The Jury Talks Back

11/26/2008

“No-Death Abortion”: Refining Thoughts

Filed under: Uncategorized — Not Rhetorical @ 2:26 am

Thanks for the thoughtful responses to my hypothetical from the other day — and thanks, Patterico, for the shout-out. I’d love to take all the commenters’ engagement as a compliment on my own Deep Thinking, but in truth I know it’s mostly just that the abortion is one of those issues that’s always bound to get a lot of response.

I was going to make this a comment on the initial post’s thread, but it got so long it seemed kinda ridiculous. And I haven’t even started to address the points on Patterico’s (longer) thread yet! Anyway, here goes.

htom @ No. 3 makes an interesting point, saying “it seems a device designed to enable rapists to propagate.” While I hardly think it seems designed to let rapists propagate, I’d have to agree that would be an effect. So let me ask a follow-up hypothetical geared more toward people who would ban abortion right now if they could — especially those people who would make exceptions in the case of rape and incest: If “no-death abortion” were available, would you make it the only option for women impregnated by rapists? Or would you let such women have actual abortions if they wanted them? And since this is a hypothetical, let’s stipulate that the offspring would be no more predisposed to violence than anyone else, and in the case of incest would not be genetically impaired.

JVW @ No. 4 asks who’d pay for the removal and incubation of the fetus. As for removal, let’s say the no-death abortion was exactly the same as a regular one, except more widely available in regions where currently there are no abortion clinics. As far as incubation goes, I’m thinking the situation would be the same as for any conventionally born abandoned baby (so I guess that means the government in most cases, or insurance companies in cases where the baby is claimed by another relative).

DRJ @ No. 9, interestingly, says a no-death procedure would not have caused her to change her pro-choice attitude back when she was in college. She says she’s “closer to pro-life” now, and adds: “My gut tells me that happens to a lot of women after they have children.” I’m going to have a little trouble articulating the next thought, so bear with me, but I’m wondering: Does that necessarily mean that her college, pre-motherhood self was wrong? If childless women do happen to feel differently about abortion than mothers do, should the opinion of women who have experienced motherhood carry more weight? I ask this because I sometimes wonder if a good case could be made in the other direction: that the experience of motherhood is almost prejudicial. I think I haven’t expressed this very well at all. If any of you can divine my meaning and articulate it better, please, by all means!

Dana @ No. 10 says “if those having the current procedure done truly believed there was nothing but tissue and blood being removed, then why even need to develop a system that in essence removes the function and guilt of abortion (to kill what is alive)?” I could be wrong about this — maybe really wrong — but I don’t think most “pro-abortionists,” as Dana inflammatorily calls them, would deny that there’s a death of some sort going on. Is it even scientifically debatable? (I’m really asking; it’s not a rhetorical question.) I mean, even a plant lives and dies. And in many (most?) cases, an abortion does indeed, as the ad has it, “stop a beating heart.” I think the debate is over when a fetus gains the rights of a person.

This last point of mine is minor in the context of my hypothetical, but I wanted to address it because I’d like to weed out inaccurate characterizations of opposing sides when possible.

16 Comments

  1. I could be wrong about this — maybe really wrong — but I don’t think most “pro-abortionists,” as Dana inflammatorily calls them, would deny that there’s a death of some sort going on. Is it even scientifically debatable?

    Oh, but they do. The argument is that it’s the mother’s body and abortion carries no more moral significance than an appendectomy. Acknowledging that something is being killed lead inevitably to discussion of what is being killed, and they don’t want to go there. Which is why they flip out at abortion deterrence programs that educate on the subject.

    As for the rapist issue, I hardly think that rapists are thinking propagation when they’re raping. And it also seems that a woman who has been raped is squarely in Morning After Pill land.

    Comment by Pablo — 11/26/2008 @ 5:10 am

  2. That’s a very broad brush, Pablo. To even begin to make a statement about that question, I think you’d need to survey people that have actually had abortions.

    Comment by Justin — 11/26/2008 @ 7:23 am

  3. I’m not sure that you can accurately describe those who have had abortions as abortion proponents. That’s a bit of broadbrushing all its own. I’m referring to those who champion and advocate for abortion policies and I think the statement is accurate.

    If you’d like to rebut it, you could find any writing or statement from the pro-abortion side of the debate that acknowledges something being killed by abortion. Good luck.

    Comment by Pablo — 11/26/2008 @ 7:54 am

  4. Not Rhetorical,

    Its interesting you find pro-abortionist inflammatory in light of those of us who support a pro-life position consistently being labeled (and denigrated) with an anti-abortion label. Funny how one is more socially acceptable than the other.

    I made this comment on the Patterico post re this hypothetical (its a bit confusing to know which site to discuss the hypo as both the Jury & Patterico posted it).

    “I don’t believe it would make a difference. Women have abortions because they have been inconvenienced and an abortion ‘removes’ the inconvenience. It also, in theory, leaves no trail or evidence testifying that a life had existed thus enabling a woman to ‘move on’. If a woman is able to have the fetus removed and incubated til birth and then adoption or whatever, there would be a continual reminder and evidence of what she had growing within her and what she gave up. This is not a light matter. Its devastating having to come face to face with what one is willing to sacrifice for their own convenience.

    Abortion rights people demand not only the right to end their inconvenience under the guise of reproductive rights but also the right to a clear conscience.”

    Not Rhetorical, it is extremely critical that life not be acknowledged, recognized, admitted. Its the only way to get through the procedure. The hypothetical while interesting, negates looking at the full picture – the conscience. Its not as simple as assuming it has a heartbeat because that is the death knell to admit and acknowledge if one is contemplating and going through with the procedure.

    I hope I’ve explained myself clearly. It was a bit jarring to read your stinging comment re mine.

    Comment by Dana — 11/26/2008 @ 8:14 am

  5. I find it amazing that people who shudder at a death penalty for rapists have no problem with the death penalty for any issue of said rape.

    Comment by Kevin Murphy — 11/26/2008 @ 8:30 am

  6. I can accept the rationale for exempting pregnancies from rape or incest, but in my heart even that hurts. As painful as carrying to term such a baby may be for the mother (and I’ll readily concede that point), I wish people to also recognize that the baby so formed did not choose who or how this impregnantion occured. If your “no-death” option actually existed, I’d be for a ban on all abortions except where the mother’s live was in danger. An innocent child should not have to bear with his/her life the cost of a social decision. Hard stand? Yeah, but so is the price exacted on the baby. -sigh-

    Comment by Chris — 11/26/2008 @ 9:01 am

  7. but I don’t think most “pro-abortionists,” as Dana inflammatorily calls them, would deny that there’s a death of some sort going on. Is it even scientifically debatable? (I’m really asking; it’s not a rhetorical question.) I mean, even a plant lives and dies. And in many (most?) cases, an abortion does indeed, as the ad has it, “stop a beating heart.” I think the debate is over when a fetus gains the rights of a person.

    In my experience, the converse is very much true. Oh, pro-choice advocates likely all believe that SOME sort of death is occurring, but only the death of the famous “lump of cells”. It is the difference between the death of living tissue vs. the death of an entire living organism.

    No one feels a twinge of sadness at the removal of the aforementioned appendix. One might feel grief over the loss of a limb to gangrene, but those emotions are for the person losing the limb, not the rotting extremity itself.

    Very few pro-choicers with whom I have spoken view a developing fetus as a living human organism at all, much less an actual “person” with rights. They are highly resistant to all mention of the fetus’ biological developments; the presence of measurable brainwave activity, heartbeat, limbs… it doesn’t matter, the thing is still just a lump of cells.

    There are of course a few pro-choicers who recognize the individual humanity of the unborn. Peter Singer and Camille Paglia spring to mind. But these are rare.

    Comment by cnh — 11/26/2008 @ 9:15 am

  8. If childless women do happen to feel differently about abortion than mothers do, should the opinion of women who have experienced motherhood carry more weight?

    Probably not, because my change of heart was due in part to the emotion of feeling and seeing the creation of new life, and I’m not a big fan of making policies based on emotion.

    However, I think the opinions of people who are older and have more life experience should carry more weight. Young people are notorious for self-centered thinking and I was no exception. It’s part of a normal maturing process so it’s not a bad or wrong thing, but it’s not the best time in life for people to be making life-and-death policy decisions.

    Comment by DRJ — 11/26/2008 @ 9:42 am

  9. It’s part of a normal maturing process so it’s not a bad or wrong thing, but it’s not the best time in life for people to be making life-and-death policy decisions.

    Ironically, its also the same time of life that most personal life-and-death (to abort or not) decisions are made.

    Comment by Dana — 11/26/2008 @ 9:52 am

  10. I agree. That’s why we need better policies. It’s also an example of why I’m a conservative and not a libertarian.

    Comment by DRJ — 11/26/2008 @ 10:03 am

  11. let me ask a follow-up hypothetical geared more toward people who would ban abortion right now if they could

    I fit that category, although my higher priority target is getting it back to letting each state decide.

    especially those people who would make exceptions in the case of rape and incest

    I do not fit that category, and I flip it around. Yes, I’m prolife, with only a life of the mother exception permitted, but if an abortion law came up, with a rape exception written into it, I would turn around and oppose that law due to the unintended consequence of millions of false rape charges that would get filed by women wanting abortions.

    If “no-death abortion” were available, would you make it the only option for women impregnated by rapists?

    I would make it the only option for anyone. Life of the mother would be the only exception, and even then, a best-effort should still be made to get the fetus over to one of our incubators.

    Self defense allows you to kill a burgular in your home who is threatening your life, the fetus is threatening the mothers life, the mother takes a self defense measure to stop the threat.

    Or would you let such women have actual abortions if they wanted them

    I would not, and for the same reason that I oppose rape exceptions in all abortion bans: unintended consequences. In this one, you’re proposing an abortion ban, anyone who wants an abortion has the no-death abortion. Imagine hypothetical Jane Doe decides that she wants an abortion, and she’s an old fashioned girl who wants an old fashioned baby-killing abortion. I would expect this along the lines of her not wanting to have to think about the existence of someone walking around who was her biological child, but the reason is irrelevant. Her pregnancy was the result of fully informed and consensual sex with a guy she’d been dating for several months.

    Now, in order for her to get her coveted old style abortion, she has to make a false rape charge against her upstanding boyfriend who never forced himself on her in any way, shape, or form.

    Comment by James — 11/26/2008 @ 4:35 pm

  12. Pablo says:

    The argument is that it’s the mother’s body and abortion carries no more moral significance than an appendectomy. Acknowledging that something is being killed lead inevitably to discussion of what is being killed, and they don’t want to go there.

    I tend to agree with Justin that that’s overly sweeping — at least the first sentence. Many people who support abortion rights acknowledge that abortion is far more freighted than an appendectomy. (I suppose, too, we need to distinguish activists from the general public.) That’s why, I think, the phrase “safe, legal and rare” resonates for people on that side of the issue.

    I do think Pablo’s right on the second point. But isn’t oversimplification for the sake of argumentation a tactic on both sides? As I understand it, many (most?) abortion foes would allow abortions in the case of rape or incest. That seems an implicit acknowledgment that a fetus is materially different from a baby, with different rights to life.

    For that matter, if this is entirely about a baby’s right to life, why make an exception when the pregnant woman’s life is in danger? Why should the presumption — the decision — fall to the woman when the fetus has no one to argue its case, so to speak? Shouldn’t the fetus have as much a right to self-defense as the woman?

    Comment by Not Rhetorical — 11/26/2008 @ 10:39 pm

  13. Does anyone know if there’s an objective scientific position on whether a fetus is “alive” (leaving aside what kind of life it is)? I know this is an awfully basic question, so please forgive me for being ignorant.

    Comment by Not Rhetorical — 11/26/2008 @ 10:52 pm

  14. Dana, I’m not ignoring you — I have in mind a standalone post addressing the issue of labels. Stay tuned! (But p.s.: Although I do think the term “pro-abortionist” is inflammatory and not conducive to useful discussion, I didn’t really mean my comment to be “stinging” — certainly not personally so. I hope to elaborate on that in my next post, but for the moment, please just let me apologize for offending you.)

    Comment by Not Rhetorical — 11/26/2008 @ 11:02 pm

  15. I tend to agree with Justin that that’s overly sweeping — at least the first sentence. Many people who support abortion rights acknowledge that abortion is far more freighted than an appendectomy. (I suppose, too, we need to distinguish activists from the general public.)

    I think you’re right about making that distinction. In response to the statement “but I don’t think most “pro-abortionists,” …would deny that there’s a death of some sort going on”, and in referring to activists or very vocal abortion supporters, I think my assertion is accurate. There are certainly people who think it’s awful but necessary and I don’t include them in “most pro-abortionists.” And while they may believe it to be true (it is pretty tough to argue, scientifically), they’re still going to deny it. Thus the “it’s just a clump of cells” argument, and the objection to pro-life pre-abortion counseling.

    As I understand it, many (most?) abortion foes would allow abortions in the case of rape or incest. That seems an implicit acknowledgment that a fetus is materially different from a baby, with different rights to life.

    That is a provocative observation, and it is a “political” compromise. It’s also most of the the reason I don’t think abortion should be outlawed.

    For that matter, if this is entirely about a baby’s right to life, why make an exception when the pregnant woman’s life is in danger?

    Early in a pregnancy, the mother’s life is the child’s life. As an example, suppose a pregnant woman is diagnosed with an aggressive cancer and timely treatment via chemo and radiation are her only hope. You can’t, by law, administer those to a pregnant woman, and they’d probably kill and definitely severely damage the fetus if you did. It’s a damned if you do, damned if you don’t scenario in which the fetus dies both ways, but the mother may live with one choice.

    Comment by Pablo — 11/27/2008 @ 3:49 am

  16. Not Rhetorical,

    Gosh, I didn’t feel you were ignoring me but thank you for your kind apology. When one posts anything re abortion, whether or not a hypothetical, there comes with it the personal for many people. Obviously it is a hot button issue and perhaps the most divisive moral struggle of our country.

    It will be interesting to see a post on labeling. (If you believe pro-abortionist is inflammatory, I will be curious to see if you feel anti-abortion is equally so).

    Those of us consistently referred to by the media and pols as anti-abortion(ist) have learned to step over and around the loaded accusation – we have no choice, its how it is. With that though I will indeed stay tuned.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

    Comment by Dana — 11/27/2008 @ 12:41 pm

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