Dear friend: Words have meanings.

[TRIGGER WARNING: images of embryos, f-bombs.]

In the space of less than five minutes, things turned very ugly. Maybe you won’t even read this, and that’s fine: you owe me absolutely nothing. Nor I you.

I am still angry and deeply hurt, but less so as the days pass. It’s good to know where I really stand with you: that my happiness and my life (to say nothing of the lives and happiness of billions of other people) mean less to you than this does:

week9humanembryo

FIG 1. Human embryo at 9 weeks clinical gestation. (Optical Topography)
Actual size = approx. 2.3 cm.
Three quarters of all U.S. abortions are performed by 9 weeks.
(9 weeks is also the cutoff for a medication abortion via mifepristone.)

Our mutual friend said that I took your words beyond their face value to mean something you never intended. Well, that is because your words have meanings. Those meanings have dire and direct consequences for real people. And those consequences include pain, suffering, misery, destitution and death for untold millions of actual people, right now, today.

Those consequences, as you know, also include my own death, should I get pregnant and not have access to a safe abortion. If you don’t know what your words mean, perhaps you shouldn’t say them. On the other hand, if you do know, and you say those words anyway, then I repeat: FUCK YOU.

When you express opposition to abortion on demand, your words mean that you view all of this as perfectly fine: My death. Their deaths. Their poverty. Their children’s poverty. You would condemn real people to death, to a life of misery and suffering. And for what? For this:

mouseembryoFIG 2. embryo.
(NOTE: NOT ACTUAL SIZE!)

OH WAIT, I’m sorry. I got mixed up. That’s ^ a mouse embryo up there, not a human embryo. Sure looks a lot like that human embryo, though. And yet, nothing like a mouse. Weird.

mousevsembryoFIG 3. Mouse vs. mouse embryo.
Can you tell which is which?

batembryo

FIG. 4. Embryo.
UM, NOT ACTUAL SIZE.

That you believe this —> is precious is demonstrably wrong. It isn’t. Half of all fertilized eggs spontaneously abort. And yet for some reason we’re not holding millions of funerals for them. Why is that? No, seriously: why is abortion only a grave moral tragedy when a woman chooses to end her pregnancy—something that happens half the time anyway? Nature doesn’t give a shit about human embryos. They’re not even worth a dime a dozen. But you? To you, a single embryo is worth more than my life, my freedom, my happiness, and my humanity, including my right to decide what goes on inside my own fucking body. Do you even understand how fucking devastating it is for me to know that you care more about this—> than about me? That a tiny, unconscious, unwanted creature is more worthy of your love and respect than I am is heartbreaking.

So since you don’t give a fuck about me, what about the people who do love me and stand to lose me forever if people who “think” like you do get their way? (And they are indeed getting their way, both here and abroad.) That you can look my friends and family right in their faces and hold the views you do absolutely terrifies me. It makes me question my own judgment about getting close to anyone ever again, even if a person seems as truly compassionate and thoughtful as you once did. I do not trust people easily, and for good reason. As you know, many people in my life have devalued, abused and objectified me. Used me for their own desires and purposes, without ever giving even the slightest shit about my own. I will not stand for it anymore. Not from you, not from anyone.

Whoops, that image up there^ is a bat embryo. My bad.

batvsbatembryoFIG. 5. True fact: one of these is a bat embryo, and the other is a sleeping baby bat.
???

humanblastocystday5

FIG. 5
human blastocyst
day 5

I pointed out the fact that my cat is more sentient than a blastocyst, and you asked me—repeatedly—”How do you know?” Three answers:  (1) the sciences of embryology and neurobiology which inform us when it’s even possible for a creature to be conscious and aware, (2) it doesn’t even fucking matter, because it’s grotesquely immoral to force me (or you or any other person) to be a slave to anyone else who needs to suck my blood in order to survive, whether that person is sentient or not, and (3) the exact same way you know. That’s right: you know the difference between sentient and non-sentient beings. And I’ll prove it to you, with an old thought experiment. It goes like this: you find yourself in a burning building and all exits are blocked except one, which happens to be in a fertility clinic you must pass through to escape. The flames and smoke are almost unbearable. As you make your way toward the exit, you see on one side of the room a small box marked “100 Live Embryos” (technically they’d be blastocysts at this point, but since we’re pretending we’ll pretend they’re actually embryos eight weeks older). On the other side of the room, you see a live human infant completely oblivious to the imminent danger. You will only have time to take one of these with you on your way out, before the room is completely engulfed in flames. It’s the baby or the box. Which will you take?

Here, look—I made a graphic to help you make up your mind:

babyvsembryosFIG 6. dozens of human embryos vs. one human infant.
Choose carefully!

Well?

If you chose to save those embryos, then let me just say on behalf of myself, the baby you would let burn to death, and the rest of humanity: FUCK YOU.

If you chose to save the actual baby, congratulations! You’re a decent, intelligent, compassionate human being who knows the difference between non-sentient embryos and a sentient baby—and you really should fucking stop saying words to the effect that you don’t.

Are there not enough unwanted children? Are the world’s orphanages empty? Are there not enough grindingly poor pregnant women in the world’s overpopulated slums and housing projects, starving themselves because they cannot even feed their existing children? Can the planet even sustain the billions more people that would result from your preferred policies? Women with unwanted pregnancies are so desperate not to give birth that they will knowingly seek unsafe abortions, or attempt dangerous terminations themselves with whatever is on hand. A knitting needle. A coat hanger. A twig or stick. They have done so for all of known history, when they were not otherwise busy dying in childbirth from their umpteenth pregnancy.

We know that outlawing abortions does not stop them, but it does fill hospital wards with women dying of sepsis infections and hemorrhaging. Well, at least those “lucky” ones that can make it to a decent hospital in time. We know that denying women abortion on demand kills, maims and impoverishes them and their families. It reduces their humanity to that of subhuman incubators, enslaved against their wills, to this:

catembryoFIG. 7. Adorable tiny baby embryo. Awww.
Actual size = less than 2 cm.

But you’re okay with all of that. This ^ thing is more important to you than women deciding whether, when and how often they wish to go through a nine month pregnancy followed by the violent expulsion that is giving birth, to become a mother with all of the responsibility that entails.

Did you know that a woman who carries a baby to term is 14 times more likely to die than she is from a legal abortion? And that’s to say nothing of birth complications including fractured pelvis, infection, hemorrhage, genitovaginal fistula, vaginal tearing, or the 15% of women who experience nerve damage leading to incontinence of stool or urine and sexual dysfunction. Childbearing is one of the most dangerous things a woman can do; it’s the sixth most common cause of death among women age 20 to 34 in the United States.

Now, given all of that, who should decide whether, when and how often someone goes through all of this? Why, other people. Of course.

My rage, sadness and contempt at this level of cruelty and disrespect knows no limits.

It’s physically revolting to me. Literally: I am barely holding down my breakfast as I write this.

OH SORRY! That’s ^ a cat embryo. I got confused for a minute because it’s so gosh darn cute. Maybe someday it will look like this:

kitty2FIG. 8. Mah kitteh.
She would probably miss me if I died for a fucking embryo. Okay, maybe not.

The moral ground here is not murky. This is not something on which reasonable, thoughtful and compassionate people can just agree to disagree.

This is an excised tubal pregnancy:

week6tubalFIG. 9. This little fucker would have soon killed its human host if allowed to remain.
Kill it! Kill it with fire!

Maybe for some reason you had just not thought through the consequences of your position on abortion until now. That really is the best possible interpretation I can think of for the things you said: that you were simply thoughtless. Then again, perhaps it’s not thoughtlessness but ignorance; that is, you honestly had no idea what your position actually leads to for me or other people. As you have long been a loyal reader of this blog and are a well-informed person generally, I would find that exceedingly difficult to believe, but I guess it’s possible.

A third possibility is misogyny: the deep, abiding hatred and distrust of women. Maybe I can do something to remediate the first two, but not this one. If you’re inclined to view women as less capable, less intelligent, less human than men, and less deserving of the basic human rights and bodily autonomy that you enjoy—and let’s be clear, forcing someone against her will to stay attached to a growing, blood-sucking fetus for nine months followed by the violent and dangerous expulsion that is giving birth, and to bring into the world a child she does not want is a particularly vile form of slavery—well, I don’t think I can help you with that.

Unfortunately statements like this one of yours make me lean toward the misogyny hypothesis:

“Since the man is on the hook for 18 years of child support, he should get a say.”

As if a mother is not also responsible for supporting her child. As if a mother’s support does not also go far beyond financial support, to a life-altering, all-encompassing, 24/7/365 commitment for at least 18 years that a father can walk away from if he chooses not to seek custody or visitation. Once there exists another person in the world, however, they are both responsible for the welfare of that person. As they damn well should be. Wanna pay less child support? Split custody.

I asked you what “a say” would look like. You know: in real, practical terms. Would the sperm donor get to make a speech about his opinions on abortion and childbirth to which the pregnant person would be forced to listen? No. Read something he wrote about it? An official filled-out form, maybe? No. Well what, then? I’m just saying, he should have a say. What does “a say” mean, exactly? Why wouldn’t you answer this question?

I strongly suspect it’s because “a say” means it should be his decision whether she will either abort, or be forced to have his child. And you just couldn’t come right out and say that to me.

Fucking patriarchy, how does it work?

That’s some fine company you’re in: the religious right and the Catholic church, patriarchal people and institutions whose contempt for the very notion that women are human beings entitled to the same human rights as anyone else knows no bounds. Wherever the Catholic church or the religious right has the political power to outlaw abortion, thousands of women are maimed from unsafe abortions, and they and their children are frequently condemned to lives of hunger and desperate poverty when they are forced to have children. This is what that looks like. This too. I am dumbfounded at people defending these policies when they have seen exactly where the ideology of prohibiting abortion leads. FACT: it leads to no fewer abortions, only to more dead and maimed women and orphaned children. This is what that looks like. [<—WARNING: extremely graphic image. NSFW]. This and this, too. Even the U.S. government does not view my sex as equally deserving of the basic rights all the Real Humans™ enjoy. This is the text of the proposed Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution:

Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.

The amendment failed.

And thus women can be treated as incubators, valuable only for incubating a fetus: a woman jailed for murder because she attempted suicide while pregnant; a woman denied chemotherapy for leukemia because she was pregnant; a woman dead from a septicemia because she was denied an abortion;  a woman dead from a forced C-section she did not want. And on and on. Mandated 3 business day waiting periods. Parental consent laws. This is what it means to treat a pregnant woman as less human than the mere potential human she has growing inside her. There is no justification for it; it is only the logical outcome of your view and those who share it. I get it: a fucking fetus is worth more than an actual living woman to them, too. Well FUCK THEM, TOO.

I’ve had a few pregnancy scares, you know. Despite taking precautions. It is true that I am personally privileged enough to have the means to escape to a saner country (e.g. Canada) to have an abortion should that become necessary. But (1) I did not always have this economic privilege and may not always, and (2) this is not just about me, but about millions of other pregnant Americans who cannot get to the next county, much less to the only clinic remaining in their entire state, without putting their jobs, themselves, or their families at risk of social ostracism and poverty.

Forced pregnancy is slavery. No one would call it any differently if you were involuntarily tethered to another person and forced to sustain that life for nine months (followed by a violent expulsion from your body cavity that might very well result in the skin and muscle between your testes and your anus being torn open). No one would ever call you free.

I am no one’s slave. My humanity is not negotiable. It is not something upon which well-intentioned people can reasonably disagree. It is not something anyone who claims to love me can dismiss or deny, and then still expect me to keep them in my life. Disrespect me at the peril of our friendship. Because as long as you honestly believe people like me should be enslaved against our wills to keep some other person alive—baby or no—you are not now and never were my friend.

A long time ago you lost a loved and wanted infant, and for that I am truly sorry. Would that all children brought into the world were so loved and wanted. But the fact is they are not. And you would use your personal tragedy as an emotional weapon, as if it somehow supports the notion that all pregnant women should be forced to give birth to children they do not want?

How dare you.

Only one of these is a person:

irisvs7weekembryoFIG. 10. Iris’s ladies room selfie, Halloween 2013 & 7-week old human embryo.

The one you care more about says everything I need to know about you.

187 thoughts on “Dear friend: Words have meanings.

  1. Well, I did read it. You obviously heard only what you wanted to hear, I did NOT say I opposed abortion on demand.

    Other than saying this absurd rant you posted isn’t worth the time it took to read it, I’ve got no response.

    You do love your soapbox!

    • You obviously heard only what you wanted to hear, I did NOT say I opposed abortion on demand.

      Sure d00d. I WANT to hear my friends say deeply misogynist shit, like that men “should have a say.” I especially WANT to hear people I love say “I’m not really down with the whole abortion thing.” I want to hear that shit so much that I actually hallucinate hearing it. Also, “I’m not really down with the whole abortion thing” means something different in English than it does in whatever exotic language you were speaking. Noted.

      And you brought up your daughter apropos of absolutely nothing, a total
      non sequitur, a complete change of topic that had nothing to do with the subject under discussion? No. You brought it up for a reason. What was it? (Or did I hallucinate that too?)

      Other than saying this absurd rant you posted isn’t worth the time it took to read it, I’ve got no response.

      How refreshing.

      You do love your soapbox!

      Yes, yes. I love feeling like this. And it was super easy to write this post. It’s not like it’s about something profoundly important and deeply personal to me or anything.

      But seriously? Yeah, I love my blog. I work hard on it. It’s only a “soapbox” when you disagree.

      Color me undaunted.

      • It was like she took words and feelings right out of my brain and put them together perfectly. This is why I rage to the point of being unable to speak over anti-choice policies.

    • Even if you were misinterpreted, this post was absolutely worth the time it took me, a total stranger, to read it. I live in a place where anti-abortion rhetoric and unbelievably cruel restrictions on access are as common as dirt. So I value every single time someone calls the bullshit and the cruelty of the anti-abortion movement by its true name.

      I’m glad this post was written — it may seem “absurd” as a response to something you said, but it is not absurd at all in a larger sense. It’s a clear, rational, compassionate, and absolutely necessary response to a set of attitudes and actions that are literally destroying people’s lives, right now, as we speak.

  2. Here’s a rant.

    You are just so right about every particular, especially that there really is no debating the issue among rational and well-intentioned people. One side is right and the other is wrong, just like in so many cases in our history where irrational prejudices prevented whole classes of people from enjoying basic human rights.

    Your writing presents the perfect balance of evidence, reason, examples, and emotion (passion and very appropriate outrage). What you wrote is not a rant but one of the most compelling cases for abortion on demand that I’ve read. The other side is all worked up over religion-based lunacy; they think those little worm-like blastocysts have souls with little personalities given to them by their almighty god. That’s the silly reason they want to treat women like slaves. All over a goddamn soul that doesn’t exist. And they want their belief in that cute little baby soul to be the foundation of a cruel and deadly law that destroys women’s lives, either literally or in Any and all laws based only on religion should be declared ipso facto unconstitutional. Like you wrote, nature or their god treats them as totally dispensable. Your point about not holding funerals for them is great.

  3. Oops, sorry, I posted before the rant was finished. I intended to say that women’s lives are not only literally destroyed (as in death) but also ruined by responsibilities they do not want or are not prepared to handle. Who benefits from the latter? Guess it makes the religious ideologues feel like they have upheld their precious god’s law, even if there isn’t any such law. Civil and criminal laws should never be based on religious beliefs, which are the source of all this anti-abortion craziness. The idea that Christians can force me or anyone to do anything based on their beliefs is abhorrent.

  4. Confession time: once upon a time, I thought too that “men ought to have a say”. But like your friend (?), I was completely unable to explain what “a say” was supposed to be.

    It’s stories and rants (ranting is good when the subject matter calls for it!) like yours that taught me better. Keep fighting the good fight!

    • This is similar to what I wrote to a friend last night. The first time I got pregnant, I felt that ethically I should inform the man involved and, had he told me that he very much wanted a child, I would have considered carrying it to term. However, although I feel that was the “right” thing for me to do in that circumstance, I can’t see anyway to codify that in law. Ultimately, since it involves a decision about the gestational parent’s body, that must be the person who makes the decision.

      • Right. It’s great when a woman is in a position where she can trust the father to simply give his heartfelt opinion of his own wishes, but leave it to her to weigh it in with her various concerns. But there are plenty of cases where there should be absolutely no say from him. Women are at greater risk for murder when they are pregnant, that’s how some men have their say. Part of being pro-choice and pro-woman is trusting her decision on who to consult.
        That also means the pro-choice stance is to support the woman who seems to be making an unwise choice. If she would rather risk her education and career to be a mother, even as a teen, it is her life, her body, and our job is to try to create a society that will give her a chance to catch up on those other things, with affordable junior colleges, day care, etc.

  5. So to summarise your argument
    1) Foetuses do not look like humans , and look like other animal foetuses , so it is permissible to kill them.
    2)Some people experience poverty/hunger after having babies. Illegal abortions can hurt women
    3) according to embryology foetuses are not sentient
    4) I would probably save a baby rather than some embryos from a fire
    5) Pro-lifers are thoughtless or misgynistic
    6) Some people need abortions for medical reasons

    To respond
    1) Seems not follow. babies don’t look like adults , but we shoudn’t kill them. Its just different stages in development
    2) Seems to be a consequentialist argument.
    To quote Matt Flanagan
    “Infanticide prevents the existence of unwanted children and their associated social costs, lowers the population, prevents the handicapped existing and saves women and teenagers from the economic and emotional stresses of parenthood. Yet infanticide, as convenient as it is, is condemned because it is homicide.”
    It seems that the argument presupposes the inhumanity of the foetus.
    3) True , but many of the hallmarks of sentience are not present in newborns either and we do not consider it permissible to kill them. We should consider the potential to have sentience
    4) But even if true , this only says something about me and my bias. I would rather save my friend from a fire than a stranger. That doesn’t mean it is permissible to kill strangers.
    5)Many thoughful and pro-women activists like Susan B. Anthony, Alice Paul were anti-abortion.
    6) Most pro-lifers do agree abortion should be permitted in such life-threatening cases. The denial of medical care to these women should be looked into and such situations should be prevented.

    • Hi, outsider here.

      1. No. The fetal pictures were brought up because the pro-lifers use pictures of babies or things that look like babies to make the argument: “This looks like a human, therefore it is not permissible to kill it.” It’s purely a counter, not an argument in itself.

      2. Arguments against murder, and a wide variety of other crimes, can only be based on the consequences. But yeah, the argument is in fact that fetuses are not human the same way a baby, child, or adult is. Pointing it out is not a response.

      3. The difference between an infant and an adult is far smaller than the difference between a fetus and an infant. You can’t argue that because one difference is fuzzy in some ways then it’s likely that the other difference also isn’t clear. Might as well argue that since animals don’t display all the hallmarks of sentience plants might potentially be sentient as well. As for the other meaning of “potential sentience,” potential is not actual. Sperm and eggs are “potentially” sentient in the same way, yet nobody attaches any importance to them. Valuing the potential (fetus) above the actual (mother) is morally reprehensible.

      4. Would you rather save your friend than 100 strangers? Even if you would, was the decision as easy as the one between a box of embryos and an infant? We value humans for being human, generally speaking. If it’s easy to choose the infant over a box of 100 embryos, then you’re recognizing a difference between embryos and babies that pro-lifers are trying to blur. The “bias” is prioritizing actuality over potentiality; one is actually a young person while the other “potentially” is (arguably, since the embryos would have to be implanted to survive, and would you be morally obligated to find 100 women to carry these embryos to term?)

      Thank you for your post, OP. It was a very cathartic read.

      • (Even if we assume every embryo is going to be implanted into a woman and develop into a newborn )
        I think people tend to have bias toward the familiar. Tell someone there are hundreds of nameless/faceless children dying of starvation in Africa/Asia and they wont think much of it , But put the name and the face of a child they know and they’d be willing to donate way more.
        I don’t think it proves anything regarding the moral status of embryos.
        But say there were 100 prematurely delivered babies? would you let them die.
        Even if the argument was right it would only be an argument the moral status of some embryos early in development

      • @biologosfan (because there weren’t deeper replies)

        But say there were 100 prematurely delivered babies? would you let them die.

        Are you asking whether I’d save an infant or 100 prematurely delivered babies? Obviously I’d go for the 100 as long as more than one could survive. I don’t get why you asked though.

        Even if the argument was right it would only be an argument the moral status of some embryos early in development

        Indeed, that particular argument of saving a box of embryos vs an infant only speaks to the moral status of embryos early in development. Pointing it out is not really a response. And if the argument were right it would exactly counter pro-lifers who assert that embryos are no different from infants, with the same rights.

    • 1) Thank you for being willfully obtuse. The argument is that the sentimentalizing of a fetus and the contention that it possesses the characteristics that really matter to being human fall away under the barest scrutiny.
      2) The infant is not infringing on anyone else’s bodily autonomy, nor is it necessarily connected to a particular person for its survival. Therefore, your argument is invalid.
      3) Again, understand bodily autonomy or get the fuck out. Also, the fact that you value potential sentience over the pain and misery of ACTUALLY SENTIENT people means that you are a ratfucking douchebag. This is not up for debate or discussion: you have definitively proved you are a total shithead with a clusterfuck of misogyny where moral reasoning ought to be.
      4) You are a disingenuous dipshit. Fuck off. (Also, if you would save your friend rather than 100 people, which was the example given, you are an asshole, and the families of those 100 people would be justifiably outraged.) Moreover, the point of the example as given is to show that people don’t even really believe the embryos are equivalent to real live human beings, except when they’re fishing around for a handy excuse to limit women’s rights.
      5) Many thoughtful and pro-freedom activists like Thomas Jefferson raped their slaves. Just because someone is right about one thing doesn’t mean ze is right about everything, or even that ze applies zir insights consistently when examined outside of the context of the biases of zir times. Just because someone understood the importance of political enfranchisement of women does not mean she was immune to the sex-negativity of the her times. Moreover, the revulsion towards abortion of those who lived over 100 years ago says much more about their perception of dangerous back-alley abortions and the stigma against those who sought them–you’ll notice with modern medical advances those attitudes have all but disappeared. You’re basically committing a massive ipse dixit fallacy, which means you’re either an illogical hack or you’re a lying sack of shit who has badly misjudged the gullibility of your audience.
      6) Tell that to Savita Halappanavar. Oh, wait, you can’t. BECAUSE SHE’S FUCKING DEAD, YOU ASSHOLE. And you fucking forced-pregnancy zealots are actively promoting legislation that would absolve doctors of all responsibility if they let patients die rather than perform a life-saving abortion. The Catholic Church (who is consolidating power over a shocking percentage of hospitals in this country), has an official policy of letting women die rather than letting them get an abortion even for a doomed pregnancy. They excommunicate & revoke hospital credentials of those who defy these misogynistic policies. Yeah, you’ll spout off cliches about how you’ll permit abortion to save a woman’s life in the abstract, but reality doesn’t work that way and your actions speak WAY louder than your words.
      7) In case I haven’t emphasized this enough, you are a vile, disgusting, misogynistic, disingenuous shithead and your attempts at argument deserve nothing but contempt.

    • Biologisfan,

      I found all your arguments ludicrous, but I’m just going to address point 6.

      Even ignoring the fact that many anti-choice people do not want any exceptions to banning abortions, your jazz-hand waving excuse that women who need an abortion to live can have your permission to get one will not stop actual women from dying. Who will be trained to perform abortions, when they become illegal? Where will they go to get it? Any hospital/clinic even suspected of providing abortions is already picketed. In your world that will only get worse.

      Tell yourself what you want to believe, but spare the rest of us your bullshit.

  6. Dear Iris,

    A powerful and persuasive statement on the need for others to get the hell out of the way when it comes to women deciding what to do with their bodies.

    Kudos to you. You’re an inspiration.

    My best,
    -Eric

  7. @biologosfan

    You’re peddling a particularly insidious moral argument: the idea that we can only make moral determinations when there’s a clear cut, objective criterion for making them, which is obvious bullshit. Should we draw the line at conception simply because it’s the easiest line to draw? Are we really that morally lazy? Or maybe you just think people (women) are too stupid to understand nuance and context. We humans make moral decisions all the time, every hour of the day, most of them without consulting Aristotle’s Ethics or making mental reference to Kant’s categorical imperative. Custom, context, culture, etc are all reasonable bases and contingencies for a moral argument. We know that killing infants is wrong. (Though this is not true for every human culture that exists or has existed.) It’s perfectly reasonable to know this and to also feel no moral weight attached to the life of an embryo. I’d have no qualms whatsoever destroying a million human embryos to save my friend an hour of misery.

  8. “Confession time: once upon a time, I thought too that “men ought to have a say”. ”

    I think there is a reasonable argument to be had that men should have a say if they are to have duties. Of course a man should not be permitted to decide whether or not a woman aborts, but it seems reasonable that should he ask for an abortion and be refused, he should not have to pay for the upbringing of a child that a woman has decided to have against his wishes.

    • But there’s still a resulting child there, who needs to be fed. He shares responsibility for creating it. No, he could never be forced to donate organs or tissue to sustain it, but monetary responsibility is a well-established part of our legal system. Furthermore, allowing men to just get out of the consequences of reproduction by saying “But I don’t wanna!” means they have EVEN LESS incentive to consider birth control their responsibility than they do now.

      This really isn’t a difficult concept–he is monetarily responsible for the situation he helped cause (and so is she, but everyone seems to forget that the woman is usually paying for well over half of the child’s upkeep in these situations). If a guy dented my car, he would be responsible for paying the cost of the consequences. It doesn’t matter if he could think of a cheaper alternative to my car being fixed to my satisfaction, he would not get to say, “I will only pay for this, not that” when he caused damage.

      • LeftSide, there is only a child because the woman has chosen for there to be a child, in which case it should be her responsibility to care for it, no? I agree that he should have equal liability for costs of abortion and necessary support during that procedure, but why should one partner get to decide the obligations of the other without both having an equal say?

      • @Celegans; the moment a man can get pregnant and risk his life to carry a baby to term is the moment that he can decide to abort.

      • Celegans – your argument is with “Mother Nature”, not women. It was already said that there is a child to be taken care of, and that’s what the money is for. You aren’t allowed to abandon children – mother or father.

        Since the only way for him to have an “equal say” is to give him the right to make medical decisions for her, or to allow him to abandon a living child because he feels like it, there’s no moral or ethical way to give him an “equal say”.

        Now, all that said, I personally would be totally amenable to “paper abortions” given the following conditions:

        1) The deadbeat signs away all parental rights.
        2) The deadbeat is forbidden to contact Other Parent or child for the rest of their lives (this is to prevent the deadbeat from coming back to get a kidney or something from the people they abandoned).
        3) The deadbeat cannot claim the child on their taxes.

        If one parent is going to walk away, they have to WALK AWAY. No changing your mind later on.

      • Biology isn’t fair. It isn’t fair that women get pregnant and men don’t. But given that unfair fact of biological life, there’s still an easy way to prevent a woman from forcing you to support the child she decided to birth against your objections. The way you do it is not to stick your dick in her if you don’t trust her to make decisions about any pregnancy that may result! Take responsibility for your actions.

      • Woah! Karen!

        The way you do it is not to stick your dick in her

        Are you telling us d00dz that we should have self-control over our dicks?

        MISANDRY!!!!1!1!!11!!!11!!elebendy!!!!11!

        (Did I do that right?)

  9. Thank you for this. I agree with you 100%. This is a very succinct and powerful argument for why anti-abortionists need to sit down and shut up about other people’s bodily autonomy.

  10. Way to go, Iris! I will always care for people over blastocysts and embryos. Those who think they are more important are welcome to occupy themselves fucking a hole deep into the ground.

  11. Celegans:

    I think there is a reasonable argument to be had that men should have a say if they are to have duties.

    I have said this too many times over the decades: you know, it’s easy and possible for a man to take responsibility in this area. If you do not want a child, or want to pay for a child’s upkeep, get a damned vasectomy! It’s a minimally invasive procedure, easily reversible these days in the event you do decide you want sprogs, and in the meantime, you get to go about all juice and no seeds – no fucking worries!

    It never ceases to amaze me just how few men are willing to take responsibility in this area, even though it’s quite simple to do so. I suppose reserving the ability to harangue and boss a woman about is better, even if you do end up with a sprog you don’t want, eh?

  12. As I heard in a comment somewhere responding to the NC politician who stated women were ‘hosts’ of new life; “As host, then, I get to say when the party is over and when folks go home”. Bottom line. Forced pregnancy is wrong and it is wrong to limit abortion access. It’s about choice — and this means no one should force anyone to have an abortion, either.

    I cannot be forced to lend my organs to someone for any reason; particularly when it means I’ll also be responsible for the rest of my life. I would think the same would apply here. Working from the other end of contraception, sexual education, and sexual autonomy would go far to prevent the need for abortion for unwanted pregnancies. And when a pregnant woman’s health is in danger and it’s easier to save her than the unborn foetus, then I vote for the being already here — unless SHE states otherwise.

  13. “I have said this too many times over the decades: you know, it’s easy and possible for a man to take responsibility in this area. If you do not want a child, or want to pay for a child’s upkeep, get a damned vasectomy!”

    Inaji, that argument cuts both ways (ahem). I don’t think vasectomy is minimally invasive, it is certainly as invasive as an early stage abortion and it can be pretty painful too. Also reversals are not at all guaranteed to be successful.

    I do think men should be responsible for contraception just like women. But I don’t see why a woman should be permitted the force of law to make a man pay for a child just because she has decided she won’t abort it. You wouldn’t accept the argument that because a woman was not careful enough in her contraception arrangements she should be obliged to raise a child, so why should it follow for a man? I think there is an inconsistency here which hasn’t been properly examined.

    • Being forced to financially support something ≠ being forced to host something inside your body

      Men have exactly the same rights to bodily autonomy as women in this scenario. Yes, he has to pay child support (and so does she-why do you keep ignoring that?) but if that child ever needs a kidney, bone marrow, or a blood donation, the father can say “no” even if it means the child will die.

    • Actually, early-state abotion (before 9 weeks) consists of taking a couple of pills a few days apart. That’s certainly an easy way to handle it, but the anti-choicers have shut down that option for many women. But the topic here is male responsibility; if he does not want to care for a new life for 18 years (through nurture or money), it’s a simple, out-patient procedure that’s quickly healed to get snipped. You’re so outraged over the very idea that you take responsibility for yourself, but you’re equally outraged at being held accountable for your actions–sounds like a true anti-choicer.

    • “Just as invasive as an early stage abortion” Are you fucking kidding me?
      And yes, your desire to control women has been noted.
      And no, there is NO inconsistency. Abortion is about bodily autonomy. It’s not about raising children. Or paying for them. It’s about what happens to your body. Yes, women get one more shot at birth control than men do. Because biology. We also get a shitton of more risks than men do. Because biology. You might want to whine and cry about your money as you want to, but nobody is going to literally rip your ass open.

      • No, not kidding. I have some experience of both and I would say that was true. But I have no desire to control women. If a woman wants to abort a blastocyte or early stage foetus, I think that is entirely her choice, I just don’t see why it logically follows that a man should have to subsidise her choices. I seem to have a stronger belief in her autonomy than you do. If she chooses to incubate a blastocyte into a live birth, that, morally, her choice and her responsibility. Unless a man chooses to share it and she chooses to alllow him to.

      • Celegans:

        I just don’t see why it logically follows that a man should have to subsidise her choices.

        It doesn’t. He does not have to subsidize “her choices.” He does, however, have a responsibility to subsidize the wellbeing of his own child, tho. See, his actions (or inactions) contributed to the existence of a new person in the world. That she had one more shot at preventing that person from ever existing than you did because of the facts of human biology might chap your ass, but no one gives a shit. Your child has rights, and among them is material support from both parents.

      • “It doesn’t. He does not have to subsidize “her choices.” He does, however, have a responsibility to subsidize the wellbeing of his own child, tho.”

        But this only follows if we agree that the foetus is a child, but we don’t. It only becomes a child if the mother decides to make it one, that has nothing to do with the fertiliser of the ovum, nor should it. But if she does decide to do it, that should be her choice and her responsibility unless he chooses otherwise.

        “See, his actions (or inactions) contributed to the existence of a new person in the world.”

        No, his actions only contributed to the existence of a blastocyte. The person only comes into existence if she chooses it to and has nothing to do with anything that he does or doesn’t do.It is true, that she could only incubate the foetus into a child if she had originally had the ovum fertilised but that sis neither here not there.

    • Inaji, that argument cuts both ways (ahem). I don’t think vasectomy is minimally invasive, it is certainly as invasive as an early stage abortion and it can be pretty painful too. Also reversals are not at all guaranteed to be successful.

      Having had a vasectomy, I can say from personal experience that it is minimally invasive. The part of the operation which took longest was waiting for the local anesthetic to take effect. It’s not painful if you do what the doctor tells you to do, i.e., ice your testicles every hour for four to six hours, don’t do anything strenuous for a couple of days, wear a jock or tight briefs, and spend the first few hours on your back. I did that and had little discomfort.

      I can’t talk about reversals because I have no desire to have a reversal.

  14. Celegans:

    I don’t think vasectomy is minimally invasive, it is certainly as invasive as an early stage abortion and it can be pretty painful too. Also reversals are not at all guaranteed to be successful.

    A vasectomy is an office procedure, it is not even close to having a D&C done. Have you had a D&C? I have. I’ve partnered with someone who had a vasectomy, too – was right there when it was done. The two are not comparable, and the vasectomy is the less invasive. Oh, all worried about not being able to successfully reverse? Store some of that precious sperm in a sperm bank. Back up, it’s a miracle! Pain? Yes, there’s some pain, it doesn’t last long, and bags of frozen peas are comforting. You also get to wank like crazy for a month – fun! I went through absolute hell trying to get sterilized when I was 17. The humiliation I went through was nothing to getting a godsdamned vasectomy, and it’s utterly ridiculous to whinge about it, when you have the ability to absolutely control whether or not (and when and if) you reproduce.

    You wouldn’t accept the argument that because a woman was not careful enough in her contraception arrangements she should be obliged to raise a child, so why should it follow for a man? I think there is an inconsistency here which hasn’t been properly examined.

    The point isn’t being careful or less careful with contraception, it’s taking responsibility for your own reproductive organs. If a woman becomes pregnant and decides to terminate, she’s taking responsibility. You want to whinge all over the place about men taking responsibility – “oh, but, but a vasectomy will hurt!” “oh, but, but, a man should have a say!” and so forth. If a man does not want to be placed into a quandary over a pregnancy, take control of that situation yourself – for centuries, women have been forced to carry and birth because that’s been a bedrock of belief, that women must take responsibility for their actions (in having sex). Okey dokey, we do take responsibility, and in the case of pregnancy, yes, we get to fucking decide, because the man is not the one who is going to have something INSIDE their body. Now, when you try to tell men they are perfectly capable of taking responsibility themselves, oh, it’s one whinge after another, and no, that’s not good enough, you still need to moan and harangue the woman in the case, because you know, it’s just all her fucking fault, like always, innit?

  15. Great rant and right on. For me the argument about abortion ends with the FACT that making abortion on demand illegal does not reduce the number of abortions but simply results in more dead women. Even if I were illogical enough to be “pro-life”, which really should be “pro-birth”, this argument would stop me from wanting to legislate my prejudices.

  16. Things I have learned today:

    1 – biologosfan is a disingenuous shitweasel. No, this is a summary of my argument:

    Pregnant persons are people, with all of the human rights attendant to the species. Fetuses — whether people or not (NOT) — do not get *extra* rights to biological subsistence from the use of another, actual person without that person’s consent. In the exact same way that *I* don’t get to harvest your kidney because I need it to live.

    Do try to keep up.

    2 – The mostest importantest concern with respect to this issue is OMFG WHAT ABOUT THE RIGHTS OF MENZ WALLETS?! We must — I say must!— have reasonable, and of course secular debates about this critical point before we should deign to discuss the human rights of pregnant people.

    3 – The Horde is fucking awesome. Okay, yeah I knew that already. What I mean to say is The Horde is fucking awesome on my blog. It is a very, very good day at the Palace. <3

    • Why do children get *extra* rights to get shelter , clothing and money from their parents? Are parents not persons?
      And to quote another user here talking about how fathers have responsibility for children ” there’s still a resulting child there, who needs to be fed. He shares responsibility for creating it”
      By the same token mothers have responsibility to their children and that’s why they should not kill them.. You’re the disingenuous one who’s ignoring the morality of the issue of killing an unborn child who can’t fend for him/herself..

      • biologosfan is playing the “what about the babezz” emotional card. That’s because xe doesn’t actually have a reasonable argument against abortion.

      • Do you, in theory, understand the difference between your body and your wallet? Do you understand that while children are entitled to support they are not entitled to, say, your kidney?
        Yes?
        Now try to wrap your head around the idea that women are people.

      • >>Why do children get *extra* rights to get shelter , clothing and money from their parents? Are parents not persons?<>By the same token mothers have responsibility to their children and that’s why they should not kill them.<> You’re the disingenuous one who’s ignoring the morality of the issue of killing an unborn child who can’t fend for him/herself.<<

        Oh, so you consider a fetus to be a child. Which means you think a fetus is a human being with the full rights to personhood that all born humans possess. What qualities of personhood does a fetus possess that enable it to be treated as a person? Are you even aware of any of the qualities of personhood? Or does your conflation of children with fetuses amount to nothing more than dishonest emotional rhetoric?

        BTW, when you're done researching all the qualities of personhood that a fetus possesses, congratulations–you're still on the wrong side of this discussion.

        It doesn't matter if the fetus has every single right that you or I have. That fetus resides in the body of a pregnant woman, and no human being has the right to make use of the body of another human without their consent.

      • Even if a fetus was equivalent to an adult human, which it is demonstrably not, it still doesn’t have the right to use another persons body without that person’s permission.

        It can’t be any fucking clearer than that.

        We don’t allow fully formed adults to use another’s body without permission so we sure as fuck shouldn’t allow anything that has no history, no loves, no hates, no responsibilities, no connections to the world of any kind, bar the ones allowing it to use someone else’s organs as their its own.

        “Pro-life” my hairy ass, Anti-women is how that should be spelled.

    • “Do you understand that while children are entitled to support they are not entitled to, say, your kidney?”

      Not legally, no, but morally surely they are entitled to your kidney? I would think so. I think if a parent allows their child to die because they refuse to allow it a kidney they are acting disreputably, much worse than a parent who neglects a child financially.

      • So does your disapproval/disgust about a parent acting disreputably if they refuse organ donation to their child mean that you are going to campaign for new legislation determining that parents should be legally obliged to donate organs to their children if needed?

        If not, then your stance is clearly that a gestating foetus should have MORE legal rights than a born child (or a grown adult). Can you see that this is actually what you’re arguing, or are you going to try and weasel out of these implications?

      • Tigtog, I don’t campaign against abortion and, no, I don’t see how we cooud have a law that compelled people to donate their organs, but I was pointing out that these things are more complex morally than some people pretend or suppose. I do think a child of mine has a claim on my organs that is at least as strong as its claim on my income and, in fact, stronger because one day the child will be capable of earning her own income. In fact, I would feel morally obliged to give up my organs for my child even if it meant my death. Wouldn’t you?

      • Celegans, I expect our personal choices in extremis might align quite closely, but that’s not the point. The point is what the laws regarding the rights of others to violate a person’s bodily autonomy should be.

        There are many, many actions that people have a right to engage in which I utterly abhor and which make me feel disgusted/contemptuous of their choice to do that. But I don’t have the legal right to stop them doing those acts. I can criticise or challenge them, or I can walk away to avoid them, but I’m not allowed to force them to stop doing what they choose to do.

      • Celegans

        A lot of us would be pretty happy if the abortion issue was left at people doing what they think is personally moral for themselves, be it keeping a pregnancy or aborting it. I’d be very happy indeed if the ill opinions of pro-choice people were left at just that, even, as people have a right to their opinion as long as they don’t force it on others.

        Problem is, the anti-choicers want to change the law and are succeeding in some areas to make abortion more and more inaccessible for those who would choose it. So sure, morally most of us would give our much wanted child an organ to save them, but we wouldn’t make it against the law for a person not to do so and be happy to leave the issue at morally disagreeing with that person’s choice. Same way it’s not against the law to choose to give a child up into the care of the state, taking away its “claim” to the parents’ income.

  17. There’s only one word to describe this : EXCELLENT!
    This should be mandatory reading material for ALL schools

  18. Celegans
    “LeftSide, there is only a child because the woman has chosen for there to be a child, in which case it should be her responsibility to care for it, no? ”
    Who is she, the virgin Mary?
    Here’s an easy rule:
    Having sex using protection X: the choice of both, because it’s about the bodily autonomy of both of them.
    Having an abortion: Her choice, because it’s about her bodily autonomy
    Child support: Does not have to do with either parent’s bodily autonomy. Currently deemed to be the responsibility of BOTH parents because they both had a choice in it. It’s also noticably about the CHILD, now an actual existing person with needs.
    If you find that unfair: have a godsdamn vasectomy and don’t whine about the fact that you don’t get to bully a woman into having an abortion

    • “Child support: Does not have to do with either parent’s bodily autonomy. Currently deemed to be the responsibility of BOTH parents because they both had a choice in it. ”

      But they don’t both have a choice in it, only the woman does. She can abort or not. If she chooses not to and he has made it clear he has no interest in the resultant child, why should he be obliged to pay for her choices (her irresponsible choices too)? Remember, there is not child at the point of conception, or at the point where the mother is deciding whether or not to continue with the pregnancy. he can only be said to be responsible for the blastocyte or foetus, if abortion is available.

      • He’s not paying for her choices, he’s paying for the needs of a helpless person. Oh heab´vens, I really wish that society would abandon parental child support and move towards tax financed child support. Because it would not make children dependent on assholes like you.
        He fucked, she fucked. Both decide what to do with their bodies. Guys have multiple choices on how to avoid having children. Use them! Don’t whine about the risks or the costs, because whatever they are, she’s paying a heavier price already. If he totally does not want a child it is HIS responsibility to make sure he won’t father any. If he doesn’t he has to live with teh choices other people are making. If you don’t like how somebody drives, get into the driver seat and quit whining.

  19. biologosfan
    So, let me address your #6
    “most pro-lifers” “should” “yadda yadda”
    It’s fucking rich to say that when those women are DEAD.
    So, you think that exceptions for the life of the woman are reasonable, right?
    Tell me, how big does the risk for the woman have to be? Think about it carefully and give me a number: 51% 20% 5% 0,1%? Give me your number and I know how many women you are willing to sacrafice on the altar of the fetus.
    What about non-lethal health risks? How much damage to her body does she have to take, how much pain? Does her mental health count?

    • My sister has a great many congenital health problems, including circulatory problems. As a young adult woman, she was once told by her doctor that if she wanted to have a child she would probably have to spend much of the pregnancy in bed and it would have to be closely supervised. Since she didn’t want children anyway, it wasn’t an issue for here.

      My own biological family (we’re adopted) has a high incidence of gestational diabetes and quite a few people in my family have died from complications, albeit at an older age because diabetes is “manageable.” So a pregnancy would have a higher than average risk of subjecting me to a lifetime of dietary restrictions and the social stigma associated with diabetes and possibly shortening my life by an unknown amount. I wonder how the forced birth people would calculate that one and whether or not I would have a say about it.

      Then add to that the possible loss of jobs, postponing or not finishing school, lack of career advances, wrecked marriages (because everyone who has an elective abortion is not an unwed teenager), neglect of the children people already have, all the things a person (and her partner, because sometimes we have those) doesn’t do because she’s pregnant at the time.

      I grew up near to adopted children, biological brothers, who had been relinquished by their mother at an age they could remember because she already had five children and had become pregnant yet again. There were some older children she didn’t relinquish. She had to choose among her children.

    • I’d let the medical professionals decide , as the do in other cases regarding risky and life-threatening medical procedures.

      • Liar. Because women and their doctors already make that decision every days. And many of them have com to the conclusion that the number of women who should suffer because of an unwanted pregnancy is zero. But of course you don’t want those medical professionals decide…

  20. “I am dumbfounded at people defending these policies when they have seen exactly where the ideology of prohibiting abortion leads. FACT: it leads to no fewer abortions, only to more dead and maimed women and orphaned children.”

    I on the other hand am NOT dumbfounded, because punishing and controlling sexuality is what it’s all about, and the more dire the consequences the more effective the control.

  21. Ooh, look. biologosfan, disingenuous shitweasel, is disingenuous. Or maybe just a dumbass. WE REPORT, YOU DECIDE.

    Why do children get *extra* rights to get shelter , clothing and money from their parents?

    1 – They don’t. Children can be, and in fact routinely are, relinquished to non-parents for such essential support. 2 – Children—unlike fetuses—are people, and we as a society have determined that people have rights.

    You’re the disingenuous one who’s ignoring the morality of the issue of killing an unborn child who can’t fend for him/herself..

    Can a person who needs your kidney fend for him/herself? Also: there is no such thing as an “unborn child”. Are you a pre-dead adult?

      • And how are either of these relevant to the topic of abortion, when we’re talking about a fucking clump of cells?

        Give it up with the human bullshit. I don’t care whose body the fetus is in. The fetus is a fucking clump of fucking cells and that’s fucking it. It is not a person. It is not a human. It’s a clump of fucking cells. Like skin. Or cancer.

        Get the fuck over it misogynist.

      • That’s not relevant at all. As people in this thread pointed out while talking about fathers, if someone did not want to have a fetus/baby they could just refrain from having sex. If the man does not want a child. He can abstain from sex. If the woman does not want one she can abstain from sex.

      • It turns out biologosfan, disingenuous shitweasel, is anti-sex. Quelle suprise.

        As people in this thread pointed out while talking about fathers, if someone did not want to have a fetus/baby they could just refrain from having sex. If the man does not want a child. He can abstain from sex. If the woman does not want one she can abstain from sex.

        As people pointed out in this thread, abstaining from potentially procreative sex is one way that men (and women) can ensure that no child is born. For men, a vasectomy is another way. For women, an abortion is yet another way. These are just facts.

        But this:

        That’s why abstinence works

        …is just so hilariously ignorant I nearly snorted coffee through my nose. This is from your link:

        researchers followed sixth and seventh graders in separate groups. In one, the focus was abstinence; in the other, they taught contraception and safe sex.

        Two years later, they talked to the kids again.

        Half the students learning about safe sex were now having sex, while only a third in the group focused on abstinence were engaged in sex.

        That’s what abstinence “working” looks like to biologosfan: a 17% reduction at best in (now) 8th and 9th graders having sex. Care to guess what those numbers look like in older teens? Here, I’ll spare you the suspense, since I’m sure you’re just dying to know:

        The level of abstinence education (no provision, covered, promoted, stressed) was positively correlated with both teen pregnancy (Spearman’s rho = 0.510, p = 0.001) and teen birth (rho = 0.605, p<0.001) rates (Table 4), indicating that abstinence education in the U.S. does not cause abstinence behavior. To the contrary, teens in states that prescribe more abstinence education are actually more likely to become pregnant (Figure 2).

        Furthermore, at the generous estimate of 42.5 – 50%, abstinence has the lowest effectiveness rate in typical use of all birth control methods.

        Are you lying 4 Jeezus? I only ask because I’m pretty sure Vishnu would never put up with your disingenuous bullshit.

      • I’m not anti-sex. I’m sure sex is very enjoyable. I’m just pro-waiting until the right time.

      • biologosfan on March 26, 2014 at 6:30 pm said:

        I’m not anti-sex.

        Yes, you are. Otherwise you could not possibly write what you did here.

        I’m sure sex is very enjoyable.

        Really. I’ve had some terrible sex. Like, really bad. How sure are you? And upon what do you base your certainty?

        I’m just pro-waiting until the right time.

        Awesome! WE ARE IN TOTAL AGREEMENT! I too am “pro-waiting until the right time”! As determined by one’s self, for one’s self, of course. Because dictating “the right time” for others would be evil shitweaselry. OBVIOUSLY.

        Cheers!

      • “Really. I’ve had some terrible sex. Like, really bad. How sure are you? And upon what do you base your certainty?”
        IDK really. It sounds like fun. I might be wrong.

        “Awesome! WE ARE IN TOTAL AGREEMENT! I too am “pro-waiting until the right time”! As determined by one’s self, for one’s self, of course.”
        Yay . We agree on something.

        Now to ask you.
        A people were pointing out , if a man had sex and fathered a baby, he obviously could not say “I did not consent to have this child” , because he obviously had sex and the possibility of having a baby was there. Same way , a woman who has sex and gets a baby in her womb , she had sex and the possibility of getting one was there. So I think your “without consent” thing is false.

      • biologosfan:

        Dear Lard. Are you a Christian homeschooler or something? Because your understanding of basic human reproductive biology (not to mention ethics) is appalling. A “woman who has sex and gets a baby in her womb” sounds like a little kid explaining how mommy’s tummy has his baby sister in it. But I’ll bite.

        A people were pointing out , if a man had sex and fathered a baby, he obviously could not say “I did not consent to have this child” , because he obviously had sex and the possibility of having a baby was there.

        No, darling. That is not what people were pointing out. The reason he cannot divorce himself from his child support obligations is not because he had PIV sex and pregnancy is a possible outcome. The reason he cannot divorce himself from child support obligations is because once his child is born, that child has rights, and one of those rights is the right to material support from hir parents. Srsly, why is this hard to understand?

        Same way , a woman who has sex and gets a baby in her womb , she had sex and the possibility of getting one was there. So I think your “without consent” thing is false.

        Same way your first sentence is spectacularly wrong, so is your second. A woman can consent to PIV sex, and not consent to enslavement to a fetus, full-term pregnancy and the violence of childbirth. The reason for this should by crystal clear, but I have no doubt it will elude you: it is because it is her body, over which she—and only she—has autonomy.

        The vastness of your ignorance is breathtaking. If you take nothing else away from this conversation, I sincerely hope it will be that abstinence does not work, and that you need to use other methods to take responsibility for your own reproduction should you become sexually active. It would be most gratifying if you also came to understand that those who are feeding you this abstinence bullshit are lying to you, but I’m not sure you are capable of grokking that. I say that because you have shown yourself utterly incapable of rational and informed discourse. So…good luck?

  22. Thanks for writing this. I just spent some time writing about an abortion I had thirty years ago. I know the sense of hurt and betrayal of having friends, even friends who have known about my abortions, tell me about how they are “uncomfortable” with the notion of elective abortion when it’s chosen by the pregnant woman.

    It was bad timing on my part to write about my own experiences. I didn’t realize that the atheist blogosphere was about to blow up into one massive debate on abortion and whether or not, and exactly how much, control women should have over their own bodies, and by extension their entire lives.

    I later wrote about how I was put up for adoption as an infant by my fourteen year old birth mother. I made the point that there is no sense in saying she shouldn’t have had abortion if you believe, as people universally do, that she shouldn’t have conceived.

    Someone who has been friendly to me on my blog, stopped by to say that she didn’t believe in abortion. It sent me into a massive emotional tail spin and I haven’t put up a post since and I started taking down older posts. I’m not sure that I want to allow comments on my blog anymore, or really to write anything. Except for one or two locales where I feel very safe, I haven’t commented much either.

    This is an excellent post. Back when I was younger, I considered myself a very ethical and moral person. If I had thought that an abortion was wrong I wouldn’t have had one. Most of my off-line friends and family tend to view what happens online as being non-existent and when I’m upset about an exchange online they roll their eyes and don’t listen. So, I was sort of stupid and started telling my story without any real emotional support. I suddenly felt very alone and very exposed.

    By the way, until a few years ago, I lived in New York City (Murray Hill, then Chelsea before that) and you might want to take a look at the tag line on my blog.

    • I’m so sorry about that sense of betrayal you feel. It’s a real blindsiding gut-punch, isn’t it? Likewise from your family and friends, who I’ll wager cannot coherently explain why online life is just so gosh darn irrelevant. Are the messages they receive via email vs. snail mail less meaningful?

      This post was particularly difficult for me to write—IIRC it took me a week or more—not because I find the subject matter troubling or challenging, but because I was so deeply hurt by someone I thought I knew well. I wrote it not for him, or for the benefit of other anti-choicers, but for but myself. I hadn’t even looked at it again until today, and reading it triggered some of those same feelings. Fortunately PZ’s support, and comments like yours and the rest of the Horde’s, soften the emotional blows significantly. Like I said, thanks in no small part to you, I’m having a very, very good day. :)

      I was sort of stupid and started telling my story without any real emotional support.

      No, you were brave. I guess what I’m really saying is that whether, where and when you write/comment is 100% up to you of course, but your courage and honesty come across in your writing. That is something to be proud of.

      you might want to take a look at the tag line on my blog.

      I did: “Sex, politics, religion and other subjects not for mixed company.” Hahaha. Blog sisterz 4EVAH. <3

    • “Someone who has been friendly to me on my blog, stopped by to say that she didn’t believe in abortion. It sent me into a massive emotional tail spin and I haven’t put up a post since and I started taking down older posts. I’m not sure that I want to allow comments on my blog anymore, or really to write anything. Except for one or two locales where I feel very safe, I haven’t commented much either.

      This is an excellent post. Back when I was younger, I considered myself a very ethical and moral person. If I had thought that an abortion was wrong I wouldn’t have had one. Most of my off-line friends and family tend to view what happens online as being non-existent and when I’m upset about an exchange online they roll their eyes and don’t listen. So, I was sort of stupid and started telling my story without any real emotional support. I suddenly felt very alone and very exposed”

      I’m sorry that you were triggered. I don’t think you were stupid to tell you story. I think you were brave to share your story with the world and I’m glad you have a few places to comment at where you feel safe.

  23. The woman’s right to choose what happens to her body is crucial, and it’s the benchmark of a civilised society. It’s essential not least because of the dangers you mention which can cause devastating illnesses and death, and this has got to be the best argument I’ve read just in terms of abortion being a potentially lifesaving procedure that all women should have access to. I wonder if you’d agree though that it’s not quite the same issue the other way around: a woman can choose not to have an abortion, and this is her right, but this can be a seriously unethical decision. The interests of the man count, and so does the welfare of the future child. The way you’ve written though, it almost sounds like you don’t care if a man wants to have a child or not, or whether the child grows up in an environment where its welfare is neglected. To be clear, would you agree that there are other interests besides the woman’s that should to be taken into consideration when a woman decides to go through with a pregnancy, and that having an abortion is often the most moral option.

    • “To be clear, would you agree that there are other interests besides the woman’s that should to be taken into consideration when a woman decides to go through with a pregnancy, and that having an abortion is often the most moral option.”

      *Other interests*?!
      Nope, I don’t recognize that at all (feel free to elaborate on these vague “other interests”; I have free time to shred more of your idiocy). Her body. Her choice. No one else gets a say in the matter. No one else’s opinions *should* be taken into account. If a woman asks for someone’s opinion, that’s her choice, but there is no *should* about it.

    • Well, over the years I’ve come to the conclusion that it would be much better if people erred more often on the side of having an abortion.
      Because having a child has far reaching consequences for at least three people. But the moment the blastocyte has implanted there is only one person who has to decide. The guy had his say before. Whatever he didn’t bother to do, whatever went wrong, it’s certainly sad for him, but that’s life.
      But here’s the thing: I trust women on average to make as good choices as everybody else on average. Plus they are endowed with unique knowledge about themselves and their lives.
      I don’t think women on average to be totally selfish assholes who only think in their own flimsy wishes without giving a fuck about anybody else.
      The data about why women have abortions clearly supports me in this.

  24. Catfish:

    The way you’ve written though, it almost sounds like you don’t care if a man wants to have a child or not

    I don’t. Unless of course he is physically hosting a fetus against his will: in that case I would be outraged on his behalf. And frankly I find it revolting that such outrage is not universal with respect to all pregnant people.

    or whether the child grows up in an environment where its welfare is neglected.

    I do. It’s why I am an advocate for a comprehensive, kick-ass, cradle-to-grave social safety net. That way its needs are taken care of by its society, regardless of whether its parents are irredeemable assholes.

    To be clear, would you agree that there are other interests besides the woman’s that should to be taken into consideration when a woman decides to go through with a pregnancy,

    “Should?” As in, the interests of other people, enforced by the state? No, I most certainly would not agree.

    and that having an abortion is often the most moral option.

    You mean, the “most moral option” according to you? Haha no. I don’t give a shit what you think, and neither should anyone else. I give a shit what she thinks. Full stop.

  25. So it’s irrelevant to you whether the man wants to have a child or not, because autonomy trumps everything else. I disagree. I would say that women have the right to choose, but they can nevertheless make an immoral choice, especially if the child is going to have to be taken into care – a point that you so cavalierly dismiss. It’s worrying that you care so little about men that their interest literally counts for nothing. An ethical decision is one that considers the consequences for everyone affected, and if a man strenuously doesn’t want to have a child, it would be myopic for the woman not to take this into consideration.

    • What we’ve got here is a genuwhine (emphasis on the whine) Men’s Rights Advocate or MRA. These people are outspoken about their belief that what men want trumps every other consideration. catfish is complaining because if a man wants a woman (presumably a sexual partner) to remain pregnant and the woman wants an abortion, then the man’s desires are not being considered. According to catfish, the man must have the final say on whether his woman should or shouldn’t have an abortion. The woman’s wants or desires can be disregarded because Herren über alles !

    • So it’s irrelevant to you whether the man wants to have a child or not, because autonomy trumps everything else. I disagree.

      Of course you do. What The Man Wants cannot be trumped by anything, amirite?

      I would say that women have the right to choose, but

      Who gives a shit what you would say? You have your head so far up your ass you’re incoherent.

      they can nevertheless make an immoral choice,

      Like you did when you decided to spew your inanity on my blog? Because EEEW!

      especially if the child is going to have to be taken into care – a point that you so cavalierly dismiss.

      Oh, cupcake. How embarrassing for you.

      It’s worrying that you care so little about men that their interest literally counts for nothing.

      I’m glad you’re worried. Worrying people like you reaffirms that I’m doing something right. But you’re just a whiny pissant. I aspire to worry people like Dick Cheney.

      An ethical decision is one that considers the consequences for everyone affected, and if a man strenuously doesn’t want to have a child, it would be myopic for the woman not to take this into consideration.

      What The Man Strenuously Wants cannot be trumped by anything, amirite?

      You’re almost fun.

  26. Catfish:

    I would say that women have the right to choose, but they can nevertheless make an immoral choice, especially if the child is going to have to be taken into care

    It’s immoral to you. That is irrelevant. You are free to make your own reproductive choices in life (and if you happen to be male, than pay the fuck attention to earlier posts, in which I point out that men have the ability to control their own fertility), however, you don’t get to say just which person you think will be a fit parent or won’t.

    It’s worrying that you care so little about men that their interest literally counts for nothing.

    When men get uterus implants and have a blastocyst merrily cooking away inside their bodies, then their say counts.

    and if a man strenuously doesn’t want to have a child, it would be myopic for the woman not to take this into consideration.

    Oh, fuck that noise with bells on! I am sick to fucking death of doucheweasels such as yourself saying shit like this, while refusing responsibility. What you should be doing instead is educating men on the fact that yes, they are, as ethical, responsible, compassionate human beings, obligated to think about the issue of reproduction and deciding their feelings on the matter. They should be happy to take responsibility for contraception, for being a willing partner in sex, for discussing what may or may not happen in the event of a pregnancy BEFORE engaging in sex.

    And one more screaming time: if a man does not want children, he can get a godsdamned vasectomy. Full Fucking Stop. You don’t get to whine, bully, and whinge at a woman because you refused personal responsibility.

    I’m childfree. I have never wanted children, from the time I was a child myself. I started seeking sterilisation when I was 17 years old, and had one humiliating doctor visit after another, where I was informed that I couldn’t possibly know my own mind, after all, I’m just a silly, not quite full human woman, and of course I’d want to be a mommy later on, etc. I did not stop – in the end, I couldn’t get anyone to agree to sterilisation, but I did get an IUD, which rendered me completely sterile in under a year, thankfully. See, I took responsibility. Men need to stop being so fucking allergic to taking responsibility for those noble ballsacks of theirs instead of insisting that it’s all on the woman.

    • Women also have the ability to control their own fertility. If men have no choice, equality demands women have no choice either. I would rather you have your choice, and if you happened to be a Jesus freak with a zealous passion for carrying to term, I should have my choice as well. Men like me didn’t ASK for so many people to have irrational opinions on abortion. This isn’t a question of autonomy, it’s a question of whether someone should be forced to raise a child. And this also has a very clear and rational side that is in the right, and a hysterical side that is in the wrong. A man should have the exact same window of opportunity that a woman has to make a decision on an abortion to decide to give up custodial rights. If a woman makes the decision to continue the pregnancy anyways, that’s her decision. Just as it is her decision to decide to terminate the baby even if the man says he wants to keep it.

      • Do you always have this much venom for those who do not agree with you? I understood within the context of article, but calling me “selfish” for not wanting to raise a child I’m in no position to raise would be like calling you a whore for getting pregnant. You had the same potential responsibility due to a consequence of behavior as I did. Is that REALLY the argument you want to make? I’m betting that it isn’t. I’m betting biology isn’t the argument you want to make either. It is a biological fact that homosexual sex cannot lead to reproduction. Should we deny the rights of the LGBT community because … Biology? Should we let people starve because biology says if they can’t survive they are inferior? No, biology doesn’t determine the rights of human beings. So biology cannot be suddenly invoked by you and only you to agree with only your side of the debate.

        Here’s a word of advice. Stop with the name calling. I’m on your side when it comes to abortions. Abortions should be legal, on demand, and dare I say free. But if you’re willing to put me down and call me selfish simply because I think I should have my rights when they do not interfere with your right to choose, maybe that says you just hate men and think they should have no rights. So is that really the truth? I’m hoping not because people like you are what it takes to win the war on abortion. You’d just be better off if you did not alienate everyone on your side.

      • Hey, if women have to suffer during pregnancy and childbirth then the respective fathers have to suffer as well, right?
        If women suffer in childbirth, men should be tortured.
        If women die in childbirth, men should be killed, right?
        Hey, it’s only FAIR.
        Now, don’t you start arguing biology here, because you clearly feel treated unfairly by biology which offers women the possibility to have an abortion but not men and want society to make up for it. If you still stand by that demand then society should make up for the obvious disadvantages of women as well…

    • How would you feel if I said “fuck you whore, you should’ve thought of that before you got pregnant.”

      Because that is exactly what you’re saying about men. Condoms break, women say they are on the pill when they aren’t, things happen. Instead of spewing your hatred for men for everyone to see, what you should be doing is being happy that there are people who do not agree with EVERY fucking little thing you have to say but nevertheless support your right to an abortion.

    • You are free to make your own reproductive choices in life (and if you happen to be male, than pay the fuck attention to earlier posts, in which I point out that men have the ability to control their own fertility), however, you don’t get to say just which person you think will be a fit parent or won’t.

      This argument that an abortion might be the most moral choice because the sperm donor feels that the egg donor would be an unfit mother elides two key aspects of male control over their own fertility:

      1. given that pregnancy is a known risk of having PIV sex even with the best contraception practice, then how about simply NOT having PIV sex with any egg-bearing persons that the sperm-bearing person has concluded would not make a fit parent?

      2. the intention of this particular sperm-bearing person to not be part of the life of any resulting child (at least with certain egg-bearing persons) is extremely clear in the very construction of this question, but do they make a practice of stating this clearly to the pre-judged-as-unfit egg-bearing persons BEFORE engaging in PIV sex with them? Then the egg-bearing person would be able to make a better informed choice about whether or not to risk pregnancy with this particular man.

      I suspect that catfish is unwilling to practise either (1) or (2) in order to control his fertility, because then he might miss out on getting laid. Boo hoo.

    • I’m sorry to see that my views have been so misrepresented. It is possible for women to make an immoral choice when it comes to abortion, because, as Giliell says, there are far reaching consequences for at least three people. If a woman has a child knowing that it will be taken into care, that is an unethical choice, and your lofty response about the need for a ‘kick-ass’ safety net is beside the point. Why should that child have to suffer? As you’ve argued above, three quarters of US abortions are performed within the first 9 weeks.

      Some of the comments projected that I want to force women to have an abortion, but this isn’t what I’ve written at all. I’ve repeatedly emphasised that women have the right to choose, but bringing a human being into the world is a moral choice, and it’s possible for that choice to be an extremely bad one. The prospective life of the child should form a major part of that decision. The cardinal sin I made, however, is in suggesting that the impact it has on the man might also be relevant. Some men’s lives are devastated by fatherhood, especially young men who aren’t ready to be parents. Abortion can be a much more ethical outcome for all concerned, and that’s why I’ve said that the decision to keep the baby should ideally take the consequences for everyone affected into consideration – this zealous assertion that the interests of the man don’t matter in principle is an impoverished approach the subject, and yes it does unfairly disenfranchise men.

      The points about having safer sex and vasectomies – I’m all for it, and I welcome any attempt to educate men on the subject and take much more responsibility. But accidents do happen, both parties can be drunk or just stupid, and it’s what happens afterwards that we’re talking about. I’m done so I’m not going to post again, but to repeat one more time – women have the right to choose and the moral right to total bodily autonomy, so if you’re going to floosh and quote-mine this comment at least try not to lie about that.

      • Blah blah fucking blah.

        Yeah, it is pretty much out of bounds to philosowank about when abortion might be the wrong choice, when there is a concerted and frighteningly effective ongoing attack on women’s access to abortion.

        Fuck you. Men who have sex with women who later decide they don’t give a fuck what the semen donor wants are not “disenfranchised.” Women who can’t get an abortion and so end up spending their life in poverty instead of getting an education and an interesting career are disenfranchised.

        If this sort of talk alienates you from the pro-choice cause, then good. You’re a whiner and a poor thinker.

      • Sally Strange, not only are you are obnoxious, you’re also a disingenuous piece of shit. Say it out loud for comprehension: I don’t think abortion is ever wrong. Not that it matters to a fanatical bigot like you, but men aren’t ‘semen donors’, and women who ‘don’t give a fuck’ what the consequences of childbirth are, are usually religious creeps. You and them have a lot in common.

      • catfish:

        I’m sorry to see that my views have been so misrepresented.

        Maybe it’s because no one can figure out what the fuck you’re on about.

        It is possible for women to make an immoral choice when it comes to abortion, because, as Giliell says, there are far reaching consequences for at least three people.

        So what? It is possible for women and men to make immoral choices about a lot of things. People make mistakes. Sometimes tragic ones. That does not mean they do not or should not have the right to make their own choices about what’s inside their own bodies. What’s the alternative you are hinting at, but for some reason not explicitly saying? That you, catfish, should have veto power over a woman’s decision after (1) you’ve impregnated her, and (2) decided in your infinite wisdom and ability to see the future that the person you knocked up will make a poor parent?

        Because if that’s the case, it’s the same argument the Forced Birth Brigades use to keep a woman pregnant against her will, and I have nothing but boundless contempt for it.

        Some of the comments projected that I want to force women to have an abortion, but this isn’t what I’ve written at all.

        No you haven’t written it explicitly, but it’s hard to get around it. Because if that is not the case you are making, then WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU WHINING ABOUT?

        Are you suggesting that women in general do not consider the future of their potential child when making the decision to carry or abort? Are you suggesting that women in general do not consider the impact on the potential child’s father when making the decision to carry or abort? No one here (except for that shitweasel biologosfan) disagrees that “abortion can be a much more ethical outcome for all concerned,” but it is still a decision she alone gets to make. What exactly are you suggesting as an alternative, if not veto power?

        Men are not “unfairly disenfranchised.” If they are disenfranchised, they disenfranchised themselves the instant they shot live sperm into a fertile woman.

        Case closed.

      • Funny, I do not find Sally Strange obnoxious or disingenuous in the least. She is actually quite charming and brilliant. She certainly did not mischaracterize you. NEWSFLASH: A man who has impregnated a woman is by definition the semen donor, and women who don’t give a fuck about the consequences of childbirth are exceedingly rare if not virtually nonexistent. That you find you have impregnated someone who does not give a fuck what the consequences are for you may be tragically unfortunate, but it is still 100% her choice whether to carry to term or abort.

        WHAT THE FUCK IS YOUR POINT. That the entire world doesn’t revolve around you and do as you command?

      • As you regard fathers as sperm donors, it’s not something I’d expect you to understand. I’ve said in every post that women have the right to choose, but as you’ve conceded, that choice can be a tragically immoral one. Not having an abortion can be an immoral choice, a point that you sneered at in the first response. It’s proven pointless responding to you because whatever I say you end up projecting bullshit about ‘state coercion’ or that men should have ‘veto power’ – a complete fantasy that you’ve run away with.

      • catfish:

        As you regard fathers as sperm donors, it’s not something I’d expect you to understand.

        Wait, I would not understand your point because I regard “fathers” as sperm donors? Hahaha. You are ridiculous to the point where I’d starting to think I’m being punk’d. Until his child is born, he is not a father. There is no one to parent. He is a sperm donor. This is just biological reality.

        No, the reason I don’t understand your point—if you even have one—is because YOU have failed to communicate it.

        I’ve said in every post that women have the right to choose, but as you’ve conceded, that choice can be a tragically immoral one. Not having an abortion can be an immoral choice, a point that you sneered at in the first response.

        You came in here with a barely concealed “what about the menz” whine:

        would you agree that there are other interests besides the woman’s that should to be taken into consideration when a woman decides to go through with a pregnancy,

        I asked you to clarify this:

        “Should?” As in, the interests of other people, enforced by the state? No, I most certainly would not agree.

        And yet you did not clarify. You continued to weasel out of clarifying what you mean by yet more whining about being misrepresented, projection.

        Yes, yes: I’ve “conceded” that choosing to bear a child instead of abort can be a tragic choice. That’s because it’s so bloody bleating obvious that no one who is pro-choice would object. I cannot for the life of me figure out what the fuck point you are trying to make, in a world (and a comment thread) where abortion restrictions are a very real and deadly reality.

        It’s proven pointless responding to you because whatever I say you end up projecting bullshit about ‘state coercion’ or that men should have ‘veto power’ – a complete fantasy that you’ve run away with.

        No. I’ve been trying to deduce your fucking point from what YOU have written here, and I explained how and why.

        You have grown exceedingly tiresome. Thou art banished.

  27. Okay, you had me convinced until the hyperbole about men just hating women. It doesn’t make me a disgusting pig to be genuinely concerned that if an accidental pregnancy occurs with someone who happens to fall on the pro life side of things and refuses to terminate the abortion. I can’t and won’t try to force her to have one (same as I wouldn’t force a woman to term), but I should have the right to opt out of parental rights same as she does. Right now, only a judge can authorize that. How would you feel if only a judge could authorize an abortion?

    • Sean:
      You’re just selfish. You don’t actually care about the women in your hypothetical. You portray a woman’s basic right to autonomy over her own body as an infringement of your liberty. Why? Because society will ask you to help financially support a child you never wanted? Your potential responsibility is a potential consequence of your behavior. Deal with it like an adult. That potential consequence to you is not in any way equivalent to the topic of women’s reproductive rights, and the risk to life and limb that THEY – not you – will be subjected to by a pregnancy.

      • My goodness, I would strongly suggest you review Paul Graham’s hierarchy of arguments. Name calling and ad hominem just makes you look uneducated and I know you’re better than that.

      • Blah blah you obviously are not familiar with some d00d’s Very Important Pontifications! If you were, you’d understand Sean’s impeccable and airtight arguments against pregnant peoples’ human rights!

        Yeah, I don’t know. I think “name calling” with respect to Sean doesn’t make one look uneducated in the least. Quite the contrary.

    • Well Sean, that’s boilogy for you. If a woman wants a baby all she needs is sperm and she can get that a number of ways. If a man wants a baby he needs a woman’s full cooperation for at least nine months. Since it is her body and her risk she is in the driver’s seat. Get over it.

      • Biology doesn’t determine human rights. Unless of course you want to deny those who can’t feed themselves or reproduce the right to live. BECAUSE BIOLOGY ALSO DOES THAT. You’re talking to a goddamn biochemistry major. Don’t try lecturing me about biology.

      • Gosh, frankb01. Don’t you realize who you’re talking to? A “goddamn biochemistry major,” that’s who. Why, in a mere 3-5 years, Sean will have an ACTUAL DEGREE in something highly relevant to the ultimate determination of whether pregnant people are, in fact, deserving of human rights.

      • Are you really that dense? I’m pro choice. Seems like your venom spewing knows no filter, even for those who agree with your position.

      • @giliell:

        The biggest human rights abuse of all time: men not being in total control of women’s bodies.

        The second biggest: men having to support their own offspring. Oh, the humanity.

      • Sean: “Biology doesn’t determine human rights.”

        Sure, if you’re a man. Get up to speed, Sean.

    • My apologies, Sean. Seems I had you confused with an entirely different doucheweasel on this thread.

      And this also has a very clear and rational side that is in the right, and a hysterical side that is in the wrong. A man should have the exact same window of opportunity that a woman has to make a decision on an abortion to decide to give up custodial rights.

      You are conflating the bodily autonomy of women with the financial obligations of men to their own offspring. Knock it the fuck off. We do not live in a world with a comprehensive, kick-ass, cradle-to-grave social safety net, where your child’s material needs are well taken care of collectively by society. Our world is one in which once a new person exists, *both* parents are held equally legally responsible for hir wellbeing. You are also conflating custodial obligations with financial obligations. Knock that the fuck off too. A father can *choose* to have zero custodial interaction with his child, ever. No court order required. But once more for the cheap seats:

      Our world is one in which once a new person exists, *both* parents are held equally legally responsible for hir wellbeing.

      The “hysterical side” is the one shrieking about the rights of his wallet and demanding to have no responsibility for the wellbeing of the new person that is his biological offspring. The world doesn’t operate that way. Perhaps you should proceed accordingly.

      Women have one more opportunity for birth control after they become pregnant. That really burns you up, does it? Too fucking bad, because bodily autonomy.

      But if you’re willing to put me down and call me selfish simply because I think I should have my rights when they do not interfere with your right to choose,

      Again, you are conflating the bodily autonomy of women with the financial obligations of men and women to their own offspring. YOUR NOW-EXISTING CHILD HAS RIGHTS. One of those rights is the right to material support by its parents. This has absolutely nothing to do with the human right to bodily autonomy.

      maybe that says you just hate men and think they should have no rights. So is that really the truth?

      Jeezus fucking christ. Yes, yes, that’s it. That’s why if your child is a boy, we do not hold its parents responsible for supporting it. Only girls are entitled to that. Obviously.

      You’d just be better off if you did not alienate everyone on your side.

      Translation: if you don’t agree with me that the rights of my wallet trump the rights of my offspring to material support, I won’t be your ally against the Forced Birth Brigades.

      With friends like these…

      • I agree with your positions on abortion absolutely. I have not formed my opinion on the question of paternal responsibility having never heard the argument before. So, I am asking earnestly. Your position that a woman can choose to accept or not accept the life long ramifications for both she and a man could be considered unjust. This is not conflating the right to bodily autonomy with anything else. That is absolute.

        Moving past the woman’s independent decision and assuming it has happened freely, it is then your position that the man should have no choice in whether or not he is to be obligated for a minimum of eighteen years financial obligation. A woman can decide to abort for financial reasons and I, and I assume you, would deem that none of our concern. Assuming for the sake of argument that a good faith attempt has been made at contraception, how do you justify the denial of the man’s right to his property when a woman can as a side benefit of bodily autonomy preserve hers?

      • Mike (March 25, 2014 at 5:17 pm): My post was about the bodily autonomy and human rights of pregnant people. Then, as happens nearly every time abortion is discussed, anywhere, ever, a plague of whiny shitweasels descends upon us to force the topic to be entirely about themselves and their wallets’s rights and how human biology is so unfair and waaaaah! The grownups can hardly discuss anything else, it seems, unless and until we agree with their silly and wrongheaded ideas—which have been discussed, deconstructed and dismissed over and over again FOR YEARS AND YEARS. It gets rather tiresome. Enraging, actually.

        Even though the way you have framed your statements has my bullshit meter pinging yellow, since I have just returned from the dentist and at the moment feel all warm and fuzzy toward humanity (don’t worry. it’ll wear off in an hour), I am going to take you at your word, i.e. that you have not formed an opinion about paternal responsibility, have not considered the arguments before, and are asking in good faith.

        Your position that a woman can choose to accept or not accept the life long ramifications for both she and a man could be considered unjust.

        The man could certainly choose to accept or not accept these life long ramifications for himself, all the way right up to the point where he has impregnated someone. Now there exists a pregnant person. And yes, it is true that she still has the choice to to accept or not accept these life long ramifications, which will indeed impact both of them. But he has already played his hand. These are just biological realities intersecting with the human right to bodily autonomy. He already had his opportunities to accept or not accept these consequences; if he did not want a child, well, he fumbled very badly. He is now stuck on the sidelines, whining to the refs that it’s all so unfair and he should totally get a do-over. She is still in the game, however, because that’s how biology works: she is pregnant, he is not, and he cannot opt for an abortion. The decision falls entirely to her because she is the only person with the right to decide what stays in or gets summarily ejected from her own body.

        I suspect you are probably with me so far. But go back and consider how you phrased this scenario, versus how I did.

        Moving past the woman’s independent decision and assuming it has happened freely, it is then your position that the man should have no choice in whether or not he is to be obligated for a minimum of eighteen years financial obligation.

        D00d, it’s not just my position, but the law of the land. And there are good reasons for that. Once a child is born, that child has rights. And one of those rights is the right to material support by both hir parents. What you seem to be arguing here is that because she could have aborted but didn’t, he should therefore have no obligations to his own child. It doesn’t follow. It’s no longer about his or her choices any more, because now there’s an infant. Now, it’s about how our society provides for the wellbeing of its children. Here in Bootstrap Utopia, the way we do that is by ensuring parental support.

        A woman can decide to abort for financial reasons and I, and I assume you, would deem that none of our concern. Assuming for the sake of argument that a good faith attempt has been made at contraception, how do you justify the denial of the man’s right to his property when a woman can as a side benefit of bodily autonomy preserve hers?

        Because there’s now a child in the world. Their child. Through the actions, inactions, and choices both parents have made, there is now a live infant. If the father had not ejaculated sperm into her vagina, he could have kept all of his precious property—and she, hers. If she had made the choice to abort, he could have kept his precious property—and she, hers. But those ships have sailed.

        There’s a kid, it’s their kid, and their kid has rights to parental support.

    • Here’s an idea: Don’t have sex with somebody who’s on the pro-life side.
      You think you’re the poor person who should be pitied because the condom broke? Yeah, it’s not like she doesn’t only have to worry about getting pregnant, but also about a much higher risk of contracting an STI.
      But yeah, I know: The biggest human rights abuse of all time: men not being in total control of women’s bodies.

    • It doesn’t make me a disgusting pig to be genuinely concerned that if an accidental pregnancy occurs with someone who happens to fall on the pro life side of things and refuses to terminate the abortion.

      You can’t accidentally have PIV sex with “someone who happens to fall on the pro life side of things” unless you’ve made a decision to not talk with them about the possible consequences of an unintended pregnancy before copulating. That is one part of controlling your own fertility that is totally within your own control. If you decided not to have that conversation before having sex, then don’t whine about having ceded that control to the other gamete donor.

    • Sean, isn’t this a discussion you should have had with your sexual partner PRIOR to PiV intercourse? You cannot force a person to carry to term AND you cannot force a person to undergo a medical procedure. You, as a man, have many options to prevent pregnancy prior to conception. One of the most overlooked seems to be ‘conversation’. Make sure you and your partner are on the same page where parenthood is involved prior to the act. And if you don’t bother to have this discussion before hand, welcome to Mother Nature’s version of Russian Roulette.

  28. Human Rights? Are you talking to me about Human rights? You still don’t get it. Bodily autonomy is the foundational human right. Just see all the comments above. Once the baby has been successfully born fathers enjoys the same rights as the mothers. What part don’t you understand? You don’t have a right to force a pregnant woman to do anything. Human rights have nothing to do with men’s whining. Learn what ad hom is before you throw the term around. I categorized your views and then answered them.

    • Now you’re setting up a strawman. I never tried telling a pregnant woman what to do. That part of the debate is out of the question. I merely am saying before the baby is born the potential father should be given the right to opt out of his parietal rights. That has been my position in all of my posts.

      • AKA coercing women into abortions because they tell her that they will not support either of them. Especially funny when coupled with promises of love and care until the moment she’s entering the L&D ward.
        Your argument is ALL about your desire to control women

      • Sean:
        If the father-to-be acted responsibly, he would have taken measures before he and his partner engaged in PIV sex.

  29. I love this post because it cuts through the bullshit and tells the truth. But I also love it for that absolutely adorable picture of a baby. Yay, so happy!

    The success of anti-abortion activism in this country has been a major factor in my decision not to have children. Not because I don’t like babies or children. Not just because of the risk to me of becoming trapped in a pregnancy, though that’s part of it — but also because I can’t stand the thought of my hypothetical children growing up in a world where their bodily autonomy is forever up for debate.

    I know that’s most of human history — but we made real progress, technological and social, toward a world where pregnancy and childbirth were choices instead of fates. And that progress has been ripped out of our hands, piece by piece, over the past 40 years And I don’t know how much worse it’s going to get before it gets better.

    Sometimes happy babies make me a little sad — but not for the reasons forced-birthers want me to be sad.

  30. Just wanted to take a break from my cuss-flecked ranting to say that this post is awesome, and I’m sorry you had to deal with that. It sucks like hell.

    Honestly, the more I read, the more sick-to-death I am of the discussion. Not because of the pro-choice side. Clearly… y’all are the clear voices of reason… and y’all are clearly right. Pro-choice is the only rational, ethical, humanistic position to take.

    It’s the other side. It’s the not-even-disguised misogyny, the disingenuously shitty “analogies” (and I put those in scare quotes for a reason), the hemming-and-hawing, the “WHAT ABOUT TEH MENZ?!?!!?1!//!11!!!eleventy!!/dash!1!1?” bullshit…

    It’s the whole fucking idea of the horribly mis-named “Pro-Life”.

    See… for me… the truly pro-life side is the Pro-Choice side. The other side? They’re misogynists. For me, it’s as plain and simple as that. And so seeing them argue their bullshit just pisses me off and make me want to throw my laptop against the wall.

    Sadly, I have to see the misogynists in real life, too. Here at Florida Atlantic University, they set up huge, nasty, dishonest displays on the free-speech lawn. FAU also has a pro-choice group, sponsored by Planned Parenthood. They get one tiny little table off in the corner and some buttons.

    Fucking disgusting.

    I was shocked when I first saw it. This year, I’m looking to see when they set up again, because I’ll be wearing my “If it’s not your body, it’s not your decision” shirt around campus on that day,.

    • Your cuss-flecked ranting is appropriate, welcome and much appreciated, Nate. But may I offer some advice? If you absolutely must throw your laptop, perhaps you might consider throwing it in the general direction of a misogynist, as opposed to a wall? Just my $0.02.

  31. WELL SAID!

    Thank you for putting into words what I have always felt but could not express nearly as well.

    Hope you don’t mind, but I am going to reblog this.

  32. Reblogged this on Seeking My Lost Voice and commented:
    If you are against full access to safe, legal abortion, then you need to read this.
    If you are pro-choice and believe in true equality for everyone, and I hope you are, then here is an excellent article you can use to help (hopefully) drag the uniformed or just plain wrong thinking, people you know into the 21st century.

  33. I think people are being disingenuous here. I agree women’;s rights are very important. Almost all pro-lifers agree women;’s rights are very important. When we oppose Feticide , we just don’t agree that women have the right to kill an innocent person with their whole life ahead of them.
    57% of women are so self hating , that they oppose killing innocent persons. I suppose you guys would say they are all self-hating misogynists for opposing feticide. Whatever.

    Reply ↓

    • Well, biologosfan, I think I see your confusion here. A fetus isn’t an annocent person, anymore than a peach pit is a yummy, yummy pie or an acorn is a might oak tree. A an embryo (the stage at which most abortions occur) is human DNA–much like cancer is human DNA. Not every fertilized egg implants, not every embryo become a pweshus BAYbee. That’s just nature, where 2/3 of all fertilized eggs fail to produce a baby.

      What I see is all anti-choicers hate women so very, very much that they would be thrilled to deny a woman the right to her own body, her own medical decisions. Why do you hate women so very, very much? You worship a 72-cell blastocyst, but you despise the person it might become if it has an XX chromosome. That’s really sick and pathetic.

      • As I pointed out 57% of women are pro-life . Are they all self-hating women who “worship blastocysts”? Are the majority of women “sick and pathetic” in your words?

      • Yes, out in reality, 57% of all women are not anti-choice. Only in whackadoodle conservative land are facts whatever the thought leaders want their deluded followers to believe.

      • @Tria
        That poll says 58% of people think abortion should be either illegal or legal in only a few circumstances.
        Of course it includes the opinions of misogynist menz(TM) so I’m going to stay with the female only figures I quoted.

      • What does that have to do with the price of butter?
        There was a time when most Americans thought it was OK to own other humans as property.

      • @giliell
        If you’re going to argue that all pro-lifers want to stop feticide because they hate women and are misogynists (which people have said in this thread) , then we have to conclude that the majority of women are self-hating misogynists. Credit to you if you are consistent and say that

      • biologosfan, women internalising misogyny as part of our sexist social structure is a long-recognised sociological phenomenon, and is highly correlated with religiosity. Less religious societies than the USA tend to demonstrate far less of it, and that’s reflected in their opinion polls regarding abortion too.

      • @tigtog
        How do you know women believe these things because they hate themselves? How do you know that these women just did not consider the morally relevant facts and realise that , at least at some point in its development , an unborn child is a person and concluded it would me immoral to kill an innocent person?

      • My, you’re good at that disingenuous weaselish misrepresentative paraphrasing, aren’t you? Your questions are not responding to what I actually wrote.

        You expressed doubt that women could be misogynistic. I answered that internalised misogyny is a long-recognised sociological phenomenon. Note that externalising and internalising various oppressive tropes are not voluntary processes – it’s part and parcel of our socialisation in hierarchical stereotypes/roles/expectations from the time we are infants, and it’s something that has to be consciously unlearnt.

        Internalized oppression is an involuntary reaction to oppression which originates outside one’s group and which results in group members loathing themselves, disliking others in their group, and blaming themselves for their oppression — rather than realizing that these beliefs are constructed in them by oppressive socio-economic political systems.
        [Penny Rosenwasser (Proceedings of the 41st Annual Adult Education Research Conference, 2000): Tool for Transformation: Cooperative Inquiry as a Process for Healing from Internalized Oppression.]

        Do I know for sure that the reason such a large percentage of American women are against abortion (according to your link) is because they are acting from unconsciously internalised misogyny? No, because what I said was that internalised misogyny is highly correlated with religiosity, as is opposition to abortion. I suggest that it is a culture awash in religiosity that produces the majority of both opposition to abortion and internalised misogyny (plus many other deleterious attitudes to others and oneself), and that variances in other less religious cultures are evidence in favour of that hypothesis.

        Of course people who oppose women’s access to elective abortion believe that their position is the most ethical stance. But people who support women’s access to elective abortion also believe that their position is the most ethical stance. Both groups have many layers of socialisation and acculturation influencing and informing their moral/ethical positions.

        Ultimately, those who do not approve of abortion retain the right to refuse to have one. They don’t have the right to stop anybody else having one.

      • Try using an actual poll, one from the Gallup site. It shows that the vast majority of people, and hey women are included in people, are overwhelmingly in favor of abortion rights and have been so for many, many years. Look upthread for the link to Gallup and the detailed breakdown of the stats.

    • @tigtog
      It sounded like you were trying to defend those guys in this thread who were saying ALL pro-life people were motivated by misogyny.I think that is false. It seems like you disagree with that. Which is fine. I was really trying to address those people

      • biologosfan, we all have unconscious biases and prejudices that we don’t actively think about in the front of our minds but which nonetheless inform our attitudes/decisions. I don’t think most anti-choice people are deliberately making misogynistic justifications to themselves for wanting to interfere with the self-sovereignty of women with regard to their bodily integrity, but I do think misogynistic socialisation is the foundation of the mistrust of women to make this choice for themselves.

      • Even though you think quite poorly, biologosfan, you are of course free to think whatever you want. What I think is that to whatever extent forced birthers are not *consciously* motivated by misogyny (religiously inculcated or not), they are indisputably indifferent to the deadly misogyny inherent in their position. Which doesn’t make them a whole lot different from misogynists, if it makes them different any at all. The important difference between what you think and what I think is that what I think is based on solid facts and evidence. For instance:

        - We know that outlawing abortions does not stop them, it only leads to more dead and maimed women.

        - We know that women who are denied abortions and carry an unwanted pregnancy to term are three times more likely than women who receive an abortion to be below the poverty level two years later, and twice as likely to stay in a violently abusive relationship.

        - We know that a woman carrying a baby to term is 14 times more likely to die than a woman who has a legal abortion.

        - We know exactly what the world you want looks like, not just for women, but for their existing children, for their families, their loved ones.

        So I can say with near 100% certainty that what you and your ilk think is based on either outright misogyny or complete and utter indifference thereto, regardless of what you say.

    • No, you do not agree that women’s rights are important. Because to you, they’re not as important as men who enjoy full bodily autonomy. They’re not as important as fetus’. So that’s not important.

  34. Yawn, what a load of emotive nonsense. Your argument is exactly as valid as a pro-life nutter saying “By supporting abortion you’re saying that young humans don’t matter! That you’re ok with the killing of 56 million people because you think they’re worthless, subhuman! I was a foetus, do you hate me? Did you want me killed along with the 56 million!”

    And the sad thing is that neither you nor they will ever be able to see it.

    • No, it wasn’t the same. The crux of the matter is that adult women have rights to self determination. A mindless fetus does not. The pro-lifer is simply and factually wrong and that is the difference.

  35. Love it. Especially the “oops” foetus pictures. Humans are visual creatures and the anti-choice folks fuck with that all the time. Thank you for taking the time to wrant (to rant in writing) about this.

  36. A fetus is not a person. And even if was…

    No human being has the right to use the body of another without consent.

    Why are these things so difficult to understand?

    • Because only women can gestate fetuses and bring them to birth, and anti-choicers don’t believe women are people. To them, women are just “hosts”–walking incubators for fetuses. You notice anti-choicers never insist that blood donation (which anyone over 17 and in good health can do–man and woman alike!) is mandatory to save lives. No, it’s only those things that take away a woman’s bodily autonomy.

  37. Celegans
    “But this only follows if we agree that the foetus is a child, but we don’t. It only becomes a child if the mother decides to make it one, that has nothing to do with the fertiliser of the ovum, nor should it. But if she does decide to do it, that should be her choice and her responsibility unless he chooses otherwise.”
    No, it does not follow.
    Because child support only kicks in when there is, would you believe it, a child. Elective abortion, no child, no child support (amazingly the cost of abortion is also paid 100% by the woman, funny thing it is). Miscarriage, no child, no child support (how about a forced blood donation? After all you contributed to her needing one). Stillbirth, no child, no child support. Live birth, baby, new person with needs, child, child support.

    “No, his actions only contributed to the existence of a blastocyte. The person only comes into existence if she chooses it to and has nothing to do with anything that he does or doesn’t do.It is true, that she could only incubate the foetus into a child if she had originally had the ovum fertilised but that sis neither here not there.”
    When does taht magic happen? When and how is the magical point at which guys did not contribute anymore to a child who carries half their DNA.
    But please, DO share your views with every woman you want to have sex with. Because nothing says “I’m an utter asshole” like telling her that you would choose to let your own accidentially fathered child starve because you disagree with the decisions of a different person. You would be amazed how much that reduced your risk of accidentially fathering a child,

    • *applause* for giliell. I just love this part, too:

      “It is true, that she could only incubate the foetus into a child if she had originally had the ovum fertilised but that [is] neither here [nor] there.”

      Oh? Where is it, then? That’s right: it’s inside a fully autonomous human’s body.

  38. 90% of the article was argued very well. 10% of it was sloppy argumentation. Take out that 10% and it was a solid piece.

    • Miranda:
      How did you come by those percentages?
      What makes the ‘sloppy argumentation’ sloppy?
      As you believe Iris made sloppy arguments, I think you should give examples and explain why you think they are sloppy. No one can read your mind.

      • Estimation. I have time for one example now. “To you, a single embryo is worth more than my life, my freedom, my happiness, and my humanity, including my right to decide what goes on inside my own fucking body.” — This argument works against many, but not all, of pro-lifers. The pro-lifers I know do NOT think that an *embryo* is worth more than the mother’s *life*. Nor the mother’s *health*. And not even the mother’s *mental* health. According to them, safe abortion should definitely be available for such cases. However, they do think that a *fetus* (one of the 10% or so that would be aborted after 13 weeks) is worth more than the mother’s *freedom and happiness* (again, assuming no health issues). Now, you can disagree with that position if you like, and that’s fine, but the author should not have conflated the realms of life and happiness into one sentence.

      • Of course I can conflate the realms of my life, my freedom and my happiness in one sentence, if that’s how I value those things. Thomas Jefferson famously did. No fetus would be worth more than that to me, and I don’t give a flying fuck how some panty sniffing misogynist values it. And speaking of sloppy argumentation:

        However, they do think that a *fetus* (one of the 10% or so that would be aborted after 13 weeks) is worth more than the mother’s *freedom and happiness* (again, assuming no health issues).

        Pregnancy is a health issue. From the OP:

        Did you know that a woman who carries a baby to term is 14 times more likely to die than she is from a legal abortion? And that’s to say nothing of birth complications including fractured pelvis, infection, hemorrhage, genitovaginal fistula, vaginal tearing, or the 15% of women who experience nerve damage leading to incontinence of stool or urine and sexual dysfunction. Childbearing is one of the most dangerous things a woman can do; it’s the sixth most common cause of death among women age 20 to 34 in the United States.

        So that’s the stupidest, most ignorant argument for enslaving a pregnant person that I’ve ever heard. Estimation.

    • Miranda: Here’s some news: Each and every pregnancy is a threat to a woman’s health and life and much of that risk cannot be calculated beforehand.
      My second child triggered an auto-immune disease. I’ll depend on medical care for the rest of my life, I need to take medication for the rest of my life. I’m not angry about this, because it was my CHOICE (like, you know, pro-choice), but since you cannot tell beforehand which woman will suffer some harm, the only reasonable way is to allow ALL women to have abortions.
      Also, what do you think having to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term and having to go through labour and birth against their will WILL do to a woman’s mental health?

    • Miranda:
      Opponents of a reproductive rights for women (the terms ‘pro life’ or ‘anti abortion’ are misleading as this crowd AFAIK does not oppose the death penalty or war. They also do not support efforts that would reduce the need to have an abortion such as widespread, easy access to contraception or even comprehensive sex ed) support policies that have the effect of granting fetuses more rights than pregnant women, which necessarily limits the basic right to bodily autonomy that women have. That they do not say “I think fetuses are of greater value than pregnant women” does not change the fact that their beliefs about fetuses DO lead to women being devalued. You have to look beyond what they are saying to the real impact their actions lead to: women being treated as less than human.

  39. Interesting how some men here equate their wallet to a woman’s uterus. And how some disagree with the right of the state to force the use of one (their wallet) but not the other (the uterus).

  40. Referring to those who highly value the life of a fetus as “panty sniffing misogynists” — another example of sloppy arguing.

    • Miranda:
      “Referring to those who highly value the life of a fetus as “panty sniffing misogynists” — another example of sloppy arguing”

      1- That’s not an argument. It’s an insult. There is a difference between the two.
      2- They deserve all the insults and invective. These people have been successful in curtailing women’s human rights-all in the name of pwecious fetuses.

    • WTF, Miranda. People are free to highly value the life of their own fetus. Pro-choice people do. When they concern themselves with the value of the life of someone else’s fetus, however, they are by definition panty sniffers getting all up in mah uterus. And when they seek to impose their twisted fetus worshipping values on a pregnant person in an effort to force her to give birth (whether by force of law or by the harassment and terrorism in which they regularly engage), they are indeed misogynists of the highest (lowest?) order.

      Q.E.D.

  41. I confess: I have a mistrust of women. Not a hatred, just a mistrust. I don’t think they can always make the best decisions when it comes to certain things. But at the same, I have a mistrust of men. Not a hatred, just a mistrust. I don’t think they can always make the best decisions when it comes to certain things. So, does this make me both a misogynist AND a misandrist?

    • Since no one will make the best decision about everything, and in many cases “the best decision” is not even identifiable in advance, what is your point? It sounds like you believe you are better suited to making decisions about “certain things” than the actual women and men whose lives are affected.

  42. 9 week fetal development: At week’s end, your fetus measures approximately 0.9 inches / 2.3 centimetres long. In both shape and size, it resembles a peapod and weighs less than a tenth of an ounce / 2 grams. The eyelids are fused and won’t open until week 27. The wrists are more developed, ankles have formed, and the fingers and toes are clearly visible. Arms are growing longer and bend at the elbows. By week’s end, the inner workings of the ears are complete. Though you can’t yet identify the sex of the fetus by ultrasound, its genitals have begun to form. By now the placenta has developed enough to support most of the critical job of producing hormones.

    From: Babycentre.com

    -A baby that has eyelids, wrists,ankles,fingers and toes CLEARLY visible,arms,ears,etc but no nevermind that, we deserve to do whatever we want and that includes taking a life. Yep right, makes sense. Most abortions happen out of inconvenience, not a special case. When you have no regard for human life-both inside and out of the womb equally your a monster.

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