Anti-Choicers Are Furious Because Obama Cares About His Daughters

You’ve probably already read about Barack Obama’s statements regarding teen pregnancy and the outrage it has inspired in forced-birth proponents. Amanda has already wonderfully skewered the reaction. This is what Obama said:

“When it comes specifically to HIV/AIDS, the most important prevention is education, which should include — which should include abstinence education and teaching the children — teaching children, you know, that sex is not something casual. But it should also include — it should also include other, you know, information about contraception because, look, I’ve got two daughters. 9 years old and 6 years old. I am going to teach them first of all about values and morals. But if they make a mistake, I don’t want them punished with a baby. I don’t want them punished with an STD at the age of 16. You know, so it doesn’t make sense to not give them information.”

I mean, really, with all the talk about sex not being anything casual and engaging in sex is a “mistake,” it would seem that Obama is pandering enough to the religious right “sex-is-bad-mmkay?” crowd. But no, instead he has made them very, very angry. Honestly, I think they’re pissed because of his reasonable assertion that telling kids not to have sex doesn’t mean they’re going to listen. But in typical “the liberal made a reasonable point — quick, make everyone look over here!” fashion, they’re screaming and hollering about how Obama said that babies are punishment. They also claim that his comments were about abortion, which is blatantly false, even if the comments he made do easily carry over and most likely influence his pro-choice views.

It really goes to show how good conservative wingnuts have gotten at taking comments out of context and using them to their own advantage. Michael Gerson called Obama’s comments “hardly a welcoming attitude toward new life.” Then there’s this editorial from The Augusta Chronicle (thanks to Jovan Byars for the link) that is so mind-blowingly stupid and contradictory that it would be hilarious in a world where we could trust that people don’t actually believe this shit:

His comment betrays a tragically dim view of God-given life. A baby as “punishment”? Forgive many of us for believing a child is the greatest gift God can bestow on either a parent or a nation.

But take the next step with Sen. Obama: Let’s say a baby is a punishment to an unwed, wayward teen. It’s then acceptable to kill the baby in order to save the young mother the inconvenience of being “punished”?

Apparently in Barack Obama’s world it is.

And let’s look at what that says about parenting.

Barack and Michelle Obama are obviously caring, loving parents. But part of loving and caring for your children is to teach them that there are consequences for their actions. To whisk a child off to an abortionist to help her avoid the consequences of her actions is in no way compassionate or caring. It’s quite the opposite. It’s teaching young women a perverse and utterly false notion that they don’t have to take responsibility for their actions — or for the precious, vulnerable little lives they helped create.

New life isn’t punitive. It’s restorative and miraculous and our sacred obligation to accept from on high with humility and gratitude. Rather than a punishment or inconvenience to be escaped, it’s a solemn obligation from our Creator to care for that child as we would want to be cared for.

Right, excellent points. But let me make sure I’ve got the nuances of this multi-layered argument down: babies should not be seen as a punishment, and so refusing someone an abortion should never be seen as a punishment, which is precisely why it’s our obligation to punish girls by denying them abortions because otherwise they’ll never learn to stop being filthy dirty whores. Well, that makes sense.

Here’s the hilarious thing: the group that does not treat babies as punishment is us, pro-choicers. And Obama didn’t say that babies were punishment; he said that, because this is wrong, we should make sure they aren’t. We believe that babies should be born into this world only as a result of the active choices made by the people who will come to care for it. We think that wanted babies are a wonderful thing and that to force women to give birth, thereby making her new baby a punishment, is absolutely obscene to both woman and child. In fact, we think that life is so very precious that it shouldn’t be used for political gain. We’re not the ones bringing human beings into this world for the purpose of sticking it to people we don’t like — only then to deny his/her mother increased welfare payments because she should have been more “responsible.” If we don’t want to live in a world where babies are a form of punishment, we should stop forcing women to give birth. It’s really that simple.

The Washington Times has a collection of mind-boggling anti-choice quotes. Here’s one:

“It is just shocking to hear it come out of someone’s mouth,” said Charlene Bashore, director of the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation PAC. “I can’t say it is surprising since he has a radical stance on abortion. … By all indications, he does consider an unplanned pregnancy to be a punishment.”

No, moron; he’s saying that causing unplanned pregnancies when we have the means to prevent them and deliberately withholding vital information from young women because we disagree with their actions is punishing and wrong. Also, it’s worth noting that while Obama didn’t say a word about abortion here, he also didn’t say a word about “pregnancy.” This would indicate to me that if Obama was talking about abortion — which again, he was not — it wouldn’t be unplanned pregnancy he sees as punishment (logical, since pregnancy is a biological process, not a political one), but forcing a woman with an unplanned pregnancy to give birth against her will. Big difference there, but then again, in anti-choice land pregnancy does equal baby, because abortion is wrong and miscarriage just doesn’t happen, otherwise they’d be out there mourning the much higher numbers of spontaneously aborted fetuses.

The forced-birth brigade gets even more deranged, not to mention personal:

“He would want his own grandchild aborted. It shows a real callous disregard for human life,” said David Osteen, executive director of National Right to Life. “This is a window into his soul.”

Actually Captain Misogyny, I’d say that Obama’s comments show a healthy amount of concern and respect for his daughters, and a lack of desire to see them suffer just because they were born female. Personally, I’d call the person who cares more about their non-existent grandchild than their own live daughter the callous one.

Oops! My bad. I brought the pregnant woman into the conversation. That’s a clear no-no. As anti-choice legislators helpfully point out, abortion has nothing to do with women:

“Why should any of us take the position that women should be denied information about their care?” Traviesa asked before the 70-45 vote to send his bill to the Senate. He said opponents raised “righteous indignation” about his bill to “change the subject” to women’s rights.

That’s right. Talking about the rights of women when trying to decide on a legislative floor whether or not they have the right to medical care is “changing the subject.” To those who oppose abortion rights, the health, safety and autonomy of women really isn’t part of the equation; either because their goal is to make sure that women have none of those things, or because they’re so stupid and sexist that when talking about the lives of the fetus-babies, they actually just forget that there’s a woman out there carrying it. Whether they’re misogynist enough to think that women deserve no rights and we should take them away to uphold the patriarchy, are misogynist enough to think that the rights of a fetus/embryo/fertilized egg are worth more than the rights of the pregnant woman, or misogynist enough to not even bother to stop and think about women as part of the abortion process, the point is that they don’t give a shit about women. (We can probably change the minds of some of those in the last batch, but that’s a whole other post.)

But here’s my question to anti-choicers. It’s one that I haven’t seen anyone pose in direct relation to this fiasco and one that I’ve never seen an even remotely convincing answer for.

How, exactly, is forcing a teenage girl to give birth against her will not a punishment?

Take your time with it, anti-choice visitors, but do read the rest before commencing making an ass out of yourself. If a baby born to a teenage girl is actually a miracle, a blessing, precious, “restorative,” etc., why do we try to prevent teen pregnancy? Shouldn’t we be actively encouraging it? I mean, I know that you do encourage it with your abstinence-only education, but you put up a front of trying to prevent pregnancy. Would you like to reconcile those arguments?

And what about the incredibly common view that abortion should be illegal, except in instances of rape and incest? Sure, you may be crazy enough to think that women should be forced to give birth to the child of her rapist, but a majority of the fellow-misogynists you need to vote with you aren’t quite there yet. And legislation that leaves rape exceptions, written by your ilk, tells a hugely different story. Clearly, all tiny precious in utero lives should be valued equally. So, if forced-birth isn’t about punishment, why is it only acceptable for women who took an active part in the reproductive process? If the raped woman gets a pass because she’s “innocent,” doesn’t that mean that enforcing the rules for the non– “innocent” is, um . . . punishment?

Don’t worry, I don’t need an answer right away. I’ve got time. You wingnuts know where to find me. But here’s a piece of advice in the meantime: if you don’t like being portrayed as misogynist freaks who try to control women’s sexuality through the threat of unplanned pregnancy and the inaccessibility of abortion, or as assholes who hate women so much that they’re willing to force girls to become teenage mothers as punishment for failing to adequately deny their sexual desire . . . cut it the fuck out. We’ll stop throwing out insults as soon as you stop providing them.

0 thoughts on “Anti-Choicers Are Furious Because Obama Cares About His Daughters

  1. Cara Post author

    It’s not my spam filter; it’s a wordpress error that happens sometimes. You can usually hit back, have what you wrote still there, and hit submit again to have it go through.

    Reply
  2. Jennifer

    I’ll try again.
    As I’ve said before, I’m a pro-lifer that is often disgusted by the anti-choice crowd.
    The teenage pregnancy is not punishment, it’s a tragedy. An epic tragedy at that. Here is a young girl for whom birth control methods have been made inaccessible. This was done by either a lack of education or the by painting these options as things only ‘bad girls’ use or need. My money is on the second one.
    One camp would like her to carry the child to term and either make the heart wrenching decision to give it up for adoption or raise it on her own. Unfortunately, this is generally the same camp that is calling her names like ‘whore’. This camp is also not typically offering her any kind of support for next nine months of hardship that her body has to go through. She has likely been ostracized from any existing support system she had, or she will be when they find out.
    The other camp will help her to destroy the life inside of her. They wrap their arms around her and treat her with the respect due any human being.
    This is the shame of the anti-choice crowd. Abortion exists because there is a need. If there was no need, as in available birth control, workable solutions for single mothers, and real action against sexual assault, the need would be drastically limited. I believe both sides are in favor of a reduced need.
    Agencies like Planned Parenthood do far more to prevent abortions through education and access to birth control than anti-choicers could ever do waving their signs out front.
    I really do believe that the bunch of cells is a life. I believe ending that life is wrong. I do not believe ridiculing women and denying care is the solution.

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  3. Pai

    There isn’t any Pro-Choice person that is ‘for’ abortion. There isn’t ANY Pro-Choicer out there who like, celebrates abortions and thinks they’re great…

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  4. Cara Post author

    Well there actually are some people out there who promote abortion; racists, the Chinese government, etc. But you’re right that there is no pro-choice person who thinks that abortions are great. People who try to force abortions are just as anti-choice as those who try to force birth.

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  5. Anna

    Quite a post, Cara. Your blog always leaves me rolling my eyes heavenward & gnashing my teeth – though never at you! Just at the idiocy you intelligently skewer.

    And to second Pai – I get SO TIRED of Anti-Abortionists (I refuse to call them Pro-lifers) implying that we pro-choicers like the idea of abortions. That’s just plain stupid! They are willfully NOT paying attention to our views.

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  6. konstanze

    Hi Jennifer,
    If you’re not pro-forced-birth, then doesn’t that make you pro-choice? You don’t have to like abortion to be pro-choice. It just means that you want to allow women to make their own decisions, regardless of what you would do personally.

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  7. Melissa

    Something that I have thought about latley in the pro-choice, anti-choice debate is the methods that are used to get the opposing viewpoints across. When I went to a clinic for an abortion last summer, I was acosted by the picketers and anti-choice mayhem outside of the clinic. And as I waited for my appointment, I wondered what would happen if we as pro-choicers stood outside of low-income clinics that provide prenatal care and asked the teenage girls going in if they have thought about how much it is going to cost to raise that baby – or if they really want the baby, or is someone making you have the baby, etc. Just a reverse of all the things that they spew at us outside of the abortion clinics.
    Of course that is not something that I would reccommend or think that it would be a good idea; however, if the shoe were on the other foot when the reverse decision was made….just a thought.

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  8. Cara Post author

    I’ve often thought about that kind of thing in a purely hypothetical way, as well. But really, it’s more of a way to argue against anti-choicers when they make bogus claims that those who support abortion rights try to push women into pregnancy termination — you know, who really opposes that kind of pressure when we’re not the ones standing on the sidewalk screaming at women (who may just be having a pap smears) to change their minds.

    I don’t see anything ethically wrong with protesting outside of pregnancy crisis centers that bill themselves as health centers designed to help women make choices and passing out pamphlets about their true motivation. The question with that one is whether or not it’s a good strategic move; on one hand, we raise awareness, on the other hand, there’s a risk of losing our place in the debate as the rational non-nuts. I assume that my latter concern is a big reason why I haven’t heard about any pro-choice groups actually getting out and doing this.

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  9. lepidopteryx

    I’m a pro-choice parent of an 18-year-old teenager.

    My daughter has known since she was 4 how babies are made. Why so young? Because she asked. And I’ve always believed that if a child is capable of forming an intelligent question, she deserves an honest answer.

    When she started developing an interest in boys, we talked about sex some more. I explained to her why it was not a good idea to have sex too young – risk of pregnancy, risk of disease, etc – not “it makes Jesus cry” or “it will ruin your prospects for marriage because no decent man will want damaged goods.” I also told her why masturbation was the BEST way for someone her age to release sexual tension – no risks, orgasm on demand, and hands/toys don’t cheat on you.
    AND I taught her how to use condoms and spermicide in case she decided to have sex anyway.
    I also told her that if she got pregnant as a minor, as the person responsible for her health care, I would insist on an abortion. Her boyfriend is a very nice young man, and we love him dearly, but the two of them are not anywhere near ready to be parents, and I have no intention of raising grandchildren. And I know that my daughter would not be able to sign away her rights to a baby she had given birth to – she can’t turn a stray cat away.

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  10. Melissa

    My son, who is 8, has also know about sex since about 4-years-old. Same reason, he asked. I think it is incredibly important for me to teach him anything he wants to know about sex and relationships. I am glad that he feels comfortable enough with me to ask those questions – I just wish all kiddos had that same relationship with their parents.

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  11. Cara Post author

    I don’t think that my parents ever told me how pregnancy happens. When I first asked at a young age (3 or 4), I was told that “babies come out of a mommy’s tummy.” That satisfied me for a bit, but then I wanted to know how the baby got out, and my mom did tell me that much. Then of course I wanted to know how the baby got in there and I was told that it happens “when two people get married and love each other very much.”

    No, really.

    Being a gullible little child (I’ve always been a quick learner when taught something, but really horrible at figuring things out on my own), by the time I realized that was bullshit, I was too embarrassed to ask. I remember just kind of figuring it out on my own, by eventually putting two and two together and thinking “hey, I bet that sex thing the kids on the school bus are always talking about is related to the whole baby making thing.” That was at an embarrassingly late age. Actually, I learned most things about sex at an embarrassingly late age — I remember learning that the penis went into the vagina (PIV sex being the only kind that kids really talk about), then being shocked when I found out about erections, then even more shocked when I found out about thrusting and ejaculation (of course the female end of things was rarely discussed). And then I got to learn all about most things at 14/15 in a way that I really wish I hadn’t.

    It’s amazing for me to think about, with the countless things I’ve read about sex since my late teens, that I used to be so horrifyingly ignorant. And now I’m feeling pretty fucking pissed off at my mom.

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  12. Kristen

    Jennifer,

    I’m sure you’ve heard this argument before…but just in case others run past this site and haven’t I’m going to bring it up.

    The issue of whether that bunch of cells is life or not is not relevant to the issue of the legality of abortion.

    The right to an abortion can easily be premised on a notion of bodily autonomy. Consider the following hypothetical. Imagine you’re in a car accident, you wake up in the hospital and find you are attached by a series of tubes and wires to a frail 70 year old man. You’re understandably freaked out and so you push the call button mercilessly.

    The nurse comes in and explains that the elderly man was injured in the car accident and the only way they could preserve his life was to allow him to “borrow” your liver and kidneys for 3 months. She notes that the side effects will be minimal (tiredness, backpain, discomfort, weight gain) and that there was some risk of complications at the end of the three months when he was removed.

    Now as you’re sitting there thinking about this you realize that having another human being attached to you will seriously make life difficult. How will you explain it at work? Who will take care of you if you can’t work? What if there are complications? Doing this might kill you and you are not willing to die for this other person.

    So you now completely panicked you demand the doctor remove these tubes and wires immediately. The doctor calmly explains that she can’t do that because then he’ll die and his life is more important to the state than your right to use your body as you see fit.

    That’s what opposing abortion means. Not that that those bundles of cells are or are not people, but that the states interest in those cells trumps a persons right to their own body.

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  13. Moody

    I read about that argument in my Women’s Studies class when I was a freshmen in college, only in our class it was a famous piano player attached to you.

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  14. Melissa

    I have never heard that analogy either – I really like that. Really puts the reality of it into a perspective that might be easier for some to understand.

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  15. Feminist Avatar

    It’s funny, but in the UK where abortion is considerably more acceptable, teenage girls who choose to continue with their pregnancies are considerably ostracised, labelled as stupid and in many respects abandoned as a lost cause. It is expected that if you get pregnant as a teenager you will have an abortion. Perhaps coming from this context, I sometimes worry about an attitude that condemns teenagers who choose to have babies or suggests that we counter anti-abortion rhetoric with a campaign of the problems and costs of raising a child. True choice should be the right, whatever your age, to carry or abort your pregnancy. It should, of course, be an informed choice that recognises both the pros and cons of having children. It should be about ensuring that people are able and supported to make the choice that they want.

    I am not advocating that having a child as a teenager is a good idea, but I know teenage mothers who are good mothers and who, despite their youth, cope with and enjoy motherhood. I even know teenagers who moved away from home when they had babies to ensure that it was their responsibility and not that of their mother. I guess I am advocating for balanced, informed choice, rather than rhetoric that condemns women’s decisions.

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  16. lepidopteryx

    Perhaps a way of making his/her life seem more important than the little old nobody s/he was attached to?

    I’ve heard the argument that you might be aborting the next Einstein. To which I reply that you could be preventing another Hitler.

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  17. Melissa

    Avatar –
    I agree. That is the point of *choice* – that no one should be condemned for their decision to either continue the pregnancy or to terminate, and it should not depend on their age in either case.

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  18. Kristen

    Cara,

    I’ve heard that version as well (freshman philosphy woohoo). The piano player is supposed to symbolize the potential of a human child. Personally, I like my version better [duh ;)].

    Besides when I was in college the imagery of the piano player always made me laugh because I would imagine a guy (in the original its a man connected to another man) walking around with a pianist playing a baby grand piano all strapped to this poor smoe’s back.

    So when I hear the original I get an entirely inappropriate case of the giggles.

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  19. Cara Post author

    How weird. I like your version better (and yes, I’ve heard the argument before; you expressed it particularly well here), because the piano player analogy just gives me a case of WTFs. I mean, why not a trumpet player? Or a vocalist? And then all of a sudden I’m not thinking about the metaphor at all. But that could be attributed to my microscopic attention span. I’m guessing that the piano player isn’t a pro-choice argument, but a supposedly neutral philosophical question?

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  20. Holly

    “babies should not be seen as a punishment, and so refusing someone an abortion should never be seen as a punishment, which is precisely why it’s our obligation to punish girls by denying them abortions because otherwise they’ll never learn to stop being filthy dirty whores.”

    I love you.

    Anti-choicers really need to just stop. Every time we’re hearing about some horrible thing that someone has done to piss them off it just makes them look worse and worse since they cannot put together a clear sentence to save their lives.

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  21. Jennifer

    I disagree with the premise of the analogy.

    Now if I were engaging in an activity that had a high likelihood of connecting me to some elderly man (or piano player, or Einstein, or violinist as I heard it), then I should go ahead with it. I knew the risks going in. I am free to choose whether or not to engage in said activity and there are even ways I can engage in it with extremely limited risk of becoming the life support system for someone else. And also, if the analogy is true, had I used a preventative measure or not participated at all, the elderly man would not have needed life support in the first place.

    Now, I don’t believe that the doctor would have the right to ask me how I wound up with this elderly man attached to me if I wanted to have him removed. It is certainly possible that I was forced into the activity and its really none of his business. It’s still a tragedy that the elderly man will die, but due to the nature of a woman’s body being attached to him could be the result of a traumatic and private event. For my sake, I shouldn’t have to lie to have the procedure done if I had become attached to him due to my own irresponsibility. And I should not have to delve into the details if I was not a willing participant.

    Now I should have been educated about the risks, and the preventative measures should be made readily available. If I don’t want to be used as a life support system, I should be able to prevent it.

    Being anti-abortion means that I believe it is a tragedy each and every time the bundle of cells is destroyed. I believe it is a life and that it does matter. Preventing its existence isn’t tragic, but ending its existence is. Being anti-abortion does not mean that I believe this clump of cells is worth more than my right to my own body, but it does include a level of personal responsibility. I have every right to everything within my power to prevent the life from being implanted. I take a pill every day because I don’t want more children. I own a couple of handguns and just passed a test to be able to carry one. Why? Because my life and the rights to my body are worth more than the life of some murderer or rapist.

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  22. Kristen

    Jennifer,

    (This is where the analogy shows its mettle.)

    Then what you’re indicating is that you consider pregnancy a just punishment for having sex.

    Let’s parse out what you’re saying/implying.

    Premise (in our society): A person is responsible for the consequences of their action if they took an unjustifiable risk that caused injury (this is a standard definition of negligence).

    Driving a car – which most certainly carries the risk of death – is in your opinion not an unjustifiable risk.

    Having het sex – which most certainly carries the risk of pregnancy – is in your opinion an unjustifiable risk.

    So…explain without reliance on morality why driving a car is ethically different from having het sex.

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  23. Jennifer

    When I drive a car, I wear my seatbelt and drive sensibly in order to reduce the risk using every available option.

    I take a pill everyday to prevent having more children.

    I engage in both types of risky behavior on a regular basis. I’ve not been killed in a car accident and haven’t been pregnant for the last 9 years. I never stated that sex was wrong. Much like driving a car, it carries with it some risk. But these the reduction of these risks is within my control.

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  24. Hypatia

    So, to go on pushing the analogy:

    What if I am a young driver, with less experience in just how to drive safely?

    What if, on top of that, I’ve never really been taught about proper safety precautions?

    For example, the rumor mill at my high school might say that seatbelts are a scam and they’ll strangle you or cause internal bruising in an accident (without mentioning that, even if they do bruise you, you’re more likely to die without them). Or my friends might tell me that seatbelts are just for slackers and morons who can’t be bothered to drive properly.

    Is it still, now, my fault that I ended up with this hypothetical man attached to me at the hospital?

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  25. Kristen

    Jennifer,

    If there is no difference between driving a car and having het sex, then there should be no difference the consequences imposed on someone for engaging in that activity? And what does risk reducing behavior have to do with it. You could also reduce the risk by not driving…but that would be unreasonable for society to expect (ahem..like abstinence).

    If you’re in a car accident then you’re insurance rates go up, but no one attempts to take away your ability to do anything (assuming you didn’t gun down the elderly guy).

    If you have het sex and get pregnant, then its okay for the state to insist on using your body as an incubator for this other life?

    You still have failed to explain the difference in terms of why one faces an enormous consequence imposed by the state and one faces a relatively minor consequence imposed by the market.

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  26. Cara Post author

    When I drive a car, I wear my seatbelt and drive sensibly in order to reduce the risk using every available option.

    I take a pill everyday to prevent having more children.

    I do precisely the same. But a person who wears their seatbelt and drives sensibly can still cause an accident. Shit happens. You seem to be ruling out the possibility that even careful people make mistakes — or that another person could run into you no matter how careful you are.

    And birth control is precisely the same way. For about 7 years, the pill has worked fine for me. For other women, it doesn’t. There are failure rates. For some forms of contraception, they’re higher than others. For example, a woman who can not take hormones due to medical reasons and wants to have children someday is going to be severely limited in her options for contraception. And pretty much all of them (the only exception, off the top of my head, being the copper IUD) has a significantly higher failure rate than hormonal methods. Condoms break, sometimes diaphragms just don’t work. I don’t think that a person should be expected to be celibate due to an allergic reaction.

    To qualify all of this, while I think that all het sexually active women who do not want to become pregnant should use birth control for their own health and because going through an abortion puts much more stress on the body than any contraceptive method (that does not cause severe side effects in that woman), I do not think that a woman’s right to an abortion should be in any way determined by how “careful” she was. I’m merely pointing out the flaw in the argument.

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  27. Jennifer

    Don’t worry, I had no intention of sinking to personal attacks.

    When I get behind the wheel of a car, I am well aware of the fact that I could die. I do everything within my power to prevent it, but I accept that it is a possibility. I could also be injured and have to carry those injuries for the rest of my life. I consider those enormous consequences. They are imposed by cause and effect, not the state.

    When I have het sex, I understand that I run a very real risk of becoming pregnant. The state doesn’t make me pregnant any more than the state broke my leg in the hypothetical car accident. I do everything within my power to prevent the pregnancy.

    The state does not impose pregnancy. It’s a natural effect of het sex.

    As stated before, I DO NOT believe that abortion should be illegal. There are instances where it is necessary, and I will not be so self important as to think that I can define what is and is not a justifiable circumstance. I do believe that each and every time one of these lives is destroyed, it is tragic and we should do everything possible to prevent it.

    Abstinence is certainly an option. And so are the many available forms of birth control. I believe girls should be educated and birth control should be made readily available. Women should not be saddled with degrading names for choosing to use these things.

    Abortion is something that should be a last resort and not offered as another birth control option. It’s a desperate measure. I wouldn’t have my leg amputated unless absolutely necessary. I wouldn’t end a life unless it was a desperate measure.

    I’ve never said being pregnant should be imposed by the state. I’ve said that I believe abortion is wrong, but I also do not believe the state has any role in correcting that wrong. It’s another supply and demand argument. Legislating abortion and picketing doctors attacks the wrong side of the equation, the supply side. The real solution is reducing the demand. I believe that education, access to birth control, and giving workable options to girls in crisis is the best way to reduce the demand.

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  28. Jennifer

    I do not think that a woman’s right to an abortion should be in any way determined by how “careful” she was

    Neither do I. I do believe that we have a personal responsibility to be “careful,” but the doctor should only be there to perform a service. He’s the supply side. It’s the demand that should be reduced. (I am not naive enough to think that it could be eliminated.)

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  29. Jennifer

    You still have failed to explain the difference in terms of why one faces an enormous consequence imposed by the state and one faces a relatively minor consequence imposed by the market.

    I can’t. I don’t believe the state caused the pregnancy nor should have any rights in regards to it.

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  30. Cara Post author

    The state does not impose pregnancy. It’s a natural effect of het sex.

    The state does not impose impregnation. Laws restricting or outlawing abortion does impose continued pregnancy. It’s a subtle but very important distinction.

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  31. Kristen

    As stated before, I DO NOT believe that abortion should be illegal.

    Then you are pro choice.

    I don’t believe the state caused the pregnancy nor should have any rights in regards to it.

    But just to complete the argument for others, the answer is…this is semantics.

    There is no functional difference between impregnation and forced continuation of pregnancy.

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  32. Jennifer

    actually, I’m a libertarian. I think the state should get their noses out of a lot of things.
    If one can be pro-choice and anti-abortion, then certainly. I think abortion is a tragedy and wish for the need to be eliminated. I believe the fetus/baby/zygote/bunch of cells is a life. I do not think it’s rights trump those of the woman/mother, but I also do not think the rights of the woman/mother trump the rights of the fetus/baby/zygote/bunch of cells. None of the commonly used terms fits my beliefs.

    Reply
  33. Ran

    Being pro-choice myself, I really want to agree with you on this, but: It can be someone’s responsibility to do something unpleasant without that unpleasantness being a “punishment” per se. For example, making a kid apologize for something isn’t really “punishing” him for that thing. (Yes, I just compared a woman being pregnant to a child saying sorry. My only defense is, we’re already comparing sex to a car accident, so clearly our standards for appropriate analogies are not very high here. :-P)

    If I believed that a fetus was really almost a person, I think I’d probably be pro-life but with a rape exception: a woman who contributed to the creation of the fetus would bear some responsibility for its protection in a way that a rape victim would not. (Even then I don’t think I’d support an actual law about it, though, since anti-abortion laws don’t seem to save fetuses anyway. And I’m not sure most pro-lifers are really thinking rape exemptions through logically anyway; they’re probably just going with their knee-jerk/gut reactions. After all, why think when you can lobby?)

    Reply
  34. Cara Post author

    Being pro-choice myself, I really want to agree with you on this, but: It can be someone’s responsibility to do something unpleasant without that unpleasantness being a “punishment” per se.

    Forcing someone to undergo birth is a bit more than unpleasant. And though I’ve never been through it, I can assure you that it is up there in my top ten, maybe top five list of fears and that it would indeed be punishing.

    If I believed that a fetus was really almost a person, I think I’d probably be pro-life but with a rape exception: a woman who contributed to the creation of the fetus would bear some responsibility for its protection in a way that a rape victim would not.

    But again, it begs the question; if the fetus is a living person with a right to life, why does a person’s responsibility towards it determine whether or not it gets to live. Disturbing but exceedingly accurate analogy: a woman has two young sons, one the product of a consensual relationship, the other the result of a rape. I can’t think of anyone who would argue that the woman has a right to kill the child born of rape, and certainly not that she has a right to kill him more than her other son. But if we are to believe that a fetus is a person or “almost person,” there really isn’t any difference between this and saying that abortion is morally fine for cases of rape but not consensual sex. If you’re basing (or would base) an anti-abortion stance off of “responsibility” rather than a right to life by the fetus, it is indeed enacting a punishment.

    Of course, I strongly disagree with both reasons, but I do find the former to be far more ethically problematic. Particularly, of course, because it takes two people to create a fetus, but only the female one of them is going to receive that punishment. Being forced to pay child support — hardly a guarantee, anyway for multiple reasons — is not the same as having your body held hostage by the state. Biological inevitability or not, it’s not okay to hold one person more responsible than the other and until we find a way for persons with male sex organs to become impregnated as a common side effect of het sex, that is what an anti-abortion stance does.

    Reply
  35. Ran

    I think that if feti had rights (which anti-abortionists presumably believe they do), then a woman who had consensual sex and got pregnant would bear some responsibility for upholding those rights, in a way that a woman who was raped would not. By having consensual sex, she’d have taken on the risk of creating a fetus that she had to protect. It would suck, obviously, and it would be unfair (I mean, accidents usually have unfair results, but this would be up there), but she’d have that responsibility.

    Your claim that responsibility = punishment makes no sense to me. If I crash into someone’s car and damage it, I have a responsibility to help them get it fixed (usually by paying money, usually via insurance companies); but if someone else crashes me into their car, I don’t have that responsibility. Is this responsibility therefore a punishment?

    I do say “almost a person” because if the fetus were really totally a person, then it would really suck for pregnant women that their choice would be between (1) trying to carry the fetus to term and (2) having it murdered. And that would be true whether the woman was a rape victim or not. I’m not saying that all anti-abortion belief systems would allow rape exemptions, only that it would be possible to believe a woman can have a responsibility to her fetus without that being a “punishment” per se. (And I’m not just talking in the abstract here; anti-abortionists fall into the same general camp that’s always yammering on about personal responsibility. They really believe this stuff.)

    Reply
  36. Cara Post author

    You claim that my assertion that holding women “responsible” in this way for having consensual sex is punishment makes no sense to you. This makes absolutely no sense to me:

    I think that if feti had rights (which anti-abortionists presumably believe they do), then a woman who had consensual sex and got pregnant would bear some responsibility for upholding those rights, in a way that a woman who was raped would not. By having consensual sex, she’d have taken on the risk of creating a fetus that she had to protect. It would suck, obviously, and it would be unfair (I mean, accidents usually have unfair results, but this would be up there), but she’d have that responsibility.

    Again, either the fetus has rights or it does not. There is no self-defense with a fetus in either of these cases, assuming that we’re thinking of a hypothetical woman who could safely carry to term. Murder is murder is murder. But I think that your “risk of creating a fetus she had to protect” is revealing. Under this theory, you are essentially saying that het men innately have more sexual rights than het women.

    Let’s use your car example. We’re not talking about money, we’re talking about physical consequences. So the correct analogy would be a physical injury. In getting behind the wheel of a car, I take the risk of being injured in an accident. And yet, I in no way feel that I take on the risk of being injured, arriving at the hospital and having people tell me that I have no right to be treated because I willingly got behind the wheel of the car and am therefore responsible for my injuries. People talk about having an abortion like it’s some kind of super fun way to avoid “responsibility.” It’s not, it’s just another form of taking responsibility.

    In having sex, the only responsibility I take on is to my partner — making sure that consent is obtained, no one gets hurt, no STDs are passed, etc. This is why I believe it’s punishment: because the person who is being held “responsible” did not do anything that assumed taking up that responsibility. There are reasonable limits to responsibility, and there is a point at which you go overboard and turn responsibility into punishment — I believe that forcing a woman to give birth against her will is way over that line. And even if a fetus was a life worthy of rights, we still go back to the old man example — if I injure that old man, no one has the right to attach me to him and no one would ask me to.

    And I honestly am not sure that they believe the “personal responsibility” stuff, even if it is a big part of their politics. The term “personal responsibility” is one that I am exceedingly wary of in politics, because it is one that has been used to justify all sort of horrible actions, to justify racist and misogynist systems and to keep the rich rich and the poor poor. The politics of “personal responsibility” work in their favor and it sounds a lot nicer than “if poor black people can’t support themselves, they’ll just have to starve.” That’s the thing — in politics, “personal responsibility” is code for “punishment” (i.e. the war on drugs) and for “I don’t want to give a certain class of people rights I don’t think that they deserve” (i.e. welfare reform, abortion, affirmative action, and so on).

    Reply
  37. Ran

    > And even if a fetus was a life worthy of rights, we still go back to the old man example — if I injure that old man, no one has the right to attach me to him and no one would ask me to.

    If you injured an old man in a way that resulted in his being attached to you (not through human intervention, I mean, but somehow that’s how the accident turned out), and you then decided to detach him and let him die, that would at the very least be manslaughter, and I think it would probably be murder.

    You seem to be implying that you think you’d have no obligation to someone that you put in deadly peril; but I don’t believe that you really think that, because you don’t seem to be the incredibly cold-hearted human being that you’d have to be.

    As for “either the fetus has rights or it does not”, I disagree. Even real-me disagrees, as opposed to hypothetical anti-abortion me. Not all rights are absolute; I have a right to not get injured, but if I come at someone with a knife, they’re within their rights to defend themselves, even in a way that might injure me. In those circumstances they’re not under any obligation to protect my right to non-injury. (But if they knock me out, take my knife, and slit my throat, that’s probably murder.) And I think a fetus probably has a right not to suffer during an abortion any more than is actually necessary to perform the abortion safely (though I guess I’m venturing back into the hypothetical, since it’s unclear whether feti are capable of suffering). Actually, I suppose the same is true of animals: I think it’s O.K. to eat meat (though I myself choose not to), but I don’t think it’s O.K. to go after a deer and run it down with your car.

    Reply
  38. Cara Post author

    If you injured an old man in a way that resulted in his being attached to you (not through human intervention, I mean, but somehow that’s how the accident turned out), and you then decided to detach him and let him die, that would at the very least be manslaughter, and I think it would probably be murder.

    If he could live and I detached him and let him die without medical treatment, clearly that would be a stark moral wrong. But if the only way that he could live was to be attached to me forever, and you think that me insisting that he be detached is murder, I think that’s absolutely fucking insane.

    You seem to be implying that you think you’d have no obligation to someone that you put in deadly peril; but I don’t believe that you really think that, because you don’t seem to be the incredibly cold-hearted human being that you’d have to be.

    If you had read my comments re: responsibility vs. punishment, you wouldn’t think that I was implying that. But I don’t really how to even begin responding to that and don’t see it going anywhere good, especially since I already covered your self-defense angles and certainly never advocated torturing a fetus, though even if I did my position would still hold as it would be no more right to torture the fetus formed by rape than the fetus caused by consensual sex. So I’m just going to have to walk away from this conversation.

    Reply
  39. Pingback: What is the Future of Abstinence-Only Sex Education? : The Curvature

  40. Pingback: “Pro-Life” Myth No. 3: Pro-choicers hate babies! « The Radical Notion

  41. Anna

    ‘What was the significance of the piano player?’

    We had this in our philosophy class last year. Uhm, basically, it was an analogy that only worked in the case of rape. This has actually pissed me off enough to dig out my philosophy folder! I couldn’t remember the details and it was driving me mad. right. here we are:

    It was an analogy written by Judith Jarvis Thomson to show that even if said foetus is considered a person you’re morally justified in killing it – i.e. you don’t have to accept the premise foetus != person (as I do, but hey.)
    The only significance of the piano player (or as we had it, violinist – musical theme seems to be quite common!) being famous is that it makes slightly more sense (i.e. this is a person of world-renown they are desperate to keep alive, not just some random old guy off the street). Thomson’s analogy is that it is flawed in that it only applies to cases of rape (as the sex was not consensual, you had no way of knowing it would happen).
    This analogy was modified by Jane English, who amended it to the scenario that this was an occasional happening in the world (i.e. people who go out and are rendered unconcious are aware that their body could be hijacked in such a fashion, should they happen to have an accident that causes them to lose conciousness), which makes the analogy work in cases of conventional sex – whilst you accept there is a risk this could happen and it makes sense to do everything to minimise this risk, i.e. take contraceptives (or in the analogy I don’t know, something like don’t walk across roads with your eyes closed, drink till you pass out, run into walls repeatedly, etc) you would still be entitled to unhook yourself.

    So, there you go. It was actually intended as a pro-choice example, not just a philosophical thought experiment, especially in it’s current incarnation by English (the original was limited to cases of rape).

    🙂

    Reply

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