Republican Governor Vetoes Rape Victims Rights Bill

I’m late posting this story, but Pseudo-Adrianne’s post earlier today reminded me of it.

Earlier this month, Colorado Governor Bill Owens vetoed a bill that would have required hospitals to tell rape victims about emergency contraception.

The bill would not have required hospitals to perform abortions; the bill would not have required hospitals to dispense drugs they found morally objectionable; the bill would have given health care professionals the right to refuse to participate in procedures they found morally objectionable. The bill would only have required hospitals to let rape victims know that the option exists, so that rape victims would have the freedom to decide for themselves.

Amazingly, Governor Owens had the gall to claim that he vetoed this bill to protect people being “coerced by government to engage in activities” they don’t approve of.

The Moral of the Story: When a pharmacist is “coerced” into doing his job by letting people know of their options, that’s facism. But when rapists and right-wing zealot hospitals collaborate to coerce women into unwanted pregnancies, that’s cool.

They really don’t think of women as anything but incubation machines, do they?

This entry posted in Abortion & reproductive rights, Rape, intimate violence, & related issues. Bookmark the permalink. 

240 Responses to Republican Governor Vetoes Rape Victims Rights Bill

  1. 201
    Kim (basement variety!) says:

    And you responded to the original questioner (me), by evading the question and turning it around on me, rather than answering it straight away.

    By the way, the whole ‘human’ argument is really silly. To me, a fetus is a pre-cursor to human life. I don’t eat eggs and think I’m eating a chicken, and I don’t eat caviar and think I’m eating salmon.

    Also, the comment you made referring fetus’ as ‘people’ was interesting. You stated “I can do whatever I want with my body – up until the point where it impacts someone else’s life” as your defense against pregnancy termination, but it’s really baffling to me how on one hand you consider a fetus a person, and on the other you can make a comment so rife with hypocrisy. Unless of course you’re willing to state straight up that a the life of a fetus is > woman. You’ve said it in so many words, but I’m curious if you’ll be brave enough to own up to it in plain english.

  2. 202
    Kim (basement variety!) says:

    Argh – I should have added, and meant to add:

    If a fetus is a person, according to your logic, a fetus can do what it wants with it’s body, up until the point it impacts someone else’s life (the pregnant woman). I’d say pregnancy is a pretty big impact on a person’s life. I’d even dare say a RISK both short and long term health wise, and in many cases a MORTAL RISK. That’s not pro-life. Not by a long shot.

  3. 203
    Charles says:

    Given that Robert has said that the belief that fetuses are basically not human/persons is a legitimate and defensible position, given that he has said that he does not personally favor criminalizing abortion at all (much less treating it as murder), and that he recognizes the vaildity of the position that fetuses are people, but that as people they are not free to infringe on their mother’s right of physical autonomy, it seems very strange to accuse him of believing that abortion is murder or that he places the rights of fetuses above the rights of women. Trying to convince him that abortion must be murder also seems a bit pointless and counter-productive.

    Robert advocates limiting abortion by convincing pregnant women not to have abortions. Doing so in no way infringes on anyone’s right to autonomy.

    Robert also believes that doctors should be allowed to excercise their personal morality to the physical detriment of their patients. On this point, he is clearly wrong. Just as lawyers are required to provide their clients with all legally allowable options (even if they know that their clients are guilty), doctors must be required to provide their patients with (at the absolute bare minimum) full health information (and should probably properly be required to provide all necessary health services).

    Trying to prove that Robert is a woman hating monster who believes that women who have had abortions are murderers is probably not worth the effort.

    It isn’t actually the humanness of fetuses that is the point of contention, it is the personhood of fetuses. My finger is clearly human, but if I smashed it in a machine press, even intentionally, no one would ever acuse me of murder. People legitimately differ over the personhood of fetuses (with many feeling the fetuses become people at some point long after conception, but before birth). As has also been pointed out (by Robert and by people arguing with him), even if you believe that fetuses are human people, there is still the position of abortion as legitimate self defense (and you can kill in self defense even if the other person was not going to kill you, if you have no option other than killing them).

  4. 204
    Matt says:

    Robert wrote:
    If you did not believe that your fetus was a human person (a position with which I disagree, but which I recognize is not currently a consensus value in our society), then it’s not murder.

    So in fact Robert did as much say that to him fetuses are human persons, which then leads to the understanding that to him abortion is murder.

  5. 205
    mythago says:

    The original questioner asked if I thought she should be prosecuted for having had an abortion.

    If you believe that abortion is the killing of a human being, then the logical answer is yes, if she intentionally had an abortion, that’s murder.

    Some pro-lifers (Amp had a visitor along these lines) try to get around the problem by treating the women who obtain abortions as vaguely stupid, certainly not fully human moral agents. That is, to avoid the PR disaster and personal discomfort of accusing any woman who’s had an abortion of being a murderer, they claim the women didn’t really know what they were doing, they were misled, in any case they’re so very sorry about it now, and the real moral blame goes to the abortionists.

    Trying to prove that Robert is a woman hating monster who believes that women who have had abortions are murderers is probably not worth the effort.

    I thought Robert and I were discussing Will’s stated position–that is, Will believes abortion is murder, but he thinks some of those murders should not be prosecuted. I don’t believe a logically and morally consistent pro-life view allows one to say “Yes, women who kill their babies should go to jail, unless their baby was conceived through rape, in which case it’s a bad thing but we’ll let them off the hook.”

  6. 206
    piny says:

    We are talking about a lot of different types of killing here, all of which are treated differently by the law, and for good reason.

    There’s murder, the willful ending of a human life. Murder involves specific intent to kill. There are some other kinds of murder, but they are exceptions to the general rule. For example, if you commit an act so reckless that no reasonable person could believe that it would not lead to death, you’ve committed murder. If you commit a crime during which someone dies–carjacking, bank robbery, assault–you’ve committed murder.

    Then there’s manslaughter. Manslaughter is the killing of a human being _without_ express intent to harm or kill–it usually involves criminal recklessness. Manslaughter does _not_ include the willful killing of someone you don’t consider to be human. Shooting another hunter because you think he’s a deer is accidental killing, and could be considered manslaughter. But it’s a very different situation than abortion, where you know perfectly well what you’re ending.

    There’s also insanity, as in insanity defense. There’s a lot of very complicated case law around insanity, but the general rule is this: an insane person cannot be convicted of murder because they are incapable of knowing right from wrong. A delusional schizophrenic who kills someone under the influence of his delusions. Not a neo-nazi. A belief that certain people are not human or less than human does not count as insanity, and it doesn’t mean that someone with that belief cannot be convicted of murder. An insanity defense is _totally different_ from manslaughter. Someone can have specific intent to kill and still be considered not guilty by reason of insanity.

    Self-defense is another completely different concept: when you kill a human being with specific intent in order to prevent harm to your human self.

    Abortion is not killing in self-defense, except in cases where the life of the mother is in danger. Women who get abortions are not legally insane, and their belief that the fetus is not human is not sufficient reason to consider them insane. Women who get abortions are not committing manslaughter, because they specifically intend to terminate the fetus.

    Women who get abortions are purposely ending the life of the fetus. To the extent that a fetus is a human being with the same rights as any other human being, those women are committing murder. If a fetus is not a human being with the same rights as any other human being, then it’s not murder. But it also isn’t any of the other legal terms we’ve been tossing around–all of them refer to the killing of human beings. The mitigating circumstances for each have nothing whatsoever to do with the personhood of the victim.

  7. 207
    Charles says:

    If someone kidnapped you, and subjected you to the various forms of torture which Kim has described (the normal or potential side effects of pregnancy) and planned to subject you to a role of the dice after holding you hostage for 9 months, in which a roll of 0000 would mean they killed you, while a larger range would mean they permanently crippled you, and the only way you could escape from them was to kill them, I believe that your killing them would be considered self defense (they don’t have to be trying to kill you for you to be permitted to kill them in self defense, it just needs to be the only option open to you; in fact, even if they are trying to kill you, the only condition under which killing in self defense is permissable is if it is the only option open). Also, the person who you kill in self defense does not (as I understand it) need to be intentionally trying to kill you. If someone was accidentally backing a steamroller over you, and your attempts to shout out this fact to them were ineffective, and you happened to have a gun, I believe it would be legitimate self defense for you to shoot and kill them if you believed this would stop the steamroller from crushing you.

    From this it follows that a non-sentient fetus which is in the process of hijacking your body, and which can not be prevented from doing so except by its death, may legitimately be killed, even if we accept that it is a human person.

  8. 208
    Charles says:

    Mythago,

    Will’s position seemed to be a muddle, but I do think that one could logically take the position that a fetus should not be killed unless the damage it will inflict on the woman carrying it is sufficiently dire to balance out its killing.

    Therefore, one could have automatic exceptions for life threatening conditions, health threatening conditions, and mental health threatening conditions, with an automatic assumption that having to carry to term a pregnancy resulting from a rape was a serious threat to mental health, and therefore permissable.

    One can place a moral and legal value on the life of a fetus greater than zero, and indeed greater than some of the moral and legal rights of a pregnant woman, and still place the value of the fetus’s life lower than other rights of the pregnant woman.

    Also, I take Robert’s position on the law to be highly consensus based. If the overwhelming majority of society considered abortion murder, then he would consider laws treating abortion as murder to be reasonable (since under those conditions people who rejected the consensus position would be significantly abarent). However, since many people do not recognize the personhood of fetuses, then he doesn’t think that the law should require people to accept the personhood of fetuses. Since the personhood of fetuses is in doubt, then he doesn’t think that people should be considered murderers for killing something that they believe (possibly accurately, or possibly through legitimate error) to not be a person, even though he thinks that what they are killing is a person.

    Since there is no consensus on the question of the personhood of fetuses, it is also not reasonable to consider abortion to be legally equivalent to manslaughter, although I believe Robert would consider it to be morally equivalent to manslaughter.

    He doesn’t believe that someone who has an abortion is a murderer, because he does not believe that they acted out of the desire to kill another human person. Since the law agrees that what they have done is not murder, the relavent question becomes how he feels about them as a person, and therefore their intent is relevant. If he met someone who was so deeply anti-lawyer that they believed that lawyers were simply talking animals, and therefore killable for food, he would presumably hold that that person was also lacking in the maliciousness of a murderer (but would agree that they were clearly dangerously delusional, insane, monsterous, and deserving of imprisonment for reasons of public safety). Believing that someone is simply not a person is radically different from normal lawyer haters who believe that some lawyers are lesser people, and perhaps deserving of death. Thinking some people are lesser, and therefore deserving of death, and therefore killing them, still involves murderous intent to kill a human person.

    As I said, Will’s position seemed muddled, because he was unwilling to accept the idea that fetuses are sub-persons (who could therefore be killed under certain circumstances), but simultaneously wanted to excuse himself from believing that women who had been raped should be forced to carry resulting pregnancies to term. His absolutist belief that his opinion that fetuses are persons should ideally be enforced as law (even though it is not the view of most Americans) was also disturbing and repulsive, even if it was not intellectually inconsistent (so long as he is not also a fan of other forms of democratic and consensus based politics and law). Robert agreed that this position was muddled, although he felt that it was emotionally comprehensible, and he was also notably less unkind toward his ally’s intellectual muddledness than he is toward his opponent’s intellectual muddles.

    Robert’s position, on the other hand, seems to be that he personally believes that fetuses are people, and that killing them is, for him, tragic, but that he recognizes that there is nothing resembling a consensus that fetuses are people, and therefore those who kill fetuses while believing them to not be people do not act with the malice of will that is an inherent part of murder, nor do they act with the insanity of one who defines personhood in gross violation of a strong consensus. Instead, he recognizes that the question of who is right about the personhood of fetuses remains open, and that those who kill fetuses act either from legitimate error, or from a correct position (although he is firmly in the camp that believes they are in error and that fetuses are fully people).

    Personally, I believe that fetuses are not people at all (except possibly at some point very late in pregnancy, when they are perhaps some form of sub-person) and that any woman should be free to terminate a pregnancy up until the point of birth. I had a dear friend many years ago who terminated a pregnancy in the third trimester because she didn’t want to have a child at 15, and I fully support her decision and affirm her legitimate right to do so. I am not sufficiently concensus based in my view of the law to believe that the loss of that right (which is almost entirely gone now, and was even then absent in her home state) is acceptible.

  9. 209
    monica says:

    If women are required to bear children against their will, then women are reduced to slavery, regardless of whether the fetus is a person or not.

    Amen to that.

    But, may I remind the “it’s murder, but because you didn’t know it it’s ok so you shouldn’t go to jail” people that the post was about Emergency Contraception. To prevent conception and implantation of a blastocyst. At the stage when EC is used, there just is no fetus. No embryo either. It does not exist.

    Potential is not actual. If people want to insist to reduce the concept of human person to a potential handful of cells that may or may not even be there, and has not even been implanted yet, and has certainly not developed into anything close to human being, and call contraception murder – then what should we call the actual, not potential, suppression of a born, fully developed and sentient human being of any age? What should we call genocide?

    If you believe that a blastocyst that may or may not be there, and even without the need of contraception may not even ever be implanted, has more human rights – from all ethical, scientific, philosphical, religious and most of all legal points of view – than a fully developed sentient woman, then, may we ask, in what way that is “pro-life”? In what way that is not a devaluation of human life? A double devaluation, because you’re reducing the woman’s life to less than a blastocyst, and you’re reducing the very concept of human life and human person to a matter of biological potential contained in a handful of cells that may or may not be there.

    No suprise that that view is so often associated with support for the death penalty, wars and disregard for the actual needs of less fortunate human beings in a society.

    I can understand that there are moral issues on abortion, not contraception, as the actual fetus – an implanted, developing fetus, not a blastocyst or embryo – grows and becomes more and more viable and may survive outside the woman’s womb if born prematurely. But until that point, the thing-that-may-become-a-baby (may because there can be all sorts of natural interruptions of a pregnancy, so it’s always in the potential until actual birth) *needs* a woman for its development, for actually being able to eventually turn into a human being, and a person in the ethical, scientific, legal sense. Human beings cannot even come into existence without their mother. Not an incubator. A person.

    It’s such a convenient way to debate the issue, to focus entirely on the how-many-angels-on-a-pin debate on where life and/or the actual personhood status ‘starts’ – ignoring that, for all purposes of commonly established (ie. legal) definitions, it starts at birth; ignoring that science will never be able to tell where something non-physical but conceptual (person, soul) “starts”; ignoring all differences in the gradual development from sperm and egg into actual baby; ignoring the difference between lack or presence of even a primordial brain and nervous system etc. etc.. Meanwhile, the actual being whose actual, not potential, existence and life and personhood and sentience is indisputable under any point of view, is ignored. Let’s pretend she’s not there.

    And that’s not a view of women, and of human life in general, that is completely obscene, oh no? No, they don’t really mean they want to control women or think of them in degrading ways, no. They only think of them as incubators and less of a person than a handful of cells.

    For those men who hold this view, and also insist on making outlandish comparisons with people killing other humans thinking they’re deer – good luck with that in court – may we ask, to paraphrase their elegant question, do you have a brain attached to that penis?

    Bah.

  10. 210
    piny says:

    In order to argue self-defense, you have to have believed at the time that there was a clear danger to your life or a danger that you would suffer significant bodily harm. Most of the time, it’s difficult to distinguish between the two. No one could reasonably be expected to know that someone who abducts and tortures you for nine months doesn’t really mean to kill you. If someone assaults you or invades your home, you may reasonably argue that you believed your life was in danger. But if someone snatches your purse? If you surprise a burglar who takes off running as soon as he sees you? If some guy shoves you while you’re both waiting in line for Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith tickets? Not so much.

    Most pregnancies do not result in physical harm or death. If anyone would like to argue that residing in some woman’s womb is itself assault, albeit unwitting, then fine–but bear in mind that you’ve just released the woman from any liability at all. Self-defense means that you haven’t committed any kind of crime.

    >>Also, I take Robert’s position on the law to be highly consensus based. If the overwhelming majority of society considered abortion murder, then he would consider laws treating abortion as murder to be reasonable (since under those conditions people who rejected the consensus position would be significantly abarent). However, since many people do not recognize the personhood of fetuses, then he doesn’t think that the law should require people to accept the personhood of fetuses. Since the personhood of fetuses is in doubt, then he doesn’t think that people should be considered murderers for killing something that they believe (possibly accurately, or possibly through legitimate error) to not be a person, even though he thinks that what they are killing is a person.>>

    I’m not sure I can accept this argument, although I understand your summary of it. At different points in history, many or most people refused to grant complete personhood to many different human groups. Does that mean that crimes committed against those groups are not murderous? Do they count less? If someone comes from a culture that considers x group of people to be subhuman, is that person less culpable? Does dehumanization not itself constitute malice? Or an intent to end the life of whatever you’re killing?

    Part of my quibble with Robert’s argument is his insistence on using “manslaughter,” which is specific and just plain different. The laws on murder in this country don’t recognize gradations of personhood, really, and manslaughter is “not quite murder” for very different reasons. Generally speaking, it means that you didn’t mean for your actions to result in death, or were not aware that they would.

  11. 211
    monica says:

    piny -The laws on murder in this country don’t recognize gradations of personhood, really, and manslaughter is “not quite murder”? for very different reasons. Generally speaking, it means that you didn’t mean for your actions to result in death, or were not aware that they would.

    Indeed. Killing is either intentional or not. There’s no legal system anywhere that would recognise as mitigating circumstance the deliberate killing of another person under the conviction they were not a person, whatever they take that to mean. Also, I’m not aware of any laws of any country that would recognise gradations of personhood in that sense. The only distinction is between minor and adults, but in terms of killing, killing a minor is not considered any less serious. Hence, if someone wants to support the idea that emergency conraception is a form of killing, it doesn’t make any sense to argue it should be punished less severely than shooting your neighbour.

    It’s just a bunch of insane sophistries. If people are going to call “murder” anything from emergency contraception to abortion, then they’d better be prepared to advocate they should be treated as such. Which in the US includes the death penalty. Giving women a lethal injection for having EC or abortion – how’s that for “pro-life”?

    But no, they don’t want to think about the actual logical and legal consequences of using words as “murder”. It’s just done to win hearts and minds, you know.

  12. 212
    Charles says:

    If you (my fellow pro-choicers) really want to advocate for clinic bombings and the assassination of doctors (and perhaps of women who have abortions as well) as the only justifiable course of action for our opponents – umm, well, I’m at a loss for words.

    That is what the Everything must be defined in absolute terms means – either there are no ethical implications of abortion, or killing fetuses is so bad that women who have abortions are murderers, and doctors who perform abortions are the moral equivalent of death camp commanders, and killing them is a moral necessity. I have always thought the people who actually believe that to be dangerous and monsterous, so I find it very puzzling that several people here who are pro-choice seem to be arguing that that is the only intellectually honest position for anti-choicers to hold, and that any anti-choicer who hasn’t killed at least one doctor is a fucking hypocrite.

    I really do see arguing that anti-choicers really must believe that abortion is murder, and that any attempt on their part to believe that the world contains moral shades of grey is just dishonesty or moral cowardice, to be
    1) wrong (why shouldn’t people be able to see complex shades of grey?)
    2) foolish (why would you want to convince people to see our side as evil?)
    and 3) to lead naturally to the arguments I described above (if they must see everything in absolute black and white, then why not murder doctors?)

    Arguing that anti-choicers who throw around the word murder (as Will did) are wandering dangerously close to the clinic bombing camp seems worth doing, but trying to convince him that he is a moral coward if he is unwilling to take the final steps seems, well, counter-productive.

  13. 213
    mythago says:

    Therefore, one could have automatic exceptions for life threatening conditions, health threatening conditions, and mental health threatening conditions, with an automatic assumption that having to carry to term a pregnancy resulting from a rape was a serious threat to mental health, and therefore permissable.

    No, you really couldn’t. As others have pointed out, killing in self-defense is a very narrow justification. You have to have a reasonable belief that you were in danger of death or serious bodily harm, not injury to your mental health.

    Again, I’m not jumping on Robert here, who I agree does not buy the ‘abortion should be murder except sometimes’ point of view Will advocates. I pick on Will because viewpoints like his are indeed advocated by many who call themselves ‘pro-life’, but whose view is more akin to the belief that pregnancy is a just punishment for female sexual immorality. There’s really no other rational explanation for saying that abortion is either murder or an unfortunate (but not homicidal) event, with the difference lying entirely on the circumstances under which the victim was conceived.

    If people are going to call “murder”? anything from emergency contraception to abortion, then they’d better be prepared to advocate they should be treated as such.

    Exactly. This would be wildly unpopular, and that’s why reactionaries dance around it. For one thing, there are an awful lot of pro-life supporters who are women who have had abortions.

  14. 214
    Charles says:

    Piny,

    To answer your direct questions, and to take a horrible historical example, are the British colonizers who hunted the Tazmanian indigenous people for sport less personally culpable than the latest child murdering serial killer?

    In my opinion, yes.

    Is the total moral culpability of the individual hunters, plus everyone in their culture who supported, condoned, or tolerated their actions greater than that of a child murdering serial killer, yes, absolutely.

    If you are taught that those people can be killed for sport all your life, then
    1) it requires greater than normal moral consciousness to reject this belief
    2) your willingness to kill those people for sport says less about your willingness to kill others
    3) much of the evil of your actions lies with those who taught you, and with those who continue to agree with you
    4) the appropriate response for me, either an outsider or someone who has thrown off the monsterous teachings of our society, is different than it would be if you were a lone, aberant killer.

    If you meet a serial killer, your reasonable response is that this is someone whose personal morality is both monsterous and totally off kilter from expected morality of this society, and you should probably treat them as extremely dangerous, and they should probably be locked up on a public safety basis (and locking them up will noticeably decrease the number of serial killers).

    If you go to a country where it is considered okay to kill members of group X, and you meet someone who has killed members of group X, unless you are a member of group X, you can reasonably expect that they probably won’t kill you. Their morality, while monsterous to you, is not monsterous from their society’s morality, and is not aberant and off the rails to such a degree that you can’t reasonably predict how much of a threat they are. Furthermore, imprisoning them will not noticeably decrease the number of group X killers out there. If you want to stop people from group X being killed, you are going to have to take completely different strategies than you would if the killers were socially aberant, and viewing the individual killers as simply guilty murderers will get you nowhere.

    Is every person who killed someone in the Rwandan genocide simply a murder? Or are they something else, less personally culpable, but part of a larger and more horrible event? Should they be treated as murderers anyway?

  15. 215
    Charles says:

    Mythago,

    You do have to view fetuses as sub-persons for a mental health exception to be permissable. I agree that Will’s beliefs are a legitimate target for attack, as the belief that abortion is simply murder, but not in the case of pregnancies caused by rape is intellectually and morally dishonest muddle in exactly the way you say it is.

    And I can see a point to pointing out to those who recklessly toss aroung the word murder that they are basically in the clinic bombimg camp (although I think they can legitimately argue that they are merely in the “using excessive language recklessly for rhetorical effect” camp, not that Will did).

    Somewhere, it crossed over into trying to get Robert to say that abortion was murder, and that just seemed pointless. The exchange in which you kept framing abortion more harshly, until he was willing to say, “Well, yes, if that is the case, then it’s murder,” was just surreal.

  16. 216
    Anne says:

    The thing is, there are a lot of us who think that it’s also true for the people who are living inside women’s bodies.

    Key part being “inside our bodies.”

  17. 217
    mythago says:

    Somewhere, it crossed over into trying to get Robert to say that abortion was murder, and that just seemed pointless. The exchange in which you kept framing abortion more harshly, until he was willing to say, “Well, yes, if that is the case, then it’s murder,”? was just surreal.

    Charles, I wonder if you read the discussion I read. Because it wasn’t about ‘getting’ Robert to confess his own personal views on abortion. Robert was saying that Will’s distinction had some basis in the law, or at least some semi-logical consistency, which it doesn’t. In what way was I ‘framing abortion more harshly’?

    I have always thought the people who actually believe that to be dangerous and monsterous, so I find it very puzzling that several people here who are pro-choice seem to be arguing that that is the only intellectually honest position for anti-choicers to hold, and that any anti-choicer who hasn’t killed at least one doctor is a fucking hypocrite.

    If somebody claims that abortion is murder, then the only intellectually honest position for them to hold is that a woman who gets an abortion is a murderer. That doesn’t lead you down the road of bombing clinics; it leads you down the road of making abortion punishable by life without parole.

    I mean, nobody suggests that the way to end mob hits is to send snipers at all the Mafia hit men, because clearly the people who hire those hitmen don’t know what they’re doing. We all recognize that murderers bear the responsibility for their own actions and should face justice in a court of law.

    Extremists don’t go down that road because a) it’s very bad PR and b) what they really want is the rush of being able to smack down The Enemy, wrapped in self-righteous excuses. They don’t really believe bombing a clinic is going to end abortion, but they enjoy throwing the bomb. And the Women Exploited By Abortion types are not, you may notice, turning themselves in and demanding to be jailed. (Now THERE would be a real protest!)

  18. 218
    monica says:

    Charles, you’re getting it the other way round – people who call both EC and abortion murder are definitely not thinking in shades of grey. They just throw around a little word like that without actually thinking about what it means. The ‘yes I think you’re a murderer and I would want abortion banned except for rape, but I wouldn’t really put you in jail’ is not a way to incorporate the complexities of reality, it’s just a way to avoid confronting the lack of logic and coherence in considering EC and abortion equal to murder.

    It’s called hypocrisy, not awareness of shades of grey.

    But don’t worry, no one’s going to start shooting doctors after being called a hypocrite. Come on.

    A morally and logically and legally coherent pro-life position, where pro-life is really pro-life in its non-hijacked meaning, would entail first of all support for more information and access to emergency contraception, as well as for all other forms of contraception. Contra-ception. To avoid conception and implantation.

    If the concern was really to avoid abortions, everyone who disapproves of abortion would be supporting EC.

    If pro-life means elevating a blastocyst, embryo or undeveloped fetus to the status of person and degrading actual female persons to the status of incubators, then that is not the concept of respect for life on which a free lawful society is based.

    The so-called pro-life fanatics do not defend life, they fetishise biological matter to the point it becomes magically endowed with sentient properties that are physically not there. That’s turning ethics upside down. Putting a moral agent below the level of a non-moral agent. It’s a total cop out from real ethics. The woman is sentient, has a consciousness and a life, relationships and responsibilities, is capable of feeling, thinking, perceiving, and making a choice – the blastocyst is none of that, so it becomes pure, innocent, a platonic form of life that is perfect because it does not yet exist in the actual world as a person. It never had sex. It never got drunk. It never lied. It never did anything they would reproach, because it has not become anything really human yet. It is in the state before becoming. Isn’t it so much more deserving of support than the pregnant woman who has the nerve to not want that pregnancy? How could she refuse to bring a perfect platonic ideal into this world? If we could only keep that blastocyst a blastocyst forever, then life wouldn’t be so complicated, as none of us would have to make choices at all. All those microscopic embyros, the perfect form of life. They are the last Eden. They are an archetype of humans before the Fall. Without problems, without responsibilities, without free will and moral choices to make. They need to be defended from this cruel world in which women can have the terrifying power to give life when and how they want.

    Then, if those mythical cells do get to develop into actual human beings, we’ll just forget about them until they turn 16 and have sex and get pregnant, and it’ll start all over again…

  19. 219
    monica says:

    mythago – Extremists don’t go down that road because a) it’s very bad PR and b) what they really want is the rush of being able to smack down The Enemy, wrapped in self-righteous excuses

    Yes, exactly, like, pretending to be interested in persuading and reducing abortions, and then opposing even information and access to EC… but then coherence was never a requirement for self-rigtheousness.

    Charles – if you found that exchange surreal, it was because of surreal answers to a simple straightforward question. The very liberal use of the “murder/murderers” definition for abortion and women who have abortion and doctors who perform abortion is not an invention of pro-choicers. If they want to avoid drawing the conclusions of equating murder with abortion or even Emergency Contraception, then they’d better reconsider that equation.

    They know a fertilised egg is not a person; they know abortion cannot be and in fact has never been legally treated as murder; yet they do continue to call it that.

    A bit too bloody convenient, don’t you think?

  20. 221
    Robert says:

    Sounds like Centura is trying to meet women’s health activists halfway.

    I particularly liked this bit:
    If Catholic hospitals may ignore the standard of care, and treat patients based on religious doctrine, any and all hospitals should be able to do the same. This means we abolish the FDA, and any government regulation of hospitals and the practice of medicine, and allow anybody to set up and run a hospital according to whatever criteria they deem acceptable.

    Damn, that would be great!

  21. 222
    Antigone says:

    Robert, i hope you were kidding

    I don’t want them to be like, “You should pray for god to make you better” if I go to a hospital.

  22. 223
    mythago says:

    Oh, but you see, The Market will make sure such hospitals go under swiftly, or at least swiftly enough that you probably won’t be one of the first few people hurt by them.

    (I really *am* going to do the Invisible Hand of the Marketplace costume for Halloween this year, I swear)

  23. 224
    Brian Vaughan says:

    Yes, it’s weird to talk about hospitals as if there weren’t usually just a handful at most serving a geographic area.

  24. 225
    Charles says:

    Okay, here is my summary of the part that struck me as bizarre, with post numbers.

    Post 196: Robert states that he sees three valid, coherent positions concerning the personhood of fetuses, and their resultant legal rights. In this post, Robert slides back and forth between referring to humanness and personhood, a sloppiness which makes coherent argument difficult, but which makes it fairly clear that his definition of humaness is based on personhood (my finger is not a human, even though it is human).

    post 197: Mythago rejects the idea that fetuses could ever be legitimately viewed as non-human What did she THINK the fetus was”“ a rhododendron bush?

    post 199: Robert agrees that if everyone must absolutely agree that fetuses are humans in the sense of being people with full legal rights, then abortion is murder, in a legal-theoretical sense, since the actual law in practice absolutely does not recognize fetuses as persons.

    post 200: Mythago insists that abortion is murder in the practical legal sense, since everyone agrees that fetuses are human, and intentionally killing humans who aren’t likely to kill you is murder.

    post 201: Robert says, Um, yeah in the anti-choice “mirror universe” where everyone agrees fetuses are people with full elgal rights, it is practically murder, but we don’t live in that Universe.

    To me, this exchange was bizarre. You, Mythago, who presumably don’t believe that abortion is murder, either (a) because you don’t believe that fetuses are morally persons deserving of full legal rights, or (b) because you believe that the right to protect bodily autonomy is sufficient to justify killing of other persons in defense of that right or (c) becasue you believe that fetuses range from non-persons to quasi-persons, whose rights are non-zero, but not great enough to overcome the right to protect bodily autonomy, are here arguing that fetuses are obviously full persons, and are making no mention of a self defense type exception (which several others here who are clearly pro-choice have actively rejected as a possible argument when I raised it, which I likewise find bizarre). Given this position, Robert agreed that within those constraints, yeah its murder, but that those constraints in no way describe the consensus moral universe in which we exist (thus his “no pointy beard” comment, which any SF geek will recognize as a reference to the evil alternate universe in Star Trek).

    Will is long gone in this argument. This is straight up a pro-choicer demanding that a pro-lifer (who is not particularly an anti-choicer, since he is not pro-legal-ban, although he is admittedly not a pro-choicer either, since he is not pro-full-legal protection) agree that abortion is legally murder, and the pro-choicer resisting doing so (because he doesn’t believe that hit is) as much as he can. Or so I read it.

    The larger argument surrounding this seemed perfectly valid, and your attacks on Robert for soft-pedalling Will’s position seemed legit to me, but the part I summarized above was just bizarro world for me, and seemed to be leading things down a hole.

    The main problem came from Robert mixing the term human with the term person, but since he did so in a manner that made it clear (I thought) that by human he meant person (since he thought it a legitimate postion to say that a fetus wasn’t one), the follow-on argument in which you argued that a fetus was obviously human because it wasn’t a cyst or a rhododendron bush was a bizarre reversal of the usual derailment of abortion discussions in which anti-choicers take exactly the same tact.

    Sorry if I was far overly harsh in my response to that weirdness, but it seemed to me that the argument had gone very far off the rails into bizarro world, and that at that point Robert was actually making the saner argument (something I hate to see happen).

    This should have been posted back about 219. Things have continued on from there, and this may no longer be apropos, but I thought I’d post it anyway.

  25. 226
    Robert says:

    that at that point Robert was actually making the saner argument (something I hate to see happen)

    Come to the dark side, Charles…

  26. 227
    monica says:

    “Or so I read it.”

    Charles, try re-reading the discussion in view of that statement…

  27. 228
    monica says:

    Just so the previous comment is not misunderstood – what I read was a discussion in which someone who brought up the EC=abortion=murder triple equivalence was refusing to acknowledge all the logical, moral and legal implications of that equivalence; the other person was not ‘agreeing abortion is legally murder’, but getting the first person to acknowledge those implications!

    What’s bizarro world here to me is the pretence to call someone a murderer without actually wanting the law to reflect that.

    Why would anyone call murder – a crime in any legislation – something that is legal (wether it’s EC or abortion), if they’re not prepared to demand it be considered as murder under the law? The only reason is what mythago was pointing out – self-righteous rhetoric. I thought mythago’s point was obvious?

    Take animal rights activists – they do believe that vivisection is tortuer and murder and want it banned, completely and thoroughly made illegal, and those who violate that ban punished by law.

    You don’t have to agree with that position to see that it is intellectually and morally and legally coherent.

  28. 229
    monica says:

    … For a clear example of the contradictory use of “murder” only for self-righteous rhetoric, see comment 151:

    I’m not calling you a murderer, even though I would consider you pretty much as one.

    See the hypocrisy at work?

    Here you have an admission that all that ‘yes you’re a murderer but I don’t want to sound like a wacko’ is only for rhetorical purposes:

    First, I wouldn’t win any points with in doing so, as the whole point of debate is to try to persuade the other side to accept the merits of your case.

    And I thought debate was about stating one’s views clearly and listening to others, but no, it’s all a debating society game for those who never actually have to face the choices they’re talking about.

    Second, since the law currently allows you to abort your pregnancy, my main attempt here on the blogs, is to try to dissuade you from having another abortion.

    And the best thing is, he really thinks he’ll ‘dissuade’ anyone through the amazing powers of incoherent rhetoric.

    But the bizarro thing is pointing that out? That’s just bizarro squared…

  29. 230
    Q Grrl says:

    Robert writes:

    Women’s bodies belong to them, not to you and not to “the public”?.

    That’s true.

    The thing is, there are a lot of us who think that it’s also true for the people who are living inside women’s bodies.

    I can do whatever I want with my body – up until the point where it impacts someone else’s life. At that juncture, things like ethics and politics and morality and public discussion all come into play, as we attempt to reconcile people’s contradictory rights and privileges in a messy, often contentious, and rarely entirely satisfactory way.

    But that’s the problem with using the male body as the status quo for all humans. As a male, your body is in entirely different relations to “someone else’s life” in terms of pregnancy, childbirth, and infancy. There is no physical correlation between your male body and the female body that houses, bears, and nutures “someone else’s life”. So why should ethics, morals, and politics assume that a female automatically has the same “natural” (?) relationship to “someone else’s life?”

    That’s what I call sexism. Deeply embedded sexism that can’t even recognized the paradigm upon which its ethics and morals are built.

    This is also why I say (and will repeat) that there is no debate in terms of women’s relationship to their bodies or their pregnancies. There can’t be a debate; it’s an impossibility. Men can try to frame a debate but it will most assuredly rest on the male-body-paradigm (which certainly makes some morals easier!). But that isn’t a debate; it’s not even an argument — it’s more akin to a compulsive morality that stakes its claims on vast blindness to the reality of the female body.

    Yet again, this isn’t so odd I suppose if your entire religion is based on this particular blindness — as told through the “virgin” birth of Jesus of Nazareth. Of course men today can ignore the real, tangible, physical reality of pregnant females! Men have so bought the story of the virgin birth for 2000 years that they can complacently ignore the realities of their own homes, their own beds. Robert can blithely say “We are pregnant” when, in fact, it is his wife who is pregnant. BUT he has an entire religion that backs him up. How convenient. Pregnancy becomes a spiritual mystery (and thus sacred not secular) and men can then moralize the state and outcome of the mystery — all the while ignoring, or moralizing, the female body that is actually pregnant.

    Again, no debate.

    Not without also tacitly acknowledging that one believes that the female body is a) inferior b) sinful or c) public property. Only under those conditions can a man have a debate about the morality of abortion.

  30. 231
    Ampersand says:

    Will is long gone in this argument. This is straight up a pro-choicer demanding that a pro-lifer (who is not particularly an anti-choicer, since he is not pro-legal-ban, although he is admittedly not a pro-choicer either, since he is not pro-full-legal protection) agree that abortion is legally murder, and the pro-choicer resisting doing so (because he doesn’t believe that it is) as much as he can. Or so I read it.

    Charles, shouldn’t that say “pro-lifer?”

  31. 232
    mythago says:

    Mythago rejects the idea that fetuses could ever be legitimately viewed as non-human What did she THINK the fetus was”“ a rhododendron bush?

    Post 233: mythago wonders if Charles would get more out of this discussion if he followed the context.

    I did not ‘reject the idea that fetuses could ever legitimately be viewed as non-human.’ What I reject is the idea that a woman who intentionally seeks an abortion could claim “I didn’t know it was a person” in the same manner that a deer hunter who mistakenly shot a person wearing white mittens would make that claim.

    are here arguing that fetuses are obviously full persons, and are making no mention of a self defense type exception

    My argument is that if, as some pro-lifers claim, a fetus is a human being, then existing law regarding human beings may produce some results they claim they don’t want, such as preventing a woman from aborting except to prevent her death or great bodily harm (there’s your ‘self defense type exception’), and applying existing homicide law to women who obtain abortions, or try to.

    I truly don’t get why you feel this is ‘bizarro.’ It’s a very simple argument. If a fetus is a human being, just like a newborn baby is a human being, then laws apply to the fetus just like they apply to a baby.

  32. 233
    Robert says:

    My argument is that if, as some pro-lifers claim, a fetus is a human being, then existing law regarding human beings may produce some results they claim they don’t want…”

    If this is true, could Congress obviate Roe v. Wade by passing a federal statute defining “human being” in a way that includes fetuses?

  33. 234
    Charles says:

    You know what, I’m with QGrrl.

    Bodily autonomy wins, hands down.

    When I have a fully sentient human person inside my body, utterly dependent on me for the next several months, hijacking my biochemistry, destroying my joints, it is MY SAY what I do with them. Kill them, carry them to term. My choice. Period.

    If they aren’t even a fully sentient human person, all the more so.

    You disagree with killing people who are inside you, etc.

    Don’t.

    You’re welcome to try to convince me not to, but sure as hell don’t force me not to.

    That I will never be in that situation not withstanding.

    Oh, and the castration as a solution to the problem of irresponsible, person-creating ejaculation kicks ass. Beautiful reversal of the bodily integrity question.

  34. 235
    Charles says:

    Robert’s parallel between white-tailed deer and fetuses was, as I read it, this:

    When you point your gun at the flash of white and brown in the bushes in the middle of the woods and pull the trigger, you have a reasonable guess that you are shooting at a deer, but you can’t know for sure one way or the other. Your expectations based on limited information make your choice to pull the trigger a valid choice. Likewise, when you choose to have an abortion, your limited information (everyone’s limited information) can’t tell you whether a fetus is a person (in anything but a legal sense, where we know absolutely that it isn’t in this country at this moment).

    The obvious difference is that after you pull the trigger, you go over and find the woman who was hanging up her sheets, and then you go in front of a jury. When you have an abortion, no simple observation answers the question of the personhood of fetuses. Therefore, Robert thinks that it should never come before a jury (which would be no more capable of answering even the first question “Did you kill a person?” than you were, so really will never get to the second question “Did you mean to?”). He thinks this even though he personally thinks you shot the woman hanging up her sheets, and not the white-tailed deer. He recognizes that you think you shot the white tailed deer, and therefore that you should not be treated as though you had intentionally shot the woman. In fact, since he recognizes that reasonable people are entirely unable to definitively answer the question of which you shot, that the courts should not be involved at all. If no one was definitely killed, then you shouldn’t even be tried for the death of person who may not even exist.

    I’m not sure what you see as totally unreasonable and intellectually dishonest about this. Are you sure it isn’t just that he is using manslaughter as a loose metaphor rather than as a legal technical term that is bothering you?

  35. 236
    piny says:

    >>I did not ‘reject the idea that fetuses could ever legitimately be viewed as non-human.’ What I reject is the idea that a woman who intentionally seeks an abortion could claim “I didn’t know it was a person”? in the same manner that a deer hunter who mistakenly shot a person wearing white mittens would make that claim.>>

    Thank you. Look–they’re different situations. An aborting woman can claim, “I didn’t know it was a person,” because of an arguably legitimate dispute over the humanity of an entirely unambiguous fetus. A hunter can claim, “I didn’t know it was a person,” because he couldn’t see clearly. His killing was accidental. Hers was purposeful. He would never attempt to argue that the woman in the white mittens was not human, or deserving of life. Equating the two is like equating a man who gives his elderly mother a lethal injection with the nurse who accidentally gives her too much morphine.

  36. 237
    piny says:

    The extension of the analogy doesn’t work either. The hunter in the forest isn’t thinking that the flash of white could possibly be human; if he had any suspicion at all, he wouldn’t shoot. He is acting under the firm belief that he’s shooting at a definitely non-human deer. If he were in any situation where there was a lot of ambiguity as to flashes of white–say, a large and heavily foliaged backyard–and he discharged a gun in the general direction of some woman’s white mittens or cotton sheets, believing that there was a pretty good chance it was a deer, _then_ he’d be guilty of murder.

  37. 238
    Charles says:

    Alright, they are totally different situations, such that no broad analogy can be drawn between the two, not even to the extent of “There are other circumstances besides abortion where people kill things that I beleive are people (and I wish that they hadn’t done so), but I would never say that they were murderers, or want them prosecuted or jailed.”

    Why is this so very important?

    Also, Piny, are you saying that any woman who thinks that fetuses might be people is guilty of murder if she has an abortion? Presumably not, but it certainly sounds like it. Again, we’re wandering around in Bizarro world, where you and Mythago seem to be arguing that abortion is murder, doing your best to rubbish Robert’s (and my) arguments that it isn’t, and I still don’t understand what either of you think pro-choiceness is gaining from your arguments.

  38. 239
    piny says:

    Alright, they are totally different situations, such that no broad analogy can be drawn between the two, not even to the extent of “There are other circumstances besides abortion where people kill things that I beleive are people (and I wish that they hadn’t done so), but I would never say that they were murderers, or want them prosecuted or jailed.”?

    Why is this so very important?

    It’s not important that those current examples–the hunter in the forest, the hunter in the public park–cannot be compared to this other situation that Robert would like to compare it to? His argument is that, hey, there are these other kinds of killing that we condemn and/or punish but don’t call murder! And my reply is that, hey, they’re totally different kinds of killing! And sometimes, we do in fact call them murder! If I compared killing in self-defense to aborting a totally normal pregnancy, I’d expect pro-lifers to jump down my throat. It would be a stupid analogy.

    What I would like is for him to stop making specious comparisons. Why is that not reasonable?

    And no, of course I’m not arguing that a woman who thinks a fetus is a person is guilty of murder if she has an abortion. If I believe that my ham sandwich is a person, will I be a cannibal after lunch?

    Murder is based on an objective standard of personhood. However, if a woman–or anyone else–believes that a fetus is a person like any other, then she herself should admit her own logical conclusion that killing that person is murder. She should also be willing to penalize the murderer like any other murderer, and exempt the murderer only under the same circumstances as any other murderer.

    If that woman–or anyone else–believes that a fetus has some kind of partial or possible personhood, then they can define killing it in different ways than murder. But they still shouldn’t use specific terms that mean something different, morally and legally, especially in an argument about the moral nature of abortion.

    What I–and, I think, mythago–are trying to do here is talk about the moral nature of abortion, and the moral nature of pro-life and pro-choice beliefs. That means speaking in clear terms about what abortion is and what it is not. And if one moral argument against abortion is that it is murder or is like murder, then it’s very important to understand “murder.”

  39. 240
    mythago says:

    When you point your gun at the flash of white and brown in the bushes in the middle of the woods and pull the trigger, you have a reasonable guess that you are shooting at a deer, but you can’t know for sure one way or the other.

    If it’s a ‘reasonable guess’ you can expect to be facing a good stretch in jail. “Well, I thought it probably was a deer, might have been a kid in a white hat, but odds are it was a buck” is going to make any prosecutor sit up and pay attention.

    As to why this is so very important: Because pro-lifers who call abortion ‘murder’ are setting up a moral house of cards, and proposing to build a set of laws on it. They want to prohibit abortion essentially on whether or not they, personally, think the woman in question was moral. They deny this because they scurry behind the reason that a fetus is a human life, just like a newborn baby, whenever anyone disagrees with their proposed solutions.

    It’s very important to demolish that house of cards, and insist that they base the laws they propose on a logically and morally coherent, cohesive framework. It’s very important that we pull back the curtain and show everyone that their pretense to care about Life is a pretense, and does not in any way support the laws they want to force on the rest of us.

    And not incidentally, some of them may even rethink their positions when they realize how self-indulgent they are.

    (Again, I want to note that I am not talking about ALL opponents of abortion, just the Will types.)