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"When we consider that women are treated as property, it is degrading to women that we should treat our children as property to be disposed of as we see fit." Elizabeth Cady Stanton



Friday, 3 August 2012

Opposing View of the Week: "Abortion and the Law" from Antigone Awakens

This post was brought to my attention by pro-choice tweeter @heather_parker during a discussion on the rights of the zygote/embryo/fetus (ZEF) vs. the rights of the mother. The blog is called Antigone Awakens (not quite sure what the author is going for there, but the "i" is a little washroom women figure - kinda cute!), and the title of the blog post is "Abortion and the Law".

For your background, here is our twitter convo:

 @heather_parker's first tweet was in response to a retweet of one of Life Reports podcasts - you can listen to that particular podcast, "What makes human beings valuable?", here.

Now, let me preface my response to "abortion and the Law" by first saying that I do not believe that either the ZEF's or the mother's rights are more important than the others - their rights are, in my opinion, equal in value and consideration. They are both, after all, human, and so both have basic human rights (including the rights to life and liberty).

The million dollar question therefore is: does the baby encroach on the rights of the mother, or does the mother encroach (through abortion) on the rights of the baby?

From the author, Heather's friend "J":

"Here's where what you believe meets what actually is."

Ugh. Don't you just love it when people are condescending? That being said, what "actually is" is actually what is under debate (btw, if you're wondering, I had fun writing this sentence!). What I, and other prolifers, believe is that the unborn baby "actually is" a person, endowned with all the basic rights born people should enjoy - with the addition of a right that children enjoy. That is, the right to basic care (and children deserve this right because, self-evidently, they are not able to achieve their right to life without the aid of someone older than themselves).

"The real issue is whether [the fetus] is a person [in the legal sense]. If it is a person, then it has a right to life. If it is not a person, it has no constitutional rights at all."

We agree on this one. It is very rare to find a pro-choicer willing to admit that this is the major question in the abortion debate. Awesome!

"The woman is a person. There is no issue with that. It is not a matter of debate."

It was once. And it still is in many corners of the globe. And this is one thing I find very disturbing about pro-abortion/pro-choice feminists - they are having the very same debate about their children that was once applied to them - that is, whether certain individuals are property or people.

"[The woman] has certain liberty interests that are constitutionally protected. One of those is privacy: the right to be left alone."

The right to privacy is very much a conditional standard. If you are committing a crime, and the police have probable cause, then you no longer have the right to be left alone. You get arrested, your house is searched (providing there is reason for the issue of a warrant), and you go to jail. Or, a more apt example would be child abuse. Should child protection services have reason to believe you are neglecting or abusing your children in some way, you no longer have the right to be left alone. The government enters your life, makes your business its business, and can even go so far as to take away your wanted children - all in order to protect your children's rights. And so we come back to the central question: does the unborn baby have rights, and are these rights worth protecting?

"The issues of abortion, pregnancy, and family are private matter which the woman is entitled to control and safeguard against government interference. So what you have now is a situation where a non-person would have greater rights than a person."

This is the author's premise (which, in the case of family, we have already established to be untrue in cases of abuse). "J" has not, in any way, shape, or form, proven or supported this premise. So forgive me if I ignore the "non-person having greater rights than a person" argument, because the author has not proven that the baby is not a person. While it is true that the baby is currently not defined as a person in US (or Canadian) law, that does not mean that the current law is correct. Otherwise women, blacks, Jews, Native Americans, people with disabilities (etc. ...) were all once non-persons who only became people once governments decided to define them as such. And I sincerely hope that we don't look to the government alone to define for us who is or is not a person, because they have (evidently!) been very, very wrong in the past.

The second thing that the author needs to defend, and has yet to do so, is why providing babies with a right not-to-be-killed (i.e.: a right to life) somehow gives the baby greater rights than the mother. I contest that this is not so. But right now, the burden is on Heather and "J" to explain exactly why an unborn baby is not a person, and why its right to life gives it greater rights than the mother (after all, the unborn baby, in the vast, vast (it cannot be said enough) vast majority of cases does not threaten the mother's life, nor her liberty, nor her pursuit of happiness - unless one wants to argue that pregnant women are willing slaves to their unborn children - and I hope that sounds as ridiculous to you, dear readers, as it does to me).

"There are major major problems with defining a fetus as a person ... [including] the government suddenly having the ability to control everything about a pregnant woman's life from her diet to her workout schedule specifically because the fetus now has liberty and life rights. The slippery slope there is too great. Every study that came out saying that mothers who watched TV while pregnant had higher incidence of miscarriage would potentially result in government intervention in the TV-watching habits of pregnant women - you know, because they have to protect the person that is the fetus."

Bravo, excellent job of fear-mongering, and excellent use of the fallacy form of the "slippery slope" rhetorical device. This is a fallacy here for two reasons: (1) The author ignores any possibility of a middle ground and (2) the author does not demonstrate a process which could lead to this extreme state of government control. This slippery slope is very obviously, ridiculous. To demonstrate, let us compare pregnancy to a natural, common relationship that is as close to pregnancy as possible - that is, the relationship between parents and the born children who are under their care. There are countless studies which show that the things that parents allow their kids to do every day may not be in the best interests of their kids' health: watching TV, eating candy, eating fast food and heavily processed food, playing video games, watching R-rated movies, drinking alcohol, smoking around their kids, raising kids as a single parent, raising kids in a home where both parents are working ... the list goes on. Kids who eat lots of junk food and sit around watching TV and playing video games are more likely to be fat, and have all the toher health problems that come along with poor diet and exercise habits. Kids who watch violent and sexually explicit movies at a young age can be adversely affected emotionally. Kids who are raised by single mothers are more likely to grow into a life of drugs and crime. Kids who have a sip of beer or wine from a parent's cup (and teenagers whose parents allow them to drink at home) have underdeveloped brains which could be adversely affected by alcohol. Working parents do not have as much time as stay at home moms and dads do to spend time with and care exclusively for their children. But do you see the government jumping in and controlling every aspect of these parents' lives, even once these children exhibit negative health consequences unto natural death? Do you see the government mandating that one parent must stay at home, that single mothers must marry to give their children fathers, that parents must serve only certain foods at certain times to their children, and that children are only allowed to sit in front of a TV for a certain number of hours a week - all this, of course, to ensure that children are cared for in the very best way possible that research can demonstrate?

No, you don't see this happening. And you don't see this, in spite of the fact that kids are considered people under the law, and kids really are at the mercy of their parents' habits and customs.

What you do see is the government becoming involved in the severe cases - cases where children's lives are threatened to an unnatural degree: where they are neglected, starved, beaten, and not cared for in even the most basic of ways.

That is when the government becomes involved in the care of vulnerable people (or rather, vulnerable humans - humans just like unborn babies).

So please, spare me the whole "women's lives will be controlled in every imaginable way" sob story. It is not true. If it becomes true, we'll have a lot more to worry about than just pregnant women being controlled by the government, because the exact same thing will happen to anyone who has a vulnerable person under their care.

"This is why, regardless of whether you find abortion morally or religiously offensive, you cannot legislate on it."

The vast majority of countries on this earth, who actually do have laws regarding abortion (including western countries who are largely considered to be "free" nations), would beg to differ. This also contradicts an earlier statement by the author - specifically, if unborn children are people then they have a right to life. "J" completely ignores this question and claims that they cannot be considered people, not because of any intrinsic characteristics of the unborn babies themselves, but because of the supposed consequences of this view, which "J" has yet to demonstrate as plausible.

"you don't like abortion, don't have one."

This is a tired, worn-out, ridiculous statement that, quite frankly, pro-choicers should stop using. Replace "abortion" with anything else, and you can see how ridiculous it sounds when the person you are talking to believes abortion is a grave human rights violation. You aren't convincing any pro-lifers by using this statement, after all, we can just shoot back: "Don't like rape? Don't rape someone. Don't like slavery? Don't own a slave. Don't like mobs? Don't participate in one. See how ridiculous that sounds?" ... and on and on we go, constantly talking past one another. 

"[T]he personhood status of women who are already here, already independent human entities, has to be eroded. You cannot have both women and fetuses be considered persons. It is a legal impossibility."

Why? Please, try to explain this without using a fallacy. And while you're at it, explain why conjoined twins also cannot be considered persons under the law.

"So if the "right to life" movement wants to end abortion, they're going to have to focus on alternative ways"

Oh gee, its a good thing we are already doing that then! (hint hint: pregnancy care centers are just one example of this).

"[P]rohibitions on abortion are notoriously ineffective in reducing the incidence of terminated pregnancy"

Given the difficulty of obtaining statistics for abortions performed legally vs. illegally, and (in Canada at least), the utter failure of the government to compile any kind of reliable stats on abortion at all, this statement is absolutely impossible to prove or disprove and should not be presented as absolute fact. This, or course, ignores the inherent fallacious nature of such a "it will happen anyway" argument. Just because something will happen anyway, does not mean that it should be legal, nor does it necessarily mean that it should be illegal either. Criminal activity happens whether we legislate against it or not - does that mean murder, theft, slander, drugs, domestic violence, or child abuse should be legal? Nope. "It will happen anyway" is a statement which neither supports nor denies a particular thesis, and should not be present in any discussion of the legality or the ethics of any action, including abortion.

"That's it, that's the abortion issue in a nutshell."

Actually, the author ignored pretty much every opjection that pro-lifers have to abortion, and the ones he or she did mention were not refuted. So no, this is not the abortion issue in a nutshell. This is the author's opinion, presented as argument, and supported by fallacies, in a nutshell. 

"All this other crap about people accepting responsibility for their actions, taking advantage of the abortion "faucet", respecting life, or whatever your emotional argument is, that's all completely irrelevant."

Right, because claiming that illegal abortion will lead to the utter and complete control of women's lives by the government is not emotional at all.

And if one dismisses "respecting life" as an emotional argument, one has relegated to the corner a compelling reason against murder and abuse. After all, are we not called to respect the people around us? And I would be seriously surprised if the author did not believe in personal responsibility. Otherwise, I hope she spends just as much time protesting against the legal system which assumes personal responsibility in order to charge people for their possible crimes and the consequences of such crimes (for instance - drunk driving. People who drive intoxicaed to not mean to get into accidents, and yet, if they do they are considered responsible for the destruction that their intoxication caused).

"... your purpose is to blame women for pregnancy in an effort to imply they are not really entitled to personhood status."

Hyperbole, ridiculousness, and a blatant attempt to completely disregard and misunderstand the actual pro-life position. Also, it is true that the vast majority of abortions are performed on women who risked the possibility of pregnancy by engaging in consensual sex. This is not a "blame" game - this is a fact. Pregnancy can lead to babies. Shocking, I know. But true nonetheless. Accepting reality does not mean you are "blaming" someone for something. And pregnant women, simply by virtue of being pregnant, are not denied their personhood, nor any of their rights. Unless you bleieve that people have rights which allow them to kill someone who does not threaten their own lives in any way. And from the standpoint that we all have a right to life, this is utterly ridiculous.

As for the "Note on international human rights, rather than US Consitutional rights": this is simply a reminder of what pro-lifers are attempting to change. We know that the unborn are not considered persons. We know that they currently do not enjoy a codified right to life. Quoting articles which are formed based off this understanding does not present an argument - it presents a conclusion, and as such, it is not something that will convince anyone who has an opposing view. 

Now, I spent most of this article demonstrating how the author(s) did not do a good job of arguing the case for legal abortion, but I did not make a complete case in opposition. So please refer to my blog posts here and here, which discuss whether or not a woman has a responsibility towards her unborn child. Also, please see discussions from Life Report here and here on this topic. I also am in the process of compiling essays and arguments for/against bodily autonomy as I have come across them (along with other issues related to the abortion debate) - you can find them here.

In conclusion, I wish to summarize what I believe Heather and J's main points are:

(1) Unborn children are not considered persons and are not endowed with the right to life in either the US consitution or in international human rights documents.
(2) Giving the unborn a right to life or personhood status necessarily degrades the rights of the pregnant women by subjecting her to government control and violating her privacy.
(3) Abortions happen anyway, whether illegal or legal.

Here are my main points in response:

(1) This is not an argument, it is a conclusion, and it is the very thing that pro-lifers are trying to change.
(2) This conclusion ignores any possibility of reasonable middle ground and is demonstrably false when compared to any other relationship in which one of the persons involved is vulnerable.
(3) This is not an arugment in favour of either legality or illegality; it is simply a statement which can by applied to any legal or illegal action.

But again, for an in-depth discussion of the pro-life perspective on this topic please read through the links I provided above.

That's all for now! Let me know if you think I have misunderstood Heather's and J's arguments in any way! Ciao :)


  1. Antigone was the daughter of Oedipus-the name means 'opposed to motherhood'. Pretty much all you need to know about that one.

  2. EP's an idiot. I already explained on her blog that I chose the name Antigone because it has also been interpreted to mean "against patriarchy."

    Also, DB - I thought you were going to let me know when this was up? A friend just pointed it out to me about ten minutes ago, so I'm going to go through it and get back to you. Thanks for taking the time to respond, though, I appreciate it.


    - H

    1. Hey, sorry about that! I thought you checked my twitter feed, but I suppose that was a tad narcissistic of me to just assume so! :S Also, sorry that I linked out to so many other things, but bodily rights are a huge topic and its hard to go through everything in just one post and stick to analyzing your own blog, which was my goal.

      I'm still learning about a lot of the arguments myself, so I would love to hear a more coherent post from you on your thoughts on bodily rights, in addition to a response to this blog post (if you have the time) :)

      P.S. Please no name calling!!! I know "idiot" is not considered a "bad" swear word or anything like that, but I would really like to keep the discussion as civil as possible (it is hard to do sometimes (I myself have failed plenty of times) but I really would like to try to make this as "safe" place as possible for anyone who comes across it). Merci!

  3. Hey DB,

    No problems. I don't THINK I saw a tweet from you, but I've been out and about protecting women's health issues IRL this week more than online, so I might have just missed it.

    In re: the "idiot", apologies, but EP has been rather nasty to be on her blog and on twitter lately (I can send you the screen shots if you want to see precisely the names she's been calling me), and I'd just seen her latest attack, so I guess I was feeling a bit sensitive. Apologies, again, though. I'll try and keep those type of comments to a minimum on your page.


    - H

    1. Hi again :)

      I actually did not link a twitter straight to you, just assumed you'd see the post (stupid of me!) :S Anyway, apologies again, next time I'll be sure to specifically let you know!

      Also, I know MPQ can be really sarcastic (nasty? in your face?) sometimes (often? - sorry MPQ, its just true! :P) but I'd like to keep that to a minimum here, so my warning applies to everyone, not just to you (so please don't feel singled out!). :) There are other places (like on Twitter!) where it can work, but I want this to be as academic an environment as possible.

      That being said, feel free to insult ideas as often as you want, just not people!

    2. No problem-I'm not interested in the 'pat them on the head and pray for them' political correctness that has accomplished exactly nothing in the last 40 years except to keep abortion legal. Deepest sympathies on 'Antigone' taking up residence as troll here-but thanks for taking her off my hands-we were all bored to death by her. Abortion isn't a debate, but the greatest evil and worst civil rights violation of our time. Anyone can talk, it's action that counts.

    3. Action counts is absolutely right (and it's something that I need to focus more on because I am the sort of person who tends to just "talk"). I do agree that "pat them on the head and pray for them" hasn't worked at all - I just don't want my blog to turn into a big character flame war! Would rather focus on the abortion issue, because really, that is the most important thing!

  4. Antigone was punished for refusing to be silenced and for carrying out her convictions against patrirchy. Kind of like how EP wants to punish and dismiss Heather for her convictions.

    Our Greek scholar here, however, has the etymology wrong. "Gone" is not the ancient Greek word for mother or motherhood. There is a different term that means mother (meter / mater). "Gone" is more like "seed" or "family" or "generation." To apply "anti-motherhood" makes no sense in the context of the play, as she was not against her mother or being a mother. It can't really even mean "anti-family" in context because while she stood against part of her family (Creon), she did so on behalf of her beloved brothers. The best translation in the context of the play is probably "generation.". In essence, we have a divide between generations: the elder ruling one who thinks it stands for justice (Creon) even when it is outrageous or cruel (as in the case of Polynices's body), and the younger one who stands against the other wiith passionate strength. You can see how this is applicable to the conflict at hand. It should be noted that Antigone is a tragic hero, not an adversary. So to insult someone for being like Antigone or claiming Antigone's legacy as EP did here is silly.

    The problem of translation is that the translator invariably superimposes an agenda onto each word, as
    EP does here to try to discredit Heather.

    1. Hi,

      Thanks for the Greek lesson :) I wasn't aware that Antigone was from a play - what's the name? It sounds super interesting, love to look it up and read it!

      Merci :)

    2. The play's name is actually Antigone. And, yes, it's a fascinating read. I wrote a thesis comparing Antigone and Billy Budd eons ago in my early college years.

      Here's a link to the tragedy; I'd highly suggest reading it. :)

    3. Thanks Heather (or H, which do you prefer?)!! :)

  5. I am not aware of anyone arguing that a fetus is property. I'm certainly not arguing that. What I am saying is that where one human literally lives inside another human, you cannot give them both Constitutional rights. It is impossible. One is a person, or the other is a person. They cannot both be persons. Because I am already a person, by right of birth, I have life, liberty, and property rights. If a fetus living inside me also has life, liberty, and property rights, the minute those rights conflict with each other (as they do at every stage during every minute of pregnancy), one of us has to relinquish those rights.

    If a woman does so voluntarily (as many pregnant women do), she simply makes a choice to continue to be pregnant. However, if the government makes that choice for women, it erodes our personhood status and elevates the personhood status of the fetus. If the government decides a woman *must* risk her life, her health, her job, her marriage, must surrender her body to the fetus, she is no longer a person. You ask how this is true. I cannot conceive of how it is not true.

    Keeping it extremely simple: You necessarily have fewer Constitutional rights if the government is allowed to force you to risk your life, health, job, marriage, and body. The Constitution says "Here are all the rights a person has." If you do not have those rights, what are you? (Punchline: a woman).

    You cannot escape this. You cannot reconcile the existing personhood status of a woman, with the theoretical personhood status that pro-life people seek for fetuses. But I'd invite anyone to try because actual success on that little endeavor might just end one of the most painful, emotional, fiercely divisive legal issues in our country since slavery.

    1. I will deal with one of your sentences here because the rest have been dealt with above, and (I'm assuming your J? Sorry if that assumption is wrong!) you are making the same mistakes as you did above - that is, assuming the answer instead of demonstrating it.

      But this made me quite angry, to be honest:
      "Keeping it extremely simple: You necessarily have fewer Constitutional rights if the government is allowed to force you to risk your life, health, job, marriage, and body."

      This is an EXTREMELY simplified version of the consequences of being pregnant. It many cases, carrying a baby around for 9 months does not pose any risk at all (especially here in North America where we have high-quality healthcare - and in places where this is not the case the solution is better healthcare, not abortion) to the mother's life, health, or body. Sometimes, it can pose a risk to her job, but abortion does NOT in ANY way solve this issue. If a woman has to have an abortion in order to stay employed, then her employer has gravely trampled on her rights and accepting this as the "way things are" does a grave disservice to women and children everywhere. Abortion as a solution to issues in marriage is a whole other can of worms, but I would argue that any marriage which needs to be saved by an abortion is a marriage that should fail anyway. If you have a husband (or boyfriend) that will only stand by you if you have an abortion, then you need to dump his sorry ass and find someone worthy of your love. Period.

    2. DB, I'm still working on a more formal response (though it appears that Anonymous has already addressed a lot of your concerns), but I do have to step in about this sentence:

      "It many cases, carrying a baby around for 9 months does not pose any risk at all (especially here in North America where we have high-quality healthcare - and in places where this is not the case the solution is better healthcare, not abortion) to the mother's life, health, or body."

      I spent nearly two years of my life working on the issue of maternal health and maternal mortality, so I am VERY well versed in this issue.

      Around the world, a woman continues to die every 90 seconds from complications of pregnancy and childbirth. That's more than 350,000 women who die every single year. Even here in North America where "we have high-quality health care," the rates are atrocious. Did you know that the US currently ranks 50th (yes, FIFTIETH!) in terms of maternal mortality in the world? That means that, even though we spend more money on health care than any other nation on the planet, and more money on maternal and child health than any other type of care, we're still worse at preventing maternal mortality than 49 other countries. And we keep getting worse at it.

      Maternal deaths, however are just the tip of the iceberg here. Nearly 32,000 women in the US each year suffer a "near-miss" in relation to pregnancy and childbirth. A near miss is a complication so severe that a woman nearly dies during pregnancy or childbirth, and often has lifelong debilitating effects.

      So, yes, access to safe abortion COULD solve some of this problem. Having an early trimester abortion is actually MUCH safer than carrying a pregnancy to term and delivering, and carries far fewer risks. We could also reduce the risks associated with pregnancy by improving access to high quality, timely health care during pregnancy and childbirth. We could also reduce the risks associated with pregnancy and childbirth by reducing the number of unplanned pregnancies by providing access to comprehensive sexual health education, and access to family planning services.

      You can disagree with how best to reduce the risks of pregnancy, but please don't argue that there are no risks to pregnancy.


      - H

    3. SO sorry to be misunderstood. Of course pregnancy carries with it some risks. I believe, however, that Anonymous was over-stating the issue. And I was simply arguing that pregnancy risks are much better dealt with WITHOUT appealing to abortions as a solution. I should have perhaps worded myself better, so I apologize.

      Even if I was pro-choice, I would not be comfortable with saying abortions are the solution to the dangers of pregnancy. This is a disservice to women who WANT to be pregnant, after all, and we should not be satisfied with ANY women, whether they have a wanted baby or not, risking their lives for their children when such a risk is NOT necessary (and I firmly believe it is not). In fact, there have been studies (which I am hesitant to say cause the jury to be completely out on the issue so please, no one take this as ABSOLUTE fact) which suggest that legal abortion does not have any affect on the safety of pregnancy.

      I am in full support of better healthcare - and the fact that the US is 50th simply demonstrates that there is a TONNE of room for improvement on this issue. THAT should absolutely be the focus when discussing pregnancies which are dangerous for the mother.

      Finally, as a disclaimer, if the mother would die from being pregnant, I am not opposed to treating her, even if the baby would die - but all efforts should be employed to save both if possible. That is a completely DIFFERENT situation than most elective abortions, which are NOT performed on mothers who's lives or health are in any kind severe danger.

      I am against elective abortions because I believe that the mother's life and the baby's life are equal in value. I am not against saving who you can in cases where the mother and (as a logical extension) the baby are both in danger. Please see my post "Abortion to Save the Mother?" for a more in-depth discussion of my beliefs, which, of course, are always evolving as I learn more about this issue. Thanks :)

      P.S. Just in case you are wondering, I am not against contraception on principle either (though I myself would never use it), but I do not support advertising it as the holy-grail solution to abortion or risky pregnancies, as there is always the (often small) risk of getting pregnant even while taking steps to avoid this consequence.

    4. I will read all of this more carefully and respond to it, but I think the biggest problem I have is that Dolce is advancing arguments that actually are not based on any underlying research, or reading, or fact, or legal theory... They're just her opinions. Because of that, she's assuming I'm doing the same thing. But I'm not. I could source every single thing I've said there, and in fact, by referencing the 14th Amendment and four of the preeminent cases on rights concerning the family, I have done that.

      When I enter into this argument, I tend to assume that the people I'm talking to have read the same stuff I have. Because why would you try to talk about this issue if you haven't read Roe v. Wade, or Planned Parenthood v. Casey, or Gonzales v. Carhart? Why would you try to articulate an argument about bodily integrity of a woman if you haven't read Griswold v. CT? Why would you try to pick apart a bloggers use of the word Antigone if you haven't read the play? And I know I'm condescending, but how can you even talk about abortion if you haven't read Antigone. The entire conceit of the play is that Antigone has to choose between her loyalties to her family and her obligations to the State.

      I am not, in fact, assuming an answer instead of demonstrating it. What I am doing is picking up a discussion that is already in motion and participating it, maybe moving it forward, maybe just advancing one part of it or another. The problem is that you don't seem to be aware of the existing discourse, its parts, its foundation, its context.

      Specifically, you go on here about how offended you are at my mention of women risking their life, body, job, marriage etc... for pregnancy. This is not "my" argument. I believe it, but it is also the majority argument in Roe v. Wade. In fact, one of the reasons the Court struck down the statute in Roe v. Wade is because Texas had attempted to argue that abortion was dangerous and the data actually showed that pregnancy was more dangerous than early legal abortion. So again, the abortion debate is like a stream flowing through a forest. It carries with it water from various sources and they mingle together towards the sea. I stick my toe in it and understand that the water touching my toes is water from upstream. You think the stream started with your toe.

      Anyway, I'll try to respond to the rest of this, but it will be hard because I'm not sure how far upstream to start.

    5. First off, I am not offended about your talk of pregnancy. I just think that by framing pregnancy as risking so many aspects of a woman's life, you are exaggerating the issue and exaggerating the circumstances that most women with unwanted pregnancies find themselves in. Just take a look at the Guttmacher Institute's statistics, and you will find that most abortions are not performed on women whose lives or health are in severe danger.

      You are also ignoring many other solutions that exist to alleviate many, if not most, of the issues you quote. You are completely ignoring the possibility that abortion is not necessary at all to solve these issues. Again, please look to organizations like Feminists for Life for a peak into what other possibilities exist.

      To your main complaint, I have fully admitted in every part of this discussion that I am still learning about these issues and still framing my opinions, and am doing my best to understand your points (perhaps I am failing here). I am not so proud to pretend otherwise. But you are doing myself, and many other academics, lawyers, doctors, and philosophers whose arguments I am making use of and whose opinions have shaped my own, a HUGE disservice by implying that my apparent lack of knowledge undermines absolutely everything I have to say (which is not such a big deal), and everything that I have linked to and quoted (which is a big deal; there are pro-life - and pro-choice - people who know FAR more than I do and who HAVE read everything that you have read, and much more. There are legitimate pro-choice AND pro-life philosophers who believe that bodily integrity arguments are irrelevant, and everything rests on the personhood of the ZEF. There are others who believe the exact opposite). My only point is that opinions that are similar to mine exist, and they often come from legitimate and knowledgeable sources. Please do not imply otherwise.

      One last thing. I have not picked apart the use of the word Antigone. I said that I did not know what it was at the beginning of my post (I actually read it as an English word - as in "opposed-to-gone"; you can see why I was confused), and then in the comments I said that I am interested in reading the play because it actually sounds like it would be a good read. I would thank you to not put words into my mouth. I was also unaware that one has to read a Greek play in order to be able to comment and form an opinion on the abortion debate. If that is indeed the case, I am so sorry to have forced you into a discussion with someone as ignorant as I.

  6. Cont...

    You says, "The right to privacy is very much a conditional standard."

    The right to privacy is not a "conditional standard." It is a fundamental right to liberty subject to strict scrutiny, meaning that any law infringing on it must be narrowly tailored to suit a legitimate government interest. In any case, I'll concede the point that no Constitutional right is absolute. All Constitutional rights are balanced against the rights of other PERSONS and the various interests and objectives of our governments, including, at times, rather paternalistic objectives.

    However, the legislation being proposed by the GOP/pro-life movement these days does not attempt to balance these things. It does not seek, as Roe v. Wade did, to carve out a logical solution to the impossible problem of competing personhood. The trimester approach of Roe v. Wade in which the interest of the State in the life of the fetus increases as the trimesters advance has been eroded in favor of a "substantial/undue obstacle" approach. And from this jumping off point, all other legislation has flowed. The GOP has presented more than 1000 anti-abortion bills since 2010, many of which have passed and NONE of which have sought to adopt the balance set forth in Roe. There are bills seeking to make abortion illegal as early as 6 weeks LMP. Legislation allowing pharmacists to block access to RU486 and the morning after pill essentially seeks to ban abortions at fertilization before even implantation. These kinds of laws effectively make the right to life an absolute right (not subject to any balance) for the fetus, while arguing that it should be so because no constitutional right is absolute. This disingenuous doublespeak is, let's say, problematic.

    Family issues are privacy matters. This is not my opinion, this is what the 14th Amendment case law tells us. Griswold, Yoder, Roe, Loving. Start there. Get back to me. Also, you do not get to argue that there is no slippery slope when the entire reason that women's lifestyle choices are no longer subject to judicial review is because women fought for equal protection under the law. You do not get to use the achievements of the women's rights movement to argue that the position espoused by YOUR side is not a realistic risk. You WANT it to be the reality. It once WAS the reality. And the only thing preventing it from being the reality again is people like me saying, no.

    As for ignoring the middle ground, I really don't. The middle ground was established as precedent in 1973. However, the pro-life movement wants to erase that middle ground and has enjoyed some success in doing so. As I said above, they want to argue that the fetus's [Constitutional] right to life is absolute because no woman should expect that her Constitutional rights are absolute. If you have some proposed middle ground that is not contemplated by Roe, you should advance it. Otherwise, your entire post is merely a point-by-point "nuh-uh."

    Also, there are a ton of demographic stats available for abortion:

    1. This whole argument also assumes that ZEF's (to borrow H's acronym) are not people. This is not the way to convince me, or anyone, that you are correct. I believe you are begging the question (and I am currently learning about fallacies so I could be wrong).

      That being said, since you do not view ZEF's as people deserving of protection and love, I can understand how everything else would seem horrible to you. But since that is the actual point of contention, I think that is where the focus should be, don't you? So please, instead of invoking the possible consequences to regarding ZEF's as persons, please discuss WHY they are NOT persons.

      I will not argue legislation with you, as I am not American and have not kept up with what is happening down south as well as I perhaps should have (and even if I did have enough knowledge on what's going on in the States, I certainly do not have any type of background in law). I will say that everything that I have seen and heard about Feminists for Life (look them up!) is wonderful, and until I can be convinced otherwise, I will support anything that has their support in terms of law and legislation.

      "Family issues are privacy matters."

      I did not say that family issues are NOT private matters. I said that they aren't ALWAYS private matters. This is best demonstrated in cases of abuse. In the case of born children, if a mother was planning on killing her child, you'd bet that the government and police would become involved. If, however, a mother was planning on letting her kid eat candy and watch hours and hours of TV, the government and police would not become involved. I see no reason why it cannot be the same with unborn children. I agree that there would have to be a carefully established balancing act between the rights of the mother and baby, and that we must be careful not to control the mother to undo degrees (for instance, your example of legislating how much time pregnant women watch TV is something that is obviously WRONG). This is a line that I argue CAN be established while maintaining the personhood of the unborn baby, while you seem to be under the assumption that unless abortion is legal, this cannot be done. I believe that this is the point where we disagree, and quite honestly, your fear-mongering and passionate appeals to authority (the feminist movement) will not convince anyone.

      This is especially true, since, ironically, the first wave feminists were mostly pro-life. Again, see the Feminists for Life webpage for more information.

      "As for ignoring the middle ground, I really don't. The middle ground was established as precedent in 1973."

      This is ridiculous. In no way is Roe v. Wade middle ground. You saying so does not make it true, as one only has to look at the abortion debate to know that this is wishful thinking to the highest degree. We are arguing about the morality and legality of abortion - in what way does this make 1973 middle ground? Also, I was not discussing middle ground of the abortion debate, I was discussing middle ground in hypothetical legislation that would consider ZEF's to be persons. You are talking right past all of my points.

      Finally, I was not saying that there are no stats on abortion. I was saying that they are often incomplete, withheld from the public, and difficult to analyze properly, especially in cases of illegality - of course, this does not mean that we cannot use them as a starting point to draw conclusions about abortion. But again, whether or not abortions happen at all has NO bearing on whether or not they are ethical and should be legal vs. illegal. I can only assume that you agree. For instance, say there was a hypothetical country where no women at all ever had abortions. Would you be supportive of legislation which would make it illegal there, since no one ever wanted one anyways? I think not; such a position would be illogical.

    2. No. It assumes they are not persons. Which they can't be. Because women are.

    3. I just don't think you understand your "points" are part of a larger discussion. They don't exist in a vacuum and they don't exist in the context you assign to them. Do you understand the trimester analysis that existed in Roe? This seems to be a good place to start.

    4. "No. It assumes they are not persons. Which they can't be. Because women are."

      This is your problem. You can't make an argument that ZEF's are not person's by assuming that they are not. It's circular reasoning, and does not address any pro-lifers problems. Perhaps I am misunderstanding your thesis, and am talking past you as a result, but I thought that this was the point you are trying to discuss: "If [the ZEF] is a person, then it has a right to life. If it is not a person, it has no constitutional rights at all."

  7. I think you really just don't understand this debate. Here is the issue in extremely generic terms. Women and fetuses inhabit the same space. The exact same space. Women have legal personhood status and therefore have constitutional rights. If fetuses have personhood status, they too have constitutional rights. However, if they have constitutional rights, then those rights will necessarily infringe on the constitutional rights of women. If the constitutional rights of women to life, liberty, and property are eroded for the sake of the constitutional rights of the fetus (which they actually literally legally would have to be) then women's personhood status is lessened. They are something less than a person in the legal sense. So, I am not making the argument that fetuses aren't persons. I am making the argument that they *cannot be* persons because of the consequences to the personhood status of women.

    You have made the argument (whether you realize it or not) that not all constitutional rights are absolute. This is true. But you cannot say that the fetus has an absolute right to life by asserting that no one has any absolute constitutional rights. Additionally, you have suggested that because no one has any absolute constitutional rights, there should be a middle ground. There WAS a middle ground. The rights of the fetus increased and the rights of the woman decreased and the pregnancy progressed. That was the holding of Roe v. Wade. That is no longer the law. And it is expressly NOT what pro-lifers want. They do not want a middle ground. They have fought AGAINST a middle ground. They want absolute constitutional rights for a fetus, which necessarily means less than absolute constitutional rights for the woman. They want to elevate the fetus at the expense of the woman. This is what prochoice people object to.

  8. I do want to say that i appreciate you posting my replies. I think a lot of prolife bloggers would just ignore this conversation because it is so difficult. So I appreciate that. And you don't have to post this thank you. I just wanted to make sure I said it.

    1. Difficult conversations are EXACTLY the ones that should NOT be ignored. So really, you have absolutely nothing to thank me for. Discussions like this are exactly what have to take place, so if you've ever been censored because a pro-lifer has found you too much to handle, I apologize on their behalf.

      But I do want to thank you for staying civil. You have no idea how much I appreciate you not simply dismissing everything I say as "religious" or "anti-woman". Seriously, I can't thank you enough, because this is THE most frustrating thing about having conversations with pro-choicers! You definitely have defied some stereotypes :)

  9. SIgh. Jumping in right now to say, once again, quickly, that THIS IS A LEGAL ARGUMENT. And, currently, legally, ZEF ARE NOT PERSONS. This is NOT an assumption, Dolce. THIS IS A FACT. It is established in International Human Rights Law, and it was established in the US by Roe v. Wade. Let me say it again, ZEF ARE NOT PERSONS.

    I'm working on pulling together a more coherent and longer piece, but first I need you to understand that the law, as it stands today, has determined that ZEF ARE NOT PERSONS.

    Once you understand that fact, then we can start having a discussion as to whether or not they SHOULD be persons. Which is really what J's post was all about.

    1. I do understand this, and I apologize if I have not made that clear. What I understood about your arguments originally is that you said that you believe that ZEFs should not be considered persons, and then used that belief to assert "well, they definitely aren't persons!"

      This is perhaps a gross characterization of what your actual goal in the above post was (though I do not think it is a characterization of what was in the actual post, as - and I apologize here if I am being blunt - it seems to me that the post was not well-written in terms of establishing and supporting an argument).

      So, I guess to summarize where we now stand, based on responses from you and Anonymous (aka J?) as best I can:

      (1) ZEF are not considered persons under the law (I know, I wouldn't be writing this blog, after all, if that were not the case! :P)

      (2) I believe that to have a proper debate about this issue, one must first assume that the question is NOT answered, and go from there. Well, what I really mean to say is that a debate by its very nature assumes that the question to be discussed is not answered. So by saying "ZEF are not persons under the law" you are not really making an argument that any pro-lifer can respond properly to, since we KNOW this and are trying to CHANGE this. I think this is perhaps what has caused so much misunderstanding between us.

      (3) I would like to see the discussion turn in more detail to the ZEF, who's personhood is under question. In my view, it makes no sense to focus solely on the mother if we are discussing the personhood of the ZEF. You are, of course, free to disagree with me. But I think it does your argument no favours to discuss the personhood of the ZEF without actually discussing the ZEF him/herself. This is, I believe, one of your weaknesses in the previous discussions.

      (4) I do not believe you have made any compelling arguments as to why giving the ZEF personhood status erodes the woman's personhood status, which I now take to be your main point as to why the ZEF cannot be a person (correct this if I am wrong, and if I am right, I apologize for taking so long to get the point!). To be clear, I do not believe that the personhood of the mother and the personhood of the ZEF are an "if and only if" question. Honestly, this is the first time I have seen this presented as an argument instead of a thesis. Perhaps that is a testament to my naivete of the issue, but that is exactly why I started this blog (to learn more!) so I don't see that has a huge problem (and I hope you do not either, though I can see how my misunderstanding would be frustrating to you).

      So, I suppose, if we are going to continue to debate (it's the weekend, so I do have time if you are willing!) we should establish exactly what question we are tackling. I await to hear your preference :)

  10. Sorry to have not gotten back to you before now, but I've been busy doing activism IRL instead of online. Here's a blog post in response to some of your questions - I hope it helps answer some of them:

    1. Hi Heather! Thanks so much for taking the time to respond. I'm extremely busy with school this week (and probably next week) so I won't be able to look at it properly for awhile. Just don't want you to think I'm ignoring you (I'll get to it ASAP, promise!!!), and again - thank you for the discussion :)

    2. NP, DB. I know how life can get. Respond when you get a chance.


      - H