23 June 2006

The thin end of the wedge on abortion.

Those who talk of reducing the limit on abortion are mostly people who want to see it banned altogether. This is the thin end of the wedge.

I believe in the woman's right to choose an abortion. Forcing women to have children they do not want is a decidedly bad idea for a number of reasons.

We all want to see a reduction in the number of abortions (and unwanted or irresponsible pregnancies generally) but this shouldn't be at the expense of the safety and security of women.

Holland in particular has shown that this reduction can be done without restricting access to abortion.

Any reduction in the limit will just victimise those 154 women who have 24 week abortions, usually the most vulnerable women. Already a number of women go abroad to have abortions after this limit (if they can afford it).

Abortion is already unduly stigmatised and restricted in this country (in the US, ironically it is on demand). In the UK a third of abortions are done privately to avoid the rigmorole of the NHS and sometimes the difficulty in finding two doctors who are not anti-choice bigots.

As for medical concerns, this is a smokescreen used by the anti-choice agenda of those driving this, religion once again raising its illogical arguments. Here are some facts.

It is far more dangerous to have a baby than to have an abortion.

Post stress disorder in abortion is rare and anyhow it is largely found in those who have been subjected to religious pressures to keep the baby and stigmatised as a result. It is thus the anti-choice people who are to blame. Women are far more likely to suffer depression from having the baby (especially if it was one they didn't want).

The religious talk of the 'rights' of the foetus (most abortions are a bundle of cells no bigger than your thumb). But what about the poor quality of life they are condemning these children to? Children with parents who didn't want them. It is not likely they will be good parents. They don't care about their fate.

They call themselves pro-life (as if opponents are in someway anti-life), but their real agenda is the control of women's lives based on some skewed idea of morals (usually influenced by religion).

The next time some anti-choice person (who has no problem with the statistical certainty of innocent people (note: people not foetuses) dying as a result of reintroducing the death penalty or chimpanzees dying in animal experimentation or even the suffering and death of animals in blood sports), then kindly point out to them what inconsistent idiots they are.

8 comments:

  1. I'm not sure that there's all that much logic in your arguments here. You claim that "anti-choice" people are inconsistent idiots. I'm rather afraid that, in this instance, you are the idiot.

    Your first claim is that it is inconsistent to oppose abortion but support the death penalty, pointing to the fact that, however careful you are, you are eventually going to execute an innocent person. There is in fact no inconsistency.

    In the case of abortion, the foetus is killed at the mother's behest, because she prefers not to have a baby. Depending on whether you view the foetus as a mere clump of cells or as an unborn person with some rights, you may or may not find that problematic.

    Given that we're discussing the "anti-choice", let's assume for the moment that we will invest at least some foetuses (foeti?) with a right to life. Our death row innocent, of course, is an adult person, with undeniable rights to life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness and all the rest of it. He has, however, been deprived of his liberty and will soon be deprived of his life, by rather stringent due process. You can certainly argue about whether the legal system in the US provides the protections it should, particularly to poor black men, but our innocent has been found guilty of a heinous crime by his peers, and has failed a number of appeals.

    Your argument here is the equivalent of saying that it is inconsistent to oppose the imprisonment of all children whilst supporting the imprisonment of a convicted rapist, because the rapist might not have done it. It sounds good, but lacks substance.

    Your second and third points assume that humans are equivalent to chimps, or to other animals. It's entirely consistent to oppose abortion but support the vivisection of chimps, as long as you don't also believe that a chimp's life is equivalent to a human one.

    There are arguments for and against abortion, the death penalty, animal experimentation and bloodspoorts. They're not the same arguments, though, and you do nobody any favours by conflating them.

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  2. anon: Your argument doesn't make any sense, can you explain it again?

    There are 'pro life' people that oppose abortion because of the 'sanctity of innocent life' above all other considerations, yet manage to support the statistical certainty of completely innocent lives dying under capital punishment. This is obviously inconsistent.

    We know how similar animals are (especially chimpanzees) to humans from our genetic research. How can the life of a chimpanzee be worth less than a potential life of a clump of cells? This does not make scientific sense.

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  3. How can the life of a chimpanzee be worth less than a potential life of a clump of cells? This does not make scientific sense.

    It's quite simple. A chimpanzee is not a human being. A human foetus has the genetic makeup of the adult human that it will grow up to be.

    You can certainly argue that the life of a chimpanzee is more important than the life of a few-day old human embryo, but doing so requires you to introduce extra assumptions about the relative importance of human and animal life.

    Your argument hinges on the assumption that because chips and humans share 99% of their DNA, there exists an objective scientific statement about the relative valueof a chimp and a human life. There doesn't.

    With respect to your sanctity of life argument, you will find that almost every one of the pro-life pro-death penalty types will also strongly believe in the fundamental right to liberty. Nevertheless, they will be happy to remove liberty from convicted criminals, even though some of those convicted will undoubtedly be innocent. The difference is that the convict is punished by the withdrawl of his liberty or his life as a result of due process and, at least in pinciple, a fair trial and the judgement of his peers.

    This is not the same as the abortion of a foetus. Nobody stands up in court to speak for the foetus. Its fate is determined by its mother's choice.

    This is why the scanarios aren't the same. If you believe that a foetus is a human life from the pont of conception, then in the case of the death penalty, you are trying to kill criminals convicted of heinous crimes, and every now and then will get it wrong and kill an innocent person. In the case of abortion, you are killing people who you know to be innocent.

    With the starting assumption that a foetus is a human life, it's like the difference between bombing an enemy's airfields, accidently killing a few civilians in the process and purposely targetting primary schools.

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  4. set piece king26/6/06 3:09 pm

    Very well put anonymous.

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  5. Anon: You believe that a 'potential person' is more important than a chimpanzee. I don't believe that. I think my position makes much more sense. A scientist can point out that genetically a chimp is almost identical to a person. A foetus is quite clearly not a person.

    "If you believe that a foetus is a human life from the pont of conception, then in the case of the death penalty, you are trying to kill criminals convicted of heinous crimes, and every now and then will get it wrong and kill an innocent person. In the case of abortion, you are killing people who you know to be innocent."

    Statistically, the death penalty involves killing people you know will be innocent. If you believe in the sanctity of life, you shouldn't do this.

    It is not like the example you gave of primary schools or military targets because the criminal can be given life imprisonment. There is no need to kill them.

    Anyway believing that the 'potential person' of a clump of cells is equivalent to a actual person is plainly ridiculous.

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  6. Anon: You believe that a 'potential person' is more important than a chimpanzee. I don't believe that. I think my position makes much more sense. A scientist can point out that genetically a chimp is almost identical to a person. A foetus is quite clearly not a person.

    Actually, I haven't presented my opinion anywhere. I merely point out that if you're relying on a genetic argument, then a foetus is genetically identical to a person. If you want a scientific argument for "chimps are more important than human foetuses", you'll have to look elsewhere.



    Statistically, the death penalty involves killing people you know will be innocent. If you believe in the sanctity of life, you shouldn't do this.


    Statistically, the custodial penalty involves imprisoning people you know will be innocent. If you believe in liberty as a fundamental right, you shouldn't do this.


    It is not like the example you gave of primary schools or military targets because the criminal can be given life imprisonment. There is no need to kill them.


    That's a different argument - you are now addressing the death penalty as a whole, rather than the statistical risk of executing an innocent.


    Anyway believing that the 'potential person' of a clump of cells is equivalent to a actual person is plainly ridiculous.


    It may well be, and you can certainly legitimately attack the "anti-choice" movement on this point. This is the real discussion - everybody agrees that a newborn baby is a person, and has rights. Everybody agrees that prior to conception, an egg and a sperm are just cells, and don't. How you move between the states, and whether the transtions are discrete or continuous is the crux of the argument.

    Your discussions of the death penalty and vivisection of chimps aren't relevant. You make a number of errors of logic when you assert them to be so.

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  7. Anon: The bottom line is, it is crazy to suggest that a clump of cells is as important as a baby. It is just religious madness.

    "Statistically, the custodial penalty involves imprisoning people you know will be innocent."

    The difference is, this can be corrected but you can't bring people back to life.

    "you are now addressing the death penalty as a whole, rather than the statistical risk of executing an innocent."

    I do not understand your point. People who argue against choice on abortion but in favour of capital punishment are being inconsistent. The supposed differing motives are irrelevant. If you oppose abortion as the killing of innocents, then you should oppose something that also inevitably leads to the killing of innocents. You don't have to kill murderers to punish them or protect the public. To win a war you almost certainly have to kill innocent people, so it is not a useful analogy.

    [believing that the 'potential person' of a clump of cells is equivalent to a actual person is plainly ridiculous.]

    "It may well be."

    Well I'm glad you agree. Surely arguing something that is 'plainly ridiculous' is not a good thing to argue?

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  8. Anon: The bottom line is, it is crazy to suggest that a clump of cells is as important as a baby. It is just religious madness.

    You can make that assertion, and a certain set of things follow from it. On the other hand, you could assert that it was crazy to suggest that life begins at 24 weeks, or 20 weeks or some other number. As an assertion, it would have equal validity.

    Neither assertion has anything to do with your daft claim that anyone who supports the death penalty or animal experimentation but opposes abortion is inconsistent. We are aware that such people hold views that you disagree with, but there is no inconsistency there.

    "Statistically, the custodial penalty involves imprisoning people you know will be innocent."

    The difference is, this can be corrected but you can't bring people back to life.


    Well, actually, it can't be corrected. Oh, you can free a person who was wrongly convicted, but you have no way of returning to them the time that they spent in prison. It's less permanent than execution, but the logic is the same. If you require (erroneously) someone who believes in the sanctity of human life to oppose the death penalty for the sake of the occasional executed innocent, you must also require someone who believes in the fundamental right to liberty to oppose imprisonment for the sake of the occasional incarcerated innocent. The logic is identical, even though the stakes are different.



    I do not understand your point. People who argue against choice on abortion but in favour of capital punishment are being inconsistent.


    No, they aren't. Making the statement several times doesn't make it true. To claim inconsistency, you have to demonstrate a logical requirement for the holders of pro-life opinions to oppose the death penalty. You haven't done so.

    The supposed differing motives are irrelevant. If you oppose abortion as the killing of innocents, then you should oppose something that also inevitably leads to the killing of innocents.

    What, like war? Commuting to work? They both inevitably lead to the killing of innocents.

    Your argument is that if someone opposes purposely killing innocents, they must also oppose purposely killing bad guys where there is a non-zero statistical chance of killing an innocent by mistake, and justify this claim by asserting that motives don't matter.

    You then immediately point out the flaw in your argument by saying
    To win a war you almost certainly have to kill innocent people, so it is not a useful analogy. So suddenly "winning the war" is a good enough motive for killing innocents. Your argument has now become "motives don't matter, unless they do". There's no nice clean logic here, but a muddle of weighing the importance of different motives. I don't think you can label someone as inconsistent just because he comes to a different opinion from you on the importance of a particular motive.



    [believing that the 'potential person' of a clump of cells is equivalent to a actual person is plainly ridiculous.]

    "It may well be."

    Well I'm glad you agree. Surely arguing something that is 'plainly ridiculous' is not a good thing to argue?


    You will note that nowhere in this discussion have I expressed my opinion. All I have done is taken issue with your faulty logic. You have made the claim that those who oppose abortion but support the death penalty (largely the American right) are inconsistent idiots. You have no argument to prove their inconsistency.

    Depending on what, if any, right to life you think a foetus has, and how important you think motives are when you consider deaths of innocents, you can come to positions for or against abortion and for or against the death penalty. All four possible combinations of opinion are logically permissible.

    At one point, you were tring to parley aminal experimentation into the mix, claiming as "obvious fact" that an adult chimpanzee was more important than an unborn human. You are certainly entitled to hold that opinion, but you aren't entitled to require anyone else to hold it. It is a moral judgement that you are free to make, and someone else is equally free to make in the opposite direction.

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