself, here’s what’s wrong with it: morality isn’t a matter of public opinion or popular vote.

        To the rest of this… once I step over the insults and bad faith, there are only the questions that should be addressed:

        1 – 3) I have no clear answer to that, because it runs into matters of perfectibility, the extent and nature of risk, and a whole number of similar issues that I need a lot more time and research on.

        4) As I have said, we know what regime thought that killing of defectives was okay. If the child was absolutely going to die within hours after birth, that might be a different issue.

        5) One of the lucky things about the eight week cut off is that, I repeat, we have options before that. To the moral issue – sin isn’t hereditary, believe it or not. Because A is wicked, you don’t get to kill innocent child B. And a twelve year old falls under the exception of serious risk to the mother’s health.

        6) There is no six.

        7) Doubt it; the risks are not sufficient and we run into the problem of perfectibility (again, this is something to go over in much more detail).

        8) Past the eight week cutoff, I believe so. How it could be done, the endless problem of what the law can and cannot do, is another matter. In any case, as a number of near suicides know, prevention at the right time can save many lives.

        9) How many times are you going to go with the “It’s okay to kill defectives” argument? If you are so against defectives, start with killing the defective arguments in your posts.

        Like, for example the idea that men cannot argue about this because they have no stake. Well, I do have such a stake, given that I, like a lot of men, started out as an unborn child. Second, there is the matter that many, many women are anti-abortion. And third, a moral argument is a moral argument no matter who makes it, no matter the reasons for their making it. One could just as easily argue that women should be disbarred from an opinion, as their greater personal stake clouds their judgement (see how easy it is to come up with this b.s.? Don’t do it).

        10) Plain, insulting stupidity.

        That concludes the only things worth response here.

        • Ann

          “1 – 3) I have no clear answer to that, because it runs into matters of perfectibility, the extent and nature of risk, and a whole number of similar issues that I need a lot more time and research on.”
          > But this is exactly the kind of thing you MUST have answers for once you can command the bodies of other people to compel them to obey YOUR moral standards.

          “4) As I have said, we know what regime thought that killing of defectives was okay.”
          > This answer is a relief. I didn’t quite know just how far your control of other people’s pregnancy was going to go.

          “If the child was absolutely going to die within hours after birth, that might be a different issue.”
          > How so? The child is absolutely going to die at SOME number of hours after birth. What number is the magic cut-off according to your morality?

          “5) One of the lucky things about the eight week cut off is that, I repeat, we have options before that.”
          > Well, of course “we” actually don’t always have options before that. Sometimes “we” don’t even know “we” are pregnant before that.

          “To the moral issue – sin isn’t hereditary, believe it or not. Because A is wicked, you don’t get to kill innocent child B.”
          > The issue of exceptions for rape is not “morality” or the idea that an immoral father’s child would be so immoral that it should not live.
          The idea behind providing exceptions for rape is the absolute horror and revulsion that the girl or woman must feel to be the victim again and again of such a horrible event.
          The protesters who think that there should be no exceptions for rape should be subjected to their ghastly injuries before they are compelled to adopt the moral child
          > The claw marks on the face and thighs of long broken dirty fingernails, and the bleeding claw marks of those same disgusting claws in the vagina and rectum, and mouth and throat. (To muffle their victims, many rapists stuff their mouths with fabric, which the women — to avoid suffocation — swallow. Some victims have swallowed YARDS of fabric in an effort to breathe. As the rapist pushes the fabric in, he often inflicts claw marks on the palate and buccal surfaces.)
          > Many rapists transmit STD’s — some fatal — to their victims
          > There are many other injuries that are more well-known: Concussions, strangulation, the amputation of body parts (breasts, hands and arms, noses and ears), stab wounds, clouts to the side of the head that break the eardrum, beatings, and so on.
          > And to top it all off, the woman has to BEAR HER RAPIST’S CHILD TO TERM? Feeling that hated object squirming around in her? Suffering the pain, disability, and permanent disfigurements of pregnancy and childbirth?
          And what else? Any life-damaging, permanent consequences? Dropping out of school? Having some serious problems (including “mommy tracking”) at work? Or any little problems with her husband, who, for some reason, isn’t as interested in putting up with a pregnant wife as you’d think he’d be. Go figure, right? After all, this psychopath’s issue is a moral being, in spite of its danger of inheriting some bad genes there.
          PS — Does your morality require the happy couple to actually RAISE this baby, or can they drop it off at the fire department?

          According to this “morality,” any horrifying psychopath can father a child if he can just capture a woman for a few minutes.
          He gets to reproduce and she gets to be his incubator.
          But hey — tough luck for her, right? After all, you’re going for “morality” here.

          “And a twelve year old falls under the exception of serious risk to the mother’s health.”
          > Not particularly true.
          Young girls have a higher risk of high blood pressure, but that is readily treated, and the victim must be forcibly medicated to prevent that, of course.
          There is more danger to the baby than for the underage mother.

          I want to respond to the rest of your post, but this response is getting long.
          What do you want to do?
          I’d like to discuss each issue one by one until we are both repeating ourselves. How about it?

          • ThePrussian

            Preliminary: By your own admission, you don’t care if the unborn is a human person. So, by our own admission you are fine with ninety two Sobibors. Actually, given that by your standards, you’d be fine even if all fifty million were provably human lives, you are fine with two hundred and fifty Sobibors, or five Hitlers, or two and a half Stalins, or point six two five Maos.

            Get off your ridiculous horse.

            1-3) I like to spend some time thinking about things, so see above

            4) I’m interested to hear your defence of the killing of defectives. As regards a child that will not live after birth for long – near relatives, dealing with a loved one who will not come out of a coma, are often asked whether to ‘turn the machines off’. Same principle.

            5) Oh, but it is a moral issue. Because A wrongs B, B doesn’t get to kill C.

            I repeat: no one is pretending that this isn’t a terrible situation and I am willing to go with anything that prevents it from happening. I do not see how the adding of murder to this makes it better.

            6) “Does your morality require the happy couple to actually RAISE this baby, or can they drop it off at the fire department?”

            I wish all children could be raised by parents that are willing to do their best for them. Life, however, is a cold place and the universe isn’t built with us in mind, and we have to see what ethics we can impose on an impersonal world. And with that being the case, being given up for adoption is a lot better than being killed.

            • Ann

              Well, of course the difference is one that makes all the difference.
              None of the victims at Sobibor needed to be kept alive by crawling into the body of an unwilling hostess.

              I absolutely deny that any “person” — adult or otherwise — has the slightest right to compel me to allow that, even if it’s the only way to save their life.

              I’m actually kind of surprised that you fail to make that distinction yourself. I daresay that accounts for your bad judgment and erroneous conclusions. One of the requirements for clear thinking is the ability to disambiguate close concepts, to clarify and separate them rather than conflate them.

              If you think that declining to donate my body to service someone else’s metabolism is the same as just murdering someone, then you have blurred the distinctions that make the difference.

              Don’t you see that you invalidate your own position by setting up a silly and shallow strawman? How can your ideas be taken seriously when you have to resort to such transparent acts to defend them?
              Well, my question was designed to determine how far YOU would go in your thirst to control other people’s pregnancies.

              Courts would reject with scorn even the idea that a criminal could be compelled to become his victim’s SERVANT — never mind become his victim’s CIRCULATORY system.

              But so as not to avoid the thrust of your question, I will repeat that I think that no one can morally be compelled to be the forcible host of any other person — defective or otherwise, unborn or born, viable or adult — for any reason whatsoever, including criminal liability for the other person’s condition.

              Furthermore, I know that YOU think the same thing.
              You know how I know this?
              YOU would refuse in a heartbeat to save a fetus’s life by allowing it to reside inside YOUR body.

              And you may not always feel so safe from being expected to put YOUR money where YOUR morals are

              Here’s a question for you:

              Suppose the brakes on your brand-new car fail. You steer to the right to avoid going over a cliff, inadvertently injuring some guy who was sleeping behind some bushes. Now he can live only by being attached by tubes to your jugular vein. Your body is required to do his metabolic work. Your lungs, digestive system, liver, kidneys, etc are required for him to live.

              Should you be forced to do this?

              Would your refusal be another Sobibor?

            • ThePrussian

              Strawman? You have admitted, and confirmed, that your ‘morals’ are fine with a death toll two hundred and fifty times that of one of the worst extermination camps of the Third Reich. That’s all I really need to know.

              You keep invoking ‘courts’ that exist only in your mind and ignore what ‘courts’ have been willing to uphold in the past. They had ‘courts’ in the Reich, you know.

              And as to this recourse to future technology, I certainly believe I could do a better job of incubating an unborn child than you ever could, and I think the fact that you have to resort to future scenarios, ignoring the reality of the here and now.

              Yes, the sooner actual cloning facilities are available, and it is possible for unwanted children to be extracted and raised externally the better. But as things stand, life doesn’t make things that simple.

            • King Rat

              And what will happen when the # of unwanted babies in artificial wombs exceeds the # of people willing to adopt?

              Does every baby need to be born? That is the question.

              And it is intellectually dishonest to compare abortion to genocide. Embryos and fetuses are not being targeted for what they are – they are targeted because of where they are.

              And furthermore, those primitive brainwaves you mentioned don’t count for shit. Until the fetus is capable of sentience (which is not possible until the 24th week, after which abortion is illegal) it really is just a mindless animal organism. In fact, it’s more mindless than a cow.

            • ThePrussian

              Babies aren’t conscious in the fully human sense. I guess you’re fine with infanticide too.

            • King Rat

              Babies are sentient creatures.

              A pre-viability prenate is incapable of sentience because the physical structures that give rise to sentience simply do not exist.

            • ThePrussian

              Babies are a long, long way away from the conceptual awareness that marks human life – further than the unborn are from the status of babies.

            • King Rat

              So what.

              1) babies don’t live inside someone else’s body

              2) babies are sentient, pre-viability fetuses are not

              Apples and oranges. Abortion only exists because of a body living inside someone else’s body. If every baby was delivered by stork, abortion would not be an issue. And if you don’t want the baby that the stork left on your doorstep, you can drop it off at the local fire department or shelter.

            • ThePrussian

              Again, you dodge the basic question of personhood. By your standard, infanticide is okay.

            • Lieutenant Nun

              Babies and viable fetuses have the capacity for sentience. That is a big milestone. Its only one criteria, but its enough, and is one that the law happens to agree with. At viability the construction of the unborn human is nearly complete. It can survive as an autonomous individual. It is no longer mere potential.

              And the fact that babies live outside the body is a pretty big thing – there is absolutely no need for infanticide because abortion only exists due to the nature of pregnancy.

            • lady_black

              Personhood vests at live birth.

            • lady_black


            • lady_black

              Nope. Babies become fully conscious at birth, thanks to the sudden spike in SpO2 that occurs with breathing. Prior to birth, in fetal life, the fetus is in a state of hypoxic unconsciousness similar to the one you would experience should the airplane cabin you are in should suddenly depressurize. Infants are not dependent upon someone who breathes for them. They are not dependent upon someone to digest and eliminate for them either. We have machines that perform those functions for those who need them. And before there were such machines, people died. We have NEVER pressed people into involuntary servitude for the biological functions of any human being, no matter how “human” you believe them to be. So your continued tossing around of “human being” carries little weight. I am also a human being. And I don’t have to pony up so much as a unit of blood to save your life, much less allow you to tether your circulatory system to mine so I can feed you, breathe for you, and eliminate for you. I don’t have to allow any fetus to do so either. You think much more highly of your own importance than you have any right to. Existential angst is so unattractive in adults. Seek help.

            • Ann

              One of the chief glories of the English case law system, so luckily brought to most of the United States and Canada, is that it is the best chance humanity has ever had to reap the benefit of the distilled wisdom of centuries.

              Courts are the repository and the enactment of — not “justice” (No one even knows what that is, or can recognize it when they see it), but instead, of what is best (as far as we know so far) for the society as a whole.

              For example, it seems only fair that a person whose game is repeatedly poached be allowed to set up shotguns set to fire at trespassers. In the US, a similar case involved a property owner whose barn was repeatedly burglarized.

              But the case law system has seen more than 1000 years of these situations. That is why these “deadfall” traps are not allowed. It has transpired in human history that the number of kids looking for lost dogs or balls, or the mailman, or a neighbor who is worried about why your barn door is broken open — it has transpired that people like this are injured and killed too often to justify the use of automatic killing machines to defend mere property.

              The distillation of 1000 years of experience has decided that it is the lesser of two evils to allow barns to be burglarized than to get children cut in half by shotgun blasts.

              That is why “what courts think” matters.
              They represent the best thinking (based on all that experience) that we have available for addressing social problems.

              If you are under the impression that either you or that clown Ayn Rand — with her cartoon scenarios of a cartoon world — is smarter than 1000+ years of jurists, you are wrong.

              She is not smarter than them.
              She is only smarter than you.

            • ThePrussian

              Ann’s arguments here:

              1. It is fine to kill unborn babies even if we can 100% show that they are human beings.

              2. Somehow that’s not murder.

              3. There is no such thing as ‘justice’ but somehow there is an absolute moral imperative for bodily integrity that, weirdly, doesn’t apply to the unborn.

              4. The Courts are the absolute arbiters of right and wrong so presumably, when the courts of the Third Reich enforced the Nuremberg laws, that was okay, and Ann thought black Americans were subhuman until the courts decided otherwise.

              5. Gratuitous insults to avoid having to think any further, or indeed at all.

              This is just boring now. You’re repeating yourself and you’ve exhausted any shadow of an argument you may have had.

            • Ann

              You haven’t been arguing in good faith for a while now, which I attribute to a heated temper rather than an innate character flaw.

              You many not believe me, thinking that I am responding in bad faith, but let me say that I recognize that your position is based on a sense of compassion for the unborn baby whose mother withdraws her life support system.

              I think this compassion does you credit.

              I haven’t ever been pregnant yet, but I myself also cannot imagine any circumstance when my feelings of pity and tenderness toward the embryo would allow me to get an abortion. (Of course, I never have been exposed to any violence by a man either, never mind rape, so maybe my feelings would change if I got pregnant as a result of rape.)

              But nevertheless, I am still able to distinguish between “How I feel” and “what I would do” – vs – “what I would force YOU to do if only I could.”

              I think it makes you likable that you have compassion for the unborn baby. But you still have no right to control some other person’s body, or to compel her to be a biomachine for another person.

              Best wishes.

            • ThePrussian

              Actually, you haven’t bothered to try to argue in good faith since the start. You began by assuming motives that I didn’t hold, continued to be deliberately insulting at every turn – and have not come up with an answer to the staggering flaw in your own argument: Where is your concern for the bodily integrity of the unborn?

            • Ann

              The “unborn” and everyone else is entitled to any “bodily integrity” they can access.
              But they are not allowed to do so at the expense of someone else’s “body integrity” — which (I repeat) is not an argument I have ever made (but I admit that “body integrity” may be implicit in my arguments regarding “autonomy.”)

              I insist that it is a horror to create a society in which a completely innocent person (such as a person who has had sex) can be compelled even to DONATE BLOOD to another.

              That is not what my body is for.

              And if you think it is, then how come it’s not what YOUR body is for?
              After all, an embryo is not the only human being whose body will die if you don’t support it with yours.

              How come it’s not murder if YOU don’t allow someone to hook themselves up to YOUR jugular veins? There are thousands of end-stage kidney and liver disease patients who URGENTLY NEED your circulatory system right now to stay alive.

              I confidently await your explanation of the difference, in spite of my observation that you simply ignore challenges you cannot face,

            • ThePrussian

              This argument gets you nowhere since you don’t get to preserve your body integrity by violating that of the unborn. Nor does that change if you substitute ‘autonomy’ for ‘integrity’. If the unborn is a person, you cannot have an abortion without a complete violation of that person’s bodily autonomy and integrity.

              There is a world of difference between commission and omission, which is why we’d jail someone for deliberately starving another to death, but not for failing to donate food aid.

              And, as you have already said, you don’t care if all fifty million abortions are the deliberate destruction of human persons so what you do and do not consider a horror is not really relevant.

            • Ann

              Then YOU have to sustain the life of someone else by connecting them to YOUR circulatory system.

              Not to doubt you, but I need to see the photographs of YOU not being a murderer.

              Look, Prussian — You are making an assertion of your private morality. You are saying “Jesus is our savior” or “Meat is murder” or “Abortion is murder.” Even if you don’t realize it now, try to see that you are not making a statement of fact.

              You are saying something exactly analogous to:
              > (In my opinion) Jesus is our savior and I worship him because of it.
              You are not saying, “(In my opinion,) Jesus is our savior so I am going to force YOU to worship him because of it.”

              You are saying something exactly analogous to:
              > (I think that) Meat is murder and that’s why I would never eat any.
              You don’t get to say, “(I think that) Meat is murder and that’s why I will force YOU not to eat any.”

              Your are specifically saying:
              > (According to me,) Abortion is murder and I would never have one.
              At this point, your remark breaks down into incoherence, but even if you don’t see that…
              You still don’t get to say, “(According to me,) Abortion is murder and that’s why YOU can never have one.”
              Your personal sentiments on this and any other moral question are fine. Knock yourself out. Persuade as many others to your views as you can.
              Just know that your private and personal moral sentiments are never allowed to control the behavior of others, who have their own private and personal moral sentiments.
              You really cannot expect to be taken seriously — that is, not just dismissed as a bald-faced liar and hypocrite, a real televangelist — unless you live up to your own moral preaching.
              At the least, please state:
              > How many abortions you prevented by your financial support of the pregnant women, followed by raising the unwanted children.
              > Please state the number of end-stage renal disease people you are keeping alive with a hook-up to your jugular veins.
              > Please give your consent in principle to becoming the host of aborted fetuses as soon as it is technologically possible (and their parent forever after)
              > You should explain why this sentence: “I think abortion is murder, so I would never have one” isn’t really just laughable, making people think, “What on earth does the abortion issue have to do with you?”

            • NEIL C. REINHARDT

              :you don’t get to preserve your body integrity by violating that of the unborn”

              WHO SAYS? YOU?

              WELL, FYI YOUSE AIN’T NO GOD!

            • lady_black

              By definition, a fetus has no bodily autonomy (not integrity, that is a different subject). So there is nothing to be concerned about. Like the “rights” of unicorns and leprechauns, they are non-existent.

            • NEIL C. REINHARDT






              END OF STORY!

            • lady_black

              Sorry sir. I have evidently studied more law than you have and you are lacking in understanding of how our system works. The law does not conflate “human being” and “person.” They are two totally separate concepts, and conflating them doesn’t compute. Under the law, you can be a person without being a human being, and a human being without being a person. Examples: corporations and dead bodies. You are also a liar. You do not seek to give embryos and fetuses equal rights to persons. You seek to give them superogatory rights that no person has, to wit, the right to access the physical body of another person. YOU CAN’T DO THAT!

            • lady_black

              I remember discussing this very concept in a law class in college and why the laying of traps is unjust, though it may seem “fair” to someone who is continually aggrieved by criminals, when one thinks it through, such traps trap anyone who may innocently come upon them, not just criminals.

            • lady_black

              We pull the plug all the time on the brain dead. Abortion is exactly that.. pulling the plug. Despite all your fantasies about the CNS, the only part functional in a fetus at eight weeks is the brainstem. A fetus doesn’t think about anything. It just has reflexes. No cognition. And no, “brainwaves” do not equal cognition. You are a fine example of how a little bit of knowledge can be dangerous. And as to your assertion about rape victims, we do not force the victims of violent crimes to remain in the physical condition the crime left them in. We do not require the victims of stabbing to remain stabbed. In a rape, there IS no “other person.” Only the victim and the perpetrator. Rape is a great reason to abort, particularly in most circumstances where the rapist is known to his victim. We do not discriminate on account of the age of the victim. Any pregnancy is a threat to the life and health of any woman. Not ONE is completely “safe.” It’s mighty white of you to believe you have any right to dictate how I choose to live my life, and even how or when I choose to end my life. Get over it. You don’t have that kind of power over anyone but yourself. And I don’t have to tolerate any “abrogation” of my rights, temporary or permanent, for the sake of your feelings. Get over yourself, you ain’t “all that.” Go talk to your mom. Maybe she cares about your feelings. Most people couldn’t care less.

    • Ann

      You correctly state my position here:
      “No person has the right to crawl into another person’s body and live there parasitically for a few months.

      You refute my position thus:
      “Try the following on for size: ‘No person has the right to invade another person’s home, live off their work, expect food, shelter, security and education without paying for it – for years on end. Therefore: if parents decide to abandon their newborn in the snow, or not feed him, that is perfectly fine.’ ”

      – See more at: http://www.skepticink.com/prussian/2014/03/13/the-atheist-case-for-being-anti-abortion/#comment-1288376880

      1) Of course parents may legally abandon their children. There are entire institutions designed just to care for these children, because otherwise they would end up dead.

      2) They may not legally commit child abuse (leaving in the snow, starving him, etc)
      3) The vast majority of the time, a person actually doesn’t have the right to live off someone else’s labor — starting at age 18.
      4) Public policy recognizes as a mere fact that an underage child must live at someone else’s expense. The only question is: “Is it more fair that it be at his father’s expense – or – at the expense of the general public?”
      5) To the extent that the government is capable, it makes an effort (often a weak effort) to place some of the child’s support on the parents. (A lot of the costs for children are borne by the public anyway — schools, roads, etc)
      6) But the law has always been alert to the distinction between a person’s PROPERTY – vs – his BODY. Even the standards of proof are different: “Beyond a reasonable doubt” for conviction that can land your body in jail – or – “the preponderance of the evidence” that could cost you some money.
      7) No law could ever morally exist that would require the forcible use of the parents’ BODIES — forcible breast feeding, forcible domiciling the child in their home, forcible diaper changing, etc.
      8) PAYING for a civil wrong or misdemeanor (abandoning an economically-dependent child, damaging the neighbor’s flower bed, whatever) is a FAR DIFFERENT thing from being forced to GIVE THE VICTIM PARTS OF YOUR BODY.

      I am kind of amazed you don’t have an innate feel for this truth.

      I suppose that’s what comes of being infected by the Rand brainworm — as debased and ugly a “philosophy” as hasn’t been seen since the Third Reich.

      It’s been my observation that Rand fans are exactly analogous to newly-converted born-agains. Evidently the ideas of both take up residence in the same place in the brain, and are powered by the same emotional neediness.
      (Converts to Communism have the same identifying markers too.)
      Weird phenomenon.

      • King Rat
      • ThePrussian

        Okay, number 2) grants my point. Thanks. The rest of this is just trying and failing to get around the conclusions. The argument you are still making is that bodily integrity justifies murder. Sorry, it doesn’t.

        • Ann

          On September 29, 1978, Lawrence Singleton raped Mary Vincent, and then amputated both her forearms with a hatchet. Then he threw her off a 30-foot cliff, leaving her naked and near death. She managed to pull herself back up the cliff and alert a passerby, who took her to a hospital.

          At Singleton’s trial six months after the assault, Vincent faced her assailant and relived the traumatic ordeal in court. Her testimony helped convict him. As she left the witness stand, he swore he would kill her.

          Singleton received a 14-year sentence, but was released on parole after 8 years.

          Her injuries prevent her from feeding herself, dressing herself, cleaning herself, or helping herself at the toilet — as well as all the other things we need hands and fingers to do.

          Do you think she should have been forcibly made to endure the pain, disfigurement, disability, and danger of having this monster’s spawn writhing around inside her? The humiliation of ob-gyn exams? The disgust she would have to feel at the birth of this child?

          Did I mention that she was only 15 years old?

          What did she ever do to deserve that?
          I think there is a problem for you here.

          Either you say she should be forced to carry the monster’s child to term, at any cost to herself, even though she is entirely innocent — and thereby expose yourself as a heartless monster yourself.
          – or –
          You can agree that mercy and justice would spare this innocent victim as much additional undeserved suffering as possible — and thereby confess that forced pregnancy IS a matter of “slut punishing” after all.
          Under what system of justice or logic can one person claim a right to force a woman to surrender her body for the other person’s use?
          It’s madness.

          I know that you say if I criminally injure you so that you need my liver, I can be forced to give it to you.

          But what if I injure you, but not by any criminal act or intent?
          Suppose that I am the cause, but not criminally so.
          Can you compel me to give you my liver then?

          1) Should Mary Vincent have been forced to carry Singleton’s child to term?
          2) Would she be criminally liable if she didn’t take proper care of the fetus?
          3) Throughout history, women have resorted to numerous herbal, mineral, ritualistic. or spiritual preparations to induced abortion. Would she be criminally liable for using these abortifacients?
          4) If I must give you my organs after criminally damaging yours, must I give you my organs after inadvertently damaging yours?

          • ThePrussian

            Little Miss In-Favour-Of-250-Sobibors, this post would mean something if this was a post arguing that rape was okay. Since no such thing is being argued, I think we have reached the point of repetition you asked for. Or to put it more precisely: You don’t like what I have to say, and I don’t say what you want to hear.

            • Ann

              You must necessarily be insincere if you pretend to think that murdering a person is the same as refusing to use my body parts to keep that person alive.

              How is it that YOU are walking around with all YOUR body parts, you murderer!

              Two people need your kidney, and more need your blood, your corneas, your liver and lights — even your skin.

              I have never been pregnant yet, so I haven’t had the need to decide between an abortion or a child.

              But YOU — how long have YOU been walking around with your skin and liver? Don’t you know how many people DIE every year from burns and liver disease?

              Cast out the beam in your own eye, murderer!

            • Ann

              This challenge is not about whether or not rape is okay,
              It is about whether abortion is okay in the case of rape.

              You have an oddly literal mind.
              Do you mind my asking how old you are?

              I don’t publish specific autoboigraphical data on line, so in order not to ask of you something I would not do, allow me to ask you for an “age range” and tell you that I am non-symmetrically between 25 and 35.

              Do you think abortion is okay in the case of rape?

          • King Rat

            You might find this to be an interesting read. A libertarian case for abortion rights:


            • Ann

              Thanks! I bookmarked that.

              (at the risk of sounding ungrateful)
              I have some reservations about the legitimacy of the opinion of any male.
              Do you have any thoughts about that?

            • King Rat

              I have some reservations about the legitimacy of the opinion of any male.

              I go by the legitimacy of the argument that is presented. Mr Long makes a great case for abortion.

            • Ann

              Well, of course you’re right.

              But I still have the feeling thst I should stick my fingers in my ears and say “La la la!” while squinting my eyes up and giving it a one-eye-looking-sldewards sort of reading. LOL!

              Great link, I must say!

          • ThePrussian

            “FIFTEEN-YEAR-OLD Robyn Reid didn’t want an abortion. But when her grandmother forcibly took her to an abortion clinic one wintry day in 1998, Reid figured she’d just tell the doctor her wishes and then sneak away.

            Instead, Kermit Gosnell barked: “I don’t have time for this!” He then ripped off her clothes, spanked her, wrestled her onto a dirty surgical stretcher, tied her flailing arms and legs down and pumped sedatives into her until she quit screaming and lost consciousness, she told the Daily News” Gosnell, of course, was engaged in the serial murder of born babies. Now, did those babies deserve it? Did Miss Reid deserve that?

            Know what the difference between this story and yours? I am not pro-rape, but you are pro-abortion. So you have to own this little story in the way that I don’t have to own yours.

            • Ann

              That’s what happens when others assume the right to control the bodies of others! Exactly my point!

              This is a sheer case of assault and battery.
              It has been a crime in every state since the nation began, and in most other places for centuries before that.

              What if he forcibly extracted her tonsils or her appendix?
              That is exactly the same crime.
              It is a well-established freedom that people may refuse medical treatment no matter what — wise or unwise, well-informed or otherwise.

              You see, the whole point of leaving the decisions about one’s body to the person whose body it is (even for a good cause, like a life-saving appendectomy) is that the alternative is SO MUCH WORSE (as your case illustrates.)

              That’s why it is crucial to keep on insisting on that freedom over and over and over — even if others disapprove of the decision the free person makes.

              After all, what difference does your opinion make? It will never — as long as you live — matter as much to you as it does to the woman. Your opinion is no more than a “Memo to Self.”

              As an expression of your personal morality, it means only that “if you ever get pregnant, you will not have an abortion.”

              Great. Knock yourself out. No one would care even if you were a female.

              But at least then you’d have some legitimacy in describing how YOUR moral sentiments should control the autonomy and life destiny of someone else.

            • King Rat

              Yes. Autonomy is about more than just the right to have an abortion. It is also about the right to give birth if one so pleases. Any country that can force one to give birth can also force one to have an abortion.

            • Ann

              In fact, any society that does not respect our right to own our own bodies can commandeer our bodies for vivisection and experiments on, for example, survival times in freezing water — using one person’s body for the benefit of someone else.

              It’s a really bad idea — motivated deep down by really bad motives — to allow one person to seize another person’s body for their own use.

            • ThePrussian

              Cute. This is what abortion really looks like. And he was engaged in a serial murder of babies – this is also what decades of considering the unborn ‘just bits of tissue’ adds up to.

              So, sorry. Nice try, but no sale.

            • King Rat

              Gosnell induced birth on viable babies and killed them when they were outside the womb. That is not at all what routine abortion looks like.

              This is what routine abortion looks like, at roughly 7 weeks:


            • ThePrussian

              If horror stories about rape are permissible for the pro-choice side, then Gosnell is absolutely permissible to the pro-life side.

              And please stop arguing against a case I don’t make.

            • King Rat

              I am sorry. That seemed to be the argument that you were making.

              Gosnell preyed on low income, often immigrant women. And pro-life behaviour created Gosnell – the women were afraid to go to the local PP because of violent, scary protestors.

              BTW, Canada has had abortion without restrictions for 20+ years.And Canada doesn’t have any Gosnell’s because all abortions are taxpayer funded, so women can easily afford to get it done early, rather than late. And if what you say is true, people have been brainwashed into thinking that ‘the unborn are bits of tissue’, you would think that there would be Gosnell’s all across Canada, and especially Europe, where the ‘unborn’ have been considered ’tissue’ for a longer time!

            • ThePrussian

              If you look up there I specifically stressed that I thought medical abortion before the eight week mark was fine. If that comment “seems” unclear I’m sorry.

            • Lieutenant Nun

              Yes, pro life policies do in fact create more desperation among the poor and the disadvantaged, which allows black marketeers such as Gosnell to exist. If abortion was made illegal tomorrow, rich and middle class women could just travel to Canada or Europe for their abortions. The poor, lacking funds, would go to back alley abortionists like Gosnell. Due to the mass clinic shutdown in Texas, women are already buying black market abortion pills to end their pregnancies.

            • Ann

              I’m not sure what this answer means in plain language, but thanks for at least trying to respond.

              You could make a pretty neat graph with “state control of women’s reproduction” (forced abortions, disallowed abortion, control of sexual conduct) on one axis and “status of women (and often men too) as various kinds of slaves” on the other axis.

              Maybe you can refute that by naming a desirable society in which women’s reproduction is in the control of the state (or of family men empowered by the state)?

              btw, the similarity between your thinking and your arguments and those of religionists is quite striking, but it may be invisible to you yourself. Do you know you are even using the word and concept of “sin”?

        • Ann

          I’m not making any argument based on “body integrity.”

          I am saying that no one can commandeer my body against my will — even if it does not disturb my “body integrity” (whatever that means.)
          Naturally I think no one should be able to commandeer the embryo’s body either.

          1) Did I understand you to say that abortion up to 8 weeks is okay because the embryo is a blastocyst?
          ~ The blastocyst stage runs from day 5 to day 8 or 9 after fertilization.
          DAY 8 or 9, not WEEK 8 or 9
          ~ Here is a fetus at 8 weeks (Caution: Graphic images)

          2) Should you be able to compel me to give you my liver if I inadvertently destroy yours (without any criminal action whatsoever)?

          3) Should abortion be allowed in the case of rape?

          Please be advised that declining to be a biological supply source for someone else does not constitute “murder.”
          I know you agree with that … unless you consider yourself a murderer due to all the people you are not using your body to help?

          4) What is the difference between my declining to be the biosupport for an embryo and YOUR declining to be the biosupport for someone with end-stage kidney disease? Why is one a case of murder and the other is not?

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    • Shadow of a Doubt

      I don’t like to plug my blog on another’s site but I’ve made a rather lengthy post here http://skeptischism.com/shadowofadoubt/2014/03/20/mighty-autonomy-at-the-bat/ and I’d love to hear our Prussian host’s thoughts on the issue of the debate at large on the matter, as well as anyone else who cares to join in or continue, as I feel I’ve made more than my fair share of posts on here as it is.

      • ThePrussian

        As you may have gathered, I have no such qualms about plugging my own work elsewhere, so please feel free. :-)

        I’m torn with annoyance at the bad arguing you see on this subject, and a sneaking enjoyment that the abandonment of the field by the pro-abortion side means it is going to lose.

    • It seems to me that you get three things wrong here:

      1) Reifying personhood, as if it is a measurable thing that objectively exists (as does the freezing point of water) rather than a reflection of subjective human values

      2) Making the personhood question “everything” rather than a set of factors that must be balanced against others

      3) Treating personhood as a binary all-or-nothing phenomenon, rather than a collection of factors that gradually take on more importance over the course of gestation

      • ThePrussian

        In order,

        1) Subjective means ‘in the mind’, i.e. that it isn’t something objective, so there are no fixed truths here just points of view. By that standard it’s only someone’s opinion that the Jews of Sobibor or the Tutsis of Rwanda are people, by another person’s point of view, they weren’t, they were vermin or cockroaches – and who is to say which point of view is right, if this is just subjective?

        2) If 1) is wrong, and personhood is a real thing, then it is the beginning and end of it. We do not kill people for the reasons that are given for abortion. All rights are derivatives of the primal, principle right, the right to your own life. Free Speech, property, bodily integrity etc. are rooted in that basis.

        3) I have my scientific reasons for believing that you see a phase change – the same way you can put a definite point when the heart starts to beat. If you have scientific comments on this, please provide them.

        • “…it’s only someone’s opinion that the Jews of Sobibor or the Tutsis of Rwanda are people…”

          Whether an adult is a member of homo sapiens is an objectively measurable fact, but you are using “personhood” in the sense that implies moral duties towards persons rather than the sense which designates genus and species.

          “If personhood is a real thing, then it is the beginning and end of it.”

          If indeed “personhood” is more than just a species designation, but also a concomitant bundle of moral rights and duties which mysteriously switches from off to on at a specific point in time.

          “We do not kill people for the reasons that are given for abortion.”

          Probably because people very rarely hijack other people’s bodies for their own care and feeding.

          “All rights are derivatives of the primal, principle right, the right to your own life.”

          You speak of this right as if it exists in the real world rather than solely in the minds of those who subjectively desire that human life be preserved.

          “I have my scientific reasons for believing that you see a phase change.”

          I don’t believe your scientific reasons are morally relevant. There is nothing about having a central nervous system, in and of itself, that warrants moral consideration.

          • ThePrussian

            To the last: then why object to murdering eight hundred thousand Tutsis? Or is it only the murder of adults that’s bad? So, what – a three year old’s murder is okay? A two year olds? One year? Six months?

            To the one point about bodily autonomy – I have addressed that. I don’t deny it’s a violation of rights, but less a violation that the killing of an innocent, not least because that involves a pretty big violation of bodily autonomy too.

            All rights, all proper rights, are predicated on the right to life. There isn’t one that can take precedence over that.

            • Why object to murdering eight hundred thousand Tutsis?

              Because it causes vastly more suffering than it averts, and I happen personally value the reduction of suffering.

              So, what – a three year old’s murder is okay?

              Not in my book. Three-year-old humans are capable of suffering, consciousness, self-consciousness, and are relatively easy to move around if we find their parents are unwilling or unable of rear them.

              …not least because that involves a pretty big violation of bodily autonomy too.

              Bodily autonomy, by definition, requires the conscious desire to do something with one’s own body.

              All rights, all proper rights, are predicated on the right to life.

              You speak of rights as if they really exist and are somehow testable or observable, rather than merely a set of human preferences about how we structure society.





    • Georgina

      We have birth control that is extremely effective. So the analogy of a being crawling into another and expecting shelter is incorrect. It is more like one being chooses to engage in activities it knows will create a life without taking proper precautions. Then does nothing about it for months. Then wants to kill it. Sorry, but that is brutish, irrational behavior.

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    • sezit

      I own my body. I own the function of my reproductive system. If a parent wants to give up custody of a child, that is legal. If i choose not to continue to carry a pregnancy, it is enslavement to force me to do so. What is the end result of your position? Prison for women who abort? Prison for women who are considering abortion? Criminal investigations into every miscarrage? Courtroom adjudications to allow abortions in case of birth defects? In the US, many states enforce parental rights for rapists. Sex and reproduction have long been tools for men to control women. Stop fetishizing zygotes and fetuses by equating clumps of cells to citizens, and trust women to own decisions for control of our bodies. Abortion is not equal to genocide. If you really thought that, you would advocate punishing all women who have had abortions with 1st degree murder prison sentences.

      • ThePrussian

        Please bother to read the piece, and you will find that all of this has been answered.

        • sezit

          I re-read it again. I don’t see anywhere how you advocate the practical side of enforcement. Do you want to prosecute women who have had abortions for murder? do you advocate legal panels to investigate miscarriages and adjudicate abortions for genetic defect or health of the woman? Or, in your idea of a perfect world, are there alternate enforcement plans you would support?
          If you are serious about abortion as murder, you should think through and commit to the punishment you think is appropriate for women who abort. If you don’t advocate for enforcement, then are you really antiabortion? Without a committment to and advocacy for legal punishment, it just seems like personal judgment and shame directed at sexually active women.

          • ThePrussian

            I think that medical abortion should be legal, and surgical abortion against the law. The details of punishment should be worked out, but, yes, we should note the punishments for infanticide.

            • sezit

              I encourage you to think through the implications and determine for yourself specifically what punishment you think women who choose abortion deserve. This area is a huge hole in every antiabortion position I have ever looked into, and I have never been offered a well thought out response. The focus is always on punishing the doctors and eliminating access, with thezero focus on the agency of the millions of women involved.
              Suppose, as you desire, that on-demand surgical abortion becomes illegal in the US. Should women who plan to travel to another country to get an abortion be preemptively jailed? Should women pregnant with malformed fetuses or with health concerns or pregnant from rape or incest have to go in front of a legal tribunal?
              Also, do you, who have equated abortion to genocide, personally shun and publically excoriate individual women who you know to have had abortions in the same way you would if they were deliberate wanton murderers? Even if they now regret their action? After all, I imagine you would not treat respectfully a murderer who ” got away with it” on a legal technicality, even if they later regretted it. Would you tell your family, friends, business associates: ” I will not sit at a table with Susie. She is a murderer. Thirty years ago she had an abortion which she does not regret. She is vile and despicable in her disregard for life, and is a participant in the worlds largest genocide. Her loving demeanor and respect from everyone else who knows her are a sham, and she is worthy of imprisonment. I will treat her with contempt and you should too.” Would you really?

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