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14 comments posted
A complication

Let me throw a couple things in the mix. First, people should be aware that neither Roe nor its progeny envisages an unlimited, unfettered right to an abortion right up to the final moments between pregnancy and the baby howling "Put me back!!" (If you're pardon the Look Who's Talking reference.)

But let's shunt that aside for a moment. I would argue that parents-to-be, once they have a pregnancy, and have elected to keep the offspring, assume a set of obligations that trump their own individual rights.

--|PW|--

pennywit's picture
Posted by pennywit on 14 November 2005 - 8:27pm
"they" have a pregnancy?

Excuse me, but how is the father pregnant at all? While a loving, trusting relationship will be able to accommodate the woman's pregancy, there's no reason to believe that just because she's pregnant she somehow loses her rights, is there?

media girl's picture
Posted by media girl on 14 November 2005 - 9:18pm
Gender-neutrality

I could make the snarky contention that when I used the plural, above, I could have been using it in the plural sense of "mothers-to-be," but, as you know, I chose my words deliberately.

Let me sidestep for a moment. In my view, if we assume a loving, trusting relationship, then both parents have obligations that supercede their personal rights if they choose to have a child; those superceded personal rights include the right to live where one chooses , the right to forsake profitable activity in favor of personal fulfillment, and the right to sleep in on a Saturday morning when the little monsters are awake and peppy.

During the pregnancy, you're looking at a different set of obligations. For example, if a pregnant mother chooses to keep the child, would you accept that she assumes certain obligations that proscribe her activities while pregnant? If she wants a child, doesn't her obligation to that future child outweigh some rights she might otherwise indulge?

And if we're talking about a healthy relationship -- or even an unhealthy relationship -- doesn't the father-to-be have certain obligations that outweigh any "rights" he might otherwise indulge?

--|PW|--

pennywit's picture
Posted by pennywit on 14 November 2005 - 11:00pm
But the point IS governmental interference

Nobody is arguing that women should rush off and have abortions (as the "pro-life" crowd claims), or even what a woman should do when she's pregnant.

This is about her rights as a human being, a legally recognized person who presumably enjoys equal protection under the law.

It's the woman's private decision. If she's in a loving relationship and wants to share that decision, that's her prerogative. But it's also her right to change her mind, because pregnancy is a process that is very demanding upon her body, and her life -- way before and way bigger than questions of whether someone has the right to sleep in on Saturday.

As for what I accept about her obligations, that's beside the point -- which is that they are her obligations as she sees them, be they to husband or God or society or reruns of The Brady Bunch. It's not my business -- as it's not my business whether you get a vasectomy or circumcision.

And as for fathers' obligations, they too fall into what they agree to, it seems to me. Beyond enforcing contracts, the government has no place in the matter.

media girl's picture
Posted by media girl on 15 November 2005 - 1:29am
An addendum

Please keep in mind that I do not suggest that court orders or other blunt instruments of the law be used to enforce the obligations I assay here. Rather, I speak of a person's individual, ethical obligations.

--|PW|--

pennywit's picture
Posted by pennywit on 14 November 2005 - 11:39pm
This isn't about ethics, it's about law.

I would love it if every fetus were wanted and every mother did everything right while she carried a child. It isn't going to happen. As an autonomous being, a woman MUST be able to determine her own destiny. A womb is not public property, it is a part of a woman's body, and that woman is the only person who should make any decision regarding it. No male, or Congress of old white men, has any business telling her what she can and can't do with her own body. If something is attached to me on the inside, depending on me for its life support, then it's a part of me until it isn't.

I once knew a girl who had a half dozen abortions over the space of a few years. She refused to use birth control. She wasn't discriminating in her choice of partners. She wasn't bright, or responsible, or even very nice. As tragic as those abortions may or may not have been, it would have been an unmitigated disaster for that girl to carry any of those pregnancies to term. She would never have stopped drinking or drugging, and she wouldn't go to the trouble of putting it up for adoption. If a fetus lived long enough to be born to her, it would wind up in a dumpster or worse. I don't want people like that being forced to breed. I don't want the succession of men in her life to have a legal basis for making her reproduce. I don't want a pharmacist to refuse her Plan B, her Doctor discouraged from performing an abortion, and adoptive family burdened with a drug-scarred and deformed child. Nor would I want her to be locked away, sterilized or imprisoned because of her sexuality. I want her left alone until she needs care, then I want the government to make sure that the care she needs is safe, sanitary and affordable and that's it.

The law has no business in the womb. Only the woman has a right to decide her own fate. We can't legislate ethics or morals, and we shouldn't try.

Support the Women's Autonomy and Sexual Sovereignty Movements

Morgaine Swann's picture
Posted by Morgaine Swann on 15 November 2005 - 2:00am
About those ethics

I'm going to say that yes, ethics do have a role here. Did you read Patricia Bauer's op-ed in the Post about a month ago?

I have a problem with the entire abortion debate as it stands. I see a lot of howling about the right to this, that, and the other thing. On the one side, there's rhetoric about the right to control the womb. On the other side, I see a lot of prating about father's rights, men's rights, and similar drivel.

I believe that much of this rhetoric has overtaken classic notions about familial duties ... and I find this state somewhat disturbing.

--|PW|--

pennywit's picture
Posted by pennywit on 15 November 2005 - 5:27am
How do ethics play a role?

People keep wanting to talk about when is it okay, what kind of family structures and relationships should exist, family duties, etc.

That's all a red herring, encouraged by the right.

Now you can say we're howling, but I daresay if governmental policy were to surgically sterilize all men until they can prove a woman is ready and willing to bear his child, there would be howling, a lot of howling.

You talk about taking people's fundamental human rights away and you're going to get howling and worse.

But this isn't a debate about familial duties, this is a debate about governmental policy and law. This isn't a debate about how people should view abortion, this is a debate about what kind of authority the government does or doesn't have to reach in and claim full and complete control over a person's body.

media girl's picture
Posted by media girl on 15 November 2005 - 10:28am
Apologies in order

In that respect, perhaps I should apologize for commandeering this thread to expound like this. With apology offered, however, I shall brazenly continue to transgress.

--|PW|--

pennywit's picture
Posted by pennywit on 16 November 2005 - 8:18pm
Shall we break out the gelding tools?

Imagine a government enforcing their use. I just want the government out of it.

As for ethics, I would not presume to tell others what to do. The decisions in their lives, that's their job. I'll go on pontificating, as is my wont. But it's all with the understanding that on all this I would not try to enforce my views on others through use of the force of guns and prisons.

Too bad all of this isn't just hypothetical.

media girl's picture
Posted by media girl on 16 November 2005 - 11:48pm
People get bogged down

...in the details of the decisions and try to make blanket generalizations, when the real issue is much simpler than that.

Who decides?

No male, or Congress of old white men, has any business telling her what she can and can't do with her own body.

I would agree, except I think no person has any business telling her what she can or cannot do with her own body.

media girl's picture
Posted by media girl on 15 November 2005 - 10:23am
I'll go along with that

I was referring to Pennywit's comment about a couple being pregnant rather than just the woman. "Familial duty" is bullshit. Men leave. Men lie to get sex. They say they aren't married when they are. They have more than one woman pregnant at one time. They say they're in love, then they never loved you at all. It doesn't matter what society legislates - men will still leave, even after they've stood before their family, friends, God and government and sworn that they won't, and they'll do that knowing they're still fucking around on their fiance/wife.

If you want to pass legislation to penalize men for doing that, I'm all for it. In the mean time, my energy is in making sure a temporary lapse in judgement doesn't become a lifelong burden for everyone involved.

Support the Women's Autonomy and Sexual Sovereignty Movements

Morgaine Swann's picture
Posted by Morgaine Swann on 15 November 2005 - 8:52pm
No monopoly on virtue

Morgaine, this is an interesting bit of generalization:

I was referring to Pennywit's comment about a couple being pregnant rather than just the woman. "Familial duty" is bullshit. Men leave. Men lie to get sex. They say they aren't married when they are. They have more than one woman pregnant at one time. They say they're in love, then they never loved you at all. It doesn't matter what society legislates - men will still leave, even after they've stood before their family, friends, God and government and sworn that they won't, and they'll do that knowing they're still fucking around on their fiance/wife.

A friend of the family -- one that my parents compare to a third son -- had a pregnancy-related accident about three years ago. There was a marriage, a child ... and a wife who decided she'd like to date other people. Real piece of work, that woman, and I'll go no further than that.

But here's the thing. Our family's friend is utterly devoted to his son. While ex-wife is putting her life together in some bizarre shape, he's got primary custody, and he's done a damn good job bringing up that kid.

I know that you and I can probably trade stories for the rest of the night, and I expect that you have stronger stories than I, as you've devoted your life to this cause. But I think my point holds -- neither gender can claim a monopoly on virtue.

As for the law ... the law, unfortunately, is a blunt instrument. If I were dictator, I would certainly pass a law that binds a man hand and foot to his progeny. Unfortunately, that wouldn't make him willing to fulfill his obligation. And if he's not willing to fulfill the obligation, the familial unit suffers. Unfortunately.

--|PW|--

pennywit's picture
Posted by pennywit on 16 November 2005 - 8:33pm
"But I think my point holds

"But I think my point holds -- neither gender can claim a monopoly on virtue."

Actually no, that was Media Girl's point. No-one has a monopoly on it, and so no-one has a role forcing others to live up to their own idea of it.

"Familial obligations" are a distraction - important if you are talking about families, but irrelevant when talking about the right to end a pregnancy.

amanda's picture
Posted by amanda (not verified) on 16 November 2005 - 11:46pm