*dons asbestos suit* - Livre d'Or








Miscellaneous. Eclectic. Random. Perhaps markedly literate, or at least suffering from the compulsion to read any text that presents itself, including cereal boxes. * Blogroll * Strange words * More links * Bookies * Microblog * Recent comments * Humans only * Second degree * By topic * Cool posts * Writing * New post

Tags

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *



livredor
*dons asbestos suit*
Friday, 13 October 2006 at 07:36 pm
Tags:

Previous Entry Next Entry


I'm probably going to offend everyone with this post, but hey. Several things have come up recently that have put the idea into my head to post about the dreaded topic of abortion.

The main trigger was lavendersparkle's excellent polemic. I really like her argument, and it's one I don't really see being made in all the mountains of pointless aggro that makes up most of the abortion debate. She argues that The majority of abortions in the US and UK are caused by patriarchy, and gives a very closely reasoned and compelling explanation for this position, because: Abortion doesn't solve [...] problems; it simply makes them less visible. It pushes the burden of 'dealing' with them onto women who are then expected to be thankful that had the 'choice' to have an abortion. And her conclusion is the triumphant: I get so annoyed when I see pro choice feminist schmucks kidding themselves that they've achieved some kind of feminist utopia by being allowed to use their money, their bodies and their offspring to cover up the huge injustices of our society.

Then I found myself discussing abortion with ploni_bat_ploni, and ended up being quite vehement about certain aspects of the issue. I think I'd probably like to set my thoughts down here.

The last thing which really convinced me I should overcome my trepidation and post about this is the aftermath to this incident at Den of the Biting Beaver. (In case you haven't seen this, I'll summarize the background: Biting Beaver is a fairly strident American feminist blogger. She experienced a contraceptive failure and posted about having to go through hell to get the morning after pill. Her post was very widely linked, primarily by lefties outraged at the way the ill named "moral right" have all but closed off access to emergency contraception in the US. But this prominence brought the post to the attention of the pro-life crowd, some of whom proceeded to troll her (see the first link). Eventually, Biting Beaver was able to obtain her morning after pill. However it didn't work, and Biting Beaver was brave enough to post publically that she is pregnant and intends to have an abortion.)

This conjunction of people talking about abortion served to remind me why I potentially alienate everybody by being neither pro choice nor pro life. Essentially, I think the pro choice movement is generally well-meaning, but in their fervour to keep abortion legal, lose sight of the fact that abortion is not a good thing. However, I think much of the pro life movement is actively evil, even though I am broadly in agreement with the basic tenet that abortion is wrong.

What I think about abortion actually isn't terribly relevant here; I want to talk about the debate and politics around abortion, not rehash the debate. But FWIW, I believe abortion is wrong, but not murder. I don't believe that making sure all pregnancies are carried to term is the greatest moral imperative that could ever exist. There are some circumstances where abortion is the least worst of several bad options.

Anyway, my beef here is with the kinds of arguments and behaviours that exist on both sides of the debate. When it comes to the pro life movement, it's not even a case of the ends justifying the means; most of the methods and arguments are not only cruel and unjust, but actively counterproductive. The people who called Biting Beaver the vilest of names and sent her death, rape and torture threats when she was in the middle of a personal crisis are surpassed in evil only by the people who sent her apparently helpful, sympathetic emails with recipes for lethal poisons they claimed were herbal abortefacents. And that kind of thing is all too common in the pro life movement. A prolifer would argue that it's not fair to judge the whole movement by a few fringe extremists, but the fact of the matter is that even the supposedly moderate sectors of the pro life campaign do a lot of harm, and don't save any babies in the process.

Good sex education would prevent a large number of abortions, yet pro life politics seems to support leaving sex education as late as possible and as incomplete as possible. Teaching teenagers (and vulnerable adults) that having sex is evil, but using protection is really, really unforgivably evil can only lead to unwanted pregnancies. Lying about the effectiveness of protection and the biological reality of pregnancy might change a few minds on the abortion issue, but only for as long as the victim remains ignorant; once they find out they've been deceived they're almost certainly going to reject the central part of the message too. That is to say, if your argument against abortion is based on an Aristotelian view that a zygote contains a little tiny human being, fully formed from the moment of conception and therefore having full human rights, it's a pretty weak argument given that an early embryo is not in fact a miniature human being. And arguing from cuteness is very dubious indeed; there are plenty of non cute creatures and people who need protection and if a foetus' rights depend on the fact that it's (supposedly, though actually not) cute, they are not real rights.

Attacking women who are sexually active (and if someone's pregnant there's no way for her to be in the closet about it) is only going to encourage abortion. In general, promoting rigid gender roles is likely to leave more women vulnerable to being pressured into sex or unsafe sex or, in fact, abortion. Arguing as if having a baby were a punishment for being "irresponsible" or worse, slutty is certainly not an encouragement for keeping the baby if an unwanted pregnancy occurs. Restricting adoption to white, middle class, monogamous, straight, married couples (and then slandering even those who do adopt because it's so important for children to be brought up by their biological parents) means that it's harder to find adoptive parents and more women will choose abortion than otherwise. In Biting Beaver's case, the actions of the pro life movement led directly to her being in the situation of needing an abortion; the lie that pro life propaganda has promulgated that the morning after pill is an abortefacent means that more and more medical institutions are reluctant to prescribe it, and the length of time it took Beaver to obtain her pill would undoubtedly have reduced its effectiveness.

As for withdrawing funding from charities that provide medical care and education to the world's most vulnerable, on the grounds that such charities have "links" (defined extremely vaguely) with abortion providers, that is absolutely morally despicable and is certainly going to lead to more, not fewer, babies dying. And there's a whole bunch of stuff on these lines, where abortion is so broadly defined that various gynecological medical procedures are subject to the same opprobium, and again, worse healthcare for women and mothers is going to lead to more pre-natal deaths. So this is wrong even if you somehow believe that the mother's welfare is entirely irrelevant and only the unborn child matters.

I can only conclude that the real motive of the pro life movement is not, in fact, preventing abortions. I think part of it is in fact simple misogyny. As a side note, I don't believe that "the patriarchy" is trying to make lots of women have unwanted babies, any more than I believe that there is a worldwide conspiracy of men to make lots of women have abortions. This is primarily because I don't find it plausible that there is a worldwide conspiracy of men full stop. But "the patriarchy" can be a useful shorthand for all the ways that society is systematically unfair to women. I do think that some of the pro life attitude is based on assumptions which boil down to women being inferior and sex being evil and so on, and that some of that has the largely incidental consequence of putting lots of women in situations where they need abortions while also attacking them for being in that situation and for having abortions.

A major part of it is this weird political thing where you somehow convince the electorate to vote against their interests by using abortion as an emotional lever. If voting for a right wing party, no matter how racist, authoritarian and even incompetent it may be, is seen as supporting the baby savers over the baby killers, that's a very strong card for the right wing party. I have also seen the extremely cynical argument, I think probably from tnh, that people who don't have good access to birth control are likely to be more politically compliant. Some of the best people, the ones who would otherwise be at the barricades, are neutralized because they are precisely the ones who will step up to their responsibilities and take care of more children than they can really afford.

Now to the pro choice movement. I think because they are fighting such a dreadful beast, many pro choicers are inclined to get quite fanatical about their cause. Anyone who expresses the slightest doubt that abortion is great, the pinnacle of human achievement, and people should have as many abortions as possible because yay abortion, is suspected of helping the pro life enemy.

I think there is an important difference between the US and Europe. Certainly, it is American politics which dominates online debates, and the issues are not always applicable over here. I know that some people react to stories like Biting Beaver's relatively smugly, sure that that kind of religious fundamentalism claiming to be pro life in order to push a particular religious agenda, could never happen here. I'm not so complacent about that; I think a lot of American political ideas do contaminate the meme pool over here. Still, while the evil pro life movement has less traction in Europe than the States, there are important differences in the respective pro choice movements.

American pro choice arguments are often based on rights and feminism. Women have the "right" to choose, the "right" to self-determination, the "right" to decide what happens with their bodies, the "right" not to be pregnant and not to give birth and not to be mothers. AIUI, the original laws permitting abortion were based on considerations of privacy, so it makes sense that this is the argument that pro choice campaigners rely on. The problem is it makes little sense to talk about the right to do something which is not a desirable thing to do in the first place. Pro lifers would counter that the unborn child has a right to life which trumps the right of the woman to these issues of autonomy and privacy. And my problem here, as very well expressed by lavendersparkle, is that by loudly proclaiming the right of women to minimize the effects of injustice by having abortions, it is easy to forget about fighting the injustices which led to women being a situation to want to have an abortion in the first place.

European pro choice arguments tend to be much more medical. In the UK, which is the situation I know best, the law and many of the arguments are framed in terms of permitting abortion where carrying the pregnancy to term would harm the health of the mother. At the moment, a situation where having a child would totally ruin the mother's life is, and I think justly, regarded as a real harm. But there's this other aspect, which is about the health of the potential child. Foetuses with congenital defects can be aborted right up to full term; there is no time limit as is the case for healthy foetuses. This political reality is, I think, extremely harmful to the cause of disability rights. If one frames the argument in the American terms, one can say that a woman has the right to refuse the responsibility of caring for a disabled child. That's perhaps distasteful, but my opinion is that it should be distasteful. That's what the whole idea of the right to choose is based on, that women are entitled to kill a foetus if they don't want to be responsible for the baby it will become. But in Europe, you often hear people arguing that abortion is morally best for the baby, because it would be "cruel" to bring into the world a child that would have such terrible quality of life. That is an argument I have a huge problem with, because it very quickly shades into the meme that it is better to be dead than disabled.

I happen to believe that the issue, like many moral questions, is extremely complicated and good people can come to different conclusions from me, and still be good people. But if you want to take exception to this, go ahead.


Whereaboooots: Älvsjö, Stockholm, Sweden
Moooood: anxiousprovoking
Tuuuuune: Faith No More: Easy
Discussion: 73 contributions | Contribute something
Tags:

Previous Entry Next Entry




Contribute something
View all comments on this page chronologically



Page 1 of 2
<<[1] [2] >>
(no subject) - (Anonymous) (10/13/06 07:50 pm)
livredor: teapot
From:livredor
Date:October 13th, 2006 08:21 pm (UTC)
43 minutes after journal entry, 09:21 pm (livredor's time)
(Link)
Gosh, thanks! You're very welcome to link; this is the kind of thing where I want exposure.
(Reply to this comment) (Up thread) (Parent) (Thread)
hatam_soferet: default
From:hatam_soferet
Date:October 13th, 2006 08:03 pm (UTC)
24 minutes after journal entry
(Link)
You make many many valid points. It is all a most depressing business.

I went and had a read of Biting Beaver, and she cited this as an example of the kind of crap she has to deal with:

...when your mother first learned she was carrying you, she may have considered her options? What if she had decided to terminate? Would that have been OK? You would not exist...

One sees this relatively often, and I don't get it. So what if she'd decided to terminate? So I wouldn't exist. Lots of people don't exist.
(Reply to this comment) (Thread)
livredor: ewe
From:livredor
Date:October 13th, 2006 08:32 pm (UTC)
53 minutes after journal entry, 09:32 pm (livredor's time)
(Link)
Yeah. That whole thing about, what if you had been aborted, is a complete nonsense. I didn't even bother addressing it because it's so obviously stupid and fallacious. I think the reason it comes up a lot is because the pro life movement has a very efficient propaganda machine, and the same few memes keep reappearing all over the place.

But mere illogic is nothing compared to the people who think they're saving babies by calling Biting Beaver a dirty whore and hoping she gets raped and dies horribly... Poor woman; admittedly it was her choice to post the whole business on her blog, but what a horrible thing to go through on top of the misery of the unwanted and unsustainable pregnancy.
(Reply to this comment) (Up thread) (Parent) (Thread)
beckyzoole: default
From:beckyzoole
Date:October 13th, 2006 08:18 pm (UTC)
40 minutes after journal entry, 03:18 pm (beckyzoole's time)
(Link)
Excellent arguments.

I would point out, though, that there is a powerful non-spoken reasons for the abortion of a fetus with a congenital defect. It's not so much that it would be cruel to the child to bring it into the world. It's the effect on the parents. Caring for a handicapped child can be life-consuming. The amount of time and money that parents must spend on a severely disabled child can be crippling. If the congenital defect is one that will lead to the child never leading an independent life -- a disorder that leads to early death,for example -- then insisting that the parents go through all that "for nothing", as it were, is also cruel.
(Reply to this comment) (Thread)
livredor: likeness
From:livredor
Date:October 13th, 2006 08:41 pm (UTC)
1 hours after journal entry, 09:41 pm (livredor's time)
(Link)
I agree with you, largely. My problem is not with the principle of aborting disabled foetuses; it is just as moral to abort a disabled foetus as a healthy one. I happen to think that neither is particularly morally desirable, but it would be a really odd argument to say that it's morally acceptable to abort a healthy pregnancy just because you don't feel like caring for a child, but it's morally wrong to abort a foetus you expect to be disabled. (Mind you, I have seen feminists arguing that sex selective abortion is evil and shameful and terrible, but selecting for non-disabled children is great and a positive feminist act.)

No, my problem is with couching the choice in terms of saying it's kinder to the child not to let it live. People should be honest, and admit that they want the abortion because they can't deal with caring for a disabled child. I am not about to condemn someone for feeling like that, because as you say it is incredibly hard, harder probably than most of us can imagine. (Personally, I would avoid using the word crippling in this context.) People shouldn't pretend that it's for the sake of the child though. This is the argument that I pointed out as being more prevalent in the UK and Europe than in America, and it's a morally abhorrent argument because of its assumptions about the value of a disabled life.
(Reply to this comment) (Up thread) (Parent) (Thread)
(no subject) - raincitygirl (10/13/06 11:05 pm)
(no subject) - livredor (10/24/06 11:04 am)
(no subject) - raincitygirl (10/13/06 11:26 pm)
pir_anha: default
From:pir_anha
Date:October 13th, 2006 08:23 pm (UTC)
44 minutes after journal entry, 01:23 pm (pir_anha's time)
(Link)
good post.

Arguing as if having a baby were a punishment for being "irresponsible" or worse, slutty is certainly not an encouragement for keeping the baby if an unwanted pregnancy occurs.

that one always makes me shake my head. for one, "slutty" isn't worse than "irresponsible"; many self-proclaimed sluts i know have never gotten accidentally pregnant, and we all know unwanted children who were conceived while their bio parents were "in love".

more importantly, why in the world would society want irresponsible people rearing children? bad enough they're having sex without sufficient protection, i agree, but that's nothing compared to the damage an irresponsible parent can do to a child. having one does not miraculously bestow sudden wisdom and responsibility upon a person.

generally i am with you. i disdain the misnamed pro-life movement (i prefer to call them anti-abortion, and resent that they picked a name that actually fits the other side rather a lot better) -- except that i agree with their stance that abortion is not a good thing, and that society should discourage it. i think it is the lesser of several evils, which is the only fundamental reason why i am pro-choice. because the whole idea that somebody's temporary physical autonomy should trump somebody else's right to life? the labelling of a fetus as "parasite"? *gah*, stay away from me. and yes, i'd like society to develop to the point where women (and men) truly feel free as to whether to procreate, and where almost all babies who are born are wanted and will be well cared for, whether by their birth family or by somebody else.

where i probably differ is on disability rights -- i don't see a particular problem (other than a possible slippery slope argument) with aborting because the fetus has a disability. i am all for the rights of disabled people who're already born and alive and have to play the hand they're dealt. but i don't think it's a particularly good idea to reproduce more disabilities -- i'm not hardcore evolutionary about it, but a little. i'd like us to be able to cure genetic defects, and have for the most part only healthy babies born. life is hard enough as it is. for me that doesn't translate to "better dead than disabled" per se (though i admit that certain disabilities, if i found myself with them, would result in my suicide, and i damn well want the right to do that). i wouldn't force abortions on people who feel they're prepared to give a disabled child all the extra care zie'll need (well, i wouldn't force abortions on anyone). but i also wouldn't blame people who don't want to deal with that.
(Reply to this comment) (Thread)
livredor: likeness
From:livredor
Date:October 13th, 2006 09:44 pm (UTC)
2 hours after journal entry, 10:44 pm (livredor's time)
(Link)
Thank you. A compliment from you is really something I treasure. I've been writing this post in my head for a while now, and then thinking better of writing it, and there ended up being such a conjunction of incidents making me think about the issue that I decided it was probably meant to happen. And thanks for your comments too; lots of novel angles as opposed to just rehashing the obvious debates.

"slutty" isn't worse than "irresponsible"
I think you're right in theory, and thanks for pointing this out. But in general society, slutty is a serious insult. It's great that you move in circles where that's not the case, and that is my ideal for the whole of society. I don't think that holding that ideal is going to protect women from the social ostracism and even worse that can result from being regarded as slutty in our actual, non-Utopian society, though.

why in the world would society want irresponsible people rearing children?
That's a good part of the reason why regarding parenthood as punishment is an extremely bad idea, yes. I would not prefer irresponsible people to have abortions, I would prefer irresponsible people to give the child up for adoption into the hands of responsible people. But that too is something that would only be a good option in a society much better ordered than the one we live in.

i think it is the lesser of several evils, which is the only fundamental reason why i am pro-choice
I think that's probably true for me too, but I feel really uncomfortable calling myself pro choice because really, I am not campaigning for a bad outcome.

i'd like society to develop to the point where women (and men) truly feel free as to whether to procreate, and where almost all babies who are born are wanted
Hear hear! I think in the end almost everyone wants this. (Apart from the vicious nasty elements who are pretending to be pro life.) The disagreement is on how to get from here to there. I don't think that trying to make abortion into a positive thing is the way, but I also don't think that a ridiculous, futile attempt to stop people from having sex is the way either.
(Reply to this comment) (Up thread) (Parent) (Thread)
(no subject) - lavendersparkle (10/13/06 09:45 pm)
(no subject) - pir_anha (10/16/06 04:41 am)
(no subject) - lavendersparkle (10/16/06 08:47 am)
(no subject) - livredor (10/24/06 01:31 pm)
(no subject) - lavendersparkle (10/24/06 04:25 pm)
(no subject) - livredor (10/24/06 06:26 pm)
The disability rights bit - livredor (10/13/06 10:19 pm)
Re: The disability rights bit - rysmiel (10/13/06 10:50 pm)
(no subject) - livredor (10/24/06 01:55 pm)
(no subject) - (Anonymous) (10/16/06 11:24 am)
Re: The disability rights bit - livredor (10/24/06 02:04 pm)
rysmiel: moon dragon
From:rysmiel
Date:October 13th, 2006 08:44 pm (UTC)
1 hours after journal entry, 04:44 pm (rysmiel's time)
(Link)
There are a lot of chewy points here, and as someone who firmly does not intend to reproduce on the grounds of not thinking myself up to being so good a parent as that warrants [ for those who don't know me, I have a stepson, whom I first met at age five, and started sharing living space with at age nine, who is now just gone sixteen, for whom I am endeavouring to do the best I can with the extent to which I am in loco parentis; six weeks of fostering a sixteen-month-old confirmed for me that this is a responsibility on an entirely different scale, and uses physical and psychological energy on an entirely different scale, from a child of that age ] I feel less than fully qualified to have a voice on. I agree with you entirely on large swathes of the anti-abortion movement being a flag of convenience for antipathy to sexual independence, and choice on that level; and I suppose "the patriarchy"'s as good a label as any for the opposing forces.

However, when I see:
Abortion doesn't solve [...] problems; it simply makes them less visible.

I find myself wondering whether the scale of problems considered includes such things as the correlation Steven Levitt has described [ link is to a collection of related articles on his blog ] between access to legalised abortion in the US post-Roe vs. Wade and the drastic drops in crime rates across the US visible between 1990 and 2003 [ which was when the last detailed report I read on this was compiled ] of in some cases almost 75% [ homicides in New York City ] and nation-wide rarely less than 50%, when the generation of young adults would no longer include many of the unwanted children it would previously have had.

[ I raise this here as a descriptive point about complexity of human interactions rather than a prescriptive one; an economic observation rather than a moral position. ]
(Reply to this comment) (Thread)
livredor: teapot
From:livredor
Date:October 15th, 2006 09:12 am (UTC)
1 days after journal entry, 10:12 am (livredor's time)
(Link)
Thanks for joining in. I'm not sure about the arguments about who is "qualified" to have an opinion about the abortion question. The view that says that only the actual pregnant woman herself is entitled to any opinion is at least philosophically consistent, though I don't think it's a good way to do morality. But the idea that men shouldn't have an opinion, or people who haven't yet had kids, or people who don't intend to have kids, or people who aren't currently pregnant, and like categories doesn't make a lot of sense to me. I don't intend to reproduce either, and unlike you I have zero experience of any kind of parenting. *shrug*

antipathy to sexual independence is a nice phrasing for the thing I'm arguing against, so thanks for that.

The problems that lavendersparkle was talking about was the specific subset of problems related to injustice towards women, not all social problems in general. This makes sense in a context where she's addressing feminists who think that promoting abortion is good for women, whereas she and I think it's actually harmful to women.

Levitt's correlation is really interesting. Thanks for the link. As you say, it's most useful if treated as descriptive. I personally would rather see fewer abortions even if some of the people who would otherwise have been aborted go on to commit crimes. But criminology is too complicated for me and way beyond the scope of this discussion.
(Reply to this comment) (Up thread) (Parent) (Thread)
(no subject) - lavendersparkle (10/15/06 06:34 pm)
(no subject) - rysmiel (10/15/06 06:34 pm)
(no subject) - livredor (11/1/06 11:45 am)
emmavescence: \o/
From:emmavescence
Date:October 13th, 2006 08:50 pm (UTC)
1 hours after journal entry
(Link)
Very good post, and I agree with all of it. I think I'll memorify this and use it for when I need to discuss my own view on the pro-life/choice debate, because this matches my own views very well, only in a much more coherent and eloquent way than I would write.
(Reply to this comment) (Thread)
livredor: teapot
From:livredor
Date:October 15th, 2006 09:13 am (UTC)
1 days after journal entry, 10:13 am (livredor's time)
(Link)
*blush* Thank you, that's really encouraging. It really makes my day when I get comments like this!
(Reply to this comment) (Up thread) (Parent) (Thread)
From:lyssiae
Date:October 13th, 2006 09:06 pm (UTC)
1 hours after journal entry
(Link)
I'm offended by your implication that I, as a pro-life person, wish to further mysogyny rather than protect life. You probably foresaw my taking offense, but a commitment to the truth requires that I type it out loud anyway.

The goal of the pro-life movement is exactly what it says on the tin: we are in the cause of life rather than death. Just as you cannot say that, for example, that Islam is a brutal religion solely on the behaviour of some of its adherents (quite apart from a thorough study of the appropriate texts), nor can you say that the pro-life movement furthers mysogyny solely on the behaviour of some who hold its values and yet whose behaviour apparantly contradict the tenents.

One of the common themes I come across reading the pro-life blogs I do is our emphasis on how all we do much be emphasised by love: love for the children, love for their parents, and a commitment to supporting life in any way possible. I am not lessened by not reading the rhetoric of pro-lifers whose emotions are not properly managed and then spill over into name-calling, but those who do not make the effort to read those pro-lifers who do manage to control the passions involved and thus judging the position based on the actions of those who hold it.

Ultimately, in order to avoid the problem of individuals' behaviour obscuring the merits of a position, it is often necessary to simply examine what the position itself declares, in black and white. This is the sensible thing to do with regards to Islam, Communism, List Pym Fortuyn, and the reclassification of drugs in England's legal system. It is also the sensible thing to do with the pro-life position, and it seems clear from what you have written that you have not done this.

Tackling the evil of abortion (please note that I speak of the evil of the act, not necessarily that of the actors) is a many-pronged process. True, people need to be better "educated", but not simply in How Babies Are Made And How To Get Rid Of Them. The real education that has been lost over the last fifty years or so is the knowledge that man (homo, not vir) occupies a particular place in the world, and that it is only by absolutely protecting human life, especially innocent human life (as is the case with the unborn) that we can fully understand and cherish all life that exists.

In more practical terms, people need to learn the centrality and essentiality of the mum-dad-children family core. We need to once again recognise that it is this family unit that forms the basis of society, and that it is this context where children should be conceived, born and brought up.

When it comes to practical help for those considering or recovering from abortion, I and those I know would absolutely advocate as much material, emotional and spiritual help as possible. Regardless of how the child may have been conceived, the truth remains that he is a child, needing protection, and that he and his mother/parents deserve help and support. There are many avenues where this support can be found, both in the US and the UK, and it seems to me that you have not adequately informed yourself of these in forming your opinion of the pro-life movement.

On a personal note I will say that in typing this I feel somewhat as though you have set a trap, waiting grinning for me to walk in, and that when you read this a thought of triumphalism will come up, because I fell for your bait. Overriding this, however, is my duty to present the truth of what you have misrepresented in your post, and if to you and your friends this makes me look like a fool, then I suppose that humiliation is just something to be endured.
(Reply to this comment) (Thread)
rysmiel: moon dragon
From:rysmiel
Date:October 13th, 2006 09:19 pm (UTC)
1 hours after journal entry, 05:19 pm (rysmiel's time)
(Link)
In more practical terms, people need to learn the centrality and essentiality of the mum-dad-children family core. We need to once again recognise that it is this family unit that forms the basis of society, and that it is this context where children should be conceived, born and brought up.

I think the assertion that two parents plus children is the fundamental unit of family is true for a really remarkably small number of cultures through history, nor is it visibly beneficial for those who have it with comparison to those who have not; and I also doubt strongly that two adults are really sufficient to optimal raising of a child compared to the benefits offered by a closely knit broader support network [ for an example with which I am personally familiar, resident grandparents and siblings of parents ] in terms of providing additional assistance and taking some of the weight off the parents' hands. To be a parent is more than a matter of biology, it's a matter of responsibility; and I do not see how one can condemn biological parents who fail to live up to that responsibility without thereby lauding others who undertake to take it on themselves, which as a live-in step-parent I do feel rather strongly about.

I also think there's something rhetorically spurious in identifying any fertilised egg as a child, considering how many such fail to implant in the womb in the natural course of things and are never even noticed, and considering how long after fertilisation it is that one can distinguish whether what one has here is going to wind up a single child, twins or more.

You have other points here with which I disagree adamantly, but given the manner in which you assert them - for example, that man occupies a paticular place in the world and therefore deserves inherently certain forms of being valued, which is a statement of faith rather than one of logically arguable knowledge [ and one with which I agree, but for very different forms of being valued than you are asserting here ] - I do not see anything to be gained by disputing them at any greater length.
(Reply to this comment) (Up thread) (Parent) (Thread)
(no subject) - leora (10/13/06 09:50 pm)
(no subject) - lavendersparkle (10/13/06 10:49 pm)
(no subject) - neonchameleon (10/14/06 12:31 pm)
(no subject) - livredor (10/14/06 10:45 pm)
(no subject) - lyssiae (10/27/06 07:02 pm)
(no subject) - livredor (11/1/06 12:01 pm)
(no subject) - pw201 (10/15/06 01:19 pm)
(no subject) - lavendersparkle (10/15/06 06:42 pm)
(no subject) - livredor (10/15/06 03:23 pm)
(no subject) - livredor (10/15/06 03:26 pm)
(no subject) - hairyears (10/24/06 09:15 pm)
leora: ouroboros
From:leora
Date:October 13th, 2006 09:23 pm (UTC)
1 hours after journal entry, 02:23 pm (leora's time)
(Link)
I mainly agree with you. My stance is that killing anything is negative, better avoided when possible. But you have to kill things. When I have an infection, I'll take antibiotics. The small negative of killing bacteria is outweighed by the positive of me living and being healthier. I'm biased toward sentients, and the more sentience, the more I care. I think it's wrong to kill or torture a cat. But if there were a fire and I could only save one, I'd grab the human baby before the cat. I'd feel horrible, but well, I'd feel horrible either way.

So, I believe that sometimes abortions are the right decision. And I strongly and fiercely want to defend the right for women to have them. But I would love more to be done to reduce the need for them. I think even in a great social system, there would still be a need for abortions now and then, but far, far fewer.

On a side note, it really bothers me that the system made it such that the smartest thing I could do, if I were an asshole, would be to have as late-stage an abortion as possible. You see, I was severely disabled, and I couldn't afford medical treatment. There was a possibility that delaying medical care would kill me. It actually did lead to significant permanent vision loss that probably would have been treatable at the time. But you don't get health care with recognized disability until 2.5 years after the official recognized start date of your disability.

But you can get free medical care if you're a pregnant woman.

I obviously wouldn't have a baby under such conditions. Especially one I didn't want at all. Buy getting pregnant might have saved my life. And then I could get medical care for a while, up until the point where I went for an abortion to get rid of the unwanted, but useful pregnancy. Afterall, I was broke and disabled, there was no way I was going to be raising a child. And having a child with my body so damaged... I would worry too much about what would come out.

Thanks US healthcare system. Good work there.
(Reply to this comment) (Thread)
livredor: teapot
From:livredor
Date:October 15th, 2006 04:21 pm (UTC)
1 days after journal entry, 05:21 pm (livredor's time)
(Link)
I always like your comments, you think your positions through carefully and you often have interesting and unusual perspectives.

I agree with you that killing is sometimes unavoidable to prevent worse harm. And that not all living creatures have equal consideration. I think a foetus is less important than a fully-formed human, just as I think an animal is, but in neither case should they be made to suffer or killed unless it is very necessary.

I think you're right that there might still be some abortions even in a much better society. I think it ought to be possible to campaign to reduce abortions without diminishing women's rights in our current, imperfect society, but it's frustrating. I certainly don't think that negativity towards those who oppose abortion is helping, and I suspect the rhetoric of a woman's right to choose may be unhelpful too.

Your hypothetical of a cynical person having a late-term abortion in order to get medical care while pregnant is chilling. I hope people on both sides can agree on the need to fix things so that nobody finds herself in the position of considering such an abhorrent option.
(Reply to this comment) (Up thread) (Parent) (Thread)
kangeiko: london red bus
From:kangeiko
Date:October 13th, 2006 10:53 pm (UTC)
3 hours after journal entry, 11:53 pm (kangeiko's time)

Part 1

(Link)
Here via monanotlisa, and very impressed indeed. *adds to memories and friendslist*

There are some circumstances where abortion is the least worst of several bad options.

It's weird. My friends and I - all avowed feminists - were trying to express this very thing. The closest thing we could come up with is: "abortion is a right you should never have to exercise". It's not quite there, but it's on its way.

I'm probably adding a whole other hornets' nest to the issue here, but my thoughts on abortion are roughly aligned alongside my thoughts on euthanasia: the loss of life is always tragic and it should never, ever be sterilised to the point where it is not acknowledged. However, it is imperative that no one is compelled into a state where they are denied certain choices about their bodies. I'm coming at this from a war-crimes perspective - my understanding of the issue comes not from the more common US Roe v Wade but from the Rwandan and Yugoslavian tribunals; from the rape-camps and the forced pregnancies and the 'breeding out' of 'undesirable blood' - so it probably colours my opinion a great deal.

I do believe that the act of abortion is a battle across the woman's body, where opposing discourses - the discourse of 'pro choice' and the counter discourse of 'pro life' (in the UK - vice versa in the US) - clash. Both of these, however, are exercising the same force across the woman's body and are thus both patriarchal discourses. (I realise that a lot of people have an almost pathological aversion to Foucault, but bear with me.) This can be seen most vividly on the body of a raped woman: she is caught between the discourses of normality and morality, both demanding that the rape had never happened and that she deal with the consequences 'ethically'. What neither of these discourses do is acknowledge the change of pregnancy without prescribing a course for the woman to follow.

(Reply to this comment) (Thread)
redbird: feminism
From:redbird
Date:October 15th, 2006 12:44 pm (UTC)
1 days after journal entry, 08:44 am (redbird's time)

Re: Part 1

(Link)
Pro-choice, to me--and I think I'm entitled to my definitions, being one of the few commenters here who seems happy with that label for herself--means that it's a woman's choice whether to have children. That means, yes, that she can choose not to become pregnant, and to abort an unwanted pregnancy, or a wanted one that has become dangerous or disastrous. It also means that she has the right not to be sterilized even if someone else thinks she shouldn't have children, and the right to carry a pregnancy to term even if, say, her parents or husband think she'd be a bad parent.

In terms of the discourse you're invoking, that means that yes, if a woman has been raped and is now pregnant, the harm is real, and she has a real choice to make. I'm not saying, and pro-choice people generally are not saying, that she must carry the pregnancy to term. Nor am I telling her whether, if she does choose to bear a child, whether she should raise it herself.

If that's a patriarchal discourse, then everything is a patriarchal discourse, including discussions of Copernican astronomy and whether I should have another cup of tea. At which point the label is not useful in most specific discussions.
(Reply to this comment) (Up thread) (Parent) (Thread)
(no subject) - livredor (10/15/06 06:32 pm)
welcome - livredor (10/15/06 05:57 pm)
kangeiko: london red bus
From:kangeiko
Date:October 13th, 2006 10:54 pm (UTC)
3 hours after journal entry, 11:54 pm (kangeiko's time)

Part 2

(Link)
In other words:

A woman who wants to have the baby will not have an abortion. Therefore, only women who do not want to have the baby for some reason will have one. I'm arguing that this reason is generated by the clash between the discourse of normality - make things the way they were, because you are not paid enough to afford a child (the male-female wage gap is ever-widening in the UK, and how will you raise a child in the US if you're paid minimum wage there?), or because you would have to give up your career, or because you would have to spend your life caring for the child, or because your parents would reject you, or any other reason that means a woman has strayed from what is socially acceptable. No 'accidental' pregnancy where the mother is not rich and independent and capable of taking care of the child with or without the father can be viewed as 'acceptable' by any of the societies I have come into contact with.

On the other hand, we have the 'moral' argument, which argues that you pay for your screw-ups and if you got pregnant, it's your fault. This, too, lays the onus upon the mother. There is no group of pro-lifers out there chasing down fathers who walked out on their pregnant girlfriends, or volunteering at the child support agencies. It is the woman's body, not the man's, who pays for the transgression of surrendering her 'virtue'.

Thus, the products of these transgressions must be killed, or accepted: but it is up to the woman to bear the burden of responsibility. Even when she is having the abortion because she cannot afford the child, it is still somehow 'her fault'. However, the fact that she is having the abortion simply means that one discourse has won over the other - not that the patriarchal discourse has been broken down. Abortion is not resistence to patriarchy, it is patriarchy manifesting in another form.

Resistence to patriarchy would not be seen in something so medicalised or regulated. Just like the regulation of insanity and homosexuality, the rules are simply the dominant discourse absorbing the aberrations into itself, catalogueing them, and then locking them up in little boxes. In the Victorian era, the only places for insanity were the hospitals and the insane asylums. Now, the places for these pro choicers are the abortion clinics, where a government doctor will assess whether you are allowed the procedure according to the rules that someone else, removed from the siuation, has set up. You will be catalogued and recorded whatever you choose - another specimen to study.

I would argue that the only true resistence to patriarchy is universally available, universally infallible birth control that is not dependent on a specific partner taking it. Maybe a situation where both partners take the pill? *ponders* Although the test-marketing for the male birth control pill is interesting all by itself and has some worrying implications, so lets leave that to one side for the moment.

Erm. Basically, what I'm trying to say is that I agree with you. Only with more words. :-)
(Reply to this comment) (Thread)
livredor: ewe
From:livredor
Date:October 16th, 2006 05:26 am (UTC)
2 days after journal entry, 06:26 am (livredor's time)
(Link)
Thank you for this thoughtful comment. I feel like I should ask you to slow down a tad; I'm a natural scientist and all this theory is a bit much for me.

But yes, I do want to get at most of the reasons for abortion, because most of them are symptoms of injustices against women. Empowered women would in most cases not want to have abortions, and feminism ought to be about giving women the power to make good decisions rather than least worst decisions in response to their oppression.

I don't think that making women go through pregnancy, give birth and become parents as a punishment is in the least moral. Primarily because even worse than abortion itself, it mainly punishes the child. I don't think that punishing the irresponsible father equally or as near equally as possible given biological reality would make that any more moral. A more minor argument why this isn't moral is that being forced to raise an unwanted child is completely out of proportion to the original "crime" of being less than perfectly careful about contraception, or even just unlucky.

I'm not sure that because something is medical, it is automatically patriarchal. I'm of the opinion that medicine is generally a good thing. But I do see where you're going with that argument.

Universally infallible birth control is not a sensible aim, just because thermodynamics prohibits that kind of perfection. Male birth control pill would help, as would better access to and attitudes towards both male and female sterilization. One thing I'd like to see would be moving away from elevating PIV sex above all else. Ironically, the right wing abstinence only pro lifers are at least equally responsible for that prejudice. Most people are happy with the idea that sex is for pleasure as well as reproduction, yet still see PIV intercourse as "real" sex. Straightforward statistics would mean many fewer unwanted pregnancies if all the sexual options were equally desirable and people would choose according to personal preference and mood.

Anyway, thank you for agreeing with me and also giving me ideas to think about and extend my thoughts on the issue; I really like it when that happens with LJ posts.
(Reply to this comment) (Up thread) (Parent) (Thread)
(no subject) - shreena (10/17/06 07:12 pm)
Good question, as usual! - livredor (11/1/06 12:28 pm)
Re: Good question, as usual! - shreena (11/1/06 12:49 pm)
cartesiandaemon: default
From:cartesiandaemon
Date:October 13th, 2006 11:43 pm (UTC)
4 hours after journal entry
(Link)
Again, you make an awful lot of good points. FWIW, that abortion is a necessary evil, but that we should definitely have access to it, (which I think is what you said) is what I would have said. And assume that that is how many pro-choice people would describe their position.

Of course, you're right that this is often obscured in what people say and in what people think by the simpler message "abortion=good". But I don't think you'll necessarily get flamed, is what I'm trying to say :)

Conversely, I tihnk I've heard pro-life people say abortion is a necessary evil, it shouldn't be done without a good reason -- which is the same thing from a different perspective: many people on both sides might be in your camp if you had a name for it. But I don't feel at liberty to speak for that side of the debate, so I couldn't say if many people would go that far.

That much pro-life sentiment stems from what to me seems a rather confused hodge-podge of ideas about how people should behave chastely I can't disagree. Nor that some prochoice people take things too far, nearly implying abortions are good or harmless. Nor that people of any stripe who resort to verbal and physical attacks to make their point are doing something wrong!

And certainly, letting people make informed choices and providing simple birth control, and maybe changing attitudes amongst people to all sorts of things, are some of the most important things imho. Though I couldn't compare how important they are compared to the right to have an abortion -- all are good to fight for, and need a lot of work, and some ways are more effective to fund, but I wouldn't like to criticise anyone who concentrated on any cause.

However, (and apologies for rambling, I'm working this response out as I go along), lavenersparkle's essay makes me uncomfortable in some ways. As I guess it should, I suppose. She's correct in the problems she points out --
"Even if you thought that abortion were completely morally neutral surely millions of women paying hundreds of dollars each to have a not particularly pleasant medical procedure should tell you that there's something seriously wrong with the position of women in the US." seems to say it all, succinctly and evocatively, and a point that needs remembering.

But describing anything using the term patriarchy seems problematic; it's often unclear what it means, and has varying extremely loaded connotations for many people. Yes, there are ways people think it would be good to change. Yes, there are many women in problematic or bad situations. But are these deliberately perpetuated by men generally? Are they fairly universal conceptions? Are some people specifically at fault? Saying patriachry seems to risk pinning the blame on a concept which can't readily be dealt with.

Also, if you accept that abortion is a necessary evil, isn't it a battle won to legalise it? There have been great strides in society, even if there are still lots of problems.

Do you think I should say that in her journal though? It seems dishonest to think about it and not say so, however, I basically agree, and know what I say may well sound accusatory, and know I won't understand the problems as well as someone else because I am a man.

PS. I think I may have wandered a lot, and thought about the abortion debate which is what you were specifically not -- oops :) I might try to follow up with some relevent comments.
(Reply to this comment) (Thread)
livredor: ewe
From:livredor
Date:October 17th, 2006 05:34 pm (UTC)
3 days after journal entry, 06:34 pm (livredor's time)
(Link)
Thanks for this comment. Lots of interesting and thoughtful stuff.

I'm not sure I would completely go along with abortion is a necessary evil, but that we should definitely have access to it. I would really like to see a reduction in the number of abortions, and I think the best way to achieve that is through good sex education, empowering women, improving the adoption system, supporting non-traditional families, doing more research into contraception and reproductive medicine generally, preventing rape, and improving attitudes towards the disabled. What I see the pro life movement doing is almost the exact polar opposite of all these. I am pretty agnostic about what the law should be regarding abortion; it is pretty clear that simply making abortion illegal does very little if anything to prevent abortion.

It is true that most pro choice people do not in fact think that abortion is a good thing. But it is fairly common for people in that philosophical camp to harp on women's right to choose, absolutely forbidding any criticism because such would seem to be pro life. And I'm not happy with putting a lot of effort into giving people the right to make what seems to me to be a bad choice.

I mentioned in my original post that I don't want to get into a debate about the term patriarchy. I dislike the term myself, but I think stylistically it worked well in lavendersparkle's piece, which she labelled as a polemic. It's a pithy opening line, and arguing about it is distracting from the main point.

Whether you should comment in lavendersparkle's journal is not something I can decide. Ask her! My impression of her is that she is extremely sane and not liable to go looking for insults or accusations where none are intended. But I can't speak for her, obviously.
(Reply to this comment) (Up thread) (Parent) (Thread)
rez_lo: default
From:rez_lo
Date:October 13th, 2006 11:57 pm (UTC)
4 hours after journal entry, 04:57 pm (rez_lo's time)
(Link)
Also here via monanotlisa with heartfelt thanks for the bravery and clarity.
(Reply to this comment) (Thread)
livredor: portrait
From:livredor
Date:October 17th, 2006 05:38 pm (UTC)
3 days after journal entry, 06:38 pm (livredor's time)
(Link)
Thank you! That's a really kind comment.

I'm not sure it's brave to post like this; the worst thing that will happen is people will yell at me or defriend me. It's not a highly emotive topic for me, for the most part. It's extremely unlikely that my views would put me in physical danger.

But anyway, I'm glad that my post was beneficial, and thank you for letting me know you appreciated it.
(Reply to this comment) (Up thread) (Parent) (Thread)
cartesiandaemon: default
From:cartesiandaemon
Date:October 14th, 2006 12:05 am (UTC)
4 hours after journal entry

Some further thoughts

(Link)
* Sam, if you're reading, hi! Sorry for the last comment... :)

* That many things are the trade-off between two rights that can't both be satisfied (eg. the right of the mother, the right of the baby) is a point I made a lot and think you are too. It's *why* many issues are extremely complicated and well-meaning people can come to different conclusions with equally great force :)

* Your explanation where you mention ballastexistenz's description is good. That's something else I've struggled to articulate. "If you were going to be born [very severly disabled somehow], would you want to be born or not?" is -- potentially impossible to answer. An already-person has rights, and is special, and should live our their life if they want to. So I wouldn't want to go back and erase my existence. But we're considering the wants of someone who doesn't exist. Can they be said to have any? Is the question meaningless? If not, aren't we obliged to procreate as much children as possible all the time -- but I don't think we can possibly want that.

* Um. I guess those points are related to the aristotelean thing. A zygote is of the human species, it has individual DNA (but so does a single unique hair). And it's going to be a person, but I think it becomes so slowly. So it has *some* rights once it grows very big, but not as many as a person.

* Where are right-wing/religious/prolife/anticontraception/pro-nuclear-family/anti-casual-sex people coming from? I certainly do know people with similar views, though only rarely have we talked in depth about it. I guess partly the same as everyone else, they have a collection of political beliefs they were brought up with that seem natural to them.

Also, maybe, that sex is part of a committed marriage, designed to produce children amongst other things. Hence casual sex, and contraceptives, are bad. I guess that explains why abortions have a bad reputation -- it might sound like you deliberately took the risk of pregnancy on yourselves and inflict the consequences. Of course, you'd think a child being born to a single mother would be a lot worse from that point of view, but apparently it doesn't balance out. But I don't know if there's any good reason pro-life should be linked to this, other than both arising out of similar history.
(Reply to this comment) (Thread)
lavendersparkle: Me
From:lavendersparkle
Date:October 15th, 2006 07:15 pm (UTC)
1 days after journal entry, 08:15 pm (lavendersparkle's time)

Re: Some further thoughts

(Link)
I'm not really sure why you're apologising.
(Reply to this comment) (Up thread) (Parent) (Thread)
Re: Some further thoughts - cartesiandaemon (10/16/06 12:08 am)
(no subject) - livredor (10/17/06 05:52 pm)
(no subject) - cartesiandaemon (10/20/06 11:19 am)
From:neonchameleon
Date:October 14th, 2006 12:20 pm (UTC)
16 hours after journal entry
(Link)
This conjunction of people talking about abortion served to remind me why I potentially alienate everybody by being neither pro choice nor pro life. Essentially, I think the pro choice movement is generally well-meaning, but in their fervour to keep abortion legal, lose sight of the fact that abortion is not a good thing. However, I think much of the pro life movement is actively evil, even though I am broadly in agreement with the basic tenet that abortion is wrong.

That certainly won't alienate everyone. I don't think it's even an amazingly rare belief (it's certainly one I share) - it's just a nuanced one that gets lost in the maelstrom.
(Reply to this comment) (Thread)
livredor: Amelie
From:livredor
Date:October 17th, 2006 05:55 pm (UTC)
3 days after journal entry, 06:55 pm (livredor's time)
(Link)
Oh dear, I was concerned I would get flamed and in fact people are complaining I'm too reasonable! Thanks for the supportive comment, anyway.
(Reply to this comment) (Up thread) (Parent) (Thread)
lisekit: Academic
From:lisekit
Date:October 14th, 2006 01:27 pm (UTC)
17 hours after journal entry
(Link)
Having never lived in the US, I have no personal experience of the debate as it manifests over there, although I understand it anecdotally to be quite polarised. I think it's easy to equate "pro choice" with "pro abortion", and I'm sure that some people assume that "choice" means "choice to have an abortion". "Choice" should (to get ideal for a minute here) also indicate the right to choose whether to take on the reponsibility of bringing a child into the world and raising him or her- as a positive and proactive choice and not just because of legal bars to the alternative - as well as the choice not to do so.

I think it need not be impossible to agree (as you do) that abortion is not a good thing, but feel that it is for any number of reasons not always the best thing. I think being "pro-choice" can mean "in favour of weighing up all the available alternatives before making a difficult decision", and not just "happy to yank as many foetuses from their wombs as are available".

For my own part, I support absolutely a woman's right to choose (although perhaps the number of weeks up to which the choice may be made could be reduced in line with medical advances since the law was passed); I wouldn't necessarily feel comfortable having one myself, but I don'tsee that choice as giving me the right to impose anti-abortion views on anyone else through law or any other means.
(Reply to this comment) (Thread)
livredor: ewe
From:livredor
Date:October 17th, 2006 06:11 pm (UTC)
3 days after journal entry, 07:11 pm (livredor's time)
(Link)
In general, I don't think it's a good idea to impose one's views on other people (beyond the absolute minimum necessary for civilized society). But I also have the impression that in the fervour of the pro choice movement to insist that only the particular pregnant woman can decide whether to keep the pregnancy is getting in the way of creating a framework in which the need for abortion can be reduced. This is because avoiding abortion is seen as the province of the evil pro life movement, not because most choicers actually think abortion is a good thing.

If abortion should be illegal, which I'm really not sure about, there certainly needs to be a better reason than "because I think it's wrong". A major reason I'm not a fervent supporter of legal compulsion is that it patently doesn't work to prevent abortions, mind you.
(Reply to this comment) (Up thread) (Parent) (Thread)



Contribute something
View all comments on this page chronologically

Page 1 of 2
<<[1] [2] >>