Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Extended interaction with Pro Choice Oklahoma, part 1

The Facebook page known as Pro Choice Oklahoma has attempted a rebuttal to one of our most useful articles, which itself refutes the common pro-abortion argument that "nobody is justified in using a woman's body without her consent". The end value of this argument is that, since the woman did not expressly consent to housing the baby for nine months, she is justified in expelling the baby from her body so as to retain her bodily autonomy. Our article wrecks this argument, and only a few people have tried to interact with its arguments. Pro Choice Oklahoma represents the latest attempt, and due to their serious effort, we will give a serious response.

AHA's argument: The "woman's rights > fetus' rights" is a very poor inequality because it is trading on a fundamental dissimilarity. In well over 95% of cases, it does not come down to the choice of the mother's life or the baby's life. Thus what the pro-abort should be saying is "woman's convenience/freedom from some life struggles for a year or so > the life of her child". Funny that they never state it that way.

PCOK rebuts: Funny how that argument that you are rebutting doesn't say woman's life>fetal life, but women's rights>fetal rights.
The courts do in fact decide that the right to life NEVER trumps the right to bodily autonomy, Shimp V McFall for additional information on this.

We respond: PCOK has forgotten that not all rights are equal, as we indicated in our original point. It would be one thing (a more complex question, in point of fact) if we were weighing a mother's life against the baby's life in a one-to-one correspondence. If women always died during childbirth, then the question of the mother's obligation to proceed would most certainly be much more difficult. This is not the case, however. In the vast majority of cases, the choice at hand is between on the one hand, in many cases, some months of some discomfort, some expense, and some inconvenience and in some cases, some years of more serious complications, and the entire life of the child on the other hand.
PCOK needs to show us the means by which they come to their conclusion that this virtually-always-temporary condition (ie, pregnancy and any complications) is a more important consideration than the always-permanent result of abortion, namely that the child loses his life for good.
There's no coming back from being dead (unless you're Jesus).

As for the legal case cited:
1) We are well aware that in many cases the law is not on the side of abolition. Such was the case in the UK and the USA before the abolition of slavery as well. That which is legal is not always morally correct. We intend to change the surrounding culture and change the laws while we're at it.
2) The case suffers from a few key differences that make it sufficiently disanalogous as to be irrelevant.
In point of fact, the court case is virtually identical to the "Thomson's violinist" argument, which our original article dismantles from many different angles. PCOK needs to show us why our arguments are wrong, not assert that it is wrong just because some Pennsylvania judge made a decision in that particular situation with which he was faced, which is, however, not very relevant.
3) Abortion is not a woman refusing to grant the use of her body to a stranger when asked to. It is intentional intervention by the woman into the natural process of new human life coming into being. This court case deals with one man attempting to intervene in another's life to preserve his own. The defendant is not attempting to end the plaintiff's life or vice versa. In abortion, that is the case.

AHA's argument: Abortion isn't just "unplugging". Abortion is an intentional destruction of life. The intent is to destroy the life. Left alone, the very small baby will become a larger baby, and eventually a born baby. Left alone, the violinist will die. Not the same.

PCOK rebuts: Abortion is the same as deliberately unplugging the self aware, life support machine that has a life, thoughts, feelings, and is at medical risk from continuing pregnancy, and thus should have the right to decide how much risk they are willing to accept, and if they are willing to play life support machine for that embryo/fetus, everything else is just appeal to emotion fallacy.

We respond: There is actually not much substance to this rebuttal from PCOK. It is nothing more than a naked assertion that their view is correct rather than an argument dismantling our own argument.
Of course the woman is self-aware and has a life, thoughts, feelings, etc. Yes, she is at some medical risk, though in most cases the risk is quite small.
We do not deny that the woman is fully permitted to choose how much risk she is willing to accept...before she is with child. Once a new human has come into being as a result of her conscious choice and actions (again, in the vast majority of cases excepting rape), she is responsible for not murdering the helpless human who is depending on his mother.
Finally, notice how PCOK, like so many other pro-aborts, callously sucks the life, honor, and love right out of the mother-child relationship. No longer is the child a tiny bundle of love and reliance, to be shown love and compassion and to be nurtured and brought up to be, himself, a loving, compassionate person. Now the baby amounts to a parasite and the mother to a machine. These are PCOK's words, not ours. We fully and strongly believe that the mother and the child are made in the image of God and as such bear dignity and deserve love and compassion.
Pro-abortion treats the child like a clump of tissue and the mother like an animal, or worse yet, a robot.

AHA's argument: The stranger in the violinist scenario never consented. In ~99% of cases, the woman consented to sexual intercourse. Are 99% of women asleep when their "involuntary hook-up" happened?

PCOK rebuts: Consent to sex is not consent to pregnancy and consent to pregnancy is not consent to parenting.
As you can have sex without pregnancy, pregnancy without sex, pregnancy without live birth, parenting without giving live birth, live birth without parenting, etc.
In the same way that consent to being on or near the road, either as a pedestrian or a driver, is NOT consent to being run over by a drunk driver, or a distracted driver, or in some weird accident.
Most people that seek abortion were using some form of contraception, even non forms like NFP and "pull out" are at least trying to reduce the risk of pregnancy, so to then go on to say they consent to pregnancy is laughable, at best.
And no, women don't decide to become pregnant, they don't push a magic button to make implantation possible, if they could, there would be no fertility clinics or forms of contraception (except to regulate health related issues such as ovarian cysts).

We respond: PCOK needs to demonstrate, not merely assert, that consent to sex is not consent to pregnancy.
Matthew Martellus has quite ably demonstrated that this distinction is in fact impossible to substantiate.

It is not analogous to being on the road and ending up with these terrible outcomes. (Notice again how PCOK turns the idea of pregnancy into a bad outcome, as if it is something terrible, to be avoided at all costs, like being run over by a drunk driver.) Of course those things are not consent, but they are realistic risks that one takes in getting on the road. Of course, life is full of danger and our lives can end at any time, so it's not as if always staying at home will guarantee that a drunk driver won't in fact kill any of us.
And herein resides yet another disanalogy - the objective of driving a car is not to be killed by a drunk driver. The objective is to achieve a faster and fairly widely available mode of transport.
One of the objectives of conjugal relations is to make babies. That's just the fact of the matter. Now, it's certainly not the only objective, and many will want to separate that one from the others and we don't necessarily have a problem with that, but sometimes the means of that separation fail (condoms break or aren't used, etc); one should hardly be surprised that when driving a car, one arrives at a different destination than where she started. That's what driving a car is for.

Yes, it is true that the decision to become pregnant is not a separate decision from the decision to engage in conjugal relations, much like arriving at a different place is not a separate decision from driving a car. But where is PCOK's argument that the fact that an unintended consequence of a woman's action occurred means that she is then justified in murdering someone?

AHA's argument: The baby is not an invader. He is an innocent party. Are Thomson and the pro-abortion crowd ignorant of what causes pregnancy? The parents are responsible, not the baby. The stranger hooked to Thomson's violinist had nothing at all to do with the violinist's predicament. Parents of very small babies do - they had sex. Sex sometimes causes babies.

PCOK rebuts: Actually the "baby" is an invader, and innocence is debatable. TO be innocent, one must first be capable of guilt, without the choice to not do wrong, one cannot be innocent.
OR in medical terms, to be innocent one must be harmless, we all know pregnancy can have negative effects on women's health, mental, physical, etc, so in the medical sense it is not innocent either.
The only belief I've seen in which a fetus could be innocent, is mormonism, because in mormonism you choose your family in advance, meaning the fetus makes a conscience decision to, yes, invade a woman of it's choosing, in which the fetus would know if it was likely to die in utero or not, and in the case of being unwanted, is in fact, guilty.
What causes pregnancy is a fertilized egg attaching itself in a woman, typically in the uterus, but could also be ectopic, often tubes, which would require an abortion, or else the woman will die, or at the very least become infertile.
Zygotes do attach themselves to a woman, I certainly wouldn't choose for one to attach in me, again, there is no magic switch.

We respond: Notice again that PCOK chooses to assert ("actually the 'baby' is an invader") rather than demonstrate.
And the baby's innocence is debatable because the baby is not capable of guilt? Does PCOK believe we are guilty until proven innocent?
PCOK fails to make the necessary distinction between the baby himself and the surrounding consequences of mothering the baby. The baby is not causing health problems for the mother. The mother's body is reacting to the baby's presence and preparing her body to nourish the baby and bring him to birth in good health, and that leads to the changes and difficulties she experiences.
The connection to Mormonism is strange, since, for one thing, we're not Mormons, and for another, if the child chose his mother, it would seem he would possibly be held guilty, not innocent.

If the PCOK admin writing this rebuttal doesn't want a zygote attaching himself to her uterus, then I'd recommend she not engage in conjugal relations. It's still up to her to show, however, that if she does engage in that behavior and a zygote comes into being because of her actions, she is justified in putting that tiny baby to death.

AHA's argument: Even if the baby were an invader, execution without due process of law is not justified. Killing him is an unconstitutional violation of his right to trial by a jury of his peers. (And best of luck to the prosecution!)

PCOK rebuts: Only applicable if the government is mandating abortions. I have never heard of the US doing such a thing and would condemn it.
As long as a woman is choosing for herself, it's a matter of self defense, self defense doesn't require due process, if a rapist is attacking you you don't wait for due process to condemn him BEFORE you kill him in self defense.
When something is using your body against your continued consent (consensual sex can turn into rape if you say no, or a safe word and it continues against your continued consent, pregnancy is no different, it also needs continued consent), especially if it poses a health risk to you of any sort, self defense including lethal force is 100% justified and does not require "due process".
I'm unsure as to where this idea even came from.

We respond: By PCOK's logic, lynchings are justifiable since they are not performed by the government. Of course killing, say, a rapist in self-defense is justifiable because the rapist is attempting a grossly immoral act and people are permitted to defend themselves. In the heat of the moment, during an attack, the assailant has opened himself up to whatever retaliation the assailee might dispense.
The claim of self-defense depends on the dubious and so far unsubstantiated assertion that the baby is an assailant and on forgetting that the mother's actions brought the baby into being.

AHA's argument: The right to be in the womb - Conception followed by eviction from the womb could be compared to capturing someone, placing him on an airplane, and then shoving him out without a parachute in mid-flight.

PCOK rebuts: Not true, I never consented to pregnancy so I never "captured the baby stuck them in my womb and then just shoved them out mid-pregnancy"

We respond: But the woman did consent to conjugal relations.
But let's look at this from another angle - we again don't see any reason why not to apply the same logic to 2 year old toddlers. If a woman doesn't want to deal with the surrounding consequences of parenting a toddler, is it OK to put that toddler to death?

AHA's argument: We have no right to endanger others without their consent.

PCOK rebuts: Well your equal rights for zygotes crowd seems to not have gotten the memo, considering pregnancy is often not wanted, and is always endangering to a woman's health and/or life

We respond: But, again, the woman did consent to conjugal relations.
Note that many of PCOK's central arguments depend on the defeated claim that consent to sex does not imply consent to pregnancy. This is merely wishful thinking, for those who are unwilling to take obvious biological facts into account.

AHA's argument: and then intentionally or negligently fail to protect them from the harm...When parents mutually enable their sperm and ova to join, the parents are not enslaved -- they've volunteered.

PCOK rebuts: I personally use a contraceptive implant in my left arm, I do not consent to sperm and ova meeting, nor for the zygote to implant, and nor for an embryo to mature to a fetus, nor for a fetus to mature to birth age.
Most people that get abortions don't consent to that either, others don't consent to a previously unknown risk, had no real way to prevent pregnancy when they became pregnant, etc.

We respond: This evinces the thought that wishes can somehow change reality. If PCOK thinks hard enough and hopes with the sufficient level of strength and willpower, maybe, just maybe, engaging in sex will change somehow.
It's bizarre to watch this kind of reflection take place. Sperm want to get to the ovum. One of them may succeed, and if it does, you're a parent. It's really that simple, and no amount of wishing or rhetoric changes facts.
PCOK wants to think that her contraceptive implant removes the possibility of conceiving a child. It doesn't - it reduces the possibility. The only sure way to avoid becoming pregnant is to abstain from intercourse. But PCOK doesn't want to do that. We understand, but it is childish to attempt to avoid the consequences of one's actions and then to murder someone else in case those consequences come to fruition anyway. Someone else should not pay the ultimate price just because something happened that you didn't want to happen.

AHA's argument: Causing a child to be is not, in itself, endangerment (it's a normal, natural fact of life), because the very fact of pregnancy automatically protects the child against the possible dangers of an unsupportive environment.
But by conceiving a child, parents give themselves a life-or-death power over her, and they do this without her consent.
If parents intentionally or negligently use their power to put her in harm's way (let her starve, say), they cause the danger. If the child gets harmed, they caused the harm. They initiated force and violated the child's rights.

PCOK rebuts: Not true, many pregnancies end due to stress and other hormones released by the mother that is toxic for the unborn, not to mention if the mother needs to use medication which could be harmful, or has some sort of an addiction that could be harmful, smoking, drinking, illegal drugs, prescription drugs, etc.
For both life and death. I, along with others, wish I was aborted.
As the fetus can make no choice of it's own, it is up to the mother to make the best decision for both her health and life, and the well being of her unborn, even if that means abortion.
Actually the initial force was when the "child" violated her body. Sorry you can't personify a fetus and then say that it can't do or choose anything, either it's a human capable of choosing and thinking and feeling and doing things, or it's not, and in either case abortion is justified, you do NOT get to pick and choose when to personify it or not to use it as emotional blackmail.

We respond: PCOK misses the point about the woman's body protecting the child. Yes, of course, miscarriage is a very real possibility. The point is that invading the uterus with a scalpel and forceps is unnatural. Sharp pointy objects don't belong in a uterus. Soft tissue, fluid, and babies do.
As for PCOK's and others' wish that they had been aborted: Not to be callous, but if the statement "I wish I'd been aborted" appears anywhere except on a suicide note, I do not believe the person who said it.
Nor does PCOK have the right to project their feelings onto others, unless it's fair for everyone. And if we're doing that, then the rapist could say, by PCOK's own logic, not mine, the following: "I would really like to be held down and forced to have sex today. Therefore, those three women right over there would like the same."
This is simply fantastically bad argumentation.
However, it is equalled in its quality by a phrase I can't believe PCOK wrote with a straight face: "it is up to the mother to make the best decision for both her health and life, and the well being of her unborn, even if that means abortion".

The best choice for the preborn child could conceivably be a violent death? What planet are we talking about, exactly?
Now, given that PCOK apparently has some angst-riddled half-formed death wish, I suppose that kind of talk could make sense to her, but honestly, again, think this through. Is anyone else justified in deciding, on someone else's part, that violent death is in their best interest?

Lest we descend too far into the madness here, I will leave further response to part 2.

(Please leave any comments at the Abolitionist Society blog.)