Abortion: It Is Her Body, It Is Her Choice?

LittleoneIs it true that a woman’s body is her own business, and should not be a political issue? Should a woman be granted right to decide whatever happens in and to her body?

This blog post explored the Bodily Autonomy Argument offered for abortion. Whether you are for or against abortion, it is my intention to persuade you that this argument is a failure by offering three just-so-stories counterexamples, to show how unconvincing it is to any reasonable and morally unblind person.

I used a narrow definition of abortion in the post, viz., a deliberate act of removing a developing embryo or fetus (Latin: “little one”), without justified reason1 from the womb in a period before it is capable of independent survival.

The argument from woman autonomy commonly unfold as follows:

1. A woman has the right to decide what she can and can’t do in and to her body.
2. The fetus exists in a woman’s body.
3. A woman has the right to decide whether the fetus remains in her body.
4. Therefore a pregnant woman has the right to abort the fetus.

Most of critiques found in literature gunned against this argument tend to show that a fetus is not an extension of the woman’s body. Christopher Hitchens, for example, contended:

As a materialist, I think it has been demonstrated that an embryo is a separate body and entity, and not merely (as some really did used to argue) a growth on or in the female body. There used to be feminists who would say that it was more like an appendix or even—this was seriously maintained—a tumor. That nonsense seems to have stopped (Hitchens 2009, 378)

But let assume that a fetus is part of the woman’s body. Would it follow that a pregnant woman ought to have a right to choose what happen in and to her body? Is true that: “Abortion is a personal choice because you are talking about what a woman does with her body.”(Jordan 1992:8-9)? Consider these three counterexamples:

Special Case 1: Chopping the Fetus

Jane decided to chop off the legs of the fetus, at week 7 but still she wants to keep it. Since she has the right to choose what happen in and to her body, Dr. John, with help of modern technology, performed the operation and chop Jane’s fetus legs off. In week 10, Jane decided to chop the hands of the fetus off and John performed what is reasoned to be Jane’s personal choice and right. In her final trimester, Jane asked John to perform prostaglandin.

Special Case 2: Poison the Fetus

Linda discovered that she was pregnant. Since she has the right to choose what happen in and to her body, Linda chose to continue living her ordinary lifestyle of smoking marijuana and consuming alcohol, knowing that she does increase the probability of her fetus having fetal alcohol syndrome. It is after all her private and personal own business. She decide what happen in her body. After 9 months Linda gave birth to an intellectual disabled baby with facial, fingers, arms and legs defects.

Special Case 3: Feed No Child

Rose gave birth in a desert where she and a newly little one (fetus) are the only survivors of a plan crash. It is only by drinking breast’s milk the little one can survive. Since Rose believe that she has the right to choose what happen to her body, she chose not to feed it. She chose to preserve her energy and nutrients needed for her own body. Two days later the little one died from hunger.

In these three special cases counterexamples, knowing that there is no morally sane woman who would even dare think of doing what my hypothetical Jane, Linda and Rose did, the argument used to justify their actions is the same. Jane, Linda and Rose contended that it was their own bodies and they have the right to choose for themselves what was to be done in and to their bodies.

As spectators, are our moral sentiments toward Jane, Linda and Rose’s actions of approval and praise? I deem that only morally blind person would find my hypothetical ladies’ actions praiseworthy and ought to be approved on the ground that it was their own private business, since they have the right to decide whatever happens in and to their bodies.

If that is the case, these counterexamples show that it is not true that a woman’s body is her own business, and should not be a political issue. From these three just-so-stories counterexamples I concluded that the Bodily Autonomy argument for abortion is a failure since if true, then absurdly Jane, Linda and Rose’s actions would be morally justified.

Bibliography:

Jordan, Barbara (1992) “New Democratic Order?” World Magazine, November 7th. 8-9.

Hitchens, Christopher (2009), God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything Hachette Book Group. Kindle Edition.


[1] I grant therapeutic abortion, abortion done to save the mother’s life, as a justified reasons

About Prayson Daniel

Prayson Daniel is a Tanzanian, married to Lea and a father to Eloise. Reformed theology, philosophy of religion, apologetics and church history are areas he enjoy reading, pondering and sharing with a motto "when love comes first, disagreement follows at its right and proper place".

89 comments

  1. I just cannot stay away from your blog. Though I often disagree with you, you often present perspectives that are wholly new to me. You did it again, in a topic that I am fiercely interested in.

    Scenario one, I think, is a brilliant ‘for example’ to illustrate what it really means if someone says a woman has the right to do what she will to her own body. And I love the example because it is completely absurd and brings the point immediately home, like Solomon offering to slice the baby in half! Yes! If we really mean it, then we should accept (as repulsive and insane as example 1 seems) that if a woman has the right to abort, then she must also have the right to mangle. At least, in my analytical way of thinking about abortion, I believe this to be a great example.

    Example two, in my opinion, is a crime. I don’t think a woman has a right to poison her child. And I think ingesting substances in harmful quantities is poisoning. She won’t be the one caring for it when it’s born, the rest of her community’s taxpayers will, in subsidized medical bills. That’s why her behavior should be punished.

    Example three, in my mind, a completely reasonable scenario of an intelligent woman. Please open your mind to the idea that women in poverty without social supports have to make this awful choice all the time. If I was in an extreme situation, and knew that my body held enough resources for only one of us…the baby would die. It’s a smart and calculated move for survival, and one I was born with (all of us were). I embrace the part of me that is mammal, and all about survival, because that is why we are all here today.

    I LOVE it that you make me think, Prayson. Thank you thank you for your kind heart and your dedication to your theme in this blog.

    • Thank you Crystal.

      Being a lecturer, I enjoy when my students disagree with me. It shows that I am making them think and challenging their perspectives on certain issues. My primary goal is not to make my student agree with me, though I would love that, but to stir critical thinking.

      Reading my students, and blog readers positive criticism, I am going to re-write this topic using only example one, but a bit amplifying with two alternative ending, when which Jane decide to give birth to her fetus, and the other where she finish what she started.

      I was very unwise(a fool I will say) to frame and answer a wrong question: ” Should a woman be granted right to decide whatever happens in and to her body?” I should have wrote: “Should a woman’s rights of deciding whatever happens in and to her body extend to fetus inside?”

      Thank you so much Crystal for your awesome input. You are a reason enjoy and keep I blogging.

  2. I hope more people listen to you. good arguments

  3. JulianHolden

    Hey Prayson.
    I would like you to know that someone understood what you are trying to say with this post. Specially Case 1 is very valid and useful, because it is so abvious that she is not acting morally, right or praiseworthy.

  4. The question everyone is circling, and Prayson ignored, is when does human life begin?

    Life, of course “began” 3.85 billion years ago and hasn’t been interrupted since. The question then must be when does life jump from mother to foetus? Thankfully, it’s a question that is extraordinarily easy to answer, and the Christian right should now pay very careful attention to the next eleven short sentences. Life begins at the moment its twin, death, also springs into existence. One cannot have a defined ‘life’ without that life being able to ‘die.’ Without death there is no life. The former begets the latter. The latter assigns meaning to the former. One delineates the other, and fortunately the definition of death is not in dispute. Death is when electroencephalography (EEG) activity ceases. That’s it. That’s death. It follows quite naturally therefore that the onset of life is when foetal brain activity begins to exhibit regular and sustained wave patterns, and that occurs consistently around week 25 of pregnancy. Only after something can die can it be considered alive, and to argue anything to the contrary is patently absurd.

    • Do you have any authorities on embryology or related field you could cite to back up your claim?

      • It’s not a “claim,” Prayson… It’s the medically recognised (published) developmental history of the foetus.

      • Btw, Prayson… did you see my new post on Christian philosophers? What do you think?

        http://thesuperstitiousnakedape.wordpress.com/2013/05/10/mischievous-genius-2/

      • John – the post you had on the humanist philosopher etc I don’t see as really of any value other than sensationalist. there are real Christian philosophers and humanist philosophers that interact on serious metaphysical questions all the time. Christian philosophers have not lost touch with reality by any means. Also, your premise of life beginning only when there is an EEG reading is not a valid premise. I understand the medical community may define it so but you should read Peter Kreeft’s Unaborted Socrates where he makes some great points regarding when life begins. I wish you all the best.

    • John, I think that is a good point for the discussion. It probably represents one of the more insightful points of this discussion posited by the pro-abortion side thus far. I think it probably bears a little discussion.

      Life begins at the moment its twin, death, also springs into existence. One cannot have a defined ‘life’ without that life being able to ‘die.’ Without death there is no life. The former begets the latter.

      This seems to be advocating that life has never existed. I believe you have actually reversed the order of criteria, you do not have death without life, the latter begets the former. This is analogous to the existence of good and evil. Evil is viewed as having no ontological basis, it does not independently exist. Instead, it only exists as an evaluation/comparison to good. Without good, there is no evil. You stated that until the possibility of death, life did not exist. You are using the antecedent as a effect, that is logically not coherent. If life could not exist prior to the possibility of death, then life could logically never exist. Life must precede death.

      It’s not a “claim,” Prayson… It’s the medically recognised (published) developmental history of the foetus(sic).

      No, technically it is an argument. Not all arguments will be “recognized” as having validity. It has been published in scholarly publications, yet the authors own words demonstrate that is is not an accepted opinion. The original argument is attempting to extrapolate the medical definition of death to apply to a determination of life. But, I believe it creates a circular argument and is an example of speciesism as you have presented it.

      You should really learn how scholarly publications work and how scholars in a field conduct their discussions. I can present countless scholarly opinions that have not withstood the test of review and acceptance. I can also present scholarly opinions (even ones attested to by the overwhelming majority of scholars in the field) that you would disagree with.

      I don’t believe that Prayson “ignores” the point of life. I believe his argument is based upon the assertion that we are talking about life. It is the fact that we are talking about an unborn living person that normal (to distinguish from sociopaths) people recoil at these illustrations.

      • Wow, seems you’ve used almost 400 words to say absolutely nothing. Congratulations!

        Out of interest, were you actually trying to rebut my points? I ask because I didn’t see any counter-argument.

        Here, I’ll help you out. If you’d like to argue against my position you’ll have to present studies
        1.) demonstrating that stable brain patterns commence some time before week 25,
        2.) present some alternative legal/scientific definition of death, and/or
        3.) present some evidence for the human soul.

        Good luck

      • Why rebut your points? I don’t think you established their validity. You presented an argument. I demonstrated the argument was flawed.

        By the way, you do realize the orinator of the argument assented that brain activity begins at 8 weeks, don’t you? You assert “stable” brain waves as significant. In fact, they are not. Feel free to present evidence that meets your criteria for this discussion to carry your points.

        Your argument regarding a soul is a red herring. No one has asserted any argument which rests upon the would existence. You would first need to demonstrate any relevance of the topic prior to it warranting a response. Get back to me when you do that.

    • Peter B.

      I find this interesting. I won’t try and argue any points with you, but I am curious about something.

      Do you think that once stable brain waves are established (say 25 weeks) that a fetus is actually a living being?

      • As something observably distinct from the mother, yes. The definition works, and that’s why it’s used as the standard model for abortion laws. Fortunately, most terminations don’t occur anywhere even close to this cut off, but having a defined line helps in those very few extreme cases.

        Listen, despite Billie’s childish and provocative use of the term “pro-abortion” NO ONE is pro-abortion. It’s ludicrous to even think that and it reveals the shallowness of theists thinking. Reducing the number must be the priority, and that requires sex education and contraception… something adults understand. Before week 25, though, there is absolutely no grounds upon which anyone can try and impose their will on a woman choices about her own body.

      • The advocate for the “Model” (which is not medically accepted) argued that stable brain waves are present at 8-10 weeks. Not 25. We should never let facts get in the way of John’s arguments.

      • “While at least one researcher has reported finding brain activity as early as seven weeks into pregnancy, most researchers agree that the first electroencephalogram (“EEG”) activity usually occurs in the brainstem approximately ten weeks after conception. Determining fetal electroencephalogram (“FEEG”) activity seems relatively simple, and it has been done in many studies.150 The test is relatively inexpensive.” All John advocated in his “model” approach was “stable brain patterns”. These are present as early as week 10. If you want to accept the higher cortex functions, this has some troubling problems when dealing with head trauma cases. Then again, I think the Forced Symetrical Approach is flawed as I argued earlier. I haven’t seen any arguments for it, except for John’s erroneous assertion that it is the standard model. He has yet to offer proof of that assertion.

        This excerpt is from an advocate arguing for John’s position (and also demonstrating it is not in any sense the “standard model”). Unless John can support his assertion as he calls for others to do, there seems little warrant to grant him credibility. I anticipate at this point he will attempt to move the goal, but it should be pretty obvious when that happens.

        https://www.law.arizona.edu/faculty/FacultyPubs/Documents/smolensky/ALS06-29.pdf

        • I think John err in thinking that it is when you can measure brain activity that someone is said to be alive. He confuses ending of life with beginning of life. Brain death(Zero reading in EEG) researches is not clear for 2 months-1 year infants as it is with adults.

      • I think John err in thinking that it is when you can measure brain activity that someone is said to be alive. He confuses ending of life with beginning of life. Brain death(Zero reading in EEG) researches is not clear for 2 months-1 year infants as it is with adults.

        I think it is a good discussion. My objection to John’s approach mainly has to deal with the way he presents it as something that has been decided when it clearly is an emerging argument. Even if it was “something decided”, it is open to refutation and discussion. Just for thoroughness, I will provide the original JME article I found that championed the approach John has failed to discuss.

        http://jme.bmj.com/content/11/4/198.full.pdf

    • Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations. Jeremiah 1:5

      Of course, “medicine” approves of evil. Humans have been changing science and history for millennia to suit their evil. That is why it is foolish to trust humans. God moves things so that everyone knows truth. The question is, will you be willing to let go of arrogance and evil?

      • “Of course, “medicine” approves of evil”

        Wow, so Polio vaccinations which have saved tens of millions of children’s lives (to use just one example) is evil, huh?

        Interesting….

    • Mr. Zande is still peddling this strange argument. Anyway, from http://askthebigot.com/2013/04/02/if-gay-marriage-what-then/

      There are 3 natural states: life (plant, bee), non-life (rock, water) and dead (dead leaf, dead bee) which makes a process of elimination feasible. A zygote is the result of two forms of life (sperm, ovum). Thus a zygote is clearly not non-life. Is the zygote dead? No, because it exhibits GRIMNER [ http://quizlet.com/13974968/biology-flash-cards/ ] and natural development. The zygote can die if the energy source ends (mother dies). Thus the zygote is life (or alive) as it can die and has been produced by life. But is it human? Yes, as it is produced only from human DNA stores (sperm, ovum). Thus the zygote is a human life and unique life [apart from the living sperm and ovum] begins at conception.

  5. Abortion is a difficult topic, made all the more difficult by the baseless claims that theists have that their supposed god gives them a higher moral code than everyone else’s. Of course, they can’t agree on that moral code, so we’re left with a bunch of people who want to pretend that their personal opinions are stamped with approval by a magical being. It gets even sadder when poor Prayson must intentionally lie about abortions and the women who request them. I guess he has not read his bible where it says *all* liars are hated by his god, with no special priveledges for those who want to play pretend that they are lying *for* their god. From the ludicrous false claims that Prayson gives, it is not hard to see that he wants nothing more than to strap women down to tables so they cannot move in order that they cannot ever possibly harm the fetus. I am always happy to see the true colors of some Christians being shown so clearly. In all of Prayson’s little dramas, he’s quite the drama queen. 1. Hmmm, we have a woman claimed to want to mutilate a fetus for no reason. My, how realistic! 2. We have a woman who does want to do whatever she wants. And per many Christians, she is encouraged to do so since we should never discuss the ramifications of sexual activity with anyone. But with Prayson here, it seems that he thinks that this woman should be somehow controlled in her actions. And how would that be accomplished? It seems, that since we daren’t educate women and given the birth control options to prevent pregnancies that could be affected by personal choices, all we have left is strapping women down onto gurneys, feed them intravenously and make sure that they never ever do *anything* that could possible harm the fetus. Nice demonstration there again of how many Christians have no concern for anything but control.

    and ah, 3. That’s such a lovely example of how even Prayson doesn’t believe his god will actually help anyone in a bad situation. He of course is too willfully ignorant to admit that if the mother dies, the child will die regardless since a newborn will not toddle out of the desert on its own. Alas, for all of the attempts to lie and claim that women who want abortions are all insane, Prayson fails again and shows that he, as a Christian, is nothing to be proud of.

    Abortion is a rather stupid method of birth control because it is a surgery. However, the ignorant refusal of some theists to allow birth control and comprehensive education about sex does not help the situation. These theists, largely Christians in the US, have decided that they are arbiters of life and death, punishment and approval. Each claims that his opinion is his god’s will. They try to use pregnancy as a punishment for personal ideas of how a woman *should* act, according to their cherry picking of their supposed holy book. They wish to treat women and children as property as their “commandments” say to do; there is no actual concern for the well-being of either.

    We have the Roman Catholic Church claiming that they can decide if a woman lives or dies, because they think they can claim that a woman is worth less than a possible child, in the most recent case, a fetus that has formed with no brain. Just google ancephaly and see what that really means if you have the stomach for it. We have evangelical Protestant Christians insisting that they are ever-so concerned with children, but the vast majority of these TrueChristians shout and complain when asked to provide those children good food, educated parents, safe homes, and decent medicine. They are not concerned with the child, they are only concerned with control. They wish a theocracy where they can play god, the god that they’ve made up in their own ignorant image.

    • Peter B.

      Was there supposed to be anything relevant here?
      I think some of your comments regarding the Roman Catholic Church’s view of contraceptions was an adequate critique, but WOW, the drivel we have to wade through to get there.

      Thanks for giving me a text-book example of nearly every basic logical fallacy in the book. I’ll have to screenshot this for future Intro to Logic students.

      • Ah, I do love attempts to claim that there is nothing relevant in my post as an attempt to not address the post. it’s an excellent example of a Christian lying intentionally. I do wonder that your fear of my post is worth a lie that puts your supposedly immortal soul in danger.

        Please Peter, tell me what in my post is “drivel”. And please do show what logical fallacies are where. I do pride myself in not using them at all and am very familiar with them. So, if you do think you have some examples, then post them. If you cannot, that is just more evidence that you, a Christian, have no problem lying. I do suggest that you read Romans 3 where Paul is warning those who think that they can lie “for” their god and their religion. That’s a big no-no.

  6. Peter B, as quoted was using the example of many countries have laws against the self-mutilation. This grounds Peter B’s argument in a particular spatial context.

    If you read closely you will see that I am responding to Peter B and not the original post which, as you rightly point out, does not rely a particular spatial context.

    Yes, he did bring up the comment of many countries. Your reply seemed to limit the discussion as only pertaining to US laws/culture. I will leave it to you to explain that. I believe all Peter was attempting to do was demonstrate that there is no universal right and that in fact societies have placed many limits upon what a person can and cannot do with their own bodies. You seem to argue against that. You also accurately point out that at times certain things have been prohibited by societies. I believe this is sufficient to demonstrate that men and women in fact do not have full “bodily autonomy”.

    Let me offer another argument for consideration. There are states where there have been legal actions taken whereby a defendant as part of a plea has waived there right to appeal. There were appearances that the plea was entered into to avoid a death penalty. The courts have later ruled that a person cannot effectively bargain with their with their life in these cases. This seems to place a form of restriction upon what a person can and cannot do with their life/person. So, I believe your point is not well supported.

    You mean like cocaine until 1929? Or marijuana now? Or perhaps the alcohol which was legal, then not, then legal again. The point of what I was saying is what we deem acceptable or not is not immutable and is heavily dependent on what the society happens to deem at the time to be acceptable or not.

    What a particular society deems to be acceptable or not at a particular time is not a good example to use as a “moral touchstone” as a base for the particular type of argument being offered.

    I actually agree with you here. I don’t think what societies deem as morally acceptable is a good measuring stick. I would advocate instead of moral relativism that morals be objective not subjective. Glad you seem to agree in part on that.

    See, that is what I assert, if you wish to argue with what I’m saying argue against what I say, not what you think I imply or how it comes across to you.

    Billie: Then again, you have done nothing to prove that Prayson’s original three cases do not represent a morally reprehensible position, and in fact encourage them to prevent a condition of “servitude”.

    Apologies, I am often limited in my responses by what I perceive the other person to be saying. I do agree that intent is within the realm of the writer, not the reader. However, I am limited in only being able to respond to what I think you meant based on what you have written. If I incorrectly grasp your intent, then I am always open to correction in that regards. My attempt here was only to assert that if one agrees with the three cases Prayson offered and held that a woman’s “rights” were inviolate in those regards, it seems to be a morally reprehensible conclusion.

    Arb: As Judith Jarvis Thomson observes, “having a right to life does not guarantee having either a right to be given the use of or a right to be allowed continued use of another person’s body even if one needs it for life itself.”

    I kind of like Judith Jarvis Thomson’s statement, but not for the reasons you have presented. If I want to carry her comments out to an extreme, then it should resolve that I should not be responsible for another persons inability to provide for themselves. By her rationale, almost all of the major “social justice” concerns should simply be removed. The fact that a person cannot provide for themselves should not put a burden upon me to use my body (from which I derive my ability to work and earn) to support their inability to do the same.

    I actually think that Ms. Thomson’s argument is flawed because a simple reading of it can be interpreted to equally to either person involved. She concedes in her presentation that she views the unborn as a person, but then wants to deny that person rights to their own body. I would argue that a woman is not entitled to violate/use the other person (in this case the unborn infant), just because of the person’s location and/or level of development. However, we seem to be straying far from Prayson’s original intent which seems to be to simply demonstrate that the logic utilized so often in pro-abortion positions is morally reprehensible when fully considered. I realize this offends the pro-abortion advocate who would like to keep it a neat little discussion of rights to property rather than right to life. I tend to favor life above property. Call me simple in that (or right wing fundamentalist as one has offered).

    I find it an interesting connection to try to connect the dots between abortion and slavery. Part of this has to do with one primary arguments toward the abolition of slavery was that it violated personhood. A symbol of the movement in England was the drawing depicting a slave with the words “Am I not a man and a brother” underneath. Many in the pro-abortion movement would want to deny the personhood of the unborn infant. I find that far more analogous to the pro-slavery position than the position you and Dr. Koppelman are advocating.

    • Peter B.

      Thanks for the backup here.

      Yes, my intention was to show that there is no universal “rights” given to do anything one desires to their own body. That was part of my critique or premise 1.

  7. Hey Prayson, hope you have been well.
    The third analogy has nothing to do with abortion. It is a FALSE analogy. The fetus is no longer in her body but a healthy baby dependent on her for food. In a normal situation this baby would have been bottle fed if the mother died and survived.
    The second special case commits a fallacy of FALSE association. An effect, the baby’s defects are associated with the mother’s use of alcohol and bhang. A direct cause has to be ascertained for the example to be valid.
    The first special case is absurd. No doctor in his right mind would perform such a procedure. What end would it serve to amputate a fetus?
    In conclusion, I contend the three special cases do not offer a compelling counterargument against abortion. You must revise them to make them valid.

    • Thank you matagutu. I am glad that you found at least one of my hyperthetical special cases absurd and no doctor in his right mind would perform such a procedure even if a woman claim that the fetus is in her and part of her body that she has the rights to do whatever she chooses in and to her body.

      It was that I was aiming for matagutu, to show the absurdity of the argument that woman has the right to do whatever she chooses in and to her body since if that was true then my case 1 would be justified.

      Remember the analogy is not on their acts per se but the argument offered so your critique of the last two cases was not on the mark ;(

  8. Hey Prayson, I hope you have been well.

    The third analogy has nothing to do with abortion. It is a false analogy. The baby has been born and is no longer in the woman’s body even if it is still dependent on the mother. In a normal situation, the bible could be bottle fed since there are babies whose mothers have died during childbirth and proceeded to live to become adults. I contend therefore that the third analogy doesn’t serve our purposes.

    The second analogy, a false association is being made between the mother’s drinking and the birth defects in the baby. Unless it can be shown that one is the direct cause of the author it is a null analogy.

    We are left with the first special case of chopping the limbs off the baby one at a time. Tell me if you know any place where this has been done. Even if extremes can be used in philosophy to test a given position, this is an absurd situation that no one would do for what would be the point of amputating the fetus? It simply makes no sense and as such I contend that all three analogies are useless as counterarguments against abortion.

  9. @Billie

    For the sake of clarity, please address your responses.

    I don’t think anything in the argument presented by Prayson requires nor limits the validity of the argument to the United States. Given that Prayson is not an American nor in America and nowhere limits his discussion to American law, there is no validity in your statement.

    Peter B, as quoted was using the example of many countries have laws against the self-mutilation. This grounds Peter B’s argument in a particular spatial context.

    If you read closely you will see that I am responding to Peter B and not the original post which, as you rightly point out, does not rely a particular spatial context.

    If we are talking about the US, which you first asserted, then there is a pretty clear identification of the items that would be illicitly transported.

    You mean like cocaine until 1929? Or marijuana now? Or perhaps the alcohol which was legal, then not, then legal again. The point of what I was saying is what we deem acceptable or not is not immutable and is heavily dependent on what the society happens to deem at the time to be acceptable or not.

    What a particular society deems to be acceptable or not at a particular time is not a good example to use as a “moral touchstone” as a base for the particular type of argument being offered.

    So, you seem to be arguing against Peter’s right to express himself through words,

    No, I was arguing that the topic of self harm was not a good example to support what he was asserting.

    woman has the right to kill another human being simply because of the person’s location.

    I’m arguing that a woman has the right have her body used as she sees fit, in other words she has say as to how and when her resources (aka her body) are used. Let me reiterate the relevant part of my argument.

    Arb: As Judith Jarvis Thomson observes, “having a right to life does not guarantee having either a right to be given the use of or a right to be allowed continued use of another person’s body even if one needs it for life itself.”

    See, that is what I assert, if you wish to argue with what I’m saying argue against what I say, not what you think I imply or how it comes across to you.

    Billie: Then again, you have done nothing to prove that Prayson’s original three cases do not represent a morally reprehensible position, and in fact encourage them to prevent a condition of “servitude”.

    Funny how that in a comment addressed to Peter B, I would not be attempting to disprove Prayson’s original three cases.

    Most people try to at least not contradict themselves within a discussion[…]

    Most people attempt to read for comprehension during discussions as well. That being said, I suggest you try that and actually read what I have written and then charitably compose a response. Do pay attention to whom I am addressing and the context in which I am making the point, as it will help you immeasurably not only in “adult discussions” but regular interactions too.

  10. @Peter B.

    I apologize in advance for the repetition but the threading here is sometimes hard to follow.

    “ArbLSince a fetus is using her body and her resources a woman has the right to decide how her resources are being used.”

    Peter: Says who?

    Most laws of the land when it comes to use of your organs by another. The organ donor card you have is emblematic of the rights we as society intrinsically hold toward our the use of our body. Also consider that our consent is required, even whilst dead to use our body in ways that we, in life would consent to.
    So, my argument is in the vein of that tradition both legal and ethical of bodily autonomy and rights while you are arguing for a special exception for women. And I am here telling you that attempting to remove women’s autonomy is both illegal, via the US Constitution and unethical, as a violation of personal liberty.

    A baby isn’t just some parasite that arbitrarily grows inside of a woman.

    If we are going to classify the baby, medically speaking, they are of a parasitic nature.

    pregnancy is a known risk for anyone who engages in sexual activity.

    Ah, because sex is only for procreation. Of course, because once someone engages in procreation their consent is magically negated.

    While driving a motor vehicle it is a known risk that accidents happen. Thus, to avoid accidents, no one should drive because someone could die. Arguments of this nature are unrealistic and serve no purpose other than to paint women as the responsible party during sex in an overall argument that seeks to strip her of the options of behaving responsibly.

    You need to make a choice here, either women are capable of responsible action during the reproductive cycle, or they are not. If you deem them responsible enough to be gate keepers, then by that same measure of responsibility grant them the right to determine their reproductive futures.

    Additionally, your argument falls apart when you consider that at the cut-off point of where abortions are no longer legal in most states babies who are still using their mother’s resources have a greater chance of survival than death if born prematurely (even at 24 weeks).

    I’m unclear as “how my argument falls apart” as it clearly defines that a woman at all times remains control of her body and her resources. More to the point, if forced birth advocates had not made access to abortion so difficult in so many states in the US there would not be a large a problem with later term abortions.

    How is it not murder to exterminate something that, if moved from inside the womb to outside, is alive?

    The personhood of a fetus is still, rightly, in question. And in a more perfect world in which woman had free and easy access to health and reproductive services this argument would have greater purchase. Currently the barriers facing women do not allow for the necessary hospitalization and the safe and easy removal of a fetus. The majority of abortions do not fall in the this range, thus it is important not to think that your example is the norm, but rather the exception. That being said, in our less than perfect world the maintenance of bodily autonomy and rights still must supersede moral objections of this sort.

    This is seriously reaching to connect pregnancy with indentured servitude

    The legal scholarship would disagree with your assertion. The paper I quoted was cited in the previous comment, and now again, here.

    First of all, the only involuntary pregnancy is one where the mother had sex that was non-consensual.

    We have already covered this particular point but to reiterate; Coitus does not remove one’s ability to withdraw consent.

    Legally, the only case you could make for the 13th amendment being applied to abortion rights is in the rare case of incest or rape.

    Legally the argument is being made when a women does not want to be pregnant. From the article cited page 5:

    “Thus defined, it follows that “involuntary servitude” includes coerced pregnancy. The pregnant woman may not serve at the fetus’ command — it is the state that, by outlawing abortion, supplies the element of coercion15 — but she is serving involuntarily for the fetus’ benefit, and this is what the Court has said that the amendment forbids. If citizens may not be forced to surrender control of their persons and services, then women’s persons may not be invaded and their services may not be coerced for the benefit of fetuses. It is as simple as that.”

    So, you do not get to define when women have rights and when they do not as we are trying to get past, not relive slavery’s golden years.

    As such, the other >99% of cases have no protection under the 13th amendment, as pregnancy for them is not an involuntary indentured servitude

    As noted above, you don’t get to define when women have rights.

    but the known consequence for a voluntary act.

    Full circle back to the antediluvian notion that sex is only for procreation. When you can enforce this stricture on men, let me know and this might become a viable argument.

    As such, the morality of “elective” abortion (i.e. apart from the case of rape or incest) is still bankrupt,

    Women not being part of class that has less rights than others, is not a bankrupt position. Declaring to so, because you say so, does not invalidate it. (I’ve shown how the premise is not faulty, nor lacking on ethical and legal grounds i.e. women have autonomy and respecting their choice is a good thing et cetera.

    And the legal case for abortion is also very flawed.

    And your previously refuted and now unsubstantiated opinion is redundant.

    I find it a little strange that you have tried to use legality to justify what is clearly murder,

    I find it odd that you’d go to such lengths in an attempt to curtail women’s rights.

    Even if your “indentured servitude” argument worked – which it doesn’t – how does one in a legal dilemma legally or morally justify murder to avoid servitude?

    Given that personhood has not been formally, legally established – (certain states being an exception, which I expect will be overturned federally once challenged, in any case not a binding standard) calling it murder is incorrect. So, your argument doesn’t really work as there is no dilemma persay, but rather an appeal to emotion in order to making stripping women of their rights more palatable.

    • Peter B.

      First of all, I never stated that sex was strictly for procreation. You’ve completely misrepresented my argument. My point was that pregnancy is a known “side-effect” of sexual activity. Your point regarding the removal of consent is irrelevant to my argument because removal of consent in sexual activity results in a rape. My argument addressed cases where rape and incest are not present.

      Your point on organ donation is a false dichotomy. When a person becomes pregnant, they do not donate their organs to the fetus. The fetus creates their own organs through natural development. Even so, the case of organ donation is a willing action. Pregnancy, barring the case of rape and incest (as I stated numerous times in my previous post which you seemed to ignore), is a willing action from consensual sex. As such, in a pregnancy resulting from consensual sex, there is no grounds to compare a fetus to that of a forced organ donation.

      You stated that It was illegal to limit womens’ rights. I would agree, but I would also say that it is illegal to limit the rights of the unborn. As a life (or potential life, the difference is trivial, as I illustrated before) a fetus has the right to live. While this may not be the law of the land yet, you seem not to care about the law given your last statement regarding some states that have given personhood to the unborn.
      This raises two questions:

      1. Do you think that what is morally right is always expressed through the law?
      2. Why is it that you get to pick and choose the laws you like while discarding those that are in effect you disagree with?

      Twist my words all you want to make your position seem to be on some sort of moral high-ground, but my position is not to limit womens’ rights. A pregnancy that is not from incest or rape is a choice. While it may be unexpected, or the result of sex for non-procreation reasons, it is still the result of choices made by the woman. If anyone has limited a woman’s rights, it is herself. For you to hide behind some misguided sense of legality in order to justify murder of a human being shows the flaws in trusting moral duties to cultural laws.

  11. @ Billie/bwgoodson (No Reply option last comment???)

    Well, Billie, are you not a right wing Christian fundamentalist? Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong…

    So, I’m to take it you have no evidence for the soul, correct? So tell me then, upon what do you base your opposition to women’s rights?

  12. Prayson, you’re a smart guy, which is why I can’t understand why you would use such ridiculous extreme analogies. Can we not have a reasonable debate on abortion without extremism?

    • Robert in Philosophy extremism is used to show if a case holds or not.

      • Quite right. In any case, all logical conclusions are extreme, in that they represent the uttermost (Lat. extremus = uttermost) link in a given chain of reasoning.

        An extremist is just someone who has thought his opinions through to their logical conclusion, as in that favourite phrase of the media “Islamic extremists”.

      • That may work for Philosophy but it makes terrible politics. Any policy taken to an extreme will have terrible results.

        • Robert, it is called cruel logic. Borrowing Sartre wording, it is necessary to draw the consequences of woman’s bodily right argument right to the end.

          If you find my created ladies cases 1-3 ridiculous extremes even though they claim the same right of their body argument just as abortionists then I do not see why defenders of this case gets a free pass.

          Robert the analogy is not on their acts per se but the argument offered.

      • Apologies — there seems to be a limit to responding to responses. This is in response to Robert’s response.

        That may work for Philosophy but it makes terrible politics. Any policy taken to an extreme will have terrible results.

        Many problems in politics can be traced to a lack of understanding of the effects of philosophical aspects. It was Viktor Frankl who stated, “I am absolutely convinced that the gas chambers of Auschwitz, Treblinka, and Maidanek were ultimately prepared not in some Ministry or other in Berlin, but rather at the desks and in the lecture halls of nihilistic scientists and philosophers.” While this may seem a critique of philosophers, it is actually more telling of where ideas lead. It was not philosophers who fired the ovens of Auschitz, nor who pry unborn infants from the wombs of women. It is the disconnection between understanding that ideas have consequences and the creation of policies based on morally bankrupt foundations that demonstrate the depravity of man.

        If philosophy doesn’t create bad politics. But bad philosophy can surely enable bad politics.

      • Billie I have no idea what you are talking about.

        I’m sorry but Prayson you are using extreme false analogies. There is no link connection between abortion and starving a child to death and to pretend there is facetious. If you are a fan of extreme analogies then I suppose you oppose contraception. If a foetus is the potential for life, so is sperm. Using contraception prevents conception therefore prevents a child from being born which is the same result as abortion. Likewise do you oppose masterbation as this is the waste of sperm which is potential life. After all every sperm that is wasted is a child not born.

        Or do you think these are ridiculous extreme analogies that add nothing to the debate?

        • Robert, I believe you misunderstood the points of my hypothetical cases. The aim is not to show the acts are the same or similar but the argument used to justify the acts.

          Thus the analogy is on the argument offered in all cases that a woman has a right to choose whatsoever in and to their body.

          It shows that the argument that abortions ought to be approved on the ground of woman’s body right false since if it was true, then my extreme cases need also to be approved since they use the same argument, which is simply absurd.

        • Robert, I would be glad to help you out as much as I can. Is there something in what I said that needs clarification? The basic point is that if someone wants to engage in politics without understanding the the ramifications of their policies, then you are likely to get bad policies. This is often the case at least here in the US where a set of laws will be written without a clear understanding of what happens when you enact those laws. Often there are unintended consequences that cause the reverse of the intended policy to be realized. Not sure what is complex about that, but happy to help clarify whatever is not clear.

  13. Peter B

    One issue that hasn’t been touched on is the fact that women really don’t have the choice to do with their bodies as they please… nor do men.

    For example, many countries have laws against self- mutilation, and rightfully so. That is an act that is done to one’s own body, but should they hide behind that fact to justify a destructive act? When we see people doing things like that too their own body, often we have them psychologically evaluated.

    Additionally, women and men alike do not have the right to transport illicit drugs in their bodies. So both statements of premise 1 are flawed. It it’s not a universal fact that a woman has the right to do anything she wants to either her body or something within it.

    While premise 2 is sound, premise 3 relies heavily on the truth value of premise 1. Since premise 1 is false, the debate turns to premise 3. But the logic here is poor as well. First it’s all, without premise 1, this claim is arbitrary. Second, even if you consider a fetus as something that is only potentially alive, why does that give a woman the “right” to destroy it? We would condemn the woman who intentionally stops her baby from being born in order to deprive him from oxygen, causing permanent brain damage, but not a mother who destroys potential life in the case of abortion? Either way, a potential life is still the life of another, and it is morally reprobate to think that somehow one person has the right over another’s life ( slavery, anyone? ).

    At very best the abortionist can only claim abortion an ethical act on arbitrary grounds, which in ethics is not a proper foundation at all.

    Even aside from whether or not abortion is murder, it remains a morally bankrupt position.

    • @Peter B

      For example, many countries have laws against self- mutilation,

      We are talking about abortion in the US, which does not legislate against self-harm and thus until the behaviour progresses to the point that it is deemed to be a mental illness then legal provisions apply.

      and rightfully so

      This is nothing but your opinion. The dynamics of self harm are complex enough not to warrant a blanket statement such as this is “bad” behaviour and requires legal sanction.

      When we see people doing things like that too their own body, often we have them psychologically evaluated.

      And more often than not, we do not. Addictions to alcohol, food, exercise are not explicitly against the the law, nor do those who suffer from their addictions forced to receive treatment or psychological evaluations.

      Additionally, women and men alike do not have the right to transport illicit drugs in their bodies.

      Arguing that we cannot transport illicit drugs in our bodies is not a strong argument as the substances defined as “illicit” change based jurisdiction and historical context.

      So both statements of premise 1 are flawed.

      Here is premise one: 1. A woman has the right to decide what she can and can’t do in and to her body.

      Your arguments against premise one do not invalidate that premise. Self harm and transporting illegal substances in your body are at best periphery issues to what the premise actually addresses.

      It it’s not a universal fact that a woman has the right to do anything she wants to either her body or something within it.

      So which organs of yours can I have the state be responsible for? Let’s start with your kidneys and mandatory organ donation to save lives. Sound unfair? Well it is because our society places a premium on liberty and autonomy or our bodies, for example, even in death our consent is required for someone to make use of our organs. So, yes we do have the right to do what we want with our bodies and you are arguing that in certain contexts this freedom does not apply to women.

      Bodily Autonomy is doesn’t switch off in women once they are pregnant. Sex does not repeal a woman’s right to what goes on in her body.

      Second, even if you consider a fetus as something that is only potentially alive, why does that give a woman the “right” to destroy it?

      Since a fetus is using her body and her resources a woman has the right to decide how her resources are being used. As Judith Jarvis Thomson observes, “having a right to life does not guarantee having either a right to be given the use of or a right to be allowed continued use of another person’s body even if one needs it for life itself.”

      Either way, a potential life is still the life of another, and it is morally reprobate to think that somehow one person has the right over another’s life ( slavery, anyone? ).

      Funny how you mention slavery when it is what you are advocating for women by forcing them to have birth. Consider the following from this article.

      “1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

      2. Congress shall have the power to enforce this article by
      appropriate legislation.

      My claim is that the amendment is violated by laws that prohibit abortion.

      When women are compelled to carry and bear children, they are subjected to “involuntary servitude” in violation of the amendment. Abortion prohibitions violate the Amendment’s guarantee of personal liberty, because forced pregnancy and childbirth, by compelling the woman to serve the fetus, creates “that control by which the personal service of one man [sic] is disposed of or coerced for another’s benefit which is the essence of involuntary servitude.”

      Such laws violate the amendment’s guarantee of equality, because forcing women to be mothers makes them into a servant caste, a group which, by virtue of a status of birth, is held subject to a special duty to serve others and not themselves.”

      So yah, that pesky 13th amendment has a lot to say about bodily autonomy and how important it is in the United States.

      Even aside from whether or not abortion is murder, it remains a morally bankrupt position.

      Again, without evidence presented, this is merely opinion. Forced birthing on the other hand is a morally repugnant situation as it is a gross violation of a persons bodily autonomy and personal liberty and of course is in conflict with 13th amendment of the American Constitution.

      • Peter B.

        “Your arguments against premise one do not invalidate that premise. Self harm and transporting illegal substances in your body are at best periphery issues to what the premise actually addresses.”

        They’re at pest periphery issues? Howso? They are both instances of the broad statement “using one’s body anyway they want”. And besides, these issues aren’t preiphery to what the premise itself addresses, the premise of the argument only addresses the “rights” an individual has to do with their body as they desire. Abortion in this argument isn’t even brought up until premise 3. As such, you claim that my arguments don’t address the premise are, in fact, wrong. The premise itself is broadly written, and doesn’t necessarily address anything other than bodily rights.

        “Since a fetus is using her body and her resources a woman has the right to decide how her resources are being used.”

        Says who? A baby isn’t just some parasite that arbitrarily grows inside of a woman. It is the product of a deliberate act. And barring cases of rape or incest (the common excuse, that really accounts for only a fraction of a percent of abortions in the U.S.) pregnancy is a known risk for anyone who engages in sexual activity. With pregnancy comes the expectation that mothers will have to allocate her bodily resources to her baby.
        Additionally, your argument falls apart when you consider that at the cut-off point of where abortions are no longer legal in most states babies who are still using their mother’s resources have a greater chance of survival than death if born prematurely (even at 24 weeks). How is it not murder to exterminate something that, if moved from inside the womb to outside, is alive?

        “When women are compelled to carry and bear children, they are subjected to “involuntary servitude” in violation of the amendment. Abortion prohibitions violate the Amendment’s guarantee of personal liberty, because forced pregnancy and childbirth, by compelling the woman to serve the fetus, creates “that control by which the personal service of one man [sic] is disposed of or coerced for another’s benefit which is the essence of involuntary servitude.””

        This is seriously reaching to connect pregnancy with indentured servitude. First of all, the only involuntary pregnancy is one where the mother had sex that was non-consensual. This is the VAST minority of cases, and warrants a completely different ethical discussion. Legally, the only case you could make for the 13th amendment being applied to abortion rights is in the rare case of incest or rape. As such, the other >99% of cases have no protection under the 13th amendment, as pregnancy for them is not an involuntary indentured servitude (in reality it’s not indentured servitude at all, your application in this case is simply misguided due to your own personal bias), but the known consequence for a voluntary act.

        As such, the morality of “elective” abortion (i.e. apart from the case of rape or incest) is still bankrupt, as the argument still has both a faulty premise (1), and an arbitrary premise (3) which make up not only an illogical argument, but an unsound one as well. And the legal case for abortion is also very flawed.

        As an aside, I find it a little strange that you have tried to use legality to justify what is clearly murder, given the odds of a a fetus surviving outside the womb at stages of development where abortion is still legal. Even if your “indentured servitude” argument worked – which it doesn’t – how does one in a legal dilemma legally or morally justify murder to avoid servitude?

      • “We are talking about abortion in the US, which does not legislate against self-harm and thus until the behaviour progresses to the point that it is deemed to be a mental illness then legal provisions apply.”

        I don’t think anything in the argument presented by Prayson requires nor limits the validity of the argument to the United States. Given that Prayson is not an American nor in America and nowhere limits his discussion to American law, there is no validity in your statement. Further, it seems odd that you would lead with that statement then later make this statement:

        “Arguing that we cannot transport illicit drugs in our bodies is not a strong argument as the substances defined as “illicit” change based jurisdiction and historical context.”

        If we are talking about the US, which you first asserted, then there is a pretty clear identification of the items that would be illicitly transported. The historical context is also invalid. Since you bring up slavery, you clearly understand that just because there was a historical precedent for something, it can still be morally wrong to do it.

        As a somewhat minor point, you seem to be arguing that a person should have the right to end life, even though you may narrowly be confining that right to only extend to a pregnant woman. You then state:

        “This is nothing but your opinion. The dynamics of self harm are complex enough not to warrant a blanket statement such as this is “bad” behaviour and requires legal sanction.”

        So, you seem to be arguing against Peter’s right to express himself through words, which at most might be troubling to a person experiencing mental distress. You manage to hold that is not a good thing to do in spite of asserting that a woman has the right to kill another human being simply because of the person’s location. I would argue that I really could care less what someone might say about my mental state if I have the option of choosing that or being murdered. What a bizarre moral position you have chosen to adopt. Then again, you have done nothing to prove that Prayson’s original three cases do not represent a morally reprehensible position, and in fact encourage them to prevent a condition of “servitude”.

        Most people try to at least not contradict themselves within a discussion, you seem to have no problems doing that within a single post. I suggest a quick review of the laws of logic might assist you in what John L. likes to call “adult discussions”.

  14. @Chancellor C. Roberts, II

    An infant outside the womb is just as dependent

    Really? So an infant as opposed to a fetus is exactly the same. I must have missed the human development lecture where infants were still breathing amniotic fluid and had a umbilical cord.

    No, you don’t get to falsely equivocate between fetuses and infants. Your first premise is already factually wrong, thus dooming the rest that follows, but lets show how and where you happen to be wrong anyways.

    People with certain pulmonary conditions are dependent on bottled oxygen and machines in order to breathe.

    Fantastic, but irrelevant. Bottled oxygen and respirators are not part of the bodily resources of another, unless you are saying that respirators and oxygen = women. This may not be a charitable reading of what you claim, but then again you’re not extending a particularly charitable stance to John now are you.

    You see C.C.R the II, women, much to your surprise apparently, are not incubators. They are human beings with rights and bodily autonomy, and yes they do have say over what goes on in their bodies.

  15. And when the environment of the fetus is changed, guess what happens? They begin to to “get those things themselves”. That is a process that has occurred for many years as recorded. You are choosing arbitrary criteria as a basis for your faulty argument. Guess what happens if you remove a fetus from the womb and use scissors to sever its spinal cord? Guess what happens if you take an adult and sever their spinal cord? Get back to me on that.

  16. Interesting post. Let me preface this by stating that 1) I’m an atheist, and 2) I find the abortion conversation to be much more complicated than a two sided argument (as it’s usually framed). I’ve been researching this topic, which is how I landed here, and I am curious how you and/or your readers might respond to a post I recently wrote. I’m not trying to be disrespectful, so feel free to delete this if you find it so.

    I’m sure a knee-jerk reaction to the headline and the concept might effect objectivity, so I ask, if you read it, to have an open mind because I’m genuinely curious what believers might make of my observation.

    Thanks. Here’s the link.
    http://sight66.com/2013/03/01/fetus/

    • Thanks Doug. I will read your post. I do not think though that abortion is a religious issue per se but an ethical issue. It is for this reason I approach this topic from philosophical point of view.

      I think it is not correct dividing this debate to believers and non-believers. If you have read my post you would see that I cited Hitchens who was a vocal atheists and against abortion. There are secular, humanists and atheists who are against abortion.

      • You’re correct. Hitchens referred to fetuses as “candidate human being.” And I agree, abortion is an ethical debate. But you can not deny that the religious right is a huge player in abortion politics. It’s in this regard that I wrote the post. Full disclosure, I personally feel that if you don’t want a baby, you should make it your responsibility to take the appropriate measures not to get pregnant or to impregnate. After that, obviously, it gets more involved, especially if the sex is non-consensual, etc.

        • I think you are correct Christians are indeed the huge players because they believe all humans are created in the image of God. The voice of minority atheists who are against abortion is rarely echoed because this debate is becoming more and more of secular against sacred. A humanist and atheist Marco Rosaire Rossi wrote a beautiful article Nonreligious and Pro-life

          • Well, to be fair, the voice of atheists with regard to anything is rarely echoed…we only make of 5% of the country.

          • Sorry. I never read your about page. Typical American, I just assume everyone is in the US. Is it true that we atheists are in the majority there? Or are people just non-practicing? Or maybe some level of diest?

          • Majority do not believe in personal God. They are practical atheists and deists. It is very interesting because many State church priests are atheists. For them preaching is simply a job :)

            It is a post-Christian nation I will say. I am a youth leader in our non-state church where some of the youth that attend are a mix of Christians, Hindus, atheists, agnostics, and homosexuals. I love them all and care for them, trying to show them that when love comes first, disagreement follows at their right and proper place.

            They enjoy our meeting because I teach what I believe and why I believe it to be true(Christian theology and philosophy) without forcing them to accept what I say. I challenge them to think for themselves, whether they accept my conclusions or not, is not my priority.

          • sounds like my kind of country :)

      • Pack your bags and come to Denmark :)

  17. I like what you’re saying here, but I want to quibble over one statement in your blog. You wrote, “Should a woman be granted a right to decide whatever happens in and to her body?”

    Decouple that statement from the subject for a moment: what if I said the same to you? Should you be granted the the right to decide whatever happens in and to your body? I’m betting that many people, apart from the conversation regarding abortion, would respond with, “Don’t I already have that right?”

    The strength of the pro-choice/abortion argument is in their ability to define the fetus as non-human. As long as that’s the case, it seems to me the argument is valid.

    • Thanks Garland. The argument is surely valid but not sound. Since if it was sound then my three cases are morally justified acts which is unthinkable.

      If asked: Should you be granted the right to decide whatever happens in and to your body? Only those who have not ponder this question would answer they way you said. The problem is with “whatever”. We have right to decide what happens in and to our body but not whatever happens. Example there’re drugs I am not granted the right to take in my body.

      You are correct that the strength of abortionist case is on defining the fetus as non-human. It is for this reason that I think more arguments against abortion need to be offered that do not depend whether or not fetus is a human or a person. In that way, they will weakens abortionist arguments.

  18. The fact that anyone even attempts to defend the act of aborting a child baffles me. Even before my salvation, I was able to recognize that this was a completely self-centered act of murder, perpetrated against the most innocent of all life.

    Notwithstanding the morality of abortion, the arguments on other grounds are rife with self-contradiction and hypocrisy. For instance:

    Pro-choice (I hate that term, so from now on I’ll just say “abortion”) advocates love to cite the “woman’s right to choose,” insisting that the fetus– being “part of,” “carried by,” or “living in,” (that last one kills me; in the course of arguing that the child is not a “viable” life, the advocate concedes that the child is in fact alive) the mother cedes to her the ability to choose the fate of the baby. Abortion advocates go completely ballistic when it is suggested that the father of the child have rights to the decision-making process; yet, if the mother chooses to have the child, these same abortion supporters are adamant that the father should contribute to the child’s support.

    In Virginia there was recently legislation on the floor that would require pregnant women to get an ultrasound prior to aborting a fetus; the abortion people went crazy. The argument was that it forced the mother to undergo unnecessary emotional distress… when was the last time anyone you know broke down in tears for removing a tick?

    Let’s leave rape and the health of the mother out of the equation for a moment, and keep this a purely secular argument. In 2011, there were 1.3 million abortions performed in the United States. 220,000 were performed to abort fetuses that resulted from rape, or because there was concern for the health of the mother. 1.1 million fetuses were aborted as post-facto birth control.

    1.1 MILLION children were murdered because a woman
    chose to be engage in sexual behavior with a man
    chose to allow the behavior to progress to the point of foreplay
    chose to disrobe
    chose to allow the man to penetrate her vaginally
    chose to allow the man to do so without using preventative measures

    … and finally, decided that a child would be an inconvenient and, ultimately UNNECESSARY burden on her current lifestyle, at which point she CHOSE to murder the life she was responsible for.

    I say, “she,” because remember, the father has no rights unless the child is carried full-term, at which point he does NOT have the right to disregard the child’s welfare (unlike the woman, who can choose to terminate the pregnancy without getting anyone’s permission). So at what point is the woman expected to take responsibility for her decisions?

    Extending the argument, abortion advocates now insist that children as young as 14 be able to get abortions without parental consent. A 14-year old girl can’t even decide what shoes to wear to school; what makes anyone think that she is capable of a responsible decision involving not only a baby’s life, but her own long-term emotional health? Not to mention that many abortion advocates are quick to decry the lack of responsible parenting in this country, while simultaneously trying to take away a parent’s right to make decisions that involve the child’s health. While it’s true that a properly-raised 14-year old girl is highly unlikely to engage in behavior that could lead to pregnancy, I commend parents that face the responsibility of helping their underage daughters raise “accidental” babies. At least they have stepped up to their responsibilities, even if very late in the process.

    “It has been my experience that everyone that supports abortion has already been born.” ~Ronald Reagan

    I once had a conversation with a woman who had had an abortion when she was 17, because she knew that having a child would have delayed, if not prevented her going to college and earning a psychology degree. She herself was the product of an accidental pregnancy; her mother had given birth to her at the age of 16, foregone college, married the father and struggled her entire life to support her young daughter. I asked her how she felt about the abortion now that she had her Master’s degree, a good job and a comfortable life. She responded that she occasionally felt something like regret; a sort of wondering what the cild would have been like. But she quickly added that she knew she had done the right thing, because if she had kept the baby she would probably be struggling to pay the bills, raise the baby, keep her head above water and maintain friendships. Without a baby, she had made a “worthwhile” life for herself.

    I asked her if she was glad that her mother had chosen her instead of a worthwhile life. She never answered, but I can imagine what her answer would have been.

  19. Abortion is morally reprehensible, it is the murder of a God-given life, it is the exemplification of self-idolatry and selfishness, and it shows how fallen the human race is. Our president, Barack Obama has previously made the statement that he would not want to “punish my daughter with a baby” if she made a mistake. More than half the people in the US view a baby as a “punishment.” Sad but true.

  20. Prayson Daniel, excellent post. I definitely agree with you on this one. Abortion to me is equal to murder. The woman’s right to choose what to do with her body should not include the fetus’s fate since the fetus has its own rights as a separate human being.

  21. Big Red’s comment has converted me to the evolutionary theory! Imagine … Big Red’s “host”, through the choice of sexual intimacy, knowing that conception was a possible outcome, chose to allow a parasite to grow within her body, then she chose to bring it to term, chose to give birth to it, and voila! Big Red … a human being. Truly amazing!!! (NOT!)

    Big Red argues: “The unborn child is a parasite on the woman’s body, consuming resources but providing no benefits to the woman.” There are those who would also argue that infants, children, the elderly, the disabled, the unemployed, the poor of the welfare state, and even people of “color” fit the same definition. They all “consume resources but” provide “no benefits” to society. We might even throw the intellectually dishonest into the mix of non-beneficial parasites while we’re at it.

  22. Roy

    Being male I first want to jump to the conclusion that life is, above all else, sacred and must be cherished, after all the Word is to love one another, right?

    But since I have never been, nor ever will be, pregnant, I asked my wife and mother to my children what she thinks. She said to kill the life growing inside her, for any reason, must be the most selfish and utterly tormenting thing she would ever do.

  23. @adoptedsidekick — your argument does not cover the cases where there is not consensual sexual relations (rape/incest). In these cases, someone could infer the possibility that since there was no choice in the act that her exercising a choice now would not be improper–she didn’t choose to have sex so should not suffer the consequences. I would argue that Prayson’s cases do not have to consider the initiating circumstances of the pregnancy but instead focus on the current state of affairs only. Would it matter in any of those cases if the fetus was a result of rape/incest? I don’t think a rational person could honestly say yes. I would also argue that from a Christian perspective, the assertion of an individual’s rights should be secondary to the call of Christ on our lives. I may be justified in claiming certain rights, but would Christ have me set aside those rights in the interest of community? Just a thought on that.

  24. Big Red — that’s a common myth. Patently untrue. The mother and child exist in a symbiotic relationship. Aside from the fact that pregnant women bond with the child in utero, there’s also a process that occurs called microchimerism, in which the mother and unborn child exchange cells. This has been shown to have certain benefits to the mother, such as helping to prevent illness, and may possibly help to prevent cancer.

  25. Yes, a woman has the right to choose, but the choice was made when she had sexual relations. Pregnancy is a consequence of that choice. There’s no such “right” to avoid the consequences of one’s one choices at the cost of another’s life.

  26. Big Red

    The unborn child is a parasite on the woman’s body, consuming resources but providing no benefits to the woman.

  27. I ag.ree with C C Roberts, the child is its own person which the mother is carrying.
    After all in most cases she chose to have sex which is how the child was formed.

  28. The unborn child is NOT the woman’s body, it’s the child’s own body.

    • Really? So it gets its own oxygen and nutrients, huh?

      • It would depend on what you mean by “gets its own”. It gets its own in an appropriate manner. If you want to argue that an unborn child is not a person because of its level of development and independence, then good luck. I would venture you don’t produce your own oxygen and/or nutrients but are provided them in some form independent of your own capabilities. What about a person in a hospital that is being maintained on life support? Are they not their own person? What about an astronaut or deep sea diver who is drawing their oxygen at least through a provisioning system? Are they no longer persons? Really should avoid such simplistic arguments. Huh?

        • Well, in each of your poorly thought through examples the individual is capable of getting those things by themselves should they just change the environment they’re in… correct?

          Now, let’s do an experiment: you remove a fetus and record how long it lasts. Get back to me the results, ok?

      • An infant outside the womb is just as dependent on others for its nutrients. People with certain pulmonary conditions are dependent on bottled oxygen and machines in order to breathe. Your argument is invalid.

      • John, bwgoodson mistakenly reply above and not here on the reply.

      • Sure: bwgoodson (May 8, 2013 at 19:04)

        And when the environment of the fetus is changed, guess what happens? They begin to to “get those things themselves”. That is a process that has occurred for many years as recorded. You are choosing arbitrary criteria as a basis for your faulty argument. Guess what happens if you remove a fetus from the womb and use scissors to sever its spinal cord? Guess what happens if you take an adult and sever their spinal cord? Get back to me on that.

        • What’s “arbitrary” about citing the facts? Honestly, you radical right wing fundamentalists can be quite baffling at times. And again, your poorly thought example fails to take into account that the adult (before having their spinal cord cut) was functioning perfectly well on their own life support systems. Seriously, you’re going to have to lift your game here if you want to converse with adults.

          Moving right along: do you have any evidence for a soul?

          • Well thought out reply there John. You paste the claim of “facts” upon your arbitrary statements then slap the old “right wing fundamentalist” label upon anyone disagreeing with your faulty logic. Then the convenient side step to “evidence for the soul” query. If that is what you call “adult” conversation count me out. I find your style more suitable for maybe a backwards middle schooler.

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