Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Keep procedures where babies brains are sucked out safe and legal

The Republicans need to offer Democrats a deal: They'll stop supporting the campaigns of candidates who think that killing an unborn child who was the product of rape should be illegal if the Democrats will promise not to support the campaigns of candidates who support partial birth abortion, a procedure in which a doctor partially delivers a baby and sucks out its brains.

Of course that would be difficult, given that the Democrats platform would prevent making it illegal and President Obama has supported keeping it legal.

34 comments:

Anonymous said...

I get your point, Martin, I really do. The "sacrament" of Roe v Wade only granted a first trimester choice which pro abortion extremists like Obama readily ignore and obfuscate. That said, if Murdock truly believes what he said then he's saying that if his wife was raped and impregnated that he would welcome a child into this world conceived of such horrific circumstances. Has Mrs. Murdock spoken on this? If she disagrees would Mister Murdock force the issue? It's time for Tea Party Generals like Sara Palin to start claiming their defeats as well as their victories, isn't it?

Martin Cothran said...

Anonymous,

if Murdock truly believes what he said then he's saying that if his wife was raped and impregnated that he would welcome a child into this world conceived of such horrific circumstances.

I would think he would say that (assuming his wife is pro-life too) that it would not help the situation to compound what would already be a horrific psychological blow to his wife with another one: the knowledge that she took the life of her unborn child.

I'm trying to figure out why anyone thinks that aborting a baby under any circumstances just sweeps away all the problems. It doesn't. The knowledge that you have had an abortion is itself a psychological burden for many women.

Singring said...

'I would think he would say that (assuming his wife is pro-life too) that it would not help the situation to compound what would already be a horrific psychological blow to his wife with another one: the knowledge that she took the life of her unborn child.'

Here's an idea - why don't we let the victim (the woman) make these kinds of decisions?

It's HER body, the crime was commited against HER, yeat here we have men trying to lecture women what would be best for them and that carrying a rapists fetus to term would help her avoid a 'horrific psychological blow'.

Where do you get off on making trhese proclamations about how a woman should or shouldn't feel about aborting a rapists' fetus?

'I'm trying to figure out why anyone thinks that aborting a baby under any circumstances just sweeps away all the problems.'

Who *in the world* has ever made such a ridiculous claim?

But it's up to the woman to make that kind of choice - nobody is forcing her to have an abortion - but she should be able to make decisions about her own baody (and until the fetus is viable on its own it *is* a part of her body).

'The knowledge that you have had an abortion is itself a psychological burden for many women.'

Perhaps it is - but again, who made you the person to instruct women as to what they shoudl be doing with their bodies after they've been raped?

Talk about government intrusion...

Thomas said...

Singring,

I assume that this kind of thing would extend to men as well? That men who father children can do what they want with what is theirs without women telling them otherwise?

Martin Cothran said...

Singring,

It's HER body

It is? So the fetus' DNA is the same as the mother's?

Singring said...
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Singring said...

'I assume that this kind of thing would extend to men as well? That men who father children can do what they want with what is theirs without women telling them otherwise?'

After conception, the fetus is in no way, shape or form dependent on the father. It is dependent on the mother's body 100 % until it can survive outside of her body on its own.

So if anyone should have anything to say about terminating a pregnancy at this stage, it is the mother. If the father wants out, then he should discuss this with the mother and make the necessary legal arrangements - he doesn't have to be in any way involved with parenting the child.

'It is? So the fetus' DNA is the same as the mother's?'

When did I claim that? What has that got to do with anything???

The fetus - until some stage in the second trimester (I believe that is the current situation in terms of premature delivery) - is 100 % dependent on the mother and has no chance of surviving outside of her body.

Therefore, it is de facto a part of her body for her to do with as she pleases.

I'm really embarrassed I have to explain these kinds of basic biological facts to grown men.

And I find it very puzzling how a champion of individualism and personal responsibility free of government intrusion could actually advocate legislating what people do with their own bodies.

This just a few days after making another Orwellian reference, Martin. The irony is killing me.

Martin Cothran said...

Singring,

100 % dependent on the mother and has no chance of surviving outside of her body

So is a 1 week old child. Can the mother do with that as she pleases?

Martin Cothran said...

Singring,

When did I claim that? What has that got to do with anything?

What has DNA got to do with whether something is a part of your body? As we used to say in high school, "Duh."

Are you seriously asking that question? If the fetus is a part of the woman's body, then it should have her DNA.

Does it?

Singring said...
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Singring said...

'So is a 1 week old child. Can the mother do with that as she pleases?'

A one-week old child can survive happily without the mother so long as someone else takes care of it. Are you honestly telling me that you can't see the difference between a fetus that cannot - not even with the best medical intervention in the world right now - survive when its connection to the mother's placenta is ruptured and a one-week old child that survives outside of the mother without any direct connection to her body?

Again, the level of biological knowledge on display here is a bit underwhelming, I must say.

'Are you seriously asking that question? If the fetus is a part of the woman's body, then it should have her DNA.'

No, to be part of her body all it has to be is...wait for i...,part of her body (see what I did there)?

Martin, the sheer absurdity of your position on this can be illustrated very easily:

Sally and Lucy are identical twins share the exact same DNA. Does that mean that Sally is a part of Lucy? Does that mean Sally gets to say what Lucy has to do?

Roger has just received a liver transplant from his cousin, who died in a car accident. The DNA in the liver is less than 25 % identical with his own. So does that mean the liver is not part of his body? Does that mean the liver is a 'life of its own'? And when Roger needs another life-saving operation, should we deny him that because it might also put at risk the liver, which (according to you) is not part of his body by virtue of it having different DNA and instead should be treated (again, according to your 'logic') as a full human being entitled to its own rights?

Martin Cothran said...

Singring,

not even with the best medical intervention in the world right now

I see we are getting into the ad hoc stage of your argument.

So whether or not a fetus is a distinct human person is dependent on the state of medical technology?

Wouldn't that mean that something could be a distinct human person now that wasn't, say, 25 years ago?

And wouldn't it also mean that something could be a distinct human person in on country (with more advanced medical technology), but not in another (with less sophisticated medical technology)?

This "advanced biological knowledge" of yours gets stranger and stranger.

Singring said...
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Singring said...

'I see we are getting into the ad hoc stage of your argument.'

I see you haven't even tried to defend your absurd delineation of personhood based on DNA.

'So whether or not a fetus is a distinct human person is dependent on the state of medical technology?'

So identical twins are the same person?

What I am talking about here is the careful distinction between respecting the rights of the mother as defined by the law the law and respecting the rights of any other persons as defined by the law.

I have made an argument here that - no matter what other positions on 'personhood' you might hold, it is absurd to say that a fetus that is 100 % dependent on the mother and in that sense is fully part of her body is a separate person entitled to any kind of protection under the law.

'Wouldn't that mean that something could be a distinct human person now that wasn't, say, 25 years ago?'

In the eyes of the law, it certainly could. And in fact that is what you are seeing in some countries in the world - in the UK, for example, the time window in which a woman can have an abortion is under debate as medical technology makes the survival of younger and younger fetuses possible:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/4350259.stm

Of course, in your stone-age myopia of absolute and immutable moral doctrine, these kinds of nuances are ignored.

'And wouldn't it also mean that something could be a distinct human person in on country (with more advanced medical technology), but not in another (with less sophisticated medical technology)?'

In the eyes of the law? Absolutely.

Anonymous said...

Let's pray that a future Supreme Court doesn't apply a gun control scheme across the states because of creative jurisprudence. That would make the great American abortion debate look like a walk in the park.

Thomas said...

"If the father wants out, then he should discuss this with the mother and make the necessary legal arrangements - he doesn't have to be in any way involved with parenting the child."

So does the father have any obligation to support the child if the mother doesn't want to "make the necessary legal arrangements" (whatever that means)?

Singring said...

'So does the father have any obligation to support the child if the mother doesn't want to "make the necessary legal arrangements" (whatever that means)?'

If you are asking my opinion, all I can say is: 'that depends'. It depends on whether the father has the means and ability to support the child. In cases where the father can't or won't take that responsibility, we as a society - the state - have that responsibility.

But at this stage the child is alreay born and no longer dependent on the mother - so it really has nothing to do with a woman's right to choose what to do with her body in the first months of pregnancy.

I know what you're trying to say here - you are trying to make the argument: 'Why should a father be forced to support the survival of a child and not be allowed to choose an abortion when a woman has that kind of choice?'

My answer is: tough luck. This is human biology and it just so happens that the fetus is a part of the woman's body for her to do with as she chooses for a certain period of time. The father has no say over that and this is simply a result of how our biology works. Given the fact that women have to go through pregnancy, child birth and all of the medical risks involved, I would think it is only fair that the father - in some cases - is stuck with a bill as his part in the bargain.

Thomas said...

I'm not clear on your answer. Are you saying that fathers do have a duty to support children that cannot care for themselves if they can afford it, because of fairness?

If that is the case, than it follows that there exist at least some duties people have simply by virtue of being a parent to support those who depend on them whether the parent wishes to do this or not. It cannot be the case that abortion bans are illegitimate because the child is dependent on his mother, because you have already admitted that parents have, in other circumstances, a duty to support their dependent children. In fact, the very dependence you cite as a reason for denying a mother's obligations you also use to justify a father's obligations.

Anonymous said...

A friend of mine told all of his sons this...If you get a girl pregnant all choices are hers. Abortion, offer of marriage, out of wedlock birth... you have zero say even for the following scenario, you will be held responsible financially even if you didn't even know that you had impregnated a girl until five years later when a summons for DNA testing arrives at your door, as a first step towards mandatory child support payments. You see, son, America has a war on men going on. So I'd suggest you always do what you can control, to wit, wrap that rascal.

Singring said...

'If that is the case, than it follows that there exist at least some duties people have simply by virtue of being a parent to support those who depend on them whether the parent wishes to do this or not. It cannot be the case that abortion bans are illegitimate because the child is dependent on his mother, because you have already admitted that parents have, in other circumstances, a duty to support their dependent children. In fact, the very dependence you cite as a reason for denying a mother's obligations you also use to justify a father's obligations.'

You are making a fundamental categorical error here, Thomas.

A fetus in the mother's womb is part of her body - it is not a 'dpendent child'. That is the whole point - there is no child, there is just a fetus growing on the placenta in the womb.

This has nothing to do with the responsibility of the mother, father or the state once the child has been born. The child then is in no way strictly dependent on the mother (or the father, for that matter) to survive - for example, the state can step in.

In the first few months of a pregnancy, the fetus, as a part of the mother's body, is *exclusively* and *completely* dependent on the mother, so it should be her decision alone as to what she decides to do with that part of her body.

Once that stage has passed, we can start discussing issues of dependency and how it involves the father, mother, state or whomever.

Thomas said...

Before we get into the fetus/child debate, perhaps we could get clear on the nature of dependence and moral obligation. I'm still unclear on precisely what you are saying.

Does a father have a general obligation to support his children when they are dependent on him once they have been born? Does the mother?

Singring said...

'Does a father have a general obligation to support his children when they are dependent on him once they have been born? Does the mother?'

Of course they do. I would fully agree with you that once a fetus/child is capable of surviving biologically apart from teh mother's body, there is (under most circumstances I can envision) a moral obligation to support that child. If they can't, society takes on that responsibility.

Thomas said...

OK, that makes sense. I think we agree that there exist at least some unwanted obligations to a class of those who are dependent. So simply because A is dependent on B's resources does not mean that B necessarily can deny A those necessary resources. Where we disagree is about which class can give rise to these kinds of obligations, specifically whether it would include unborn children (in my view) or non-viable fetuses (in yours).

It seems that your argument that fetuses are not within the protected class is that they are "exclusively and completely dependent" on another. (We can just call this "absolute dependence" and then once they are born "partial dependence" unless you think that misleading.)

My position would be that dependence, whether absolute or partial, gives rise to an obligation of support. This would apply not only for fetuses, but the disabled, the indigent, the sick and the aged.

My claim would be that as a general matter, we have an obligation to support those who need us, whether as parents, citizens, or merely other human beings, and that dependence alone is not a reason to deny such obligation but rather precisely what gives rise to the obligation--and the obligation is more important the greater the degree of dependence.

So I suppose my question is this: if dependence in general can give rise to obligations of assistance, how do you distinguish between absolute and partial dependence, making the former the basis to deny such an obligation while making the latter something that gives rise to an obligation? (If you do think that and I haven't misstated your position.)

Martin Cothran said...

In addition, in the case of partial dependents, if the partially dependent person is more dependent, and therefore in need of more assistance rather than less, is the person on whom they are dependent more or less obligated to support the person?

Singring said...
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Singring said...
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Singring said...

(Sorry, there was a significant typo in this post earlier, so I deleted and reposted)

I think you have outlined the core of the issue very well, Thomas.

However, I think there is still one major misunderstanding and that is probably more my fault - I haven't given a clear outline of the fundamental distinction I make in this context:

'It seems that your argument that fetuses are not within the protected class is that they are "exclusively and completely dependent" on another. (We can just call this "absolute dependence" and then once they are born "partial dependence" unless you think that misleading.)'

I don't classify non-viable fetuses as unprotected in the sense you have outlined purely by virtue of being absolutely dependent. I simply classify them as 'part of the mother' because of that dependence.

So in that sense, I don't see a non-viable fetus as a separate 'person', 'entity' or whatever term you want to use to describe that state. If I can put it in an incredibly crass way (and I know that this kind of language is not appealing to pro-lifers, but please try and bear with me): I see the non-viable fetus as an 'outgrowth' of the mother - a non-essential organ in her body, if you will. Sure - that fetus has the 'potential' to become a human life, but so does an egg cell, a sperm cell, or a naturally aborted fetus, for instance.

The fetus, at this stage, is therefore - by definition - a part of the mother's body. It can't survive outside of her body (at least with current technology) any more than her brain could.

With this in mind, I don't see how anyone could see themselves in a position to tell a pregnant woman what she ought to do with, what is in essence, part of her body.

We can't force people not to have an operation to have, say, a non-essential organ removed or something else about there body altered, so how come we should be forcing women not to have that kind of operation if they want it? Who are we to make those dictates and invade her privacy of doing to her body what she sees fit?

Once the fetus becomes viable, I personally see a fundamental change in this situation - the fetus then trabsitions into a stage where (as we agree) it deserves protection because, by comeing only 'partially dependent' as you say, it moves into the realm of responsibility that goes beyond the woman jsut making decisions about her own body.

So to sum up my position: I hold that any and all abortions - for whatever reason - should be legal up to the stage where the fetus becomes viable outside of the womb (where to draw that line is difficult, but UK law for example currently says 24 weeks, which doctors appear to say is reasonable). After that, abortions should only be legal if there is a risk to the mother's life if the pregnancy were to continue. In cases of rape and incest, I am inclined to say there should be no limit to when the abortion can occur - simply because women in those situations may be under such an amount of psychological stress that they simply are not in a position to make a decision until late into the pregnancy (but this is something for psychologists and other medical experts to discuss).

The whole issue of dependency after birth is a whole other can of worms, of course.

I hope this makes things a little clearer.

Singring said...

'My claim would be that as a general matter, we have an obligation to support those who need us, whether as parents, citizens, or merely other human beings, and that dependence alone is not a reason to deny such obligation but rather precisely what gives rise to the obligation--and the obligation is more important the greater the degree of dependence.'

I would actually fully agree with this statement, so i hope my above comment has illustrated a bit more clearly why I wouldn't put non-viable fetuses in this category at all and why dependency - in the sense you are using it for the elderly, for example, doesn't quite apply to fetuses in my view.

Thomas said...

What I'm ultimately arguing, though I'm not there yet, is this: a political/moral philosophy which, as one of its central principles, advocates moral and legal duties toward the weak and the dependent can make a much stronger case against abortion than can a moral/political philosophy that either (1) makes independence the paradigm for human beings and therefore regards dependence as something that makes one less essentially human, or (2) admits that while perhaps we owe moral duties to the weak, these shouldn't be legal duties, because the obligations we have are only those we freely choose.

In other words, a political philosophy that is very concerned for immigrants, the sick (and uninsured), the aged, the poor, and so on has powerful reasons to advocate for the unborn.

On the other hand, a political philosophy that either thinks obligations to the unfortunate to be unimportant or not a matter for legal obligation (whether imposed on individual or society as a whole through e.g., social insurance) will find it less easy to make the pro-choice argument. I think this is why anti-abortion legislation has been less a part of conservative rhetoric recently, because conservatives have turned into libertarians.

But I'm not arguing that if one is pro-choice one must necessarily be against the poor or the sick, or, on the other hand, if one is pro-life one must necessarily support universal health coverage. I’m simply saying that absent countervailing considerations (such as your body-organ argument) they are strongly connected.

So the pro-life position may actually be much closer to your intuitions about social justice than it may appear at first. Your political philosophy, from what I remember it being, may actually give you powerful reasons for opposing abortion.

If that's the case, then the reason you are pro-choice (pre-viability) must come from a countervailing consideration. In other words, but for the argument you have presented (and any other arguments you might have that you also hold), you might quite logically and naturally oppose abortion even prior to viability.

What I will try to argue, then, if all this is right, is that your countervailing argument does not do justice to your intuitions about the nature of justice and social obligations. (I haven’t argue that yet, I just want to make the forest of my argument clear from the trees.)

Thomas said...

So to return to your actual argument after that absurdly long excursis ....

If I could summarize your argument, I think it is this: the absolute dependence of A on B means that A is a part of B. That is, just as a kidney is absolutely dependent on the body and therefore a part of it, so with a pre-viable fetus. There must be some meaningful degree of independence for A to be different from B. Partial dependence is a middle position: A is not quite dependent or independent from B, it is to some degree both. This middle position gives rise to obligations of support.

But I think there is a meaningful distinction between the dependence of an organ and an organism. This can be seen from an example:

Say that a hospital owns an incubation machine for prematurely born fetuses, and the fetus cannot survive outside such a machine. Once it is placed inside the machine, removing it too soon would be fatal. The fetus is absolutely dependent upon the machine, much as pre-viable fetuses are absolutely dependent upon the mother. Does that mean that the fetus is a part of the machine, just as is the machine's power supply, tubing, etc.?

The hospital owns the incubation machine. Presumably if the machine is empty, it generally has the right to use the machine as it wishes. Does that mean that it has the same right when the absolutely dependent fetus is present in it? Is there any obligation the hospital has to keep the machine on, even if, for example, the mother doesn't pay her bill?

Singring said...

'The hospital owns the incubation machine. Presumably if the machine is empty, it generally has the right to use the machine as it wishes. Does that mean that it has the same right when the absolutely dependent fetus is present in it? Is there any obligation the hospital has to keep the machine on, even if, for example, the mother doesn't pay her bill?'

I think the fact that you have reached the point where you draw a moral equivalency between an electronic incubator in a hospital and a living, breathing woman illustrates perfectly the absurdity of your position.

Again, I have clearly stated that once the fetus has become viable and can - for example - be placed in an incubator and survive, then there is a moral obligation on the mother, the father and then the state to take care of it's needs.

This is *fundamentally* different from the period where the fetus is completely a part of the mother's body.

If you can;t see the categorical error you are making here and insist on equating a mother and the rights she has to her own body to an electric incubator plugged into a wall socket somewhere to switch on an off with the flick of a button, then there's really no place else for this discussion to go.

I happen to think of women as more than just incubators for babies for us to decide what to do with.

Anonymous said...

In the meantime Mourdock is going to lose big in culturally conservative Indiana to an un-impressive Democrat.

Thomas said...

Singring,

If the absolute dependence of A on B makes A simply a part of B, and it does not matter whether A is a fetus or a kidney, then it shouldn't matter whether B is a human being or a machine so far as A's status as a thing or a part of a thing is concerned.

You might have a second argument that even if the fetus is not merely a part, the mother, as a human being, has certain rights to an abortion, but that is a different argument than the one you have made.

The question is whether the absolute dependence of something makes it a part of another thing rather than the sort of semi-independent thing to which rights can be attributed.

So I will rephrase the question: if a fetus is absolutely dependent on X for the reasons you have articulated (it cannot survive outside of X), is this sufficient to deny any sort of moral obligation to a fetus?

If your answer is yes in the case of certain Xs (mothers) and no in the case of others, then absolute dependence is a necessary but not a sufficient criterion for the argument you want to make, and you require some further criteria.

Singring said...

I'm really not quite sure why you're still hung up on this 'absolute dependency' thing. Clearly, a fetus is absolutely dependent on the mother (in the first few months of a pregnancy, anyway) - that is, if we take the fetus from the mother's body, no matter what we do with it, it will die.

If you put a fetus that is viable in an incubator, we could move it to another incubator, for example - and it wouldn't die. So the fetus is in no way, shape or form dependent on one particular incubator in the way it is dependent on the mother in the first months of pregnancy. So even this (in my opinion horrid) analogy in which you equate a living, breathing, conscious mother to an electronic device in a corner, the whole issue of dependency is not analogous at all.

'If your answer is yes in the case of certain Xs (mothers) and no in the case of others, then absolute dependence is a necessary but not a sufficient criterion for the argument you want to make, and you require some further criteria.'

I'm sorry, but I really thought that the fact of the mother being and independent moral agent of her own who is morally justified to do with her body as she pleases (so long as she doesn't do harm to any other independent moral agents) would be implicit in any moral argument.